Friday, December 29, 2006


Well, I guess we are going to brew more beer. Didn’t wake up dead and, more importantly, the beer didn’t kill us. With a brisk fist pump and a satisfied smirk the first tasting of the very first batch of Beer Bloke Lager - well, Thomas Coopers in a tin to be completely truthful - can be called a success. Not that we were ever worried. At all. Ever.

Let me walk you through the full five-sensory experience. With a frisky “TSTT” the cap gave way to release a golden amber - not as light as some lagers, but golden just the same - a nice light cloud to it and a clean aroma. The first thing I didn’t want to cop was any skunk or cabbage. As you would. Nice, hop whiff but not too floral. A little on the soft side. Very easy drinking. Nice malt sweetness - as you’d expect from a full malt brew, even if it was accidental - and certainly, as a result, more full bodied than some lagers. Finished on the tongue a little quickly - though this is not a fault, as such - and left with a delicious little lick of tinny bitterness - a nice, blokey, wet rust kind of tinny.

For its age - remember it is only JUST beer at the two week mark - a ripper beginner. In fact, we were stoked. Stoked blokes. Couldn’t smack the grins off our faces. Happy as a dog with two bones. For, while we expected the first brewing to go off reasonably smoothly, we were really only hoping that it would be more than drinkable. For it to actually taste REALLY GOOD was the froth on top. The froth on top, by the way, was nice and thick in the pouring, but nicked off a bit too soon. The next lager we brew will be a hop-added affair to ensure better head retention.
As the weeks go on we will further test the improvement level and report back. Unless it gets worse. Then we’ll probably just chuck the whole game in and start putting boobies on the page instead.

Prof. Pilsner & Dr Lager

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Well, the day has come. The fruits of our labours are to be put to the ultimate test. That’s right, tonight we drink - for tomorrow we may be dead. If not, we will brew more beer. Then drink that. If we don’t wake up dead again.

After 14 days in incubation - or bottle conditioning for them in the know - our first two brews are at minimum drinking age. There is some discussion about kit brews and just how much better they can become with aging over months rather than weeks. But if anyone can come up with a better reason for drinking extra beers every week in the name of science then I’d like to hear it.

We will endeavour to let some of the stock sit and mature until we get a feel for just how much perceptible improvement it has in it. With plenty of Christmas gatherings ahead, I know we will give the lagering process a good shake.

Which leads my mind to ramble across a warming Christmas spirit kind of sentiment.I never thought a grown man could still get that childhood buzz of anticipation but here I am like it’s the night before Christmas and I’m 6 years old. Which makes me think that it is truly a wonder that beer can do for us what Christmas and visits from favourite relatives can do for little ones.

A little miracle, 375 mls at a time.

and remember the words of Guru Bob

... " the proof of the pudding; IS the pudding."

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Best Wishes for a Safe & Happy Christmas
Full of Good Cheer & Good Beer

From The Beer Blokes

Hope you like the yule Use of our new bottle drying tree. I have spotted a few other "Beermas Trees" in my travels and hope you can add any of your own.

Cheers, Dr Lager & Prof. Pilsner

MAKING BEER pt2 - 101

Welcome back to brewing for beginners. This week we look at the little ladies who give beer it’s wonderful, sensual character. No, not those large German women in foofy blouses at huge beer halls named Brun-Hilda mit da big boob-ies. Ja? Nein.
HOPS. The hop is a cone-like flower, of the same family as cannabis, which grows on very tall vines - actually they are called bines, probably so they are not connected with wine making - and I referred to them as the ladies because it is the female flower that produces the bittering quality which beer requires. This theme continues after bottling with the male drinker developing a greater yearning for the female flower the more the amber flows.

The HOPS give beer several remarkable qualities. First is flavour. There are hundreds of varieties of hops, all of which will impart flavour to varying degrees. Second is bitterness. The hop resins are an oily substance stored in the cone and, put fairly simplistically, they are what gives our beer their distinctive bitterness. Again, some varieties are better, or bitter, than others. Others again, have a nice balance of both.
It is up to the brewer to ensure the right balance in order to create a specific beer style or a variation within. Some beers are heavier on the hop flavour side and others lean more to the bittering end. To complicate the situation even further, different HOPS can be added, at different times during the brewing, for varying durations thus creating eleventy-eight kabillion different combinations of beer tastes.

And you thought brewing beer was a ‘ just add water ‘ thing.

