Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just in case you thought it was over ...

Chatting casually over a beer with a mate last week we both made a disturbing observation regarding the Victorian bushfires that scorched a large chunk of the state on February 7.

In the days of extreme temperatures leading up to Black Saturday, experts, commentators and anybody with a forum to talk was comparing the conditions to those that contributed to the Ash Wednesday bushfires of 1983. These fires claimed 79 lives in Victoria and South Australia including many fire fighters.

It was at this point that we realised the current fires had not taken hold in any of the towns or suburbs that had become synonymous with that tragedy, in particular the towns and communities in the Dandenong Ranges half an hour east of the city of Melbourne and five minutes from our town. Worse still, the recent decade of drought had left the ranges and surrounds tinder dry and full of fuel.

Just before 3pm yesterday afternoon a grass fire began as a result of someone grass slashing in a paddock and within minutes a smoke plume the size of Oprah’s arse had risen above the backdrop of the hills to our east. Within twenty minutes it was well on it’s way to becoming a twenty hectare blaze. By school pick up time a reasonable degree of panic was beginning to set in as parents picked kids up from school or discovered that road closures and lock-ins meant that they couldn’t get to the kids school at all. By 5pm a relief centre had been established and evacuations had begun and by 6pm, instead of a nice cold beer, I was out setting up lighting and organising crews to man a CFA staging area where half a dozen strike teams of six vehicles each was assembled to fight the blaze into the night.

Grandad came over to mind the kids as Mrs Pilsner was away at a conference. In keeping with the bushfire theme, the original location for her conference was Warburton an hour east of here but a CFA major threat warning meant a hasty change of venue. Fortunately, the company hosting the event had a sister venue in Hepburn Springs, two hours north of Melbourne. Unfortunately, a CFA major threat warning was issued for Daylesford, eight kms south of Hepburn Springs for a fire covering abou 2,000 hectares,so she sure trumped mine! The conference was able to continue but they may not be able to get out anytime soon! Lucky I’m good at looking after kids!

I was back at the staging area this morning and, while the fires in our backyard are under control, there are concerns for the rest of the week – especially as Fridays expected top temperature of 38C with wicked winds means everybody on fire trucks is still as toey as a Roman sandal – so it may be a while yet before we get round to that nice cold beer.

So, while the worst bushfires in our history have begun to fade from the front pages of the paper, it’s sobering to think that some 800 plus appliances are still cleaning up or are on standby in those areas and dozens of others are bracing for round two out this way. Interesting, also, to speculate about the hundred or so evacuees at the relief centre we are co-ordinating and the other hundred or so at two other venues just the other side of the hills – before February 7, I bet most would have stayed behind to defend their homes. I guess that day highlighted the value of loved ones and the difference between flesh and blood and bricks and mortar.

Cheers,Prof. Pilsner

PS Shandy; hope you enjoyed your Mr Extreme Bike Dude weekend in the Dandenongs! When you told me you’d be burning up the track .... !

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rebuilding – One beer at a time

The Local Taphouse Bushfire Benefit Gig

The Victorian Bushfires which devastated several entire communities on Black Saturday, February 7 could not burn the spirit of the greater community. The generosity shown by so many people in so many ways is as inspirational as it is helpful. From sausage sizzles to street collections, from garage sales to farmers markets, it seems everyone has found a way to raise much needed funds to those who have lost so much.

The crew at The Local Taphouse know the mystical community strengthening powers of beer and it was only logical that a fundraiser should be held to allow the followers of the Amber Nectar to show their support for those affected by and those assisting after the bushfire tragedy. The loss of the brewery at Hargreaves Hill gave the event a local focus and it was decided that half the proceeds would be directed to Simon and Beth to get them back and brewing as soon as possible.

Owners and operators of The Local Taphouse, Steve and Guy got the keg rolling with a first up donation upon announcing the benefit night, along with the proceeds of the door and assorted raffles, auctions and beery prize packs. Before long there was a list as long as a draught horse dray of brewers donating kegs, t-shirts, six-packs and pallets of beery cheer to ensure that the night would be a large one.

Stand-up comedy and plenty of good beer on tap kicked the night off after which the zany Janet (host of Sunday Night Trivia) conducted auctions and raffle draws. A full list of sponsors, supporters and suppliers is printed below. Look after them when you can. Fast and furious bidding saw the Beermasons' supplied beer gift packs go for a tidy sum and some of the Taphouse staff might be handy people to know in the next few weeks! Seriously, with all the six-packs, gift packs, t-shirts and stuff flying around you’d be forgiven for thinking you had stepped into a beer merchandise convention. Or maybe the set of the Price Is Right if it was run by Les Patterson rather than Reg Grundy.

