Monday, July 30, 2012

Choc Hops & Chicos!

Having found out that Mildura Brewery was taking over the taps at Mrs Parma's and that the Choc Hops was to be available in the line up, it was a must do. So after doing my bit for National Blood Donor Week, I took a stroll across the city to recover from the blood letting before hitting Mrs Parma's for a pot of the Choc Hops.  Having previously described this beer as tasting like chicos, I thought it appropriate to test my own thinking on this.

Ok, it had been a while since I had tasted chicos, so the choc and vanilla/milk was a bit sweeter than I remember...or maybe I am just getting old. Unfortunately, the Choc Hops itself seems to have changed, as a higher carbonation was heightening the bitterness in the cocoa and not letting the vanilla in the beer to come through. Letting it warm up considerably to blow off the carbonation and bring out the sweetness, when it was left of the tongue for quite a while some of the sweetness did come back. Also, with that warmth, the aroma did come very close to the chicos, but that was a close as I could get. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed that they did not come out closer (not just because I have proved myself wrong). I still think that previously this beer did taste more like chicos as cannot remember that bitterness being in the beer before, or that level of carbonation. With chocolate beers being such a favourite style of mine, I thought I would have picked up any cocoa bitterness before.

Anyway, I got it wrong from this experiment, so should just accept that and enjoy the rest of the chicos and reminisce on their place in my childhood. While being nostalgic, I guess it appropriate that some old Nintendo 64 games came into my hands today, so have spent the afternoon reliving Mario Kart, Zelda and Lylat Wars to keep with the theme.

Here is to old skool at least.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tasting at Taphouse

Well, it had been a while since a trip to the Taphouse, but with the Twoks playing a gig in St Kilda and a friend down from Sydney, thought it a good opportunity to get in for another tasting paddle over dinner, and show Hannah that The St Kilda Taphouse is better than the Darlinghurst (she said it, not me).

There have been a few changes to the place since I was last there with a bigger kitchen allowing for an expanded menu, but glad to see it hasn't taken away anything from the beer that should dominate a place like this. With a recent Italian invasion of beers happening at the Taphouse, the tap list was full of them to try, so was happy to have someone else there to allow us to try 10 of them over two paddles.

The San Paolo Birrifico Robina is quite a light honey ale, which while showing a nice touch of depth is not overly syrupy and could not help but sense a little bit of artificialness. Still as the honey flavours changed a bit as it warmed, showed the honey is the real deal and just happened to be somewhat refreshing style for a honey beer.

Brewfist Fear is a beer I have been waiting to have for a while with some other milk stouts, but seeing it on tap knew I would be having a go of it. The chocolate is quite subtle up front and not helped by a slight thinness to the beer to make it a stout, but there is a bit of cocoa bittnerness at the back to keep it interesting, with the lactose filling out the mid palate.

Birra Del Borgo Keto Reporter is a Tobacco Porter which needed a bit of warmth to bring out the tobacco flavour, and sort of found it a little lacking as the porter base came through as the dominate flavour. I decent beer, but just a little underwhelming. Mind you, it could have just seemed underwhelming when having it against the NZ Mussel Inn's Smoking Swine which while had a big hit of smokey bacon as to be expected, and really dominated the palate, found there was a bit of a medicinal smell and flavour which took away from it.

My paddle ended on a Birricicio Shangri La, which is a pretty solid barleywine, with good malt character and alcohol meld with it. Wasn't picking up much of the spices that were suppose to be in it, but the hops were noticeable early on but was actually happy to see them die off as the beer warmed. Sorry to be such a traditionalist.

With a guide of fruit and bitterness for Hannah's paddle, started her on a Brewfist Jale ESB, which was a good starting point with some sweet caramel malt and classic english hops keeping true to style, if just a little lackluster, which was also true for the Brewfist/Beer Here Caterpillar Pale Ale, but at least a step up in bitterness for the journey we had for her.

Brewfist stepped up though in the Burocracy IPA, which had a really good balance of citrus flavour melding into a good level of bitterness, and with enough gravity in the body to smoothly roll across the tongue and really let the flavour fill the palate.

