Thursday, August 2, 2018

Waiter, there's a hair in my beer......

You know, I'll drink any beer offered to me.  A dud beer is better than no beer....  

But I think I'll draw the line at this.....

Definitely one out of the box....

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Stone & Wood at The Beach Club

Got this from The Beach Club at Collaroy.  Might try to drop in on the way home from work:

Monday, July 30, 2018

Great Aussie Tinnie Taste Test 2018

From Fairfax Media's goodfood site:

The Great Australian Tinnie Taste Test 2018

and linking from it

Top 20 Aussie tinnies for 2018

I can't profess to having tried even half of these, but I can certainly vouch for:

  • Young Henry's Newtowner
  • Balter IPA
  • Philter XPA
Shame they couldn't get through their planned schedule. The penultimate paragraph in the first article states:

"The target was to taste 100 cans that provided a wide snapshot of the domestic brewing market. However, when palate (and general) fatigue kicked in, stumps had to be pulled. (It's with regret that brilliant independent brewers such as Batch, Modus Operandi, Akasha and Bridge Road were not tasted on the day, in spite of a sterling effort from the panel.)"

I've got no issue with this per se.... one can get a bit jaded after a while when tasting a wide range (not to mention other possible effects). But, yes, regrettable to miss Modus (and the others too). 

I'm a big fan of and regular customer at the Mona Vale brewery, and believe the Former Tenant Red IPA would have been a shoe-in for the Top 5, at the very least.

The article's a good read, nonetheless.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Imperial IIPA at 4 Pines Brookvale

There's a lot to be said for kindly taking one's son to gym on a Saturday. Normally, Brookvale is not the friendliest of places to drive through.  Saturdays seem  more busy than weekdays, and combined with a home game to the Sea Eagles, there wasn't much room to move.

Oh well, do what I have to do. Drop Jacob and his mate off and think of a way to kill an hour. It's a good thing that Brookvale is now home to three breweries and a distillery (see my other blog for some thoughts about Manly Spirits). Otherwise I'd be lost.....

Quick stroll to the Winbourne Rd industrial estate, and I have the choice of two. Having only recently been to the distillery, I think a quick look into 4 Pines would be worthwhile. Normally is.....

The "Truck Bar" has an industrial Rust Belt feel about it, with probably my favourite device in any beer hall or brewery... a blackboard.
There are a dozen or so offerings at any one time, and 4 Pines are particularly fond of fresh hops, so variations on XPAs and IPAs are the norm. Today I was torn between a Double IPA, and an Imperial Double.  The guys were unanimous in their advice:  go the Impy.

Now, clocking in at 9%, and having to drive the boys home in 45 minutes, discretion ruled, and I ordered a half, for $8.

Looks fairly innocuous, with a mid golden hue, and tightly packed head. But this is a well-built ale. Citrus, pine and musk candy notes, combining to remind one of the old Sherbie lollies. I love Sherbies….

Full bodied and silky. Rich on the palate, and long in the finish. Nice little ethanol warmth to polish it off.

Came with a not-unwelcome flashback to one of Murray's old ales, reviewed a good 7 years ago...Spartacus, which was probably the first Australian Imperial IPA I had tasted.  This style is most certainly driven by the bigger-is-better ethos from our friends across the Pacific, but I think when done with balance and freshness in mind, it can be brilliant without being obnoxious. And fresh is the word, particularly on tap in the brewery.

Don't know what the future holds for 4 Pines, being recently consumed by the mega giant AB InBev (see, although on the face of it there seems to be little appetite for change.  Let's hope the corporate accountants don't start influencing the joint, as these grain and hop bills, while not cheap, are vital to the character of these beers.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Pyrmont Pub Crawl

Check out the Pyrmont Pub Crawl on my other blog.

Goose Island Sofie Belgian Style Saigon 2017

This beauty presented itself from the shelf at Dan Murphy in Mona Vale.  750mL cap seal, coming in at 6.5%, $20, the label advises to keep for 5 years to develop. Bottled on 20DEC17.

Don't know about you, but I find cellaring beers very difficult. Managed to hang on to a Thomas Hardy Vintage Ale for a year, but that was definitely an exception. And for the purpose of illuminating you, dear reader, this will not become one either.

Hazy pale apricot in colour, with rocky white head.  Citrus and spice on the nose.  Good light to medium mouthfeel, with an easy bitterness at the back. Flavours of citrus, musk, and Saison funky goodness.

Best description is a funkier version of Witbier. I tried to sell it to Libby as a cross between Champagne and Hefeweizen.  She likes both but is unconvinced by this one. More's the pity, because I think it's pretty good.  The spice is still lingering as I'm typing this, and my last swallow was after the last paragraph....

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Exit #016 Scotch Ale

I've been someone impressed lately with the beer range at the local IGAs, in Elanora Heights and Warriewood Valley. Not only the usual suspects, but a good server of locals (Modus Operandi, Nomad), overseas beers (plenty from US), and a lot unrecongisable to your humble correspondent.
What's more, they offer a pretty decent two-can deal, which inspires buying two.... for a mate, or for later.

