Station Ident: Anticipation

'I Want You Inside Me' (outside Trunk bar, Melbourne, 24 My 2014)

Neon sign outside Trunk bar, Melbourne. (And my Golding’s Free Dive Beer Goggles entry, incidentally.)

So,1 as may or may not already be obvious, Beervana is nearly upon us. As it does every year, now, it’s brought a swirl of beautiful madness with it — the City is brimming with beer geeks and the calendar is crammed with things for them to over-occupy their time. Working in the beer business, though, can complicate the enjoyment of this week a little precisely because there is such a glorious mountain of stuff going on. Spare an extra thought for your barpeople; they’re likely pulling long hours and achingly envious of your ability to flit from spot to spot.

There’s a lot going on in my little corner(s) of the industry, as well: flinging beer hither and yon — slowly driven bonkers by the cautious ordering of restaurants unaccustomed to the enthusiasm of the beer-drinking public this time of year, and so requiring re-up after re-up — and lending a minor hand in the pile of other projects entailed by a day job at a brewery that goes utterly batshit on the events and special releases fronts. So I’m mostly hanging out for the festival itself, since I’m missing out on most of its satellites.

And I am, admittedly, superkeen. I stand by my sympathy for people who’ll now skip Beervana — feeling it’s outgrown them or they’ve outgrown it — in this rich ecosystem of ours, but I always enjoy it as pilgrim, participant, hypercritical observer, and raving evangelist. And as performer again, this year, with the Beer Diary Podcast: Live! on each evening, which should be buckets of fun — and the audience is open to all comers.

This is the big week in beer, in New Zealand. It’s our Christmas. Imagine how run off your feet you’d be, if you were an elf, and bolt that to the giddy excitement you felt when you were a kid. It’s both at once, and it’s bloody marvellous. Bring it on.2


1: If this post’s title earworms you as quickly and strongly as it did me, I make no apologies. 
2: Meanwhile, I should reiterate that the placeholding ‘Station Ident’ idea is one shamelessly stolen from Honorary Friend Of The Show Warren Ellis. If you’re not reading his notes at morning.computer, you’re missing out on some of the best short-form stuff around. (And that really is a valid URL, now; the third age of the internet is really going to be strange.) 

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Beer Diary Podcast s04e02: Dry July

An episode with no beer. Well, none were consumed — out of a vague nod to Dry July, but more a result of us both being in losing phases of the age-old battle of Monkey v Microbe. We ponder Dry July, as a charitable enterprise (we’re unconvinced) and (much better) a way for people to test and/or manage their relationship with one of humanity’s favourite drugs. Meanwhile, we drink some worthwhile non-beers,1 and I have a little ramble on the social history of tea and coffee and whatnot. And an episode this time of year wouldn’t be complete without a looking-forward toward the beer awards and Beervana.

Speaking of which — we’re going to be recording two episodes at Beervana itself, and you’re more than welcome to join the audience as we talk beer with some special visiting guests. Attendance is free and there’ll be Beers Of The Week for all. We’re on at 8pm on Friday, 7pm Saturday.

As always, a direct download is available, there’s a podcast-specific RSS feed, and you should be able to get us on iTunesGeorge and myself can also both be reached on the Twitterthing, or you can leave comments here or on the Bookface. Cheers!

— Show notes:

