This weekend saw the second annual St Kilda Ale Stars Road Trip. This year we headed north east of Melbourne to Beechworth and Bright to visit a couple of our favourite breweries.
Most of us met, as planned, at the Taphouse at 9ish on Saturday morning. There was a slight hiccup with one driver, who shall remain nameless, who tried to pick up a bus from Thrifty when he should have been at Avis but he managed to rectify the problem pretty quickly. Once the third driver arrived the drivers donned their driving shirts, name badges and caps, and tested their radios. After a roll call the convoy set off at exactly the advertised time of 9.30am. Thats right - on time...you wouldn't read about it.
A short time later we were on the open road listening to some tunes and the banter of the three drivers over the radio - Greenleader (later to be re named Greenhound due to the others being a fox and a wolf), Amber 1 (later to be renamed Silverfox due to Greenhound getting confused with the two Ambers) and Amber 2 (later to be renamed Lone Wolf after continuing on his own whilst Greenhound and Silverfox accidently took the scenic route through Wangaratta - or Wang as the locals call it). In between chats on the radios, the driving was exemplary with all three busses sticking to a tight convoy. The overtaking was at all times very stylish.
We rolled into Beechworth right on schedule at 1.15pm and were met at Bridge Road Brewery by owner/brewer/waiter/all round good guy Ben Kraus. Approximately one minute later we were doing what we came for - drinking beer. There was the odd raised eyebrow from the staff as they gently suggested we start with something light to ease our way into the beers and then sat back and watched as we headed straight for the B2 Bomber Belgian Black IPA and the Bier de Garde at around 7%. (incidentally everyone did end up going back and tasting the lighter stuff!). Then it was some delicious pizzas for lunch and a tour of Ben's brewery - the result of years of hard work.
The afternoon was spent either kicking the footy, having a snooze or sitting at the brewery continuing to sample the product...you know who you are.
Then at 6.30pm it was time to reconvene at Tanswells Commercial Hotel for a bite to eat, some very serious football watching, and a spot of dancing. It was at this point a certain Ale Star Tsar was starting to show a few signs of deterioration that he would later describe as the symptoms of being an attentive father...rising early had certainly taken it out of him...
The night went on and on and more than a few road trippers were spotted on the dancefloor well into the evening. The music was great and getting to know some of the locals proved quite an experience.
Back at the ranch, we stumbled into breakfast at 9am in varying states of disrepair and kept conversation to a minimum until we woke up. Then it was back on the busses and off to Bright via Myrtleford...minus 2 comrades...yep, a couple of our crew were MIA but this was an Ale Stars Road Trip, so we had to press on. That and they were mates of James' so we could blame him for any issues arising out of leaving people in Beechworth. We would later hear of their epic adventure by bus and train to return to Melbourne around the same time as the rest of us.
At Bright, Scott showed us his brewery - beautifully situated on the river - and we sampled his beers, had some lunch, and listened to the laid back entertainment.
Then it was back on the road, Greenhound and Silverfox being led by the Lone Wolf who just knows the way...to everywhere. Some polls were held over the radio about which was the favourite beer for the weekend (Bridge Road Biere De Garde on the hand pump with honourable mentions to the B2 Bomber and Bright Staircase Porter) and also who was Lone Wolf aka the Prof more like - MacGyver or Chuck Norris (unanimously he was likened to MacGyver for his ability to deal with any situation - we all have no doubt that given the choice of a red or a green wire to cut to avoid an explosion, he would definitely pick the correct wire).
A brief stop at Milawa Cheese Factory and some other people drops close to the city and the 3 busses pulled into Carlisle Street.
A great weekend was had by all. Big thanks to everyone that came along and made it so enjoyable. Thanks to Ben and Scott and their staff for their wonderful hospitality, to the couple from Beechworth that drove James home from the pub, and to all the bogans on the Hume Freeway that made us laugh along the way. Huge thanks to the Prof for driving. See you all soon.
Over and out...Greenhound and the Silverfox.
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