16 January 2008

If You Can't Buy It, Make It (and Pray)

As many of the faithful readers here know, I have a particular fondness for Australian beer. And, following that saga, many of the same know the utter exasperation that I feel in not being able to acquire any decent (stress the decent) Australian beer here on these far shores. And, no, Fosters® does not qualify. (The same dilemma plagues me to a lesser extent with the purchase of Tim Tams®.)

For the life of me, and as some horrible beer God joke on me, my favourite all-time brew, Carlton Crown®, cannot be imported into the state of North Carolina for legal sale. (And, yes, I do know that my beloved Crown is brewed alongside the aforementioned Aussie non-beer.) Nor any of the surrounding states (and, yes, I check on this with some regularity) for that matter. Apparently it can be imported and purchased in Canada (eh), but not then brought across this country's border from there (and not that my fellow beer-lovers and Canadian folk would want to have Australian beer brought over their borders to the US). Even the Aussie-themed Outback Steakhouse® does not serve Carlton (but does now serve other Aussie beers on their menu). Even The Flying Saucer in Raleigh (with its more than 250 beers available option and a menu over 4 pages long), is sadly, sadly lacking in their Aussie beer varieties. This is highly, highly vexing to me.

So, for better or for worse, friends, I have taken matters into my own hands. Yours truly is now a home brewer of beer. Or, rather, a home brewer of pre-mixed ‘Australian style’ beer.

Sadly, I did not pop my brewing cherry with some wonderful Carlton® variation. I did, however, (with the wonderful assistance of constant companion and partner in crime, WR), start my first entree into beer making using a Cooper®'s draught mix. After some exhaustive work online by Ricky and an almost heavenly shopping excursion at the American Brewmaster store in Raleigh on Saturday, we decided on a draught mix (versus the bitter and dark beer varieties also available from Cooper®). I honestly have no idea what one of those 'medical marijuana' stores in California or Amsterdam must be like, but for a beer aficionado such as myself, smelling different kinds of hops and the like for home brewing, this may be as close as I can get. Perhaps if I could get most Americans into those stores instead of following like lemmings to the commercialized beer sea, American beer would have a far better reputation worldwide. We, as consumers, would know what good beer was really like and would demand better from our brewers...like a nice hefeweisen, like a good German lager, like even some of the other great Aussie beers...for a change. If you have to get a license to drive a car, you should also have to get a training and tasting class on good beer before you can legally drink. I'm just saying...

So, as my impatience for (possibly) good Aussie beer builds...and, as I soon discovered, it's good to have a fellow would-be brewer to help, as making beer from a mix is not the same as making a cake from a mix, say...I have two large plastic barrels bubbling away in my newly-super useful and dark laundry room. Maybe by this weekend...maybe. In some sort of bizarre encouragement, I check in on the progress before and after work and whistle a few bars of "Waltzing Matilda" (can't hurt, right??) I'm hopeful for the best, but I'm not overly optimistic...it is the first attempt, after all. Today Cooper®, soon Carlton® (providing I can find a knock-off recipe). This all could have been avoided, though, if the Aussies would just sell the damn goods.

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