Six Pack of Brewing Success – Branding

An Effen awful idea

If I had a dollar for every time that someone told me they had a great beer on the weekend, but they can’t remember its name I’d be a rich man. Well not rich, but I have slightly more money than I have now, although I’d probably just spend that money on beer, so then I’d have the same amount I have now, but I would have more beer which would be good.

After producing good beer, branding it well has to be the most important thing a brewery can do and like most things there is quite a bit to consider. 

The brand name is a good place to start. Now first and foremost, puns and in-jokes may be funny, at most once, but then you are just labelled with a stupid name. No one wants to order an Effen beer, it’s childish and dumb.  

You should remember particularly if you are on tap that you are going to need a name people can pronounce. This is more a issue for international brewers than Aussies, but if you were Zierholz, Kooinda or Lobethal you might want to think about it, and if you think I’m being picky you’d be surprised how many people pronounce words wrong, or worst still for your brand, avoid having to say it at all. On a side note if anyone can explain how to pronounce Nogne O correctly I’ll be forever in your debt.

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Birthday Beers – Redux

It was a momentous day on Wednesday. It was a very special birthday. That’s right it was the birthday of the dude that sells the copies of the Big Issue at Parliament station. Or at least this is what he claimed as he yelled “It’s my Birthday, help me out” at us as we purposely walked past our heads bowed into the misty rain.

Oh yeah and it was Frewy’s birthday. And that was why myself, Frewy and Pip were walking along Spring Street. We were on our way to Mrs Parmas to join MB, Jord and Imma for a few celebratory beers and a beer or two.

We were running late so when we arrived there were already a collection of empty glasses on the table in front of the CBD based half of our crew. I was looking forward to this. Mrs Parmas produce some seriously good crumbled chicken and more importantly they have a great range of brews. In fact I’d even heard a rumour that they had the 2Brother’s Terminator on tap.

Now the full time range of beers at Mrs Parmas is great (Jord claimed that it had more depth than Beer deluxe which is a controversial statement) but the real interest for me is in the two rotating taps. This is where the truly exciting limited release beers are showcased. I promptly presented  myself at the bar and asked ‘What’s on the rotating taps?”

I was a little disappointed when I was told the Terminator actually wasn’t on yet.

I ordered the Saison Noir from Bridge Road. Which led to the bartender going off to play with kegs out the back, eventually she returned and presented with the two beers  and told me there is only two beers left in the keg then they would change it over to Terminator. The excitement in my eyes was probably more appropriate for being told that you’ve won a million dollars rather than you have the opportunity to purchase some beer.

The Bridge Road Saison Noir was a fantastic place to start the night. Described as their B2 Bomber (the malt bill) crossed with Chevalier Saison (the yeast) this is, as the name suggests in a Frenchy sort of way a Black Saison (because black is so hot right now). It is an outstanding beer, it has a big malty body, hugely complex with hints of everything you expect from toasted malts like coffee, nuttiness but then it’s all overlayed with the spicy flavours of their Saison. It ends crisp, but then half a second later this interesting tanginess comes through. It’s all quite strange, but in a really exciting interesting way – Jug.   

By now we had caught up to the rest of the crew and it was time to head back to the bar. We enquired but they had not sold anymore Saison Noirs, and we were now being told there was only 3 or 4 beers left in the keg, it appeared this was some sort of magical fishes and loaves type beer keg.

We went to our fallback plan. The Cavalier Weizen. Now first things first. Cavalier should not be confused with the Chevalier range from Bridge road.  Whilst Bridge Road are one of the mainstays of the Victorian Craft Beer scene and have been around for six years Cavalier are young upstarts that no one had heard about before the microbrewer’s showcase earlier this year, but are very quickly becoming the darlings of the Melbourne beer mafia crew and this beer may explain why.

