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Beer Review: Coopers Hazy IPA

ipa

Coopers were like AC/DC.

Just doing what they’d always done, and their version of playing the same three chords over and over presented as reliance upon the red, green and yellow beers also known as sparkling ale, pale ale and stout. The fans loved it and thirsts were quenched and all were merry.

But the emergence of craft beers and brewers has forced Coopers into reinvention. In recent years they’ve launched a Session Ale and an XPA. Today, a Hazy IPA hit the market, sort of.

We were promised, courtesy of a moderate advertising and marketing campaign, that it’d be available on tap and in cans. No pub in Glenelg has it yet and neither does any local stockist.

I drove to a large beer and liquor emporium whose name sounds like Dan Murphy’s and found cartons of it on the floor. Yippee!

But there was none in their fridge so I asked, “Any cold Hazy IPA?” The young employee blinked at me and said, “We only got these about midday.” Being someone who could grump for his country I questioned, to nobody in particular, “So in the seven hours since no-one thought to put any in the fridge?”

It was as if I had dropped the needle onto Back in Black and could only hear radio silence.

So, what’s it like?

The hue is Coopers: murky and mysterious and promising mischief with its dark citrus presentation. This continues with the nose that has necessarily departed from the yeasty hoppiness that sung Coopers down the generations.

Angus Young’s amp has been turned off and instead a weedy boy is on the decks. The black t-shirt brigade won’t be thrilled, but then again, they probably don’t care as they’re kicking back in the shed with a long neck of sparkling ale.

decks

At 6.2% the Hazy IPA is more Highway to Hell than Best of the Backstreet Boys so no chainsaw chores after a couple. Unlike the one-armed drummer in Def Leppard you might struggle to play the Stratocaster minus a limb.

But, as such it’s surprisingly easy to drink, even more so than the acclaimed Vintage Ale which I confess I find difficult to love. It’s too big and cumbersome for me and is work, not fun. Something beer should never be.

I do wonder if Coopers are self-cannibalising as their beers are competing with each other. The name Hazy IPA is a nod to the East Coast beers of Massachusetts and perhaps a desperate sign as Coopers beers are historically hazy.

Indeed, it’s expected.

Maybe, like AC/DC they’re just trying to keep up with the kids.

ACDC

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Beer Review: Bitburger 0.0%

Imagine the worst beer in the history of our bluish green planet.

Horrible, isn’t it? Ghastly, offensive, and a reminder of all that troubles you. You shiver, involuntarily at the memory.

Now, imagine it again, but make it twice as bad.

Ladies and gentlemen, Bitburger, Alkoholfrei 0.0%.

Gritting my teeth, I sat down to begin my work. Tried to unscrew the cap. No. Bitburger, like computer, says no.

I needed an opener. Or as my old mate Dick used to call them a Bill Lawry.

Why would they make drinking these beer-free beers difficult? Maybe, I’m thinking, there’s deeper magic at play here. The brewers realise how dreadful they are, and are trying to save you from the horror. In a weird way, they actually care for you and your well-being.

No, they don’t.

The aroma is distinctly Bitburger: sharp, aggressive and confronting like the stocky, pimply Year 10 boy who tries to intimidate you on your first day of high school. All snot and snarl. But, unlike Bitburger, there’s a chance that once you get to know the boy and perhaps play footy with him and listen to some Supertramp records together, you’ll become friends.

Once, years ago, up in Clare for the October long weekend, old mate Bazz asked me to buy us some beer. Looking back, I must’ve been suffering undiagnosed concussion because I returned with a box of Bitburger.

With pure hearts and expectant smiles, we cracked a couple open and taking a sip, Bazz then remarked, “Buy any of this ever again, and our friendship is over.”

He meant it.

I glanced downward in shame. I then looked over at the beer. Mmm. Only twenty-two were left. A sullen pall settled down on us. In time we recovered, and earlier this afternoon, and without adult supervision, I bought one for scientific purposes.

