It’s been a long between drinks for a classic BotF post that is simply about a beer drunk on the Back of the Ferry. That’s what tonight’s post is. On the way to Circular Quay I pulled into Vintage Cellars on Carrington Street and spotted a 2012 vintage of the Northern Hemisphere Harvest made by Sierra Nevada. This is a special beer that is deserving of the full Back of the Ferry beerp0rn treatment. That includes the iconic Opera House shot, which on a blue Sydney day like today just doesn’t get any better. Normally the yacht frenzy occurs on a Friday evening, but tonight the stiff breeze had all sorts of yachts beating, tacking or whatever it is that they do. Happy to sit on the stern and watch.
The effort to which Sierra Nevada goes to for this beer is pretty exceptional. There’s plenty of “paddock to plate” stuff going on in restaurants at the moment and this is the beer equivalent of it. 24 hours after these hops are picked- they are in the kettle brewing away. The Sierra Nevada website will explain more technically than I can – but this is as fresh as it gets. Globalisation means that we are drinking the Northern Hemisphere Harvest in the Southern Hemisphere and it tastes great. This is seriously good beer. Love the big bottle. The hops are lipsmackingly good – there’s a piquantness that lasts and lasts. Even as I sniff the bottle, which I’ve kept to monitor beer label hyperbole, the fresh, grassy hop smell lasts and lasts. Don’t pass this up. It might be $12 a bottle (don’t get that given the Aussie peso’s strength), but it’s worth every sip. Jam it in an ice bucket, have it by the table and just enjoy it slowly.
Our latest inductee has lived on the insular peninsula all his life. John loves his beer and successfully tried to find a beer that this correspondent hasn’t had before. He’s a bit of a sportsman and that disturbing photo of his finger is testament to a few years behind the stumps as a wicket-keeper. Whilst it might have a soggy evening, it turned out to be a great evening for photography. So to the important questions.
Favourite beverage: Any good South Australian red wine
Favourite sport to spectate: Test Cricket
Area of trivial expertise: Sport
We weren’t able to get any @Untappd uniques, but we were able to celebrate the induction with a couple of ripper beers. The Sierra Nevada Kellerweis has been reviewed before – but gees it’s a great Hefeweizen. We followed it up with a brilliant pilsner that has also made these pages before – Schiehallion. Again the twilight and the stormy skies made for great beerporn.
Induction witnesses: Bladdamasta, illiards, pommy_ch, lamb0
For as long as this correspondent has been drinking in Manly, I’ve always given The New Brighton Hotel (aka the NBH) a wide berth. Even in the 80s, when the original Hotel Manly was around – it was anywhere but the NBH. I don’t know if it was any rougher than anywhere else in Manly or why I picked up a vibe back then not to go there – but it’s always been one of the last places I’d go for a beer. I think that’ll change now.
The owners of the NBH have recently dropped a small fortune on a renovation that deserves to be seen. There are now “4 Designer Levels”, including a public bar with plenty of windows that open onto to the Corso, the Shark Bar “the entertainment destination of the Northern Beaches” and the highlight – the Rooftop Bar. I’ve been to the Rooftop Bar twice now, and it really is a sensational addition to Manly’s drinking options. I can’t recall having ever seen a gas firepit like the one gracing the Rooftop in a pub in Sydney (or anywhere for that matter). I also can’t recall seeing blankets being made available to patrons to entice them out onto the rooftop in winter. I definitely can’t recall seeing Tagine shaped couches (also with blankets) on a rooftop before.
The view is also spectacular and easily the highest view from a pub in Manly – well and truly higher that the view from the Moonshine Bar, which is on top of the neighbouring Steyne hotel. You can see all the way over to Cabbage Tree Point or Fairy Bower and there are plenty of glass screens to keep as much of the wind out as possible. This isn’t the best rooftop bar I’ve been to in Sydney (the Glenmore Hotel has that distinction – and I’m looking forward to the results of that reno), but it is a killer view and the furniture is pretty awesome (including the couches that really look like double beds).
One certainly doesn’t go to the NBH for a novel beer experience. In fact, the tap rack has an equal number of ciders to beer – and I’m reliably informed the Blackcurrant Bulmers is one to avoid. There is at least a variety of 4 Pines on tap in the public bar, and Coopers Pale Ale is prevalent on all floors. So whilst there is a photo of Hahn Premium Light above, that won’t be reviewed and we’ll turn our attention to the attractively packaged Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale, which was lurking in my fridge . Website hyperbole describes the great trouble that Sierra Nevada goes to to produce this beer. Hops are flown in from New Zealand (Pacific Hallertau, New Zealand Motueka and New Zealand Southern Cross hops) to be used when they are at their freshest. I’m not sure how many years that this has been made, but this is the 2012 version. It pours a rich amber colour and looks great next to a beautifully decorated bottle. Maybe because Sierra Nevada always produces very sharp beers when it’s highlighting hop presence, I was expecting something a little bigger. This is a well balanced beer – nice malt flavours, with a mild bitterness and the 6.7% alcohol is not that evident. It’s very easily quaffable, but it is just a little underwhelming (possibly unfairly).
