Pubathon Totals


GUYS

Tom 49

Anthony 47

Adam 44

Vince 43

Palmers 25

 

GIRLS

Kellie 16

Carissa 9

Sarah 8

No Brewery, No Burger


Its official (in my mind)! the only places that can make amazing burgers are breweries and pubs! I’ve been to some of the “best” burger joints in town, and all are highly disappointing. FAB burgers are too small, Just burgers are too dry, Burger edge is too plain.. arguably the three best burger joints in town are failures!

Although they are far from the worst.. very far from the worst… the following is a list of the worst…

#5: FAB steak burger

While there was nothing wrong with the taste (which was exceptionally normal.. not good, normal) the size was just ridiculous. for $15 (on special from 18.50!) I got a burger 1/3 the size of a normal dining plate. I could fit it in the palm of my hand for gods sake!  The height was no taller than the length of an average middle finger either, which was what I wanted to point at the owners!

#4: Curtin Library Cafes Works Burger

Its a towering task, yet wierdly small. They stack the burger up so high that you cant fit it in your mouth, however I’ve seen far bigger burgers that are much more manageable. The burger is just too thin, stupid really. Besides the proportions the meat is clearly low-grade, the salads are soggy, the sauce is scarce and the buns are undercooked… go to the Tav if you want something decent

#3: Bucking Bull Innaloos steak burger

The softest, soggiest patty I have ever witnessed.. and its meant to be steak! It literally falls apart in your hands!  Theres redemption at the Hillaries franchise where proper steak is indeed used

#2: Hungry Jacks Whitfords Whopper

Hungry jacks are usually just edible by my standards.. not good, but if theres no other options I don’t mind.. this encounter changed that though. I open the wrapping of my Whopper and bam! sauce is just everywhere! its smothered all over the packaging, the bun is soaked in Mayo, its seeped all through the salad and in a matter of seconds the whole burger is soggy as hell, burgers are NOT meant to be soggy!

#1: MacDonalds Kingsway Grand Angus…

Was anyone other than Maccas expected to get this? I was completely sober, and starving.. the only place open nearby was macdonalds so we went there, three of us went for Angus burgers as they are apparently slightly better quality.. All three of us vommited later that night.. one before we even left the carpark! Macdonalds makes the worst burgers the world has ever tasted.

 

Note to self, never eat a burger again unless its from a Brewery or Pub!

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Germany in the Valley


Elmars Steins

Germans are well renowned for their beer and their food. Swan Valley has also drawn its own fame for beer and food, breaking the winery mould with 5 breweries (duckstein, feral, elmars, mash, ironbark). So clearly a german influence would propel the Swan Valleys beer cult into the same fame that the surrounding wineries receive. With this in mind German entrepreneurs created Duckstein brewery. A few years later the Perth-based German meats company Elmars opened up their own Brewhaus – Elmars in the Valley 100 metres down the road from Duckstein.

Elmars Weisswurst with sauerkraut & mash

Elmars meats have a reputation, not only are they good by perth standards, their German meats are good by German, even Bavarian standards! So to put their reputation at stake going into beer was a big risk, but it was well rewarded. Elmars in the Valley has its own unique features (as every brewery should have). The most famous is the take-home stein. pay $30 and you get a 2L German-styled glass stein full with the beer of your choice, all home brewed of course. Incredibly, the beer actually tastes Bavarian to! I had recently been to the half-ground between Germany & Austria, the home of lederhosen & oktoberfest, and it was amazing to find that Elmars beer was remarkably similar to beers such as Hofbrau & schofferhofer (which is much better fresh from a tap at their brewery in Germany!) And never anywhere have I seen so much detail go into presenting a single sausage. All the Sausages (and the rest of the food) comes from the original Elmars shop in Mt. Lawley, and is cooked to absolute perfection by specialised German chefs. Elmars really captures the essence of what is Germany.

