Posts tagged ‘australia’

May 2, 2013

One gallon at a time

The love of beer has a strange progression. You make your first forays into good beer and gradually or abruptly eschew the bland beer of your past. Then comes the ever growing fundamentalism. You try to convert those around you to your hoppy doctrine. To join the revolution. Easily the most annoying part of the process for those around you.

Then in time comes the dream of brewing. You’ve drunk the work of others and it creeps into your addled brain that brewing your own wouldn’t be a bad idea. In fact hey, maybe even a brewery of my own one day. I’m not quite at this stage yet but I’ve been reading pieces recently about folk at those stages in the road to a brewery. The guys at Boatrocker talking about it with Crafty in Australia and a new series of posts from Broadford Brewer on his move from homebrew to pro as he sets up the Northern Monk Brewing Co., in the UK.  For now I can idly dream. That’s the dream that doesn’t involve hours and hours of cleaning, scrubbing and sanatising.

As I write I’m taking a break for scrubbing, scraping, painting, wrenching and banging. Renovating is thirsty work but in the absence of beer I’m working out where my next step on the beer path will fit into our small apartment. Yes you’ve guessed it, I’m finally taking a crack at some homebrew. I’ve had books on the shelf for years, trawled the internet for blogs and even interviewed a few homebrewers but now it seems like the time has come. There’s no garage, spare room, under the stairs or cellar… so for now it’ll be one gallon at a time in the Brew Cupboard.

March 31, 2013

An Easter dose of Raging Flem

Last year I spent Easter in Belgium. I blogged at the time about taking a clutch of Kernel beers for tasting and the trepidation of introducing these beer lovers (and connoisseurs in the truest sense) to some of London’s best offerings.

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A year on and I’m here in Western Australia wondering what they’d think of Raging Flem. From the Feral Brewing Co’s new Brewpub Series I was sent a sample which arrived hours before the trip to the South West. The label tells me to treat it like milk, to keep it refrigerated. They’re serious about their cold storage at Feral and I was worried that it’s trip to me and then down south may have an effect.

It’s pitched as combing the traditional ferment driven Belgian style with the new world movement for floral American hops to create a blend of new and oldbrewed using a mixed bag of specially selected Australian and European malts, a truck load of American Hops including Amarillo, Cascade and Chinook with a special addition of Belgium candy sugar to round out a unique brew.

The verdict? Well I didn’t have any Belgians, on hand but did have present a Dutchman, a Mediterranean and an Honorary Belgian (with a keen palate for Flemish beers). The panel like the beer is a bit of a bitsa. It takes those brewing styles and mashes and melds them together. The result a resounding success. It’s a bold IPA, those hops coming through loud and clear but has a degree of subtlety which I guess is driven by the malt and that candy sugar. I’m thinking this would be a winner for my real Belgian panel but they’re unlikely to see it make the trip to Europe. Stocks of the series are limited at present to trusted suppliers of Feral. There’s more to come from the Brewpub Series so keep your eyes peeled.

March 20, 2013

Beer Festival 101: Melbourne Good Beer Week

If there were a Beer Festival 101. A lesson in how to create a programme of events that draws in ticker, beer geek, dabbler and novice alike then Melbourne Good Beer Week would be it. I love beer, but I’m a bit non-plussed when it comes to beer fests. I’m much the same with music festivals. I listen to music year round, like to get to gigs year round, not tick the boxes in one weekend and declare myself a music lover. There’s one exception. All Tomorrows Parties. I’ve been only once and crave the next. Melbourne Good Beer Week to me is the beer equivalent. I’ve not actually been but I covet that experience. Everything from the branding, ads with no frothing pint of beer, to the teaser video draw me in. Then the actual programme of events. An innovative mix to educate and intoxicate. Check it out but be prepared to consider a long flight if you’re anywhere other than the east of Oz.

February 18, 2013

A few beautiful curves

Perth. The dullest place on Earth. 2000KM from Adelaide, which in itself is a big country town. Melbourne, is the epicentre of Aussie cool… or a second class London... All statements leveled my way in the last few months and all complete bullshit. This isn’t so much a full on defence of Perth more a few points to those who aren’t sold on this city. I obviously have a bit of a thing for this place, otherwise I wouldn’t have moved 14500 km (9000 miles in old money) to live here. I’ve got to say the city on the Swan River – the most isolated developed city in the world – has thrown me a few beautiful curves that I didn’t expect.

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Perth’s summer festival season is in full swing with the Perth International Arts Festival and Fringe serving up a programme that is sure to meet the cultural needs of even the most ardent Perth detractor. My main festival picks are still to come but the Rachael Dease show, City of Shadows, was an unexpected joy. If a show about a grainy black and white world of murder, suicide and the darker side of human nature can be a joy. It works for Nick Cave I suppose. A hit with audiences in New York and a winner of last years Fringe, I was lucky to get a chance to see it. The clip below gives you an idea.

