Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Beer 2008

As we say farewell to the year gone by
We can pause and dwell and ponder
On all the things that once have been
And what lies out there, yonder

A time to recall our finest deeds
As well the not so worthy
Of all the times we tried to grasp
The Cosmic and the Earthly

The friends we made, the places seen
The comp’ny gathered ‘round
The joyous conversation there
The lovely beers we downed

But then I stop and take a sip
And thoughts come without stealth
Life’s too short for all this crap
Let’s just drink each others’ health!

Cheers & A safe and happy New Year ... of beer

Prof. Pilsner

Do as you are told

So you need to kick start the economy because, well, I don’t know why, something to do with someone in the U.S. lending money to someone and then they couldn’t pay it back and so the whole world economy caves in on itself – seems logical enough, I guess. What’s the solution? Pokies!!!

The federal government recently decided that, because everybody in the whole wide world was spending too much money that the didn’t actually have, we could easily solve the problem by making them spend money that they did actually have, and the best way to make sure that they had the money was to give it to them and the way to ensure that they spent it was to give to them in the weeks before Christmas, and the way to make doubly sure it got spent was to give it to people who would just get a bit giddy at the thought of heading straight out and wasting it.

So a little Christmas present, in the form of between $500 and $1400 was posted out to all the pensioners, low income earners and some people with kids with strict instructions to get it out there into the economy and, whatever you do, don’t save it or put it in the bank but don’t waste it, OK? Promise? Good, off you go!

The result? We know have a new ‘feast day’ in Australia and it’s called ‘Rudd Thursday’. Named by the Hotel Association because the day that the cheques arrived in the mail was the day that literally millions of extra dollars were pumped into pubs and clubs around the country – into poker machines! Now that’s the way to get the economy back on an even keel.

The cynic may even suggest that this is the very result that the Government was looking to achieve. Look good by playing ‘Robin Hood’ for Christmas, get them to spend it on the pokies and we get a shitload of it back in tax!

And still decent people who are out there producing real craft beer are being taxed in the same way as the big multinational beer barons. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Prof. Pilsner

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Tale of two Sittings

I love Christmas. I realise that it is a difficult and stressful time for many and for this I feel sorrow. Sorrow that everyone can’t feel as good as I do.

This situation is as much to do with beer as it does with having here kids, a couple five and under. Don’t underestimate the power of the magic of the season on adults as transposed from the little ones. But let’s just look at the role of the beer now shall we?

Christmas means a few things when it comes to beer. First, it gives partners a good opportunity to get you a ‘special’ as a gift from one of the kids to sit temptingly beneath the tree – even if, like Dr Lager, you have to get it for yourself while you’re out buying your own ‘Christmas specials’. These are the second of the great beer things of Christmas. The opportunity to grab a basket (or trolley) full of specials is a rare feast for the beer lover and one which needs due care and consideration mixed generously with liberal doses of care free abandon.

We spread our Christmas family celebration over Christmas eve and Christmas day with both sides of the family visited and each is very different in terms of the beer. Eve with the ‘out-laws’ is a bit of a beer fest with the Bro-in-law and I both exchanging very beery presents as well as providing the matched or themed beers for the meal. As we are the only two beer drinkers, this task is both fun and easy! More on the beers we chose in another post.

Christmas Day down the beach with my folks is just as enjoyable for the company and noisy laughter of three extra kids but the beer situation is vastly different. Because I have the driving duties – around an hour each way – and the fact that I have given the festive ales a reasonable nudge the night before, I need to pace myself and take things a bit easy. To this end, Dad helps out by being a wine drinker with plenty of beer in the fridge. But, in stark contrast to the ‘variety pack’ from the night before, Dad only ever has one or two beers representing the beer world at any one time. Fair enough if you don’t drink it all the time and only have it on hand for guests.

So Christmas Eve was spent selecting, evaluating and anticipating six different ales, lagers and specialty beers, while Christmas Day was spent knocking down a few quiet Crownies and enjoying the day. Both completely different experiences, but both enjoyable in their own special way.

I told you Christmas was a wonderful time.

Prof. Pilsner

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We Wish You a Beery Christmas 2008

Just a quick post amidst all the hustle and bustle of festivities to wish all the Beer Blokes and Blokettes out there in internetland a Happy and Safe Christmas.

A very busy 2008 has seen Beer Blokes grow from a rubbishy bit of waffle which was mostly made up by me and read by a few easily amused punters, to a flourishing source of wisdom and beery information which is awaited eagerly by many, many astute beer lovers and industry experts alike. No, wait, that’s another made up bit. But we have increased our hits from around 20 a week to between 20 and 50 a day and for that support I thank you all. It makes the time it takes to source and compile the stuff I post worthwhile.

Thank you also to all those who have encouraged this tomfoolery by leaving comments and feedback on the stuff you have stumbled across here over the year and I hope you continue to post your thoughts in the future.

A special thanks to all my overseas readers and contributors who have helped out during the year to find answers and opinions for me and the other blokes when I have requested it. I am hoping to ‘profile’ a few OS beer blogs in the New Year so that we can generate a few extra hits ad keep spreading the good beer word.

The New Year will also see me embark on a couple of Beer Nerd Adventures as I attempt to visit as many beer bars and restaurants as I can so that I can give you all an idea of what they are about. Many more nights and sunny afternoons will be spent at special places like The Local Taphouse which is fast becoming a beer Mecca for those seeking beery sustenance as well as beery conversation and beery company. Well done, boys, and keep up the good work.

And, lastly, to all those craft brewers out there who have kept my fridge full and my mouth happy, a huge thank you. I hope that this blog has helped to spread the word about the types and styles and brands of good beer that are out there and that some of you have been encouraged to try some of the same as a result of these pages. Keep supporting the blokes who are getting some terrific brews out into the market and support the blokes like Cloudwine, Purvis and Sword’s Select who are retailing and showcasing these beers.

Stay safe, be excellent to each other and, for goodness sake, drink some great craft beer and tell your mates about it.

Prof. Pilsner

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ale Stars was a ‘Bell Ringer’

I’ve always believed that beer people are the best people. You can get a whole bunch of them together, give them all a few beers, start a conversation, let it run unchecked and just sit back and enjoy the show.

Such was the case at last nights’ fifth instalment of Ale Stars at The Local Taphouse. Rather than a ‘show and tell’ by a guest brewer, Ale Stars tends to lean more towards a ‘Q&A’ style forum with input welcome and answers rarely technical. But, when the boss shifts the focus from the ‘informative’ to the ‘interactive’ and the room is filled with passionate beer lovers and a couple of brewers, there really is very little room left for quiet contemplation of your beer.

Wheat beers were on show this time around and Shandy had his hands full just trying to get a hold of the promised beers as well as contending with a spot of ill health. One of the beers failed to materialise, but the man’s health seemed to improve with each sample! As always, Shandy’s knowledge, coupled with his ability to share it in an easily understandable language, made for a well paced journey through the five different wheat beers.

Neil from Matilda Bay Brewing was on hand to present the first beer of the night, the award winning and ground breaking Kristalweizen, Redback. Laid back and not taking himself too seriously, the man mirrored the beer. A nice easy going wheat beer, Redback was the beer which made Australians aware of both wheat beers and craft brewing, although I think we still called them ‘boutique brewers’ back then. A brief history of the style was followed by a brief history of both Redback and craft brewing over the last 20 odd years.

A Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier and Vitus followed quickly and along with the increase in ABV made some of us question the wisdom in arriving early for a couple of sneaky upstairs beers. The conversation travelled quickly and, courtesy of some knowledgeable input from accomplished brewer AG in the comfy seats, question soon turned to lively debate as styles and marketing and independence was discussed in a fun and lively manner. When the debate is about beer, it seems that no opinion is shot down and all comments get a fair hearing.

Now, I mentioned earlier that these gigs rarely get technical, except to clarify the odd brewing process or to describe a profile element of a certain beer, and even then the tech talk is fairly tame. But you will also remember that I commented that Steve, one of the Taphouse owners was looking for more group discussion. Well, he got it and then some – to the point where he has now decided that for the next Ale Stars meet, a ‘tech bell’ will be employed to ‘call Shenanigans’ on anyone who gets too tech-tossy with either the questions or the answers! Fellow Taphouse partner Guy might want to argue the toss as he was responsible for most of the science lesson last night!

A Hoegaarden Grand Cru was due to draw the curtain on the night but Neil and his generous masters had a sneaky beer of their own with which too further dent the spirits of those who drew the short straw and had to drive. Yeah, thanks guys. A Sebastian Reserve Dunkel capped off the night with something a little different and special. And for those wondering, yes, Sebastian is named after a pet duck. Of course. And in case I wasn’t pissed off enough at having to go steady on the amber, Steve finishes the night officially by shouting every Ale Star with a Christmas Thank You beer!! Yeah, Thank You!!!

