As Bladdamaster can attest one of the truly great things about living in Zhongguo is the wonderful selection of International beers that are of offer. A visit to Jenny Wang’s almost always will reveal a previously un-sampled morsel. On the afternoon that I bought this beer I was in a bit of rush and quickly picked what looked like another Belgian brew and headed for home. Later that evening in a more relaxed atmosphere I took my fist sip and was taken aback by the fruity explosion that tasted much more like a cider than a beer. I looked at the label again and despite my Dutch not being as good as my Portuguese (which is non-existent) I was able to clearly make out the words “beer” but further research was needed. The and despite the difficulties of YouTube access in China I was fascinated to find a Rolf Harris lookalike with a very scientific but fascinating documentary on the beer brewing process from what looks like to be the mid 70’s. Anyway back to the beer itself Pecheresse is certainly a different style of beer and probably not typical of what’s expected from a Belgian brewer; having said that though it has a refreshingly different taste.
On Saturday and Sunday at the Australian Hotel in Sydney’s Rocks, the 7th Australian Beer Festival was held. Now Mrs Bladdamasta (and doesn’t she like that sobriquet!) doesn’t make many appearances on these pages. It would be fair to say that she is not the world’s biggest beer fan. However, with the promise of a smorgasbord of cider, Mrs B (that sounds better) made the trip on the ferry with me and we enjoyed a fine Saturday afternoon in the Rocks.
It’s a good value afternoon (so long as you can resist the temptation of t-shirts and other beer related trinkets). $5 for a tasting glass and $10 for 10 tasting tickets. A tasting ticket gets you probably 50ml of beers. If you liked something, you could use two tickets for a double shot. There was a couple of Macro brewers in amongst a sea of craft brewers. For example, the South African-Anglo brewer Cascade was there. As my @Untappd account revealed, it was an opportunity to try many beers that I hadn’t seen let alone sampled before. For Mrs B, she was pretty happy as a number of tents had a cider available as welll. Our first beverage of the day was a glass of Aussie Cider (I think the only only-cider stall). This drop ended up winning cider of the day.
Mrs B proceeded to rip through a few ciders – Pipsqueak Pear Cider and a Rocks Brewery Pickpocket Apple Cider amongst them. She declared the Pickpocket to be her favourite. Also sampled was a newcomer to the Australian Beer Scene – Shady Lady Beer. This is a highly distinctive beer – self proclaimed as “Lightly perfumed refreshing lager beer”, Shady lady is a rose infused lager “designed by women for women”. Mrs B tried some and said “It’s like drinking a liquid Turkish Delight…I’ve never really liked Turkish Delight” I had a sniff – you either like that scent or you don’t. Not for me.
The two highlights were 1) trying a number of beers that I hadn’t had before. Roadtrip IPA by Holgate Brewhouse, Porter by Illawarra Brewing Company, a Pilsner and a Bock from the Balmain Brewing Company, Raw from Pinchgut Brewing Co, anything from HopDog Beerworks and Vale IPA (please bottle that baby and send it North).
The second highlight is meeting some of the people behind the beers and putting faces to the twitter accounts and webpages. It is great to have a yarn to Jaron from 4 Pines, Gerard from Pinchgut, the jovial fellas from Balmain Brewing and the guys from Holgate. It’s a long day for all these guys – the set up, answering the same questions, dealing with pissheads etc – but they all seem to love it. The good news for us beer drinkers is that the brewers are universally positive about their businesses and what they do – long may it continue. Cheers to you all.
The Rugby League season is drawing to a close here in NSW and the State of Origin is well and truly lost (2-1 to Queensland for those who care) but it has taken your correspondent this long to put his finger on why NSW cannot win it ever again – unless we take drastic action.
For the last 6 years NSW look beaten as they run out on to the ground for each game. Expressions are hangdog, body language is appalling. There is a seemingly incurable malaise. The Queenslanders run on and play like their next meal depends on it. I thought of a few theories – NSW players are after wedge and put club over a seemingly arbirtrary idea of your state of origin, the dominance and skill of the Queensland quartet of Smith, Slater, Thurston & Lockyer, the NSW players have a large cockroach as their inspiring mascot……..
