Maldives is an Islamic nation with plenty of fish, coconuts and waves but no local brewing so all the beer is imported.
On a recent surf charter we had any beer we wanted as long as it was Tiger. Tiger is a Singapore brew and has already been reviewed on this blog, but not in a Maldivian context.
Not sure what it is about these big cats but they can sure sneak up on you. Feeling slightly mauled when we woke up to this immaculate empty lineup on Gaafu Dhaalu.
When you’re in a country where the drinking water might be a bit dodgy, it’s a safer option to stick with the amber fluid. Your belly will thank you for it.
I’m not sure of the collective noun for beers (comments welcome!) but in Sri Lanka each meal was accompanied by a Pride of Lion lagers.
The high alcohol content will likely kill off most tummy bugs and the few survivors are best picked off by massive doses of chilli in a pol sambol. Lion lager and fish curry with pol sambol provide a good example for the word ‘synergy’.
Buddes restaurant at Hikkaduwa serve each Lion in its own mini esky, so no rush to knock it back before it heats to an ambient 30C. You can sit back and enjoy the view of pumping barrels and charming European holiday makers.
Yes, the headline is a classic BotF non sequitur. The beer has nothing to do with the event and weren’t even had on the same day – but my BotF rule is that every post references a new beer. The Surfing Australia Awards night was many things, but it wasn’t likely to turn up a beer untried on the Back of the Ferry. More on Cobra later, but first to the Surfing Australia Awards night. This correspondent is not a surfer (despite some feeble attempts), but I love surfing. Whether it is swimming out the back with mates that do surf, reading Tracks, uni surf trips, reading biographies of surfers or simply watching surfing – it is something I’ve admired closely for many, many years. I was delighted then to cop a bait to the annual Surfing Australia Awards night, which coincided with their 50 year celebration and most importantly the announcement of Australia’s 10 Most Influential Surfers since 1963. Throw in a Hall of Fame induction – and it was going to be a great night.
Have an awards night, and there’s bound to be a pollie lurking here and there. No exception on this night. Julia Gillard appeared on the tellie and gave a good natured but daggy speech about the importance of surfing and then tied that into climate change. Wayne Swan, whose had a fair share of political wipeouts of late actually spoke with some surfing cred and generated some rare (for him) bon homie. They’re a tolerant lot, the surfing crowd, and they good naturedly accepted the politcal intrusion on their evening and also tolerated blokes like my mate getting their photos taken with them. Stephanie Gilmour is a great surfer and an extremely nice person to boot. Just being around so many legends made the night. I heard of the amazing Peter Drouyn story, but to actually see his alter-(New)-ego Westerly Windina made that quite hard to believe story quite real.
Whilst it was terrific to see all the annual awards doled out (photographer, film, waterman etc), and especially pleasing to hear from 2 present world champions – (the extremely humble Parko and Steph), I was really keen to hear the countdown of the 10 most influential surfers. The criteria was “The Australian surfer who through their surfing and wider contribution has had the most profound influence on the national character of Australian surfing”. I thought that this criteria might have excluded a couple of the greatest surfers and meant that some blokes like George Greenough or Mark Warren might have snuck in, but in the end the final 10 was probably fair enough. Judging by the standing ovation that greeted Mark Richards when he climbed the stage – no-one was complaining about his designation as the most influential Australian surfer of the last 50 years. For the record, the 10 were Bob McTavish (shortboard pioneer, but ironically my longboard mates ride McTavish boards), Mark Occhilupo, Wayne Bartholomew, Layne Beachley, Tom Carroll, Midget Farrelly, Michael Peterson, Nat Young, Simon Anderson and Mark Richards. We’ve written about Michael Peterson before on this blog and it was touching to see his remarkable mother, with whom he lived for the last 30 years of his life, accept the award with untold glee. The common features of all the speeches was the humility with which the awards were received and the respect that all recipients had for eachother.
