By Rhonda Dredge
Rush hour has arrived and it’s time for the evening swill. Andrew Sanders is waiting to take orders. He has 23 ales in his line-up and three ciders.
The crowd advances. Amongst them are many first-time visitors from interstate who expect a horse-racing tip.
“The favourite is still Carlton Draught, unfortunately,” quips Mr Sanders, while keeping an eye on the door. The patient barman’s heart lies with the up-and-coming contenders, the summer ales and the pale ales, the sunset ales and the red eyes, of Victoria’s craft beer industry.
It was Victoberfest at Young & Jackson’s during November and numbers were up but the hotel occupies a crucial corner in the CBD, just opposite Flinders Street Station, and it will soon be covered in hoardings for a period of up to 10 years.
The hotel, which is part of the construction zone for the proposed CBD South Station, presented its case to an environmental effects inquiry in October. The inquiry has six weeks to bring down its decisions.
In the meantime, Mr Sanders is on the front line of the hospitality industry five days a week. “We’ll keep on trading,” the barman said.
Some 8000 tourists arrived from interstate on four P&O liners for the Melbourne Cup during November, each spending an average of $300 in town before the big race.
The largest group of interstate visitors comes from NSW yet international numbers were up 12.6 per cent to 2.5 million last financial year, with those from China up 40 per cent.
Many of these tourists head down to the popular hotel on the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets to view Chloe, on show upstairs, and to select from the Victorian drinks line-up.
Wearing a vivid orange label, Mr Sander’s pick of the bunch is a Pacific ale that goes by the name of Stone & Wood. The brew is close to a summer ale but not exactly the same.
“Summer ale is a local invention,” Mr Sanders explains to those who follow his form guide. “They had a court case to decide whether it was a brand or a style.”
It remains to be seen what concessions Metro Rail will make so the hotel remains viable.