Monthly Archives: August 2012

SCOTS YAHAE WHERE WALLACE DRANK: A Thirstyboy on tour in Scotland Part 1 of 2

Text: Mr Horse

NB. This article has been peer reviewed by a genuine Scot (kilt and no undies) with extensive experience in the liquor trade

My name is Mr Horse and I love beer. Back in 2009 I convened the first session of the Thirsty Boys at the Malthouse, a tasting hosted by Phil Cook at the Malthouse. We three friends from the museum, university and not for profit sectors (me, Malice and Karorifryup) who in turn brought along two other blokes each. Things have grown from there with Malice, the Jesuit and co. breaking into the web with the blog you are now reading.

Goaded into action by Gingerbeardyman in recent posts, I decided I better contribute to the literature on beer studies even though it won’t do my PBRF ranking much good. So next month I am curating a tasting of home brew and will post a feature about that, but for now I thought I should tell you about the beer I encountered on my overseas junk…er I mean trips abroad to attend learned academic conferences (thus missing several Thirsty Boys events).

Mr Horse

In June 2012 I went to Scotland on a family holiday which gave me the chance to sample what has been going on in the beer world north of the border. I love Scotland. Don’t believe the stuff about deep fried mars bars and working class angst—remember the ‘worst toilet in Scotland’ scene from Trainspotting?Our overall impression was of great food, friendly people, beautiful scenery, fascinating history, terrible coffee and pretty good beer.

When you cross the border, you know you are in a different country cos people speak accented English, Scots or Gaelic. In many ways it is not dissimilar to New Zealand, and you constantly come across landscapes, and  historical and family connections, that remind you of home. Many of the placenames would be familiar to New Zealanders, especially from Otago and Southland. While the people we met did not talk much about ‘perfidious Albion’ you just had to sit in a pub seeing locals cheer on whoever was playing England in the European cup to get a sense of their political loyalties. The 2014 referendum on independence will be interesting…

Our tour began in Glasgow which is a beautiful city on the river Clyde with a lively arts scene that has twice been European city of culture. With great Georgian and Victorian architecture, fantastic museums and terrific restaurants, there is lots to do—everyone should see the extraordinary Glasgow School of Art and visit the tea rooms designed by Charles Rennie McIntosh. The museums are most impressive: the Kelvingrove with its innovative interpretation of social history, the brand new Riverside museum of transport, and the Hunterian museum at the University of Glasgow (the fourth oldest seat of learning in the UK) which as you can see below has a magnificent campus.

What about the beer? Coming out of the Kelvingrove, there across the road was a Brew Dog bar—now that’s what I call having a beer culture. More on that brewery later, but down the road was a pub claiming to be ‘Glasgow’s finest ale house’, Tennent’s bar in Byrne Rd. It had a nice interior (see photo above) tempting me to try one of the 12 cask ales on tap. I don’t remember the beer, sorry, not particularly memorable except that it wasn’t Whatney’s Red Barell or Bass. Like England, Scotland has been laid waste by a few big breweries (McEwan and Caledonian) and most pubs have bog standard fare to offer apart from maybe one or two guest ales on handpull. I have to confess I didn’t really get into the real ale (sorry Greasyspoon) but I can see that CAMRA and their bearded anorak-wearing supporters have been waging a noble counter-offensive against a sea of sweet commercial lager .

Leaving Glasgow, we had a lovely drive up through the western Highlands, through Loch Lomond, Fort William under the snowy peak of Ben Morr, and Glencoe with views of heather-clad hills, and picturesque castles (see above). Finally we went ‘over the sea to Skye’ where we stayed in a little village in a B&B called ‘Dunedin’ with a family who knew my partner’s brother.

My partner doesn’t drink beer, and had to console herself with watery Pinot Grigio, but luckily Glen drinks beer so I had someone to sup with. Down the road we found to our surprise a tiny restaurant run by a local and his Spanish wife who served up dishes like paella washed down by local beer from The Isle of Skyle Brewery http://www.skyebrewery.co.uk/ Glen and I had a bottle each of the Red Cuillin (amber ale) and the Black Cuillen (dark ale), named after the two bare rocky peaks on the island.

This local brewery operates from a small building on the pier at Uig where you catch the ferry to the Western Isles. Waiting for the ferry I had a lunch of haggis, tatties and neeps (swede) with a pint of the Cuillen beast, a big malty ale (7%) which won the CAMRA champion beer of Scotland 2011. They have only been going since 1998, and boast the only female brewer in Scotland, and even have a Kiwi working with them. Their range includes beers with a distinctive local twist like the Hebridean Gold (see below) made with rolled oats, and the black beer mentioned above made with heather honey. They also have a beer with peat-smoked malt Tarasgeir (4%) made in collaboration with a distillery.