But I don’t want to give the impression that I was at all disappointed. Ale Stars is a sensational concept for beer people. Never taking itself too seriously, open to all and informative as well as entertaining, this exBEERience, if you will, is a great opportunity for the average punter (and there are plenty of ‘average’ punters on hand – hello to Dr Lager) to talk beer, drink beer and bend the ear of other beer lovers and brewers alike. I suspect it is also a great chance for the brewers to see the satisfaction that the fruits of their labours give to the end consumer. Speaking to Neil afterwards I can attest to the fact that he was surprised by the passion and the interest in the room and pleased that he was able to contribute to what most agree was the most enjoyable Ale Stars so far.

To Shandy, thanks again for a magnificently casual professionalism in hosting the night, to Steve, Guy and Justin likewise for a great concept perfectly delivered and to Bec and the staff a big thanks for the friendly service of the beers and the food. And, as always, a huge shout-out to the Ale Stars themselves for the support we all give the concept and the growth that this night seems to enjoy from each previous meeting. An hour or so after the event a handful of insightful conversations around the bar were winding down and I could write ten posts with just the chat I had with AG, Shandy, Steve and Neil!

As the pumpkin hour approached and we realised, yet again, that we were left holding up the bar with AG and Shandy, we reluctantly trudged off into the cool Melbourne night filled with the warm glow of wheat beer, good company and a gutful of giggles to look forward to the next instalment.

The next, by the way is scheduled for January 22. BYO tech bell.

Prof. Pilsner

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Beer Nerdy kind of challenge

I am always on the lookout for a new angle or a beery challenge or something just a bit different at which to direct my energy when it comes to beer. Sometimes the tasks I set myself are a little ‘beer nerdy’ even by my standards. But, a bloke’s gotta be passionate about something.

My local daily paper published a regular feature last week titled “the beer lovers’ guide to Melbourne”, a list of the top 30 ‘Beer Hot Spots’. I reckon these things are more about appeasing advertisers, scrounging for freebies and greasing business relationships than they are any well researched and ranked ladder, but they are usually a good enough read and give at least a plug to some good beer places.

The story listed “the best places to drink, brew and learn about beer” and divided it into local brewers, pub breweries, the best bars, homebrewing outlets and ‘something different’. Reading through, it occurred to me that these lists are always a bit subjective and will always have omitted one or two places that someone else considers better than best. Generally, though, they are well put together and at least they are exposing new beer people to the places and people who make beer happen.

And, now that I have finally completed my search for the Sierra Nevada, I am a bit lost, actually. In need of a new challenge. And then it came to me. Use the list. Use the list, Luke.

I thought I’d try to visit each place on the list. In order. That should be nerdy enough.

Prof. Pilsner

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Had to share this one with you. I never realised the solution was so simple. This letter to the editor comes from the Herald Sun in Melbourne on Thursday December 11. I laughed.


‘Has anyone noticed that street violence has increased with the changes to smoking laws in clubs? Patrons are forced on to the streets to smoke, causing all these problems.
The police and Government need to look into this matter as I believe this is a major factor in the problem’.

Jenny Denko, Sunbury.

I’m not sure where to begin so I will compose my thoughts while chanting ....


OK; Smokers are not ‘forced’ to do anything, they choose to smoke while at the venue and smoking is rightly allowed only outside. Smokers are not being violent because they smoke are they? I have not seen that warning on a pack yet. The police and Government can’t ‘look into this matter’ because they are too busy dealing with the idiot actions of people like you who are incapable of walking and talking at the same time. Oh, by the way, you must be as thick as a whale omelette to believe what you said. Meanwhile, here’s a reply I’d like to see.

“Stoopid is as stoopid does”.
Forrest Gumps’ Mama

Prof. Pilsner

Saturday, December 13, 2008

And Amy Winehouse can be your anti drugs campaigner

A quick follow up to a story from last year when a local Gen Y’er named Corey made the headlines for running a little party at home that got well out of hand after the internet was used to ‘advertise’ the event.

Corey copped all sorts of flak – mainly because instead of apologising or showing remorse, he spoke to any media outlet that would show up and eventually became a caricature of himself. And a dickhead, though I suspect he already had that art mastered. Anyway, Corey got himself an ‘agent’ or a ‘manager’ (maybe a ‘parent’ might have been more useful) and tried to make a career out of being a tool. A couple of unsuccessful nightclub appearances (Geez, you’re even more of a dickhead up close!) and even less successful attempts at hosting parties for other dickheads, and Corey faded away. Until last week.

Clearly unimpressed with Corey’s earnings, his manager offered him up as a consultant to the Premier, John Brumby, who is not a million miles away from Corey when it comes to arse-brained schemes. His latest effort to quell the growing problem of out-of-control youth is to declare war on the ‘me’ generation and demand of them respect. On Friday the Premier released a plan “to restore respect throughout schools and the community”. “I am concerned about an emerging culture of alcohol and a lack of respect,” the Premier said, presumably keeping a straight face the whole time.

Mr Brumby plans a multi million dollar campaign to steer young Victorians into volunteering for key fire, rescue, welfare and community groups and to ‘change the school curriculum to teach teenagers right from wrong’. Quote, unquote. A million dollar campaign to teach right from wrong? How about a nil dollar plan to back the police when they send these dumbarse little scrotes to court and they get a pat on the back and a ‘try not to do it again’ from the do-goody, namby-pamby, social engineering judges? Or allow the coppers to have a stern word with the mouthy little wankers when, at age 8 – 12 they begin their anti-social antics and thumb their noses at the law?

So Corey is going to offer the boss his advice on promoting respect and controlling the violence perpetrated by so many of today’s youth. “They need to be entertained or have places to go so that they aren’t on the streets where the violence occurs,” Corey said. In a written statement from his manager, obviously, so that the spelling could be corrected and the crayon smudges erased. Of course these days kids just don’t have anything entertaining in this technology-deprived, under age nightclub banned, internet free ‘prison’ of a society, do they? Shit, twenty years ago we thought the space age had arrived when Atari brought out their new state of the art follow up game! This is way better than Pong!!

Corey also suggested street parties, concerts and relaxing laws so some licensed venues could be used for under 18s events. Cos there just aren’t any parties, concerts or nightclubs around, are there? Dickhead. The Premier, on the other hand, wants troublesome youth to volunteer for emergency services like the SES and the CFA because what we really need is Dickheads assisting in the extrication of other Dickheads from crashed cars or putting out fires lit by bored and mindless Dickheads. To be fair, the Government hasn’t asked for Corey’s ideas, he’s just offered them up, but what’s next?

Maybe we could get Paris Hilton to advise on celibacy, or Shane Warne could head up the Culture and Arts department? Ronald McDonald could be your childhood obesity advisor, Drunken ‘Schoolies’ could draught retail alcohol legislation and Baz Luhrman could make ads for the tourism commission!! Crazy stuff!!

Cheers, Prof. Pilsner

Friday, December 12, 2008

Looking after your mates?

From the sunny sunshine state, Queensland, comes this story of Christmas spirit – looking to do well upon your fellow man. Not sure that I approve, but clever is clever. True story. Thanks Tim, for the tale.

Recently a routine police patrol parked outside a local neighbourhood tavernLate in the evening the officer noticed a man leaving the bar so intoxicated that he could barely walk. The man stumbled around the car park for a few minutes, with the officer quietly observing.After what seemed an eternity and trying his keys on five vehicles, the man managed to find his car which he fell into. He was there for a few minutes as a number of other patrons left the bar and drove off. Finally he started the car, switched the wipers on and off (it was a fine dry night), flicked the indicators on, then off, tooted the horn and then switched on the lights. He moved the vehicle forward a few cm, reversed a little and then remained stationary for a few more minutes as some more vehicles left.At last he pulled out of the car park and started to drive slowly down the road. The police officer, having patiently waited all this time, now started up the patrol car, put on the flashing lights, promptly pulled the man over and carried out a Breathalyser test. To his amazement the Breathalyser indicated no evidence of the man having consumed alcohol at all!Dumbfounded, the officer said 'I'll have to ask you to accompany me to the Police station this Breathalyser equipment must be broken.''I doubt it,' said the man, 'tonight I'm the designated decoy'.

Beer Blokes like a good story but we don’t promote drink driving.

Prof. Pilsner

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ale Stars to harvest the wheat

For those in or around – or planning a quick trip to – Melbourne next week, keep Tuesday the 16th free for the next Ale Stars get together at The Local Taphouse in East St Kilda.
Coming into the warmer weather the featured beers are wheat beers.

