Selecting Beer for every occasion.

The Gibbs River on Dunsborough Beach

It wasn’t all long boozy lunches at massive breweries in WA, occasionally I either popped in to a brewery for a quick one, sat on a beach drinking, or ended the evening with a nice brew.Whilst there I managed to find three brews that were perfect for each of these very specific situations and lucky you get to hear all about them.

Let’s start with a beer perfect for a quick pop in to a brewery. The brewery is a little one (by WA standards) called Occy’s which is on the outskirts of Busselton. It’s a rustic little setting, with the brewery itself in a shed in the corner of a huge beer garden.  And the beer of choice for me at Occy’s was the Radler. Now the clever amongst you may point out, that ‘Radler’ is not a style of beer exactly, but rather a beer mixed with lemonade (what Australians would call a shandy).

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Crabbie’s Ginger Beer.

Crabbie’s went very nicely with the hummingbird cake.

Like all good craft beer nerds I have a particular distrust and loathing for cider and the people who drink it. I am fully willing to label all cider drinkers a) Gen Y’s, of course as a Gen Xer I consider this to be a huge insult, b) Hipsters, which they probably aren’t but this is another of those catch-all insults that just roll off the tongue and c) Cordial loving weirdos, I will then suggest that if they wanted a sticky sweet alcoholic beverage why don’t they just drink passionfruit vodka cruisers with the 15 year old girls in the park.

But I am willing to concede that beer is not perfect for all circumstances and occasionally you need a different taste to ‘reset yourself. Or you need a cold refreshing drink with ice and maybe a slice of lime in it (and maybe some Frangelico but that’s another thought). In these circumstances you need the beer you are having when you are not having a beer.

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The Six Pack of Brewing Success

I wonder what this "Beer" they speak of is

So last week I briefly mentioned that I believe that there is a six pack of craft beer marketing success. I chose six because I know that all beery folk think of things in 6 pack units. See already I’m targeting my message to my audience, that’s number one. Well actually it’s not number one, but you should know that all good marketing starts with an understanding of your audience, the best advice I could give anyone when selling anything, ‘Know your audience.’

Think about it, you are at a party and you spot a fine specimen of the opposite sex, or same sex if you are that way inclined. You would like this person to be your lifelong partner/special friend for the rest of the night. If you know absolutely nothing about her it is going to be tough going, you are going to pussy foot around and you run the risk of throwing something out there that is going to get you slapped in the face.
But what if you’ve done a little scouting mission, talked to her friends, found out that she loves horses and the musical stylings of Burt Bacharach circa 1964, then all of a sudden you drop into conversation that you think Riwoche horses are so cute, then you serenade her with ‘There’s always something there to remind me’ and bada bam bada bing, you’re in.  
So as you read the rest of this remember you should always try to see everything from your customers’ perspective, they may not be as enlightened as you, not as educated as you, and they certainly will not care about your product as much as you do. But they are willing to hear about it, try it, and love it. 
So, without further ado here is The Six Pack of Microbrewing Success. 
1. Get the product right – Make the right products for your target and for the market conditions. If the market is full of pale lagers, should you go with the flow and make a pale lager, or do you Zag (as in zig zag, I’m not suggesting you hire a clown) and produce a stout?
2. Getting people to remember it   – There are thousands of beers out there, how is anyone going to remember yours?
3.  Getting people to try it – We all know that ‘if people just try it they will love it’ so how do you get people to give it a go?
4. Getting people to buy it – Or more specifically making it easy for them to buy it. Distribution has to be the biggest downfall of most craft brewers, could it be overcome with innovative thinking?
5. Get people to talk about it – How do you build brand advocates and how do you stop them destroying your brand?
6. Get people to buy it again and again – Building loyalty.
My theory is that you have to have a strategy for dealing with all of the above, get most of it right and your craft brewery should be a success, get them wrong and you will struggle.
Over the next six weeks (and I can’t believe I’m committing to a six week/six post long entry) I’ll be looking into all of these areas in detail.

