Just a short 60 minute drive from Wellington is Martinborough. Although it’s just a short drive, there’s the Rimutaka Hill to conquer first. It’s a real challenge for those who aren’t good car passengers with a history of car sickness (harden up!).
But once you’re there it’s a world away from the city life. A lively and sophisticated, yet sleepy and relaxing place, Martinborough is famous as one of New Zealand’s premier wine districts. Its climate is perfect for it. In summer, this place is a stinker and in winter it’s a freezer. Many of the wineries are world class, including the one we went to on this particular trip.
This correspondent has frequently visited Martinborough since returning to live in Wellington in order to fulfil important family visitation duties, and to relax away from the city. What are the family visitation duties you ask….? Mrs kiwisinoz’s mother now resides here. A great escape from the city for us is often greeted with a hearty home cooked meal and great wine – probably from the neighbours. (See if you can spot the shameless plug later in this post for this correspondent’s mother in law’s business in Martinborough).
An institution in this town is the Martinborough Hotel (no, this isn’t the shameless plug part of the post). On this particular trip I insisted that we pay it a visit and enjoy a couple of cold ones. Truth be known, I’d been to Martinborough a few times but never set foot in the place – a wrong I needed to right. The sophisticated original character of this wooden gem of a building is a great reflection of Martinborough itself.
I eagerly strolled inside to see what craft beer they had on tap. I got a stark reminder that this is a regional town as I saw the Tui and DB Export taps. Initially I was disappointed. But my eyes were then drawn to the Boundary Road Flying Fortress tap. I’m sure this beer has been reviewed before on Back of the Ferry.
A very brief history on Boundary Road – it started in 1987 in the foothills of the Hunua ranges south of Auckland as an independent New Zealand brewery. Then in 2011, it was bought by Asahi.
The Flying Fortress pour had me salivating, a great looking amber ale. Upon taking the first couple of gulps, my first thought was this is big on taste, it was quite bitter, but a nice bitter. The citrus taste then came through. It definitely had me guessing. The taste hangs around as well, it leaves a great impression.
The pizzas we got to accompany the drinks were sensational and was matched by the service of the extremely friendly staff – another reminder that I was in a country town where people take the time to have a friendly chat and the people waiting to be served don’t get shirty.
There ends another weekend escape to wine country. It’s only an hour away and there’s always family visitation requirements, so we’ll be back here regularly (i.e. a home cooked meal, winery visit, and of course the Martinborough Hotel – not bad!).
As part of your time in Martinborough, there’s a pretty amazing shop that every visitor must check out – Jessica’s Living Room. I kid you not – buy something for the mrs in here and you’ll earn plenty of points – enough for an unplanned impromptu night out with the lads even! What’s ever better is that this shop is directly opposite the Martinborough Hotel. So for a win-win situation, simply send the mrs to Jessica’s Living Room while you duck across the road for a few – and it will be a few because the mrs will be in there for hours!
From New Zealand………Ka kite anō.
PS Did you spot the shameless plug?
Glorious sunshine, major earthquakes, 200km/hour wind gusts, and of course magnificent craft beer have been the highlights of this correspondent’s first 2 and a bit months living back in Wellington, New Zealand.
DROP! COVER! HOLD!…..three simple words on the tip of all Wellingtonian’s tongues as a series of quakes have rocked the city over the last 4 weeks or so. First was the 6.5 magnitude shake up on July 21, then came another 6.6 hum-dinger on 16 August.
Quakes come as no surprise in Wellington as the city lies on a massive fault line similar to San Francisco. However, this correspondent went diving under the table during the latest shake up. It scared the be-jesus out of me! I thought “this is it, the big one, we’re all going down”.
Amongst the quakes there’s been some stunning days as well as a storm that had winds of 200km/hour that tore off roofs, sent trampolines flying, ripped down power cables, and obliterated trees. I had the misfortunate of losing power for over a week. Fortunately family and friends took me in.
Mother Nature has made her voice known in the nation’s capital that’s for sure. The way Wellington has come together in these trying times brings tears to the eyes. After the latest quake, train lines out of the city were shut down. CBD workers were literally stranded. However, those with cars drove to the railway station and made sure everyone had a ride home – strangers coming together to help each other out in tough times.
