Friday, February 29, 2008

Beer Music – Funny Stuff

It’s a funny thing – hence the title for this piece – but when I’m sitting with my thoughts and a beer or two I sometimes recall things from many years gone by and these beer songs are a good example. Beer songs made up using the tune of a song of the day and clever lyrics is an Australian pastime. And there are some which are more developed than the classics like ‘More beer, more beer, more beer, more beer.’ Here are a couple of my own – and some partly ripped off – originals.

I remember that I heard someone use the ‘catch line’ from this first song in a bar I was running about ten years back and I went home and wrote the verses to complete the song. On a deep level it tells the ancient tale of the power that beer holds over us and the respect with which it must be held lest its abuse and disrespect lead us astray and into temptation. On a more shallow level, it tells the modern tale of how chicks who are stinkers sober, get progressively more attractive as the beers flow. Or overflow.

The tune is The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’.
And so I don’t give away the ‘tag’ I have run the three verses together then the chorus, whereas the real song has two verses, the chorus and then another verse. Pedantic, I know, but I don’t want complaints that I have butchered a perfectly good song.

Verse 1

‘Oooh, you’re not a pretty one, an ugly one
I wouldn’t even give you the – TIME SHARONA!
You don’t make my motor run, you’re a bum
I think I’d rather bath in some – LIME SHARONA!’*

Verse 2

‘Keep a little distance please, away from me
The ‘Ugly Cops’ should give you a – FINE SHARONA!
But is it just my destiny, to be a sleaze
And will I have to give you a – TRY SHARONA!’

Verse 3

‘I have only had four beers, just four beers
I’m gonna have to get me a – FIVE SHARONA!
Then another two, just for you
You are really startin’ to look – FINE SHARONA!’

Maybe one more drink, then I think That not so much will you stink
Can a beer, bring me cheer And the courage to come near,
She -started -looking -good after – NINE CORONAS!!

And we’ve all been there, haven’t we? Except for me, I don’t drink Corona. The next ditty is to the tune of The Proclaimers big debut hit, 500 Miles. I first saw the brilliant Scottish comedian Craig Ferguson (aka Bing Hitler) perform the chorus bit on telly somewhere. I tried to find the full version but You Tube had pulled it for some reason. I think, from memory, that the song was just a ‘snippet’, in that it was only a line or two, so I have taken the liberty of writing the verses.

It is translated from the traditional Scottish.

500 Miles

‘When I go out, well I know I’m gonna be,
I’m gonna be the man who’s gooin’oot wi’ you
With some lagers, well we’re gonna need a few
If I’m gonna be the one who goos wi’ you’

When I’m drinkin’, well I know I’m gonna be,
I’m gonna be the man who’s singin’ loudly, too
And when I get drunk, well I know I’m gonna spew
And I just hope that it don’t get on my shoe

And I have had five hundred beers and I will have five hundred more
And then I’ll be the man who comes to your party and does sick on your floor
Bleugh – da – do –do!
Bleugh – da – do –do!
Bleugh – da – dun- da- la- dun
Dud a lun dud a lun dah dah!

(Drink more beer and repeat chorus)

Hope you found these tunes amusing and get a chance to try them out loudly one night during the following months. If I remember any more or get the inkling to write some more, you’ll know where to find them.

Prof. Pilsner

*I cleaned this line up in case the kids are reading. It used to say; ‘I’d rather stick my d@#k in some lime, Sharona.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wine and Beer

It has been said, more than once, by beer writers and winemakers alike that many winemakers are frustrated brewers. It is also said, by some that it’s the other way round. It is certainly true that a winemaker must be envious of the brewer as he sits patiently waiting to see if last years grape vintage has become a good profitable stock of desirable wine while the brewer and his customers are already finishing off the last of the most recent brew batch.

Being able to devise and write a recipe for a beer, procure the ingredients and brew and bottle a thousand odd litres of beer while the vines are still being pruned is a definite advantage to taking up beer brewing rather than winemaking. The brewer also has access to his malt, hops and yeast all year round, from home and abroad, while the winemaker’s ingredients are sitting out in his vineyard at the mercy of the Gods and subject to the vagaries of soil, weather and time. And maybe that’s the reason for the emergence of today’s’ topic.

