Running the Numbers. AKA: That Time I Drank a Whole Keg Myself.

Have you ever stopped to consider how much you’ve drunk? I don’t mean at the end of a night, when the bar staff are giving you that look that says “are you really going to make me cut you off?” I mean all together. In your life.

Well, that’s exactly what I was wondering. So broke out the back of an envelope and ran some numbers:

I drink an average of 2 pints of beer every day.

Sometimes I drink two pints simultaneously, to save time...

Sometimes I drink two pints simultaneously to save time…                                      Photo: HK

This is a very rough estimate, but reasonable considering that I get a staffie every night I work. It’s also reasonable considering that some days (about once a week) I drink a lot more, but other days (also about once a week) I have a day off from alcohol altogether.

Very occasionally, I drink things other that beer. I’m including cider with beer, but frequently, I drink gin and whisky. Occasionally I drink wine. Just occasionally. We won’t factor these occasions in.

I have done so for 4 years. This is roughly how long I’ve been working in the beer industry. I’ve been legally allowed to drink for a few more years. Before that my drinking was almost negligible (It amounts to ~1 year of my current consumption). I couldn’t afford to. When I was a student being able to have a ‘craft’ beer was a serious treat.

Now a ‘pint’ is ~425ml, in New Zealand anyway. Some of them were imperial pints (568ml) but some of them would have been 330/500ml bottles, and so on. It probably evens out (also, I’m not interested in a discussion of what a ‘proper’ pint is. I’m not a CAMRA member).

Given that a keg contains ~117 pints (fill levels may vary):

2 pints x 365 days
= 730 pints per year

730 pints x 5 years
= 3650 pints

3650 pints / 117 pints per keg 
= 31.2 Kegs

For the sake of being generous, lets round up and say I’ve drunk 32 kegs of beer.

Now a lot the people reading this will be saying: “Holy shit, you’re an alcoholic!” Well perhaps, but lets take a quick look at the national average.

I drink ~310 litres of beer in a year. The national average beer consumption is ~64 litres per capita. Sure, I’m a hell of a lot higher than the average, but in that statistic is presumably a whole bunch of kids who don’t drink (well, they’re not supposed to, anyway), a large group of people who only drink wine, spirits and Woodstock ‘Bourbon and Cola’ on Saturday nights before starting a fight on Courtenay Place. There’s also some teetotallers, and a few people that just aren’t that interested in alcoholic beverages.

Now also consider that someone who had two glasses of wine a night is consuming roughly the same amount of alcohol, but would never be considered an alcoholic (yay, double standards).

So yes, I’m in the upper percentile, but I’m by no means an outlier. But before this becomes a desperate attempt to justify my career choices, lets focus on a much more interesting question:

How much of that was Tuatara APA?

I’m serious. You see, the other day someone my colleagues and I were pondering the question: what beer do you reckon you’ve drunk the most of in your entire life? The answer we all came up with was Tuatara APA: It’s affordable, reliable, EVERYWHERE in Wellington and a damn good beer.

I seriously love APA. The number of times I’ve walked into a bar/cafe/liquor store/supermarket not expecting to find a good beer, but what do you know? There’s our old friend Tuatara APA sitting in the fridge giving us a sly wink. All I can think is “night sorted!”

Funny how it still says 'Limited Release,' all these years later...

Funny how it still says ‘Limited Release,’ all these years later…

Most importantly though, myself and most of my colleagues are mid-to-late-20s, and were getting into beer around 2008 and onwards. APA was launched in mid 2010; right when my beer consumption was hitting its stride. And it’s been fairly consistently available since then  (you’ll notice I’m not differentiating between the American and Aotearoa versions, because who cares?).

Given this, lets find a little more room on the back of our envelope:

I estimate my consumption of Tuatara APA to be ~3 pints a month. I go plenty of weeks without any APA, but then sometimes I go to an event/bar/whatever where it’s the only good beer to be had. In this case, I happily drink a lot of it. Now consider that Tuatara APA has been around for 4 years, roughly.

3 pint x 12 months x 4 years
= 144 pints

144 pints / 117 pints per keg
= 1.23 kegs

I have consumed ~144 pints of APA. That’s just over one whole keg of APA by myself (1.23 kegs to be more precise). Fun fact!

Now obviously this has all been calculations based off a rough estimates and are probably way out in many regards (I haven’t factored in leap years for example), but it’s an interesting exercise. I reckon it’s probably safe to assume I have drunk at least two entire keg of Tuatara APA in my lifetime.

We of course can expand on this. APA is the beer I think I’ve probably drunk the most of, but I would be willing to bet that I’ve also drunk at least:

  • 3/4 of a keg of 8 Wired Hopwired.
  • 2/3 of a keg of Epic Pale Ale.
  • 1/2 of a keg of Bear Republic Racer 5.
  • 1/3 of a keg of  Three Boys Oyster Stout.
  • 1/3 of a keg of 8 Wired Rewired Brown Ale.
  • 1/10 of a keg of Garage Project Day of the Dead.

