Saturday, January 31, 2009

Show & Tell - The Monument


This is a post outlining the story and pictures that I presented as a Show & Tell segment at the last Ale Stars meeting at The Local Taphouse.

Reliving those care free days of my youth as I wrote the bit about making little motorbikes from stubby tops reminded me of what can arguably be considered the greatest ‘achievement’ of our youth.

My first venture from the nest came as I turned twenty and moved into a pokey flat with two mates. Central to the homes of most of our mates it became a bit of a meeting place for celebrations and before going out to the pub or to see a band play. Our lifestyle fairly mirrored ‘The Young Ones’ which had just arrived on our TVs particularly our none-too-frequent trips to the laundrette. And because we didn’t have a washing machine we had a large space in the laundry. And, as nature dictates, the space had to be filled.

One day, one of us laid out a few empty VB cans on the floor between the wall and the sink. And the collection began. Before long we had a veritable pyramid of cans growing ever taller and begging to be ‘utilised’. And then it came to me. We had begun the collection around the Australia Day long weekend so I thought it would be fitting that we keep collecting for an entire calendar year and then use the cans to some artistic means. And this is how ‘the Monument’ was born.

From that moment onwards we drank VB from cans. And nothing else. Looking back now I truly understand the concept of ‘suffering for your art’ though at the time I didn’t know there was a beer that was any better than VB. I can’t believe I just said that. Hope no one was listening just then.

By the following Australia Day weekend we had about 3,000 cans, four dozen rolls of heavy duty sticky tape which Rob had ‘liberated’ from the stationery cupboard of the State Bank of Victoria, a dozen mates, plenty of liquid inspiration – and a dream. Oh, and a small bit of open space in Rob’s folks backyard.

I drew up the plans for a two metre tall statue of Ned Kelly – Australia’s infamous folk hero/villain/ bushranger. Well, when I say I drew up plans I really mean that I got all the blokes who were not yet pissed and told them what the general idea was and then gave rolls of tape and boxes of cans to the others to assemble. Others were charged with assembling the torso while I put the finishing touches to Ned’s cardboard armour and any non-drinkers were in charge of cooking the barby and driving to the pub to replenish stocks.

By the end of the long weekend we stood before a towering monument to Australia’s bushranging heritage, creative recycling and irresponsible youth drinking. But at least we were off the streets. A magnificent 2.5m tall Ned Kelly proudly standing watch over the tomato patch. So proud were we of what we had achieved we called every media outlet in the state to see if any respectable outfit would be daft enough to publish the results of our work. And two of them said that they would. Well, one media outlet and the other not so ‘respectable’.

Our local community newspaper said they were not in the least bit interested as they didn’t really want to promote irresponsible youth drinking. Did they think that this was all done in a single weekend? Yeah, like we went up to the bottle shop, asked for “3,000 cans of Vic, thanks mate”, went home, drank the lot and then assembled Ned? And were still able to find the phone and call the paper?

The Sun newspaper (now the Melbourne Herald-Sun) sent out a reporter and a camera - and a promise. Because it had been a quiet long weekend and nothing particularly newsworthy had occurred, we were told that our little contribution to the arts would probably make the front page! Imagine that, we all thought - the front page! But fate was to intervene and, overnight, the Space Shuttle tragically disintegrated on take off, moving our efforts to page 4. We dedicated the next day to the astronauts lost and drank to them beneath the statue of Ned.


The other publication which showed great interest in our drinking/building/arty effort was People magazine – not the one like in the U.S. which is about celebrities and show biz gossip and top 100 hot bod comps – this is the 1980’s Aussie version with titty women, bad jokes, titty women, reviews of pubs, ads for x-ray glasses and titty women. We fit right in! Plus, they took and published a great photo, in colour!!


So there we were, immortalised in print, nestled between stories about Uri “The Spoon Bender” Geller and a crazy Brazilian who got his todger stuck in a swimming pool filter. Sharing the same page as a shirtless fat bloke who looks as though he ate ALL the pies and Sue’s Terrific Ta-Tas, for all our mates to be envious of. For those who have a local newsagent whose sales are a little slow, see if he still has a copy of the March 10, 1986 People magazine. You’ll notice from the date that this issue came out some two months after the event – must have been some great pics that kept us out for that long.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner

Friday, January 30, 2009

It's a bit hot


It’s been a bit hot in Melbourne this week. Which is like saying that Maria Sharapova grunts a bit, or that Oprah is a bit fat, or that gay bloke who does the Hollywood reports on that morning TV show is a bit of a tool.

Not only has the mercury been pushing over 40 degrees but it has done it for four days in a row with the forecast for one or two more days of the same to come. So that’s about 104 in the F scale, or “Shit that’s hot!” in the Bloke Scale. The temperature topped out yesterday at just on 44 (110) degrees and the overnight ‘lows’ have been a rather chilly (by comparison) 30 (86).

Now, some might be tempted to put this down to Global Warming (Wooooo-ooo WE”RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!) and some may even attribute it to lack of faith in the almighty and his wrath made manifest but personally I look at the big picture. I see news reports of snowbound roads and airports in the States and blizzards and storms in Europe and say, well, that’s the pay-off. The ‘Ying’ to our ‘Yang’. And I see reports of rain and snow and gloomy shitty weather in the UK – sorry, my mistake, that was a British Tourism advert – but you get the idea? It is a message, but not of gloom and doom.

Maybe it is just nature’s way of ensuring that the Beer World stays balanced on its axis - that ales are ales and lagers are lagers and there is plenty of appropriate weather for every style? Maybe I have just found a lost appreciation for icy cold, easy drinking, no-thinking lagers. Maybe I’m regressing into a beer yob rather than a beer snob? Maybe the heat, the lack of sleep and the fact that people still crash their cars or have trees fall on their houses which makes me go out to assist and I have to wear overalls and a helmet has made me a bit ... melty?

Whatever the reason, relax, enjoy the seasons – whatever they present to you – and have a beer.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Malted barley and Mung Beans


There is a movement afoot in both Beer Blokes’ houses. There is a new religion and it is called food tolerances. Or allergenically affected child reactives. Or additive and amine based behaviour modificators. Whatever it is it has something to do with the way certain foods and food additives and naturally occurring ... thingys ... can affect your overall well being in general and the behaviour of kids specifically.

This is not about ALLERGIES like Coeliacs disease, nut allergy or the inability to see that Oprah is a big fat fake, this is about different elements that are found naturally in many healthy foods but which can, in some cases cause reactions. It’s all very scientific and poindexter-y but that is not to say that I think it’s all voo-doo bullshit mumbo-jumbo like astrology, numerology or global warming. I can see the validity of it all.

