Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We'll be back after this short break

The Pilsner clan is off on Thursday for a week of R&R - that's rest and recreation (or readin' and rootin' if things go to plan!) and from what I can gather, my wireless connection is not strong enough to reach across Bass Strait. So much for technology.

Anyway, while I am away sampling the charms of The Apple Isle and the very fine craft beers, I have ordered my laptop to send you all some pre-recorded posts by way of a "Thanks for Listening".

So while I get quietly happy on Boag's, Cascade, Moo Brew and 2MT beers I will wish you all well and, for those in town, good punting on the Melbourne Cup next Tuesday.


Prof. Pilsner

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mo-Vem-Beer is back!

As promised, the Beer Blokes will again encourage blokes and blokettes everywhere to participate in the most eagerly anticipated and ridiculously over-hyped charity event never to be officially recognised by anybody officially anywhere. Mo-Vem-Beer.

For the unaware, this charity event is very loosely based on the Movember initiative which involves participants growing a moustache during the month of November and getting their work mates and family and friends to sponsor them. All money raised goes to men’s mental health research and a search for a prostate cancer cure. They probably shouldn’t use the words ‘prostate’ and ‘search’ in the same promo.

Mo-Vem-Beer is for those who can’t, won’t or really shouldn’t grow a mo but who want to support the cause. Beer Blokes encourage all those facial-follically challenged to raise money instead by purchasing and drinking beers which are in any vague way linked to the letters M and O. As those who participated last year will recall, this is really not very difficult at all. In fact the more random, far-fetched and loosely related the beers are to the MO theme, the better they taste!

After you have selected and purchased your MO beers you then make a donation of the value of the beers or whatever donation you can stump up, and see that it gets to a men’s health related charity of your choosing. See? Fun, easy, no pressure or commitment required and you get to drink beer. Maybe even some beers that you haven’t tried before. It also has the added benefit of keeping the workplace free of blokes who look dodgy enough without a mo, let alone turning full-on cheesy porn star/rock spider when they grow a bad one!

For those who are having trouble fitting their preferred tipple into the MO category I will post my personal selection of MO beers from last year to show you just how easy it is to squish any beer you can find into the MO mould. Trust me.

I expect this blog’s followers to send in their best and brightest ideas and who knows, maybe this thing might just take off! If every other group can have a special day or a dedicated month, then why can’t we beer drinkers? Our money’s good! If you have any suggestions for other charity months, let me know and I’ll add them to the list for the coming year. Personally, I’m looking forward to Sextember where everyone who gets lucky with a bit of the old Koosh Bakoondy donates a hundred (married men make it an even thousand), Alepril when you are permitted to drink beer at work as long as it is top fermented and, of course, my personal favourite, Fanuary. Can’t believe THAT one was banned in New Zealand last year!

Here’s cheers to a great and prosperous Mo-Vem-Beer!

Prf. Pilsner

Monday, October 27, 2008

Well, what is it then?

Sometimes I happen across something that just makes me smile, reach for a beer and ask myself, “what the flagon were they thinking?”

This little piece caught my eye and felt I just had to share it with you all.

For those who don’t know, Australia is a fairly dry country – and we’re not talkin’ no beer – I mean dry as in ‘arid’, ‘parched’, ‘overall lacking in significant amounts of H2O’. In fact, the driest continent on the planet. And for the past 17 years we have been in the official grip of drought. I don’t know exactly how an officially declared drought is calculated but the mere fact that we have unable to water gardens, wash cars or playfully turn the hose on the kids since I can’t remember when leads me to think that those in smart blokes in white lab coats know what they are doing.

And to be honest, whilst a drought is a devastating event and the cause of much economic and social damage, it is not enough to crush the famous Aussie spirit. A farmer is just as likely to turn to his visitor from the city and laconically muse that; ‘Oh, things should probably turn around soon’, as he walks out the farmhouse door to put down a hundred head of stock. It is just something that he has had to live with all his life. And his father and grandfather before that. You learn to take the good with the bad.

So what the hell are these arse-clowns at the Drought Policy Review Expert Social Panel wasting their time and our taxes doing? Well, apart from heading up the department that wins the award for The Stupidestly Named Government Or Government Funded Organisation, these oxygen thieves have sat down and put their collective brain cell to work to come up with the solution to he drought. Don’t call it a drought. Simple. Prolem solved, crisis averted, let’s go to lunch.

“Words like drought have negative connotations for farm families”, say these ostrich-headed bureaucrats as they single handedly broke the drought. “The word drought is making farmers feel bad and (we) want people to use the word ‘dryness’ instead”. I shit you not. Do these Bevans live in the real world or are they just on a brief stop over before returning to Noddyland? The word drought is not making farmers ‘sad’ – the absence of rain and the loss of their stock, crops and family business is ‘pissing them off severely’ you dumb flogs!!! And just because we don’t say it, that don’t stop it! I bet you also hide from the boss by covering your eyes with your hands?!?

