If you were to peruse my socials, you would see that I have a deep love of India Pale Ales. I’ve lost count of the number of tasty hop-laden creations that I have been fortunate enough to try, and to subsequently post to Instagram. I follow breweries, pubs, craft beer companies and fellow craft beer aficionados. Whilst scrolling, if I discover that there’s a new IPA has recently been born into the world, I try my best to get it into my hot little hands, followed by my thirsty open mouth, as soon as I can. I’ll share my take on it with other beer lovers online. It’s fun to be part of the virtual beer swilling community.
The other night, however, preparing to upload a photo of a can of Hop Nation’s The Dawn Double NEIPA to Instagram, I was trying to make its condensation look extra condensation-ey for my millions of followers, most of whom are bots. One of the comments once posted was something along the lines of, “Oh Celia, you are always drinking tasty IPAs, I wish I was you. PS: Your cat is really handsome!” This comment got me thinking.
We are often reminded that much of what we see on the social media accounts of others is a carefully curated version of that person’s life. And I confess, dear reader, that my beer swilling Instagram is no different – the swilling looks much better on the Internet than it often does In Real Life (Or IRL as the youth would say).
At a glance, it may appear that I am #blessed to be constantly drinking the latest IPAs or checking out the newest craft beer establishments in my fine city. But, just like those Insta-famous models that actually do have millions of followers, you’re only seeing the perfectly crafted version of my craft beer life. I’m not always drinking tasty IPAs. (My cat is really handsome, however).
Dear reader, I do try to be as authentic as I can be with my IPA uploads. When I drink one that I enjoy, I want others to know about it too, so I’ll share it on Instagram. And I never use a black & white filter to mask the colourful creations on can or bottle labels either: I’m no monster.
But whilst most photos I upload are of IPAs that I have actually tasted and enjoyed IRL, I confess I have also consumed IPAs, IRL, that have been unpleasant (shocking, I know). I have also imbibed other styles of beers other than IPAs (even more shocking, I’m so sorry). Not wanting to dilute my online IPA love, I haven’t posted a photo of them.
Indeed, there are parts of my beer-life that I often don’t want you to see. Yet just because I don’t post them, I do want you to know that they happen. For every day that there’s an IPA uploaded on my feed, there’s another day where I’m not drinking at all, but I’ll post a brew that I drank and took a photo of…gulp…two weeks ago.
On some occasions, I may have been known to have too many IPAs in one sitting. I don’t upload a photo of the weird wrinkle I get in between my eyebrows when I’m hungover, but it definitely happens.
I also don’t upload the mediocre beer I am sometimes FORCED TO DRINK AGAINST MY WILL, like when you go to that 21st at the local footy club where the invite says “beer, wine and soft drink provided” or when a work colleague hands you a pot of the “happy hour beer” when you actually said “hoppy beer” but you don’t think they heard you over the ruckus in the pub last Friday night. I’ve really had to pep talk my taste buds into drinking these after all the fancy ones they’re used to.
Seeing as I’m coming clean on some things, I’d just like to clarify that I would never go so far as to rummage in the bin of the pub down the road to take a photo of a can, the contents of which I have never consumed. Please never think that of me. But I did once post a glass of Nomad Champers Brut IPA that I only took a couple of sips of on my feed. It was actually my husband’s IRL, but he had left it unattended while he became distracted by a LinkedIn notification on his phone. I had claimed the beverage was mine in the caption online. I feel so sick just writing that, but also so liberated.
I also fall into the trap of negatively comparing myself to other beer lovers online, mostly when nothing exciting is happening in my craft beer life. Like in the two days before payday, for example. I get jealous of other Insta-beer profiles, such as when everyone seems to be at Beervana when I’ve been at work. I’m also not a fan of when beer swillers in the Northern Hemisphere are enjoying a beer garden in their Insta-stories when it’s their summer, and whilst I shiver through in winter with an over spiced mulled wine.
I feel so good now I’ve told you all this.
Tonight, I’m going to refrain from posting a photo of a can of IPA I drank a couple of weeks ago. I’m not going to compare my beer-life with others for a time. Instead, I’m going to have an IPA IRL and maybe just share with the bartender how tasty it was.