These all play a part but I believe the root cause for the Queensland dominance is their siege mentality. For years when flying north from the southern capitals the joke before landing was to set your watch back 60 minutes and your mind back 60 years. Johannes “Joh” Bjelke-Petersen ruled Queensland from 1968 – 1987 through a combination of tough, Old West-style right wing policies and continual gerrymandering to maintain a political majority. Queensland became a laughing stock and they remained ignorant of this…till 6 years ago. Suddenly the world (or at least NSW) was against them and they banded together at this outrage.
How can NSW ever hope to beat this circle-the-wagons mentality and return the SASMAMSOO shield back to the rightful state? Easy. The NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell needs to ignore the left wing cronies of the State Liberal Party and send NSW back to the good old days of late 20th century Queensland. Ban gatherings larger than 2 persons, ban homosexuality, ban free thinking, close all the libraries, block the interweb, corrupt the police force (oops ..already done), maneouver political boundaries to his advantage. All these are a good start so that by next State of Origin the NSW Blues should be repressed sufficiently to form a tight, seamless unit and take back the honours.
Here at botf we are fan of their beers but for me, not this one so much. I found the Redoak Organic Pale Ale had a heady, almost overripe fruit smell, was cordial sweet and had lots of fizz. I though it might be a one off and a subsequent tasting was a little more pleasant. Still, not their finest hour in my humble opinion.
The Wolseley and it’s ilk are indeed as rare as hen’s teeth in Sydney. The range of beer is macro brewery standard but that’s cool because they pride themselves on the cleanliness of their beer lines, the cheap bangers & mash and delicately flaunting local council rules with outdoor tables.
I am blessed as this is my work local. It’s de riguer to have a few bevadol fortes here at Friday lunch and if you are ever booked in your Outlook Calendar for meeting room ‘LW’, you can keep your bar tab receipts – it’s a work offsite – I can prove it.
Over a number of years, this correspondent has occasionally taken overseas business visitors on a night out in Manly. In the old days, the trip would consist of a trip on the Back of the Ferry – and a long-neck in a brown paper bag would be thrust in our guest/’s’ hand. Once at Manly, we’d commandeer a cab and do the run up to North Head, dodge bandicoots before going to the lookout, which gives one of the great panoramas of Sydney and the Harbour (even better at sun set). Depending on the personality of the client, we’d then head to either the Harbord Hilton for a very large seafood platter and schooners or Garfish for grilled fish and chardonnay. Every now and then, particularly if the client was a real pisshead – we’d end up at the Steyne and introduce them to punting in a pub.
One night sticks in the memory, when a couple of us entertained a hefty bloke that hadn’t been outside Iowa – bar a honeymoon to Hawaii. He looked like he was enjoying himself and we were ripping schooners into him at a frantic pace. He started to struggle with the seafood platter – restricting himself only to the battered stuff – but smiled bravely. We then got in a punting frenzy – schooners still flying everywhere – when he suddenly sat bolt upright and said “I need to go home”. We piled him into a cab, wondered for a second if he was ok, and returned to our punting frenzy. He turned up to the office the next morning – almost on time – but was as green as a shamrock and said very little.
I met him six months later in Iowa, and he confessed that he got back to the hotel and chundered his guts out. He hadn’t had a session like it for a decade and that it would be another 10 years before he did it again. He was very pleasant about it, but I entertained myself that evening in Des Moines.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with the “Hilton” or “Garfish”, the itinerary I prefer now is a visit to Murray’s at Manly followed by a visit to the 4 Pines. Now, once Murray’s at Manly’s (@murraysbrewing)restaurant is up and running, we’ll alternate between dinner at each venue – but at the moment – once alighting the ferry (and possibly after a trip to the Heads) it is off the Murray’s for a few magnificent bevvies and then on the 4 Pines (@4PinesBeer)for a few more magnificent bevvies and din-dins.
