One of this correspondent’s all time favourite films is the 1978 cult surf classic – “Big Wednesday”. I’ve seen it scores of times and it never fails to disappoint. It is one of those movies with many moments and quotes that groups of afficianados like to retell or repeat ad nauseum. “That ain’t no hobo, squid lips, that’s Matt Johnson”. A minor but pivotal role in the film is played by Gerry Lopez. He plays himself and is justifiably an idol to the film’s lead protagonists. Lopez has had one of the biggest impacts on surfing ever – tuberiding, pioneering Indonesian surfing and board design. His self designed lightning bolt logo is iconic. An interesting sideline for Lopez was appearing in movies directed by John Milius, who worshipped him. Many remember his more for his role in Conan the Barbarian.
Gerry is now an ambassador for outdoor clothing company, Patagonia, who’ve just opened a branch in Manly and last Wednesday night he appeared at Murray’s at Manly to talk about a new book and generally reflect on his life. It was a ticket only event, and it was only on a last minute whim that I decided to rock in with a mate, knowing that half the bar was still open to the public. I certainly wasn’t the only one with the idea, and there were plenty more than the 100 that had tickets ready to hear Gerry. Gerry didn’t disappoint and delighted the crowd with a wonderfully mellow rambling about what it is like to surf, how it contrasts to snowboarding (his passion now) and his modest recollection of his abilities. Any chance of bagging a decent photo of Gerry Lopez was dashed by a thronging crowd, but it was a privilege to hear him talk.
I’m not sure when Murray first launched Big Wednesday Pale Ale . It wasn’t for the Gerry Lopez evening, as I’d had it at Murray’s at Manly before. If you are going to call a beer “Big Wednesday”, it had better be big and it is. At a hefty 6.1% ABV, it is hefty all over – big nose, plenty of citrus and a squinting amount of hops. The finish is crisp and sharp – and despite the 6.1%, I could stick on this all night. That said, with a few pints under your belt – you’d be capable of some Leroy the Masochist stunts.