Ev­ery­thing Old and Dark is good again

Life & Style Weekend - - TASTE - with Si­mon Ir­win

THE reg­u­lar reader of this col­umn would have come to know the foibles of Hugh the Neigh­bour and me. The pen­chant for stouts; the dis­like of or­di­nary lagers; and, in HTN’s case, the habit of say­ing ev­ery rea­son­able dark beer tastes likes Tooheys Old.

I have teased him about this ap­par­ent Tooheys fix­a­tion long and hard for some time, and I sus­pect last week­end he had had enough.

So it came to pass last Sun­day, that Hugh turned up with some James Squire Jack of Spades Porter and, you guessed it, some stub­bies of Tooheys Old Dark Ale.

Now, it must be said I am a fan of Old, but I suf­fer from a dis­ease com­mon to peo­ple who try a lot of beers and that is be­ing prone to think­ing that more ex­pen­sive should mean bet­ter.

My brother was vis­it­ing, and he has been known to en­joy a glass of the cold and frothy on a hot day.

Ad­mit­tedly, I think his palate is a bit sus­pect, as he can ac­tu­ally en­joy a Crown Lager, but both Hugh and I thought he would be an in­ter­est­ing con­trol in the Great Tooheys Taste Test.

I got three each of dif­fer­ent style beer glasses, and Hugh de­canted them in an­other room, en­sur­ing that the Ir­wins did not know which was which.

One of the beers had a slightly darker head, but even hold­ing them up to the light the colour was re­mark­ably sim­i­lar.

Both good on the nose, and both very drink­able.

You can prob­a­bly see where this was go­ing to end … con­sen­sus was not reached with me pick­ing one and the brother pick­ing the other as the Old. Much to my em­bar­rass­ment – I got it wrong. It was hard to tell who was hap­pier – HTN hav­ing made his point that Tooheys Old does take a bit of beat­ing, or the Bro who will bring this up at fam­ily get to­geth­ers for years to come.

It re­ally did make a great point though.

I re­ally en­joy the Jack of Spades – it is a su­perbly crafted beer. How­ever, I am now forced to won­der if it is ever worth pay­ing around $62 a car­ton for the Squire, when the Tooheys Old re­tails for around the $49 mark.

A 25% pre­mium of some­thing that is not that dif­fer­ent demon­strates how we need to not leave all the old favourites be­hind in the quest for the per­fect beer.

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