  • (0.10) You can hear the Lingering Winter Lurgy right away.
  • (1.20) A fortnight-and-a-bit delay isn’t that bad, in the grand scheme of things.
  • (3.20) Twitter’s trending algorithm is apparently really suggestible.
  • (4.00) Botswanan of the Week: Mma Rmotswe. The books are formulaic but enjoyable, and I thought the TV series was particularly well done. I’m sure I’m slightly biased because the author is also a big name in bioethics, but still.
  • (4.30) Beverage Of The Week #1: Gingerella. Tasty stuff indeed.
  • (5.50) Dry Julyits official organisation, and its general gist. Pete Brown’s musing on his personal annual abstention ritual was a big influence on me going from Bystander to Somewhat Militant Ally for such things.
  • (8.30) Bars really do need to sort out their non-boozy options.
  • (13.30) A.U.D.I.T. — the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, an online version of which can be found here (ironically festooned, for me, last I visited, in Beervana ads).
  • (16.50) CGP Grey is a pretty good evangelist for caffeine, another favourite drug. Philip J. Fry’s legendary experiment in overconsumption is also worth watching.
  • (17.50) Beverage Of The Week #2: T Leaf Tea Blue Flower Earl Grey.
  • (19.30) Recommended: A History Of The World In Six Glasses. Plus Quicksilver and its sequels, if you’re in need of a few thousand pages of fiction.
  • (21.00) There’s a lot of myth-making in regards water and the historical popularity of beer. In Industrial Revolution era cities, though, the problem was a real one.
  • (22.40) CrashCourse World History was great fun. And a second season just started.
  • (22.50) The Beer Diary Podcast: Live! Friday at Saturday evening, no cover charge, with guests and beers-of-the-week for all. Should be a lark. Come along, if you’re in town and attending Beervana — and tell your friends.
  • (23.40) Beervana exhibitors. Australians aplenty, plus lots of new faces. But absolutely no Boundary Road / Independent / Asahi, for an apparently-hilarious reason. And a reminder about Beer Festival Economics.
  • (28.40) RTDs, a sidebar. There’s your Problem Child, right there, if you want one. And don’t believe a damn thing you hear about the popularity of “cider” these days — it’s mostly just RTDs in drag.2
  • (32.00) The rich ecosystem of festivals. You do see a few people wondering if Beervana isn’t for them anymore. To which I say 1) it’s possible that your tastes have changed more than the festival has, and 2) that’s not really a problem; there’s still so much for you to go to and go bananas about.
  • (33.00) The new ‘beer manufacturer’ award — overdue, and missing the point.
  • (38.00) Bouquet & Brickbat / Tip o’ the Hat & Wag o’ the Finger: We really do need a name for this segment; suggestions welcome. I keep getting stuck on ‘Cheers & Jeers’, but there’s probably something better lurking somewhere in the æther. But anyway — Yay Tuatara, for doing Interesting Things. (The new CEO is Richard Shirtcliffe, but he’s formerly of Phil & Ted’s; same industry, broadly, better name.) They’re obviously looking to restore their ‘Wellington’ cred and their ‘cool’, but that’s not a bad goal. And — Boo Dominion Breweries / Heineken global for using the same (bad) joke on two different billboard campaigns, and for the world’s worst mixed pack.
  • (48.50) Recommendations: Tuatara ‘Black’ — I’ve still only had the ‘Toasted’ one, but hear good things about the coffee and chocolate incarnations. It is worth noting, though, that they haven’t “re-brewed” Delicious Neck, it turns out; they’ve re-blended it — whether for reasons of deadline and schedule or just lack of inspiration, I hear the What We Do In The Shadows tie-in wasn’t a custom brew, but a blend of existing stock. Tasty, all the same, but still. Also Big Awesome Trappist-y Things, and Hallertau Funkonnay. And: #freshisnotbest; build a cellar.
  • (52.00) Friend Of The Show: As noted in the last episode, it seems Wil Wheaton did get his beer from us, which is awesome. For this week: Warren Ellis — creator of a bajillion things, almost too numerous to list, that we’re mutually hugely fond of.
  • (56.10) Cue the music: ‘Shopping for Explosives’, by The Coconut Monkeyrocket. Audio editing done in Audacity. Habitual thanks to both.

1: It took me forever to find a non-beer photo in my collection. That coffee was me on my way to the Winter Ale Festival, last year, which I photographed on a ‘real’ (i.e., film) camera for the first time in years. Hence the terrible shot. Despite being an avid consumer of tea and coffee, I guess I don’t make an ‘occasion’ of it often enough. I should get out more — and take my camera with me. 
2: On a hunch, I did actually contact Roy Morgan Research concerning the above-linked paper wherein ciders allegedly ‘overtook’ RTDs in popularity / consumption. And yes, the data was purely unmoderated self-reported numbers from asking people “Have you bought a cider?” in the relevant time period. The real lesson — since Rekorderlig, Wild Side, etc., etc., are all thought of as ciders by most people when they’re anything but — is that the industrial manufacturers have been successful in their bid to ‘re-brand’ their RTDs. 

