Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Media the Beer and the Bullshit –Part One

Hopping Mad

My interest was pricked by the promo for A Current Affair to be aired in Melbourne that Wednesday night. The all-too-serious voice over boomed out a warning to potential viewers that the show would expose the most heinous of corporate crimes, a well organised and overtly dishonest campaign aimed at misleading and ripping off the consumer. Bring it on, I says.

The bit that made me take notice was the self righteous condemnation of the evil doers responsible for this latest big business scam- the beer brewers – ripping off the poor old average aussie working-and-drinking average man. And how were they conning the drinker, you ask? Well, here’s the bit that really paled my ale.

I watched and waited to hear the apparently damning evidence against the breweries. ‘Hopping Mad’ was the headline – at least they are edu-ma-cated enough to research that hops are an ingredient of beer. This made their witty pun all the more attention grabbing. You see, it appears, according to A Current Affair, that those nasty money grubbing liars down at Foster’s and Lion Nathan – that’s Carlton and Toohey’s – are tricking the drinker into paying top dollar for IMPORTED BEERS that are really made HERE IN AUSTRALIA! (Cue dramatic music) DAH – DAH – DAH – DAHH!!!

Now I don’t think that I am an especially smart sort of bloke, and I don’t have any inside brewing information that the average bloke doesn’t have access to, but I knew that many ‘international‘ beers have been brewed under licence in many countries for about ten years. I just assumed that everyone else knew it, too. The report featured sound grabs from ’average’ drinkin’ blokes standing around the barbie and in the pub. I tell you, average is a generous label. These plonkers were dumber than a bag full of hammers. A Current Affair must have had a shed full of leftovers from the last dole bludger expose.

For a start, I can’t imagine any of these mental microbes being able to spell UK, let alone know of, or drink beer from there. They looked like VB and XXXX kind of guys. And I reckon that they might have struggled to spell those, too. But let’s give them a break and pretend that they have actually ever bought a Stella Artois or a Beck’s or a Guinness, a Kingfisher or a Carlsberg.

The first complaint against Big Brewer was that he was pretending that these beers were imported. But were they really being deceptive? The bit on the label that says Made Under Licence; right next to the bit that says MADE IN AUSTRALIA. Wasn’t that just a bit of a give away? "There it is in the FINE print", said the earnest reporter, as if there should be a law that states the country of origin must be in bold font at least twice the size of the brand name. "They’re trying to fool us", said Braniac #3. That wouldn’t be a three point play. On and on these whingers went, lamenting the fact that we are led to believe that "they’re from Europe", plodded Dufus #2. "They taste watery, like they’ve been topped up." What!?

Complaining about the brewers 'charging full import prices for stuff made with Sydney water’ these people need to ‘do a Kylie’ and take a step back in time. The primary reason that international beers like those listed above are being advertised, marketed and sold to Australian drinkers is that the licence brewing has made them cheaper!* Fair dinkum, how about complaining about the fact that you have to fork out the best part of forty bucks for a slab of VB! It’s VB, people! Or close to sixty dollars for Corona! CORONA! It’s Mexican for snake’s water! Wake up.

‘Ads say that these beers are from Europe etc, etc ‘, the reporter continued. No, they don’t. They say that they are European beers. Do we really believe that Lebanese cucumbers can only come from Lebanon? Does Chinese five spice become Wyong five spice if it is made by Masterfoods in NSW? Brewers have developed the technology to produce beer to almost the same taste using local water and highly developed yeast strains so that a Beck’s brewed in Pyrmont, NSW is a pretty good copy of the Beck’s brewed in Bremen, Germany. I stress that this is not always the case, but how many drinkers could honestly say they can taste the difference anyway?

Will ACA now run a similar story telling the Brits that Foster’s Lager has been brewed in Great Britain since around 1980 – no, they won’t, because CUB at the time spent a kabillion dollars and twenty cents on equipment to filter and adjust the water so that Foster’s tastes just like the one at home and took a yeast sample handcuffed to the executives wrist on the plane over there so that the strain would be pure and genuine. And because the poms know that the stuff is brewed over there, too. And they don’t care because it is cheaper than it was when it was shipped from Aus.

