For almost a year both my wife and I had been looking forward to our little Aussie getaway. Laura has always said how much she’d like to live here and that I would too, well maybe, but I’d need to test the water first.
Our holiday would be a time to catch up with friends and also a time for me to discover what the Aussies have been brewing. Much like Crete, I didn’t know what I’d be drinking, although I did know that breweries were a little better established here.
On our arrival I was greeted by a James Squires One Fifty Lashes. Our journey from Tokyo via Kuala Lumpur was arduous and this fruity pale quenched my desire. That night I got to know this beer pretty well and I hit the sack looking forward to discovering more of what Australia had to offer.
But little did I know, this would end up being one of the most reliable beers of the holiday.
Rather frustratingly, the quality of the beer I tried varied a lot. I bought beer from a few different shops and many of them were either oxidised or had had something else affect them, probably heat, to the point that they were undrinkable.
From one shop in particular, where I picked up two six packs, I probably had two good beers out of the lot. All the beers were well within date too, still having six months plus left to go.
Cans seemed to be better, but they weren’t perfect. I bought a four pack of Balter IPA, a cracking little beer with all the pine and citrus you could want from an IPA, with a decent malt base and a solid bitterness too.
But, two of the cans were just teetering on the edge, with some unwanted toffee and caramel flavours just beginning to creep in. They didn’t pour as well and from the colour it was obvious that something wasn’t quite right.
But, when bought from the right shop, I was absolutely blown away. Beers from Batch Brewing Company were incredible, their West Coast IPA being lifted straight out of the red book. With a delicate touch of grain, this dry, hop lead tropical beast quenches the heat of the day with just a light grab of bitterness to follow.
The Zonnebeke India Saison, brewed for Sydney beer week, is a piece of art. It sits below a duck-down head and its crisp, spicy nature will lure out the Saisonator within as you decipher this hugely hopped, IPA, saison hybrid.
Overwhelmed by juice at home I’d almost forgotten what it was like to taste a beer with a clawing bitterness. Future Factory IIPA and Sonic Prayer IPA had me, I didn’t have them, they had me, for breakfast. They chewed me up and spat me out, and I went back for more, MORE!
I couldn’t get enough, two nights running I prayed sonically. Prayed for more, and it kept on giving. If God was to brew a beer, this would be it. Perfect in every way, heavenly almost, from the divine grain through to the gospel chorus of pine and grapefruit. Saisonism is gonna have to take a pue at the back for a while, this IPA is preaching.
But all that preaching can come at a price, beer in Australia isn’t cheap by any stretch. The tax on alcohol is high which can make for some pricy drinking, couple that to the cost of single cans and bottles, and a session on a few different beers can leave a huge dent in your wallet.
Some shops do offer discounts on single cans and bottles, but buying in multiples guarantees to keep the cost down.
Without any single discount, three individual bottles or cans are roughly the price of a four pack. High strength stuff is mainly in four packs and an individual can such as Modus Operandi Future Factory IIPA is roughly the equivalent to £10. Which is quite a price, but it is 500ml, it is also 8.5% and it is absolutely incredible. It took me straight back to a time when balance and bitterness reigned supreme.
Would I live here? That’s a tricky question. I doubt I’d have an issue finding employment as the demand for skilled tradesmen is high. But it’s bloody hot, too hot sometimes and I like a nice crisp winter.
Parts for my 2cv would be virtually impossible to get quickly, and no, I wouldn’t have any other car in case you were wondering, wouldn’t even entertain the thought.
It’s that satisfying feeling of vigour you get from driving a 2cv with the roof off on a fresh, crisp winters day which is just unparalleled.
Actually, just the feeling you get from driving a 2cv anywhere is unparalleled.