Over the years, the 4 Pines Keller Door has released some beers with some weird and wonderful ingredients. Chocolate Seaweed Porter, Porky Pig and Fig, Banana Bread and Espresso, Apple and Blackcurrant Crumble, Black Forest (cake) Imperial Stout and Cherry Pie Beer are some examples of the concoctions that have flowed from the taps both at the Manly base and around the country. It looks like they’ve let their imagination go beserk lately and they’ve promised a “series of ten cask ales each individually hopped to cocktail inspired ingredients”. The series is called the Spice Rack Cask Ales.
They’ve kept this pretty quiet and it was by accident that this correspondent pulled in last Thursday for a quick one and was able to partake in a pint of the first in the series. Now I’ve always ordered pints (unless someone can come up with a way to fit 568ml in a half-pint glass). I think, though with the challenging concoctions that the Spice Rack Cask Ales series will deliver, a half pint is the way to go. Number one in the series is Raspberry & Kafir (sic) Lime. From the first mouthful I was put off. Not sure if this was meant to be sweet or tart – I just found it in a no-mans-land and it was a struggle. A pint was just too much.
On my next visit, number two in the series had been tapped. I went for a half of Strawberries & Cream, which promised to be “just like the lolly”. I sipped with some trepidation – but this was a really pleasant surprise. There was a creamy sweetness – partly delivered by the smoothness of the hand-pull and partly by the essence of strawberry. There’s nothing cloying about this beer and it is extremely sessionable. One to get in for, as it looks like there’s only one keg of each variety. The kegs are lying in wait in a fridge at the 4 Pines and some of the names are intriguing (but I won’t spoil the surprise). Releasing ten hand pulled casks is a gutsy call by 4 Pines and good on them for challenging us. Looking forward to some more surprises.
In other Manly news, the Rubber Duckie Taphouse will be changing its name tomorrow night. From Thursday 28th, Murrays at Manly, which became the Rubber Duckie Taphouse, will become the Yardarm Taphouse. Unlike the previous owners of this venue, the new proprietors, Kevin and Jules, actually give a sh1t about their customers. They’ll give this a real crack, I reckon, and Manly will be the better for it. Would love to be there for the launch, but I’ll rustle up a couple of other correspondents to see if they can’t be there. One correspondent that won’t be there at the launch night did do a rather prescient write up a couple of months ago. Sandy – was this intentional?
It’s been a wild Melbourne like day in Sydney. Sunny, cold snap, drenching rain and now sunny and becoming warm. Now perfect conditions for an early trip home.
Vintage Cellars at Wynyard has the odd unique and BotF’s great friend, Pete (yet to be inducted) tipped us off to a couple. Not too sure what to make of the Ruddles. Starts bland, but kicks, but not with the coffee/caramel that the label suggests. One for an open glass another time.
It’s still windy and some big yachts are out. There’s a chill in the wind, but the sun’s taking the edge off. One of these days I’ll do Two Birds Sunset Ale with the classic BotF sunset, but for the time being it still looks pretty good. One of the best beers going around and good to see them in Vintage Cellars.
The 2013 edition of the Melbourne Cup was shaping up to be a shocker. I was crook, there was no free lunch to be found in these expense challenged times and we couldn’t even get the television to work on our floor. So, for the first time in my memory – I bailed early and went home. The ferry was a solo trip, and as I’d volunteered for driving duty – a light beer was the only option.
I wasn’t going to let the whole day go to waste and I at least used the time on the Back of the Ferry to have a half decent read of the form. Melbourne Cup is a mug’s race. There’s 24 horses and plenty haven’t even run in Australia in anger before they put hoof on Flemington turf. Basically it is a crap shoot. The good thing is that because there are so many mugs having their once a year flutter – the pools are huge and favourites pay good odds. If you jag an exotic it is generally happy days. Well, that is what happened to this correspondent. The trifecta was claimed with a modest wager and there is nothing to lift a malaise like a juicy trifecta pay-out. There’s also nothing more satisfying than declaring “Bugger cooking, love – I’ve won on the Cup” and taking the family out for a big feed (even if I wasn’t really up to it).
Our usual haunts were still well packed with now well soaked punters. Girls’ fascinators were either crushed, askew (hard to tell actually) or gone. Heels were off and champagne fuelled hangovers were still being worked on at a furious rate. “Perhaps we should give the Phoenix above the Steyne a go,” opined Mrs Bladdamasta. I wasn’t so sure. Whilst the trifecta divvy was a health one, the Phoenix has very good form at parting laowei from their hard earneds without you really realising it. Plus I’ve had an unofficial ban on them since the Phoenix charged me for tea at Yum Cha at the old site. Well, have no fear. The Phoenix above the Steyne is an absolute winner – particularly if you take the advice of the two gentlemen in the photo and go on a Tuesday. That’s double dumpling and pancake day, which sets you up well to only order modestly from the Mains menu. The menu isn’t extensive. If you want seafood – you pay for it, but there’s tanks of fresh fish and Pippies in XO sauce goes well anytime. My Honey Pepper Beef Cubes were awesome and the Peking Duck pancakes (when 2 for 1) are a great entrée. This family will be returning to the Manly Phoenix.