Duckstein brewery pulls out tradition to market its reputation. Walk into the doors Friday – Sunday and you will here local German bands – all dressed in Lederhosen of course – strutting away stereotypical German music. The handled pint glasses are reminiscent of North German breweries, and once again, the food is outstanding (although a little expensive).  I ordered the Leberkaese steak; an inch thick peice of German meatloaf, with a decent side serve of potato scallops & sauerkraut, which was far better than any supermarket brand around. The Leberkaese had a perfectly soft texture, with a delicate taste. You cant find that anywhere else in WA. The beer was as good as the Margaret river edition, only unfortunately they were out of Kolsch. I ordered the Dunkel, an amber nutty beer with a slight crisp aftertaste, it just worked perfectly with the kraut! My only criticism of SV duckstein was how tightly controlled it was. groups over 12 get kicked out if they dont have a booking, their “pint” glasses are only 400mL and any instances of sculling or drinking from bottles gets you kicked out with no warning… not really German tradition at all!

Ducksteins Leberkaese steak

Demise in a basement


When you make a pub, there are a few sure-fire ways to be successful. 1. build next to a university, 2. well priced food and drinks 3. Quirky fixings – something to make it unique. Three simple steps that surely will have your pub a hit in no time. You’d have to be the worst businessman in the world to let that fail.

The Basement on Broadway is one such case of the “perfect” setting for a pub failing. It was built just metres from UWA, in between student housing. The drinks were the cheapest I have found outside of uni. The food was cheap, and very good! And its drawcard; it had a transparent urinal wall (one sided of course), so you could pretend to piss on the crowd. It had plenty of daily activities including quiz nights, student nights & cheap food nights, which regularly gathered decent crowds. Yet it still managed to fail, how?

Well, the start of its downfall was I guess a major point, the murder of one co-owner by the other is a good way to ruin your business. Despite this, the next owners had it all set up, they had popular quiz nights, famous $11 chicken parmies, the infamous urinal wall, and proximity to a very large student audience.

The next blow came in two. In one week they ruined Monday night at the basement. Formerly a quiz night (hosted by some excellent person!) with $11 chicken Parmigiana, at the start of 2011 the quiz night was replaced by a cheaper alternative, and the parmies were increased to $15, a good deterrent for tight-budget uni students vouching on a cheap meal and the chance to win beer. Originally the crowds still came but as soon as uni started the crowds moved to the university tavern, and captain Stirling another minute down the road.

The third brick in the wall was raising draught beer prices, and slashing the range. in 2010 Basement had 9 draught beers, averaging just $16.70 for a jug. Currently they have 6 draught beers averaging $17.40 per jug. Not much right? But take into consideration that they got rid of the 3 most expensive beers, yet the average price still went up. This was the biggest nail in the coffin, as university students could now get substantially cheaper beer at their guild tavern. The basements audience was gone.

The final nail was a face-saving attempt. Knowing that their university orientated tavern was now failing, the owners attempted to pitch the ailing tavern at older generations. 30-50 year olds. To do this they got rid of the novelty urinal wall, to make the place more “formal”. They started advertising more old fashioned bands with posters, a larger choice of wine & spirits came out, and the food was made even more expensive, to try and keep uni students away. This didn’t work. The older population around the area are on the other side of the suburb, closer to much more elegant pubs around riverside settings.

To this day the Basement remains an eerily quiet pub, with the occasional lunch crowd and quiet evening groups, just a freckle on its glorious past.

“Ahh the Ambience”


Fremantle is a cultural haven in Perth, Arts & creativity thrives in its markets, indie/aternative people roam the streets, and brewers are free to explore new facets of beer production. Fremantle is home to the famous Little Creatures and Gage Roads breweries, holding 3 out of 5 of Perths top 10 beers between them, 3 of those being in Australias top 10. Fremantle is also home to more local micro breweries; Blacksalt, Sail & Anchor and The Monk breweries.

Theres no need to explain the success story of Little Creatures, it is the most successful, and most awarded micro brewery in Australia. Its Amber and Pale Ales have been in the national top 10 for 4 years straight and every single one of its beers have been in the top 50. Its popularity has made it the second biggest drawcard for Fremantle tourism today (behind the prison). At the venue, situated on the harbour across from Kailis Bros restaurant, there is a range of seating from outside long tables to cushioned booths, even sitting up in the roof! Because of its popularity ordering food can be a bit slow, I wouldnt even bother from Friday arvo to Sunday arvo. But its well worth the wait, simple meals with big taste. My favourite to date has been the fresh basil & Mozzarella pizza.