The last two or three years have seen a new trend in Australian craft brewing led by none other than the ‘Wine Guys’. Perhaps due to the fact that the wine market here has seen devastating drought followed by a bulging glut of wine and subsequent fluctuations in sales and profits, and then more drought, the ‘Wineys’ are beginning to take a slice of the beer pie.

Whatever the reason, we have seen some really good beers being made by some really good winemakers at wineries as well as at breweries and even at breweries inside wineries. And whatever the reason, the beer drinker is undoubtedly the winner.

Brad Rogers from Matilda Bay Brewing Company via a couple of other reputable brewing endeavours is a qualified winemaker, as is Ben Kraus from Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth. These guys can brew some seriously fine beers and beer drinkers around the country should give thanks that we have them and not the wine people. Brad has recently given us Crema, a coffee infused beer, Barking Duck, a Belgian Saison and Ben’s superbly ‘wine inspired’ Chevalier range which sells alongside the Beechworth standards has taken up residence in my fridge in past weeks in the form of the Bier De Garde.

In 2006 Lion Nathan released Knappstein Reserve Lager, a Bavarian style lager with some nice fruity aromas a warming mouthfeel and a nice strong bitterness to finish. It was made by Paul Smith, another beer/wine maker and designed to entice the drinker with wine-like characteristics. Australian malt and sauvin hops combine to produce a flavoursome, yet easy drinking lager.

Saltram, who produce Pepperjack from the world famous Barossa region of South Australia, has teamed up with canny brewmaster Brad Rogers to create a beer which is another step along the blurred line between beer and wine. A beautifully crafted beer with some rich, warm undertones, Pepperjack Handcrafted Ale actually contains a portion of the 2007 vintage Pepperjack Shiraz grape concentrate giving a fruitiness to the aroma and softening the harsher edges of the bitterness in the beer. While the wine flavours are deliciously interwoven into the overall body of the beer, it was a surprise to discover that this wine makes up a third of the fermentables in the beer. It also contains a portion of wheat malt which works well in ensuring that a nice bitterness and head retention is ensured.

So we may be approaching a cultural crossroads in the near future. One of the joys of being a beer lover is laughing at the snobbish and wankish-ly floral way in which aficionados of wine prattle on about their precious drop. If they all cross over to the dark side, who will be left to take the piss out of?

Prof. Pilsner

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Buying Beer

Swords Select

In my travels I always try to buy some beer. Why not? So it seems only fair that, in the course of writing this beer based blog, that I pass on some of the things that I learn along the way. And so to a trip to the market to buy some beer.

I know that most people go to the market to buy fresh fruit and veg, or to haggle over some prawns or a lamb chop – I know I love to – or to buy some eco-friendly hippie footwear or a budgie but you can also pick up some good beer in some markets. I discovered this quite recently when the bro’ in law introduced me to an erstwhile unknown corner of Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market. Unknown to me, that is. Mrs Pilsner had been working in the city until recently and walked to the market once every week for four years and never told me about this stall!!

I’ll deal with her later.

The stall at the iconic ‘Queen Vic’ is Swords Select and a cosier, more inviting and well stocked purveyor of craft and international beers you could not hope to find. Local small, independent breweries from Victoria as well as interstate are all given the shelf space and the product knowledge that they deserve and which they sadly miss at the main liquor retailers and the best of the ‘weird and wonderful’ from around the globe are all on show as well.

