Archive for June, 2010

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Beef & Lamb vs Beer

June 29, 2010

So, beef & lamb* and other assorted ‘high-powered kiwis’ think they can reform NZ’s perceived binge-drinking problem through Prohibition. Well, to add balance to these intellectual heavy-weights and defenders of the common man, I’ve assembled a rag-tag bunch of infamous drinkers who say that alcohol is actually quite awesome. They include:

Homer J. Simpson (Common man and father of 3, Springfield): Symbolising America’s working-class love of domestic beer, Homer’s beloved Duff is really a subtle and nuanced critique of American modernity. Drinking wisdom: “Beer: The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”

Vincent Van Gogh (Painter and recreational surgeon): This guys paintings are really quite messy (probably because he was boozed) but there’s something quite nice about them all the same. Check out The Starry Night – depicting a view from his sanatorium window (no doubt off his chops at the time). Drink of choice: Absinthe.

The Queen Mother (Queen’s Mother): Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon lived to 101 years old. Gin may taste horrible but it sure does have life-extending properties. Drinking tribute: fans placed bottles of Gin amongst the Flowers at her funeral.

Jimmy McNulty (Detective, Baltimore Police Department): The Wire’s Irish-American Jimmy likes the good things in life – Jameson Whiskey, Women – and he’s proof that being a hard-boiled, homicide detective doesn’t have to turn you bad – he made it through several episodes of series 3 & 4 without much self-destructive drinking and whoring around at all. Drinking buddy: Bunk Moreland.

Frank Sinatra (American Crooner): Ol’ Blue Eyes was a great singer but to be fair, he had a lot of help from his production assistant – Jack Daniels. Drinking quote: “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”

David Boon (Australian Cricketer, 1984 – 95): Boy, those Aussies take their drinking seriously and ‘the keg on legs’ is evidence that drinking and sport do indeed mix. Drinking achievement: World record for beers consumed on a flight – 52 cans between Sydney and London.

Shane McGowan (Lead Singer of the Pogues): Simple proof that drinking enthusiasts are far more talented and interesting people than teetotalers. Drinking Lyric: “When the world is too dark, And I need the light inside of me, I’ll go into a bar and drink Fifteen pints of beer.”

Sir Robert Muldoon (Prime Minister of NZ, 1975 – 84): Who says you can’t be wankered and still make decisions affecting millions of peoples lives pretty-much no worse than a sober politician? Drinking moment of glory: calling the snap election of 1984 while pissed as a chook.

Now, tell me – who do you trust?

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* (not sure if I have these in the right order)

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Black is the new Black

June 18, 2010

It’s winter and a stereotype might suggest that this is the perfect time for dark beers. Of course dark beers can be perfect any time of the year but there’s certainly an element of truth that they become very appealing at this time of year along with rich, warming food.

Early in my beer drinking career I was a big fan of dark beers such as Monteith’s Dark and Black Mac but then as my interest in beer grew, my taste for dark styles waned. It’s only now that I’m getting back into dark beers and my tastes are quite particular.

Stout in my mind is highly overrated, in particular a certain well-known brew from Ireland. I will grant you that the Pogues and Jameson Whiskey are two of the very best things in this World, but Guinness – please!?! This was a beer that originally used Roasted Barley simply because it had less tax applied to it than malted grain – a cheap adjunct in the same way we beer snobs now think of rice or corn. On the other hand, Stout’s cousin Porter can be amazing. And then there is Dunkelwiezen – proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy if ever I saw it.

My top dark beer recommendations to get you through winter are as follows (some liberty taken as to the darkness of beer):

Renaissance Stonecutter: Anyone who knows me or reads this blog is probably well aware by now that I worship at the Stonecutter altar. This Scotch ale is truly one of the finest beers in this World with its dense layers of rich mahogany and a touch of smoke. Perfect winter nightcap beside a roaring fire (or heat pump).

Invercargill Brewery Pitchblack: Even though I just had a go at Stout, this one is enough to change my opinion. Dark, full-bodied, slightly sweet and displaying just the right amount of that delicious dark malt character, this is an extraordinarily good beer. Nothing at all to fault here.

Three Boys Porter: I haven’t had one of these this year but have fond memories of a couple of pints of from 2009. A very drinkable beer that makes you sit up and think – ‘damn, that’s a good beer, I think I’ll get another!’

Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black: Dark beers are all about the malt – or are they? Pot Kettle Black is for the hop loving, dark beer connoisseur. Call it an American Porter, call it a Black IPA, call it whatever, this beer will change your perceptions about dark beer.

Townshend Old House ESB: A local favourite of mine, the complex flavours of this estery English ale include fudge and cidery fruit – perfect for a quiet night at home by the fire.

Chimay Grand Reserve (Blue): A bit like Champagne for the beer World, a 750ml bottle of Chimay Blue is going to make you feel special during those cold winter months. A bit like drinking spritzy, liquid cinnamon. Proof that beer brings happiness as if you needed it.

Mac’s Sassy Red: Every beer lover without a gold-plated pay packet and family to support needs a good domestic beer to tide them over. For me, this is Mac’s Sassy Red. I wasn’t always a fan – every second one was good but now I’m a total convert to the deliciously fresh, waxy, nutty malt character and spicy NZ hops. Proof that Mac’s can still deliver the goods.

Schneider Weisse Aventinus: Incredibly rich and luxurious, a perfect display of what a combination of wheat yeast and sweet, dark malts can achieve.

Which reminds me, NZ craft brewers need to release more dark wheat beers! And consider more sessionable examples around 5% abv without the hot alcohol flavours that make my tongue itch. I’ve even had a go at this at home (astute readers with an interest in 90’s ‘grunge’ music may even recognise the album I ripped-off this concept for my beer label from):

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