And let’s see if next week ACA can expose the fact that the Australian drinker forks over a ton of tax for every slab that he carries home – and we’re still better off than many European countries in this regard. In the mean time run some stories about all the blokes and blokettes who drink beer and DON’T drive home and DON’T beat their kids or who CAN find and keep a job and stop creating stories – in particular, anti beer stories – for the benefit of the four people who can’t exercise basic compulsion control or who don’t know how to read a beer label or who can’t remember how much imported beer used to cost? Hmmm?

*I am researching the price movements of local and imported beers over the past decade – vey slack of me to go in with all guns blazing and not be fully armed – but what the hey?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Beer Games Part Two

I was reminded, while reading over previous articles, about great drinking games. I was somewhat mortified to realise that I had omitted the most interesting and action packed drinking game ever invented. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but when I was playing it I was fairly lagered and it was very, very funny. The game is called ‘The Beer Hunter"’

This drinking game is based on the Academy Award© winning movie of the same name which starred Robert DeNiro, Jon Voight Merryl Streep and John Savage. A cracker of a film and one which I would recommend to all Blokes and Blokettes. It centres on a group of friends from a small American steel town who are sent to Vietnam. The story focuses on their return to the States and the difficulties they face in re-entering the real world after what they experienced as prisoners of the Viet Cong. The ‘key’ scene involves the men being forced to participate in tournaments of Russian roulette for the amusement and gambling fun of their captors. It’s a pretty dark and moody piece of cinema and I don’t want to spoil the plot or bring down the mood too much here so we’ll move on.

The Beer Hunter is loosely based on the Russian roulette theme. You will need about six players, a table, some hand towels and beer in cans. They must be cans. And there must be as many cans as there are players multiplied by the number of rounds you want to play. The game play is simple. Half a dozen cans are lined up in a neat line on the table. One player is selected, voted or volunteers to stay behind in the room while the other players, or Beer Hunters, leave the room.

While the Beer Hunters are away, the remaining player, the ‘Viet Cong’ officer, selects ONE of the cans and vigorously shakes the bejesus* out of it until it is fit to pop. He then returns the can to the line and calls the Beer Hunters back into the room. If you have the movie soundtrack it would help the mood enormously if you hit the play button now. Some discipline and military timing is required at this point as well. The Beer Hunters must approach the table without stalling and choose a can each. Without any hesitation they put their chosen can to their ear and ‘pull the trigger’ – open the can.

All but one Beer Hunter will then sip sweet, sweet amber nectar from their cans while one Hunter will reach for the hand towel and realise that one side of his head looks like the hairdressers model for a 1980’s electronic poofter band. The other players may find it difficult to enjoy their beers as they will possibly be pissing themselves at their mate’s plight. And the fact that he looks like the keyboard player from Kaga Goo Goo.

It would also assist in creating a veil of realism to the game if the person playing the Viet Cong officer could yell at the Beer Hunters excitedly in an exaggerated high pitched Vietnamese accent. "You play, you play" and "Diddi Mao!! DiddiMao!! should work well. If he is OK with it, get him to wave a revolver menacingly as he shouts, though if you are in a public place, say a picnic ground or well attended international sporting event, this may need to be revised. And stick to aggressive movie Vietnamese expressions like those I have suggested. The mood will crumble if you channel the wrong movie and come out with "Me lub you long time soldierboy!" or "You likey me, Mister?"

It may seem odd for me to be promoting a game in which beer is wantonly sacrificed for the amusement of others but I don’t do it very often and, as I said, it really is pretty funny. You could always overcome this dilemma by using a can of cheap and nasty beer as the ‘shaker’ (no, neither Carlton Cold nor Corona come in cans) as long as you mask all the cans in the same fashion. If you don’t disguise the cans and you choose to use crap beer, then you will all have to drink it. And that would be irresponsible of me.

If you know of any other beer games you know where I hang out.

Prof. Pilsner

* You won’t believe it but when I first drafted this piece I used the word ‘shite’ and the spell check had a fit, yet when I changed it to ‘bejesus’ it let it through. How the fricken’# heck does that work?

# It didn’t like fricken neither. I have added this and shite to my computers dictionary and I suggest you make a stand for real language and do the same.

Monday, November 19, 2007

And the best cold beer is...

So went the iconic declaration by the late great John Mellion in the advertising campaign for Victoria Bitter – or Vic, as it was known – or VB, as it became – or ‘a wife beater’ as it has become in more recent times in some drinking circles. The ads are still memorable and are some of the most loved.
The question around the bars and barbeques of Australia has often come up; what really is the best beer, cold or otherwise?