The night stepped up a gear with The Band Who Knew Too Much – some seriously good noise – who had the crowd dancing and working up a thirst. Two very worthy pursuits. As the night wound down and the last of the punters sauntered off into the warm Melbourne evening, there was time to reflect on the success of the night both socially and fundraising-ly - a feeling of satisfaction for the result, tinged with sadness for the reason.

The Local Taphouse managed to raise around $13,000 on the night from a tenner for entry, management donations, a hefty dollar match between Greg Hack and Accenture, raffles, auctions and, of course, beer sales. I helped out a bit in this department. Plus I ended up going in on my own and I gave Stephan a twenty at the door and just pretended I was there with a mate.

A special mention must go to the bar staff of The Local Taphouse who made the decision to donate all their tips from time of the bushfires to the benefit night two weeks later in a gesture that was as inspirational as it was generous. $2500 was no small contribution to the cause.

Congratulations to all involved and all those who drank so generously – but let’s hope we don’t have to do it ever again.

Prof. Pilsner
... and a huge, pallet-o-slabs sized thank you to;
Matilda Bay Brewing (Fosters) Malt Shovel Brewery, Mountain Goat Brewery, 2 Brothers, Little Brewing Company, Otway Estate Brewery, NSW Brewers Guild, Little Creatures Brewery, Red Hill Brewery, Temple Brewing, Jamieson Brewery, St Arnou Brewing Company, Holgate Brewhouse, Beermasons, Stef Hanson Personal Training, Greg Hack – Accenture, Dave Andrews – Innspire, The Hotel Lincoln, and The Band Who Knew Too Much.

And finally, to Steve, Guy, Justin and the crew at The Local Taphouse, thanks for all your generosity at a time when I know you must all be as flat out as Oprah at a sticky bun eating competition.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ale Stars Summer Pale Ales

The seventh instalment of Ale Stars at The Local Taphouse could easily have slid into a scene of organised chaos had it not been for the quick thinking of the affable host and the beer skills and ingenuity of the assembled drinkers.

Blame the Global Financial Crisis, John Howard, Kevin Rudd or Global Warming - whatever – you’d think that it would be a straightforward task to get enough of four different beers to slake the thirst of thirty odd Ale Stars. Apparently not. Before the night kicked off the line up had changed more times than a Bride’s mind.

Some of the original choices were held up in port or on a ship or was drunk on the way over by the Drunken Sailor – I don’t know – and another proved a bit too popular in the lead up and the keg could not guarantee that it could keep up with demand. Another was out of stock. But Ale Stars being what it is – a bunch of like-minded beer drinkers who like to drink beer and have a bit of a chat about beer (usually while drinking beer) - the show would certainly go on. Some swift commercial shenanigans and Shandy and Ben had managed to cobble together a fine selection of beers to suit the category.

Summer pale ales is a loosely categorised collection of beers which are linked by a few common factors. These beers are not restricted to a specific style, rather they are easy drinking, lively and refreshing. Some are seasonal and some are quite sessional but they are all fine summer beers.

Sunner Kolsch is a bright, clear pale straw coloured ale from the German city of Cologne. Goes down very neatly and a great first up thirst quencher. Well balanced malt and mild bitterness each sip prepares the mouth for the next.

Our second beer came not with Shandy’s usually informative and colourful tasting notes but with a message informing us that we were to refer to ‘our panel’ for details. Our questions were answered when five unsuspecting Ale Stars were seconded from the crowd to give a live action, made-upon-the-spot review and dissection of the very handy James Squire Golden Ale. The ‘panel’ dealt with the elements of appearance, flavour, aroma, body and mouthfeel without anybody being ‘gonged’ by the Tech-Foul Bell used to alert the speaker to the fact that they are being ‘too’nerdy’. Shandy will often preface his own remarks by ringing the bell himself.

Cooper’s Original Pale Ale was our next offering and much discussion of the various ways of serving this beer highlighted just how many variations are acceptable, from rolling or inverting the unopened bottle to swirling and shaking it to pouring the beer off the top of the settled yeast.

The Beer Trivia quiz was back and a good mix of tricky and reasonably easy questions kept the assembled teams guessing. Wait, that’s the point of a trivia quiz, isn’t it? Anyway, again, I can’t recall the winning team or the impressive winning margin or even the fact that the final score was just two points off a perfect score – it’s all about the fun and the friendships and the drinking of good beer, really. Hands up if you have never been on a losing team at Ale Stars Beer Trivia?

