Here are a few of the many things I like about beer.
1) Getting free beer: Come on. I’m sure I’m not alone here. Even when I get beer I don’t like sent to me at the office, I don’t give it to a workmate. I take that shit home. Because it’s beer – and it’s free. FREE!
2) Getting more than one bottle of aforementioned free beer: While one bottle of free beer is great – and appreciated because the brewer could have just sent me none instead – multiples work better. Here’s why – the first beer is the one I drink seriously, the one I analyse and study, the one I make notes on for use in a later review. Then if I’ve got more than one, I can sit back and enjoy them without having to be doing all the note-taking stuff. And I’m sure I’m not the only beer writer who views beer in two categories ‘‘those I need to take notes on’’ and ‘‘those I can just bloody drink’’.
3) Getting free beer because the brewer thinks I might be ‘‘important’’: Well, this is simple flattery. Who doesn’t like to pretend they’re important?
4) Beer that doesn’t include a style description: Call a beer an IPA and I instantly have preconceptions on what it will taste like. I will likely even use certain descriptors because I know it’s an IPA. But a beer that just has a name but no style details? Well, that I can just taste with a totally open mind.
Now, not too long ago Michael, the head brewer from the not-yet-opened Gang of Four brewery in Brookvale ticked all four of the above boxes. He liked the blog and asked if I’d mind if he sent a few samples of the beers he’s going to be brewing at Gang of Four. I said ‘‘sure’’. I may have even said ‘‘free beer is awesome’’.
So a few weeks later I got a big heavy box at work – a box full of 12 long necks. Yep, not poky 330ml bottles but bit fat long necks – 12 of them! There were four different beers – the Shouting Lager, Double Hop Ale, the brilliantly named Coal Porter and The Venetian.
It was that last one that piqued my interest. As you can see from the picture above, there are no hints on the label as to what lies inside. So what the hell sort of beer could that be? I had no idea (though I did make the wisecrack that too many of these would make a Venetian blind. Ha!).
So I got to taste it without my brain telling me what to expect. What I got was a beer that had some very nice fruit salad and toffee aromas, with a flavour of biscuity malt with some fruit characters there as well. It was all very nice indeed – and my favourite of the four. As for the style I’m going claim it’s an amber ale. Or maybe a British-style IPA.
The Shouting Lager was also surprisingly good. Surprising because I usually hate lager – but this comes with some slightly sweet malt, maybe a hint of fruit (unless I was imagining things) and more bitterness than expected.
And I’ve got more bottles of them at home to enjoy. Yay for me.