Tag Archives: Mikkeller Brewery

more book and beer pr0n

A snippet from a recent conversation, not quite verbatim, but as much as I can recall:

person: everyone thinks (artists and writers) just go around drinking heaps doing drugs, having wild sex and parties all night long…
me: …
person: they don’t know that there’s actually quite a lot of work involved…
me: (thinks about rage associated with Paul Muldoon Oxford lecture collection) uh, yeah, it really isn’t, but I like the research except when my brain won’t switch off and read for fun.

In no way am I:

  • suggesting I’m a writer
  • admitting to believing or dismissing the particular stereotypes described above
  • (unprofessionally) mad at Paul Muldoon, the famous Irish poet
  • going to wax lyrical about whatever the hell it is that writers do
  • going to avoid the blissful topic of alcohol consumption. Best for last, chums!

IMG_4702

It’s actually really hard to read and drink because the ‘aspiring writerly’ brain is always looking to pinch, pilfer and transform better people’s words into their own (not referring to outright plagiarism and/or not citing sources – that shit is clearly not on. Some decent wordsmiths actually put effort into their craft, yo!).

A somewhat awkward slide to introduce Paul Muldoon’s The End of the Poem – a collection of lectures about individual poems for Oxford lectures. Muldoon is supposed to close read each poem, that is, analyse and beat it within an inch of its life for intent and meaning and whatever the hell it is litwank nerds do (disclosure: I do it but badly – they’re mainly just boring rants focussed on the possible reasons for the placement of a comma in one spot, etc.).

With close reading, you look for ways in which the poet has jampacked as much potential meanings and readings into as short a space as possible. So when Muldoon’s lecture about ‘poem X’ turned out to be ‘everything possibly related to the genesis of poem X and not really a reading of said poem, it got me into passionate Collingwood supporter mode (note: I do not follow AFL. Never been to a game but kind knowledgeable folks have offered to take me to my first game ever…next year.

It’ll be a good space to get my argh-Muldoon-why-so-info-overload-cant-drink-beer-while-reading rage. Basically, reading one of these lecture transcripts means (if you haven’t already) you’ll need to read five other poets, maybe a biography or two, and a bajillion other poems by the author of the poem allegedly being close read.

Stubbornly, I refused to let my Muldoon rage transfer to impressions of the beer. Reading non-fun stuff and drinking even funner stuff didn’t work – but just in this instance. Above, the beer is one of last month’s TruBru #bearclub selections – Sixpoint’s Spice of Life Citra IPA. Bring on the hop times. Hop times = fun flavour times. Screw autodidacticism. Link is back to full health – for now.

Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma is, reading-wise, easier to devour though its information…not so much. Throughout the first part, I began to understand why Children of the Corn is a horror flick. It didn’t stop me from testing this new fear by buying a quesadilla a few days later. It also helps to know I’m not reading it blindly. Corn and its (natural) growth process still sounds like science-fiction. If we eat enough of it, will it conquer us the way the Adipose did in that episode of Doctor Who? Shudder.

IMG_4717

It seemed like a good time to try out Mikkeller’s ‘Show Me’ Cuvee – a wild/sour beer (another TruBru #bearclub selection). My palate generally is doing funky things and has decided that things I previously thought were nice or okay, are ‘ooh-er, this is really good’ – enjoyed it more than expected.

Finally! I did get fun drinking and reading in! Woo hoo!

IMG_4866

Snatching up some sun, my official mascot/overlord (cat) is resting against my back as I take a photo of The Paris Review summer 2014 issue (Northern Hemisphere summer – just imagine my lit journal reading backlog is the size of a slab) and 2 Brothers ‘Kung Foo’ rice lager. Both were very, very moreish. Ideally, enjoy both in a beautiful patch of public park not crawling with people who may follow you home singing Katy Perry or Britney Spears at the top of their lungs, or the equally intimidating crew who illegally light fireworks near a place I fondly call ‘Mill Park-South Morang Carcossa’. It makes trips to the postbox more…interesting than usual.

PS. The Muldoon lectures are amazing, just hard-going as it’s not the type of thing one can skim-read; I’m merely related to a Collingwood AFL supporter so their zeal is, to my mind, the stuff of mere legend; and lastly, po-mo dictates that you can appropriate others’ work but you better cite and acknowledge the shit out of your sources, k?

