When I wake up…

…you know I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be the one who drinks up next to you!  Cos I will drink 500 beers, and I will drink 500 more!   2015 is a big year for me beer-wise… I’ve taken on the challenge of drinking 500 different beers, whilst at the same time as staying healthy – not an impossibility when you consider it’s full of good ingredients!  I’m already 150 beers in and it’s not yet Easter.  The challenge is not so much drinking 500 beers, but more that I have to travel far and wide to find 500 different beers – there just aren’t that many on offer in Norfolk (UK).

This week, I find myself in B.C. (British Columbia) in Pat’s Pub, 403 East Hastings St, Vancouver http://www.patspub.ca/brew/… I found it when I googled ‘craft beers Vancouver’.  BC this evening could equally mean “before comedy” as I’ve stumbled across the weekly stand-ups (on stage, not the usual wise cracks at the bar).  The bar tender is extremely friendly (& trendy), & she takes the trouble to actually write down the names of the beers on my paddle – the manager is mega enthusiastic, who informs me there’s some 94 local brewers, immediately telling me that he’s going to give me some free samples, including an Irish number that people have swapped from Guinness for (that’s no accolade, but I’ll give it a try).

Pat's Pub Paddle

The first beer (from right to left) is their special – once it’s gone, it’s gone – Snowblind Belgian IPA.. an amber-looking, mild grapefruit starter, that is made with good ol’ Aussie and New Zealand hops (as so much of the world’s beer now is, by the way).  I imagine this one will be gone very soon.  Its neighbour is Fat Tug IPA – being the West Coast, you have to expect an abundance of IPAs – more grapefruit, but perhaps too strong at 7% to take as an aperitif.  New Zealand features in the next sample too – Motueka, a town on the South Island that grows hops ideal for pilsners… Four Winds Pilsner raises the bar for the rest that follow here: it’s fabulous (& I’m not a pilsner fan, per se), bitter, hoppy, and complimentary to the other citrus starters with a tangerine freshness.  No. 4 is Sasquatch Stout – sasquatch = ‘bigfoot’ from this region, so I better be careful on my way home, given it’s 5%… it’s actually a nice coffee mild, which goes well with the excellent local delicacy beer sandwich that you dip into a gravy soup (very messy, finger-licking good)!  What’s interesting about Pat’s Pub is that they have their own brewery, yet a distinct lack of their own beer is noticeable – it’s a good educational facility though, and judging from the sasquatch’n down-&-out gauntlet I had to run through to get here, I’m sure they get in the local schools for beer tasting sessions to start them early.  If they don’t, they should.

Pat's Pub brewhouse

Pubs definitely need to provide entertainment.  Comedy tonight.  Last night it was beermat frisbee golf… from your position at the bar, you try to lob a beermat into a jug some 10-15 feet away, 30-odd times, against an opponent or 3, and the loser buys the winner, er, a beer.  Tremendous excitement, but costly for the uninitiated like myself.  Next time you’re in Seattle, tell Anthony I sent you – he’s the landlord at the Pioneer Square Saloon on Yesler Street, a local pub in another down-&-out area… boy, do I choose them!

Finally, I regret that I have not had time to post on BOTF for a few months, and there’s been so much to say.  For those of you who’ve missed me, go drown your sorrows on a couple of strong IPAs… you might like to try some of the ones above.  In the meantime, I’ll try to keep you posted (so to speak) more regularly with B.C. (beer comedy).

Categories: Beers

4 Pines – The Story of Pale Ale

The backoftheferry boys feel a strong affinity with 4 Pines. Our timelines align, roughly, from inception to our current rough edged adolescence. Of course 4 Pines have gone from strength to strength whereas backoftheferry has settled for a kind of mediocrity where a free beer is our main KPI.

So we always feel very chuffed to get a bait to all the 4 Pines launches and openings – which are occurring at an ever increasing rate.