Ahem, cough cough.
Hi, everyone, thanks for coming. Can we get our glasses filled? Don’t take a drink just yet…yes, yes, I know how hard that can be.
I’d just like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to a dear friend. They are a constant in not only my life, but I’m sure in others too. They are someone to rely on in the good times and in the bad.
That’s right, you guessed it, I’m talking about my mate and yours, it’s The First Sip!!
(Pause for applause.)
Our mate The First Sip is one I know I can count on to act like a goose.
(Pause and do the sly face.)
They attempt to distract me on a Friday afternoon around 2:41 pm with their plans of after work drinks, through our mutual friend’s group chat that’s full of their jokes and TGIF memes. As always, it’s great to see them at the bar. Last week The First Sip greeted me through a glistening pint of Goose Island IPA that was only $9 during the happy hour that brilliantly lasted for longer than an actual hour!
(Pause for applause.)
Cough, cough. Ahem.
Our mate The First Sip though, is also there when times get tough. Just like you’d expect a great mate to do.
I remember a time when our friend The First Sip made an appearance in the caravan park log cabin on that family holiday a while back, after my dad and I got lost on that 1-hour walk. The walk that despite being clearly signposted and of moderate level, seemed like we were hiking the country’s largest mountain. It took us half a day and we were without water and phones and appropriate footwear and at one point I looked at my watch and told my dear father the time and he exclaimed, “Oh! Ummm, why don’t you go in the bushes over there?” and I replied, “No, Dad, I said it was a quarter to two. Not ‘I have to do a poo!’”
(Pause for laughter. If no one laughs, just mop your brow and carry on, you’re doing great!)
My uncle who was relaxing in the caravan park log cabin had finished his book and realised he hadn’t seen us in a while. He started to get worried so thoughtfully came to rescue us. We went back to the log cabin, blistered feet, and bruised egos. Via a Mt Kosciusko Pale Ale, The First Sip told me not to worry, chin up, and began to rehydrate my parched, sunburnt mouth. Like I said, what a great mate.
I don’t know how they find the time, but the First Sip manages to be there in other situations, too. Do you guys remember some of these?
(Pause to look up and around your audience for nods of approval. If nervous, pretend they’re all drinking attractively labelled beers, such as the ones from those handsome devils from To Øl in Denmark.)
The First Sip has often been front and centre when toasting to the recent safe arrival of our newborn babies. Do not worry if you can’t get the proud parents down to the pub, they’ll probably be too hypnotised by their new human to pay attention. We just need to remember to send them the photo of us cheering our Fixation IPAs in celebration.
They’ll also be there when we’re farewelling a mate who’s moving interstate.
(Pause while all cheer Kate who’s just finished her Arts Degree and is off to work in a bar in the Cotswolds.)
Yes, we all wish we could jump in her suitcase but instead, we all eye off that James Squire Stowaway IPA on tap at the bar and remember that we’ll always be in each other’s hearts.
Now that some of you are a feeling a little lonely after I’ve brought up Kate’s imminent departure…
No! Don’t take that First Sip just yet!!! Hey, Danielle!! I saw that!!
What I wanted to say, was that now you’re feeling a little lonely now that Kate’s off on her adventure, why not reconnect with that friend that you lost contact with? You know the one. Maybe you can’t remember precisely why you fell out. It may have been something to do with not inviting them to that crappy BBQ you had that time.
(Pause and lock eyes with handsome Matthew who’s holding that elusive bottle of Moon Dog’s Love Tap Larger and give him a sly wink.)
After the First Sip of a Brewcult Reset Robot Pale Ale be certain you can get your friendship with Matthew that unidentified friend/hopefully more-than-a-friend back on track.
(Resist the urge to wink at Matthew again, I think he gets the hint.)
Yeah, yeah, I know this speech has gone on too long. Hey, shut up Pete!
To sum up, all I really wanted you all to remember was that whatever life may throw at you, your mate The First Sip will be there, ready to hydrate, to mend friendships, to celebrate, and to unwind from a working week.
