My entry for the People’s Blog

The weekly blog on the Malthouse’s website has a semi-regular feature called ‘The People’s Blog’, where regulars and hangers-on and (occasionally) staff are invited to / dragooned into writing a little blab about their “two favourite Malthouse beers”. I was one of the “volunteers” for the second edition of that, and so this probably rates as my earliest, most-official piece of Rambling About Beer:

It’s chronically unfair to ask me for my “two favourite” Malthouse beers since I’m a fairly fickle and promiscuous drinker with tastes that vary pretty wildly depending on the weather, the plan for the evening (or morning…), what my previous beer was and general whims.  But okay. Let’s play along and pick two enduring favourites, at least.

Emerson’s Bookbinder (Dunedin, 3.7%). Absurdly flavourful for its moderate weight, Booky serves brilliantly as an after-work restorative (and actual book-binding is damn hard work, I can assure you) or as a sessionable fuel for long hours of talking nonsense with friends and generally laughing asses off – which won’t leave you too blurry in the small hours, or too hungover the day after.  It’s a reminder that, if you’re clever enough, you don’t have to climb to boozy heights to make a tasty beer, and that often there’s merit to be had for finding that perfect balance between your malts and your hops.  Both factors run nicely contrary to some frequently-silly fashions, and are worth celebrating.  So raise a glass.  Then another.

Cooper’s Sparkling Ale (Adelaide, 5.8%).  My first good Australian beer, upon which I luckily stumbled while beer-shopping for an Australia Day while off at university in a forty-degree Canberra summer. Hardly “sessionable” at 5.8% (not that that stopped me…) but a truly gorgeous golden ale with a wonderfully easy, fruity, lively and lingering taste that can be a great way to ease lagerheads into other styles, or to bring those who don’t consider themselves “beer drinkers” (maybe because lagerheads just offer them lager…) into the fold.

With its optional ritual of rolling the bottle to kick up the sediment, it’s also a great introduction to the joys of natural, unfiltered, bottle-conditioned (and so, arguably, “real”) beer.  It’s effortlessly delicious.

Afterthoughts, November 2010: That was a pretty fun exercise, putting together some fit-for-consumption thoughts for an audience of whoever-shows-up. But then Neil — the usual writer of the blog, and so the editor / wrangler of the People’s Blog editions — added the following critique, on his way to introducing the second, er, People:

[…] bonus points for using “promiscuous”, “sessionable”[,] “general whims” and “lagerheads” in context.  Conversely, a small number of points off for starting a sentence with “but” and the unparalleled Victorian passivity of “upon which I luckily stumbled.”[…]

Which instantly fired up my fairly-militant aversion to Silly Old Rules About English Usage. If you ask me, the usual ‘rule’ is that rules are for the French. There’s not a damn thing wrong with starting sentences with words like ‘And’, or ‘But’, or with splitting infinitives, or with most of the things that Some People Say You Mustn’t Do. The only rules should be ones concerning comprehensibility, and I’d go further and add a maxim that if something sounds perfectly natural in spoken English, it’s welcome in text.

Ironically, the daftness of the ‘rule’ against And- or But-starting is laid bare by Neil’s comment. He starts his complaint with ‘Conversely’, which is what “but” means. There’s no good reason why someone would approve of “Additionally” and “However” as ways to open a sentence, but think that their synonyms And and But were uncouth. (Is it because “but” sounds like the word for bum? But then what’s wrong with “and”?)

Emerson's 'Bookbinder'
Emerson's 'Bookbinder'
Coopers Sparkling Ale
Coopers Sparkling Ale

4 thoughts on “My entry for the People’s Blog”

  1. Put the grammatical arguments to one side; the question we all want an answer to, “Is Coopers Sparkling so good that it acts as it’s own light source?”

  2. Oh yes, that. There’s a daft running joke about how only the Australians could name a cloudy beer “Sparkling”, which is basically needless Big-Country-bashing since any beer writer worth their salt would surely know that when the Coopers boys started out (in 18-freaking-62!), styles like Porter were ridiculously dominant. So anything paler than mahogany really did deserve a bright shiny name like the one they gave their beer.

    Since I’m a fan of Aussie beer in general, and of this one in particular, I made damn sure it actually sparkled.

  3. Phil – next time I’m in the malthouse I’m going to corner you and have an idle natter about language – as a once-linguist in university, I love arguing about syntax, semantics and whatnot. Jono and I have constant arguments about his understanding of grammar vs. my very bohemian views. Whatever works for you!

Have at it: