Yelp Elite event: Good Libations at the Oak Barrel

I like going to places – bars, restaurants, B&Bs, and so on – and I like writing about them. In London I had some great times, and got to attend a lot of fun events, because I contributed a lot to review site Qype.

Qype doesn’t have the same sort of fun event-driven culture here in Australia, but Yelp – a similar review site that’s very successful in the US – is starting just that here. So I’ve been contributing reviews. And becoming one of the “Yelp Elite” here. That means I get invites to Yelp events.

Last month I won a pass to a craft beer festival at The Oak Barrel, an excellent bottle shop here in Sydney. It was a very fun afternoon.

Last week I was invited to another tasting event back at the Oak Barrel, with just a dozen or so others from the local Yelp “Elite”. Called Good Libations, it was all about exposing us to beverages we mightn’t have tried otherwise. They really showcased themselves as one of Sydney’s top-notch bottle shops for the discerning buyer, and I don’t recall any of us in the crowd saying we’d tried any of the drinks before. The guys running the show had a wonderful table laid out, and made the night fun.

We started with a Happy Goblin Pale Ale, made by a couple of blokes up in Mount Ku-Rin-Gai. I liked this, nice and malty.

Then came the wines, five of them, covering quite a range:

  • Henschke Julius Riesling 1995 (Eden Valley, Australia) – a tinge of gold colour given the age, with rock melon and lime flavours, quite nice.
  • Les Temps des Cerises 2010 (Languedoc, France) – dull blood-coloured, with a cinnamon cherry aroma, and a spicy, dry, volatile organic taste. It was challenging, but went really well with cheese.
  • Jauma ‘Blewitt Springs’ Grenache 2011 (McLaren Vale, Australia) – very light, nothing on the nose, spicy and elegant but overpowered by the cheese.
  • Sutton Grange Estate Syrah 2006 (Bendigo, Australia) – a super dark, waxy, medicinal wine that took some getting used to; would require some serious pairing to enjoy.
  • A mystery wine; we played a game to guess where it was from, which I lost, and I don’t recall what it was.

In an interesting theme, all were organic wines (and some were “natural”, and at least one biodynamic).

Finally we had a boutique WA whisky, a Limeburners single malt barrel m6, which was fantastic: warm, nutty, and very balanced, especially with a couple of drops of water.

It reinforced my notion that the Oak Barrel is the place to go for top-quality hooch. It was also really great to meet some other local Yelp folks, all of whom were really nice.

The most important thing I learned? Probably, “Don’t waste a good shit-horn.”

You can read other people’s review of the night and see photos with a writeup, though I suspect you might need a Yelp account to do so. You can look at the photos alone on flickr.

Where do we start?


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