Van Dieman Brewing Hedgerow Autumn Berry Ale.

A little light reading with my Hedgerow

Prologue:  So as ‘Australian Month’ comes to an end the observant amongst you might have noticed that our selection of beers has not exactly been fair and equitable. There has been plenty of beers from SA, Vic and WA but little from elsewhere. Although I still haven’t managed to find anything from the territories (Australian Capital and Northern) I can tick the Apple Isle off the list today.
There is something about Tasmania which says beer to me. It might be the two strong, long standing, highly advertised Tasmanian mainstream brewers Cascade and Boags, or it might just be that the only thing Tassie is famous for on the mainland is fresh produce, oh and David Boon, and that wood chopping guy, and John  ‘Super Apple’ McCarthy. 

My personal experience with Tassie brews has been mixed, at one end Moo Brew blew my mind a couple of years ago, but at the other end Two Metre Tall has disappointed me more than once.  This brings us to today’s beer, another long named wonder, Van Dieman Brewing Hedgerow Autumn Berry Ale.

Packaging:  Nice logo – who doesn’t love a tree? Good sized bottle (500ml) and lots of information about the beer sitting on Hawthorn berries and rosehip, which kinda makes it sound like this beer has been sitting in your Nanna’s wardrobe for a couple of months.
One problem, why can’t they spell Van Diemen’s correctly? Spelling doesn’t seem to be their strong point, check out the awesome poster below, complete with a strange use of apostrophes (the plural of genius is geniuses not genius’s), and yes I understand the saying about glasshouses. 

One of Van Dieman's posters

Appearance:  This beer is the colour of an Autumn leaf, cloudy, much like an Autumn day can be and with a foamy head, which must have some link to Autumn which I can’t think of right now, but feel free to insert your own poetic simile here.

Smell:  It smells a little fruity, in fact I would say it has beery smells mixed with berry smells. Bang – what a great play on words – I’m on fire here.

Taste:  The taste could best be described as unusual. It tasted a little like a dry, slightly under-flavoured amber ale, but then with this berry twist right on the tip of your tongue as you swallow. 

In conclusion: It’s a different brew. As I worked through the bottle I did start to enjoy it a little more, it felt like a reasonable (but not spectacular) amber ale, but with this weird slightly astringent aftertaste, one assumes from the tart hawthorn berries. Although I appreciate them going out on a limb (again, that’s puntastic) I just didn’t like it that much. They seem to be a good brewery though, so I will seek out their more ‘normal’ beers.  

Ranking:  Let’s have a schooner. 

Long Bow Youtube Clip:  It’s time for more Weddings Parties Anything, this time it’s a “Tale They Won’t Believe” the best song ever written about Tasmania.

Lord Nelson Three Sheets

Prologue:  It was Friday so in the media industry this means one thing. Lunch at a pub. We had ventured further than our usual haunts of South Melbourne. In fact we had set forth to the previously unheard of lands, North of the Yarra.

To the Spencer Hotel we headed, seated with the ‘best of’ collection of my peeps for what I hoped to be a best of selection of foodstuffs and hoppy goodness.

I tried to order the ‘West Melbourne Draught’ as I can only assume this is a beer available only at The Spencer and thus worthy of my attention as a beer wanker. Alas they were out.

I turned instead to the Lord Nelson Three Sheets.  

First expression: After what felt like an eternity, but was most likely five minutes, the bottle arrived at the table. It looked English, but was Australian, like a guy in Manchester United shirt but with good teeth.  

Appearance: Three Sheets is a pale ale, it was quite light in colour, with a yeasty cloudy-ness.

Packaging:  There is a lot going on in this label, it was as complicated as a $20 note, there is a coat of arms A lion, a unicorn, a picture of Lord Nelson, two different mottos, some nautical flags and a  little dude knocking out some semaphore. If my 3 hours as a member of the 4th Mordialloc Sea Scouts has taught me anything he is spelling VICTORY.

Taste:.This is a great beer, It had a full body with slight bitterness. I felt I could taste the yeast, although maybe that was the bread I was eating with it. All in all it was smooth and velvety with a nice mouth feel.

Food suggestion: The huge resources of the brewer’s nose, my own experience and the waiter told me the perfect dish would be lamb. In fact I ordered a slow roasted lamb shoulder to go with it, but alas the service at The Spencer was ordinary on this particular day so I’d finished the beer before the little lamby arrived.  

Random made up Reader’s question: We all know that being ‘Three Sheets to the wind’ means being smashed, you know singing sea shanty songs, making puppy dog jokes but where does ‘Three sheets to the wind’ come from?

