Wednesday, July 30, 2008

There’s a Lemon in my beer!

Or; The Corona Effect.

“What can I get for you?”
“Corona, please.”
“Lemon or lime?”
“Lemon thanks.”

This scintillating piece of theatre goes on every day in bars and pubs and restaurants all over the country as well as overseas. But what really is the deal with jamming citrus into the neck of a bottle of beer? Where did it begin and why? And what causes it to continue?

I lay the blame squarely at the unwashed hands of the Mexican brewery worker. Not having a go at Mexicans – some of my best friends are illegal immigrant fruit picking mariachi singers. And I love the Moguel family who appear from time to time on the Wiggles videos. No, this goes back decades to a time when Corona was a nice cheap import from Mey-hicho into the States.

The story – totally, as yet, unsubstantiated by hard, cold fact or court ruling – goes like this. Corona, in the early days, was, more often than not, subject to the Brewer’s Curse – infection caused by poor sanitation. Perhaps not wanting to let a little bacteria get in the way of the sale of a cheap beer, retailers would cover up the stank with a generous wedge of lime. The citric acid would mask the dodgy aromas as well as disinfect the lurgy in the lager. Shift to the present and unwitting punters are continuing the Manuel Legacy as we speak. I should stress that nowadays Corona is brewed to strict sanitary standards and the lemon is used by punters to give this thin, pissy lager some taste.

“Momma always says stupid is as stupid does.”

Redback Wheat beer drinkers were the first Australians to be treated to the lemony lager experience when bartenders everywhere began to graduate with master’s degrees in garnish distribution. But this bit of pub theatre should not be dismissed as mere trickery or wankery. The Germans, and the Bavarians in particular, have been adorning their weizens, weisses and weissbier dunkels with citrusy additions since the Kaiser wore short pants. This is partly due to the German Purity Law of 1516 which forbade brewers from using anything but malt, hops and water in beer. More of the Reinheitsgebot in a separate story. Remind me, please, cos’ it’s a good story.

So the Germans have been known to brew more than a couple of very good beers which are well complimented by a slice of lemon. This is particularly apparent in the northern summers where the citrus brings a refreshing edge to an ice cold beer. BUT ... I must emphasise this ...BUT ... in fact ...
BUT ... this does NOT extend to a hefeweizen, that is, a beer which still has yeast suspended in it. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen lemons blindly tossed into the bottom of a scrupulously cleaned and badged Shofferhoffer Hefeweizen glass as if it were a Corona. Wheat beer yeasts and malts have some complex aromas of their own. The acids in the lemon deafen the subtle flavours in the yeast and the malt. So, stop it. Please.

Prof. Pilsner.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Nanny In Noddyland

I wrote a few weeks back about the federal governments’ attempts to do a whole lot of nothing about addressing the problems of poor behaviour associated with alcohol. Specifically, the government increased the tax on ‘alcopops’ or pre mixed/ ready to drink types of grog. Clever.


The lame-arsed thinking behind this poorly disguised tax grab was simple. Like its’ instigators. Raise the tax on RTDs and then young ‘at risk’ drinkers will not drink irresponsibly any more, ever. Woo Hoo!! Problem solved.

This did not happen. But, two significant events occurred almost immediately. Can’t say if they are related at all. Judge for yourselves. Sales of RTDs dropped dramatically as the price per each rose about $1.30. Sales of straight spirits and large soft drinks rose. By about the same amount as the RTDs dropped. Hmmm?

So now the only differences are these. Responsible adult drinkers who chose to buy RTDs for convenience of storage and transporting are now forced to pay more for their drink. The tax man still gets a huge slab of cash from the drinker. The young and inexperienced drinker no longer buys cans and bottles of low alcohol by volume, pre mixed spirits. He or she now ‘pours their own’ from a large straight spirit bottle and mixes themselves a ‘cruiser/breezer/cooler’ thingy. At whatever alcohol by volume they happen to guess. And guess poorly by the third or fifth attempt.

Federal Minister ‘Nanny’ Nicola Roxon was on radio in Melbourne this morning disputing a set of figures which she “didn’t have in front of her” showing that sales of RTDs are down and straight spirits are up. “Seasonal differences in sales figures” she trotted out. Ya what!? Pissed idiots don’t drink as much or as stupidly in July and the tax on RTDs is a coincidence?

Dispute this, Nanny. 21,000,000 standard spirit drinks – that’s 266,000 litres of straight alcohol- had been drunk in the TWO MONTHS after the introduction of the alcopops tax. No more alcopop. Just a massive ‘alco-swap’. Scary? Maybe not on its own. Sensible and bargain savvy responsible adult drinkers are probably switching as much as the dickheads are. But this is scary. There has been a huge leap in the sales of cheap wine and cider. Drinking less? Problem solved? Not.

The federal government makes a cool $1,750,000 A DAY from the increased tax on alcopops. How about spending this on a surgical procedure to reverse the effects of the ‘off with the head and on with a pumpkin’ operation that the masters of this inane solution have obviously undergone.

Let’s just hope that they don’t have similar plans for beer taxes.

Prof. Pilsner

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Beer Blogs

You remember that ad on telly a few years back for some shampoo or face cream or something girly like that featuring a pretend Scandinavian woman letting you in on the secret of nicer looking skin or fluffier hair or better tips? I think she said tips. Anyway, the tag line was that ‘you tell two friends and they tell two friends and so’on en so’on en so’on!’ Crap ad from a blokes point of view but I draw on it now to make a good point. Stick with me.

I got into this blogging caper through Dr Lager when we started our homebrewing operations and in the beginning I just sort of figured it would be half a laugh for the two of us and maybe some of our especially bored mates. We posted the results of our brews and plans for the next one and forwarded some brewing tips we found online. Before long I found myself drifting off topic slightly and exploring different aspects of brewing and beer drinking. Next thing I was pumping out every beer related post I could think of and before I knew it I was musing and reckoning and reviewing and wondering about beer, beer culture, beer buying, beer reviewing, beer brewing and boobs!

And, more than this, people started to leave comments on the stuff I was writing. They were sharing their own beer experiences and seeking answers and questioning other blokes’ masculinity and sexual prowess (though I think these may have been mates commenting under FALSE NAMES!! For SHAME!!) And not just local folk either, but blokes and blokettes from interstate and around the globe! Who knew that this internet thingy was WORLDWIDE!?!