Gage roads is the other huge success story. Based in Matilda bay it only does production beer, and it does it well! Gage roads is home to Atomic Pale Ale and my personal favourite, Wahoo. Both beers have been placed in the top 10 in the last 3 years, and despite being on the more expensive side Wahoo has managed to rise up to number 7 in sales of non-mass production beer.

The Monk is different, when you look from the outside it seems like a restaurant, on the inside it seems like a very fancy restaurant. And the food is definitely restaurant quality, presentation is the key here. The beer is good to, I didn’t expect much but it provided well. I was delighted to finally find a place outside of Margaret river that brewed Kolsch! And their Kolsch was up to standards with Duckstein & Colonial to. Every beer brewed at the Monk has won a bronze medal somewhere in 2010, it will be interesting to see how they will try to improve.

Sail & Anchor was never an exciting prospect. The bottle dry dock is average. When we went there it just looked like an ordinary pub with a long list of what they are going to brew next month on the wall. I did end up getting a dry dock poured, and it was better, not great.. just better. My friends ordered different beers and had much better responses, and some of the future brews did look very mouth-watering indeed!

Next stop is Blacksalt on the beach!

Margaret River bliss


Margaret River is renowned for its many wineries, amazing wildlife, pristine beaches, world famous cheese and chocolate factories and classy accomodation. One aspect that is only now adding itself to MRs drawcard is its breweries. Dotted through a grape dominated landscape is five breweries, all incredible in their own right. Duckstein, Cowaramup, Bootleg, Colonial and Bug Ocean breweries all challenge the perception that Margaret river is solely a wine haven.

February 2009, five guys, myself included set up camp in Gracetown, 15 minutes out of Margaret river. Clearly we weren’t there to taste the “fine” wine. We were there for the breweries. After deciding on the designated driver for day 1 through a game of circle of death, we headed of to brewery number 1, Duckstein. Duckstein started off in the Swan Valley as a traditional german beerhaus. After a partnership agreement with Saracens estate, the duo went about building a multimillion dollar, state-of-the-art establishment to begin brewing their already renowned beer. And it was impressive. Driving up a paved driveway through golden gates, our eyes were greeted with winebarrel walls, jarrah decking & perfectly manicured gardens. Sitting on the deck overlooking the huge damn was peaceful, we got in early to avoid the crowds. Between us we ordered Kolsh & Dunkel (a banana infused beer). The Kolsch was always going to be a winner, but the Dunkel had an intriguingly different, and refreshing aftertaste. Stop #1 was a success.

The second stop off was Bootleg, “an oasis of beer in a desert of wine”. Only one of us was game enough to take on the trademark Raging Bull, a 10% dark beer. After the first few sips he replied with “not that bad” but as the glass became more empty the facial expression became more dire. Clearly a beer best drunk in small amounts. The rest of us had a range of Hefeweiss, Pale & Amber ales; all of which were up to standards. The most memorable part of bootleg was the BBQ sauce. It was quite simply perfect! Made with the Raging Bull, it was a lot stronger than supermarket brands with a smokey finish. Myself and one of my friends ended up buying a bottle each to take home.

Stop #3, the final stop of Day 1, was Colonial. Again we split between Kolsch, Pale ales & Wheat beers. And again what stood out was the food. We ordered Brewery (tapas) platters which included Kalamata Olives, Turkish bread, Persian Fetta, Semi-sundried tomatoes & Caperberries. While most pubs use the cheapest possible, it was clear that this platter was made with top quality, homegrown produce.

We set off on Day 2 with a new designated driver, first stop Cowaramup. After a heavy day of drinking it was fair to say we weren’t in the best state for another big day. Nonetheless Cowaramup did have decent beer, once you found the place! within the first hour of being there we were almost asleep but we pushed on back to Duckstein & Colonial breweries.

Bug Ocean brewery is on the agenda for the next trip, as is Occys, Bush Shack & Wicked Ale breweries in Yallingup.