So Mrs Pilsner and Lager are on a quest to identify and ‘out’ the various substances that cause reactions in the various family members. The plan is a week or so of only ‘safe foods’ and then you gradually introduce different ‘danger foods’ one at a time to see what raises a flag. The idea is that you can then work out which danger foods can be re-introduced to the diet and which need to be avoided completely. Remember that while there are obvious ‘danger foods’ like processed, heavily sugared/salted and flavoured and coloured foods, there are many more natural unprocessed foods which still contain reactive elements. So this whole caper is not as easy to deliver as you’d think.

I know you are wondering – are the Professor and the Dr taking part in this experiment? Of course we are! As the shopper/provedore/chef and menu planner for the house, I am involved in the process from go to whoa. And Dr Lager is giving this sacrificial diet thing his full support. Because he wants Mrs Lager to allow him to play veterans cricket this year. And when I say that I am fully behind it from go to whoa, I mean I buy the food, I cook the food, and I serve the food – don’t eat the food. The first question I asked is the same one that you are all now thinking. Yes, beer is on the shitlist, not the shortlist.

Beer has both amines and salycilates which occur naturally in the hops and the malt and I think the yeast – so it’s not even like you can switch to ales or lagers or wheats or whatever – they’re all evol! There is a theory that some of the bad food elements affect us because the body is not conditioned to handling the quantities that we now consume. But I figure that I have been drinking beer long enough for it to have had the opposite effect – I have educated my system to accept beer as an essential element to good health. If you want to see an immediate adverse reaction in a test subject, just take away my beer. I dare you.

Having said that, I have made other adjustments to my diet in order to keep the peace – plus it has been up to me to eat all the leftover food in the joint that is now deemed evil. Over at the Lager house things are going very well with both Mrs Lager and Master Lager noting positive improvements in their overall wellbeing and the Dr is reported to have given in to some new and interesting foods. Cop this; I have it from the source that she can feed him and the boy ANY FOOD SHE WANTS THEM TO EAT as long as it is rolled in a lettuce leaf! The other night he actually ate mung beans!! He still doesn't know that he did!

I’ll let you know how things progress in coming posts.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner






Oh, Dr Lager, here are a few things that I like to have as long as they're wrapped in lettuce leaves. Mmmmmm, chestnuts!!






Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Super Bowl 43

' Aussie Ben Graham' reminds Sav Rocca that he used

to play for Collingwood




I saw this somewhere on the web during the week and then this morning beergirl posted a bit on it as well. It’s sports related, so that’s good. It’s beer related, so that’s a great thing. It’s beer-marketing men related, so ... two outta three ain’t bad.

With “Aussie Ben” Graham* punting for the Arizona Cardinals this years’ Super Bowl may hold a little more interest this side of the Atlantic. For those who have only a passing interest in this massive US sporting event, it’s the advertising, and particularly the half-time ads, that are as earnestly discussed as the team line-ups and tactics. In the past, advertisers have thrown increasing millions at the prime spot advertisements and the figures are simply mind boggling. Combined with the effort and expense put into the half-time entertainment and it’s no bloody wonder the economy is as shaky as a paedophile at a Wiggles concert.

But this year might be different. Miller, the brewers of High Life and Genuine Draught, have hit upon a campaign that may not just get people talking and save the company a heap of coin – it might just sell them some beer! Rather than being ‘quirky’ or ‘cute’ or technically brilliant, it relies instead of appealing to common sense in the $$$ spent on Super Bowl advertising.


See what you think and let me know. Go on, click on this bit here.

Super Bowl 43 between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers will be staged in Tampa Bay, Florida (oranges, drug lords and old people) on Sunday February 1st. It will be watched by around 1 billion people in 232 countries and territories and will be translated into 34 languages. It will be on the telly in Australia. Check your local guides for details.

There are no plans for Janet Jackson to show her McGits again. As far as I know.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner

*I think it is actually embedded in Australian Federal law that if a sportsman or woman becomes successful overseas then they must be forever more referred to as “Aussie ...” – think “Aussie Joe” Bugner, “Aussie Jelena” Dokic, “Aussie Ben” Graham, “Aussie Anthony The Man” Mundine.

Burns Night


As my Australia Day post showed, this blog is a celebration of all things beery and celebratory and .. well, beery. Continuing this theme, and as something of a shout to my Celtic mates (in particular Shandy and Ronan) I present this treatise on the not-nearly-well-known-enough-in-this-country tradition that is Burn’s Night.

I looked this up and, you know what, it has nothing to do with people who get too pissed on bonfire night at all! Don’t get me wrong, it’s still about people getting pissed, but just nothing to do with fireworks. Burn’s Night commemorates the life and literary contribution of the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns and is held on the anniversary of his birth, January 25.

The night is conducted according to a set order of proceedings but this is not to say that the night is a stuffy, formal affair. Welcomes and poems and special foods and toasts and such are the order of the night and it seems that if some mention is made of Mr Burns himself then it qualifies as a Burn’s Supper!

Or, as comedian Danny Bhoy describes it;

It’s a traditional night when us Scots get together, drink lots, eat crap and recite bollocks to each other….or as it’s known throughout the rest of the year, a Friday!

The basic premise appears to be to avoid the night just becoming an excuse to drink a lot by celebrating The Bard’s life. This is done by drinking a lot. Some haggis is also eaten as well as ‘plenty of neeps’(?) and some poems are read. In fact, the basic format of a Burn’s Supper on Burn’s Night has not changed since the time of his death in 1796. A general welcome is followed by the Selkirk Grace, then the ‘piping and cutting of the haggis’ accompanied by Burn’s poem, “Address to a Haggis” after which the haggis is cut open. When does the fun start, I hear you ask? I’m guessing that this is the point at which some drink is taken.

A reading called ‘immortal memory’ follows and this is like an overview of Burns’ life. I have not experienced the ‘real thing’ but I can tell you that Shandy’s condensed version of Burns’ life after he’s had several beers is a theatre experience not to be missed. I’d retell it here but; (A) I was laughing too much to remember it all and, (B) I had had as many beers as he! Official Burn’s Suppers conclude with the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

I hope this brief history of Burn’s Night is at least reasonably accurate – if not, I blame Shandy for lying to me – and that it has broadened the cultural horizons of our readers. Have a Beer for the Bard this time next year! I will.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Those crazy Clog Wogs!!

Very funny beer ad for Heineken. Thanks to Dr Lager for this contribution.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner
video

Monday, January 26, 2009

Australia Day 2009




This blog is unashamedly Australian. It is also totally inclusive of others at the same time, but it is proud of its heritage. The only group I discriminate against are dickheads.

Australia is not only the land of my birth and the giver of all opportunities to all men, it has also copped some harsh press in recent times and I thought this a good opportunity to stick up for her.

This whole thing of political correctness has not only gone a bit too far in recent years, but I believe it is as much an imagined myth as Bigfoot, the Bunyip, global warming or Scientology. I don’t think that ‘they’ who get upset are as plentiful as people think. Too often too many assume that a certain group will be upset or hope that they will be upset but ‘they’ may not really be all that upset.

