Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Day of Smelling the Roses...well Hops

After my day of 'crawling' around Fitzroy during Good Beer Week, I decided to use this morning doing a walk around the suburb to find any other hidden pubs in the area. I saw a few pubs on Wellington (The Vine, The Gem, The Fox) and walking past what use to be Lambs Go Bar (had to make sure it had actually gone), I tried peeking through the window at Josie Bones to see what was on the taps menu there, and see what I can try when I go there tomorrow with my brother. I then made my way out to Purvis Cellars in Surrey Hills as had been a while since I had been out there seeing I had Purvis Beer near me. I was lucky to find a bottle of Les Trois Mousquetaires Porter Baltique (probably my favourite beer from the 100-odd beers I had during Good Beer Week). With Winter well and truely established, and after enjoying the rauchbier I had during the Slowbeer tasting during Good Beer Week, I saw Stone's Smoked Porter as an interesting investment.

I then made my way down to The Local to have my first look and the bottleshop and provisions store they just opened up down there. Was happy to see some beers I don't see anywhere else, that they had beers sorted by style rather that region/country/brewery, and with books, merch and cured meat and cheese that give a nice touch to the beer shopping experience. I also had my first look at the growler filling stations they will start using soon.

All of this made me pretty thirst for a beer, so went next door to try out the latest selection of beer the Taphouse has on offer. While making my choice for a paddle, I had a 4 Pines Kolsh which was nicely refreshing with the malt giving it a good amount of body to the beer. I also had a taste of Murray's Vesuvius, just to be proven once again that I have yet to find a bad beer from these guys. There is good aroma, flavour and bitterness from the hops, which the malt carries through quite well, and the bitterness is not too harsh on the back so it cleanses ok too.

While I haven't been impressed with any of McLaren Vale's beers, I decided to have a go at their Schwartzbier, only to be disappointed by a bland tasting beer with minimal dark malt flavour which seemed to only give a slight dustiness on the back palate. I am starting to lose patience with Vale beers...
I also had a crack at the Otway Raconteur IPA, which while has a nice caramel aroma, does not come through in flavour, but provides just enough body to carry the hops. You can tell the hops have been added quite generously, as it dominates all aspects of the beer. There is a bitter aroma that bring a piney hops flavour and bitterness that lingers in aftertaste, but happily does not become overbearing.
I decided to give the Abbey Collabey another taste, after it had been a while since I tried it at Mountain Goat Brewery during Good Beer Week. Initially there is a chocolate/liquorice smell with maybe some yeastiness, which turns more sweet caramel/maple syrup as it warms. There is a yeasty flavour which reminded me of the waffle aspect, which bring more alcohol as it warms. On the back though it seems like it going slightly sour but at least still cleanses ok, and overall seems to be getting a little more watery than I remember.
I ended this tasting comparing the Malt Shovel Noir Stout with the tried and true Moo Brew Imperial Stout. While the Noir does have good texture, the liquorice does seem to outbalance anything else in the beer. Comparatively, the Moo Brew was stronger in malt, alcohol and body overall with a sort of creamy smell. However, I can see it can be improved with mellowness which only makes me look forward more to the vintage version coming out soon.

Having had my fix, I went back to the bottleshop to get a La Chouffe Bok (never seen one of those before), try out a bickie beer and get one of the new Red Hill Imperial Stouts, along with a book on beer tasting (hopefully it means my comments here will become more accurate, and not just more).

On my way home I stopped off at Purvis Beer, where Damien and I shared a Red Hill Imperial Stout, which is pretty good once warmed, so am looking forward to tasting the one I brought home with me to taste against the ones I have been aging.

Hmm, was going to taste one more beer for this long relaxing beer day, but don't want to overdo it and want to make sure the tastebuds are clean for this Belgium beer that I am really intrigued to try. Anyway, that can wait til the next post...or the next...



PS: Stass and I keg/bottle our first IPA tomorrow, and I have a few ideas of brews to do after this thoughful day.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brew Dog Rip Tide Stout, Scotland (8%)

Talking of stouts in the previous posts, I found I had a bottle of this in my stash and having never tried it, decided now was good. After an irish stew for lunch on this cold day, this looked like a good choice.