One of the best ways to try and unwind after such events is to relax amongst Wellington’s booming craft beer venues.
I’d heard a lot about a place called Hashigo Zake. A fairly new craft beer bar. They describe themselves on their website: “ we serve the best that New Zealand’s booming craft brewing industry has to offer”.
For our Australian readership, the entrance to Hashigo Zake will have you thinking you’re in Melbourne as you go down a small alley way off a main street.
Upon entering the Japanese themed bar and heading down the stairs, the CBD felt a world away. A perfect place to escape the city yet still be in the city. It’s a small bar, but a perfect place with a great atmosphere.
The bar staff we’re an absolute pleasure to speak to about their beers. It’s a simple thing, but friendly and knowledgeable bartenders are hard to find. Hashigo Zake has them!
I decided on a Renaissance Great Pumpkin Ale. I nearly ignored it as one doesn’t normally associate pumpkin and beer. Just as well the bar tender got me to try a sample. After the first sip I had to order a pint!
The Great Pumpkin Ale isn’t your everyday beer. It has a distinctive aroma of spices, kind of like cinnamon. The taste is quite malty with the spices coming through, along with the subtle taste of pumpkin pie! There’s definitely a lot going on with this beer. Each gulp had me guessing as to the different ingredients.
I’ll definitely be back to enjoy the great service and atmosphere at Hashigo! The range of craft beers will you have salivating!
One final note – the advantage of being in Wellington is being able to stroll down to the local park to catch some local club rugby involving some of the best players in the world, including the controversial figure of Ma’a Nonu who turned out for his local club Ories.
Until the next Wellington craft beer bar (and hopefully no more earthquakes)…..
Last year 53,000 Kiwis moved to Australia with the hope of a better a life. This trend is set to continue in the coming years. They reckon more than 600,000 Kiwis now call Australia home – a fair number of kiwis in oz given NZ’s population is 4 million.
This correspondent first called Australia home in 1999 as a young 20-something Kiwi in the bright lights of Sydney. However on 6 June 2013 after 14 years in Oz, I ticked the “leaving Australia permanently” box on my departure card shortly before boarding a one-way flight to my home town of Wellington, New Zealand (Mrs kiwisinoz will follow shortly after finishing employment duties).
The warmer temperatures of Oz, higher coin, and other factors that drew the 600,000+ kiwis to Australia were no match for the pull of family and the good old kiwi culture for this correspondent.
Thank you Australia, I am indebted to you for all you have done for me over the last 14 years, but it’s not you, it’s me. We will definitely remain friends and I will call you and visit you in the years to come – I truly will!.
Enough of the sentimental stuff. It was only right that I ended my time in Sydney with a return to the pub I frequented the most (there’s no stats to back that statement up). The Beach Road Hotel in Bondi was the centre point for a number of different flats I lived in. At one point I lived 2 blocks to the right, then when I moved, I literally moved 2 blocks to the left of this all-time Bondi fav (I look forward to seeing some comments below this blog making the connection using 3 key words – kiwi, Bondi, unemployed).
The Beachy as its affectionately known as is located a few blocks back from the famous Bondi Beach, it’s often missed by tourists who stick to the main drag of Campbell Parade. This place has it all for everyone. A huge sports bar at the front, a restaurant in the middle, and a beer garden out the back. It had a dance floor upstairs back in the day, probably still does.
It’s been a while in between drinks for me at the Beachy, as I entered the sports bar in my final week in Oz. It’s obviously had a decent makeover without losing appeal to the locals looking for a lazy schooner. It’s also a great venue for a Sunday session in the Sydney summer.
I had a burger as my final bite to eat in Bondi which was a ripper! Sensational is the best way to describe it. The beer I chose to accompany it was the probably the worst choice in my 14 years in Oz (yep, saved the bad call until the final week). It was a Pacifico from Mexico. I’m sure it’s been reviewed on this blog, suffice to say – get a glass of water instead of this, as it’ll probably taste better. Despite this, my experience at the Beachy was as it was back in the day – a beauty!