This blog has never really been too bothered about offending anyone, it’s just that we like to hold up to the light anyone who wants to be a dickhead, do dickhead things or promote the attainment of dickhead status. Plus we are always happy to have a crack at various other arse-clowns, fark-narkles, global-warming alarmists, PETA activists, tree-huggers, social engineers, beer marketing dickheads, knob-jockeys, twats and flogs of all political and religious leanings. PC? Not for me!

Australia Day is a celebration of many things. Of opportunity and equality, of aspiration rather than envy, of hard work and luck in equal measure and, best of all – freedom. Freedom to have an opinion and a say without fear of being locked up, freedom to write letters to the editor and show tens of thousands of people that you are a moron, freedom to drink lager or ale – or even wine if you don’t mind being thought just a little gay – and the freedom to support Manly, Collingwood or Queensland.

But mostly, it’s about beer. Good beer, great beer, craft beer, mainstream beer, light alcohol beer, low-carb beer, low cost beer and overpriced swill, tap beer, bottle beer, stubby beer and keg beer. Beers for blokes and beers for shielahs, beer that you import from exotic locations and beer that you brew yourself at home. And any other beer that I may have missed.

So let’s celebrate what’s great this January 26. Be thankful that we live in a place that has a bit of something for everyone. And let’s spare a thought for those who just don’t get it – the wife-beating advocates hiding behind extreme religion, the chair-throwing tennis retards wrapped in the flags of their warring grandfathers, the mental-midgets who want to hold racist beach parties, the social engineers who want to level the playing field by making everybody dumb-arsed and on welfare and any other slap-head who needs to take a good hard look at themselves.

*Insert your favourite dickhead; HERE*

Happy Australia Day. Have a beer. I know I will.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner


PS; Don't get ROO-ted

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What’s in the Fridge? January 09


I have been thinking about how I would approach this series of posts without it presenting like a hobo’s show & tell or the shopping list of an obsessive compulsive and in a way that would benefit my readers in an amusing kind of way.

On a technical level there is the listing of beers by style or type but that just sort of seems a bit too beer-nerdy and listing them alphabetically and I think even I would start to think of checking into the Dr Ticker’s Home for those who just take beer far too seriously.

So here we go. I’ll begin with the fridge rules of the house. For those who haven’t been into my fridge yet, here’s how it works. Unofficially, the fridge has something of a division system in place. As the cook, I am responsible for the menu planning and the operation of the dining room. With two little ones under five, a teenager with newly fitted braces and a wife who can be home at varying hours – coupled with a new trial family diet – meals can be four different things at four different times. The fridge needs to cope with a lot.

So; the left hand side of the middle shelf is beer. The right hand side crisper drawer is for veggies and the left hand side crisper drawer is the Beer Crisper. This is where the ‘specials’ are moved to after having the appropriate chilling time on the shelf (the fridge ‘sweet spot’ also happens to be the bit right behind the beers) The lower right hand side shelf MAY be used to store beer - longnecks, 500ml Euro stubbies and such which leaves the rest of the fridge for fresh food. Clever menu planning means that if I am making a Beef and Ale pie or a stew with beer or a stock with beer instead of stock .. well, then I can store that beer somewhere else in the fridge.

That’s the ground rules out of the way. Now to the featured beers. At this time of the year I am always trying to support the locals and with the Australia Day weekend upon us I have stocked up with some Australian craft beers.

Bridge Road Brewers is well represented at present with a Pale Ale, Bling IPA and Chestnut Lager (as seen on ‘Ale Stars’ – the One about Pale Lagers) while the APA theme continues with 3 Ravens 55, Snowy Mountains Crackenback Pale, Bright Brewery Blowhard Pale and Northern Rivers Brewing Co Pale Ale. These beers are all in by virtue of an upcoming post on American Pale Ales, inspired by my ‘spirit beer’, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Western Australia’s Little Creatures Pale Ale is tagging along as a comparison companion to the SNPA. More on that story later!

The English style Pale Ales are well represented by Barons Pale Ale and Redoak’s Organic Pale Ale because, well, I like Pale Ales and I like bitterness in a beer and I love hop flavour and aroma and it’s nice to have a choice. When I come home late after a long night in the restaurant, it’s nice to know I can find what I really need to end the day. At one in the morning!

Red Hill Bohemian Pilsner, Spain’s Ambar, Sunner Kolsch and Weihenstephaner Pilsner and Original from Germany round out the shelf and the lying-down bottles.

That’s the shelf covered.

The ‘specials’ in the Beer Crisper are a bit of a mixed bag. A Red Duck (Vic) Strong Belgian Ale (10.5%), some more 3 Ravens and Bridge Road IPA, the two ‘Lost Arks’ – Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and an interesting find, a Caledonian offering, Deuchars IPA from Edinburgh, Scotland. Found at a 1st Choice Liquor shop in Forest Hill last week, it was sitting there with a hand written specials ticket reading “Fully Imported – 500ml - $2.49ea!!” Hmmm? That seems very good! Where’s the fine print I thought to myself? And there it was ... down the bottom ... “Buy 2, Get 1 Free!!” Shoo Byewt-tayyyy!! Even if it’s ordinary, I’m in at that price! OK, so the neck-print showed a best before date of yesterday, but, hey! It’s come this far, what’s a day or two between friends!? And ... it’s pretty bloody good! Yes, I got three. Twice!

So that’s the fridge for now. I can sense that you’re disappointed that there isn’t a ‘stock beer’ at the moment. I often have a handful of something nice and cheap and cheerful. The fact is – I don’t got no more room!

Cheers
Prof. Pilsener

And Tim, yes it was JZ – Jamiel Zainasheff – who was the beer judge from America who was over recently for the ANHC. Shandy tells me that he spoke very highly of the Little Creatures and compared it favourably to the SNPA but Shandy thinks it may have been a case of ‘holiday beer syndrome’ where the best beer is the one in your hand! Still, it all goes towards the suspense and mystery for me of the Sierra Nevada!

Friday, January 23, 2009

What’s in the fridge this week?


I am acting on a request, from a drinking mate and regular reader of this rubbish, to throw a post your way every so often which will allow readers to take a peek into the Professor’s fridge and the sacred Beer Crisper that lies within to see what’s going into the glass. I’ll try to make it as fun and frivolous as possible and comments, queries and suggestions are all welcome.

It will be interesting to see if I can go out to buy beer without this new endeavour influencing my choice. Probably not, it’s the wallet and the missus who tend to have the most say in that department.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Because it’s irrelevant


“What is the point of sporting bodies having a code of conduct promoting sensible drinking when their athletes run around sponsored by VB and Bundy Rum? I welcome the introduction of a code promoting responsible drinking among some of our most popular sports. But it’s a joke unless it also bans sponsorship of sporting events by companies that sell booze.”

