I was sitting in a beautiful beer garden in country Victoria on Saturday night. I was surrounded by happy people, well dressed, good humoured. Two friends of mine had just got married and this was quickly becoming one of those nights.
Across the table a friend asked me “Are you going to write a blog post for this?” I looked down at my beer glass and responded ‘I’d like to, but we are only drinking Carlton” this was meet with a look of disappointment and protesting “But this is what we drink all the time.”
It got me thinking. What is it that we really like about beer? It’s not really the malt, or the special hops they use or the water from some magical local stream. Nope what makes people love beer is everything that surrounds it. It’s the beer garden you sit in, it’s the stories you tell, it’s a laughing, the dancing, it’s the band you see in the dirty dark pub, it’s the footy game you watch, it’s the family you catch up with for a beer.
And the beer that is most often in the glasses in front of me at all these occasions is Carlton Draught. Carlton is the beer that is on tap everywhere. Carlton is what’s in the jug when your mate returns from the bar with his shout. Carlton is what you get when you walk into a pub in Victoria and say ‘Two beers thanks.’
So perhaps it’s time to stop being a beer wanker, stop pretending that we are too good to partake in ‘commoners’ beer and embrace the life which is fuelled by Carlton.
So sit back and hear a tale. The tale of a country wedding:
As you would know I live in the most inner of inner north suburbs, so we had a multi hour roadtrip ahead of us to get to Beechworth for the wedding. Myself and Jord packed the car, picked up another friend of our (Alice) and started the long trip up Sydney Road. Eventually we left the city behind and joined the endlessly straight Hume freeway, fringed by ugly gum trees and punctuated with giant service centres serving terrible greasy food. It was after one of these service centres that the cry came from the back seat ‘Can we stop at Maccas?’
The google machine was fired up to determine the nearest Maccas. It was in Benella. Too far away. Instead we would leave the highway and head in Euroa, and town famous for, um, well nothing, in search for lunch.
We parked the car in the ‘main’ street looked around. No pub. Strange. We started walking down the street “How can there not be a pub?’ Alice asked. I looked ahead noticed a railway line. If the naming off pubs has taught me anything it’s that they are often near Railway lines (and Town halls, and Hiberians, Criterions, and occasionally Standards).
I was right. Tucked around the corner, near a couple of abandoned 19th century buildings was a huge country pub. Inside four old guys were staring at TAB screens (none of them Jordan’s dad surprisingly). A further four people were in the front bar. We walked through the bar (literally through it) and into a giant empty dining room. A dining room with lacy tablecloths and plastic placemats. The menu was on the wall. A lovely older lady followed us in, walked past us behind the counter and turned on the cash register. It was that busy. I ordered Schnitzel with salad, and chips and gravy.
Grabbing a round of Carlton’s on the way we walked through to the empty beer garden, a courtyard created by the three story brick pub and awaited my food. When it arrived I was amazed. A beef schnitzel crumbed and deep fried in oil so hot that it curled up its edges, and accompanied by a perfect salad. A country salad. This wasn’t one of this new fangled inner city salads, this wasn’t three cheery tomatoes, some baby spinach and a drizzle of aioli. Nope this was a salad with lettuce, big fat wedges of tomatoes, Some old school coleslaw and then the two things that made this salad perfect. One single slice of beetroot, from the can. And a single pineapple ring, from a can. Brilliant.
Old school country pub food (and a pot of Carlton of course) at its absolute best.
The night time pub couldn’t be more different than the mammoth Euroa Hotel, although interestingly it was also from the 19th century 1854 to be exact. We spent the evening in the quaint and charming Stanley Pub.
I’ve jumped ahead however. A few things happened between the Euroa Hotel and the Stanley Pub. Like our friends Ali and Reg got married in the beautiful La Trobe gardens in Beechworth, and then we all piled into some buses and headed to the tiny little town of Stanley and to the Stanley pub.
Upon arrival we could see that we were for a special night. Sure the pub looked nice, but the beer garden was spectacular. A huge open field, with giant trees right in the middle providing shade, big long tables dotted about, and ringed with a series of tea lights in paper bags. It was like the type of wedding reception scene that you see in movies or advertisements for Nurofen, but you know doesn’t exist in real life.
We took our place at a table outside and sent Duggo in to get us beers. He returned with five Carltons in handles. I love a handle. Handles are only really drunk by old guys who have been sitting at the same bar for the last twenty years. So if you are given a handle it immediately makes you feel like a local, like you belong.
The night proceeded along as you might expect, there was deep conversations, many tales from Duggo of his south east asian exploits, a triumphant entry from the bride and groom (handles in hand of course). A photo of ‘all the men here with moustaches gave the night a nice beery link, given the obvious connection between beer and moustaches (particularly in the 1980’s)
The food at the Stanley was top notch too, the appetizers including the world’s best prawns. Now I have a friend who claims you should never eat seafood more than 100km from the coast. Stanley is close enough to 300km from the bearest seawater but it blew this theory out of the water (if you will pardon the pun)
A special shout out for Charlotte the pig who sacrificed herself on the spit (along with her friend Garry the goat) so that we could have some spectacular food. The cackling was outstanding, the salads amazing, the stewed apples perfect. The fact that dinner had to be paused as myself and Justin tried to catch some pesky locust’s who were hopping about the table only added to the country atmosphere.
Wedding desert is normally a sickly sweet treat which is placed on tables at the end of the night, and ignored by all because you have had too much beer and you know it’ll make you feel sick. Not tonight. Reg and Ali had spent plenty of time both working and drinking in pubs, they knew what drunk people wanted. At midnight as we all stood on a dancefloor and belted out ‘April Sun in Cuba at the top of our lungs’ we were presented with chicken
sandwichs sandwiches (with the crusts cut off, just like your mum would make, not my mum, she would somehow replace the chicken with chickpeas or some other hippy shit.) Sausage rolls and chips. Awesome drunk people food.
So people, here’s how to have a brilliant wedding. Choose a great country pub with a huge beer garden (and pray for good weather, although this is North Victoria so the chances are good) and put on some amazing food. That combined with liberal lashings of beer means everyone is relaxed, ready to party and is guaranteed to enjoy themselves. Some even a little too much.
Congrats to Ali and Reggie on a fantastic wedding. Oh and for all you beer wankers out there who think that I’ve sullied the good name of Tipples by dealing with such mainstream beer, you’ll be happy to know that the next day we all got together again for a Sunday Session at the Beechworth Brewery, but that’s another story…..
Ranking: I’ll have a Pint.
The long bow Youtube clip: Well I would have embeeded Kokomo, Toto’s Africa and April Sun in Cuba but those arseholes at Sony Music have disabled embedding on all of them. What the fuck is wrong with you Sony? Do you not want to me to promote your bands. What is the point of a music video if it’s not to promote the music. Short sighted morons. I’m buying Samsung products from now on.