The travel brochures advertising Manly and its delights will always show beautifully clear days with rolling surf, smiling happy people and a general vibe of perfection. Fair enough – quite often Manly is just like that. I haven’t seen any promotional materials for the Manly Food & Wine Festival or the Manly Jazz Festival – events that are held annually – but both would be misleading if they contained a hint of sunshine. We’ve previously commented on the shocking meteorological luck of the Manly Jazz Festival. A similar fate befell the Manly Food & Wine Festival on the weekend.
I thought I may have been a little harsh with my recollection, but infrequent contributor – l0der – confirmed my view that the Manly Food and Wine Festival is as unlucky as the Manly Jazz Festival. Perhaps the Manly Jazz Festival suffers more extreme weather – but it’s almost always overcast. Fortunately Manly is opening more and more places on the beachfront, so there’s plenty of options to get out of the rain. Murray’s at Manly is quite kid friendly during the day so after a soggy quick perusal of what the stalls had to offer it is a perfect place to seek shelter. The beauty of Murray’s is that you can watch the people parade along North Steyne and check out the surf.
My tipple of choice was a Murray’s offering that has been around for a while – Punk Monk. This is a beer not to be underestimated. Punk Monk weighs in a hefty 7.5%, but doesn’t taste as such. There’s plenty of powerful flavours and there’s the earthiness of his Libertine along with the yeastiness of a Belgian Ale. Nice and bubbly off the tap and maybe it was my pouring, but it produces a souffle-like head that lasts and lasts. Quite easy to polish off a couple of these – maybe that’s why Murray’s doesn’t serve stuff over 6%(?) in a pint glass.
By the way, there is a severe weather warning for Sydney for the next couple of days – mountainous seas and high winds. Unfortunately this correspondent will be in Melbourne, but if there’s a BotF salty seadog up for the journey – it’d be great to hear about it all.
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.
I’m sure that there was plenty of stout action around the world in the last 48 hours. On the insular peninsula of Sydney, there were 4 new stouts tapped over the weekend – and BotF was able to get there within hours of each of them hitting taste buds for the first time. We covered off two of them on Friday night (4 Pines Chocoalte Orange and Russian Imperial Stouts), but yesterday – the actual St. Patrick’s Day – saw us try the remaining two. The first was the beautifully presented Tinker’s Curse Dry Irish Stout from Murray’s Craft Brewing . The labelling and naming of all Murray’s beers is always first rate. “It’s no sham – and it rocks” could be corny, but isn’t. The beer itself was pretty solid also. Another example of a fine Murray’s beer that doesn’t have to have a high ABV to be good. Paper dry, longly bittered and well toasted – this is a fine sessionable stout. We also tried the third of the new 4 Pines Stouts – the Oatmeal Stout. Nothing wrong with this drop either. A coarse, old fashioned bevvy that poured thick black with a medium brown head – this was a perfect winter beer. The wind was up on the 4 Pines balcony and the stout blanket did the trick. No dud stouts this weekend.
Occasionally, Back of the Ferry comments on contemporaneous issues. Back in February 2011, Ian Thorpe’s recently announced comeback was the topic of much discussion on the stern. There was quite a difference of opinion about the merits and the outcome of the discussion. In the end it was settled in the most Australian of ways – put your money where your mouth is. So pommy_ch will be handing a nice lobster (aka a $20 note) to bladdamasta in the next week as Ian Thorpe was unsuccessful in his attempt to make the Australian Olympic team. Fortunately, the existence of the bet was declared to the bloggerverse in the The Thorpey prediction.