And a very good beer was exactly what we needed. Good and special. Hargreaves Hill ESB is a beautifully crafted APA style ESB with character, balance and all the things that make a good refreshing ale. The kegs from which we drank were also two of the few remaining since the Hargreaves Hill Brewery was lost in the Victorian bushfires of Saturday February 7. A cracking beer to finish with and to savour until Simon and Beth can get the brewery up and running again. Simon has been down at Red Hill with David and Karen Golding this week getting some product out through Red Hill’s equipment and hopefully it won’t be long before we can tap some fresh kegs. More on the Local’s Bushfire benefit later.

Special thanks to Sean and Ben who ran around all night like one-armed Beirut bricklayers to keep up with the thirst of the crowd and the clearing of the empties and the feeding of the hungry as the ‘brains trust’ of the Local were all away in Sydney preparing for the opening – which may (or may not) be somewhere around next Tuesday for all you Harbour Habitants waiting for the perfect beer bar.

And, if you are stopped in the street by a confused salty sea Captain who says he has a ship-load of English Pale Ales for some bloke called Shandy, point him in the right direction, would you?

Cheers, Prof. Pilsner

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bad Shout Blokes

In a previous post we looked in depth at arguably the most sacred of Australian beer institutions, The Shout. Today we examine this ritual in a little more depth and focus on what can go wrong when the wrong people are included in The Shout.

There are varying theories as to how The Shout came to be so called but I tend to lean towards the story that the tradition was founded on the Victorian goldfields in the 1850’s. A lucky digger would have a large amount of gold turned into cash and then, in order to enlist the help of his mates to ‘knock down his pile’ would walk into the street and ‘shout’ for assistance. Presumably this call was heeded with neither dilly, nor dally and in no time at all the miner and his mates would be at the bar toasting the successful dig.

I can only guess that this generosity was a product of both the camaraderie of the diggers and of the fact that a generous ‘good bloke’ was worth protecting from unscrupulous thieves and other assorted blackguards. I expect that the favour would be reciprocated should another member of The Shout strike it rich.

Sadly the spirit of these old blackguards is alive to this day in the form of various bludgers, baulkers and assorted bastards. Here they are. Learn to identify them, and learn to do it early as the can ruin a perfectly good Shout if not detected quickly. Devise and administer your own form of summary justice as The Shout sees fit.

“Percy Piker”

A piker is one who works slyly and steadfastly to ensure that he never has to shout. He is either low on funds or high on a reluctance to let the moths out of his wallet. Percy is the sort of bloke who does have the money, but it is sitting in a desk drawer at home. He will cry poor when his number is up, or he will ask to ‘bot a lobster’ (borrow a twenty). Make sure you give the twenty a kiss and bit of advice for the future as this is the very last time you will see it again. Take the same approach with Percy if at all possible.

“Barry Bullshit”

Unlike Percy Piker, who is likely to sit quietly like a lizard camouflaged to avoid detection, Barry will be one of the loudest blokes in the Shout. He will talk constant bullshit, pausing only to take breath and drink his beer. This bluster is designed to deflect the attention of the other members of The Shout so that even the most diligent observer will be fooled when Barry is prompted to shout and replies; “I already had my shout three rounds back, are you calling me a liar you little prick?” Not wishing to kill the mood – and because Barry is a big mongrel and may wish to kill you, the shout passes to next bloke. Beware of Barry.

“Tommy Two Group”

Tommy is one of the most feared members of The Shout. He must also be very carefully monitored because he is a ‘double dipper’. Tommy is the bloke who joins your Shout and, after a round or two, but before his, he spots another group of his mates in another part of the bar. He excuses himself for a minute – usually just before his shout, and hooks up with his other mates. He then joins in their Shout and plays ‘keepings off’ with his turn to shout between two Shouts. Earning shouts from both groups while cleverly avoiding his own, Tommy gives his ‘mates’ two reasons to give him the flick.

“Professor Pisshead”

This bloke is a straightforward danger to the other members of The Shout as he will be back from the bar with the next round before you’ve had the chance to knock the froth off the last pot. Drinking quickly and often keeping the pace cracking by ‘Shouting out of turn’ he will turn a nice quiet blokey get together into a full bore lager frenzy. He may buy a couple of extra pots – ‘just in case’- or he might ‘upsize’ by buying a jug or two instead of three pots. A good bloke to have around if you are short on cash, (so, what are you doing at the pub in the first place? Hmm?) but a liability if you have to drive home or operate heavy machinery within the next eight to ten days.

There are a couple of other bludgers who fit loosely into elements of the above as well as bringing various other dastardly traits to the drinking table and the lesson is simple. The Shout works because it is rooted in a deep and almost religious tradition of honesty and mateship. It survives because it is a great way in which to say to your mates that you enjoy their company and value their friendship without it getting all poofy and having to touch each others’ bottoms.