To understand this phrase we need to enter the arcane world of nautical terminology. Firstly sheets aren’t sails, as us landlubbers might expect, rather they are  ropes (or occasionally, chains). These are fixed to the lower corners of sails, to hold them in place.

If three sheets are loose and blowing about in the wind then the sails will flap and the boat will lurch about like a drunken sailor.

The phrase is these days more often given as ‘three sheets to the wind’, rather than the original ‘three sheets in the wind’. The earliest printed citation is in Pierce Egan’s Real Life in London, 1821:

“Old Wax and Bristles is about three sheets in the wind.”

Sailors at that time had a sliding scale of drunkenness (smart sailors); three sheets was the falling over stage; tipsy was just ‘one sheet in the wind’. An example appears in the novel The Fisher’s Daughter, by Catherine Ward, 1824:

“Wolf replenished his glass at the request of Mr. Blust, who, instead of being one sheet in the wind, was likely to get to three before he took his departure.”

In a word: Arghhh, me hearties

6 degrees of Norm: Where we link every beer back to George Wendt (Norm from Cheers)

1.    Lord Nelson’s first name was Hoartio

2.    As is David Caruso’s character in ‘CSI Miami’

3.    Who was also in ‘Hudon Hawk’ with Bruce Willis

4.    Who was the voice of the kid in ‘Look who’s Talking’

5.    Which also starred Kirstie Alley

6.    Who played Rebecca Howe in Cheers and served beer to Norm.

Ranking:  I’ll have a Pint thanks.

Matilda Bay Longshot

Prologue:  The guys at Matilda bay have answered the question that no one had thought to ask. What if we tried to combine coffee and beer? Alternatively you could see this as one of the smartest marketing ideas of recent times. If there is two thing Melbourians love (Longshot comes out of Melbourne, not Perth as a lot of people will tell you) it’s coffee and beer so why not combine them into one.

I’m a Melbourian, I like Coffee, and I love beer, and I could quite easily be called a beer wanker, so not surprisingly this appeals to me.

First Impressions: As I opened the bottle I wondered where the satisfying ‘Hiss’ was.

Appearance: There is absolutely no carbonation in this. Ales are not meant to be as carbonated as lagers, but this wasn’t ‘lightly carbonated’ it was ‘decarbonated’, there was only a single file line of bubbles on the edge of glass and no head what soever. Oh and it was dark, like Coffee.

Taste: This beer is almost sweet, It genuinely tastes like coffee and beer. Almost like you asked you local barrista to make you a long, long black and then drank it with no sugar. It’s nice as a gimmick , but you would struggle to drink more than a stubby of this though.

Packaging: There is nothing fussy here. I assume the hessian look is meant to evoke thoughts of coffee beans being hand picked on the slopes of Ethopia. the O looking like a coffee bean is very clever in a way that is appreciated by the inner city hipsters who this is aimed out.I note it claims it’s a ‘Rich and Creamy’ ale, personally I don’t see it, falvourful yes, but creamy, no.

Food suggestion: There is something about this beer that makes me want to pour a little over a scoop of ice cream. I fact I’m going to try it now. That’s not bad, it needs to be a little sweeter to be a true ice cream topping. Although maybe, if you added some honey. That is good, wow I feel like the dude with the beard and the hat off masterchef.

6 degrees of Norm:

This week we have a special edition. to acknowledge the coffee we are actually going to play – 6 degrees of Gunther. the dude that made the coffee on Friends.

Where we link every beer back to Norm from Cheers (George Wendt) Gunter from Friends (James Michael Tyler) in 6 easy steps.
1. Long Shot is brewed at The Garage in Dandenong
2. Which was home town of Gabriella Climi
3. Who’s song “Sweet about me’ was in an episode of Lipstick Jungle
4.Which stars Brooke Shields
5. With was in an episode of Friends with Jennifer Aniston
6. Who was in Friends, and was loved by Gunter.

Ranking: Maybe Just a Pot

Buffalo Wheat Beer

Prologue: Today I put my drinking fate into the hands of a waitress, As she boasted, “Oh we have heaps of boutique beers here.” I said ‘Riddle me this, Find me a beer that is wheaty and good.’ She came back with Buffalo Brewery Wheat Beer.

Appearance: Cloudy like a wheat beer should be, you could see the yeast floating about, so it was all going well at this point.