So next time I raise a beer, I shall make an effort to appreciate the water that has gone into making it and I will raise a little prayer, along with my glass, to the farmers who are sticking it out, doing it tough and not pissing and moaning about it. And as to the pen pushing, micro-intelligent, bottom feeders at the Drought Policy Review Expert Social Panel And Department For Counting Farts, I say this;

‘Please go and very roughly deposit your own ‘not a bottoms’ up into your own ‘not a heads’.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m off to grab a drink. I am feeling a dry coming on and I am feeling in a state of decided ‘unbeeredlyness’.

Prof. Pilsner

Friday, October 24, 2008

I won’t find you, but Beer Karma will

I have written recently of my experiences with the mysterious and mystical entity known as Beer Karma. I have spoken of those who have respected her and found favour with her and have been thusly rewarded. I have also spoken of those who have tempted, teased or tormented her and have been thusly punished. This morning I bring to you a tale of both.

Whilst searching the shelves of my local beer purveyor for some Oktoberfest specials to fill up the beer crisper, I spotted an elderly lady wandering the aisles with a puzzled look. I sensed that Beer Karma was testing me and so I offered her my beer knowledge based assistance. By the way, I had already moved a poorly placed stock trolley left unattended out of the aisle and so I had a small Beer Karma Credit in hand. (Yes, there IS such a thing.)

“What are you after?” I ask politely.
“Ooh, I’m looking for some stout and they told me it was over there and I couldn’t find it and then they told me it was over here and I can’t find it,” she says. (The ‘Ooh’ was like a frustrated shrug, I don’t want you all to think it was an ‘Ooh’ Big Boy if only I was seventy years younger kind of ‘Ooh’. OK?)
“A particular stout?” I says.
“Yes, that Guinness in the tin” she replies.
“Well, those are back over the other side of the shop – what do you need it for?” (As in cooking or drinking – I wasn’t testing her faculties or her sobriety)
“For cooking” she says (See, glad I asked?)
“Well, for what it’s worth there’s a Cooper’s Best Extra Stout here and I’ve used it a bit in Beef & Stout pies and the like” I offer knowlegably. But not smugly.
“Oh, that’s not the price is it?” she says looking at the large print tag.
“No, that’s the price for a dozen, the ‘each’ price is here in micro fiche size print that Atom Ant would struggle to spot”. (She didn’t laugh. I guess she was too old to remember Atom Ant) (Or TV) (Or what I’d just said)
“Well’, she says, ‘that’s cheaper than the other stuff and it’s Australian, so that’s good”. (I didn’t tell her the Guinness was probably brewed under license in Laverton)
“Thank you so much, dear” and she was on her merry way.

Feeling well pleased, I moved on. It occurred to me that I should know the price of the Guinness in case it was on special or something and so, on my way out I made a quick detour. Passing by the slabs I spotted Oetinger Pils for $30 and popped one onto the trolley. I checked the Guinness and paid for my lot.

I loaded the beer into the back of the wagon and just gave a quick look around the car park in case my newly made beer friend was still around. I was going to give her the good news on the Guinness and invite her to the next Ale Stars. (Shandy, you’d love her)

Couldn’t see her so off I hop. And then I’m two minutes away and I thinks to meeself ... “Do you remember taking the slab from the bottom of the trolley before you put the trolley back in the trolley bay?” I ask myself. “No. No you don’t remember doing that” I reply. Bugger, I says. Loudly. I hang a U-bolt and head back. (Five points and a pick of the board for anyone who sees the end of this story coming) I take no more than two minutes to get back. No slab in the trolley bay. (Worked it out yet?) I go back into the shop. “I don’t suppose some honest soul just brought my slab back in here, did they?” (Last chance to guess) “No.”

So, dear friends, somewhere out there is a Beer Bastard. And I will never find you. But you are still a bastard. You knew that beer wasn’t yours. You probably stopped, looked around, reminded yourself that it wasn’t yours and then half-inched it. Yoooooou bastard. How very, very dare you!!!

I am a dickhead. Dickhead Dickhead Dickhead Dickhead Dickhead Dickhead Dickhead Dickhead. It was my fault and my fault alone that the slab was left behind. But you could have taken it back inside and asked that it be given to you if left unclaimed. Like a twenty dollar note you find on the street. But you didn’t. You made your choice. You had the chance to do the right thing. And you didn’t. And you made me angry. But only for a minute. Because I know something that you don’t know. I know Beer Karma.