I’d like to toast to a long life filled with First Sips.
So, if we can all charge our glasses with the first beer of the day.
For me, it’s a 3 Ravens Golden.
Three golden cheers for The First Sip!
Hip hip, hop hop, hooray!
(All take the first sip of beer for the day, pause for all to pause and appreciate this special moment. Wait for collective exhales. Group cheering and clinking of glasses. Group hugs.)
As I meander through the streets, singing along to John Farnham via my headphones, patting dogs, looking in butcher shop windows, wondering if anyone buys those hula hoops outside the two-dollar shop, my legs often take me to an establishment that contains a bar pouring a healthy dose of crafty beers. I spend some time here, giving the taps a good workout.
The other day, something compelled me to walk in the opposite direction to the watering holes and I found myself ascending the stairs into a place I’ve often heard mentioned, but never really knew what went on inside its walls. You know, that place called the “gymnasium”.
I looked around, there was more than one bar and not the beer drinking kind. There was a hall with weights and yoga mats instead of Bavarian beer tables and steins, and John Farnham was replaced by Katy Perry “songs”. How did I get here?
They say your body is good at telling you when it needs something. A rumble in the belly means dauphinoise cheese on biscuits is required. An itch on the face means you should probably stop kissing those stray dogs you meet on your walks around the neighbourhood.
Recently my body has been telling me it needs to move. It requires some of that “exercise” thing.
Being unable to reach a Hop Nation The Chop IPA from the top branch of shelving at the bottle shop was my first sign. Making that “Eeerrrrrggggghhh!” noise, as I hoisted my arse off the couch to put my snout into another Feral Hop Hog, was the next.
This would not do. My unfit body was getting in the way of my mouth being able to enjoy its favourite beers! So, in consequence, I joined the gym.
The super friendly gym staff could see I didn’t know my treadmills from my leg press machines, so helped me out with the setting and writing down of some tangible goals.
Alongside “Knowing how to use gym equipment” I also wrote, “Being able to carry two growlers of One Eyed IPA from Stomping Ground to the car without collapsing.”
My third goal was to “Get fit for holidays”. Seems pretty standard, I hear you think. But this one’s not the bikini body type goal. My main concern was how could I get my body fit for the onslaught of a looming beer-filled Scottish holiday?
In addition, my personal trainer has been educating me on all the things that can assist with developing the healthy body, such as optimal workout times, Lululemon sales, pressure points, almonds, not eating the whole tub of cottage cheese in one sitting, etc.
They’ve also told me about bargaining and rewards when you’re in the middle of a hard workout, to motivate you to go that extra mile. You know, things like “20 more squats will get me that post workout glow for today’s Instagram selfie,” or seven more minutes on the bike and I’ll reward myself with some new underwear from Uniqlo.
I’ve adopted this technique during my workouts when I need that little bit extra motivation to keep going, and it’s been rather effective. Here are a couple of little bargains I have with myself:
If I actually work up a sweat boxing, much like I imagine a lion and a bear would if they fought each other, I can seek out a Firestone Leo v. Ursus Fortem and raise it above my head in sweaty victory.
When I feel my lat muscles burn from lifting weights, and feel I can’t go on, I pretend I’m Roger Ramjet and I’m super strong and I can then get through two more sets. I sip on a delightful Boatrocker Imperial Stout as I recall this little trick to my pub cronies the following night.
If I complete three sets of lunges, squats and leg presses, I’m allowed to eat something. I refer to my notes that tell me I need a balanced diet so I reward myself with some healthy fruit, such as a Fixation Squish Citrus IPA.
I am permitted to buy a Dogfish 60 Minute IPA to accompany dinner if I stay at the gym for longer than 20 minutes. The trick with this one is I also must actually exercise, I can’t just hang around like a dog, watching the clock.
As I look back on the past few weeks of my fledgling gym career, it’s obvious to me that I can’t get rid of beer, because it brings me joy. I also should really keep exercising, because if I don’t, I soon won’t be alive to drink all the delicious beer that brings me joy. I’m also learning that it’s not overly wise to consume a 10.8% Stone RuinTen Triple IPA after an hour gym workout. So tasty, so delicious, so asleep five minutes after consumption.