Swords Select is an environmentally friendly retailer. “Pardon, a what?” I hear you ask. They specialise in one litre, reusable and refundable glass swing top bottles. Buy the wine you like and return the bottle for refilling. Three bucks back to you and the earth gets a helping hand as well. They’ll even serve you if you DON’T wear hippie sandals. But the beer selection is what really caught my eye. I didn’t even realise that they sold wine until I jumped on to their website. Good website, too. Here’s how to get there. Swords select

Plenty of different breweries are represented and a beer each week is available to sample. Sometimes they’ll let you have a sample even if you say that you’ve already had it before and you know what it tastes like. Or maybe that’s just because I’m nice. The environmental-friendliness continues with the provision of reserved six-pack boxes so that you can take your booty home and not kill the dolphins. Plus it encourages you to buy six at a time. I usually get two six-packs so that one of my arms doesn’t end up longer than the other.

It also has the added bonus of giving me some beers that I would not normally be able to get and then tell you lot all about them. While picking up some ‘specials’ last Sunday, I got talking to Mary at Swords about the drawbacks of beer reviews. We both agreed that they just don’t really nail the guts of the beer they review because it is near impossible to convey the conviviality – the occasion, the friends, the timing and the ‘special something’ that can turn a beer into an experience.

In future posts, I will attempt to redress this issue and right some wrongs. I will also even up some scores with reviewers who have talked me into racing out for something that was not only disappointing, but nothing like what was promised. My reviews will be more like ‘road tests’ rather than recommendations. Look out for them – you can’t miss them, there the ones with pictures of boobies scattered amongst the wordy bits.

If you get the chance, get to Swords Select, tell them you read about them on Beer Blokes and treat yourself to some friendly, knowledgeable and value for money advice and some really good beers.

Prof. Pilsner

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Beer Games – Part Three

Beer Pong

So successful has our series on beer games been (I even had one comment on the last instalment, thanks Zak!) that I have decided to continue it. Partly because there are plenty of beer drinking based games around but mostly because the games, and researching and writing about them is just so much fun. Today we look at the American College students’ favourite drinking game, Beer Pong.

I have only a vague recollection of this game from my younger days and I only ever heard about it and never actually saw it played. It is full on in the States and they hold tournaments and everything. I have been researching these games topics extensively of late and I have come to realise that the US is not just another country, it’s a whole other universe. Nowhere have I come across so many differences between Americans and normal people and it has prompted me to put together a post regarding the various amusing dissimilarities. Stay tuned. But don’t let on to the Yanks, OK? The ones who I know and who love their beer are good people.

Back to beer pong. The game itself is simple. A number of plastic cups are set up in a triangular formation in front of each team of two players. Six, twelve or fifteen cups seems to be the standard and each team may have two, three or four members. The cups are filled with beer and teams take turns to throw ping pong balls at the opposition cups. When a ball is landed, the opposition has to drink that cup’s contents. The game is won by the team who can make the opposition drink all their cups. The ‘punishment ‘ for losing is that you must then drink any of the winning teams remaining beers.

The rules vary from high school to high school, Uni to Uni and from State to State and even from pub to pub with paddles being used by some to hit the ball and some use quarters instead of balls. Why you’d want to play with coins that have quite conceivably found a recent home in a beggars’ bumcrack, I don’t know. I guess if you are using Bud for the beer, it may give the stuff some semblance of flavour.

I have found some interesting features on Wikipedia which I shall be very slack about and copy here. Check out just how fair dinkum these blokes get about this game;
There are four major ways to shoot in beer pong:

Arc - The most common throwing technique is to grasp the ping pong ball with the tips of the thumb and forefinger of the player's dominant hand, and hold the arm at an angle with the ball upwards, then throw by using gentle elbow motion, holding the upper arm parallel with the table. The arc motion allows one to put enough force on the ball to get it to the other side of the table, while conserving velocity and slowing it down so that it is not as likely to bounce off the rim of the cup but gently roll into the cup.

Fastball - Some players throw "fastball" style, also known as "throwing darts", which uses more of a hard chopping motion to send the ball in a more direct line to the intended target cup. This can be done with the hand in the usual "pistol grip" orientation or in an overhand "slam-dunk" orientation. The fastball is especially favored by taller players, as it is easier to throw from a higher position. Due to the straighter path the ball will follow, the player may feel more confident in hitting using the fastball. Fastballs are also much more likely to knock down a cup, which may have positive or negative consequences depending on house rules. As noted above, the higher horizontal velocity of the ball will also cause less-precise shots to bounce off the rim rather than gently bounce into a cup.

