Aether Brewing logo.

Lost in the Aether

Aether Brewing… the very name evokes something that is without shape or substance, lost in thin air, in the void without a location.

I’ve been hearing the name for a while now. There have been whispers aplenty—“PsstpsstnewcraftbrewerypsstpsstMilton psstpsstRailwayTerracepsstpsstwatchoutXXXXpsstpsst”—but no one actually seems to know much about them. It’s like that scene in 10 Things I Hate About You where everyone hears almost-certainly-true rumours about Heath Ledger’s character.

I figured the best way to find out about them is to go straight to the source, so I shot them a message. (“Hey guys, I hear you’re opening a brewery. I’m a complete stranger who also happens to be a beer blogger. Can I come invade your personal space?”) And with their permission, I rocked up to their digs on Railway Terrace to a building so unassuming that it might as well have been invisible.

From the moment I knocked, Jimmy and Dave treated me like an old friend.

Jimmy (left) and Dave (right) of Aether Brewing.

Jimmy (left) and Dave (right) of Aether Brewing.

We cracked a cold one and got chatting.

They describe themselves as a ‘couple of tradies’ (they’re both from engineering backgrounds in the oil and gas business) who have been dreaming of Aether for the last five years. Then last year, the dream began to take on solid form: they started working towards providing Brisbane with more of our favourite liquid.

Aether Brewing logo.

Aether Brewing logo.

I asked them, “What’s the deal with ‘Aether’?”

 

“In Greek mythology, Aether is the fifth element, which holds the universe together,” said Dave. “Obviously… that’s beer.”

I soon figured out that Dave is the crazy creative dreamer, and Jimmy’s more of the practical man. Dave wants to write long, poetic paragraphs on their Instagram photos. Jimmy just wants a few words to caption them. Dave came up with the fanciful idea of a white truffle wheat beer (which they actually made!). Jimmy shook his head, smiled, and said, “Cost more than any other beer ever.”

And after Dave told me about the mythological roots of Aether, Jimmy waited a moment and said, “Want to look around?”

They work well together.

I was pretty impressed with the setup. The brewhouse is custom designed and built—Jimmy and Dave put most of it together themselves.

It's clear - tradies brew here.

It’s clear – tradies brew here.

It’s a 3 vessel system (mash, lauter, kettle/whirlpool) in 5 hectolitre. They’re running 6 single size fermenters, as well as polished copper bright beer tanks. (I hope these details mean something to some of you—honestly, I don’t know the technical side of it well enough. I just know it’s all purdy and shiny and it’s going to make lots of delicious beer for me to drink.)

Brewing setup at Aether Brewing

Brewing setup at Aether Brewing

It’s going to be a full brewpub, with brewing and bottling going on as you drink and eat, so you can watch the Oompa Loompas at work. They’ll be running a full kitchen, and the bar will be sporting 12 taps—their 6 core range beers, 3 Aether seasonals, and 3 guest taps. (Now those are some details that mean something to me!)

There’s seating capacity for about 50 people on the ground floor, and 55 on the mezzanine level, with the total overflow capacity reaching around 200. The plans include timber frontage, hanging plants, custom seating and tables… it’s all looking pretty snazzy.

As they showed me around and told me all this, their eyes sparkled with the vision of the finished product. And I have to admit, I kinda caught the fever, too. After all, it is in walking distance from my house. And when you factor in its proximity to The Scratch, Newstead Brewing’s soon-to-be-ready second location on Castlemaine St, and Brewski and the new Fritzenberger up on Caxton St… well, there’s a magnificent bar crawl to be had.

Aether is hoping to have their brewpub finished and open in the next couple of months. But I’m pretty stoked that we won’t have to wait that long to sample all their brews—they’re going to be at Beer InCider Experience this weekend. This’ll be the first time the general public are getting their lips around Aether’s brews, and I for one look forward to getting them in my belly. I believe they’re even going to have some of the white truffle wheat beer there, so I plan to drink like a damn king!

Jimmy and Dave showed me the labels of their core range beers, but as they’ve managed to keep them under wraps for so long, and are just drip-feeding them to social media now, I’m going to respect their wishes and only show the ones they’ve already shared. (I’ll come back and update this once they’ve shared the rest of them.) The only spoiler I’ll let slip is that their oatmeal porter has rum-soaked vanilla beans in it. The reason I’ll let that slip is because the thought of it makes me drool.

