Conversion Beers 9 – First of the first
Mikey joins us from Beer With Mikey and We Make Homebrew. Although not a regular writer for Brew in Review, he’s always been here in spirit, one to bounce ideas off, and always one to make home brew with. Mikey has the honour of naming the Home Brew Couch, and is a regular fixture on said couch. Thanks Mikey for contributing and always being part of the crew.
This article is part of an ongoing series about “conversion beers” – the story of getting hooked on great craft beer. To see all articles, go here.
This is Mikey’s Conversion Beer
For those who know me now it’s hard to believe that I didn’t enjoy beer for a very long time. I grew up in a household where wine was the choice of drink, just after tea. The focus on good quality wine was so important that family holidays tended to coincide with visiting wine regions. Plenty of wine at home. There was also a good small range of spirits, but no beer.
It wasn’t until university that I started trying beer. It started small with only a few beers here and there in my first year. Only at the end of my first year of Uni that I really started drinking beer. It was during an Archaeology dig in Cyprus from start of November to end of December. The wine was horrible. The spirits were akin to paint stripper. Then there was beer which was amazingly cheap, especially when you return the empty bottles. Needless to say there was a lot of beer consumed. That became a theme for the many Archaeology digs that followed. I remember one dig in Tasmania, between a group of around six people we drank about a pallet of beer in three weeks!
For a few years beer was the cheap and tasteless alcoholic drink. That all changed in 2003. I heard about a new and very expensive beer from Cascade Brewery in Tasmania. I had discovered their four season range from Cascade: Autumn Amber, Winter Warmer (dark wheat beer), Spring Fest (Bavarian helles style lager) and Summer Blonde. There was beer with taste, and a range of them! But then came Cascade First Harvest which blew them all away.
Cascade First Harvest was a clear example of what a hop driven beer was all about. Fresh, full flavour, fruity, touch of grass and bitterness all rolled into one beer you could drink in your own home! Sure it was double the price of their other beers, and pretty much every other beer in the shops. That didn’t stop me spending all I could on this tasty brew. I would hoard it for myself, unless there was someone else who would enjoy and appreciate it.
As limited yearly release this was a hard beer to get your hands on. May, when it came out was easy enough if you knew which bottle shops to go to. By late July it started getting very hard and required visits to multiple store to locate some. From around October it was almost impossible to find, leaving six months to wait for the next batch.
Cascade First Harvest was the beer that really opened me up to what beer could be. Flavorsome and enjoyable. It’s not a beer that I get each year anymore. The recipe changes as they try different hops. Maybe I’ve changed a bit too, because it doesn’t taste as good as I remember. That said, I still think fondly and will never forget it as a turning point to discover many new beers.
Oh look, it’s nearly May. Might be time to go back to an old friend when it comes out…