Bounce - A bounce is performed by bouncing the ball toward the cups. Since the other team has the opportunity to swat away a bounced ball, a bounce is usually worth two cups. The "muck" bounce is a low trajectory shot achieved by bouncing the ball in a sideways motion as opposed to overhand. This shot is particularly effective because in addition to being difficult to block, it leaves the opportunity for the other team to knock cups over. In some house rules, the bounce shot is not allowed.

Underhand - This technique is best when there are still many cups left on the table, because it is hard to control the left to right movement, but is very good for achieving the desired distance. Use of this technique is often against house rules. Australian readers see TREVOR CHAPPELL

I even found the standard regulations for table dimensions including the height from the ground to the top of the table, as listed in The World Series of Beer Pong! Can you believe how fair dinkum these guys get? It’s a drinking game, not an Olympic sport!!

It appears that alongside the standard set up for play and turn taking is a standard guideline for the amount of beer in total to be used per round – two cans (total) of light or low strength beer! that’s light as in low carb and low strength as in light alcohol beer. Two cans!? No wonder it hasn’t taken off here. Can you imagine the Australian Variation Rules for an International series?

We would have VB for the Vics and Toohey’s for the Cockroaches, XXXX for the Cane Toads and West End for the Crow Eaters. Cascade for the Taswegians and ‘Big Chook Piss’ (Emu Lager) for the Drug Dealers, sorry, Sandgropers. The regional finals would be played as Day/Nighters with the Final at the ‘G on the day after the Grand Final. The TAB would want in on this, of course, and we’d have professional handicappers setting the markets. Good teams would have to drink strong lagers like Platinum Extra Dry, average teams could drink light and the token Gay Pride Team could drink wine spritzers, Bacardi Breezers or Coronas.

The Yanks have a whole section in the rule book about defence; sorry, ‘dee-fence’ which is divided into sections on ‘psychological’, ‘blowing and fingering’ (!??!) and ‘ball blocking’. All of these, I assume, are legal in all but three States. Psychological defence, or ‘shit-talking’ consists of abuse, distracting visual cues and arm waving and grotesque facial expressions. As for the second section, I’ll let the Americans explain it for themselves;

Blowing/fingering - If the ball is spinning inside of a cup, players may either blow into the cup or put a finger in the cup it out in an attempt to make the ball fly out before it touches the liquid. Once the ball stops spinning, it is considered "dead", and no further defensive actions will count. Frequently, only females are allowed to blow, while men are allowed to finger. Note that some rules disallow such actions and count them as goaltending.

Now that’s funnier than anything I could have written.

Ball blocking is NOT, as you may think, what English soccer players do when preparing to defend a free kick but beer pong players swatting the ball away before it gets to their cups. Of beer. Some rules allow for all out blocking while others say it can only be done on a second bounce shot. I think they probably have a ‘one hand off the shed’ rule, too. If a player knocks beers over when blocking, he has to drink those cups. What!? They’re knocked over! Unless you’re playing with beer-jello, the cup should probably be empty. If we were to play this game then anyone knocking beer over would be labelled a ‘dickhead and sent from the table immediately.

Speaking of dickheads, Anheuser-Busch brought out a ‘Bud Pong’ game kit in 2005. They claimed that the game was not meant to encourage under age or binge drinking because the game was intended for use in bars and not campuses and because its rules called for the use of WATER instead of beer. But it is designed to be played in bars. With water. What the ...!?

Now, like ‘jumbo shrimp’ or ‘military intelligence’ this seems a little like a double negative in its very lunacy. Why does a brewery promote and distribute a game that discourages beer drinking? Why does a brewery think that a drinking game will NOT be used for drinking beer? Why does the Marketing Department of said brewery proclaim surprise when told that teenagers were using this drinking game to drink beer? Because, as I said, they are dickheads. It’s another sad case of a brewery being about the money instead of being about the beer.

