Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Years Eve

It's getting to that time of year. Well Christmas is closer, but that's not what I'm talking about at the present time.

Hey maybe I should do a post about the various Christmas beers that are available currently?


Damn. I should have got a Melbourne photo. 
Anyway, New Years Eve is approaching and myself and Rian are planning on emulating last years event where we spent 3 hours (and silly money....) buying up what we thought were our favourite beers from the year from several bottle shops around Melbourne to see in the new year in style. Whew, that was a long sentence. I'll work on it, I promise.

The night was one of the great New Years Eve's of recent times and we knew immediately that it would be a tradition for the foreseeable future.

So we had it all planned 12 months in advance but with one key improvement. We'd ACCUMULATE the best picks over the whole year!

Excellent strategy! We wouldn't leave anything out, and we'd also be kinder to our credit cards in the festive season.

So the list compilation has been going on for 12 months now. It's gotten really long.

Wait, was that beer that we had in February really NYE worthy? I can't remember. And what about THIS beer?

Clearly, the only sensible option was to stage a Semi Final to qualify if some choices were worthy of the main event and to try some new beers that we thought might be special.

That Semi Final, my friends, occurred on Friday night. It was a splendid night indeed, but don't think it really helped our situation. For starters, we didn't revisit any selections to see if they held up. We had all new beers, and some were absolute belters.

The Ruination IPA from the Stone Brewing Company, Diamond Knot's Industrial IPA and the Yeastie Boys Red Rackham all made strong cases to be there for NYE.

So the list got longer.

Worst outcome for a Semi Final ever. Traditionally, a semi final would halve the field in order to ultimately decide one winner.

Having said that, with more first class beer to be had on the night the winners are clearly us.

Which beers are on the list? Now I'm not going to divulge all of them here. (I can totally get another post about the night and tell you then...)

However, you can imagine that Untappd will get a royal beating that night so you'll be able to see what we've got there.

On the night the tweets will be flowing like the beer, so if you don't want to be bombarded with things you probably aren't interested in then I'd suggest unfollowing us for a while.

No, wait. Don't unfollow us. Follow us. We'll be hashtagging (or "trending"? Is that the term the kids are using these days?) #FBTENYE. It'll be fun, I promise.

Happy Festivus, y'all.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


A misspelling in the title of this post? 

No it's not actually. It's another poor attempt at a beer pun. Inserting "ale" into the word "nostalgia", if you are still having difficulty with it. Forget it.

The sense of smell is perhaps the most evocative trigger for the memory, and perhaps this is part of the reason why enjoying a beer can set off an unmistakable, lucid recollection of past events. 
A reminder of relaxing on a beach in the midst of summer, the first time you had your mind blown by a huge hop hit or huddled up in front of a fireplace on a winters night are all potentially accessed in an instant once again by the taste or smell of a beer. 
This happened to me very recently and the memory was so vivid I really felt like I was instantly transported 13,000 kms back to the western shores of Mexico. 
Before my eyes were opened to microbrewed beer I had traveled to Mexico for 6 months as a reward for... all the hard... something to do with... well I went to Mexico for 6 months. 
I hadn’t ventured into the world of beer that actually had taste and character and was only really exposed to bland Australian macro lagers and Euro lagers so this world of Mexican beers seemed pretty exciting. 
I was sophisticated enough to know that I wasn’t interested getting Coronas while I was there and it seemed that even Mexicans didn’t drink Coronas. 
But what was this? Dos Equis? Modelo Especial? Negra Modelo? Yeah this was all pretty interesting stuff. I mean, they probably are more interesting than Carlton Draught and VB but by no means are the flavours that great among these beers. 
None of these were enjoyed more than the Pacifico Clara, which became my beer of choice when I was out and about. 
The beers were always served with a plate of sliced lime and a dish of salt and the expectation was that you dipped the lime in the salt and then squeezed it in to the beer. I was never a fan of adding lime to beer, even when my palate was only grappling with Becks and Carlsberg I always queried: “If it needs lime added to it then how good can it be?” Fair question I thought, but this is the way everyone was doing it so “When in Rome”. Or Mazatlan as the case may be. Mexico City too. Look, you get what I mean.
Sitting on the beach in the sun with a Pacifico was just about as good an afternoon as I could imagine. 
Just for some clarification for you all. I mentioned I’ve had the Pacifico recently and my palate has evolved out of recognition since then. The Pacifico is just a bland, mass produced lager. At the time however, perfect. 
About a week ago I went to MexiCali restaurant on Swan St in Richmond. I had the faintest breath of a hope that there may be some Mountain Goat beer as just about all the places in Richmond have some Mountain Goat at the ready. Alas there was not, so I thought I would revisit my holiday favourite. 
The first sip was disappointing. Dull. Boring. Still probably one of the better beers on the list. I worked through the beer with effort but figuring that I’d probably get another one after as the other two options were Carlton Draught and Corona. The end of the beer is where it hit me. 
In the last mouthful of the beer I could have sworn I had a strong taste of lime and even a lime seed at the bottom of the bottle. Instantly I was back in a hammock on a hot day in a totally different hemisphere. My fluency in the Spanish language came back and I was immediately less punctual. Is that offensive? It might be, but that’s really beside the point. 
The personal nostalgic value that this beer holds for me far outweighs the objective quality of the beer and takes me back to the best holiday of my life so far. This might be spoiled and ruined if I decided to have this beer more than once in a blue moon. 
I don’t think that’s really going to be a problem. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Raiding the Red Hill Brewers Secret Stash

