BotF managed to breast the yuletide season finishing line tape – just – with a couple of new beers under a Christmas tree.
First up was the 3rd of the 4 bottled beers available from one of BotF’s favourite brewers and bars – 4 Pines at Manly. This BotF correspondent has professed his love of dark brews many times, and this offering from 4 Pines only stokes those amourous flames. Dry, roasted, great long lasting bitterness – this is a great Australian stout. On the label is an interesting little designation “Vostok – Certified Space Beer”. Rather than do an Alan Ramsey an re-type a whole article, read the hotlinked story from the SMH or this one from the Manly Daily about what this all means. Beer hyperbole gone mad – or fair dinkum – your call.
Second beer under the Christmas tree for the evening was a British beauty. Adnams Southwold is a brewer from the East Coast of England. Founded in 1872, it is really starting to expand in the UK as well as enter the export market. They’ve recently expanded into the wine, spirits and hotel market.
If the rest of their product is good as this 500ml bottle of Broadside, then there could be worse places to live than Southwold. This is a wonderfully rich, complex ruby beer. They use it to make Christmas pud, and you wouldn’t want too many pieces as you’ll be falling into your brandy sauce. At 6.3% alcohol it is significantly stronger than the on tap version. Maybe it was the release of finishing up for the year, or the alcohol content – but after draining this awesome beer, sleep was the only option. There’s plenty of variety in the Adnams stable and BotF looks forward to trying them.
The beer commemorates a famous sea battle that was held in 1672 off the coast of Southwold. The Battle of Solebay was between the Dutch and the Poms/French. Apparently an exciting draw, with two further fixtures played – the next one being nearer Holland.
Merry Christmas to all.
It was Bastille Day yesterday, but unfortunately BotF was unable to get his hands on some Kronenberg, a beer from Strasbourg, to commemorate the French National Day. BotF was, however, able to break the seal on a magnificent winter drop from a brewer that has graced these pages before – Kross Cerveceria Independiente. Kross Stout was sampled in the very trendy surrounds of Miss Marley’s a new bar that has opened in Manly.
First, the beer. Kross Stout is a cracker. A dry, crisp but full flavoured stout – this is perfect for winter. Kross make 5 varieties, and the boys from Santiago would have to a bloody good job with the other 4 to top this one. This is the second location within Manly that I’ve had a Kross beer – and its popularity deserves to spread.
Miss Marley’s has taken over the space previously occupied by Safety Wolf, a former winner of the currently dormant BotF Bar of the Month awards. This is a smart, compact bar. For mine it is a little too neat. There was a crumpled unkempt charm about Safety Wolf that was particularly appealing. Miss Marley’s does not have anything out of place – but I’m sure it will become a fixture. 2 Kross’s were of the order of $18 which is pretty steep – thank goodness the beer was good. It is marketed as a Tequila Bar and there is a fine range of unique Tequila based cocktails. Very trendy furniture and well decorated walls make it a visual feast. Definitely one at which to commence date night and maybe even stay for the evening, as there is a menu of Mexican and Caribbean treats.
Snaketide drew the last spot on the 5 band bill and the wait was worth it. After watching 4 bands made up of pre-pubescents with ridiculously floppy hair, it was a joy to watch the swaggering and competent Snaketide strut their stuff. A beefy sound, anchored by Muzz on drums and Chris on bass (a more than adequate replacement for your correspondent), provides a great foundation for Ken, Ben and the ever charismatic Myles to pump out great melodies. Impossible to listen to without a smile, Snaketide really put on a show and were deserved entrants into the semi-final.
BotF will provide plenty of notice. Fishos hasn’t got long to go in its current location, and it is worth visiting one of the great bastions of live music before it moves. One of the few places that serves Black and Brown Old.
The distributors of Peroni have done a magnificent job of ensuring ubiquitous representation on beer lists around Sydney. If there is an imported beer on a menu, there’s a fair chance that it’ll be Peroni. Moretti is another Italian beer that bobs up from time to time – but I’d be hard pressed to think of another one.