There are also ways that beer and exercise are complementing each other in my new fitness regime.
Carrying kettle bells from one end of the gym to the other makes carrying those Stomping Ground growlers to the car a breeze, and some Friday nights, instead of lifting pints, I’m lifting weights. In only a short period of time, I can now leap off the couch without squealing like a pig to grab another delicious healthy beer.
As for my Scotland Sojourn, I’m packing the walking shoes for some sweet hikes in the highlands…and I’ve marked off all the BrewDog locations on the map too, I don’t want to be exercising all holiday. Everything in moderation.
Your birthday. Christmas. A mate’s farewell before heading off to the UK to find their future life partner in an Edinburgh pub. All very valid reasons for consuming a few beers with fellow humans.
Sharing beers with mates has proven health benefits. Sharing your worries, your funny stories and your hopes and dreams with a friend over a cold glass of Stomping Ground makes life good. It enhances positive emotions and strengthens bonds of friendship. There’s even studies about it! BFFs J. R. R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll shared their latest literary masterpieces with each other over an ale in an Oxford pub. I personally have come up with great ideas with cronies whilst sharing a beer or two, including FeBURNary, a charity where participants can grow sideburns in aid of people who lose their homes in bushfires, and a podcast about the art of sighing – the different types and the reasons for sighing. PLEASE DON’T STEAL THESE IDEAS.
Despite all the great things that can result from sharing a beer with others, sigh, I find something magical about drinking alone. I’m not talking about the type of drinking where you’re home by yourself in the dark of the lounge room, in your underpants, guzzling a $10 bottle of cabernet sauvignon on a Tuesday night whilst ranting about things on Twitter you’ll later regret. Although I’m not talking about it, please know there’s no judgement from me. I have been known to be sprawled on the couch in my underpants with no bra and nothing else apart from a frosty glass full of a fine IPA. I’m watching some movie starring Lucy Liu on Stan (I’m too cool for Netflix), in the dark…except for a lamp that is inadvertently shining directly onto my nakedness and providing a free zoo exhibit for the Airbnb-ers. They’re gawking at me from the serviced apartments next door. When this happens (yes, it may possibly have happened more than once) I stand up, take a bow, and finish off my Modus Operandi Zoo Feeder IPA in the bedroom.
Ummm where was I?
Drinking alone. Specifically going out to drink alone. Maybe because I’m now officially old in Hollywood Years (i.e. a woman over 30) I am much more comfortable in my own skin and less self-conscious than I was when I was wee, but I absolutely love heading to a bar for a quiet craft beer on my own.
Here’s why it’s great:
No financial stress
When it comes to buying rounds, we all know it can become quite interesting reading when you check that credit card statement a few days later. When you’re buying the round, it’s only you! Go on – treat yourself to one of those delightfully refreshing Hippy Berliner Cucumber Editions from 8 Wired and then treat yourself to 5 more.
No boring conversations
Look, Norman may have a great theory on why Excel Spreadsheets are fascinating, but his droning voice can really distract you from the complexities of the taste of the rare breed of Mountain Goat you’re trying to enjoy. Without the shudder and heightened anxiety that comes with saying the word “spreadsheet” out loud, you’re free to concentrate on your new favourite beer.
You’re also free to just be with your own thoughts and just relax in your own company. You don’t have to worry about being witty, or being full of beer knowledge, or remembering Wendy’s brother’s boyfriend’s name. You can just be you.
You can do what you goddamn want
With a beer in hand, perched on a table people watching, listening to Harry Styles’ new single, reading a book or writing an article for Froth magazine, I am content. These are some of life’s great pleasures. No one can judge my literary or musical tastes if they’re not present. People will probably come up every 5 minutes asking if they can steal the other chairs at the table, but it’s also fascinating to quietly observe human behaviour when it comes to pub chair ownership.
Getting tired? Well guess what? You don’t have to keep trying to give your significant other oh-so-subtle hints that you want to leave such as the leg kick or “the eyes” or the furious “Celia, we are going home right now” in the ear because they won’t be there! You can call that Uber and leave whenever you goddamn want. Maybe just after one more Fury & Son.