Such was the sense of adventure and joy afforded from our last trip down to Red Hill (for the launch of the Hop Harvest and the newly installed hand-pump tap), that it was with no hesitation or trepidation that Dave and I jumped on the opportunity to spend another Saturday morning making the lengthy trip down the Nepean Highway to one of Victoria's most aesthetically pleasing breweries. Laying unassumingly in the hills just inland from Mornington Peninsula's scenic coastline, surrounded by woodlands and boasting it's own hop farm, the Red Hill Brewery could almost claim to be situated right in the heart of "God's Country", or if not, certainly the well-kept backyard of some middle-shelved deity.

The Brewer's Secret Stash was a chance for punters to try Red Hill's ever increasing, always impressive collection of aged and limited edition ales in the one place, on tap, for one weekend only. Boasting a tap line-up including the Barrel-aged Imperial Stout, Temptation Ale, Weizenbock and the Christmas Ale as well as the promise of a beer-matched menu of gourmet treats, it was a red circle calender date for any beer lover with adequate transportation, or in our case, someone willing to drive us. (Thanks Tiff!)

If that wasn't already reason enough to fill a car with beer drinkers and head south, it also coincided with the much anticipated launch of the brewery's brand new India Black Ale, which would be pouring through the recently installed traditional beer engine, or hand pump. This launch, alone would have probably been enough to drag us down the coast, away from such city luxuries as mobile phone reception and all-day kebab vans, so the combination of the two was a well-pleasing bonus, if not a deal-clincher.

There is something quite exciting about finally arriving at the brewery. Whether it be the sight of the hop yards as you close in on the entrance, the first glimpse of the rustic, wooden brewhouse, giving a sense of arriving at an old farmhouse, the anticipation of having a range of quality craft beers to sample or just the relief of being able to stretch ones legs after a long drive, arrival at Red Hill is always met with a sense of occasion. The bar/restaurant has an eclectic country-pub-meets-city-beer-garden charm that plays on the brewery's surrounding gardens and farmlands, making it impossible not to feel welcomed and relaxed. An astute environment for the sampling
of quality beers.

We kicked of the session with a pint of hand-
drawn India Black Ale, a style of beer that has seen a surge in the local beer culture of late. But few breweries are giving drinkers the chance to try the style from the traditional hand pump, so we were keen to see the effect that reduced carbonation would have.

Brewers Simon and Tim had been given a little creative license, with this brew being a one-off specialty batch, and while the first taste was somewhat unassuming, it developed in depth and character with every subsequent drink. A balance of upfront bitterness and a rich, lingering malt
character makes this a particularly session-able ale, that could really be enjoyed on a cold wintry night or a balmy summers eve in equal measures. Certainly an excellent follow-up to my favourite Australian beer of 2011 so far, the Hop Harvest Ale. I also must offer thanks to Mr Dave Golding who allowed me to fulfill a long time dream of mine to hand draw my own beer via the traditional beer engine... cementing once and for all, any accusation that i am, in fact, a beer nerd.

We followed a couple of pints of the India Black Ale with the Imperial Stout, which was a particular favourite of both Dave and myself from 2010, as well as sampling the Christmas Ale and the Temptation. With the food-pairings on the special Secret Stash menu, and an abundance of fine ales in this beautiful surrounding, it was hard not to sit back and be content with one's lot in life... We weren't the only ones enjoying ourselves either. Beer lovers, families, couples and groups of mates filled the bar and restaurant, many of whom were sporting the "I found the Brewers Secret Stash" tankards that came ale-filled as part of the booking fee. We were also treated to a tour of the brewhouse and a rundown on the production process of some of the better known Red Hill beers. Sheer beerporn.

