Benchwarmer, Melbourne, Australia

With Melbourne out of the third COVID lockdown I decided to head over to Benchwarmer to grab some takeaway craft beers, have a beer and to try their new, Japan inspired menu

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Wasn’t 2020 a crap year!

The alleged old chinese proverb says “may you live in interesting times”. While there’s no known link to an actual chinese proverb, 2020 has certaintly been an interesting year.

The year started off with me finalising my mid year European holiday plans – a 4 week sojourn through Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands. Flights booked, hotels booked, currency purchased. The one time in my life I was really organised and I think I jinxed it.

News started filtering through mid January of some flu-ey like illness that was circulating in the northern winter and the assumption was this’d all be done by March and we could then get on with our lives.

But it wasn’t done by March and in late March we got told to work from home as the number of infections and deaths increased.

It dawned on me that I wouldn’t be heading to Europe for my holiday. I held off for as long as possible before cancelling holding onto some faint hope that I’d be able to head overseas. But then the Australian government closed the borders and you weren’t allowed out without a good reason or a Liberal party membership card.

Luckily I was able to get over 99% of my money back after I’d cancelled – only being out of pocket for the credit card surcharge of around $30 that Qatar Airways had charged me. In hindsight they should have refunded the credit card surcharge but I couldn’t be bothered arguing over it.

And then the Melbourne lockdown happened. Between late March and late October the Melbourne metropolitan area was under a strict lockdown for a total of 112 days, with a small break in the middle that ultimately ended up causing the second wave. In total we had one hundred and twelve days where you had to have a valid excuse to be outside your home or you’d face some pretty hefty fines.

While retail was closed, and the cafes and restuarants were restricted to take away only, bottle shops were open! Go figure. And bars that had traditionally not been able to sell take aways were allowed to so, so this opened up an opportunity to feast on craft beers from a couple of nearby bars – Penny Blue and Benchwarmer.

And feast on beers I and a mate did – from mid March til the end of 2020 I managed to try some 340 new unique beers.

After lockdown eased the Melbourne CBD has been a wierd place. People are slowly coming back into the CBD but its nowhere near as busy as it was pre-pandemic, and many places unfortunately just didn’t survive. It’s going to take a fair while for the city to recover but I think ths post-COVID CBD will be quite different from the past.

For me – while it’ll be work from home from the foreseeable future I’m hoping that there will be some overseas travel in 2021. Hopefully Europe will get this under control by mid year. If not I’m crossing my fingers for Japan, South Korea or Taiwan.

Let’s all pray that 2021 is nothing like 2020.

Benchwarmer, North Melbourne, Australia

With Melbourne in stage 3 COVID-19 restrictions looking at stage 4 over the next couple of days I thought it would be an opportune time to introduce you to a great bar, now operating as a bottle shop that offers delivery to the local area, that opened at the wrong time.

Benchwarmer is just northwest of the city near the corner of Victoria and Errol Streets around half a dozen stops out of the city on the 57 tram.

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Dikstein’s Corner Bar, Melbourne, Australia

Half way between The Mitre Tavern and The Irish Times is another bar called Dikstein’s Corner Bar.

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The Mitre Tavern, Melbourne, Australia

The Mitre Tavern is touted as the oldest building in Melbourne and has stood on this site since 1868. A classical Gothic facade on the outside, and low doorways, and undulating floor, inside a testement to its age.

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