Fair-weather friends are easy to come by, but where are they when the chips are down? Yet it’s in the difficult times when we need them by our side, even if they can't do it literally. Here’s the perfect lubricant for sitting beside a mate and reminding him that you're here for the long haul.

Origin – South Melbourne, Victoria
ABV – 8.0%
Size – 355mL
Style – New England Indian Pale Ale

The nation was recently grieving a road tragedy of a different kind with the devastating news a truck laden with VB slabs had crashed, spilling liquid gold across a NSW highway. Disaster struck on the Pacific Highway ironically just south of The Pub With No Beer in Taylors Arm, scattering thousands of tinnies across the road and bringing a tear to the eye of beer lovers everywhere.  Rubbernecks on the road couldn't keep their eyes – or hands – off the cargo strewn across several lanes, with many coming to lend a hand with the clean-up by grabbing as many cans as they could hold!

Whilst I personally wouldn't even be tempted to stop to mop up some VB, the same couldn't be said if a truckload of this NEIPA had a run-in with the Westside Ale Works’ local Montague Street bridge. This The Bridge is yet another cracking West Coast style IPA from Casey Wagner, the man behind Westside. Whilst the brewery's South Melbourne location technically places it west of the CBD, its name instead stems from a desire to champion those hop-forward beers from Casey's former Seattle home.

Which is precisely what he's been doing since establishing a tiny warehouse at 23 Alfred Street with little more than a homebrew kit and a pizza oven in late 2016. And though he has since moved a few doors down to allow extra space for more brewing equipment, Westside Ale Works continues to pay homage to the microbreweries of the U.S. West Coast with everything it does – from the cozy atmosphere to the hop-driven beers. Yet it seems it's not just Casey who loves a bold and brash Indian pale ale, with the style enjoying a level of popularity previously unseen in Australian craft beer. And packed full of Azacca and Amarillo, it doesn't get much bolder and brasher than The Bridge.

Big tropical fruit and citrus flavours including mango, grapefruit, and passionfruit dominate the amora, yet peculiarly the mouth is super smooth and juicy – almost too easy to drink for an eight per cent ABV. Finishing with that tradition West Coast hoppy bitterness, it's a well-balanced beer that can be enjoyed by even the non-craft beer drinkers.

Should a truckload of The Bridge even be jammed under one, I'll undoubtedly be one of the first responders to help lighten the load to remedy the situation!