Scratch This

Listen all of y’all this is sabotage! Listen all of y’all this is sabotage! Apparently this popular Beastie Boys song was on repeat all day last Thursday at The Scratch, craft beer bar extraordinaire, in preparation for the Yeastie Boys event held that evening.

Spell Check is on mind you. That reads Yeastie Boys, the boutique New Zealand brewery specializing in taste bud exploding, nostril flaring nip.  Brew master Stu made a pit stop in good ole Brissy, somewhere he hasn’t been since the late 80’s, to share with us beer loving folk a tale or two to compliment his flavorful science experiments.

Now picture yourself in a basement. Start with four walls, hanging from are oddities like a horned animal skull set above an unpolished piano and an oversized old-school brass record player speaker cut in half. Now, in the far corner add in your grandmothers chez lounge, only it’s been in the garage unused for a few years. Then there is the green couch from your Aunt Myrtle’s tea room, complete with a plush velvet finish. A makeshift table is made from a solo snare drum; don’t tap too loud now. Toward the back of the room a miniature Asian table sits about two feet from the floor, with tiny chairs to go around it, to give your back an awesome hunch.

This is no basement. It sure feels like one to me though. You know, like where you hung out as a teenager sneaking beers and talking gossip with your friends. (Mine was actually a shed out back of a friend’s house, instead of underground but you get the point). The place gives you a sense of…I feel good, I’m with my friends, this furniture has seen its day, good times!

This is the best new bar to hit Brisbane, and of all unsuspecting suburbs, Milton. Upon walking in you’re greeted by what can only seem like old time buds, three dear friends who opened the place just a few months back, with a sampler of what’s on tap today. See that’s how it works here, there’s no fancy nitrogen tap system installed by big name distributers. The boys themselves wheel in the kegs of local microbrews from the alley out back, hook them up to one of the four taps, and when they go, they’re gone. Scratch one off the list and bring in another! I mean, that’s what the chalk board is for, right?

Clearly this is the new local for obvious reasons.

The Scratch

The boys were selling tickets to the Yeastie Boys event weeks in advance, and for $35 we couldn’t refuse their beer loving enticement.  The ticket included 5 healthy samples of Yeastie Boys offerings, including a surprise beer on the newly installed hand pump, in addition to a full crisp beer on arrival. Add to the fact that the boys were around making sure our complimentary shelled peanuts, a Scratch staple, we’re fully filled in between rounds of local cheeses being shared throughout the bar. They’re smart these boys, they’re cute too, but they’re damn smart.

The beer on arrival was the American style, super hoppy, Digital IPA from the tap, and so I was shocked when the first beer of the tasting was the Pot Kettle Black from a bottle. This delicious black IPA, or what others would describe as a hoppy porter, is Yeastie Boys’ biggest seller, bringing in 50% of sales. Mmmm, it’s fantastic, but why so dark so fast? What I had no idea in advance was that Stu himself had received hate mail in response to some of his brews being so alarmingly potent, and therefore, we were starting with the easy stuff. Yikes! I’m glad another advantage of this place is that you can bring in outside food, and with the number of takeaway joints lining Park Road, arriving early to snag a seat and munch down on some Thai was a good choice.

A quick rinse of our glasses and we moved on to the Red Rackham, named after the first movie Stu took his son to go see, which was a fruity Belgian style. You’ll notice a theme of pop culture reference to many of the brew’s names. This was a limited release, and more or less only exists because the wrong yeast was added to an already established beer they were trying to brew, however in the end they got this. Muah, it’s good. Stu tells us New Zealander brewers are more experimental then Australians. As he said this statement, I looked around the crowded bar as I was curious if anyone had taken offense.

Stu from Yeastie Boys telling us what we need to know

In between nibbles of goat cheese, oh my gosh, I question people who don’t know the value in a delicious goat cheese; we transitioned to His Majesty 2011. Served out of a magnum bottle, only one batch of both His and Her Majesty are brewed a year, and His is a more traditional, English IPA, more mild then the American style IPAs that tend to lean heavily on the hops.

It’s about time to get serious. And I mean serious. Up until this very moment, even the boys at The Scratch didn’t know what the mysterious beer in the hand pump was. It was about to be revealed, and I was a bit apprehensive. Whew, thank god the fresh Brie made its way around because holy tomato! All of 50 patrons, which is 10 people less than capacity mind you, however fit into the bar quite comfortably, lined up at the tap to get their taste of Rex Attitude. Even at first pour the smell, whew, the smell, made its way around the bar. To quote dear friend Jacqui, “if a hospital tasted like beer, it would taste like this”.

