Here in Melbourne Australia we have been in a COVID related Lockdown again. Since early August when the Delta strain hit us we the pubs have all be closed, but on the plus side people have been getting vaccinated at speed and we were told when 70% of the population was double vaccinated Pubs and bars could reopen (with limits) to vaccinated people. On Thursday we went past this milestone and on Friday things we back to normal-ish (and we are on our way to 95%+ vaccinated rates, which we should hit in late November) and hopefully we won't be going back into lockdown again.
So what has it been like to be back in the world of the drinkers - the short answer - bloody great. We finished work early on Friday and headed to the local old school pub - I should mention it's spring here so 'freedom day' did also co-incide with the hottest day of the season so far - 27 degrees celius so combine all of these things and you has happy publicians serving people, happy to be sitting in the sun drinking draught beer.
The weekend has reminded be of everything I love about the drinking culture in Melbourne.
We got to start with a old school local. This pub - The Three Crowns is about 120 years old, it's big and grand and bit shambolic, and it's local, like all places in the inner city of Melbourne there are these great old school pubs on the every corner so they feel local as well.
A half drunk pot of Fixation IPA
And they have routines - they have beers that are always on - there is the beer that's on in every pub in Melbourne - Carlton Draught but that not my type of beer, so I went for the other beer this pub always has on and it felt great to say a 'Pot of Fixation' thanks. A 'pot' is the standard beer size in Melbourne, where I live - for the Americans it's a 8oz for Europeans, well it's 285ml. And how do I know this is my usual, well as check on untappd tell me of all the beers I've drunk at the Three Crowns in the last 3 years - 66% of them have been Fixation IPAs.
Pubs are friendly as well. You can almost guarantee that if you sit in one for long enough you will end up in a conversation with a random person, sometimes drunk, sometimes not. So of course when the person at the next table turned around to ask us 'Excuse me but what are you discussing.' I wasn't surprised.
When we said 'We are discussing whether I should get a Cowboy hat and if so whether Patrick Dempsey's cowboy hat from Can't buy me Love' is the right hat.' well, he was surprised, but this is a pub so after saying 'Wow that is a much better answer that I thought you were going to have we spent a good ten minutes discussing how 'Hell yes you should, and how I deserved it, and how I had to just have the confidence and I could pull it off.' I should mention he was wearing a pair of ironic overalls and his drinking buddy was wearing a hat that said 'Say maybe to drugs' so they had some confidence.
From there it was onto the new school bar up the road called 'Benchwarmers' This is perhaps not as friendly but the beer is really friggin good.
Acid Superhighway on the left
Here I managed to have a great couple of Sour beers, One from 8 Wired who are a great New Zealand brewery - This was the Acid Superhighway which is a Soured Double IPA which for a 8% sour Double IPA is just insanely drinkable.
The people may not be as friendly at Benchwarmer, but the dogs certainly are - now I have now desire to own a dog - they seem like a fair amount of work but I like nothing better than to get it sit outside, drink beer and pet a nice friendly dog. And Meg the dog was a super friendly dog who was happy to have me give her a scratch behind the ears.
And the final too things I love about being back out of the house from beers - You have the discussions that you don't have a home. At home we tend to drink whilst watching things on TV, at the pub we are sitting across the table from one another and we discuss the problems of the world, how they can be solved - they never get solved but at least we discuss them. And Finally you get beers that you probably wouldn't buy/discover otherwise...
That's a white stout at the rear
Now for this I should say if I'm in a good craft beer bar (which Benchwarmers is) then I will always choose to drink what's on tap (or on draft for you Americans) A good barkeep will put some thought into the tap lineup and therefore you should support that. And that is how I came to find myself drinking Stay Puft Imperial Eggnog Marshmallow White Porter by Tiny Rebel brewery from Wales. All I can say about this beer is that it tasted like Cinnamon and Gimmicks and I would never have tried it if I hadn't been out in the big wide world of Melbourne drinking establishments (even if both of these bars are on the street within two blocks of my couch)