The rich dark malt aroma is pretty intense with the alcohol, and has me thinking of the Tokyo these guys also do. To be honest, the taste does the same, so for me is just a lighter version of the Tokyo. Seeing the alcohol is dimished, the malt stand out much more, which is great up front. On the back the malt comes back through again, to leave a grainy roasted dryness, but much slighter then yesterday's Viven Porter. The alcohol just doesn't linger as much as the Tokyo, which is understandable, with the Tokyo at 18%. Though, there is enough alcohol to thin and cleanse the beer from the tongue.

The big bold sweet malt on the front palate really agrees with me, much like the malt characteristic of most Brew Dog dark beers do for me. It is almost a bit too cloying on the front, but for me I really like that. The alcohol does come in pretty early, much like the Tokyo, but certainly does not warm as much. I'm not really feeling the alcohol that much, even though it has nearly twice as much as a usual beer would have. Simple but bold, of course it is going to by my type of beer. I would prefer a better back and aftertaste, but for the upfront flavours, I don't mind it if is a bit bland on the back, as it just makes me want to have another taste, even thought it is satisfying enough to sip away on.



Just Watched 'Beer Wars'...

I just had a look at the Beer Wars movie/documentary, and have to say I was happy to be able to get that sort of understanding of the brewing scene in the States. It was interesting to see this week that Fosters knocked back a bid by one of the 'big guys' and funny to see the two ends of the scale happening here in Australia. Ok, so we are not at the stage of the Americans, but there is a definite growth in craft brewing over the past 5-10 years here in Oz, so is interesting to see while there are more smaller players coming on the scene, the international big brewers are trying buy out our domestic big brewers.

It is pretty easy to look at the big guys and just see greed, especially against the opposite end of small breweries trying to focus on flavour and making good beer while trying to keep their breweries afloat in the marketplace. Being a simple bloke, I am probably only more receptive to see this greed in the big/international players. Still, being this simple bloke, I end up coming back to one thing...the beer. If the big guys came out with a decent beer, I would probably drink it...I mean I still look at Tooheys Old with nostalgia, as the first beer I can remember enjoying to some degree. Still, now I would prefer a Brew Dog Zeitgeist over it (in the style of Black Lager), as I have used the Old as a start, not an end to finding my flavour, and interesting flavours in beer.

One of the great comparisons I loved in the movie was that you wouldn't base your understanding of beer on mainstream beers, just as you wouldn't base an understanding of food on the fast food giants. Accessibility should be only one aspect, not 'the' aspect that draws us to something. Maybe it is just our lifestyles that have made this factor prevalent in our decision making process, whereas I have given more time (and so thought and energy) to question, find and even attempt to make beer I will enjoy more.

I guess without the distribution issues here is Australia as they have in the States, we don't have to look so much locally to find 'our' type of beer. Still, putting on my environmentally conscious hat on, there would be less need for transportation and bottling if we drank more locally brewed beers. However, without some outside influence we may stop looking to do better with beer, and the mainstream might gain back some momentum. With the information age, it is much easier to share recipes now, and I guess it may be less of an impact to transport ingredients than ready to drink beer. In their search for efficiency, the big international brewers have used this technique by licensing contract brewers to make a certain beer in each country, or sending beer extract so that water can be added. Still, I see microbrewers that search the world for their ingredients, so they can make similar styled beers here in Australia. As I have said previously, it only takes small changes in the ingredients to bring about massive change in the character of beer, and the differing environments around the world bring these differences naturally.

I guess what I am getting at that was one of the main things I saw in the movie was instead of the competition that builds in beer industry, industry in itself and where we are as a society, collaboration is a more natural attribute, which we will need anyway to help diminish the impact mainstream beer has. Sorry, I have changed from Capra's 'Web of Life' to Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring' in the reading I am doing, so the environmental slant is continuing in my musings. Still, I am happy to say that collaborations seem to be a big thing at the moment, in terms of brewers from different breweries across the road or across the world getting together to learn more and make better beer with each other. This is the sort of inclusiveness that will help build a ground swell of interest in craft beer, I hope.

Anyway, another issue I found from watching the movie, was just that sheer amount of different beer in the States. Once you opened yourself to the world of craft brewing over there, you would see an overwhelming amount of choice available, and would almost want to turn back to your Bud, Coors or Miller, just so you wouldn't have an overbearing decision of what to drink put in front of you. Per capita we are probably getting to a similar situation in Australia, having a tenth of the population, and maybe about the same fraction in the amount of breweries in comparison, but the creativity needed having that many breweries in the States is enormous. Luckily for me though, I am a stout man, so the awash of lagers and pale ales our aussie industry has means I have a better chance of trying out my style of beer from the different breweries here. Still, even with that I have a lot of trouble keeping up, and so there are probably many stouts just in Australia I am still yet to try, which in a way helps keep me going in that unending search for better/more interesting beer.