This mutual respect was demonstrated when all the surfing Hall of Famers present gathered on stage to welcome the latest inductee into their midst. A big night for Stephanie Gilmour was capped off by making the Surfing Hall of Fame (fair enough – 5 World Championships). A very cool moment was when she acknowledged the presence of the world’s first World Champion (men or women) – Phyllis O’Donnell – who was on stage with probably at least 25 fellow Hall-of-Famers including Westerly Windina and Ross Clarke-Jones. Just seeing that crowd of legends in the one place was good enough for me.
Cobra Premium Beer has an odd history. It was founded by an Indian entrepreneur named Karan Bilimoria, who has since become an English Lord. He wanted a beer that went better with curry, which apparently means it needed to be less gassy. It’s made in India but found fame in England. Maybe not enough fame, because it ended up in some financial strife and is now majority owned by Molson Coors, though Lord Bilimoria is still well and truly involved. Cobra’s nothing special, but perfectly potable and would probably be well suited to a lager/curry frenzy. Nice bottle.
This week, the last of my trip to my UK home has flown past far too quickly. Wednesday, saw a visit to Lechlade Trout Fishery, Gloucestershire to hunt for big trout with my brother and son. Weather was not too bad, overcast and threatening rain without actually precipitating. Difficult conditions for stalking trout but I managed to peer into the murky water and pick out a target. Trout normally have a very specific patrol routes around a certain piece of water, this one was no different as nymphs, hare ears, pheasant tails and stalking bugs were all rejected. Finally a gawdy yellow and white tadpole was strategically placed, attacked and a 10lb 4oz rainbow trout was brought to the bank. Not a brilliant fight if I am honest for a monster like this. We ended up catching 4 fish with two over 5 lb which my son landed and a 9lb 3oz to my brother. The Trout Master cup is over for another year (there maybe another round at Christmas).
We travelled past the Wadworth Brewery in Devizes, Wiltshire which is in these parts is famous for its 6X beer. Found a new beer for me to try – the Wadworth Swordfish, this is a blend of 6X and Pussers Rum. This beer is “a heartwarming salute” to Naval aviation, the crews of the Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers in WW2. A dark beer, but not a stout, and I would definitely buy again. Other footnote, a visit to Jamie Oliver’s Bristol restaurant is also recommended.
Manningford trout fishery is situated near the village of Pewsey in Wiltshire. The lake is fed by the chalk stream, river Avon, which runs from nearby Salisbury plain. Salisbury plain is home to a number of military bases and the distant rumbling of artillery guns was very audible in the afternoon. I have fished this lake many times before, it is a picturesque and the water is gin clear. Fishing is not too difficult and it is often a matter of trying not to catch, a good place for a day out and a young fly fisherman.
A walk round the bank, we spotted a pod of rainbow trout, hare’s ear nymph on 8lb tippet and floating line soon had their attention and the fish were charging towards the fly. We pulled fly quickly away, decided we would look for something bigger. Kept walking the bank, plenty of casting practice and we hook up, not a big one but a short fight and 1st fish is on the bank. The ticket we had was to catch a limit of 3 fish, and we ended with the best trout being 3 ½ lb (with two others about 2lb each). All flies seemed to interest the trout, but nymphs, hare’s ears, green damsel and black buzzers were the pick.
That evening visited the Coronation Tap (Cori tap) in Clifton for a couple of jars with my brother. This pub is famous, at least in Bristol, not sure why we had not visited in quite a few years, as it has a great atmosphere and unique range of ciders. Clifton is one of the oldest parts of Bristol with a lot of Georgian and earlier period architecture. This pub dates back to the 1700’s, close to the Down’s (a large common land area in the centre Bristol) and is a favourite with locals and students (Clifton is in the heart of student land) . A venue for bands, Chris Jagger(Mick’s brother) was playing later on, but we were not hanging round. On to the beers, a number of real ales including Bath Gem Ale and good range of ciders, with my favourite’s Thatchers Traditional on tap – described on the board as the 1904 recipe, hazy and uncarbonated. There is also a cider, the Exhibition which is only available at the Cori Tap. The barman told me this cider is also from Thatchers brewery and is sold in half pints as its strength is 8.4%.