Then it suddenly dawned on me – I had become a beer blogger!!

Each time I discovered a new beer blog I found yet another through their blog or one of their articles or their blogroll or list of mates. I could see what the pubs were doing with food in Portland, what was new and happening in bars in Texas and Missouri, what craft brewers were doing in New York, what was worth drinking in Canada and I could follow the quest for real ale in London. All this from behind a pissy little laptop and a glass of beer!

Every day I would unearth a gem and learn a little more about beer and beer culture around the world. And with every visit made and received and with each comment collected and delivered it seemed that the Beer World was getting smaller and more and more accessible. Before I knew it I felt as if beer blogging was just one big virtual pub crawl and you couldn’t stick your head into a venue without bumping into a mate! At times after reading a review of a beer I even felt as if I could actually taste it – despite the fact that I couldn’t even actually get my hands on it.

Beer blogging has broadened the reach of real beer, it has given air to opinions and trends and marketing strategies, it has allowed those undiscovered diamonds to find an appreciative audience and it has brought together some good honest beer lovers who love to share a beer – real or virtual. These ‘good blogs’ are also keeping at bay the dangerous beer geeks and uppity beer snobs so, keep up the good work, all of you!

Prof. Pilsner

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Beer Quiz – Subtraction

For those of you who attempted to solve the first beer quiz challenge a couple of weeks ago, here is a follow up teaser for you. You have forty five minutes and extra paper is available upon request. Please print answer neatly and don’t spill any beer.

A boy has a fridge at his home. His lady is away for three weeks. On day one he goes out and visits a particularly fine merchant who specialises in independent craft brews. He purchases 10 nice beers and takes them home. The next day he visits another outlet of the same fine beer merchant and purchases six more nice beers. On his way home he passes a different but equally fine beer merchant who also specialises in fine hand crafted beers. He purchases twelve very nice beers. The boy already had eight very nice beers in the fridge from previous visits as well as nine very nice beers in the ‘beer crisper’.

Question; If it is now day twenty and the boy’s lady is due home from overseas the following day, and the boy has been at home looking after the two pre-schoolers for three weeks, how many beers does he have left?

Is it;

(A) Plenty,
(B) Not Many,
(C) Greater than or equal to the amount of food left, or
(D) Off to the Fine Beer Merchant I go?

Answer; See Below.

Tomorrow I'll let you know what nice beers I have bought.


Prof. Pilsner

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Craft Pilsners

Having recently warned our readers of the perils of ‘fake pilsners’, I thought I should take the next step and begin to ‘review’ some local craft brews bearing the Pilsner tag. Not because I wanted to pretend that I can tell our readers what a beer tastes like, or which one is better than another, as that is not my go. As you know, I like to keep out of the beer review/recommendation game because, for me, the beer experience is all about time and place and mates and food and such and what tastes bitter or smooth or pissy to me might be the opposite to your palate.

Here follows a reasonably good guide to the style differences and taste profiles of some of the various craft brewed pilsners available. It is also a reasonably good excuse for me to buy and drink some of the various craft brewed pilsners available. I begin with a selection of some of the offerings that have been out and about for a few years now. Some newer ones will be used as an excuse for me to buy some more good beer and they will be tested in a few weeks.

Monteith’s Lively Pilsner NZ 330ml 5% ABV

Not strictly a ‘local’ offering but I thought I’d include it by way of an apology for the bucketing I gave the Kiwis in two recent posts. This has a very smooth and tasty malt front with a crisp, refreshing hop kick. The two elements are beautifully balanced and the overall taste leans more towards flavour than the strength of the hop ‘bite’ which works well. A mild hop aroma and a nice lively bubble as the name suggests. Matched well with roast chook.

Bluetongue Pilsner NSW Hunter Valley 330ml 4.5%

Hop flavour that leans towards the ‘rusty’ end of the spectrum and nice for those who like their pilsners to have that ‘bite’. Maybe a little heavy handed for the malt though it might be that the malt is a bit short for some rather than the hops being ’over’. Clean and thirst quenching with a mild aroma. Nice on its’ own or with mild flavoured food like poached seafood.

Grand Ridge Brewer’s Pilsner VIC 330ml 4.9%

Reasonably fresh and crisp taste, easy drinking and a lovely earthy tone to the colour. A little light on aroma and the malt is sweetish but a little muted. Almost enough bitterness to be a great pilsner and it feels like it wants to tick all the boxes but perhaps couldn’t afford to. Maybe more a premium lager type of beer and a good one at that.

Outback Pilsner NSW (Contract brewers) 330ml 4.8%

Nice subtle aroma, fresh and inviting with a taste that is crisp and refreshing with a nice bright carbonation. Not as bitter as some but certainly enough to qualify as a pilsner standard but probably only just. Well balanced and a nice drop. Again, try with mild food.

Little Creatures Pilsner WA 330ml 4.6%

I know this probably only just sneaks in as a ‘craft brew’ as the success of the LC brand makes it seem more than a small player in the beer market but whichever way you look at it, this IS a pilsner. The aroma tells you straight away that this is elevated above the lager or premium crowd with its’ fresh mown hay kind of smell and the smoothness of the mouthfeel sings of a well made beer. Easy drinking but with a bitterness that pops in and grabs the sides of your tongue on the way through, this one is earthy and real. Could stand up well to a fuller flavoured roast or complement a rich, homestyle stew.

That’s about as close as I get to a beer ‘review’ and it’s always hard enough to hide your own biases let alone explain to someone how the beer feels and such. I still reckon that the best beer is the one in your hand and is second only to one that a mate bought for you so why not treat yourself, support the guys who are having a crack at brewing decent beers and, while you’re at it, support the retailers who are giving the good stuff some real shelf space and talk to the blokes in the shop about what you like and be led by their recommendations.

You might just find a new ‘favourite’.

Prof. Pilsner

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lessons and Lagers

So what have I learnt in the last three weeks with the wife and eldest overseas?

Well, apart from the fact that the house gets awfully QUIET after the little ones are in bed, I have to say I have made some interesting discoveries. Not all of these revelations are beer related, but they are mostly inspired by, and the result of, sitting and sipping some very nice beers in quiet contemplation.