That was until last month when I was eating a suburban pizza place in Manly, and spotted a beer I’d not had before – Menabrea. This clean lager beer has been specifically brewed for export. Given the parlous state of the Italian economy, they’d better hope we drink it like water. I must admit it tasted a lot like Peroni, which isn’t a bad thing. Their website indicates that they have a broader range of more interesting beers back in Italy – maybe time for a beer led recovery.
We inducted our latest member on Friday night, but the trip to Manly was one of the least pleasant for some time. It was not because of new member Hutto’s company, but rather the inhibiting presence of the security guards. Now the Friday night security guards are an annoying feature of BotF, but generally it is a low level of peskiness. Two guards walk around the ferry one minute after departure, pop up onto the upstairs veranda bar and have a quick look and then spend of the rest of the trip gasbagging inside. Tonight, however, our two sentinels decided to park themselves out the back and do their yabbering in complete eyesight of us. Quite possibly they’ve read the blog and wanted to experience the best way to travel home in Sydney – but whatever the reason – it gave us the irrits. Just before the Home Straight Bar, they headed inside – which made for some quick sculling. It is not so bad that I’d get the Fast Ferry, but it is a pain in the arse.
Speaking of the Fast Ferry, the Manly Fast Ferry continues to lead the battle for dominance on the 18 minute trip. The Sydney Fast Ferry is still looking very empty, whilst the Manly Fast Ferry looks like a Christmas Party on water.
We adjourned to the 4 Pines Brewery to try their new brew. To celebrate St.George’s Day (which really does exist), the 4 Pines prepared a Porter which they launched at lunchtime. By the time BotF arrived the place was pumping. Plenty of patrons were dressed in English attire (Austin Powers, Amy Winehouse etc and just about everyone had their mitts wrapped around a pint of the Porter. Not difficult to understand why. This was a great drop. Dark russet brown, with a good head. Toasty, chocolate aftertaste without any real heaviness. Charlie was happy to queue up for 10 minutes for another round.
Yet another glorious night on Sydney Harbour. Plenty of maritime activity, including the re-emergence of the floating glass-house – captured in our photo. It is the least visually appealing vessel afloat since the floating roof-tile – aka the Imperial Peking Afloat – but from a passengers point of view, at least you can always see out.
BotF discussion was dominated by the news of the Storm. As a died in the wool Manly fan, Charlie was cock-a-hoop. As a Bears fan, I’m hopeful that they’ll kick out the Storm and replace them with the North (of) Sydney Bears. It’s quite a remarkable decision by the NRL and I agree with most of the punishment except for stripping them of all points for this season. Phil Gould’s solution of enabling to compete once they are under the cap is the right one.
After the ferry, it was off to the Boilerhouse for a taste test. This is a seriously good restaurant. Both dishes we had were sensational, and dessert – creme brulee – was terrific. It is such a great venue for a restaurant and the perspective of Sydney Harbour from North Head and Quarantine Beach is so different. Definitely a date night venue.
The missus then dropped me off at the Artichoke (check out the BotF Bar Review map for location). The attraction was that the Blue Tongue Lizards were performing. Unfortunately for the Lizards, the crowd was sparse, but fortunately for me I had an unimpeded view and it was practically a private performance. If you like your blues, then you should take the opportunity to check out what Mikkal, Graeme, David and Robert can do. 2 guitars, 1 Mandolin and a Harmonica deliver on an eclectic combination of covers and originals. A really mellow evening – and I’ll ensure that the Lizards give me plenty of notice of when their next gig is on at the Artichoke – because it is worth going.
I don’t know whether the Artichoke really qualifies as a bar, but I was able to order beers without eating and therefore it goes on the map with an empty schooner.
Autumnal ferry trips can be magnificent, particularly when the weather is like it was tonight. Almost balmy, with a firey sunset illuminating the Harbour Bridge and the city skyline. It’s relatively early in the week, so the boys had the BotF to themselves.
Charlie and Lambo prepared in their usual way for Wednesday night darts with a steadier. The boys are traditionalists and prefer to keep their longneck of VB under wraps, as the picture indicates. They worked hard on their game faces and will hopefully have an incident-free evening that will not result in a juduciary hearing. Charlie may yet be known as the Les Boyd of the darts world.
