Little Creatures and Winter Afternoons

31/07/2016 Leave a comment

Categories: Beers

IGood times at Mr Liquor with @4pinesbeer

Happy days – $18.99 – went the Hefe

Needs to be the permanent price. Just this outlet – and just for BotF drinkers. Surely we can work this out.

scenes from a ferry

In Situ – MV Queenscliff

Snow Beer in the Virgin Lounge

Don’t hate us for stocking it

Got a shock to see this in the Melbourne Virgin Lounge today. The blurb feels like a justification as opposed to encouragement. In my opinion it isn’t entirely accurate either.

To claim it’s “The World’s Favourite Beer” is a real stretch. Yes, it is the biggest seller by volume (largely due to China), but that hardly makes the World’s favourite. I’m always surprised to see Snow Beer‘s status as the biggest seller over Tsingtao, Yanjing or Pearl River. Over my many visits I didn’t see it that much. I often saw it in supermarkets, but rarely (if ever) on tap and infrequently in bottles in bars or restaurants.

Expats tended to avoided it because Snow Beer had the reputation of containing formaldehyde.  This was a little unfair because almost Chinese beer contained formaldehyde at one point, until the practice was made illegal. Still the mud stuck.

500ml and very pale

The odd statement in the blurb is “Significant affordable opportunity for consumers as Asahi Super Dry 330ml sells for $7.99”. A footnote adds – in “Nov 2014”. So what’s Snow going to cost? The blurb doesn’t say. I reckon it’ll be marked up in the same place an Asahi costs $8 – which would have to be a bar right? A stubble of Pearl River at a trendy dumpling bar in Sydney generally costs $8. With the 500ml bottle, the bar owners will have a field day.

Back in China this cost about 3RMB a bottle (always seemed cheaper than Tsingtao or Pearl River). So a 12 pack would cost about $7.68 – still less than that outrageously priced Asahi.

It actually tasted better than I remember – but it is still an insipid Chinese lager.

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Brexit crazy

It’s been an absolutely mad fortnight.  Stocks & currency all over the place.  A mate of mine from Cornwall said, “I was a happy European, but this racist bigotry has made my decision for me – I’m selling up and moving to France.”. Good luck with that.  Personally, I’d prefer Estonia.  Number one IT country in Europe.  And when it comes to beers…


What we have here is the perfectly formed piece of art in a glass… Stone Brewery (yes, the US chaps who were partly responsible for the craft beer revolution in the early 1990s), now brewing in Berlin, Germany, since June – this one being their IPA.  Amusingly, here in Parnu, the summer capital of Estonia, they say, “ippah” not “aye..pee..eiy.”  The other choices on offer being:


Ah, you spotted it – Arrogant Bastard (AB).  Not you.  The beer.  OK, perhaps you, but that’s subjective.   Whereas the IPA maintains its US signature hoppiness, the AB (pardon the pun)  also rings true to its US roots, full bodied toasted, almost smokey, marmalade… deep, rich in colour, just like a decent Dewar’s marmalade.  So, what else does festival-filled Parnu have to offer at the outstanding Virre craft-ale bar?


Laurie, the outstanding owner, recommends Konrad – I try both the dark as well as the draft (actually, both on draft).

wp-1468013614076.jpg  wp-1468013670189.jpg

Being a ‘dark drinker’ I obviously prefer the latter.  The former is well worth the trip to Parnu though – a meaty light ale, ideal accompaniment to shrimps on the barbie.  The dark, however, is nutty, roasted and extravagant.  Konrad makes the European tour worth the while.  You can google Estonia, Parnu, and the various festivals, but you can only taste the real thing.  Don’t waste life, get over here before it joins NATO…

Categories: Beers

Meantime Brewery & botf on the Thames

Your botf correspondents alway try and get some ‘back of the ferry’ time in the exotic locations we get to visit. With this in mind I caught the ferry on route RB1 down the Thames from London Bridge to Greenwich. The Thames ferry services are brilliant and are overshadowed by the more famous London Underground. The ubiquitous Oyster card can be used on them and it’s a great way to cruise past all the sites.