Now a visit to Scotland without trying whiskey would be criminal. I was previously not a big whiskey drinker but a visit to Scotland has changed that—there is no doubting the pre-eminence of this famous spirit with a wide range on offer in most pubs, bars and restaurants. In a secluded inlet on the Isle of Skyle we found the Tallisker distillery where the amber nectar is, as the brand intones, ‘made by the sea’: http://www.malts.com/taliskerwhisky/index.html

After an informative tour of the operation (I didn’t really understand how whiskey was made before, and I had never heard of the ‘angel’s share’) and a sample of the product I left with a bottle of 10year old Talisker and a hip flask. For the rest of the trip I had a nightly tipple of the sweet, smokey whikihi, a very nice winter habit (even in a Scottish summer). But I’m just a novice, so for more authoritative account of whiskey (and beer) see Gingerbeardyman’s blog at: Yeastieboys single malt dance card

From Skye we took a ferry to the Outer Hebrides, a starkly beautiful archipelago out in the Atlantic made up of several islands linked by causeways and boat: from the Butt of Lewis in the north, to Harris (home of the famous tweed), North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay and Barra. As you can tell from the bilingual signage the isles are Gaelic speaking, and we learned a few words: you make your porridge with a spurdle, the fortified village in a loch is a crannock, and a little loch is a lochan. The history here is long and bloody, with castles, standing stones and other sites dotting the treeless landscape, and, surprisingly, lots of white sandy beaches (but sadly its too cold to swim, even in summer).

During our week on the islands I mostly drank the ‘beer round here’ from The Hebridean Brewing Company, based at Stornaway the largest town, which has been going for 10 years. They have 4 beers: Clansman (light bitter), Islander (ruby malty Scotch ale), Celtic Black (caramelly porter), and Berskerker Export Pale Ale (featuring one of the Lewis chessman  on the label): http://www.hebridean-brewery.co.uk/ They were ok. The Clansman was my pick. I found that the pale ale, said to be strongly flavoured with ‘intense hops’, was really mild to my New World palette. Hop zombie this was not.

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BEER HAIKU #18 Funk Estate SamuRye Sake Pale Ale

Tonight at Hashigozake it was the crew from Funk Estate putting their experimental brews on the table. As the funksters refine and define their take on the craft of craft beer brewing, its great to be along for the ride. SamuRye is a rye ale fermented with a sake yeast. It looked like a Belgian wheat beer, but the character was distinctive. As a food match, Greasylightbulb suggested blue cheese, peanut and cranberry wontons. I have to say, Funk Estate are putting it out there… It’s these kind of surprises that make the Tuesday new release nights a worthy diversion from the 5.20 train to Pukerua Bay. How apt for Hashigo zake Cult beer bar to put the SamuRye before us and how appropriate we haiku it…

Funk Estate SamuRye
Sake Pale Ale 5.5% ABV

Summer in Japan

Cunning jape with sake yeast

Viscous cloudy rye

LINK: http://www.funkestate.co.nz/

Shigeo the beer ninja from Funk Estate

hai·ku (hk)

n. pl. haiku also hai·kus

1. A Japanese lyric verse form having three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables, traditionally invoking an aspect of nature or the seasons.

2. A poem written in this form.

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BEER HAIKU #15,16 and 17 – Doctor’s Orders Plasma, 666 Invidia and Beervana

The Thirstyboys were especially inspired this evening in the shadowy corner of Hashigo zake. The beer and words were flowing. It has been a good run of new releases, with much to savour, enjoy and haiku about. It’s not easy making  the seasonal references, but we are challenged to keep true to the form. Here are this weeks offerings with a special Beervana haiku inspired by the first session on Friday.

 

Doctor’s Orders Plasma White IPA
White IPA 7.5% ABV

Bright in its splendor

Cloudy with signs of lightning

Sublime prescription

_______

666 Invidia Belgian Brown
Brown Saison 8% ABV

Multifaceted

With incredibly clean fruit

Chestnut bubblegum

_______

Beervana Session#1

 Again beervana

Funk estate on top today

No tokens left sprung

________

Link: http://doctorsordersbrewing.com/www/Home.html 

Link: http://www.666brewing.com/Index.html

hai·ku (hk)

n. pl. haiku also hai·kus

1. A Japanese lyric verse form having three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables, traditionally invoking an aspect of nature or the seasons.

