Thursday, June 28, 2007

Beer Review – Wheat Beer Special

This review is something of a combination report. It has come about as a result of the taste test of the first Beer Bloke’s Wheat beer. You may recall that we moved into the wheat beer production phase of the operation some weeks ago and that this benchmark brew is loosely based on the Bavarian Weizen style generally, and Redback Original more specifically.

In the interests of scientific integrity and standardised side-by-side testing practises I thought it best to compare our starter with some well known commercial examples. The following, therefore, is a beer review and taste test all in one. Clever.

First the Beer Bloke’s offering. A nice tart clean taste at first which was preceded by a nice strong hop/yeast aroma. Didn’t expect that. Like the other Bloke Beers, this one exhibits a little harshness in the finish, shutting down too quickly and with a slightly sour edge to it. Hopefully this will mellow out as did its predecessors.

Now to the commercials. I began the comparison with Redback – I won’t claim to being ‘in’ on the ground floor when this one came out but I did get on board before it became trendy. And I never jammed a lemon in the neck of the bottle. As I noted in a previous post, Redback is not the beer it once was. It also seems a bit odd that it is still labelled as Original when it clearly isn’t. It is drinkable but it is only just passable under the definition of a Bavarian Weizen. It has a light feel to it and its citrus notes are masked by a watery mouthfeel and a flat finish. Really the only thing to recommend it is that served icy cold on a really hot day it would be easy to drink.

Next on the list was the beer voted best in show at this years beer awards, Weihenstephaner Kristallweissbier. Even though the papers reported it as Weihenstephan. Weihenstephan means ‘Sacred Stephen’ and the ‘er’ on the end makes it mean ‘of’ Sacred Stephen. Anyway, I have a whole bit dedicated to this hallowed brewer coming soon. The beer tonight was the Kristall Wiessbier – it just means that it is a wheat beer that has been filtered. Now, unlike Redback, this filtering has not sucked the guts out of it flavourwise. Rich, almost fruity flavour and banana yeast hints as well as some berry notes near the end. And lots of beery notes throughout the middle. Sounds like a bit of a tug but the point is you can taste a lot more going on than you could get a forensic scientist to detect in some other wheaties. See above. Nothing against Redback – all beer by its very nature is good – some are just better than others.

Then I got too pissed and had to stop. The End. Bye Bye.

Only jokin’. Then I took a step further and knocked the top off a Schofferhofer Hefeweizen. I say a step further because the beer ‘with yeast’ or ‘mit hefe’ as the Germans so lyrically put it, is a taste adventure that takes you deeper into the Black Forest of wheat beers than you have been before.

Hefeweizens are the top of the tree in straight up wheat beers because the yeast adds a new dimension in aroma, flavour and taste. Wit or white beers are another category again. Scofferhofer makes the cheeks pucker just a little, it slides sort of like mousse over the tongue as it prepares you for the big tart finish and then, just as you think it might turn your mouth inside out, it finished short and clean and makes you say to yourself, ‘I think I’ll have another sip!’. It has a big fluffy head like all wheat beers should and it looks great sitting proudly in a Schofferhofer badged 500ml glass.

But it is the aroma that the yeast emits that makes this one a stand out. Banana, cloves, bubblegum – depending on your own taste memory bank – one or all will waft towards you as the beer pours. And that’s something you can say that you don’t get with every beer. The finishing touch is to have the beer poured for you by a knowledgeable waiter or mate – like me – with a skilful inversion of the glass over the top of the bottle, a swift, clean flip and the bottle is deftly drawn up out of the glass to slowly reveal the pale golden nectar. Of course the bottle has already been gently rolled or inverted before capping to loosen the yeast and distribute it evenly.

Who says beer can’t have a bit of theatre?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Quiz Answers.

In response to a couple of polite requests – and more than a few nasty threats, I have managed to find the time and the correct answers to our Quiz; "How Australian Are You." Thanks to all who enjoyed it and for those who found the time to write and, in some cases, dob in some dodgy neighbours and work colleagues, I have nothing to do with immigration issues or terrorist risk response but I shall pass on this information to the appropriate authorities.