Neil from Matilda Bay Brewery will be the guest brewer and I am assuming that Shandy will again host the event. I hope he is because I think I still owe him an apology (and Steve) for the Scottish/Irish accent fun I poked in the last Ale Stars review.

Redback Kristal, Hoegaarden Grand Cru, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier and Aventius Weizenbock will be the beers for sampling and discussion and the fact that all these beers are a nice citrusy tangy kind of offering, means there should be room left for just a couple of ‘afters’.
7.00 on Tuesday December 16 is when the fun kicks off at 184 Carlisle St East St Kilda. $25 a head gets you your four samplers and a host of gourmet pizza as well.

Prof. Pilsner

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Never disappointed

I have always lived life and drunk beer by the following guideline;

“This is the second best I’ve ever had.”

As a Beer Bloke I am often asked to nominate my favourite beer or to rank the one I’m presently enjoying in my all time ‘best-of’ list. I always come back to my guideline. It’s the second best. The second best beer, the second best steak, the second best holiday, the second best sha ... well, you get the drift.

This mental application means that the best is always yet to come. There is always another. I don’t need negativity like Jack Nicholson’s character in ‘As Good As It Gets’ – no, this is NOT all there is. The best is always yet to come. It makes for an enjoyable time, every time. There are no such things as ‘bad’ beers, just ones you wouldn’t have again. Good beers and better beers. Just never the best. That could be the next one. Or the next one. Or the one after that.

Those who have followed my search for the lost treasure of the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale will understand that I don’t await the first sip of this beer with trepidation or fear that it won’t live up to my own hastily created hype. It CANNOT disappoint me. Well, unless it’s flat or stale. Or my ‘mates’, who’ve tormented me previously with this beer, have secretly removed it from the beer crisper, uncapped it, replaced the contents with cats piss – or worse, Carlton Cold – recapped it and then snuck it back into the fridge. That would probably disappoint me. But other than that happening, I win.

I will enjoy it because it has been such a saga for me to get it. The journey is just as important as the destination. Or, as my daughters’ Kinder teacher said, ‘It’s the process, not the product, that counts’. And because I have waited so long. And because I already know that it won’t be the best beer I’ll ever have. Because that one is always still to come.

Prof. Pilsner

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I know what you mean

Over on Stonch’s Beer Blog, Jeff has posted a piece on the seasonal crowd who only frequent pubs at this special time of the year and some of the challenges that they pose to the year round regulars and the staff of the pubs they visit.

I am experiencing the same sort of thing in the restaurant as the corporate party crowd descends and brings with it many ‘fresh heads’ who may never have even thought to visit a restaurant like ours. This is not always a bad thing and it can even be a great opportunity to snaffle a few loyal regulars from other places around who may have been taking them for granted.

It can be frustrating when a new guest complains about the fact that you don’t have his favourite spirit or beer, but these blokes are thankfully rare. It does bring up the point that Jeff made and that is; to what extent do you ‘gear up’ for the Christmas crowd and how far do you go to accommodate their whishes or whims? I see the chance to expose them to something they may not have had and might just find themselves liking. I will sometimes pick my mark carefully and offer him or her a ‘beer back guarantee’ – try the beer, if you really don’t like it, I’ll buy you another. We both win in the end.

It can also be a good opportunity to talk beer with people who are accustomed to being offered just the standard big brewery fare whenever they go out and these guys really appreciate the extra attention to their beer drinking needs.

You will always get the few who can’t, or just won’t, be swayed from their favourite brew and that’s fine too. Spend your time and experience on those who you might ‘convert’ and the Beer World gains another to its population. They are the ones you may see back again – it’s pointless wasting too much time and energy on peanuts that you really don’t want in the place again anyway.

A pub is certainly a different beast to a restaurant in that my people have usually come in as a guest of someone else and not made the decision themselves whereas, as Jeff points out, his ‘Once a year Regulars’ come in as a result of some vague concept that they should visit a proper pub at Christmas time even if they wouldn’t do it any other time.

I like using this time of the year as an opportunity to make a few new friends and to move some stock that might normally sit around the fridge or the cellar. If we all get a ‘win’ then I don’t feel too bad. Merry Christmas.

Prof. Pilsner

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Barons Best Beer In Battle of Britain

It really did happen, but it was also a great excuse to use all those ‘B’ words in a title!

Barons Brewing Company, who were featured and promoted late in November, have taken out the top gong in the JD Wetherspoon International beer festival last week.

Barons was invited to enter and represent Australia in the international category and offered the Barons Black Wattle Original Ale as their signature brew. A very nice amber ale flavoured with native spices, the beer was selected ahead of three other overseas contenders from California, Denmark and Tokyo, and a total of 50 nominations for best beer.

The competition was run in 717 Wetherspoon pubs across the country and attracted votes from some 8500 punters so this was no mean feat, despite what some locals think of the ‘chain’ pubs and the anti-sentiment of some CAMRA factions. I would be interested to hear fro my blog mates in Old Blighty as to their thoughts on the ‘validity’ of the Wetherspoon festival. Either way, I am backing Barons as a legitimate winner, so there. And here’s why ...

Black Wattle Original Ale has been floating around as a bottled brew for about three years and when head brewer Richard Adamson was invited to brew a batch at the prestigious Marston’s Brewery at Burton-On-Trent he specifically designed a version of the Black Wattle that would savour the ‘real ale’ experience – open fermentation, bright filtering, cask conditioning and hand pumping – to ensure a genuine ale rather than a sort of native favoured Aussie standard beer. The local brew went through six different versions and some serious tweaking before being unleashed on the public. That’s brewing dedication, isn’t it?

In addition, the win has attracted some interest from local importers who are looking at getting on board the Barons Squadron and letting our mother country’s beer lovers experience these innovative beers.

Prof. Pilsner

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Eyes have it

What do beer and eyes have in common? Well, apart from the fact that you need eyes to be able to fully appreciate the colour and the look of the beer, and the fact that eyes are reasonably handy in finding your way to the pub, it seems there is more to it than you might think.

A study released this week shows a strong possible link between drinking beer and going blind. It used to be just about GETTING blind. Apparently men who drink four or more beers a day have six times the chance of going blind from macular degeneration than other drinkers and teetotallers.

The study involved 6700 people – I don’t know much about science so I don’t know if this is a good size for a study that might scare the shite out of beer drinkers – and featured people aged between 58 and 69 years (aren’t they a fair chance of going blind anyway?). The researchers also stated that they didn’t want to base a general health alert on one study. Probably should have just kept the results to yourselves until you were sure, eggheads.

I thought I’d better counter balance this with a study that might make beer drinkers feel that they can do something to prevent the effects predicted by the ‘evil study’. So here’s the ‘good study’. It comes from a few years back but I can’t see any reason that it would not be just as relevant. Dr Karen Wetherby conducted a survey of 200 blokes in Germany and found that staring at women’s breasts is actually healthy for you and just a ten minute perve is the equivalent of a 30 minute aerobic workout. A concentrated gaze resulted in lower blood pressure, less heart disease and a slower pulse rate compared to those who didn’t get a daily eyeful. Hmm.

“Sexual excitement gets the heart pumping and improves blood circulation. There is no question that gazing at breasts makes men healthier” said Dr Wetherby who went on to claim – and who am I to doubt her – “our study indicates that engaging in this activity just a few minutes daily cuts the risk of stroke and heart attack in half”. IN HALF!! If women had FOUR, maybe we’d become immortal!!

The study concluded that .. “by doing so consistently, the average man can extend his life expectancy by five years”.

All in all, that’s a nice set of figures.

Prof. Pilsner

Here is a simple self test below. Check your pulse rate before and after. Let me know how you go. And ladies, the study didn’t say anything about the effect of staring at man-boobs on your health. Sorry. Oh and by the way, Dr Karen Wetherby appears quite a bit in searches for ‘urban legends’ – but don’t let that rain on your parade.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Answers for Aaron

I met another beer guy in the restaurant on the weekend and he had an enquiry about a Mexican beer called Mexican Bohemia. I hadn’t heard of it and so I promised that I would set my dogs on to it and chase down the details. More than that, I promised that I would get word out to my American blog mates and see if I could get the REAL scoop on this brew. Isn’t the internet thingy great!?!

The source and supplier websites all talk about what a highly sought after and multi-award winning beer Mexican Bohemia is and I never expected anything other than that and so we shall move on. A few beer blogger sites have some glowing remarks to recommend it and others tell me which beers they prefer to this one.

