What is it about brew pubs? Seems like there’s one popping up on every corner, and the money that costs to set up makes my blood run cold. But I have to say, the bottled beer just doesn’t hold a candle to the fresh stuff, cold off the tap. Not to me anyway.
What has Willy Wonka got to do with this? You’ll find out.
Arriving from the cool summer of Tassie smack bang into the sultry heat of Queensland, a brew pub in downtown Ipswich (don’t ask) seemed like the idea of the century.
And it was – sort of. Millennials may be the market, but there must be many an Aussie bloke who felt that if he was going to brew his own beer ever, then now is as good a time as any.
I like them. Brew pubs, that is. I like the almost factory/busy/production-happening vibe that bloody big stainless steel vats give a bar.
It’s no nonsense. And one can almost smell the money that those tanks must burn every day. The Pumpyard Brewery, ‘home of 4 hearts brewing’, is down a side street, in what looks like an old school. In central Ipswich, it’s smart, spacious, and while not exactly pumping while we were there, still had a reasonable crowd.
We got some beers. I’m having a love affair with white or wheat beers these days, and the cheery girl behind the bar offered an American Wayfarer – at $11.50 a pint. Delicious. Fruity, fresh, and chilled.
So we sat and looked at the menu. Aaaargh. What is happening in kitchens all around Australia? No wonder chefs are stressed and angry, and profits are down. The menu promised a raft of “Nibbles”, then a raft of burgers, with sides, then a raft of mains, then pizzas!
How can one smallish kitchen push out this kind of variety, all with different elements making just one dish, fast and well? It’s really hard! Not to mention the stock they have to carry and keep fresh. Yes, well, good luck.
We ordered The Pumpyard Brewer’s Board (for Two), at $28, and beer battered fries at $9. Well the less said about the fries the better. They reminded me of Donald Trump’s hair, and were just about as greasy and flaccid. The board was okay, but certainly didn’t have ‘artisan cheeses’ as promised and seemed expensive on delivery.
But the beer was tremendous, and we still didn’t try the 4 Hearts brand of the house. That’ll have to be another visit. And yes, I’d go back, just for the beer. And I’m sure the other food on the menu is passable, but could management please, just please, simplify things for a bit?
Was the idea “Oh let’s have a brew pub!” ??
Then, “Oh, we’ll need food! What do people want these days? Hmmm let’s see…… well everyone likes nibbles…. Got to have those… chicken wings… fries… Oh and something Creole? Yeah, beer battered pickles. Brilliant! Then a meat and cheese board, of course. Pies? Oh we’ll fancy ‘em up and call ‘em by their Spanish name. Burgers? Oh ya gotta have burgers these days. It’s not a pub without burgers.”
“What else? Yeah lamb, steak, fish and chips – course – gotta have that. Couple of salads. Prawns, don’t forget the prawns.” A small voice pipes up, “Don’t forget the veggos.”
Someone’s brother chimes in: “Pizza! I’m not comin’ unless ya serve pizza!” Satisfied nods all round…. “Wait,” says somebody’s wife, “Gotta have a kids’ menu! And don’t forget the dessert….. “
They look at their list and collectively sigh, satisfied. They nod to each other. “Yep! Got it sewn up we have!”
Then they hire a chef, and expect Mr. or Ms. Wonka to make it happen. Poor bastards.
In hospitality, you’ll never please everyone, so you’re a mug if you try, as my dad used to say. And good beer with saggy, soggy chips (yes, DT’s chins come to mind)? Sacrilege!