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Archive for the 'booze' Category

On Finding and Being Yourself as a Home Brewer

Monday, December 7th, 2020

Beer is an agricultural product that spreads it’s tendrils back to the early fermentations and distillations beginning with the dawn of human civilisation. It may even be the case that society formed around the creation and consumption of this magical ethanol. Making beer is a dark art of our cultural heritage. Beer is crafted and created by human beings from basic ingredients and comes with it’s own traditions, lore and legends. Beer is a social glue; beer is a chemistry experiment on every occasion; beer waxes poetic on a porch watching the sunset. And beer comes together into your glass both industrially (with the big lager producers) and by various scales down to the craft brewer and the home brewer.

And times have changed. There has never been higher quality or a greater choice in malt, hops and yeast available on the home brew scale. In fact, you only need look at the last couple of centuries of commercial beer to realise that craft brewing and home brewing have mushroomed hand in hand with the technological explosion of globalisation, the Internet and improved IT logistics. In other words, don’t underestimate the power of shipping containers, asynchronous communication, the speed and ease of Internet business and the ability of IT to improve production and supply chains. Historically, agricultural products never got to their destination at this level of quality. Without all that supporting business framework the craft brewing and home brewing landscape would be devoid of opportunity.

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Guile Brews (Book Review)

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

Guile Brews book coverAs a big fan of brewing history (because it combines two passions) I’ve naturally acquired a few books in this direction. Brewing history books attract me because I’m interested in what a stout used to be in the 1800s, for example; I’m interested in historic brewing processes and the agricultural inputs that went into the beers of another time. In our era of post-millenium globalisation and the expansion of home brewing as a hobby it’s easy to take for granted the wide availability of highly modified malts, the ever-expanding array of hops and availability of high quality cheap yeast. If these subjects pique your interest then Guile Brews by Peter Symons is a gob-smackingly great read about the beers of Peter’s youth in Cornwall and historic beers from Ireland and England in general. Peter’s ability to track down and gain access to private brewing records and the ability to formulate close approximations of how to make these recipes as a homebrewer today provide a compelling read.

Which is kind of funny, because I lack any nostalgia with the Boags Draught that haunted my younger years in Tasmania. My only criticism is that putting such great information into a low quality Lulu publication is a shame. Seriously, read my lips… “Your research deserves better.” And I’ve worked with designers enough to know that typography is a valuable skillset. But one doesn’t know what one doesn’t know, I guess. Enough said.

Breweries specifically covered in this book include Banks’s, J. A. Devenish, Eldridge Pope, Flower and Sons, J. J. Murphy and Son, Redruth Brewery and St. Austell Brewery. It’s quite the read.

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Belgian, Trappist and Abbey Beers: Truly Divine (Book Review)

Friday, September 25th, 2020

Belgian, Trappist and Abbey Beers book cover
A small indulgence of my last birthday was the purchase of a most beautiful coffee table book about Belgian beer (because I’m a fan of the Belgian quadrupel ringing in from 9.1%-14.2% ABV). This dead tree indulgence is called Belgian, Trappist and Abbey Beers: Truly Divine by Jef Van Den Steen with the beautiful photography throughout by food and wine photographer Andrew Verschetze. At the exorbitant price that I paid it’s saying something that I am more than happy with the quality of the product. Heavy, hard cover, exquisitely designed with voluptuous photographs of the abbeys, breweries, gardens and beers that continue to make Belgium a unique destination for beer nerds (and lovers of their wonderful beer culture).

Because we need to appreciate that this idea we have in Australia, Britain and the United States about a beer style isn’t august reality. A porter is a definition agreed upon for competition purposes, but the lines between these styles are smudged and blurred over centuries. We argue about the difference between stout and a porter, the line between pale ale and IPA; but these are merely constructs that enable people in the industry to compete and market their beer in ways that form agreement and competitive edge in the mind of consumers. And if people think that the beer you made is a lager, but it hasn’t been lagered and it was made using an ale yeast… is it a lager? And does it even matter? The Belgians don’t get hung up by this pointless splitting of hairs that we’re accustomed to in our beer culture.

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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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