Verbatim: Curim Gold Celtic Wheat Beer. 12oz, 4.3%, <$5, 20/08/04, at home. Dark-gold, slightly cloudy. Bubbles gone already. Nice, lightly yeasty nose. Smooth, with just a bit of sharp to stay interesting. It’s Irish, so not the wheatiest, but none too bad.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: Here’s a good / terrible example of how forgetful and badly-habited I was in the early days of the Diary; a four-month mysterious gap since the previous entry. Shameful. And yeah, I’m not sure quite how I thought the “it’s Irish, so” bit really followed.
Verbatim: Jamieson Mountain Ale. 330ml, 4.9%, $3ish, 11/4/04, at home. “Dark wheat beer”. Brown-black. Weird. Seems stuck halfway. Not bad, per se, but not wheat and not dark. Can’t see it winning friends. Stick with La Rossa.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: Oh, so very far to go until proper Beer Nerdery, still. Here’s me totally confused and confounded by the thought that “dark wheat beer” might be a thing unto itself and obviously under the impression that “dark” was basically a style, rather than just a colour, into which territory many beers may wander. There are some particularly-lovely dark wheats much later in the Diary, so I did eventually get the point.
Verbatim: Beamish Stout. 500ml, 4.2% $4ish, 29/3/04, at home with massive steak. It’s dark, and raining. I thought it all work together (one of those days). God bless Mr Widget. Gorgeous bubbles. Smooth, less punch than Guinness, closer to Craic*. Very good everyday stout. Uses cereals and caramel, but it’s not like I’m a mad Bavarian.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: Beamish is still very-much the Overlooked Third of the classic Irish dry stouts, still. Which I still think is unfair. (The *-mark refers further down the page — see the next scan — reminding myself that ‘Craic’ was a very-tasty little number in a similar style, made by the James Squire’s pub in town.) And I’m particularly delighted to see me beginning to mock the silly and undeservedly famous “Bavarian Purity Law” so early on; it’s a subject to which I’ll definitely return…
Verbatim: La Rossa. Birra Moretti. 330ml, $?, at home, 7.2% 7/3/04. Rich brown-red color. Smells dark, almost chocolately. Tingly on my tongue. Very tasty. Round, full and classy as all hell. And it’s Italian. That’s just odd.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: Not sure why I had the beer and brewery names backwards; maybe the effects of it being the strongest beer in the book so far took a hold unexpectedly early. I was certainly massively impressed by this at the time, and have been pretty chuffed with it the few times I’ve had it since.
Verbatim: Zipfer Original. 330ml, $?, at home, 5.4%, 7/3/04. Neat curvy bottle. Smells very beery and lagerish, appropriately. Pale, but gold. G doesn’t like it. I do. Tastes of something, again. Not sure what. Fruit of some stripe. Harsh, in a way I like.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: I think I’d say “punchy”, rather than “harsh, in a good way”, these days. But then, maybe this one would still rate as such, given the palate shift over the years — still, it’s apparently a perfectly-decent example of what it is. It’s also one of those multiply-named beers, going by ‘Urtyp’ as well as the blander-sounding ‘Original’.
Half-way through a little quartet of random imported European lagers, probably reflecting a biggish shipment arriving at King & Godfree.
Verbatim: Krušovice Imperial Czech Prem. Lager. 330ml, 5%, $?, at home, 18/2/04. Gold, bubbles don’t hang around. G says smells like grapes. Light, but sharp. Agree with grapiness. Maybe that was in fashion in 1895, when it won gold.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: It does continue to baffle and annoy me that so many beer labels are still in the habit of lauding medals from decades, or even centuries past.
Verbatim: Pietra Biera Corse – Chestnut beer. 330ml, 6%, ?$, at home, 17/2/04. All in French. Karen can’t even fake a translation. Brown-gold. Batched, it seems. Honey tastes, to me. But I wouldn’t back myself in a pointing-at-chestnuts contest. Where have all those Japanese cultists gone, anyway?
Afterthoughts, October 2010: It turns out that this is also a Vienna Lager, which accounts for the honeyish taste that I spotted. (Not crediting myself with the ability to discern the flavour, or even appearance, of chestnuts refers to the longstanding problem of my astounding level of ignorance about food.) The pondering about “Japanese cultists” comes from the fact that, for a while, Melbourne was peppered with strange roast-chestnut roadside-stall things, almost exclusively staffed by Japanese people, and seemingly doing no business. Then they disappeared as suddenly as they arrived. George and I figured they must’ve been some kind of well-disguised religion.
Verbatim: Holgate Brewhouse White Ale. 5.0%, 330ml, $16/6pk, at home. Bottle conditioned, but the tiniest amount of sediment. Wheat beer, very mild taste. Refreshing on a 40° day. Not gold, light, cloudy. Like flat L&P or some random chemistry set piece. Matches our couch. Bubbles don’t stay.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: I do remember finding this almost ridiculously mild, especially as I was a bit of a wheat beer drinker at the time. Then again, in weather like that, it still did the trick. How on earth did I survive those kinds of temperatures, you may ask, if you’ve seen me in even a relatively-mild Wellington summer — just goddamn barely, I can assure you. (And yes, we really did have a couch that was roughly the same colour as L&P.)
Verbatim: Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen. 5.0%, 500ml, $?, at home. Bottle conditioned, cloudy light-brown gold. Enduring head. Light but sharp yeast smell. Sharp taste, but not at all John Williamsy.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: I’m still a big fan of this Hefe, but here I’m most pleased to see the beginnings of my particular style of tasting note. By “John Williamsy”, I mean things that are big and brash, fleetingly impressive, but really rather obvious when you get down to it, and then increasingly annoying as you realise how overwrought it really is. I often complain that his film scores might as well be just his own voice, quitely burbling “tense little quiet scene, there’s tension and quietness, quietness…” or screaming “BIG DRAMATIC MOMENT, MMM-OOOH-MENT!”, as the script requires. In many ways, really, he’s the perfect partner for that hack George Lucas. Anyway. I don’t like that approach. And this beer doesn’t go there, bless it.
Four entries in, and we already find our first beer that no longer exists, as at the time of the Great Uploading in October 2010. I had to check online to make sure this actually did exist, and I wasn’t just drunkenly misrecording the regular Best Extra Stout.
Verbatim: Cooper’s Special Old Stout. 375ml, 6.8%, $3 or so, at home with bangers and mash. ”Expressly cellar aged”, whatever that means. Dark, not-lasting bubbles. No sharp bitterness. Light coffee flavour. Smooth for a stout. Bottle cond..
Afterthoughts, October 2010: The commercial description (online at RateBeer.com) calls this the “worlds first aged stout”. Which seems implausible. And again calls out the brewery’s strange relationship with the apostrophe. The family name is simply Cooper. I’ve met the latest heir-in-charge, Tim Cooper. But they seem determined to neither be Cooper’s Brewery nor even Coopers’ Brewery. It’s a bit strange.