Having said all that, let’s get behind any attempt to bring an international series to these shores, or support a touring team to go to the States and take on their best. After all, this drinking game business is something that we have become pretty competent at in our past. We’ll whip their skanky-yanky arses.

Prof. Pilsner

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ticket in Tatts

‘We walk along the seafront – from Woolloomooloo to Bennelong
We walk along in the sunshine – our feet were hurting
We walked for so long
I told you that I loved you – I told you once or twice
We had a cold beer in a seaside pub – and didn’t that beer taste nice’

So runs the first verse of a neat little tune from the Professors’ favourite’s collection by the now disbanded Melbourne outfit Weddings, Parties Anything. It was running through my head as I did in fact walk along the seafront – although it was the Esplanade at Cowes on Victoria’s beautiful Phillip Island - and it stopped me in my tracks to think that such a serendipitous coincidence could occur so unexpectedly. Sorry to use the word ‘serendipitous’ in a beer blog. In future I will attempt to balance out these rare lapses with something more befitting our blog philosophy. Boobies. There you go.

The reason for the emergence of a big smile across my dial was not so much the nature of the intersection of thoughts and actions, nor was it the fine sunny day I was enjoying due to the
free-form antics of my two youngest Pilsners but it was the sudden realisation that a memory can intone such strong feelings without even being aware of it. I was smiling at the thought of a cold beer in a seaside pub and, yes, that beer did taste nice. This was made even more pleasurable by my realisation of the underlying theme of the song. As you will see from the chorus;

‘But now I’m ten cents short of a dollar –
but I feel like a man with a ticket in Tatts
We got, blue skies and window shopping and a back lane full of cats.’

Sometimes I reckon we get all caught up in the things in our lives that we think are the most pressing and important – and to an extent, they are – but we shouldn’t put them ahead of the things that really are important. We all need to work and earn the cash to keep a roof over the head and the wolf from the door but we also need to mix this up and temper it with a greater appreciation for the little things.

‘On Fridays we eat pasta – on Saturdays it’s fish
And for the rest of the week we get toasted cheese
That is our favourite dish
We live above the city – but our bed is on the floor
It’s Three flights up, Too far gone, One couldn’t ask for more’

‘But now I’m ten cents short of a dollar –
but I feel like a man with a ticket in Tatts
We got, blue skies and window shopping and a back lane full of cats.’

For me the little things are the joy of assembling all the gear as I ready myself to put on a homebrew, especially if it’s one we haven’t tried yet, the simple pleasure of spotting a new beer or, again, one I haven’t tried yet or even the first sip of nice, ice cold mainstream lager from the tap at a decent bar that doesn’t look like a futuristic stainless steel poofter coffee shop. Like I said, simple things.

My kids seem to have a pretty keen grasp of the concept of simple pleasures and perhaps that’s why I find it easy to see the good aspects of the any little thing. All the latest tricked out and techno-hyped toys are not worth the excessive plastic packaging they are bound up in when compared to the unhindered rapture of playing with Dad’s bottle capping machine or helping Dad to ‘top & tail’ the capped bottles to mix in the priming sugar. And don’t even get me started on the thrill of handing the bottles to Dad to put in to storage under the table! Fun in buckets, I tells ya!

The feeling you get when you bring a special beer back home to join its fridge friends, that waiting game you play while it chills, the unmistakable ‘tssst’ as you pop the cap and that delicious ‘glup, glup, glup’ as the glass fills. I don’t need to spell out the joy of that first taste, do I?

‘I don’t know why I come here – I don’t know if I’ll stay
But if the weather keeps up, and you keep smiling
They couldn’t drag me away (I tell you what ...)
I’ll meet you down at the Hotel – when our work is done
And we’ll play pool, til’ closing time – we’ll drink ten beers, if we have one’

‘But now I’m ten cents short of a dollar –
but I feel like a man with a ticket in Tatts
We got, blue skies and window shopping and a back lane full of cats.’

