Category Archives: Beer

3000 Public Transport Stories (How I learnt to stop worrying and love the tram)

I sat on the tram yesterday, the first time I had for a very long time. I tend to train it or walk nowadays but I thought for a change I’d catch the 57 up through North Melbourne and to home, even though it is a much longer journey than the train. I sat opposite a woman who got on at the start of the line like me and was still there when I got off. Her actions, demonstrated to me how much my attitudes have changed over the last couple of years.

Within a few minutes of getting on, she had the song ‘My Prerogative’ playing on YouTube without any headphones so the whole tram could hear. Previously this might of annoyed me and in some circumstances I may have spoken up and questioned what she was doing. But, in some ways this brought some vibrancy to my journey home. However, she played it three more times, stopping the YouTube clip after it had finished and replaying it. Then she phoned someone after the third play and I couldn’t tell whether she was arranging a date or setting up musicians to meet. The pretext definitely sounded like the second but I think she was trying to arrange the first. After the call had finished, she put the phone down, ate some carrot and dip and then played the song again until I got off.

It made me think that at some level, the song meant something to her. And particularly the words ‘everybody’s talking all this stuff about me, why don’t they just let me live’ and I wondered whether her playing of the song was either meant to prompt interaction with the people around her or maybe the song on some level was a comfort to her. I think at times in our lives we have all associated with the lyrics of a particular song, a song that has spoken about our own situation and perhaps we haven’t played it obsessively to an audience on public transport, but maybe in the privacy of our own homes, we have. This women managed to nudge me about three or four times but apologised every time so I didn’t once question her niceness or that she was deliberately trying to antagonise people.

About a week ago I attended a school play for the school I’d taught at for my first placement. As I walked into the venue and up towards a seat at the front, I heard a chorus from one side of the auditorium shout ‘Ian’ and then a group of students ran towards me and hugged me. If I ever wondered what appreciation for the job I’ve done was, it was there in those few moments. To see that I’d made an impression on a few young minds and that I’d done something that they would remember and hence they remembered me. As my class walked off stage after their part was over, one of the boys in grade 1 must have known I was seated where I was and looked over and waved at me with a big smile of his face. A smile of how proud he was of the job he’d done and how glad he was I was there to see it. That is powerful stuff and a few seconds demonstrated an appreciation I haven’t felt in years in other jobs. And that’s a shame. I’ve too easily settled for comfortable positions where I could easily do the roles without much of a challenge, but with that comfort came a feeling of emptiness and I never really appreciated a job well done or felt I was adding value in the way I wanted to.

Today I reached 3000 different beers in the last 6 years. An achievement eh? A numerical one maybe, but not really an achievement in any other sense. At 2000 beers I made a claim that, that was it and I would just enjoy my beers instead of this constant search for new ones. Perhaps though the times just weren’t right for that and I wasn’t ready. It’s a very human characteristic to be constantly searching for something new, to seek happiness from external sources instead of internal ones. But perhaps I’m in a better space on many levels; I feel I’ve returned to me. The true me. The one that does things because I enjoy them rather than because they may impress others. I’m sure that feeling for many of us comes out of a lack of security, and however many people seem full of confidence; my experience is the most seemingly confident tend to be the most insecure.

To err, after all is to be human. I’m very much in transition internally, I’m returning to the things I love because I love them and they bring me genuine joy, not because of what they look like from outside. A great example is my love of horse racing, which I’m indulging more, and more at the moment. I understand that people may object to horse racing and indeed gambling for many reasons, but they are their objections and not mine. I don’t force my advocacy of my pastimes on my friends and I appreciate that they don’t enforce their objections on me. I shouldn’t feel that I need to defend my enjoyment of it and why. We shouldn’t be shamed into not liking the things we like because of other peoples opinions. I feel that my individual opinion is as valid as anyone else’s and differences should be respected. A long time ago, I was vegetarian for 5 years and I remember that everyone had an opinion and in the end I became such a moralistic vegetarian just to defend why I was vegetarian in the first place. The truth was at the time I just didn’t like the texture of meat but this reason didn’t seem to be enough for people.

Life changes at such a pace and our attitudes to it. Friends come and go through our lives, some remain constant, and some leave and some just drift away. At times we choose to listen to our friend’s counsel and at times we ignore it. That maybe justified, that may not be. All these relationships on some level are transactional, we give and we take. Although that balance can be temporarily skewed, in the long run these relationships provide us with something valuable and them with something valuable too.

We should be grateful for those that share our journey, that light the dark corners and remember that they like us because of what we are and not what we think they want us to be.

IJS 20/06/2018

Three years in the making

‘If I saved all the money I spent on beer, I’d spend it on beer’
(Earl Dibbles Jr)

So here we are. It all started on 11 January, three years ago. I found an app called Untappd and having already spent a large portion of my life tasting and experiencing new beers, I decided this would be a great way to record them. I initially started off very comprehensively writing small reviews and in some cases taking pictures to add to the reviews. After a while I decided that I’d just use the star rating and use it as a vehicle to catalogue what I had but not necessarily to review them.

