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Words by Annie Davis
 
 

It’s so hard to pick a nerd these days. Horn-rimmed glasses and tight pants once got you winched headfirst over a flushing toilet but now they bump you straight to the top of the coolness food chain on the street style pages. At a time when it’s never before been so hip to be square, it’s comforting to know there is still a particular breed of nerd still out there. Not the kind of nerd you might find at a computer swap-meet or larping in a public park but in a place you’d least expect – the pub.

Indistinguishable from other patrons, this type of nerd can be difficult to spot but there are some tell-tale signs. It might be the way they ask the bartender about the precise temperature of the beer lines before their pint is poured. It could be the way they dangle their nose over their brew, taking a contemplative whiff before they swill a mouthful around in their mouths. They may give themselves away by muttering words like “prominent banana and clove flavours” or “a definite caramel malt presence with a lovely crisp dry finish” at the end of the round.

Beer nerds know their hops from their malt, their pilsner from their pale ale and their Marzen from their Munich Dunkel. A beer nerd might be a friend, relative or someone you know: the one who gets a little tear in their eye when you admit you don’t know the first thing about the difference between ale and lager. 

 
 

In an effort to better understand the beer nerd, I took myself off to a Beerista 101 night at the Local Taphouse – the beer nerd equivalent of a Star Trek convention. Held weekly, Beerista 101 started up in early 2010 as means of educating the masses about the basics of beer brewing and refining their palates through tastings of the highest quality beers from boutique breweries across Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

Our beerista for the night was Ange – a self-confessed beer nerd hailing from New Zealand whose love of beer brought her to Australia to join the Local Taphouse fold. Undergoing hours of study under the tutelage of the Taphouse each month, Ange and the other beeristas work hard to maintain their colossal amount of beer knowledge in their giant beer brains. Beerista 101 is night where Ange to can share her expertise with beer enthusiasts and persuade the less enthusiastic that there’s more to beer than what’s on offer at your average drinking-hole.

The class began with a nice crisp pilsner as Ange passed around different samples of malt to sniff. I started to understand something of the beer nerd lingo as I recognised aromas of coffee, burnt toast, chocolate and molasses from each container. Jars of hops were then handed around, one so pungent it smelled like.... pot? Apparently the hops plant is a variant of cannabis, Ange tells us – another little known fact only a beer nerd would know.

 
 

To get even nerdier, what’s fascinating about Ange’s rundown on the history of beer is how inextricably the humble brew is intertwined with human history. It could even be the reason why you find yourself sitting on a couch right now instead of running around living a nomadic existence out of a tee-pee. Some scientific types even argue that it was not bread but beer that led early man to start domesticating wild grasses, develop agriculture, settle on the land, build villages, towns and houses with couches to sit and contemplate whether that is, in fact, a beer you are holding or whether that beer holds you (or maybe that’s just the extra-fragrant hops talking).

As we finished up our half glass of pilsner it was time for a rundown on the Pale Ale and its more exotic (and supposedly more intoxicating) sister: the India Pale Ale. First brewed in the 1800s, the India Pale Ale or (IPA) was brewed with a higher hops and alcohol content to survive shipment to the colonies. To the pleasant surprise of those on the receiving end, the beer arrived in pristine condition and reportedly got its colonial masters sozzled much faster than the average ale.

 
 

Next up was a comparison of the German and Belgian wheat beers. Ange tells us the German variety has more prominent banana and clove flavours whereas the Belgian is traditionally spicier, with brewers known to add a hint of coriander and orange peel to the brew. We nodded sagely, trying to conceal the fact that after four very generously portioned tasting glasses, we might just be a little bit too tipsy to notice the difference. It was comforting to be served a porter as the final tasting to give us something intelligent to say. “Darker, isn’t it?” Ange nodded patiently and gave us a short dissertation on the history of porter as a dark brown, malt driven ale which was then made into stout beer, an offshoot with even darker-roasted malt.

Besides being excellent value at $15 a head, Beerista 101 gives you the chance to sample some phenomenal beers from the myriad of boutique brews the Local Taphouse has on offer. You even get to order yourself another pint of your favourite brew from the tasting after class as a reward for raising your beer IQ. But when you find yourself referring to your tasting notes as you animatedly discuss the amber hue of your pint of Marzen with the beer nerd next to you, you’ll realise there’s no going back – you are now one of them.

 
 

WHAT’S YOUR BEER I.Q???