And just as there will always be real blokes with the true integrity to uphold the vows of The Shout, so too will there be enemies of The Shout. They must be stopped and their evil ways exposed and held up to public ridicule and scorn. Hopefully this handy guide will serve to assist you in the identification of these bastards. Good Luck and good drinking.

Prof. Pilsner

Monday, February 16, 2009

More on The Shout

Our deployments to the firegrounds have just come through so I will be out and about over the next two days. While updating my beer blogging I noticed that The Shout has come up in topics posted by Timover at The Beer Diary and by Moses over at Beer and Sport. This is a bit spooky as I was reading a beer book from the late sixties over the weekend and just happened to be up to the capter on The Shout. Hmmm, Beer Karma?!

Anyway, while I'm out, here is a lazy reprint of the post I did on The Shout back in April last year.

Tomorrow I will get even lazier and program a reprint of the post I did on Bad Blokes to have in The Shout from June last year.

Happy re-reading.


Prof. Pilsner

The Shout

Here at Beer Blokes we like to keep our readers informed and enlightened in as many aspects of the Beer World as we can think of, research or make up. With the best information, facts and figures as well as modest opinions, we think our friends are better able to make wise decisions when it comes to buying, brewing and drinking beer.

I have written before about how beer is a very egalitarian beverage. It is accepted universally and no one looks silly drinking it. Unless they are seriously pissed, then they can look particularly silly. And often very funny as well. What I mean is that a burly blue-singletted boof head called Bluey can not sip champagne from a crystal flute without looking just a bit ... odd. But a glamorous leggy socialite can sip a Stella Artois or a Beck’s and not look so odd. Unless she were to crack the cap between her McGits and then skol the whole stubby in one go while her similarly elegant companions chanted ‘Drinkitfaster, Drinkitfaster, Oi Oi Oi!

But you get what I mean. Beer is everybody’s’ drink but it still has some guidelines for etiquette. And perhaps the most important one to get right is The Shout.

The Shout is an integral part of the drinking culture and anyone who would attempt to bypass, derail or otherwise tamper with The Shout will soon be drinking alone. It is a venerable and ancient institution, although I think it is Australian made. I’ll have to look it up. Wait here.

Nup. There isn’t a lot to be found in the way of historical information on the net so I will have to give you all the straight guff from my own collection of books and such as well as a lifetime of experience.

The principle of The Shout is fairly straight forward. You buy yourself and your mate a beer. When you have finished your beers, your mate buys a beer for himself and one for you, in return. If there are more than just you and your mate in The Shout, then the beer total needs to be adjusted accordingly. The number of beers bought in each Shout is equal to the number of drinkers in The Shout. Simple. But, like most things in life, The Shout has traditions and responsibilities that must not be messed with.

Once in The Shout you have accepted a responsibility to your fellow drinkers. DO NOT accept beers from the others if you are unable or unwilling to fork out the ‘Laurie Nash’ when it is your turn to shout. DO NOT be in the toilet whenever your turn comes around. DO NOT ‘nurse’ your beer into old age thinking that you won’t have to buy if not everyone has finished. DO NOT get bent out of shape if the others begin to toss around subtle hints to encourage you to fulfil your obligations. These hints may range from such mutterings as; “It’s a bit dry over here”, "A man's not a camel" or “Pity they don’t sell beer around here...Oh, they DO!?” to “Get off your fat jacksie and buy some bloody beers you lazy fat bastard!”

If for some reason you are not able to discharge your drinking duty, the correct procedure is to buy your round on your way out after making suitable heartfelt apologies to those you intend to leave behind. Do not leave your mates with the impression that they are not worthy of having you drink with them. This is very Un-Australian and Un-Blokey.

The Shout is essentially a creation of average easy thinking and easy drinking menfolk. For as long as we have had The Shout we have kept it simple and it works best when all the drinkers are having the same thing. This is due to the fact that the pubs in times of yore had as many as ten taps – all serving the same beer – and all the blokes were blissfully content to drink that what came out of the tap. Today the same pub may have sixteen taps dispensing different beers of varying styles from a dozen countries. But The Shout is inbuilt with an automatic default update setting. Beer is beer is beer.

Whatever is being drunk by the drinkers in The Shout can be accommodated. But what does happen if all the drinkers in The Shout are NOT drinking the same thing? The whole thing still works but it may need some adjustment. For example, if two or three are drinking light beer instead of heavy, The Shout still operates normally except that two or three are paying a little more for the other blokes drinks than the other blokes are paying for theirs. Likewise, if one or two are on the bourbons or the scotch, this can fit in provided all are in pre-agreement. There are a few minor exceptions to this guideline.