A couple of ciders and we each decided to take a couple of pints of Thatchers home, filled from the keg, and for me unique carry out vessels (recycled plastic bottles, but I am not complaining).
The first Saturday of October has been and gone, which means that daylight savings has been established, which is very welcome despite the risk of faded curtains. This means better beertography and (generally) warmer trips home. Illiards and I snuck the first trip in last night, but this evening we have a seriously good beer on which to do the full BotF treatment, which means beertography AND an in situ review. Firstly, how ugly is this boat?
This correspondent is not a surfer. Bodysurfer, yes, but not a surfer, which makes me less qualified than other correspondents like illiards and oompaloompa to do this review. They are both long boarders of regular pursuit and today’s beer proclaims itself to be the “Boardriders (sic) Beer”. Swell Brewing Company is yet another example of a winemaker making beer, indeed another South Australian winemaker making beer. If it taste this good, then more of it I say. I think they produce 4 varieties, and tonight we are having the Pale Ale. To mangle a surfing analogy, this is 6 foot and glassy ie big and smooth without completely hammering you. If ever a beer was more appropriate for drinking between the Sydney Heads on the Manly Ferry, I haven’t seen it.
Fished Blagdon lake last Monday in showery conditions with younger brother and my son. Winds were from south west with strong squalls of wind and rain keeping it suitably fresh with small interludes of sunshine. The boats at Blagdon have no motors, which means a bit of a workout with the oars, although we noted and cursed some anglers with their own electric motors.
Over to the far side of the lake, we anchored up in Butcombe Bay. It was happy days with the 1st fish coming quickly to me on a Diawl Bach nymph. However that was the last fish I saw for quite a few hours. Brother fished an intermediate line getting the flies down in the water and steadily caught fish on a white marabou lure, myself only having a floating line, the fish were down deep. We moved around Butcombe bay to get out of the wind, closer to the bank, a gold head black buzzer got my flies to the right depth and was to the trouts liking. All of a sudden we started catching fish fairly regularly, all up we caught 14 between us (3 for me, my son had 4 and brother had 7). All the fish were between 2-3lb in weight. We kept a dozen fish which have all been given away to various family friends.
The beer of choice from the local Butcombe brewery was the Adam Henson’s Rare Breed Best Bitter. Adam Henson is a local famer and presenter on the BBC program Country File and Farming Today. This beer is a traditional English bitter beer, had a very strong smell about it similar to some of my home brews of the past whether that is the hops or fuggles. A very distinctive rich hop smell. Easy drinking and very much like a beer that would be served on tap rather than a bottle. The beer was fine but probably one I would have on tap. Not the first Butcombe beer of this trip, a few Butcombe Bitters sampled in a variety of pubs, this fine beer reviewed in a past blog.
Back in the UK, a while since my last blog, the first week back in Bristol was fairly wet, on the first full day there was a month’s worth of rain in a day causing a fair bit flooding, so much for the hoped for Indian summer.
With water levels high in the lakes, fishing was put on the back burner. We had an interview at local school for my middle daughter who wishes to spend a school year here and now starts this Wednesday, all good.
Visit to Tesco, where as usual cheap beers where on offer – picked 3 out for 5 pounds, all local and ones which I have not had before. The first one is Beachcomber from the Teignworthy Brewery, Newton Abbot in Devon. This is a very fruity golden beer, a good one for summer although the current weather is more autumnal. According to the label this beer is made with water from Dartmoor, English aromatic hops with citrus and blackcurrant. Would buy and drink again. Will blog the others shortly and hopefully a few pubs.
Saturday managed the first fishing trip out to Chew Valley with my younger brother. Overcast conditions, wind brisk from the north east, a chilly wind. The advice from Woodford Lodge was to fish around Villice Bay with nymphs. Fishing was hard, water clarity not good from all the rain. Twitching the nymphs on a floating line, managed to eek out 3 rainbows, best about 2 ½ lb, all on red ribbed Diawl Bach nymphs. Hard and frustrating fishing, at dusk water glassed off and fished started on the surface moving but not on to any of our flies. Talking to other anglers, a number struggled, but some did well, so not too bad for first trip out.
