In the last few years, my dad’s discovered a passion for boutique beers… Not the easiest obsession to indulge from our rather isolated home town. So when he and my sister visited Sydney over the weekend, beer was high on the agenda. On Saturday we had a lazy couple of hours at the Red Oak microbrewery and beer cafe in Clarence Street. Dad had tried a few of the brews before, but said tasting them off the tap was completely different. My sister later made the fitting analogy that Dad’s sudden, all-consuming love for all things Red Oak was like he’d discovered girls a few years ago but suddenly met “the one”.

Anyway, Red Oak not only had great beer, but fantastic food. We ordered three different tasting plates – themed around meat, seafood and cheese – each of which matched four beers with four canapes. The three of us together, dividing tiny portions on tiny plates into thirds and delicately sipping from tiny glasses, our legs swinging from high bar stools – the whole thing felt oddly reminiscent of the tea parties we used to have when we were little!

The sommelier blatantly loved his job and really knew his shit – we talked beer philosophy, beer physics, beer chemistry. Dad mentioned off-hand that he’d love to run a little speakeasy beer cafe back home, boutique drops and tasty food… within half an hour we’d named the joint, designed the fit-out and concocted a guerrilla marketing plan. Watch this space… unless you’re with liquor licensing, in which case, this blog post never happened.

We also spent Sunday night at The Local in Flinders Street, sipping pints amid the overstuffed leather armchairs and retro light fittings. They put on a pork roast so good we had the barman interrogate the chef about how they’d made the gravy….

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