In the end, like I already said, I will always come back to one thing...beer. I have found, and continue to find, my own taste in beer, and so would ask that everyone else try and find your own. When I talk to someone new to beer, I try to ask the questions they should ask themselves to help them find a beer they will enjoy, as I am pretty sure it can be found, and if they are having trouble, they could even consider brewing themselves to find it. Versatile and accessible...the potential in beer. Ok, I'll stop now.



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Viven Porter, Belgium (7%)

So it is the time of dark beers with winter hitting hard, and after finding a couple of good stouts while on my journey of Belgium (Hercule Stout, etc), I decided to give this belgian porter a go when I stumbled across it in Slowbeer.

Being just a few km's N/E of Brugge, Brouwerij van Viven in Damme is pretty close to the Netherlands, and being in the northern half of Belgium, will have flemish influence, as explained on the bottle.

It is quite dark as expected with a brown head that diminishing fairly quickly. Has a bit of a dark malt and slight alcohol nose, but then also has what seems to be quite a bit of smoke with it, which is quite surprising, but seems to blend ok. This seems to relate well into the flavour, with the smoke being significant, but then the alcohol blends and cuts through it a bit from the midpalate, before being left with a dark grainy malt aftertaste which is also a surprise to get. It is like the aftertaste I get from just eating straight dark malt (as I have done on a number of brewery tours), and has a dryness to it with linger for a long time, but leave the tongue fairly clean after the dark malt and smokey aspects. Am wondering if the bottle fermentation means a fair bit of malt grain also also left in the bottle to influence the flavour. There is also quite a bit of carbonation up front in the first mouthful, but this diminishes after a few mouthfuls, and seems to the take the smokiness with it.

I am finding either my palate is getting use to the smokiness, or the warmth/air is diminishing it from the flavour, but the graininess is getting bigger towards the back and in aftertaste. Of course, the warmth is also helping bring out the upfront malt sweetness too. It really settles down with warmth to become more of a standard porter but that graininess remains.

Well, I do not enjoy it as much as some of the dark beers I had in Belgium, but that graininess does remind me of a few of the European beers I had, so I guess it is somewhat true to the style over there. The smokiness is a bit different, but may be just be from using very roasted malt. Well, that is as much sense as I can make. At least it is more appropriate than the Thunder Road Pale Lager from last week.

I guess I should also use this to let Team Harrod know Team Bassteef have put their IPA on for our next contest, which we are quite interested to try. We also tried our latest dark ale that has come out pretty dusty (and we are having an issue with the keg seal), and retried our honey wheat to find it turning sour. So it means it must be drunk pretty quick now before it gets worse.



Sunday, June 19, 2011

Situational Drinking 1: After a Hard Day's Work

I just had two different types of hard days work over the past two days, and the beers I had at the end of it were like bloody heaven.

On Friday I did a day at Mountain Goat doing the bottling run. The labeling machine wasn't working when we started, so we ended up double handling all the bottles once the labeling machine was fixed after we had bottled it all. Anyway, made for a fairly long day with much of it repetitive. While it isn't overly difficult, doing the same motions over and over for 8 hours does wear you out. I guess the other thing is once you get into a rhythm, you can really start going a bit quicker at it (just so it can be over as soon as possible). Just as we were getting to the end of it, Dave sat down a glass of Steam Ale next to me, which only made we want to finish the work even sooner. Anyway, we finished, the beer started going down a dream but then had to just sit down and relax for ten minutes, to let my mind and body wind down from the repetition and pace. In this case, I think the beer really helped to just calm down on, and was something to focus on while going through that re-stablisation phase after it.

Yesterday then, I was helping my cousin move house. While I have done a fair bit of this sort of work, having 4 flights of tight stairs is always a killer. Luckily nothing was that heavy, but just the awkwardness of access can really tire you out in the way you have to move stuff. By the end of it, both Pete and I were pretty giddy from the strenuous effort we had just put in, add beer to that mix, and we were both pissed after only a couple of Little Creature Pales. Still, there was that desire when the bottle was in our hand to suck down that beer fast, again only making our states worse. Knowing this, I had to start having a break between each beer just so I wouldn't pass out on the couch I'd just helped bring up.