Now as fallback plans go this was one of the better ones.  It’s is a good beer, It is exactly what I expect a Hefeweizen to be. It pours a deep yellow colour, slightly hazy with nice thick pure white head.  It has these great agricultural bready smells to it, like wet sour dough bread, which smells better than it sounds.  The body is full and silky and the flavours stay with you all the way through the sip. A seriously good example of a traditional European Wheat beer. Definitely Pint worthy

Now two exciting things happened whilst we were drinking the Cavalier Weizen. Firstly a well dressed gentleman from the table next to us walked back to his table holding four goblets of what I surmised was the Bridge Road Saison. I raised my eyebrows and announced. You know what that means don’t you? It’s Terminator time.

Then something truly amazing happened. In a moment akin to the inaugural robots vs wrestling outing we saw MB’s Doppelganger, which surprisingly wasn’t Fernando Alonoso or the dude from the Lynx ad, but rather a scruffy looking fella which we dubbed Nick Gradley.

 

There was only one way we celebrate a sighting of a doppelganger and that is with a doppelbock, which leads us nicely into the 2Brother’s Terminator which was a Doppelbock that was darker than I expected. It was almost black with just some red tinged sections at the bottom of the glass. It poured with a wispy little head, but a fair amount of lacing down the glass as we drunk it. The overwhelming thought on this was that it tasted like liquid you would get if you took a whole heap of prunes and marinated them in some dark rum and then added brown sugar. It was sweet, slightly sticky, big alcohol monster. Myself and Frewy loved it, we both instantly agreed it was Pint worthy. Jord and MB on the other hand found it a little too much, which just proves you have to be an old, seasonal beer drinker like myself and Frewy and not a pansy girl like MB and Jord to really appreciate a complex beer like this one.

After the bigness of the Terminator, which Frewy did describe as ‘Still big after a Mexican Schnitzel.’ Which made Pip exclaim ‘Oh Man!’ it was time to get a little more gentle. MB headed to the bar and returned with four bottles of Hargreaves Hill Hefeweizen.  This was similar to the Cavalier, just a good solid wheat beer, exactly on style and hugely enjoyable. It claimed banana tones which I wasn’t really picking up, but still a great beer all the same – Pint

So all in all a great evening. The most consistently impressive beer related food outing since my birthday back in April. Four great new beers and four winners, topped off by the always impressive Holgate Temptress which MB described as ‘The Best Beer I’ve ever had’ so many he does understand beer afterall

So thankyou Mrs Parmas (even if Frewy and Pip continued to call it Madame Schnitzel’s) for a great night, and Happy 153rd birthday to Frewy.

Long Bow YouTube Clip: Doppelgangers, how good are they?

2Brother’s Voodoo

 

The now empty 2Brother's Growler

In the corporate world you say thankyou with a nice bottle of red wine. If the thankee finds out that you are not much of a wine drinker (much like myself) they might decide that they will buy you beer. This beer will inevitably be Crown Lager.

It is assumed that this is the best beer you can buy someone. This is also the reason that it will be the beer of choice in all corporate functions/superboxes/airport lounges/corporate boardroom.  And the boys and girls at CUB do a great job reinforcing this. In fact they even have a service where you can get personalised bottle labels making this the Cadbury Roses of Beer

But being the full blown beer wanker that I am I’m not impressed when someone gives me a slab of Crownies. Don’t get me wrong it’s free beer, so I’ll take it, say thanks and happily drink it, but I can’t help thinking what might have been. What if they money could have be re-directed in buying some truly interesting craft brews?

But how do you communicate this to those people out there that want to thank you for something. Well for me it’s a simple two step procedure:

  1. Have a fantastic girlfriend who when asked ‘Does Leon drink red or white wine?” answers ‘Neither he would prefer beer.’
  2. Have a Blog fully outlining which beers you love so when the person asks Jord which beer I like she can direct them to this here website.   

This is how a recent thank you present from a business acquaintance (I’m not going to mention who as that would ruin my editorial integrity, but how good are those advertising screens in office buildings? Bloody brilliant is the answer.) managed to get upgraded from wine to Crownies to a Growler of Voodoo from my favourite Brewery 2Brothers.