The point, Susie O’Brien, opinion columnist for the Melbourne Herald Sun, is this.

One. Sporting bodies provide three things for the community. They are an outlet for the talents of their sportsmen and women, they give entertainment and encouragement to the fans and they provide employment and investment.

Two. They are not charities. They rely on income and much of the money that sets them apart from park sports is that which comes from corporate sponsorship.

Three. Many, many, many normal well adjusted people in the community drink beer. No, seriously, I’ve seen them. I’ve even met some of them. They’re very nice people. They may choose to try a brand of beer or spirit because they are exposed to the advertising at sporting events but they don’t start drinking and then abuse the drink because they saw it advertised at a sporting event. This just doesn’t happen. And the dickheads who choose to be dickheads and drink too much VB – they’ll be dickheads regardless. And that’s sad, but not the fault of the beer.

Four. You can’t associate hypocrisy with beer pouring rights of the AFL’s major sponsor. Someone has to have the pouring rights. Do you really think that just selling Evian water or McCoffee and no beer at all will attract anybody to the MCG on Grand Final day? If so, please refer to point Two.

Five. It is perfectly normal for sportsmen and women to celebrate with beer, bubbly or Bundy if they so choose. It is not evil to associate alcohol with sport. It’s a large part of our culture and has seen us develop pretty nicely as a nation. Seeing the players celebrate a win with the sponsors product won’t bring about the downfall of civilised society. Dermott Brereton was criticised for lobbing a loaf of the Hawk’s sponsor’s bread into the premiership cup back in 1986. I think people still eat bread.

Yes we need to address the abuse of alcohol – but let’s do something about the cause, not the symptoms.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner
Sticking up for beer for more than two years.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pale Lager Stars

Last night’s Ale Stars session was a memorable one for many reasons. A made-to-order balmy summer’s night in Melbourne meant that a beer was just the thing and pale lagers were the perfect complement to the weather. In addition, by far the largest Ale Stars crew had assembled and included a good handful of first timers. It was also the launch of the revamped Ale Stars

A couple of additions to the new-look format included a ‘Comments & Queries’ opportunity and a Beer Trivia quiz held in three parts over the night. Perhaps the most highly anticipated and eagerly awaited was the new ‘Show & Tell’ segment where an Ale Star would take to the floor for a brief beer related presentation. This bit turned out to be the highlight of the night – possibly of the whole Ale Stars experience! Ever!! More later.

We began with a brisk walk through the history of pale lagers with Shandy entertaining and informing the hushed crowd who hung on his every word. They may have just been leaning forward in an attempt to understand his accent – not sure. The Tech-Foul bell was back – this time a real, actual bell, in case anyone got too ‘beer nerdy’ or poindexter-y during the night.

Beginning with the birth of the Pilsner the history lesson finished with a sampling of Pilsner Urquell. This was followed by a Hoffbrau Munich Helles, a slightly less boisterous version which may have been better received had it been the starter beer. Having said that, no one sent one back!

The Helles was also announced as the prize for the beer trivia competition and this incentive was welcomed by the teams. Who’da thought, ey? Beer as a prize for a beer trivia comp at a beer night in Melbourne’s best beer bar. There ya go. I’ll post Shandy’s questions in a coming post and you can see how you do. To handicap ourselves, our team made sure that we had all had a few sneaky upstairs beers beforehand. You might want to do the same.

Emerson Pilsner was next up and a fine example of a pilsner it is. Crisp and clean with interest and bitterness all wrapped up in a well balanced package. In all, the beers were travelling nicely, there was plenty of discussion in regards to the trivia questions – and Shandy’s questionable spelling – but more entertainment was in store.

The first instalment of ‘Show & Tell’ was something of a trial run for future Ale Stars to see what was required to present an entertaining short beer related piece. Remembering that ‘beer nerdy or techy’ is out, the pressure was on the first volunteer. And I have to say he handled it admirably, despite concerted heckling from the host. A cracking tale of youthful exuberance, creative construction and the drinking of a shit load of pretty average beer was re-told humorously and had the crowd captivated and, quite honestly, I think we were all a little disappointed that the story had to be so brief so that the night could continue. If I can get his permission I will re-tell the piece in a future post. I reckon he’ll say yes.

Anyhoo, back to the beers. We finished with a Bridge Road Chestnut Lager and, in the same vein as my previous post ‘Where’s the Love?’, this beer shines. The use of locally grown chestnuts, harvested by family and friends, lifts this beer above the ordinary in both its taste and its philosophy. A great finishing beer to a great night. Oh, and if anyone knows, could you please tell me what chestnuts are grown in? And I don’t mean ‘trees’, smartarses, I mean, like orchard, grove, glen ... whatever. Ronan wants to know. Thanks.
And I can’t remember which team won the trivia comp, afterall, the score isn’t important, it’s all about fun and beer and learning something new, isn’t it? I'm sure the winners would not want their magnificent achievement trumpeted for all to hear! Anyway, our team certainly enjoyed the second round of Hoffbraus ... mmmm, Beeeeer!! Even better when it's free!!
And one last observation. I think the night may need to be extended in future as a new trend is beginning to emerge. Chris and I have been arriving early ... well, earlier and earlier ... and I’ve noticed other regular Ale Stars also meeting pre-meeting for some Sneaky Upstairs Beers!
Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner
P.S. I said that it would be OK for me to re-print my Show & Tell. Thanks, Prof. No worries.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where’s the love?


I can often be found sitting at a bar with mates drinking beer and the question will come up; “Where’s the love?” It is as much a statement as it is a question and it comes up regularly when the conversation turns to beer.

It is often used in our circles as a lamentation, a shake-of-the-head sigh, when we are served a beer that is not up to scratch or when the talk turns to the giant multi-national brewers whose empires are built on bland mainstream lagers. It is used to refer to a beer or a brewer who seems to be saying; ‘here it is, what you see is what you get and, really, it’s not much chop.”

‘Where’s the love?’ is the expression that encompasses the feelings of neglect and disappointment when a big beer baron dumps yet another ‘Idea Beer’ onto an already crowded market – another ‘fusion brew’ made with essence of lemon or ferret sweat or whatever the fad calls for – and we sit there and think of all the good beer that that equipment could have produced.

‘Where’s the love?’ also covers the ambivalent feelings that a so-so beer can elicit. You know the feeling? You try a new beer, the taste is fine, it’s true to style or whatever – but it’s just not quite there. It’s beer, it’s drinkable, it is what it says it is ... but ... it’s just missing that magic. That certain essence (not lemon or ferret sweat) that takes a beer from the ordinary to the magnificent, from the OK to the cracker category. That ‘something’ that makes you turn to each other, smile and nod – but not in a hand-holding, bottom-touching, poofy sort of way, but in a ‘I get what this bloke is trying to achieve with his beer’ kind of way.