I have spoken before in these pages of ‘occasion beers’; that is, beers suited to the time and place and company. I have always drunk to the motto, "The best beer is the one in your hand, second only to the beer in your hand that was bought for you by someone else." I am asked continually to name my favourite beer and I have taken great delight in the opportunity to explain my drinking philosophy.

For, you see, beers ain’t beers – as the old Castrol advertisement went – except it was about oil. Tho’, if you think about it, beer has been the oil, the lubricant, if you will, for our mateships, our pub arguments and sporting debates, our social and sometimes sexual unions. It is the fuel for our BBQ’s and picnics and dinner party conversations. It is also the glue which holds together many of our cultural traditions and is the nexus between many of our historical triumphs and the guidebook for our modern lives.*

Just the other day I was sipping a very nice ice cold Bitburger pilsner as I enjoyed a meal of Asian flavoured white fish. As I put the glass down after the first mouthful, I stopped and caught myself; I realised that I was actually smiling. The enjoyment of the moment and the nice complementing of food and beer caused an involuntary physical reaction. A vey pleasant one at that. A few days later the same thing happened when, after several very physically taxing hours gardening in the hot sun, an Eskimo cold Boag’s Draught made its way, refreshingly quickly, from its bottle to my throat and onwards.

A couple of weeks back, several pots of brewery fresh Carlton Draught with old school mates at a reunion brought about the same warm beery glow. The glow would have been warmer had the bargirl been able to pour properly and had she been in possession of a personality marginally greater than that of a bucket of sick. But the sharing of lager and tall school yard tales and of catching up on twenty something years of news was something of a tonic. And it just would not have been the same had we all been sharing tonic. The beer, when treated with respect and control added the most mysterious dimensions of distorted perspective and selective reminiscence. And it makes things seem a lot funnier than they may have been at the time.

For example, recounting the time that the ‘annoying kid’ in the year below us was wrapped in the volleyball net – poles and all – and paraded around the yard like a trophy boar was met with loud laughs, as was the tale of the time that the year twelve boys picked up a teachers Mini Moke and lifted it up onto the steps of the main office. Dodgy shenanigans in the drama room were recalled with a fondness that only comes from years of not having drama classes since and instances of what would probably constitute bullying today were remembered fondly as the immature but extraordinarily funny-at-the-time moments committed by mates amongst mates.

But the true testament to beers’ power has to be illustrated most aptly by the witty reconstruction of a language class by Dr Lager himself. The language was Esperanto and if you just said "what’s Esperanto?" then you are not alone. Esperanto was a made up language, but not one created by kids to exclude enemies or to plot terrorist attacks or the kind used by twins to give graduate students something to waste their government grants on. It was actually devised by education department officials somewhere as a universal language. Made up of words from many languages and with some ‘made up’ words in between, it was a going to be the language of the future. That future was roughly two school terms.

The story of Esperanto, or, El Nouvella of Esta Das Esperanto Gratzi, as told by Dr Lager was a great piece of beer theatre. The lead-in and the timing were delicious, the tempo change-ups and the inflections were first class. But what really made it special was the beer. Or, more specifically, the beers. I couldn’t help but think that there is only so much hilarity that you can extract from Esperanto without the right number of beers ingested. It is a fact that the best story can be made all the more funny by the addition of a lager or two. In this case the number may have been a little higher.

Away from the group or social situation, the right beer in the right place at the right time formula can still be applied. After a long and arduous shift in the restaurant and a 1am return to the Bloke House, there is great satisfaction in falling into the couch and quietly contemplating a Mountain Goat Hightail Ale. On a hot night I might lean towards a Beck’s or an Amsterdam Mariner. In either case, the beer, the solitude and the quiet are a perfect foil to a shift of hard slog.

So beer has its place in many social and solo situations. The best beer at the time is the one you choose. It might be one that you bought especially for the occasion, it might be one that was given to you on another special occasion or it might be the one at the back of the fridge that you forgot you had. It could be a ‘traveller’ after a session or a ‘knock-off’ after work or it could just be the one that happens to be on tap that has been beautifully and thoughtfully poured and presented.

Whichever one it is, I hope it makes you smile.