Stepping up in bitterness again, the Golden Bear Manly Impulse IPA really shows the New Zealanders are up to competing with the US for hoppy beers, with this piney resinous hop dominating, but think we reach the limit of Hannah's palate for a beginner.

Thinking a nice sweet, cirtusy and spicey Tripel would bring her back to earth, the Extraomnes was fairly dissapointing, even if it had the alcohol correct for the style. Wanting to get that spice that we missed out on in that beer, we ended up getting the Croche Di Malto Temporis, and it didn't disappoint. Same sort of evenness and balance as shown in the Burocracy, but with spice instead of hops, leaving a nice tingle on the tongue.

Thanks to Hannah for letting me take her on that journey and shove beer down her throat. I hope one day people will stop being polite and tell me they don't want to taste beer, instead of indulging me in the fantasy that everyone can find a beer they like, and don't mind tasting beers to find it.

Hmm, so unfortunately, I can see I am getting to a point where beer venues are getting so good I can't help but feel that each night I am at one venue, I am missing out on the beers available at another venue. Still, that thinking can be a slippery slope to go down, so just going to enjoy what beers I do get to try when I can, just as I enjoy finally putting a brew on with Stass today. So as I watch the opening ceremony of the London Olympics and look forward to the next 3 weeks of sport, I'll contemplate some of the beers I may be trying...Go Aussies!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Update: Dogfish Head/Birra del Borgo - My Antonia

Having tried this from the bottle the night before, and remembering hearing it was on tap at my local, I headed into the Royston to have it with a fresh palate.

It poured with a really creamy head, already making it a good choice to try on tap. So creamy was the head that when I was tasting it, the foamy head was separating from the body of the beer in my mouth. Luckily the pilsner body has enough to it to sort of keep up, so a wateriness did not interfere with the texture from the head.

In terms of aroma, was getting citrusy hops and quite a bit of alcohol. The citrus also came across that went well with the slight caramel malt character, then the hops step up to become more resinous with a lot of bitterness to boot before the alcohol hits. As it warmed up the hop character did diminish a bit, reminding me more of how I remembered it from before, but between the bitterness and and alcohol, did feel a fair bit of burn on the tongue.

I was actually tasting a Moo Brew Stout during and after this beer. While the density of the malt character was good, just found it a little too roasty and bitter (mind you, could have been the Antonia sensitive to it) for my personal taste in stouts. Still, that didn't stop me going into Goat for a few more beers after that...


Friday, July 20, 2012

Good Beers with Good Men

Every now and then there are times when you get a chance to hang out with some people you met in your past, where you get to talk about those days and look back with 20-20 hindsight and see why and how you and others have changed. What better way to do this than with a few good beers...well, what situation can't be improved with a beer really.

Like last Thursday, Beer Deluxe was the venue, so with Z, Stroudy and Seb, we had a bit of a beer journey while discussing old times and new. Having heard good reports from some boys over the weekend on Southern Bay's Metal Head Robust Porter, decided to start on this. Not being a massive fan of the dry roasty dark malt character typical of this style, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it that much, but have to say I did enjoy it more than I expected. While there is definitely the roasted quality, there is a fuller body and sweetness with the dry to fill out the palate with a decent balance of flavour. The body helps it keep flavour across the palate too, but it is still subtle enough overall so that the typical beer drinker can easily enjoy it without the sense of it being overbearing in one, or many different flavours. Was a good one to start on actually as could easily focus on it whenever I had a chance between conversation, or just sippingly slip into the background when the conversation was key.

From here the boys let me direct the journey for us, and being excited seeing the Bridge Road B2 Bomber on tap, I wanted to taste this while the tastebuds were fresh enough to appreciate it. I dare say Ben has picked up some tips from collaborating with Mikkeller earlier in the year, and the malt character had some real Scandinavian qualities with it dense, which is a bit surprising to see, as many Black IPA's try to tame the dark malt so it mainly just adds colour. I have to say, it does diminish the other flavours, but not to their detriment, so I am personally happy to see someone has been bold enough to let the malt be what it is (OK, I was always going to say that). I think it sets up the palate for the contrast that is to come with the Belgian yeast and hops towards the back, which compliment each other nicely with the late zing of bitterness cleaning up the syrupy malt that dominates the front of the palate. Having had it on tap, look forward to seeing if the yeast picks up a bit more in the bottle to help balance of the flavours.