Right, here are some labels to finish up with. The Greek-mythology-inspired designs are by Steve Falco of Procreativ. Enjoy.

Hop Skip & Jump IPA – Citra, Galaxy, Mosaic (6.4% ABV, 70 IBU)

Hop Skip & Jump IPA by Aether Brewing

Hop Skip & Jump IPA by Aether Brewing

Hop Skip & Jump IPA by Aether Brewing

Hop Skip & Jump IPA by Aether Brewing

Hide & Seek Pilsner (5.0% ABV, 27 IBU)

Hide & Seek Pilsner by Aether Brewing

Hide & Seek Pilsner by Aether Brewing

Check out Aether Brewing on Facebook and Instagram; come drink their beers with me at Beer InCider this weekend; and keep your ear to the ground for when they open in Milton.

P.S. I just realised this post may sound a little like it’s sponsored or something. It’s not. I’m not getting paid, and I only met Jimmy and Dave this past week. I’m just excited about Aether!

Six draining months as a sales rep (and five things I loved about it)

I’m sure some of you saw it coming. You’re relatively intelligent people. (Or at least, I assume you must be intelligent, with faces like that.)

I got a job in the craft beer industry. 

I did it for 6 months. 

I quit my job in the craft beer industry. 

That’s the short version. You can stop reading there if you like. But for those of you interested in hearing the longer, vaguely-linear story…

You’ve probably memorised my first post, in which I said I wanted to work with beer:

I love beer. And they say, ‘Do what you love’. Now that I’ve moved house and am changing jobs, I’d love to work with beer. That just seems to make sense.

There’s just one problem.

It’s not always as simple as that.

(For funsies, I just googled ‘don’t do what you love’ and read the first four or five articles. Give it a crack… there’s some good advice!)

Here are two main problems with that advice (well, there are many problems with it, but I’m going to mention two):

  • There are very few jobs that are exactly and only what you love (as well as drawing, a cartoonist has to market themselves, meet deadlines, liaise with publishers; as well as playing music, a musician has to plan shows, organise finances, deal with venue owners, etc).
  • I am fairly certain there is not a single job that will pay me to drink coffee on the couch with a book, potter around the garden with few results, and then eat chips and drink beer while espousing my opinions loudly.

Still, when someone emailed me through Schoonerversity with the offer of a sales rep job with Redwood Distribution, I leapt at it.

I got my job with Redwood Distribution. I was so innocent...

I got my job with Redwood Distribution. I was so innocent…

“I’ll get to talk about beer for a living! I LOVE talking about beer!”

Well… yes. I do love talking about beer.

But guess what? It turns out that sales reps do not ONLY talk about how good beer is. (The times when the job involved this—LOVED IT.) They also have to keep heaps of admin. And deal with an awful lot of problems. And chase up a billion leads that go nowhere. And deal with a load of rejection and changed minds and sorries and non-replies. And meet targets. Which all makes complete sense, and which I should have expected (and kind of did, even if I talked it all down in my head).

However, I think for me the biggest issue was not that the job was difficult. All jobs come with a bunch of baggage. You learn to live with it. You get better at dealing with it. No, for me the bigger issue was the way that the job was in my head when I wasn’t meant to be working. You see, sales rapping filled my head All. The. Time. (Which is not quite as fun as being full of beer all the time.)

I didn’t write a single thing here on Schoonerversity for 6 months. Not sure if any of you missed reading it… but I missed writing it! The problem wasn’t that I was sick of beer, or anything ridiculous like that. (“Yes, I’m sick of beer now. Also sick of puppies, chips, and oxygen.”) It was simply that my brain was hijacked 24/7 by sales repping. Just the nature of the beast, unfortunately. I had no capacity left in my head for creating.

And so for 6 months, I didn’t create. I didn’t blog, draw, garden, or crochet. (Okay so I’ve never crocheted before. But it was certainly never going to happen while I was sales repping.) While you waited with bated breath, anxious that you hadn’t seen a post for ages (“Maybe if I hit refresh one more time…”), I was likely on the very laptop I could be blogging on… but working with a spreadsheet or checking stock or sending emails or something else that isn’t blogging. Or I was ‘not working’, but thinking about work. That happened a lot, too.

So at some point, I decided to leave it. It wasn’t a great fit for me, and I wanted my brain back. The new venture I’m beginning requires it.

