Fishing is damn thirsty work. Slaving away in the sun, hauling massive sea creatures over the side, surrounded by salt water. By the time you winch that boat back up the ramp you’re parched as, bro. Fluids must be maintained. It’s time to have a beer or two.
Whether bullshitting about the one that got away or boasting about your boat, rating reels or fantasising about fish-finders, swapping GPS coordinates or calamari recipes, a frosty beverage makes the lies slide down as smoothly as a posse of pilchards into a pelican’s gullet. Now, you may not know this, but while The Captain’s natural inclination has always been to the dark side — rum, you fools — he’s also rather partial to a beer or several — and much less likely to set his beard on fire after necking a few. Yes, beer is an integral part of life on and off the water, and The Captain works on the premise that all beer is good, but some beers are better than others. His always-thirsty crew has enthusiastically taken up the challenge to work up a top 12 catch of nautically themed beers. Who knew the World of Beer was so vast and uncharted? Anyhow, this is what we’ve come up with. Feel free to disagree; after all, one sailor’s Beyoncé is another’s Susan Boyle.
Throwback IPA 355ml can 3.5% (Australia)
EVERY FISHO knows you only throw it back when it’s undersize. Every beer drinker knows throwing back a frosty on a hot day is pretty much as good as it gets. This is your regular goes-with-prettymuch- anything brew. It is a “session IPA”. “Session” indicates the alcohol content is moderate to low. This is good. Get refreshed, but don’t fall out of the boat. Slake that thirst without the need for a nap in the bilge. Drink and still be able to “get stuff done”. “IPA” indicates the presence of hops — lots and lots of hops. Spike a tin of this honey-coloured brew and smell the fruity hops. Allow it passage down your throat and yes, bitter hoppiness all round, plus a grapefruit-lemony aftertaste, with a suggestion of maltiness lurking in the shallows.
Captain’s verdict: No surprises here, you know what you’re in for — responsible adult reliability.
Sea Rose Tart Cherry Wheat Ale 355ml 4% (USA)
APPARENTLY, this wheat ale was the result of an R&D experiment by some of the San Diego brewer’s more enthusiastic employees. And they didn’t do too bad a job with this fruity yet subtle number. The wheat style is clean and light, with the cherry juice giving the beer a soft pink colour — so maybe drink it straight from the bottle if you don’t want to be accused of chugging down a Cottee’s. The initial cherry taste doesn’t linger, making way for a dry, finish with a slightly tart afterburn. Not too fruity, not too bitter, a touch watery — Sea Rose really has a bet each way. More of a sip-and-savour rather than a slam-it-down, it’s more for a relaxed debrief around the campfire than an emergency lifesaver after a blue marlin has ripped your arms from their sockets.
Captain’s verdict: A beer on its best behaviour — supplying most of your daily Vitamin C requirements without dancing on the tables with its top off.
Three Sheets Pale Ale 330ml 4.9% (Australia)
THE LORD NELSON Brewery Hotel is Australia’s oldest continually licensed pub hotel and has a pretty good reputation when it comes to brewing natural ales. Throw down a Three Sheets and what you get is that mystical collision of malt, hops, yeast and water without evil added sugars or preservatives. This Australian pale ale is one of the most requested refreshers at the venerable public house, and one of only two of its beers actually available in the bottle. Concocted on the premises, the Three Sheets has a flowery citrus aroma and taste with a malty dry finish as balanced as a tightrope walker on a windy day and a big fat suggestion of hops.
Captain’s verdict: Just like its namesake, Lord Nelson won’t let you down, charging in with guns blazing to battle your thirst with all the enthusiasm of a vampire in a blood bank.
Australian Pale Ale 330ml 4.5% (Australia)
THIS EXAMPLE of dry-hopped, tight-bodied, unfiltered magic comes from the self-professed “fussy bastards” at Fremantle’s Gage Roads Brewing Co, whose preferred imbibing location is apparently South Mole Island at sundown. Fussy, indeed. But this brew does the business whatever your GPS location. Brewed in the American pale ale style, the Break Water is light-bodied with a subtle bitters taste and just a aromatic hint of citrus, which leaves the building as soon as decently possible. This beer slides down easily any time after the sun goes over the yardarm. Gage Roads’ clean-finishing and fruity Single Fin Summer Ale — a close, albeit fruitier, relation — is also worth investigation. Can be thrown down in reasonable numbers without fear of immediate collapse, but best to leave your car keys behind the bar to be on the safe side.
Captain’s verdict: Maybe it’s the isolation, but they brew a lot of damn good beer over in the Wild West. Break Water won’t let the side down, despite being more of a middle-order batsman than an
opener. 3/5 crabs
Long Reef Pale Ale 330ml can 5.1% (Australia)
LIKE ITS NAMESAKE piece of coastal real estate, the pride of Sydney’s Northern Beaches sticks out from the pack. Coming from a chunk of Sydney renowned for its beaches, being a refreshing quencher on a hot day was a no-brainer; requirement No.1 in the “qualities this beer must possess to become loved” department. Check. Does it have a big taste with tropical aromas, malty hints and tangy afterburn? Check. Only sticking point for The Captain is that for the thirsty fisherman there is little joy to be had out of just the one tiny tin. We know: it says 330ml on the outside, but it just seems smaller. So memo Nomad Brewing Co: a beer with such a big namesake demands visual — if not actual — volume. On the plus side, these conveniently compact tinnies are easily stored in quantity, even in a tinnie. Swings and roundabouts, really.