The last time this correspondent was in Dungog, I presciently packed a few beers I hadn’t tried before. This was a good move because Dungog’s bottleshop doesn’t yield too much in the way of surprises (unless you count Crown Gold). One of those beers was the outstandingly good Angry Man Brown Ale from Murray’s Craft Brewing Co. Another opportunity presented itself to visit Dungog and I was prepared coincidentally with Murray’s latest Angry Man – the Pale Ale. According to Murray’s website – he’s knocked 27 varieties and he’s always been creative with his naming. Not sure whether this is the start of a family of Angry Men – but it’s the first time I can see that he’s repeated himself. I’m not fussed – it’s a beautiful label, whether it’s the blue of brown of the Brown Ale or the Navy Blue and Yellow of the Pale Ale. It’s another cracking beer. As always, there’s plenty going on. It’s wonderfully hoppy with a real spice to it. There’s some maltiness mixed in there as well. At 5%, it’s damned sessionable.
Murray hasn’t let on who the Angry Man is that inspired the name, but the kangaroo boxing the man is a real throwback and looks like an extract from a Jimmy Sharman’s Boxing Tent poster. One of the most famous fighters to ply his trade in Jimmy Sharman’s Boxing Tent was Dave Sands, who has an unusual link to Dungog. About 10kms on the road from Dungog to Chichester Dam is the Dave Sands Memorial. This Memorial, which could do with a touch-up, marks the spot Dave Sands died in a car accident. The sign doesn’t really do justice to Dave Sands’ career. He fought professionally 110 times and won 100 times – and he died when he was 26!. He probably should have won a world championship – but it was pretty difficult for an Aussie to manage to get to title fights in the early 50′s. He punched the daylights out of exotically named future champions including Bobo Olsen – the Hawaian Swede.
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.
It is very rare to be at the opening of an icon. Imagine being at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge or the Sydney Opera House, the first passenger on the Manly Ferry, the first customer at Rockpool or the first person to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. Tonight BotF was there at the debut of something equally significant – the first night of Murray’s at Manly on North Steyne in Manly.
illiards and bladdamasta were very pleased to meet with Murray himself and the Head Brewer, Shawn Sherlock. We were able to do a reasonable run at the taps. Between us, we had a crack at Spartacus, Icon 2IPA, Retro Rocket, Grand Cru and Dark Knight. This is scratching the surface of what will be available. These blokes are passionate about what they are bringing to Manly, and BotF looks forward to many nights of patronage. The opening night was low key, so we were able to have a decent chat to the Head Brewer who just loves what he does and we love to drink what he does. He’s justifiably proud of the Retro Rocket (and everything else).
This is a venue that has had many starters but no finishers. I reckon Murray has got the ticker in him to see this out. We’ll be back. We’d love to be stuck in that cool room. Good luck to Murrays at Manly and all that sail in it. @MurraysBrewing.
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.
This BotF correspondent spent Easter at a farmstay, just north of Dungog. Trepidation, caused by previous disastrous experiences, was replaced by exultation as we had jagged a beauty. A great house smack bang in the middle of a working dairy farm was our home for 4 days and 3 nights. Plenty to do around the place as well, though the beer scene was meagre. Fortunately, I’d packed some treats that I’d been looking forward for some time.
I wasn’t thinking of Easter when I picked up a stubbie of Holgate Temptress, a chocolate porter from the Holgate Brewhouse, but after I read Tipple’s review on Easter treats I made sure it would be sampled in lieu of an egg. I am so glad that I did. This is simply a magnificent beer, from the first scent to the last sip. There is so much chocolate in the nose, but it is not overwhelming or cloying. It is the same for the taste. This was so smooth and luxurious, and the chocolate was very evident in the aftertaste, but it all made sense. A great porter with a delightful chocolate twist. I know what to ask for Easter next year, but I won’t wait until then before my next one.
My next treat came from one of BotF’s favourite brewerys – Murray’s Craft Brewing Co. Now, as one has come to expect from Murray, he’s produced an Easter Ale but has taken his inspiration from a Hot Cross Bun rather than the easter egg. Whilst I wasn’t that far from Murray’s place at Bob’s Farm – I couldn’t escape to try this on tap. Instead I had to “settle” for a stubbie of Murray’s Angry Man. Jackpot! This is droolingly good. Seriously, this might top Icon 2IPA. Angry Man is a beautiful brown beer in packaging, appearance and taste. Hoppy and malty all at once, this is complex and strong in flavour and alcohol – 6.5%. I tried to make it last, but just couldn’t spin this one out.