I have spoken in earlier posts of the whole ‘occasion’ factor that I consider important when it comes to really enjoying a beer. The concept of ‘a quiet ale’ or ‘ten noisy lagers’ is something I have tried to express when I talk of the true intrinsic value of beer. Some beers just taste better in the right time and place – and quantity – than they would otherwise. A bunch of good mates, a noisy pub, ice cold draughts well poured or shared from a jug is a different beast to the sanctity of a single warming amber ale sipped between pages of a newspaper while curled up in the comfy chair letting cares and worries disappear into the ether.

It is more of the latter that I have had the pleasure of enjoying in the past three weeks. Between keeping the place clean and tidy, feeding the ravenous young’uns and tapping out this rubbish each week, I have had the rare pleasure of being alone with my thoughts after dinner each night. Not exactly true, that. I have had more than a couple of nice beers to keep me company.

At times I have really found myself lost in thought as a result of the beers ability to take me away to another place – no, not because it’s the sixth or seventh for the sitting – the malt and the hops and the brewing care and the thought behind the particular style just seem to be more prominent in my thoughts as I sip and savour a nice malty ale or a chocolatey porter or even a finely honed bitter.

I also found out that although the peace and quiet gave me the opportunity to complete some good detailed tasting notes, drinking on your own can be pretty lonely and depressing at times. Not in a ‘sad old sop with wee-wee stains on his pants and mumbling to himself incoherently’ kind of way but just a realisation that even though Mrs Pilsner doesn’t drink beer with me, it’s just a more human experience to drink with her and discuss the taste and flavour of a new beer. Company just makes the beer more enjoyable.

I also discovered the following;

One bloke and two pre-schoolers use a LOT less toilet paper,
When the two older girls are not generating wet towels two at a time, I can’t fit all the clean towels in the towel cupboard.
I CAN, however, fit lots and lots and lots of beer in the fridge when the fridge doesn’t need to feed 5
It’s fun to NOT put the toilet seat back down,
There is no such thing as TOO MUCH sport or shouting at the officials and loudly questioning their abilities and parentage,

... and, for those following this thread the last three weeks and who are playing along at home,

Yo Gabba Gabba is not a kids show it is a test torture for terrorist interrogation,
once you get the Dora the Explorer song in your head it stays there ALL DAY,
it IS cool to sing Wiggles songs in a supermarket and ...
Harmony has better cans than Rhapsody, but only just.

Posts back to normal from Monday. Maybe.

Prof. Pilsner

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Can Crusher Canned

Flicking through some on-line beer news articles I happened across this funny one from October last year. As those of you who have followed this carp for any length of time will know, I find humour in nearly anything beer related. That and boobies. Combine the two and I am in beery-boobie heaven.

This piece appeared in a Western Australian newspaper. For those outside the wide brown land of Australia, the large state which takes up the western coast of the country is something of an oddity to the rest of us. Even the Tasmanians. WA is close enough to the rest of the country to be considered a part of us, but far enough away to have their own kind of accent, a lot of English and South African immigrants and nearly all the bent politicians, drug lords and social refugees.

PERTH, Australia (AFP) - An Australian barmaid who entertained patrons by crushing beer cans between her bare breasts and hanging spoons off her nipples has been fined, police said Wednesday.Luana De Faveri, 31, was fined 1,000 dollars (900 US dollars) in the Mandurah Magistrates Court in Western Australia after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Liquor Control Act.

Don’t know about you, but the first two things that catch my attention – no, the other two things – are the barmaids’ name (like the sort of name that chicks who were born blokes call themselves while they are dancing and saving up for the op) and that she was prosecuted under the Liquor Control Act. Two breaches of the Act. What, separate charges for the left one and the right one!? And anyway, surely crushing cans with your cans shows sensational control over liquor!

Another barmaid who helped hang spoons on De Faveri's nipples, Tracey Leslie, 43, was fined 500 dollars while the bar manager was fined 1,000 dollars for failing to stop the pair, police said in a statement.

No, doesn’t specify which pair.

It also doesn’t elaborate on the actual section of the act that the girl’s actions contravened. Maybe the pub didn’t have a live music license and the ‘assistant’ was deemed to be ‘playing the spoons’? If they were tampering with the beer I can understand the courts’ reaction. Maybe as the girls leaned over to give you your change they inadvertently dipped their jugs in your jugs? False advertising? “Our beer has no additives – except the barmaids’ McGits!”

Anyway, in this age of CLIMATE CHANGE and GLOBAL WARMING (Wooooo-ooooooooh!!! We’re all going to DIEEE!!!!!!!) we should not be discouraging any forms of recycling.

Prof. Pilsner

Friday, July 18, 2008

Nothing good happens after 2am

Plenty of chat and opinion and letters to the editors at the moment as Melbourne adjusts to the State Governments latest attempt to flex its’ muscles and frighten the horses without actually having to tackle the problems of alcohol abuse.

Yes, there are problems caused by people who go out to city nightspots, get rollicking drunk, get kicked out, move on to another place, repeat same, get kicked out again and end up kicking a parked car, assaulting a fellow patron, taxi driver or by-stander and, yes the problem seems to have got worse in recent years. But the question is; how do we tackle it?

Our Nanny State came up with a foolproof plan. That is, it’s proof we are governed by fools when it comes to regulating our lives for us instead of making us each responsible for our own actions.

They imposed a strict 2am lockout policy. Once you are in a venue and the little hand is on the 2 and the big hand is on the 12, you can’t get into any other venue serving alcohol if you leave the one you are in. We take away the ability for normal people to have a choice. In this way we solve the problem of pissed idiots roaming the street looking for trouble. Hmmm. You reckon?

Problem One: Pissed idiots don’t work to the clock. They are pissed. And idiots!
Problem Two: The issue is not the time of night; it’s the fact that they are SO pissed. And idiots.
Problem Three: There are not that many pissed idiots compared to the numbers of people enjoying a night out and not being pissed idiots. Why impose blanket bans?
Problem Four: The definition of STRICT seems to have eluded the law makers because nearly every establishment that applied for an exemption – and there were PLENTY – all received one!

So not only do we incorrectly identify the problem, but we then propose a solution that will not achieve any real outcomes, and then, as if to underline the point, we say you don’t have to follow it anyway! Read that last sentence again, it sounds even more ridiculous the second time!!