For all my whingeing, though, let me be clear that there was a buttload of stuff I loved about repping. I won’t diagram a buttload, but I’ll list off five things here.

1. Perks. There were definitely some perks.

This is always the first thing people ask about. While I wasn’t swimming in free beer as I had dreamed, I did get to sample a bunch of the amazing beers in my portfolio and go to a couple of events for free.

La Sirène dinner with the brewer, Costa. I have some beautiful memories of that evening... and a few foggy ones.

La Sirène dinner with the brewer, Costa. I have some beautiful memories of that evening… and a few foggy ones.

It’s important for the rep to get these things to do the job well… and it’s also a pretty sweet deal.

Not all of these beer samples were for me... but some were.

Not all of these beer samples were for me… but some were.

2. I got to peek behind the curtain of the craft beer industry.

Though the average punter can sometimes get into a chat with bar staff/venue owner/store manager/brewer and learn a few things, for the most part the consumer only gets to see the beer industry from a certain angle. That’s pretty standard in every industry. But it’s always interesting to peek behind the curtain, look under the hood… whatever analogy you want to use for ‘see how it works from the inside’.

For example, sometimes an awful lot of thought and planning goes into what’s on tap in a bar. I chatted with Tim from The Scratch once while he was working on his beer calendar, and deciding which beers would go on over a month. He took into account styles, ABV, breweries… it was a very well thought out process.

Buuuuuuut sometimes it’s much more haphazard. Like the time he told me they ‘accidentally’ had 30 beers averaging over 10% ABV for the Weekend of Darkness. Just because they got excited and picked all the ones they liked the look of. (30 beers averaging over 10% ABV makes me drool just thinking about it.)

3. I got to know some rockin’ people.

Why are so many of the people who work in the craft beer industry so awesome? I don’t know. It’s a mystery as old as beer itself. But they are. And it’s great getting to spend plenty of time with them as part of your job.

Sir, please don't provoke the bar owners.

Sir, please don’t provoke the bar owners.

4. What’s hard for the rep is good for the consumer.

You know what’s extremely difficult about being a craft beer sales rep in Brisbane? There are an awful lot of excellent beers around.

You know what’s fan-freaking-tastic about being a craft beer lover in Brisbane? There are an awful lot of excellent beers around.

5. I grew a greater appreciation of the champions who work in the craft beer industry.

There is so much mundane legwork, so much crap to be dealt with, so many hurdles to be overcome, so many times you want to rip your hair out… but people deal with this (for much longer than I did!) so that we can drink and enjoy all the incredible beer we want.

Dan Dainton - Brewer, opera singer, and all round top bloke.

Dan Dainton – Brewer, opera singer, and all round top bloke.

To the brewers, the sales reps, the bar owners, the venue managers, the bar staff, the bottle shop workers… You’re the real heroes. We would salute you, except we have a beer in each hand and don’t want to spill any.

Fitz + Potts – A Mismatch made in heaven (guest post from beergirlworld)

What’s that, you say? You love to hang around Schoonerversity, but would still like to occasionally read a post written by someone else? And there’s no one you trust as much as me to curate excellent beer blog posts?

Well, you’re in luck. Here’s a guest post from Kamina of beergirlworld


On Tuesday night, beergirlworld hit up Fitz + Potts for one of their semi-regular Meet the Maker dinner + beer tasting events, this time with the (suspiciously aptly named) Ewan Brewerton from Mismatch Brewing Co.  Before the night I had very little experience of Fitz + Potts and zero knowledge of Mismatch.  At the end of the night, I walked away thinking two things:

1. I have GOT to go to more of these Fitz + Potts events!

2. I have GOT to drink more of these Mismatch Beers!

Here’s why.  First, the venue:

THE FOOD – The Potts half of Fitz + Potts is some kind of witch in the kitchen, and I mean the good kind of witch that feeds you truffle pate and lulls you into enchanted dreams full of dancing ravioli pockets and muffin mountains running with chocolate lava.  The night included a three-course meal, which felt more like three tiers of mouth-heaven on the spiritual path to food enlightenment.  Girlfriend can cook.

Session Ale & pumpkin, tofu and pesto filled ravioli with lemon rind and sourdough crumble. Damn, girl!

Session Ale & pumpkin, tofu and pesto filled ravioli with lemon rind and sourdough crumble. Damn, girl!