Breakwater(ing) the bank


Fancy taverns are becoming all the rage recently, Everyone likes a touch of class every now and then. And on top of the list in the last few years is the Breakwater Tavern (Perth, WA). The former dingy English watering hole struck gold when half of the old Mariner burned down Hillaries. The owners spend their hard earned cash from low end business to invest in a destroyed, burnt & crippled location 100 metres down the jetty in the marina. This soon became the most iconic location in one of Perths biggest Tourist & local magnets. The first thing you notice when you step into the marina is the super-sized “BREAKWATER” bolded across large glass & polished metal & varnished wooden surfaces. The impressive outer skin of the re-vamped tavern is only matched by an immaculate interior. Crystal lighting cascades from the roof, glass glistens (and vodka rotates!) behind the bar and the fancy decor is obviously cleaned with precision every night.

Taverns like the modern breakwater come with a price. All the beer is 50c to $1 more expensive than regular “ordinary Joe” pubs. However its okay, because they are served in very nice looking glasses, surrounded by decent views & a good crowd. They offer all the regulars with Hahn, James Squire & Little Creatures on tap. However they also offer some more exclusive lines including Kirin & Steinlager (they do also offer beer for the less fortunate – budweiser, tooheys, summer bright). I have been told their wine & cocktail lists are equally as diverse & impressive.

Then theres the food. To put it blunt, its disappointing, extremely disappointing. For $8 you get a plate of fries the size of a medium box at Macdonalds. And they don’t even have the decency to beer batter them, or offer your choice of dips. For such a high price you would expect a lot more right.. surely pizzas would be fulfilling? Well no; the pizzas, whilst filling a whole plate, have very minimal toppings (maybe to make you buy more?). Then theres the mains. The only meal on the main menu worth the money is the open Wagyu Sandwich at $24. even so I would only just put it inside feasability. Out of a minimal 8 choices, there is not one under $20.. for gods sake a side salad (worth a few cents, which most places give for free) costs $8! EIGHT DOLLARS for some lettuce! It’d be cheaper to use fuel to drive to a grocery store and buy your own then come back.

So whilst good, and reasonably expensive, the Breakwater tavern does not provide on the food front. Luckily there is plenty of amazing food outlets within metres such as Little Ceasers, FAB burgers, Hippo Creek, Sharkies, San Churros, Harbour Terrace etc. etc. To truly be classed as one of the best, The Breakwater seriously needs to reconsider its stingy food menu.

le fin.

Uni Tav. why its so cheap.


University taverns have a reputation for being cheap whilst maintaining good quality. They have to be, for one simple reason – university students are mostly either poor, stingy, or poor and stingy. Uni students need cheap, and they need variety. If you were to go to, for example, Curtin University Tavern you would be faced with a fine choice of tap beers – from Swan Draught to James Squire Amber Ale then further to Boutique beers from WAs famous Microbreweries – Curtin tavern supplies for all demands. And they don’t fall short on choice for food either. A list from roof to floor full of delicious pastas, pizzas, snack foods, sandwiches, salads and meats – all at a very reasonable price to!

The big difference of course, is price. The average price for a pint of Swan Draught (cheapest tap beer) is $7.50. At Curtin Tavern you can pick up a pint of of Hahn Super dry (mid-range beer) for the same price.. and for the more fancy theres Little Creatures or James Squire brews for little over $8 with Guild membership. Astonishing savings that leave you wondering why its so expensive everywhere else? Well the answer is simple. University taverns have a guaranteed audience. Thousands of uni students – statistically the biggest drinkers in societies worldwide – need a place to chill between lectures, and what better than to have a quiet, cheap drink with new classmates or old friends. The amount consumed depends on price. When you have a guaranteed crowd, lowering the prices will be sure to increase profit.

The second difference is the food. University cafes mostly provide standard quality food, able to meet the financial needs of university students, the cheaper it is, the more students will eat there.. And of course, cheaper food means cut backs. The tavern has a drawcard though. The sales on beer, and the crowd already drawn there, allow university taverns to provide better quality food, whilst maintaining a cheap price. For example; A Chicken Parmigiana is just $11.70, and pizza, bigger than fast food companies, starts from just $11. With the cheap, quality food on offer, this surely ends up drawing more students in need of a drink with their food.

Cheap fame – the shortfalls of a renowned pub.


Inner city & suburban pubs mostly have a long tap-line of quality beer. Whether it be James Squire, Little Creatures or mid-higher class imports I would be willing to put money on the fact that EVERY pub in Perth has at least one quality beer on tap. Its definitely a good thing. And for sure, EVERY pub in Perth has mid range beers – Hahn, Redback, Becks etc. You just cant have a pub without it right?