The tap beer range is uninspiring (rarely is that the feature of a Chinese restaurant. There was however a surprise. White Horse Lager is a revival of an old Tooth’s label, that Carlton have launched in limited release. Rather than repeating the whole story, it is best that you read this article by The Shout. The white horse is the symbol of Kent, UK, from where John Tooth, the founder of Tooth & Co, comes. Hence Kent Brewery, Kent Brown Old etc etc. It could just be Carlton Draught to be honest. Very same old, same old lager, quite pale and inoffensive. I am a fan of a more malty Tsingtao with a good China – but with a raspy throat, anything easy to swallow and provide anaesthetic qualities was welcome. A novelty at best.
So – a memorable 2013 Melbourne Cup. The trifecta, a decent China, an Untappd unique and sober.
There’ll be a veritable slew of induction posts over the next few days as this correspondent and illiards felt like a priest at a mass Korean wedding inducting 10 new members. A team bonding session needed to held offsite and whilst some of the lads came from as far afield as Prestons (no I don’t know where that is either) a northern beaches venue was chosen. Aah, the pull that the ferry has.
Ferry etiquette was clearly spelt out to the large crowd and our group was augmented by a member of the Todd River SLSC.
Inductions will be flying thick and fast this week. It was hard to believe that there’d be any inductions today when Manly got absolutely nailed by a very localised thunderstorm. 62mm or almost 2 and half inches in the old language fell in a couple of hours. This correspondent resembled a drowned rat after try to cover 50m from a car to Manly Wharf. Come the 5.30pm ferry and we were blessed with occasional sun and patchy blue sky.
I’ve been meaning to do this trip with Paul for some time and we almost didn’t make it – but the guys on the gate at CQ are forgiving types these days. Actually it is impressive Paul made it at all having survived an epic pub crawl on Saturday organised by a future inductee. A story for another day. And to the important questions
Favourite beverage: Hahn Super Dry
Favourite sport to spectate: International rugby union
Area of trivial expertise: Ancient Greek History
Induction witnessed by Lamb0, pommy_ch and bladdamasta.
Sydney Craft Beer Week is over for another year, and BotF’s attendance was quite frankly pathetic as cricket matches and work et al conspired against any real boots’n'all attendance. This correspondent’s only real experience of what looked like a wonderful week was an all too brief visit to Hart’s Pub, where Doctor’s Orders Brewing had taken over a number of taps. Well, if this was to be my only Sydney Craft Beer Week experience, at least I’d be able to do two of my favourite things – drink the Doc’s beers and drink at Harts Pub.
I brought a trio of work mates with me, none of whom are shy when it comes to trying something new. That was a good thing – because all of Doc’s beers challenge the palate, and with such a wide range on offer – some palate challenging occurred. I had the good fortune to bump into Doc during our all too brief session, and he’s definitely developed a loyal following. At 5.30pm, when we popped in, there was quite a crowd. Apparently there were people waiting at 12 to get in. That meant that I missed out on a couple that I hadn’t tried including the wonderfully named “Morning After Pill”. No matter, there were still at seven of the Doc’s prescriptions to try including two off the hand pump.
First up was Electrolyte, which is Doc’s take on the Gose style of beer. Predominantly a wheat beer, this also has salt and coriander in it. For me it started off like a hefe, but had a very tart crisp finish. Want to drink this in the sunshine. With not much time available, I vaulted straight from the Electrolyte to Intravenous. Intravenous is a “Barrel Aged Belgian Black IPA” (try saying that after a pint) and quite simply it is a sensation. The Doc reckons it’s “boozy”, but whilst it is big in many ways the 7.7% ABV is handled really well. It has plenty going on, but I really love its jet blackness and back bone of bitterness. An outstanding beer. It’s always a please to drink with the Doc. There is one of Doc’s creations I didn’t fall in love with at that is the green version of Cephalopod. Watchin my most adventurous mate try a tulip of this was almost the highlight of the day. It starts off ok, but it didn’t end well. I recorded the facial expressions, but have decided to protect my mate’s grimacing from public consumption.
After the quick scamper down the hill to Circular Quay, we had a treat on the voyage home. We were able to witness the departure of the Radiance of the Seas and all that that entails. Tugs are great things and I love seeing these little boats push 90,000 tonnes of boat on its way. The Radiance of the Seas is ridiculously opulent with 4 lifts operating in glass cylinders on the side of the boat. The Radiance is apparently one of the first cruise boats to have pool tables that have gyroscopically operated surfaces that provide a constantly horizontal surface. Like I said – ridiculous. Cruise season has started.
