Last Minute Melburnian Beers

It hit me as we were standing out in the cold how weird and random this whole thing was. Here we were, two young female Americans with a very limited knowledge of beer taking a tour of a brewing company we’ve barely heard of hours before we had to rush to the airport for our flight back to Auckland.

Why the hell were we doing this?

Carlton Brewhouse had popped up on our radar when we doing research into things we could do in Melbourne. We found a 2-for-1 coupon for a brewery tour and tasting in one of the visitor guides and decided to go for it. It was a deal at $15 per person and we both like beer better than wine, but those are small reasons when you consider the trouble and time we had to go through to get there, do the tour, and rush to the airport in time.

The brewery was located in a northern suburb, across town from we were staying. Because of how the timing was going to work out, we had to bring our luggage with us. I felt like an outright fool walking up to the visitors’ center, rolling my bag behind me. Then when the tour started and we had stored our luggage, I noticed that Kirsten and I were the youngest people in the group. I felt severely out of place.

Inside the Carlton Brewhouse's bottling facilities.
Inside the Carlton Brewhouse’s bottling facilities.

What were we doing?

Yet we went along with it, following behind our bearded, bespectacled American tour guide with the other tourists. The day was cloudy and colder than what we had previously experienced. I couldn’t entirely focus as our guide explained the beer making process, pointing to the various buildings where different steps took place. I was cold, thirsty, and the past two weeks of traveling were finally catching up to me. But I tried my best to listen and learn.

We went inside a couple times, standing comfortably on viewing decks and gazing at the machinery below. It was the weekend, and the production lines sat in industrial silence. As much as I would’ve loved to see the plant in action, it was still interesting to see those gleaming monsters and learn about the making of a classic alcoholic beverage.

Beer tasting!
Beer tasting at the Carlton Brewhouse.

As was expected, the beer tasting at the end was the best part. The experience both reaffirming what I already guessed about my tastes and raising my expectations for on-tap beer. This was the reason why we did this, why we trekked all the way out here last minute with our luggage: Good beer. Duh.

But even then I couldn’t fully relax. Our flight was at 4:15pm and it was already 12:30pm. I would’ve loved to linger and have lunch, but we had an hour of travel ahead of us. So with great reluctance, we hurried our tasting, grabbed our luggage, and sped walked to the tram stop.

So was it worth it? I asked myself once we had transferred to the SkyBus and were now racing on the motorway, heading towards the airport. I looked over my last view of Melbourne’s skyline and felt my beer-filled stomach, and knew that, yes, it was worth it. All of it was.

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