Something will happen to you. You might go home and drink one of MY beers. And if you are the VB swilling, wife beating, swearing-in-front-of-the-children, nipple-pierced bogan Neanderthal that I think you are, you might spit out the first sip of MY fine German pilsner and proclaim something like; “Vat tastes loike shit!!” and I hope you choke on it or drop the bottle on your fat uneducated big toe.

Or, you might be all of the above but drink no-name boubon-and-essence-of-cola-flavoured-chemical out of 440ml cans, in which case you will find that there are no instructions on the label of MY beer to assist you in transferring the contents of MY beer bottles to your fag choofin’ toothless lips.

Or, if Beer Karma is in a particularly playful mood, you just might find that you absolutely, positively fall in beery love with the previously untried taste of MY beer and then something funny might happen. You may never want to drink a VB or a Knob Jockey Bourbon & Cola again. You might be swayed to the ‘Dark Side’ and decide that you will drink different and flavourful and imported and hand crafted lagers and ales and wheat beers and farmhouse beers and Marzens and Vienna lagers and APAs (get someone to spell that for you) and pale ales and pilsners. And that, me old dishonest mucker, will cost you more money than you will be capable of earning in seven lifetimes. And Centrelink won’t give you more in Idiot Benefits. I asked.

So, enjoy MY beers. Tell your mates how you came upon these fine beers. Which are MINE. Tell them all how some dickhead left them on a trolley in the car park of a beer shop. Tell them that you just thought that you would help yourself to them. MY beers. But remember this.

Beer Karma is a heartless and unforgiving bitch when crossed. Beware, the bitch bites.

And to the lady with whom I shared a good Beer Karma moment, I hope the casserole you make is the best that you’ve ever made and that the find folk at Cooper’s have gained a new fan of their beers. As for me, I have my Beer Karma credits and I’m just fine, thank you for asking.

Prof. Pilsner

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Taphouse and the Farmhouse

The eagerly awaited fourth instalment of Ale Stars at The Local Taphouse kicked off on what some would describe as a typical Melbourne spring evening. A nice warm afternoon followed by gusty cold winds with scattered periods of ‘pissing down’. Fortunately for us the Farmhouse ales and the company of fellow beer people provided the necessary foil to the weather.

The night was again ably hosted by Shandy whose passion for beer comes across in his introductions to each of the four sampled beers without ever treading on the pretentiousness pedal like wine tossers are often want to do and his descriptions of the beer styles are always informative, entertaining and sometimes requiring of subtitles. Just kidding. He goes all right. I would never speak ill of someone who comes from a country where the men wear dresses and the national sport is fighting in the street.

Our very special guest for the Farmhouse Ale session was Ben Kraus from Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth. This brewery has a name that can be used to test the level of drunkedness of its patrons. Say it four times quickly and you can have another beer. And that is an art worth mastering as this guy crafts some of the best beer that the Professor has ever downed. And sipped and savoured and skolled as well. More about Ben and his beers later.

As we were to learn, Farmhouse ales are something of a regional specialty from the France-Belgium border areas of French Flanders and Wallonia. For more interesting geography tidbits use your computers web browser or visit your local library. As for the beers, Farmhouse as a style encompasses Saisons and Biere De Garde. For those playing at home that’s roughly translated as ‘season’ and ‘beer for keeping’. See, there is always something new to learn. As the keeping bit suggests, these beers are ales that are brewed in late Autumn and Winter and then stored for the coming summer. A bit of bottle conditioning and patience and you have a very nice style of beer indeed.

Designed originally to provide sustenance for farm hands and miners the style is characterised by a relatively easy drinking and thirst quenching nature. A generic ‘farmhouse’ character is present in each example of the style but differences can be found in the colour, alcohol level and body and finish of each. Intended as something of a ‘soul-enricher’ for the workers, the beers tend to be spritzy and reasonably citrusy while ensuring that the staff could have a few and still complete the tasks at hand. Shandy’s research suggested that up to five litres a day was a fair ration which also suggests that the historical time frame for the style pre dates both O.H & S legislation and the invention of heavy industrial machinery. One suspects that more than one plough horse was piloted into the dam after lunch. Ben brews his fairly true to style, in that it makes a fine lunch time beer for the workers at his brewery. He doesn’t allow his workers to use horses. I don’t think he has a dam, either.

One of the highlights of these events is the opportunity to discuss every aspect of the beers, the styles, the history and the origins with like minded souls in an environment where the Q&A is casual and chat is never too technical. Although when Steve the Irishman and Shandy the Scot get a bit of passionate beer banter going between them across the room it’s a case of ‘duelling subtitles’ for the rest of us. The thing is, beer people really are the best company – even if you’ve no idea what they’re saying.

