About 24 years ago, I remember drinking a beer brewed specifically for Easter. It was, (I think – it was a long time ago), a chocolate beer made by Matilda Bay. It was in a 500ml swing top and it tasted not too different to an Easter egg. Fast forward a couple of decades and then some, and the closest I’ve come to an Easter beer is a chocolate stout or porter.
Now I wasn’t thinking, when I saw the label for Murray’s Easter offering which claimed his Easter Ale was “raisin’ the bar”. I was expected something very dark and chocolatey – and was completely surprised when I read the very helpful description. What’s been developed is a spiced beer enhanced with malt and raisins to create a version of a hot cross bun in a glass. Murray’s mum must have used plenty more powdered cinnamon and nutmeg in her Hot Croass Buns that I’m used to – but as with all Murray’s beers – there’s no shortage of action in the glass. I would have preferred less bitterness in the after taste – but I really enjoyed the unique experience. There was no shortage of other punters giving it a lash at Murray’s at Manly, which is great to see. Tourists and locals alike were giving it a whirl
Easter in Australia means two sporting events, the Bells Beach Surf Classic and the Stawell Gift (a handicap sprint race on a grass track. This year’s Bells is the first held since the premature death of Michael Peterson – the first winner of Bells as a professional tournemant. It was totally fitting that this year’s Bells was won by Mick Fanning who grew up not far from Kirra, which was Michael Peterson’s domain. Recently, BotF wrote a little about Kelly Slater and grudgingly acknowledged Slater as the greatest surfer ever. Well, for 3 years, Michael Peterson (or MP or the King of Kirra) dominated surfing like no other surfer ever – Slater included. His story, which is best told in the book, MP: The Life of Michael Peterson by Sean Doherty is quite hard to believe. After dominating so completely, mental illness took hold and he never won another tournemant after 1977. He spent time in jail and was fotunately diagnosed with his mental illness and he lived largely as a recluse after that. He started to make appearances after 2000, but as you can see from the photo – he wasn’t a threat on a board again.
Now that’s he’s dead, his legend will grow bigger. In the 3 years he dominated, he pulled off feats of surfing brilliance that are still talked about. His legend is helped by the fact there is very little footage of him, whether still or video. Apparently he would be so deep in the barrel of a wave, that it wouldn’t matter if you had a camera anyway.
Happy National Beer Day – April 7 is when prohibition ended in the United States.
There were big crowds at Manly today to see surf legend Kelly Slater do the honours dedicating Manly-Freshwater as only the third World Surfing Reserve. It’s an odd designation in my view. The best way to describe its purpose is to quote from the website. World Surfing Reserves proactively identifies, designates and preserves outstanding waves, surf zones and their surrounding environments around the world. The program serves as a global model for preserving wave breaks and their surrounding areas by recognizing the positive environmental, cultural, economic and community benefits of surfing areas.
Whilst I’m understandably biased, Manly and Freshwater are two iconic surf spots in Australia and of all the beaches in Australia – they are the most deserving. What’s unusual is that Manly and Freshwater are really quite separate and distinctive, but pragmatism would have seen them join forces to gain World Surfing Reserve designation. The ceremony was relatively short, however that didn’t stop 5 pollies/dignitaries rabbiting on whilst the only people the crowd wanted to hear were Kelly Slater and Brad Farmer (the bloke largely responsible for Manly-Freshwater’s designation). Kelly was there in his capacity as World Surfing Reserve Ambassador. The extent of Kelly’s public speaking is probably limited to the hundreds of acceptance speeches he’s had to make over the years. He came across as an extremely likeable bloke, can put on a half decent Orstrayan accent, knows and respects Duke Kahanamoku and genuinely loves the Northern Beaches.
There’s always been a part of me that has wanted to dislike Kelly Slater. An American, he is the most dominant surfer ever in a sport that Australians (rightly or wrongly) think that it is our right in which to be dominant. When he passed Mark Richards’ record of 5 world titles, it was like he’d killed a bird (an Aussie is no longer the greatest). His record of 11 World Titles is Bradmanesque and he’s denied Aussies like Taj Burrow and Joel Parkinson the crown. I now find it impossible to dislike him. He’s just a really talented surfer, who also happens to be extremely humble about his achievements and clearly enjoys what he does and shares that joy with others. Officially a legend.
Realising that Kelly Slater was going to do the honours, I rummaged through the bar fridge and turned up the only US beer I had. Victory Brewing Company has started to appear in a small number of bottleos in Sydney and Melbourne. Judging by the number of check-ins on @Untappd for Prima Pils , they are hugely popular in the US. I tried their Hop Devil at the soon to be relocated Biero Bar – and immediately snaffled this stubby, when I saw it a Porters at Balgowlah. Pilsners are regarded as the poor cousin of IPAs, I reckon, because they tend to be more subtle, but there is nothing subtle about Prima Pils. Bright, hoppy, resiny, sharp – it is an outstanding beer. Great label and a great drop. Victory Brewing Co have been going since 1996 – practice makes perfect.