Or you could just back a truck of money up to Charlie Sheens door like Bavaria did (This is for their non-alcoholic “beer”)  

How Beer can solve the Greek financial crisis

So very Yellow - It's Keo

We are all about fiscal responsibility at this here blog, we are also firmly of the belief that all economic (and possible just all) problems can be fixed with beer.

Now we all know that Greece is up the proverbial creek of shit and are lacking some implements that could be used for propelling their boat forward. All of a sudden I have a feeling that this is the blog equivalent of one of those really lazy political cartoons in the Herald-Sun where they  draw a boat in the effluent sodden creek, but then they feel their readers are a little too dumb to get that so they label the boat the HMS Greek Economy.

Anyway point is if we all drink Greek beer then the economy can be saved. Of course the beer has to be worthwhile.

I started my Greek rafting trip with a craft beer from Athens and in the style of the lazy cartoonist they have called it Craft Athens Lager. On pouring this didn’t really look promising, it was pale yellow, clear as a bell (or are least as clear as a bell made out of yellow glass), it was all topped off with a detergenty white head.  In summary it looked like a commercial lager – not promising.

The taste was better than your typical Euro-swill. It was nowhere near as fizzy, which was a plus for me, but unfortunately the body lacked something, it was all a bit thin and uninteresting. It was an okay beer, better than the commercial brews, but I was left with that familiar feeling yet again of ‘Why did they bother shipping this beer half way around the world?” Schooner.


For our second beer we are heading over to Cyprus, or as I like to call it Greece Lite. (All of my Turkish readers are welcome to send the death threats care of the email address below). The beer in question  is Keo, which comes in a very summery bright yellow can. It too is very commercial looking, pale piss yellow with that bubbly head. And the taste is exactly what you would expect from a Euro lager from a very hot climate – it’s entirely forgettable. I’m sure it tastes amazing in the baking hot heat on a Cypriot beach, but it has no real place in Melbourne – Pot. 


So there we have it, much like Germany I tried to bail out our Greek friends (in my own special way) but I have to admit it was all a little unpleasant and I don’t think I’d bother trying it again.

Matso’s Mango Beer

Prologue:  It’s been hot in Melbourne town over the last couple of days and when I say hot I mean oppressively hot. So hot that normal things that you do to beat the heat become impractical. Going to the beach is now a challenge to see if you can make it to the water without third degree burns on your feet rather than a pleasant dip in the sea.
I know this sounds weird but I even struggle to drink beer when it’s too hot. Well that’s not entirely true, I find it difficult to sit on the big malt monsters that I normally imbibe. Hop bombs are a little easier but when the temperature gauge is in the high 30’s I start looking for a more refreshing lighter beer and that where this beer comes in;Matso’s Mango Beer is perfectly suited to the heat.
Packaging: There is a lot to like here (and one thing not to like). There is the logo which has a Japanese feel to it that harks back to the history of Broome WA (where this beer is from) with many Japanese Pearl divers immigrating there. Then there is the super tropical mango-ness, complete with a Carmen Miranda-esque lady all ready to tempt you with her tropical delights. There is one concerning thing though, it’s a twist top and prior experience has taught me that twist top means crap beer.
Appearance: This is a really pretty beer.It’s a deep orange colour with small bubbles which stick to the side of the glass. It has a pure white head, although perhaps strayed a little too far into the detergenty area.
Smell: Mangoes, absolutely 100% mangoes, not hint of mangoes, but rather like you opened a tin of canned mangoes and stuck your snoz in it.
Taste:Tropical, unusual and darn refreshing. Again it’s the mangoes that dominate. It’s like someone poured some mango cordial into a beer.It is very sweet, but not cloyingly so.
In conclusion: This is not a beer for purists, they will claim this is a gimmick, but I don’t care because I loved it. It’s tropical, it’s fun and it should probably come served with a little umbrella in it.It’s a great summer refreshing alternative, that stops you from reaching for low carb beer or worse still that crutch of the gen-Y, ‘oh beer it’s too bitter for my skinny-jeans-wearing tastebuds’ strawberry, pear and blackcurrant Swedish cider.
Ranking:  I’ll have a Pint (Jordan wanted to give it a Schooner, proving that she is now both a bigger hop head and a bigger beer snob than me).
Long Bow YouTube Clip: The label on this beer reminded me a lot of the young lady in this video with the fruit on her head. Oh and if you work in media in Melbourne and you think she looks familiar, you might be right. Of course what Anna is doing in a Joe Dulce video from 1981 is anyone’s guess. But if you want to be happy………(drink Mango Beer)

