Posts Tagged ‘Mountain Goat’

It’s not that often that Epicure, in Tuesday’s Age, dips its toes into the ever-giving world of Australian craft beers. Despite there being around 30 independent brewers in Victoria alone (comprising those with their own breweries, those that contract out and a handful of brewpubs), lovers of the grape can look forward to being indulged every week while those who prefer their booze formed from malt, hops and barley get little more than something with which to get the kindling burning in the open fires in the caves in which the editors must believe they still dwell.

After much banging of Bruce’s head against walls, a spot of attempting to wring blood from a stone and the loss of several pigs in doomed aeronautical experiments, a chink…

Pumping Randy at the Mountain Goat Brewery

Pumping Randy at the Mountain Goat Brewery

It’s not possible to link to the story as Fairfax, in their continued misunderstanding of the way the internet has changed journalism – despite their plummeting share price acting as something of a constant reminder that they’re clearly doing something wrong – continues to want to charge $2.20 each time you want to view a story on their website.

The story is, however, that Mountain Goat have installed Victoria’s first “Hopinator” – a cylindrical machine fastened to the bar that can be filled with anything from fresh hop flowers (as above where their organic IPA is being poured through a load of fragrant Galaxy hop flowers) to cinnamon sticks, coffee beans and fruit. Any of their beers can then be directed through Randy (short for Randall the Handle, apparently, after they stopped calling it the Hopinator out of deference to Holgate Brewery’s not-for-the-faint-hearted 7% Double IPA of the same name) for a last minute burst of extra flavour.

It’s only available at the brewery, in North Street, Richmond, where they also serve tasty pizzas and one-off brews, often matched with appropriate nibbles. It’s open to the public on Wednesday and Friday evenings, with one of the head brewers offering free tours of the brewing process on Wednesdays.


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Quite how one goes about raising two children aged three and under while renovating an old pub then turning it into the hottest property in the area within weeks of opening is beyond Bruce. And indeed Fran.

Bruce struggles to maintain any semblance of order on his desk, let alone in the rest of his life (hence the phone call this morning asking if he was close to arriving for his 9am meeting – no, he was still wearing his dressing gown on the phone to the UK) while Fran, were she to be a character in a computer game a la Tekken or Soul Blade, would reward gamers who unlock her special move by pressing X-A-A-UP-L2-B-B-DOWN-LEFT-CIRCLE CLOCKWISE-A-B-hold L1-X by taking both sets of house keys with her to work and leaving said gamer locked in their house for the day.

Still, Jessie and Ash Bettenay have managed it with some style, turning a manky old man’s pub into the glorious bar / restaurant it always deserved to be and they’re lovely people to boot.

They deserve their spot in Epicure today. Anyone heading to Willy for the day (and why wouldn’t you) should pop in. And, while you’re there, don’t forget to pop in to Blunt’s Boatbuilers on Nelson Place to say hi to Greg – another lovely person doing wonders with a rare piece of Williamstown history.

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It was care in the community time for Bruce: sitting at the bar of the Grace Darling Hotel nursing a friend through the first Mountain Goat of the day to ease the pain brought on by partying on a private pier over the Yarra until 11am that morning.

“That’s right. Get it down yer,” said Bruce. “You’ll be right.”

The door opened and in from Smith Street stepped a thick set blonde woman. Something about her attire caught the attention. Although well into her middle years, her all black outfit was beyond risque, tipping over into kinky territory. Less revealing than Cher circa If I Could Turn Back Time it nevertheless featured a thick leather collar; on closer inspection the collar appeared to have a metal ring fastened at the front. Still, nursing remained Bruce’s priority.

Five minutes later, a positively huge black woman entered, upper arms like swollen tree trunks, and headed past in the same direction as the blonde. She too was wearing all black with shades of perversion and was sporting the same collar and ring set up.

“Is it me or did that really happen?” asked the patient.

