35-37. Back home

July 24, 2011

Crazy Horse, The Cat, Sniffer and pals

Well, back home in Sydney, not Blighty, but it’s always worth posting a picture of the 1970 England World Cup Squad playing “Touch The Truck“. Or touch the Ford Cortina in this case.

35. Coopers’ Extra Stout

An old favourite, thick, black, roasted barley taste. 5.8% so don’t drink too many in a row. I’m sure it used to be 6.2 or 6.3% when I first drank it back in 2006, but I may have imagined that. I think these bottles were drunk at home, based on the scanty evidence to hand. When Old is just too light, get yourself one of these. Never seen it on draught anywhere, although I’m hopeful I might do somewhere in Adelaide when I finally get to spend some time there.

36. Mildura Wee Heavy

I have no memory of this. I probably bought it at Dan Murphys’ on a whim. It appears this has now been rebadged as Mallee Bull. The brewery looks like an interesting place to visit, being as it’s in an old cinema, so if I’m in Mildura at some point (unlikely, I know) I will drop in and remedy my omission.

At Redoak

37. Redoak Oatmeal Stout

Ah, Redoak. A brewery that never misses an opportunity to say how many awards it’s won and yet still can’t actually get beer right. It has two main problems: 1) it tries to brew too many different styles, but masters none, and 2) it serves them all too bloody cold. Now, this isn’t an Englishman abroad’s usual lament about getting his bitter too cold – it’s a serious point.  Serve your german lager styles cold, that’s fine, but ales and stouts need to be served at 10-12 degrees Celsius. Stout should not be served at 4 degrees as if you do that you can’t taste it, and all the roasty flavours you spend half a paragraph going on about in the tasting notes can’t be discerned. One of the blokes at the Brewery says that they serve them cold as that’s how Australians expect their beer and you can always let it warm in the glass if you prefer it that way. This is wrong on all counts. If an Australian is going to brave the copper shrine to beer and beer/food matching that is Redoak’s swanky bar/restaurant in the heart of Sydney, they’re likely to either be someone who knows about beer or someone who is open to being converted. And if they’ve been dragged in against their will there’s three or four cold lagers on tap to keep them happy. In 2011, in the middle of the most culturally savvy city in the country (ok Melbournites, we’ll fight later), don’t treat your customers like philistines. And, more importantly, if you let your Oatmeal Stout warm in the glass before drinking you notice that it’s rather thin and uninspiring. Give me Samuel Smith’s version any day, which you can buy in discerning bottlos (Jim’s Cellars in Crowie has it) in pint bottles for less than the cost of Redoak’s “award winning” brew.


18. Coopers Sparkling Ale

March 29, 2010

authentically australian ale

Australia has given much of value to the world.  The Chappell Brothers. Kylie. Gideon Haigh. Meat Pie Floaters. And Australian Sparkling Ale, the only authentically Australian-originated beer style, harking back to Thomas Cooper’s 1862 brew made for his ailing wife Ann. She liked it, and encourage him to bottle and sell it. And thus was an empire born.

Cooper’s (where does the apostrophe go? There’s none on the label but the man’s name was Cooper, not Coopers) Sparkling Ale is golden but hazy, given the yeast each bottle (and cask) contain for refermentation purposes. Malty, hoppy (but not overtly so), drinkable blah blah blah.  At 5.8% it’s on the top end of sessionable, so god bless the brewery for making its livery red as opposed to the green of their Pale Ale. That way I know that a night on the Pale Ale is go, but to stop before I go crazy on the Sparkling.

11-12. Carlton Black, Coopers Pale Ale

January 31, 2010

don't fancy yours much

Newtown is Sydney’s Camden, sort of. Along and just off its main thoroughfare, King Street, lie funky shops, tons of places to eat and drink, and the mix of crazy crusties with a dog-on-a-string and middle-class  students and DINKYS slumming it that made London NW1 such an interesting place fifteen years ago. It’s not quite on the tourist trail yet and all the better for it.

One of the first proper Australian (drinking) hotels I ever went into was Newtown’s Marlborough Hotel, but we gave that one a swerve this time for the even more, erm, straightforward Town Hall Hotel, right next to the station and so handy for meeting Louise’s friend Emma in. Over two levels the smell of stale beer and sight of dodgy blokes staring into space over a schooner is never escapable. Bar staff are nice though, and for some reason it’s one of the few places that has St Peters Pale Ale on draught, a beer the barman tried to put me off buying the last time I was in there (“Have you had it before? It’s a bit odd-tasting…”). It also has Carlton Black and, since it was on my mind from a previous blog posting and I’d been drinking dark beers all day, that’s what I ordered.

none more black

They reckon Carlton Black, or something like it, has been brewed since 1835 which, in a bit of Melbourne/Sydney rivalry that I’m getting used to, tops Toohey’s Old by about thirty years. The beers themselves are pretty similar, with Black being more roasty in taste. As I said before, a good sessionable beer and if I were a Melbournite I’d probably drink more of it.

After a couple (and some second-hand smoke) on the first floor balcony of the Townie, we walked up to The Cooper’s Hotel, no relation to the brewery of that name but sellers of their brews amongst others. We came here for the bistro, which provided very large portions of pretty good food and (we hoped) would help offset the reasonable quantity of beer already sunk. To wash my pasta down I went for an old faithful, Coopers Pale Ale. I would imagine that this is Coopers’ best-seller, a 4.5% hazy, slightly malty, slightly soapy brew. There’s a bit of citrus in there but it doesn’t knock you over the head with it. The biggest difference between this and the modern aussie pale ales is that there’s virtually no hop taste. For me it means it’s very drinkable but not very exciting. A good standby when the choice isn’t great.

that's a very unmanly glass

After this night and before I wrote this up I’ve had the Pale Ale in the bottle a couple of times, once in great quantity at the house of our tallest friends. Goes down great with pizza and conversations about Sydney crims. Did I mention it’s bottle conditioned? It’s bottle conditioned. Drinking it out of the bottle mixes it up nicely but when they serve you with it in the Qantas Lounge the bar staff always give the bottle a roll to do this before the pour. They’ve obviously been told that you should do that.

1. Coopers Mild Ale

January 1, 2010


An odd one to start the year off with. I first encountered this newish addition to South Australia’s Coopers stable in The Oaks with Squiresy, Lorks and some people who aren’t English in September last year, late into one hell of a Leo. It was on draft, I drank a couple of schooners, spilt half of one over my trousers, and got taken home by Louise. My memory of the beer itself was that it was nothing like a typical English mild, not particularly sweet and a bit fizzy.

Now that I’ve found it in bottles I’ve bought it a few times when I just want a “no-brainer” beer. You know, you drink it but you don’t really notice. Not too strong , but has a beer taste and refreshes. It’s technically a mid-strength beer, a type of beer at 3-4% that is remarkably popular in Queensland and Western Australia, where they know what a thirst is, but not big in NSW and other more temperate climes. It’s nice to read that Coopers don’t adulterate full-strength beer to make their Mild as others do, but brew it at 3.5% on purpose. You know, like real brewers do. Like all Coopers ales, it re-ferments in the bottle so it’s a living product too.

So, if I was to describe it, I’d say it was a fizzy, light-coloured, medium-bodied session ale with no pretensions. Oh, and at A$11.50 for 6 stubbies it’s the cheapest thing in BWS that I’d actually drink. Apparently it’s also available in cans, although I don’t know if they leave the yeast in those so it might taste a bit different.