It is a rare treat to have someone like Ben to bounce questions off and get a real feel for what it is to dream up, design and then deliver a finely crafted beer and then to sit back and watch your end user enjoying it. Ben managed to fill in some gaps concerning the Farmhouse styles and how he came to add one to Bridge Road’s already impressive portfolio. His Chevalier Saison was the third of the beers we had and all I can do here is seriously suggest that you seek out a bottle or two for yourselves and give it a go. This is one of those rare breeds that actually changed character and personality with each sip and as it warmed. It was agreed by all that it stood up more than admirably against the imported Trois Monts, Silly Saison and Saison Dupont.

There is so much more to report to really do justice to the whole Ale stars concept and I just don’t have room here. From the beers that we share to the people that we meet and the shit that we talk – especially later on as we keep the bar from falling over – it is a great opportunity to enjoy an experience that is so special most people are not even aware that they are missing it. That make sense? Shit, I think I’m turning into Shandy. Just kidding.

Prof. Pilsner

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How would YOU punish a Beer Bastard?

Interesting news from the spiritual home of Australian sport. It seems that in recent times the MCG has been the scene of a crime sneakier than a Shane Warne flipper.

Heralded as ‘footy’s big beer rip-off’ in the Melbourne daily paper, the report deals with the beer vendor at the great stadium pulling some sort of beer scam on the unknowing punters. Now, as this concerns beer, I consider this a serious issue and my attention was immediately aroused. Apparently thousands of sports fans got less than what they paid for.

I read on expecting the worst –that maybe the caterer was substituting Carlton Mid Strength for something of even less character (a neat trick that would be) – or perhaps they were putting cat’s piss in the light alcohol beer. Not likely as (A) Someone would have to have bought one and (B) Someone would had to have noticed the difference.

Maybe the fiends were watering down the brew? Hmmm, unlikely as the Granny Governments punishment for wasting the old H2O would have been deterrent enough for even the nastiest scammer.

No, I discovered as I read further, this was all about short-pouring. Regular visitors to any of Australia’s major sporting arenas will be familiar with the current practice of ‘overflowing’ whereby the spotty 16 year old on work experience passes the beers to you with such lack of grace that rather than presenting nicely with a fine head of foam, the top fifth sloshes out and presents nicely down the front of your shirt. But this is not what thy have been busted for. No, no. Much worse.

During rounds 13, 14 and 15 of this year’s AFL season, beer was sold in plastic cups marked as holding 425mls but which actually held only ... 419mls!!!!! That’s a ‘whopping’ 6 millilitres of amber nectar that was missing from your undersized plastic cup. I am rubbish at percentages but if 425 is 100% then 419 must be ... must be ... (a hundred divided into 419, no, no, 425, then times a hundred ... no, no wait a sec, I can do this, 425 minus the 419 then times that by 100, no, no .. hang on) equals ... it’s not a very big percentage AT ALL!!!!

It is stated that these evil short measure pots were used for eight matches before alert staff noticed the difference. That would be the same staff that don’t know the difference between Bourbon & Cola and Bundy & Coke? The same staff who can’t seem to get all the beer you have paid for across the bar to you in one receptacle?

Consumer Affairs Victoria investigators investigated and found that the cups were marked as 425ml but only held 419ml. Our taxes at work. Now how about investigating the reason that we pay about the same amount for one beer at the footy as my American friends pay for a six pack of craft beer. Retail!!! Do something useful, people.

And now to the crunch. How do you punish a company for such a transgression? The potential ‘financial loss’ to those whose beers were short was determined to be $17,989. The catering firm was ordered to donate $18,000 to charity. As you can see, this time the amount was rounded up, rather than down.

And how did this all come to be, in the first place? Well, it would appear that the problem cups were manufactured in Taiwan and the company responsible would ‘no longer be used’ according to a company spokesman.

And the funniest thing for me was this. The cups were made of a special new environmentally friendly plastic! We are going to save the planet by making beer drinkers drink a tiny bit less beer - 6 mls at a time. Global warming strikes again!!

Prof. Pilsner

By the way, for those playing at home, the difference in percentage terms between 425 and 419 is actually 1.5. I didn’t work that out myself, I just read the rest of the story now and it was down near the end of the article.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Now that makes more sense

I spotted a new campaign promoting responsible drinking among young people this week. It appeared in my local neighbourhood newspaper and it is new in more ways than one.