Away from the Festival, there’s Street Art, Street Food and… Beer. Which as some will know are a few things that make me tick. A city where people write on walls is my kind of place. The street food movement is taking off and there’ll surely be a further boom in this area.

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The beer… sure, it’s $10 upwards a pint but it’s good beer and that’s worth paying for (I’m half way to not flinching when I get the bill). Mainly drinking the likes of Feral, Nail, Little Crteatures and the brewers of the Eastern states I’ll give a particular mention to the pint of 5AM Saint I had recently.  On keg, it was easily the best i’ve had… anywhere. Whether this says something about consistency, how a beer copes with travel, I’m not sure. It was just a nice reminder of home. One day it’ll perhaps be a keg of Magic Rock or The Kernel, but maybe this is a hop dream too far.

 

February 4, 2013

Richard Hawley: the world is fine, by the ocean.

There’s a mass of alternative names for this post and alternative ways in which it could go. I’ve struggled to get down exactly, the essence of the night of 31/01/13. The night Richard Hawley came to town. I’d booked the tickets back in the UK, months ago, days before departure for a new life over here. I’d hovered over the buy button for an age, weighing up whether $75 per ticket was a wise buy when in effect you’re voluntarily unemployed and unsure when you’ll next work. Thoughts of gigs at the Roundhouse and Royal Festival Hall got the better of me and I knew that if i didn’t buy them i’d regret it.

Months later and an email drops to say that due to a lack of ticket sales the gig was to move from the Astor, an art deco cinema to the Rosemount Hotel, a smaller pub venue. This frankly boggled the mind. Richard Hawley. Not sold out? It still puzzles me, especially as it was the greatest gig i’ve ever seen and a night impossible to forget.

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This isn’t hyperbole. This was Richard Hawley on a small pub stage, no barriers, no security. Just Hawley, his band and small crew. As their set got closer the excitement grew. A lump in my throat and feeling choked up. Thoughts of life back in the UK and people we miss. If there is a soundtrack to your life, then Richard Hawley is in mine, some way or another throughout. It’s hard to explain. Whether it’s gigs i’ve been to, his Indie connections back in the Longpigs or Pulp days (when I first obsessed over music) or simply his Northern roots. It’s all in the mix.

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We took our position at the front of the stage, without any elbowing or jostling. The voices around me predominantly British. Many Northern. Any thoughts that $75 was misspent banished as Hawley and Co. took to the stage and launched into the back catalouge. I can’t tell you what they played in order. I was in an awestruck daze, accompanied by a grin that is only starting to subside. I may have looked a tad sweaty and manic… a good look?

I’d expected that it may be a set dominated by Standing at the Sky’s Edge and a dollop of what the fuck am I doing here – Perth temperatures hitting the high 30′s, it being the end of tour and a change of venue. But, I shouldn’t have doubted. Thanking the crowd while throwing back a liberal amount of banter he was the epitome of the humble musician. If you’ve witnessed him live, you may have heard his seagull quip. If not… go and see him and you’ll doubtless hear it.

A gig can catch you at the right time. Like all great music you can be lifted for days on the thought of a line. When thoughts of home flood in I think back to the encore and remind myself the world is fine, by the ocean.

March 19, 2012

The Stanley, 294 Cambridge Street, Wembley, Perth

The small bars of Perth are the closest thing for me to the pubs I love back home. Characterful, independent and not a bottleshop or TAB in sight. The Stanley in Wembley typifies what I like. It’s mismatched chic and indie soundtrack are perfect for Sunday drinking. If we didn’t have dinner plans the option of a Flipside burger delivered from next door would take the edge off working through their small but well formed beer list.

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The bottled choice seems more interesting to me than the German draught option and by far the highlight is the Endeavour 2011 Reserve Amber Ale.

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It’s described as “rich and full with slightly toasted caramel and spiced resinous aromas that combine with sweet brooding dark fruits to deliver a layered and complex bouquet… The palate is malt driven and full bodied. Layered with herbs, cinnamon and a warm earthiness, it is balanced by assertive bitterness and fine minerality. Complex and refreshing, herbal, whilst still retaining the citrus and passionfruit acidity”… And my verdict? Yeah what they said.

The background of Endeavour seems to be mainly wine based which in a country with such an industry you can see the natural move that people would take from grape to grain.

The experience of drinking beer at The Stanley is more akin to a winery as well with the stemless wine glasses making me savour not swill. On my returns to Perth it will be a regular haunt I’m sure.

March 12, 2012

Q&A: Tiffany Waldron, Beer Girl Bites

This weeks Q&A catches up with Melbourne’s Tiff Waldron of Beer Girl Bites. Don’t get on the wrong side of her or you may witness #beergirlrage.