Moving on, and wanting to up the yeast character from the previous beer, I went back to the Unifikator to see how it had aged over the week. Honestly, the banana was really dominate, but seeing it is such a clean yeast quality, it doesn't take away from the beer, and still retains a good flavour profile. It is good to see there is a beer out there with a yeasty character that doesn't not need an acquired taste to appreciate it, as the boys dug it. For me, I really like the caramel and banana combination that was happening in this beer.

Letting Stroudy have a say on the last beer, he asked for a lighter styled beer (yeah, bit disappointing), so went with a pilsner...a 'cough' (imperial) pilsner. The collaboration of Dogfish Head and Birra del Borgo recommended by Mike has some good caramel malt character to continue the trend for the previous beer, but as I tend to get from imperial pilsners, the alcohol hits very early on the palate seeing there isn't anything dense enough in the other ingredients to balance it out. Not that is it a bad thing, just means it is a harder job for the brewer(s) to give a good profile. I wasn't getting a heap of hop character, but by then my tastebuds were probably dying off. Mind you, could have also bee the conversation. Still, the overarching flavour for me is the alcohol itself, which while didn't spike to heavily, was definitely very dominate in the profile.

With the boys needing to leave at that point, I decided to hit Mrs Parma's for a Bolognese Parma and a 2 Bothers Grizz then had to settle for an overcarbonated pint of Coopers Pale Ale while watching a great gig from the Twoks (can't have it all I guess).

Thanks to the ex-Goodman boys for being able to hang out for the first time in a few years, and letting me infiltrate/hopefully improve our interaction with beery goodness.



Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Wintery Week That Was...

So, this time last week I was recovering from a friends 30th birthday at Revolt in Kensington. Heading in earlier in the day to help set up, I saw two things that made me look forward to the party. 1) an old wheelchair that could take my weight so I could pull out onto the dancefloor, and 2) seeing the bar had 2 Brothers Growler brown ale and Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weissbier. Both went down well to start the night going while my tastebuds were ok. Unfortunately, I saw a Big Head beer also in the fridge, and not being sure what it was, decided to try this 'no carb' beer. Yeah, might take the approach of 'if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all' with this. Ending the night on some Coopers Pales, between them the the Hefe it is safe to say my guts continued fermenting the next day...Happy Birthday Mel! Add to that a nice beef and Guinness pie before the party at my first visit to the Quiet Man irish pub while in Kensington, which I am sure helped me keep going til 5:30am, and it made of a long but enjoyable day.

Needing a couple of days to recover, still managed to get back on a couple of beers on Tuesday for the Beer and Cupcake tasting.

Then on Wednesday was given the exciting news I would be doing my first brew at Mountain Goat the day after, and unfortunately used the excitment to sit and drink with a few people at the Goat bar a bit longer than I should of. Still, finding the Red Saison is tasting better than previously found, was great to taste a little of the ginger and chilli I had found interesting when I had kegged it some months ago. That with the Stout, Hip Hip Horray IPA and Coffee IPA through Randy on tap, I was too easy seduced to hang around, not to mention to company of some of the Goaters and staff from Beer Deluxe.

So was with little sleep that I started at 6am Thursday (incidentally, my grandpa's 91st birthday) to do my very first commercial brew in the Goat brewhouse. Was a great experience, and to do a Black IPA as my first ever brew, just made it more special for me. Thanks to Craig for basically holding my hand through it all, and happy to say the very small influence I may have had in the process did not create any problems with the brew. Looks like I may get another chance this coming week, again with another specialty brew, which will be awesome...I hope.