The answers are as follows;

Q1. There are 24 cans in a slab. Or a brick if you are in the Northern Territory. Or a carton in SA. Or a pantry if you are a Uni student.

Q2. The odd one out was Carlton Cold. Boag’s, Toohey’s and Cascade are all beers.

Q3. A white maggot can be found in groups of one, two or four on the playing field of Australian Rules football matches. NRL and Union now dress their respective maggots in garish multi-coloured tops so that people feel too sorry for them to abuse them as much. But they still do.

Q4. Adelaide water smells like poo. Coopers beers don’t. They are very, very good.

Q5. See above.

Q6. Phar Lap won the 1930 Melbourne Cup. And his stuffed and mounted hide still has more body than Corona or Foster’s Light Ice.

Q7. No. False. Incorrect. Wayne Harmes tapped the ball fairly and squarely to Ken Sheldon and that’s that. Collingwood did not win the 1979 Grand Final. I saw the results in a big history book.
Here is some timber. Build a bridge. Get over it. You know who you are.

Q8. Edmund Barton was the first Australian Prime Minister. This question should have been a ‘gimme’ because his was the only name you didn’t recognise. We don’t tend to honour our past leaders, although we have named the part of the pub where you buy beer after part of Edmund Bartons’ surname. And we did name a pool in Glen Iris after a PM who drowned. Now that’s honour.

Q9. If you drank 10 stubbies of Emu Bitter you would be in a state of severe inebriation. And also in Western Australia. That’s the big state on the left of the map where we keep most of our big drug barons, failed business tycoons, dodgy politicians and South Africans.

Q10. The words to the song ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi, are as follows. Or, as precedes. It was written by the same musical genius who penned the classics, "Ooh, Ahh Glenn McGrath" and the theme to Big Brother. Both cricket tunes were amusing for about a minute. They are still part of the rites of passage for teenage fans who have not yet discovered that cricket is played during One Day Internationals and they are nothing on the classics like "You’re Goin’ Home In the Back of a Divvy Van", "If You’re Happy and You Know It Sharshsha Tits" and "What’s The Colour of a Two Cent Coin, Copper, Copper".

I trust that all Blokes and Blokettes got a top score on the quiz and that you enjoy the rest of your stay in The Wide Brown Land.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Which Bud is wiser?

Many readers may be aware of a story concerning the world famous beer brand Budweiser. Most are probably unaware of the detailed, drawn out and sometimes downright bitchy and bullying nature of the feud between the makers of two beers sharing the Budweiser heritage. I don’t fully understand all the ins and outs, but here goes anyway.

First, some history. Budweise is a town in what is now the Czech Republic. Actually, it’s the German name for the town. The Czech name is Ceske Budejovice. Let’s call it Budweise, hey? Budweiser literally means ‘from the town of Budweise’ so it makes sense to assume that a beer calling itself Budweiser would come from Budweise. Certain people in the beer world have shown us however, that terminology is not a science.

Budweiser Budvar is, along with Pilsener Urquell, the Czech Republics’ leading beer. Has been so since the brewery was founded in 1895. Described variously as ‘the most famous of all Czech lagers internationally and perhaps now the classic example of its style’ (Brian Glover, the New Guide to Beer) to ‘this is some seriously good piss’ (Prof. Pilsner, Which Bud is wiser?). It has a subdued malt palate, a natural hop flavour and a good kick in the bitterness. 5% alcohol by volume and 330mls.

Budweiser is made in the United States by Anheuser-Busch of St. Louis. The brewery began in 1860 and its twelve brewing factories account for about 40% the US beer market. Budweiser is its flagship brew. It was launched in 1876 and named after the Czech town previously mentioned. Its reviewers tend to comment upon its virtues thusly: “An incredible amount of effort goes into brewing this beer of underwhelming blandness.” (Willie Simpson, The Beer Bible), “We don’t know why this is in the book, it’s almost not beer.” (Canaider & Duncan Powell, Beer), and “I wouldn’t wash my dog in this thin pissy rice water.” (Prof. Pilsner, ibid) 4.9% ABV and 355mls.