All the comments seem to suggest that the beers best feature is its ‘European-ness’ and the fact that it has been around for a hundred years. Apparently imported into Australia since at least January 08, it has been available only in Mexican restaurants and occasionally through some retailers. I imagine most have steered clear due to the saturation of the Mex beer market by Corona and Sol and, more recently, by Dos Equis.

So the cry for help goes out to my North American bretheren – and any Mexicans who may have stumbled across the worldwide beery phenomenon that is Beer Blokes. What is the true story of his fabled brew? Who drinks it and when?

Thanks for your interest, Aaron. The beer world is getting smaller and smaller and the answers should come in shortly. Otherwise we’ll both have to go with company line that it is a truly international standard Pilsner style but ‘rich in hops and corn’ and ‘a delight to drink’.

Prof. Pilsner

Monday, December 1, 2008

November Wrap Up

As we all race irreversibly into December and the ‘silly season’ I am taking the opportunity to recap a few important bits and pieces arising from the last month or so.

Movember is drawing to a close (as is both Mo-Vembeer and the more conventional incarnation of November) and I am in the process of finalising my donation total to the cause. Any charity that can encourage blokes to get off their arses and see a doctor is worth supporting. Even though getting off your arse and seeing a doctor might mean the doctor getting off his arse and inspecting yours. Plus, it beats the hell out of dying early.

I managed to squeeze a few new beers into the Mo-vembeer framework this year and have calculated the amount I’ve spent on them to determine the final tally to donate. You really should try it, it’s fun, you get to choose and drink nice beers and you help out your fellow bloke. I’ll list all the Mobeers once I’ve finished drinking them all.

November also saw the Beer Blokes third anniversary. We began this rubbish in November back in 2006 as a result of our syndicate win in the Melbourne Cup Carnival that year. And, while Dr Lager has been busier and busier with family and work, he still drinks plenty of beer so he’s still a Beer Bloke. Plus he helps me out with the technical side of things when I try to break the Internet.

Work commitments also meant that the Pilsner and Lager families were unable to share a holiday this year and I have to say that while the beers still tasted great, it’s not the same being on holidays and being the only beer drinker.

We’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to help out our fellow beer drinkers by answering their various beer related queries, settle their bets for them and probably start a few arguments as well. We have promoted beer related competitions and events as they crop up around the web and we have done our best to advertise the highlights that Melbourne’s local beer scene has to offer. I do appreciate the comments we get and share with blokes and other beer bloggers and hopefully we can continue to provide/research/make up all the facts and stats and stories you could ever need.

I will now raise a frothy glass to you all to toast the end of the month and wish you all well going into the Christmas Season. I can tell you, from experience, that Christmas and kids just makes the beer taste even better.

Prof. Pilsner

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Farcebook strikes back

I don’t do Facebook. Never have. I don’t have anything against people who do, it’s just not me. I would just rather drink with real friends than count pretend ones. I’m possibly just outside the age demographic that really ‘gets it’ and finds it rewarding.

I work in restaurants. Have for a while. Love the trade, love the people factor and the banter and the pace and the vibe and all those things that set the hospitality industry aside from so many other careers. About the worst thing you can do to really piss me off is to D&D – dine and dash – ‘do a runner’, ‘bail on the bill’, basically break the law by ordering and eating and drinking and then committing common theft by not paying the bill. That really pisses me off. It’s hard enough to make a dollar at the best of times without dirty toe rags scarpering on you.

So it tickled me a bit to hear the story of the Southgate restaurant which had this disrespect visited upon them recently. A group of five young diners requested a table for dinner after a few drinks at the bar. They ordered confidently from the menu, drank fine wines and, after dessert popped out for a smoke from which none of them returned. They left a bitter taste in the mouth of the owner. They also left a bill for $520. They also left a clue. Dickheads.

When the group arrived, the boss recalled a conversation between one of the soon-to-be-bill dodgers and a staff member concerning a staff member not on duty that night. The dickhead left his name for the waiter. The owner fired up the laptop and entered the name into Facebook and there was the little scrote, pictured with his girlfriend, a fellow scrota-ette and member of the dine and dash party! The Facebook page also listed his place of employment – a neighbouring Southgate restaurant. Not just a filthy disrespectful tea-leaf, but thieving from his own ‘family’!!! How very dare he!!

The owner popped into his neighbours place and related the story. The fellow business owner returned to the scene of the crime within hours with the head dickhead in tow. The now less-than-smug bloke paid the bill in full plus a generous tip. Then he left and then his boss gave him the arse. Nice work, and quick, too!

Interesting to see if he updates his Facebook page to include this story.

I still don’t like Facebook.

Prof. Pilsner

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Metro or Retro?

Once upon a time there were blokes. Just blokes. They all went out to work and earned the wage for the upkeep of their family, which tended to consist of a woman for a wife and a couple of kids who looked pretty much like one or both parents. They enjoyed sport and they drank beer. Occasionally they went off to war to fight for their freedoms and sometimes they fixed the car on the weekend after mowing the lawn. They were pretty easy to spot and they all looked and sounded kinda the same.

It’s all different now.

Not only can being a bloke mean many different things, but what defines being a bloke is ever changing as well. It is harder to ‘spot’ a bloke in a crowd. They can all be blokes but look completely different. And to confuse things even further, blokes have different ‘tags’ by which they can be identified. And I don’t mean the ‘tags’ on their beers, though this can often be a good method for spotting real beer drinkers as well as posers, poindexters and poofters.

One day we discovered that there was a thing known as a ‘Metrosexual’. I think some of them used to be blokes and some of them still are blokes but don’t want to look like blokes. But they are still blokes. They tend to want to come across as strong and manly but use make-up and stuff. They call it ‘cleanser’ and ‘toner’ and ‘moisturiser’, but it’s make-up. They also exfoliate, apparently. I don’t know what that is, but I think it’s something much more poofy than just shaving. They drink beer, but only just. They sip Coronas and Miller Chill and cheap beer with lemon disinfectant in it. Mostly, though, they drink white wine with names that are easy to say in a poncy voice like “Pee-Noh Greee” and “Sor-ving-nyon Blonk”or “Mos-Kartoh”. They are fairly easy to spot because they either look like David Beckham or Ian Thorpe or they are David Beckham and Ian Thorpe.

But today we are seeing a return to the more traditional bloke here in Australia. While some of the weaker ones have strayed from the flock and toyed with ‘product’ and ‘shopping’, most blokes stayed true and kept the faith. He wants kids but spends too much time talking to women friends about Global Warming and carbon footprints instead of keeping the conversation simple and to the point – “How about a root?” Real women like real men. Plus, the girls discovered that while it was cool for a while to hang out with metrosexuals, it’s no good when they use more make-up than them and have bigger purses. Yes, boys, they are purses, not guy-satchels or man-bags.

Welcome the Age of the Retrosexual. He hates shopping and buys clothes when his wife drags him suffering to the shops. He cooks meat on the BBQ with flame and smoke and doesn’t make his mates remove their shoes before they come inside. He likes whatever it is that he is wearing because it is comfortable. His toothbrush and razor occupy a small piece of real estate in the vanity cupboard. He spends time with his kids or with women with whom he has a chance of practising to make kids. He doesn’t mind having his mates take the piss out of him for his choice of music or the car he drives and he gives as good as he gets. It’s all fun and we’re all mates.

David Beckham thought he could make the men of the world think that wearing a sarong was cool. He was wrong. ‘Tool’, not cool.

Prof. Pilsner


I had a comment posted a week back seeking counsel on an important and delicate issue;

Dear Professor,

I’m getting married next month and I must choose between having Beck’s or James Boag’s Premium as the wedding beer.

Any thoughts?

Thank You, Jason the Architect.

Jason is both blessed and cursed in the same way that many of his predecessors were sublimely oblivious. Going back ten and twenty years when most of our crew were getting hitched, not only were we not given a choice but we didn’t realise that there was a choice. Well, apart from one.

At a wedding you had VB as the table beer in 750ml longnecks and the bridal party had Crown Lagers – sorry, Crownies – during the photo session and in the back room while the guests were being seated. We never drank anything much other than VB and that was just the way it was.

Today the bride and groom are more likely to be offered a choice but for many the choice will be ‘Boring Mainstream Lager A’ or ‘Boring Mainstream Lager B’ or, in Jason’s case ‘Mainstream Lager A’ or ‘Mainstream Lager But Imported A’.

It got me to thinking about what factors come into play when choosing a beer and what that choice says about you and and how you feel about your guests. I suggested to Jason that careful consideration needed to be given as to what your choice of beer says to your guests about what you think of them. So many guests today will be armed with the knowledge that there is more to beer than standard golden mainstream lagers and who know that there is not really a difference between Carlton Draught and Toohey’s New other than the state of origin.

