Category Archives: The Session

The Session No 78 – No No No – Lifes to short to drink shitty beer

Hi my name is Darren and I haven’t blogged for a long time. I am a lapsed blogger.

However James is hosting The Session so I better drag the old blogging boots back on and tap out a quick post. If you don’t know – The Session is a monthly event for the beer blogging community, started by Logo image of The Session, beer blogging FridayStan Hieronymus of the Appellation Beer blog. This is how it works: on the first Friday of each month, beer bloggers write about a predetermined topic. A different blog is chosen to host each round of The Session. The host blog selects a topic, and then posts a roundup of all the responses received. For all you need to know about this beer blogging concept, including the upcoming topics, check out the Brookston Beer Bulletin’s blog page about The Session.

James at Beer Bar Band is hosting this month, below are the rules.

Here’s the scenario:

You walk into an elevator and hit the button for your destination level. Already in the elevator is someone holding a beer…and it’s a beer that annoys you because, in your view, it represents all that is bad with the current state of beer.

You can’t help but say something, so you confront your lift passenger with the reason why their beer choice is bad.

30 seconds is all you have to sell your pitch for better beer, before the lift reaches the destination floor. There’s no time, space or words to waste. You must capture and persuade the person’s attention as quickly as possible. When that person walks out of the elevator, you want them to be convinced that you have the right angle on how to make a better beer world.

Here’s the rules:

  1. In less than 250 words or 30 seconds of multimedia content, write/record/create your elevator pitch for beer in which you argue you case, hoping to covert the listener to your beer cause.
  2. Blog/publish it online on Friday 2nd August, 2013.
  3. When your contribution has been posted, leave a comment here with a link to your post. Alternatively, email, tweet or facebook me with a link to your post.

Ok then James, 250 words.

Running late for a meeting. Another fucking meeting. What’s this one about? cant remember. Must check the notes, the days meetings are blurring together. Ah its the Pensky file, no stress, I’ll wing it.

Lift doors open, there’s a guy standing there with a beer. That’s strange this is the ground floor. Where the fuck did he come from? And its 9.15 AM. And he’s wearing one of those t-shirts with a bow tie on it.

Focus, the Pensky file. What the fuck, the beer is a “insert name” low carb, made from hop barley, lime infused, marketing driven but with a European name beer.

Oh fuck this. Drop my notes on the floor. I look the guy in the eyes (well after I knock his shitty sunglasses off) and grab the beer out of his hand. To furious to speak I just stare at him shaking the beer and pointing at it. I hand the beer to the dwarf on the unicycle in the corner and grab the guy by the shirt. Still to angry to talk I begin shaking him. He protests so its into a headlock “No, no, no” I say (that’s 3 words James).

And then the lift reaches my destination. I let him go. “Life is full of choices, you sir seem good at making bad ones” I then reach into the emergency beer pocket in my suit jacket (a very handy thing) and pull out a bottle of “insert awesome beer name here”.

“Get that into you. Life is too short to drink shitty beer”

Ping. The door opens on the lift. I get out and head of to the meeting on the Pensky file.

There you go James, I count that as 28 words for my elevator pitch. Bloody hell that’s a very ordinary post. Now I need a coffee.

Cheers D


The Session #75: The Business of Brewing – Semi Pro

The Session (aka Beer Blogging Friday) is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic.

This month’s session is hosted by Chuck Lenatti at Allbrews who is interested in hearing from “bloggers and others who have first-hand knowledge of the complexities and pitfalls of starting a commercial brewery”.

Now this is one I can get into, on ya Chuck. Well sort of at least, I’m not starting a brewery, more a brewing company. I’m not purchasing a whole brewery, but I am buying some stainless. I’m not quitting the day job, more a brewing company on top of my day job. I think I can call it going Semi Pro.

I also need to flag that I chose not to go the path of being a brewer for someone else first. I’ve got a farming background and have done labouring type jobs. Dont get me wrong I love them, but other people are prepared to pay me more to do other stuff. I guess this will leave some people thinking I havent “paid my dues” to get into brewing. Thats part true, but I like to think I’ve invested my time in other areas, experiences in beer, relationships and education. They all go hand in hand and have been part of my beer journey (oh fuck now this is sounding like one of those fucking singing or dancing reality shows. Fuck Fuck Fuck).

Basically I’ve been looking at trying to get into doing some beer at a commercial level for a number of years now. Finding a way to do it with out a heap of capital, or taking a huge risk, and giving up my day job, to start with anyway, has been a challenge. There are a range of really small systems that don’t fit with the time I have available. There are a range of contract bigger brewers available, but the scale and type of beers they could do didn’t really click with me. Also they somewhat limited how close I could be to the beers. I also found that the places that I’d like to have beer contract brewed either didn’t have space or didn’t want to know me.

So that left me back looking at small systems in a shed on my parents farm, something that I could afford, not an ideal setup for a number of reasons; distance from home, small brew length relative to brew time, and leave it at the farm someone could something or a possum would die in the tank or god knows wha other issues would happen. Basically the I felt compromised on it.

Or looking at commercial contract breweries where I could afford it but the batches were just to big for me to feel safe about. Getting 700 slabs of beer you don’t even really like yourself is a scary idea.

I was stuck. Little progress, frustration, lots of thinking about ideas that I knew weren’t really good for me right now.

Then shit happened. Not one but two small breweries said yes to me brewing in their facilities. Not perfect offers, but good ones. Progress, but hang on it gets better. An opportunity to own fermenting space in a new brew house where I could hands on make my own beer. Perfect. And thats what I’m doing, the offers from the two small breweries have been parked for the moment. A fermenter is being manufactured in China. I’ve completed my RSA and licensees first step course. I’m trying to figure out a company name and what the hell I’ll brew.

This is a story of good luck not good planning. Well sort of. The investment in relationships, education and beer experiences helped me figure out what I didn’t want, and realise when I’d found it. And to say YES. The timing wasnt perfect, my day job is mental right now and I’m getting married in 2 months, but its good to be busy right? The opportunity was right and I took it. A big part of this was right place right time.

Anyway I’m yet to make a beer, or even decide what my first beer will be. Thats a fun thought process, but one that makes you think a bit. Firstly I can make any beer I want, but I have to sell it. Also I need a company name. I had one, have had for about 4 years unfortunately someone else in the US already has that name (it seems for a year or so now). World wont end though, I’ll find another name.

One thing I didn’t expect was how excited everyone else is about this, my friends, family and even people I only know through social media. People are lining up to buy beer (or getting their friends lined up for it) and I havent even made a drop yet. And they want to invest in a company that doesnt exist! Blind faith?

I am also extremely lucky in the support that Jacqui, my fiance has given me on this. It is me chasing a dream, at perhaps a time when we have more than enough going on. Couldnt do it with out her support, and she is also my marketing department.

So there’s more paperwork ahead of me, label design, billing, logistics, websites, ordering, financials and then maybe I get to make some beer. The key thing about this is it’s not about making beer, it’s about running a business (well setting one up at this stage) and about selling beer (when I get to it). Being a good homebrewer doesn’t really add up to much when you go Semi Pro, time will tell how I go.

Final thoughts on doing this? figure out what you want to do, and what you don’t want to do. Surround yourself with the right people/info/environment and keep your ears/eyes open and be ready to jump on the opportunity when it pops its head up. Now who wants to buy some beer (in the future of course when I have my licence and have made some beer)

Cheers D

PS – on the Semi Pro thing, I’ve had people say you cant do it part-time. Cant comment if they are right or not just yet but I’m giving it a go anyway. I would say that you most definitely can do it part-time (fact) its more a matter of how well you can do it part-time, I guess thats up to me and how much sleep I need.




The Sessions #74 Finding Beer Balance

On the first Friday of every month beer bloggers around the world join together for The Sessions ( which are also known as Beer Bloggingsession-logo-sm Friday). There’s no entry fees or membership required, we all just write a blog entry on a pre-determined topic each month.
This month’s Session is hosted by Bryan at This Is Why I’m Drunk. He’s chosen the topic of Finding Beer Balance, which he describes thusly.
“Is beer your vice? Is beer your reward? Does beer really have to be either? Do you find lifestyle balance through work, hobbies, family or maybe even ‘Dry Days’? There are a variety of ways to find balance.

What is beer balance? do I have balance? is beer part of balance? is balance more or less important to a tight rope walker than myself? can a bear balance a can of beer on its nose? why would a bear balance a can of beer on its nose when there is a tight rope walker near by with bad balance who may or may not have just consumed a few beers? this is going nowhere, hang on could this be a lack of balance and what is it to do with beer.

Firstly I have to admit that I have put little to no thought into this post and I’m really just smashing something out while I wait for someone to come and help me transfer my work emails and website to another server. As for balance and beer I don’t really know what that means.

For me balance means not letting any one thing take over your world, be that work, hobbies, yoga, soduku, chainsaw juggling or beer. I always see balance as a set of scales or a seesaw, where the load of stuff on one end balances out the other. Beer is really good a balancing out the bad or annoying shit. Beer balances out a hard day of manual work, a shitty day of dealing with dick heads, or just a plain long day on the phone. Its an excellent full stop at the end of a  work day.

When it comes to a celebration I don’t think beer really comes under the terms of balance for me. It’s a celebration aid, not a balancer.

Anyway what is balance for me? I tend to bring balance to my life by brewing beer, watching bad TV and tinkering with things. Generally kicking my brain into neutral brings me balance.

I am however on the point of facing a bit of a personal tipping point in relation to my balancing activities with my brewing transitioning from a hobby to a business. Just this week I ordered a 30 hl fermenter from China. I like to think right now there is a bloke with a hammer and an angle grinder working on my fermenter.

Anyway this will see one of my balancing activities potentially shift to the other end of the scales. I really don’t know how this will go. As I plan to keep my day job my it will definitely eat into my brain neutral time. Will it still bring me balance? I don’t know. I mean I think it will but it will be different to spending 4 hours int he woolshed with the radio or podcasts on, and its a business so there is the possibility of some financial stress too but it’s still making beer.

Time will tell if it keeps the balance, however beer in general takes a big chunk of my life, in how and where I spend my leisure time, my cash,  my study time, the books I read, the people I spend time with. It’s not all of it, but it is a fair bit. Oh and I do drink the odd beer, but I keep that in balance with some exercise and mostly eating healthy. I tell myself that there is a balance there but I suspect that many health professionals may not support this, still there may be that 1 out of 10 that says “no probs that’s all good and in balance”. Looking forward to meeting that guy.

In the meantime I’ll still maintain my own personal ballance with a beer on the couch watching some bad TV. Sometimes.

Cheers D

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The Session #73: The beer audit – what the hell is a beer audit??

So what is The Sessions all about? Well, on the first Friday of every month bloggers around the world write a post on a specific topic, which is suggested by that month’s host. You can find more background on the Brookston Beer Bulletin.session-logo-sm

This month’s topic has been set by  Adam at Pints and Pub and it’s the beer audit.  Adam must be some kind of nerd and does an audit of the beers he has at least twice a year (why Adam why?) . By way of explaining this month’s topic he says,  ”I’m interested to know if you take stock of the beers you have, what’s in your cellar, and what does it tell you about your drinking habits.”

Beer audit, what the hell is a beer audit?

Even if I knew what one was why the hell would I want to know about it, or heaven forbid actually partake in one?

OK that s grumpy me in action but its been a long week. 4.30 am start on Monday to fly to Perth for work, 2 days on the road, a day long meeting then fly home to Melbourne, getting in at midnight, just long enough to have a quick kip, shave, shower and suit up to head to Canberra for more meetings where I admit I may not have 100% paid attention then home, finally. Now I’m in the office cranking through some work prior to heading out for a beer to celebrate the 1000th brew for the Holgate brewery and my graduation from beer school (a Graduate Certificate in Brewing from the University of Ballarat).

So after all this why the fuck would I do an audit? well its a beer audit so maybe. No actually audits are not my thing. Audits are painful things conducted by auditors, who are really just accountants with poor personality skills. Would you invite them round for a beer? I think not. Actually my brother-in-law is an accountant, I hope he isn’t an auditor?

Anyway I digress. I do not do beer audits, I do however keep a lot of beer on hand, mostly homebrew and the odd special few bottles that I’m keeping for something.

The homebrew stored mostly fits in 3 categories;

  1. Beer I brewed but do not like.
  2. Beer that needs some ageing (yes I like these ones)
  3. Beer I have forgotten about, often put away to make space, or to keep for a competition or just at the back of the cupboard. When I moved house last year this added up to about 6 cases of homebrew, some fitted into category 1 and 2 but mostly it was forgotten.

The special beer is usually just stuff you don’t drink every day because its;

  1. Expensive – well it makes sense to not drink this all at once
  2. Sour/buggy/wild – a little more ageing time, a little I don’t want one every evening
  3. Big beers – same as  above, and they last so long
  4. Sometimes its just a beer purchased for a special occasion
  5. Forgotten about. Oh the joy of finding a bottle of Cantillon you’ve forgotten about!

I do not make lists of beers, I do not keep count, I do not know exactly what I have at hand when it comes to beer supplies. I do not intend to start doing anything that resembles an audit.

Audits suck.

I will however keep having plenty of beer on hand and leaving exactly what, where and how much as a mystery. And I will continue to brew more beer, now that I’m qualified it seems like the right thing to do.

No to finish this work and get onto a few celebratory drinks.

Cheers D

PS – I’m sure Adam isn’t a nerd and is in fact quite a nice person, even if he is some form of auditor.




The Sessions No 72: How we love beer – Zen Man

session_logo_all_text_300The Session (aka Beer Blogging Friday) is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic.

This month’s session is hosted by Ryan Newhouse at Montana Beer Finder, who wants to know how we love beer. Not why, but how. So we say we love good beer but how do we show that?

So how do we love beer? and when I say we I mean me. How do I love beer?

I love beer by putting myself out, in pain, by stretching my wallet, by doing things that are not comfortable or sensible. I put beer first. Oh god this will start sounding like a Hugh Grant movie script if I don’t start putting some more substance around it.

Did I mention its been a long week in the office, I may have had a beer or two more than I needed last night and I’ve had to try to fit 5 days work into 4 days thanks to the Australia Day long weekend?

Back to how I show I love good beer. I show it through my actions, many of which are related to making the damn stuff.

I’ve completed a Graduate Certificate in Brewing, meaning I had to go back and think about things like HACCP plans and amino acid pathways (oh  how I hate biochemistry). The time and expense involved in this was all for my love of beer.

All the cuts, burns, scrapes and bruises from manufacturing and cleaning brewing equipment, and lugging around kegs and bottles. Stainless steel splinters are a bitch. Full kegs and fermenters are just that weight that you can lift them but with a dodgy back like mine there is always that moment when you can feel your back just about to go twang. Dont start me on the cleaning products (read semi toxic chemicals). The pain and the scars are all for my love of beer.

The heartache and mental anguish that comes from striving for perfection in my beer. Stuck mashes, infected batches, spilt beer, marks missed, hop blend not quite right, malt balance so close argh!!!! it’ll all break your heart. The time, effort and waiting that goes in all for something that just may not happen. I lost a batch to an infection just a couple of weeks ago, my Something Sexy in French Saison, such heartache, RIP to the beer. I put myself through all this for my love of beer.

The logistics of making beer for me are a bitch. I have a 350km round trip if I am to brew beer. Then another 350km round trip to package it. I brew in  my parents wool shed on the farm. At times I am kicked out of my brew house so the sheep can be shorn, at other times well-meaning individuals move things, buggering them up. This means I can’t just brew on a whim, when I have 3or 4 hours spare. I hate planning. My girlfriend also likes to see me sometimes, but understands that I love to brew. So my brew day is 4hrs of driving, 4 hrs minimum of brewing, and I have to plan the recipe and order ingredients ahead of time. I put all this time and planning in for my love of beer.

So without even getting into all the wandering to far-flung bars and bottle shops checking out new and exciting beers, often shelling out more than a fair amount for something that just often enough hits the highs that its been talked up to. I mean who lines up to get into a bar full of blokes with beards? (OK probably hipsters). All this chasing is for my love of beer.

So all this and why do I do it? (yes I know thats not the question but bugger off, I’m on a roll here). It’s for those zen moments when the brew day is going perfectly, when the first taste off the fermenter makes you smile, when the drive home to brew has nothing but awesome tunes or Kerry O’keeffe calling the cricket on the radio, when the new release beer takes your fucking head off, when one of your beers wins the cat and dog show and takes a prize. They are my Zen moments when how I love beer pays me back.

I love my beer so damn much I’m even looking into trying to make the stuff commercially despite all the sensible thoughts in my head suggesting that I wont make a cent out of it. Still I’m in for it. Beer seems to make a fool out of me, I guess love does that too.