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Beer Baroness ‘Unite’ Pale Ale — at a Moa Tap Takeover

Beer Baronness & Pink Boots 'Unite' Pale Ale (LBQ, 17 July 2014)

Beer Baroness & Pink Boots ‘Unite’ Pale Ale

Feminism, as they say, is1 the radical idea that women are people too. By very simple extension, women can be beer enthusiasts, bar owners, beer writers, and brewers. There’s a lot more to say on the subject, obviously, but it’s not really my gig to hold forth given my obvious lack of lived experience — a Very Special Podcast Episode was recorded this weekend which will probably elaborate thereon, instead, and that reminded me about this tasty beer and its somewhat-unusual context.

LBQ — that is to say, Little Beer Quarter; a well-established bar here in town which happens to be owned by women — was hosting a mini-tap-takeover by Moa, a company with something of a well-deserved reputation of boorish, sexist and otherwise-bigoted marketing. The high-water mark, such as it is,2 was perhaps their relentlessly shitty IPO document, but their offenses — both stunningly major and perplexingly minor — would probably be just too depressingly exhausting to fully catalogue. Their outright dismissal of women as potential consumers (nevermind investors or just non-ornaments) sees them fail at the earliest possible moral hurdle and earned Moa a spot on my own personal (and mercifully short) Boycott List.

Amended Moa signage (LBQ, 1 May 2013)

Amended signage at LBQ — editing down Moa’s dickish “Finally, something drinkable…” slogan

The tension here — that between the character of the bar and of the brewery3 — was noted a fair amount online, with many surprised that LBQ would give Moa the oxygen, after freely taking (gentle) jabs before. Personally, it was admittedly gratifying to be reminded that I wasn’t alone in holding a grudge. A lot of people will independently bring up their history of appalling marketing and cite it as a reason for not buying their beer, skipping their offering at a festival, or not going to an event of theirs. We are, after all, enjoying a preposterous embarrassment of riches in our options in the beer world, so it’s relatively easy to boycott something for over a year and not really feel like you’re missing out at all. Consumer choice wide enough allows consumer judgement on any criteria they feel like applying — which is precisely how things should be. Moa, it has to be said, had been keeping their heads relatively low, lately;4 it looks like they thought they could just slink away from their prior bullshit and have everyone quietly forget about it — and it looks like they were wrong. Re-starting with a sincere “we screwed up — we acted gross, and we’re not going to do it again; we’re actually mostly going to get out of the way and let the beer speak for itself” could do a lot.5 They’ve conspicuously failed to make any kind of attempt in that direction, and that’s unfortunate for all concerned.

And maybe LBQ were still giving them a nudge in the ribs even as they hosted this perhaps-premature event, because on the afternoon of the takeover, they announced that they’d tapped a keg of the Beer Baroness-brewed edition of ‘Unite’ Pale Ale, the International Women’s Day collaboration beer. So I had that, for my own point-making circumstantial reasons, but I’ll eagerly have it again for its inherent deliciousness because it was just splendid. Nice how that works out, sometimes. A zippy little sessionable pale ale, it was very much My Thing — and a fresh batch is reputedly On The Way. The titular Baroness is Ava Wilson, who is also the manager of the ridiculously wonderful Pomeroy’s Pub, convenor for the NZ chapter of the Pink Boots Society (soon to have its inaugural meeting, and the mothership of which organised the global brewday), seminar-wrangler for the Great Kiwi Beer Festival, and an all-round superawesome individual. If you, like Moa’s marketing suits, live in the same country as Ava and you still don’t think women could be “beer people” then I submit that you are an ignorant retrograde.