First Impressions: Like a dude in redgum song hearing the Channel seven chopper I had a flashback, I’d tasted this brewery’s beer before, it was at the little hamlet of Porepunkah, in a restaurant which had a caravan park at the back of it, as all good restaurants do. I remember that the ale I had on that occasion tasted like a mixture of vomit and wet cat, so I didn’t have high hopes.

Appearance: Cloudy like a wheat beer should be, you could see the yeast floating about, so it was all going well at this point.

Taste: Well it didn’t taste like vomit of a wet cat, so that was a good start, it tasted vaguely like beer, but beer that an angry bitter woman had spat in.

Packaging: I think I’ve found the angry woman, and I know why she is angry, it’s because she is as ugly as sin. they have gone for Buxom wench and ended up with busted face.

Drinking Location Suggestion: It’d be nice on a mountain, actually it would taste about the same, but you would be on a mountain, maybe, just maybe you should take a nice beer and head up a mountain for a tipple.

Food suggestion: I had it with a great big porterhouse, with mustard,a and it was alright, unlike a normal wheat beer, this probably isn’t smooth enough for seafood, but you need something a little more game and bigger.

In a word: Vaguely okay
Possible Slogans:
Drink it blindfolded

Ranking: Maybe just a pot
6 degrees of Norm:
Where we link every beer back to Norm from Cheers (George Wendt) in 6 easy steps.
1. The buffalo Brewery, has, you know has Buffalo in the name.
2. Neneh Cherry liked to hang on a Buffalo Stance,
3. Nenah was a guest on an episode of The Young Ones
4. As was Robbie Coltrane
5. Who was in an Episode of Frasier, With Kelsey Grammer
6. Who was in Cheers, siting at the same bar as Norm.

Bridge Road Bavarian Wheat Beer

Prologue: It was Friday Lunchtime, and Friday afternoon means it is time to head to one of those gastro pubs that ten years ago was a shithole that sold nothing but Carlton draught, VB and Invalid Ale and was frequented by dock workers. As this it now the late 20 zeros it now has some new carpets and is frequented by advertising wankers who arrive in a Audi four wheels drive and spend the first ten minutes they were there playing with their balckberrys and ignoring the waitress.
First Impressions: What’s this? A pretentious gastro pub that serves beer in a standard pot glass, that makes no sense. Where is the oversized stemmed glass with a logo on it and a gold rim?
Appearance: Cloudy like a wheat beer should be, a pale yellow, even a little dull

Taste: This was a true wheat beer, it genuinely tasted like wheat, it had that slight tangy aftertaste that it should have had.
Packaging: It came in a glass, as all good beer should. The internet sourced picture of the bottle tells me that it’s a little crap actually, sure I like the Bavarian font and the griffin like creature but I fucking hate that logo. I get it that bridge road is in fact not from Richmond as I first expected, but rather from Beechworth and Ned Kelly spent some time hanging around there, but you know that’s no reason to put him on a beer label, and why the fuck is he topless? This is the equivalent of a topless Carl Williams on some beer label and no one needs to see that.
Drinking Location Suggestion: Maybe you could go up to the Beechworth Bakery and drink it there, except you wouldn’t because the Beechworth bakery is the most overrated bakery in Victoria, and possibly anywhere in the world.
Food suggestion: I had it with a some lovely squid, and then black pudding, and some port crackling, and fuck it worked well, so you know do that.
In a word: IDies ist ein großer Bier – Ja (if you can work that out then, fuck off man Juden töten Nazi-Arschloch, or alternatively, Hi Shaun, nice to see you)
Possible Slogans: Bridge Road Bavarian Wheat Beer, it’s a mouthful
6 degrees of Norm: Where we link every beer back to Norm from Cheers (George Wendt) in 6 easy steps.
1. At the Bridge Road Brewery in Beechworth they make Pizzas,
2. Just like they did in the Pizza Shop of Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Shop, which starred Traylor Howard
3. Who was in Me, Myself and Irene, with Jim Carrey
4. Who was in Man on the Moon with Danny De Vito
5. Who is the husband of Rhea Pearlman
6. Who was in Cheers, and often served beer to Norm.  I’ll have a Pint Thanks  

Ranking: I’ll have a Pint thanks


Prologue: Last week I promised you an extra special tasting of another Japanese beer, so here it is:

Last Year some time Myself and man who may or may not be Pete went to lunch at a Japanese restaurant and we drunk, surprise surprise Beer. MB was not with us because, just like The Beatles some chick had broken us up, chicks, nothing but trouble.

First Impressions: Why the fuck am I sitting on the ground? Beer, hmmm, beer.

