|I witnessed history last Sunday evening.
It has been many years since I have been to a One Day Cricket match (am I the canary in the mine in regards to the formats demise?). Yet I have witnessed many of the highpoints of One Day Cricket in Australia.
But I have also witnessed some of the ‘off field’ high points at One Day cricket matches that seemed to have ended once the SCG’s famed Hill was cemented over.
So in your correspondent’s opinion, since The Hill was cemented over and the fun police began popping all the beachballs, the days of the entertainment being largely on the paying side of the fence were over.
Then I went and saw Australia play Sri Lanka at the SCG last Sunday night.
Those who follow cricket will know it was declared a washout and therefore a ‘no result’. I could not care less about the result. In fact, if not for the rain, I would not have witnessed the worlds longest ever beer snake.
Consulting the source of all knowledge, “A beer snake, super snake, or cup snake is the stacking of numerous plastic beer cups to form a “snake.”a beer snake“.
The first such example was seen on January 3, 2001 at the SCG. A newspaper article in the Sydney Morning Herald cited Michael Gray as “The Snake Charmer” and architect of the social phenomenon.
|So not only was I witnessing a record. I was witnessing it at “the source”.
About 20 minutes after the players came off the field due to rain the crowd got restless. More experienced observers noted the start of several smaller “snakes” at disparate locations in front of the Victor Trumper Stand. Every 10 minutes or so, as each of these smaller “snakes” was married to another, the crowd would cheer. Slowly the larger “snake” emerged and we knew something special was afoot.
|Reports have the final, record-breaking snake at 175m. After about 60 minutes the snake in front of the Trumper Stand was 100m and seemed to be struggling to source fresh cups. As with any community enterprise, momentum was of maximum importance and the spirit of the crowd seemed to be flagging. Then the Brewongle Concourse came to the fore. Just in front of your correspondent another snake was growing. Supporters passed over their beer cups, 6 from myself included, and in a blink there was a 75m beer cup snake on the Brewongle Concourse.|
|The keepers of the snake then set off towards the Trumper Stand to merge it with its destiny. As the snake approached the barrier between the two stands a game breaker emerged. There was no way the fun police would let the snake exit the Brewongle and enter the Trumper. Or was there? After a few quick words between some security staff and the cops, the snake keepers were afforded an escort and the snake made its way from the Brewongle and into history.
The beer cup snake is no mean feat and is something to be proud off. However, the collusion of the security staff and police in the creation of the record is something to be lauded.
PS I have reviewed the slightly alcoholic cats piss they serve at Australian sporting venues elsewhere. Any focus on such serves only to cheapen the record achieved.
PPS It showed a distinct lack of digital nuance on my part to not consult twitter prior to writing this article and see that #beersnake had trended Australia-wide. I have to also publish some of the better tweets below;
and my personal favourite..
|You know all the ducks have lined up in your life when one of your favourite craft brewers opens a brewery just three blocks from your house. Even better if said brewer is kind enough to ask you along to help celebrate the opening with a few beers. And so it was that three of the boys from botf sauntered down to the new 4 Pines Brewing HQ last Saturday afternoon.
I am pretty sure myself and bladdamasta may have breached several of those unsaid brewery opening rules of etiquette by arriving with empty growlers in hand.
|Anyway, the weather was perfect for a brewery opening, bands were playing and the vibe was fantastic. First things first and we got a quick tour of all the new kit from Head Brewer, Andrew (@tweeds79).
I won’t tell you that I understood everything he explained, as he gesticulated excitedly at all the gleaming metal, but it was all pretty impressive and he is obviously very passionate about his profession and his product. He’s doing something right, I for one enjoy the output as if it’s the last beer I’ll ever have.
|By mid afternoon the crowd had swelled with hipster types from Manly and the who’s who of craft brewing. Mrs and Mr Beer Diva suddenly appeared at the bar, lobbing in from their upper peninsula eyrie.
While there were none of the famous 4 Pines Keller Door Series on tap, the 4 Pines stable tryptch of the Pale Ale, Kolsch and Hefeweizen were and these were more than adequate to ensure the fledgeling brewery was given the best of christenings.
|Come mid afternoon and there was a taint of formality as Mike Baird, the NSW Treasurer and State Member for Manly, opened the brewery by chewing through the hessian ribbon.
Now Mike seems like a decent bloke on the occasions I have seen or heard from him. For a politician. But jeez I wish I wish he’d do something about public transport on the peninsula. Being a brewery opening though I thought I’d park the ear bashing until another time (and less free 4 Pines).
|By 6pm the brewery was well and truly opened and Jaron was doing the rounds calling for last drinks.