So next time you’re in the car and the phone rings, let it go through to voice mail, leave the extra paperwork ‘til later and go outside for a walk around the neighbourhood or leave work early one day and take the missus out for dinner. Go off now and enjoy some little things. Oh, by the way, I have found that the little things seem to go better with a nice beer.

Prof. Pilsner

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Excuse me, God, what are you trying to tell me?


I try to support a good craft brewer wherever possible. I do this by buying their beer. As much as possible. This is not always easy, but I give it my best shot. I have the same attitude to the imports which are becoming more available than they were even a few years ago. I figure that if they don’t move the stock quickly enough for their shareholders liking, the retailers will pull the stock and we all miss out.

That’s my excuse for buying as much beer as I do. And I brew my own as well. Here are my tips on buying some beer.

The local hotel bottleshops are worth driving straight past because, apart from the higher pricing the staff are unlikely to know any more about beer than what colour it is. And even then most of them would be guessing. The next step is the large supermarket chain linked bottleshop. Much better than the drive thru for price and range and the knowledge level is generally a little better. Convenient, too, because you can pop in after doing the shopping and use the excuse that your menu planning required supplies for beer-battered fish and beef and ale pie. But beware; this line of reasoning will not work for eight weeks in a row. I know, I’ve tried.

And, in recent years, we have seen the emergence of the super-ultra-hyper-mega barn style of beer, wine and spirit retailing with a massive range of various lines under one very large roof. An infinitely better range of local and imported beers as well as specialty brews and seasonal beers. The prices are reasonable considering that the other option is travelling overseas to the brewery or knocking on the doors of all the craft brewers across the country.

In Australia we have the ‘luxury’ of two brands of ‘beer barn’ from which to choose.

One is Dan Murphy’s, owned by the Woolworths supermarket chain and the other is First Choice Liquor, owned by their rival, Coles Myer. Dan’s is by far the bigger and has been doing it ‘large’ for a few years longer. I have frequented Dan’s only because I can take the car out of my driveway, point it in any direction and, within four minutes, hit one in the front door. I have been keen to try the opposition since they opened about twelve months ago, but knew only which suburb it was in – no further clues in the advertising – and I wasn’t about to do the marketing man’s job for him. At least give me a road and I’d have probably driven til I found it. Would have passed eight Dan Murphy’s to get there though. I was thinking, only that morning that it really was time that I got of my jacksie and found out where the bloody joint, closest to me, was.

So on Friday night I was working away at the restaurant, talking beer with the guests and the staff and I had the pleasure of looking after a group of five young adults catching up for a night out. Most wait staff probably wouldn’t notice, but the boys – and some of the girls – had a real mix of beers on the table; Belgian blond, German Pilsner, Chill filtered, you get the deal? And so I got talking and I offered some suggestions for a nice beer to go with the food they were waiting on and started talking beer styles and trends and craft breweries and all that kind of stuff.

Come the end of the meal and the guys were ready to leave and, as Forrest Gump so beautifully put it; Just then, God showed up. Not just in the form of a sneaky handshake with the concealed tip, but in the form of Business Karma – or, a business card karma. I often get a business card from a guest, but this one was, well, special. First Choice Liquor. On the very day that I was thinking of doing something about the problem of not having done something about not having been to First Choice!

Thank you, God (and Matt) for the sign. After I get down there (now that I know where it is) I will report on my findings. And on my drinkings.


Prof. Pilsner

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Your Beer Personality

Found this interesting bit on beergirls’ blog the other week. The quiz is designed to match your personality to a particular beer by computing the answers to a few simple beer related questions. I am going to set Dr Lager to work on setting up an Australian version.

My test revealed that I am Samuel Adams Boston Lager – lucky for me – and the description wasn’t a million miles away from the truth, either. Here it is;

“You're fairly easy to please when it comes to beer - as long as it's not too cheap.You tend to change favourite beers frequently, and you're the type most likely to take a "beers of the world" tour.When you get drunk, you're fearless. You lose all your inhibitions.You're just as likely to party with a group of strangers as you are to wake up in a very foreign place.”