Possibly those numbers are a lot higher. It’s really hard to tell.

And now I’ll finish with one last thought: I grew up in the age of good beer. I started drinking ‘craft’ beer as a teenager and I never had brand loyalty to any of the mainstream labels. My more mature Wellington-based readers can probably also claim to have drunk multiple kegs APA (or in many cases, Tuatara or Emerson’s Pilsner) themselves.

But they might also like to reflect on the period before ‘craft’ beer was a officially a thing. How many of them have probably also drunk entire kegs of Lion Red, DB Export, Speights, or Waikato Draught?

Now there’s a cheerful thought…

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I’m Not Racist, But…

I’ve got an unpopular opinion that I’m a little loath to share, for fearing of offending the P.C. Police. But I feel the need to speak out because there are many like-minded people out there, who feel the same but are afraid to stand up and be heard.

Now I’m not racist but, I just don’t like those dirty Black… IPAs.
Coming over here, seducing our jobs and taking our womenfolk!

Alright, that’s enough click-baiting for one day. In all seriousness, I love beer. I love it more than most people. I love it enough to make it my career. Hell, I love it enough to devote an entire website that could otherwise be filled with cat gifs to it.

Like this one... BOOP! *scamper*

Like this one… BOOP! *scamper*

Anyway, my point is, you’d struggle to find someone who likes beer more than I do, but I don’t like all beer. There are some styles that just don’t do it for me and Black IPA has to be just about top of the list.

It sounds good on paper: a black hoppy pale ale. Actually, outside beer-geekdom that sounds ridiculous (how can something be black and pale at the same time?), but to a Beer Geek, it not only makes sense but actually sounds great. A beer with the sexy-dark body of a Stout, but also the fresh and zesty hop flavour and bitterness of an IPA. Oh hell-yeah! I’m all over that!

But the reality? That’s not how it works out. I find that most BIPAs, instead of being ‘the best of both worlds’ are more often ‘less than the sum of their parts’. It comes down to integration: In my opinion, delicate hop characters don’t interact well with strong roasty malt characters. The flavours get muddied and the finished beer is neither deliciously hoppy, or lovely and dark. It’s an unsatisfying compromise all round.

And there’s a good reason for this, which a prominent brewer (who makes an excellent BIPA, which I don’t like) once explained to me: Dark roasted malts tend kill hop character. Frequently, the moment you add black malts to an IPA it overrides the hop flavour. Likewise if you try to add hops to a Stout or Porter, it’s very difficult to get a hop-forward beer.

The trick then is to darken up a light-bodied beer so that can let the hops come forward, or strip out the malt body and flavour of a dark beer and add a lot more hops. Apparently a favourite brewing trick to do this is to mash in what would essentially be a pale beer, and then mill dark malts on top of the grain bed before lautering. This way you rinse all the colour out of the malt, without gaining too much body or roastyness. And thus you have created a classic Black IPA: a beer that looks dark, but has the body and flavour of an IPA.

Now it seems to me that someone who wants to make or drink a beer like that is having a hard time separating baby from bathwater. Subjectively (and this is entirely subjective) I find the moment we make our IPAs dark or strip out the stoutness from our Stouts, the beer enters a grey zone. It’s neither wonderfully hoppy, nor lovely and malty.

An illustration of this grey zone might look a little like this.*

Continuum

*N.B. Not to scale. Beer and style placements are suggestive only. Click to enlarge.

Alternatively, a graphical depiction would look a little like this:

Also not to scale. Also click to enlarge.

Also not to scale. Also click to enlarge.

To summarise with a little less graphical levity: I just don’t like BIPAs. And that’s fine, that’s my subjective opinion. You don’t have to regard it.

“Are you telling me I should stop making my Black IPA!?” exclaims a passing brewer, outraged.

No, I’m not saying that at all. A brewer should remain true to themselves, and if they want to make a BIPA they totally should. If they’re relying on me to tell them what to make, they’re in trouble. But conversely, I know I’m not alone in disliking BIPAs.

When we put them on tap at Golding’s, they move slower than regular dark beers, and a lot slower than IPAs. Classic dark beer drinkers are put off them because they’re too hoppy and not malty enough, and classic IPA drinkers are put off them because they’re too dark and malty. It’s a loss-loss situation for both kinds of drinkers.

“Are you telling me I shouldn’t drink Black IPAs?!” exclaims a lurking Beer Geek, offended.

