the ablution block

28 February 2009

Sonny Lennox McKinlay

Born 11.45am on 26/02/2009. 4.04kg. Another strapping young lad, with a good set of lungs, a healthy appetite, and what is shaping up like an excellent ability to sleep. He's a bit like Frankie and Ted before him but, as Granny McGoff often said, "He's like himself".

Sonny, here you finally are - completing our family, we're looking forward to growing up with you and your big brothers. Here's tae us...

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22 December 2008

Never A Dull Moment - w/Ted

Never A Dull Moment - w/Frankie

29 September 2008

Welcome Home Dad

It seems like a year ago that I cycled around South East Queensland with Dad and Graeme... This was my welcome home from Ted. And coming soon is Frankie's greeting, which I interpret as something along the lines of "Draw me a purple helicopter!".
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23 August 2008

Yeastie Boys are go!

Pot Kettle Black, coming soon.
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09 August 2008

The Anatomy of a Party

Stu and Fritha's annual birthday bash... 28/06/2008, Wigtoft... 20-odd people, half a dozen curries, more rice than you can carry and two homebrewed beers on the engines (as well as four other homebrews in the bottle). The intervalometer on my camera was set up to take a picture every three minutes. It's a nice way to check whether you have spread your love (and to double-check who helped with the dishes - thanks Brendon and John).

Next year and L-shaped table, 30-odd people and more homebrew. Any suggestions on a food theme?

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Yeastie Boys ' Pot Kettle Black'

Pot Kettle Black brew day, at Invercargill Brewery on 27/07/2008. Sam Possenniskie, Stu McKinlay and Invercargill's owner/brewer Steve Nally. The first beer for Yeastie Boys and we couldn't have done it with a better brewer and host.

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29 July 2008

Beer Matching Dinner, Invercargill

A democratic order of preference, from left to right, and an excellent showing from the only local beer - a Twisted Hop Epiphany (not sure if this bottle was last years vintage, now knowns as Enigma, or the first one from 2006). The two Russian Imperial Stouts weren't up to the mark - soy sauce to the left and glue to the right).

From left to right: Rogue Imperial IPA, Twisted Hop Epiphany, Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Murray's Grand Cru, Struise Pannepot Reserva, Westvleteren 12, Struise-Mikkeller Elliot Brew, Eugene City Honey Orange Wheat, Harvey's Imperial Extra Double Stout, Invercargill tap water, Durham Temptation.

The next day I brewed 1200L of my favourite recipe, with my favourite New Zealand brewer - Steve Nally of Invercargill Brewery. My ratebeer days are over, it ain't right to be brewing and rating.

Coming soon - Yeastie Boy's 'Pot Kettle Black' American-style porter...

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23 July 2008

Yeastie Boys

23 May 2008

Cuzzy bro's

The apostrophe stops it rhyming with moss.
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29 March 2008

Wilco -Opera House, Wellington, March 24th 2008.

An amazing gig, perfect in every way, from the opening of Sunken Treasure to the smokin' ten minute plus encore of Spiders. Loud, thoroughly engaging, organised noise. These guys swept everyone away for two hours.

I can't quite find the words to express how good this incarnation of Wilco is, and I'm certainly not qualified to give any technical appraisal, but it was far and away the most amazing live performance - of any kind - that I've ever seen (thankfully, given it was my most eagerly anticipated also). I feel lucky to have been there.

Reviews of the performance can be found here, here and here.

After The Party

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Hide 'n' Seek

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Seatoun Swings

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24 December 2007

June Beer of the Month: Downton Chimera IPA

Not a lot of notes from June. I'm not sure what I was up to but, I guess, it didn't involve much drinking. Perhaps I was brewing a bit back then, who knows...

Although I tasted some interesing Saisons (possibly the world's most disputed style), it was a classic English IPA that stood out... Downton's Chimera IPA:
Tasted 01/06/2007. 500ml bottle, Rumble’s. Left to vent for a couple of hours, after some pretty volcanic strong English ales in the past. Just on the pale side of golden. Creamy white head tries hard, but doesn’t stand at chance at this alcohol level (though that might be a different story if it wasn’t cellar temp). Citrus and stonefruit blossom hops fill the nose at first, followed by a rich pale malt character that is slightly caramelly and certainly a little minerally. Warming alcohol becomes prominent. In the mouth it’s richly malty, with a strong sappy, almost steely, hop character. More mineral notes again, with a prominent fruity ester and alcohol character. Quite warming. Intensely bitter. Lingering. Did I say lingering? Barley sugars make an appearance at this stage too, hidden amongst the tongue-scraping bitterness.. A great beer to introuduce the concept of bitterness and a classic English IPA in my opinion. If DAB is the ex-girlfriend who remains your friend, this is the mate that nobody quite appreciates. Damn it’s bitter! (4.1/5.0).

Beer geek 'Stonch' (who kindly - and unknowingly -supplied the pic) backgrounds the Downton brewery, briefly, and agrees with the overall summation of the product. Very interesting, for you kiwis, is that the Downtown brewhouse is run by a brewer with a background at Hop Back and Fuller's. Colin Paige - head brewer of iconic New Zealand brewery Mac's - comes from the exact same pedigree.

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21 December 2007

May Beer of the Month: Murray's Imperial Stout

By May we had Ted sleeping through the night and I was beggining to recatch my hankering for the fermented one.

Jacqui Thomson, our good friend and the sister of wine writer Joelle, visited with a fist full of treats (Jacqui always comes with a bunch of interesting Australian craft beers and a good wine or two). Knappstein Reserve Lager stood out - the best use of Nelson Sauvin I've come across, thus far, and the single best Australian beer I'd tasted at that point.