Cam & Rory, our inductees had proven their mettle in Melbourne, and were prepared for anything we could throw at them. There would be no repeat of the Iowan incident. First stop was Murray’s at Manly, which has half the venue under renovation. No matter, the beer taps still work and the boys were blown away by what flowed from them. I was delighted to see a new brew available – and tried a Vesuvius Premium Lager. Prior to the arrival of Murray’s at Manly, we would have missed out on these releases – but no more. This is an awesome beer. “Premium Lager” makes me think board-room, Crown or James Boags – but this is far different. It’s big on the hops, and it is simply bigger than a traditional Australian lager. 7.1%, great aromas, lip-smacking taste. Thanks, Murray, for coming to Manly.
Next stop – dinner – and we headed to the 4 Pines. Now, I’m a member of the 4 Pines Club and probably received an E-Mail notifying me, but I’d totally forgotten that it was the 4 Pines’ 3rd birthday. Lucky us – that made me eligible to win double my weight in beer – but I lucked out. That was the only disappointment. The Melbourne lads are good on the tooth and ordered one of everything, which were rapidly demolished. The lads loved the Kolsch and Rory gave his celtic seal of approval to the Stout, which had been launched only 3 nights before. Happy birthday to 4 Pines, Andrew and all the crew.
I should point out that there is nothing wrong with either the Harbord Hilton (@harbordhilton) or Garfish (@garfishseafood) – and there’ll be visits there in the future – with or without overseas guests. But gees it’s good to have two beer restaurants in Manly.
Back in the 1980′s I remember hearing over the radio that some Sydney cabbie had just been named “the world’s best taxi driver” at some gala event in the US. I can’t find any mention on Wikipedia of this highly regarded competition (so it can’t have happened) but I always imagined it was some cheeky inner city cabbie who had passed, with flying colours, various challenges that involved getting a passenger from A to B in a city where he had to learn the street grid anew (surely it would have held in a neutral venue?), passenger courtesy, honesty and maybe a mystery challenge that involved all of the above and a drunk that hurls his kebab all over the plastic-covered back seats (do you remember those in cabs?!).
I remember there being no cries of outrage or ‘can you believe its’ from my parents at the time. But can you imagine any Sydney, Melbourne or Aussie cabbie winning such an event now? Apart from a few outstanding examples, I reckon no Aussie cabbie would trouble the scorers if such an event is still held today.
My peculiar beef with cabbies is that most have no idea where you want to go. Regular readers will know I’m from Sydney. I go to Melbourne alot for work. I work for a large corporate in a pretty central location. Without fail I have had to direct every cab from the airport to this address. Give’s me the irrits.
Anyway, a cabbie did get me to Biero Bar where I enjoyed a Doctors Orders Synapse. I had absolutely no expectations of this brew. Doctors Orders ( @DRsOrdersBrewin ) produces a regular seasonal brew with Synapse being the latest. I understand its actually brewed in the Hunter Valley, NSW. Saison (“season”) beers were traditionally low alcohol pale ales served to field workers during the harvest. They were low alcohol so the workers did not get legless and fall asleep in the product. Synapse ain’t pale and it ain’t low alcohol. It’s Tooheys Old dark and comes in at 6% ABV. It was a solid, “delicious” beer with a hint of sweetness. Look out for it. I’ve also seen it at Harts Pub in Sydney.
Several lifetimes ago your correspondent travelled solo round the world with nothing but my internal monologue for company. This may explain why I haven’t listened to it for several years but I reckon it’s more to do with the mobile phone & ipod-sodden society we now live in. Have you looked about last time you were on a bus, train or tram? Probably not ’cause you were on your phone or listening to your ipod. Every single one of us is tapping/listening away. I recall a favourite Brit comedian of mine, Sean Lock, railing against this insidious blocking out of our mental processes, exclaiming “God forbid that a conscious thought is allowed to form” when he’s continually noticed commuters getting to their seats and hurriedly attaching their headphones.
Anyways, the role of botf correspondent carries certain responsibilities. One is to hunt out quality craft beers and taste and talk about them. This must be done whether in company or on your lonesome. We at botf agree that one of the joys of beer is the camaradarie and shooting the breeze. But a blog is a blog.
So my internal monologue has returned and is often at hand as I wander into new and wondrous bars and beer cafes. It’s when I start talking back to it I really need to worry.