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.

A man walks into a bar and …………

Orders a Pure Blonde. This is a strange choice, not simply because a Pure Blonde is a beer no right thinking man should drink, but the man in question has wandered into The Courthouse in North Melbourne, a pub that specialises in good quality beer.

The bartender is surprisingly patient (I have it on good authority that a patron who requested Corona the week before was offers a cordial instead) he explains they don’t have Pure Blonde, and tells said patron that the list of available beers are on the board above his head. Patron stares are board confused. Bartender suggest a Wheat beer might be in order. This would have gone well except the bartender he mentioned it was called Haandbryggeriet which seemed to confuse the patron. Patron replies that he would like something stronger than that. The bartender (now I assume taking the piss as this request made no sense) suggests the Mornington Porter. Patron agrees and is poured a Porter.

Patron sits at the bar and starts talking to a random old guy. He sips his beer. He loves it. He asks if it’s like a Guinness, the Bartender starts an ill-advised explanation of stouts versus porters. Patron is not listening, he is starring at his beer. He looks up an asks ‘And this is made in Mornington?’ in a tone that suggests that nothing good has ever come out of Mornington. The bartender nods and wanders away, the patron settles into his beer. That’s until he spots me sitting in the corner, he yells ‘Are you drinking what I’m drinking?” I respond in the affirmative “Do you like it?” he yells back again I reply in the affirmative. He smiles and tell “Yeah it is good isn’t it?”

And that my friends is the power of a great pub, somehow this guy has gone from wanting a Pure Blonde to discovering quality beer like Mornington Porter in less than five minutes. And this is why quality micro brewery beer is going to keep growing and growing, and Pure blonde will become the beer equivalent of white bread or twinkees.

But back to me. I’m in the corner reading a book and quietly having a few beers (I’d started with Bridge Road’s Bier de Garde which you can read about here if you are that way inclined). The beer I’m drinking, as you may have guessed is the Mornington Peninsula Porter which is, as discovered by our friend at the bar a very nice beer. It pours dark, almost opaque with a dense creamy tan coloured head. It has faint coffee smells, there are coffee tastes in there as well particularly in the mid palate, and a nice hoppy aftertaste that lingers on. It’s a tad thin in the body for my liking, and it could be a little more robust. But still a very nice beer – Pint.

It was then onto the last beer of the afternoon which was the Hargreaves Hill Topaz and Amarillo IPA.  Now anyone following the narrative of my drinking can see I’m going about this all arse backwards, I’ve started with the sweeter darker beers and now I’ve moved onto the lighter traditionally more refreshing IPA, but I’m living outside the box man, outside the box, just go with it.  

The nose on this beer is filled with hoppy fruity flavours, in particular I’d suggest big sweet melon flavours. The taste is very well balanced. It isn’t overly sweet, nor is it too hoppy. Rather it is refreshing and satisfying. It has a fantastic fruity flavour just as you start to swallow, and then the soft but lingering bitterness just flows through again with a faint fruitiness.

This is a seriously nice beer, it’d be perfect for summer. Refreshing yet interesting and complex all at the same time. I’m going to get all crazy again and say – Jug

 And a interesting fact. That photo over there à under Drinking Mates is taken at the Courthouse Hotel way back in 1927.