Our other good friend Martin Bennett, of Twisted Hop fame, came to stay also. Martin was the driving force behind BrewNZ 2007 and - as a very generous man indeed - also tends to always bring a nice bag of surprises with him. Poplar Brown was the best of many goodies.

However, two tastings of an Imperial Stout were the highlights of my tasting month. The first was at a BJCP tasting at Brendon's, and the other was an excellent Imperial Stout tasting at Kieran's. The beer, which technically shoots wide of the Imperial Stout style (probably the hottest style amongst beer geeks at present), was on of the biggest surprises of my year. An Australian beer, brewed by a New Zealand brewer. Without further ado, I present Murray's Imperial Stout:
Tasted 31/05/2007. 750ml champagne-style bottle, steward’s choice from BrewNZ. Very lively, upon opening a light tan head comes foaming out of the bottle. Almost black, probably not quite as dark as a classic Imperial Stout. Nor is it as roasty or as hoppy... but wow!.... this is a really great beer. Cherry esters and woody notes play on the nose. Winy esters and rich malt characters are very well integrated in the mouth, where it’s less roasty than you’d expect. The finish is exceptionally smooth, with lingering fruit and malt sweetness. I ended up savouring it too much to take many notes. A string quartet, perhaps even a full orchestra, next to the screeching guitar solo of Pink’s Imperious Russian Stowt. I’ve got to get my hands on more from these guys. Keep it up guys. (4.2/5.0).

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April Beer of the Month: O'Hanlon's Royal Oak

Way back in April I was sleep deprived, and spending more time thinking about beer than actually tasting it. What I did taste (the likes of Kilkenny, Export Dry and a couple of Sam Adam's fruit beers) was about as appealing as getting up for Ted's midnight feeds.

One beer stood proudly - head, shoulders and beef-bellied torso above the rest: O'Hanlon's Royal Oak, a splendidly complex ESB.

I remember how tired I was in April (I'm almost that tired again now) and, frankly, I'm amazed that I had the capacity to actually string a senctence together. (note: real writers may suggest I've not quite achieved anything worthy of being called a sentence).

Anyway, here is my Royal Oak experience:
Tasted 26/04/2007. 500ml bottle from Rumble’s, Wellington. Pours an almost bright Doc Marten Cherry Red, with a very light tan airy head. Delightfully fruity nose: raisiny port notes mingle with a sweet whiff of lemonade. A hint of caramel, especially in the empty glass. Very soft in the mouth, and quite light, with just a touch of barley sweetness, more fruity esters and a toasty dry finish. Oaky notes linger on the palate, and I’m not pulling your leg here! Bitterness is very subdued, hop flavour almost non-existent besides a mild peppery spice. This one has really stood up to the travel and the shelf time. Excellent ESB, with all the complexity of a good single malt whisky. It really makes me want to have another look at their Port Stout.

I have since re-looked at the Port Stout but not yet actually got it to my lips. Sometime soon... perhaps?

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18 November 2007

March Beer of the Month: Duchesse de Bourgogne

March seems like a lifetime ago - and it was for Ted (see 8 month old Ted, in punk pose, below). It's been that long since I took time to write a Beer of the Month.
Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne, with it's classic Flemish "Golden Age" painting label that hints at something very special inside the small 25cl bottle, was the beer of that month. How I didn't head straight to the computer to tell the world, nobody knows. Not only was it the beer of the month, it is most likely my beer of the year (don't stop visiting just yet tohught, the SOBA Homebrew Championship may well come up with something to trump it).

Here's my thoughts, as posted on RateBeer:
Tasted 24/03/2007. 25cl bottle from Rumble’s, Wellington. 6.2%. Sour cherry aroma, a touch of brett mustiness and oak. Lacy light tan head sits firm atop this ruddy garnet coloured ale. Lots of fruity, cherry-like fruit sweetness and sugar up front with lovely sour and astringent balance - a touch of oaky astringency cuts through first, followed by a lingering, yet mild, 9-volt acidic fruit bite. Sourness tingles between mouthfeels. A little sweetness lingers the longest. Balanced and very drinkable. Excellent beer. Before, during or after dinner... but probably not for breakfast. Re-tasted at a Sour Ale study session on 03/05/2007. The standout beer of the evening. Outstanding beer with hints of fruitcake crusts and a sublimely complex balance of sweet, sour and tannic astringency. Upped a point each for every aspect (4.4/5.0).

As a nice confirmation of my own excitement, the Duchesse was comfortably the highest scoring beer at any session of this year's Wellington BJCP group tastings (if I remember rightly, all judges were in the high 40's out of 50).

The brewery's low-key website, here, looks informative but is hardly worth visiting unless you read Dutch.
I wrote a little more on De Bourgogne in my fortnightly piece on 'Not PC'. However, my limited writing ability and palate can't fully express how great this beer is. It is as well-crafted as any drink you could ever taste, and it's well under $10 a bottle.
If my recommendation is not enough:
Else, try it for yourself (in stock at Regional Wines and Spirits right now).
What else did I like in March:
Slainte mhath

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14 November 2007

New Wave Punk

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04 November 2007

Beer Belly Debunked

Don't believe the hype. Wikipedia, the BBC and countless other websites are on my side: the "beer belly" does not exist. I drink approximately a litre of beer per day, and I've not got one. Perhaps it's something to do with all that beef and butter that other people eat, or - heaven forbid - all the wine they drink?

Milla Jovovich, and the press in general, isn't doing the cause any good. I never believe the press anyway.

From now on, I'll call it a "Beef Belly".

For a list of research pointing out all the positives I already know - that beer is good for you - visit the friendly folk at Hallertau brewpub. They've done all the leg work for you and make a few pretty decent beers on the side.

ps. anyone who knows me, and can pick what is missing in the above photo, will win a free ticket to the SOBA National Homebrew Championship Awards Party.

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