My destination, Greenwich, was chosen because it’s home to the Mean Time Brewery.
Meantime have a serious presence in London pubs – so much so I originally thought they were just another mainstream brewer.


Their brewery/restaurant is indicative of their size. It’s a serious setup complete with gift shop & the ubiquitous brewery kit bulging into the bar and restaurant. I motored through a good section of the tap list. To complete the feat would require several more livers than I currently possess. Their Yakima Red is my standout given my current liking for good ambers and reds.

London botf observation #6: Hindsight is an amazing thing – I wrote this missive after the Brexit vote but visited the brewery before the vote. In London before the vote, no one or no media outlet could list the facts in regards to staying or leaving. The mess that exists now is hardly a surprise. Not one pundit could list the the benefits or the disadvantages either way. It was all guesswork. The result serves them right – like voting to have a sex change before checking what you already had downstairs.

Meantime Brewery
Address: Lawrence Trading Estate, Blackwall Lane, London SE10 0AR (select for map)
Ferry: RB1 service – London Eye to Woolwich Arsenal

PS. Better late than never. This blog was submitted well after your correspondent returned to sunny Sydney.

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Our heart goes out to @thebeachclub58 Collaroy

The East coast of Australia got smashed by a “low” on the weekend. For all intents and purposes this was a tropical cyclone, except Sydney’s below the Tropic of Capricorn and the barometric pressure didn’t reach the required minimum. The “East Coast Low” behaved like a cyclone though – high, screaming winds, torrential rain and huge seas. Ultimately a big cause of damage was a coincidental King Tide which meant the coast got absolutely pounded.

Courtesy of @ihaig72 (Instagram) – the morning after

A high profile casualty of the “East Coast Low” was the Northern Beaches best craft beer venue – The Beach Club Collaroy. As you can see from the above photo, the balcony which provides Sydney finest view with a crafty has collapsed. Much of the beach over which the club’s balcony and bistro looked has disappeared. Early days for the Club – but hopefully the damage is repairable and they’ll be serving crafties again soon.

Photo credit: One of the best Instagram accounts of Nothern Beaches imagery (including some damn fine photos from the ferry) is @ihaig72. Have a look at it as well as @BackoftheFerry.


Check out the Beach Club’s Instagram account for updates. There is structural damage (exacerbated with last night’s tide) – so it could be awhile between crafties.

Bucolic Cambridge & it’s namesake Brew House

Today’s trek took me to bucolic Cambridge. The weather was stunning and it’s insanely easy to get to from London – just 50 mins on a train service that runs every 15 mins or so. This explains why it’s one of the top couple of spots for Londoners to choose to move to and commute to work – with matching house prices.

I have been here before – some 30 years ago – as an impoverished backpacker. I had initially thought to go to Oxford for the day but my English colleagues scoffed at this decision stating that Oxford still had a ‘dollop of Pikey’ and that Cambridge was a far better choice.

London botf observation #5: Blokes are tall here. I thought Aussies were tall and back home, at just over 6 foot, I am often one of the loftiest in public company. Not so here. I am not dwarfed but it’s like walking around Holland – there are shedloads of lads above 6 foot and heading northwards.

Back in Cambridge I pottered round the streets and into the colleges. Exams were on so many were closed to the public but by going round the back to the paddocks across the Cam you could dawdle in to most of them. I did all the highlights but the weather was conducive to sitting in a sunny brew house.


Left side: The Brew House & Taps
Right side: Bridge of Sighs & Prof. McFarlane is out at the Brewhouse

Fortuitously The Cambridge Brew House is such a place. Very close to the colleges, it has a large range of crafties on tap – disappointingly not many of it’s own on this visit – and a more than serviceable lunch menu. A mish mash of seating and tables give it an eclectic feel. I had planned to move on to a few other venues but this was just too pleasant. A superb spot after wandering quads. I highly recommend a snooze in the paddocks next to the Cam afterwards.

Cambridge Brew House
Address: 1 King Street, Cambridge CB1 1LH (select for map)
Train: Great Northern from London Kings Cross

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