THE FEELS – Fitz + Potts have decorated the bar to feel like you’re at your mate’s house.  If your mate was, like, a Nanna, and your Nanna’s taste ran to electric blue velvet couches and an Actual Disco Ball.  It’s a fun place and people’s hearts feel at home there, even if  – or especially because – some of the “tables” and “chairs” feel like they belong in inverted commas.  (I sat on an impressively supportive seating object made of cardboard. More F + P magic.)

THE DOGGOS – Fitz + Potts have puppers!  And they like to hang out and receive pats and maybe eat a tiny piece of baguette with truffle pate on, but I wouldn’t know about that.  I’m just guessing.  One of the puppers is, like, a very tall beagle that pretends like interacting with humans is below his dignity unless there’s a food involved, and the other one is a half pug, half cavalier thingy with very soft ears.  I think it is called a pugalier or a cavapug or something.  I just call her Ducky, because that is her name.

OH THEY ARE BOTH SO CUTE

OH THEY ARE BOTH SO CUTE

In summary, there are dogs and you should go to there.

Okay.  Now that I’ve sold you on the venue, let’s talk Mismatch.

THE BREWERY – Look, I’ll be honest with you – I’m not good with history, even the history of recent established craft breweries, and while Ewan from Mismatch was talking about the stuff I was pretty distracted making eyes at the puppers and licking stray mushroom and truffle pate off my arm.

Me + Ducky + Red IPA = Bliss

Me + Ducky + Red IPA = Bliss

But I got that they hang out in the Adelaide Hills and they’re into quality and sustainability and transparency and feeling their way through making really good beer, and you can read some more on their website, which is much more coherent than I am.

Now to the really important bit:

THE BEERS – To go with the food, Fitz + Potts poured us all a pot of each of these five beers:

Session Ale – Ewan described this as “designed to session on” and I’m honestly the last person in the world to enjoy a beer that’s designed to be sessioned on.  At first sip it tasted like, well, a session ale, but the finish was a pleasant surprise.  Citrusy!  Crisp!  Tastes like yellow!  I have low expectations of session ales.  This one exceeded them impressively.

Archie’s Red Ale – This beer, named for a mate of Ewan’s, was described as “a tribute to beating cancer and kicking its ass”.  Ewan also noted that it ages well.  I would be keen to try it after a bit of said aging, but as it stands it was a fine example of a mild red – dry with a hint of maltiness.  I felt like I was slightly underwhelmed by this beer, but I also felt wrong, because everybody around me was super enthusiastic about it.  Maybe it’s because my face was busy in Potts’s creamy green bean and walnut casserole.

XPA – On my notes for this beer I’ve written down: ‘floral, citrusy, syrupy.  This is when it got good.’

You know how you go to these tasting events and it’s a newish, smallish brewer and you so want them to be good?  As much as you want to support craft and sing the praises of anybody who is having a go, you never know how well the beer is actually going to stand up.

I’ve had plenty of “only okay” session ales and red ales in my time, so as I said, I had modest expectations of those first two beers. And so far, those expectations had been pleasantly, but not electrifyingly, exceeded.  If you’d asked me to assess Mismatch’s chops at this point in the night, I probably couldn’t have given a really stirring answer in any direction.  The XPA was the beer that swung it, and made us all start taking notice.  It was a fragrant delight.  And that’s when it started to get good.

Red IPA –  By this point in the night the quality of my tasting notes was declining.  On the menu that I brought home with me, I’ve just scribbled: “strawberry jammy!  IT’S IN THE MUFFINS!”.  I do recall that it had a joyful strawberry quality that made me feel like there were bales of hay and sunshine in my heart. And it was, indeed, an ingredient in the chocolate muffins that were served for dessert. I also remember a lot of excitable nodding and sniffing from the people in my vicinity.  I really can’t be more coherent than that so you’ll have to go and try it for yourself.

Dark chocolate, orange and red IPA muffin... YUM.

Dark chocolate, orange and red IPA muffin… YUM.

Negroni IPA – Jason of Brews and Bacon had insisted we have a cheeky pot of this before the tasting officially started, so fortunately my memory of it is vivid.