The bourbon boys should not switch between that and beers. Nor should anyone be permitted to ‘upsize’ outside of their shout. You can’t be buying pots for your mates and then decide “I might just have a quick Flaming Lamborghini, actually” when someone else is buying. The Shout works because you don’t even need to ask what the others want, just a quick nod and a point to indicate that you are ’up’. You may sit out of a particular round of The Shout without bringing social disrepute upon your family name – as long as you don’t sit out your shout. The other exception to The Shout guidelines is that it is perfectly reasonable and permissible to exclude any member who wants to drink Pimms, Pernod, Campari or Vodka Cruisers. Unless they are girls. They can drink poofy drinks, but not in The Shout.

This brings us to another aspect of drinking history that The Shout has had to deal with. It is the gender factor. It was not so long ago that women were not even allowed inside a public bar. They were confined to the Ladies Lounge to sip raspberry cordial or shandies if they were fortunate enough and it was quite simply unheard of for them to drink with the boys. Today it is expected that ‘a bit of skirt’ will be present when you step into a bar and it has become more and more common for women to be drinking beer with the boys. Brewers are now even ‘targeting’ the female sector of the market when developing and marketing beers. See Pure Blonde, Boag’s St. George and Corona.

Wether male or female, the rules of the shout are simple. Number of people in the shout must be equal to the number of shouts in the session. Ideally. We are still duty bound to be responsible drinkers and to care for our fellows and The Shout is sympathetic to this. Be sensible and don’t create a shout of fifteen or twenty blokes, all drinking pints or schooners, and then expect to pilot the Commodore home from the city to the outer suburbs. You will be lucky to get it as far as the outer car park. And if you get busted by Johnny Hopper, don’t blame it on The Shout. It’s all your doing.

So, enjoy The Shout, don’t disrespect The Shout and The Shout will live on for our sons and daughters to continue into future generations. Keep the flame of mateship and Blokehood alight as a beacon to those folk less well off than ourselves who don’t have pubs and beers and shouts.

In part two we will look further at the intricacies of The Shout and what happens when people try to rort the system. It will also contain a guide to Bad Shout People and How to Avoid them.

Prof. Pilsner

Quick Notes

A busy week has been capped off with the littlest Pilsner spending the weekend 'off sick' which has meant little sleep, plenty of TLC delivery and a fair amount of washing! So here are a few quick notes for the diary.

Tomorrow (Tuesday 17th) is the next installment of Ale Stars at The Local Taphouse where we can relax for a bit after the events of the previous weeks, sip some nice beers and reflect on just how lucky we are. 7pm (ish) kick off. See you early for SUBS.*

Thursday (19th) same venue (maybe I'll just do a sleepover) at 6pm the Victorian Bushfire Fundraiser kicks off. 150 maximum so get there early.

Our State Ememrgency Service unit has been asked to have crews on standby for deployment to the areas devatstaed by the fires and yesterday we received word of some major tasks. The scale of this event is absolutely massive and so we won't know what, when or where until the directives actually arrive. If the posts are a bit random, I'm sure Dr Lager can throw in some interesting tidbits until I can get back on the laptop.

I have been compiling some snippets and bits of pieces from the thousands of news stories, media reports and personal experiences this last two weeks and will cobble them all together once things settle down. They certainly combine to show the spirit and soul of this country that surfaces in times of tragedy.

In the meantime, have a nice beer and raise a glass to those who can't.


Prof. Pilsner

*Sneaky Upstairs Beers

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Taphouse Tips In

Steve, Guy & Justin and the crew out at The Local Taphouse have organised a fundraiser for the victims of the Victorian bushfires to be held on Thursday February 19 from 6.00pm.

$10 at the door and raffles and prizes are being arranged as we speak. As is so often the way, Australians have dug deep and put aside thoughts of global financial crises and stuff to raise money, donate goods and services and provide volunteer assistance. Many craft brewers around the traps have donated kegs to the cause and this should be a huge night. Drink generously!

50% of the take will go to the bushfire relief appeal and 50% to help rebuild Hargreaves Hill Brewery which has been lost. Best wishes, and 'chin-up' to Simon and Beth.

If any readers can donate raffle prizes, special beers, talents ... anything - give Steve a call at The Local Taphouse or leave me a message here or an e-mail at inkart@virginbroadband.com.au . If you can get out there on Thursday to have a beer for cheer - get there early as capacity is limted to 150. If you can't get there you can leave a donation through the Taphouse blog or website.

... and long-time loyal reader Col & family, our thoughts and prayers are with you, hope the house stays safe and you are all OK. I'll have a homebrew for you all tonight!

& God Bless
Prof. Pilsner

Monday, February 9, 2009

Spare a Thought

Posts may be a little thin on the ground this week as emergency sevices across the state are on standby to assist as and when required in the wake of Victoria's worst bushfire disater in history. We are all OK as only a few small fires came close to us and smoke and the children's fear was as much as we had to deal with. After the shock wears off, the task of cleaning up and re-building will begin and as yet we don't know when we will be deployed or to where or for how long.

I ask all our readers to spare a thought for those who have lost their lives, their homes or just their feelings of security. Grab your favourite beer and raise a glass to those who just need to know that they are in the thoughts and prayers of others.

For those who can help, I have pasted some details from http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/ which gives some opportunities to assist.

As Victorians wake this morning, the shock of reality is setting in. As at 7.00 am this morning (Monday);

At least 108 people are now dead in our most deadly fires in recorded history.
At least 650 homes have been razed and 3733 people have registered with the Red Cross after evacuating their properties.

How to help:
Donate to the Red Cross State Government Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund (http://www.redcross.org.au, phone 1800 811 700 or any NAB, ANZ, Westpac or Commonwealth Bank branch)
Donate to the Victorian Bushfire Relief Fund (BSB 082-001, Account number 860-046-797)
Myer Bushfire Appeal - all proceeds to the Salvation Army (Donate at any Victorian Myer store)
Donate blood at the Red Cross (Ring 131 495)

Prof. Pilsner

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Victorian Microbrewery Showcase

The next instalment of this great craft brewing expo is coming up on the 17th & 18th of March. That’s a Tuesday and Wednesday – midweek beers, Woo-Hoo!!! – and will again be held in The Atrium at Federation Square.

9655 1900 for info and bookings and I will post some details of the breweries who will be participating as I get them.

Prof. Pilsner

Friday, February 6, 2009

This bloke walks into a pub ...

A quick beer related funny.

A bloke walks into a pub and saunters up to the bar. He nods to the smiling barman and orders a beer.

“There you go, mate,’ says the barman, ‘that’ll be ten cents.”
“Ten cents?” says the bloke, incredulously. “Do you do counter meals here?”
“Yes, mate, T-Bone steak and a pint – Fifty cents.”
“Jeez, that’s alright! Where’s the bloke who owns this pub?”
“Oh, he’s upstairs with my wife.”
“What’s he doin’ upstairs with your wife?”
“Same thing I’m doin’ down ‘ere to his business.”

Good man, good man.

Cheers,Prof. Pilsner

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cheers and Jeers

Sipping on a beautifully chilled 3 Ravens 55 last night, I couldn’t help thinking that the last week had been a busy one and overall quite unique. Here is something of a ‘Slaps & Sledges’ post – slaps on the back for the good ‘uns and sledges for the wrong ‘uns.

An unprecedented spell of hot weather – including the second hottest day in Victoria’s recorded history – meant that plenty of people had very good reason to get snippy and shitty and generally act like tools. But this was not the case. Neighbours joined to check on elderly residents in their street, strangers assisted neighbours who had lost power, volunteers fought fires, provided lighting for police and fire fighters, made meals and toted water and our very own Prime Minister jumped four pews in church and knocked over three old ladies to help assist an old bloke out after he had fainted in the heat.

To the peanuts and knob-jockeys who deliberately lit some of the fires that destroyed homes, farms and, for f%$#s sake, a 150 year old pub, I hope your beer turns to vinegar and rots your tackle on the way out. To the soft-cocks who grizzled about late trains, hot days at the tennis and coins stuck in the pokie machine when the power went out – harden the F@#K UP!! (Thanks Tim for reminding me of that one). To the dumb-arsed flogs who keep demanding that somebody else drag their own sorry arse out of the poo – see the above.

To the over paid, publicly funded, lab-coated spazzos who keep pumping out ‘new studies’ showing that beer is inherently evil – stop wasting my money and my time and start finding a cure for something real. Dickheads.

To the little ones, including our own middle Pilsner and Master Lager who started their school journey this week in searing temperatures, well done and it’s great to have you out of the house. to the teachers who will guide them –good luck and God bless!

To the many volunteers who give up their time to support the paid emergency service workers as well as providing vital community assistance in these times of trouble, well done, here’s cheers. To all those strangers who pass on their thanks and offer them drinks (can’t have a beer in uniform, sorry!) here’s cheers. To the families and friends who make t possible for them to do their jobs, here’s cheers. To the poor bastards from the various power companies who were ‘up the poles’ for most of the last week in 40 plus degrees heat, here’s cheers.