Bruce assured him that, despite his addled mind, it was no trick of the mind.

“We’re going to have to ask,” he said.

Please don’t hit me! Oh, go on then…

The second woman returned to the bar shortly afterwards. She was visiting from Philadelphia. She ordered a double Scotch – neat – and a glass of red. The Scotch was for her.

“We’re slaves looking for owners,” she explained matter-of-factly. “I believe that it is a woman’s role to be completely submissive to a man.”

There was no need to ask for an explanation of the collar.

“Which wine did you want?” asked the landlord. “You said cabernet, but we have two cabernets by the glass.”

“Oh no! I’d better get it right or else he’s going to beat me,” she replied with an anticipatory titter.

Turns out the blonde woman organises a monthly night at the Grace Darling for those into Master/slave relationships and our companion had decided to pop along while she was in Australia. Before returning to the back room, she turned to Bruce’s patient, perhaps mistaking the residuals in his eyes from Friday night for intrigue.

“You should come and join us. We’re always looking for new owners.”

“We’re heading to the G,” he said. “The game starts in an hour. Sorry.”

He’ll be back, though. Gimp mask and all.

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Bloody idiots

Bloody idiots

The barrage of lies, deceits and downright stupidity unfolding in the US Presidential Campaign caused Bruce and Fran to enter a period of solemn reflection this week.

It led them, in a rare moment of soul searching and honesty, to admit that they had been rather hasty in naming their vehicle the Hoonmobile back in May.

Sure, it was bright red and, as a three-litre guzzler that undermined their claims to care for the planet somewhat, had more power under its bonnet than the 1.2l Punto they left in the UK. What’s more, of all the great Aussie-isms they’d enjoyed in their early weeks in Melbourne, hoon was one of their favourites; what’s not to like about “DOB IN A HOON!”, up there with “YOU BLOODY IDIOT!” for promoting sensible driving (although, like Asbos in the UK, one can imagine certain sorts taking the mantle of hoon or even bloody idiot as a badge of honour).

But, no, the Magna is not a souped up super-Ute, a lowered Impreza or a boom box-laden Holden. It’s a car. A bit of a middle manager / family car at that.

Or so they thought, until Thursday night, when, enjoying a post-victory beer with the Mountain Goat indoor cricket team (having carefully plotted the route out of Northcote to avoid the Booze Bus (bloody idiots)*), the throbbing, insistent roar of altered car engines hit our ears.



One after another, swerving from side to side like F1 drivers warming their wheels pre-race, came a convoy of 25 cars, all with body kits and neon lights. Reaching the corner, they slowed, before accelerating into a series of the most pitiful front wheel spins and disappearing into the industrial site.

“Did you see that?” yelped one of our players excitedly. “The Magna Club! Doing that. In a Magna! Of all the cars!”

Bruce’s pride initially dented, his eyes followed the cars until they parked around the corner and opened up trunks and bonnets for fellow retards to inspect.

It took him back to Sunday nights in Nottingham, when the local retards would gather from across the Midlands to parade their modified Vauxhall Novas, Ford Fiestas and Citroen 2CVs around the “circuit” in one of the most pathetic and misconceived attempts at manliness (far less glamorous than its assumed title, the “circuit” was actually a small ring road around an ugly 70s concrete stack car park).

But, tail between legs – and upset that he’d been given a lift to the game and couldn’t show off his dented rear end (“YOU BLOODY POOF!”) to the other Magna Boyz – he returned home to Fran.

Then it dawned. They were hoons. They drove Magnas. They’d been right all along.

Their car was a Hoonmobile after all.

* One bottle of beer only. We’re not bloody idiots, you know

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Just like home

Just like home

Neither Bruce nor Fran could pinpoint exactly what it was that made them think of England.

Was it the long queues of noisy blokes in shirts and girls in little black dresses outside the pubs?

Was it the array of half-eaten kebabs littering the street?