Rather than the usual approaches which either shame or blame the irresponsible, this one seeks to put a little common sense into the equation. I was attracted to it by virtue of the fact that it featured one of my Rugby League team’s stars, Billy Slater along with international basketballer Chris Anstey and netballer Sharelle McMahon. This is not a new thing, to use familiar sporting faces to catch a young uns’ attention, but the message in the ad was.

“We’re not saying don’t drink, just think” was the catch cry and it made me take notice. Not just because it was a sensible motto but for the fact that it had not been used before now. Instead of a campaign based around shock, fear or shame, here was a message telling those most at risk that having a drink is not a bad thing in itself but that doing it without using a bit of sense is a bit like jumping into a tank full of sharks using your ‘tackle’ as a lure. Maybe there’s an idea for the next phase of the campaign? Hmmm.

Anyway, it just struck me as sensible to accept that it makes little sense to assume that you can either stop kids going out to drink and that the shock tactic ads on TV don’t work because they don’t take into account the fact that teenagers generally consider themselves bullet proof. By saying to them; “look, we know you like a drink with your mates, no dramas, just use a bit of what God give ya and don’t be a dickhead”.

It’s so simple and sensible, it just might work!

Prof. Pilsner

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tassie Touring

While sipping on some very fine German celebration beers at The Local Taphouse during the last Ale Stars meeting, I received a text message from Mrs Pilsner. She had found a flight offer on the internet and wanted to know did I want to go to Tasmania for a week in November? Hmmm, Tasmanian beer, some very fine craft brew operations (presumably with cellar door sales and beer people to chat with) some very fine food and produce, beer, markets, things for the kids to do and beers?!?

I put about the same amount of thinking time into the question as it took me to put my beer down and replied in the affirmative.

I had been planning a trip to The Apple Isle for a while and this nice surprise came as, well, as a ... a nice surprise. I have only ever had the opportunity to visit once before and then for only a couple of days so this time around I can plan ahead a bit and squeeze a few things into the itinerary. And I can squeeze a few very nice ales into my mouth as well! Tasmania may be small in size and in population, but when it comes to fine beers, as a state they are right up there.

I have already contacted Ashley and Jane Huntington at Two Metre Tall and have talked my way into a quick visit, a chat and an ale despite the fact that they are still building their brewery and don’t even have much beer around! Their deliciously named ‘Cleansing Ale’ was an absolute cracker and I have been keen to get a chance at working my way through their range of beers named after Tasmanian rivers! The website is currently also under construction but I will post a link to it when it emerges from the ether.

Moo Brew is another on the list and has been described by Willie Simpson as ‘probably the best appointed microbrewery in Australia’ which is good enough for me. Moo Brew is an extension of the Moorilla Estate winery and has a set of four standard beers in the range plus some seasonal and ‘one offs’. A terrific website allows you to see just what kind of care and attention goes into the brews. Have scammed an invitation to bend the ears of the blokes running the show down there as well. Report to follow!

At this point I need to make a point of just how friendly, approachable and ‘real’ these beer people are. I have often fired off a quick e-mail to check on a fact or propose a visit or just to thank a brewer for a nice drop and on every occasion I have received a reply that was not only genuine and appreciative but quick as well. Considering how labour intensive a small brewing operation can be, this is no small feat. Thanks to you all, guys.

So for the week of the Melbourne Cup holiday the Pilsner family will be heading south across Bass Strait for a relaxing, soul re-tuning, battery recharging and beer filled time. Could be a good chance to add some beers to my list of ‘Mo-Vembeer’ specials. I am guessing that the Moo Brews have already booked a place. I will report on my findings as soon as I can be bothered! And for those who don’t know, here is a ‘map of Tassie’.

Prof. Pilsner

Friday, October 10, 2008

How much is that in beer?

My fellow beer bloggers in North America are possibly more aware of this following situation than I am and I would appreciate any assistance with further information on this one. We have a problem. And the problem is Starbuck’s.

No real surprise there, but there’s more.

Australia is a fairly dry country, and I don’t mean that we don’t drink, I mean that we don’t tend to get a nice generous and widespread rainfall consistently. We are not referred to as the ‘wide brown land’ because of our suntans. And at the moment the continent is suffering one of its worst and longest droughts.

In homes and businesses and farms across the country people are being asked, encouraged or forced to save water wherever they can. Water authorities are giving householders free timers to encourage three minute showers, gardens can not be watered except at certain times on certain days and cars can only be washed at commercial carwash places with recycling facilities. We are all making sacrifices, because we can’t drink dirt. We are all doing our bit.

Well, except for Starbucks.