I guess it is funny for me to see beer can be used differently depending on what sort of day's work I have had. And with days like these it doesn't really matter what beer you have at the end of it. I am a little shamed to say it, but even a VB can go down great after a big day, so I guess bad beers even have their place in this world, not just to show us what good beer is.

Actually, speaking of bad beer, this reminds me of something I wanted to ask everyone. For my birthday last year I pulled together some of the most interesting and enjoyable beers I have had over my beer drinking life, and spent a day going through the range from Faro to Imperial Stout(s). However, while I remember discovering my enjoyment of these beers, I also recall some of the worst beers I have had. Once I had my appreciation of beer, the worst beer experience I have probably ever had was in San Francisco, for Australia Day a few years ago.
Seeing my brother and I had been walking around all day tasting beers, we hadn't come across one single aussie beer to celebrate the day with. By 10:30pm we walked past a bottlo near our hostel, and could only find a 500ml can of Fosters. Needless to say we bought it, and seeing after one sip by brother couldn't stomach it at all, it was left to me to do the deed. With some salted nuts after each gulp, I managed to finish it, but it scarred me. The photo taken of me with that beer says enough, so here it is.
So while this blog is here to help promote good beer, I guess we can only fully appreciate that when we have bad beer to compare it to. So, please comment and leave your story of the worst beer(s) you ever had, so I know I am not alone with the disgust I have had in beer and so I am not just laughing at myself through my own story.

Ok, so maybe there are some beers in this world that even a hard day's work wouldn't even make taste good...



PS: as well as holding onto some of the bottles of beer I have enjoyed, I also have this can of Fosters in my collection. Just as a reminder.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thunder Road Pale Lager and Sierra Nervada Torpedo

Free Beer!

Managed to get away from work early enough to get to Beer Delux by 5pm to try the new Thunder Road beer. Ok, it is a lager...a pale lager, so already I am not too interested. Also, it is winter, and not the best time to be trying out these beers. Still, I had 30 mins to waste, and can't say no to free beer, so gave it a go.

I have to say, it was better than I expected (ok, my expectations were not high), with a decent body, very crisp and refreshing, and even got a little hint of honey as it warmed up a little (maybe just wanting honey because of the weather, so misjudged the malt). Still, the first sip put me off a little, as it was almost too crisp, bringing with it a dryness that reminded me of a pilsner or even towards an Asahi.

Later on I happened to go past Purvis and see it still open, so headed in and as he was closing up, Damien and I had the Torpedo IPA. Had a similar nose to the Stone & Wood with the fruity aroma, but as it warmed up, the caramel malt came out much more, which of course I enjoyed more. This caramel came out more in flavour as it warmed as well, but diminished the hop of course. Therefore, I probably don't appreciate it for what it really is, but that is the relationship I have with hops. While it was cold, I was getting two hits of bitterness, one on mid-palate, then another in aftertaste. Still, the mid-palate bitterness settled a bit as it warmed. It is a hard bitterness, but does not seem to be overbearing, which is strange to find, and probably one the better things I found in this beer. The after taste bitterness really does linger, and shows most of the bitterness in the beer. So while there is aroma and bitterness from the hop, I didn't get a great deal of flavour, but that could just be from the aroma and bitterness being as big as they are.

Anyway, just got home, and have another day of work at Mountain Goat tomorrow, so better get a good night's rest, and so I can maybe do some knock off's after bottling, and a quick Brew Dog tasting (Yay! More free beer!)at Purvis on my way to the rugby for The Rebels final game of their inaugural season.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another Local Taphouse Beer Journey

Just to show I haven't lost my mind in the past couple of posts, I thought I would bring the tone down and just do a standard entry.