I would at least hope — in a rare fit of optimism — that the craft beer ‘community’ was on the whole a welcoming, safe, and enjoyable place for women to be. Better than ‘the average’ (non-beer bars and festivals, the public at large..?), maybe, somehow. But it’s a long way from perfect, and every awful bit of sexist branding, all the tired old stereotypes and presumptions that never quite die (see, e.g., how often people think “girly beer” might actually be a category, and what it’d consist in, and why), and every crappy bit of treatment women still endure in bars — they’re all worth calling out and resisting. So yes, among my self-chosen descriptors, I’ll wear “feminist”6 as happily as I do “beer geek”.

Diary III entry #24: Beer Baroness 'Unite' Pale Ale

Diary III entry #24: Beer Baroness ‘Unite’ Pale Ale

Original notes: Beer Baronness ‘Unite’ Pale Ale 17/7/14 @ LBQ, amid a Moa tap takeover, so at least partially for irony + point-making. But the thing itself hardly needs an excuse; really nicely zippy + zesty hoppy little 4% thing. Not hugely weather-appropriate, but the bar is super cozy anyway. Lots of interesting reactions to this event, but my take is just that it’s premature. Apologetic fronting-up, then the charm offensive and re-focus on the beer.

 


1: If I felt like quibbling — and, let’s face it, I basically always do — I’d say “begins with” rather than “is”. But it’s a damn fine slogan, and at least damn close to the mark. 
2: With “water” in a decidedly euphemistic sense, let’s say. 
3: “…or at least its marketing department”, as the usual caveat goes — including from me (e.g., footnote 1 in my post on the IPO itself). And while it is true that the beers range from fine to great and the brewer himself is indeed a lovely chap, there comes a point where something goes on long enough and everyone involved really is at least a little bit culpable by association. 
4: Well, other than hiring Shane Warne to front their product in Australia. Which makes little goddamn sense for several reasons, not least of which the boofhead reputation he’s transparently struggling to shake. Against their otherwise softly-softly tactics of late, I’m pretty much at a loss to explain that one. Perhaps it’s a mistake to try to attribute a rationality behind it at all; it might just show their instincts. 
5: Just because someone will always come along and set a worse example, I suppose it’s at least a relief they aren’t just trying to obliviate their past misdeeds and erase them from the record (except for one example that we’ll get to later…) — unlike WilliamsWarn, whose foray into #everydaysexism was made all the sadder for their reaction to criticism.
6: Simplicter. I was in the habit of saying “~ ally”, but I’ve lately been convinced otherwise
†: Coincidentally, in the inadvertent extra delay in getting this online, the guys at the Ale Of A Time podcast uploaded an episode wherein they also address the sexist branding / beer-naming problem. So at least it’s getting a little more air and pushback — though I take a stronger line than both of them. 

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Weekend (re-)Reading: Beer For A Year

The Beer For A Year masthead

The Beer For A Year masthead

I’ve been meaning to re-read Alice Galletly’s marvellous ‘Beer For A Year’ for ages. Despite best intentions, my own output is still at a low ebb — you should see the brimming Drafts folder I have on here1 — which often prompts me to go back through things I’ve enjoyed reading and which spurred me to write more. I bring up certain B.F.A.Y. posts regularly as I hack away at something vaguely related — but it’s high time I enjoyed it properly again: chronologically and cover to cover.

And in one of those marvellous coincidences that my brain seems enduringly capable of creating — where procrastination leads to eventually-excellent timing — I started re-reading Alice’s first post with my coffee this morning: bang on its three year anniversary.

So in lieu of umpteen neglected Sunday Readings, I gift to you 365(+) posts of excellent ramblings; wherein an ‘outsider’ with a wonderfully unpretentious enthusiasm undertakes a Herculean task, repeatedly doubts her wisdom for doing so before [SPOILER ALERT] ultimate triumph, instantly falls into an excellent system of hypothetical-relationship-based beer taxonomy, and myriad other delights. I’m less than a quarter of my way through the re-read, but loving it all over again already — it’s well suited to binge-reading, with that same joy in overdose and thematic overload you get from wallowing in a whole season of a favourite TV show.


