Advice to All Beer Nerds – Travel..

Posted on December 30, 2010


So it has been a year since I first started this blog, and the shout out goes to Daubin in Toronto for getting me onto this entertaining brain release of writing about something I’m passionate about.  Sometimes others find it interesting, and other times they find it complete crap, and that is what blogging is all about. Write what you think, and you don’t have to kiss ass to publishers, advert departments, and you write what you think is right.

This year I was lucky enough to travel further afield than the United States to drink beer and comment on what i think is good or bad. I’m not scared to offend anyone, and it doesn’t trouble me if I do. As occurred with an article I wrote on Ratings beers /bars in TOP Lists are not always ‘true/accurate’ other than an approximation. That article spurned Tucker from RateBeer to write a cynical response to my article. Some wrote responses to my review of the Vancouver Beer Scene in 2009, and though some said I was wrong, others agreed.

The biggest flaw with ‘So-Called’ Beer experts is they don’t travel or get outside of their own beer environment, so they don’t know what is ‘good’ or ‘Better’ than what they currently have. There really is no excuse for not learning more by traveling in either Canada or the United as you are so fucking close to so many festivals.  So in Vancouver a Beer Group called ‘VanBeerTourist’ was set up for the exact fact I always spoke about, get over the border into the US and try beers, become critical and travel!!

This year I missed the 2010 GABF in Denver, but I luckily ended up in Europe for not only my honeymoon but to take part in a friends wedding in Scotland. That was my excuse to head to Belgium and Amsterdam to drink beer. I tried the #1 Beer in the World ‘Westvleteren 12’ that cost me 10Euro.  I also found out why its the best, its not the actual beer, but the rarity of it, and the HIGH Votes people give it on Beer Websites. Honestly for my tastes and many in Belgium too Westmalle Brun and Rochefort 10 are better. I agree whole heartedly.  How do I know this?  as I was in the home of the best beer in the world. THough its not ahead of the US by much..

While in Brussels at a bar called ‘Bier Circus’ I ran into the Alstrom Brothers who run Beer Advocate. I never get star struck about anyone unless they played for the Wallabies, or All Blacks in Rugby, but I have to admit it was great having a few beers or many beers with Jason and Todd that night. We spoke about a lot of topics, and I gave them my view of BA and RB, and asked what is the future of these two types of websites?   But again by 1am in Brussels everyone has all the answers to everything. I respect both Tucker & Alstrom boys for running a website we can all debate and agree or disagree with. It would be a poorer analytical world without these two sites.

The big change that I was very impressed about in 2010 was the Vancouver Beer Scene, it really did seem like they grew up in the last 18 months. Aside from Alibi Room which is arguably Canada’s best beer bar, the St Augustines beer bar grew into the beer scene. St Augustines, or Augees as I call it was the first to have 40 taps and though many thought it was too many, the bar is a sports one that had not only a World Cup but an Olympics to help get their name out. I think now the ‘Too Many TV’s Crowd’ have dissipated and are enjoying a good pint now. Congrats to Mike & Anthony on Augies for helping give choice to beer drinkers in Vancouver.

Now that I’m in Australia, I can see why the craft beer industry is very very small, and Sydney only having a few bars of any significance. The major beer producers Fosters & Tooheys are both the dominant players in the industry, and thus have the taxes on beer issue sewn up. So there are massive taxes on Craft Beer, and thus costs are prohibitive. It costs between $11-13 for a pint of beer in Australia.. and the Aus$ is on Par with the US$.  There are many Pale Ales out there in the 4-5% range, but very few significant beers due to the climate of craft drinkers is still small, and taxes.

So this year I have drunk beers in close to 10 countries, and each one is different. I don’t believe hops travel, so go there and drink them, as yes Belgium Beer does taste better there, and the English Craft Beer market is thriving even though the pubs are closing. Don’t drink a Boddingtons and say English beer is Shit.. go over for their Beer Festival in August and try them. Go to Denver to GABF and yes it will cost you about 1K but that is the best education you can get with beer.

I have learnt my beer knowledge through travel, and arguing with anyone knowledgeable about beer, and that is the only advice to new beer people, get out there and taste. Use the beer websites as a guide, and read beer blogs online and comment if you think they are full of it. No beer blog knows everything, as each one has their limitations..