After that day at work I headed back to Beer Deluxe after having tried a couple of big beers there the week before, to meet up with Stass and a few mates of his. Joel also turned up and turned into a bit of a beer journey we are use to doing each time we visit. Unfortunately the Brew Dog Tokyo keg had blown, so started with a Holgate Temptress, which was not tasting great, but seeing that keg blew not long after I ordered mine, that could have something to do with it. There was also a 2011 and 2012 Moo Brew Stout to taste off against each other (the 2011 was not as smooth in flavour profile of course and bitterness being a little high for my taste in the style. The 2012 was definitely the resounding winner of the two with some dark fruit and licorice coming from the mellowing of the beer and a sense of more alcohol in it). Having taken on the challenge to convert another red wine/alcopop drinker into beer, got her onto a bottle of the Lindermanns Framboise, which was nearly sickly sweet (even for my palate), before trying to progress her palate with the Unifikator on tap (wow, the yeast flavour profile on this weizenbock beer really shows off the tradition of Weihenstephaner and the precision of Temple), but was a bit too 'beery' for her I think.
On the boys side of the journey, while falling asleep at the table, they still managed to get me to try the Heretic Shallow Grave (has a similar roasted malt quality to the Bridge Road Robust Porter), and then end on a Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout (have already written about this beer way too much on this blog) to progress the palate of the newer members of beer appreciators at the table.

Struggling through the next day at work (helped though by the excitement of The Naz brew being done...really really looking forward to seeing how this one goes) was not helped when my brother was delayed on his flight from Sydney to have dinner (Still, meant I had a chance to visit Josie Bones while on my way to try the Nogne O Imperial Stout on tap ([so even and smooth in its profile from chocolate to alcohol which does not burn too much]). After that it was all wine, with my brother engaging my recent interest in Chianti over Ladro pizza and at the Enoteca, to make for another late night with some alcohol involved.

Being knackered I thought yesterday I would hardly stay awake long enough to make my cousin's housewarming/birthday party, but after gifting them a home brew set up so they can make gluten free beer, then actually putting a brew on with them, tasting the latest Bridge Road/Nogne O India Saison (again, good match of fruit with hop bitterness and saison yeast/wheat really softening the bitterness nicely), Unifikator from the bottle (profile not as good as what I had on tap, but still worth tasting for the quality yeast in it), and the new Kooinda Milk Porter (starts off really nice with a chocolate milkshake taste, but flattens out as it crosses the palate...I guess appropriate for  a sweet porter), I somehow still found myself dancing in their living room at 3am this morning (uh oh!). When will I learn? This morning was spent spooning the fermenter from the floor of their living room to warm up the wort to make sure the yeast had activated and the fermenter seals were working, building up the strength to get home, and now doing some blog posts to keep me awake to make sure I sleep well tonight. Phew!

Seeing I have made it to 6pm, I dare say it will not be long til I hit the sack to see how I fare for the week to come.



Beer and Cupcake Tasting @ Slowbeer

Yes, this is a beer and cupcake tasting! As soon as I saw this event coming up I automatically put my name down and engaged my sweet tooth. On the night I found a little shelf in the packed store to make my own and watched as the first beer was poured, and was surreally excited to see the stands of Mister Nice Guy cupcakes sitting next to them. Sure, I have added a chocolate beer to a cake before, and beers with desserts are not a new thing, but for some reason, seeing this scene made me feel a little uncertain of what to expect, but that in itself shows the interesting and open thinking that can be had with beer.

So, with that thought running through my head, and the sound of Chris welcoming us in my ears, we came to the first combination.

Thorogood's Billy B's Golden Apple Beer uses a spontaneous fermentation process and malt extract in what is really a cider. While the extract does allow it to be classified as a beer, it also gives it a fuller mouthfeel/higher gravity than a usual cider. The spontaneous ferment of course brings with it a tartness to the apple flavour, and also get a pretty tingly spritz over the tongue, that comes off just a bit sherberty to remind me a little of a Faro style beer. Still, it cleans up ok at the back, so the tartness does not linger. The Apple Pie cupcake has a very sweet vanilla frosting, and the apple filling in the cinnamon smelling cake is sweeter than the apple flavour in the beer. Therefore, there is a good contrast between the cupcake and beer.