Mrs kiwisinoz has some family in Sydney, so for my last weekend, we all went away for a short stay at Pretty Beach which is on the Central Coast of NSW. A small village at Pretty Beach contained a great restaurant called Yum Yum Eatery. They were fully booked, but they gave us the option of eating early and to be out early. With a rug rat in our party, it was the perfect plan. We had the degustation, of which every dish was mouth watering! The service was also top notch. All in all a highly recommended restaurant. Apart from the tacky name, they can be well proud of their restaurant. To top off the great dining experience, they had a gem of a local Central Coast craft beer from Six String Brewing Co. It was a Pale Ale.
Wow! What a beer! This one instantly went into my top 3 of craft beers without a doubt. The initial hoppy hit is then backed up by a malty after taste that at first creeps up on you. To get the mix so right is a tribute to this brewer. Given it was so good, I announced “this is very sessionable”. I then proceeded to prove my point. I managed to knock off 5 of these gems in the short time we had allocated at the table. I hope they export to NZ soon. Go and hunt this one out to experience it for yourself, or head to Yum Yum Eatery at Pretty Beach.
Therein ends my time on the dry continent (although Sydney knows how to put on a decent down pouring at any time of the year). Highlights that spring to mind are: Welcoming in the new millennium, Sydney 2000 Olympics, the greatest game of rugby ever (AB’s v Wallabies in 2000),…. there’s too great memories to think of.
Now, onto Wellington. One of the exciting things for this correspondent is that Wellington has established itself as NZ’s craft beer capital with numerous craft brewers trying their hand and doing well, and the many specialist craft beer venues. As the resident NZ Botf correspondent I will report back regularly.
For those who haven’t been to Wellington, it’s a great place as its compact, cultural and very down to earth. Many people say it’s a small version of Melbourne with its cold weather, boutique (and often hidden) eating and drinking venues, and abundant cultural events.
Here’s an excuse for craft beer lover’s to come to Wellington – Beervana is on August 9-10. This is NZ’s premier craft beer celebration with over 200 craft beers. This will be epic!
(I will be retaining the name “kiwisinoz” even though I’m really only “kiwi” now).
With a full two weeks in Aotearoa over the festive period, this correspondent took the opportunity to go on a short North Island road trip with the Mrs – “a holiday within a holiday” to use the popular cliché.
From Wellington, the first stop was the annual New Year’s Tauherenikau races. This is about 1.5 hours north of Wellington, close to the wine country of Martinborough.
The Tauherenikau races is like stepping back in time. Being in a regional area, there’s nothing fancy or modern about this place. There’s no gates to buy tickets from, instead, you buy your tickets from the attendants who stop your car and get you to wind down your window to exchange cash for tickets (as you try to manoeuvre the long grass).
The booths to place your bets, toilet facilities, eateries, and other parts of the race course haven’t been upgraded since the place opened I reckon. I hope this never gets upgraded to be a fancy place – walking around in shorts, t-shirts and jandals was brilliant!
This is a real down to earth regional NZ day out. The jumping castles and kids train rides ensure this is a great family day out. Leave your high heels, fancy hats and suits at home for these races, this is Kiwi bro styles!
The next morning we set out for a six hour drive from Martinborough to The Tron. Haven’t heard of the Tron before? It’s the nick name for Hamilton. I’ll get to the reason why its call the Tron shortly.
Circa 20 years ago I went to Massey University in the small town of Palmerston North. Massey is only a 45 minute drive from the Tui brewery in Mangatainoka. Tui is the drop of choice for most locals, and of course as a student I took the opportunity to go on a brewery tour. As you can imagine, the memories came flooding back as the road trip drove past the Tui brewery. The mrs gave me strange looks as I reminisced (and stopped the car to take these pictures).
Anyway, back to more modern times and the subject of Hamilton’s nickname. A Hamilton radio DJ once famously proclaimed that Hamilton is the City of the Future, hence the name The Tron after the movie.
