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The effects of prolonged exposure to Collingwood in infants

The effects of prolonged exposure to Collingwood in infants

So, certain facts are true. Namely:

  1. A new bar called Collingwood World has recently opened on Smith Street
  2. Bruce and Fran had been planning on checking it out
  3. Good things had been said about it
  4. After a delicious meal at the Panama Dining Room, Bruce and Fran headed there
  5. After a quick look around, they walked back down the stairs and left

Apparently, however, there are certain ways of saying things and certain times at which said things should or should not be said. Yesterday was one of them.

Bruce had agreed to attend a rooftop gathering in Fitzroy to meet one of Fran’s friend’s wider circle of friends and thereby convince them that he really existed. There, one of the girls was asked how her weekend had been.

“After dinner we went to Collingwood World,” she said. “It’s my new favourite place.”

“Yeah, we went in the other night as well,” said a lively English chap. “Really liked it.”

“We went there on Friday,” said Bruce. “We took a look around and left.”

Conversation stopped. Eyes were turned to the floor. Brains scrambled for a solution. If tumbleweed could have found its way to a rooftop three storeys up in Fitzroy, it would have done. Fran glowered and wished she could reach over and pinch Bruce’s arm with real venom.

“Erm…” stuttered Bruce. “Well… we’d been drinking a lot of wine with the meal and fancied a beer and the beer selection there is awful and, er…”

He could have gone on to say that the bar actually looked pretty smart inside, that they liked the Melways on the wall and were keen to check out the blackboard and chalk walls of the toilets on another occasion. What’s more, there did seem to be a fine array of cocktails being consumed and they do plan to return when in the mood and and and – but it would have made no difference.

It was too late. The damage had been done. Fran’s friend’s friends would now have Bruce pegged as an opinionated malcontent.

They should be thankful; it takes some people ages to reach that conclusion.

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Hops, malt, beer... lovely

9.45am: Hops, malt, beer... lovely

Trusting in the innate goodness of their fellow man, Bruce and Fran hadn’t given any thought to the prospect of a woman attending a tour of micro-breweries.

It’s bad enough in the UK where, despite the best efforts of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), the image of the real ale drinker remains that of the barrel-gutted, grey-bearded pie-scoffer (and anyone who’s attended a beer fest or CAMRA event will know that the image is not without foundation in reality).

So what of Oz? The answer wasn’t long in coming.

“Aaah, shit. We’ve already broken the first rule of the day,” said one of the men to whom we’d just been introduced. “No Sheilas.”

Four hours and several salacious comments later (on Fran’s part as much as the eight-strong party from a Bendigo running group called “The Beer Club”), the tasters were mounting up on the table in front of the token Sheila. The lager was gone, but the seasonal special Spring lager and deliciously toffee-laced bitter were now joined by a sample of the Coldstream brewery’s 7% cider.

One of the men – a former copper – walked over from an adjacent table and placed a sheet of A4 in front of her:

“FINE – TRIPLE PARKED – PENALTY FIVE TOKENS”

There would be no allowances made for the fairer sex on this tour. And why should there be. After all, it wasn’t Fran’s horse that let them down in the second of the trifectas placed on the minibus between breweries and Bruce was as much in need of a sleep as her before heading into the city later that evening. What’s more, if the “runners” had held back from their abuse, the Poms would have missed out an a full day’s exposure to the joys of Aussie country humour.

As for the beers…

Not exactly Carlton United Brewers...

Not exactly Carlton and United Beverages...

Well, putting away your first sample at 9.45am may not be what the doctor ordered, but the quality of the range at 3 Ravens, in Thornbury, was worth risking his wrath over. Their German-style Ale, Blond, may be their award-winner and most popular tipple, but Bruce, with his love of overpowering aromatic hops, preferred the 55, introduced last year to mark the breweries fifth birthday and incorporating five different hops. The Uber Bock, a one-off hardcore version of their stout, would certainly have the doctor questioning your dedication to a long life. The only downside (although not for Bruce and Fran who live right in the middle of it) is that their distribution is focused almost entirely in a two km wide corridor from the brewery to Melbourne CBD.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Coldstream Brewery, at the gateway to the Yarra Valley, is that it has only been brewing for a few months. Under the stewardship of Englishman Rod and his Scottish wife Moira the bitter, as mentioned above, is a real treat, and the cider hides its strength so well it could cause a few unexpected mishaps. The tiny brewery is attached to the back of a pub serving high quality, hearty food too if anyone needs help maintaining their stamina.

The final call was Buckley’s, in Healesville, housed in a ramshackle shed that brought to mind Deliverance. Now the sole preserve of John and his son, the enterprise is a living embodiment of dedication and passion, its production is limited but its products, particularly the ale and bitter are well worth a quaff if you can find them.

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In the UK, those who drink for the sake of drinking rather than the pleasure of tasting often pour Fosters or XXXX down their throats. No sane Aussie touches the former and, outside Queensland and the Northern Territory, no one goes near the latter either.

Yet, here in Victoria, the land of the much-maligned VB, those same people will guzzle Carlton Draught as if their lives depend on it. OK, the bastards at the brewery have got a monopoly in certain places (sporting venues, the bars at the comedy festival, etc), but surely if you can steer clear of Fosters and XXXX you can make that little extra effort to avoid Carlton.

Perhaps I can help. Here’s how it’s made:

  • Whenever rain falls in Victoria, the makers of Carlton use a network of intricate channels to ensure the water flows into large hollows they’ve created in a mixture of soil and tarmac
  • Then they throw in doormats gathered from the homes of recently deceased old people
  • This water / doormat hybrid is left to stagnate in the sun for six weeks before being decanted into kegs
  • Rats’ arses are directed into tiny holes in these kegs by brewery staff who then squeeze the vermin’s bellies in order that they carbonate the liquid with their farts
  • It is then sold to you and you drink it

So, blessed with that knowledge, don’t you agree it’s time to say to the brewery: “Enough is enough!”

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