In summary, the Brewers Secret Stash really succeeded in showcasing the passion, diversity and quality from a brewery that has only been brewing since 2005, while the India Black Ale proved their adaptability to tackle new styles with their own unique flair.
All in all, a top day trip and the recent opening of the Mornington Peninsula Brewery not too far away has meant that you can really justify making the drive and spending a day down the coast, taking in some of Victoria's (if not Australia's) top beers.

With the brewhouse buzzing with the anticipation
of the impending Imperial Stout (we understand the brewers are quite excited by the progress so far), and a rumoured new Weizenbock recipe on the horizon, I can say without hesitation that it won't be too long at all before Dave and I load up the car again and make the trip south.

Thanks again must go to our official "blogtographer" Jeremy Daniell for accompanying us and taking photos of a quality beyond that which we can write. And thanks to Tiffany for driving us back.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Feral Tap Takeover Roundup

The Feral Brewing Company took over all of the taps at The Local Taphouse in St. Kilda. 

Simple idea. Right?
Firstly, The Local Taphouse has got 20 taps in operation. How many breweries have got 20 beers? Not that many. 
How many breweries have got 20 beers that are unique and have the diversity to make it an interesting event? Even less. 
Feral are one of those few, and they brought the nice in kegfuls. 
Along for the ride was Jeremy Daniell (now becoming the official photographer for From Beer To Eternity) and took some absolutely beautiful shots of the event. 
We spotted The Local Taphouse’s own Ange trying to get some work done and help the event move along smoothly, but we endeavored to interrupt her at every opportunity and talk about the beers (and beer in general) and she agreed to sit down with us and have a bit of a chat for our little blog. How nice of her! Here is what we got:
Dave: What do you think of this kind of craft beer event?

Ange: I think it’s incredible to give a brewery the chance to showcase a huge amount of their beer styles to show what they’re capable of. Feral are up there as my favourite brewery in Australia and they do so well experimenting with a range of different styles and producing at such a high quality.

Dave: Some tap highlights?

Ange: It’s really, really nice to try something that uses salt, most beers that you get capture the floral aroma and bitterness to it, but you don’t get many that have that savoury bite to it. Traditionally a lot of beers would have used that savoury element so what I find really interesting about craft beers is the reintroduction of really old styles, so Jose the Gose is definitely a highlight for me. Especially running through the Funky Brewster it’s really full on but at the same time it’s highlighting that savoury saltiness. The Fanta Pants is definitely one of my favourites, the Barrel Fermented Hop Hog is just a stand out. The last time we had that it was the first time I’d tried anything of that calibre in terms of the complexity of flavours. The fresh moss and vanilla and the sweet earthy flavours really go together perfectly. Thats actually my favourite.”
Now doesn’t that make you want to know more about the selection they were showcasing? I thought as much. Luckily I’ve got it covered.
Each beer on offer didn’t get a concentrated review but I did try and get tasting notes for each of them. 
So here we go:
983 Pale
A very unique pale ale using the sorachi hop variety. A delicate balance of lemongrass and vanilla, but with a nutty taste that comes through a bit like coconut. The malt really balances it out to make a very good pale ale. 
The Runt
2010’s Champion Ale in the AIBA awards. Stonefruit aromas bleed over into the fruity palate with mainly passionfruit flavours. A nice, easy, long flavour. Easy to justify the accolades. Easy to justify on a sunny day. 
Sail and Anchor IPA
This is a pretty interesting IPA. It has a banana aroma that is quite distinct from other IPA’s. The banana also comes through in the initial taste. Stretching out with a fruity sweetness makes this one a highly sessionable one. 
Jose the Gose
Well hello there. Here’s a different one. There’s a light sourness on the nose. A smooth, creamy mouthfeel makes it fairly easy to drink. Brewed with salt and coriander, this is a real savoury treat. The salt is a primary flavour, but it’s not overpowering. I had a huge urge to buy fish and chips with this beer.
Then, through the Funky Brewster it is even more extreme. Served though caper berries it gives a much bigger, sour aroma. The aftertaste of the salt and coriander is intense and it provides the most unique experience of the night. 
Farmhouse Ale
A nice floral, fruity nose. A very pleasantly balanced Saison. The taste progresses to green apples and riesling. All the characteristics you’d come to expect from a lovely farmhouse ale. 
Golden Ace
The latest of the Feral range to be bottled and distributed, and we can see why. The Golden Ace has the perfect balance that is the signature of the tried and true Feral ales. It starts with a pleasant, floral aroma with a citrus hint. The lemon carries through in the inital taste and lingers nicely. Balanced with a Belgian style malt. After it warms, you can pick up some coconut characteristics. 
Funky Junkie
The big, sour invention from Feral is quite unique! The aroma offers up a sour, fruity waft that really heightens the anticipation for this one, and the taste did not disappoint. A big, sour taste that is balanced by a mild sweetness from the malt. One punter on the night suggested fruit tingles, which isn’t far off really. You could add this beer to fruit salad for some serious harmony.
iWit 2.0
Brewed with orange peel and white pepper, these come through straight away in the aroma. This is really unlike any wheat beer I’ve had. The pepper and ginger flavours in this beer make it a very drinkable wit. The pepper aftertaste is quite remarkable.
Nice Guy, Dud Root
This brown ale sports a nice, coffee aroma on the nose, with a little bit of sweetness sneaking in. The first taste is just a classy, malty brown ale. The overall taste is rich and malty with a hint of aniseed. A solid brown ale. 
Smoked Porter
A little subtle smokiness on the nose with the addition of some sweetness. Some warmth lets out some toffee character too. A beautiful sweetness on the palate. A really good, malty, smokey porter. 
Hop Hog
The winner of this years Champion Ale from AIBA. A solid classic. Do I even need to describe it? Fine, okay. Beautiful, hoppy aroma with a touch of citrus to it. Lovely hoppy ale, but you already knew that. The #3 selection in the Critics Choice top 100 beers for 2010. THe flagship Feral beer. 
Barrel Fermented Hop Hog
Fermented in new French oak barrels. It’s sweeter on the nose than it’s regulation counterpart. The oak comes through beautifully. It’s dryer, cleaner and sweeter. Improving the Hop Hog is no mean feat, but Feral have managed to do it. 