Aged for 12 months in a chardonnay barrel, the beer itself was only 7% alcohol however is made from 100% pure peated malts. It’s definitely an acquired taste. Interestingly enough though, the final beer of the night was the Imperial Rex; still had the potent, medicinal touch however was more drinkable, at least to me. It was obvious that the two were so intense, yet different enough from each other, that typically one will have a clear preference of one over the other. I think my nostrils still have that stench lingering on them.

The Outcome

So that was it, another great evening at The Scratch and a successful event that has inspired more like it to come. For those that could actually swallow down the Rex Attitude they were encouraged to drink the keg dry, awesome for them. I just can’t wait to see what gets put on the hand pump next. It took longer then I would have liked, but am damn happy to have found a place to call my local.

Say It Ain’t So

The existence of tomato sauce flavored chips is about as foreign to me as tomato sauce flavored chips. Gross! Apparently lots of things come in tomato sauce, aka ketchup, flavor.

I just found this new delicious restaurant slash craft beer bar not too far from my apartment called Bitter Suite. Beers are awesome, and expensive, and awesome. Yum Sunshine Coast Brewery Porter! Also, the food ain’t too shabby. Pork belly with succulent crackle, mmm whah (like a smack on the tip of your fingers). I just returned from there. Love that the owner recognized me and my love for Porter’s from a few weeks back. Yeah girlfriend.

I fly to New York in less than one week from today. I was hoping my killer tan would impress everyone, I’m not sure if it’s so killer anymore. I was told to not forget my roots when inquiring about how freezing the temperature actually is. Damn’it, its freezing! Back to the beach. Not sure if I can squeeze a last minute sesh in, however would like to point out that the last two occasions I was at the beach, my bathing suit bottoms, known in Aussie slang as togs, were on inside out. Twice! Yes, twice I’ve been lazily tanning and minding my tanning business to have someone point out, “Oh hey dude, you know your bottoms are on inside out!” Uh…twice, really?!?!

There is a rule many folk may be familiar with which states “no shirt, no shoes, no service”. I would like to tell you that that rule does not apparently apply in Australia. No shirt, no problem. Boys don’t wear shirts, a lot. Actually, if they do, it’s probably a singlet, which is what they call a tank top. Which I hear only Californian surfer boys wear, and FYI no one on the US East coast would ever be caught dead in. There is also a tendency to not wear shoes. Like a lot, again. Most often I see this in grocery stores. Service is all of a different standard, so no problem.

I’m back in time a bit, but as the much anticipated Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I was released, I was pleasantly entertained at the Blue Room Cinebar in Rosalie, a cute suburb crawling with eateries of all cuisine and alfresco seating, displaying much cuteness in every direction (apparently I’m not one with words this evening). Anyways, Blue Room, tickets cost an appreciated $11 in advance, they have a swinging bar to socialize in before the show, and you order bevies and food prior to taking your assigned seat in the small 50 person theatre and they feed you as you watch the movie. Another wine? Press the button and it magically appears while I stare into Edward Cullen’s dreamy eyes and imagine running my hands through his bouffant.

In the US there is this fabulous reality TV show called Beauty and the Geek where they pair “beauties” of super hot chicks who aren’t meant to be fairly intellectually challenged with even the basics of life, with a “geek” who has most likely never a kissed a girl and is unaware of pop culture phenomenon’s. Heaven must love TV series creators! They were smart enough to run Season 2 of Beauty and the Geek Australia, thank G, and although it has expired I had intentions of blogging about its addictive nature months ago, as the Geeks got sweet makeovers and all the sudden turned hot. Just saying, download that for some amusing entertainment, hello Gilly!

Spike, the damn lizard who has lots of relatives that sprawl all over Brisbane, is technically a Goanna. Just thought everyone should know.

While working in Hoboken, New Jersey from 2007 to 2011 my local bar was called The Dubliner. It was an Irish pub that served awesome cole slaw till the management changed and annoyingly took the cole slaw off the menu. I would just say to Ben, the bartender, side of slaw and Yeungling please! And could sit there for hours. Things changed over the years, but that was the gist of it.

The “pub” next to my work now is called The Coro. There is no weekly Thursday HH (happy hour) like there was in Hoboken, but on the occasion that we do go there all bottled beers are only $5, even deliciousness like Leffe. The toilets are see-through until you press the lock, then it goes cloudy so people can’t see you doing your business. These are the vast differences of the Dubliner verses the Coro. I still secretly favor the Dubliner in the old days, where you could sit there with a pint of Guinness by yourself and listen to the Fratellis. Luckily a new boutique beer bar called Scratch just opened in the Milton neighborhood that may soon to be the Coro replacement.

I’m going to quote my friend Anthony who said at the Coro “I’m pretty sure Australia created the plastic currency that’s now used around the world, except in America because your money is made from paper.” Have a think about that.