Hadn't seen Exit brewing before, nor for that matter had a Scotch Ale in many a long day. This was a no-brainer.....
Pouring a beige honeycomb head, the ale glows a rich chestnut, with highlights of burnt orange. Good start.                                                                                                   Complex malt aromas, touch of yeast, nuts, rum/molasses.... something else there, not sure just yet.  Hint of alcohol.                                                                                Smooth and velvety mouthfeel, and persistent body & length. Flavours of caramel & spice, coffee/mocha.
 I now know what I was missing before.  There is some peated malt in this grain bill, and it gives a faint hint of Hebridean smoke. Give another 40% alcohol, this could easily be mistaken for a sherry-wooded Islay.
Good stuff.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Six year hiatus

Well, it'll be interesting to see if anyone is still subscribing to this old thing...

It's been a while I know..... many other responsibilities have interfered. Not to mention the on-again-off-again relationship I now seem to have with beer (mostly physiological, sadly).

However, in recent times my diarising interests have expanded significantly, from the simple beer focus to the wider world of other alcohol species (notably spirits and wines).  Moreover, I'm developing an interest in better BBQ-ing, smoking, slow-cooking, as well as curing meats and fermenting/preserving other foods. A lot to do, a lot to document.

And, life is too short to spend in the kitchen or the yard.  Sydney (and Australia, generally) has expanded significantly over the last half-decade, in the realms of quality pubs, distilleries, micro breweries and so forth.  Time to investigate.

So.... a new blog is springing forth:

Might try to salvage some still-relevant posts from this.  And (ideally), cross-pollinate with future posts on beer, breweries, and pubs.

Hope to see you over there....

Monday, May 21, 2012

Vale Geoff Scharer

Today's Good Living (Fairfax press) reports the passing of Geoff Scharer, at the age of 72 after a short illness.

Along with the late Mark Shield, Geoff Scharer was a major influence in my passion for good beer. His single-mindedness about brewing beer of uncompromising quality was a significant factor in driving the Aussie craft brewing industry to where it is today.

His eponymous brewery in Picton was a 80's/90's haven for beer nuts, travellers, and bikies alike. And his particular ethic about not serving anything else but his own product was, if not unwise, admirable.

"Brave", Sir Humphrey might have said. What made it braver was his attempt to replicate this business model in the Rocks.

I recall an evening with my old friend Julian, at the Australian Hotel, which became Scharer's outlet of choice in Sydney city. As Julian and I sipped on Burragorang Bock, a group of nursing students fronted the bar (Geoff was behind it), and asked for half a dozen Carlton Colds and as many Toohey's News.  Our host leant over the bar, said something to the effect of "we don't sell that shit here", and summarily dispatched them to the nearby Glenmore Hotel.

My first ever taste of Burragorang Bock was an epiphany. A rich, complex, chocolatey drink with a hidden kick. We would buy champagne bottles of the stuff at Picton, with instructions to "treat like milk". Unpasteurised, and meant for immediate consumption. So too the Scharer's lager, an unfiltered, apricoty old world lager that would these days go head to head with the ubiquitous American Pale Ale.

I'm not even sure the brewery exists anymore..... so these beers may be consigned to history. But I won't forget the irascible Mr Scharer, nor his contribution to the Australian beer scene as it stands today.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Baxter Inn

My mate Rowan and I caught up in town last night. Via Beeradvocate I'd learnt of a new place in Clarence St, The Baxter Inn, so suggested we take a look.

Last week, I took a tentative stroll to see if I could locate it, but to no avail. Scott Morgan of Hart's Pub later advised me to head down the alleyway opposite Redoak, and turn right at the garbage bin. Not quite the directions one expects for a new venue.

Arriving ahead of Rowan, I followed a couple of young suits down the dark alley (there was no bin.... is this the right alley?), and turned right into a deadend. All inner-city grime and grunge..... no signs of an establishment here.

Except for the black-shirted security guard, and a fancy rope, indicating where the queue is to form. But to where ? A darkened doorway leading into an even darker stairwell. Down I went, and opened a door.

A blast of music and laughter hit me, and I quickly learnt that I was not one of the first to discover this place. Like a speak-easy of 1920's Chicago, this converted cellar is all brick & wood, with a distinctly American jazz bar look and feel, minus the smoke. There must have been a hundred people already there, and no available seating.

But the bar.... oh the bar... hundreds of whisky bottles from bench to ceiling, and a large board listing them and their prices. And four taps of good beer, including Coopers Lager, Mountain Goat Steam Ale, and 2 Brothers Growler Brown Ale. A small but impressive bottle beer range includes Moylan's Hopsickle Imperial IPA, a bottle of which we shared upon our return.

Yes, we returned later. As I waited for Rowan, the bar got more and more crowded, and I wondered if the door queue was now in operation. A quick SMS exchange confirmed this, so I left, collected him from the queue, and popped over to Redoak for a couple of good beers.

At 8pm we returned to Baxter, assuming that a lot of the post-work crowd had left, It had, so we found a booth, and ordered the Moylan's. This is a mouth-ripping beer, outstanding hop and malt profile, almost heading into American Barleywine territory. At $25 a long-neck, this is a very, very reasonably priced beer. I reckon you'd pay the same at Platinum Liquor. Dirt cheap liquor licensing  allows for smaller markups, and lots of these back-alley establishments opening up all over Sydney (and elsewhere).

Did I mention the complimentary pretzels ? They just kept coming and threatened to curtail our dinner plans.

According to the proto-website, The Baxter Inn is open Monday to Saturday, 4pm-1am. I recommend timing your run, though, otherwise you're in for a long wait.

Basement, 152-156 Clarence Street, Sydney

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