The launch of the new IPA range at the incredible newly expanded 4 Pines HQ at Brookvale is the current occasion. Your correspondent had to fly solo due to our dear leader being incapacitated. However the crowd was welcoming and the entertainment compelling.

Six pale ales (‘The Bastards‘) were launched in sequence as the “The story of Pale Ale”, each with a verbal introduction. English IPA, American IPA, NZ Pale Ale, an Australian Pale Ale, Belgian and finally the famous 4 Pines Pale Ale.

Tonight was not a night for rating beers (all were very good) but a night for celebrating the fact I have a brilliant brewery that is expanding its front of house two blocks from mine.

Categories: Beers Tags: ,

Sláinte from the Back of the Ferry

Sláinte or Health to all readers of Back of the Ferry. Two of the founding members of BotF are known as Pat & Mick – so no doubt as to our ethnic origins. Like we needed an excuse to celebrate St.Patrick’s Day, but it is the better when you’ve got the green in your blood.

May your stouts be just that and your hangovers gentle.

Guinness Nitro



Categories: Beers

More Torrance Breweries @monkishbrew & @thedudesbrew

Nice vat lettering

A Saturday in G’s household is spent watching kid’s sport. Given the hectic schedule, there was not much hope held for any sneaky visits to anything really. Serendipitously, the daughter’s soccer game happened in the suburb next to Torrance – LA’s hotbed of breweries. Logistically a hit and run mission could bridge a small gap between soccer and basketball.


Our ability to hit and run was somewhat stymied by the crowds at brewery we visited. Both venues we saw were packed. Monkish Brewing was being like a kid in lolly shop. 11 brews on tap. Awesome set up with plenty of space in the brewery itself to have a sip. “Beer, Hope, Love” and plenty was being shown. We couldn’t dawdle so after a beautiful brown “Sepia”, we skedaddled.

Beer, Hope, Love

The Dudes Brewing Co is similar to its Torrances confreres in that it is on an industrial estate. They strongly encourage you to bring your own food along. Quite a twist on BYO. What’s different is the canning machine. Dudes plenty in their colourful, slender 440ml cans. I needed something for a dinner party that night, so opted for two four packs. I was a little irritated at $8 backs a can – but no – $8 per four pack. The happiest of days. check out their Growler refill prices as well. Great way to breed loyalty. I wince as I think about my first growler fill in Sydney.


One reason the crowds was so healthy at both venues was LA Craft Beer Tours. A big 20 odd seater van were parked out the front of each venue. A great way to spend a Sunday. Favourite beer at Dudes’ had to be the Grinning Face Porter. I’m a sucker for coconut in any form, and here the addition of toasted coconut is handled really well.

Good prices

Now the range of beers in the US is just crazy. Not just the breadth of Brewers, but also the types. One of the weirdest beers I’ve seen over the years was one from the delightfully named Belching Beaver Brewery. This relatively new brewery is based in San Diego and produces an eclectic range of core beers including a Peanut Butter Flavoured Milk Stout. You know what? This actually worked. You wouldn’t want too many of these. It’s rich but smooth and not gimmicky. 

great logo

Loving LA @KingHarborBrew @AbsolutionBrewing

Seeking Absolution

Another trip to the U.S. means another stop in LA to visit a great friend of BotF – Geoffrey. G has been threatening to become BotF’s North American correspondent for some time now. Well he should, because LA offers no shortage of material. LA cops a bad rap for its apparent ugliness. “LA is the result you’d get If you tip the U.S. on its side and all the sh-t not nailed down rolled into one place”. It isn’t pretty, but if you dig in, there are plenty of nuggets to be found. On this particular Friday, G and I turned some beauties.