The reality is that most guests will not see a mainstream beer on their table as a slight by you, but that would not have made for a very interesting post, so let’s just pretend that they will all assume that they have offended your family name if they were to be served Carlton Cold. By the way, please, please, please don’t serve Carlton Cold. Even as a joke.

So what does Beck’s ‘say’ to your guests and what is Mr Boag’s reply? The import probably hints at certain perceived levels of quality. Plus, every man and his dog have seen their series of TV advertisements on high rotation lately and will at least know the brand, unlike the wedding guests of a decade back. (That’s a rather sad realisation isn’t it?)

The Beck’s beer with its precision German engineering and inoffensive profile suggests that; “Your company on our special day is thought of highly, we value your friendship and trust you all enough that you will not buy us cheap and shitty gifts from shops whose names end in ‘R US’ or ‘A-RAMA’, that this is our special day and we choose to share it with you even if we think your partner is a bit dodgy and we are betting your relationship won’t see Christmas and that we wish for you to be a part of our lives when we are married”.

James Boag’s Premium Lager is a local version, clean and crisp, easy drinking without being bland – interesting enough to be enjoyable to those with a bit of beer nous but not too ‘boutique’ to make the semi-bogans wish they’d smuggled in some VBs under the corduroy sports jacket that they consider falls well within the definition of ‘Lounge Suit’. It says pretty much exactly the same as what the Beck’s says, but says ‘mate’ at the end.

Prof. Pilsner

Friday, November 28, 2008

The search is over but the journey begins

For those new to this blog, or those who only read the bits that have boobies in them, here is an update on my quest for the holy ale.

Okay, it’s not really a quest as such and it’s not really the holy ale but it has been something of a journey for me over the last year. It is really just another beer but to me it represents so much more. It is a craft beer from a US brewery that was one who helped to lead the way for the craft beer scene back in the 80’s. You remember the 80’s? Leg warmers, real pro wrestling and electronic pop music?

The beer is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and it first ‘batched’ on November 15 1980. The fact that this beer has a birthday is significant – like pilsner which was ‘born’ on October 5 1842 – pretty cool to know when the beer was first poured. For me it’s a nice feeling to know a bit about the origins of a beer and certainly to know that it was crafted and not just pumped in and spat out of a lab by a computer. I don’t trust computers and I certainly don’t trust computers that don’t drink beer.

Like many craft brewers, Sierra Nevada began as a homebrewing operation which outgrew the kitchen, then the shed and then became a brewery with second hand and recycled equipment. Sticking to traditional and natural processes and committed to using only quality ingredients, the small brewery became a bigger one and a bigger one again until it just kind of morphed into something of an empire with restaurant and a 350 live music beer hall with all the bells, whistles and fine beers. To pop all that into print in just under a paragraph makes it sound like an overnight success, and this piece cannot do justice to the passion for real craft beer that Ken Grossman and his team have shown in building the business without sacrificing the beer.

My interest in the SN Pale Ale stems from reading about and speaking to craft brewers in Australia and finding that, for many of them, this beer was their “Sgt Peppers” or their “Nevermind The Bollocks” albums (remember albums?) the thing that made them stop in their tracks and rethink what beer could be. For some it was the inspiration to take their own home brewing to the next level, for others it was a kind of benchmark for the beers that they would brew. Remember Little Creatures first entrance into the market – all of a sudden the game had changed and hops were not just something that Granny stuffed a pillow with to ward off nightmares. Beer could now rise to new heights and be enjoyed more with food and your tongue could be made to dance and your senses could be enhanced by the addition of hops to beer!! Amazing!!

So, I had to try this beer and, for years I was consigned to thinking that I would need to mortgage the house and sell at least one of the girls to afford the trip across the waves in order to find the source of this beery inspiration. And the more I couldn’t get it, the more I wanted it, of course. And the more I wanted it, the more worried I could become that when I did get it, it would disappoint. And that would have been a lose/lose situation and that’s just not a beer kind of thing. Or a Beer Bloke kind of thing.

Jump ahead to a month or so back and I found a supply. It was on the stock list at Cloudwine Cellars and in the fridge at The Local Taphouse and my journey was nearing a conclusion. That in itself was a bit disappointing. But not for long, as I got out to Cloudwine a day too late and missed out. I was out at the Taphouse the following week with some so-called friends who were well aware of my fruitless search thus far. We had been at an Ale Stars meeting and had just polished off several samples of German and Viennese celebration beers – Festbiers and Oktoberfest Wheats and a Rauchbier –so the palate had been well and truly sensitized to strong rich beers. I decided the SNPA would need to wait for another day as I didn’t feel the occasion or my tastebuds could do it real justice. No, I had to have it as a ‘first up’ not as a chaser.

So these bastards buy one and sit down in front of me, knowing that I now won’t touch it. You very, very bastards! How very dare you. I stayed strong and picked the glass up every minute or so just to take in the colour and the aroma. Seems a little weird looking back, to have been seen sitting at a bar sniffing another blokes’ beer. That’s why we don’t bring our wives to the pub.

Anyway, last week I finally snaffled the last two bottles from Cloudwine – thanks, Chris – and they have spent the last few days chilling in the fridge before their upgrade to the Beer Crisper. I’m on call for the local State Emergency Service this week so it will need to wait another few days yet. But we’ve come this far and I reckon we can sit out another week.

I’ve heard about it, I’ve read about it and researched it, I’ve seen it, I’ve smelled it and now I have held it ....

Won’t it be a bummer if I don’t like it?

But I will.

Prof. Pilsner

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Very Nice Break

I like a beer. You’re probably the same, yourself. It may even be the reason you visit this blog. Well, admit it, it’s the beer AND the boobies, isn’t it?

I look forward to a beer at the end of the day – lunch time if it’s a weekend – and some occasions bring greater anticipation than others. The occasion, for me, is as much a part of the ‘beer experience’ as the style or standard of the beer itself. The occasion can lift a good beer into the realms of ‘the special’ and a really good beer can take on mystical proportions when the galaxies align, the atmosphere is right and the company is loyal and loved.

One of those special occasions is holidays. When you are the nominal head of a family of girls, this can be a daunting task. Not just for the logistics of booking the accommodation and the flights and the car to the airport and the hire car at the other end and the car seats for the little ones ... because Mrs Pilsner pretty much organises all that guff. No, it’s daunting because it’s difficult to think of activities to do that will excite and amuse me and not bore the socks of four girls aged three to for... older than thirty. Thirty-nine..ish. And a bit.

You don’t really get asked if you would like to go a sporting event while on holidays when you are the only boy in the crew. You don’t get offers like “We’re off to the craft fair-and-girly-knitting-things festival, why don’t we drop you off at a nice pub and we’ll pick you up on the way back?” Rather you get “Stop drinking beers, we need you to take us to the shops because we need new holiday sandals and then we’re all off to the petting zoo and after that we’ll all have some nice jam and scones at a quaint tea rooms and don’t even think about sneaking those beers into the bag because I need the space for wildflower picking!!” Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

I look forward to holidays because the beer is enjoyed in a more relaxed frame of mind. No work the next day, both parents available for care-giving duties, nowhere we have to be the next day – that sort of relaxed. The added bonus is, in a place like Tasmania, I get to drink beers that I would not otherwise have ready access to, if at all. The bonus-bonus is that in Tasmania I have three brewing operations that I can visit while I’m there. And I did. And I will tell you about my adventures in each of them in future posts.

My point for now is this; enjoy the beer you have right now and consider the occasion in which you find yourself enjoying it. While I’m not saying that an ordinary or even below average beer will taste BETTER under the right circumstances, I am suggesting that a good beer will go down even better. Have a beer and let me know what you think.

Prof. Pilsner

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

“I only drink Carlton Draught”

That was the first thing he said to me as the group settled themselves in for dinner. Saturday night, 7.30 booking, work group out for their Christmas get together, I only drink Carlton Draught. Just another shift in any other restaurant in Melbourne.

A funny bloke, we got off to a flyer when I had his beer in front of him before he had finished his ‘warning’ and this theme continued throughout the night. I was running the restaurant and just popping out to the back room the group had to themselves as often as I could, as a couple of other boys on the table had decided to try a few ‘different’ beers.

With each beer order these guys made I gave them a story or an interesting fact about the brewer or the history of the style and before long they were flagging me down for another ‘beer fact’ or to settle an argument or a question they had. Remember, these guys were a bunch of ‘tradies’ and their partners who had never really been exposed to beer other than mainstream golden lagers from the big brewers. As the night continued one of the girls joined in with a few beers and the others were beginning to ask questions and get into the spirit of the whole beer thing.

