Six beers in one post, that’s madness. I know, I know, but that was the sort of day I was having. In the space of about eleven hours, across three drinking establishments, a multiple drinking partners I savoured all of the above beers (as well a couple of bottles of Knappstein, but that’s been reviewed so it doesn’t count) all in a socially responsible manner.
It all started when I popped across the road from work to a little Japanese place, for some Gyoza and a Bento box. I knew that this particular restaurant has quite a good beer list, it was here that I had drunk Yebisu , in fact upon reading the menu I realised that I was familiar with many a Japanese brew, I had to search long and hard to find one that was untasted.
I settled upon Orion. Apparently the most popular beer on the island of Okinawa, which is famous to most non Japanese as little more than the location of one of the major battles of the WWII. Today it’s home to the Orion brewery and their ‘Draft’ beer. I know this because the label had a great red starburst with the words ‘We love Okinawa’ in it.
I was actually quite a nice beer, it poured a golden yellow, was lightly carbonated with a flimsy head. There was almost no smell apparent, and like a lot of Japanese beers could aptly be described as crisp with just the slightest hint of a hoppy aftertaste. Again like most Japanese lagers it was very refreshing. Plus and added bonus it came in a handy 500ml bottle.
Fast forward from lunch to what many would describe as dinner time. But there would be no dinner for me, rather I was to travel into the big smoke to a ecologically sound modern office building to sample a beer that had clocked up more than a couple of ‘food miles’
The bar was ‘hairy little sista’ the sister bar of the ‘used to be hip but that is so four years ago’ Hairy Canary. This bar still is hip, hip enough to be stuffed with armchairs that wouldn’t look out of place in you grandma’s front room, and skinny jean wearing androgynous waiters with corporate punk neo-emo haircuts.
After we settled in with a Knappstein, which was of course fantastic (it always is) we peered over the bar and spied something neither myself or my corporate macro beer selling buddy had seen before a beer called 1906.
We thought it was Mexican, which made us very concerned as our understanding of Mexican Beers where that they are shit. I blamed my macro beer, often served with a lemon in neck, selling buddy. He told me to fuck off. Then we worked out it was actually Spanish which made me more hopeful as there are some good Spanish brews out there.
This one was not the best Spanish brew I’ve ever tasted. It was quite a darkish. There were the normal smells and taste of roaqsted malts, but I also thought I tasted some fruity overtones, just some slight bitterness in the aftertaste, but it rounds itself off quite quickly.
And okay beer, if you find yourself in a Spanish restaurant, or Spain and you a looking for a slightly fuller flavour than your standard lager then this would be worth a try. Having said that if you are at the Hairy Little Sista, I would avoid this as it’s $11 a bottle and really not worth it. The Knappstien was similarly (over)priced, and it’s much better.
Which is exactly what we did, until it was time for my buddy to head home to his family (who I hear are rad) and time for me to jump on a tram and head down to the Belgian Beer Garden to meet my softball team for a few post game beverages.
Alas I travel significantly quicker than twelve drunk softballers and I managed to arrive at the Belgian well before the rest of the team. Now anyone who knows the Belgian knows that it is 1. huge and 2. massively overpriced.
But this wasn’t a problem because it gave me a chance to concentrate on the beer. Which you have to do, this isn’t a beer to quaff whilst chatting away with mates, nope this is a beer to stare at, to ponder, to savour. I did just that.
It smelt of wild yeast, poured dark brown with a full head. I read the label, learnt it was a 9% Trappist beer, which means it is made under supervision of the Trappist monks inside the monastery walls. Now I want no part of religion, but if I had to be a monk, I think this might be my type of order, access to beer and some awesome cloaks, plus a vow of silence, so no putting up with pointless yibba yaba.
Anyway back to the beer, it was amazing, so remarkably smooth given the alcohol content, a nice bitter aftertaste that lingers for a second, reminding you that this isn’t a drink to be messed with. It taste quite wild and agricultural.
A great beer, I would struggle to session it. But brilliant as a one off when you are really concentrating on your beer and you want something to make you sit up and take notice.
Just as I was finishing off my Chimay I saw a group of ramshackle, and poorly dressed (by Belgian standards) people wander through the gates. They joined me at the table, explained that they had been really close to winning, as MB disappeared , I discovered that it was close, by WACL (our oh so ironic name than stands for We Actually Can’t Lose, turns out we can, we have won just two games in three seasons) standards, a 13 to 7 loss was like a win to us, it was time to celebrate.
But how did it taste? Okay, but after the Chimay this was always going to be a letdown. It was a light yellow colour with a wispy white head. This was on tap and I have to say it’s a much better beer on tap than from a bottle. It was refreshing and crisp, but not exotic enough for a night like this.
It was overpowered by the food though. The wonderful people at DMG (Nova is a great radio station, as is Classic Rock, note to anyone willing to give me free shit, I can be bought, cheaply) seemed to do some sort of bulk deal on deep fried ham and cheese sandwiches, and suddenly the table was sagging under the weight of 13 plates of heart attack inducing but oh so tasty viddles.
The food demolished it was time to get another beer. Myself and Frewy grabbed Will (of standing on rooftops singing and now DMG radio fame) and headed inside, tab card in hand. We ordered up a whole bunch of Hoegardens for the sporty softball types and a couple of pots of Leffe Brune for ourselves.
Brune is French for brown, and this is indeed a dark brew, brown with a slight reddish tinge topped a creamy full head. It smelt yeasty, agricultural, We sipped, it felt full in the mouth. Frewy told me, and I quote ‘This is a serious fucking beer’ Frewy swears when he’s drunk. Personally I thought it was actually relatively smooth and velvety. I described it as a ‘hug in a glass’ clearly I’m prone to fits of poetic grandeur when I’m drunk.
It is a very good beer though, like a thin syrup, strong but smooth, It would be fantastic around a fire on a rainy evening.
As the night started to wind down and the younger players started to drift off myself and Frewy stole Will‘s tab card and headed back inside. We propped ourselves up at the bar and discussed what our ‘desert beer’ would be. I tried to push Frewy towards the Belle Vue, Frewy reminded me cheery flavoured limbic beers are a acquired taste, and better avoided late at night after so much food and beer. I sooked for a little and then noticed a special board above the bar.
Like a voice from heaven the board called to me, it said ‘Drink me Leon’ I said ‘Shut up inanimate object’ but it insisted so we ordered the following ‘Two bottles of St Bernardus amt 12 please.’ The beers were presented to us and $28 was requested from us, we smiled and handed over Will’s card (Did I mention what a great radio station Nova is and how you should listen to it?).
We studied the label, smiled at the monk and his beer. We has assumed abt 12 meant it was 12% alcohol, we were disappointed that it was just 10.5%, must be a Belgian light beer.
We poured the beers into the glass, it was very dark with a tea coloured head. It was a strong beer and you could taste it, it was big and complex, fruity and spicy flavours were evident. It was like a concentrated Leffe Brune, seriously good, but quite challenging. I enjoyed the Leffe slightly more, possibly because at this point of the night the degree of difficulty of this beer was a little high.
Eventually we wandered back to join the others, we were closely followed by the bar staff to tell us it was last drinks time. Frewy looked and me, and I at him and decided. It was time to go home.
Orion: Let’s have a Schooner.
1906: Let’s have a Schooner.
Chimay Blue: A Jug Please
Stella Artois: Let’s have a Schooner.
Leffe Brune: A Jug Please
St Bernardus amt 12: I’ll have a Pint