I don’t really have words for this beer.  I mean, I have informational words, like: smells like negroni and tastes like blood orange and finishes like bitters.  But I don’t have words for what the beer means to you when you drink it.   The other half of beergirlworld described it as her “beer spirit animal”.  Jason called it his beer of the year, and I might be inclined to agree.  It’s the kind of beer that transcends the pedestrian act of drinking and inclines the drinkers to frame it as a spiritual experience. It’s the kind of beer that made me well up slightly with happy tears because I felt like the beer was offering to be my home in a complicated world.  It’s the kind of beer that surprises you with how much it tastes exactly as the name promises, yet simultaneously overflows the boundaries of anything you could have imagined.  Just, go and drink this beer.

Unless you don’t like the taste of bitter orange, in which case, don’t waste it on yourself, but leave more for the people who will worship appropriately at its altar.

Negroni IPA makes people happy

Negroni IPA makes people happy

IN SUMMARY: Fitz + Potts did a smashing job of showcasing an exciting brewery. Even the delectable food and disco atmosphere couldn’t outshine some pleasantly surprising, inventive beers.  To action: Go and get your hands on some Mismatch.  Like, now.


All of us here at Schoonerversity (that’s right, ALL OF US) reckon you should really check out beergirlworld. They make beer and Instagram exponentially more fun!

@beergirlworld on Instagram

@beergirlworld on Instagram

Marcelle & Kamina/BFFs

2 girls loving the community, supporting the craft, accidentally drinking all the beers in Brisbane 🍻💕

Is there someone else you’d like to read a guest post from, or perhaps you’re interested to see if you could make the cut? Comment below or shoot me an email at schoonerversity@gmail.com!

Taxes on tap – How to lodge your tax return in 5 easy, beery steps

They say two things are certain in life: death and taxes. (Who says this? Shut up.) 

The problem is, these things can both be quite unpleasant. I wouldn’t recommend you do them both in the same evening. So if you’ve got the choice, maybe put death off for a little longer. But you really need to get onto your taxes soon. And while taxes and death don’t go so well together, taxes and beer go very well together.Here’s how to do it. 

Step 1 – Be prepared

The beauty of the magical internet means that most of your income details are saved and autofilled on the tax website from last year—much nicer than the tedious job of copying from one piece of paper to another, as it used to be. But you may still have papers or information you need to figure out beforehand. I’d say more about this, except I am definitely not the person you want to be taxing tax advice from. So just make sure you’ve got your receipts or bank statements or spreadsheet pie graphs or whatever you need, so you don’t get stuck halfway through.

Also, if the bar is BYO food, possibly take a snack. Snacks are the actual best.

Step 2 – Go to a bar (with Wifi)

Head to your local watering hole. Make sure you go somewhere you feel comfortable, and the kind of place where you won’t be a nuisance.

The Scratch Bar, on Park Road, Milton. It's like the bedroom of your cool older cousin from the 90s.

The Scratch Bar, on Park Road, Milton. It’s like the bedroom of your cool older cousin from the 90s.

My pick, of course, is The Scratch in Milton. Bonus points if you can walk to your local.

Step 3 – Order a beer

Get yourself a damn fine beer.

This is not the time for light. This is not the time for sessionable. This is not the time for smashable. If you order a crisp-drinkable-I-can’t-believe-it-contains-alcohol kind of beer, you’ll soon be paying it no attention, just sipping it mindlessy as you work. You won’t even notice it, and it will not make your taxes experience better.

No, you need a beer with guts. A beer that surprises you with each sip, that distracts you from the pain of tax boredom. When you start trembling at Question 13, “Do you have any bank accounts containing more than $1000 but less than $500, accruing at least 0.5% interest for each car you’ve ever owned?”, you’ll need a sip of beer that slaps you in the face and says, “Get a hold of yourself! You can do this!” 

Murray's Paddington Marmalade Barleywine - a big bear of a beer

Murray’s Paddington Marmalade Barleywine – a big bear of a beer

(I had Murray’s Paddington Beer, a 10% Whiskey barrel-aged spiced marmalade barleywine. It was the stuff of dreams, and from now on I will salivate when someone mentions ’tax return’.)

Step 4 – Do taxes

This is the worst part. Just get it done. Ideally with the help of someone who is better at it than you are (or at least, better at it than I am).

The dim, dark, graininess of this photo is representative of the mood that taxes put me in.

The dim, dark, graininess of this photo is representative of the mood that taxes put me in.

