I arrived in Melbourne last Friday and was quickly struck by two things: one, I have frickin’ amazing friends, and two, Australian birds are large, loud and odd.

I hopped off the airport bus and was whisked over to Richmond, where my friends, Fi and Mike are putting me up until I find a job (I told you they were nice). Once my luggage was stowed, we were off to Slow Beer, a craft beer bottle store with an on-license. That’s right, you can drink while oogling the beer – and there’s a lot of beer. Mike gave me a 15-minute intensive course on Victorian beers, schooling me on beers and breweries. Having been here a while, he’s managed to work his way through quite a few of them and was happy to impart his knowledge.

When Slow Beer closed, it was off to find some dinner at a crazy place called ‘The Hungarian’. The menu alone is worth a visit, with gems like ‘Hokkein noodles: we don’t serve these on any day. We’re a Hungarian restaurant’ and ‘BYO wine: $2. BYO beer $3. BYO well-behaved children: priceless’. And you read right: you were allowed to drink your own beer at this place. Fortunately we had just the thing – a flagon of Moor Illusion Black Ale. Now, if I was fussy, I could’ve said it need a touch more bitterness – but fuck it, I was at an awesome restaurant with awesome people eating awesome food, so it tasted awesome.

The next day I was woken early by the aforementioned ridiculous birds, but it was okay, because we were heading for Beers by the Bays, the most chilled out beer festival I’ve been to. Held in the members’ parking area of the Mornington Racing Club, there was plenty of room to laze about, very few queues and lots of beers to try.

There were also very large and slightly scary crows. But this isn’t a ornithology blog, it’s a beer blog. Fortunately, the Victorian beers are the opposite to their birds. They’re easy drinking, sedate and do well with hops, malt, water and yeast – there’s no need to get fancy. (Admittedly, it may have been the festival aiming at a wide audience). Stand out beers were True South IPA, Cavalier Imperial Stout, and my beer-of-the-day, Southern Bay Brewing Co. Metal Head Robust Porter.

I love this beer. The brewery website says: ‘We wanted a mosh pit of malt so we mashed six different grains and made them jump up and down, push and shove each other into harmony like the tune of a robot guitarist shredding out pentantonic licks.’ Which is oddly accurate. There’s a little bit of chocolate, a little bit of caramel and a whole lotta malt sweetness, which is balanced by the hops. It also had a kick-arse t-shirt (see left), which also led to us renaming it the ‘Robot Beer’, with appropriate hand gestures.

So that’s Melbourne so far. The beers are good, the people are awesome, and the birds are weird. There’s still a lot left to explore (going to the Mountain Goat brewery tonight!) and I’ll try keep this blog up to date – but I may be having too much fun!

Also, if anyone knows of any writing or editing positions going in Melbourne, please drop me a message at kateljordan at gmail dot com.

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