The problem is, and always has been, this; pissed idiots cause the problems, not the beer. It is the bar staff who are expected to serve responsibly but, if you are too pissed to even get yourself to the bar you can still have your pissed idiot mates get them for you. This makes it difficult for even the best staff to watch every corner of a dimly lit and music filled venue while still serving others. Maybe if security staff could be deployed into the venue to identify them – and let’s face it, that’s not too difficult – we could slow them down, root them out and address the real problem.

Maybe we could help in our own small way. Instead of partying down into the wee small hours, we could be prepared. Before you leave the house for the night, make sure you have a couple of nice craft beers or a selection of imported specialties chilled and ready. Have a night out, leave when the pissed idiots start turning into pumpkins and hit the road, knowing that a quality beery treat awaits at home! Maybe I’m just getting old, but I also just don’t have the same tolerance for pissed idiots as I did in my youth. Plus, today’s’ brand of aggressive and violent dickhead just doesn’t have the same level of humorous charm that the dickhead of old had. If a bloke pops a dollar into a parking space and then sits down in the spot – FUNNY. If he then refuses to move because he still has half an hour left, VERY FUNNY. If a bloke walks up to an unsuspecting stranger and smashes his head in from behind – NOT FUNNY.

Deal with the dickheads. Get them early and get them hard. Make them aware that a civilised society has certain standards that separate us from the cavemen and the raving lunatics. Let them know that they are in a very small minority. Punish those who, after several attempts, still don’t appear to be willing to get with the program. Give bars and clubs the chance to earn a dollar but punish only those who keep misbehaving like the pissed idiots. Don’t line up every normal socialiser hoping for a good night out and every good, well run business and then threaten to smack them all really hard with a wet lettuce because a few people they don’t know are dickheads when they get a skin full.

And if you are only pretending to hold a wet lettuce, who really IS the dickhead?

So, stock the fridge at home with some nice beers, have a great night and remember what every AFL and NRL football player is told by their club – nothing good happens after 2am.

Prof. Pilsner

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Buying Beer Part Two

Again I have the brother-in-law to thank for this one as it all started with a ‘check out this website’ kind of offer. It led to the discovery of a new beer retailer, some ripping good untried beers, knowledgeable and friendly staff, a day trip during the kids’ holidays and a good excuse to keep crossing town every few weeks so, really, it just ticked all the boxes.

Cloudwine Cellars is, by their own definition, a ‘fiercely independent wine merchant’ and is one which does a particularly good sideline in craft, independent and other hard-to-get beers as well. As a beer lover I guess I might describe it as ‘a gold mine of very fine beers in a beautifully presented retail environment staffed by blokes who know what they’re talking about and know that it is the customer who pays their wages and who also apparently stock some nice wine as well’. But that’s a bit hard to fit on a business card.

A fairly small but welcoming shop front is neat and tidy without being fussy or poofy and the fully stocked and properly labelled shelves and displays are signs that someone cares about what they are doing rather than a sign that the staff have too much free time. The lack of space is no hindrance if you have the place to yourself but they have very good back up plan in case the shop is full. A very ‘user friendly’ website and weblog are a terrific tool for working out your shopping list and a bit of virtual browsing is a great way to work out the cost of your trip as well.

At the South Melbourne shop I was led around a corner of the shop past the beer fridge to a place I can only describe as like the library in a gentleman’s country estate – an alcove of three floor to ceiling shelves stacked full of any decent beer lovers’ beer wish list. Craft brews from around the state and the country, international specialties and unique beer gift style bottles and boxed surprises as far as the eye can see. And Chris was more than helpful and genuinely interested in talking about the beers that he had tasted himself and informative about the origins and tasting notes of the newer stock.

This was the first of what will be many trips to Cloudwine Cellars and I suggest that anyone keen to see what a well run beer operation looks like checks out the website and the blog and, if possible, get in and see them for yourself. In an age where so much retail philosophy seems to be based around getting further and further away from the annoyance of actual customers and liquor retail in particular grows bigger but less personable it is nice to see that people like those behind Sword’s Select, Cloudwine, Purvis and a few others (who I am getting around to plugging!) are beginning to buck the impersonal trend and giving great product the shelf space and the exposure that it deserves.

Prof. Pilsner

You can find Cloudwine Cellars at and the beer blog at

Further to my comments about the shop itself – sorry, “retail space” in case there are any interior designers, social environment engineers or other retail marketing types listening – I really was impressed by the layout, the look and the general vibe of the place. Some of the big players in the booze market, as well as retailers in general, might like to get the number of the people who thought up the ‘feel’ of the Cloudwine Cellars operation. I should clarify at this point that I have only visited the South Melbourne shop and I guess the other two could look like a poorly constructed bush outhouse; but I am thinking NOT.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Mountain Goat & A Nice Pint

It was one of those spur-of-the-moment things where the Beer Gods just sort of say, ‘Yeah, Go on, it’s just what you need’. After two weeks of playing sole care giver to the two and four year old, and with another week still to come, I was not really starting to go completely mad but let’s just say that the level of general conversation needed to be raised just a tad. There really is only so much thoughtful insight on the human condition to be gleaned from the situation where Tooty didn’t wait her turn and pushed in front of Brobee on the slide in Yo Gabba Gabba. And don’t even get me started on the number of times the little girls have taken great joy in beating me at ‘Guess Which Window’ on Play School. Curse you, round window!!!

So a brief e-mail from Chris at 10.57 last week came 17 seconds after the same e-mail I received from Mountain Goat Brewery announcing the tapping of the newest of their ‘one-off’ brews, an amber ale called ‘Fancy Pants’. I replied with a flippant kind of, ‘sounds like a good reason to get down on Friday, before it all goes’ to which Chris replied, ‘will check with the boss but sounds do-able’.

Permission granted and babysitter sourced and it was off to the Goat to get some good beer down our throat! If Melbourne could have turned on a colder winter’s night it would have been snowing but walking through the almost secret clubhouse entrance to the brewery bar we couldn’t have felt warmer. The anticipation of a nice hand crafted ale or two probably helped the system to adapt as well. The first thing you always notice about the Goat is that wether the joint is quiet or pumping it always has a welcoming feel. This has as much to do with the underlying philosophy of the place as established by its creators as it does to do with the homely feel of the space and the honest friendliness of the staff.