Weather is not looking the best for next few days but planning a trip out to the renown Blagdon Lake.
It has been a while since my last BOTF blog and with it being the last weekend of June, it was the final round the 2011/2012 HBFC monthly fishing comp. Opportunities to fish was limited to early Saturday morning and Saturday evening, high tide was 10.45am(1.3m height) and 10.50 pm(1.7m).
Arrived at Curl Curl beach at 6am, it was still dark with the winter solstice/shortest day having only just passed a few days ago. It required three layers of clothes to keep me insulated from the cold, I must be getting soft but there not a sign of anyone else on the beach. The swell was small, maybe 1ft, no wind and it was still a few hours away from high tide.
My first rod was rigged up one up and one down (1 hook above and 1 below a star sinker weight) with half a pillie for bait on both hooks. Was not long before I got my first bite, before I had finished rigging my second rod, a good bite on the rod was converted into a small salmon around 50 cm’s in length. The magical orange glow started to grow as the sun came up. Over the next half hour managed another salmon and a small tailor. Walkers, runners, other fisherman and surfers began invading the beach, the tide was still coming in, and the warming sun was now up but no more fish. Called it a day at 7.30am
The evening fishing session started around 8.30pm at the same spot on Curly beach. Again with three layers of clothes to ward off the cold, there was not another soul on the beach. The swell had picked up a little from the morning, but still small, a light south-westerly breeze, and clear sky. Three rods cast out, including my favourite Zziplex HSM beach caster rod, all rigged one up and one down with half pillies for bait. The catch for night was one salmon and one better than average tailor, with a few bite off’s and a few shooting stars keeping me amused.
At the weigh in not many other anglers had braved the cold weather, quite a few tailor, snapper and trevally were also weighed.
Managed to exchange my catch for a schooner of VB, not bad value for the purchaser, he explained his wife would make fish cakes. On the beer front, the aptly named real ale from the Northern Beaches Brewery “SumFink Fishy” was a bit of a surprise, copper colour and one to try although it might be hard to find.
Melbourne is the Australian city that claims title to “Four Seasons in One Day”. Sydney’s being giving that a run lately. After a picturesque Saturday, where the sun was shining, the water was beckoning and you could even get a touch of sun burn, the last two days of the long weekend have you searching in the garage for some ark building material. This correspondent got down to Manly Beach on Sunday to have a squiz at the Snowy McAlister Longboarding tournament and was confronted with a cylinder of dark grey cloud backed by a darker grey curtain that screamed storm. After watching a couple of well caught waves,we sought refuge at Maurray’s.
The weather became suitable only for ducks. With great prescience, one of Murray’s guest taps was being occupied by a small NSW brewer – Black Duck Brewery. Currently, Black Duck Brewery is located in the small village of Herons Creek, which is about 5 clicks north of Kew on the Pacific Highway. Baz Luhrmann spent formative years here. It is soon (September)to be moving to the big smoke of Port Macquarie where they’ll do the whole cellar door, tasting, food matching thing. Excellent – another spot on the drive north from Sydney to the Goldie. They’ve got 5 beers on offer and the latest is their spin on an India Pale Ale – Indian Runner. Indian Runner is a type of duck and according to Wikipedia – is the type upon which the duck in the movie Babe is based. There’s an amusing excuse on Black Duck’s website for the high alcohol content, which is to ensure the beer survives the long trip from Herons Creek to wherever. It’s a fine beer – cloudy amber in appearance and richer than most IPAs, whilst still being sharp. The 6% is noticeable and it did the trick as the cold weather set in on Murray’s deck. A brewer to keep an eye out for.
Today, I snuck into 4 Pines to see if any of their EuroTrash Keller Door series was still on. There were 4 varieties, as per the sign and luckily the best of the four was still on. The Belgian Strong Ale is a whopping 7.9% and correspondingly big – but not spiritously so. Another rich beer with more malt than hops. It’s been a great month for 4 Pines and it is hard to believe that they’ll only be turning 4 soon. They won best stout at the AIBA awards recently, which is a remarkable achievement.