Was it the facelessness of the majority of people encountered around Swan Street, in stark contrast to the characters populating other inner suburbs?

Or was it the man vomiting heartily over a railing and into the gutter?

Perhaps it was a combination of the four. Either way, for the first time in months, they both felt like they were back in England on a Saturday night. Worse still, it felt like a night out in Clapham, home to the tiresome boors churned out by the UK’s public school system as they spend their first few years post-university chucking up in the street outside bland, uber-chain bars and restaurants, spending the money they’ve earnt at their respective bank / consultancy firm / marketing department on nights out with friends called Squelch and Tiddles while they wait to accrue enough cash to move to a small mansion in the Home Counties and squirt out children called Squiddles and Bump all the while ensuring class hatred bubbles along nicely.

Thankfully, there was a constant reminder that they were indeed in Australia in the form of Billy, the hyper-active “boy from the country” who bounced around the bar, multiple vodka and oranges in hand, chatting to every single person and, memorably, turning to Bruce towards the end of the night to announce, with an expression of unalloyed pride:

“I put the ‘b’ into bogan.”

Equally thankfully, their host’s choice of venue for his 31st birthday drinks – the Corner Hotel – was fine, at least the huge upstairs mezzanine area where Bruce and Fran spent the evening, safely kotcheled away from the marauding street level hordes.

Mountain Goat‘s splendid Hightail was on offer, standing out amid the range of tasteless fizzy Fosters’ brews like an oasis for the discerning drinker. And, continuing the evening’s sense of being mentally transported somewhere other than Melbourne, the trains passing the windows at eye level were reminiscent of the view from a first floor apartment in Downtown Chicago and the mezzanine, with its red lantern-like lampshades and long metal tables had a feel of the late night hawkers’ food markets of South Eastern Asia.

Just a shame that reality – wobbly high heels and torrents of vomit-flecked piss included – awaited outside.

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Nothing like this

Not even in their wildest dreams

In the dark corner: an Iberian-looking communista; a huge pair of lamb chop sideburns; a dead-eyed, pot-bellied hitman possibly of Eastern Mediterranean origin; a ginger; a skater; and a dank-haired Goth pre-application of foundation and eye liner.

In the light corner: an equally motley bunch of six, most of whom had met for the first time in the previous half hour. An underworld stand off? No. These new acquaintances were charged with defending the honour of the Mountain Goat brewery indoor cricket team at the Northcote Indoor Sports Centre. (Honour is a relative term here, given the team’s record stood at: Played 10 Won 3 Lost 6 Drawn 1. Equally, the six’s links to the brewery were sketchy: one player had once done a shift behind the bar, the remainder had drunk its beer.)

Sadly, the surrounds – four top quality indoor cricket tracks accessed by climbing through a giant red vulva, a beach volleyball court and bar – failed to inspire much in the way of quality. Chasing a paltry 52 for victory, Team Mountain Goat faltered after a bright start as Marilyn Manson’s snail paced, looping mortar bomb leg breaks proved to be an unlikely weapon. By the last over it was like the Champions League final all over, at least in terms of tension if not ability, importance, quality, fitness, financial reward or viewing figures (one: the Goat’s female driver).

Well I never

Now that’s what I call a surprise weapon

One Goat headed to the bar before the end.

“I can’t watch. I’m getting the beers in whether to celebrate or commiserate,” he said.

Were the men in white, yellow, beige and light blue, like John Terry before them, going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? No! Two wides at the close of the innings ensured a crucial win that moved them one step closer to escaping the relegation zone. Not that anyone from the brewery was there to see it.

Playing sport in Melbourne

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A few new pages and posts belatedly added…








“For the lucky few who own breweries the temptation to test the famous idiom and organise regular piss-ups must be nigh on irresistible. Yet resist they do…”


“Watch out for the ones who run the ball back to the centre after a goal: their little legs go so fast and they do a fantastic little hop, skip and pirouette at the end, which is quite marvellous”

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