Hamilton is a city in the Waikato region and is 130km south of Auckland. It has an inglorious reputation of being boring. It’s often picked on, teased and ridiculed as not offering anything. However, I’m sure the people of Hamilton don’t give a toss as they hold the Super Rugby title after the Waikato Chiefs won their maiden title in 2012. SBW resided here in 2012.
So why has this correspondent bought mrs kiwisinoz to this place? Well, my brother lives here. During our visit, we saw for ourselves that The Tron does in fact have much to offer. One is the great weather, one of the others is the cluster of bars in the city centre. There is other stuff, but this is beer blog so I’ll keep it simple.
We decided to lunch at one of these bars called House on Hood. I reckon we chose the pick of the bunch. My bro informs us that it’s often the venue for after work drinks and is well known in the Waikato for its range of craft beers – perfect!
Hats off to House on Hood, it’s got something for everyone. One section has a bohemian theme, there’s a great range of craft beer, and the outdoor area caters for a band and has plenty of tables for al fresco dining. Our lunch hit the spot perfectly – the fantastic friendly service made the food taste even better.
The drop of choice on this occasion was an Invercargill Pitch Black by Invercargill Brewery – a beer from the giggle! (Invercargill is better known to NZers as “the giggle”). Apart from Speights, this correspondent had not previously tasted anything else from NZ’s deep south.
Watching it being poured from the tap, this stout appeared much like a Guinness. It has a very strong chocolate and coffee like taste. Surprisingly as I got towards the end of the glass, I wanted more…..normally these types of beers are more suited to accompanying food, however I reckon I could put a few of these down in a session.
But the road trip had to continue……so, after “internalising a very complicated situation in my head” I had no choice but to cool my heels – (didn’t want to try and grab any “ghost chups”). See the YouTube clip for more insight.
But I will be back to visit my little bro in The Tron so we can go back to the House on Hood and try their latest in NZ craft beer.
Quick game of word association…….how would you associate an ambulance and a bar?
I bet you were thinking: drunken youths drinking way too much to the point of requiring medical attention in the form of an ambulance.
However, this is not the case with St. Johns bar in Wellington, NZ. St Johns bar used to be the Wellington free ambulance building in the 1930′s, it was the first purpose built ambulance building in New Zealand.
Upon receiving an emergency call, the doors of this now iconic Wellington bar, once flung open and out sped one of the St. Johns ambulances.
These days the only things speeding out the door are patrons with their drinks as they head for the bean bags on the grass patch out the front. On those cracking Wellington days, the grass area is always packed without fail.
This correspondent was fortunate enough to see in the 2013 New Year here. The afternoon of 31/12/12 happened to be one of those cracking days. After ticking off family duties, this correspondent and Mrs kiwisinoz responded in the affirmative to the many texts from friends, siblings et al that simply read “St. Johns now!”
The popular saying “you can’t beat Wellington on a good day” was to the fore. The grass area at St. Johns was the perfect place to enjoy an early new year’s eve with the rug rats that belong to kiwisinoz’s family and friends. We even made an appearance on live TV. TV3 National News did an item on how each major city was preparing for NYE, for Wellington they filmed right in front of us at St Johns.
As the darkness descended, the rug rats were shipped off to their homes (each set of parents drew straws to determine who would be able to come back to see in the new year proper).
We all moved indoors. St Johns is one classy venue inside, let me tell you! The stylish interior fit out matches the old art deco building perfectly. It’s not really a venue for those who have just reached legal drinking age, rather it’s for those who appreciate the stylish surrounds rather than those requiring an ambulance after a trashy night on the turps.
St Johns has the name “Heineken” in its title. Despite this there are a variety of ales available, including NZ craft beer. However this correspondent stuck with Henies on this occasion (it was far easier to order…..“5 henies please”).
If you happen to be in Wellington on one of those sensational days, St Johns bar is a must!
Singapore is often visited as a 2-3 day stopover on the way to a destination further afield and/or on the way home. This correspondent bucked the trend and visited the Lion City for a week, without going further afield.
The heat and humidity from which there was no escape whilst outdoors was a welcome change from a cold Sydney winter. But the stifling heat did get the better of me a few times such that I had to seek refuge in the ridiculously large shopping malls.