Karma Citra
One of the first India Black Ales to surface this year, when they are set to pop up all over Australia. The citrusy, fruity aroma completely defies the black colour of the beer. This is offset by a smoky nose. A smoky flavour teams up with a sweet malt and strong bitterness form the citra hop. Very good IBA. 
Sail & Anchor Brass Monkey
Fantastic chocolate malty aroma for this Oatmeal Stout. It’s got a pretty light body for a stout, but a nice licorice flavour rounds out the taste. An extra kick is added by a good finishing hint of espresso to wrap it up. 
Fanta Pants
A very big, hoppy aroma (a tick in my book). It’s also got a staggering, deep red colour. An immediate sweetness is closely followed by the big, bitter hop hit. Simultaneous sweet malt and the hop bitterness make this unusually balanced for such a strong character. The red colour really is striking for it’s taste. 
A good, true to style Belgian Dubbel style ale without compromising any of the Feral uniquity (<--- that’s not a word, but it should be). The taste is a big, sweeping dubbel and finishes strongly with some candied banana. A double excellent dubbel (I must have had a few too many barrel fermented Hop Hogs before I wrote that last comment...)

A really lovely, sticky sweet nose, almost like a sticky date pudding aroma that invites you to dive in. The taste hints of coconut flavour. The 9.8% ABV is hidden like Wally (toward the end of the book, not the start where it’s easy to find him.) with it tasting like a 7% at most. Danger. The flavour tails off with a lovely liqueur taste. Very nice.
Jet black Imperial Russian Stout. An odd, almost clover-like aroma that really bears no resemblance to the flavour. A big, rich, nutty stout that has a unique quality of the warming agent of the alcohol but being off set by the hop character adding a cooling character. Big, Winter warming stout. 

Still reading? Interesting. I thought without being able to taste the beers and having to struggle through my boring tasting notes you’d be bored and have gone on to YouTube or something. 
This event is an excellent showcasing of everything that a single brewery can do and I sincerely hope that this gets replicated, even if on a smaller scale with smaller breweries it really is wonderful to be able to taste everything that a brewery has to offer side by side. 
My final point will be this: Barrel Fermented Hop Hog. Mmmmmmm. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Good Beer Week - Doin’ it Moon Dog Style

It’s no secret that I’m a little bit obsessed with the beer from the Moon Dog boys. It’s also no secret why, if you’ve had any of their beers then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I don’t want to discuss it. On with the beers!