My internal monologue and I are in Bar Biero on half price pint night and I’m trying the Rogue Ales Yellow Snow IPA. Rogue Ales, out of Portland, Oregon, produce some mighty fine beers and we earlier reviewed their Dead Guy Ale. Rogue Ales love producing beers to celebrate events. Yellow Snow is no different as it was released to mark the 2000 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
The Yellow Snow is a fullsome brew, a meal-in-a-pint. It had a fruity, orange kickoff. I found it quite bitter for this style of beer but all in all a very good drop.
For a number of years this correspondent has driven past a complex of grand facades on Pittwater Road at Collaroy on Sydney’s Northern Beachs. Occasionally when A Hog’s Breath occupied the Northern facade, we’d stop in, but I never frequented the pub and wasn’t even aware of the Club that occupied the rest of the buildings. Today that changed as I took advantage of large gaps between my daughter’s IRB races to sample both, and effectively completed the Collaroy pub crawl.
The Beach Club, which is actually the Collaroy Services Beach Club, can be easy to miss from the street as there is a single entry door. One signs in, walks through a short corridor and then in to a quite large area that opens out a little Alice-in-Wonderland like. There’s a substantial upstairs function area and outdoor seating area as well. Downstairs punters are well catered for with a screened off pokies area and an excellent TAB facility with the right number of screens to lose money with all the knowledge you could ask for. The big surprise is the treat for serious beer drinkers.
Being an RSL, I was fully expecting a line-up of Hahn Super Dry, Tooheys, VB, Carlton Draught etc and that is what one rack had – but the second wouldn’t be out of place in a fine Melbourne craft beer establishment. The second rack carried Murray’s Whale Ale, Little Creatures Marzen, Mt Kosciuszko Pale Coopers Pale and Matilda Bay Dogbolter. Only the presence of XXXX Gold stopped it from acquiring legendary tap status. There was a separate tap rack devoted to James Squires and the Big Helga was in the fridge. With such excellent punting facilities and fine beers – this has to be revisited.
The Collaroy Beach Hotel is more mainstream, though the boys from Longboard Brewing Co have done a fine job in getting a significant amount of their promotional material adorning the walls. Again, punters are well catered for and there are plenty of big screens with all the sport on. There’s a dancefloor upstairs and a good outdoor area with sight of the ocean. The Beach Club has a greater amount of outdoor space and its tap rack means it wins hands down. You could end up in worse venues, though, than the Collaroy Beach Hotel. Quick, but worthwhile and rewarding pub crawl.
Another new Sydney small bar to get along to is Stitch Bar. Stitch Bar is so cool the Fonz wouldn’t get in. Unless you were looking for it, you wouldn’t know it existed. The entrance is disguised with a fake tailor’s office through which you pass to a set of stairs that descends into a surprisingly large space. Immaculately designed, the hoods of old Singer sewing machines hang from the ceiling behind the bar and the walls are papered with pages from books from a bygone era, including pages from sewing machine manuals. The food menu (look at BotF Bar Review) is succinct with burgers, hot dogs and sides.
Summer’s having one last crack in Sydney and the yachts are abounding on the harbour. illiards and bladdamasta enjoyed a balmy evening, punctuated by plenty of horn work from our ferry master as he negotiated the mid-week water warriors. One day, we’ll t-bone a yachtie.
The beer du jour was Beez Neez. I’ve felt that this was a little bit of a gimmick and a quick google indicates that it actually is. Our favourite brewers at Matilda Bar don’t hide that this was originally a one-off for the directors of Capilano Honey one Christmas. Beez Neez is a wheat beer with that is softened with a dollop of honey. It’s a really good summer beer. Not too wheaty and the addition of the honey is by no means cloying or dominating. Get into it.
Budvar Budějovický is in all respects superior to the US knock off. The menu at the Local Taproom in St. Kilda had this down as a thirst quencher. That it was. It really hit the spot after a day of snooze fest corporate workshops. It comes in at a relatively tame 5% but that makes it even easier to punch out. It has a full bodied steely taste and leaves its mark. In complete contrast to the tepid US namesake.
PS The chorizo and pork belly were also superb.