Appearance: Golden, like a sunrise over a golden Kobe mountain (if Kobe has mountains, I’ve have no idea if they do, because well we don’t actually do any research for this stuff)

Taste: It was very lager like, heavier than many a Japanese beer.

Packaging: It has fat Samurai on the label (Later research tells me it’s the God Ebisu, so the next bit might send us to hell.) In fact he looks like a Thai guy lugging around a fish. It also tells us that it is ‘100% Beer’ which kind of makes me question what percentage of beer is in all other beers. Also it’s 334ml, that’s 4ml more than your average boutique beer – so you know it’s value for money.

Drinking Location Suggestion: like the Salteens’ song – On a cold floor in Japan after we’ve played a show (I’m not in a band, nor have we ever been to Japan, so that makes no sense at all)

Food suggestion: Seaweed crackers or something else Japanesey

In a word: No Y

Possible Slogans: Yebisu, Yep Beer Sure….

Random Wikipedia Style Trivia: There is a neighborhood in Tokyo called Ebisu, which is named after the beer, that’s fucking ace, how good would it be to live in Carlton Draught or Melbourne Bitter.

Ranking:  Let’s have a Schooner


Prologue: So it’s been a while since I did this whole beer tasting thing, so I thought I’d better ease back into it with something not too challenging – it was with this lazy thought in our head that I along with regular drinking buddy MB wandered across the road to Bev & Mick’s and ordered everyone’s favourite Japanese beer Asahi. (Upon reflection I have now remembered that there is another Japanese beer I’m quite fond of and have reviewed on a napkin, but never e-wrote or whatever the appropriate funky term for writing on the internet is – so check back for that sometime next week) – Anyway – point is we were drinking Asahi at lunchtime today and here is what we thought.

First Impressions: Wow Bev and Mick’s has really smartened up its act hasn’t it? Fucking Boutique Japanese beers on offer, in a bottle, in the fridge, who would have thought (on closer inspection our Japanese Beer was brewed under license in the Czech Republic, which makes me think Nooei might have got it off the back of a truck somewhere.) 

Appearance: It was yellow, like, ummmmm, something that is Yellow and Japanese, hmmmm Michael,Chang, nope that’s not right he’s American, well something else.

Taste: like a sugary dim sim, unless of course that was the donuts from the market.

Packaging: ohhh silvery, kinda like the bombs the Japanese dropped on Darwin. That’s right, just like the old guys at our table when we were drinking we haven’t forgotten (on closer inspection the old guys at our table had forgotten the war, as well as their dentures)

 Drinking Location Suggestion: In a Japanese bathhouse with a Sumo wrestler and a Geisha, and another racially insensitive stereotype.

Food suggestion: In the most disgusting comment of the day MB suggested ‘Used Panties from a vending machine.’ He followed this up with ‘Is that Indian Pete over there?’

In a word: Wheels – this means nothing unless you know that Wheels (the person, not an actual rounded object) is in Japan at the moment.

Possible Slogans: Big Taste in Little Tokyo (that”s so fucking good we all did a line of coke each, just like real creative directors)

Ranking: I’ll have a pint thanks


Prologue: It was a sunny day in Tipple Land, I’d had thrown off the cardigan, whereas MB had thrown off his shoes and donned the thongs for an afternoon of work. In this mindset we set off down the street to get a summer ale at a store which I will call The Prince Winestore, because well that’s what it’s called. We asked the advice of the resident clerk – he advised a Cerveza from a small micro brewing in Spain, he warned us it was expensive, but good, We thought that’s sounds a bit wanky, so it seemed right for us.

First Impressions: That they had been carried home by Michael J Fox, this fizzed like a Pauly Shore movie.

Appearance: It was in a bottle so it was a little hard to tell, we did pour it into a water bottle to get a better idea, but then it just looked like urine.

Taste: Surprisingly complex for a Spanish summer ale (It did dawn on me later that I have no previous experience of Spanish summer ales, so why this surprised me I don’t know.) There was a suggestion it tasted like Chicken, which is plainly stupid, so let’s say it tasted like a high flavoured blonde beer.

Packaging: An alluring and possibly Argentinian woman, in a 70’s style. It was at this point that it became evident that MB was pissed and he wandered off.

Drinking Location Suggestion: In a trying too hard alley bar, on a hot summer night, with some fucking moron in a hat, and beard.

Food suggestion: Burrito, chicken.
In a word: Cervesa e molto bien (yes that is three different languages, none of them correct)
Scores: I’ll have a pint thanks