It was then that I witnessed an Indiana Jones moment as the shutter of the brewery was brought down like a portcullis and the cry of ‘lock in’ was heard. But only for all those who could scuttle under the descending blade before it clanged on the cement. Alas, we were too slow. Also have too many kids. Otherwise we’d still be there now.
|4 Pines is one of the things we love about Manly. The 4 Pines venue at Manly has set the tone for other bars and restaurants, let alone other craft brewers. 4 Pines also embodies what is best about the more successful craft brewers in Australia. These make the beer and its brewing more accessible for your average Joe on the street, not just your aficianado. They are passionate and love sharing the process with you.
So good luck with the new brewery and many thanks for thinking of us. Looking forward to the Xmas Saison!
|In the words of the iconic Redgum song, we’ve all been to Bali at some time or another. And look, I am actually quite a fan as long as I can avoid downtown Kuta. But having been there again recently, not only has everyone been to Bali, they are all wearing a Bintang T-Shirt, Bintang wife beater or pair of Bintang hot pants.
It seems every Aussie needs to highlight the fact that, well, they are an Aussie. And how better than wearing the same T-shirt advertising the same so-so non-Aussie beer.
|With this in mind my fellow botf correspondent @bladdamasta set me a quite daunting (as it turned out) task. “Buy me a Bali Hai T-shirt”, he challenged. “How easy will this be!”, I thought to myself. I was off to Bali. Tick. Bali Hai is brewed (sort of) near Bali. Tick. You can buy Bali Hai in Kuta bars. Tick. Kuta is full of cheap tacky T-shirt knockoff shops that would print my arse on one if I asked. Tick.|
|Well, despite all those big, fat ticks. The outcome was a resounding gameshow ‘Bzzzzt’. Having diverted my family for a lovely afternoon in Kuta on some flimsy excuse, I parked them at Fat Yogis and set out on my quest. Bugga me I must have walked every lane of Kuta only to be treated with what ranged from somnolent disinterest to spiteful derision when I politely asked for a Bali Hai T-shirt.
There’s an opportunity here brewers of Bali Hai. I can’t be only person ever to want to purchase a T-shirt to advertise your so-so non-Aussie beer?
|I flew home empty handed but far from defeated. I contacted the brewer in Java. Surely I can buy one from them. Nope. Next, I had seen the colourful cans in local bottlos so there must be a local distributor. BINGO! “Can I buy a Bali Hai T-shirt?”, I queried plaintively down the phone. Can you what! They even through in a hat.
It is not the best beer ‘T’ I have seen. Nor the best designed. But it is the hardest to find and I love it. I just need to wear it back to Bali where I am sure to stand out.
There’s nothing your botf members like more than showing off their fair city from the botf. This correspondent works for an enterprise with a corporate head office in Melbourne so it’s with pleasure that I inducted a few colleagues from Mexico. We followed up with a visit to 4 Pines for their Oktoberfest kickoff. Spectacular.
Firstly, can I introduce Graham.
Favourite beverage: Flowers IPA
May I also introduce Grainne.
Favourite beverage: Budvar
Last but not least, Peter.
Favourite beverage: Margaritas
When Winston Churchill is mentioned two things comes to your correspondent’s mind.
The first, was his sponsorship of the disaster that was Gallipoli and the second was his mastership of the witty reposte.
At Gallipoli his misguided strategies led to the death of 11,000 Australian and New Zealand troops. Though it must be mentioned that over 20,000 British troops also died in the Dardanelles down the road at Cape Helles. Churchill did go on to admit his errors regarding the Dardanelles and when an all-party coalition government was formed in Britain soon after, the Conservatives demanded his demotion as their price for a seat at the table for his party.
As for his witty retorts, there are many. My favourite;
Lady: “Mr Churchill, you are drunk.”
Winston Churchill: “And you madam, are ugly. But I shall be sober tomorrow.”
The Churchill “Honourable” IPA is brewed by Oxfordshire Ales and pays homage to Churchill with all ingredients grown, captured and brewed at, near or on his birthplace, residence etc etc. It harks back to IPAs before they became the flavour of the month here in Oz and started being front loaded with hops. It is a bit unrefined but I like that. I remember when James Squire first launched an IPA before the current craze and it tasted like this. It was different and it was good.
Despite the omnipresence of Bintang in Bali – helped by the hordes of Australians who feel compelled to don the ‘Uniform des Australiens’ while holidaying there – there are a couple of ‘Indonesian’ competitors plus a few craft beer suprises.
Bintang, despite the bad press, is not a bad beer and is in fact very drinkable given the climate and the ability of the local water supply to turn your stool to liquid. Owned and operated by Heineken it is has been brewed since 1929.
Next in popularity, several lengths back, is Bali Hai. Despite the name it is brewed on Java and is owned by San Miguel (Phillipines) and Kirin (Japan). Also a pilsener like Bintang I prefer it as it tastes a little more full bodied.