Now the next important hop-quality is the most valuable as far as the brewing industry is concerned. You see, before the discovery of hops for brewing, the beer needed to be drunk quickly - a tradition still continued in many drinking dens today - or the beer would spoil. The brewer, to avoid the spoiling, would need to up the alcohol levels to fight the good fight against harmful bacteria within the beer. He would do this by increasing the malt content. Then along comes HOPS with remarkable antiseptic and preserving abilities - as well as the bitterness and the flavour things we spoke of earlier. So the brewer now required less malt. And therefore, more profit. Or was able to create a less expensive product. Joy for the workers!

So there you have HOPS. Grown in only a few regions around the world due to their specific climate needs and one of the reasons that beer tastes as good as it does. Although hops have been around for centuries, it is not clear exactly when they were used in brewing. The Jewish slaves in ancient Babylon wrote of a “strong drink made from hops” which they believed aided against leprosy. And even today, beer won’t cause leprosy. Some droopage may occur, however, with prolonged use.


Wednesday, December 6, 2006


For those who enjoy drinking it, but are not really sure how it works, here is a brief walk through the beer brewing process. Beer consists of four main ingredients ; MALT, HOPS, YEAST & WATER. Let’s begin with MALT

MALT is the building block, the platform of the beer. It starts out (usually) as barley. The barley contains starch. The maltster will crack the grains and then pop them in hot water until they are fooled into thinking it is time to germinate. This is about the only occasion on which anyone involved in brewing will become involved in trickery. That and when the marketing department tells us Adelaide water makes drinkable beer. Cooper’s excluded. They make their own water.

The barley, as it germinates, produces enzymes which will, in time, assist in the production of two of beers greatest assets - CO 2 and ALCOHOL. Now that the barley has become malt it has turned it’s starch into fermentable sugars and contains that taste which we know to be beer. It just needs to be gently coaxed along the magical brewing process, be seasoned and flavoured with hops and transformed by mystical yeasts until it appears in bars and bottle shops. Simple. Well, it’s a little more technically complex, but we ARE beer drinkers, not wine folk.

In very simple terms, MALT is what gives beer it’s sweet side. It is generally the first visitor to our palate door as we take our initial gulp and can be brash and intrusive like a God Botherer on a quiet weekend morning or it can sneak in almost unnoticed - like a nosy neighbour. Beer styles differ and much of this difference is in the impact of the MALT on the beer’s overall flavour - or profile, as the marketing department likes to call it.

By the way, and in relation to MALT, don’t let wine-ees tell you that the grape is harder to produce and requiring of more skill to ferment. To put it simply, the GRAPE is more reliant on the soil while the GRAIN is more reliant on the brewer. In other words, the range of malts, their various treatments and uses alone is a delicate balancing act for the brewer, and as we will see, it gets even more chef - like when we begin to add the hops, treat the water and combine all the processes. So there, wine folk.


Tuesday, December 5, 2006


Well, the TWO BREW is bottled and the race to empty the full ones so that we could fill the empty ones was a close thing - won narrowly by the Beer Blokes, tho’ we had to drink as we bottled just to get the last few.

Not too sure if we have tempted fate on a couple of fronts with this batch. Novice brewers who have followed this log will know that fermentation is complete - usually within 5 - 10 days - and can be determined by taking hydrometer readings (see separate entry) over several days. When identical readings are registered on consecutive days, the batch has completed fermenting and can be bottled.

We sorta waited till the readings were the same - just not over the full two days. Not worried, though, as the hydro reading showed that the brew had got up to about 5% Alc/Vol. which, when bottled with priming sugar will bring it up to 5.5%. We took a morning and an evening reading to convince ourselves that it was right to go. We were limited for bottlin’ opportunity and needed the spirits to shine on us. If the bottles begin poppin’ spontaneously we will know that we have upset the beer Gods.

As we were bottling, we noticed a marked increase in the amount of foam generated. Not too sure if this is peculiar to Pale Ales ( I suspect it is ) or wether we had a problem elsewhere. Anyway, the laundry now has a full stock of maturing beer - the stubby equivalent of 3 and ¾ slabs - and the waiting game continues. For less than $ 30 worth of raw materials. How good’s THAT !!

