Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rugby World Cup and Beer: Round 1

So another 4 years have rolled around and the Wallabies have much to atone for from the 2007 RWC. As some would say, when I am watching rugby I have 2 modes of drinking. One is the slow sipping away at a brew, and the other is knocking them back pretty quickly. There does not seem to be an in-between.

However, while the pool rounds are on, there is a better chance for me to be able to still enjoy a beer, but maybe just not focus on it as much.

For the opening ceremony/New Zealand vs Tonga match, I had some of the current batch of Mountain Goat Double Hightail, that I had only just bottled at the brewery the day before. Apart from it being slight over-carbonated (a few swills sorted it out pretty well though), the rich malt come through quite well in this amber ale. I also had another 'anniversary' of my beer trip to celebrate, so by the time New Zealand were on top of the game towards the end, I crack open a Rochefort 10 I took with me out to Beechworth the weekend before but did not drink. It had been a year since visiting Rochefort in Belgium, and walking around trying to find the abbey they brew the beer in, and a day where the only beer I had was the 10 at one of the bars in the town. Of course drinking it took me back to that day quite well, with the big malt and alcohol being quite distinctive, plus what seemed a little bit of dark bubblegum flavour trying to make its way through.

On Saturday I met up with some of the crew to be involved in Anna and Pete's wedding next month, and could only find the 'Dirty Swan' open in Richmond, so had a Fat Yak while watching Fiji dominating Namibia towards the end of the game. Not much to note on that beer (just better than the mainstream stuff), but moving to the Great Britain down the road, was happy to see the Little Creatures Dreadnaught on tap, so gave it a go while hearing some Pies supporters going off about their team winning their AFL game. While the Dreadnaught is 7.4%, it almost seems more in this beer, and close to what a Imperial Stout would be. Maybe it is just me, but too use to Little Creatures beers being light and fruity, and could not help but get a little bit of that from it which was a little strange. Don't get me wrong, it is a bold beer, and nice to see them come out with something like it (though, I think they had an Oatmeal Stout out recently as well), but with all that big malt and alcohol, the slight high notes contrasted with it. Walking back to Bridge Road for dinner, I walked back past the Dirty Swan and Town Hall Hotel, to see Argentina was ahead of England at half-time in their game, which got me a bit excited. Therefore, when Channel decided to show the game at 4am, I was up for it, only to be disappointed by the coverage and the usual terrible approach to rugby England had in it. Luckily I did not have a beer during it, or I probably wouldn't have liked it.

Later on that day though was the Wallabies first game against Italy, so made a potato bake, a mud cake with M&M's on it, and a selection of beers to enjoy. Seeing it was the anniversary of the Brugge Bier Festival, where I met Willy and tasted the Liefman's Cuvee Brut, I shared this with the gang that came over the watch the game. While there is quite a bit of tartness, there is enough sherberty sweetness to balance it out, and I found it going down quite easily while the wallabies had a harder time getting going in the first half of the game (which did take my attention away from the beer and reliving that lovely day in Brugge). Also tasting the top 4 of the 2010 Critics Choice for best Australian Beers, while the Stone & Wood Pacific, Little Creatures Pale, and Feral Hop Hog are all good examples of their style (the LC being a classic sessionable beer), the one that really stuck out was the Murray's Icon2 IPA. The hops and malt are very well integrated, even at this level of a double IPA, and was the best beer of the 4. Also, it was a great way to finish the game with the Wallabies really getting some momentum going.

The Critics Choice beers will now be a theme for the next 2 Wallabies games (Ireland, then USA), again, drinking them in the order in which they came in the list, while saving a big tasting for the game against Russia, which will be our last before the quarter finals start. I'll hopefully have some other good beer news to share before then as well...



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