‘Where’s the love?’ is also the call for a beer made by a brewer who is trying to brew more than just beer. It’s the guys at Mountain Goat who have installed water tanks on the roof of the brewery to flush the dunnies with and to save the good stuff for the beer. It’s the 2MT Brewery who use the spent grain to feed the cows who will later turn up as steaks to go with the beer. It’s The Red Hill Brewery planting and using their own hops and inviting friends and family over to harvest the crop and become part of the brewing process. It’s the lads at Matilda Bay or Little Creatures or 3 Ravens or Bridge Road Brewers and countless others who are bucking the trend for ‘the usual suspects’ and making new, revisited or experimental beers – beers that are not cheap to make and may not survive the marketplace – but that just might find a friend for a time. There’s the love!

So next time you sip a nice full flavoured, hand-made and expertly crafted beer, nod your head and be glad that not all beers and not all brewers, are the same.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner

Monday, January 19, 2009

XXXX – it’s Queenslander for “What the ..!!”


I have, for a long time, been a keen observer of all things beer related. One special area of interest is beer advertising. I love a cleverly crafted and deftly executed promotion for a beer – and even a beer that I would not necessarily drink myself. A good beer ad is just a good thing.

For the past ten years or so, mid-strength beers have made a mark on the Australian beer landscape, particularly in Western Australia and Queensland and for the past eight years the nations leading brand has been XXXX Gold - due in no small way to the long running series of ads featuring four very ‘Queensland’ blokes.

Macca, Harry, PJ, Jacko and Marlin the dog were seen in a dozen or so holiday situations with each zany encounter saved or made special by the frosty cans of XXXX Gold. The fact that these four soap-dodgers were able to holiday almost permanently while showing no signs of the skill or intellect required to hold down suitable jobs did not seem to be an issue. Nor was the fact that they always holidayed without wives/girlfriends/partners/de-factos/hookers any reason to suggest that they may have, in fact, been ... hmmm ... girl shy? After all, Marlin the dog was the only one ever to have any success in that regard when he ended it up in a spa tub full of titties.

Anyway, the ad agency for XXXX has come up with a new campaign for the Gold brand and, well, I just don’t get it. In fact, I have researched the whole campaign and have read the ideas behind it and the strategy that they are using and I STILL don’t get it!

The four easy to recognise and very caricatured blokes have been replaced by an amorphous, beige-coloured, confusing set of ‘mates’ who decide to build a boat because they can’t get a garden shredder to work. Or something. I don’t get it. It turns out, as the ads go on, that there are actually three different sets of mates each building a boat. I still don’t get it. Maybe because XXXX Gold is a mid-strength beer it indicates that you can drink plenty and still operate mains-powered tools? Maybe it is saying that even XXXX mid-strength is enough to make you and your mates decide to embark on a time consuming and useless endeavour like building a boat?

Check out the ads here and let me know if you know what these blokes are up to - and why.

Cheers
Prof. Pilsner

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A nice way to watch the cricket




The first one-day international of the season. A healthy rivalry between the Australian and South African teams. A sunny day that’s not too hot. A relaxing train trip into the MCG and a pocket full of free entry to the Cricket Victoria room in the Olympic stand with seats looking over the bowler’s arm. What could spoil THAT?

Well, if you are Dr Lager and you are moving house in a week and your wife is a chronic ‘de-clutterer’ at the best of times and she is also moving house in a week then ...

Dr Lager stands puzzled in front of his open wardrobe;
“Hey, Mrs Lager (not her real name) I have to wear a suit to the cricket, where is it?”
Mrs Lager;
“In that box.”
“What box?” (He appears more puzzled.)
“THE box.”
“WHAT box?!” (More puzzled and a little annoyed.)
“The box that I put all those other clothes in for the move.”
“The box that you packed clothes in that’s here in the wardrobe?” (Less puzzled, more annoyed simmering dread.)
“No. In the box that I put all those clothes in and that I got you to take to the storage garage which is half an hours drive away from here and which I asked you to label but I don’t think you did and so it would look the same as the twenty other boxes which are also in the storage garage. Why?”

*SCENE MISSING*

So I’m sitting on the train with Dr Lager and I’m admiring the suit jacket that ALMOST matched his semi-casual pants and I casually comment on the nice suit jacket. “That looks a lot like a suit jacket from the formal hire shop that we used to work in together, Dr Lager.”

“Yes, yes it is exactly like a suit jacket from the formal hire shop that we used to work in together, only back then I didn’t have to fork out SEVENTY #%ING BUCKS to hire it!!!!”

The Cricket Victoria room is a lovely spot from which to watch the cricket and the company includes many faces familiar to sports fans and cricket tragic alike. The beer is served with a smile from friendly staff and the meals and snacks are several standards above the over-priced fare on offer to the huddled masses. You can choose to sit inside and watch through the full length windows or make your way outside to the reserved-seating-very-nice-viewing area and contemplate just how lucky you are to be there.

Two things struck me that I will share with you. It is slightly unnerving, and at he same time oddly warming, to have the ordinary cricket fan (and some are very ordinary) look at you through squinted eyes from the other side of the glass wondering what sort of ‘suits’ are in there living it up large with the rich and famous. My eyes met one bloke who turned his nose slightly as if to say; ‘Cricket snobs’ and I returned a look that said; ‘Mate, I’m normally out there with you and I feel just a little like I’m a ‘cricket class traitor’, but, hey, free beer is free beer, so, you know, one-nil, mate.’

The second thing is; it is a really funny feeling to be served a light or mid-strength beer in a plastic cup from a suited bar attendant who calls you sir because that’s the only way to get a beer into the ‘outside’. And there is more than just a little Beer Karma returning when the same ordinary cricket fan walks past again and smirks to see the ‘suits’ drinking mid-strength from a plastic cup just the same as he has to. ‘Fair enough, I think to myself. One-all. What did you pay for yours? Hmmm. Two-One.’

At exactly that time, Beer Karma showed up again as the suited bloke next to us managed to let a full plastic cup of light beer drop dead-straight to the deck at his feet eliciting a crisp ’thunk’ akin to leather on willow but with the addition of aspirated lager showering his Armani trousers and those of his assembled guests. Now I know why they don’t let glass out of the room. Two-All.

A huge thank-you to Chris and Lazz for the invite as the day will hold many fond memories for many different reasons. From laughing at ‘over-refreshed’ ex test cricketers attempting to cough up a lung and launch a ‘ground strike’ from the other end at the same time in the gents toilets, to the almost surreal sight of seeing ex English test off spinner, John Emburey, graciously holding court with a large bloke called Scotty who plays in the fourths for a Geelong based team. The wily old bowler was so generous with his time for Scotty and his well-oiled mates and the scene was almost surreal with John offering advice on team success and Scotty following up with “A bloke once asked me what me ‘wagon wheel’ looks like and I told ‘im I ate it!! HAH!!”

The company was magnificent, the view of the game spectacular and the food and lager was very much appreciated.