That’s right in a coincidence that would make Alan Thicke proud said business acquaintance was planning a trip to 2Brother’s anyway so everything combined into a perfect beer storm and I ended up with a box full of Voodoo, Growler, and Taxi.

I’ve been wanting to try the Voodoo for quite some time. It’s a Baltic porter and the website claims it’s a very scary black beer. It’s also meant to be very good, in fact it won the Best Victorian Beer at the 2010 AIBA awards.

And it is good. Not the best thing they produce, but still very good.  It is a brownish black colour, only letting the slightest bit of light through. It has a nice dense creamy head which laces nicely. You can certainly smell the sweet malts in the aroma. It is claimed to have espresso and liquorice notes in the nose as well but I couldn’t find them.

It’s actually a much more gentle beer than I was expecting. At 6.5% and black as the ace of spades I was expecting to get punched about a bit, but this is actually very well balanced. It has a big body, almost sweet in the first instance, but this fading away to a slightly acidic roasted coffee bean taste.

It was nowhere near as big as I was expecting, which was good given that myself a Jord managed to drink the whole growler between the two of us in an afternoon, and  it was quite enjoyable I must say. Plus now I have a pretty growler sitting in my fridge waiting to be refilled.

So person who shall not be named, Thank-you for one of the best media related beer presents I’ve ever received. And 2Brother’s thank you for producing another great beer – Pint.

The Long Bow YouTube clip: The memories, now replace the chocolates with a growler of Voodoo and I’d be a very happy fella.

The Great Moorabbin Expedition – 2Brothers Guv’nor and Growler.

Last Friday your fearless reporter (you can think of me as a modern day, non redheaded, dogless Tintin) set forth for the far flung suburb of Moorabbin.

Now anyone who had the pleasure of spending time with me would have heard me claim that my entire life happens in what I like to call ‘The Triangle’ – the triangle is bound by North Melbourne (where I live), South Melbourne (Where I work) and Richmond. In my more pretentious (drunk) moments I’ve been known to tell people that I feel uncomfortable outside the triangle, claim to not know where anything is outside the triangle, and various other spurious claims that no doubt piss everyone off.  

Of course like most things I say this theory is complete rubbish. I grew up in the ‘burbs – in the beautiful seaside hamlet of Parkdale and then Aspendale, and I’ve been to the western suburbs twice, count them twice in the last month (stay tuned for a suitably beer soaked tale from my trip to Seddon). But when we hatched the plan to go to Moorabbin to visit 2Brothers it was still a journey akin to Columbus sailing for the new world.

If you are regular reader (all two of you) you know I’m a big fan of 2Brothers brews, and I’m willing to tell all and sundry of this love. Well it seems the boys at 2 Brothers where listening and they were kind enough to invite me down to the brewery to try a few brews, have a chat and experience the vibe.

But the problem was the brewery is in the back streets of the industrial area of Moorabbin, well outside the triangle. If I was going undertake this expedition I would need help. I enlisted the help of Frewy, who I always thought bore a striking resemblance to Uncle Travelling Matt from the Fraggles and Jordan, who I shall be calling Dora the Explorer for no better reason than I can’t think of any other female explorers.

Like a modern day Charles Lindbergh I’d spent Friday morning plotting a course, checking and re-checking the schedule. We were to leave a 5.33pm, catch the trambulator to Spencer Street station, and then a train, the 5.48pm to Frankston, alighting at Bentleigh.

By 5.34pm we were running late. Jordan had to send another email, we missed the trambulator and thus our train. There was only one thing for it, by 6.01pm we were seated a Loco-bar in the Spencer Street station having a quick Fat Yak as we now had ten minutes to waste before the train arrived.

Yak downed we headed to the train, only to be waylaid by a whistling hippy backpacker far to enamoured with the pictures of the native animals on strange aussie coins to put them in the ticket machine, and then Jordan failing to grasp the fundamentals of the ticket gates (she had a similar problem with every train we ever get on when overseas, you’d think I would have learnt by now to make her go through first, rather than me going through, walking purposefully towards the platform, and then turning around and thinking ‘where did Jordan go.’ She gets angry when this happens, I claim it’s not my fault .)