Prof. Pilsner

*Without checking, I think a couple of these thoughts may have been at least mildly influenced by the musings of Ben Canaider and Greg Duncan Powell in their very informative and appropriately named book, ‘Beer. Slabs, Stubbies and Six Packs’, one of my most often referred to reference guides. It is well worth looking for as it is very well written, humorous and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Just like the Beer Blokes, really.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Holidays and Beer

Is there a better series of words in the whole English language? No, seriously. Read the title again. Go on, I’ll wait here. Holidays and beer. HOLIDAYS AND BEER. Mmmm, holidays. Mmmm, beer. Just the very thought of the two – holiday, and all that it embodies- and beer, and all the beer you can ‘embody’ while on holiday.

The fact that you don’t have the same 9-to-5 responsibilities that you have at work or with family, and the fact that you are not as answerable to anyone like you are when you are ‘on the clock’ is like a bone to a starving dog, a Papal Blessing to a devout Catholic or the promise of ten minutes of fame to an Australian Idol hopeful. Or, like a beer to a thirsty man.

This is the story of two thirsty men. And their holiday. And some beer.

Around this time last year the Beer Blokes joined forces and families for their annual holidays and spent a week and a half at Alexandra Headland on the Sunshine Coast in the sunny state of Queensland. This year it was decided that, as the kids had successfully completed the previous experience without killing each other or driving the parents too insane, that we would do it all again this year. And so, heading a little further north to Noosa the adventure continued and a new chapter written. And, of course, the drinking beer bit has provided some more material for an entertaining and informative Beer Blokes post.

Travelling separately due to work commitments, the Blokes, their Blokettes and total of three mini blokettes and one mini bloke met up on a fine but overcast Monday afternoon in adjoining apartments on the river at Noosaville. Having insured that the kids were safely out of the car, Dr. Lager and I headed off into ‘town’ with some haste to seek out sustenance. We found it in the 24 x 375ml form of Dr. Lagers’ choice of ‘stock’ beers, Toohey’s Extra Dry. The basic plan was to hold slab stock of a standard, ‘everybody-can-drink-it-anytime’ kind of mainstream lager which would be complimented – augmented, if you like – by six packs and singles of testers and tasters and local specialties.

The great thing about holiday beers is that you that; a) you don’t have to worry about driving home – you can wander off the neighbours back porch and onto your own in two to seven staggered steps and; b) see a). Oh, and of course because you don’t have to wait til’ dinner to drink them. So sitting out on the deck watching the ducks and the boats go by you can have a Blonde with breakfast, a lager with your lunch, a Dortmunder with your dinner, and even an ale with afters. And when your afters are a bucket of Tin Can Bay prawns and three different dippin’ sauces, well, the ale goes down noice.

And the Extra Dry went down noice, too. So the next day we bought a new slab. Nah, nah, just kiddin’. It took a bit longer than that. A bit. We then went for the Profs choice - Boag’s Draught and it, too, went down a treat. This slab was followed by another Dr. Lager selection; Cascade Premium. Again, nice. Good easy drinking beers that match well with holiday food, holiday activities and late night twenty-twenty cricket telecasts. And you can drink a few when you’re responsibility receptors are set in holiday mode and still wake up pretty fresh in the morning. Which is extra special if your kids get up on holidays when the sun does. In Queensland, this is between 4.30 and 5.00am during October. Not noice.

The two families enjoy a nice meal rather than the standard take away or barbecued-to-death sausage and chop, so the supplementary beers had to have enough personality and flavour to carry their weight alongside things like Moroccan lamb or spicy quesadillas, seasoned chicken or salt and pepper calamari and Indonesian spiced rice. Amply handling this role with beery aplomb were Hansa Pils and Weihenstephaner Pilsner and Original from Germany, Boag’s Wizard Smith Ale and Eumundi Lager, brewed locally. And the odd bod of the brew bunch was the new, limited offering from Foster’s, Crown Gold. This is a piggyback marketing release where the brewer has taken an existing and, in this case, bewilderingly popular brew, and produced a mid strength version.

They did this last year with VB mid strength and previously they had a good deal of success with VB Original Ale but to take their flagship ‘premium’ beer and dumb it down seems a little puzzling. The Dr and I both looked at each other quizzically on the first taste and the consensus was a resounding ‘why bother?’ Crown holds an inexplicable place in many drinkers minds as a dinner table beer or a reward from the boss to the minions at the Christmas party but it is, in reality, Foster’s Lager with a further fermentation and gold highlights on the label. As a mid strength it merely weakens its already flimsy and ethereal foundations. Still, a beer is a beer is a beer.