2. A poem written in this form.

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BEERVANA 2012 – Session #1 : A short review and the T-shirts of Beervana

Beervana, the nirvana of New Zealand beer enthusiasts lasted just over four hours for me. No, I didn’t pass out, I actually staggered home in a fairly orderly, non-drunken fashion. I had quenched my thirst and gained some insight into the state of craft beer brewing; and it’s in good health I tell you, a hoppy state of being.

The Thirstyboys lined up for Beervana with the rest of the beergeeks from about 11.20 am at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. The gates opened at 12.00pm so we had to amuse ourselves for a while counting the number of people with beards, sideys and anoraks. When the gates opened, we calmly walked in. picked up our glasses and beer tokens and proceeded to try four beers in the first half hour. We slowed down a wee bit after that but a sense of anticipation was definitely there. We noticed the Australia section was busy. Here is a photo of the crowds.

I joke, I joke…because much later we tried some excellent Aussie brews – the Mountain Goat Brewery: Gypsy & the Goat black peppery IPA was a favourite for three of the thirstyboys.  The Garage Project stall was jammed with thirsty people, those guys got a fan club going…but in this first session other stalls like Macs and Stella Artois seemed to struggle to attract punters. The non-alc stall was quiet too.

However, throughout the afternoon there was a friendly, low key vibe if not a crowded buzz…perhaps in the evening session it would get a bit rowdier, once everyone escaped from work, and are feeling thirsty and hungry.

For our thirsty crew the best beers we tasted were:

Garage Project: Red Rocks Reserve tied with Mountain Goat Brewery: Gypsy & the Goat Black Peppery IPA 7.3% – Karorifryup

Emerson’s Brewery: Regional Best Bitter 4% – gingerbeardedman

8 Wired Brewing Co: Superconductor 8.0% – PJ

8 Wired Brewing Co: media brew – the Jesuit

Mountain Goat Brewery: Gypsy & the Goat black peppery IPA 7.3% – the draughtsman

Yeastie Boys: Gunnamatta Earl Grey IPA 6.5% – malice

Overall, from my point of view Beervana was well presented and organised. The Beervana guide was sharply designed, easy to find your way around and informative. There were over 200 beers on offer, and a great variety of quality food. The service was friendly, it was good. There was ample space and room to move, to sit down or stand up and drink beers and more beers. Though we did lose a few guys from time to time in the growing crowd.

I decided not to do a full review of Beervana. I think there will be plenty of beer-scribes who will provide expert commentary on what was on offer and the good and bad of the event. It was my first Beervana at the Westpac Stadium so I couldn’t make a comparison. However, just to add something different to the literature that will emerge around this event, I thought I’d give you an insight into the culture of beer geeks at Beervana 2012 through their t-shirts. I have added a few quotes I overheard during the afternoon…just to break up the images. Thanks to all those who agreed to be photographed, especially those who won’t remember.

“Going for the session beers from here on, in, is probably the way to go…”

the draughtsman

“If you go down the other end and look at ciderguy…he is lonely.”

The Jesuit

“That’s what separates the Thirstymen from the Thirstyboys…”

the jesuit

Gingerbeardedman with his beervana goody bag and his strange beer drinking hoody

LAST WORDS

“Flatter than last year, bigger does not always equal better…”

gingerbeardedman

“It has been excellent, I had a really good time and made numerous jokes at your expense, not all of them racist…don’t write that down!!”

The jesuit

“I wasn’t here…”

karorifryup

LINK: http://beervana.co.nz/media

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HAIKU #13 and #14 Two knock outs from 8 Wired

Tonight, as the Hashigo zake proprietor promised we had “small and complimentary samples of [two] anything-but-small beers’. Hailing from New Zealand brewery 8 Wired they were the Grand Cru (a funky 11% quadrupel) and Bumaye, (an experimental 17% Imperial stout). Both were aged for a year in Pinot Noir barrels…and both are now haiku’d. The term Bumaye has a connection to world champion boxer Cassius Clay(aka Mohammed Ali)… it will lay you among the daisies (seriously).

8 Wired Grand Cru 

Barreled quadrupel 11%ABV

Sour and viscous fruit

Aroma: Belgian summer

Tastes like last weeks wine

_________________________________________________________________________________

8 Wired Bumaye Imperial Stout

Barreled Imperial Stout 17% ABV

Bouquet of bourbon

Southerly off the harbour

Coffee coloured lace

Linkhttp://8wired.co.nz/

Søren Eriksen the 8 Wired brewer (centre) with two of the Thirstyboys

hai·ku (hk)

n. pl. haiku also hai·kus

1. A Japanese lyric verse form having three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables, traditionally invoking an aspect of nature or the seasons.

2. A poem written in this form.

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