I’ve convinced you, haven’t I? Well, go on, put some pants on and get out there. Head to your favourite bar, grab a beer and nab that table for one tonight.
The humble beer garden becomes holy when that sweet summer sunshine breaks. You kick back with your sunnies on, feet bare and that frosty Stone & Wood Pacific Ale glistening in the sun just like your pearly whites. It’s summer and you’re in a beer garden and you have a beer in your hand. Life cannot get any better. At that moment, your mortgage doesn’t need repaying and it doesn’t matter that you still don’t have your driver’s license at age 34. Finding out what that weird rash on your arm is can wait until March. You are in beer garden nirvana.
The sometimes-factual information bible Wikipedia helpfully states “Australia has many beer gardens, typically as part of a pub, or often next to sports fields.” Helpful, Wikipedia, helpful. We are blessed with an abundance of beer gardens, and their sexy cousins the rooftop bar. Many are hidden away, in places you’d least suspect.
So how do you choose just one?
Much like deciding on a particular god (or not) to worship, this choice can be difficult. Often it’s not as simple as your venue having a beer and also having a garden.
Arriving home after a full day at the tennis where you hung out in the massive onsite beer garden all day, dying of sunburn because you forgot to reapply sunscreen and you didn’t alternate water with those $36 schooners you were drinking – that’s not fun. You also probably have no idea who won any of the actual tennis matches. If you were desperate to experience Death from Above, you could have just purchased one from Garage Project and sat in your dad’s cool air-conditioned garage, watching the tennis on the small screen instead of getting burnt to death because there was not enough shade for the amount of patrons inside the beer garden.
The garden you decide upon may have the perfect sun to shade ratio. But you may also have been tempted by that delicious apple cider they have on offer; a sweet summery treat best served with ice. Mm-mm! When the sun is at it’s highest, these nectars of the gods can go down quite easily. Just as easily, like Adam and Eve, you may be banished from the garden earlier than expected due to your inebriation on forbidden fruit, and wake up with a mouth that feels like it’s been soaking in a bag of sugar.
There is also nothing worse than having a delightful bushwalk with friends and stumbling upon what looks like beer garden heaven, when in actual fact it’s hellish as you discover the stern sign ordering you to “keep off the grass”. Their kitchen is closed for the summer and the trembling 13-year-old girl behind the bar has to “wait until someone legal gets back from their break to sell beer.” Poor Little Dove. Time to hit the (Gage) road to find another garden where you can frolic on the grass to your heart’s content. A garden where you can actually purchase beer.
One Melbourne venue I know of has old garden tools featured on a brick wall. Pretty to look at, and interesting to observe their use if patrons get into an argument about religion or football. I like gardens that have novelties like garden rakes, little lending libraries, or a toilet that has an integrated hand sink. (Am I washing my hands with toilet water?! Am I?!!) They make for great conversation topics with your beer garden companions. My local, where I consume 89.2% of my craft beer, has a retractable roof. Once you’ve cooled off by dancing in the summer rain for a bit, the roof will helpfully close and the area suddenly becomes an intimate little indoor beer garden, dry from the rain but certainly not dry in the craft beer selection.
I worship beer gardens that offer summertime essentials such as free sunscreen and hats, as well as games to help while away a perfect afternoon. Hot tip: if you’re planning on stealing the plastic cricket kit from children it is advisable to seek forgiveness by offering their parents a couple of Bad Shepherd The Almighty IIPAs. It is also an idea to shepherd the kids to the trunkful of board games so they don’t throw a tantrum – much like the tantrum your mate Sarah will throw once you get her out first ball. Back to the nets, Sarah, but first - buy me another beer.
Your beer garden must have snacks. This is a non-negotiable commandment. Nuts, pickles, sliders, fried chicken, (Adam’s) spareribs; think food that gets you licking your fingers afterwards. This will fuel you and line your stomach for twilight when the pretty garden fairy lights come on and the drinking gets serious. As God told Adam & Eve “eat freely from the entire beer garden menu except the forbidden broccoli tree – you can eat vegetables when you die and float into the Big Sky (Scape Goat Pale Ale).”
