Drunken Speculation

MR | First Edition, October 2014

1024px-Lophius_piscatorius_MHNTLast week on Drunken Speculation, I wrote a brief missive about homebrewing and it’s impact on my relationship with beer for The Session.

I didn’t get down to Five Flavours on the weekend, which was a shame. I ended up spending Sunday morning getting a hell of a sunburn participating in Robbie McEwen’s Gran Fondo – 5 hours, 136km, two mountains, loads of pain. At least nourishing ales were on the menu last night, although it seemed with the long weekend West End had descended into some sort of student-led pandemonium. It confirmed what I’d suspected for a long time: I’m getting old.

Anyway, Beer of the Week this Monday Reading belongs to the Cavalier Berlinerweisse. I didn’t check it into Untappd as I’ve had it before but it’s a brilliant balance of light sourness, hinting caramel malt and a refreshing dry finish with no pukey aftertaste. At around 3%, I could probably sit on that beer all day and it was going for $6/schooner at Bosc last night.

To the Tweet of the Week!

I haven’t tried the range myself but exploding bottles scare the shit out of me. Consensus seems to be that this is just glorified homebrew with label and this certainly reinforces that idea.

Highlights from last week:

Crafty Pint – The Great Keg Robbery

Yet the issue of missing kegs – some deliberately stolen – is a significant hindrance for local brewers. In recent weeks, Victorian police discovered a stash of 171 30 and 50 litre stainless steel kegs in a warehouse in Cohuna that were being advertised for sale online. Investigations are ongoing, but according to Detective Senior Constable Barry Gray, of Swan Hill, it appears that all of the seized kegs were obtained from the Melbourne area. The owners of the kegs were being identified and notified so their property could be returned while investigations are ongoing to ascertain whether anyone involved in the storage or sale of the kegs has acted illegally.

Philip Withers, owner of Melbourne’s Thunder Road Brewing, says they have more than 50 kegs currently missing and believes that if their losses are typical of the industry it makes any black market in kegs a potentially highly lucrative one.

The Beer Diary – The Emperor’s New Zwanze

Briefly, it’s a three-year-aged, blended, dry-hopped gueuze, blended with kriek and dry hopped again with Bramling X. Reducing it to a sentence does the beer a injustice though, because the canvas it paints across your palate is so much more than its constituent parts.

The colour alone, a mahogany-rich maroon with carmine edges, thrills the eyes. The sharp aroma of citrus pith, pepper, linseed oiled cricket bats, leather and overripe blackberries is, at first, baffling. You need a taste to complete the puzzle it presents. The first sip is an artillery barrage of harsh, flat, funk, wrapped in juicy, tart luscious raspberries and white grapes, thicken by the thick cut shred of orange peel in marmalade that gets stuck in your teeth. The finish, more of a crescendo really, is a machine-gun bitterness that sprays around the palate and dries everything it touches with lemon pith, apple skin and wood. Oh, and it issour – sour like the sky is blue – but it was the dryness that really stuck with me, remarkable and utterly brow-furrowing in its assertiveness.

Total Ales – The Cult of Zwanze

The atmosphere in the room is electric, almost tangible and the verdict on this years Zwanze is unanimous. We have each fallen in love with Cantillon all over again. Soon the glasses of Zwanze are drained and we will have to wait another 12 months to taste Jean Van Roy’s next creation but thankfully we weren’t quite ruined for other beers. We work our way through the remainder of the beers on tap, smiling, laughing, comparing tasting notes, the people as much of the occasion as the beers themselves.

Making my way home much later, still elated but significantly worse for wear I think out loud “damn, I wish I had gone to last years Zwanze day after all” to which my friend Claire replies “you didn’t miss much, last years tasted like butt.”

Beervana – There Are No Good Arguments For Overpaying

Yesterday’s light post–part of my only half-serious whinge series–provoked a surprising amount of very serious pushback.  A few of the comments appeared here, but far more on Facebook–the platform to which most discussion seems to be moving.  That pushback flowed down three main channels, and we shall deal with them all in due course.  However, just so we don’t bury the lede too deeply: they’re all wrong.  In this omnibus response, I explain why.

And if you wanted to end all discussions about pricing, craft beer and the entire concept of beer blogging, you only need to read this comment section from seven years ago to see that nothing’s changed. Makes the whole exercise feel a bit pointless, no?

The Register – Ingredient found in Tasty Beer is Good For Your Brain

They found that young mice who had been fed xanthohumol showed a noticeable increase in their spatial memory, although old rats did not see any uptick in their brain function.

Kathy Magnusson, a professor at Oregon State University, said this meant kids should start boozing right away. Or something like that, anyway…

Sadly, to get the same effect a human would have to down 2,000 litres of the stuff a day (3,520 pints) to ingest the amount of xanthohumol used in the study for the same period, which isn’t going to do anyone’s cognitive functions a favour.

Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog – Watney’s on Objective Tasting

It is possible to score 33% correct answers by mere “guessing”. Members taking part with average scores of 50% or more may be regarded as suitable tasters for a permanent panel. This eliminates people with low discriminating powers where beer tasting is concerned but, at the same time, the panel selected will not be too severe in its judgments.

We hadn’t considered it before but, yes, we can see that finicky super-tasters probably are as useless as total numb-tongues for this kind of task.

Stuff.co.nz – ‘Pathetic’ marketing idea quickly stubbed out

The backlash began on Friday when Moa boss Geoff Ross posted a picture on Twitter of two counter cards using the taglines “Come to where the flavour is, come to Marlborough country” and “Marlboro from Marlborough” – a wholesale homage to the US cigarette giant’s globally successful “Marlboro country” advertising campaign, which ran from the 1950s to the late 1990s.

Reaction on social media was strongly opposed, with Facebook and Twitter users calling it “disgusting,” “pathetic” and out of touch with the ethics of the craft beer market.

Ross said the tweet was merely a way of testing the idea publicly and it was unlikely a Marlboro-themed campaign would materialise given the negative reaction.

Wall Street Journal – Meads of the Moment

Mead can be sparkling or flat, sweet or dry, flavored with fruits and herbs, strong as Port or refreshing as pilsner. But at its core, it’s about the honey. San Francisco Mead Company gets theirs, redolent of sage and pine, from the Mendocino forest. Other mead makers seek out dark, tobacco-like New Zealand leatherwood or light, sweet Tupelo honey. Some of the oddest honeys make the best meads. Gordon Hull of Heidrun Meadery in Marin County, Calif., says carrot-blossom honey can taste downright rancid: “Frankly, I don’t know how the bees can tolerate it.” And yet the sparkling mead he makes with it is gloriously smooth, spiced and earthy.

I’m hopefully going to get around to writing some more about mead this week.

Other highlights were:

Anything I missed?

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