January 31, 2011 by Crafty Pint
Living in Melbourne, it’s easy to believe craft beer’s making huge inroads into the Aussie beer drinking market. But, while it’s an industry that’s growing fast as the major beer brands suffer, Victorian beer lovers are spoilt for choice compared to most of their interstate brethren. Which is why it’s always good to see people doing their bit to spread the word in their own part of the world. Such as Beer Snob Dan Hampton, who’s branched out from hosting beer dinners and masterclasses around Sydney to take part ownership of Coogee Cafe After Dark and turn it into a little Aussie craft beer haven by the beach.
Tomorrow night sees the launch of a series of State of Origin beer dinners at the venue. First up is a Victoria versus Tassie showdown, with the likes of Red Hill’s Scotch Ale (Dan’s favourite beer, apparently), Holgate’s Double Trouble and Otway Estate’s Pilsner going head to head with beers from Willie Simpson’s Seven Sheds brewery and Cascade’s First Harvest among others.
“I’ve been running Beer Snobs for 18 months, going around doing beer dinners and Beef and Beer masterclasses and have now bought into a venue in Coogee which we’ve turned into a beer cafe at night,” says Dan. “We have 25 Aussie craft beers [in bottles] and 12 boutique wines by the glass.”
He says their approach is to keep the beer list changing, only buying two cases of each then moving onto something new, although always stocking something from a few favourite breweries.
“We usually have something on from [Manly brewery] 4 Pines, as they’ve been really supportive,” he says, “as well as Murray’s, the Little Brewing Company and Little Creatures / White Rabbit. At first people were coming for the food but now they’re coming in for the beers and wanting to learn more.”
When Coogee Cafe After Dark opened in November, Dan expected the introduction of craft beer to appeal predominantly to backpackers and tourists but has found it’s been most popular with locals, many of whom would never have tried – or even heard of – the beers on the list. With punters having shown an eagerness to try something new, the State of Origin dinners – there are three lined up over the coming months – are the next step in the “ongoing education process”.
“I’ve learnt that there’s no point having six beers that are unheard of or rare as people won’t be able to find them again, so we always include one or two, such as a Matilda Bay beer, that people can find when they go back to their local pub,” says Dan. “So far, it’s going great guns and the fact we’ve got locals coming back is awesome.”
The Victoria / Tassie face-off costs $65pp and features five beers from each state matched with food. For full details and to book, head here.
The cafe wasn’t open when Crafty was last in Sydney so if you’ve been, we’d love to hear what you think of it.