I believe in gardens that have ample space. How annoying is it when you get to your venue too late and have to stand, squashed up against a tiny section of wall between the strange flushing toilets and the bin full of oyster shells? Watching smug looking patrons faces as they sprawl out on comfy banana lounges, sipping their Hawkers Saison while you’re eyes dart over to those high tables - that couple looks like they are leaving - quick John run, oh wait shit old mate got there before us! – it feels like purgatory. My secret is to rock up at a venue early in the afternoon and sit at a table that’s reserved for much later, say, “Nigel, 6pm.” That gives hours of comfy smug sitting action, and also affords time in which to come up with a plausible story about how you know Nigel so you can sit there all afternoon and into the summery night. Just don’t make eye contact with Nigel, as he might expect a birthday beverage.
When seeking out the perfect venue on your beer garden pilgrimage, it pays to research a bit of venue theology before you sell your soul to a garden for a summery session. According to my bible, the venue needs craft beer. It needs a frolic-y looking garden. It needs snacks and plenty of sun versus shade options. If you find that a certain beer garden just doesn’t feel right, don’t worry, as there are plenty on offer. Australia has many beer gardens, typically as part of a pub, or often next to sports fields.
Your perfect summer beer garden prayers will be answered.
To My Dearest Craft Beer Specialty Bottle Shop,
It's time I told you how I feel.
I have to admit that when I first moved into the area I was a bit intimidated by how attractive you were with the beer loving folk. How would I ever get you to notice me? Your boasts of 600 beers loomed over the door on my first visit. How would I ever choose just one? You were wayyy out of my league.
Despite my hesitation, you were so friendly from the start. You’ve been that way ever since! I may walk in feeling dejected after a crummy day at work but you always know the right things to say:
"The new one from Garage Project's just come in, wanna try?"
Now this is tough. You're going to hate me but I have a confession to make. I have cheated on you a few times. I'm so sorry, but I feel so much better already by telling you in this love letter. It's just that sometimes I'll be in another suburb, or I'll feel lazy and just pop into the chain liquor store after the routine food shop. I want you to know though, dear craft beer specialty bottle shop, that although the fledgling craft beer scene is bringing awesome craft beers into the mainstream Bottle O's, I feel dirty and ashamed purchasing delicious beers behind your back. This is why I don't look you in the eye when I come crawling back into your arms, as you give me a warm hello as you're stocking up the fridge with cold Reginald IPAs.
Can you please forgive me?
I want you to know that I miss you when I am away. If I’m at an interstate sporting event where they've only got one beer on the tap, I reluctantly purchase two and take my seat. As I wait for the game to start, I scroll through my Instagram and see you've got some fresh new Imperial Stouts from Hawkers Beer in but you've only got limited supply – sometimes you make me so mad!!
But I forgive you because you often set one of those limited supply beers aside for me. You also invite me to special meetings, such as the 4th July beer-tasting event, where you shower my oesophagus with hard-to-come-by special edition beers from far away lands.
People often say that our sense of community is on the wane, due to all these apartments being built, and all these pubs closing down. The new fangled food and liquor home delivery services are hailing the end of community as we know it. I know though that because of you, the desire for actual human interaction is not lost. This makes my heart sing.
One afternoon, I saw you taking care of and entertaining an elderly lady who lives in sheltered accommodation near my house. She swears at the other customers but you pulled up some Peroni slabs for her to sit on whilst she talked away at you as she sipped on her Vodka Cruiser. She just wanted some company and laughed at the banter you exchanged with her.
The other evening, I walked in the moment you and a trio of Irish backpackers were harmonising with Barry Manilow on the sound system. You always pat the dogs that lay by the entrance whilst simultaneously making sure they don't have a bottle of Arrogant Brewing’s ‘Crime’ tucked into their cute doggy jumpers.
I’m more aware of the happenings in my suburb because of you. You remind me of public holidays. You remind me that I’ll have to wait at a different tram stop during the tram works. I know a hell of a lot about craft beer from all around the world because of you. You tell me about the local "characters" that visit you while you’re pointing out the Green Flash Tangerine Soul Style IPA; I am probably one of them.
