The Best (actually, mediocre) of British

Beer, spent grain cookies and a good book.

In preparation for the new football season I’ve been reading a book entitled ‘The Coach’ which follows the North Melbourne team of 1977 under the reign of the master coach and true VFL/AFL legend Ronald Dale Barassi. I don’t want spoil anything, but those who know a little bit about the 1977 season of the then VFL football will know that the ending is indeed one for the ages.  It’s well worth a read.
What you might not know though is the link to beer. North Melbourne were sponsored in this season by the English brewery, Courage, which at that point were making a (as it turned out ill-fated) push into Australia. Each blue and white stripped jumper was adorned with the red cock of courage (this is turning into a bad episode of ‘Are You Being Served?’) and those on the interchange bench wore natty dressing gowns with ‘North Have Courage’ on the back.
So to prove that football sponsorship generates beer sales, even 35 years after the fact I went out and bought some Courage Director’s to drink whilst reading the book.  If truth be known the book was probably better than the beer. It was very drinkable (the beer not the book), and very British in the sense that it was lightly hopped in the middle, but then ended dry. It was also pleasant enough and refreshing, but in this modern world of high hopped IPA’s and other fancy brews this isn’t really cutting the mustard. Schooner.
Whilst we are in a British state of mind (which is like a New York state of mind, but just colder, a bit more whingy and you have to be careful of geezers) I also broke out one of the classics of British brewing, the Newcastle Brown Ale which is actually more ruby and clear than most brown ales out there. It smelled a little weird, sort of like wet wheat. It tasted of, well very close to not much at all really. It’s refreshing and pleasant, but there isn’t really any sort of distinctive taste coming through at all.
This is the ultimate medium beer, it’s slightly more interesting that your standard British bitter, but it’s not highly hopped or highly malty or very anything much. Another Schooner
Long Bow You Tube Clip:  This isn’t from the Grand Final (or even 1977) but it’s a reasonable spray:

Holgate Temptress & Mildura Choc Hops

Prologue I’m a firm believer in beers for all occasions. Because I’m a very client focussed, web 6.7 type of person I like to give back to my readers. In this spirit I found you a beer for Christmas so that you could make it through those long boring hours with your relatives. And becuase I’m super nice I’ve found you not one but two Easter Beers.

Easter time, the world’s most boring holiday. If you live in Melbourne this holiday is made even worse by the Good Friday appeal, where you have to put up with John Deeks interviewing with sick kids (they are sick John, for Christs sake leave them the fuck alone) and Home & Away stars butchering the names of Melbourne suburbs. “Fannie from Packing Ham would like to pledge $25, but she’ll double it if I read it out of TV so everyone knows that she’s such a giving person.”

Oh and it doesn’t get any better later in the weekend, particularly this year as it rolls into Anzac day so you’ll have to put up with those god awful McDonald’s ads where the friendly staff give the old digger a free cup of coffee. The old guy fought for this country, and the best you can do is a luke warm tasteless black liquid in a paper cup, How about honouring him properly, and get a real job, like joining the army or something, or at the very least get a haircut you hippy.

And then there is the ‘traditional’ ANZAC day clash between Essendon and Collingwood. Bruce McAvaney will remind us a thousand times that this game of football is a integral part of the day, and liken the battle of 36 men paid hundreds of thousands of dollars each chasing a ball around for two hours to a nightmarish military campaign that lasted for eight months where you regularly had to dodge bullets, live in muddy disease ridden trenches and 130,784 people died.

There are only two possible ways to make it through this weekend:

  1. Flee Melbourne. (which is what I will be doing/have done) Search for somewhere where they don’t do care if you ‘give that they may grow’ couldn’t care less about the AFL and don’t know who Bruce is.    
  2. Failing this, Drink Beer

If you choose option two, you should choose something appropriate though. Nothing says Easter like chocolate so my thoughts turned to Chocolate beers. Instantly I went out a grabbed what is reported to be Australia’s best chocolate porter – Holgate Temptress, and becuase I like a bit of competition I’ll pit it against the ‘made specially for Easter’ beer – Choc Hops by Mildura Brewery.

Packaging:  I love the Holgate Bull. But I hate this label. It has a strange stained glass effect to it which cuts up the label in strange way with black lines. And then there is the choice of colours, green, yellow and orange don’t say chocolate to me. I know it’s clichéd but I would prefer browns or purples.

The Choc Hops is a study in packaging brilliance. They know this beer will be given to Dads who don’t like Easter Eggs and therefore they have packaged it up in a nice two pack, with black and gold everywhere – all in all classy, and gift worthy.  

Appearance: A good porter or stout almost looks like a great espresso coffee. It will be a deep black colour, topped with a creamy brown head, which should resemble the crema on a well made coffee. Both the Choc Hops and the Temptress is a good looking porter/stouts.   

Smell: The Temptress smells very strong. Chocolate and coffee tones, but also alcohol. In fact it  reminds me of Kahlua liquer. The smell from the Choc Hops is more faint, but with definate coffee tones.

Taste: The Temptress is surprisingly gassy in the mouth, at least until you work your way into the glass. Following the gas is the hop bitterness, but this is fleeting and then there is an bittersweet aftertaste of dark chocolate.

I think the Choc Hops has a slightly fruiter taste (and certinaly more fruit than when I had it at the Microbrewers showcase) The fruit is in the front of the sip, but there is still powdered chocolate in the aftertaste. It’s not a highly carbonated as the Temptress and it quite a luxurious brew.

In conclusion:  The Temptress isnot as luxurious as the Choc Hops or as sweet as sometime like Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, there are a few too many hops for that, having said that it’s that slight bitterness is what makes it so drinkable and refreshing. The Choc Hops is less sessionable, and more gimmicky. They are both great beers but I think I prefer the Holgate Temptress.

So instead of giving everyone chocolate this Easter, why not give them beer? They will feel a lot better after drinking either of these than eating a mountain of chocolate. Probably not great for the kiddies though.        

Ranking: 

Holgate Temptress: A Jug Please     

Mildura Choc Hops: I’ll have a Pint Thanks