I call my brew time my zen time, I think I’ve hijacked the word from its original use, as some kind of religious state of goodness or happiness. I call by brewing time my zen time, and that’s how I think I love my beer, by going through all the trials and tribulations listed above and reaching my zen place.

Enough of this folly, need to order some malt now, oh and do some work.

Cheers D

Brewers and Drinkers

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those that brew and those that don’t.OK well that’s technically correct, but it’s also bullshit, and not really on topic of “Brewers and Drinkers”.8055045283_f19683a3f3_o

So before I launch into the topic a quick brewing and stuff update. The pale ale and porter that I brewed for the family boxing day party went down fantastically. This is always my favorite thing to brew for as I get to enjoy my beer with family. The most memorable part was my mum and aunts (none of them really craft beer drinkers) getting stuck into the robust porter. It had a nice chocolate and coffee to it and it was over 6%ABV. I guess they slept well.

I also brewed my first saison for the season, this time using the french saison yeast rather than my usually go to the Belgian one. I was going to knock out a batch of pale ale also but with the heat wave we are getting right now in Melbourne it was just better to leave it alone. More brews to happen in the coming weeks.

A_mXac7CEAI6kj2Now to the wheat harvest that usually gives me some home grown grain for brewing. Not so awesome this year, the harvest which is all done now went pretty well but the wheat has ended up being “shot”, that is it has started to take up moisture and think about growing. Not awesome for storing and I’m not too sure how it’ll go in the beers this year. If I want to use any it’ll need to be early in the year I think.

Now back to the topic of the Session – Brewers and Drinkers

What is the difference between brewers and drinkers, not a lot I’d say. Firstly I need to state, for fairness, that I am both a brewer (homebrewed) and a drinker. Both brewing and drinking take me to a zen place. Probably more so with the brewing, my 4 hours of zen providing everything works properly.

I think that in general brewers are a subset (sub species?) of drinkers. If I can recal year 8 maths I think a ven diagram would be the best way to put it in a picture. There would probably need to be subsets of both drinkers and brewers, but in general I think the brewer circle would sit 100% within the drinker circle. So in general all brewers are drinkers (I think, although I have heard of a former pro brewer who prefered wine to beer, or perhaps just his beer).This is a non related Venn Diagram just for the hell of it

I think that it should also be noted that neither brewers or drinkers can really survive without each other. I think you call that a symbiotic relationship.

People who only drink are just the ones who havent figured out how to DIY, just like people who watch Jamie and Nigella yet never pick up a pan or knife (or do speed cooking or lick the spoon with cleavage showing). That said all drinkers can be brewers (yes I know I am making a huge assumption that by drinkers we mean beer drinkers, but economists get to make assumptions and they never get things wrong, right?). All becoming a brewer takes is a trip to Kmart and the purchase of a home-brew kit. Its

easy, I got a mate going on this in mid December and he was drinking homebrew on Christmas day. Easy.I’d like to think more on the end of the drinker and brewer brackets who focus on good beer, craft, boutique what ever you want to call it, just not industrial lager.

Drinkers of good beer are all about making choices in beer that give them a high level quality experience that enhances all things around them. It is not simply a refreshing booze delivery device (but yes they are excellent attributes of beer, especially today when its 40 deg C in Melbourne). Brewers of said beer often start as drinkers of said beer who ask the questions like “why is x beer different to y beer?”. This leads to questions like “can I make x beer?”. Thats pretty much how I became a brewer. I do have to add that I have a background in science and agriculture, and love tinkering so the process and engineering that goes on in brewing is right up my alley. However so many brewers have backgrounds that in theory should make them completely unqualified to brew (all these bloody IT people), yet they still do.

Thankfully many drinkers realise that they cannot brew and get the beer they want. Both for them and their friends this is probably a good thing.

So Brewers and Drinkers. Where am I heading, I don’t really know but I told James (Beer Bar Band) that I’d post something.

When looking at the subsets these are my findings;

Drinkers only – essentially lazy or skill lacking people.

Brewers only – very strange people, I recommend that you show extreme caution when dealing with these people.

Drinkers who brew – very well-rounded people who are highly skilled and generally awesome.

And that my friends is the post, a rather biased one, and none of it factual in any way. It actually felt a bit like doing a Biology exam at Uni. I usually did quite well at them.

I’ll post some more saison recipe updates in the coming weeks as my search for the perfect saison recipe continues (and yes I know there is no such thing).

Cheers D

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