I was sitting in the park just now admiring the flowers, waiting for beer o'clock and my thoughts turned to you, so I thought I'd leave you with a little poem:
Red IPA’s are red,
The label on a Brewdog Punk IPA is blue.
Purple Haze Raspberry Ale is sweet,
And so are you.
I hope I haven't scared you away. I have a feeling you'll still love me, though, in a small way due to the amount of money I place in your tills. But in a much bigger way, due to the mutual love we have of all things craft beer. We’re a good team.
Lots of love,
We have reached the midst of winter when it is socially acceptable to cower in dark snug pubs, or lounge about on the couch with a beer in hand and the cat at your feet. But whilst it may be cold, just like in summer, autumn and even spring, it's important to heed that well-known piece of advice:
"Stay off your internet, phone and your socials after you've had a few drinks, it will only end in tears!!!"
Or words to that effect!
It’s hard, I know.
There was the time I accidentally "liked" an ex-boyfriend’s current wife's mum's photo of her garden.
Once I was online shopping to buy a couple of t-shirts with cool designs on them but when I opened the delivery I discovered that they were baby clothes.
There was also an incident whereby I uploaded an Instagram photo of my darling cat with X-Pro II filter and added the hashtags #pussy and #xxx. Some "interesting" profiles started following me.
Clearly, the advice to lock up your phone and turn off the Wi-Fi can indeed be sound. I'm sure these types of awkward moments have happened to you after a few quiet ones? For some reason, a deliciously hoppy brew brings out the liquid courage, and the confident assertive Celia – whom I wish existed in other situations such as asking my boss for a pay rise, or singing in public - starts to emerge.
Despite all this, I’ve also had some fun, non-awkward moments as a result of pairing ales with the internet. Here are some memorable beer-induced experiments that I have conducted for your benefit to prove that alcohol and your smart phone can live together in harmony.
Beer: Torpedo Extra IPA (Sierra Nevada)
Decision: Organise a 20-year primary school reunion on Facebook.
Method: Take a sip of your old friend Torpedo, and reminisce on old friends from the past. Realise that it's been a whole 20 years since you left primary school and decide this is a reason for a reunion. Create event, and invite friends on your Facebook that you went to primary school with. Search for the others you've lost touch with. Tip: Try and guess what they look like 20 years older as a guide when pressing, "Add Friend".
Result: Whilst only one male came, you delight in catching up with old school chums and reminiscing about the time Sophie sharpened Shane's finger with a pencil sharpener.
Beer: Murray's Fred IPA.
Decision: Acquire tickets to a sold out Melbourne gig.
Method: Sit and think about how you really like that sweet band that busk around your hometown, whilst simultaneously delighted by the balance of bitterness and malty sweetness of your Fred IPA. You Google and see they have a show soon but it's sold out. Direct message the band and ask nicely. Be honest about how much of a fan you are, but don't overdo it, you don't want to sound like a weirdo. Within the message, instead of using actual emoticons, finish each sentence with descriptions of emoticons. For example, "I look forward to hearing from you. Wink face emoticon."
Result: Acquired tickets and attended a wonderful musical experience, and love the band for being so nice to you.
Beer: Pernicious Weed (Garage Project).
Decision: Buy a vacuum cleaner online.
Method: Enjoy the delightful hoppy glass of beer, and get excited by the grapefruit flavours. Go online and impulse purchase a rather expensive vacuum cleaner.
Result: Sure, you have to charge it for 17 hours for it to work for 20 minutes but by gosh you feel like you're one of those guys on the morning breakfast shows demonstrating how easy it is to suck up errant kitty litter, grapefruit peel and other pernicious weeds from your kitchen floor.
Beer: Arrogant Bastard Ale (Arrogant Brewing)
Decision: Tweet one of your favourite Arrogant Bastards, Ricky Gervais.
Method: Watch TV show "Extras" and find that you really enjoy it. Especially paired with a glass of bitter, caramelly, punchy beer. You never really use twitter but you compose a tweet to Ricky Gervais because you want him to know how much you enjoyed the show.