Step 5 – Enjoy the disproportionate sense of accomplishment 

The guy who placed the last brick on the final pyramid at Giza knows nothing of the sense of accomplishment I feel when taxes are over for another year. He may have been whipped, starved, dehydrated, and robbed of liberty and human dignity… but I had to think about lots of numbers that I didn’t care about. Mr Pyramid Man never felt the relief of hitting ‘enter’ on his laptop and leaning back on a battered couch to finish his last sip of beer.

With the taxes out of the way, you can then enjoy your beer in a relatively low state of grumpiness.

With the taxes out of the way, you can then enjoy your beer in a relatively low state of grumpiness.

Aaaaaaand you’re done for another 12 months. Let that sink in.

Of course, this 5-step technique also works for writing a resumé. Or working on an assignment. Or writing out Christmas cards. Or drawing one of those little flip books where the man is walking down the street and gets squashed by a piano.

Basically: when you have to do Responsible Adult things, they’re more fun if you do them at a bar.*

*with the possible exception of an AA meeting. Probably don’t do that at a bar.

7 Beers for 7 Years

As of a couple of weekends ago, my wife Kamina and I have been married for seven years.

That’s not a short amount of time. I mean, it’d be longer if we were dogs—then we would have been married for 49 years, apparently. But even as humans, seven years is a fair chunk of time. (Of course, not many dogs get married, so it’s hardly a fair comparison.)

We celebrated our anniversary by going to the Sunshine Coast for the weekend for fun and relaxation. And as you may guess of a couple of people who share a passion for craft beer, we decided to include drinking some tasty brews in our celebration.

After an hour and a half on the road, we rocked up to our holiday apartment and did what anyone in their right mind should do—dumped our bags and headed straight to the bar.

‘The bar’ was our favourite Caloundra watering hole: Blackwater Trading Co, at Moffat Beach. It’s a cafe/craft beer bar that’s also recently become home to the Moffat Beach Brewing Co. Great little spot.

Blackwater Trading Company, Moffat Beach, Caloundra

Blackwater Trading Company, Moffat Beach, Caloundra

Moffat Beach Brewing Co, Moffat Beach, Caloundra

Moffat Beach Brewing Co, Moffat Beach, Caloundra

It was a hot afternoon and we were ready to melt straight into holiday mode. So after our little road trip to the coast, I had myself a big Road Trip, by Holgate Brewing.

Road Trip by Holgate Brewing

Road Trip by Holgate Brewing

It teetered between a sweet start and a bitter finish—a gentle brew to lap away at the weariness of the day while the waves lapped away at the sand in front of us.

After our switch-off beer and some of Blackwater’s signature handcut chips, we headed back to the apartment with some takeaway (Nepalese food for Kamina, chips for me)(have I mentioned I like chips?) and settled down in front of Breakfast at Tiffany’s with a Dark Red IPA by Six String Brewing Company, the first of 6 beers we’d brought with us.

Dark Red IPA by Six Strings Brewing

Dark Red IPA by Six Strings Brewing

Now, if you haven’t tasted this drop before, you need to get onto it. This was the end of a six pack I got for Christmas, and the moment I finished it I felt ready to go buy some more. The bitterness starts the moment it hits your mouth, but isn’t overpowering. The caramel malts have a stand-off against the hops, and it’s not clear who the winner is. It all plays beautifully together. And because, for some reason, red ales and red IPAs are generally harder to get your hands on in bottle shops than they should be, it’s nice that Six Strings always has a six pack of these bad boys waiting for me on a shelf somewhere.

The next day, 20 hours into our 40 our holiday (really never long enough, is it?), we cracked open a Brown by Mornington Peninsula, and a Red Smoke by Red Hill Brewery.

Brown by Mornington Peninsula

Brown by Mornington Peninsula

I’d had the Brown before, but was again surprised at how smooth it is. Caramel and toffee and raisins and milk chocolate and cola all roll over your tongue together, and you can’t help but close your eyes.

Red Smoke by Red Hill Brewing

Red Smoke by Red Hill Brewing

The Red Smoke almost has the opposite effect: rather than relax you, it puts your senses on high alert. It’s an opaque burnt orange colour—you can almost see the smoke, which emanates from the glass with gusto. It fills your nose with savoury smoke tinged with sweetness, like you’re smelling a plate of bacon smothered with maple syrup. The smoke in the flavour is a little less intense, and comes through more as peat, while the sweetness is more like dried fruit. This was a beer that gripped all of your attention and wouldn’t let go until you were finished, and even then hung around in the background for as long as it could. Nice flavours, but perhaps a little too much of an assault on my tongue for my liking.