In no particular order;
The George Freeth Memorial Tropical Brown Ale
Even though as a brewery Moon Dog is relatively young, they have already established a reputation and an understanding that what they produce will be bold, unique and extreme.
So the idea of a coconut-pineapple brown ale was not out of the realms of expectation for Moon Dog, or even of onlookers. 
The aroma had the nutty coconut nose to it but only floating just above a lovely, sweet malt aroma. Now, the taste was something quite extraordinary.
The pineapple is always there, the coconut is always there. Most importantly it’s a really excellent big bodied brown ale that would stand up on it’s own with no difficulty at all. The genius to this beer is that it ties all these strong elements together and presents a superbly balanced coconut-pineapple-brown ale. 
Mrs Parmas came up with a Hawaiian Parma that complimented The George Freeth like a dream. 
A very special beer. 

Cock Sockin’ Ball Knockin’ Chipotle Stout
This just.....well I don’t see there’s....
Let me start again by going straight into the beer. 
Straight out of the tap this beer has a big, warming aroma that establishes anticipation that makes your mouth water. 
Then your eyes water, and you realize it’s the chipotle kicking in. 
This is a really classy stout with a wonderfully smooth mouthfeel. A stout with a big malty body, and hints of coffee and chocolate. Let it warm up a little and you see a little more chocolate wander along, closely followed by a hint of cherry but never leaving behind the chipotle finish that rounds out the experience. 
A classy, solid, highly drinkable stout.
The Local Taphouse also ran this beer through it’s own Funky Brewster crammed with chipotle peppers and cascade hops. And believe me, this is the game changer. 
Clearly this brings a huge chili heat to the beer, but it never overpowers the stout flavour. All of a sudden the chipotle flavour brutishly pulls up cherry and coconut flavours and you have an extremely bold, extremely Moon Dog version of a big stout. 
Whilst warm this beer is phenomenal.

The Artisan Poser
Doctored image? You decide.
It seems funny to think that Moon Dog would have a “classic” beer, but this certainly fits that mould. 
A honey roasted spiced imperial pumpkin ale is the correct description of this arrangement of flavours, and it doesn’t fail on any of those promised components. 
This smooth, spiced ale is highly sessionable. In fact, I wish I had one right now. A perfect winter-warming beer that is distinct, but has a lot of subtlety swirling around it. A visual treat, this beer doesn’t hold back on anything. The pumpkin flavour is fresh and wonderful, and this is balanced some sweet spices and a beautiful malt character. 
Let it warm to get the Moon Doggedness truly show itself with all the character becoming more apparent. More malty sweetness, more fresh pumpkin flavour and more sweet spices lift to the surface and highlights just what these lads can do. 
I’m gutted that I only managed to snag one pint this time around. I’ll try harder next time. 

Raindrops On Roses, and Hairs On Chests
A beast of an IPA. Not just any IPA though. Rose petals and rose water are used to calm it down a little bit, but at around 11% ABV this still has some attitude.  
As an IPA loving hop-head, reading the description of this beer conjured a great deal of anticipation for me. Then I found out it was going to be on at Penny Blue going through the handpump. I nearly cried (of joy, I assure you).
I wandered off down Elizabeth St. at 4pm after work on the Tuesday before I met Rian for some Crafty Crawl work at about six. 
Two hours I would have to enjoy the Raindrops on Roses! The joy!
But alas, when I did arrive there was nobody who could change the keg. I nearly cried again (not of joy this time).
I returned on the Wednesday I was certainly not disappointed. 
A lovely hoppy aroma greeted me out of the glass with a hint of rose sneaking through. 
The taste had me at hello. It’s a big, hop driven IPA with a smooth, sweet malt body. It really hides the ABV (which might be dangerous) tasting more like an 8% at most. The subtle rose character is a really interesting way to soften the big, mean IPA attack and really does compliment it well. 
I described it to a couple of people as a less harsh version of BrewDog’s Hardcore IPA, but with the rose infusion. Does that help anyone? Probably not. I don’t know why I mentioned it. 
This IPA was enhanced by the fact that Penny Blue were running it out of the handpump. So smooth. The way this kind of beer should be!
I may have gone back each day until it was out...

The Black Lung
A mighty impressive, mighty barrel aged porter. 
A hot contender for my favourite Moon Dog beer from Good Beer Week. Hmm? You don’t care which was my favourite? I figured as much. 
The Black Lung is bold from go to woe. A barrel aged smokey porter. It just sounds good doesn’t it?
It’s a real trophy to look at. It was almost a shame to take the first sip as it slightly ruined the perfect picture.
It’s a sessionably (beside a fireplace with a pipe and a robe kind of sessionability) solid porter but has the beautifully smoky character in the aroma. 
The bourbon aged characteristic is immediate before it settles down into a glorious, rich, malty porter that consumes every thought until the glass is empty.
The Black Lung is the kind of beer that can make you forget that you didn’t actually pay for anything at Josie Bones before you left and have to call up the next day and sheepishly give over credit card details...
No, forget that. This beer isn’t anything like that. 