1: I mean you actually should. As in, I’m trying to finish them off and get them publishable, I really am. You’ll have to excuse some fairly dated references in the mix. But I suppose that’s always been my thing, in a way. It turns out even self-imposed deadlines make that delightful wooshing sound

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Beer Diary Podcast s04e01: Friend of the Show

Back for our fourth season — which promises to include several Very Special Epsiodes, but more on those in due course — George and I quickly re-tell our Origin Story for new listeners, return briefly to the topic of our first-ever show (so-called “grey market” imports), before catching up on the beer festivals that happened while we were on hiatus. I also rave about keeping a Beer Diary (since it turns out I’ve been doing so for a decade), and we finally formalise what it means to be a ‘Friend of the Show’.

As always, a direct download is available, there’s a podcast-specific RSS feed, and you should be able to get us on iTunes. George and myself can also both be reached on the Twitterthing, or you can leave comments here or on the Bookface. Cheers!

Beers Of The Week (My house, 16 June 2014)

Beers Of The Week plus fancy glassware

Semi-professional Beer Enthusiast (My house, 26 July 2014)

Semi-professional Beer Enthusiast (and big dork)

Rogue 'Brutal' Bitter (Hashigo Zake, 25 August 2009)

Rogue ‘Brutal’ Bitter — way back in 2009

Diary entry #159: Rogue 'Brutal' Bitter

Diary entry #159: Rogue ‘Brutal’ Bitter

The Royal Exhibition Building (Melbourne, 3 June 2012)

The Royal Exhibition Building, site of GABS

Behemoth's 'The Tits' & ¬Matariki Programme (Hunter Lounge, 14 June 2014)

Behemoth’s ‘The Tits’ & ¬Matariki Programme

Non-free-form Beer Diaries (My house, 26 July 2014)

Non-free-form Beer Diaries

Vicki Treadell's bookcase (Homewood, 5 June 2014)

Vicki Treadell’s bookcase

Billy B's Golden Apple Beer (Two Row, 26 May 2014)

Billy B’s Golden Apple Beer

— Show notes:

  • (0.45) It has been a while. George has a better excuse than I do.
  • (1.50) I really did make my own ‘business cards’, colossal dork that I am. They’re really mostly for festivals and such, and created in the spirit of never assuming anyone’s memory to be less crap than my own.
  • (4.10) Beer of the Week #1: Rogue ‘Brutal’ IPA. Imported by Tuatara, an arrangement they announced here with some fanfare, but which has since lapsed.
  • (5.00) Hashigo is coming up on five years old, having opened September 2009.
  • (5.50) For easy access to nostalgia: here’s our first episode.
  • (9.00) ‘The vampire film’ — i.e., What We Do In The Shadows — was buckets of fun when I saw it, in a nice coincidence of timing, last night.
  • (12.40) Festival Roundup: GKBF — a great big lovely day in the park.
  • (17.10) Cont’dGABS — just “GABS”, a genuinely Australasian affair.
  • (19.00) Hugely recommended: Storm in a Teacup.
  • (22.50) Cont’dThe Festival Formerly Known As Matariki — which shows you that we recorded this a while ago, per tradition.
  • (29.30) Yeastie Boys’ Spoonbender series is described here. Predictably, I rather mangled the winemaking technique details. (Meanwhile, I can’t help but be reminded to recommend a dose of James Randi.)
  • (30.10) I still haven’t made it to a wine tasting, despite good intentions.
  • (32.00) Beer of the Week #2: Oscar Blues ‘Ten Fiddy’. (Thanks, Tim!)
  • (36.30) Beer Diaries, themselves. Please excuse the clumsy foley.
  • (41.00) If we were going to switch themes, I’d only ever suggest that we go for the insanely catch one Last Week Tonight uses. But they got to it first. And Coconut Monkeyrocket’s track really does suit us somehow. Yay for Creative Commons.
  • (41.30) Friend of the Show, defined. We now have reason to believe that Wil did get his beer, meanwhile; I’m still working on a few of the others.
  • (44.10) Cont’d, and awarded to: Vicki Treadell — the departing British High Commissioner to New Zealand, beer lover and exemplary party hostess.
  • (46.00) SOBA’s Pursuit of Hoppiness is available online as well as in the pub.
  • (49.30) Recommendations: Er… We’re at a bit of a loss. You should read Scott’s Buzz and Hum blog, though. And try ParrotDog ‘DevilBird’. Then — after surreptitiously checking my Diary — I completely fail to do the beautiful madness of Billy B’s Golden Apple Beer any real justice. But generally: Smith Street.
  • (57.40) The Beer Diary Podcast: Live! — at Beervana, twice: Friday evening from 8pm and Saturday evening from 7pm.
  • (59.30) Cue the music: ‘Shopping for Explosives’, by The Coconut Monkeyrocket. Audio editing done in Audacity. Habitual thanks to both.
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Station Ident: Out To Lunch

