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Archive for October, 2013

Nobody writes here but me

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Every so often I receive emails from strangers offering to put their content onto this website as guest authors. I always decline the offer in a courteous reply. There are good reasons why nobody writes here but me. The main one is that Nobody Writes Here But Me.

A couple of fast examples of why I prefer an independent blogging voice can be found in two hopeful co-authors from the last couple of years.

One was a socially upper-class girl that I knew growing up and who didn’t realise my common sounding name was one and the same old me.

Her name was Angela. She once came over to us on a public beach and said this was their beach and locals weren’t allowed. Angela and her tribe totally made my life shit as a teenager because I was rather small for my age and had the inglorious disease of being local (meaning poor). My parents were shift workers. Not lawyers. Her older brother used to brutally bully me for sport during school holidays.

So when I received an email from Angela offering to co-author on this website my courteous reply asked if she was the same Angela from her home town. She replied that first she gets the gig and then she might discuss personal details.

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Old Film:: Lady with a Saint Bernard (1930s)

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

I absolutely love this photograph of a lady with a Saint Bernard and might even get it printed at some point and hung on my office wall. Even better would be to hand print it. This photograph is scanned from a 6cm x 9cm film negative made by my grandmother Elvie Ruth Bonner (1901-1986). My grandmother had two brothers – Rupert Bonner (1900-1981) and Trevor (1913-). She had three sisters – Cora (1903-1917), Hazel (1906-1987) and Ivy (1910-1987). My grandmother said Trevor owned such a dog. But at this point I’m not sure who exactly this photograph captures except they are family and that it’s almost certainly in Tasmania.

lady beside an old car with a St Bernard dog

So here are the things I love about this particular photograph and you can agree or disagree because it’s entirely subjective.

I love white skies and that might be seen as a flaw but I love the way white skies add shape to a picture. I imagine such pictures to be like pages on pop-up books, for some reason. My penchant for the white sky creeps into my own photography (choosing to shoot Tri-X 400 on a TMAX 100 day, for example).

The list isn’t short so here goes. I like that there are three main objects (car, lady, dog) facing along different axes. The car to the bottom left corner, the lady to the front facing forward. The dog on a plane from right to left. The depth of field and the angle of the street and houses in the background are also positive attributes. The car and background captures the era; I also like that the entire number plate is in there and with effort could be tracked down for further interest.

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Heretical Sour Beer & Natural Wine

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The gentlemanly club of making booze is rarely forgiving to those who challenge the established order. There are the accepted rules; and there is the chaotic worldview of its heretics.

This is where life gets a little more interesting in the brewing landscape. In recent weeks there was a great little story on the ABC’s 7.30 Report about Ashley Huntington’s micro-brewery, Two Metre Tall, that broached the subject of sour beer. These may be the fringe beers in contemporary Australia, but sour beers are mainstream fare in the United States and Europe and sit at the forefront of the burgeoning craft brewing industry.

There is a bit more written about Ashley Huntington’s mouthwateringly colourful wine barrel aged cherry beer on the ABC Rural website. Or if you’re in Southern Tasmania you might attend his popular on-site Farm Bar at Hayes. It’s on our to-do-when-we-have-cash list, so we’ll hopefully get there.

Another group of rule breakers worth keeping an eye out for in the brewing scene are those heretical natural wine geeks.

Natural wine vintners utilise wild yeasts from the environment (as opposed to commercial yeasts) and avoid many of the additives that govern qualities of a commercial wine. They don’t add in things like egg white or sturgeon bladder to clarify wine. And they only add sulphur dioxide right before bottling. Of course, the nature of these wines can be as heretical as their creative philosophy outside the conventional wine paradigm, so be open to a new experience.

The Sunday 13 October, 2013 episode of ABC’s Landline had a great story on natural wines as the second segment (starting at 16 minutes) looking at both sides of this wine heresy.

One exciting quote from Anton van Klopper (an ex-cook turned natural wine maker), Lucy Margaux Wines, South Australia “… but the consumer has changed; people are after more interesting things. We’ve got a more educated consumer and people trust their palates a bit more.”

Again, natural wine is a much bigger thing in Europe and we can only hope, as the Australian palate and confidence grows, that there will continue to be market growth in the heretical direction. It’s nice to see the heretics convert drinkers to a wider idea of what’s possible in a glass.

This heretical direction is the most interesting for us when it comes to making mead, too. Not that we’re throwing away commercial yeast or DAP (Diammonium Phosphate) because honey is a nutrient poor source of fermentables, but we do try to avoid any unnecessary additives. And we embrace the wild yeasts that contribute from added fruit in the fermentation.

We’re looking for something in at least some of our mead that’s not quite the fare of the Fruit Wine Society and sits beyond the accepted mead paradigm. There’s not much excitement for us in becoming the eleventieth traditional mead seller on the block.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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