Mountain Goat was at the forefront of the craft brew ‘movement’ in Victoria back in the 1990’s and has held something of a sentimental favouritism to craft brew drinkers for sticking true to strong beliefs in the types of beers they wanted to produce and the way in which they wanted the beer made and marketed. Urban legends abound as to the tactics used by Cam and Dave and their mates to get the ‘Goat word’ out onto the streets and into the pubs. More of this in an upcoming post dedicated to the “Goat Guys’ and their special brand of beery magic.

Friday nights at the Goat are something of a well poorly kept secret – if that makes sense – in that many know about the tap beers and the magic pizzas and the community spirit in the joint and the fact that you just don’t see too many drop kicks or dickheads like you might find in a chromed and pokie littered pub. But it is no secret society or subscriber club. One in, all in. That and the fact that you can sit and drink a Hightail Ale and, with a glance over your shoulder, see the steam gently rising from the vats of the same stuff that your beer soulmate will be drinking in months to come. And he or she will sip theirs and look over THEIR shoulder and think of YOU! The Circle of Beer!

The whimsically named Fancy Pants is an absolute cracker and, if you like your beer with hop aroma, hop taste and hop bitterness all neatly wrapped up in a perfectly balanced malt driven V6 touring car of a beer then I suggest you get down there soon. Perhaps you could suggest it become a regular feature on the Goats’ brewing calendar. Get your mates to spread the word and make the same suggestion. Ask local pubs why they don’t have it on tap and suggest they get on board as well. Hmmmm, sounds like a good sneaky way to get the word out?!

Anyway, the Pants were followed by an IPA for me and a Hefeweizen for Chris while Jimmy switched to a very nice, and nicely priced, red. I finished with a Pale and Chris the Surefoot Stout. It has to be said that on a chilly night there is something almost magical and medicinal about the Goats’ Stout that can’t be explained. It also doesn’t need to be. You just kinda drink it and then you’ll know what I mean.

Get into the Goat at but don’t read all the history and stuff because it might spoil your enjoyment of my piece on craft brewers featuring The Goat.

Prof. Pilsner

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More beer furniture.

Further to my post regarding beer furniture, I found the perfect design for my new beer fridge.

Light, portable, cosy, energy efficient, sleek design, fits neatly in the corner – these are just some of the considerations which can go and get stuffed when it comes to a true beer fridge.

Now if I could just get a truck. Actually, make that two trucks. One for the fridge and one for the beer. Better make that three trucks. Another one to lift the roof off my house to get the fridge in.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

Prof. Pilsner

P.S. Day 14 of 21 on my own with the little ones. It’s all going pretty well, considering. Local shopkeepers and random strangers are probably feeling a little odd that this bloke keeps stopping to talk to them for no reason. It’s just that it’s the only opportunity for me to say, and hear words other than ‘Barbies’, ‘I’m hungry’, ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’, ‘ I need a clean nappy’ and ‘Daddy, WAKE UP!!!’. Even if most of the words I’m hearing from these strangers are “Are you seeking professional help?”, “I have to go now”, “here, have some money” and “Go AWAY before I call the Police!!”

At the moment, any conversation is good conversation.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Beer Barons Battered But Bite Back

Or, ‘Why most politicians should be herded up and bitch-slapped with their own departmental reports.’

Our Federal Health minister, Nanny Nicola Roxon has been on something of a crusade of late. And I use the word ‘crusade’ in its ancient Neanderthal context where it means ‘a process by which we can stop normal happy responsible people from having any fun for as long as there are dickheads out there, being dickheads and doing dickhead things’. Shouting loudly from her pulpit (made from old beer cases) so as to drown out any voices of reason, she cried that ‘alcohol’ costs Australians $15 billion a year, and that the only people who didn’t think binge drinking was a problem were “the alcohol industry and the Liberal Party”.

Newsflash, Nanny. ‘Alcohol’ does not cost Australia $15b. DICKHEADS DO!! Making good people pay more for their beer and whatnot doesn’t make a dickhead stop being a dickhead. You dickhead.

But, ploughing on blindly through the fog of common sense, her department of Fun Finishers has rolled out a veritable septic tank full of policies and directives by which they expect to combat and defeat binge drinking. The only problem with their near sighted nannying is that it fails to observe the one basic fundamental issue at the guts of the problem. The dickhead. And HIS responsibility for HIS OWN actions.

Tax the shit out of alcohol, force producers to put warning labels all over their bottles and cans, ban liquor companies from sponsorship of sporting clubs and generally smack them on the wrist for daring to responsibly market and distribute legal and socially acceptable products..

So it was good to see the ‘Booze Barons’ fight back. It was also good to see the fine journalists at Melbournes’ Herald Sun go with the unemotive and neutral moniker of Booze Barons instead of something corny or facetious like ‘Industry Experts’ or ‘Successful Retailers’ or something dicky like that.

In response to the knee-jerk reaction of the Government, the four biggest players in the liquor industry – heads of brewers Lion Nathan and Foster’s and the chiefs of liquor retail divisions of Coles and Woolworth’s - were given the front page and a full page inside to give their opinions on five major areas relating to the drinking problems in our community.

They were asked to provide their thoughts on binge dinking, the recent taxing of ‘alcopops’ , low alcohol products, who’s to blame and what we can do to fix it.

All of them, in response to ‘who must take responsibility for alcohol related harm?’ echoed the same theme.

“Responsibility must lie primarily with the individual.” “An individuals decision to consume excessive amounts of alcohol and their actions are ultimately their own responsibility.” "We certainly believe the person who consumes the alcohol needs to take responsibility for their actions ..” ”Ultimately it comes down to individual responsibility to know and stay within (their) limits, the law and community standards.”

As to the scourge of binge drinking, all the stats point to a general decline in total alcohol consumption over the last three decades or so and, if we have a problem to address, it is the manner in which SOME people (dickheads) feel it necessary to drink i.e.; like dickheads. Brewers and retailers are subject to plenty of strict guidelines in terms of making, marketing and selling grog. Responsible service of alcohol and ID checks are all in place and are generally well adhered to. It must also be remembered that the VAST MAJORITY OF DRINKERS PURCHASE AND CONSUME THEIR ALCOHOL RESPONSIBLY. Sorry, the caps lock was stuck. So why do we need to punish the innocent rather than educate the guilty? And if education don’t work, then punish them. But not us.

