Archive for the ‘beer’ Category

hello old friend

January 5, 2017

Hopping in to heinous beers that are awesome on holiday sees a reappearance of beer blogging. Haywards 5000 was a companion of mine in southern India where its high ABV eased many a day on the road in that incredible place.


Who knew it was available outside India, why is it available outside India?

The best memories I have looking back now are from a scruffy hotel, in a fairly unremarkable town that had a NASA theme subterranean bar.

We still talk about India all the time, we often joke ‘it all comes back to India in the end’. We are living out the often heard  Indian travel truism – you start to forgive the place as soon as you leave.

While some may think that Dad and I were in Melbs for the GF, essentially we were there on a eat and drink a-thon. A big highlight of which was the awesome Delhi Streets.  There is even a tiny hipster coffee place in the lane next door, run of course by a chap from Perth.

That hit of chemical alcohol took me back to the good days,  very much like how the smell of a drain reminds me of happy times on the road.


Beer notes #40

May 29, 2012

India Pale Ale CASC The Kernel London 7.4%

Discovered by Geoff and me about 12 months ago at the mighty Kris Wines N7, the address on the label guided us down to the then fairly unknown Maltby Street Market. We made a return a week or so ago and was very happy to see the place going from strength to strength.  A bit warmer this time too, so we didn’t have any unfortunate G-Unit near-hypothermia experiences.
In a different (now larger) vault, under the railway to Millwall, its neighbour sells wedges of cheese and ham, which you can bring into the brewery. They have all their current beers in bottles at very reasonable prices and a couple off the tap. Despite struggling for stomach space after a hefty eccles cake at St John’s, we managed to sneak a few in.
There is fantastic big hops happiness in the India Pale Ale CASC off the tap. Great pop of fizz in the mouth with some citrus to balance it out. 17/20. Also had a go at the Export India Porter – terrific; quite different to anything I’ve had before. Ground coffee and roasted malts, with a bit of hops trying to make a getaway. 18/20. A trip down to these parts has to be the ideal way to spend a rainy Saturday morning in London. So now Maltby has wound up, it’s time for early lunch at The Drafthouse.

Beer Notes #39

April 26, 2012

Duvel Groen Belgium 7.5%

Only in Belgium* could a 7% 255ml beer be seen as sessional. Dry, sating and pretty good, it knocked the edge off my hangover nicely. There was a marathon going on outside, but I belong in here with my people. It’s quite rare, apparently not often seen outside Belgium.

The friendly barman in Utrecht told me that this is known as little sister of big brother normal Duvel. It’s great stuff, a lot cleaner than the usual mighty Belgians but somehow it pulls it off. Beers with this light straw colour and this level of alcohol are normally terrible but here it gives a nice structure and no boozy chemical taste. Fun thing about being Euroside is trying the lesser known stable mates of big, well-known beers. Clearly this satisfies my apparent need to only blog about the obscure and not so good. 14/20

anything but tropical beer notes #38

April 5, 2011

Guinness Draft Dublin  4.3%
Guinness is a bit of a fall back for me these days, it’s pretty limp, but it’s often on special at the offie. Please don’t judge me.

Give me Dogs Head any day….

But the sun is finally out, which has happily resulted in our balcony being used as something other than the drinks fridge. That’s really the whole point of this update, oh and that’s the Queens Crescent Saturday market down there.

anything but tropical beer notes # 37

March 28, 2011

Fuller’s Extra Special Bitter London 5.9%

Fuller’s London Porter, um, that would be… London 5.4%

I’ve been dragging my heels on this; bewildered by all the choice on offer, I haven’t really known where to start. So in the end, rather than getting going with the deliberately obscure, we’ll start our adventures in ale with two big classics from London’s Fullers Brewery. The ESB was the first “ale” I ever tried. It’s a classic but totally unrepresentative of ale generally. Uncharacteristically, it’s high in alcohol, a bit too high for such a sessional beer, and driven by big upfront hops. I think I can safely say I like it because it’s the closest thing I can get over here to Little Creatures Pale Ale. ESB has even created, Pilzen-like, its own style of beer.

An honourable mention to must also go to Porter – again, a classic by which all others are judged; it’s getting us through the rather dismal early months of the year. 18/20 for both.

beer notes #36

December 22, 2010

The blog has lost its chronology, but try to stick with us while we put things right.

Goldstar Dark Lager Beer Israel   4.9%

Bluestar Beer would be more correct, don’t you think? Perhaps sacrilegious or, at the very least, in poor taste. That could link in though if you get my crummy pun.

Israelis aren’t really big drinkers but you can get beer everywhere, even in Jerusalem during Shabbat – although not without a few quirks. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, we and a few other die-hards were enjoying a quiet Goldstar in a mostly deserted area in the “new” (you know, post-Jesus) part of town,  when we were booed at by a group of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews. They were a good 30 metres away, but it was still a little disconcerting. I thought of shouting “It’s OK! We’re Catholic!” but that probably wouldn’t have calmed the situation.

But back to the stars: this beer doesn’t rate any although it is purportedly better than Maccabee, which I was forbidden to drink by our lovely host Michaella who, along with boyfriend Niv, was a willing imbiber. The beer colour is the most interesting thing about it (albeit brown = hardly ground-breaking), but doesn’t follow with any distinguishing taste. It’s worth having a look at their funny if, on reflection, misogynist advertising.

beer notes #35

September 1, 2010

Taybeh Beer Golden  Palestine  5%
Taybeh Beer Amber  Palestine  5.5%

Not unlike Chateau Musar, the story of the Taybeh Brewing Company is one of passion for family, place and quality product. Despite tremendous adversity, the Khoury family have been brewing in the West Bank since the mid-nineties. “The finest beer in the Middle East” is their slogan – one that is very easy to agree with. The Master Brewer, Nadim Khoury, an engineer by trade, returned to Palestine from the US with his young family and brother, David, after the Oslo Accords with the stated aim of contributing to a successful, independent Palestine. Nadim told us how he first got the idea of a Palestinian microbrewery as a college student in the 70s when he’d bring back various bits of home brewing equipment from Boston for his father who was unable to get any decent beer locally.

