As we ambled along the grey beach this morning and the dogs scampered in the wet sand and we chatted about yesterday’s Cellar Door Fest I thought of many wonderful things for which I’m grateful.
Oddly, Southwark Bitter was absent from this gentle Sunday mindfulness, but now here I am on the patio with a distinctive green can. It’s time to revisit. Excursions into nostalgia should be occasionally inclusive and with the radio on, the lawn freshly mown, and the water feature bubbling along, I flip open the can. I expect it to be combative.
It smells more beery than beer. There’s nothing post-modern or aspirational present. It’s unapologetic, and I know that on Southwark’s playlist there’s just too many songs by The Angels. But, wait, perhaps the aromatics aren’t as boisterous as I remember. There’s a familiar charm, and it’s like the old cricketer who batted at ten, didn’t bowl and had to be hidden in the field. You and your team-mates loved him.
I take a few cautious sips and personal history makes me expect to be clobbered in the gob. But, I’m not. It’s not nearly as angular and cantankerous as my last venture into this beer-themed savannah. It’s smooth and almost subtle. Disbelieving, I check the can. Yep, Southwark. I replaced some lawn this morning and can now feel the effects of shovelling (yes, I used my skimming shovel) and wonder if I’m experiencing some sensory side-effects of this rare Sunday exertion.
A plane takes off from Adelaide airport and with a low scream climbs out across St Vincent’s Gulf. Buddy, the dog moves and Triple J plays a song I don’t know.
I keep two glass Southwark mugs in the freezer and sometimes bring these out on hot days when guests call in. It’s more theatrical than real but the frostiness adds a brief frisson to our shared enterprise. Given that I’ve bought a Southwark for the first time this millennium I decide it would be churlish not to marry beer and ancient mug. So I do.
This seems to exaggerate the trademark bitterness and now my 2021 experience starts to approach the one I recollect from those dusty Kapunda afternoons after cricket or by the Duck Pond with other misshapen youth or up at Gundry’s Hill with Fats blasting Mondo Rock out of his car boot. The universe settles back onto its known axis. It’s been a curiously rewarding event, and the beer has over-delivered. I’m strangely pleased.
With a determined swallow I finish my mug of beer and sit it down on the table. I wonder when I’ll next have a Southwark.
I look over at the dogs. They don’t seem to know either.
6 thoughts on “Beer Review: Southwark Bitter”
Loved this, Mickey! I too have fond Southwark Bitter memories which I have recorded in a poem about visiting Adelaide when I was eighteen. In fact, you’ve made me want another one now, if only to take me back to that time!
Thanks for that. It’s a polarising beer, for sure. Can’t say when I’ll have another!
And what of your Serbian beer chaser? X
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My Serbian beer chaser was so good I thought I was in old Kragujevac. X
The other day I was at Fassina’s on Jetty Rd and they were selling loose stubbies of SB’s cheap because they were nearly expired, so I bought one. Like you it was my first one for the millennia, and well, I agree that the bitterness aspect is overrated (but actually, I reckon they were more bitter in the previous millennia).
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Agreed. I was surprised at how un-bitter it really was. Thanks Grant.