Emerson's Sunday Lunch (LBQ, 20 July 2014)

The set-up for a fantastically decadent Emerson’s Sunday Lunch at Little Beer Quarter, about which more soon

It seems I inadvertently supersized my GABS-related sabbatical and wound up taking two months off this here blogthing.1 Such as happens from time to time, I suppose — and such as is probably warranted and wise. But that’ll do. It’s dawned on me that it’s less than a month until Beervana, that Season 4 of the podcast is overdue for its début, and that I have a lot of half-finished rambles and things to talk about sitting around on my laptop. There’s no shortage of wonderful things happening in the beer business that deserve celebrating, and (let’s face it, even after a healthful break, I’m still me) plenty of temper-spiking, rage-inducing bullshit in dire need of calling-out, too.

Some Technical Difficulties were holding me back a little, as was an Obnoxiously Lingering Winter Lurgi; both now seem on the rapid wane, at last. A few exciting new projects and Very Special Podcast Episodes are coming together, too, and will get fanfared in due course. So the lunchbreak — both metaphorical and literal, as I write this at work — is over.


1: I kept myself vaguely occupied on Twitter and on Beer Diary’s Facebook page, meanwhile. If you’re after more short-form spur-of-the-moment stuff from me, those are always a good start. 

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Station Ident: Sabbatical

Frankie's Pizza taplist (Frankie's Pizza, 20 May 2014)

Taplist at Frankie’s Pizza — and a sign indicating that my dinner was yet two orders away

I’m over in Australia again for a bit of a break and the damn-near-obligatory pilgrimage to the Great Australa— let’s just say GABS, shall we? A few days in Sydney has been buckets of fun, and (despite the FOMO) it’s been nice to have a blank time a few hundred kilometres removed from the Way More Awesome Good Beer Week Things Than I Could Ever Afford Let Alone Endure. I managed to visit a few more of those small bars that have sprung up recently: the sublime Frankie’s Pizza, the charmingly mad Spooning Goats, Baxter Inn (for a whisky) and Barbershop (for a gin) — though I also had a beer at the latter two; huzzah to the humble Boilermaker, I say, forever and always.

And so tomorrow down to Melbourne, and then all-damn-weekend at the festival. In the spirit of Full Disclosure, the organisers included me on their apparently-rather-generous (and generously-defined) Media Pass list, so I get a ticket to each session and (I think) a handful of tokens. Which is delightful and hugely appreciated, of course, but also worth explicitly saying for completeness’ sake — and not just as a humblebrag — since I’m otherwise here own my own dime and as Me From This Thing You’re Reading Right Now, rather than the “me” from my day job (nor various of the non-day jobs that fund holidays like this one). Granted, I’m already looking sideways at them over this nonsense with Moa and Shane Warne, so it’s hardly going to colour my ‘coverage’, but still.

I’ll be posting various bits and pieces on the usual short-from outlets — you can find me on the Twittermachine, the Bookface, Google+ (in the unlikely event it ever takes off), and logging my drinks that in that great beer-related memory aid, Untappd — and will try to get something up here either during or shortly after. At GABS itself, I’ll be sitting down with Luke & Dave of the ‘Ale of a Time’ podcast at some point during Session One on Friday; we’ll let you know when and where when we do. Otherwise, I’ll be wandering the Hall and the City in general, almost certainly wearing a nerdy (non-beery; something of a 2014 Festival Resolution) t-shirt and an interrobang badge: feel free to say Hi if you’re around and you spot me. It should be a lovely long weekend — and may yours be, also.

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