The conditions in Sydney were perfect for another jaunt on the harbour on the MV Pastime. Cap’n Ferg took us another scenic trip and we were able to get up close and personal with some more of Sydney’s inner harbour rock forms and get a perspective only possible by boat. Middle Head is in the harbour, but lies latitudinally between North and South heads. It features wonderfully eroded cliffs which have a multitude of colours, as well as some man made stone lookouts designed to protect Sydney from invasion. On the north side of Middle Head is one of Sydney’s 3 nude beaches – Cobblers Beach. Whilst it was cloudless, sunny day it was still a brisk 17 degrees. That didn’t deter some hardcore nudists from getting out and about.
The weather was perfect for a couple of dark beers. I’ve had this stubbie of Coedo Shikkoku sitting in the fridge for some time. Coedo is a beer that you tend to buy only one of – based on the price of a case, as can be seen in the attached. $154 – $164 a case is steep in anyone’s language. Still, I’m happy to part with $6.99 for a stubbie of Shikkoku. This is categorised as a Schwarzbier – and is a delicious yeasty dark drop. If it wasn’t from Japan, I’d swear the brewer stirred this repeatedly with a spoon coated in Vegemite. A beautiful black colour, Shikkoku is named for Japan’s black lacquer work. I wish this stuff would turn up in Japanese restaurants.
Next up was a bottle of Moa Imperial Stout. You can’t really call a bottle of beer that has a champagne style cork in it a stubbie. This is an absolute corker (pardon the pun). Part of this beer’s charms is its texture. It is sleeky smooth and almost oily – but in a good way. Then there’s the richness of the taste – plenty of coffee and liqueur, but that said it carries its beefy 10.2% alcohol really well. Thank heavens I wasn’t driving. The colour is as black as lights out in an underground cave and the head was like a flat white coffee with not much milk. This is a really special beer and perfect for an after dinner drink (if you haven’t gone hard early). Thank heavens I wasn’t driving the boat.
The Japanese don’t mind adding some weird stuff to their beers occasionally. We’ve previously tried a beer from Hitachino that was coloured and flavoured with red rice. This time Coedo have decided to throw some sweet potatoes into the mix of their Coedo Beniaka beer. That sounds strange, but pumpkin ales are not uncommon in the US at this time of year and Murray’s Craft Brewing has produced a Pumpkin Ale in the past (hopefully that’ll be back on this year).
The Coedo label work is always interesting, and I’m convinced that the translation is not always perfect. “The use of sweet potatoes is quite a big deal and exceptional in the global beer cultures”. I think they’re trying to say that they are only ones that use sweet potatoes in beer anywhere in the world. Minor quibble, because whatever they’ve done to make this beer, they’ve done it well. Beniaka means “crimson red”, which is the colour of the Kintoki sweet potato that is used, and the colour of this beer is entrancing. It is a beautiful reddish brown and pretty much matches the colour of the label. Beniaka is a rich almost spirit tasting beer. 7% is strong, but not that strong, but there’s a Christmas Pud soaked in rum kind of feel to this beer. With the weather snapping cold again in Sydney, this’d be the perfect drop to nurse on a couch under a doona watching back to back rugby.
This week-end is probably the pick for football spectating. First week of the finals in AFL and NRL meaning 4 games in each and the 2011 Rugby World Cup has commenced. BotF snuck into a Sydney Uni Rugby lunch and snuck out with a Rugby Ball, which has been used quite awkwardly in an attempt at a Rugby themed beer porn shot. Having a Japanese beer in the photo is not too incongruous, given that the Japanese have appeared at every Rugby World Cup ever held. The poetically named Brave Blossoms have only won one game in a World Cup so far, but as recent winners of a tournament between Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and themselves they might be half a chance to add to that. If they get within 50 of the All Blacks they’ll be lucky though.
I’ve got to put a tip down in writing and I think that Australia can pinch this World Cup.
The night’s are getting shorter in Sydney, the air is getting balmier and the 6pm ferry trip is getting brighter. Before long, we’ll be enjoying our journeys home bathed in sunlight. Full quorum of foundation members on Tuesday night with plenty of football conversation to be had on voyage. For mine, Glenn Stewart is a relatively innocent party. Wrongly sin-binned and then simply standing up for himself as he ran off. He wasn’t 2nd (or 3rd or 4th man in) and I’d give him a week max. He’ll get longer and Manly will squeal and the siege mentality Dessie loves to foster will intensify. Still, great television and the best thing was that they showed the Dish head Dowling v Howie Tamati blue over and over again.
Took the opportunity to have a crack at the second of the Coedo 5. Coedo Ruri is named after a gemstone called Lapis which “represents the Pure clarity this beer abounds in”. It is brewed to be a pilsener. Beer label hyperbole craps on about the “contrastof soft foam and a clear golden colour”. That maybe so, but we drank it from the stubbie so no ability to appreciate the “delicate hues”. Boys were underwhelmed this time around, but high hopes are held for the black Coedo.