Monday, December 4, 2006


A recurring theme with beer drinkers who have stepped off the Mainstream Lager Express and happily boarded the Slow Steam Engine Of Interesting Beer Styles is the problem of pronounciation. While the Beck’s and the DABs are reasonably easy to fire off, even after a few, many an intrepid quaffer has had his pride dented while trying to order a Schofferhofer Kristallweizen or, lord help him, a Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel, only to receive a look akin to that given to someone who has just asked if they might poo in your hat.

Now, while many accomplished bar staff are very patient and forgiving when it comes to those who trip over their beer labels, many, unfortunately are not. Many times these bar staff ( or drink pourers, as I like to call them ) are happy to ‘correct you’ and in the following breath, mispronounce the same thing. Tossers. It is our responsibility - nay, duty, fellow Blokes, to keep correcting them - and embarrass them, if the opportunity arises. It’s the only way they’ll learn.
and, while you're there, see if they could possibly pour a pot without smacking the glass against the spout of the tap.
I will try, whenever possible to keep you abreast of Currently Recognized Accepted Pronounciations as they become available.

In my many restaurant/bar encounters with beer folk, I have learned to get my tongue around some of the more difficult brewery and beer monikers. A Dutchman recently spent 10 minutes walking me through the correct, native pronounciation of Hoegaarden - though the beer comes from Belgium - and I have since had this confirmed by another. Unless Dutchmen have a running gag to this effect and hold secret parties where they regale each other with stories of “scht-oopid O-sis I hef fyooled “. I doubt this, tho’ as we are talking about beer drinkers here. Anyway, most unlearned pronounce this beer brand as if it was a front yard on Desperate Housewives, when, in fact it is pronounced; HOO - HHHArden. It helps to get the second H sound right if you fill the back of your mouth with half a litre of phlegm. Or, should that be Flem.

And just the other night I met a terrific ‘beer couple’, Mike and Sam. Knows his beer does this boy and one of those kinds of people I love to talk beer with. So we get talking German beer styles and we come to an old favourite - Weissbier, Wiezen, Weisse and I was nicely corrected on the use of the W sounds versus the V sounds. This has always been a tricky one because so many variants are heard in bottle shops, beer cafes and from the lips of the punters. So I can now log as true that the W in German Weissbier is V and the EISS is IZE to get VIZE or VIZEN. Now this bloke, Mike was sponsored for chess tournaments by Beck’s, so I have to trust him on 3 counts. He plays tournament chess - you’d have to trust them, wouldn’t you?, he spoke with a German accent ( unless the German’s have a lark similar to the Dutch ) and because he had a brewery as a sponsor. A dream I’m sure we all share. Back soon, I need to do weiz.

In future posts I will attempt to clear up more mysteries of the beer world.
Like, why is Budweiser (U.S.) made using such a long, complicated method and then, in the end only tastes like Budweiser, and was Carlton Cold really only made for people who want drink beer, but don’t like the taste of beer ? Hmm.

Sunday, December 3, 2006


Unperturbed by the possible shortcomings in our first brew - or perhaps in spite of them - the Beer Blokes have rushed headlong into the TWO BREW. Filled with a totally unfounded confidence in our brewing ability a second batch has been cast. A Pale Ale this time and it has certainly proven, in the early stages , to be of a markedly different nature.

Learning from the lessons of the first and, as yet, untasted Lager brew, we used a Cascade tin kit with the addition of 500gm light malt extract and 500gm brewing sugar. Having slightly ( read DOUBLE ) underestimated the total batch volume of the brews we are now well into a feverish quest to provide enough empty bottles to take the second batch before it ferments out. Did I mention that as a result of the type of brew, the temperature and the fact that we added the right amount of sugar, the TWO BREW seems to be fermenting at twice the rate of the first ? Sympathise with us, won’t you, as we attempt to keep ahead of natural forces. Liquid lunches, breakfast beer and four for the road, that sort of thing.

With a beginning Specific Gravity of 1046 it starts out a little ‘larger’ than the first (1040) and has certainly displayed a more noticeable aroma off the fermenter. Still haven’t seen a bubble come off the air lock so I guess those who advise against using this as a means of knowing when to bottle are on to something. By day four the S.G. is down to 1014 and day five to 1010 which, if it remains there, will give us an alcohol content of around 5.5%. Nice.