I actually hadn't had the Emersons Taieri George spicy ale before, and had me thinking Christmas ale with its cloudy dark brown body, cinnamon and nutmeg aroma. The nutmeg came across into flavour, along with a brown sugar or dark malt character, but is not dark or dense enough to make it into a Christmas ale style I think. In terms of texture, was sensing some over carbonation which also seemed to give it a bit of an alkaline smell. The Breakfast Club cupcake is cinnamon cake and frosting with raisins, but unfortunately came off a bit bland next to the cake. There is a nice creaminess to the cupcake, but the over-carbonation of the beer knocked this out a bit too much. I was also getting a hit of nutmeg as I swallowed the cupcake, which while matched the nutmeg in the beer, just found it a bit too dominate.

Now, for the pointy end that had me the most excited when I looked at getting into this event, especially when two of my favourite beers are coming at me.

The Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout is a beer I tried over a year ago, and have tasted a couple of times since. I basically just wrote 'Yep!' as a note to show it still has those qualities I loved the first time I sipped it. The Rocket Shot cupcake for me had a lot of mocha character which was great to get, but as soon as the beer hit your tongue after the cake, the flavour and alcohol just wiped your palate of any cake. Leaving some cake in my mouth to mingle with the beer worked to make the beer feel fuller and some of the chocolate of the cake did hold with the beer, but don't think it was enough to make it an equal contributing combination. Still, loved the process of finding this out.

Seeing I had just had that experience with an 11% beer, knew it would be even harder for the Berry Boom cupcake to bring much when paired with the 18% Brew Dog Tokyo. Having had the Tokyo on tap the previous week, was happy to see it was also on tap here. Seeing it hadn't been cellared for a year like the one I had at Beer Deluxe, I was still getting a 'porty' character while it was cold, but some of that sherry quality was coming through as it warmed up. The chocolate cupcake stuffed with blueberries again had the very sweet vanilla frosting from the Apple Pie cupcake. It was funny to find that the frosting actually absorbed the beer better than the cake, with the sweetness holding off the alcohol flavour a bit (just a bit). Having just a small sip of beer with a mouthful of cupcake really darkened up the blueberry in the cake to help it mix with the dark fruit character in the beer. The only problem with this approach to blending the two meant you were left with a lot of beer left after finishing the cake, which meant sitting around afterwards to chat to some of the people while you finished it. Was good to chat to a couple that were getting converted into beer from wine, and that he had been home brewing to keep exploring beer. Still, was so tired after all that was glad it was only a 10 minute walk home with the wintery night air to keep me awake til I could crash into bed.

Another great approach to beer tasting shown by Slowbeer that seemed to bring different people to what I would normally see at a Slowbeer tasting. Maybe I should be giving others a chance to try it out by not going myself...nah! Thanks to Chris, the Slowbeer team and Mister Nice Guy Cupcakes.



PS: Nearly wasn't going to bring up this crude thought, but seeing I accidently got some frosting on my jeans from the Apple Pie cupcake, I can say I literally creamed my pants with the first tasting combination of the night.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Master Games Require Master Beers

Woohoo, a day off work!

Thinking I should make the most of it, thought a visit to the latest exhibit in ACMI at Fed Square would be good (wearing my 'classically trained' NES shirt). Unfortunately I forgot it is school holidays, so the place the teeming with kids running around Games Masters. Still, seeing those kids trying to play old school arcade games and learning all the other games available reminded me of my childhood playing games like 1942 at the Boatie corner store during summer and learning to play the NES and N64 (both of which I still have and play when the mood gets me). It was funny to be drawn to Sega Rally to try it for the first time, along with an ipad car game where you touched the screen to control the car. Had a go at my first 3D game (Child of Eden), and the Bond-esque Splinter Cell, along with the original Zelda. While there was no 1942/1943, I did find an equivalent that a kid was struggling to play. Leaving me his last life I managed to put on 2000 points (yep, still got it) before I gave it over to some other kids.