The Abbotsford Collaboration Ale
This article wouldn’t be complete without mention of the collaboration ale that Moon Dog were a part of, known as the “Abbey Collabbey” to it’s friends. 
Moon Dog, Mountain Goat and Matilda Bay put their wonderful heads together to concoct something would have a little piece of each of them inside a pint glass, and the result was remarkably successful.
A dark Belgian Dubbel was agreed upon as the style they would produce, but the Moon Dog paw print was set down in the form of belgian waffles and raisins added to the brew. 
At the launch at the Mountain Goat Brewery the Abbey Collabbey was being poured very cold which revealed a really interesting dubbel, but it wasn’t until it warmed up until the real  delights of this beer were revealed.
A lot is happening in this beer, with the waffle flavour coming on and the mixed spiced flavours from the raisins and dark sugars becoming more apparent. 
This beer has got the drinkability that you would associate with Matilda Bay, the outlandish flavours of Moon Dog, and when this is combined it just feels like a Mountain Goat beer. 
Quite a remarkable beer, and one that I will be seeking out again before it runs out. 
In summary we’ve seen some flexing of the muscles of Moon Dog and we’ve been shown just what these guys can really do. If you’re not excited by them then I don’t know what it takes to excite you. 
Once these guys hit full production there will be good times had by all.
I will be buying a hell of a lot of Moon Dog beer.
End transmission.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Good Beer Week: The Adventures of Captain Blackbeer & Long John Pilsner #1

DAY ONE: Moondog's & Craftymen.

'Twas late one evening in a small port-side tavern in Barbados, I was sipping mead from my tankard and casting my eyes upon some fine local wenches, when a old, sea-weathered pirate pulled up a stool at my table, his body crooked from battle, his face telling a thousand stories through each scar and wrinkle. From under his beaten hat, he pulled a tattered map, coughed into his sleeve then looked me straight in me good eye and said "Over the seas, there be a port called Melbourne-on-Yarra... If you be brave enough to find it, you'll be finding Ol' Crafty's treasure... " He handed me the map, which I accepted hesitantly. I studied it carefully, twas like no map I'd seen before, but it bared the unmistakable mark of Good Beer Week... I'd heard tales of riches untold from Good Beer Week, and the legendary Ol' Crafty. But Ol' Crafty was a cunning operator, he'd spread his hidden treasure across the great port of Melbourne-On-Yarra. I looked up from the map to find the old, weatherbeaten pirate gone... as had the local wenches, come to think of it... cheeky bastard...

That night, upon my ship, the Imperial Black Pale, I lay awake in my quarters, unable to avert my eye from the map. Could it be done? Could all the treasure be found by one man? I couldn't do it alone, I'd need a crew. I needed to go for a walk, to clear my head. Twas not long before I found my crew. One man. Long John Pilsner. As I walked along the waterfront of the port, my eye fell upon him looting a local mead house, loading barrel after barrel of mead and ale onto his ship singlehandedly. After a sharing of stories and mead, he agreed to join me, so long as the booty was split 50/50 and I kept my hands off his stash of mead.

A month later, we caught first glimpse of Melbourne-on-Yarra, as we sailed the Imperial Black Pale into Port Cookie. This be a port that was not readied for the likes of two of the ocean's fiercest pirates, but with a long quest ahead, we made certain not to draw further attention, so we chose a dim lit corner and ordered two Bridge Rd Brewery Dog's Breakfast, and settled in to study the map further.

Long John Pilsner was the first to taste this hearty brew.
"Oi, Captain, this be the finest breakfast beer I've had in all me times, this'd be lovely with a plate of fried mutton and eggs. Get that smoky lager down yer" he bellowed across the table. I took my own sip. He'd be right. What balance of flavours and depth in texture. It reminded me of the kind of breakfasts my old Mam used to make, before I sold her for 12 gold pieces and a flagon of ale.
"Aye, cracking beer be this Dog's Breakfast, fantastic for a dark lager", I offered in return.