As I said, I hit The Local Taphouse in St Kilda as saw they had Moo Brew Imperial Stout and The Yeasty Boys Rex Attitude. When I arrived, I saw the Rex Attitude had gone (luckily I have a bottle of it in my stash at home), but managed to pull together a list of 5 (well 6 in the end). Unfortunately I have lost the list, but will try to use whatever mind I have left to piece it together.
1) Hofbrau Dunkel - Just as a reminder of the day 9 months ago when I drank 6 litres of this stuff at Octoberfest at the Hofbrua beerhall in Munich with my mate Jaimi. The first sip took me instantly back to that day, and was a little off putting seeing how that day ended for me. Still, that caramel sweetness with a little too much artificialness to it and the watery texture/body. At least you can put away 6 litres of it with that wateriness.
2) Paulaner Salvator Doppelbock - Having recently had the Korbinian, this beer just reminded me so much of it, but maybe just a little subdued in body and a little more artificial sweetness in the caramel. Initially this was given to me as the first beer to taste, but after tasting it, new it needed to be after the Dunkel, especially with 7.4% on the alcohol reading.
3 and 4) Yeasty Boys, Pot Kettle Black/Croucher Patriot - In trying to get an appreciation of Black IPA's, I gave these ones a go. I was a little confused as the noted description for one seemed to describe the other, unless they were accidently swapped or not noted down properly on the sheet. One had quite a hoppy bitter taste overall as you would expect for an IPA, whereas the other had a very distinctive coffee flavour at the back to bring a bitterness more from the malt that the hop. Though, without knowing which was which, I can't make a certain description. This was further confused by the fact that initially instead of giving me one of the black IPA's, I was given an Ace of Spades Stout (therefore, beer number 5). I wondered why I enjoyed this more that the Black IPA, but this error soon explained it for me.
6) Moo Brew Imperial Stout - A classic beer of mine, and was sort of good to have it with the Ace of Spades to compare. It definitely had much more body, flavour and alcohol over the Ace of Spade, but so it should as an Imperial Stout. It was on this beer the epiphany began on my previous post, that nature has a wisdom it is not even aware of, unlike humans that can be aware.
Unfortunately, that is all my brain can recall through the confusion of it all. Still, through the confusion, that last beer and Capra's book, something new came from it in my mind.

Anyway, I'll leave it at that. I think I have put enough on this blog for one day.



Beer and Philosophy?: An Attempt Through the Self

Ok, How to start this... after having my self-reflection in the last post and getting over my hangover, getting back on a few beers at The Local yesterday and finishing one of my favourite books in the process, I was awoken this morning at 4:30am with thoughts buzzing around my head, and so am back again to see where it takes me this time.

Putting alcohol and philosophy together is nothing new. I think it may have been the Greeks that would get drunk and start philosophising, probably much as we still do to some degree today. Also, I have already spoken of Michel De Montaigne in previous posts, regarding his philosophical views 'on drunkeness'. However, he also said 'to philosophize is to learn how to die', which in one sense may not be good to then connect to beer, but I see it as that it is just a sense of things outside yourself, and how you relate as an individual life form with a finite time to experience life. Seeing I had my moment purely 'within' myself in the last post, without the hangover I can now look beyond, and take that reflection elsewhere. Still, as the human condition is to be aware of our own awareness, these thoughts on beer have to stem from the aspects I see in myself and the world around me which is why I have put 'An Attempt Through the Self' in the title. I am not drunk at the moment, and so not 'out of myself' in these musings. Apologies to those that have already lost interest in this post, at least you know not to go any further.