PPS. The other book supporting Muldoon-rage-o-rama is Mark Strand & Eavan Boland’s (eds.) The Making Of A Poem – highly recommended if you want to impress someone by memorising or learning to write poems in established forms (it has examples!)

 

waiter, there’s some poo in my beer

A couple of weeks ago, the haven for many a beer nerd in Melbourne, Slowbeer had a tasting to showcase some dark beers from Danish brewery Mikkeller. In reality, the showcase focussed on variations of two of their beers, the Beer Geek Brunch Weasel and the Mikkeller Black.

What’s so special about Mikkeller, you’re thinking? For a start, the head brewer doesn’t have his own premises. He roams the lands far and wide like a gypsy and basically goes to existing breweries, sets up for a bit and does his thing. In fact, the Beer Geek Brunch Weasel was made at Nøgne Ø in Norway. You might recall that this Norwegian brewery picked up a slew of awards at the recent Australian International Beer Awards.

I missed out on trying the Beer Geek Breakfast when it was available – the fuss being that it contained ‘gourmet’ coffee and was supposedly suitable for breakfast drinking. Mentioning ‘beer’ and ‘breakfast’ in the same sentence also gives me an opportunity to flog that post again. So, with the Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, they upped the ante and didn’t use any old coffee but the most bloody expensive coffee in the world – kopi luwak. Yes, yes, you’ve probably heard about it but let me tell you again because it’s quite exciting – a civet eats coffee berries and it pops out the other end having been…’treated’ by its digestive acids and thus leaving us humans with something of a delicacy. Also, cutest little baristas ever! Squeeeee! Ahem, sorry.

IMG_5949

Thus the tasting begun: we forked over $30 per person and were huddled around the table in the shop. Was this madness? Leaving the warmth and comfort of home to try out civet-shit-coffee-poo beer? Pah, hardly! The BGBW is an imperial stout which also has a fair amount of oats as well as the infamous coffee. I find oats generally give stouts a smoother, silkier drinking experience.

Okay, I admit, I’m sexing up things a little. I blame the British in me: I’ve actually had this first beer before. It’s a luxurious experience. It pours near-black with a dark tan head and whiffs of its 11% ABV are oh so evident. Despite this being a strong beer, the alcohol is well integrated. This time around as compared to my very first taste, I found that with my first sip there was a hint of hops and every so often the civety-coffee aroma and taste would pop up. I think the coffee generally brings out the chocolatey characteristics of this stout.

Mmm. Perhaps in winter, I could possibly have it with brunch. Perhaps.

IMG_5953

The second beer for tasting I doubt I would have in the daytime – this was the Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Highland. The difference between this and its parent is that it is aged in Highland whisky barrels for three and a half months. This seemed to affect the beer’s carbonation considerably – there was virtually no head, less coffee presence to the palate and more savoury. While the whisky aroma was strong, the taste was but a whisper in the beer itself.

Second variation, third beer in the tasting – Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Islay. This time the beer is aged for two and a half months in Islay whisky barrels. I’d say that this was more of a success as compared to the Highland incarnation – there was more carbonation and thus more head (which is useful for imparting aroma before you even take a sip) and holy shit, it was peaty. The coffee was pretty hard to detect but this could have been because the whisky was more prominent than it was in previous one.

To recap…

Beer Geek Brunch Weasel: ace. Thick, chocolatey coffee goodness in imperial stout form. Great as a dessert beer for those who don’t like dessert! This is probably because I like to imagine imperial stout is choc mud cake in liquid form.

Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Highland: lost the plot a little here, chaps – whisky-soaked barrels don’t add much to this already awesome drop. The low carbonation oddly enough dilutes the enjoyment of this beer.

Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Islay: a more successful venture with the whisky barrel ageing thing. Not as drinkable as the original but far more pleasing than the Highland version.

Rather than fatigue you, dear reader, permit me a pause in what is turning out to be a rather lengthy chronicle of the Mikkeller showcase tasting. Please check back tomorrow for the next instalment of the tasting on the Mikkeller Black variants.