Monday, September 19, 2011

Rugby World Cup and Beer: Round 2

So, two weeks into it now, and happy to say that overall the games have been pretty interesting to watch, with not as many walk-overs as I was expecting to start seeing by now, while the same can not be said for the beers I have been having through it.

Things at Mountain Goat have been stepping up a bit with more regular work starting to come from them which has got me pretty excited, and started engaging me a bit more in it. Have been learning kegging, and apart from a few near misses (one in which I nearly burnt myself with hot water when I didn't turn off the pump being used for the hot liquor tank before attempting to change over the hoses) and 2 long days, it has been great to start getting more involved, and getting my 'day-to-day' casual worker brain into something more involved. We will see how many more mistakes I make in this process, and hope I don't hurt myself or anyone else in the process. Still, it was a little poignant for me when I was given my own set of brewing gloves on Wednesday, and after a long day it only took one Bigfoot Stout before I hit the wall. I also had my first taste of the Rye IPA when we attempted to keg it. I quite liked the full mouthfeel and the sweetness the rye brings to the beer even if the carbonation was a bit low, both of which diminished a bit for me when we finally kegged it on Thursday. Still, will be interesting to try again this week.

Anyway, onto the rugby...The first game I managed to see was New Zealand vs Japan, and left with 20 mins to play it was looking predictable where the game was going. Still, Japan managed an intercept try. The other things that had me leaving that pub early was the unpleasing selection of beers available. getting on a Montieth's Golden Ale just didn't cut it for me. The was some slight malt sweetness, but generally fairly bland. Luckily though, before heading to the game, I was able to celebrate my latest beer anniversary of it being a year since making it to Berlin and hanging out with some aussies there by having some Weihenstephaner beers at the Purvis tasting. The new Festbeir (in time for Oktoberfest) had the characteristic sweetness and slightly higher alcohol, but still did not enjoy it as much as the Hofbrau Oktoberfest beer I have had previously and there was a slight bitterness at the end that while it certainly something I have tasted before in the style, I don't really appreciate. It is almost like a carbonation bitterness and slight dryness as well right at the back of the palate. The Kristal was also fairly sweet but being use to the german wheat beers, just doesn't have the roundness the Hefeweissbier has, and the classic yeast character does not come through as much either. Of course the Dunkel is much more to my liking, but think the Erdinger is one I enjoyed more (or maybe I am just being nostalgic) when I was over in Germany. Could just be that I had the Erdinger on tap, whereas this is out of the bottle. Still, for me the Korbinian is my fav from this brewery with it's luscious caramel that helped inspire us to brew our Hickory Stickory Bock. Combine the Korbinian with another classic German beer in the Rauchbier style, and that is about it. I look forward to being at Stassy's this weekend to finally get some more of this (if there is some left).
After leaving the game at the pub and heading back past Purvis, I shared a New Zealand 'Mash Up', that supposedly is a collaboration of 44 of its breweries to create an IPA. The term 'too many cooks spoil the broth' came to mind when all I could taste was bitterness and nothing else. As it warmed up and as my tastebuds got over the bitterness, some sweet, slight citrus malt did start to come through but not enough for me to enjoy it. Damian also did not find it as enjoyable as the first time he had had it.