Hopefully Murray’s Angry Man will be available on tap at the soon to be opened Murray’s venue in Manly. Back of the Ferry is quivering with excitement at the thought of being able to rip into a few of Murray’s finest from the tap. He’s taking over the old El Pco Loco site and is putting his own menu in as well. Hopefully this means we won’t have to travel to Bob’s Farm to try some of his new brews.
From time to time, we’ve provided links to what we reckon is the best beer blog to come out of Melbourne that is going around – “A Great Set of Tipples“. On Thursday night, Back of the Ferry had the good fortune to spend an evening with the solo author of Tipples – Leon. We were on Leon’s home turn of Mebourne and relied upon his choice of venue, and he nailed his selection. Bar Deluxe is one of many great bars in Melbourne that prides itself on its offering of seriously good beer from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and around the world. The fridges and tap racks are overloaded with beers that at best I’ve read about, but many I’d never seen.
Now Tipples has already updated his blog with a thorough beer by beer reminiscence of the night. He makes notes on his iPhone (a technique I’ve not mastered), which really helps when you cover the territory we did on Thursday and when other events conspire to prevent immediate blogging and the memory becomes hazy. So, check out Tipples’ recollection for a record of what was consumed. Tipples is most generous in his assessment – that I “won” the evening, but Tipples certainly consistently picks well, whereas I was a little up and down. That said, my up was bloody high up and gained Tipples’ highest rating “A Jug Please”.
The beer that caused all the commotion is a seriously intense drop called Tokyo*, which is described by its brewer, Brewdog, as an “Intergalactic Fantastic Oak Aged Stout”. Now from time to time, we’ve whinged about the cost of some beers from time to time. I sagged at the knees when the barman told the price of two 275ml tulip glasses filled with Tokyo* from the tap. “This had better be good” as I carried my two glasses of black gold to our table. Thankfully it was even better than that. Due to the use of an iPhone app called @Untappd, I have an idea of how long it takes to drink a beer. Even without the app, I can’t remember the last time it took me 40 minutes to drink a beer. Part of the reason is that it is pretty easy to talk with Tipples, but you just cannot drink this quickly. As Tipples said – “It isn’t sessionable”.
The beer’s aroma is a mixture of vinegar and kero. At 18.2% alcohol, this is not surprising – but it is an intimidating sense. The first mouthful (sip) simply paralyses and overwhelms you. All I could do was shake my head in wonder. I’ve never tasted a stout like it. It has the richness of a massive Belgian, with the chocolate of a stout, but it is bigger than either. It was more like a cognac. I immediately wanted a cheese plate to go with this. It is simply one of the greatest beers I’ve ever had and great to get it on tap.
For a sessionable dark beer, you can’t do better than Murray’s Dark Knight, with which I opened proceedings. More info to come on one of Murray’s finest.
We look forward to getting Tipples on the Back of the Ferry proper. In the meantime, enjoy his blog and there will be more BotF vists to Melbourne to again enjoy Tipples’ company and discerning choice of bars and beers.
It is important to note that I was riding the wave of a work function which helps due to the rather high cost of some of these bad boys.
Now to the first panel of the beer triptych, Murrays Nirvana Pale Ale.
Murrays Craft Brewing Co. has featured several times in our reviews. They punch out some extremely drinkable orange (and not so orange) whips. Though the website has taken a rather extreme bent, it does lay out their quite extensive and fast expanding range. The Nirvana Pale Ale is quite superb. It was great way to get out of the blocks on a hot Friday post hooter set too. A refreshing sweetness and a rich, spicy flavour.
It also had a nice follow through with a fair load of sediment remaining in the glass. Normal for a Pale Ale?