Archive for May, 2010

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Suburban swappers

May 26, 2010

Every few months – tired of the ‘same-old’ every night – groups of people meet in suburban garages, spare bedrooms and even on outdoor decks to swap their most prized possession after chatting on an Internet forum. And so  it was on Saturday that nine Nelson home brewers gathered at my house for an afternoon of mashing, tasting and beer swapping.

I’m a bit biased but I think everyone had a great time with some very tasty beers on offer. These gatherings are a great opportunity to share knowledge and hone your brewing skills, plus simply drink some good beer and have a chat about the weather! The unofficial godfather of Nelson home brewing – I’ll call him the Big D – also brought round his gear so two newbies could have a go at a ‘mini-mash’ brew.

Being relatively new to the game myself, the Big D left his gear at my house so I could have a go at all all-grain brewing on Sunday. I chose to brew one of my favourites – NZ pale ale – and stole a recipe from the Yeastie Boys, which was pretty easy as it’s just sitting on their website. Everything went pretty well until transferring into the carboy at the end, which got a bit messy. It was an enjoyable experience but quite different to what I had expected. It turns out brewing can be bloody hard work and after my nearly six-hour brew I was exhausted. Of course, you learn a lot on your first try and there are many things I would refine next time round. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be drinking my first all-grain beer – which I’ve named ‘Attack of the Nerdherder Clone’ – can’t wait!

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Vote Beer

May 20, 2010

I was looking on the Treasury website this afternoon for Budget 2010 documents and came across the appropriation for Vote Racing. After my initial thoughts of ‘why the hell are we spending public money propping up the Racing industry?’ I had the brilliant idea – why not also steal use some public money for Beer!?! Naturally, I would become Minister of Beer and this would be my 2010 appropriation for Vote Beer:

  • $250,000 for research project into viability of nuclear-powered, chilled tanker to ship cheap and fresh Budvar from the Czech Republic to New Zealand.
  • $10,000 to lock up Doug Sellman and other Healthists in a beige room and be fed nothing but strained peas to a soundtrack of Enya as suggested by Eric at Offsetting Behaviour.
  • $20 to implement new excise rate on all alcohol of $0.00 per Litre.
  • $50,000 for Social Networking initiatives to promote Epic beer.
  • $2,000,000 for compulsory Home Brewing courses at all Tertiary Institutions.
  • $700,000 to promote voluntary malt quota of 100% amongst mainstream brewers. Catch phrases include: ‘All Malt: Yeah Right’; ‘Less Advertising , More Malt’.
  • $1,000 for all-grain Home Brew set-up for the Minister of Beer.

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Beer and Food Matching Mastery

May 18, 2010

Those sophisticated big-city folks keep talking about this crazy new phenomenon which involves matching beer with food. Apparently, there’s great enjoyment to be had from carefully matching the right culinary delights with your favourite brews. Not one to miss out, here are my top tips for food and beer matching:

1. Salted, Roasted Peanuts: Matches best with Lager, Pilsner, Bock, Wiezen, Bitter, Brown Ale, Pale Ale, Porter, Stout.

These salty, crunchy little snacks are a great counter to unsalty, uncrunchy beer.

2. Crisps or Chips: Matches best with Lager, Pilsner, Bock, Wiezen, Bitter, Brown Ale, Pale Ale, Porter, Stout.

Ideally choose some chips made from potato with a sprinkling of salt. The potato and salt really work with the beeriness of the beer.

3. Pie: Matches best with Lager, Pilsner, Bock, Wiezen, Bitter, Brown Ale, Pale Ale, Porter, Stout.

A pie with a meat filling is best. The carbonation in the beer, assisted by your teeth will really cut through that meaty goodness.

4. Pizza: Matches best with Lager, Pilsner, Bock, Wiezen, Bitter, Brown Ale, Pale Ale, Porter, Stout.

Skinny, Italian base or big, fat, giant loaf of bread base – anything is fine as long as your pizza base thickness * ∏ = the abv of your beer. Otherwise the beer Gods are gonna be real pissed.

5. Cheese: Matches best with Lager, Pilsner, Bock, Wiezen, Bitter, Brown Ale, Pale Ale, Porter, Stout.

Choose some kind of cheese made from milk. The fat in cheese goes great with the magic fairy dust in beer.

6. McDonald’s, KFC or Burger King: Matches best with Lager, Pilsner, Bock, Wiezen, Bitter, Brown Ale, Pale Ale, Porter, Stout.

Best consumed late at night after a big drinking session when your faux-moralistic aversion to ‘not eating that crap’ has well and truly disappeared.

7. Curry: Lager.

The owners of your local Indian Restaurant have done all the thinking for you and selected an outstanding range of uninteresting pale Lagers – surely this must therefore be the best match with a spicy curry.

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Picture credit: http://thisiswhyyourefat.com/

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And just to prove how amazing this new phenomenon is, I even have a recipe utilising beer for you to try – that’s right, food with beer in it!!

1. Take any recipe containing liquid.

2. Substitute liquid for the same amount of any beer of your choice.

3. Continue with recipe as normal.

4. Eat!

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Will the real Pilsner please stand up?

May 12, 2010

Virtually everyone knows that lager is the biggest selling beer in the world ever since taking the Universe by storm all those years ago. This ubiquity, particularly of cheap, mass-produced products that all taste the same (and popular with the masses) means lager is generally not highly regarded amongst beer snobs. Sick of all those Euro lagers all made under licence in Auckland with added sugar and boring hops yet?

In this context, it’s easy to forget just how damn amazing original Czech Pilsner really is. Yes, I’m talking about Pilsner Urquell and Budweiser Budvar! While all the imitators are obviously from a similar genre, there really is nothing that compares to the originals. It hits you as soon as you take the first sip and it’s like your taste buds tasting beer again for the first time after years of over use. And yet these aren’t novel and therefore particularly interesting flavours – rather they’re extremely well-balanced and display distinctive Czech flavours with their floral Saaz hops and sweet, Moravian barley.

For my money Budvar it just that little bit more balanced than Urquell and not much else compares to coming home on a hot Friday evening in summer and chopping several of these green babies! Of course it doesn’t hurt that they were on a multi-week special for $11 a six-pack. Anyway, rather than bore you with beer history that you’ve probably already heard – I simply implore you to go forth and spread the word about the real Pilsner!

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