We were a little surprised by the sameness of the fare on offer around the place – all the outlets we visited (and we visited as many as we could ) had pretty much identical stock lists and many seemed to devote more space to RTD’s and girly fizz than to anything more than a few shelves of XXXX and Toohey’s New, VB and Carlton Draught and even Dan Murphy’s seemed a little light on for craft brews and specials. I don’t know if this is another of those ‘chicken/egg’ things. Do the suppliers stock limited range because holiday makers only buy mainstream local lager, or do holiday makers buy that because the suppliers don’t stock anything more interesting or unusual?

At the end of the day, the best beer is the one in your hand and even better is the beer shared between friends over a meal. The Beer Blokes certainly tipped the scales in favour of the latter and plans are already afoot for next years Beer Bloke Holiday and Lager Adventure.

Prof. Pilsner

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Beer-day To Us

The first Tuesday in November is a special one to Australians. It is Melbourne Cup Day and it is the day on which they run the ‘race that stops a nation’. In describing it, the media has bandied about words like ‘iconic’ and ‘hallowed’ so often that they have had their true meanings diluted. Bruce would probably sum it up best as ‘Spairrrrr-shul’. It really should come already red-circled from the printer when you buy your calendar.

It also marks the genesis of one of this country’s least known and least praiseworthy business ventures. It was last years Melbourne Cup that saw two blokes win enough cash to buy the gear that brewed the beer that made the name - of the Beer Blokes.

And so, on Cup Day a year later, it is fitting that I look back and take stock of the preceding twelve months activities, frivolities, trivialities and beer-ities. Oh, and the tit-it-ties.

I would like to begin by thanking all the people who have happened across the site since we first began with a post (comprising a single line, I think) titled ‘Humble Beginnings’. While some of my opinions and musings may at times appear a little boastful or educated, I like to think that the general flavour and feel of the site has remained essentially humble. As Beer Blokes we have felt the responsibility that the power of the medium holds, even if we are only being powerful to two or three readers. So thank you all, for finding us, for visiting, for staying on and, most importantly, for not slagging us off. There are plenty of sport based blogs and forums for that sort of back-and-forth baiting and puerile point scoring!*

I would love to see any readers who have not yet made a reply to a post til’ now drop us a quick hello, just so that I can get an idea of the numbers we are attracting. No, it won’t stop me from writing this carp if I was to find out that the readership is in single figures, and I certainly don’t have the time nor the inclination to use reader information to sell internet schemes and todger enlargement kits. So don’t be afraid, just be a friend. Better grab a beer and a break. Back soon.

Back. I hope we have been informative as well as entertaining. I reckon we have managed to kick start a few debates and raise the level of awareness about beer brands, beer culture and the mystical beer-sport nexus as well as providing some, at times, humorous insights into the world of home brewing. It is now also a year since we began our home brew adventure and to date, touch wood, we are yet to produce a flat batch, brew any cats’ piss or blow up the kitchen or the shed. So it proves that brewing your own beer is not something that is beyond the average bloke and that you don’t need to be a chemical engineer to produce a very drinkable and enjoyable drop.

The Beer Blokes beer production is about to move into high volume production again. I had hoped to have a greater stock of ‘green’ beer put away to mature by now but some de-cluttering of the brewing premises and a heavier than anticipated general workload has led to a slow down in building up the supplies. Fortunately I have had the time to consume plenty of existing supplies and this has had a two-fold reward. I have got to drink some very tasty beer and smile quietly knowing that I had brewed it, and it has made some extra space in the wardrobe for the next batches. And for some summer clothes. I may be able to have both.

But probably not. Just beer.

I hope, also, that the Blokes have been instrumental in keeping our readership up to date with brew news from various sources, wether it be new product news or brewing and drinking trends or just the general talk from around the bars and pubs and restaurants. And of course, I believe we have unmasked that dreaded and insidious beast who lurks, anonymous and unnamed, beneath the foamy surface of the Beer World creating fear and confusion with his dastardly deceptions – the beer marketing executive and his ever obedient minions- or, The Beer Boogieman.