Apparently you can…

The most famed & photographed pub in Western Australia is Ettamogah Pub. Its a fair drive – around two hours East of Perth in Cunderdin – but many thousands of tourists and West Aussies make the trek out every year. The first thing you notice when you get there is how well maintained it is for a rural pub. The wood is still varnished, the red struts are still bright red, and the ‘Ettamogah’ sign still looks as if it were installed yesterday. The outside benches aren’t rotting, the inside looks and smells very clean. Ettimogah is the only well maintain rural pub I have been to so far! So with such fame, and with the money it clearly has to maintain the building, surely they would offer world class beer right? wrong..!

We walked inside, a little after 10am on boxing day. There were a few early birds, presumably locals coming to watch the cricket, but it was still quiet. I went up to the front bar to have a look at whats on tap.. Carlton Draught, Carlton Mid, Swan Draught, Swan Gold, Tooheys Extra Dry, Hahn Light. I thought to myself surely the side bar has a finer choice, which would make sense seeing as it was in the restaurant section, I was in for more bad news.. 6 more taps of the exact same beer. This led me to the realisation that we had driven two hours into the middle of nowhere… to drink low quality, mass produced beer. Now I’m not saying I don’t like it, draught beer is great out of the tap! But when you have to drive two hours to get there, you would atleast expect some microbrewery beer, even super dry would pass.

On further investigation, mostly through my cousins who live close by, I found out the most of the food is very poor quality, and overpriced. So really, Ettamogah Cunderdin makes people drive out into woop woop to check out a world famous pub franchise, draws you in with stunning looks, then serves up a plate of s**t and pint of cat piss. SO for anyone thinking of going there… stick to your local! theres pictures of Ettamogah you can take off of the web to save yourself the time!

What should a pub be?


With the modern age we have seen pubs, taverns, bars sprout up in to all kind of different joints. From the loud and sleazy to the quiet & formal. And everything in between. I guess the first and only factor in (the owner) deciding what he wants with his bar is demographics. In the end you have to create something your target audience will enjoy. This is leading to many pubs deciding to turn up the club-style music, mix cocktails & add dance floors to would-be seating space. Why? because young people are a big, impressionable & easy market.

For example. A typical 18 year old girl walks into a bar, a little tipsy from pre-drinks. The first thing she notices is the blaring music, enticing her to head to the dance floor. After dancing to her favourite club beats she is thirsty, and lets face it, a good proportion of girls will not settle for good ol’ beer, they need cocktails. This brings me to another interesting point. Could it be that girls are becoming the target of pubs? Statistically speaking, much more guys will come to the pub for a few beers, whereas a girl would prefer go to the club. In a mixed group of guys & girls more often than not it will be the girls begging to get the the clubs on a friday night. If the pubs can keep the girls happy, they’re profits would go through the roof! Not only do you have guys buying countless amounts of beer, you now have the girls investing in much more expensive cocktails to! Before you get offended anyone, this is of course a generalist view point.

Is this really what a pub is? can we still call it a pub? These hybrid pub/clubs are certainly an age away from outback pubs; which usually represent a much more traditional way of drinking beer. Now, think about these two points..

A Pub: A place to go to relax with a few beers, have a chat with mates, bet if theres a TAB, enjoy some decent food if your hungry.

A Club: A place to let loose on the D-floor, meet/pick up new people, drink a lot.

Clearly these two can’t combine effectively, one will always outweigh the other. You can’t have a good chat if the music is so loud you can only communicate via hand signals. And good luck eating a burger on a dance floor. Hybrid pub/clubs seem to end up being pubs 5 days of the week, before transforming into “pre-clubs” (clubs you go to before going to proper clubs) on the weekend, they can never find the middle ground.

Being a guy, I know I would much prefer a place like my local – the Carine Tavern. A lot of people bag it due to the fact its quiet, nothing much happens.. but in the end isn’t that what you want in a pub? somewhere simple, somewhere you can chat over a decently priced beer without too many distractions. And of course, somewhere close! Its good to know that some local pubs still know what it takes to be a proper pub. In the end the outcome of a pub relies on the owners greed. to they want to chase the money & turn into a club. Or do they want a proper, working pub – the religion of men for centuries.