33. Carlton Draught
34. Platinum Blonde
Perth’s a funny place, probably my least favourite of the Australian state/territory capitals. It just feels so…soulless. When I’ve been there for work I’ve always tried to spend my evenings in Fremantle, Perth’s port town, which has something approaching life in the evenings and a couple of good book/record shops plus a couple of worthwhile breweries. But more about those in a later post.
The first time I went to Perth in 2010 (which appears to have been in late February so I have got my beer chronology slightly out of order) I had other plans for the evening, which involved being driven into the inner suburbs by a man I’d never met who would only answer to the name of MegaMike. It was all to do with a music-related project which has stalled slightly (must get it back on track) but it involved a very pleasurable evening in the company of MegaMike, his mate Dion, and a strange Welshman. A mysterious man with only one hand made a brief appearance too.
When in MegaMike’s house, do as MegaMike does, so the beer drunk that night was a succession of longnecks of VB, Carlton Draught and Platinum Blonde. VB is the biggest-selling beer in Australia, but I’ve yet to find anyone who has a kind word to say about it. Even Victorians: I went to a wedding in the Dandenongs where VB was the only choice of beer and everyone else on my table, Victorians all, declined to drink it, declaring it “piss”. The only real difference between VB and Carlton Draught is that the VB is slightly darker in colour and has a slightly stronger taste. On a hot night in a room full of heat-emitting technology, both of them did the trick.
Platinum Blonde was launched by Woolworths (owner of Dan Murphys, Liquorland, BWS and probably many more bottlos) in 2008 as a cynical attempt to take the “low-carb” market away from Pure Blonde and its imitators, and therefore increase their already frightening hold over the entire retail scene. “Low-carb” beers are huge in Australia, sold to gullible fools as somehow less fattening than normal beer, and easier to session drink. Some even maintain that they give you less of a hangover too. It’s all bollocks. There may be less carbohydrate in the beer, but that’s not what makes you fat – it’s the calories in the alcohol that make you fat. And “low-carb” beers are not low alcohol beers – Platinum Blonde is 4.6%, the low end of full-strength. If it’s easier to drink and less likely to make you feel bloated, that’ll be the relative level of carbonation. Or all in your head. Like the fact that your hangover is less strong.
Anyway, after the VB and Carlton Draught, this tasted crisp and even a bit citrussy, a pleasant surprise. I tried it again a few days later, with a clean palate and a clear head, and it tasted horrible. Sometimes context is everything.