24-31. What happened?

March 6, 2011

It’s been ten months. And I’ve been busy. Busy working. Busy travelling. Busy presenting.

George Martin is my mentor

Studio A at 2MBS, last week.

And busy drinking too. But somehow the list of beers I’d drunk overwhelmed me and inertia took over as far as writing any of them up properly. But I kept that list going, and made some notes along the way. Rather than attempt full-on reviews of all of them, here’s part one of a whistle-stop tour through that list, with the occasional comment/picture to shed light where it exists.¬† Eyes down for a full house…

24. Old Admiral

The Lord Nelson Hotel maintains that it’s the oldest pub in Sydney. It probably is, but it’s only been brewing it’s own beer since 1985. Does some good stuff too. Did I go in there in 2010? Not sure, but I bought a six-pack of their Old Admiral, one of the two beers they make available in this way, Three Sheets being the other. A thick, strong (6.1%) porter, Old Admiral is a nice way to finish an evening. They serve it too cold in the pub though.

25. Hatlifter Stout

I reviewed this in my stout taste test in 1999. My views haven’t changed.

A Friday at The Marly

The Marlborough Hotel, Newtown

26. James Squire Porter

27.  James Squire Mad Brewers Orchard Ale

I drank these both at The Marlborough Hotel (aka The Marly) in Newtown with Louise and her two tallest friends. You don’t often get the porter on draught outside of the James Squire Brewhouses, so this was a nice treat for me. Like a creamier, more vanilla-y Old.

The previous Mad Brewers release I’d tried was really awful, so I was pleasantly surprised by the Orchard Ale. I’m a sucker for a saison (which is the base for this beer), and the apple taste worked well. I’d like them to make this one again. I had it on draught (I think the Marly was one of only a handful of pubs to have it that way) but it was released in longnecks too.

A Friday at The Local Taphouse

Nude (1930) by Edwin Holgate (1892-1977)

28. Holgate Road Trip IPA

29. Feral Barrel aged Saison

The Local Taphouse opened in Darlinghurst in early 2008 and I’ve not been there nearly as often as I should have been. It’s on the wrong side of town for me, which is part of the problem, and if I went here frequently I’d have no money or liver left, but I think the main reason I haven’t been more often is that I don’t feel 100% comfortable in here. I like beer, but not at the level that these guys do. I feel a bit intimidated. Still, it’s doing really well and I’m glad it’s there. Maybe it’s me that needs to do the work.

Anyway, I was there with Lorkers, who’d just started his new job at UNSW so that dates it to early March 2010. I had a Trumer Pils to quench my thirst, German and so not to be counted. I’m sure it was fine. I have no notes on the Holgate Road Trip IPA or the Feral Barrel Aged Saison but I seem to recall being vaguely disappointed with the saison. They’re both breweries I’d like to visit at some point – I’ve enjoyed most of the Holgates I’ve tried, and Feral look like they do some interesting stuff.

A Monday at Beer Deluxe

Shirley Temple. Probably not drinking beer.

30. Temple Saison through a Randall
31. Temple Saison in a bottle

Looks like I was going through a saison phase. Beer Deluxe is in Federation Square in Melbourne, where I was on business. I was also just starting a bout of the genuine ‘flu, so my head was swimming even without the beer. Beer Deluxe doesn’t look particularly exciting from the outside, but it has a good selection of aussie micros on tap and a fridge full of bottled wonders so I always try to pop in here when I’m south of the border. They also have one of those randall things, a chamber between the barrel and the tap, usually filled with a beer-related ingredient, which the beer shoots through under pressure on its way to the tap and subsequently your glass. It was full of hops when I turned up, which they were putting the Temple Saison through. I had a schooner of the draught though the randall, and then a bottle of it au naturel, to see if I could tell the difference. I could a bit, but I was feeling rather unwell.

So unwell that when the barman had come over and showed me a 750ml $30 bottle of a rare saison and left it on my table, in my befuddled state I thought he’d given it to me to keep. As I staggered out of the door he came hurtling along to explain that it wasn’t a gift. I got in a cab, went to the airport and spent the next three days in bed.

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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.