After much heated discussion and cutlass wielding, we both decided to set sail for our first treasure ground, Mrs Parma's Cove. The seas were treacherous, but we were able to parallel park our ship relatively close to the mouth of the cove. We were getting close to fortune and glory. If the old pirate's tattered Good Beer Week map was true, we would find the precious George Freeth Memorial Tropical Brown Ale from Moondog. We entered the Cove's only tavern with swords drawn, but were met with other seafarers who'd come to seek refreshment and were not interested in trouble. Out of respect, we returned our swords to their sheaths, and found a table.

One of the tavern maids called us over for a quiet word. "You come seeking the Tropical Brown Ale?"
"ye knows too much to be talkin' bout the Moondog in these parts" I scowled, hoping the other seafarers in the room had not heard her question. Pilsner pulled me away, offering his apologies, "Aye, tis the brown ale we seek, wench." he followed with. She smiled at him in a way that displayed her full set of white teeth, something we seafarers need not the luxury of. She opened up a small cabinet and removed two tankards. Then filled them with ale, ordering the young boy from the kitchen to fix us some parma fare. The George Freeth Memorial Tropical Brown Ale from Moondog was ours! Our first treasure on this long voyage! We marveled at how well balanced it was, like a calm ocean of pineapple, coconut and malt flavours, and it was delicious plain sailing right to the bottom of the tankard. This was truly an ale to live up to the legend. As we gathered up as much as we could fill a glass with, we spotted Karl Moondog himself... another fierce pirate, a pirate who's treasure we had been consuming, right under his nose. We made a mad dash for the Imperial Black Pale, loaded up our treasure and set sail again for Local Taphouse Island.

Local Taphouse Island has been home to many ale swillin' pirates over the years. It's tavern was reknown across many lands as one of the finest taverns a pirate could drink in. Our success so far with the map had meant expectation of another fine haul had risen amongst myself and Pilsner. It would be an easy pillage, and I could almost taste the Cocksockin' Ball Knockin' Imperial Stout, again from Moondog, the map had promised. We approached the bar, cap in hand and gold pieces a-ready and there it was, the second treasure we had come in search of. Ol' Crafty's Golden Ale Chalice.

Long John Pilsner and I danced a merry jig and ordered a flagon of the prized Moondog Imperial Stout. Local Alchemists had infused the stout with chipolte, which left a mighty after-burn, redder than any beard i'd come across. Such complexity of flavour, with the heat bringing out cherry and subtle chocolate undertones. Twas an ale i'd turn my back on any number of tavern wenches for. And so it was, with chalice and our second Moondog in hand, we boarded the Pale and set of into the darkness of the night... with many more treasure to uncover in the course of the week, two pirates shall take some much needed downtime..... be continued....

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hip Hops and Malt Rocks (8 Songs About Beer for GBW)

With Good Beer Week almost upon us, the lads from Melbourne musical comedy duo, Elbow Skin has released the anthem for GBW, an epic and often beautiful ode to the nectar of the gods. I've caught myself far too often in the last week singing the song to myself and getting this catchy tune stuck in my head like a bad pop song. So, with GBW very quickly approaching, I've decided to throw together a completely unofficial, unsanctioned From Beer To Eternity Good Beer Week soundtrack.

But to kick off proceedings, here's the brilliant effort from local lads Elbow Skin.

Track 1. - Elbow Skin - Beer Song

Filmed on location in some of Melbourne's finest beer houses and breweries, see how many you can recognize.

Track 2. - Reel Big Fish - Beer

9/10 American drinkers recommend listening to Reel Big Fish whilst playing beer pong, so here they are.

Track 3. - Alestorm - Nancy The Tavern Wench

So its a song from a Scottish pirate metal band, with a beery name, singing like a pirate about beer... it ticks every box.

Track 4. - Flogging Molly - Drunken Lullabies

Irish folk and punk rock are by far the easiest genres of music to drink to, here's Flogging Molly killing two drunk birds with one blarney stone.

Track 5. - Hilltop Hoods - What a Great Night.

Slight change in direction now (about 180 degrees of change) with Australian Hip Hop royalty...

Track 6. - Korpiklaani - Happy Little Boozer

Finnish Folk Metal stalwarts, Korpiklaani seem to be a band who enjoy their beer, given that a majority of their songs are about beer, and thus, deserve their place on the soundtrack.

Track 7. - Gogol Bordello - Alcohol

Gypsy punks can beer too.... This song reminds me of every hangover I've ever had.... perfect for Good Beer Week.