And ... to all those magnificently talented and dedicated craft brewers who have provided some beautifully chilled refreshment and enjoyment at the end f a long hot day, CHEERS!!

Prof. Pilsner

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Political Correctness

I got some good response to my recent post about political correctness and dickheadedness and how somewhere along the way we lost our ability to laugh at ourselves and take even the tiniest adversity in our stride.

With that in mind, and as a sort of pre-emptive strike in the battle for common sense, here’s a funny gag I read somewhere. Please feel free to be offended. If I have left you out, my apologies.

How Moses got the Ten Commandments
God went to the Arabs and said, 'I have Commandments for you that will make your lives better.'

The Arabs asked, 'What are Commandments?'

And the Lord said, 'They are rules for living.'

'Can you give us an example?'

'Thou shall not kill.'

'Not kill? We're not interested.'

So He went to the Blacks and said, 'I have Commandments.'

The Blacks wanted an example, and the Lord said, 'Honour thy Father and Mother.'

‘Father? We don't know who our fathers are. We're not interested.'

Then He went to the Australians and said, 'I have Commandments.'

The Australians also wanted an example, and the Lord said 'Thou shall not steal.'

'Not steal? We're not interested.'

Then He went to the French and said, 'I have Commandments.'

The French too wanted an example and the Lord said, 'Thou shall not commit adultery.'

'Not commit adultery? We're not interested.'

Finally, He went to the Jews and said, 'I have Commandments.'

'Commandments?' They said, 'How much are they?'

'They're free.'

'We'll take 10.'

I hope I have covered most groups there. Please direct any complaints, threats, applications for Apprehended Violence Orders, civil rights and equal opportunity claims and sooky la-la comments to the following address;


Cheers,Prof. Pilsner

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Desert Island Beers

At January’s Ale Stars at The Local Taphouse, Shandy, Chris and I got chatting at the bar afterwards to Kelv and Steve, two first time Stars. Kelv posed the question; “Choose three beers – any three – but these are the only beers you can have for the rest of your life.” Just like that.

This is that variation on your top ten albums (CDs for you Gen Xers and MP3s for the Gen Yers) to be stuck with on a deserted island or picking three chicks in a variation of the pub game; Who Would You Do? Any three beers – but that’s it.

I’d be interested to hear how our readers would go about this as there was a great deal of variance in how our participants took to the task. It’s all hypothetical and not restricted by the boundaries of reality so you can have bottled or kegged, chilled or cellar temperature – the island can cope with anything. Don’t take too long to nominate your stash, and don’t let anyone second guess you. Nor should you worry too much about your decision. It’s meant to be fun.

I went with the thinking that forever is a really, really, really long time so I would need three very different beers – not necessarily my top three favourites. I went with a Moo Brew Hefeweizen thanks largely to the fact that the brewer, Stuart Ritchie gave me a four pack when I visited and a fresh-as-fresh hefe first thing in the morning was an absolute delight. So there’s my breakfast beer sorted out.

I figured on having to choose another nice ‘meal’ beer – something with body, flavour and complexity for all those occasions where sustenance is more important than refreshment or for palate cleansing all those coconut cream pies that Maryanne would be making for me. (Yep, she’s one of my OTHER three) I narrowed my field down to a handful including a Grand cru from either Murray’s or Hoegaarden, a Red Hill Temptation Belgian ale – but then I remembered what I would choose as my third and changed my mind completely, going with a Bridge Road Brewers Pale Ale. I couldn’t go long without a Pale Ale. There’s lunch sorted.

Number three was a Weihenstephaner Pilsner – long time favourite and a great beer for lots of occasions. Just what occasions I’d be hosting on my deserted island, I’m not quite sure, but, you know ... you never know. Maybe Debbe Dunning (Heidi, the 2nd tool girl from Home Improvement) would turn up for dinner one day. (She’s ANOTHER – not giving away the third!)

It’s a more difficult task than you’d think and it’s perhaps as hard to pick the ones to leave out as it is to pick ‘the ins’ Drop us a comment with your three.

Prof. Pilsner

Sunday, February 1, 2009

SpecTAPular 3

More than just a beer festival

The Australia Day long weekend is a great opportunity for people who really enjoy a cold beer. Or four. The weather is invariably conducive to a nice relaxed session and a day off on Monday for many means that the session can be that bit more relaxed. If you also happen to be a fan of places like The Local Taphouse this is even better.

