This was the incredulous question asked by the young couple sitting in front of us on the bus. Where indeed.....well for us, we were headed home. Or two blocks further North from home.
To Hawkers Brewery Reservoir, where we were going to be treated to an exclusive brewery tour and TASTING of this very local brew.
What sort of magical bus were you on ? I hear you ask.
A magical beer bus driven by Ben of Ben's Brew Tours.
With the rise (and rise) of popularity of Melbourne's craft beer scene, it was time for a plucky pair to create a very uniquely Melbourne brewery tour. G and I were lucky enough to be invited along on the Northern Stars Brewery Tour in the first weeks of Ben's Brew Tours.
The tour kicks off at Little Creatures for a quick intro and then onto the bus. Heading North, further and further til what was zone 2, Reservoir and the incredible operation that is Hawkers.
Tucked away in an industrial estate is an operation that has to be seen to believed and a story that I could hear over and over.
Here's a tip, if you ever get a chance to sample some of the Hawkers range while listening to Mazen talk (about anything) do.
Both are a delightful treat/surprise/shock to the systems.
The Hawkers Saison is one of my very favourite beers at the moment.
It was about this time that lunch was required. The magic beer bus (!) took us to one of our favourite haunts, The Terminus Hotel.
The Terminus does great food and has a constantly changing and interesting beer list. Once we'd selected our food, we were on to the more difficult choice of deciding which beers to go onto our tasting paddle. Beers chosen and promptly delivered we settled in and got to know our tour leaders and fellow beer drinkers.
Ben started Ben's Brew Tours to as a way of sharing his love and passion for craft beer with others. "I'm really keen to spread the word about drinking better beer."
It's a great approach and one that works really well. Our tour was a mix of craft beer aficionados to the more novice craft beer drinkers.
The behind the scenes nature of the tour means that even if you know and appreciate your craft beer, there's still a great deal to learn and experience. Including tasting some beers not (yet) released to the public. Plus, there is nothing quite like having a tasting with the brewer.
After lunch, from Clifton Hill to Thornbury and we arrived at 3 Ravens. Now, you know how I feel about the 3 Ravens team and their brews.........
Nathan and Murray were on hand to tell us the 3 Ravens tale, show us through the Pleasure Palace (the old bar that will soon become the new bar open to the public) and give us a comprehensive tasting.
I feel like, in this little pocket of industrial Thornbury, 3 Ravens is the 'little' brewery that could.
Award winning beers, excellent classics and then some kooky out there beers that the brewers get to have lots of fun with.
Like the DELICIOUS Turkish Delight (I have one in my fridge and no you can't have it)
The times they are repeating....
Moon Dog Brewery is based in Abbotsford and is about as far away from the technical sophistication of Hawkers that a commercial brewery can get.
Again, a bearded man passionate about his beer, Matthias, lead us through a colourful history and tasting of Moon Dog Brewing.
The contrast of brewing styles together with incredible quality of Melbourne's beer scene is so apparent by the time you've reached this part of the tour.....through a secret hidden door I might add !
Look it's fair to say at this point that quite a lot of delicious beer has been consumed and enjoyed.
But we're not finished yet......oh no.
Our final stop is Forester's Hall in Collingwood. This place is serious about their beer with a staggering 32 taps of carefully selected beer. Obviously the challenge for the modern brewer is once you've made a delicious beer is to get it to drinkers retaining all that fresh hoppy goodness without the preservatives and over filtration of mass produced beer.
Somehow, the kegs and taps and things are really important in this process (details are a little hazy, or I'm just keeping it a secret so you will go on the tour and learn for yourself !) The keg room at Forester's is an impressive exercise in logistics. But let's be honest, it's also a tease seeing exactly what is being poured downstairs while you stand, chilled, in the cool room.
Luckily, our fearless leaders (who have reached some sort god and goddess status in our eyes by now) have organised a tasting here as well. The Forester's Team carefully selected some of their more unique and tasty brews for us to sample.
At this point, it was time to head home. With our goodie bag !
A custom made Ben's Brew Tour Craft'd glass and a beer from each brewery we visited.
G and I had such a fantastic day. This is a brilliant way to explore Melbourne's vibrant craft beer scene, get a behind the scenes look and actually just a really great way to spend a day out.
It is perfectly suited to both the craft beer fanatic and sometime beer drinker. By the end of the tour, we'd happily made friends with everyone, however it would be great as a group tour with 9 of your favourite people.
I'm really excited to see Ben and Natasha succeed, as I'm sure they will and excited to see more people enjoying the craft beer experience.
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*G and I were VIP guests on this tour, however the choice to write this blog post was completely my own and opinions expressed are based on a great experience (and much craft beer).