In just over three years I have tasted 1000 unique beers. I came up with a bit of a plan for how I was going to finish the 1000. I didn’t want to go out with a bang drinking in a favourite venue or with a crowd of people I’d prefer to quietly cross the finish line enjoying the 1000th beer with my fiancé Bee at home. I had a beer in mind to be my 1000th beer and the two preceding ones.

The last three beers represent my past, the present and the future. My first choice was a Prickly Moses beer, this is a bit of salute to the past. Prickly Moses (or the Otway Estate) was one of the first breweries I really fell in love with in Victoria. I still to this day if I see them at beer festivals go over and have a chat and try some old favourites. I particularly enjoyed their incarnations of Saison, Farmhouse Ale and Reserve D’Otway. There was a part of my life where I did spend a fair bit of time in the Otway region and I always looked forward to visiting the brewery.

The next choice is a Hawthorn beer to reflect the last few months of living in Hawthorn with Bee and how much I’ve embraced that change in my life. There have been times over the last few years where I could never imagine living so far outside of the city. Some of you might chuckle at that, Hawthorn is only 8km outside of the city but I’ve always had a preference over the years to be able to walk to Bourke Street Mall within 30 or 40 minutes. I suppose though sometimes the place where you live takes a back seat and the person you live with is the deciding factor. I’m very much enjoying living in the inner east for the first time in my 10 years in Melbourne.

My final choice is a look into the future, a Mountain Goat beer. Next year Bee and I will be married at the Mountain Goat brewery. Mountain Goat represents one of the oldest craft brewers in Melbourne and I’ve enjoyed their beers for many years. There has been many a night over these past three years that I’ve spent in that warehouse eating pizza, drinking beer and surmising about the world of beer. This beer will be my 1000th and a time to raise a glass to what has been and what is yet to come.

So my choices are really more than just beer choices, they represent the past, the present and the future. They are for me, symbolic.

So what now? Having reached a thousand is it time for a rest? In truth I don’t know. Any time I’ve gone out over the last three years has always involved me looking for a beer I’ve never tried before and in my mind I think it might be nice to just go out and drink a beer I know I enjoy. I’m sure though there will always be that desire within me to go out and taste new and wonderful beers and maybe this is a perfect juncture for me to get back to reviewing beers properly on my website. This is something that  I’ve definitely let slip as late.

So onto the question that everyone likes to ask. What has been my favourite beer? In truth I can’t answer that. I love the IPA style and I’ve tried a many of them over these three years. However beer really has to suit the climate that it is drunk in and I can think of nothing better than a cold Pilsner in the middle of summer and a nice heavy Scotch ale or Stout in the winter.

Let’s hope the craft beer industry continues to thrive, it’s a great community and the people are always so welcoming. I’ve made numerous friends over the years and its still nice to be able to walk into a venue like Mrs Parmas and have the bar staff instantly recognise you. Craft beer is a passion and like the beer itself it’s a great one to share.

IJS 20/03/2015


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Good Beer Week

, If you have a candle, the light won’t glow any dimmer if I light yours off of mine (Steven Taylor)


We all have experiences we enjoy in our lives, things that make us happy, things that engage us and things that drive us. But what enhances those experiences and takes them to a whole new level? For me that question is a relatively easy one to answer, it’s the people I share those experiences with.

To share your joy with someone else isn’t a joy halved it’s a joy doubled.

My Good Beer Week, I shared with many people, a variety of friends, some I see every week, others I see rarely. To say Good Beer Week is all about the beer is true but isn’t necessarily true at the same time. It was maybe a shared passion or it may just be a way of catching up.


200 events across 160 venues in Melbourne, 9 days of beer related activities ending in a crescendo that is the Great Australian Beer Spectapular.

Good Beer Week took me on a tour, reminded me of my roots and made me think about my future.

My love of beer started in the UK many years ago, I evolved into a paid up member of Norfolk CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), came over here and was surprised at how little choice the craft scene provided over here. Now 10 years later with the explosion of craft breweries there are hundreds on these shores.

I digress for a second, but back to the job in hand. Good Beer Week for me involved the following events:

  • The Great Australian Beer Spectapular ( A three day festival highlighting 110 beers brewed specially for the event

I may return to individual events to provide a more in depth description but for now this summary provide a good understanding of the week.


An important part of life for me is belonging, although as I get older I enjoy being more individual I also need to feel I belong somewhere. What does belonging actually mean though? To me, its being part of something bigger than just me, somewhere I’m accepted, somewhere where I’m secure, its about inclusion and identity, it brings me satisfaction and security. I feel all these in this world that is craft beer in Australia. Its opened doors that I could never have opened and introduced me to people I would never have met.

I’m not embarrassed to say the end of Good Beer Week gave me a sadness at its conclusion. It provided me a week to step outside of my day to day life and into a world I’ve come to love. The sadness comes from that feeling you have when a holiday finishes and you must return. But I’m a buoyant character, my world is so full of wonder. Happiness is really all around me if I open my eyes.

Roll on Good Beer Week 2015.

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