Wicked Beer

A search for some microbreweries revealed that a great percentage of them are in the suburb of Torrance, which is next door to Manhattan and Redondo Beaches. According to one proprietor, the local authorities are small business friendly and it is relatively hassle free for Brewers to set up. Our first stop was Absolution Brewing Co. These guys have a great space and a superlative range. Whilst G and I were visiting a constant stream of visitors came in for growler fills. They’ve nailed the religious theme with a string of cleverly named beverages. Hefe, Pale, Reds, IPAs, Porters – they’re all here. The standout was “The Wicked” – a stunning Double IPA, which was suitably resinous, but held its 9.6%ABV well. A good start.


Lunch beckoned and after a tourist stop at the Manhattan Beach Pier, we popped into the highly regarded Brewco for lunch. 50 beers on tap and a menu chockful of US classics. There was plenty of support for the local Brewers as well as some of the bigs like Victory et al.

Paddies Day misappropriation

 Two doors down from BrewCo is the distinctly old school Shellback Tavern. Amusingly decked out with kitsch and historical photos, Shellback is a must visit. We got a window seat and did some people watching as we sipped on a locally brewed Pale Ale (Strand Brewing). The appropriation of Paddies Day by Corona seemed odd to me, you can’t knock their marketing creativity.

Shellback Tavern

G reckoned Barney’s Beanery’s Santa Monica outlet is about the finest sports bar he’s been to, so we had to give the Redendo Beach version a go. Great views of the beach, but it’s on the inside where the action is. There was a mind blowing array of screens and the staff were extremely accomodating (though puzzled) when we asked to watch the Cavaliers for a bit. Definitely worth a visit during happy hour.

Our last stop before dinner was King Harbor Brewing Company. This great little place was nestled in amongst a row of suburban shops, as opposed to an industrial estate. It’s sparse with the gleaming brewing equipment dominating. For a feed, you can bring your own or hope a food truck pulls up. King Harbor was doing a brisk trade in growler fills and had a good buzz for a joint that had been opened for less than 12 months. I haven’t had a finer brown than their Abel Browne. The Swirly was a dark beer designed to taste like a Mr Whippy chocolate/vanilla soft serve. They succeeded, but I’d rather those flavours in a cone, not a beer. 

King Harbor Brewing

G’s family joined us for dinner and a very popular restaurant in Venice is Wurstkuche. Whether you are eating in or taking out, you order your food at the same counter. There’s apparently 24 varieties of sausage to be had. The rattlesnake and rabbit version I had was pretty good with a bit of zing in it. A Reissdorff Kolsch was the perfect match. A great range of German beers are to be had. So there you – LA delivers. Start writing G.

Beer Cans are Hypnotic

via @Airows

A New Zealand brewery made a video highlighting how they make their beer cans. It’s amazing to see something so complex and robotic act in such a beautiful and hypnotic way. The classical music adds an extra dose of amazingness to the whole thing, too.

The brew in question is called Hops on Pointe brewed at the Garage Project in Wellington NZ.

Vitals below:

  • ALCOHOL: 6.7%
Categories: Beers Tags:

Drumborg Sparkling Ale – another winemaker’s beery take

Drumborg Sparkling Ale

Drumborg Sparkling Ale

There’s no shortage of winemakers that have a crack at making a beer, with various degrees of success and scope. We’ve seen the blokes that make Yellow Tail and a small vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula put a variety of beers. Seppelt is a household name in Australian winemaking. The number of bottles of Great Western Sparking I sold in the 80s when working in pubs and bottle-shops was countless. They’re still making wines – but surprisingly they turn out a beer.

A close friend of Back of the Ferry bought a six pack from the cellar door. Drumborg Sparkling Ale is named after a Seppelt’s vineyard famous for Riesling. The label is a classic throwback to a black label Great Western champers. The beer itself is nothing special. Beer label hyperbole states that the beer is “delicately flavoured with hops grown between rows of grapes” in the Drumborg. Hard to imagine a more bucolic setting for growing hops. Delicate is one of saying subtle, which is another way of saying bland. There’s a pleasant sweet finish – but the hops flavour is remote. Very easy drinking, but not worth a trip to the vineyard.

Categories: Beers Tags: ,

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