And dear reader, to spare you the awfulness.

At this point in the review I’m tempted to insert a string of metaphors to describe the taste of Bitburger 0.0%. I could write about it being like making love in a canoe (again as Dick says) or that it’s for bathing in and not drinking (as Andrew says) or I could invoke German high culture with reference to Bach and Wagner, and Mozart and sauerkraut and then speak of the global disgrace that this beer is, but I won’t.

It’s simply terrible.

So, I spent the curious sum of $3.09 on this, and now my social responsibility in warning you of this is done. Taking the bottle to the recyclers will net me ten cents and when the young man hoicks the bottle into the crate the sound of smashing glass will be akin to sighting the Brandenburg Gate on a summer’s day or hearing Ride of the Valkyries.

Don’t. Do. It.

Excuse me now and thank you for reading. I need a Coopers Sparkling Ale.

Continue reading

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Beer Review: Coopers Sparkling Ale- It’s just a shot away

keef

When I think of Coopers Sparkling Ale (and this probably happens way too often) many metaphors present themselves concerning kings and empires and black and white cricket footage, and the launch of exquisite super-yachts, but the Rolling Stones feature prominently in my vivid imaginings, and more particularly the opening track of their heralded 1969 release Let It Bleed.

I speak of “Gimme Shelter” which opens with Keef’s ominous, storm clouds-a-gathering, open-tuned guitar, and one of the most iconic, menacing riffs recorded.

Sparking Ale and “Gimme Shelter” are both instantly recognisable, demanding of your attention and have rightly earnt a place in popular culture. If I drew a Venn diagram of these two joys, I’d colour the overlap with a thick, red 4B pencil.

There’s a story that Keef played an Australian-built guitar while recording the song and so vigorous had the sessions been that on the final note, the entire neck fell off, onto the studio floor.

sparko

This brings me nicely to Coopers Sparkling Ale long necks. For this correspondent, it’s the finest way to enjoy this fruity, zesty ale, and one of the few beers that isn’t superior out of a keg. A frosty 750ml bottle and a large glass and if you peer into the middle distance you can hear God. Or maybe Keef: mountain craggy and skinny and puffing endlessly on a dart, conjuring the devil with his rhythm axe.

Iconoclastic Kapunda publican Peter “Puffa” Jansen was a single-minded advocate for beer in cans as he reckoned, “they travel better” particularly on his spontaneous and legendary lunch trips, which could stretch over half a week. But I’m unconvinced and with all of this pretext and subtext in mind bought a six pack of these newly launched, hipster-friendly red cans earlier in the week.

So, what is my considered and probing view?

I’ve enjoyed Sparkling Ale in London, Edinburgh, Singapore and New York, and despite the often eye-watering frequent flier points these beers may have earnt jetting about our blue-green planet, I found these to always be a treat. Along with my twangy accent, I saw them as a foamy badge of Croweater honour.

southwark

I resisted all urges to tip the can into a trusty Southward mug, not because of the seemingly warlike combination (like wearing a Crows scarf and Power beanie at the same time), but as I imagine this is how these will generally be consumed. I slurped away at my metal tube.

I found the trademark Sparkling Ale aroma and bold, arresting citrus notes were largely absent, as though they’d been shut down by the can, like a curmudgeonly deputy principal. Like a Boggo Road inmate who’d been in solitary for a month there was blinking uncertainty and confusion at its place in the world. It seemed muffled, as though I was hearing “Gimme Shelter” on a Goldstar tape player through an uncooperative bedroom wall.

It was a big Coopers beer, but I mourned the lack of visual delight: the rich, soupy hue in a front bar pint or backyard cup. Instead, a dullish, bashful red tin, which was apologetic rather than assertive, unlike a Andy Warhol long neck on a laminated kitchen table.

table

Doubtless, our bearded craft beer cousins will love ’em, but I’m unlikely to buy more tins. In this highly competitive market of targeted demographics and business plans, where boutique brewers have sprung up like boy bands, I’m sure these will be a commercial success, and they’ll march out the door of your local boozer.

