Blog of the Month: eat, drink, stagger

October 3, 2010, by Crafty Pint
Blog of the Month: eat, drink, stagger

If there’s one thing The Crafty Pint likes to be, it’s fair to one and all. So, having had Beer Blokes as the first featured blog, it’s time to redress the balance. We’re not saying Prof Pilsner – the author of Beer Blokes – is the sort of unreconstructed male chauvinist characterised by Chris Franklin back in the day, but still, it’s nice to have a bit of a female presence on the site.

And only proper too. One of the things that helps distinguish the craft beer scene from the wider beer world is the greater number of women enjoying good brews. It seems that rather than entice female drinkers in by taking the beer out of beer, you need to make it full of flavour: they’re not interested in how pure, blonde or naked it is, they’d rather have a good strong body.

One of the most prolific ladies writing about the amber nectar is Gem, author of eat, drink, stagger. Her site started out as a food and drink blog but has seen the insidious power of good beer gradually take it over, which is no bad thing. And here she is…

Name: Gem
Name of blog: eat, drink, stagger
When started: Dec 2009

I write about: beer & tastings, restaurant reviews, very occasional food hack

What you do when not blogging: read a lot, write less – some of which is poetry – and dream about getting back into early music performance. Of course, I dine out and drink lots of beer too!

Why did you start writing the blog? I’m a bit of a review slut. Once upon a time, my dream job was to be a classical music reviewer but I got kicked out of music school. Luckily for me (or not), I graduated with a BA where I majored in French and literature, so dabbled online and wrote some book and gig reviews. I think some of the literary theory wankery spoilt books for me and I found that I wanted to make my book reviews too… academic. I also didn’t find writing them as fun because of that self-imposed obligation to make them academic.

Some of my older friends would remember that back in those days, I wasn’t quite anorexic but I had a lot of problems with eating (that is, I didn’t really want to do it). A couple of years ago I was put on a medication which had the side effect of increasing my appetite. I don’t take that medication but the appetite stuck when I realised how ace food actually was.

And so… being an obsessive recordy type, I decided to start a food blog but mainly as a personal themed diary. Thought it would be nice to have a record of all the ace places I’d been to, all the yummy things I’d tried and fab experiences with like minded folks. Kind of uncool to admit it, but when life is feeling a bit shitty, looking back on the blog reminds me that some parts of life have been very good indeed.

I included beer as well as food because I thought if I recorded my beer experiences, I’d retain the knowledge and learn more. It worked, and still does! It never actually occurred to me that others would be interested in reading about it.


Gem’s superbly named blog: eat, drink, stagger


Another reason was because I write poetry and lots of my friends don’t seem to be interested in reading it, or if they do, they don’t really know how to respond to it, or they’re too scared to tell me how they feel about it. By stark contrast, those that do know about the blog are always really keen to know how it’s going and where I’ve been. I won’t lie, it’s very nice to be read though it’s not quite as cool as being in a band!

Why should people read it? You should read the blog if you like food and dining, and drinking beer. I don’t have an academic background in any of these areas, and happily admit that my culinary skills would barely rival the most stereotypical bachelor.

I guess you should also read it if you want to see how a craft beer novice with boundless enthusiasm and curiosity can go from being horrendously clueless to being able to remember a few names of some half-decent breweries! My personal learning curve, both for food and craft beer, has been immense. I never thought they’d become such large parts of my life.

What do you love / enjoy most about beer? The taste of course! I had no idea that beer could be so damn diverse. I love that its consumption and enjoyment challenges my palate constantly. It wasn’t that long ago when I used to wince at the bitterness of hops, or the sourness of lambics but now I can’t get enough! I get such a kick when you’re told that whichever beer you’re drinking or tasting has notes or the fragrance of, say, chestnut or passionfruit, and I can actually detect it!

I also love the inclusiveness of the craft beer community. It’s actually quite amusing that as a woman who loves beer, I experience condescension from largely straight males who drink the crap commercial stuff. This absolutely infuriates the hell out of me. With the craft beer community, this very rarely happens. I know at the beginning when I started attending tastings I did feel a bit special being female (because I was fussed over) but once I became a regular to the scene, I guess I became one of the blokes! Or one of the beer nerds, giggle.

Craft beer also seems to be less snobby than wine appreciation (though wine nerds, feel free to berate me if I’m wrong). Again, based on the tastings I’ve been to, there’s no shame in admitting that a particular beer is not for you, no one’s going to bully you into recanting your opinion…not yet!

Your favourite Australian beer? I always really struggle with these sorts of questions because it’s so hard to pick just one! Probably at the moment, the Bridge Road B2 Bomber. It’s the beer I think about constantly even after having had it on tap at the brewery. But I want more!

One of my personal ‘hop’ epiphany beers was the Feral Fantapants. WOW.

If I wanted to pick up a 6-pack of ‘comfort beers’ (hey, if you can have comfort food, I don’t see why you can’t have ‘comfort beer’), I’d most likely go the Red Hill Scotch Ale or Mountain Goat Steam Ale.

Favourite non-Australian beer? At the moment, probably the Harviestoun Old Engine Oil porter. What a blissful drop. It’s even delish if you’re drinking it out of the bottle without letting it warm up (please don’t hate me for that admission!).

The Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissebier blew my socks off the first time I tried it, which I am a little ashamed to confess wasn’t that long ago, and wheat beer is not a style I love. Weihenstephaner could convert anyone though!

Favourite place to enjoy a beer? I have a few – easily the Local Taphouse in St Kilda, though I’ve been to the one in Darlinghurst too. Being a horrendously biased Melburnian, I’d have to say I prefer the St Kilda one!

Honourable mentions to the Mountain Goat Brewery, the Royston, and Biero Bar. Out of Melbourne, I’ll always have a very soft spot for Red Hill Brewery because it was my ‘beer epiphany’ venue.

Hopes for beer in Australia? More growler fill venues!

Actually, that is a serious one, after reading about how common it is in the States. Another one, probably more selfishly, is that beer and food matching becomes more popular and improves. There are more events devoted to matching beer with food, indeed our dear Prof Pilsner is finding that his monthly Courthouse dinners in Berwick are selling out, which is incredibly encouraging.

I guess I just want people to get more interested and excited about drinking beer they’ve never had before, and be more passionate about supporting national brews, and stay humble and inclusive. I want those in the know to continue to share their knowledge and passion without being arses about it. I dare say your website is an excellent example of this, dear Crafty! As are my fellow beer bloggers.

It’s been great to see lots of lasses embracing craft beer too. I imagine that to work in the industry it’s still quite male-dominated, but consumer-wise, women seem to be excited about the craft beer revolution. It’s not hard really when you listen to your tastebuds.

And deep down, there is some part of me that wants a Bedazzler to make Australian Beer Writers' Guild badges out of diamantes…

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