A few hours after those, we were ready to see the water again, so after a little beach time we headed back to Blackwater for some Modus Operandi Pale Ale.

 

Pale Ale by Modus Operandi. And chips, of course.

Pale Ale by Modus Operandi. And chips, of course.

Is it just me, or does Modus Operandi have the Midas touch? Their Total Eclipse and Former Tenant are two of my favourite beers. Now, granted, those are more the kind of big-flavoured beers I go for… but here they’ve taken the humble pale ale, and ensured that it’s a pure wash of hoppy goodness. Great stuff, MO! (And of course, more handcut chips. Because… why not?)

That evening, the temperature finally dropped a little, which brought a perfect opportunity for a spa. Read: the perfect opportunity for spa beers!

We began with Erik the Red, by Mikeller.

Erik the Red by Mikeller

Erik the Red by Mikeller

I heard of Erik the Red quite some time ago, and I’ve had it on my wishlist ever since. But when I finally got a chance to try it, it didn’t hold up to my expectations. I’m actually hoping it was a bad bottle, and not how it usually is. The nose was very promising: sweet fruits, red berries, beautiful red ale pickings. But the drink itself delivered mostly just bitterness. Not what I’m after in a red ale. I’ll certainly give it another try if I get a chance, just in case. But for now, at least, it was a let down.

The Santa Paws was also a little bit of a let down. It wasn’t bad. There was nothing negative about it. The flavour was nice enough, but it lacked body. It had whispers of a complex and boozy scotch ale, but I reckon it could’ve done with another 3 or 4 percent ABV to give it some more oomph.

The next morning, as we packed up to leave our apartment and head home, I remembered that we’d only had 5 of the beers we’d brought.

5 down, 1 to go.

5 down, 1 to go.

“How do you feel about a morning beer in the sun?” I asked Kamina. Her face lit up much in the same way a child’s would if I asked it, “How do you feel about ice cream, puppies, and going to the movies?” (Well, let’s be honest—those things would make me pretty happy too.)

Morning beer, here we come!

Morning beer, here we come!

ESB by Hargreaves Hill

ESB by Hargreaves Hill

So we sat outside and cracked it open. The smooth subdued toffee and soft bitterness brought on a satisfied “Ahhh…”, as the warmth from the morning sun washed over us and the cool beer trickled down our throats. The occasional morning beer sure does work wonders for the soul.

With our final bottle finished, we headed home (stopping off for some final chips before we left the beach, of course!)(okay I might have a problem). But just because our time at the coast was over doesn’t mean our anniversary weekend was over. That evening we got together with some friends of ours to taste our way through the Stone & Wood range. That’s just the way we roll.

The Stone & Wood range, just waiting for us.

The Stone & Wood range, just waiting for us.

With love and laughter and concentration and light-heartedness, we enjoyed the soft floral notes of Garden Ale; the cloudy, ripe banana goodness of the Green Coast Lager; the rich apricot smell, and soft apricot flavour of the Cloud Catcher, chased up by its gentle bitterness; the passionfruity twinge of the classic Pacific Ale; the  smooth chocolatey caramelly Rolo-tasting velvet of the Jasper Ale; and finally, the spice and tang of the Forager.

A good time was had by all.

A good time was had by all.

They capped off the weekend beautifully.

They capped off the weekend beautifully.

And that was the end of our seventh anniversary celebration weekend.

From before I even sat down to write this post, I thought ‘7 Beers for 7 Years’ had a really nice ring to it. But there was just one problem: whichever way I tried to bend it, however I tried to justify or categorise it, I couldn’t make it total 7 beers any way you look at it. We took 6; we drank 2 out; we had 6 once we got back to Brisbane. I decided to stick with the title out of sheer stubbornness and creative frustration, but alas, the ‘7 beers’ part of the title is false.

However, the ‘7 years’ bit is true. And for all the hard times that come in a  marriage of 7 years to date, there are also really good times, including anniversary weekends where we hang out and drink great beer together. And while I won’t get all gushy, I wanna say I’m pretty stoked to be married to Kamina, and plan on hitting a number of anniversaries that are multiples of 7. (And probably the ones in between, too.)

P.S. After thinking about this title for over two weeks, I just realised while writing this post that we tasted 7 beers on our actual anniversary (the last day). Whaddaya know—the title works after all!