And throughout all of this, Mr Carlton Draught stuck true to his brand – although he did start showing just a hint of interest in what the boys down the other end of the table were getting into. A few well chosen jabs at his mates just to keep them honest as much as too assert his position as the ‘Beer Loyalist’. His mates went from Kingfisher to Leffe Blond and into Budvar all in matching badged glassware while he stuck to the Draught with a passion and a couple of wise cracks at his ‘boutique poofter mates’.

And then it happened. Slowly but surely his interest turned into .. whatever comes just after interest... advanced interest, maybe. His glare turned into a gaze and his quips turned into questions. “What’s this one?” he asked as the boys were poured a Shlenkerla Rauchbier. “Looks a bit darker than that last one.” This comment was made with the deft observation of a seasoned expert. That is to say, a seasoned expert capable of spotting the difference between a smoky Smoke Marzen beer and a crystal clear Czech pilsner. To be fair, he HAD started enjoying the fact that his Carlton Draught was being drunk from a nice glass.

One of the boys passed the stylish stein down to CD and he summoned up the courage to bring it to his nose for a sniff. “That’s different,” he says as if this is the sort of thing he does every day of the week. “Go on, mate, ‘ave a sip”, says his mate. With his mates’ eyes burning into his scone, he cautiously raises the glass to his gob. Expecting the worst I took a step back. He sips, smacks his lips and pauses thoughtfully as he looks up.

“That’s not bad”. That’s amazing. Not only did he not hate it, but he actually liked it! OK, so it’s no miracle on 42nd St kind of moment, but it’s significant. What’s even more amazing is that after another round (he wandered back to Carlton Draught for his next) he even decided that when the boys went for the ‘big finish’, he’d join them, regardless of what I chose for them. So Kwak it was, in its distinctive wooden stand – complete with history lesson – and while it didn’t move him like the smoke beer had, again he didn’t hate it. Another small win for the Beer Bloke.

He may not go out tomorrow and start filling his beer fridge with imported specialty beers or local craft beers but maybe, just maybe, he will tell some of his mates down at the footy club about how he discovered that the beer world doesn’t begin and end with Carlton Draught afterall. And that’s a win for all of us.

Prof Pilsner

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Barons Squadron

Further to my post about the Save The Males campaign being run by the very nice beer people at Baron’s Brewing Company, I have been asked (by the same very nice beer people) to help them out in spreading the word about their very nice beer club, the Barons Squadron.

As I am already signed up, I thought it only proper to agree to such a nice beer request. As they have very kindly offered to give me some of their very nice beer, I agreed even quicker than I normally would have. Thanks, Alison!

Most breweries have a ‘club’ or some other form of ‘sign up’ deal and good on them for that. Sadly, with many, the deal includes little more than a regular newsletter that looks as if it could have been generated in Microsoft Publisher by a marketing-degree-holding laptop jockey who doesn’t even know the company has a brewing division. All flash and no dash. Others seem to forget about you after two or three editions.

The Barons Squadron is a little like the Barons' crew themselves. It’s about the beer, but it’s more than just beer. I have a series on craft brewers in the works and have already assembled posts on about six Australian brewers who are doing the right thing by the beer drinker and I will go into more detail on Baron’s set up later. For now you just need know that from a crew of two blokes and a single beer not too long ago, the business has grown and prospered without losing sight of the principles that got them this far and without becoming all ‘corporate’ and ‘big’.

The Squadron is more than just a data base for the marketing of their gear, too. It is not only informative but a good fun read as well - and sent regularly. Its special offers are a little different to those you may have come across and range from tours and dinners and the usual sort of things through to a chance to put your own stamp on the beer world with the opportunity to join in with beer development groups. Of course, competitions are held regularly for members only so that your loyalty is rewarded as well as your beer drinking bits. You know what I mean.

I will paste a link onto my screen, and hopefully you will be able to see it and then you can join up. Then I won’t feel so bad about being offered free beer. Perhaps I should remain completely independent and politely decline the very nice offer of some very nice beer? No, that would just be rude.

Oh, and for all my friends and pals and old chums across in the Lands Of Real Ale And Bitter and Ordinary Cricket Teams, I have a post coming up about the Barons invasion of the Great British Beer Festival coming up, so you don’t feel left out. And while you may not be able to stroll across for a beer dinner or a brewery tour, sign up for the Squadron anyway and tell ‘em the Beer Blokes sent ya!

If you can find the time to sign up now, you should be in time for the next newsletter which I am assured is a cracker.

... and seriously, you have to check out the Save the Males video. Funny stuff.
Join up http://www.baronsbrewing.com/ here. Not right here, back there a bit where the writing is all coloured in. That's it.

Prof. Pilsner

Monday, November 24, 2008

How have you been?

In case you’ve been wondering what’s been happening around the Beer Blokes place over the last few weeks, here’s a quick summary.

Began the month with a quick trip down to Tasmania with the family and had the bestest time ever and visited three breweries and drank some very nice beer thank you very much and I am in the process of writing a bit about all of them and I will post them all soon and the kids had a ball and we fed the kookaburras every day and saw lots of interesting things and then came back to a two day course and a fully booked function the first night back at the restaurant and a full restaurant the other night and then the next week the restaurant appeared on national TV and then the phone started running off the hook with regulars wishing us well and new comers wanting to make bookings and every night we had to chat to everyone about how we went and how did it work and what was he celebrity chef like and did you think you would win and then each kid seemed to have a friend’s birthday party or school function or kinder commitment then another training course and then I looked at the calendar and our next free night was in the middle of next month and we are preparing for some nasty storm activity across the state and I get called into the Emergency Communications Centre to assist the media department at the same time that the pager starts beeping its head off and then two more meetings and ....

That’s about it, I think.

I will try this week to get back on top of the posts and catch up on my blog reading. I might even crack a nice beer and relax.

Oh, and we did in fact win the Chopping Block and business has doubled in the last two weeks. Should be an interesting few weeks coming up. Better make that two nice beers.

Prof. Pilsner

Friday, November 21, 2008

Save the Males

I’m not all that politically correct. You may have gathered that from actually reading some of the stuff that makes its way from my mind to this blog. Just out of interest, what gave it away? Was it the smattering of boobies throughout the posts? The back-handed compliments given out to men who drink white wine at parties? Maybe it was my propensity to continually use words like ‘dickheadedness’ ‘poofter’ and rarely use words like ‘propensity’? What’s that? It was the boobies? Yeah, they’re my favourite, too!

Anyway, the point is that there is far too much emphasis today on speaking so as to not offend anybody at all ever. Ever. Now, I am a firm believer in the old adage that the man who never made a mistake, never made anything and, to this end, I try to use this blog to make LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF THINGS!! I like to think I am doing my bit. Giving the male of the species a voice and the chance to share blokey things like feelings without having to touch each others bottoms.

Another crowd of blokes who are on the same page in this respect are the ones who hang out at a place called Baron’s Brewing Company. Not a brewery, in that they don’t own the equipment to brew beer in, but the makers of some very fine beers nonetheless. I have mentioned them before in these pages and have enjoyed many of their range of beers which include a standard style Pale ale and Lager as well as some beers at the more ‘experimental’ end of the beer world which are flavoured, infused and otherwise enhanced by the addition of native products. I will give you a link to their very well constructed site later, but for now, concentrate. This is important.

Baron’s are launching a Save The Males campaign. Neatly tongue in cheek, it has already raised the ire of the namby-pambies who would rather see us all in grey sack cloth eating water crackers and sipping cold tea and not talking about boobies and it has the support of a cleverly delivered marketing package. Lion Nathan stepped across a similar path recently with their Super Dry ads warning that poofy roller blading and sucky love songs could damage your delicate beer but this is different. For a start, Baron’s beer is very, very drinkable and the range provides a good beer for nearly every taste. Scondly, the ads feature very, very large dongers being chased and intimidated by very, very large ‘gynnies. Funny stuff.

The boys have also launched a competition to see who can come up with a good old fashioned PC incorrect video to support the cause. Check out the site at the address below and see if you can seek out some of their beers, too. Apart from the usual reliable like Cloudwine Cellars, Purvis’ and Sword’s Select you can now get a couple of lines from Dan Murphy’s.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get out and get some Baron’s beers and then make fun of some blokes carrying man-bags. And fellas, they’re purses, despite what you think.


Prof. Pilsner

Drink and Click

Just a quick ‘heads up’ for readers who may be a bit of a dab hand at photography and also enjoy visiting places that might just serve beer-like beverages.