New South Wales’ unbelievably warm late winter and early spring weather has had some very destructive consequences. On Wednesday, fires rages to the North, West and South of Sydney and at around 4pm an apocalyptic cloud cover darkened the city.
By the time the old crew had assembled on the 6pm ferry, the freakish wall of purple cloud had started to move north east and was being replaced by clear blue. With the sun shining low from the west and the skies immediately above still a swirl of purple and grey, Sydney Harbour took an eerie hue. All passengers were mesmerised by the sights as familiar silhouettes took on different appearances with such unique backdrops.
As our eyes were constantly drawn skywards we noticed for the first time – though it has probably been fluttering there for ever – a unique flag. Back of the Ferry’s most scientific correspondent (Lamb0) subsequently determined that it is the House Flag of Sydney. Nice one.
The Back of the Manly Ferry will be a place to be in Sydney this week, as Sydney Harbour hosts the International Fleet Review. In 1913, the Royal Australian Navy sailed into Sydney for the first time. There were 7 boats in that fleet. To celebrate the centenary of that event, 40 warships and many tall ships have arrived in Sydney and the Harbour is a very special place to be. Saturday night will be nuts as a fireworks extravaganza even bigger than the New Years Eve will dominate the Harbour. For the next week, the journey home will have the extra interest of having a gander at warships from places as diverse as Indonesia, Japan, Brunei, France and the good ole US of A.
Our new brew for the evening came from the Australian Wine Centre and is brewed by Birranova. Abboccata is stylishly bottled doppelbock. Now the last time we tried a beer from Birranova – it wasn’t a great experience, and there was some twitter interchange between ourselves and the brewer. Well, I’m delighted to say that there are absolutely no problems with this offering. This is as smooth as the opening to Lady Love by Lou Rawls. There’s a combination of caramel and coffee in the malt backbone. The 6.5% alcohol doesn’t come through the taste at all – and all in all it is a deeply satisfying drink. Definitely one for sipping around a fire. Will be back for more.
With so many boats in the Harbour, it isn’t hard for the Ferry to get up close and personal with a couple of warships. We sailed particularly close to the KRI Sultan Iskandar Muda, which is a sleek 91m Corvette. According to the IFR2013 app, there’s a few missiles and torpedoes aboard and there’s 81 crew. The ship is named after the 12th Sultan of Aceh – Iskandar Muda. He was quite the bellicose sailor himself and kicked the tripe out of the Portuguese once or twice. He’s still fondly remembered by the people of Aceh and has plenty of things named after him, including this boat and the Aceh airport.
This correspondent was on the late boat home have a “business meeting” with old inductee Don (we don’t see you enough on the Back), when I bumped into a long time follower of BotF’s acquatic and alcoholic antics. M W loves his @untapped and frequently comments on Back of the Ferry’s check ins, but we rarely get the same boat or are in the 4 Pines at the same time. The stars aligned last night and Don and I deferred our business meeting and had a good old chin wag with M W. By the end of the voyage, Don and M W had worked out numerous insular peninsula connections and a previous meeting some 10 years ago. And so to the all important questions.
Favourite Beverage: IPA
Favourite sport to spectate: Soccer
Area of trivial expertise: Science
Don and I commented on the breadth of M W’s chosen topic, but he convinced us of a store of scientific knowledge during the voyage. During the course of our journey home, we watched 6 Australian Patrol Boats sail past as the International Fleet Review readies. Not sure who’ll be stopping the boats this week, given our border protectors are all in Sydney getting slaughtered – but Scott M wouldn’t tell us anyway if anyone did come in. Welcome aboard M W – see you around.
Induction ceremony witnessed by bladdamasta and Don.
Back of the Ferry’s latest inductee has travelled many miles to join our select and august group. He also joins with great pedigree behind him and bears great gifts for future posts. Ryan is a Bostonian and is friends of previous inductees Rachel and Linda. The wonderful thing about Ryan is not only does he know plenty about craft beer – he has brought some of Massachusetts finest examples along with him. These will get the full Back of the Ferry beerp0rn treatment in the fullness of time. Ryan and his missus (an orstrayan expression) were given the post ferry 4 Pines treatment, which they, as knowledgeable beer folk, fully appreciated. Sydney Harbour turned on an absolute treat of a sunset, which always occurs when an overseas guest arrives. It won’t be the last time, Ryan and so welcome to BotF. Here are the all important answers to the questions.
Favourite beverage: Smashed Pumpkin – by Shipyard Brewing Company
Favourite sport to specate: American Football (aka gridiron or NFL)
Area of Trivial Expertise: Nike Sneakers
Yep – Ryan lost us on the last answer but no worries. See you again soon.
Ceremony witnessed by Bladdamasta and Dagga (not yet admitted, but honorarily mentioned)