Once it got to midday and the next wave of kids came into the exhibit, I knew it was time to get out, and now ok to have my first beer of the day. Luckily Beer Deluxe is just next door. Having had a small sip of the Sierra Nervada Hoptimum from the bottle a couple of weeks back at work, I knew I wanted to try it on tap here. The body on it of course it a bit better and the malt character seems a little stronger to keep some balance to the bitterness. However, the added creaminess just makes it stick to your tongue a bit more, leaving more of a bitter aftertaste to linger for a while. I guess one drawback to this beer is the hop profile seems to spike and drop a few times over the palate, which I guess just shows how hard they have gone with the hops on this one. Still, the hop character is piney and resinous in flavour, so it isn't just straight bitterness like a Mikkeller 1000 IBU.

While I had probably had enough alcohol just in that one beer, I knew I would be hanging around for another when I spied the Brew Dog Tokyo on tap. Seeing it had been cellared for a year, I wanted to see how/if it mellowed a bit over that time. To reset my tastebuds, I had a taste of the Hargraves Stout (a bit too roasted for my personal taste, but a decent dry stout style beer) before getting onto the Tokyo. I have to say, I was getting a lot of sherry notes from it. I was feeling quite drunk after each sip, so I was sitting there for a while on it, just to make sure I could get up and walk away without falling over once I was done. The alcohol does not warm/burn as much with age, and when left to sit for a while between sips, I get a sort of fishy/mussel smell from it, but which disappears when you swirl it around a bit to pick up the malt again. I do remember after one sip taking a deep breath to see what aftertaste I could get off it, but the alcohol burn just made me cough. The texture is still as good as I recall from having it previously, and has definitely mellowed to bring out more of the sherry flavour. Not having had lunch though, it was actually a bit difficult getting up and getting a tram home.

Unfortunately, I stopped at Slowbeer and Purvis Beer on the way to get some more masterly beers in the collaboration brews India Saison (Bridge Road and Nogne O) and Unifikator (Temple and Weihenstephan). Don't worry, I didn't drink them then. In fact, I didn't have another drink all day, even though I caught up for dinner for my cousin's birthday. So, keep an eye out for those beers up here soon.



Sunday, July 1, 2012

Haandbryggeriet Akevitt Porter (8%)

Have heard a few people rave over this beer, so thought with today being cold and rainy, would be a perfect day to pull out this warming porter.

Pours pretty easy but with a fairly brown head that seems to hold thinly over the beer like lace long after the pour. The first smell I get is a velvety/creamy chocolate which if course pricks my ears (and nose). There is a bit of vanilla with it (maybe from the oak) and can somehow smell the warming alcohol in it's lushness. Already has the trademark of a special beer.

On the palate the creamy lushness holds, which I am surprised to see in a porter, but somehow it still slides down the throat pretty easy, which where the alcohol comes in to thin it out on the backpalate. There is just enough carbonation to tingle the tongue but not take away from the texture of the beer. As I pour the second half of this beer, I see the sediment at the bottom of the bottle and see it has been bottle conditioned, which I thing really works seeing there is both creaminess and tingle in the texture.

The first taste reminds me of a Moo Brew Vintage Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, but doesn't coat the tongue so heavily in malt and alcohol. I would probably call this beer an Imperial Porter in style. The smell does not fully correspond into flavour, but enough to go along with the journey of this beer. The alcohol probably hits a little to early and strong to take away a little of balance, but there is almost a lovely cleansing nuttiness/spice in aftertaste with the alcohol that with the thinning at the back leave the palate ready for another hit, apart from the slight warming alcohol in the throat. As it warms/get towards the bottom of the bottle, I am also getting more licorice notes, which makes me wonder if it would have been better to mix in the sediment through the beer to help balance out the flavour and give more up front. I am not sure how long the beer is aged in the oak barrels for, but mostly the flavours are subtle and even and melded well enough with the alcohol so it doesn't spike too much. But an 8% porter is pretty big, and almost too much for the tired state I find myself in before I even tasted the beer.

So, as I 'struggle' to get through this beer, I can understand why it has been given 3 years for it to be drunk by, and I have tasted it 14 months after bottling. I could actually see it balancing a bit better with a bit more time, with the malt character coming out a bit more.

