The beer lovers of Ballarat are in for a treat this Valentine's Day weekend as Fiona and Ed from Dollar Bill (pictured above) debut their Quarter Bar in their hometown – complete with a giant Donald Trump head rising from (or is it sinking into?) the ground...
They've been converting a refrigerated container into a 25-tap bar – decorated with art by local legend Travis Price – and have invited heaps of their mates to send them a beer of their choice with which to fill them.
They'll be pulling the Quarter Bar (dollars – quarters, 25 cents – 25 taps) into the city's Alfred Deakin Place and serving up a showcase of all-independent Aussie and Kiwi craft beer on February 14 and 16.
The concept grew from their desire to do something special at this year's Ballarat Beer Festival (taking place the same weekend); when their idea to showcase beers from a range of brewers not appearing at the festival was rejected they decided to go it alone.
"The scene is developing and moving forward," Fiona says, citing the example of Blobfish, the Hop Nation-led sour/wild beer event, as an example of the direction in which some smaller festivals are heading: towards more educated and inquisitive consumers.
"We wanted to do something small and represent a lot of other breweries," she says. "We asked some of the small, independent breweries we've worked with for their best beer. "
Ed adds: "We want to provide something that's a little bit niche to the people of Ballarat."
"These guys won't have seen the sort of beers that we're going to be bringing," Fiona says, pointing out the potential within Ballarat, where the uni runs a long-standing brewing course and the Australian Craft Beer Centre of Excellence is due to open later this year.
The Quarter Bar will be pouring from 3pm to 10pm on February 14 and midday to 6pm on February 16; with the Ballarat Beer Festival running on the Saturday, they were unable to secure a licence from the city council for all three days.
Fiona and Ed will be joined behind the bar by knowledgeable bartenders including a Cicerone-qualified staff member from Mr West in Footscray. They also plan to provide extensive tasting notes on all 25 beers for any guests that want a little thinking with their drinking.
Looking ahead, the intention is to take the container bar to other locations or events where you wouldn't traditionally find a spot of craft beer education. Once a quarter, of course.
As for Donald Trump's presence, the site for the pop-up bar is currently home to Melbourne artist Callum Morton's Helter Shelter installation: a hollowed out half head containing bench seating. Thus you can pull up a pew inside and ponder what's more intelligent: the presidential noggin in which you sit or the bacteria inhabiting the Dollar Bill beer in your glass.