One of the regular stops on my daily blogging journey is Stonch’s Beer Blog, a very well written and assembled blog focussing on the ‘ins and outs and other bits’ of beer (and especially real ale) in Great Britain in general and London in particular. For those who haven’t yet paid a visit, click on the link at the side of this blog and check out some of Jeff’s stuff. There are regularly posted, easy and quick posts on all sorts of topics and there is always the chance of a bit of a stoush whenever a contentious opinion is raised with numbers of comments often topping double figures.

At the moment Jeff and Alan from A Good Beer Blog in Canada are combining to present a photography competition with a stack of prizes on offer to boot. They ran this together last year and this year looks to be even better supported. Especially if anyone bothers to read about it here!

I have started looking at beer and bars and restaurants differently over the last week with a mind to discovering a photographic angle from which to put a spotlight. It’s funny how pouring a beer suddenly takes on a new bent when you start trying to pour a big foamy head on a Bridge Road Pale Ale that sits above the rim just so you can see how it will look in a photo! Thank goodness for digital technology as my patience would no longer stretch to waiting for processing anymore.

The boys have arranged for different categories of prizes so that we over here across the waves can have a crack at the goodies as well. So dust off the Nikons, lads get your Kodaks out, girls get your Canons out (snigger, snigger) and start sippin’ and snappin’.

I was going to take photos of all the really nice beers I drink but I only have a 2 meg memory card.

Prof. Pilsner

PS: The picture at the top of this post, titled "Two pints of Bitter" taken by John Lewington was the winning picture from last year's competition. I think they may be 'tickers'. Thanks to Stonch for permission to reproduce it here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Taphouse Top 100

The Local Taphouse is holding its third SpecTAPular* over the Australia Day long weekend in January and to celebrate all things Australian – well all things Australian and beer – Steve and Justin and the crew have launched a competition, a quest, if you will, to find the 100 best Australian beers.

Now, as I have discussed here often, attempting to define or select or nominate or justify a ‘best’ of anything is difficult enough in itself. To attempt to choose beers from all those available is a step above that! To then rank those beers is an even harder task and fraught with the dangers of alienating the fans of one or disappointing the defenders of another. It’s the reason I steer clear of doing reviews here. Having said that, if you can’t have fun debating which is the ‘best’ beer then surely you are taking this whole beer thing far too seriously. I’m in!

Just jump on the link at the end of this post and you can join in the fun. And the fun for me was threefold. Each entrant has to nominate a top ten of Australian beers for 2008 so first I had to actually consider which beers would be left out, let alone included. Then, once I had a shortlist (of about thirty beers!) I had to pare this down, one by one, until I had my ten.

Then I had to decide which would top my list and which one was more favoured over another and then which one would go below that and then which of the ones left would be better or ‘less’ better than the others and then I had a beer and then I changed the order of the top three and then I had another beer and then I changed it back again and then I felt tired and had a rest. It’s more fun that it sounds and, in the end, opinions are not right or wrong they’re just opinions and I had fun chosing mine and I will have more fun defending my choices.

Actually, I may have some trouble remembering them because the survey doesn’t give you a copy of your sent list and I lost the bit of paper that I scribbled my notes on. Now I’ll have to start again. I’m off to buy some more beer. You can submit your list anytime before January 20. The Local Taphouse is giving away slabs of the top five beers as door prizes.

Prof. Pilsner


*SpecTAPular is a weekend feast of tap beers and a great chance to try some styles or brands that you may have steered away from in the past. For a small entry fee you are provided with a small tasting glass and a smorgasbord of tempting ales, lagers, wheat beers and others to, well, tempt you. With. You know what I mean. Glass, beer, tokens, try. Smile. I’ll get some more details closer to the day and for anyone who will be in Melbourne that weekend, I’ll race you to twenty!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Top stuff from the Top End

There’s a place in Australia called the Northern Territory. Sandwiched between the pointy bit at the very top of Queensland on the right hand side and the plateau-shaped empty bit of Western Australia on the left, the Territory is a bit of an enigma, even to Australians.

The Territory is often referred to as the ‘Top End’ and is also home to ‘the Alice’ and ‘the Red Centre’. It has plenty of ‘Outback’ and ‘Dreamtime Land’ and a rather large portion of extreme ‘bugger all’. Rainforests and deserts, long gun barrel straight highways, magnificent picture postcard scenery and two centres of population – Darwin at the top bit and Alice Springs in the middle. That’s about it.

Taking up an area of around 1,349,129 square kilometres (520,902 sq miles) and containing just 218, 380 people it is the most sparsely populated state or territory in Australia. That’s a lot of space for so few heads. So how in God’s name do these folk get to drink so much grog?! New statistics from the Justice Department show that Territorians knocked back more than three million litres of pure alcohol last year. For those playing along at home, mark that down on your game cards at around 1,000 full strength beers per person.

Figures show that NT sold 3,225,555 litres in total last financial year. They broke this down thusly; every person over the age of 15 sank 1300 full strength beers. Just on four cans each per day. Per day. Per DAY!!! The Northern Territory Government declared that drinking was it’s No 1 problem. You think?!?

in the 50’s and 60’s, the Aussie culture was almost underpinned by the proud knowledge that we drank our way to he top of the charts and kept up with traditional (and highly populated) beer drinking countries around the globe. Jump forward to the present day and we are now drinking far less per head – but drinking increasingly ‘better’. More imported, boutique and craft beers.

It seems that the news is taking a little longer to reach our northern mates.

Prof. Pilsner

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thank you again, Beer Karma.

I am back working for a mate in his restaurant south east of Melbourne. We have worked together for years and four years ago when he was offered this place he rang me to see if I could put my stamp on the front of house operations. I recall asking something like; “Will beer be enjoyed to mark the end of each shift?” A reply in the affirmative led to one from me as well and we were off.

The restaurant itself occupies the old Courthouse built in 1884 and is a stunning heritage building with charm to spare. Sadly many locals fail to share this charm and too few have visited, particularly mid week. Friday and Saturday pretty much take care of themselves but, as any business owner knows only too well, the bills ad the rent and the wages are a 7 day a week kind of thing. While we set the place up to wow the guest and provide great food and service, the numbers were just not stacking up.

I have written recently of Beer Karma and it seems as though she just keeps showing up. The restaurant is on the brink. If Christmas doesn’t see us fill the 60 odd seats every night with big spenders, the doors close. Simple as that. After two years away from the place I have returned to help out a mate, train some new staff and see that every guest has a good time. Oh! Sorry. I’m not the Beer Karma bit – that’s coming in the next paragraph. Just needed to set the scene first.

Beer Karma works in mysterious ways. A new restaurant opened up down the street 6 months ago and normally this would not be a good thing. When the restaurant is opened by people who did not intend to open a restaurant and don’t know anything at all about running a restaurant, well, then it’s a bit less of a bother. This place was built as four separate shops by a builder who was then unable to have them occupied. What do you do if you’re in the shit and have four shops to sell and no buyers? Why not convert the place into a restaurant? Because it’s a stupid idea you dumb flog!! To really set yourself up for a fall you run it as a bar by day and a nightclub at night and put the restaurant upstairs and make all your diners walk through a dodgy bar/lounge/nightclub/pool hall downstairs to get to it. Or not, you decide.

Anyway, it gets better. There’s this show on Australian TV at the minute where two local restaurants go head to head in a bid to improve their menu, decor and service in order to win over a fussy mystery critic. The winner takes away a cheque for $20,000. Nice. Borat NY – IIIIIZE! The new boys down the street decided to nominate themselves and we were fortunate to be chosen by the producers as the ones to take them on. That is, they came and knocked on our door and said; “Would you like to win $20,000? All you have to do is be better than a bloke down the road who asks diners to move - MID MEAL – so that he can make space for some nightclub punters and won’t cook for more than 8 people at a time but takes function bookings for 25? Are you in?” Is Paris Hilton a slapper?! We’re in!!

The show aired nationally last night and we were a little apprehensive as to how we might come across at the whim of the editors. As it turned out we weren’t too bruised or battered – some joints have shut up shop after a caning from shows like these – and we are now sitting back and waiting to see how this unexpected publicity affects the business. In eternal optimism we are gearing up for an increase in trade and a rise in phone enquiries. Being just off the main street which houses another dozen or so restaurants and cafes, we hope that a few more punters might take the chance and pop in. The front of the building is pretty imposing and grand and there are plenty who think we are either too ‘toffy’, ‘stuffy’ or expensive and might now give us try.

The only real gripe that the critic had with us was the fact that on his first ‘secret’ visit and again on his return ‘rating’ visit, he ordered a beer that was out of stock. He congratulated us on having an extensive and interesting beer list and then got the tip from the producer that we couldn’t get the missing beer from any of our suppliers so to order it would make for good telly, I guess. We’ll cop that. If you can’t find a beer from the 107 that we offered that night then I’ll still sleep well.

