JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Cheap but not nasty: JB's annual beer challenge

Date
It's drinking season, says John Birmingham.

It's drinking season, says John Birmingham.

At this time of year, in the first blast of wretched heat, a man’s thoughts turn to drinking of a very particular type. Beer. And in my case, cheap beer.

Having written more cheques to the tax office, with more zeroes on them than Google managed in the last 12 months (seriously, I checked), I’ve developed a keen personal interest in securing my beer supply with minimal call on my poorly named savings account, which is apparently needed to subsidise the tax that wasn’t collected on Google’s $2 billion of Australian profit last. (And Apple’s, and Microsoft’s, and Samsung's and so on. The big miners seem to have paid less mining tax than me too, even though, strictly speaking, I’m not actually a miner and they are).

So, I find myself at the start of the summer drinking season diabolically short of the folding stuff, but possessed of a taste for something more than a $13 sixer of nasty low alcohol pretend beer.

In straightened times of yore, I’ve found the need to economise can lead to unexpected pay offs. The discovery of a great $3 curry in the back streets of Melbourne. A Salvadoran cerveza that delivered half a dozen hits of pure beery goodness for about seven bucks. Alas the curry house, which I’m pretty sure specialised in serving up the pan scrapings of other nearby curry houses, is gone. Damn those health authorities. And I’ll be buggered if I can remember the name of that Salvadoran beer.

I did find a decent German lager on the weekend, Henninger, which being German, vas der awesomme. But still, those insanely profitable multinationals have a lot of tax to avoid, and I don’t know that I can stretch to both covering them and supporting my favourite new brew-meister.

So you’re gonna have to help ol’ JB out here. And don’t anybody even bother typing the words ‘home’ and ‘brewing’ after each other. There’s a burned out shell of a house just off campus at UQ that makes the point about why I should never become involved in such shenanigans with much greater eloquence than I can muster.

To make things a little bit easier, I am willing to trade quantity for quality. A small sup of a really decent brew can satisfy in ways that oceans of astringent cat’s wee-wee passing itself off as beer simply cannot.

So, this year’s beer challenge, should you choose to accept it, is: the best beer for the least money.

I didn’t say it was going to be easy.

 

The beer is always free* and cold at JB's personal blog, CheeseburgerGothic.com

*Statement may not be true.

198 comments

  • Little Creatures Pale Ale. You just can't beat it. Not exactly cheap - even by the slab, but worth every cent. Finally Australia has some decent beer although almost any of the standard swills are enhanced by a hard day's toil and a stagger to the pub in the afternoon heat.

    Commenter
    Mulga
    Location
    Fremantle
    Date and time
    December 04, 2012, 5:42AM
    • @ Mulga

      I drink Ale exclusively. I submit Lager was invented as swill for the unwashed.

      However...

      There be two categories of Ale.

      On the one hand there are the low gas supping Ales - think James Squire.

      Then there are the American high gas Ales. The Americans couldn't get their pea brains around the fact that good Ale is to be supped - not thrown down the hatch as Lager.

      And, the more gas in a beer, the faster the drinker consumes it.

      So, the thickheads over there make really gassy Ales.

      Sadly, Little Creatures has followed the thickheads model. Nice taste, but far too much gas.

      My pleasure is Golden Ale when thirsty, and Porter when a long supping session is warranted.

      Cheers

      Commenter
      Dalliance
      Date and time
      December 04, 2012, 7:37AM
    • Dalliance,

      I graduated from a VB bigot to having an eclectic taste in beer at my first mouthful of pale ale in the micro brewery scene in the USA where I immersed myself for the best part of two decades, so that's where my taste lies.

      I'm aware of the gas issue, having witnessed many a visiting poms decanting yank beer from one glass to another to flatten it, but every man to his own taste.

      James Squire's Highwayman was a great drop but I can't find it any more - not even at Darling Harbour. Not last time I checked anyway, which was a while ago.

      I'm partial to a pint if rich chocolaty porter too on a cold night. Snow outside helps a little too.

      Cheers,

      Mulga

      Commenter
      Mulga
      Date and time
      December 04, 2012, 9:10AM
    • Dalliance, do you find Squires, particularly Golden and Sundown, is often off when you get it? Don't know if there's an issue with the kegs or whatnot, but maybe 10-20% of the Golden Ales or Sundowns I get on tap are off. Really sucks because I love those beers, so I settle for the bottles. It's not the pubs I go to, it's happened all over the place and their other beers are fine.

      Squires bar is gone from Darling Harbour Mulga, sad times :(

      Commenter
      Regularchap
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      December 04, 2012, 10:10AM
    • Micro-brewery 100% malt and real hops. Anything below 90% tastes pretty average. Needless to so the commercial beers are well down on malt, preferring cheap stuff like sugar and flour. They also use a hop extract, ie just the bittering chemical, with no hop flavour.

      Commenter
      Ian
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      December 04, 2012, 10:18AM
    • Albanys Tanglefoot Ales are the epitomy of good taste...try stopping at one, go on, I dare you.

      Commenter
      Mungoman
      Location
      Southern Tablelands
      Date and time
      December 04, 2012, 11:31AM
    • @Dalliance. Have you tried Knappstein Lager? It might change your mind. A very unusual style of lager that drinks more like an ale. Not cheap though.

      @JB. My favourite everyday drinking beer used to be Cascade Pale Ale. The late, great Mark Shield said that if he was drinking beer, he would be drinking a lot of beer, and if he was drinking a lot of beer, he would be drinking Cascade Pale Ale. I think Ben Canadier described it as a premium beer masquerading as a sessional beer. And it was cheap.

      Now that it's taken over by Carlton/Fosters/CUB it's not as cheap and they screwed with the recipe to dumb it down to more of a VB style. I went off it for a few years. But I tried it again recently and they've changed it again to be more full-bodied, full-flavoured with some fruitiness, some honey and some nice hoppy bitterness. Maybe it's still not as good as it once was, but it's an enjoyable drink, especially when the weather's too hot for a heavy ale.

      You can get it for around $45 a slab if you look hard enough.

      Commenter
      Curtankerous
      Location
      Ascot Vale
      Date and time
      December 04, 2012, 12:09PM
    • I'm familiar with Cascade Light, which is the ber I drink when I'm not even thinking about anything other than dodging a DUI charge. But I will try the Pale Ale.

      Commenter
      JB
      Date and time
      December 04, 2012, 12:14PM
    • @ Regularchap

      In SE Qld, very few places serve Ales. And, even less serve James Squires. Those that do tend to serve Golden. I've not had any 'off', but that could be becuase I'd rather drink at home with friends.

      @ Curtankerous, yes. It's quite a good Lager. Monteith's also do a Golden Lager - which is somewhat similar in taste. My 'gripe' with Lager is that in general terms it doesn't have the body of most Ales. I'm told that in technical terms the specific gravity of a Lager (and Pilsener) is less than in Ales. But, then one can enjoy some really heavy Lagers!

      Cheers

      Commenter
      Dalliance in reply
      Date and time
      December 04, 2012, 1:43PM
    • Mulga, spot on with the last part of your opening comment! The consuming of any beer and I mean any beer (except tooheys red) is directly proportional to the physical exertion encountered beforehand. I think the tastiest beer I ever ever had was after hay carting (physically picking up bails of hay and loading them onto a truck) in 42 degree heat all day. Each of the crew went through about 8 litres of water and by dusk that first beer was something else I can tell you!! I think it was the old fashioned VB from memory.

      Commenter
      eyeswideopen
      Location
      earth
      Date and time
      December 04, 2012, 7:07PM

More comments

Comments are now closed
Featured advertisers