After some good natured ribbing of the Carl Williams of the darts world, talk turned to the World Cup. How would Australia fare? Charlie was happy to offer 5 long necks to 1 to Lambo if Australia got through the first round. The author’s view is that this Australian team is better than the last, as long as Bresciano and Kewell are fully fit. Cahill and Schwarzer are on the top of their game and are world class. Two more of that calibre would help. Consensus was: Germany will not win every game. Australia really need to jag a result against Germany (draw or win). The group could finish with all teams on 4 points. There is little doubt that this conversation will continue up until Australia kicks off against Germany in June. Mick’s odds will assist in better informing the conversation.
One of the best beer reviews in the short history of BotF was one penned by Oompaloompa that paid tribute to a member of the Mac’s Brewery beer family. Today I was fortunate enough to try another one of Mac’s Beers. Whether it was a combination of the locale and the quality of the beer – or just the beer itself – it didn’t matter. This was a very pleasant imbibing experience.
The Quarantine Station and Quarantine Beach has been around for almost as long as Sydney has been in existence. Boaties have always been able to moor off the beach and have a swim, but very quietly a hotel, function centre and restaurant have been added to the site. The restaurant is called the Boiler Room, and attached to the restaurant is a bar called the Engine Room. The Engine Room has one of the most well stocked single beer fridges I’ve seen, and one of its offerings was Black Mac.
Doesn’t pour with the greatest head, but it is a deep ebony colour and is a fine black ale. It packs plenty of flavour and has a real sense of dark chocolate in its after taste. I could have a thousand of these.
The Engine Room is definitely worth visiting, but be warned, it is a very out of the way place to drink. To get there you need to drive halfway to North Head and then park and get driven down by a bus. An easier way to go would be to find a wealthy mate with a boat that can park 50m away from the Quarantine Beach and then rubber ducky it to shore and then wile away the afternoon with sherbets in the sun. Sunsets would be awesome here.
One enhancement is the ability to purchase takeaway beers. It is so good to have a microbrewery in Manly that we won’t quibble (too much) about the $20 price tag for a 6 pack of 330ml bottles. I snaffled a 6 pack of Kolsch, which a very tasty hoppy beer. I found it similar to an IPA.
4 Pines produce one-off seasonal beers and over the next 3 weeks, they’ll be launching a Russian Stout (12 April) and a Porter (23 April). BotF may be visiting the 4 Pines again in the next couple of weeks.
[/caption]BotF took the Sydney Fast Ferry (“SFF”) home last night only so that we could empty another schooner on the BotF Bar Review Map. It did give us an opportunity to experience the new service and see both sides of the fast ferry war. The SMH reported on the battle and it is hard to see two services existing in perpetuity. We got the 6.05pm and there would have been more staff than passengers on board. We were able to get 4 blokes on for free using the Manly Fast Ferry (“MFF”) card. The staff bent over backwards to make us feel welcome. Even though they had no liquor licence they were happy for us to BYO. The staff took our empties at the end of the journey and constantly checked to see that we were OK.
As a drinking venue, it has all the same issues as the MFF. Too noisy, too windy and too quick. That didn’t stop a couple of the BotF boys from polishing off a six pack between them. There is no etiquette on the Fast Ferry, so you can start drinking before the ferry leaves the wharf – so with the first finished before setting sail – the next two were no problems in the 18 minutes.
SFF reckons they’ll start to see patronage come their way from the MFF when the weather gets more wintery and wet and people will seek the warmth of the wharf to board and disembark. I’m not so sure that’ll be enough to break the loyal bonds formed between MFF and their patrons. At the very least SFF will need to sort out their liquor licence quick smart. There’s a price differential as well, with SFF being 50 cents more expensive. I kind of feel sorry for SFF, as when they won the tender they probably thought only one service could operate. They’ve got a rude shock and the Fast Ferry passengers are sticking it to the government by using the service that came from nowhere when the JetCat stopped. On the other hand, SFF should have done their research – so tough tit.
It’s all academic for BotF, as we have now reviewed both services and won’t be patronising it in the evenings – unless there is no normal ferry.