However, I’ll be the old bull at the counter with a couple long necks in paper bags, heading home to my back patio, a large glass and with Keef in majestic, gnarly delight, Let It Bleed, snarling at volume.

bleed

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Beer Review: Coopers XPA (spoiler: boiled shite)

costaAn iconic Australian brewer, Coopers have launched a new beer. This is of considerable excitement to me, and here’s a quick list of launches that are far, far worse.

The launch of a P!nk album
The launch of the Costa Concordia
The launch of Paris Hilton’s eponymous perfume
The launch of an Exocet missile
The launch of AFLX
The launch of Shane Warne’s new wig
The launch of an all you can eat tofu diner.

That’ll do for now.

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I’m in a suburban Adelaide pub. It’s called the Highway, and is stylised as HWY. Some would argue that for the HWY, this is where style ends. It’s actually pronounced “Hur- wah- yee” and emits exactly the sound you’ll make when paying for a drink here.

It’s one of those maddening pubs that insists on using those ridiculous glasses that are well short of being pints, yet they charge you as if they’re Jeroboams of lager.

Maybe it’s called the Highway because in the Lounge Bar and accompanying deck, highway robbery is the business plan. I often feel in there as if I’ve been personally served by Ned Kelly masquerading as a twenty-something arts/law drop out called Charlotte whose boyfriend plays footy for an Old Collegians club.

You know the one.nedWith all these crimes temporarily excused I’m in the Sports Bar seeking a Coopers XPA, largely as there’s nowhere closer to home with this on tap. As sports bars go this one is fine with screens showing golf, cricket replays and the thoroughbreds from Hawkesbury and Quirindi. On the other side there’s a mega-wall of betting screens and some burly high-vis blokes.

As is law in this country there’s that one cove in the bar, sans hygiene and base-level socialisation who, despite the early hour, has already been here too long. Wandering about aimlessly he invariably glances and blinks at me, and wobbles over as in his fuddled head it’s time for a chat. Oh, here he comes.

No use putting my head down and avoiding eye-contact. It must be my deodorant. Well, at least his fly is up and on his upper thigh he’s not sporting a dinner-plate sized pee mark.

He belongs to another era, particularly the one before the Highway was renovated when, even around 5 bells on a Friday, the front bar was as dark as a Thai cave and a grizzled and aproned butcher squatted at a table, sold cubes of cheese and slices of mettwurst and handed over your happy hour tucker on actual butchers’ paper. This was before butchers’ paper was hijacked by every clueless conference convenor and it became a toxic weed along with housekeeping, plenaries and parking lots.

pub front

The Coopers XPA?

Colossally disappointing. Taking a spot adjacent to the bar with my undersized, overpriced glass, I took a sip. Nothing on the front palate. Pause. Nothing on the middle palate. Another awkward pause. Expecting a late rush of taste and flavour and Coopers yum from the back palate I still found nothing.

I acknowledge that at 5.2% it is more Ali than featherweight, but the XPA seems to have pipe-cleaners for arms, and not guns.

Old mate Puggy then joined me, and instantly confirmed my dismal analysis. We had been promised a lumpy V8, like a Brock Commodore, all throaty and snarling up a country straight, but instead were piloting an insipid sedan. With bald tyres.

Highway2016

The previous Coopers release was Session Ale, and it was sun and joy and tropics. A golden splash of fun, and reggae straight in ya gob. It has proved to be a hit, like a Beatles’ tune from their Rubber Soul era.

Coopers XPA is the song that came 17th in Eurovision 1987, but without the charm, longevity and ridiculous applause from the irradiated Ukrainians.

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Finally, a beer review

 

sparko

Good art is evocative. It jumps on the individual and transports them elsewhere. Gee, even bad art can have you skipping across the planet.