The raw brew looks, smells and tastes just like a Pale Ale - without the carbonation. A lovely citrus kick and a better than expected hop aroma leads me to hope that the finished, matured brew will be a winner.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

A BOTTLIN ‘ - 101

After months of study and research, planning and positioning of equipment and nine days of fermentation, the inaugural brew was yesterday tapped off into bottles. A grand total of 47 stubbies (375ml) and 5 longnecks ( 740ml) of Thomas Cooper’s Heritage Lager have now taken pride of place under the laundry table where they will sit patiently for the next two weeks to bottle condition - a secondary fermentation to carbonate the beer and up the alcohol level - after which time the Beer Blokes will sit patiently and attempt to NOT drink it all, but play the waiting game.

We want to determine just how much our brew will improve (in taste) and clarify (in appearance) when left to mature in the bottle. Normally this would involve simply drinking a stubby or two each week and tasting and logging the maturation. But, in the interests of science, and so as not to offend the geeks, Dr Lager has developed a method by which this process can be assessed and measured more accurately. And this is where “suffering for your art” takes on a whole new meaning. If we use a couple of clear glass bottles per batch we will have a visual guide to the clarity and colour of our beer and be able to photograph and log the development.

To this end Dr Lager purchases some store-boughts to provide the clear empties. And here is where he takes a bullet for the team. He buys XXXXXX XXXX . For the unfamiliar, this is an Australian beer mass produced by a large commercial brewer bottled in clear glass and filtered using a technique which removes impurities from the brew using cold filtering. I can only assume that it does this by attaching the impurities to the beer flavour itself. I know it is a beer because it says beer on the label. This is clever marketing because if you were offered this beer, without knowing what you were being offered, and you drank it, you might not know that you were drinking beer. The label should carry a warning suggesting that you ‘ read label carefully before assuming that contents are beer’ and ‘WARNING - MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF BEER’.

* You will notice that I have hidden the true identity of the beer purchased. You will also note that I have employed X’s to assist in this subterfuge. Do not mistake the X’s for XXXX, or Fourex, a Northern Australian states’ flagship brew. This is a completely different yet equally shit quality beer. * see note below

Now, because Dr Lager does not have any clogged drains around his house, he decides to actually consume the XXXXXXX XXXXs. Here is where we draw the fine line between madness and genius. From a seemingly unwinnable situation, Dr Lager has created brilliance. You see, when he eventually recovers the power of taste, he will better appreciate our homebrew. And other beers. Like I said. Brilliance.

FOOTNOTE; though I have back-handed a couple of beer brands in this piece, I should note that I love beer. All beer. Some are just better than others and some are more commercially popular than others. Some are fiercely defended on the basis of state boundaries and for this they, and their drinkers, are to be commended. It was just too good an opportunity to have a go at a Queenslander. By the way, the mystery beer is Carlton Cold.

Friday, December 1, 2006


“ You can’t always be young, but you can always be immature.”

John ( Dr. Lager )

If one were to sit down and list every male cliche you could think of the list would probably consist of:

* likes sport

* likes beer

* likes nudity (preferably female)

The danger of this type of labelling is that it doesn't allow for the myriad of small differences and personality traits that combine to make us the unique characters we are. Stereotypifying males is a dangerous, inaccurate and belittling practise that serves no purpose other than to portray the male sex as a drunken bunch of breast ogling yobbos who enjoy parking their butts in front of the TV for hours at a time watching re-runs of the 1981 Australia v India One Day International. It just makes me angry...

Oh! By the way, I'm John. I like:

* sport;

* beer; and

* nudity.

Pete ( Professor Pilsner )

Born the day after John, Peter spent his early childhood years playing in parks, riding bikes and drawing cartoons. A love of backyard cricket was nurtured by childhood schoolmate, John who, as year 8 captain allowed the budding off spinner to bowl in an interschool match. Having waited patiently for three overs for a ball to land either on the pitch or in the batsmans’ half of the pitch, John wisely decided to continue the friendship but not the sporting partnership. Peter hopes that John will show similar patience in home brewing.

The Bible tells the story of Paul’s epiphany on the road to Damascus, when a bright light blinded the young man, causing him to fall from his horse after which he awoke with a new sense of purpose. As a teenager, Peter discovered beer in much the same way. In good Christian tradition he regularly re-enacted the Bible story by allowing himself to be blind-ed, but getting straight back on the horse.