Overall a pretty impressive beer that has aspects of imperial stout, but still the light sweetness of a usual porter. The smell and texture were probably what I was most intrigued and pleased to find in this beer. For anyone that has taken their beer journey to porters, this would be a great one to start stepping up into stout and imperial stouts, or those that find stouts and imperial stouts too 'heavy' on the tongue and in the belly.

This one get the Beefy thumbs up. If you find it, I recommend grabbing a bottle...if you can find it. Then if you can, keep it for a while, and give it the aussie 'Coopers roll' to mix up the sediment through the beer.



Moving On...

So I wake up this morning feeling a little tired, not really from beer consumption the night before, but from having just moved my cousin and her hubby into their first home yesterday. Yes, similar story to a post that inspired me in my series of 'situational drinking' posts, but at least this time we were moving down the stairs, and there are no stairs in their new place. Sitting down with some Matilda Bay Fat Yak's afterwards, the beer was going down well, as seems to happens at those times, so tasting it was not a priority. Still, it tasted good enough for it not to detract from enjoying a relax with the gang after the move.
I also took over my first home brew gluten-free beer to share with the troops. I think the agave pancake syrup I used has definitely given the beer a cidery taste but mixed with the general sweetness of syrup. Unfortunately the cider taste only enhances the slight tartness I get from using the sorghum malt, but then maybe it just helps meld the flavour profile towards it. Still, I am hoping to mask the sorghum a bit with my next attempt, so will see if blackstrap molasses does any better. Now Pete has a 'man cave', I will be spreading my homebrew message and getting him and Anna to start making their own gluten free beers, and hopefully getting them tasting better than what they can generally get out in the beer market.

While on the theme of moving, I had the pleasure on Friday night to see a man I have great respect for play his last game of rugby union in Australia. Stirling Mortlock has been an amazing personality for Australian rugby over my adult appreciation of the game. While I would have liked to have had a good beer to 'cheers' Stirling with, the only beers available are mid strength mainstream brews. I don't want to turn this into another 'beating-my-head-against-a-wall' rant over beers at sporting events, but will say Stirling had it right in this photo below just sticking to water at this venue (an endorsement for the thing that makes up around 97% of beer). I will say though it took me the whole game to actually finish the beer, and lucky the weather was cold so the beer didn't warm up enough so I could taste it over that time. At least my attention was on the game and not the beer, even if the game wasn't much more enjoyable to watch. Anyway, after the game, Joel and I hit the GB for a better beer (White Rabbit Dark Ale) to cheers Stirlo and the other boys retiring from the game, and congratulate Joel on getting through the semester of uni. Luckily also I'd had a Goat Hip Hip Horray IPA and a very coriander tasting Red Saision that was going through the hop infuser at the bar before the game.

I guess for myself I look at both these stories and am reminded that the physically orientated life I have lead for most of my life is only sustainable for a certain amount of time, and that is even if I don't seriously injure myself (touch wood). While I am not working as physically hard as I have when I was younger, I am still very conscious that at 31 my body is deteriorating. One day I may even get to the point where I won't be able to, or enjoy, drinking beer. A sad thought I know, but that is the potential we all have to deal with in life, whatever it is we enjoy doing. I guess being in the depths of winter doesn't help this thinking much, but have been making the most of the small moments where the sun does appear behind the clouds, streams light through the trees I walk past to warm me and think of Tahiti 80's 'Silently Walking'. I don't know if enjoying the simple/small things in life (I have actually just put a potato bake in the oven) makes it harder to make a change away from this physical orientation, or that having that orientation has brought me to question beer and want me to explore the wide world it presents, and take that questioning to life itself. Maybe just having found beer as an interest means I am turing more to my own mind in the natural progression we all have as we get older. I guess I am even lucky just to be able to think this way.

So, as you can see, a restful, simple day awaits me. Hopefully there will be a couple beers in there as this contemplation continues, but hopefully for you I won't be dumping anymore of this sort of thing if I write them up here. I see I may have let beer infiltrate my thinking too much, or just see beer can reflect any mood I have.