Journey to the Land Down Under
BeerdedBastard Interviews Ol_Juntan_64
January 30, 2003
Written by beerdedbastard
Perth is the other, western side of Australia. But this doesn’t limit Ol_Juntan whose been to San Diego, Belgium and other beer meccas. The Beerdedbastard gave him a ring to shoot the poo...
BB: G’day Mate!(Stereotypical American attempt at sounding Aussie!) Would you explain the significance of your user name?
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OJ: Ol_Juntan_64 should really be Öl_ Juntan_64. Öl means ‘beer’ and "Juntan" means ‘group’, in Swedish. I took this name from the name of the beer club (Öl Juntan) I joined when I was working in Belgium in the first half of 2002. Most of the beer club members were Scandinavian and all worked at the same place I was working. It was a great little club that met roughly monthly to sample the delights of the local Belgian beer scene. They had a few rules, the most interesting being you could not drink the same beer twice at club events. The club secretary kept a long running list and anyone violating this rule had to buy the next round.
BB: That sounds like a fun club! You list Perth, Australia as home. It appears that Perth is a port city (connected to the sea by rivers). Please take some time to describe life there.
OJ: Perth is a suburban sprawl style city of over a million people divided by the Swan River and running along about 60 kilometres of stunning white sand swimming beaches. The port is actually in the city of Fremantle (home to some tasty little microbreweries - read on) but we usually call the whole outer metro area including the port, Perth. Winters are cool, mildly wet and windy, summers are hot - hot -hot and windy. Perth is perhaps the most isolated city of its size in the world. Its closer (and sometimes cheaper) to fly to Bali than to Sydney. We have sharks but no crocs, stinging jelly fish, spiders and snakes and lotsa other biting creatures, but that doesn’t seem to worry 99.99% of the people here. You have a significant greater chance of being hit by lightning than succumbing to any of these nasties.
BB: Please list some places or sights a visitor should see when there? And where to have some good brews?
OJ: Tourist wise I simply don’t know where to start. Food and beverage wise, the restaurant strip in Northbridge just north of the city centre is a basic start. The Belgian Beer café in the middle of the city is a start for those seeking the feel and taste of Belgium. Fremantle has 2 micro/brewpubs that are worth a visit, The Sail and Anchor, on the main cappuccino strip is great place to drink beer on a Friday of Saturday night. They have some 8 beers worth tasting, probably their IPA is their best brew. The Little Creatures brewpub/restaurant out near the Fisherman’s Harbour restaurant area serves up its wonderful <a hrefhttp://www.ratebeer.com/ShowBeer.asp?BeerID=7658>Pale Ale that is definitely one of Australia’s best beers. Bullant Brewery in the outer eastern suburbs, brews some interesting stuff and the Duckstein brewery in the heart of the Swan Valley vineyards brews up some very interesting traditional German beer. There are also two micro breweries in the southwest, one of which brews some very pleasant amber and brown ales
BB: Can you teach me (and the rest of the world!) some Aussie words, expressions or phrases?!!!
OJ: Crikey mate, this could take all bloody day. I’ll direct you to a couple of websites, <a hrefhttp://thisthat.tripod.com/slang.html>http://thisthat.tripod.com/slang.html and <a hrefhttp://www.aussieslang.com>http://www.aussieslang.com are pretty good. One of my favourites is "spit the dummy" which means to "chuck a tantrum of some kind". BTW "chuck" means ‘throw’). My other fave is "Septic" which is rhyming slang for ‘American’ as in ‘Spetic Tank’ = Yank. The trick to sounding like a true blue Aussie is to speak with your mouth almost closed. We used to do this a lot because we had to keep the flies out. The fly problem is more or less under control but old habits die hard.
BB: LOL! Wow, a language influenced by insects! I’m glad to hear that the condition has lessened there. Australia has one thing in common with America (other than having a <U>similar</U> language!) They both have a history of being used as the penal colonies of Great Britain! The Southern Hemisphere and Australia also have some interesting <U>differences</U> compared to the North. I’ve heard about the toilets swirling counter-clockwise(myth or fact?), time wise you are a day ahead of the West, Summer while we Winter, and that you have a different view of the stars, seeing ones that we can’t see (and vice-versa). Can you tell me any other significant differences?
OJ: Well - I might dispute that we have a similar language because the visiting American students here find it quite difficult to understand us sometimes. The water swirling down the drain the other way is sort-of true, but is only really consistent for large volumes of fluids like ocean currents and the atmosphere. Having stared at few toilets in my time they can also easily go the other way around if any fluid enters them in the opposite direction. Significant difference wise, well I think that most Aussies are just a hell of a lot more relaxed about life in general than most other western countries, except for sport which we all take very seriously.
BB: How and when did your interest in beer begin? And do you remember what that first beer was?
OJ: Being of Italian heritage I was given wine from about the age of 3 and I remember my first shot of Grappa when I was about 5. I even used to take a water-red-wine mix to school until the teachers found out and persuaded my parents this was not appropriate. My first beer was almost certainly Swan Lager which is what my father and uncle always drank. While we always had beer, wine and spirits around the house my first real interest in beer was when I was about 14 and my family went to a large party where there were crates of macro spilling out from under a table. Myself and a number of other mates made off with a crate and made ourselves well and truly sick. I still like good red wine especially with food.
BB: From looking at your 700+ ratings, I get several impressions. First that you either have access to a majority of the world’s beers or you travel a lot! How is the beer availability there?
