The Beer from Nowhere Near Here…
I work in Whistler, and there are a fair few Australians who also work and reside in that resort town. A few of the fair few are friends of mine and some of that squad are dear friends. In that ever contracting Venn diagram of Lads and Ladies, a man named Rob resides. Recently, Rob had occasion to travel back to the land Down Under and said he might bring me back some beer. I said, “Sure, thanks!” but with all the familial commitments, etc., that Rob had to pack into that trip, I didn’t hold out much hope of anything coming back with him. And certainly not anything good. The reason for the last was that, as I grew up in the 80s, the first thing that pops to mind when it comes to beer in Australia is good ‘ol Crocodile Dundee and fucking Fosters.
Believe me, I KNOW there are far better beers to come from that beautiful country than Foster’s Lager, but my brain does what it does. So when Rob did bring back some beer and none of them were “The Golden Throat Charmer” I was fairly fucking elated.
Pictured above is the bounty I was given, minus one, which I’ll get to in a bit. Before breaking some of these beauties down, I have to confess: I didn’t get to drink all of these.
Beer Guy Learning Curve #1: if you have beer in the fridge that you don’t want other people to drink, you have to say so or label them thusly.
Beer Guy Learning Curve #2: if you only stock your fridge with one-off bangers then that’s what you’ll be giving to friends and family when they come to visit. Do NOT stock your fridge with one-off bangers, exclusively. Make sure there’s some good quality “regular” beer to be parsed out at all times.
Anyhoo, the beers that I did try were, for the most part, good and in some cases, great. Going from least to most favourite, we have Australian Brewery’s All-Star Session IPA.
Almost all the beer I’ve been drinking lately falls under the lens of “is it thirst-quenching?” due to the fact I’ve been working full-time at work and full time at home and I’m in dire need of a cold beer basically every day. So this beer did fit that requirement, but it was as IPAish as an Alexander Keith’s. I will say this: AB you win the Gold medal for Hyperbole on a can. “Characteristically Over-The-Top Exhibition of Hops…Sessionable in the Extreme.” Okay, that’s enough. You’re a fairly tasty, easy drinker at best.
The next beer to be had was the Pirate Life IIPA.
My buddy, Miles, had warned me about this one and man was he right. A beer with 8.8 ABV is serious, for certain, but can be quite delicious depending on the balance of everything that goes into it. Um, this son of a bitch had an IBU of 120! Listen, I’m okay with bitterness (my postal code puts me smack dab in the middle of the West Coast, for gosh sakes!) but that many IBUs in that strong a brew in that big a can? Ya, the fucking can is 500ml! That’s 27 motherfuckin’ millimeters more than our tall cans, man! Needless to say, I had a hard time slaying this beast. Before my Aussie friends, in stereotypical Aussie fashion, skewer me for showing weakness (Pufftah! Soft-cock! Insert additional non-PC terms here) let me try and distract them with the pretty colours of this next one:
A very respectable IPA in a baby-boy-blue can of suitable volume (can and alcohol: 355ml & 6.8%, respectively) that I truly adored. This beer was well balanced and bitchin’, overall, and I shan’t say any more on the subject.
If you set aside for one second, the horrible presentation (yes, I should have wiped my sweat-stains off the can before snapping a pic: I’M IN THE MIDDLE OF A RENO!!) just take a gander at the container the beer comes in! Oh, you don’t have the appropriate glassware available? The can turns into a glass! That, by itself, was pretty cool. But this IPA from Colonial Brewing Company was my favourite by far. First of all, the hops are one hundred percent Australian. I’m not an expert (as if you didn’t already know) but I knew something like this must be so as soon as I smelled it. It was tropical, but in a much different manner than what I’m familiar with. The malt is also 100% Australian and gives the beer a very distinct character. This is what I was looking for before I even knew I was looking for it. If I get an IPA from Australia I don’t want it to be a clone of an IPA from North America, why would I want that? I wanna sample the flora found flourishing in and amongst Australia’s high-hopping fauna! This beer was unique and well made and an IPA of impeccable personage.
If you recall, I said there was one beer missing from my original picture that I’d get to later. Well, here it is:
I didn’t snap a picture of it originally because it is NOT a craft beer. Sound snobbish? Yup, but hear me out. XXXX beer is brewed by Castlemaine Brewing, which is owned by a conglomerate out of Japan. It’s a mass-produced and mass consumed lager that could reasonably be compared to a Molson Canadian or Labatt Blue over here. Those last two sentences are enough to steer most of my craft-beer confederates away but not I, said the Pig. Not this time.
I saved this beer for last because it has a value that supersedes the sensory. This may not be the best beer I’ve ever tasted, but here’s the thing: My good friend Rob took time out of his schedule to grab me some beer from his country of origin. And thirty years ago, before flying across the world, landing in Whistler, skiing his face off, falling in love, getting married, and becoming a Canadian citizen, Rob worked in a Brewery. Castlemaine Brewery. This can of beer comes with an essence and a history and a significance to it that cannot be quantified. And it is for this reason that I’ve saved it for last. When I do crack it open it’ll be with little to no fanfare, just a sober, solemn nod to the charity of a friend…
…and after the appropriate amount of time has passed, I’ll call Rob up and tell’em it tasted like liquefied dingo.