On Saturday I was geared up for the Australia vs Ireland match, but listened to the last 10 mins of Romania vs Argentina on the Rugby World Cup site, then grabbed one of the last honey wheat beers from my homebrew stash to watch South Africa beat Fiji, where I was disappointed not to see Fiji do better in attack. Well, the honey wheat is pretty old now, so have definitely found it is best fresh. Grabbing the next 4 beers in my Critics Choice pack, I had to head back to Joel's to watch it live (as bloody Channel 9 won't show it live apart from on GEM down here...hmm, maybe I am deluded to think rugby union has any standing in Australia). It was frustrating to see Ireland slow up the ball in the Wallaby ruck and mall, but had a good enough forward pack and showed enough enthusiasm to get the ref on side, and the Wallabies just didn't step up to meet them. During a tight first half, the Knappstein Lager had actually gone down alright with enough sweetness and body up front to keep me interested, and with a slight wine wine finish, which is more of a note rather than being a dominating aspect to take away from the beer. The Hargreaves ESB was not doing much for me at all, still tasting more like an IPA than an English Bitter, with not much up front and even getting a sort of alkaliny bitterness at the back. As we got into the second half of the game, the White Rabbit Dark Ale was ok, but fairly bland (or maybe my attention was just too much on the game as Australia continued to struggle in showing any dominance or momentum to get things going). As I started seeing the game get away from the Wallabies, I was however comforted by on of my own favourites, the Holgate Temptress. In spite of the losing battle on the rugby field, my tastebuds were in joy of sweet vanilla and luscious chocolate, and have to say it is probably the best Temptress I have ever had out of the bottle. The carbonation was just right to keep the alkaline taste I normally get out of the bottle non-existant in this example. If only Australia had won, I may have even been able to enjoy this beer more, but when we did, I at least had this beer to keep me positive (the power of good beer people!!!!!).
Sunday then was spent getting into the dvd of "Wonders of the Universe" and had me thinking back to the posting I put up a few months ago trying to connect my own philosophy/approach to life in beer. I brought up in that post about the elements of beer and the elements of the world, and I guess in that way, expanding that through looking at all elements of the periodic table, and how they come from the life and death of stars has given me a bigger perspective on this, and engaged my curiosity a bit more. It is interesting that this expansion of my thoughts and curiosity come at a time when brewing is become a bigger part of my life and the thoughts of doing a brewing course come more to the fore in my mind. Having never had a great interest in chemistry before, I need something like this to help me start engaging in the topic, as it seems to be pretty important when getting into brewing and a course within it. I hope from this, it helps me to start engaging in this area, to keep a sense of 'natural development' in myself, as I find it hard learning with a 'means to an end' mentality, as this journey of beer shown in the last 2oo-odd posts in this blog attests to.
Anyway, after that 'moment', I had brunch with the gang for Joel's birthday. Still feeling the vibe of being in Germany a year ago, hanging out with some cool people that were encouraging me more to involve myself in beer (and missing Joel's birthday in the process), I took a bottle of Weihenstephaner/Sam Adams collaboration beer, Infinium. Over cake, we got into this beer, that for me had the sherberty sweet smell of a Faro of a JJ Prum Riesling, with some citrus, tropical fruit flavours up from before the alcohol really hit home towards the back of the palate. probably the alcohol was a bit too high for it, and I could sense a bit of age coming into the beer with some slight dusty malt and hint of sourness between the fruit and alcohol flavours. Apart from that it is a pretty well structured and flavourful beer, and one I savoured more than the others drinking it with me. The alcohol did really hit home on it, which helped slow me down, but with some lager 'sessionableness' to it, you could quite easily get pissed quickly on it at 10.5%. Luckily it costs too much to think about buying too many bottles of it.

Getting home from that and seeing the lovely day was continuing, I hit the park at the end of my street to keep reading my book on the Wallabies, when a strange occurance happened. Okay, 2 month ago with kicking the Guinness Gilbert (GG) at the park, in my attempt to put up a bomb, the ball was stuck in a palm tree. Our attempts to retrieve it failed and so thought out time with GG was over. However, as I sat in the park enjoying the book and the sun, a see a bloke walk through the park with a ball looking very similar to our beloved GG. Upon walking up and giving them a description of GG, it ended up being the same ball, and heard from the guy that he had climbed the same tree to get it down. He happily parted with GG after hearing my tale (I offered him money but he refused), and ended up hanging out with them for the arvo drinking a tsingtao around the bbq (one of the guys heads to China quite a bit and always brings case of this back with him. It's actually pretty good and the perfect summer sessionable beer with some good malt body and easy finish to keep you going back for more), and me bringing some Mountain Goat beers and our own Mulberry beer for them to try out. I guess it is just one of those stories, and again had me thinking of hanging out with new people back in Germany a year ago and spreading the word of beer with them.
Happily, I was able to present Joel with the ball I had originally given him after my trip to Ireland (yes, it was from the Guinness Brewery), and we sat and watched Canada put up a decent fight against France in the last game of the day.

So, has been quite a weekend, and back to Mountain Goat this morning to hopefully get the week off and running again. If you don't hear from me again, I have probably killed myself in some random rookie way at the brewery.



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