Taybeh Beer is named after the village that it is located in, the ancestral home of the Khoury family. It sits high above Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. In a happy coincidence, the word “taybeh” means “delicious” in Arabic; the town was renamed by Saladin, having been formerly known as Ephra, meaning “unpleasant” – probably for the best as far as marketing is concerned. Taybeh is the only remaining Christian town in Israel and the Palestinian Occupied Territories; like everything in these parts, it’s got an incredible, long history, even cracking a mention in John’s gospel. If you’re interested, there’s a great history section on the town’s webpage. 

These days much of the brewing process is managed by Nadim’s delightful daughter, Madees. About our age, she was onsite the day we visited and we had a great hour or so chatting away, despite occasional visits from tightfisted, septuagenarian Italian tour groups and a working day that had kicked off at 4:30am. She poured us a wonderfully fresh Golden from the keg. It was refreshing and subtle – everything you want from this style of beer. A quality sessional, it has slightly sweet malts and some hops. My little notebook insightfully records: “It tastes like good beer.” 14/20. I brought some of the Amber back to Jerusalem (along with a poster, two stickers, postcards and a Tshirt, being the sucker for merch that I am); it’s more complex; not as successful as the Golden, but still very drinkable. 12/20. There’s simply no other amber or dark beer in the Middle East, so the fact that Taybeh is even attempting to turn people onto it is a victory for good beer.

The beers are available thoughtout Europe and the Middle East and are even brewed under licence in Germany. Despite some enquiries, it’s not been profitable to send it to Perthland just yet. Israel has signed a free trade agreement with the United States that covers the West Bank and would allow for the export of Taybeh, but so far the beer’s export has been blocked because of a labeling issue: the family don’t want to change “Made in Palestine” to the mandatory “Made in Israel”. 
A little part of me was worried about going out to Taybeh – would it be depressing? Good people with a good idea, going slowly broke under the stresses and vagaries of occupation? But we found a vibrant and happy family courageously working against the slow burn of the occupation and, seemingly, every wrongheaded stereotype of the Palestinians. But things are very hard. As I walked out of the microbrewery, I picked up a pamphlet advertising Taybeh’s annual Oktoberfest, which attracts thousands. I was stunned by the power of its closing words written by Dr Maria Khoury, David’s wife;
Taybeh Beer means everything right now. It means that we want to work for a modern Palestine where democracy, freedom, and human rights would encourage all to thrive. It means that we are just craving to be “normal”.

beer notes # 34

August 13, 2010

961 Red Ale Lebanon 5.5%

961 Traditional Lager Lebanon 5.2%

Is this is what I have become – the sort of person who stalks beer delivery men?

Thanks to the tragic amounts of research previously mentioned, 961 – a microbrewery named, I think, after the country code for Lebanon – was earmarked as a priority beverage target. I should have known better than to trust their hip yet remarkably uninformative website; after two hours of combing the street in the blazing sun, the target (in the form of the brewery’s eponymous bar) remained at large.

This isn’t the first time we have endured the elements in search of a Dodd folly, so I remained only slightly deterred. Meanwhile, we adopted a local cafe, Bread Republic, as our HQ and it was here that I noticed a stubbie of the elusive brew in the fridge. An unusually competent waitress informed me that while the bar had closed due to its financially premature opening, the brewery was still battling on albeit with supply issues due to a recent relocation of their brewing operations. Encouraged – not that I needed it – by this information, I ordered said stubbie of 961 Traditional Lager and it was a few days later that I chased the beer delivery man down the street as I saw him lugging a carton of Red Ale into a nearby corner store.

In somewhat of an anticlimax, this beer actually caused me to plunge into a sort of existential beer crisis, realising that it had been so long since I’d sampled a decent beer that I was now having trouble identifying one, no longer able to distinguish between “good” and “trying too hard.” I think the Traditional Lager falls into the latter category – funky citrus and yeast, it’s anything but an industrially produced larger, just a pity it’s not much chop. The Red Ale is more successful, a straight amber ale with nice hops and simple structure.

beer notes #33

July 6, 2010

Al-Shark Beer & Barada Beer Syria

To blog or not to blog? Here we have to weigh up the sheer nothing-to-say-ness of Al-Shark and fellow traveller, Barada, against their somewhat exotic appellation. In light of my failure to track down any Iraqi beer, I’ve decided to forge ahead.

Al-Shark poured completely flat and verged on undrinkable. Likewise, quality control was a bit of an issue with Barada; the can was only 2/3 full (perhaps 1/3 empty is more appropriate here) but the contents were OK. Well, relatively OK. A guy in a bar tried to sell Barada to me on the basis that “every can is a surprise”, but I don’t think I’ll be suggesting they adopt this as an official marketing strategy.

beer notes #32

July 6, 2010

Efes Pilsen & Dark Turkey

I’d prejudged this as yet another faceless man of world beer but it’s actually quite good. Floral and hoppy; I’m sure I got a whiff of wheat beer in there somewhere – although it does need to be really cold for any enjoyment to take place, never a good sign. First beer for some time that has been worthy of a rating: 10/20.

This was to be the beer on offer at our Eminem wedding – that is, before the venue shut abruptly under mysterious, scuttlebutt-inducing circumstances. In the end, I think things worked out better for having the party at Walba, where the Coopers flowed freely….

I only managed to get a picture of the Dark. It’s a disappointment, and not just because it reminds me of Essendon.