Never, ever, ever have I woken up in a ‘very foreign’ place – certainly not that I am aware of – but the rest was acceptable. What the quiz needs, and what ours will deliver, is a description of the beers personality as well as an explanation for the selection of it.

Another innovation brought to you by the wonders of the modern technological world and the Beer Blokes unashamed propensity to see a good idea, rip it right off and present it as something new and bold.

Coming soon.

Prof. Pilsner

Beer and Work Part Two

Believe it or don’t, the Dr and I worked together for many years as ‘wedding consultants’ for a large family run formal hire company. Our job was to advise on styles of formal wear, measure and fit, order the stock from the warehouse and supervise the fittings. The job itself was fairly simple and free of stress. But, at busy times, the pace and the pressure could build to the point where mere mortals might crack under the strain.

The reasons for the stressful occasions were fairly obvious. Beer and the bride-to-be. You see, the shop we worked in was opposite a large establishment which specialised in the heavy retailing of alcoholic beverages as well as the shortening of pool cues by half using only brute force and the melon of an unsuspecting opponent. Rough pub. (They spent millions on it to refurbish and reinvent it only to discover that you still get the same old dickheads in ‘cos they’re too stupid to go anywhere else.)

It was also a landmark of convenience for us because we would all hit the bottle shop after our shift then retire to a mates house nearby where we would play cards and drink til’ the wee small hours talking shit and thinking of new and better ways to make more money in commissions. More on this soon. And, speaking of morons;

It was also a landmark of enough note that our clients would often use it as a meeting point for the wedding party before the initial suit selection or the final fitting. Now, if they met up and got a bit lagered for the first fitting, we were in commission heaven because the job was not only easier because the groom and his mates were more relaxed, but because we got paid a bonus to hire formal shoes in addition to the suits and EVERYONE hired shoes when they were looked after by the Doc and I and they had been drinking.

Meanwhile, the bride-to-be was busy on the other side of the shop with her uptight entourage, pimping and preening and all arguing over dress styles and how ‘Maria can’t wear that because of her Tuck Shop lady under arms’ and ‘the off the shoulder look is no good for Anna because she’s a big fatty boom-bah’ and it ‘just highlights her flud-dubbidahs’ while we were happily convincing the blokes that the suits WE chose for them were perfect in every respect. It’s amazing how a well chosen, throw away comment like; ‘mate, looks like you were born in that’ or; ‘sure you’re OK settlin’ down with just the ONE girl?’ was a winner when combined with a gut full of VB. Easy, happy days, indeed.

About this time, the bride-to-be would show up – possibly alerted by the macho laughter and school boy humour- to ensure that everything was going to plan. Her plan. We would be up to the shoe stage and she would chime in with something like; ‘You don’t need to hire shoes, no one will notice’ and we would matter-of-factly reply with; ‘That’s right. As long as you all have matching shoes of your own’.

If this didn’t get her hooked, and it usually would, we would throw in (as we walked away) ‘You’re not planning on spending much cash on the photos, anyway, are you?’ “Wait a minute . . . what do you mean?” she would stammer, thinking immediately of the $1000 deposit she just sent off to the photographer. Gotcha! ‘Oh, nothing, it’s just that the only time you really notice the different shoes is in the photos.’

“You’re ALL GETTING SHOES!!” Ka-Chingggg!!

It’s really quite funny to look back on those halcyon days when the lure of the dollar was almost insatiable. And it was not the monetary value, which was literally A dollar, which drove us but the fact that we had thought our strategy through and planned our performances to a ‘T’ over a couple of beers and then celebrated our success in the same fashion. There really is something magical about sitting around with mates and beers and reliving past glories and future conquests that still, to this day, give me a warm beery glow!

And, while we no longer work at the same job together, whenever we get together in the presence of our mates and our lagers, the conversation invariably staggers around to the days of old and the times we shared and we raise a glass to the beer which, as Homer Simpson so eloquently puts it;
“Is the cause of, and the solution to, all of life’s’ problems.”

Prof. Pilsner