And, as evidenced by Dr Lager’s suit jacket, there really is no such thing as a free lunch.


Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's just cricket




In some previous posts I have spoken of a joyful youth and the pastimes therein, some of the more memorable being days spent at the MCG with Dr Lager in the (in)famous Bay 13 lapping up the sun, the lagers and the boobies in the frying sun. Fun times, fun times.

Tonight Dr Lager and I return to the ‘G together for the first time since those heady, beer soaked, boobie- laden golden days to watch a cricket match again. The beer will still flow and the cricket will again entertain us but I fear that the only boobies we will encounter will be contained in the good natured banter and playful ribbing of some of Melbourne’s high society business movers and/or shakers. They will be more along the lines of Lost in Spaces’ Dr Smiths’ “Bubble-headed booby!!” kind of thing. We’re dining in the MCC Members Pavilion, What!!

Thanks to a friend in Cricket Victoria, Dr Lager has procured two Willy Wonka-esque Golden Tickets to the MCC Reserve for the One Day International between Australia and South Africa and the Prof and the Doc shall be ‘living it large’ and enjoying some lunch, dinner and supper with some lovely seating arrangements overlooking the great unwashed. Of which we used to be two,too.

One hundred overs of quality international cricket, table service and complimentary bar facilities – I think we’ll cope. Not sure wether we’ll have the opportunity to start an ice fight or a Mexican wave, though. It was pretty funny last time around so it might be worth a try.

And for anyone reading this who may be there tonight and would seek to spot us in amongst the well-heeled crowd, we’ll be the ones drinking well and looking more than slightly uncomfortable in our suits and ties.

Wish us – and the MCC – all the best. Review to follow.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner




PS - In a deliciously beer Karma-like symmetery, this is post number 222! That's ty-ew, ty-ew, ty-ew, Richie.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

There’s a new dickhead in town


Move over, Corey, there’s a new bloke who wants to sit with you at the Table of Dickheads.

Corey, you may recall, was a young, dumb numbskull who threw a party at his folks’ house when his folks were not at home and invited everyone he knew plus a few hundred that he didn’t know, by advertising the get-together on MySpace. Mayhem, chaos, drunkenness and criminal damage followed. Who’d a thunk it?

One peanut who ‘didn’t thunk it’ was Mark Marangoni, an 18 year old from Melbourne’s, outer west who hosted a quiet gathering for about 300 knuckle-draggers who all became severely offended when residents called police. A barrage of rocks, bricks and bottles were hurled at police and, when the dust settled and four cave-dwellers were arrested, a few interesting facts emerged.

Mark and his father have hosted similar rowdy events in the past. Mark and his father charged five bucks a head admission “due to damage caused at previous parties”. Mark and his father are possibly in a competition to see who is the less mature and more dangerously stupid. Mark was not around the next day to clean up the mess or otherwise make amends for his actions as he was holed up with mates until the media attention died down.

Mark’s Dad, Imperio, was left to deal with the media. Mark’s Dad is not some Centrelink dependent, dopey young dad with little experience at raising kids. He is a 73 year old rock-ape with a wig that would make Tony Mokbel laugh and an idea of child rearing which would make the Manson family seem functional. He blamed the police for all the trouble because they told his cash paying customers that they had to leave and stop drinking alcohol because they were mostly underage. The very cheek of those ‘law enforcers’.

I know from (good) experience that kids learn much of what it takes to be a civilised human being from their parents and it doesn’t take a genius to see that the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree in Mark’s case. As his neighbours looked on at the remnants of their quiet suburban street, Imperio told them; “You don’t like party – you piss off!!”

No, Impy, you piss off. And on the way, see if you can teach your son some respect for persons, property and pilsner. Actually, as he is the only one to have apologised and shown any shred of remorse in the week since it all happened, maybe you could have a chat with your son?

You might just learn something.

Cheers
Professor Pilsner

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What we drank for Christmas



As I wrote in a pre-Christmas post, the festive season is a special one when you have little kids. The whole ‘joy and glee and wonder’ thing is one of life’s little pleasures.

But so is beer.

Christmas is a time for celebrating, for gift giving and sharing with family and friends and for enjoying the moment. And we made sure that the beers played along with this theme. Dinner on Christmas Eve was at Mrs Pilsners folks’ place and we stretch the meal out over a few hours and break in the middle for the little ones to catch their breath and open the presents. This gives us plenty of opportunity to squeeze a few very nice beers in and around the meal.

Grandad doesn’t usually have a lot of beer in stock as he doesn’t drink it all that often, and it is usually a selection of either VB, Melbourne Bitter or light but as we arrived the first gift of Christmas came in the form of a fully imported German pilsner, no less. Readers of this blog may recall Professor Pilsner proferring opinions of Oettinger Pils in previous posts *Peter Piper Picked a Pick of Pickled Peppers and Pilsners* and you may also remember that this was the beer that I had stolen from me in the carpark of the beer shop. I’m not suggesting that this was the same slab.

Next , in the spirit of giving, we popped the caps off a couple of Barons Pale Ales – a gift in appreciation of my fine work in spreading the good word on their craft brews – and these went very well with the light smokiness of the ham.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas beer and Weihenstephaner, with its historical links to good King Wenceslas, is as Christmas as they come. When you choose a Festbier (as seen in ‘Ale stars – the one where we drank celebration beers’) well, it’s just even more Christmassy.


And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a beer that actually has the word Christmas in its name, so on came the Red Hill Christmas Ale, a beautifully warm and mellow and festive tasting ale which developed even more depth as it warmed.

Chris and Jenny moved on to Jennys folks’ place for a traditional midnight feast of pork and scotch so we packed up the little Pilsners, did a tour of the fairy lights on the drive home and tucked them into bed. The final beer of the night was another Barons Pale Ale. Well, two really. The kids left one out for Santa.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner

Monday, January 12, 2009

People who really should have a beer – 02



PETA. You’ve probably heard of these folk? People for the ethical treatment of animals? Nice, reasonable, pleasant group of people who campaign for better treatment of animals.

Dickheads.

You’ll get no argument from me when it comes to the importance of being nice to each other and caring for our environment and not doing any harm to anyone or anything. But honestly, some just take the theme too far and themselves too seriously. PETA has made a name for themselves by radical activism to make a point that some of the worlds’ farming practices are not ideal for the animals concerned and have made their point with various means. Some of their points are valid and some of their actions acceptable.

But this is just silly. Fishing is cruel, apparently. I myself have sat in a boat in the hot sun for hours and not got a nibble – but I don’t think that’s the cruelty they mean. PETA this week came out and said that even the word ‘fish’ has nasty connotations. The word fish makes people think about ‘slimy’ and ‘fishy’ and ‘ugly’ and this masks the fact that fishing of any kind is inhumane and painful and hurts the poor fishies. Solution? Don’t call them fish anymore, let’s call them (wait for it) “Sea Kittens” (I’m not making this up) and then evil fish eating people will think twice before perpetrating this brutal, evil and ancient art. (Did I mention I’m not making this up?)

