If you've spent any time around Melbourne's beer community, the chances are you'll have come across ‘Manda Lê. And, if you've come across ‘Manda Lê, there's an excellent chance you'll remember the meeting.
Not only has 'Manda been a familiar friendly face at bars, festivals and events as long as The Crafty Pint has been in existence and a beer enthusiast par excellence, but she has done so while rocking an ever-evolving, neon chameleon series of hairstyles. Indeed, having sent us her answers to become the first female Beer Nut on the eve of departing these shores for a lengthy tour of Europe, she's landed in Munich with an actual rainbow – of the sort surfed by unicorns – atop her head.
However, our occasional Beer Nuts series is about celebrating the most colourful characters populating the wonderful Australian beer world – not just those with great hair – so let's cut to the chase. Over to you, ‘Manda...
Name: ‘Manda Lê
Occupation: Currently, I’m occupied with daydreaming about my upcoming nine week break from work.
Are you nerd, geek, aficionado, snob, wanker or something else?
I prefer the term “enthusiast”, personally!
How long have you been afflicted?
Probably since late 2010. Prior to that, I was casually drinking the odd James Squire / Mountain Goat / Coopers here and there… but lots of Pure Blonde, too.
Then one day Rory (my partner) said to me: “Hey, there’s this pub right near our house called The Local Taphouse which seems to have lots of interesting stuff on tap… maybe we should check it out?”
...The rest writes itself, no?
What started you on the slippery slope to craft beer obsession?
*points at Rory* It’s all his fault!
As someone who is prone to obsessing over new interests, as well as already being interested in food and other beverages that taste good, it was probably only a matter of time before I went down the craft beer road. It was definitely Rory who first helped pique my interest though; “Try this, it’s delicious!”
What is the most extreme act of beer obsession you have committed?
This is pretty tame compared to some of the stuff I imagine a lot of your other readers might have done, but very early on in my ~*~ craft beer journey ~*~ I fell head over heels with Holgate’s first run of The Empress, which they debuted at the first GABS at the Taphouse. Afterwards, they released a very limited run (133?) of 750ml bottles; despite earning a pittance at the time, I headed out and hoarded three for myself. I only just opened the last of them about a month ago, at a bottle share night… Damn, I miss that beer. :’(
[Just checked our listing for the beer and you're correct: 133 bottles only! – Crafty]
OH!! I just remembered while writing this that I bought a growler of it from Slowbeer too. And finished it off... in one night... on my own. Welp.
Anyway, these days I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at dropping dumb amounts of money / spending dumb amounts of time scouring different bottle stores for beers I like, but back then I kinda weirded myself out with my own behaviour!
Do you document your consumption? If so, how?
I’m a bit of a spreadsheet / list-making type, so Untappd is right up my alley. Not a big believer in ratings though.
Which beers have most blown your mind?
I’ll give you a list of “most memorable beers” instead, as some of the beers I have the fondest memories of / which bring back the fondest memories aren’t necessarily the ones which have blown my mind the most. The first ten that come to mind:
- Russian River’s Consecration
- Yeastie Boys’ Hud-a-wa’
- Stone’s Ruination (original version)
- 8 Wired’s Saison Sauvin
- Red Hill’s Christmas Ale
- Billy B’s Dark Malted Apple Beer
- Rodenbach’s Grand Cru
- Garage Project’s Death From Above
- Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale
- Lagunitas IPA
And which have been the worst?
I had a sip of Beck’s when I was about 20. Despite it being free and me being a poor uni student, I thought it was so bloody awful that I immediately palmed it off to someone else.
Bear in mind that this was at an age when I used to drink pre-mixed Woodstock bourbon & cola like it was going out of style, so it must have been pretty bad...
How many beer t-shirts do you own?
A small handful, most of which I accumulated by accident / by volunteering at brewers’ stalls etc.
How many different types of dedicated beer glassware do you own?
The types that are sturdy. I am very, very, very clumsy and have sent many a Riedel and Spiegelau to that Great Cupboard in the Sky over the years. :(
Generally, I favour tulips though, regardless of beer style.
Is any part of your home or workplace a shrine to beer?
Does half of one bookshelf count?
How many unique beers do you reckon you’ve consumed?
Somewhere upwards of 2,000 (thanks, Untappd!).
How much money do you spend in an average month on beer and related products (not including kebabs)?
Has anyone ever been able to accurately answer this question?!
What is your dream beer?
One that tastes excellent, and is consumed in excellent company.
Thanks, 'Manda. Not the only time The Empress at that first ever GABS has come up in an interview; it feels like that was a rather significant afternoon / evening in Melbourne's craft beer trajectory! View our video from the day to relive it here.