OJ: Well I guess I do get to travel a fair bit as I have been to the US, Japan and other parts of Asia and Europe quite a few times. Normally it’s on business and I have little time to sample beer but I would always seek to try out new beers where ever I could. Last year I had the great fortune of spending some 9 months in Europe (mainly Belgium) which is when I started rating seriously with RB. Since returning to Australia it has been increasingly harder to find more beers to rate.
BB: I notice a lack of American beers amongst your ratings...Is this due to their availability(or lack of...) there? And would you or have you tried any trades or on-line purchases to get beers unavailable in your area?
OJ: Yeah I really sense this massive gap in my lack of US beer ratings. I was in the US in 1983, and 1988 through 1990 and tasted a lot of beers but they were mostly macros and I know that there has been a massive expansion in the styles and quality of American beer. There seemed to be very few American beers available in Europe and only slight more available here in Oz. I sense that it would be pretty difficult to sell most boutique American beers here in Australia as a novice wanting to try something new would invariably gravitate towards a European beer.
BB: How is beer purchased there? And please list some common examples of prices.(Locals, imports, swill & good stuff, Bottled, canned and draft pints, etc...)
OJ: Most macro beer in Australia is sold in 330 mL bottles and cans. You can usually buy all beer as singles, 4-6 packs, cartons (12 or 24 bottles/cans) and the occasional macro style in the slab (30 cans) or kegs. Local macro beer ranges from around US$12 to US$15 a carton of 24 cans/bottles. Local premium beer costs around US$2 for a 330mL bottle. The number of styles and amount of European beer (especially English) is increasing but remains expensive due to the small amounts imported and additional taxes. A 750 mL bottle of Chimay Blue costs around US$9 and I was recently quoted around US$7 for a 330 mL bottle of Rochefort 10. None of this is helped by the increasing Australian obsession for wine and an overall reduction in beer consumption although I believe premium beer consumption increased by around 25% last year. Many Aussie farmers are increasingly turning to grapes as traditional agricultural products bring in fewer and fewer $$$. BTW a lot of the wines is simply superb.
BB: Another thing I noticed was the vast number of Belgian Strong ales you have sampled! Would you consider that your favorite style? And why?
OJ: Belgian ales and strong ales are definitely the two styles that make me go weak at the knees before I even drink them although my Belgian experience last year enabled me to build up my knowledge of Lambics and I think some of these are really awesome beers. The Belgian ales with a high level of complexity is probably what intrigues me most. Every time you taste them you seem to discover something else and sometimes even change your mind about something you thought you had pinned down previously. Initially I didn’t like this too much, especially in a beer like Orval but Oakes has convinced me that this is actually a good thing and after sampling a dozen or so Orvals in the last few months I’ll have to change my rating on this one soon. In the weeks or so before I left Belgium in late August I tried to capture this by drinking a Westy 12 every day - it was like discovering a dozen long lost siblings - all related, but slightly different - I really wish I had written an article about it.
BB: I also see that you have authored an article on rating beer, and everyone should read it, IMO. Please describe what you look for in a beer…what makes it good to you?
OJ: I like beers with a big well balanced body and full complex flavour/aromas that can’t always be described easily in words - kinda slightly "mysterious" beers. Ultimately a good beer is one I would like to have a couple of dozen on hand and drink on a moderately regular basis. Lately I’ve been getting into Schneider Aventinus, and Greene King Strong Suffolk (Olde Suffolk). Of course there are a number of beer styles that I really appreciate and rate highly (eg stouts and porters and the famous Traquair House Jacobite Ale are some examples but would not necessarily consider having a lot of on hand for regular drinking.
BB: O.K., Knowing that, <U>If</U> there were to be such a widespread global grain shortage that only <U>one</U> brewery were allowed to produce <U>one</U> style…Who would you want that brewery to be? What style? And why?
OJ: see my answer to why I like Belgian Ales although I simply cannot imagine the whole beer drinking world being required to drink West 12, maybe Tripel Karmeliet - I just love that beer, it’s incredibly versatile and goes wonderfully with deserts - but then again so does Westy 12!
BB: What do you gain from coming to Ratebeer.com? And have you met with any other Ratebeerians?
OJ: I have only ever met one RateBeerian (Kåstå), who is also a member of Öl Juntan in Belgium. The best personal thing for me about RB was finally finding something that enabled me to organize my thoughts about rating/comparing different beers. Of course meeting all the knowledgeable people on RB has enabled me to learn far more about beer than I ever thought I would in the nine months I have been a member. Probably the most important thing I have learned is how little I still know about beer. I really don’t consider myself anywhere near as knowledgeable as my number of ratings suggest.
BB: Please take a moment to share some of your other interests. (Hobbies, Kids, work, etc…)
OJ: Well aside from beer I like messing about with computers. About 5 years ago I networked our house and recently added a wireless base station - I just love sitting in my garden with an interesting beer and reading the RB forum from my wireless connected laptop. I think at last count we had 7 functioning computers (3 people live at my house) and I’m still not sure what they all do. I like making furniture using our stunning local Aussie hardwoods. While in Europe my wife and I took over 12,000 photos.- check out my digital Panorama page at <a hrefhttp://126.96.36.199/Panoramas/>http://188.8.131.52/Panoramas/ - lotsa panoramic pictures of my travels. I also like music of all kinds but especially listening to my son’s funk rock band.
BB: I’d like to thank-you for taking this time to share your outlooks and experiences. I found your answers to be both informative and insightful. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
OJ: Well it’s been a pleasure to do this interview even though it might sound like a re-run of some of my posts to the RB forum.
BB: Cheers mate!
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