Does ‘purple drank’ or ‘sizzurp’ mean anything to you? It means something to this guy.
Mixing cough syrup with mountain dew results in a purple fluid, and a very weird way of gettin’ high. Apparently it’s big if you’re into hip hop, live near Texas and like drooling on yourself as you slip into a waking coma. If you’re not keen on any of those things, don’t fret: we have our own version of purple drank now. Behold, Mother: Frosty Berry flavour.
The resemblance of the logo to some kind of Crusty Demons poster is significant. Unlike purple drank Texan-style, this purple shit has enough caffeine in it to make you want to get naked and chew on somebody’s face, while doing burnouts and fishtails. In a space shuttle.
If that sounds like fun, you must be wondering: does it actually taste good? I think so, but what would a true beer (or wine) snob say?
“It pours lurid purple with a lilac, frothy head that fades quickly. The nose presents strong, flat notes of warm grape jelly. On the palate the mouthfeel is surprisingly soft and buttery, but resolves quickly to fresh factory fruits and food acid. The finish is dry, with a full and lingering jelly aroma and hints of aluminium, typical of this varietal’s North Parramatta terroir”
Essentially, this is the Fanta Grape of the energy drink market. Sweeter than normal Mother, Red Bull or V, but with a weird fruitiness that reminds me of the cheapest lollies at the school tuckshop. I really appreciate the lower acidity of this drink, and if the local kwik-e-mart is out of Rock Star and Boca Lupo, this is a safe plan C for you energy junkies out there.
No comment on whether it’s good with cough syrup…
Jam Jar (West End)
Every nation has its shitty roadhouse food, and South Africa is no exception. Their iconic ‘Russian’ sausages are thick, greasy pipes of pinkish-grey processed meat that are traditionally deep-fried at about 8am every day and then left to lounge in puddles of their own grease in sad steel trays, awaiting passing truckers in small-town cafés. Like a dugong that has had an unfortunate encounter with a speedboat, the Russian is sliced at regular intervals, and smells faintly of decay. It’s a battle to find an image of this dish, possibly because of its habitat in cultural backwaters, but this might give you a sense:
Having seen a few Russians on the road when I passed through Johannesburg, I bade them a silent farewell as I flew out and never expected to relive the experience. I’d learnt to avoid dagwood dogs, after all.
Fast forward to this morning at Jam Jar at West End, surrounded by dudes in tragically-ruffled fringes and indie art. I order a tasty-sounding thing with chorizo BUT OH WAIT WHEN IT ARRIVES I’M BACK IN SOUTH AFRICA AND THE ROADSIDE HORROR RUSHES BACK TO ME. Abrupt as a burst of kalashnikov fire, my morning is confronted by Russian 2.0. It nestles, greasy as elvis, atop ciabatta, asparagus and buffalo feta. It hints at deliciousness. It tastes like… cheap pork boiled in fat. Surely if this was a chorizo, it was the most lowbrow of chorizos in the land, so much so that I expected it to belch beer and perhaps pinch our hipster waitress on her spraytanned arse. The rest of the dish worked OK but fell well short of being exciting.
Similarly, my dear, sweet girlfriend’s reaction to the food plated before her set new records in brutally succint food assessment. A short stare, then: ‘what is that yellow shit?’.
Apparently this summed up her morning dining experience, with the lurid yellow relish (which appeared to be mostly pickled cauliflower) providing perfect company to the under-seasoned mushroom and beetroot-coloured ‘balsamic reduction’. The haloumi was declared the one redeeming feature of this dish; they ‘even fucked up the spinach’. Ouch. Perhaps we went for the wrong menu item: one of their breakfast dishes is a giant, revved-up bloody mary with cherry tomatoes and basil. A bit of toast on the side and I’d surely have been sold, but nevertheless I found myself respecting such a ballsy breakfast offering even as I passed it over.
It’s perhaps a bit unfair to savage a venue when looking at only its weaker side, and it must be admitted that Jam Jar is not primarily pitched as a breakfast venue. Their ‘food, drink, think’ motto is cute and reflects their focus on showcasing local art, providing remarkable dining experiences and good booze. Having encountered a deeply unremarkable breakfast, I resolved to give other options a go. The cocktail menu looked promising and the semi-covered outdoor space is pleasant in spring and excitingly festooned with local pop art (mostly just uninspiring, Frankie-magazine-esque doodles, but pleasant in its ubiquity anyway). I arrived to their shiny-new menu of drink, freshly thought up by the formidable-but-friendly barman. Round one was the ‘Keith Richards’, and from first sip I realised I was going to far prefer the drinking experience that Jam Jar offers to the food. It went like this:
The ‘Keith Richards’ is a masterful twist on the standard Margarita. It is Monaco compared to Mexico. Bit of sweet, bit of sour, hella kick – and a hint of aniseed into the bargain. Using the milk of young coconuts is a cunning move, and gives the finish a certain smoothness. The Mistress didn’t share my amazement, but after a few tasty Holgate brews, decent tapas and an absinthe-based ‘Green Donkey’ I was sure I’d figured the niche that Jam Jar belongs in: good early-evening boozing. Bypass the breakfast but treat this as a solid spot for relaxed summer drinking and good company.
Rex Attitude (beer)
Unrated: novelty value only
How did you feel when the Vic burnt down a couple years back? English doesn’t have a single word for my sentiments, so we’ll borrow from German: Schadenfruede: ‘joy at the suffering of one’s enemies’. The sweet smell of schadenfruede and ash accompanied my stroll to work for weeks after that fire.
The use of german is apt, because I relive this feeling every time I visit the Brisbane German Club. It was this grubby establishment that introduced me to one of my favourite drops: smoked beer (or Rauchbier, as some brewers still call it). By drying malt over an open fire, and then using it in the brewing process, you get BEER THAT TASTES LIKE FIRE. Or burning bogan establishments (‘victory’ indeed). The classic is ‘Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier’, which at about $10 a pint is the closest thing that a person can drink to smoky bacon that isn’t, well, bacon grease.
To my delight, I discovered that smoked beer is actually not that hard to find locally. Sunshine Coast Brewery does a really excellent smoked beer, as does the 3 Ravens Brewery – both taste less like bacon and more like proper smoke.
Twitter is a good place for beer dorks since one can talk direct to brewers. Thus, I was told by @Yeastieboys a couple months back that their ‘Rex Attitude’ Golden Ale is the smokiest stuff on the market. It’s made of peated malt: the same stuff that makes some of the world’s more potent scotch (e.g. Laphroaig’s Quarter Cask) taste like burning swampwater. Then at a recent tasting, local beer guru Matt Kirkegaard apparently described the stuff as tasting ‘like pissing on campfire’. Mmm.
Naturally, I was sold, and scurried down to Archive’s cellar to secure a bottle.
Here it is:
Exciting as it is to look at (as one friend said, “That looks like Trogdor”), Rex Attitude is a brutal experience and I’m not sure if I mean that in a good ‘let’s be heavy metal about this’ way. I have had single malt whisky straight after waking up at 5am and this was even less pleasant than that. In some ways it is still exciting as a novelty and it was drinkable, but a bottle is too much for one man.
On the pour Rex Attitude is deceptively pale and modest; unlike other smoky beers there is no visual cue for the coming devastation. However, the smell is incredible. On opening the bottle, the rich, smoky aroma is intense – very pleasantly scotchy but with a chemical hint that makes me imagine that the paint peeled on nearby walls and eyes watered around the table. One friend could smell it being opened from three metres away, and more than one guest got a bit of methane/ammonia on the nose. Yes, this may indeed be the scent of a burning pit-latrine.
On the palate it attacks ruthlessly, refusing to deliver even a hint of the malty richness that is typical in many smoke beers. It does deliver a strangely dry, intense, inorganic chemical flavour that I’ve experienced once before in old french wine. To be precise, this is the taste of oil paint, right in your mouth. We were all toddlers once, and lessons are learnt at that age.
The finish is lingering in ways that I’ve seldom experienced, too. The ashes of that burning pit-latrine linger at the back of your throat long after the surprised soldier has been carted off to hospital.
In summary: check this out for lols, if you like a challenge, but don’t even think about buying a six-pack. It is not an entirely joyous challenge, but it is much more fun than drinking bacon grease or having a toilet explode under you.
Henninger Lager – available most places
In spite of how our ever-endearing poltical leaders ceaselessly remind us that we are Doing it Tough, Australians actually got wealthier this year. Prices definitely did go up a bit, but what tends to be forgotten is that our incomes grew even faster. Net effect: more money in the average pocket. We’re not Doing it Tough, we’re one of the richest nations on earth. We suffer a totally different condition: consumerism, possibly best referred to as Believing Adverts and Buying Too Much Expensive Stuff. Classic examples of this plague on our fine nation include expensive iPhones and broadband, electricity-guzzling plasma screens and… premium beer.
This review is for Working Families that feel that they are Doing it Tough. Also, anyone a bit curious about how beer that comes at $30 a carton tastes.
The simple answer is: surprisingly good, when it’s a proper German bier. I have no idea how beer from Frankfurt is cheaper than beer from Milton, but that doesn’t mean it tastes cheaper. Henninger Lager is definitely not up to the standard of our smaller domestic producers (like Matilda Bay or Little Creatures, with ales around $60 per carton) but compares well with the standard local lagers (around $40/carton on a good day).
If anything, I’d say the closest comparison is stuff like Heineken and Becks – though it’s slightly sweeter than both. Henninger comes onto the palate quite sweet and malty (with a good bit of carbonation) and leaves with a gentle hop bitterness that, although not particularly complex, is pleasant. It’s not quite as nice as Becks on the finish nor as subtle as Heineken in the first mouthful, but it fits the bill very well for a basic lager: easy drinking and satisfying, provided you keep it cold. This is a beer that makes you feel a bit full, so I’m not sure if I’d enjoy drinking 8 of these, but I daresay the hangover would be relatively mild given that Henninger follows the Reinheitsgebot (German purity law) which stipulates that the beer must have three ingredients: water, malt and hops. I wonder if the ol’ Vois Bois (VB) offers that kind of nurturing care?
My suggestion? Reach into your pocket, grab all the shrapnel you have and go try some.