Captain’s verdict: Utilitarian, gets the job done, don’t overthink this, just enjoy the moment.
MURRAY’S WHALE ALE
Wheat Beer 330ml 4.5% (Australia)
NAMED IN tribute to the leviathans that each year cruise past Murray’s Nelson Bay home heading for their Hervey Bay holidays, Whale Ale may seem like your standard refreshing wheat beer, but this brew packs a few surprises in its sea chest. The slight creaminess, tropical fruit aroma and clean citrus flavour are matched with a higher percentage of malted and unmalted wheat, plus an aromatic hoppiness. This American style gives the Whale a nice dry finish, lighter and crisper than Belgian and German wheat beers. This is easy summer drinking and the beer scientists at Murray’s reckon their most popular brew goes best with white meats and salads. Note to self: fish is a white meat.
Captain’s verdict: You’ve gotta love a bottle label depicting a fat sperm whale and promising “no boring beer”, right? Respek!
Amber Ale 330ml 5.2% (Australia)
CHOSEN FOR The Captain’s nautical brew collection because its connection with his maritime colleague James Cook, this ale inspires such adjectives as “rich”, “complex” and “malty”. Conditioned in the bottle, Reserve Amber Ale is full-bodied with a slightly toasted caramel/ chocolate/toffee/cinnamon/nutty taste. Add in a bit of fruitiness and you get a real United Nations of aroma and taste, almost like a liquid fruitcake. Don’t let that put you off. The malty sweetness is evened out by the bitterness of the hops. Not a beer you’re going to slam down after tussling with a bad-tempered tuna, but one you’ll enjoy supping reflectively while war stories and/or lies are told at the end of a long day wrangling the rod. BTW: what Endeavour means by “vintage” is that all the ingredients used in the brewing process have been harvested in the same year. They also don’t have their own brewery, contracting out the process.
Captain’s verdict: A little shy and a bit of a deep thinker. Not an instant keeper, but rewards perseverance.
ADNAMS GHOST SHIP
Pale Ale 440ml can 4.5% (United Kingdom)
THE ONLY English entry to make the cut, Ghost Ship takes its inspiration from The Bell, a 600-yearold haunted pub in the village of Walberswick, Suffolk, where the coast is littered with the wrecks of smuggler vessels. Containing barley and rye, and brewed with a selection of malts, the original recipe was modified from a concoction called Deathly Pale Ale, which was never commercially produced. It’s won a few brewing awards so has plenty of cred, but The Captain’s taste test finds this medium-bodied amber ale to be fairly hoppy, a wee bit citrusy, and a little bitter, but not overwhelmingly so, with an undertow of caramel and malt biscuit. Crisp and clean it is refreshingly easy to consume and feels lip-smackingly good in the afterglow.
Captain’s verdict: Not at all scary. It kills a thirst deader than Davy Jones’ Locker and the generous 440ml size means more than a couple of swallows before setting course back to the bar.
Down She Gose 355ml 4.5% (Australia)
SOME SUPERSTITIOUS sea dogs might think it bad luck to include a brew with such a handle in this definitive list of thirst killers. But The Captain has always held to the view that you make your own luck, and in this case you’re lucky that the Victorian craft brewer chose gose — an heirloom German sour wheat beer style now enjoying a bit of a John Farnham-like comeback — to introduce itself to Aussie beer lovers. It’s a session beer that slides down the hatch with minimum effort on your part, flaunting its salty tang, hint of spices and lime and malty sweetness. Plus, tucked in among its crew of East Gippsland ingredients, is locally harvested seaweed. How’s that for marine cred?
Captain’s verdict: Although not a flash bastard, this brew has a bit of the rugged individual about it. Fair warning, though: at 4.5% with plenty in the tin, it can sneak up on a bloke.
Even Keel Session IPA 355ml can 3.8% (USA)
ACADEMIC BIBLE Wiktionary defines “ even keel” thus: (nautical) — “the situation in which a watercraft is floating or proceeding in a level and smooth manner”; and (emotional) — “the state or characteristic of being under control and balanced”. The Captain is not exactly known for displaying either characteristic, particularly when at the helm or partaking of “refreshment”. Which makes his command to include another Ballast Point offering, especially one with the moniker “Even Keel”, somewhat hard to fathom. But orders are orders. This hop-driven session ale out of San Diego — coincidentally homeport of the US Navy Pacific Fleet — is bright and citrusy with a malty spine and, at under four per cent alcohol, one or two won’t set you on your arse or have you generating your own burley mix over the side.
Captain’s verdict: The Captain has always promoted responsible consumption of alcohol, and with each baby can containing just 110 calories, it’s damn near a diet drink!