The Beer Blokes like to think that we have taken on the role of a kind of ‘Canned Crusader’, seeking out this evil doer who would sell his wares at any cost ignorant of any loyalty to the truth. The Beer Bloke has sought to alert the drinkers of the world to the tricks and taunts of this black-caped blackguard and, rest assured, dear readers, we shall endeavour to continue the fight for Truth, Justice and the Ale & Lager way.

So thanks again for supporting us. We hope that you have, and will continue, to enjoy the Beer Blokes unique and lager-charged take on the world of beer, brewing and bullshitting. Cheers.
Dr. Lager & Prof. Pilsner.

*For an entertaining and very funny series of exchanges about the AFL/NRL support debate, pop over to and find this witty and erudite exchange. Dr. Lager has used the name Jabbers64 so that no-one will know it is him. Try not to tell anyone, OK? The internet isn’t global yet, is it?

Friday, November 9, 2007


The month of November is Men’s Health Month and some of the Beer Blokes out there may have participated in a fundraising and awareness campaign known as Mo-vember where normally un-moustachioed males grow some mo’ during the month.

A regular reader of this drivel (THIS BLOG, NOT MEN'S HEALTH WEEK!) participated last year and had a very humorous website to track the mo-progress of himself and his work colleagues; if you are in again this year, the Blokes would like to know. I am happy to support such initiatives because they are a good fun way to raise awareness and money for a good cause. After all, the longer you live, the more beers you get to try!

Not to be outdone and in no way detracting from the real thing, I am starting a supplementary movement on these pages to encourage men to think about their manly health and to do something worthwhile at the same time. If you can’t grow a mo’ then maybe this is for you.


And it’s simple. During the month of November, try to drink as many beers beginning with MO or that have MO somewhere prominent in their title – or style. For example, I am kicking off my campaign for men’s health with a MOosehead from Canada and, while I’m there, I will go for a Unibroue specialty beer called La Fin Du MOnde – which translates as ‘the end of the world – and I can assure you, if you cop the old Jack the Dancer in the old prostate – that’s an ominous brew.

In all seriousness, I reckon this is as good an opportunity as any to promote the cause for prostate cancer and other ‘we don’t like to talk about these things especially Doctors puttin’ their fingers up there’ kind of medical issues. But the reality is that we need to do all we can to stay healthy and beer loving. We owe it to the beer.

Send us your MO selections; they can be a beer or a beer style – but don’t get too carried away by trying to drink a full selection, especially if you choose Monastery Beers, or even Mountain Goat or MOnteith's!

I don’t want to go the opposite way and be the cause of the deaths by beer drowning of the entire Beer Blokes squad!

Cheers, and Good Health.
Prof. Pilsner

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Sydney Experience

A Sporting Journey as seen through a glass of Beer.

As many readers will be aware, Professor Pilsner is something of a sports fan as well as a drinker and admirer of beer so I thought it as good an opportunity as ever to combine the two in the interests of further educating the non - beer world. What follows is a diary of sorts which tells the tale of travel, beer and triumph.

On Saturday September 23 the Melbourne Storm Rugby League club defeated the Parramatta Eels 26 - 10 a momentous occasion for all League followers in Victoria and for one in particular. The win under the roof at the Docklands Stadium ( Telstra doesn’t pay me a cent to advertise their name ) meant that, for the second consecutive year the Storm would play out a contest for the sports’ ultimate prize. For its’ supporters, this meant an opportunity to follow the boys north and share in the elation or the misery and to perhaps enjoy a few of the local liquid offerings. After all, I can have a few extras if I don’t have to fly the plane home, can’t I?

Having offloaded the car at some time before daylight on the Sunday of the game - for the non-leaguers, the NRL holds its Grand Final at night now - my thoughts turned immediately to the prospects of the weekend ahead. Beer. Mmm, beer. What brews would be offered? Where could I go and in what sort of atmosphere would I be drinking them in? Would there be a chance to get some Sydney beer culture experience squeezed in before heading out to the ground?

And then to the game. The what and the where of beer would be pretty straightforward. A couple of hundred little bars and tents dotted at intervals along the inner concourse of the Olympic Stadium (they still haven’t offered to pay me anything to call it Telstra) selling Toohey’s New and a Mid Strength or light, maybe a Heineken. The question would be how long the wait and would the spotty 18 year old girl from Spotless or whoever does the catering there know how to pour a beer into a plastic cup without making either ice cream or a scale model of the Nevada flatlands? And would she know the difference between a cold beer and a not?