But we made it into the train with seconds to spare and settled in for what I was claiming was my first Melbourne train journey in a little over four years. Not sure what everyone whinges about. It was very pleasant, the late afternoon sun, no crowds, significantly faster than a trambulator.

 

Off at Bentleigh and a quick Taxi ride later and we were walking through the front doors of the 2Brothers brewery.

It’s an unassuming little building from the front, but surprisingly caverness inside. To one side are the beer tanks, spray painted with the names of New York City neighbourhoods, AJ later explained that the equipment was bought second hand from the now defunct Time Square Brewery. The story goes that the  brewery building was bought by the Disney corporation, and they were going to sell the tanks for scrap metal until the 2Brothers boys saved them and shipped them down under. It would seem that the overgrown mouse is not a fan of beer (or beards I understand it, which makes sense since having one leds to the other.)

After a quick chat to AJ (our inviter and a very nice man, and a man I will be thinking of a Suburban Mick) we grabbed three pots of Chief  and pulled up some chairs in the corner, next to a pallet of Gypsy (their pear cider which is quite nice, but won’t be review in this here beer blog), and settled in for the night.

Frewy and the Crowd

I examined the room, started taking notes with my eyes (and my iphone, but my eyes sounds more poetic). It was a diverse crowd, some people straight from the factory floors that surround this place, couple of kids playing pool, a birthday with three generations, and lots and lots of suburban guys in t-shirts. It was a friendly little vibe though, like everyone had discovered a secret oasis of beer and they were pleased you had too.

But it was time to get serious, we were meant to be exploring unchartered waters. I sent Uncle Travelling Matt back to the bar. Meanwhile Dora the Explorer headed to the bathroom and returned with stories of the most powerful hand driers this side of Tullamarine airport. (Have you ever experienced those Dyson hand driers at the airport, my god it’s like your hands a sky diving they are that powerful)

Frewy returned from the bar with plundered tressures, three pots of Guv’nor. This was the last minute addition to the Local taphouse’s Spectapular, it was a very limited run, and the stuff we bought was the ‘leftovers’ that have been bottled. It’s possibly the first English Barley Wine Ale I’ve ever tasted.

The beer is an amber colour, with just a slight reddish tinge to it. It smells like toffee, and had next to no carbonation. Just by looking at this you could tell it was strong. This beer is what I like to think of as a desert beer, in fact it reminded me a lot of a tokay or muscat desert wine. It was sweet, almost sticky, with just a slight hoppy aftertaste to remind you that you were drinking beer not hard liquor.

This is a beer perfectly suited to a late night on a big leather couch in the country, and a 10% alcohol  it’ll warm your soul, in fact over the course of the pot Frewy labelled it falling over beer and then  singing beer, this led to him singing the Pick-a-Part jingle to me over and over again, and a fight about whether the bass line was a guy going ‘pick-apart, pick-apart, pick-a-part over and over again or not. Frewy thought so, I thought the jingle was backing vocals free.

In recovery mode we moved something gentler – Taxi.

After that the journey of discovery continued – Growler, and American Dark ale. Now I had drunk this before, but never reviewed it.

Both Frewy and Jord claimed they could taste iced coffee flavours. I was struggling to taste anything as I’d just finished eating a hot salami pizza and my taste buds were shot. But I persisted and claimed I could sense a smoky aftertaste, but then again that might have been the smoke from the pizza oven.

The Growler looks like it should be a winter ale, it pours dark, with a thin head, a true ale. The thing is it isn’t wintery though. It actually quite refreshing, and easy to drink. I would happily drink it on a hot summer day. I’d also drink it on a winter day, but really that’s just because it’s a great beer.