So that’s our brush with fame for this week. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you which part of the old Aussie expression we fit into; “Winners are Grinners and shit sandwich for second.”

Thank you again, Beer Karma.

Prof. Pilsner

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I don’t want to say I told you so ...

But, I told you so. Maybe I should be in government? Maybe I could become one of these highly paid ‘consultants’ who get mega bucks for bugger all. From my memory of schoolboy Latin, ‘consultant’ roughly translates as; ‘Tell me your answer and I’ll re-word it for you and that’ll be a wad of cash that would choke a camel thanks very much’.

Besides, I think I’m too honest for government. And I drink too much. Hang on, that’s a pre-requisite, isn’t it? Or at least it should be. Someone was certainly knocking back a couple of pints when they came up with the idea of a two am lock out of the ‘drinking zones’ of the city and inner suburbs of Melbourne a few months back. It was sometime back in July when I recall bagging the plan as unworkable, unbackable and unpopular and subject to one fatal error. No nighhtclub pub or restaurant who requested an exemption from this folly got rejected. It don’t work AND you don’t have to play anyway.

I suggested that a better method of deterring pissed idiots was to deploy more Mr Plods in and around the trouble spots and to reintroduce the ‘drunk tanks’ of old where blokes and blokettes who were not getting the message on responsible consumption of alcohol could be sent to cool off and sober up rather than assuming that they would make their own way home safely without starting a blue or ripping out a ‘Haley’s Comet’ in the train or taxi on route.

I picked up the paper after returning from holiday to see that (shock horror!!) “we have decided that, instead of a lock out policy, we will put more police on the streets and also provide special rooms with food and water available to those who have overindulged” said Government spokesperson for The Department of making Stupid Decisions and then Reversing them Once we Put our Brains into Gear, Mr B. Leedingobvious.

Beer Blokes, making the streets safer, one beer at a time.

Prof. Pilsner

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Touched down but still on the runway

A relaxing and rewarding weeks break in Tasmania has been followed by another week where my duties were anything but relaxing and rewarding. The plane touched down long ago but it feels as though I am still taxiing round the runway. In circles. Straight back into work and the beginning of the silly season for restaurants and bars, plus a two day course over the weekend and a handful of other family commitments and it seems like we never had a holiday. Still, can’t complain.

While Tasmania is only 50 minutes away from home by plane it is as if it is another galaxy removed. A slower pace and more concerned with the journey than the destination, Tasmania just seems to be in permanent second gear. Unfortunately the car needed a few more as Tasmania is remarkably hilly. And maybe just a little ‘hill billy’ but I shouldn’t use the dregs we encountered in the mall at lunchtime as any general indicator.

As you will see from coming posts, I managed to meet up with some very lovely people who make some very lovely beer. Very, very lovely beer. More on these and others soon.

I will also post details of our accommodation as we found the most amazing ‘hidden gem’ of a place – that is to say that Mrs Pilsner found it – and as close to perfect as you could get.

My apologies for the delay in getting back into the swing of things although you can rest easy at night knowing that while my typing fingers have been on holiday, my beer drinking mouth has been working around the clock to bring you all some malt driven and hop flavoured stories from Tasmania. It’s not the arse end of the world, but you can see it from there.

Prof. Pilsner

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Beer Myths Part Two - Revisited

Due to the overwhelming success of the first Beer Myths segment – that is to say, I had a jolly good laugh writing it- please enjoy part two of our informative series; That’s Bullshit, Isn’t It?

Q. My homebrew tastes like cats piss. How do I fix this?
A. Don’t put any cats piss in the fermenter during brewing.

Q. I don’t get any bubbling through my airlock. Should I just give up on homebrewing?
A. With that attitude, yes. And quickly. There is no room for sooky la-las like you in this caper. Airlocks often don’t bubble as the expanding air escapes through the seals of many fermenters and you needn’t worry. It just proves that you shouldn’t use your airlock to judge when your brew has fermented out.

Q. I like the girl on the Hahn Super Dry advert with the big boobies.
A. Again, not a question but I am happy to let this one slide. She seems a good sort and certainly better looking than the one who gets fish-slapped in the gondola.

Q. What is the difference between a Trappist beer and an Abbey beer?
A. Very good question. Trappists were a very annoying family who ran around the alps singing all the time ... no, wait, that was the Von Trapps. Trappist beers are made in monasteries – sometimes by monks and sometimes by lay brewers – and there are only six monasteries permitted to use the designation Trappist. Abbey beers are those which have been made previously in monasteries, but have since been made by commercial breweries which are granted the right to label them as monastery beers. The Trappist beers come under the category of Belgian specialty ales while others like the Leffe range include blondes, reds and darks. Beer, that is, not chicks. I don’t think the monks are allowed to have chicks. Not in the monastery anyway.

Q. What does the German word Löwenbräu mean?
A. You don’t specify wether you mean a literal translation of the name or the ethereal plane to which a drinker of this fine brew may be transported spiritually while contemplating the centuries of brewing that have culminated in the creation of this nectar. If you are referring to the name it means “Lion Brewery” according to Willie Simpson’s The Beer Bible and “Lion Beer” according to another source which I can’t find just now. Löwenbräu was brewed for a time in Australia. Not to be confused with the TV show ‘Big Brother which is Lower Brow.

Q. What is a lager bomb?
A. No, this is not some new wave cocktail made from beer, although, in a funny way I guess it is. A lager bomb is the biological process by which the male body completes a heavy night of drinking. Occurring some time during the daylight hours of the following day, the lager bomb is the body’s special way of reminding the drinker of the quality of the previous night’s session. It is also the body’s way of rendering the toilet unusable for anything up to two days. Not to be confused with the Jaeger Bomb which is a way of getting half drunk twenty-somethings to part with to part with large amounts of cash for a drink marketing trick that lasts all of two seconds and doesn’t taste very nie either.

Q. Did you find that reference to Lion Beer yet?
A. Yes, it was in ‘Beer. Slabs, Stubbies and Six Packs’ by Ben Canaider and Greg Duncan Powell. Thanks for asking.

Stay tuned for Part Three.

Prof. Pilsner

Monday, November 3, 2008

Beer Myths Revisited

When you scan through the Frequently Asked Question section of any homebrew website – as I’m sure you often do – you find the same questions appearing again and again. It seems that there are some common misconceptions around when it comes to brewing and beer drinking in general. As such, I am taking it upon myself to create a forum in which all those curly questions are answered called; That’s Just Bullshit, Isn’t It?

Q. You can’t brew beer without sugar.
A. That’s not a question. But beer can be brewed without common forms of sugar like sucrose, dextrose and maltose. The Germans have been brewing with nothing but malt since God’s dog was a pup and their beers are generally regarded as pretty fair. Sugars are often used in conjunction with malt to lighten the body and the cost of the beer. Some commercial brewers are proud of this.

Q. You shouldn’t wash your beer glasses with detergent.
A. Again, this is a statement, not a question. It is a long held falsehood that beer glasses should not come into contact with detergents as they break down the head and leave the beer soapy. We have English Ales for that. Just kidding. You need to wash glasses with detergent to remove traces of hop oils and head scum but you must ensure that you rinse all trace of the detergent with first warm and then cold water before drying with a clean towel.

Q. Carlton Cold is labelled just like beer. Why?
A. I don’t know.

Q. Is there really a difference in taste between stubbies and cans?
A. Yes. Stubbies are made from glass not aluminium and are therefore harder to chew. But beer from stubby or can is the same as long as you pour it out into a clean glass first.

Q. I drink a popular brand of beer and yet I can’t get a root. Why?
A. It might be because you have been tricked by beer marketing men into thinking that by drinking their beer you can negate the effects of a bogan attitude to women and poor hygiene. It may also be because you’re ugly and your mum dresses you funny.

Q. What are the names of the blokes in the XXXX advert and what really is the story with them? You know what I mean.
A. I do know what you mean. The men you speak of are Macca, PJ, Harry and Jacko. They could just as easily have been Puddin’ Head, Bluey, Knackers and Shags. And yes, I do think it odd that these guys seem to have spent a greater deal of time holidaying than their combined earning potential would suggest they could with no other company than a slobbering dog and a machine that vibrates, launches toys and shoots video. Even to a Queenslander, this must seem just a little odd.

Q. Will you consider doing another of these Q & A’s?
A. Yes, yes I will.

Stay tuned.


Prof. Pilsner

Please feel free to submit any real questions you may have. It will be a good chance to interact with the Beer Blokes and will stop me from taking the opportunity to simply amuse myself.