Conversion Beers 3 – Chris and his few shillings
Chris comes to us as a home brew blogger over at the Beer That Men Made. He’s managed to enjoy a variety of great craft beer around the world but has now settled in Melbourne to perpetually explore their awesome craft beer scene.
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 Chris’ conversion beer.
I guess for me the conversion to craft beer was a long process. And I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a full convert. I still enjoy a can of Melbourne Bitter, sitting in the sun, on a hill, looking at a view. Or a pot of draught, in a dingy Melbourne pub, with a quiet durrie and a moment to myself. I know this news will be about as pleasing to readers as a bottle of Corona with a slice of lemon, but sometimes a Corona with a … no … I can’t go that far. Corona is shite!
I have a fondness for beer, and a quiet appreciation for all sorts, styles and flavours. Except Corona. And VB. Never liked that stuff.
And I guess that’s where it started. When, as a youth, everyone around me was drinking VB, and I was looking for something else. I couldn’t stand the stuff. Still can’t. There’s something about it’s sickly, syrupy, sappiness that just grates my palate. Can’t stomach it!
So, as an 18 (16) year old, I went looking for something else.
I spent some time in Melbourne, and London, and a quiet town in Scotland called Crainlarich, and I slowly developed a taste for something with a bit more substance and body and finesse. I tried bitters such as “Bishop’s Tipple”. I enjoyed big bottles of Newky Brown. I went to Dublin and had the best pint of Guinness I’ll probably ever have. But in Scotland, dear Scotland, I found a beer called 70 Shilling. And my love for real beer was cemented.
70 Shilling holds a special place in the pubs of Scotland. Often, and in times past, it was a brew made in-house. The publican would whip up a batch out the back and sell it to the punters out front. If it was low in alcohol and quite crappy, he would sell it for 60 shillings. The good stuff, the wee heavy, would cost 80 shillings, The one I liked only cost 70 shillings. But by the time I got to Scotland a pint of it cost two pounds. Damn you, Maggie Thatcher!
It took a while for me to move into the craft beer styles. I spent many years jumping around different types of lager. Back home in Melbourne, lager was still pretty much the beer of choice. But not my choice. I liked Coopers! I loved Gunniess! But I pined for 70 Shilling. I needed flavour and variety and something else. Something else.
And then came my friend Mick. With his impeccable palate, his adventurous spirit, and his questionable taste in music. It was a camping trip to Fraser Island and the bugger had managed to sneak into the backpack a whole case of different IPAs. As well as porters and stouts and Pale Ales and Ambers. But mostly IPAs. I guess this must be a recurring theme with a lot of craft beer drinkers. That it was an IPA that converted us. But with me, it certainly was a turning point.
And so now I brew my own. I try to imitate and mimic the great IPAs, but with little success. There’s something about the hops that just grabs you and makes you want more. I want more. In fact, I want a beer now