Several sensational meals at the famous hawker centres saw the Mrs and I mixing with the locals while enjoying truly authentic meals for $3!
However, as the trip led to a grand finale, we decided to go high class at a roof top restaurant with our ex-pats friends. The restaurant was LeVel33 (yes, that’s a capital V, not a typo). I did a quick internet search prior to setting off – I nearly fell off my chair when I saw that LeVel33 doubles as a high end restaurant and…….a craft beer brewery! I had previously read about the growing craft beer scene in Singapore, but had failed to see any up until dining at LeVel33.
Upon entry, patrons walk past the massive brewing infrastructure that lines the corridor – I was in heaven!
At LeVel33, seasonal beers are crafted quarterly and available until the tap runs dry. There were 4 such seasonal beers on offer during our visit. A new one was in the process of being brewed that will be available next week – The Pumpkin Ale.
I tried the 33.2 Pale Ale, which is described as:
Medium bodied with a dry aftertaste; it possesses classic hoppy characteristics of the traditional IPA – originally crafted to last the arduous journey across the Indian Ocean.
This drop was outstanding – a smooth and easy drink that was perfect for the view from the LeVel33 balcony. I’ll struggle to top the beer porn for this drop, the Marina Bay Sands complex in the background has become a Singapore icon.
Next cab off the rank was the 33.3 Stout, which is described as:
A re-discovery of the original Irish stout crafted using the authentic brewing principles from Ireland, the full-bodied 33.3 Stout is flavourful and silky with a sweet roasty aftertaste.
This was also a very smooth and easy to drink beer – probably a little too easy to drink as I was expecting a full bodied meal in a cup. But instead it was not as dense as expected.
The sensational food at LeVel33 matched the great view and the fascinating craft beer equipment. A great end to a top week in Singapore – a destination that no longer has to be prefaced with a “via” somewhere else.
The melting pot of cultures that makes up the Singapore population was a great experience, from local Singaporeans, Chinese, Malaysians, Indians, and Westerner ex-pats – the mix of people was all around.
The first postcode I resided in when I obtained the “inoz” suffix was NSW 2041. That was some 13 years ago when the Wallabies held the Bledisloe and the RWC, and my only exposure to Aussie beer was VB and Tooheys.
Fast forward to 2012 and the only thing on the above list that still holds true is that I’m back in NSW 2041 (with a number of different postcodes in between including a couple of other countries). For those who aren’t in the know, 2041 is the Balmain/Rozelle postcode – the glorious inner west!
2041 is well known for its old style pubs such as The London, the Dry Dock, the Riverview and many more.
The latest entrant into the popular Balmain pub scene is East Village Balmain. They aptly describe themselves on twitter:
“Balmain’s only true craft beer venue dedicated to serving real beer and real pub food to real people every day and night of the week”.
East Village Balmain is a fantastic bar and restaurant that this correspondent can now stumble home from after working through the latest in craft beer without needing a cab fare. This is well worth the trip for those looking for somewhere new. It’s only a stone’s throw from Balmain East Wharf. It’s the old Belgian Beer Café.
The early sitting showed that this is a family friendly pub, with plenty of rug rats and older kids enjoying pizza while their folks enjoyed their end of the week beverage in the dining area at the rear of the pub.
The front area is rug rag free, in fact we enjoyed our food and drinks while almost forgetting the other area. East Village Balmain is a place for all.
Mrs kiwisinoz and I had a fantastic meal consisting of chicken wings, croquets, and pizza a couple of Fridays ago. You really know you’re in 2041 in this place. The walls are lined with photos and pictures of the area dating back to the early 1900’s. There’s also memorabilia from the area scattered throughout.
Onto the beer review. It’s Stone & Wood’s ’The Mash Collective’ Amasia Rumweizen. It’s actually already been reviewed on this blog, however, this correspondent has a different view to the one already documented. This drop is described by Stone & Wood:
The first brew from our side project The Mash Collective is a rumweizen called Amasia. For this single batch, we’ve taken a classic German dunkleweizen and mashed it together with molasses, the core ingredient of a popular local spirit. Blended with some brew house magic, we finished it off with a splash of rum. Think fresh local bananas, loaded with rum and raisin ice cream and dark chocolate with the lingering warmth of a fine spirit.