So there it was our trip to the suburbs. If you ever find yourself in the southern suburbs on a Thursday or Friday night, you could do much worse than taking a little detour to Joyner Street Moorabbin and visiting the 2 Brothers crew, you’ll be sure to have a couple of good brews, and it’s a pleasure to drink amongst the crates of cider with some like minded beer lovers.

Oh and don’t be one of those inner city wankers and whinge about the lack of public transport, it’s really not that hard, plus you get to meet the elite of the Melbourne public, like a chick we saw on the way home wearing pink hotpants and matching knee high furry pink boots, heading to church I think.

Rankings:

Gov’nor: I’ll have a Pint thanks

Growler: I’ll have a Pint thanks  

And just to settle the argument here’s the Pick-a-part ad.  Seems we were both right.

 

Festival of the Jugs – 2 Brothers Taxi

Prologue:  I feel a certain affinity to 2 Brothers, the brewery is just up the road from where I grew up, the are sufficiently obscure to add credence to my ‘beer wanker’ status, but most importantly that produce seriously good beer.

In fact they are the only brewery in the history of Tipples to produce two, count them, two Jug worthy brews, they are the beautifully soulful and rich James Belgian Brown, and the cool and refreshing Chief

They are also not the easiest beer to find. You are not going to walk into your local Dan Murphy’s and come back with a six back of Taxi. Nope you are going to have to find it on tap, or find a really good bottleshop 

So I tripped down to Cloudwine and picked up a bottle of Taxi which is their Pilsner. I’ve actually drunk it before, but only ever on tap.

Appearance:  Instantly I had a flashback to Baron’s Lager  The yellowness was the same, the white head, similarly wispy, although unlike the Barons, as I drank the Taxi the head stayed around and there was even some lacing on the glass.

Taste:  Very nice, Taxi is a refreshing beer, it tastes yeasty rather than hoppy, with some slightly bitterness on the tip of the tongue mid sip but no strong aftertaste. I thought I sensed overtones of sour apple, but I might have just been getting carried away and trying to impress my girlfriend Jordan.

Jordan liked it a lot too, we did discuss how we thought it tasted like a less carbonated Cooper’s Pale Ale, which is a very good thing.

Packaging:  I suppose at this point you are wondering why it’s called Taxi. Well 2 brothers beverages come with story. Their pear cider is called gyspy because of a billy cart or something like that and this beer is named after one of the Brother’s first car, which was an ex-taxi named Lola. Why Lola? Well it appeared to have a Barry Manilow tape stuck in the tape deck. Tape Deck, remember those?

Combine the story with bright a Taxi yellow label, and some nice graphics, and you have another winner from the 2 brothers crew.

In conclusion:  This is a very nice beer. In my opinion not as good as their previously reviewed brews, and not as good as Growler which I shall be downing and reviewing the next time I walk into a pub that has it on tap, but still a very, very nice beer.

6 Degrees of Norm:

1.    ‘Taxi’ was a sitcom in the 1970’s

2.    Which starred Tony Danza

3.    Who was in ‘Cannonball Run II’

4.    Which starred Burton Leon Reynolds

5.    Who was in ‘The Grand’ with Woody Harrelson

6.    Who of course played Woody in Cheers and served beers to Norm.  

Ranking:  I’ll have a pint thanks   

Revisited – 03-10-2011.  I was in a pub recently, on a pub crawl when I had this brew again, wedged as it was two other pubs, and two other beers, Coopers Pale and Fat Yak.

As I was drinking I was thinking, this is actually quite a boring beer.  I has a touch of diacetyl, which is a fancy way of saying had a buttery taste and mouthfeel, which isn’t a good thing in beer. My example on the weekend was also under carbonated, which is not normally something I complain of.

Is an okay beer, perfectly drinkable, but in the greater scheme of things there a much better beers out there. I’m not convinced this should be a Pint, I’m busting it down to a Schooner.   

The Long Bow YouTube Clip: I have to put in Copa Cabana, but I can’t stand Barry Manilow, so I give you Liza Manelli and the Muppets.

And it includes a muppet murder. Creepy.