Again, no. You should drink what you like, that’s the point of the whole ‘craft’ beer movement. BIPAs certainly do have a niche market amongst other beer styles. And if drinking a weird, not-quite-hoppy-not-quite-black-beer is your idea of a perfect pint, then Godspeed (you mad bastard). Certainly I’ve enjoyed the occasional BIPA. Once. A long time ago (actually, it was Speakeasy Butchertown a couple of months ago).

My point is, we’re all entitled to like or dislike whatever beers or beer styles we want. And I just don’t like those damn, shiftless, lazy, good-for-nothing Black IPAs.

* * *

tumblr_mdvesePMC51qgxioxo1_500

Lager Roundup Vol. 2: Contraband

One of the most frustrating thing working in a beer bar, or any bar for the matter, is annoying shit-heads sneaking in their own alcohol. It bugs the hell out of me: you spend a lot of time and money building a nice bar, you stock it full of wonderful beer; then some cretinous spanner with a bag full of Corona comes and takes up space that could be occupied by customers who actually understand what we’re all about and, you know, spends money.

And it is always Corona too; or one of its equally cheap and crappy siblings. No one ever sneaks a bottle of Panhead The Vandal into a good bar. You know the best beer I’ve ever caught someone sneaking into the bar was? A Cooper’s Pale Ale. And I’m damn sure they chose it because it’s dirt cheap here, not because they actually appreciate it’s subtle nuances.

Having said all this, we don’t actually get a lot of people sneaking alcohol into Golding’s. Our ‘customer base’ (nebulously defined as it is) are not the sort of people that sneak shit beers into good bars. Further more it’s even rarer that we catch any of them. So it came as a surprise that I managed to confiscate two unopened bottles of beer less than a month apart.

Now normally, I wouldn’t bother reviewing beers like these. It’s not sporting, you know? Like shooting low-hanging fruit in a barrel. But I don’t know, something about drinking shitty beer that we took off absolute munters appeals to me on aesthetic level: fate brought these beer to me. I’m meant to review them.

Then again, it could just be schadenfreude.

Beer 1: Flame

Yup, straight in with the good stuff: pure bogan juice. This particular bottle was confiscated during the Wellington Sevens, or as it’s colloquially known, ‘Munter’s Halloween’.

FLAME

Best enjoyed from a Framboise glass.

We cracked this bottle after our not particularly busy Sevens Saturday shift.

Aroma: N/A.
Appearance: Pleasantly golden.
Favour: Blearg
Over all notes: poor.

One of my colleagues summed it up nicely: “This tastes like someone poured brown sugar on wet cardboard”.

Hmm. Wet cardboard… That’s a sign of oxidation. I have no idea what conditions this bottle has been stored in. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and assume that this bottle has been stored in less that optimal conditions (and possibly someone’s pants, to get it past the security gates of the Sevens Street party).

Moving on.

Beer 2: Tui

Alright, this shit just got real. This particular bottle was confiscated off a guy on a stag do pub-crawl. Any seasoned bartender knows that guys on stag dos are trouble. Usually more trouble than they’re worth. And if they’re in drag, it’s even worse (incidentally, this is why Hashigo has a blanket ban on men in drag, excluding performance artists and the legitimately transgendered). This guy wasn’t in drag; he was one worse still. He was wearing a unitard.

Anyone wearing a unitard to a pub is guaranteed to be a A-grade, certified cock.

Tui

Aroma: Bugger all.
Appearance: Pleasantly amber
Favour: Meh
Over all notes: You know what? Tui starts of pretty good. It’s got some mildly inoffensive nutty amber flavours, but just as they reach your tongue, they just sort of trail off into nothing. Again, one of my colleague’s summarised it nicely as having ‘the ghosts of flavours’.

You know I can’t grab your ghost-beer. Lets move on.

Bonus Beer Beverage 3: Wolf Blass Yellow Label Pinot Noir

Umm, do I have to?

Umm, do I have to?

Now I spied someone stashing these two bottles after closing, in an alcove outside Golding’s before heading of towards Hope Bros. My guess it that they’d been drinking one of them on the way into town and would’ve picked them up on the way home.

Silly person.

The one on the left was unopened, so I figured I wouldn’t catch some disfiguring disease from it. So, yeah… Lets review it….

Bugger this, I can’t do this any more. I think I’ve shot my quota of Barrel Fish, so here’s an actual piece of consumer advice:

Beer 4: Mussel Inn Golden Goose

Taken in the dying days of Summer...

Taken in the dying days of Summer. Paired here with a nice fresh Gerald Sandwich. 

Golden Goose has been described as “the Thinking Drinker’s golden lager.” For years it’s sat in the fridge at Hashigo as the ‘craft’ alternative to green bottle shite.

I love Golden Goose. It’s head and shoulders above corporate lagers, because it has that rare, almost-mystical thing that the corporate brewers like to claim their beer’s have: a full malt body. It’s light, but it’s full and well-rounded.

Alright we’re done here.