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Pig’s arse is a great little term. As far as I am aware, it’s purely Aussie, much like “ranga”. If it was not at least coined by John Elliott, he has definitely made it his catchcry. I myself have used it, infrequently, but to great effect. Like, in response to ”some modern metal is awesome”. Or “Tony Abbott has some good points”. Or “Christmas is a beeeauuuuutiful time of year and you’re just a big grumpy sourpuss”….You get the idea. Anyway, there could not be a more inappropriately-named beer than this one. It’s not bad enough to be referred to in the negative sense when asked the question “would you drink this beer in a pink fit?”, nor is it meaty and delicious like a real pig’s arse. I feel bad being indifferent about it, because it’s brewed by a great little pub called the Pig & Whistle on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, which is one of my favourite places on Earth, and because their other beers, in particular a lovely brown ale, are quite good. But unfortunately they don’t bottle them - just this pils.
So what’s it like? Well. Lagery. Not particularly inspiring, but better than your average lager. Certainly not up to the standards of great German or Czech pilseners. It’s just….there. Like this beer in general, on a warm day it would go down easier than water. It does have enough of a flavour to keep one mildly interested, and minimal LAGERARSE. But, like most lager-style beers I drink, it just doesn’t gel with me. Now if they started bottling the brown ale, I’d be happier than a pig in the proverbial.
And…Lou Reed. What can I say? The man who now is (rightly) ridiculed for the utterly abysmal album he did with Metallica this year, not to mention his general descent into medicority, was once a fucking tour de force of musical ideas, ambition and influence. His stuff with the Velvet Underground is obviously above all criticism (yes, I said it, damn you) and a large body of his solo work is impressive too. The man personified early glam and proto-punk. Transformer, possibly his best known solo effort, is also one of his best, as far as I’m concerned. It of course contains the well known “Walk on the Wild Side” and “Perrfect Day”, but the sneer of “Vicious” just slays, and the nasty cheek of “New York Conversation” makes me chuckle every time. The whole album is eclectic and weird, even today, and for that I love it and will forgive Reed for Lulu. Maybe.
In this blog’s previous incarnation, I reviewed Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, and wasn’t overwhelmingly positive about it. It seemed pedestrian and, from where I sit in Expensive Land (aka Australia), not worth the asking price. This one, however, puts paid to that. Now, I’m a massive hophead and I love IPAs, so I suppose my bias is a little apparent, but this was very special. Wonderful aromatic hops on the nose, strong (and I mean bloody strong) hops which still has enough of a malt presence to ensure you’re not making a lemon face, and one of the chalkiest (in a good way), driest finished I’ve ever experienced in a beer. If this, like all imported beers, were not so ludicrously dear over here, I’d happily make it a regular in my beer cupboard. It’s summer here now, and for my mind, nothing goes down better on a balmy night like this than a good, hoppy ale. It also makes me want to try the rest of their range.
For this American classic, I thought pairing it with a classic American roots artist would be the way to go. Ry Cooder’s influence on roots music, and guitar music in general, is undisputed. The man is a stringed-instrument genius, and one of those rare guitarists who can make a guitar really sing, especially when he played slide. On this album, his second, he took other people’s songs and put his own eclectic mark on them. This is one of the few instances where covering Johnny Cash worked (his version of “Hey Porter” is weirdly appropriate). He’s not much of a vocalist, but when you can play guitar like that, who the hell needs vocals?