So, the book I was reading was Fritjof Capra's 'The Web of Life', and as well as bringing up aspects similar to the carbon tax we are in the process of debating about at the moment (this book was written 15 years ago), some other aspects jumped up at me that had me relating it to myself, and the beer nerd in me.
As well as the diversity in beer I brought up the other day as a powerful principle of mine with beer, the interconnectedness of it was also highlighted to me through the example of nature in the book. It is probably why this picture showing both of these aspects of beer made such an impact on me the first time I saw it. The other thing that came to me, which is just symbolic, is that in nature the four elements of air, earth, fire and water (sorry for sounding like an episode of Captain Planet) can also be seen in that there are four 'elements' of beer (yeast, malt, hops and water). The 'potential' I spoke of in beer the other day, and relating it to life probably came from this unconscious thought that as these four elements of nature brought out so much diversity of life now, and all that have represented life in the past, with four ingredients in beer, we also get a great deal of diversity available, but also the connectedness of similar styles coming from these four basic ingredients. This picture could almost represent the tree of life in beer, with kingdoms (lager and ales), species, etc.
The four ingredients themselves add a simplicity to beer, as it was probably by accident why the first beer was ever brewed. Grain left in water with some air-born yeast (a type of yeasting still used in lambic style brewing today via open fermentation), and next thing you know, you have beer. This 'natural' aspect of beer has probably been one of the things that has attracted me more as I have come to learn about beer. As long as the yeast has sugars and the conditions to survive and grow, they will make alcohol, and alcohol can make us walk funny, Horray!
Taking this approach to beer, I probably need to talk of the life given to beer through yeast. While it is not aware it is making alcohol, we can create an almost symbiotic relationship, like we have with the many bacteria we already have in our own bodies. We can feed yeast what it needs to survive and we feed off the waste product of alcohol. It may not be symbiotic in the true sense that we need to survive off it's waste product, but at least we have seen a value to it that lets us appreciate its existence, even if we only really see if for our own gain in alcohol. Ok, that argument is pretty weak, but there are plenty of people in beer that cultivate their own yeast (ok, it is not like owning a pet), and with alcohol aside, yeast impart a great deal of flavour to a beer, which I think people need to think more about than the alcohol.
Just on alcohol, I have to say I agree with Montaigne that alcohol can harm our mind, body, others and our relationship with ourselves and others. While it generally has a lower level of alcohol than many other sources, beer is abused widely, and I guess the respect I have gained from beer is something else I want to impart while promoting it. Beer is something that has been part of humanity for such a long time, yet with our way of generating life within our species, each generation has to relearn, and unfortunately some don't. I have made my fair share of mistakes with alcohol and beer, and been lucky enough to survive, and sometimes silly enough to make the same mistakes again. But I guess coming back to what I wrote in the previous post, beer was not about getting drunk for me. Sometimes in the moment where the high of having alcohol and the social situation drives you to have more, I was outside of myself (not that it is an excuse), but having learnt more of what I can enjoy from beer, I can have my own 'highs' without it being purely through the alcohol, and is probably why I never really got into drinking beverages of higher alcohol. I get so much more from the flavours, smells, textures and feelings other than drunkenness, that drunkenness is now more a distraction from enjoying the beer. The main problem I have now though is with so many different beers to try, I inadvertently start to get a bit tipsy, but at least realise that is happening and can choose to stop, through the experiences I have had with beer.

Anyway, back to the nature of beer, the diversity from simplicity is what I also enjoy when I see the potential that I do in beer, as it only takes minor changes in the yeast, malt, water, hops to bring out a completely different beer. Therefore, there is a level of complexity going on behind this simplicity which can seem a bit contradictory, but is something that keeps us beer nerds intrigued. This simplicity even goes into brewing. In the usual household, the only addition you need is a fermenter (just a barrel with an air-lock) and you can make your beer at home, as I have for a few years now. This simplicity then allows for the accessibility I also spoke about in the previous post. The adventure of brewing I also brought up then also makes sense, as another aspect of that diversity through simplicity brings flexibility of what sort of beer you can make. The adventure also comes from that little question of what will happen. While brewing has become a bit of a science, and brought with it the use of added ingredients and chemicals to try and control the output of the brewing process, at its heart there is still that little bit of uncertainty for me, which I enjoy, and is probably why I have liked experimenting with beer. There is a robustness to beer and the process of brewing that can allow for many things to be added the affect certain aspects. Still, as you can see from above, for myself, I wish to keep it as natural as possible, and not rely on a quick fix through advanced science.

This then brings up a point within me of patience. As some will have noticed through this blog, my steps into working with beer have been slow and may show a lack of ambitious hunger. I have already been very lucky in life, and so from it felt that lack of desire to get any more than I need. While all this may show someone that I am very self conscious, I am hopefully only conscious of my own development as a person, and not greedy for possessions. Beer in itself is a fleeting thing, once you have drunk it, all you have is the memory of the sensations you had while drinking it (which I try to put down here) and a vessel that beer came in. Anyway, back to patience (see, I even have the patience to allow myself to go off track with my thoughts), beer needs at least a week to ferment, and if their is bottle conditioning, you can be waiting a month from wort to drinking beer. Even when we were advised with our Russian Imperial Stout to let it sit for 3 months after bottling, I did not have too much trouble waiting for it. My love of stouts means that letting them sit and mature a bit in the bottle is not unusual, and I even have beer sitting in my bedroom that have been their for years. Yes, there is a question of timing it right to open a beer, but having that patience (and having many other beers to try while you are waiting) is something I can relate to with the beers I like. The Moo Brew Vintage Imperial Stout sits for 9 months in Pinot Noir barrels before it is bottled, and I have let some sit for a year after that, and still going. It is only the excitment of wanting to see what it tastes like that makes you want to open it, and that is mainly for our home brews anyway, to see what we have to learn. Time can be that missing ingredient, or it may be that there is more than the sum of it's parts in beer, or maybe I am having a systems thinking wank.
Ok, so I have internalised too much by now to make this generalistic and allow people to relate to. Maybe I only wish I could to keep spreading the word of beer, seeing I have reached this level of understanding with it. So maybe my attempt has failed, just as my attempt to make a great chocolate stout has never quite made it, but at least we develop a bit more with each attempt. Through this I think I have come to understand more my own interest in beer and why it has become what it has to me. I think taking a naturalist/ecology approach to beer is something others have seen value in as well through this blog, as one of my most read posts is on the environmental impact of beer. I look forward to come back to this topic, as have started finding examples of breweries with an environmental conscious (like Brooklyn Brewery).