So what is all the feudin’ and a’fussin’ about? AB says it has the right to call its beer Budweiser because it was launched 20 years before Budvar produced a Budweiser beer. Budvar says AB can get stuffed because; a) our brewery began in Budweise in 1795, b) Your beer is made in the US which was not in the Czech Republic last time we looked, c)You’re German and d) You’re beer is shit. They didn’t really use the last bit in court, I added it for emphasis.

The litigation continued on and off since the Budvar Boys tried to export their brand into the US. It has been sold there under the name Crystal. AB has won nearly all the battles in a war celebrating its centenary this year, although it has to sell its beer as Bud in some countries where Budvar got in first.

But it seems that the war may be ending. In a landmark agreement, AB and Budvar have come to an arrangement where AB will distribute Budvar’s Budweiser in the US. Budvar claims a win in that AB needs a drinkable beer to keep its imported premium sales up. AB says because the agreement is to sell the beer under the Czechvar brand that the little guy concedes defeat over the ownership of the Budweiser name.

I think that this fight is not yet over.

A quick disclaimer before I go. Readers who have become familiar with my beer taste and writing style will be aware that in the opening paragraph when I say “famous beer brand Bud”, I refer to the renown of the Bud, the fact that it is the world’s leading beer brand – an achievement worthy of note as it really almost isn’t beer. I am not referring to quality.

Friday, June 15, 2007

How Australian are you?

There has been much debate and consternation in recent times regarding the subject of a test to determine the suitability of immigrants to settle in Australia. Government departments and media outlets have embarked on a frenzied quest to frame a set of questions to sort the wheat from the chaff and talkback radio and letters to the editor have gone into meltdown over the merits of the questions chosen.

The Beer Blokes, in their quest to make this country a better place one beer at a time, have come up with a set of questions designed to ensure only the best and brightest are allowed entry and that all undesirables are deported before you can say “Shit, that was quick!”.

1. Prospective Blokes must answer all questions.

2. Write answers clearly in black or blue pen.

3. Write on a piece of paper or, if in the pub, the back of a coaster. Do not write answers directly onto the screen.

4. Send your answers to “I want to stay in Australia” c/o

Q1. How many cans are there in a slab?

Q2. Which is the odd one out? Cascade Pale Ale, Boag’s Draught, Toohey’s New, Carlton Cold.

Q3. In which sport would you find a ‘white maggot’?

Q4. Adelaide beer is generally shithouse because it is brewed with Adelaide water. Discuss.

. Which of the following list is a beer ingredient?
Malted barley, Water, Yeast, Cat’s piss, Adelaide water, Malted cat’s piss, Hops, Honey, sugar.

Q6. Who won the 1930 Melbourne Cup?

Q7. True or False, the ball was over the boundary when Wayne Harmes knocked it to Ken Sheldon in the 1979 Grand Final?

Q8. Who was the first Australian Prime Minister? Bob Hawke, Edmund Barton, Frank Walker, Crazy John.

Q9. In which state would you be if you were drinking 10 stubbies of Emu Bitter?

Q10. List all the words to the song ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi.’

Send your answers and, in the case of an incomplete test, your passport details to this site and I will publish the winners shortly. And, like the competition at the Brothel, the first neatest, correct entry wins.

Good Luck!
Beer Blokes

PS; Answers next week.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Beer review – Hammer N’ Tongs

It’s not often that you get to jump in a time machine and do a beer review but that’s just how it feels to be sharing the good word on a new brew on the shelves.

I have to admit to doing a double take that Daffy Duck would be proud of when I first saw the advertisement for a new beer made exclusively for the Coles Liquor group. It wasn’t anything to do with titties or anything – it was the price. $25.99 for a slab. A slab of 24, not a shifty twelve or eighteen like the trendy brews are want to do nowadays. So I looked again. Stubbies, as well. And 375ml – the real deal! So I looked at the price again. Still $25.99. So then I got up and checked the calendar. Definitely 2007. Checked the price again. Still $25.99.