For me, it was too exotic. The rum flavour was over powering. It certainly didn’t taste like just a ‘splash’. It was not enough of a beer for mine. However, credit to Stone & Wood for having a crack at this. As mentioned, others have viewed it more favourable so it must be doing ok.
I’ll certainly be back to East Village Balmain to experience the magnificent food, service and variety of craft beers in the fridge….and then stumble home afterwards.
This correspondent has had the privilege of lapping up some amazing weather in tropical QLD over the past week – namely on Hamilton Island. With temperatures in the low 20’s and glorious sunshine, it’s an ideal place to escape the Sydney winter without needing a passport. The facilities and level of customer service on the island have been unbelievable.
I have learnt a valuable lesson for future island trips though: BYO craft and/or unique beers. The only options on the island are the standard commercial beers, which is fair enough for a tourist destination I guess.
The highlight of the week without a doubt was the full day sailing trip around the Whitsundays which included snorkeling off Chalkies Beach, chill out time at the sensational Whitehaven Beach, and cocktails on the return leg to the Hamilton Island marina. Not a bad way to spend a day.
Our sail was probably not quite the same as the original discovery of the Whitsunday Islands by Captain Cook on HMS Endeavour some 250 years ago. To put Cook’s discovery into perspective, archaeologists have found evidence that Aborigines of the Ngaro tribe settled in the region around 8,000 years ago…..Wow!
The tour was operated by Cruise Indigo and the boat called On The Edge. In fact, I have granted exclusive kiwisinoz.com.au membership to On The Edge – the skipper explained that the boat operated in NZ’s Bay of Islands for 17 years before coming across the Tasman. It has joined the throngs of Kiwis now calling Australia home (and the Aussies have claimed it…..sorry – I couldn’t resist!).
The only dark moment was when the skipper announced the drinks list on board. The only beers were VB and XXXX Gold. At that point I was close to jumping over board and swimming back to shore to pick up a six pack of anything else. However I stayed on board and scratched down a couple of XXXX Gold – I can now claim to have done my bit for the QLD economy.
A huge thanks to the brilliant crew aboard On The Edge, Josh, Stewie and Rochelle. A great day out and highly recommended!
9 June 2012 marked the start of 2 things, 1) the southern hemisphere international rugby season, and 2) the All Blacks 2nd reign as world cup champs. In the modern rugby era, world champs have notoriously suffered a hangover from their victory and hence have not started the following season well. The ABs have never suffered this hangover – because they hadn’t won the damn thing for so long (sorry for the soft expletive, that’s 24 years of frustration finally over)!
Their first game of 2012 v Ireland was much anticipated – were they going to suffer the famous world cup hangover and in doing so hand the Irish there first ever victory over the ABs in their 107 year ding dong battles?
I copped a heap of confident and jovial jibes from Irish friends in the week leading up to the first test – they were talking of breaking the 107 year drought. The Paddys were talking of “old man McCaw” and so on. I’ve always loved a good verbal battle with the Irish, mainly because it always ends in a good laugh and a beer.
I was confident to the extent that I donned my AB replica jersey, put my drinking boots on and headed to an Irish pub in Surry Hills called the Porterhouse. After copping a few abusive yet good natured comments from the Paddy patrons (what else did I expect wearing an AB top that particular night in a Paddy pub!?!?), I settle into some top quality Guinness. The Porterhouse is one of those great old style Irish pubs that had me reminiscing about the 2001 ABs game in Dublin that I was fortunate to attend.
The service from the cool, calm and collected bar staff was sensational. Not once were they frazzled despite the bar often being 5 or 6 deep. The quality of the Guinness was also a credit to this place.
As it turned out the ABs had a resounding 42-10 win, the only hangover here was going to be mine from the many Guinness and the whiskey that an Englishman in our group owed me after he foolishly bet me that Ireland would win.