A report on the story can be found here. But I’ve given you all the good bits and cut out the crap, so, really, why bother? Life’s short. Have a beer instead.,22049,23965433-5014099,00.html#

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Quick Beer Quiz

If (A) a beer bloke is home looking after a 4 year old and a 2 year old and;
(B) his wife and eldest are overseas for 3 weeks, and; (C) he has been to the market and to a very nice specialty beer shop and; (D) he was unable to decide on a specific beer and; (E) because he is only cooking for 3 and not 5, and this could be represented as a formula, then;

A + (4 +2) – ( W + 13 x 21 ) x 2 / (?) + 5 – 2 = ?

For answer see below.

Prof. Pilsner

P.S. If you look closely you will see that there is plenty of food in the far bottom right hand little corner as well as some jam and shit on the top shelf, so it’s not like I’m neglecting the little ones. If you look closely at the middle shelf you will see that I am not neglecting me. If you look VERY closely at the middle shelf you will see that it is bending dangerously. I must go now, I have work to do.

P.P.S. If you look really, really closely you will see that the beer crisper is full as well.

Laundry and Beer

You may recall, from previous posts, that there have been some renovations and relocations going on around the Casa Del Pilsner in recent times. We completed a major extension around six years ago and since then we have slowly but surely fiddled and fixed and generally improved the living standard by sorting junk, replacing furniture and adding storage solutions.

Some nice ‘Prof. Pilsner Design’ custom made pieces finished in solid Victorian Ash and Redgum, Tasmanian Oak and West Australian Jarrah have solved the problems of knick-knack-and-whatnot storage as well as keeping the kids’ toys and games hidden away. A large coffee table with a glass top and display drawers beneath contains all my beer memorabilia and souvenirs; and some more whatnot. The last major piece in the puzzle was the laundry.

Until last weekend, our laundry consisted of a an old white reclaimed timber table in a corner, which had turned into a junk storage place, coupled with a series of boxes and bins and recycling baskets and a smattering of brushes, brooms and buckets to round out the ‘New Modern Carefully Assembled Shite’ look that we had tried so hard to perfect. I had a plan for the area and, along with Mrs Pilsners’ Uncle Bob, we came up with a full makeover type of thing that would not have been out of place in a show on the ‘Lifestyle’ or ‘How To’ Channel. It was carefully designed to fit in around the existing appliances and made best possible use of the space for storage and accessibility. It featured a tall broom cupboard area cleverly divided and shelved.

“Hey, Professor!’ I hear you shout, ‘what’s all this got to do with BEER!?!” Well, I’m glad you asked. Surprised it took this long, actually. Well, as it happened, Bob was around with his trusty assistant and son, Sam, and we were assembling and fitting and levelling and plumbing and whatnot and I grabbed my tape measure quietly while I thought Mrs Pilsner was otherwise distracted. She was not.

“Did you just measure the width of a beer bottle?!!!”

‘Who, Dear, me Dear, measure, dear, no, Dear.”

“You Bloody well DID!!”

‘Oh .... MEASURE it? uhmmmmm ... a bit, yes.’

“Did you design all those marvellous little shelves to fit beer bottles in?”

‘Im sure I mentioned it when we were discussing the design. Didn’t I?’

“You bloody well did NOT!”

As I write this, I am still in the process of explaining how a set of shelves which are just perfectly wide enough to store three stubbies across, in a cupboard deep enough to sit ten rows back, was merely coincidental and a pleasant, yet unexpected, by-product of the building process.

I am not finding the task particularly successful.

The beers are all still there, but. And here’s a picture.
The picture shows an apparently normal, well designed laundry cupboard system, doesn't it?Now, open the tall narrow door on the left. Go on !

That's right, it's six
shelves of thirty
stubbies each !!!

Prof. Pilsner.

P.S. Have a crack at designing your own beer furniture; it’s fun!

Pilsner Beer Review

I thought it was time for a beer review and this time, due to my inability to decide on a single beer to review, I am going with a style review. And I’m not even going to ‘review’ a beer at all, just the style. Because this style is so often misrepresented and it’s time that those perpetrating this charade were exposed and shamed.

I chose pilsner because of its popularity and resultant availability. And partly because it is the moniker that I have chosen to write under. That’s right; Prof. Pilsner is not my real name. Or title. I did spend time at a tertiary institute – or three – but the closest I got to a professor was in the uni bar.


Pilsner is one of those beer styles that is the subject of some confusion, misinterpretation and misuse. Take a cursory glance at the labels of the beers in the fridge of your local retailer and you will see the pilsner tag represented frequently. Perhaps too frequently. In fact, many bearing the name are imposters.

I will use, as a base reference point, the BJCP (beer judge certification program) definitions of the pilsner breed. There are two categories; Bohemian Pilsner and German Pils. At least with these definitions it should be a little easier to work out wether the pilsner in your glass is in fact a pilsner or a marketing man’s idea of what you should accept as one. Those bastards!


In the beginning there was the Ale, and the Ale was good. Then came the Lager, and it, too was good. But even the lightest coloured lagers were considerably darker than the ones we enjoy today. The maltsters had not worked out how to kiln the grain without toasting it, even slightly, and so most beer had to be served in wooden, clay or other likewise non transparent vessels. Then, in 1842 a revolution occurred. In the Czech town of Plzen a German brewer employed by locals angry at the shit quality of beer being produced in the town came up with the worlds’ first light golden coloured beer. Huzzah! He used a malt kilned at low enough temperatures to do the job without frying it and also used the very floral and mildly bitter Saaz or Zatec hops.

It probably helped the market value of this new discovery that the region of Bohemia was a fairly dab hand at producing a nice line of crystal glassware as well as good beer and that the new golden lager looked rather nice in a tall, tapered pilsner glass. They probably didn’t call them pilsner glasses, though. The fame of the new brew quickly spread – as did stocks of the beer itself, a special train left the Czech brewery each morning bound for Vienna – and before long every brewer was making his own pilsner. Many brewing centres in Germany still have a dedicated pilsner brewery to this day.