Anyway, the comment button is there for those that want to complain about another idiot blogger trying to relate too much with little understanding on the topics brought up within and outside beer. Still, I hope for most, this is just another way to look at beer, and help them develop their own respect for it.

Beefy (who would take anything seriously a bloke calling himself Beefy has to say on his beer blog anyway?)

PS: Just reached 4000 hits for this blog, and this is our 180th post. Hooray!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

After the Detox...The Hangover...and the Question: Why?

Hangovers and funny...when they are not yours. I haven't watched any of the Hangover movies, so no, this post will not be about that. I'll try not to even talk about my own, just so I am not thinking about it.

After Good Beer Week, my trip to Hobart, Stass's bucks and then his wedding last weekend, I have just come through 5 days without a beer, and was feeling much better. I may have kept it going (nah, probably not) but the Mountain Goaters were saying farewell to Jayne, so jumped a bit too hard into the deep end last night (probably didn't need to pull out my Russian Imperial Stout towards the end). My first beer getting back on the horse was Holgate Temptress at the Royston... At least waking up drunk this morning and feeling the hangover kick in now, I know it is only the alcohol that is affecting me, and not the other chemicals that can be present in beer...

While having a week off beer, I have been reflecting quite a bit on the impact beer has had on my life, and where I am now in terms of finding my career in beer. From the six year old having a taste of his dad's VB, and my further disliking to beer as a teenager, it wasn't a good start. I found it very difficult to just drink beer to get drunk, I maybe only had one or two Tooheys New after my Year 10 formal, and ended up just looking after my mates that were getting drunk. I had one or two the year after, after my rugby grand final (we lost) and I still didn't like Tooheys New. I probably only started liking beer when I was of the age where I was legally allowed to drink, but then it was many years later before I started to really appreciate beer, and that story is already on this blog.

I guess it is interesting for me to look back and see this in myself, to see how much things have changed. My mum doesn't drink, and my dad is likely to go for a light beer. While I know what I like, I don't have a very good palate, and it has taken me a long time just to get it to where it is. I'm still not sure how I got to where I am with all this, but it has been something that has grown naturally, as seems to be my way with anything in life. It is funny though, growing up I thought I would be one of those guys that would find a job, and I would just do that forever. Interestingly though, I think the course I did at uni to have that future set me up to do the very opposite, to question, and develop my own sense. That is what has led me from farming, academia/teaching, project management, labouring, and all the sorts of things I have dealt with through and between them. I guess even in another 10 years, I'll still be wondering what I am going to do with my life, but then that is the potential of life. As I have written before, even if finding a job in beer doesn't work out, I know beer was always be a part of my life.

I still have way too much beer sitting in my bedroom, but still wanting to go and get more. The Goaters have been good to let me in the brewery to do odd jobs, and let me get some sense of myself in that environment. I am also waiting eagerly to see how my entires in the beer writing comp went. I continue to keep meeting new people through beer, and have loved traveling Oz and the world with beer as a focus. Still, I enjoy just throwing $20 into a homebrew with my mates, and seeing how it will come out. The accessibility of beer I guess makes it a bit of an adventure, and the diversity that can come out of that means the potential of beer is as great as what we could do with our lives.

Anyway, sorry to bore anyone reading this. Like my notes on beer, sometimes I just feel the need to put this sort of stuff down, and seeing it has a beer slant to it, I thought here was a good enough place. Wow, it's been like one of those flashback episodes programs have. Maybe it just means I have had this blog for a while, maybe too long. Well, that is my story, or where I am at the moment, and has given me something to do while recovering from the night before.