You see Starbucks has not yet found its way into the 21st century and does not realise that there is a simple and effective way to clean teaspoons. It’s called soap and warm water and it is simply all the rage out these parts. Starbucks has a better method which involves leaving teaspoons and thermometers in a thing called a ‘dipper well’ which utilises constantly running fresh drinking water to achieve a bacteria free environment. Now I should point out at this point that I have made it a personal choice (crusade) to never ever have a coffee from a Starbucks but I have made a few coffees in restaurants in my time so I feel qualified to comment.

I have no problem with people buying coffee from Starbucks or from any of the many other corporate coffee houses – I just prefer a better cuppa from a place that cares more about quality than quantity. In Melbourne especially we are spoiled for very good coffee places serving great stuff at a much more reasonable price than that slugged with a straight face by the ‘plastic coffee’ people.

And to put it all into a real perspective, here are some interesting figures. The estimated volume of wasted water in just ONE Starbucks is 3 to 5 litres per minute. That works out to around 35,000 litres a day, or one million litres per year. Per store. There are currently 23 Starbucks in Australia. Fortunately for our environment, 16 closed down earlier this year. Probably had no water left to make coffee with. But that adds up to 23,000,000 litres of water each year that goes down the gurgler.

And now to my real point. 23 million litres of water equals a shit load of beer. It takes Fosters around 2.3 litres of water to make one litre of beer. That includes washing the lines and the kettles and the bottles as well as the water in the beer itself. Some brewers use up to 4 litres of water to make a litre of beer and most breweries are using new recycling practices to reduce consumption. But let’s use three as a median measure for the purposes of the exercise. 3 litres to make one litre of beer.

That’s 23,232,232 330m bottles of beer that Starbucks are allowing to flow, not into the mouths of thirsty beer lovers but down the pipe and out to sea. For shame, for shame.

Prof. Pilsner

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Beer for drowning disappointment

As you probably remember I spent the weekend in Sydney for the NRL Grand Final to see my Melbourne Storm take on the Manly Sea Eagles for the 2008 premiership.

It’s fair to say that, while we went in as underdogs with most of the critics (particularly the Sydney media) and the bookies, it was still hoped that this GF would be the closest and toughest for some time.

It’s fair to say that despite the loss to suspension of our captain and key playmaker, Cam Smith, and injury to representative back rower, Ryan Hoffman, the Storm were still confident of bettering the team that they had smashed 34 – 8 in last year’s decider and had beaten twice in the regular season since then.

It is fair to say that the Rugby League folk in New South Wales have had fun putting the Storm down all week as a result of the club’s criticism of the League’s weak and backward thinking administration and that their were plenty of people north of the Murray hoping to see the Storm fall.

It’s fair to say that Sunday’s effort what not our best work.

In fact saying that it was not our best work is an understatement akin to saying that beer is an ‘OK drink’ or that Paris Hilton is a talentless slapper or that a dozen beautiful girls wanting to show me their boobies ‘would be kinda nice, I guess’. We did not play well.

40 – 0. That’s forty points to blot. Duck egg. Donut. Failed to fire a shot. Eight tries to ‘Didn’t Even Get Close’. Saved our worst for last. All credit to Manly for plotting and executing a plan that ran us off our feet, sapped our energy and kept us scoreless all at the same time. We stayed with them for the first half and even at 18 – 0 after an hour were a chance but their last twenty minutes was all party tricks and flick passes and blew the scoreline and the Storm off the park.

So, if last year’s beers tasted all the sweeter for being shared with the victors, what does a losing beer taste like? Well, the first thing that I have to point out is that we had a lot of beer. Sadly it was thrown at us and not sipped quietly as planned so we had to leave the stadium after the final siren. If we thought that Manly supporters were poor losers after last year’s efforts, we were unpleasantly surprised to find that they were even worse as winners. I can promise you all that last year as winners, the crowd as one applauded our team and clapped as the vanquished were presented with their runners-up medals and commiserated with the very few Manly folk who bothered to stay past the ten minute mark of the second half. This year they all stayed and showed a feral grasp of the concept of supporting your team and being gracious in triumph.

But enough of the negatives.

What this blog has tried to convey over the years is that beer is not just a drink for which to get drunk with. I love my beer, but what I really like is that it can be a different brew in different circumstances. For many at events like the Grand Final it is all about volume and bravado. For others it is the social lubricant that makes cheering on your team a more communal and shared experience. Last year I was drinking Heineken that was not as cold as it could have been but the buzz in the winners rooms after the game made it all the more sweeter. A sense of oneness and that we were all their holding up the trophy and a real part of its winning as the players body surfed the crowd and members young and old high-fived and back slapped.