Apart from being a light golden coloured beer, a pilsner should display the following in order to ‘qualify’ for the style; rich, complex malt and spicy, floral Saaz hop aroma. A very pale gold to deep burnished gold colour, brilliant to clear in appearance with a dense, long lasting head. Pretty simple. Or so you’d reckon.

Have a taste of many of the commercial brewers’ offerings labelled pilsner, pils, pilsener or pilz with these fairly broad definitions in mind and you’ll see that they may hit the mark in one or two respects but rarely do they tick all the boxes. Some are merely ‘premium lagers’ (which often means,’ here is our standard shit lager but with no additives’) and is re-badged for sales and profit.

From my humble research, (over many, many beers, years) I have concluded the following. A true pilsner should have a noticeable aroma – a real nose to it – fresh, bright and floral. That’s the Saaz hops. It should be rich and satisfying in the first mouthful with complex maltiness which is bold yet not boastful. That’s the combination of malts. It should have an earthy, real taste and flavour and its bitterness should leave you thinking; ‘yeaaah, that’s bitter!’ It should have a smooth freshness and genuine ‘beerness’ to it. That’s the extended maturation. Above all, it should just FEEL different in your mouth, its texture and its integrity accentuated compared to a run of the mill, six pack sitting, session swilling, bog standard lager.

As I said earlier, this is not always the case. But don’t let the marketers get you down. Just keep trying as many new pilsners as they come on to the market and train your palate to detect the ‘phonies’. And train your memory to lock away the names of the good ones. For next time.

Until next time,
Prof. Pilsner.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Now that’s what I call coincidence!

I swear I didn’t rig this one. I swear I didn’t know about this story before I wrote the piece about the Kiwis. Seriously. Or sirrissly. Like in that other New Zealand show about nasty car smashes called Sirriss Crish Younut. I DO admit, however, that I took the piss out of the Kiwis in the bit called ‘Those Krazy Kiwis’.

I was scanning the paper yesterday morning having fed and watered the little Pilsners and this bit just jumped out at me and yelled, “You won’t believe this shit!”

Apparently some shopkeepers in Rodney, near Auckland, New Zealand have been tricked into accepting counterfeit $100 notes. Now this is amazing in itself because I haven’t met a Kiwi who could identify a REAL $100 note (Centrelink only pay out the dole in 50’s or lower) let alone know of someone who might visit their shop and HAVE a $100 note. But that is not the best bit.

The dodgy notes all had the same serial number. I can cop this because you would assume that even a counterfeiter who is as dumb as a bag of hammers would know enough to spread the notes around and not hand too many out at once. And, really, how many shopkeepers would check serial numbers. But this is not the best bit, either.

The notes all featured a slightly altered picture of the Queen. And when I say ‘altered’ I mean completely and ball-tearingly obviously altered. Old Liz was replaced by a picture of a sheep wearing a tiara. Siriss. The cops also stated that the notes were ‘crude forgeries’. Just in case you didn’t feel enough of a dick having just accepted dodgy counterfeits from a bloke who must surely have been giggling uncontrollably, now you hear that the notes were not even half decent. To make matters worse, the news was probably delivered by Constable Niville McEwen and Sinya Sergeant Ewen Mc Niville from Sirriss Crish Younit!

Sorry fellas, I have had a crack at you twice in a week. I promise I will make it up to you tomorrow when I buy some Monteith’s or some Mac’s or even a Steinlager. Can anybuddy lind me a hundred?


Prof. Pilsner

Day Seven of 21 without the wife and eldest. Just watching a lot of TV with the little ones because it's been so wet and cold out. I like some of the shows that they like. The Fairies is OK in small doses but I just can't work out whether Harmony or Rhapsody has the better cans. If I find out, I'll let you know.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Brew Update July 2008

It’s been a while since I gave the readers a quick update on the Beer Blokes Homebrewing enterprise so for the benefit of those interested in homebrewing, and for Dr Lagers’ information, I will lay out the following brief ramble.

Still working primarily with the malt extract system of brewing, we have managed to keep up a good supply of lagers and ales for the warmer months to come. A Bavarian Lager and a Canadian Blonde are maturing very nicely, thanks for asking, and these brews were made with the addition of flavour, bittering and finishing hops. They were made as an all malt batch so that the flavour and hop balance should result in a tasty but thirst quenching drop. Not adding sugar to get the alcohol volume up to scale means a clean, crisp taste.

The other day I cracked open a sample from our very first batch of common-old-garden-variety straight-from-the-can-with-no-additions-or-palava-style original lager. To say that I was very, very, very, very, very pleasantly suprised by the improvement in the taste since November 2006 is ... well, about exactly how suprised I was. Smooth and refreshing and without even a hint of that 'homebrewyness' at the end of the sip, I am glad that I resisted the temptation to tip them all down my throat in the first few months. Trying hard now to leave all our brews to mature and smoothout for as long as I can. Cheers

I have just finished bottling our ‘tribute’ brew to our mate, Pickles. He was living in Sydney for the past few years and so I used a Morgan’s homebrew can of Blue Mountain lager to reflect this aspect of his life. Growing up and educated in Ringwood, the hop variety Pride of Ringwood seemed a perfect fit. A nice pale golden lager with a very well developed nose already, it should be ready to taste by the middle of August and then we’ll store it away until this time next year.

This week I am putting the finishing touches to a recipe for our first cool temperature yeast based lager. I may have to think of a more condensed name for the brew when it’s done as the labels aren’t really very big. I am planning to use the ‘Magic Box’ (discussed in an earlier post of the same name) to maintain a low temperature for the fermentation and the lagering processes and maybe even to store them away long term. I might have to make a couple more 23 litre batches to use up some supplies of empties I have as they are currently stored IN the Magic Box.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, these bottles aren’t just gunna empty thereselfs.

Prof. Pilsner

P.S. Day 5 of 21 that Mrs Pilsner and the eldest little Pilsner are away overseas and things are going well with the two littlest Pilsners. They have been very well behaved and getting along well and even helped me with the bottling and are sleeping well and I am coping well and all is well and everything is generally well and if I have to watch Yo Gabba Gabba one more time I am going to kill something. Well.