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Your blurb…

I’m originally from Pennsylvania, but I’ve been living in Melbourne for 4+ years. Ever since getting into wheat beers when I was out of college (and could therefore afford to drink beers that weren’t being sold for $1), I’ve been on the lookout for better beers. Trips to Colorado, where my brother went to school, really cemented this journey – with all the brewery tours and craft beer in Boulder and Denver, it’s hard not to take notice. Moving to Australia was a bit of a culture shock – 4 years ago any microbrewed beer was hard to find – even the ‘craft’ beers from the big breweries weren’t easy to get your hands on. Then I found a few places I could get local beers, and it’s been all uphilll from there.

Beer epiphany…

In college, we had a local pub with a pretty incredible beer list. The ceiling was covered in mugs with people’s names on them – and the only way to get one was to drink one of every beer on the beer list. They had this ancient PC in the back of the bar that documented each one – so you couldn’t cheat. And we only turned 21 with (at most) 4 semesters to finish the list. It was a badge of honour to get one of those mugs…bI never even came close to finishing, but it was the first time I tried beers because other people had been talking about them. There was the ‘bacon beer’ Schlenkerla Rauchbier and the ‘chocolate milkshake beer’ Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. It was the latter that got me drinking dark beers, and thus evenutally inspiring #beergirlrage (but that’s a whole other story)*.

Best beer find of the year…

It would be a toss up between Bridge Road and Nogne O collaboration India Saison, the Feral Barrel Fermented Hop Hog and the special ‘Women of Australian Beer’ Ninkasi’s Angel (which I suppose is the closest I’ve ever gotten to brewing).

Which brewers do you look up to…
Jayne Lewis from Two Birds — she left her job as head brewer at Mountain Goat to start her own brewery. A beer made by all women, that markets to women without being feminist or offensive – plus, it’s good beer.

Pub heaven…

All craft beer taps, live music, and a beer garden where it’s always sunny.

Pub hell…

Dance music, girls in glitter, and light macro beers

Favourite local pub…

The Local Taphouse in St. Kilda – the obvious answer, really.

Favourite non local pub…

Every pub in Boulder, CO? But since I remember so few of them, The Brew Works is the local brewpub where I grew up – it’s the first place I really did tasting paddles and tried seasonal beers, so it holds a special place in my heart.

What advice would you give any new brewer…

Don’t underestimate the power of engaging with your customers. These are the people who will go out and get all their friends, and their friends’ friends, to drink your beer. People are going to buy beer they know — and if they’re talking with you on Twitter, Facebook, etc – they’re going to be far more inclined to drink your beer.
Plus, who doesn’t love talking about beer?

What’s on the horizon…

Helping local breweries realize how much using social media can help raise their profile and increase sales – and hopefully finding a place where I can do this full time soon.

*#beergirlrage is a term used by the girls in Melbourne who drink good beer. It is often brought on by stereotyping, uneducated men who make comments like: ‘girls don’t like dark beer’ or ‘did you want a cider?’ or ‘are you sure you want that super hoppy double ipa?’

February 20, 2012

Life, the Universe and Beer

From the delirium of my mid transit Singapore blog post I’m coming to you at 3am, awake, as everyone else is sound asleep.

I’m sat on an observation deck, looking out across the blackness, the Southern Ocean in the distance, above me the Southern Cross and a chalky haze, smudged across the sky. Our host A, casually told me earlier that it was the Milky Way; as I looked up open mouthed in awe. I feel that I should be writing about the meaning of life rather than beer.

Having arrived on Sunday I seemed to have slipped into the Perth way of doing things seamlessly. Barbecues and meat pie have been consumed with the promise of more to come and with 5 days “down South” the obligatory visit to the bottleshop. A case of Little Creatures Pale Ale is a given. It’s easily in my top 5. If there is a beer that takes me back to good times it’s this.

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Looking at the fridges we also go for some Gage Roads Atomic. Another Perth brewer, based in Palmyra, I’ve had their Wahoo and Sleeping Giant the day before at a welcome lunch and I’m eager to try more of their offering. This American style Pale Ale sits well between the Kolsch (Wahoo) and the IPA (Sleeping Giant) on their roster and stands up well to the Little Creatures. I would do more of a considered comparison but the 6 pack got polished off hours ago. As we stood around the chopping block eating bread, olives and dukka it gets the seal of approval from the soon to be inlaws. I have a small sense of accomplishment that I’ve introduced J & A to something distinctly Perth in origin. Granted it’s not quite the Milky Way but one small step for this pomme.

