Saturday, October 1, 2011

Red Duck for Dead Duck?

I would have never thought the Wallabies would be in a position where they could not make the quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup, especially when we are in one of the weakest pools of the tournament. Still, here we are needing to win our last pool game against Russia to try and get into the finals, and even then we will have to wait for the very last pool game of the tournament to see if we make it. We have lost control of our own destiny it could be said, and I can tell you this is probably the most nervous for their easiest game.

What does this have to do with beer. Absolutely nothing! Still, doesn't mean I can't make it connect. So, in the potential of us becoming the dead duck of this World Cup (one of the major teams not making it to the final rounds), I am going to be drinking Red Duck beers, and probably adding my own 2 cents on the game as it progresses.

As Ealsey gives his pre-match talk on Channel 9 (finally, they are showing games live), and as I have been reading a bit about the history of beer, I crack the Canute the Gruit Dark Medieval Ale. This dark beer has no head and smells quite unusual. There is a smokey sweet dark fruit sort of aroma...Wow, that is weird, my tastebuds just imploded a bit with my first sip, the smokiness and fruit do come across in flavour, but there is this high noted zingy taste (yeah, I'm really good at this beer tasting caper aren't I!?) that has quite an edge of sourness to it. The back end of the palate has a weird combo of the sourness punching through the smoke, before the smoke is left to linger in aftertaste. There may be no hops in this beer, but there is definitely some interesting flavours going on. I can't say I enjoy it (it could simply be my palate is just use to malt and hops), but the dominating combo of smoke and sourness really throws the tastebuds too wide for my limited palate. This beer is really strong at the back, and again is different from the sweet creamy beers I generally enjoy. To be honest, If I didn't know what beer I was drinking, I would have said it had gone off with such a stringent sourness and dusty smokiness. I just gave Stew a taste, and he said he really liked it. So it is possibly a polarising beer. Russia is putting some pressure on in the game, but making some simple mistakes. Mind you, could have missed some of the first 5 mins as channel 9 were showing an empty corner of the field for a minute...woah, a simple step and Barnes is over for the first try of the game for the Wallabies. O'Connor misses the kick...hold on, upon restart Drew has just gone through for another try, O'Connor gets the kick...he may get some practice today....ah, now McCalman has a try...Samo is just to big out on the wing...Ok, Pocock just got our bonus point try within 15 minutes of the game.
26-0 at the 20th minute and the game is still stuck in Russia's half and have a taste of the Queen Bee Honey Porter. This is a much simpler brew, with strong dark honey aroma and taste dominating as much as the aussies are dominating the game. There is a pretty light brown body to the beer in looks and texture, whereas Pocock is not light at all in body - he has just gone over for his second try. There is quite a bit of carbonation in the beer, which I have also noticed in beers we have brewed with honey. It must just get a lot of second stage fermentation going on in the beer. If the dark malt was balanced with the honey I would quite enjoy this beer. I do enjoy the taste of the honey though, but think it is just a bit too much. Possibly with more body in the malt the beer could have become too syrupy though. Russia showing some intent here and are in our 22. They just got held up over the line! Ahhhh, Russia get a try!!!!!!! Good one Vlad, and nice support by their fat loosehead prop bumping our guy out of the way to stop tackling him. Wallabies reply with a quick try to Moore after a great pass back inside by Drew. whoops, not Adam Ashley-Cooper (the redeemer) is in. Half time 47-5, and a bit like the beers, some sweet and sour moments in the game. We are throwing the ball around seeing there is space out wide, and our forwards are dominated in the set plays, but Russia are not putting much pressure on the breakdown, but are coming up ok when they do. Therefore I feel we have not learnt from our loss to Ireland where they did that so well...Hmm, don't tell me I am becoming an opinionated drunk after 2 beers.
While Ealsy gives some half time comments, I get onto the vanilla porter. Can definitely smell a bit of Belgium yeast or spice that I would get from a classic Triple, but with a dark malt background. The vanilla does come through up front on the tongue before this lovely creamy sensation comes over the goes so well with the vanilla flavour, before a yeasty back that cleans up really well. Probably the one I have enjoyed the most so far, as another fat man goes over for a try for Ma'afu to start the second half. back to the beer, there is enough body (like Ma'afu) and dark malt flavour to sense the porter, but like the previous beer, does not dominate but just does enough the carry the flavour through.
Now Russia make another attempt at our line, but get a drop goal instead????!!!!!! Weird. Wallabies counter with a try to Drew again, but is all looking a bit messy out there. not what I want to see from this game.
With Cooper giving away a dangerous tackle penalty and Drew having a hamstring injury, I move onto the Red Duck Belgian Blonde, which has a bit of citrus and amber malt aroma with the classic yeast. The sweet malt does come through much in taste along with the yeast. Does remind me quit a bit of a Leffe Triple actually, especially the alcohol, so enjoying it quite a bit.
Cooper stuffs a pass to give away a try to Russia!!!!!!!! Rubbish. We really aren't focusing on the game now we have it in the bag and some injuries are starting to come on, and Russia are starting to make some ground on us. This weather isn't helping either with some drop ball starting to come into the game.
As I crack the Ox Russian Imperial Stout, Russia go over for their third try. They have fought hard and won over the crowd which is a good sign for them. We have just lost the ball on their 5 mtr line in a scrum, which does not look good for our ability to control the ball. As for the beer, there is the classic dark malt and alcohol aroma that is expected from this beer. This comes through quite well in taste, and there is a good smoothness (a bit of a trend in most of the beers) the help meld the malt to the alcohol. The alcohol is quite well contained (unlike what the wallabies have done to the Russians in the second half)...There you go, it takes a good opportunity by Barnes to get us one more try towards the end to make this half look a bit more respectable for us. Still, the damage has been done, and we end the game on that. I think having a Russian Imperial Stout at the end does show where the game swung in the second half, where they were able to annoy us into mistakes and unsettle our gameplay. Unfortunately I don't feel any more confident at our chances after that game, but not because the opposition was not enough to test us, it is because they were, and they did.
So, it was a bit of an opposites in beer and rugby, I probably enjoyed the second half of beers, whereas I liked the first half more from the Wallabies.
I am now half cut after 5 beers in 2 hours, so gonna leave it at that. Well, it comes down to tomorrow to see where we end up in the pool.

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