In full it reads “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.” Pretty profound stuff for I guy I had never heard of. Well, as it turns out, not only have I heard of him, I’ve even read one of his books. A quick click on his name revealed Mr Mandino is a bestselling author and decorated public speaker. [1] He wrote “The Greatest Salesman in the World” which has been republished over 100 times. [2]

I presume I had to read it for a course as it does not sound anything like my usual book diet of politics, humour, political humour, history and Star Wars. That said, at the moment I am reading a Judge Dredd collection so maybe back then I was looking for something different, or perhaps I was stuck in Hamilton airport or somewhere equally dark.

Speaking of dark, it is time to discuss beer well ahead of this blog’s usual schedule. That is because there is lot to cover. First, the basics for those who have not been following along at home. [3] The Darkest Days festival, a tap showcase of the darker sides of beer, runs at Malthouse from 23 June 2017 to 25 June 2017 – or until the beer runs out.

Last week I covered what I thought was half of the festival beer list. Well, as it turns out there were several inky beers lurking in the shadows that I was unaware of at the time of writing. Consequently, there will be a third and final Darkest Days blog next week to complete the full list.

Here is the second instalment of the beer list and my comments (for what they are worth): [4]

Liberty Prohibition (12.8%) – There is something just delightfully ironic about naming a beer after a dark period of history where you could not get a beer (at least legally). It is even more ironic when it is THIS beer – a very strong, bourbon barrel aged Imperial Porter. Brewer Joseph Wood is not known for his subtlety but this looks bold even by his standards.

The best review – and indeed the only review – I found was from Dr explosivedog on RateBeer. I suspect he has nailed it with this description:

“Pours pitch black with a tan head. Bourbon, smoke, plums, dried fruit, some umami notes. Lots going on in a very good way.”

mike’s Damson in Distress (5%) – A damson is a type of fruit. Right, now that we exhausted my knowledge on the subject let us hear from brewer Ron Trigg about a beer that was a really, really long time in the making:

“We harvested the 100kg of Damson plums at Tarata during May 2015, forked them individually and put them into glass carboys with the Gin, as well as some cinnamon sticks, ground nutmeg, whole cloves and a bit of Manuka honey.

We brewed a porter during July 2015 and then laid this in barrels and inoculated the brew with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis.

In January 2017 the plums were removed from the Gin and combined with the beer from the barrels in an open top fermenter, then conditioned, but not filtered.

I’m rather pleased with the result.”

Zeelandt Negra Royal (6.1%) – I do not have official confirmation of this but I think the reference to Negra relates to the Spanish phrase “La Negra” which means “The Black Woman”. However, I do know it is a blend of Zeelandt Schwarzbier and Zeelandt Porter. It was aged in a tempranillo barrel for a year. Appropriately, tempranillo is a variety of black grape. There was also a secondary fermentation in the barrel producing a subtle sourness.

As an aside, but a relevant aside, I am so impressed at the planning and patience that brewers put into their barrel aged beers, not to mention the resources. They have to plan a year or more ahead, and trust their skills that nothing will go wrong inside the wood. I find it amazing because I barely know what I am doing in three days time. Well played brewers.

Sunshine CZAR Bomb (9.6%) – A recent gold medallist at the Australian beer awards, this is a powerful barrel aged coffee and vanilla imperial stout. There are notes of coffee, chocolate and dark stonefruit.

I had always assumed the CZAR was a reference to the beer being a Russian Imperial Stout. A little (sadly desktop) research indicated that was only half the story. The Sunshine brewery notes the “Czar Bomba or AN602 hydrogen bomb, the biggest nuclear weapon ever detonated, remains the most powerful artificial explosion in human history.” It was built by the Russians (technically the Soviets back then) and they, unlike countries like, say, France, detonated it on one of their own islands. [5]

Panhead Grease Monkey (8.4%) – This is a rare oak-aged old ale with notes of toffee, raisins, brown bread, a little woodiness and background whisky burn.

In terms of names, given this is from Panhead, I am pretty sure it relates to automotives in some way. However, when I put “Grease Monkey” into Google all I got was images of primates wrestling in oil. I went to the Panhead website for clarification but it stated the name was a homage to the “hard-working habitués of the hoist.” So I am really no closer to an answer.

Emerson’s The Rapture Black IPA (7.4%) – A dark twist on the traditional IPA. The brewer reports it includes “fistfulls of American hops – Chinook, Citra, Zythos, Simcoe and Amarillo are all finished off with a touch of oily, hop-backed NZ Cascade whole cone hops.” I am pretty certain that sentence is the reason that this is the Darkest Days beer I’m most looking forward to (so far at least).The Rapture has notes of cocoa, pine, grass, orange marmalade and chocolate.

Next time, we drink to Gareth Morgan vowing to spend $5m on his political campaign. Because rich white guys bankrolling their own campaigns always works out well, right?

[1] I do not know him well enough to call him Og, far less Oggy or the Ogmeister.

[2] It was written in 1968 which may explain the gender specific title.

[3] Hang your heads in shame. You know who you are.

[4] At least last week I had tried most of the beers and even reviewed a couple. Cannot say the same this time…

[5] I suspect the island is gone, replaced by part of the ocean that no one swims in. Mind you, I don’t think there were ever many swimmers in the Russian Arctic Sea… at least not voluntarily.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


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