There is a God. I did a quick bit of maths - and Dr. Lager will tell you that is not always a good thing – and, having discovered that I can’t buy special recyclable P.E.T. bottles for that, I trotted off down to the bottle-oh with a bit of a skip in the step. The skip was tempered with just a little bit of trepidation. Could a beer brewed locally be this cheap and drinkable? Was it even brewed locally?

There is a God. And he drinks beer. Not only is the beer well packaged - simple and straightforward without making a point of not spending more than needed on the shrink wrap, the graphics and the labelling – but it is made by none other than Mr James Boag & Sons. Well, by Senor San Miguel and his multinational Thailand Brewing Concern. This fact was confirmed by the shop attendant and by the unmistakable Boag’s bottle stamp. Having emptied, washed and refilled over a thousand of them since November I feel qualified to judge.

There is a God. And he drinks Australian beer. Not only is this stuff made in Australia – I am guessing it is not cheaper to ship it from one of their breweries in Thailand or wherever – but the deal gets better. They have it on special at 2 slabs for $50. I’m saving a couple of harry’s by buying in bulk. Not really, I haven’t tasted this yet so I go for the one slab option figuring that we can always go back if it doesn’t kill me. And when I buy it, I get a stubby holder thrown in!

There is a God. And he drinks Beer Bloke’s Australian Beer!!! This is not a bad drop. In fact, it’s a bit better than not bad. It’s quite good. It’s not great but it’s better than bad and quite a great deal better than shithouse. And even better still than Southwark.

The malt is subdued but not sooky, the aroma is natural but not too heavy and the bitterness is neat without being forceful. But who gives a fat rat’s clacker! It’s cheap! It’s drinkable! It’s beer like we paid for ten years ago! Well, maybe not that far back, but you see what I mean.

I don’t know that the price point will stay with us for too long – we can only hope. The dam wall has been breached and maybe other brewers will release a lower priced everyday beer as well; even if only for a limited time. The premium beer market has grown steadily – at the minute it sits at just above 10% of the overall beer sales- so it’s not as if we don’t deserve a break. We are all doing our bit for the brewing industry and it feels nice to get something back.

So there it is. A beer that goes down the beer hatch very nicely, is local and provides an easy to remove label for recycling the empties. I’m off to have another now to celebrate.

Prof. Pilsner.
P.S. For those who know me by now, yes, I know I won’t use the stubby holder because I always drink my beer from a glass, but it was still worth mentioning.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Beer with Friends.

Met a couple of new beer mates last night at work. And, as it has done so many times before, beer managed to make the world a slightly smaller but greatly friendlier place to be. I don’t really know what it is about beer but you get a couple of blokes talking about beer and all of a sudden Iraq seems a million years ago, David Hicks is still just a dickhead in orange pants and Big Brother was just a concept in a novel you had to read for school.

My new friends – for privacy lets call them Fred and Barney, though their real names are Tim and Scott – had a real appreciation for the gold stuff and an even greater appreciation for my appreciation of the gold stuff. And for the specially badged glassware that I poured their beers into. We got to talking about Belgium Beer cafes and drinking Guinness in real Irish pubs and beers you can buy in one place but not another and all sorts of beer related stuff.

And as for the world becoming a smaller place, these two, it turns out, were regulars at another drinking hole that I used to oversee many moons back so as well as beer we got talking mutual friends and caught up on who’s up who and who’s not paying and all that sort of stuff. You probably won’t get blokes talking about wine in the same way. Except Marketing types or Lawyers maybe. But I’m talking about real people.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that beer brings people together in a way that neither wine nor The United Nations can. In fact, I’ll go so far as to postulate that if more Muslim countries would get on the piss and start sharing stories over a couple of quiet ales – or even noisy lagers – the sooner the Islamic and Christian worlds would stop a fussin’ and a feudin’, find peace together and we then can all concentrate on vanquishing the scientologists. There just not right in the head.

Welcome to the world of The Beer Blokes, Tim and Scott.

Prof. Pilsner.