Can beer be art too? Of course. It functions like a frothy time machine. Or something like this.

One afternoon I went on a little holiday, while sitting on our modest patio. Here’s my travel diary courtesy of the following fun refreshments.

Chang

On Boxing Day 2005 we arrived in Bangkok from London. Having survived part or whole of three shadowy English winters meant the Thai heat was monstrous. Like the black monolith in Kubrick’s 2001, it governs the landscape (and the moonscape).

Late morning, we took a boat along the Chao Phraya river, pausing at various Buddhist sites, and marvelling at the coconuts, bobbling in the brown water. When thirst conquered tourism we moored at a floating restaurant for a drink, and such was the hotness and absurd humidity that we demolished a squadron of large Chang bottles.

It’s a pale lager with a straw hue, and while it’s not bursting with personality and stories, it’s crisp and refreshing in a functional way, like an old Casio calculator. It’ll never MC your best mate’s wedding.

Our session was brisk and energetic, and soon there was a phalanx of green bottles on the table, in silent evidence of our stern tropical application. De-camping to Singapore a few years later I learnt that a handful of tinkling ice cubes in a frosty beer glass is no gastronomic crime, in fact it’s medically necessary.

With the sun slipping into the Andaman Sea and your green chicken curry steaming on the Ko Lanta table, a Chang is gorgeously contextualised. Don’t forget. Chang means elephant.

Tsingtao Beer

Gee, we’re all now situated within an Asian century and like Roy and HG, I find it tremendously exciting. This pilsner was originally brewed under the mythical German Purity Laws in a joint Chinese/ Bavarian operation. These enigmatic ideals are now abandoned and rice is an ingredient, but it works in a happy, meaningless pre-season fixture fashion.

Like an episode of Have You Been Paying Attention? it’s fun and compelling at the time, but in the morning, you’ll recollect little of it. However, this is fine. Live a little and ignore the cultural import.

Tsingtao attends to its easy drinking brief with a casual nod to the grandstand as the chestnut conveyance strides past the post in an early spring Group 3 race over, say, 1600 metres. It’s pale, golden in the glass and unlikely to inspire a revolution, cultural or military. While I enjoyed it, at no stage did I hear Communism barking in my ear as I supped. I should’ve listened to Little Feat’s “A Apolitical Blues” to allow beer and art to mingle in that deathless, exotic exchange-

Well my telephone was ringing

And they told me it was chairman Mao

 

Well my telephone was ringing

And they told me it was chairman Mao

Coopers Sparkling Ale

At the end of a holiday, even a lager-themed trip, it’s good to come home. And so, we look at the mighty CSA, as I’m confident it’s not known in the trade. In my coterie, it’s a Sparko although this familiar, friendly nomenclature disguises a dark truth.

Kids: this is not a session beer. The graveyard is clunking with the skeletons of those who fought it, and lost.

Sparkling ale speaks with preternatural eloquence. I tell you, every bottle bursts with Jack Nicholson, the Velvet Underground and ultimately, Hemingway from his tiny Spanish bar. As an aspirational product, it’s looking down fondly upon us all from its Nepalese retreat.

It presents with citrus, cereal, ferment, danger, sex, death. It can be eaten with a fork. Avoid it at breakfast, especially if you’ve booked a duel with a mortal enemy. But taken moderately, in the late autumnal sun, it’s invigorating and celebratory.

After three circumspect sips, you’ll possess the wit of former Australian PM, Paul Keating who once described the performance of a parliamentary foe as “like being flogged with a warm lettuce.”

Coopers Sparkling Ale is huge like Merv Hughes in his twilight, but under the hum and roar of a party, it leans in and whispers conspiratorially, “Can you believe our good fortune to live where we do?”

And you smile in that reflective way while sort of staring into the middle distance and think yep, that’s fecking true.

bangkok