This year we felt it wise to leave the ground and the precinct fairly quickly and the train ride home was slower, longer and quieter. Dinner was pizzas on the bed at the hotel and the beer just didn’t taste the same. I thought to myself that it might be interesting to see if the same bad beer which tasted so sweet this time a year ago could taste the same this year. Or would it be better by some twist of the cosmic beer world? After all, it was still shared with friends gathered for a common cause? It didn’t. It was much worse. And I am a good loser!

After the flight back to Melbourne I had time to reflect on the year my team had and realised that, while losing the big one, we had still finished ahead of 14 other teams. We had claimed our third straight minor premiership and the cheque for $100,000 that comes with it. We had provided ten players for representative games during the year as well as a dozen or so for international teams and had travelled to a rainy and gloomy England in February to compete for the World Club Challenge. Not bad for a team many tipped to sink after losing a few big names in 2005.

So when I got back home and armed with these thoughts, I capped a Weihenstephaner Pilsner and took a long deep sniff ... could this beer make everything seem normal again? Yep! After a few sips the world was as it was. I was still upright and breathing and my team was still going to turn up next season to do it all again. Plus one. A soft drink or a spirit just wouldn’t do that. Isn’t beer a wonderful drink?

Prof. Pilsner

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Shout’s Out

Yet another measure to combat binge drinking and associated late night violence which has been launched in Melbourne today has been roundly criticised by industry spokesmen.

This time a trial will take place which will see licensed venues unable to serve multiple, large or unmixed drinks after 1 am. These include shots and shooters, jugs of beer and any more than a single drink. No shouts. And already the cries of anguish and calls of “That’s bloody un-Australian!!” can be heard by the defenders of this Aussie institution. But it is not about The Shout.

Now this is not the most terrible thing to happen to drinkers but I have to question wether this will attack the root cause of the problem of irresponsible drinking. The problem as I see it is this; 1) Bloke goes out with group of friends to large nightclub or bar to celebrate or socialise. 2) Bloke has a few drinks a bit too quick. 3) Bloke begins to turn into dickhead. 4) Bloke keeps drinking. 5) Bloke becomes physically incapable of making his way to the bar but mates keep buying him drinks. 6) Bloke becomes more of a dickhead. 7) Night ends in tears.

Of course there are many variations on this scenario but the guts of the problem stems from situations similar to this. When I first stared drinking with mates I remember being well aware of staff – be it management, glassies, security or waiters – continually wandering through the venue. I don’t know that this happens to the same extent today. In the last few years of managing restaurants and bars I have seen a decline in the numbers of staff considered necessary to run a busy night and a trend towards keeping staff behind the bar rather than out and about.

My point is that if you are a well trained and well supported staff member and you are encouraged to move through the venue as the night grows long, you are more likely to see the bloke in the example above at about stage 3 – as he begins to show signs of becoming a dickhead. A quick word to the bar staff or the manager and before you know it, the bloke and his mates become aware that their time is limited if they don’t change tack. No warnings or aggro or risk of causing offence, just a subtle nod and a wink and we move on. The bloke and his mates behave and have a good night, the venue makes money and no one gets hurt.

Allow the bloke to develop full bore dickheadedness and let his mates buy him more drinks than he can handle and you still make money – but in the end, we all suffer for the folly of a few. Let him think that he can get shirt-faced and suffer no consequence and we are all in the poo. Venue managers need to be made more accountable for the drinks that they serve to dickheads. It won’t cost them money and it isn’t hard to do.

So do we solve the problem by refusing to serve multiple drinks after 1 am? Do we stop this bloke from becoming a dickhead by refusing him a shooter after 1 am? Do his mates find it impossible to buy him another drink because they can only get one at a time? Probably ‘not’ to all of the above. And really, by 1 am the beer-horse has bolted. By 1 am the problem is too far gone to be handled delicately and without fuss. The fact that this new plan will be trialled in just three venues for just one night suggests that those who have dreamt it up have no idea what goes on in pubs and bars and clubs, or they have no idea how to fix the problem.

It is too hard for pissed idiots to outfox sober, professional and well trained staff who work these venues every day. They can fix the problem. Perhaps they don’t want to fix the problem themselves for the same reason that the pissed idiots are able to get to be pissed idiots – no consequences. Maybe instead of creating time line based punitive measures to combat a problem that could have been nipped in the bud early on, is to punish the operators who allow the situation to exist.

Bang em’ with fines, threaten them with a weekend closure or removal of their livelihood – their license – if they can’t conform to simple and proven measures. And while they are at it, maybe they could get their staff to enjoy their jobs and create an atmosphere of friendliness and fun so that they become HOSPITALITY workers and not pseudo beer police. Pay them well, make their jobs rewarding and try to catch them doing something right, rather than just harping on the mistakes. They may just want to repay you with a strong work ethic, a keen eye for trouble and a vigilance that might just save us all a lot of strife.

