Rise of the planet of the ‘ators

Last Saturday myself, Jordan, Andre and Cat were all set to go experience a gig by the funk machine that is Syl Johnson.  We first encountered Syl a couple of years ago on Valentine’s day at the Corner Hotel, in what I would describe as the gig of the year.  And by the way how cool is Jordan to allow us to go to a gig on Valentine’s day rather than some romantic dinner somewhere?

 Syl is a musical legend, and the funkiest man you will ever see. You have probably never heard of him, but I assure you he is well worth checking out if you get a chance.

Now you might have picked up the statement above – We were all set to see Syl on Saturday. The problem was Syl is not a young man, in fact he’s 75 years old, and whilst on stage in Brisbane last week he had a few health issues (if you consider a heart attack to be a few health issues). It’s okay he is all better now, but unfortunately he had to postpone the Melbourne gig to from last Saturday to this Saturday, problem is, none of us can make it this week. You should though if you get the chance, Hi-Fi bar – be there.

Anyway long story short, we were all free on Saturday night so the obvious thing to do was to head to The Courthouse in North Melbourne and have a few drinks in Syl’s honour. As a tribute to Mr Johnson I needed to select a beer that would be everything that Syl’s music is. Powerful, smooth, lush and just a touch of sweetness.

The obvious choice was 3 Raven’s Ravenator. This is one of 3 Raven’s seasonal releases. The Thornbury based brewers seem to specialise in European styles of beer, and this is no different being a bock. This brings us the name. You’ll note it finishes with an ‘ator. It is tradition in Germany (where bocks come from)  to name the beers in this fashion. Technically it would need to be a Doppelbock to get the ‘ator suffix but hey it’s close enough. If you are so dorky you would like to read more about the naming conventions of Bock beers you can here

The beer itself is seriously good stuff. It’s sweet and malty, with hints of caramel and a hint of smoke as well (Andre went so far as to suggest this tastes like the smoke coming of a honey soy sausage that had been slightly burnt on a BBQ) It’s a caramel brown colour with no head and little carbonation. It is a very nice beer and well worth seeking out – Pint

I enjoyed this beer so much that when I went back to the bar to get the next drink I figured I’d stick with the bocks, thus I sort out another ‘ator. This time the Holgate Hopinator . Now the learned amongst you will be saying the Hopinator is an IPA, or Double IPA or Imperial IPA or something. Not a Bock, so what is the ‘ator doing there? God knows, but Hopinator is a fricken awesome name so who cares.

The name clearly suggests that this is a hop monster, a little research tells me that this is continuously hopped, meaning hops are added all through the boil phase of the brewing, Hops react in different ways dependant on when you add them to the boil, so adding over the whole boil should create a complex, and tasty beer.

And this beer is certainly that. It’s a dark brown colour with a half cm creamy tea coloured head. Surprisingly little aroma, just a hint of melon and some pine. It was slightly funky taste at the start of the sip (although it might have just be shock after the sweetness of the 3 Ravens), and some sweet malt tones, but then has this lingering hop flavours, more herbal and spicy, than fruity, and with just a hint of resin. Not a Bock, but gee’s it’s a good beer – Pint  

The beer did a some of the work in softening the disappointment of not seeing Syl Johnson. Good to hear his heart is a okay as well, hopefully he’s got a few more Aussie tours left in him.

The not so Long Youtube clips: First up is Syl at some gig in Moscow (which seems to have been presented by Efes beer) which comes in at a very funky nine minutes for one song. And then Syl’s two biggest hits. ‘Is it because I’m black’ and  ‘Take me to the River’ complete with 1970’s pastel suit and naked torso, what a fantastic time for music, and fashion.


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