Track 8. - Pub With No Beer - Slim Dusty

Love it or hate it... ol' Slim has a point, and no compilation of Beer songs for an Australian Beer week would be complete without him.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Land of Hope and Glory

Rule Britannia! I’ve always considered myself to be a bit of an Anglophile, indeed if I wasn’t Australian and couldn’t be Jamaican, Scottish, Belgian, Vladimir Putin or some kind of mutant samurai astrophysicist I’m pretty sure I’d pick English as my nationality. Some of my favourite people are English; Churchill, Sir David Attenborough (wow, you really know you’re somebody when spell check doesn’t flag your name), Corporal Jones, that guy who narrates the Antiques Roadshow, just to name but a few.

England is also one of the great brewing nations, the home of some of my favourite brews, not that the brainwashed masses of Australia know it, there is this pervasive myth that the Brits drink warm beer, as if the barman puts it in the microwave before serving. Sadly this means English Ales are often overlooked by many looking to try new beers, indeed I was well into German and Belgian beer long before those of the old country. Now, with today being St George’s day and the fact that my partner hasn’t sobered up enough yet to complete part 2 of “beers to get your girlfriend into beer”, I thought I’d concoct a list of some of my favourite brews from old Blighty that no self respecting lover of beer should miss...

Wells Bombardier:

There is nothing I like dislike about the above picture. The self appointed “Drink of England”, the Irish have Guinness, while the English have the Bombardier, or so the Well’s & Young marketing department would have you believe. I had a laugh the other day as I walked into the Acland St Cellars and saw a lone bottle of Bombardier, obviously misplaced on the shelf by some careless shopper, surrounded by the Wehrmacht’s finest; neatly ordered ranks of Weihenstephans, Paulaners and Shneider Weisses. With the Cross of St George emblazoned proudly on the label it reminded me of the title sequence in Dad’s Army. Stirring stuff. Anyhow I placed a few Sierra Nevada’s, and Stone & Woods alongside to help out. I also placed a Kronenbourg 1664 alongside but it immediately surrendered...Anyway this is a lovely and highly sessionable ale, a good introduction to what the English do best.

King Goblin: Wychwood’s Hobgoblin is a true classic and the beer which first got me into English Ales. While the Hobgoblin is a mischievous little scamp his bigger brother is a wyvern riding, battle axe wielding warlord, come to lay waste to your stupid hobbit village. A stunning coppery red topped by a rising off-white head it would not look out of place being served in some Middle Earth tavern, this is everything that makes the hobgoblin so enjoyable and then some. Also a great way of getting fantasy loving nerds into drinking good beer! It'll make you roll all 6s!!!

Samuel Smith Imperial Stout: A beer of impeccable pedigree, a list of English brews would not be complete without an entrant from the Old Tadcaster Brewery. This is an example of an imperial stout, like IPAs imperial stouts were brewed stronger to survive the rigours of long sea travel, in this case to the Russian courts of Catherine the Great. Despite what the attractive label suggests, this beer is not the same that the decadent members of the Russian Court would have drunk with caviar and peasants tears, but a resurrection of the style, first brewed in the 1986. As far as I’m concerned this is the supreme expression of Stout, everything that is good about this style of beer is present in the complex characteristics of this coal black beer. Have one of these with a fine cigar and some aged cheddar and sing praise.

Adnams Broadside: If you have ever wanted to try Christmas pudding in liquid form then the mighty broadside is for you. The label commemorates the battle of Sole Bay, which the English actually lost against the Dutch in 1672. At 6.3% this is a 72 gun, triple decker of a beer and pours with a tall white head every bit as majestic as the sails of the galleon depicted on the label. This is one of my favourite winter beers, the thought of a Broadside in my handsome Adnams glass keeps me warm as I walk the rain swept streets of a Melbourne winter’s evening. Adnams of Southwold are an excellent brewery with many worthy beers and were recently named 2011 Brewery of the Year by the UK’s good pub guide. In addition to their environmentally friendly brewing complex they also run 70 pubs which all serve cask conditioned ale and a percentage of annual sales go to the Adnams charity which supports the local area, they are essentially the Mother Teresa of UK brewing.

Fullers ESB: The ESB is a dapper sort of chap, the quintessential English gent. The only beer to win CAMRA’s best strong ale award on seven separate occasions and the progenitor of the extra special bitter style. 7 times!!! If you like beer and haven’t tried this yet then get cracking, no one is going to take you seriously until you do. Like the King Goblin, this is another incredibly aesthetically pleasing beer, a clear golden copper in the glass. The smooth, ginger, toffee, marmalade taste is utterly sublime, if I lived in the UK this would be my 6 pack of choice.