Those Krazy Kiwis

Australians have long shared something of a begrudgingly happy relationship with our neighbours from across the Tasman, New Zealand. At times strained and often based upon varying senses of inferiority and perceived bias, we have managed, nonetheless, to remain civil.

Our respective nations have enjoyed a fierce rivalry on the sporting field and on the fields of battle our combined heroics have seen our soldiers pull the brass out of the poo on more than one occasion. We even share our music stars and celebrities. By the way, NZ, you can come back and collect Russell Crowe and Derryn Hinch whenever you’re ready.

One area in which the Kiwis and the Aussies are in complete agreement beer. Brewin’ it and drinkin’ it. In recent years we have been able to sample more and more of the craft brews that our sheep-shaggin’, er, shearin’ mates have been enjoying on their own for far too long. Two of the Professors’ personal favourites and ones which can usually be found in the beer crisper are Mac’s and Monteith’s.
Monteith’s have been pumping out some fair old beers since 1868 and their Pilsner is among the best I’ve sampled. They put out a terrific series of seasonal beers proving that sometimes a brewer can take a bit of a hit in making a really decent beer which must surely be hard to turn a profit on and this is worthy of a beer lover’s praise. And their Radler is NOT to be blamed for the sudden dam-burst of marketing men’s ‘wet dream beers’ which are little short of a collection of thin pissy lagers spiked with lemon or lime essence designed to attract chicks and poofters to beer. Monteith’s have had their authentic version out for quite a while, they use real juice and the style is based on real beer made in Bavaria in the 1920’s. So there. Monteith’s also has a retail and distribution arm in Australia, Drinkworks, who I assume are responsible for the ease of access to these hidden treasures we now have.

Mac’s was founded in 1981 and has been a leader in the NZ craft brew field winnin

g many medals at international as well as New Zealand beer festivals. I have had the Hop Rocker, the All Malt Lager and the Sassy Red and have been more than a bit impressed. Great flavour, easy drinking and beautifully balanced – and they still have ring pull tabs!! More on this next week. The Hop Rocker and Sassy Red took out Champion Lager and Ale titles respectively at this year’s Australian International Beer Awards.

Mac’s was bought out by Lion Nathan in 1999 and was kept on as a craft brewing unit until May this year when the brewery was closed and it’s operations were shifted to the parent company plants in Wellington and Christchurch. On a positive note, the reason given was the fact that the small brewery could not keep up with demand.

So ‘BRAVO!!’ to our Kiwi mates on their contribution to the quest to get real, well crafted preservative-free beers out into the market. Bravo!! We will accept your marvellous beers every day of the week ... But,

... seriously, what’s with the televisual shit from across the ditch that our networks are dishing up? Enough!!! Stop it!!! Now!!!!! I know it is the fault of our own short-sighted and lazy TV execs that they find it more rewarding to simply import the cheapest and crappiest shows from overseas rather than getting off their fat jacksies and making something decent and entertaining but someone is actually making this shite.

It began, innocently enough with Motorway Patrol, a show in which Auckland highway police compete to see who can be the biggest knob-jockey while attempting to identify New Zealand’s fattest Maori towing the most dangerous load in a trailer with a busted arse or the Kiwi teenager with the lowest suspension and matching IQ. Quite a funny show. Until we realised it was all real.

Then there was the show called City Beat about pretend police who spend the night in the city investigating vomit and catching the kids who belong to the Maoris with the dodgy trailers in the other show until the real police come along only to let them go again to cause more bourbon-fuelled mayhem. More funny stuff. Then it just started getting silly. How many similar shows do you Kiwis produce? Do you actually watch any of them? Do you just send them over to us as a payback for the ‘underarm’ cricket incident in 1982?

We can’t turn our TVs on today without seeing another rivetingly action-packed explosion of boring mediocrity. Police 10/7 (pronounced Pleez Tin-Sivin) is another cop show where police only have interesting things happen between tin a.m. and sivin et night. And by interesting, I mean NOT. An argument over a parking space is not interesting. The drunk punching a parking meter because it wouldn’t give him a beer was a little humorous.

The latest wave of carp is ‘Diddly Surf’ about lifesavers on a beach where ‘drama’ is a bloke hiding in the sand dunes with binoculars, and ‘Rinters’ which is a show about that fat Maori bloke from Motorway Patrol who doesn’t pay his rent but we never see him because by the time the real estate ‘rent cop’ finally gets round there, Big Bro’ has packed all his gear into a dodgy trailer with a busted arse and pussed off. Hopefully Constables Trivva and Ewen will neb hum on the brudge before he causes anymore hevuck. Ay.

Don’t quite know how this post got so sidetracked from a celebration of New Zealand beer to a requiem for Australian TV at the hands of the Kiwi telly makers! Day three of 21 alone with the little Pilsner girls, I guess.

Prof. Pilsner
P.S. Day 4 of 21 with the little Pilsners and all is well. Today we played with blocks and then a puzzle and then we had lunch and played some more and then had dinner and then I had some beer. Mmmmmmm, beer.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hey, You hear that?

No, of course you can’t. This is a beer blog, not some sort of cyberspace powered hearing-things-that-I-can-hear internetty thingy! But, if it was ... you would hear ... nothing. As in a full blooded, high powered Sgt. Shultz style NUH-THING!!

This morning we drove Mrs Pilsner and our eldest off to the airport for their Big Bangkok adventure – three weeks in Thailand and Singapore visiting the wife’s’ best friend, shopping, visiting the daughters home stay student, shopping, beach bumming and shopping. Which leaves me here at home. With the silence.

Oh, and the four year old and the two year old.

For three weeks.

So, I’m not too sure what I can promise you in the way of intelligent, thoughtful, incisive and entertaining posts over the journey to come. Could be concise well thought out research. Could be witty observations of current beer events. Could be entertaining pieces concerning trends and styles in beer. Could be a distressingly chaotic ramble of blithering dribble. Can’t say.

Needless to say. So I won’t. Shit. It’s started already.

Tomorrow I will endeavour to explore the subtle nuances which separate the respective educational merits of Dora the Explorer and Bear in the Big Blue House. Also, who is hotter; Charlie from the Australian Hi-5 or the Charlie chick from Canada Hi-5 or the chick from Play School who used to be on A Country Practice.


Prof. Pilsner