PETA people, welcome to the Beer Blokes List of People Who Really Should Have a Beer. Or join my PETA – People Eating Tasty Animals.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner
...and, here you go PETA people, here's a nice 'Sea Kitten' for you to swim with!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ale Stars for Pale Stars


A quick reminder to anyone lurking about in Melbourne on Tuesday January 20, in the East St Kilda area, looking to enjoy some fine company, beery banter and some pale Lagers that Ale Stars is coming up.

I guess if this is our first departure from Ales, we may need to create a new sub-category – Lager Legends Sub Branch?

Steve, I’ve recruited a few new faces for this one so we may need some extra comfy chairs. An excellent night is promised and Steve and Shandy may be ready to reveal some new Ale Stars innovations. That is if they have actually done something about it rather than sitting around drinking lots and talking lots. Hmmm?

Ale Stars kicks off roughly seven(ish) but, if you can’t wait till then, we’ll see you on the terrae for a couple of sneaky upstairs beers beforehand.

Book online through the Local Taphouse blog at the right of this blog. That’s the left hand side if you are dyslexic. And, for those of you who are colour blind, it’s the one in the purple print.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Light thinking for a heavy problem


Beer only ever seems to make the front page of the paper when the news is bad, sad or stupid. Just once I’d like to see a front page story about a nice craft beer winning an award or a tax break being given to small volume brewers so that they might compete a bit more fairly with the bland multinationals but I guess I’ll be waiting a while.

Today’s news is alarming. Even the headline says so; “BEER ALARM”

“A huge drop in light beer sales has been blamed for the surge in street violence. Pressure to scrap the tax on light beer is building as more drinkers turn to stronger booze. Light beer sales have fallen 15% in seven years while street crime has soared 43%. Vic Health chief executive Todd Harper said yesterday there was a definite connection between the move away from light beer and the rise in drunken violence. ‘I definitely think the move to heavier beer is part of the problem’ he said.

‘Anything that can kick start a change in the culture of alcohol consumption in Australia to encourage the consumption of low alcohol products will be a positive one‘, he said. The excise cut would see light beer drop 20c a stubby, or $4.80 a slab, and about 4c a pot in bars.”

“Vic Health believes the move would tempt full strength beer drinkers to make the switch. ‘If we look at the strong associations between consumption of full strength beer and anti-social behaviour, such as assaults, there is no doubt there is a connection between the two,” Mr Harper said.”

Crock of shite.

No one would disagree that the problem of drunken violence is a serious issue worldwide, but for goodness sake, can we please start attacking the problem at the source instead of making things up, using opinions as scientific evidence or blaming irrelevant factors? Please??

First, Todd, a 14% decrease in light beer sales over seven years is not “a huge drop” in the overall context. Sales figures show that beer sales across the board have dropped – we are drinking less, but better, as the rise in premium, imported and craft beer sales would suggest – it is not just light beer that is lower. But, hey, if it helps to whip up the hysteria for your cause then, by all means, go right ahead.

Second, I am just hanging out to hear how a light beer sales drop is related in any way to a 43% increase in street crime. Blokes don’t go out and biff other blokes for no reason because they don’t drink light beer, they do it because they are complete and utter dickheads. They don’t drink light beer, not because the tax is too high, but because they (a) don’t like it, (b) their mates will think they are poofters and (c) because it won’t get them shitfaced!! They’re dickheads, remember?!! The only people who still drink light beer in this country are old blokes, designated drivers and blokes who like watery beer, none of whom have made the papers for beating up Grannies or starting riots.

Third, I don’t have any evidence to support my claims but I see that I don’t really need to. Todd, you can’t justify your own findings and throw scare around because (you) “definitely think the move to heavier beer is part of the problem”. I definitely think it is a cultural and behavioural issue brought about, in part, by a gradual acceptance of poor behaviour with no consequences and no punishment, so I’m right.

Of course I don’t mean to make light (pardon the pun) of a serious issue, but it just burns my brew every time I hear beer in general getting the blame for the problems caused by a bunch of bottom-feeders who will cause strife regardless of the price of heavy beer, the tax on light beer or the value of the New York Stock Exchange. Let’s deal with the dickheads – sort out why they are being dickheads, help them out or kick their arses if they don’t want to follow the standards of a normal, civilised society – and stop blaming beer. It loves us and wants us to be happy.

Cheers,Prof. Pilsner

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Throw another cure on the barbie


I don’t read New Scientist but I am beginning to believe that it is a cracking magazine.

For the second time in recent memory this journal of all things lab-coaty and girl-shy has published an article that sings the praises of beer. Good on you, Poindexters!

It seems that marinating meat in beer before BBQing it can reduce the nasty little bastard thingys that can cause cancer. Some of the little micro-whatsits in meat turn into horrible little heterocyclic amines when subjected to high temperature cooking such as can be found on a BBQ or hot grill – but you probably already knew that, didn’t you.

Marinades of beer or red wine was found to cut the levels of two types of HA by 90% - 90%!!! – that’s about ... this much!!!

And, in another win for the grain over the grape, meat needed around four hours of marinating to achieve this magical feat while the red wine required six hours.

I’m off now to the beer shop to get some preventative medicine for tonight’s dinner.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

No thanks, I’ll be fine



I was laying in bed last night with one eye open and blearily caught an ad for the latest ‘feel good by making you feel guilty’ initiative to target drinkers. The wrong drinkers.

This latest effort is called ‘FEB FAST’ and encourages us to “sacrifice or alcohol intake during the shortest month of the year and, at the same time raise funds to support organisations working to reduce alcohol ... harms in young people through research, prevention and service delivery activities”.

It is based on the premise that we have all been silly and evil and unhealthy during the Christmas and New Year period and we must all feel very, very guilty and be cleansed and purified by coughing up enough coin to fund programs to tell pissed idiots that they perhaps shouldn’t drink quite so much. Like they’ll listen.

Don’t get me wrong, here, I have said many times that I support efforts to reduce the human and financial cost of drink and drug abuse but I object to being made to feel guilty and be expected to fund the cure by giving away some beery enjoyment for the privilege. Plus, we all contribute plenty through income as well as beer taxes and levies and education efforts should be funded this way. It may just be me, but I also had a heap of trouble trying to find out where the money goes, how much they raise and who skims off the top but I’m prepared to attribute that to poor website design until I can determine otherwise.

Having said that, if you want to give away the beers for a month, and donate to a group of marketing, legal and other commercial types like those listed for FEB FAST - good for you. But how about the option of donating the equivalent of what you spend on beer for the month (as I proposed for Movember) as an option? Lose the whole guilt trip thing.

