Getting Down (Under) with Matt AKA @offthetap
If you didn’t know, craft beer in Melbourne is definitely on trend. At HopPlotter we love learning about the beer scenes in different places around the world and for this interview we wanted to showcase Melbourne, Australia. That led us to native Melbourne beer expert Matt AKA insta famous @offthetap. Matt helped us discover the ins and outs of the booming craft beer scene down under. Find out more in our interview!

Pro Tip: Add your ideal Australian breweries to your HopPlotter "Wish List"

HopPlotter: Hi Matt, for starters, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Matt: Hi, I’m Matt. Software test analyst at an IT firm, sports lover, avid traveller and craft beer connoisseur to boot.

My love of beer began at an early age, everyone had a can of beer in their lunch box in year 5 right?! (laughs)

I think it was on my first trip to the USA in 2013 that this love of beer turned into a love of craft beer. Before then I was your classic lager or ale guy to be honest. The craft beer scene in the states is insane and opened my eyes to a whole new world of unique brews. I just booked my third trip over to the US for January 2018 actually.

I have never worked in the beer industry. For that matter I have never even worked in a bar or poured a beer off tap! I think it’s one of those things where if I worked in the industry my passion for blogging and beer photography might dip a little bit.

I decided to start my Instagram blog ‘offthetap’ as a way to share my passion for craft beer and love of adventures with my friends. Right now craft beer blogging is an awesome hobby and a great way to spend time with mates.

HopPlotter: What city would you pinpoint as the epicenter of the craft beer scene in Australia?

Matt: It’s definitely a Melbourne versus Sydney thing. Call me biased, but for me it’s Melbourne. The craft beer scene here has really taken off in the last 5 years or so and I’m always excited by the endless craft beer options available to me each week. There’s always some form of beer event on each week, whether it’s a tap takeover at a pub in the city, a craft beer festival or even just local happy hour. I like the variety.

Fun Fact: More than 70 million litres of craft beer is produced each year in Australia. If you are a numbers person, this article on Australian craft beer is a must:

HopPlotter: When did you see craft beer begin to take off in Melbourne and around Australia?

Matt: I moved to Melbourne in 2014 and even back then it wasn’t HUUGE. I think it’s getting bigger and bigger each year. There are new breweries popping up all the time, it’s become a part of the culture here now.

HopPlotter: What beers are popular in Australia at the moment?

Matt: I think as we are heading into winter down here stouts and porters are becoming super popular. Breweries are starting to release their seasonal stouts as it gets colder so you will see pubs showcasing these during the colder months.

HopPlotter: Who are the biggest players in the Australian craft beer market?

Matt: Stone & Wood Brewing are massive. Pirate Life Brewing and Modus Operandi Brewing are also some big hitters.

Stone and Wood Brewing

HopPlotter: In Melbourne, what are the macro beers that people drink and are there still a lot of people who are attached to their big beer brands?

Matt: The big name beers here in Melbourne are; Victoria Bitter (VB), Crown Lager, Carlton Draught and Melbourne Bitter I would say. I think a lot of people still do drink these beers. They are a lot cheaper than most craft beer options and lower in alcohol as well. I think a lot of the older generation, people aged 40+ maybe are still pretty attached to the generic big named beers here. Also a slab (case) of generic beer here (VB for example) is anywhere from $45-$50 so beer down under is a lot more expensive than in the US. A Ten FIDY barrel aged can (from Oskar Blues) is $35 here!! Can you believe that?

Kangaroo Drinking VB

HopPlotter: Side question, what are people from Melbourne called?

Matt: I believe we are ‘Melbourneites’.

HopPlotter: Are farmers able to grow hops anywhere in Australia, or do they have to import them?

Matt: The bulk of the hops grown in Australia come from Victoria and Tasmania I believe.

Fun Fact: James Squire is the name of a man that was convicted of stealing and then transported from England to Australia to form the penal colony. He is credited with the first successful cultivation of hops in Australia around the start of the 19th century, and is also considered to have founded Australia's first commercial brewery using hops in 1798.

HopPlotter: What does beer tourism typically look like in Australia, as far as visiting breweries goes?

Matt: It’s a bit of a mixed bag down under. Brewpubs are becoming more popular that’s for sure, with more and more breweries opening their doors to the public. Breweries here definitely have partnerships with pubs to stock their beers either on tap or in the fridge as well. Personally I think it’s a cooler experience to go to the brewery itself and have a beer fresh offthetap, or a tasting paddle and pizza! Being able to sit and drink where the beer is made is pretty cool.

HopPlotter: Do you have a favorite brewery in Melbourne and/or all of Australia?

Matt: Modus Operandi (Sydney) is probably my favourite right now. They have a solid range of beers and their Red IPA is my absolute favourite at the moment. Their beers are sold in 500ml cans and are probably some of the most well balanced, flavoursome beers around at the moment. Pirate life Brewing (South Australia) should also get a mention, their double IPA is my go-to right now and is super fresh.

HopPlotter: What styles are you into right now?

Matt: I’m a big fan of red IPA’s at the moment, I like the big/bold flavours.

HopPlotter: What was the last beer you drank?

Matt: James Squire sent me a few of their latest release ‘Cabin Fever Session IPA’, and it was really nice actually. Quite sweet and malty with a clean finish. It’s not even released until mid-June, how lucky am I!?

It sounds like Australia knows what’s up with craft beer! Now we know where our next beer destination is and HopPlotter is the perfect tool for mapping and planning an Australian beer road trip. How about you? Have you been to Australia? What do you think of the beer down under? Let us know in the comments!

If you want to learn even more about craft beer in Melbourne, you can check out Matt’s fantastic photos and posts here on his social media- he has a great eye for beertography: