A Craft Ideot

A Lager for the people, by Murray's Brewing by Kian West

It is no secret that here at Newcastle Mirage we love good beer. 
The weekend really produced the goods with the first Newcastle Beer Fest in their new location at Camp Shortland (that park opposite Nobby's Beach) and it was a brilliant weekend with some tops weather to match. 

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Talking Beer and Newcastle w/ Luke Tilse by Kian West

We sat down for a lunch time beverage at his venue The Happy Wombat for a quick chat between his many projects to find out a bit more about Newcastle Beer Fest, what it takes to run a venue and a little bit of Luke’s input on what is “really” going on in Newcastle so I let him run with it…

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A Craft Beer Ideot...December by Kian West


Whenever I shop for craft beer, I hear that song in my head, you know, the one that goes   

"All I wanna do is *Gunshot sound* and take your money" *Cash register sound* 


I forget who it's by so I'm just gonna say R-Kelly.


Aside from this being mental problem of mine, it illustrates aptly the way that discerning craft beer drinkers can feel when they check their bank balance at the end of the week (usually on payday, sitting in the pub, desperately refreshing our mobile banking apps). It's not that we feel robbed as it were, its more that we feel like we truly pay for our good taste. (Its different for wine drinkers, they can buy two bottles of whatever and call it a weekend!) Craft drinkers are unique in that if we see a selection of new release or imported ales we have to try them. All of them. In one night. Regardless of if we have school the next morning. 


This can get expensive if you enjoy drinking Cantillon, Bruery or Garage Project beers for example, but lucky for us, we live in Newcastle, a land of plenty when it comes to excellent bottle shops, areas of outstanding natural beauty and most importantly; beer drinkers ready to share the wealth. So maybe it's time you expanded your pallet and saved some coins, maybe it's time to host your own 'bottle-share night’, here's how:


The first step is going to be a fairly easy one, you need to wrangle a manageable number of beer drinking people together on the same evening, you can organise this however you see fit, maybe using futuristic mediums like the World Wide Web, or going old-school and, you know, just asking them to their faces if they would like to try a dozen all-time great beers for the price of two!


Ok good. Now that you've piqued their interest it's time for you to lay out the plot. You want them to head out to one of Newcastles many fine bottle shops and pick out two (or more) fancy ales that they either love or would love to try, 750ml beers work well for sharing. You need to be clear however that a 'longy of New' simply will not cut the mustard, they may need some gentle guidance, so feel free to set a theme for the evening, possibly 'hearty stouts' or 'super bitter IPAs', but please, don't even think about bringing a cider, there's no point in cider. 


Now the rest is really up to you, maybe you head to King Edward Park with a picnic, or perhaps you'd rather sit on the deck and fire up the barbie (my mate Mitch has a good one if you're really struggling), or you may keep your bottle-share simple, with pizzas and PlayStation - there's no limit to where the ales can take you, just remember to bring plastic cups.


Regardless of the location the aim is to share a little of each beer and hopefully be pleasantly surprised by a little known ale that you would never have tried otherwise, the more obscure the beer, the better the conversations. If one of the brews on offer aint so bueno that's ok, I've attended a few shares myself where I had to politely choke down a dodgy home brewed saison, or an out-of-date tall can of Pabst, but that's half of the charm, you never really know what people will bring along. 


A bottle share night is all about sharing some really great beers with old mates and new friends, it's kind of like 'Come Dine With Me' but with people that you don't want to choke out. Newy is the perfect town for a beer lover and has some incredible locals to share it with in beautiful locations. So try out your own frugal beverage share, you might find that it takes you on a vision quest to great beer, and possibly afterwards, to a karaoke night in Hamilton. See you there!

Drinking Crafty in Newie... with @A_Craft_beer_ideot by Kian West


"I thought I'd take a moment, just sit right there, and I'll tell you how we've became a city of such bloody good beer!" [Ed: Sung to the tune of ‘Fresh prince of bel Air]


Drinking Crafty in Newie

By A Craft Ideot

@A_craft_beer_ideot #Instagram


Newcastle has quietly become something of a hotbed of beer drinking brilliance, and it's booming right under our noses. There are a number of locations that every proud son and daughter of the city should make an effort to attend if one really wants to sample the best hopped malt water these streets have to offer.


Let's start by saying that good beer doesn't nessesarily have to be 'craft', and 'craft' does not nessesarily mean it's good beer. The term 'Craft Beer' generally implies you're drinking something that was brewed with skill and passion on a smaller scale, rather than a fluid manufactured by robots and computers in a factory owned by a greedy cigar smoking tycoon.


The image of craft beer drinkers can be that of a pack of thirsty hipsters with patchy beards all popping sick wheelies on the foreshore and clinking their IPA bottles atop their fixed gear bicycles - a perception chiefly fulled by the fact that it's generally true. But that's cool, everyone is welcome when it comes to good beer and our newest bars are proving it.


Let's look at our slightly worn CBD; there are a bunch of places here with tap lists set to swell your bladder and have you in bed with two neurofen by 9.30. These new craft dens have only appeared over the last few years, and inside you will find the broadest cross section of punters with high expectations of their brew. For example; The Grainstore nestled in Newcastle East proudly flys the flag as an Aussie craft beer paradise, with the very best that we brew flowing from it's many taps and a team of beer experts pouring them. We also have the Hop factory on Darby Street and The Blind Monk in Hamilton, newcomers for sure, but true champions of the craft. The Clarendon and The Albion Ale House are more established purveyors of fine beverages and they are both fully prepared to serve you your next dank hop-bomb (with a robust malt backbone of course).


Yeah, there are now dozens of bars pouring what a few years ago we would have had to head to Syds or Melbs to even get a sniff of - It's truly a golden age for Newy bars, but what of the shy retiring ale sipper that wants to enjoy his or her quality craft at home? Well you'll find a pretty great selection of beers in almost every bottle-o in the city, however if you truly itch for the fancy stuff (and you're willing to pay up son) allow me to recommend The Prince of Wales Bottle Shop in Merewether and of course, the famous Warners At The Bay. These are meccas of bueno ale, with WATB in particular supplying a selection so vast as to bring a tear to the eye of grown men and bank managers alike.


Heck as I write this I'm quaffing a craft beer that travelled all the way from Portland Oregon, in my yard, shirtless, straight from the bottle like a dang hillbilly. I plucked this beer cold from a fridge down the road - it's a satisfying feeling knowing that buying craft beer is as easy as buying a meat pie in Newy. There's no better time to start exploring Brewcastle folks, I'll see you at the bar.