Plus, you buggers have already taken over October with your ‘Oc-Sober’ promotion. And finally how about looking into effective ways of getting the message to those who really need it and won’t heed it? I don’t have the answers but I’m guessing that it doesn’t involve preaching to the converted.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year Revelations



It looks as though 2009 will be a big year for this little Beer Bloke.

December 31, 2008 was not just the final day of the year that saw Krudd 747* stamp his mark all over the globe, the mighty Hawks win the AFL competition and the world financial structure get all shaky and stuff, it was also the day that I realised that I need to look at what I’m doing this next year.

I had no fewer than four different people insisting that I turn some of my passion into new and exciting business opportunities. And not ‘new and exciting business opportunities’ to which wankers trying to sell you Amway refer, but actual, real-life, profitable business opportunities. What made these suggestions all come together on the same night I can only attribute to luck, serendipity or Beer Karma but, as I believe you make your own luck and I don’t really know what serendipity means, I’m gonna go with Beer Karma, OK?

“You need to open a beer and cheese lounge that has a kind of ‘Richmond Hill Larder’ sort of feel to it” was the first one that came up (thanks, Barbara) and I could see myself running something like that. The fact that she specifically wanted it to be within walking distance of her own house might make it a little harder to get off the drawing board, but we’ll see. I’m also not sure about the chances of getting an on-premise liquor licence with that particular council.

“This year, why don’t you look at opening a retail beer shop that specialises in local and imported craft beers?” (Thanks, Jon). Again, a nice thought but I don’t pretend for a minute that I could do it as well, let alone better than Cloudwine, Purvis or Sword’s. Plus I like all the guys and girls that I deal with at these shops and couldn’t see myself going up against them.

“Ever thought you should have a beer themed restaurant of your own?” Yes and no, Rob. Yes a restaurant that treats beer like others treat wine would be the best thing to happen to restaurants since a beer themed restaurant ... hang on a minute? That just might work. The only problem is that some people are operators and others are owners – the best venues are either the ones where the operator IS the owner or where the owner lets the operator run it autonomously and unfettered – and here lies the issue. I could run a place like that and have a ball, probably make a ton of coin as well, but I’m not the sort to make that kind of financial commitment and I also hate all the bullshitty admin types of things that stop you from spending more time with your staff, your guests, your family or all of the above.

Having said that, if anyone wants to stump up the cash, the Beer Bloke Beer Hall name is available, commercially viable (I reckon) and yes, I would love to run it for you!

The last New Years revelation came from Sed and was the one that most made me stop and think seriously about the idea. “You should bring out your own beer this year.” Hmmm. Contract brewing is something that many have utilised to get some really good beers out into the market – Barons, Outback, Snowy Mountains Brewing – all the joys and happiness of having a beer with your name on it without the capital outlay and expense of actually owning a brewery. Hmm. While I know that I am a fair way off that dream just now, it made me think seriously about taking the next step, at least.

With Shandy’s help I am going to take the homebrew to the next stage and start using grain rather than extract so that I can begin to master the art of brewing rather than just being a ‘casual observer’. And this got me thinking about the original dream of a Beer Blokes Beer sitting on shelves and in bar fridges and in gleaming glasses clasped in blokes’ hands. It aint gonna happen by sitting back and waiting for it, so her goes nothin’ ...

This year I am going to get myself a gig working in a brewery, learning the ropes, ‘mucking out’ the mash tuns, cleaning stuff and hauling stock, just like the early days of my hospitality career where I did my time and ‘made my bones’ scraping crap from pots, scouring pans and mopping floors ... all the things that made me appreciate the good times in later years. I want to know the ins and outs of the process, the subtleties of temperature and time, the development of aroma and flavour and, most of all, I want to take my passion for beer to the next level and channel my energies into something, well, liquid!


I’ll be the perfect work experience kid! Loyal, trustworthy, reliable and with his own car and his Mum’s permission! Got to go now and work on my resume!

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner

*Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also claimed the award for ‘Politician using the mostest big words in every sentence ever without saying anything’ for 2008.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year with friends, old and new


The drawback to working in hospitality at this end of the year is that you have to work while others play and, for the most part, that suits me just fine. I still get to do what I love which is to talk about beer a lot and help folk to choose nice beers that I think they’ll enjoy or that will match well with their meals and I get to pour beer for them, which I also love doing. And I can still catch up with friends and family during December sometime.

But New Year’s Eve is a bit different. Your mates can’t reschedule the party because you have to work – New Year’s Eve is New Year’s Eve. It’s a good night to catch up with friends and all their kids, to kick back and talk crap and to just sort of rule a line through the ledger of the year gone and start afresh, mentally. Plus, I believe beer is traditionally consumed at this event.

The restaurant was not only open for dinner on NYE but we were the ONLY game in town. And ours is a smallish ‘village’ kind of town, with a steadily growing population but a cosy community sort of feel to the shopping area. The other six or seven restaurants were all closed so we were pretty full and therefore pretty busy. No chance to sneak away and join the party early! The boss had decided that we would offer a full A La Carte menu rather than a set price special menu but that we would be serving dinner only, no midnight ringing-in, and all out to your parties or fireworks or whatever by 10.30. A good compromise.

So my old friends would have to wait. But there’s a funny thing about the restaurant business – it deals up nice surprises when you least expect it. Rather than regretting that I would not get to the party much before midnight, I found myself making new friends throughout the dining room. Here, seated before me, were a group of people who were out to have a good night, a nice feed and some pleasant company and wanted me and my crew to be a part of it. Young and old, couples and groups, families and old friends. A nice spirit in the room.

Some were after a chat about the history of the building while others were congratulating us on our TV showdown victory. The larger groups in the back room were after a fun night with plenty of liquid social lubrication while others were there to enjoy a few selections from our extensive beer list. And this is where the fun part comes in for me. Being asked to recommend a beer, either to jst drink, or to match with food. A challenge every time, but one that I relish. It is both a privilege and a responsibility when someone you’ve just met charges you with the onerous task of selecting a beer for them.

Rod and Barbara are the sort of people that I have gown to love meeting because they are willing to take a chance on a new beer, they are prepared for the fact that they may choose one that they don’t particularly like and, most importantly, they are a couple who both drink beer! Great! I was asked to select a couple of beers to match up with main course of fillet steak (pepper sauce and garlic cream) as well as a couple of beers to go with a cheese platter and pate. As I said, a new challenge around every corner. I have promised them that I would post a bit about Pale Ales and I am working on that at the moment but, for now, I can tell you that a Little Creatures (US style) Pale Ale works really well with blue cheese and that Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde strong Belgian ale partnered a treat with the pate.

I got away around 11 and arrived at my NYE party in time to see in the New Year with old friends, family and loved ones and it felt as though I’d been there all night. So, to all those I spent the night with, welcoming in the new and seeing out the old – to friends old and new – my every best wish for 09 and here’s to sampling more craft beers and meeting more new friends.

Cheers
Prof. Pilsner