Prof. Pilsner

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Life Education has launched a fundraising event for the month of October where people at home and in the workplace forego alcohol for the month. Go ‘sober’ in October. Get it? As well as raising cash for Life Education, the participants will feel better and have the support of their employer -according to the website.

Now you all know my feelings about beer. I like a beer. I don’t go overboard and get shirt-faced and I don’t pull up sore the next day and try to operate heavy machinery. I don’t go to venues designed to hold 7,000 people, drink myself silly on alcopops and then go outside and bash tourists.

You may also know that I am more than a bit cynical about the global push to name every single day of the calendar year and use them all to raise awareness, cash or my hackles at every opportunity. I have no problem with legitimate local, regional or national public holidays, religious festivals like Hanukah, Greek Easter, Good Friday and, of course, Oktoberfest. But I think that things are getting a little silly when I see that the last Wednesday in April is Secretaries Day. And I feel even more frustrated when I see that Captain Correctness has stuck his do-gooding wand in to the business and changed its name to Administrative Professionals Day. Seriously.

Other ‘observances’ like International Be Nice To People With Red Hair Day or World Turn Off A Light Globe And Save The Whales Day or Global Day To Recognise The Rights Of People Who Want To Impose Stupid Views On The Rest Of Us By Naming Stupid Days Day are just stupid.

So do I oppose ‘OcSober’? No. Not per se. I admire greatly the work done by Life Education which, for the uneducated, is Australia’s largest non government provider of drug and health education and does more to provide real life information for school age kids than any other medium by speaking to around 700,000 children each year. Top job.

So do I oppose the whole concept of giving up alcohol for a whole month? No. not per se. I guess that I think it’s just a bit sad that we have come to a point where someone deems it necessary to encourage good honest beer respecting folk to forsake a legal and enjoyable part of their normal lifestyle to raise money to ensure that today’s kids wont grow up to be beer disrespecting dickheads like the ones we have today and who won’t benefit from programs like Life Education and who would never participate in a program like OcSober. But need to do it more than others.

I see nothing wrong with people raising money to support programs like Life Education. I would happily dig into my own kick to help out. I don’t really want to make such a drastic statement – on principle – as giving up a normal, regulated and sensibly executed segment of my life. And not because I couldn’t, wouldn’t or shouldn’t but because I have this little Jimminy Cricket with a beer in his hand on my shoulder telling me that it is just letting the bastards win. And not that the good guys are the bastards, it‘s the dickheads who are the bastards. And they are winning.

You see, we do very little as a government and a as a community to discourage dickheads from being dickheads. Not because we don’t care but because we have had our hands tied behind our backs by the bloody do-gooders and civil libertarians who tell us that everybody has the right to be a dickhead and that welfare handouts and social engineering will either fix the problem or mask it and it’s a bad thing to punish people who are being dickheads. No, it’s not. Punish them! They are clearly not learning anything the ‘nice’ way.

But why can’t we have a month where people who already drink beer responsibly buy, say, one special beer and then donate the cost of that beer to a worthy charity? And every special beer that they buy in that month meant a bigger donation? Because the do-gooders would stamp their little feet and get all bent out of shape and say that it just encourages people to drink beer. And I say; “WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT YOU DUMB FLOG!?!”

So, I support the sorts of programs that teach kids to behave responsibly when it comes to grog and drugs and all sorts of other social problems, but I don’t like that we have to make such punitive attempts at education and make people feel guilty for indulging in something that, in many cases, is a product that a good bloke has taken care and love to craft so that you might just enjoy this life a little more. And for those who have joined this blog in the last year but may not be aware of our quest to make the world a better place one beer at a time, good news.

As we did last year, again this year we will conduct our own fundraising effort. It is totally self-driven and no one is forced to participate. You just make a donation to your own chosen cause. But there is a catch. You have to drink some beer.

I’m sure you have all heard of Movember where blokes everywhere grow a moustache during November and get their mates to sponsor them and the cash goes to research into the kinds of disease that cause doctors to have to put their fingers up blokes bums. Worthy. Very worthy. Well, the Beer Blokes made a bit of an impact last year when we launched the first ever ‘Mo-Vem-Beer’ where blokes who can’t or won’t grow a mo just do their best to drink beer that has ‘MO’ somewhere in or around their name, brand or style during the month of November.

In the next week I will post the results of last year’s Mo-Vembeer and list all the beers that I managed to squeeze into the criteria. I hope you will all join us again this year as we seek to raise awareness of men’s health issues, seek to raise money to find cures for those issues and seek to make the letters M and O fit into nearly every single beer we drink. You can do it. I did it last year. It’s fun.

Prof. Pilsner