For the second test I decided to stay in and earn a few credits at home. A visit to Dan Murphy’s at Top Ryde had me salivating at the variety of craft beers from around the globe. I chose Hook Norton Twelve Days from the UK which I had never heard of.
The first 2 credits for this drop is that it comes in a 500ml bottle and is 5.5%. The Hook Norton Brewery has been going since 1849. Some interesting info is that their brewery, deep in the Oxfordshire country side is still powered by a steam engine. JW Clarke, the great great grandson of John Harris, the founder of Hook Norton Brewery has his autograph on the bottle. It warms the cockles of my heart knowing that this drop is steeped in tradition, history and family.
On pouring it into a glass the sight of it had me thinking that it is going to be like a Guinness with its very dark appearance. Very appropriate I thought as the 2nd test was about to kick off. However, looks are deceiving. This drop was not like a Guinness. It’s loaded with the tastes of strong malts and a very nutty taste that lingers and lingers…and lingers…and then a very subtle sweet taste appears. This is a stroke of genius!! I wouldn’t say this is a sessionable beer, instead one to be appreciated in a more civilised manner.
I was feeling far from civilised watching the 2nd test as the Irish almost broke their drought. The ABs stumbled their way to a last gasp 22-19 win over a very fired up and focused Irish. Full credit to BOD and his men for nearly pulling it off. A sigh of relief from all NZers as DC slotted the winning droppie in the 80th minute.
For our Irish readership, it’s best not to mention the 3rd test.
This correspondent has just arrived on Hamilton Island for a winter escape so will report on the beers, activities, restaurants etc and is open to recommendations from readers.
It’s a Sunday morning and the alarm goes off at 5.20am – absolute craziness is what most people would say, and they’d be right. However Sunday 20th May 2012 was the third Sunday in May which means only 1 thing - the running of the annual SMH Sydney Half Marathon (all you beer lovers knew that already of course). This year it turned 21. Happy 21st!
You’re probably wondering why, on a beer blog there is talk of early Sunday mornings and half marathons. Let me enlighten you – this correspondent has taken part in this annual event since 2004 (I think, or maybe it was 2005). It’s the annual body cleansing period in which beer is not entered into the system for a period of time (again…..crazy talk on a beer blog I hear you scream). But before you click to another website, there is beer involved – an absolute cracking one at that!
The day prior to the run, I needed to ensure I had an adequate supply of the amber liquid as a reward for the hard slog of training in the weeks prior. The Beer Cartel in Sydney is a craft beer lover‘s heaven. The boys there help me in my quest to find a rewarding and untried drop after crossing the finish line. I was so entrenched in the beer purchasing process that I almost tried a free sample on offer – luckily I remembered that I had 21.1km to run first!
The great thing about the Sydney half marathon is that the course is within the city, which means the runners get to see some spectacular Sydney icons just as the sun is coming up and are free of the usual masses of people, cars and noise.
The most entertaining part of the run is through Pyrmont – all the runners are given a massive cheer and round of applause at 7am from the patrons of the Casino night clubs who have just finished their “night” out and are heading home.
The vast diversity of running styles, running outfits and people is a real opener. There’s always a guy who runs 21.1km with a heap of coins and keys in his pocket – I see this every year and still wonder – why?!? It must be bloody annoying.
This correspondent finished the run in a respectful time of 1 hour 47 minutes.
Enough about running already!
After almost 2 weeks without a beer, it was time to get stuck in. Of the recommendations from the lads at the Beer Cartel, the first bottle I opened was a Yeastie Boys Digital IPA. You guessed it – Yeastie Boys is a NZ crafter brewer. The Digital IPA is a limited release Indian Pale Ale.
If you’re after a subtle taste of malts and hops, stay away from this little puppy! Wow! This drop is extreme. As it rightly says on the bottle its “an aggressive wee beast”. Every single swig was an explosion of top quality malts and hops in my mouth, and it lasted forever. The beauty of this beer is that this explosion did not disappear as the end of the bottle approached – it was evident right down to the last drop. A highly recommended beer that this correspondent will be purchasing again and again – however, it is a limited release so I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible.