Monday, December 26, 2016

Hanging out at Christmas

When you work in a bottle shop, it is inevitable that your Christmas 'do' will involve booze, kicking off at The Durham Castle Arms.

Next stop was the BentSpoke brewing and canning facility at Mitchell, where Richard Watkins and Tracey Margrain showed us around their shiny bling factory while we drank a couple of cans.

Richard pouring out crankshaft fresh from the tank
A view from the bridge
We continued to dinner at The Old Canberra Inn

For Him Outdoors' real birthday, he went out with some friends. I met them after work and it looked like they had been having a good time.

Friends celebrating Him Outdoors' birthday
Despite a massive hailstorm (with hailstones so large they cracked my windscreen as I drove home from work), the weather cleared to be bright and beautiful on Christmas Day.

We were very kindly invited round to friends' for Christmas dinner.

Dinner with The Luminosity and family
This is the Big Tiger fighting the Fire Dragon, apparently
Christmas Day visitors
Back at home in the evening we bothered the cat and read our Christmas books.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Birthday drinks

One of the perks of my job is that I get to try some incredibly good whiskies, like this 25-year-old Laphroaig, for example.

I also really enjoyed this sweet mead made with Beechworth honey - nothing to do with my job, this one; just pure relaxation.

Passionfruit flower
It was 50th birthday time for Him Outdoors, so we had some friends round to drink beers and talk nonsense - strange how the two things are directly related...

One of the best beers in the world
A seriously stunning selection
One happy, sleepy Birthday Boy
Another happy sleepy boy
Big thanks to Howdy Neighbour for this brilliant gift of socks and sandals combined in one, to save time and effort in one's attempts to look like a complete plonker.

Socks AND sandals!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Cricket and morning runs

At the ODI between Australia and New Zealand at Manuka Oval, Australia won by 116 runs. It was never really close. The winners on the day were David Warner and the sunset; both of which were brilliant.

A morning run takes me past this letterbox where one can deliver post to Landsend. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

AKIBA! It makes me happy!

AKIBA restaurant received the Australian Financial Review Top Restaurant's People's Choice Award for 2016. I can see a few reasons for this: the delectable pork buns; the sensational gin list; the insanely good dumplings.

Prawn and chicken dumplings

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Memo to self: this is what happens when you brake in loose gravel on a corner.

Second memo to self: being granted residency to a new country is even better when celebrated with friends.

Resident bubbles with Him Outdoors and Mr & Mrs Lovely Bonkers

Monday, November 14, 2016

Canberra Beer Week 2016

Our Canberra Beer Week kicked off with Beer Day Out. Him Outdoors was working on the Festival Beer stand, and they had run out of gas - literally, not figuratively. He asked me if I could bring along the CO2 cylinder, and I didn't want to cart the wrong thing along in a taxi, so I sent a photo to make sure I had the right thing. I did.

The largest queue was at The Festival Bar where patrons waited to taste the beers brewed especially for Beer Day Out. I sampled the Canberra Beer Week Collaborative Beer (five hops; five grains; five Canberra Breweries - very sessionable, like an English Bitter), the Sauvin Nouveau 2016 from Garage Project (fruity and very drinkable), the Chinatown Lager from Southern Bay (refreshing and surprisingly tasty for a lager, with rice in the grist and the addition of ginger and kaffir lime), the Noho Saison from Shambles Brewery (fruity, spicy, Belgian Saison with all the requisite flavours), the Sonic Prayer IPA from Modus Operandi (citrus, stone fruit and pine with some sweet malt to balance the 6% strength), the Mysterio IIPA from Stockade (fantastically fruity, fresh and strong citrus; bitter hop and sweet malt is well balanced), the Lamington Dark Ale from Bacchus Brewing Co (chocolatey coconut sweetness, as you would expect), the B2 Bomber Mach 6.0 from Bridge Road (Belgian, black Imperial IPA - all of the above), and the War Hog American IPA from Feral (hoppy, strong and bitter fun). Yes, they were small amounts, thank you.

I had taken my Dad along with me (well, he was in the country and it would have been remiss not to), so we then proceeded to work our way around the stalls, chatting to the brewers and drinking their wares in the sunshine.

There was a really pleasant atmosphere, with everyone enjoying the fine beers and the plentiful food on offer. The location worked well, with everything contained in a space with both indoor and outdoor seating, and the beer talks and masterclasses were well-attended and successfully received.

BentSpoke Brewing Co, like it says on the sign
A pint of Crankshaft with a Big Nut chaser
Bill making beer at the Canberra Brewer's stand
Modus Operandi
Garage Project from across the ditch
The Pact crew
The next day we went out to Mitchell for the Cannery Carnival - BentSpoke threw open the doors to their new cannery, with lots of shiny bling, good beer, fine food, music and sunshine (I don' t think they had much to do with the latter, but it went well with the whole chilled back ambiance thing they had going on).

Shiny bling
Tours of said shiny bling

La Sirene beers are among my favourite in this country, so I was not going to miss this tasting. Once again, Costa Nikias didn't disappoint, and the new sour red is an absolute winner. The tasting was held in a great venue too. I've not been to Avenue C Wine Co before, but it's a stylish spot with a sunlit patio and a great selection of fine wine to drink there or take home. We'll be visiting again.

Not the usual tasting
Costa with a great line-up of his artisanal beers
And on to Transit Bar where the regions battled it out for top beer honours. The ACT was represented by Pact Beer Co and Wig & Pen Brewery, while the South Coast NSW was represented by Five Barrel Brewing (Woolongon) and HopDog BeerWorks (Nowra). I'm not actually sure who won the showdown, but I know that enjoyed my beers! 

I had Tennent's Peak from Pact (A really tasty Imperial IPA - very nice indeed), Wee Heavy from Five Barrel (a chewy, flavoursome dark beer with ruby hints of goodness), The Halloween Project 3five9 from HopDog (smoked pumpkin - curious but not unpleasant), and Velvet Cream from Wig & Pen (an always enjoyable rich, full, creamy dark stout).

ACT takes on NSW South Coast at Transit
Saturday saw us at the GIO Stadium, partly because the Wellington Phoenix were playing the Central Coast Mariners, and partly because the Stadium had agreed to serve local craft beer from the participating cities. Hence, Garage Project and BentSpoke cans were available, which made the match much more enjoyable. Also the Phoenix won 2-0, so we were happy. 

Best beer list seen at a sporting venue
Garage Project White Mischief: sour, smart, fruity white beer with tastes of peach and salt - perfect pre-match drink
Garage Project Garagista: serious hopping going on
The Yellow Fever (away supporters)
Garage Project Hapi Daze: really pleasant combination of Kiwi hops
As we left the moon was out, and I managed to get it into a perfect position for this shot of the wheelchair basketball sculpture. (To confirm: I didn't actually manoeuvre the moon; just my camera angle.)

Shooting for the moon
The following day as I had a day-long rehearsal, Him Outdoors cycled off to Pialligo Estate for their sausages and cider event. The Small Acres Cyder was going down well, and the honey and sausages were also liberally sampled.

Sausages and cider menu
We finished off Canberra Beer Week with an outing to our local, The Pot Belly, where Nomad Brewing Company had taken over the taps. I sampled their Saltpan Desert Gose (desert limes up front with a tangy salt finish), Long Reef Pale Ale (earthy hoppy notes; on the English Bitter end of the pale ale spectrum, so I like it), Choc-Wort Orange (a little too bitter orange rather than fruity, which overrides the complexity of the malts), and Wild Mongrel (still one of the sourest beers I've tasted, but a lot more balanced from the keg than the last time I had it in a bottle). It was a wonderfully relaxing way to end the week's drinking.

Choc-Wort Orange, Saltpan Desert Gose and Long Reef Pale Ale from Modus at Pot Belly