January 6, 2012

Down in One, Down Under

Skulling a pint. You would think it would be a younger mans game right? The arena of students and rugby players? Some would hold it up as youthful disrespect for alcohol and the tenets of drinking responsibly. Well, Bob Hawke would have something to say. The 82 year old former Prime Minister of Australia, shows that age and status should never get in the way of downing a pint. Politicians the world over love to be seen electioneering in Pubs with a pint. I suppose they feel that it gives them some credibility with the electorate but is often as cringeworthy as kissing babies. Hhow many can do this! The world needs more elder Statesmen like Bob. 

June 14, 2011

Q&A with Gem: Eat, Drink & Stagger

Pub Diaries Q&A again travels to Australia for the lowdown from Melbourne blogger, poet and viola de gamba player (we beer drinkers have many talents), Gem Mahadeo. Gem is a contributor at Eat, Drink and Stagger, a blog that should not be read if thirsty or hungry.

Source: Tristan Kenney

What’s most likely to be heard down the pub or when writing?

At a pub… lots of good cheer and the sound of folks enjoying a drink or two with good mates over some good pub grub. When writing… the clatter of keys on what is my apparently very loud laptop keyboard, music on in the background with me occasionally ejaculating the odd expletive due to my own writing-related idiocy.

Favourite place to enjoy a beer?

I can’t really narrow it down locally but here’s a few places I really love to visit for some of the good amber (and its brethren) ale – Biero Bar in Melbourne’s CBD, The Local Taphouse in St Kilda and The Terminus in Clifton Hill.

Further afield, one of my favourite breweries to visit would be Red Hill Brewery in the Mornington Peninsula – I love Karen who’s extremely social media savvy and loves to chat to patrons on and offline and it’s the first place I went to that really made me fall in love with craft beer. It’s relaxed and the food and beer are both worth the travel and hoping to get down there really soon.

If I weren’t writing i’d be…

…still very miserable about writing poetry and cajoling the few friends I know who could put up with it to read them, knowing all the while that they would only really be reading out of the kindness of their non-poet-wanker hearts. I don’t know many folks who really love to read poetry, let alone write it so it’s not conducive to writing more. Blogging about food and beer has been different – a lot more folks can identify with having to eat, or wanting to enjoy a good drop, and so read willingly, which encourages me to write more about it.

I also wouldn’t be learning as much about beer and food as I am now, though of course have still so damn much to learn. Blogging has put me in touch with a lot of others who help me learn more through their own writing or their comments on the blog posts.

The perfect pub?

Ooh, possibly contentious, but I think a perfect pub still has to have some of the brews on tap that I won’t necessarily drink (by which I mean the macros). At least one or two local microbrews on tap, a sizeable bottled beer and cider selection and some great food – the pub staples like a parma, risotto, good gourmet pizza or steak but higher end dishes on offer too. Ideally to have the noise balance where it’s not deathly quiet but noisy enough and still be able to hear your companion when you’re having a conversation. Lots of tables and chairs so that when you enter, you can still get a table. Comfy couches and armchairs an absolute bonus! It’s also got to be dim enough so you can’t see how haggard the day’s made me.

Beer / Pub hell?

Still running into it – usually having to interact with a man who isn’t at all open to the possibility that I might actually know stuff about beer and then will talk over the top of me forcing me to be tight-lipped, looking for an exit. I don’t generally volunteer information when conversing with folks about beer unless they are good friends of mine (read: epic beer wankers I know and love) so I kind of hate it when guys try to ‘educate’ me and won’t let me get a word in about what little I do know, or discount it altogether due to my having boobs. The irony being that most of the ‘educators’ are the ones who don’t know anywhere near as much as they think they do…it’s like the universe’s idea of a joke!

What was the last thing you got excited about – beer or otherwise?

Good Beer Week in Melbourne. It worked. So many people came, saw, conquered, got conquered. Had a terrific time attending all the events I went to and it got me all excited not just about the state of beer and its acceptance as a beverage of fine enjoyment as opposed to one you binge drink on and regret the next day but I also just found it personally inspiring; writing up nearly every event I went to and posted about it on the blog.

Unrelated, I am also excited about poetry again. I’ve been writing a lot of poetry this year as a lot of the blog writing’s enjoyment is starting to fuel that and am very slowly starting to have poems accepted in publications.

What’s happening?

Again, a lot of the blog and the enthusiasm I feel for it is starting to fuel other things. While ideally, I’d love blogging lead to some related paid writing but that might not end up happening as writing means visiting and visiting means spending and I’ve taken the year off work due to some long-term health issues, so yeah, that’s going to be a very long-term dream…

So oddly enough, I’ve decided to hit up my backburner goals which include trying to get more poetry published and start taking my musical instrument, the viola da gamba, seriously. With the gamba, I’d love to get to the stage again where I can be considered a professional consort player (read: perpetual second violin, figuratively speaking) and while I’m getting well, that leaves me with lots of time to practise and play.

Obviously, I do hope to keep drinking more ace beer and eating as much ace food as my budget will allow – that is totally a given!

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