Thursday, December 24, 2009

2009 - A Year in Reflection

Like last year, I thought it would be a fun thing to recap our past year in St Kilda and Darlo.

The best thing for me this year has been the continued growth in people's interest in craft beers. While we have a way to go compared to the USA in terms of craft beer penetration (I am currently in New York and they're truly spoilt for choice), we're catching up fast.

Over the past 12 months, these are some of the highlights:

  • The Local Taphouse Darlo opens in Feb and blew our minds with how many Sydneyside beerlovers crawled out of the woodwork. Subject to a few minor approvals, the roof terrace should open early in 2010 to complete the vision.
  • BrewShare - the introduction of a new night where homebrewers can meet up, socialise and swap homebrew stories of success or woe (and beer of course!). The first Darlo BrewShare saw 25 punters or so crammed into Wilfred's Room!
  • Showcase Breweries - This year, our monthly tap showcase of breweries (or any other theme we can think of) saw Little Brewing Co (NSW), Barons (NSW), Rogue (USA), Colonial Brewing (WA), Feral (WA), Mountain Goat (VIC), Moo Brew (TAS), Stone & Wood (NSW) and others grace the taps.
  • The Taphouse Sluggers - our softball team in Melbourne batted up in mid November and is due a win!
  • Interstate (and overseas) visits by me (and others) to Hopsters beer club (Tas), the Wig & Pen and the United States gave a great insight into how others do things..
  • SpecTAPulars - our seasonal beerfests continued with the Summer SpecTAPular featuring (duh) summer beers, Anzac Day (Autumn) when we imported NZ craft beers for the first time and matched them against great Aussie micros, the smash hit Star Spangled SpecTAPular (Winter) where Rogue beers from Oregon made it on to Australian taps for the first time, and the ever-popular Oktoberfest (Spring). A honorable mention goes to Steve from Catsart for being the first Local to make it to two SpecTAPulars in one day!
  • The inaugural Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll saw Little Creatures Pale Ale take out Best Aussie Craft Beer of 2009. For those who haven't voted in this year's poll, you can do so at the top of this blog.
  • Awards - a slew of nominations and awards unexpectedly came our way this year. The most treasured was probably Best Australian Speciality Beer Venue at the Australian Bar Awards.
  • Fun events such as the Melbourne Cup lunch (in Sydney!) and BBQ (St Kilda) and the AFL Grand Final on the Big Screen
  • Another 200 or so beers tapped in both venues (with at least half being exclusives)
  • the launch of the Darlo Ale Stars ably led by Ale Star Tsar AG
  • Ale Star special guests included Brad Rogers (Stone & Wood), David Golding (Red Hill), Luke Nicholas (Epic), Shawn Sherlock (Murrays) and others.
  • Ale Star annual memberships finally coming to pass. St Kilda now has almost 40 members while Darlo has about 10 (although it's a year younger) . Oh, and we finally came up with our own handshake thanks to Anton (and no thanks to me!),
  • Late in the year, the Local Arts Initiative was given a new life in St Kilda and will hopefully see thousands of dollars raised in future for arts grants for disadvantaged youth.
  • the first St Kilda Ale Star Road Trip saw a busload of people spend the day traipsing around the Yarra Valley. If all goes to plan, a group of Ale Stars from Sydney and Melbourne will head to New Zealand's South Island next October.
  • Beer Diva - Kirrily Waldhorn ran regular beer and food matching dinners in both venues.
  • Beer & Cheese nights - cheesemongers McIntosh & Bowman hosted insightful beer/cheese matching sessions in Darlo.
  • Australian Homebrewer of the Year - at both venues we exclusively tapped the Mountain Goat-brewed Alt Spice (aka Spicy Ducks Nuts) spiced ale brewed by Ross Mitchell. We'll be doing it again next quarter.
  • Taphouse Tippers - our AFL tipping comp
  • Tangerine - until its host (Colette) moved overseas, Tangerine was a monthly film/TV/advertising industry short film night in St Kilda
  • IMPROvocation was launched in St Kilda - a wild night of improvisation
  • We raised thousands of dollars for charities and appeals including Raise a Glass Appeal (Anzac Day), World Vision (Oktoberfest), MovemBEER/Movember, Black Saturday Bushfire and Hargreaves Hill Brewery Appeal..
  • Robbie O and Richard S joined us as Head Chefs of Sydney and Melbourne respectively, helping us to achieve our culinary expectations. We're all looking forward to taking the next step of cooking/matching food with beer.

    To relive many of above events, check out our Flickr family photo albums..

    We still haven't run out of fresh ideas and look forward to introducing a few next year (and welcome any from you lot). As usual, this blog is the best place to learn about all that goes on (or is planned to go on).

    From myself, Guy, Justin, Paul, Ben, Beccy, Les, Jo, James, Robbie, Richard and all our great staff, we thank you all for your support.

    Have a Beery Christmas and a Hoppy New Year!


    1. Dear TAPhouse Staff,

      May I say thanks to my Local from a beer tragic. The days are brighter for being able to have a couple of good (and I mean good) beers on the way home from work, or on the weekend. How lucky are we?!

      After reading Willie S's review, Mary and I walked into the Local Taphouse, Darlo in March this year, ran straight into Steve who showed us to a table and gave us beer menus. Good start! Since then, some of the staff must have a chuckle when they see me walk in and think "I wonder what two beers he's going to have today" (eh, Jordan!)... the hoppiest of course!

      So, Merry Christmas and have a rockin' New Year all.

      Before I go, a big thanks to Les, without whom ... rock on, brother.




    2. A truly extraordinary year!! Congratulations to everyone at The Local Taphouses!

    3. May I please congratulate and say that the Darlo Taphouse has raised the bar for beer in Sydney. It has not only introduced us to some beer that we might not have otherwise had access to, it has brought together an otherwise sparse population of beer geeks.

      Much love you cool kids.
      Brewer Dan - Lucitania forever!

    4. WOW isn't that a massive year! Great work guys, can't wait to see what's in store for 2010 (via the internet!)