A fair way back again is Ankar. I could only find this in a couple of supermarkets and in taste it was indistinguishable from Bintang. Brewed again on Java it is also a subsiduary of San Miguel.
The two suprises were a couple of local Bali craft beers. The first company, Stark, produces a wheat beer (reviewed in an earlier blog) and a dark beer. The other, Storm Brewing, produces a whole range with seasonals etc but your correspondent could not track any down. I passed the brewery in Denpasar while en route elsewhere and there was no way Mrs botf was going to let me stray.
Walk down Pat Pong Rd Bangkok and you are offered a ping pong show (sans bats), walk down the Ramblas in Barcelona and it’s gypsies with babies, walk down the Champs Élysées in Paris and its ‘Tourist Menu’ (microwaved bags of shite with a French flag stuck in it)….walk along the coastal path on Lembongan and it’s ‘snorkel snorkel?’.
Despite the obvious Benny Hill overtones it really is the offer to rent a boat and snorkel over the coral reefs Lembongan has to offer. Having seen those of Bali (covered in sanitary pads and devoid of coral-the basic premise of a coral reef you’d assume) and Lombok (dynamited into oblivion) you’d understand if your correspondent ignored the offer.
However the junior botfs were insistent and at 30 Aussie bananas for the day – this is for your own boat – it is a bargain.
Off we set and my mind was blown. This botf correspondent has had a previous life as a marine biologist and has dived on the GBR extensively. Lembongan’s reefs are in the same league. They are glorious and easily accessible. What is more impressive is that they are not formally protected. Our local guide told us there is an unwritten rule that if the reefs are fished or dynamited the tourists will stop coming. So any local caught doing this ‘disappears’ (his words).
On to todays meal. As mentioned Lembongan does not have a rich culinary history so I tried the Thai Green fish curry at the Bange Bange Warung that we have settled on as our preferred haunt.
One mouthful and the lining of my throat and oesophagus were instantly stripped. No thought was given to the providence of the fish as no microbe on earth could survive the chilli in this puppy. I consumed the meal assisted by Bintang but as I write this missive the sweat brought on by processing this meal is still wet on my brow. My hope is at least that it exits correctly and does not attempt to return via the gates.
Mopeds are the way to get around on Nusa Lembongan. With three tin lids all below driving age this becomes a tricky task. Mrs botf and I rented 2 mopeds and your correspondent took on board Miss botf and one of the Master botfs. Being Indo I was still carrying two less kids than most family mopeds that we passed.
You can pretty much circumnavigate Lembongan and its tiny neighbour, Ceningan, in a day including stops for swims, lunch and assorted photo calls, bintangs and kids issues. Highly recommended.
I chose a local Lembongan dish for today’s post. Duck Lembongan. Methinks Lembongan’s culinary history is a short one as this dish matches shredded roasted duck with penne pasta. Still it was delicious in its own way.
Just a note on Indo ducks. Also relevant for its chickens. These ain’t no fatted, juicy birds that have been hand raised and then slaughtered and hung on a hook in the window of BBQ King to tempt you with their dripping fats. This duck in the photo was likely the one I nearly ran over on my moped this afternoon as it scratched about for scraps in the gutter. They are scrawny and a bit stringy. Still tastes like duck.
Botf has decamped to Nusa Lembongan with the family. Nusa Lembongan is an island about 30 mins east of Bali in the Lombok Channel.
Compared to Kuta it is pretty undeveloped. There’s a mix of low and middling quality villa complexes with one or two top end ‘spas’ – snooty term for warung ( see earlier post ).
All overlook Bali and its volcano Mt Agung so sitting in any eatery with a Bintang affords one a brilliant view. Todays dish was Satay Chicken. Just spectacular. Given the higher temps as compared to Ubud your Bintang is best consumed from the 620ml longneck so as to save your waiter excessive return trips.
Warung in Indonesian means small house, guesthouse or roadside eatery. They are everywhere in Bali and are brilliant for experiencing everything about Indo. The noise, the food, the traffic….the vibe.
Near your correspondent’s spread in Ubud is a warung called Naughty Nuri’s.
On every hard bargained taxi back to base I passed Nuri’s and it was pumping. Westerners and locals alike…milling about and punching out ribs. Nuri’s was a rib place. I like ribs.
So I convinced Mrs botf and the three tin lids that Nuri’s was the place for our last dinner in Ubud. The ribs were brilliant (and it was just ribs – none of this vege stuff). The ribs were BBQ’d out the front of the warung and then plonked in front of you for consumption. They had been marinaded in something fragrant, rich and delicious. AAA+.
Beer of choice – Bintang.