1. When was the first beer ever brewed?

a) 600 AD           
b) 6,000 BC

2. Where was the first beer ever brewed?

a) Iraq
b) Ireland

3. What is the name of the goddess of beer?

a) Shaz
b)Ninkasi

4. Who saint is a patron saint of beer brewing?

a) St Nicholas
b) St Patrick     

5. Which American President proclaimed every troop receive a quart of beer with his daily rations?

a) George Washington
b) George W. Bush

6. Who is quoted as saying “He was a wise man who invented beer.”

a) Plato
b) Rodney Dangerfield     

7. Which country first brewed the pilsner style of beer?

a) Germany     
b) Czechoslovakia

8. Which type of beer is made with a bottom-fermenting yeast?

a) Lage
b) Ale

9. Which ingredient creates the alcohol content in beer?

a) Hops
b) Yeast

10. Which month is the beer Marzen meant to be brewed in?

a) May
b )March

 

Answers:
B, a, b, a, a, a, b, a, b, b

Score
8-10:            Certified beer nerd
4-7:            Beer nerd tendencies which could get worse over time
1-4:            Clueless and in desperate need of beerista guidance

Beerista nights held weekly at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst, Sydney and St Kilda, Melbourne

For more info, head to www.thelocal.com.au

 

 
 
 
Words by Melissa Kuttan
 
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Steam punk is the term that sprang to mind as I walked through the doors of Naked for Satan and took in a scene straight out of a Miyazaki animation or some other steam energy-based, neo-Victorian science fiction alter-era. I rather enjoy Urban Dictionary's definition of steam punk as “what the future would look like if it happened sooner.” Melbourne’s Euchronia Ball should be advised: there is no venue more perfect than the golden, brassy bowels of Naked for Satan to stage a steam punk ball.

Naked for Satan is named after its urban myth and Fitzroy legend, Leon Satanovich, who allegedly distilled vodka in heats so incendiary, it induced him to be rather naked. The venue does resemble some sort of enormous copper pot distillery in which common steam punk archetypes – dandy aviators, femme fatales, Victorian aristocrats, Japanese lolitas, mad scientists and dirigible captains – could be seen inhabiting. As you time-travels or alt-universe jump through the entrance of this illustrious establishment, your eyes are immediately drawn to the enormous copper boiler stationed in the center of the first main room.  To the left, you can't miss the enormous twinkling bejeweled bar, featuring a feast of scrumptious aromatic pintxos (pronounced pinchos) arranged buffet-style. But don't you dare call it a buffet, a bartender warned me coyly – they're a little bit above that here.

 

 

Despite the openness of its ample space, Naked for Satan lacks the minimalist sterility of other new modern bars. Instead, it combines rustic wood and brass tones reminiscent of a cottage kitchen and warm hearth in a distant medieval age. I've been to Naked for Satan both day and night and I would press future attendees to get Naked at nighttime. Like standing on a high hill observing a city lit up at night, you will be dazzled by the sheer magnificence of the glittering bar against the template of the warm copper fixtures.

Leading up from the first room onto another open-plan second level is the lounge area, set off by a corner packed to the ceiling with crates containing light-filled Absolut bottles. You have the choice of high chairs and tables hidden away in a faraway corner by walls festooned with vintage naked exotica or lounge seating, featuring rather peculiar but adorable red squat couches. At your behest, there is an additional level with a small function area in which one can really seclude yourself and your companions away, which is what I did on my intrepid first visit. In the dozy warm lamplight with friends, we schemed and plotted possible steam punk hijinx within Naked For Satan's confines. So easily did Naked For Satan's olden day charm and aromatic character hold sway over our imaginations (as did a few glasses of red wine).

 

 

Naked is, in essence, a vodka and pintxos bar and besides their infused vodkas I cannot effuse more over Naked for Satan’s pintxos. At $2 a piece and a stunning $0.50 during the day (although I fear this may be just an opening week special) and with a gourmet array to threaten any ole tapas bar, it is well worth the trip alone. Pintxos does sound alarmingly complex but really, it is simply a piece of delicious French bread sprinkled with opulently arranged toppings. My recommendations? Everything seafood, the eggplant and the mushroom. However, avoid the pea mush at all costs. Not a fan. 

I've yearned for something new and different on Brunswick Street for some time and it is definitely that, I probably frightened other bar-goers and the passing bouncers with my glee as I scampered about examining every little thing like a kid in a steam-powered candy factory. Though I don't know if it feels entirely at home in dear ole Brunnie. Brunswick Street doesn't tend to have the enormous open ample space places like bars or cafes on Chapel might and it’s a tad too new and shiny. Nevertheless, the surrounding themselves are enough to enamor anyone, let alone a hard-sell like me. Throw in some goats cheese, grilled eggplant with honey-glaze pintxos that linger redolently on the tongue forever afterward, and I'm sold.

285 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Melbourne

 

 
 
 
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  I'm not sure if that old school dude Shaggy is cool
or shit, daggy or hip.  And I know,
42 Below came up with The Hurricane Shaggy:
A jamaican flavour cocktail classic.  Well,
I'm not Bombastic so maybe it don't count
but the idea is between 'spastic'
and 'I'd rather sit on a chapstick'.  So..
we get it, Shaggy is turning below 43,
and this is the name of a vodka minus...
something important from his highness Shaggy is
this recipe that we have imported... 
 
 

If you want a drink here is a fucking recipe so make it if it excites you.  Otherwise just drink a great tasting vodka in 42 Below. Maybe have it on ice and maybe someone can put Shaggy on ice as well.  Anyway as you wish...

30mls 42BELOW Pure Vodka
30mls orange juice
45mls pineapple juice
10mls Monin vanilla syrup
10mls sugar syrup (make it yourself by boiling 50:50 mix of caster sugar and water, let it cool and Shaggy’s your uncle)
10mls lime juice
30mls passionfruit pulp

Shake it like this:

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add all ingredients except the passionfruit pulp. Shake and strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Garnish with the passionfruit pulp.

 
 
 
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With an event called Pin Up Your Doodle, it’s hard not to let this mag degenerate into a smut-pit of sleaze. But lower the bar we shall by saying T-Squat loves the doodle – especially when it’s to raise money for Shebeen, Melbourne’s first not-for-profit bar to raise funds for much-needed projects in developing countries.  Opening up a pop-up bar in Melbourne’s CBD last month as part of the fundraising event, 100% of profits went towards set-up costs for Shebeen – the first venue in Australia of its kind where you can feel that little bit better about blowing wads of cash on booze by telling yourself, it’s all for a good cause (hic...)

The concept went a little something like this: open up a bar for three days in the vaults of 673 Bourke Street, bring a bunch of artists and celebs together, get them doodling away and then flog their creative efforts for charity. Even artistically challenged nobodies had their time to shine, with staff at the venue offering up a pen and paper for bar-goers to publicly exhibit their works for the first time since kinder on something other than mum’s fridge.

Now the pop-up bar and auction have been and gone, we catch up with Shebeen master-mind Simon Griffiths on what’s next for this ground-breaking initiative.

 
 

How did Shebeen fare at the doodle auction? Did you raise much coin?

I think everything bar one item sold. I was a bit nervous, it felt like I was selling my house. The auctioneer from Sotheby’s was fantastic, he made the whole thing really fun. It was a great atmosphere to be a part of and everyone there had a really good time.

How did you get Sotheby’s involved?

I think it was just a matter of telling them the story and people kind of jump on it. We’ve been really fortunate, a lot of the time it was just by chance. We were out for dinner with Ben (the auctioneer) one night and we hadn’t met him before, he was a friend of a friend who invited us out and he was talking about art a lot and it came out he was working for Sotheby’s. So we told him what we were planning and he said “do you want an auctioneer for the night?” and we said “yeah, that’d be great!”

How have you managed to get so much support from such a diverse range of people for this project?

A lot of stuff happens from telling people what you’re working on. A lot of people talk about their concepts as being their intellectual property and they’re worried about someone stealing it so they won’t talk about it. But I would say the exact opposite – the secret of our success has been our ability to talk about it and ultimately if people copy what we’re doing then that’s fantastic and a great outcome. We‘re certainly not worried about the idea being stolen, there’s all sorts of great opportunities that can come out of it.

 
 

Do you think it helps having a concept that’s altruistic, rather than motivated by profit?

If it was a for-profit concept we’d probably be going about it quite differently – but it’d probably be much easier to raise the money because we could point to the financial return that people would be earning – that’s one of the hardest things. We’re essentially looking for philanthropists who are keen to change the way philanthropy takes place in Australia and around the world, as opposed to people who can make a buck out of what we’re doing

Whose doodle got highest bid?

There were quite a few that went for significant sums. On paper, Ken Done sold very well. Amber Wallis might’ve attracted the highest bid – she’s a great artist.

Were there any personal favourites?

I bought a few  doodles myself! I bought Rinzen’s zaishu stool, which is my new bedside table and there were a few other doodles that slipped through my hands.

 
Keep track of the Shebeen project by clicking on these rad floating cats.
 
 
 
 
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Tiger Translate Melbourne 2010 from Snakes&Ladders on Vimeo.

 
You know how it goes. Wine then beer ... Beer then grass .... Far better to combine your beer drinking experience with a street party in an underground carpark, as local and international artists Beastman, Rone, Tono, Sofles, Urban Cake Lady and Shida transform a dingy wall into an enormous piece of jaw-dropping street art, backed by tunes from The Faders, Hermitude and DJs Nick Flemming and Dexter. By all reports, Tiger Beer Tiger Translate event was a social beer experiment that went down extremely well late last month. Exhibited at the event were top entries to Tiger's search for Australia's best artists and designers, given the theme of 'balance' around which to wrap their creative minds. The winning entry was this poster by 21-year-old communications designer, William Sun. Go tiger!