But before I got to the game I had to get to Sydney. There would be beer there. Before I got to Sydney I had to get on the plane. They would have beer there, too. Before I got on the plane I had to get to the airport. Hmmm? Pace yourself, Professor, it’s a long day and night ahead, win or lose.

Virgin Blue sells Vbs for I think $5 on their flights and that’s not bad considering what you’d pay for one in nightclub or bar. But, as I have lamented before, why bother drinking VB when you go out if there is anything else on offer? A good example of what it is, but it’s not much really and it’s so readily available that there is little reason to drink it outside the home. If you have to. Crownies were a dollar more and in the words of Forrest Gump; “That’s orl ah gut ta say ‘bout that.”

Having a train at the airport in Sydney is great because it takes a lot of the guesswork out of leaving the airport. Which is even greater if you did have some Vbs for $5 on the plane. Mr Brumby, take note. Get a train built to our airport. And don’t think of calling it Brumby Station or Expensive Street Station. Or putting tolls on it. The guys I was meeting up with had come up a day earlier and I planned to meet them out at the hotel in Parramatta so it was change trains and off again. No beer to be found AT ALL either on the train or at the station. Some work to do here, Morris Ieamma. Iannemma. Enema Iamananna. Mr. Premier. Lunch at Westfield - that’s a big day out for the good folk of Parramatta. For those in Melbourne, think Frankston with not quite as much charm. Standard beer offerings only in the Woolies liquor department.

Back to the hotel. There is only so much excitement you can handle at Westfield before feeling a little giddy. The boys had some leftover Toohey’s Extra Dry and a handful of Crownies so they were put away while we watched the pre game shows and the junior grade Grand Final. Just like the players, the supporters need to prepare for the Big Show. Back on the train at three. No beer available still. Get to the ground. Lots of beer available. And here is where the AFL could take a tip from our northern neighbours.

Outside the ground there are two huge drinking areas set up for fans to meet and wind up and drink a beer. Both are fenced in and secured and have bands playing for free and reasonably priced beer - welcome to the collection Hahn Premium - and it means that you don’t have to commit to sitting inside in the sun watching the grass grow.

The AFL only provides corporately expensive and exclusive entertainment for its showpiece so that if you managed to get a ticket you have to sit through marching banner waving kids and Australian Idols squealing Waltzing Matilda. Or a cardboard Batmobile or the Goal Umpire Chorale or giant novelty inflatable footballers. This year we were treated to an upside down hanging lady who grabbed the cup and then couldn’t find her way down to the podium she was supposed to place it on. Mike Fitzpatrick relived his glory days by taking an easy receive and potting a cherry. Pass the beer, please.

The NRL fought back well by inflicting Nollsie on us but took the lead with the arrival of the Blackhawk helicopter which burned a huge chunk of the middle of the ground and the skydivers who bettered last years effort by landing three and only losing two. That’s one better than last year. But this year none landed on the stadium roof so that’s a good thing.

And on to the game. To their credit, the beers were cold, the staff efficient and friendly and the atmosphere was electric. The beers went down well and the game was a cracker. Sorry, Zak. I would just like to take this opportunity to say Hi to all the Manly supporters who bagged, slagged and in one case ‘flagged’ us before the game. I wasn’t able to catch up with all of you after the game. I was busy. Drinking. And hugging the trophy. And drinking. And, besides, most of you had left long before the game finished. That’s one area we have you beat in the AFL. The supporters stay till the end. Except Melbourne Demons fans. They like to get a headstart on the crowd to get the Range Rover out of the car park quickly. Even long suffering Richmond fans stay on, although, in truth, that’s just so they can rip up their memberships in disgust and berate the players as they walk up the race. That’s the tunnel for you NRL folk.

The after party was a little more unrestrained than at the same time last year and the beer was certainly going down more smoothly. And there was plenty of it. Until it ran out. Drinks with the boys and Molly Meldrum and Micky Roberts and Tiffany Cherry and who knows who else. Everyone was there. Back into the city to finish off the night with a 3am kebab and two Toohey’s New before stacking some zeds and heading back to the airport at 6.30 so we could fly back in time to meet the boys at home.

But the next three days of partying and public civic receptions and partying are a whole other story.

Did I mention that there was beer there?


Prof. Pilsner