As he matured he realised that moderation was not an altogether bad way to go about drinking, a philosophy which , in later years, led to a new appreciation for beer and the sudden realisation that many years had been wasted by skolling VB from the can. Except for the momentous and life-changing event in January 1986 when the space shuttle tragically exploded after lift-off. It was on the Australia Day long weekend preceding this tragedy that Peter and John led a team of intrepid beer drinkers on a mission to assemble one years worth of VB cans into a two metre high statue of Ned Kelly. The local daily newspaper, The Sun, took photos and assured us that, owing to a slow news week, the picture would most likely grace the front page of Australia’s highest selling daily. Over night the shuttle went down, we were bumped to page 4 and eight
young men learned a valuable lesson; journalists rarely tell the truth, but beer never lies.

After many years in the Pub and restaurant business, Peter began planning and hosting Beer Dinners in restaurants so as to share the love of beer and food matching to a wider, appreciative audience. This also led to a personal quest, beginning at the end of 1999, to buy, drink and document in tasting notes, every beer available in Australia. He is happy to concede that this may be an ongoing and possibly never ending adventure.

Married with three girls he looks forward to seeing them all grow up and marry nice boys who like beer. Not his wife, obviously, as she has already done so.


Credentials ? What credentials ?

Let me begin by telling you who the Beer Blokes are NOT.
We are not world renowned beer experts, nor are we beer journalists or writers for foodie mags.
We are not master brewers ( you probably guessed that much ) and we don’t work in the
marketing department of a large multinational brewery.
We don’t spend a lot of time in trendy bars drinking expensive drops from the bottle.
We haven’t got on the juice til’ we pass out.
For a while.

We are a couple of average blokes - hence the Beer Bloke moniker - so clever you’d think we had our own marketing department, huh? and we enjoy a beer.
Or two.

We enjoy the whole culture surrounding beer. The brewing history, the Australian colonial roots and the way in which it has crossed borders and civilisations, the fact that it’s been around longer than wine, the fact that it’s disciples are not tossers like some wine trainspotters are and the way that it unites and defines it’s drinkers at the same time while maintaining it‘s egalitarian philosophy - O.K., that’s the stuff I like about it, Dr Lager just likes drinking it. At this stage. He’ll learn to love it too, like I do, on a deeper level. I think he’s getting there.

P.S. In a future post I will elaborate on my thoughts above about beer writers, brewers and beer marketing types as well as opinions about the beer scene in Australia


It’s funny how things start out simply enough and before you can say “ Gee, that’s a nice beer. “, the whole thing has taken on a life of it’s own. So it seems to be the way with this site. “ We’ll just sort of track the progress of the whole homebrew thing and kinda let people know about the ins and outs. Sort of. “ is pretty much how we thought the thing would work.

Til’ one day Professor Pilsner says to Dr Lager, “ You know, we probably should show the gear we bought and where we decided to set it up, and why, and then the punters can see how easy it is to do and then we could have a bit that tells you what we did wrong and how we could fix it which would mean we’d have to have a bit where we post advice from the bloke at the homebrew joint ..” “ … and then I could put a link to the brewing log to set out all the technical stuff … “ says Dr Lager and suddenly we’re creating a website that Google will be paying a kerbillion dollars for.

So, to make navigating the Beer Bloke Interactive Experience easier for you, it has been decided that we will try to classify each post according to it’s subject. Therefore every post will end with the suffix “ BEER”

Wait, that might be confusing. I know, we will use the following code;

For the stuff that’s of interest to first time or “training wheel brewers “ - 101
For those who are already brewing at an intermediate level - INT
For those with a general interest in beer - GEN
For a bit about the history of beer - HIS
For tasting notes and comments - COMM
For those still looking for boobies - NICK OFF

All comments are welcome. At Beer Blokes we think these pages should be a reflection of beer at it’s very essence - egalitarian, non-judgemental, all encompassing, enjoyable and free for all.

Our role will be like that of the malted barley - to provide the platform, the building block, if you will, of the site. Your contributions will be like the hops - the flavouring that makes it different from the next; or the last; the flavour enhancer that lifts the content beyond the ordinary and even helps to preserve the content (so that I don’t have to sit here and type the lot). And the web itself will play the role of the yeast - that strange, omnipresent organism, multiplying, feeding off itself, digesting the sweet word(t) and transforming it to create a magical hyper-brew to be shared and savoured. No, dear reader, I have not been drinking the raw homebrew, I am merely illustrating the depths of fascination that beer holds for me and the passion that its’ study can evoke.

It is also an example of the rich and varied tastes that will be encountered in the wonderful world of Beer Blokes.

A bit like the wonderful world of beer, really.