Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Places of Note 3 - The Prince Alfred

355 Bay St, Port Melbourne VIC 3207, Australia

Sunday - Thursday: 4pm to late
Friday: 12noon to 1am
Saturday: 4pm to 1am


There was once a time when, rather than being full of overpriced boutiques, German cars and odd- looking dogs, Port Melbourne was a den of vice and filth, the sort of place where even the venereal diseases packed heat.

Before air travel the area was one of the main gateways for many of the people and goods entering the country from overseas.  Full of hard men who worked the docks or within the many factories that rose above the small cottages and terraces of the working class like great soot stained mountains of brick and sandstone, the place was also home to some of the more unsavoury elements of society such as the notoriously corrupt Painters and Dockers Union.
I often wonder what someone from back then would think while, on their way to a day of labour doing God only knows what, if they knew that the same cramped terrace their family shivered in, would one day be bought at auction for over a million dollars by some Vespa-driving yuppie.  The world is an odd place...
Now, the thing about hard men is they tend to enjoy a drink and therefore need somewhere to attain the aforementioned, so really old, stately looking pubs are pretty thick on the ground in Port Melbourne.  Be warned though, this is deep in wine country now, where beer is being served it is most likely going to be Stella.  Enter the Prince Alfred.

Next to the Library in Bay Street, the Prince Alfred is my vision of what a pub should look like.  It isn’t a craft beer bar, more just a smart looking pub which just happens to offer really good beer, like the owners have actually put some thought into what they are offering.  There is something there catering to every strata of beer drinker, Carlton Draught and Pure Blonde for the great unwashed, a few white-belt craft beers like LC Bright and White Rabbit Dark followed by the big guns, Mt Goat Steam Ale and Prickly Moses Otway Ale along with Napoleon & Co Cider for those whom are that way inclined.  The bottle list, although not extensive, holds a few surprises and has something to suit most moods. 

The food is excellent and, given the area, in no way pretentious or overpriced.  The steak on Tuesday  steak night ($15) is a decent size and hasn’t had the shit pounded out of it with a rolling pin while the chips are hand cut too, which is all class.  I’ve also noticed is that the specials often incorporate beer as an ingredient in some way, beef and stout pie, lamb shank braised in dark ale, pilsener battered trevalley and chips, to name but a few dishes I’ve seen on offer.
Being an avid disciple of the chalk and felt, it distresses me there are so few places I can drink good beer while enjoying a game of pool (Royston excepted).  The Alfred boasts two pool tables behind the rectangular central bar, both are in good shape for pub tables, the felt has no damage, chalk is easy to find and the cue’s don’t look like they’ve been cracked around someone’s head.  The tables are both positioned well with no close walls to interfere with your shots no matter what the angle.  

I like to think of the Prince Albert as a glimpse into the future, a pub to cater for all tastes.  On a final note, I’ll say just this.  Between 5pm – 6pm each night there are $3.50 pots of everything.  That is all.      

Friday, 12 August 2011

Beer of the Week - Mornington Porter

English Porter 6%

Mornington Peninsula are a brewery whom have never once failed me, like some sort of craft beer battleship (The Beersmark! Anyone? Hello?), each successive beer I’ve tried has hit like a barrage of 475mL - sized shells.  I tried their 2IPA at some point and it blew me away, if all the other Double India Pale Ales were wrestlers Mornington’s would be Andre the Giant just stomping on faces. 

So, fast forward a few months to last Sunday at the Tap House where I sat and ogled this dark beauty.  Big-ass mocha coloured head (I think mocha’s a colour) atop aforementioned midnight dark body.  Smelt nice, mocha, although tilting more towards coffee than chocolate, with a good earthy undertone to give it a bit of depth, there’s also a slightly vapoury, sweet liquor character to the whole affair.  Harlot.

The flavour is assertive, lots’a dark fruit and earthy flavours at the beginning, becomes a bitter finish with chocolate and coffee and the slight tartness of sour cherries.  Add the soft, velvety mouthfeel of this Porter into the equation and you’re left with a beer which serves equally as well as a winter’s afternoon session beer, or as a contemplative after-dinner night cap. 

Possibly my favourite Australian Porter and on par with my NZ favourite, Emerson’s London.