Your correspondent is spending a long weekend on NSW’s Central Coast. Two doors down from BotF’s hacienda is an Indian Restaurant in a most unlikely location. Between houses is the Rajdhani Indian Restaurant, which, if its sign is to be believed, has an impressive pedigree. It’s a big honour for a humble suburban restaurant in Terrigal, but after sampling the menu, it is well deserved. The lamb vindaloo and lamb sheesh kebabs were standouts and the complimentary mango and coconut ice cream was a fine finish. We went for the family friendly early sitting and am glad we did. The locals were pouring in and there was takeaway flying out the door at a rate of knots. Will be back.
The Rajdhani is BYO and I took a single stubbie of Sierra Nevada’s 2012 Bigfoot Ale, which is a barley wine. This is another style of beer that originated in the UK that has been dialled up to 11 by the Americans. Looking through the list on Beer Advocate, this variety might actually be one of the milder ones (hard to believe). It’s a coma inducing 9.6%, but that’s pretty tame when many get into the double digits. Bigfoot is a fierce beer. It is squintingly better, and there’s a real viscousness to the mouthfeel. The hops lasts forever and if you are only going to take one stubbie to dinner this is a good one, because it isn’t a sculler. Why is it called barley wine? The only theory I can find is on Wikipedia, which because it is as strong as wine, it is called barley wine.
The ridiculous amount of rain in Sydney has had many consequences across our fair city (though nothing like the havoc being wrought in the bush). On the glorious insular peninsula the rain has caused the Queenscliff Lagoon to breach its sand walls and join up with the ocean. This isn’t that unusual, but normally it’s big seas that make the connection, not the other way round. As you can see from the photo, the seas have been big – but the rain’s been bigger.
Sierra Nevada is one of the giants of the craft brewing scene in the US. Their beers are now starting to bob in bottleos all over Sydney and that’s a good thing because it is pretty much always a pleasurable experience. Recently a friendly American who recognised my penchant for the amber stuff gave me a wonderful gift, which he picked up at a Melbourne bottleo. It was a 12 pack of 4 types of Sierra Nevada that come out of their experimental lab called “Sierra Nevada Beer Camp “. One of them was called “California Common”, which I thought was a good segue into the Queenscliff story – the beach and all. It turns out that “California Common” is a specific type of beer that replicates “Anchor Steam”, but no American Brewer can call their beer “Steam Beer” because Anchor trademarked it. There are now dozens of “California Common” varieties out there by numerous brewers and Sierra Nevada is one of them. Interesting that this version hasn’t progressed beyond the Beer Camp stage and it doesn’t appear on the regular website. I found it particularly sharp and resiny. Almost Norscaesque in its pine notes, with a slight viscousness like a tree sap. Good beer, but a sipper. Can anyone recall another “California Common” available in Australia?
Hart’s Pub has rocketed to the top of BotF’s affections in more ways than one. It is rare that BotF can turn up to a pub within a two KM radius of Circular Quay and find a beer that BotF hasn’t tried before. Tonight a visit to @HartsPub presented us with an opportuity to try a beer that Guinness is trying to launch worldwide and a cracker from a US craft beer pioneer. It gets better. Hart’s Pub offers a membership deal which now means BotF will make Harts a very regular pre-ferry libation venue.
No matter how hard I look the only place I can find info about Guinness Black Lager is on Wikipedia (there is no Guinness site). It turns out that Guinness Black Lager is a trial that Diageo – the conglomerate owner of @GuinnessIreland – is running in a couple of locations around the world. Apparently, young chaps are turning to bottled lagers rather than pints. These young chaps would rather a 330ml bottle than a Pint. All I can say is “The youth of today – tut, tut, tut”. GBL (laziness) isn’t shite, but it’s fruity and not at all like the original Guinness. Potable, but give me a pint of the original at the same price.
Hart’s Tap Rack is one of the best racks around, and its bottle fridge turns over new varieties. Tonight they had a trio of Sierra Nevada bottles. I had a crack at the Porter, which is seriously one of the best beers, let alone best porters, I’ve ever tried. It is the closest thing I’ve had to drinking silk. Wonderfully chocolate and caramel. This is an awesome beer. Ta @SierraNevada
The bottled beer range is good, but if you become a member of Harts Pub, then you get half-price Pints between 5 and 7pm. This is significant. This isn’t a crappy happy hour where you get $2 off Hahn Super Dry. This is 2 hours where you get a flat 50% off the regular pint price of 12 awesome tap beers from Australia’s emerging craft brewers. pommy_ch and I signed up on the spot and we look forward to a first return visit. All of this before a trip home on the BotF with a crisp evening and wonderful skyline views.