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What manner of devilry is this? Two updates in the same evening after a more than six month silence? You bet your sweet hairy arse it it.
Mrs Beerswax and I just came back from a short holiday in Apollo Bay, and of course I managed to fit in a trip to a local brewery on the way there. Forrest Brewing Company are a small outfit in the tiny town of, funnily enough, Forrest, but from what I gather they’re doing a healthy trade. They have four beers on offer currently, and are bottling them all, which is a nice change since we last visited when their brewer had broken his arm or something and therefore their production was somewhat curtailed. Anyway, they make a kölsch-style beer which I’ve had before and wasn’t too enamoured by, a pale, a stout, and the Irish red above. I’ll be reviewing the pale and the stout later.
I originally tasted all their beers on tap and they poured rather well. The Irish red was actually my favourite on tap so I bought a couple of bottles of it. However, it isn’t as good as I remembered it, though, or it doesn’t travel well. Or it just tastes better out of a colder tap than the half-pint bottle. Whatever - it’s not a bad brew, just lacks a presence and the good mouth kicking you want in an ale. Hop bite is present and accounted for, but it doesn’t leave much in the end. However, I’d definitely prefer it over a Kilkenny.
WIshbone Ash have always been an interesting group. They seemed to careen wildly through different styles and moods, sometimes within the same album. But one thing they always had were the guitar skills, and the lovely vocal harmonies, even if they weren’t the strongest vocalists. This album was their second, and it’s a quite laid-back affair for the most part - lots of folky and melodic songwriting, some of it almost reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel, mixed with the occasional more uptempo cut like “Jailbait”. I must admit that my first choices for Wishbone Ash albums are their more famous Argus, and, funnily enough as it was the first of theirs I ever heard, No Smoke Without Fire, which I gather was and is not really liked by a large proportion of the band’s fanbase but I think has some really inspired songs on it (amongst a bit of modern dreck)…anyway, tangent aside, I still think Pilgrimage is, objectively speaking, amongst their best material.
As an aside, the copy I have up there is still sealed (so no, I’ve not played it - I have mp3s. I know, I know…), and appears to have been a promo copy or something. Or a factory bugger-up whereby the name of the album just didn’t print properly. Or, some jackass played an enormous joke and took a defective record sleeve, inserted a Barry Manilow LP in there, and sealed it, chortling like a bad laugh track while he dod so as he thought of the sucker who’d buy this (cheaply, I must say, but still…) and not open it, thinking it was a collectors’ item. No, I’m not cynical at all…
I’m not overwhelmingly familiar with this brewery’s output. I know I’ve had an English-style bitter which was a bit of alright, and - horror of horror - a no-carb beer (old reviews of these coming soon). Of the latter, I can safely say I would rather emulate a golden shower porn actor than drink that vile concoction again. Yes, it was that bad. Fuck it, bring on 2 girls one….actually, no.
Anyway, this is a beer blog…so where was I? Yes, this one. A schwarzbier according to beeradvocate.com, which doesn’t tell you much, and a limited release like the English-style bitter. And according to the label, a black coffee lager. Well, call me intrigued. As you can see, it looked and poured like a stout, but tasted nothing like one, really. Coffee of course was the predominant flavour and very upfront, but it didn’t really come across as a lager - which is a good thing. More like Coopers Dark Ale but with a much more distinctive taste. But not distinctive enough to make it a habit. As far as their limited edition beers go, I’d much rather the bitter, and they still haven’t made up for that no-carb abomination. Still, I remember it being pretty good for what it was, maybe nothing particularly special or different as I was expecting, but drinkable enough.
And behind it we have Acca Dacca. The comeback album after Bon Scott died tragically (and, let’s not deny it, fucking stupidly). I don’t like Brian Johnson-led AC/DC nearly as much as I like the early, arse-kicking, whiskey-and-beer-and-smokes-drenched AC/DC of the 70s, but this album is still worthy. The title track is, of course, utterly legendary, and you could tell they were channeling Bon’s spirit as it’s a real barnstormer of an album. Yet another original pressing, and another one banged up as all hell, but completely worth it. RIP, Bon Scott, this was a pretty fitting tribute.