SpecTAPular is a celebration of beer held once each season and features draught beer around a theme. That’s draught as in poured from a keg to a glass through a tap – not a big brewery name for something in a bottle that came out of a keg 100 years ago. This Sunday of the long weekend saw the hosting of the third SpecTAPular and 20 Australian Summer beers were featured, some for the first time in Victoria and one for the first time outside the brewery.

Dr Lager and I met Shandy at our favourite spot at the corner of the bar around eight and - ‘Let the festival begin!!’ Being the thoughtful and dedicated beer blokes that we are, we studied the ‘form guide’, discussed the various merits of beginning with one beer over another, organised the order of The Shout – and then started with number one on the list.

We had all had the Knappstein Reserve Lager before in the bottle and this was the first time that this beer was kegged, so we had to have a crack at that. Strewth! To say that this beer had a dry-bitter finish would be a bit like saying that Oprah’s a bit fat. All three of us agreed – a different beer in the keg to the bottled version, intriguing but maybe a tad heavy on the ‘suck-the-saliva-right-off-your-tongue’ finish.

Beer number two was, well, beer number two. We didn’t set out to go each beer in numerical order, but we felt that a light bodied but pleasing pilsner was in order at that point. Coldstream Pilsner is a light bodied but pleasing pilsner in the form of a well balanced goes-down-easy kind of European Lager and was just what we needed.

A ‘taster’ of Red Hill’s Belgian Blonde followed (thanks, Ben) and we earmarked this one for a full measure later in the evening. I think we went for a Murray’s Pilsner next (I lost the form guide that I was ‘ticking’ some time later that night) and, again, a treat to have this one on tap. First time in Victoria, so that’s like a double tick! It’s a cracker.

When we arrived, we scanned the beer offerings and decided on the two or three that we would definitely find room for, and the foremost of these was next on the list. Wig & Pen is a Canberra based brewpub and one of their seasonal is the Summer Frenzy Framboise. Again on tap for the first time in Victoria, this is a raspberry wheat beer of no little pedigree. Considering that all that really comes out of our nations’ capital is politics, porn and legal fireworks, this beer is a very pleasant surprise. Complex and tart and sweet and malty and somehow managing to get hop flavour in there as well, this beer was probably the pick of the festival.

That was probably a great point at which to say, “Well, we’ve had a great night and finished it with a great beer”. Or not. Onwards we trekked, for there were just too many beers that were tempting us to try them. After the Framboise we felt a cleanser was called for and the Bridge Road Brewers Australian Ale was yet another pleasant surprise. A different beer to the bottled ale, this did the trick. Not too much of anything, easy drinking and it also prepped us well for the next. By the way, we weren’t knocking these down as quick as it is taking you to read this! Right, Shandy?

A Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale from their Brewers Reserve followed – cracker. Then Shandy’s eagle eye spotted a Rogue Ales XS Crustacean sneaking out of the cellar and wandering upstairs. We followed it and Malt My Barley!! this is a beer. An unfiltered and unfined barley wine made with four malts, two hops and Rogue’s own Pac Man yeast this thing was one of the most remarkable ales I’ve ever tasted. Luckily we only had a ‘taste’ as this thing not only tips the bitterness scale at 110 IBU, but it also pops in at about 11.5% ABV.

We decide that this was a good time to hit the road as Dr Lager was the designated driver and had stopped drinking three shouts back. He pointed out that it began to get a bit boring not drinking and watching your mates drinking. We laughed! We left Shandy as he hit the bar for an extra or two. That’s all I can remember.

SpecTAPular is well worth the trip out to the Taphouse for a few reasons. The fact that they offer 60ml tasters for a dollar or so means that you can try a wider range of beers – or ‘collect’ ones you haven’t tried if you’re a bit of a ticker – and still not kill your palate or risk falling over in the street on the way home. The prices for a regular vary between $4.50 and $7.50 with most hanging around under five bucks, so it’s out there with most paces offering this good a selection of decent beer.

It is also a chance to talk about beer in a very ‘non-nerdy’ way. The number of times we saw strangers turn to each other and say; “What’s THAT one? How is it?” during the night was something that a ‘normal’ night at the pub lacks.

A special note of thanks to Ben and James for their hospitality, to JJ, Steve and Guy for the organisation and dedication that goes into nights like this and a special thanks to Stephan who must be one of the Beer-Tenders going around. And JJ, I don’t think anyone saw you deck that beer later in the night so I reckon you got away with it.

If you can, get out and support this kind of event as it will give Melbourne, and Australians, the kind of ‘beer cred’ that other beer drinking cultures enjoy. It won’t happen overnight – but it WILL happen.

Prof. Pilsner