Result: Ricky Gervais replies with a smiley face emoticon. Not the emoji but the one that looks like this :) You live off this little interaction for years, you even include it in an article you write for a craft beer magazine.
So while it’s still probably socially unacceptable to ask your boss for a pay rise whilst under the influence, always remember that there can be some joy as a result of pairing your favourite craft beer with the internet. Just try and stay off your ex-boyfriend’s current wife’s mum’s Facebook. It will only end in tears.
We've got one of those couches from Freedom, I don't know, are they called "Modular"? Anyhow, they're the ones that people can perch on the arm kind of awkwardly pretending like they're comfortable; cats can stretch out and survey their apartment manor. My cat does anyway.
The other day I was about to put my beer glass (full of Mornington Peninsula's delightful Nitro Dogs Bollocks) down on said arm, when I saw a gross pattern of beer glass-soaked stains.
"Sheesh! Where are my coasters? Why aren't we using coasters on our precious Modular couch?!" I opened the cupboard, the cupboard where I keep my collection of coasters. Coasters fell out. Many, many, many coasters. Little Creatures. Corona. Mountain Goat. Blackhearts & Sparrows. BeerDeluxe. It was like that clown car where all those clowns you know can't possibly fit in that small tiny space somehow fit and spill out when the door opens.
My couch will now survive undamaged through to its interest-free purchase period, thanks to the Local Taphouse beer coaster that has perched on the arm since that fateful, stained evening. I had seven Local Taphouse coasters fall out of the cupboard so I was happy to sacrifice one.
Seven Local Taphouse coasters. Hmm. How had I acquired such a massive beer coaster collection?
Oh yeah, that's right. In every pub/hotel/dive bar I visit, it seems I have subtly placed one of the "free" beer coasters from the table into my bag/jacket/jean pocket. It has become a habit. Some of them are just so beautifully designed. Or contain useful information. Like the actual name of the beer I am drinking, or pub I am drinking in, so I can remember in the morning. They're kinda like a brewery business card.
There are some, however, that I have no idea why or how they made it to my beer coaster shelf. For example, why do I have an "UltraTune Auto Service Centres: Mordialloc" pristine, non-beer soaked coaster? I don't even drive. Also, how many Carlton Draught-related coasters does one really need to collect?
There is quite a large quantity of German branded beer coasters. Germany does make some scrumptious beers, many of which are available in my residence of Melbourne. These all can't all be from Hofbräuhaus though, can they?!
Ohhh yeah. I remember. I once collected a number of beautifully illustrated König Ludwig Dunkel coasters from all the tables at Oktoberfest in Munich on my first post-school overseas adventure. I recall pilfering them as we were being shooed out of the beer hall at the end of the night. I wanted a memento of a great evening with my fellow travellers. This is probably when my collection began.
My Australian Heritage Hotel coaster reminds me of a delightful afternoon tourist watching in the sun at The Rocks in Sydney. We drank some equally delightful craft beers from their fridge; Holgate Brewery's Roadtrip was a favourite - a homage to our travels up to Sydney for that particular long weekend.
Only the other night, my Moon Dog coaster – the one with the hilarious barman/termite joke on the reverse - became a sweet reminder of the laughter with friends at The Catfish as we slowly sipped the pony's of Moon Dog Rantallion's Restorative in front of us. Its cognac barrel-aged 10.6% sweetness is a taste that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
I continue to hoard my cardboard beauties for the memories they keep, of delicious beers and fun times with friends. While it may sometimes seem like I'm an alcoholic hoarder, maybe I am just collecting knowledge of delicious ales. Also, more importantly, maybe I'm collecting cherished memories with loved ones, even if there are times we are only drinking a beer that you can find in nearly every bar in Australia. Less importantly, maybe sometimes I just need to know the best place to get my car repaired in Mordialloc, despite the fact that I don't even drive. And those König Ludwig Dunkel coasters are currently selling for $2.62 on eBay. This collection could pay off one day!
The lovely people at Froth have published some of my pieces, some of which you can read here. You can find the latest Froth in all good craft beer establishments.