Beyond pumpkins and Hallowe'en, it's Oktoberfest time and thoughts turn to beer. What a welcome reprieve! The original Oktoberfest is a 16-day long celebration in Munich, Germany attended by thousands during which time reportedly seven million liters of beer are consumed. That's a lot of beer, even by our standards. Though we've never attended the festivities in Munich, we've certainly partaken in several Oktoberfests in other parts of the world. It might not be the real thing, but it's still a festival and still beer. That said, while visiting Germany many times during our working careers, we have had German draught beer and oh my, it's wonderful. In fact, we always thought it would be worthwhile going to Germany just for the beer and bread ... the sightseeing would be an added bonus.


serving beer at oktoberfest


Actually, we've been sampling beers around the world for the past 14 years. According to Wiki, beer is the world's most widely consumed alcoholic beverage, and is the third-most popular drink overall, after water and tea. It is thought by some to be the oldest fermented beverage in world. All we know is that wherever we go and wherever we've been, there's always beer. Lagers, ales ... pilsners, weisen, chichas, porters, IPAs, stouts, bitters. We began brewing our own beer aboard Nine of Cups when we arrived in Australia where the cost of buying a case of beer came close to requiring a mortgage.


brewing beer aboard noc


We found that any place with a strong German influence like Namibia, Chile and Bolivia, for instance, had great beers to offer. Other countries though ... well, let's just say beer brewed in the Amazonian jungles of Peru was wet and cold, but not necessarily the best beer we've ever tasted. Chile, in particular, offered schop, a wonderfully German-type beer on tap.


chile schop


Speaking of unappealing beers, until the likes of Sam Adams came along and made its owner a multi-millionaire, US beers, other than microbrews, were not the best. Sorry, but Bud Light and Miller are not our idea of tasty beers, although I do like the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales.


budweiser clydesdales


Early on in our sailing career, I was amazed by the number of beers we came across and the pride each little country/island took in sporting its own distinctive beer label. Even the tiniest Caribbean island nation has its own beer brand. I doubt many of the Caribbean beers are actually produced on the islands that touted them, but we appreciated the gusto with which each beer was proudly served and advertised.


david waiting for the bus


I started saving beer bottle labels way back then. Why exactly, I'm not sure. Nor have I figured out what I'll do with them, but they don't take up much room and we still have them aboard, pressed flat between the pages of some old reference book that we probably don't refer to any more. Maybe a beer label collage in our future? How tacky. Photographing them is much more convenient, but again ... what do I do with them once I have them. And of course, we did have to buy and drink the beer to get the labels, but we felt it obligatory to support the local economy.


beer labels


Brennan has a beer app on his iPhone (Untappd) that allows him to keep track of and comment on craft beers he's tasted and allows him to find the closest brew pub wherever he is. Very important if you're a beer drinker, I guess. We haven't gotten that far yet.

We haven't produced our own Nine of Cups label yet, but give us time.

A Year Ago on Just a Little Further - Oct. 14th-20th

Each Wednesday we feature interesting and favorite posts from a year ago this week.  Click the link to view the whole post.


making beer on the boat

Brew-meister at Work

"He gathered together all the ingredients. It’s pretty much a kit, but this still took over an hour since things got “put away” six months ago when we left for the States and now finding them again is challenging… some things may never be found."


hydraulic hose

Patience and the Un-virtuous Woman

"I can wait for a weather window and not complain much. I can wait in a doctor’s office and read the year-old magazines without too much grimacing. Waiting in a check-out line at the supermarket starts my stomach churning. This nasty trait is most evident, however, when we’re hunting for boat parts."


tasmanian devil

A Devil of a Day

"But what about potoroos, pandemelons, bandicoots and quolls? I’ve never even heard of these critters. Have you? My spell checker certainly hasn’t. And of course, we’d yet to encounter the famed, but elusive icon of Tasmania, a Tasmanian Devil (and I don’t mean Looney Tunes’ Taz)."

The Blue View - Microbrewery Nine of Cups


A couple of years ago in Fiji, we were invited aboard another sailboat for sundowners. The skipper had brewed his own beer aboard and was eager to share some with us. That was the nastiest, foulest beer I can remember tasting, and after politely nursing it for an hour or so, I finally managed to down it all. So when we were aboard our good friends' sailboat Fifth Season in Sydney a year ago and were offered some homebrew, I was a bit reluctant to try it.

I needn't be. His brew was outstanding. He had brewed several varieties and it was like visiting a microbrewery. He had purchased a brewing kit and had been brewing beer for a year or more. I asked lots of questions and got a lot of good information and suggestions.


Brew Ingredients1


Beer here in Australia is quite expensive by U.S. standards. Brewing your own beer, on the other hand, is quite inexpensive. As a result, there is rarely a town in OZ that doesn't have a brew supply store. Even the local Kmart and groceries carry the basics.


Coopers DIY Brew Kit1


I found a DIY brew-kit made by Coopers, an Australian brewery, that included everything I needed to brew my first batch. Fermenter, hydrometer, bottles, brew mix... everything was there. In addition, it came with a short video with all the instructions. The average sailor could do this. In fact a high IQ chimpanzee could manage it. Just the thing for me.

The results were outstanding. So far I've made several lagers, several varieties of Pale Ales, a cider, and an English Bitter. Each batch makes 23 liters or about six gallons, and costs roughly $20-$25 a batch. That's roughly 35 cents for a 12 ounce bottle or 42 cents a pint. Not bad.


Ready to Bottle1


Lest you think the rule that “nothing is ever easy aboard a boat” doesn't apply here, there are a couple of catches with brewing aboard a sailboat. The first catch is that we have to be anchored or berthed somewhere for a couple of weeks. Unless I can figure out how to gimbal a 6 gallon container of fermenting beer, we can't go sailing without the risk of turning the bilge into our fermentation vessel. We missed a weather window once because the brew wasn't ready to bottle. And since it requires a large amount of water for washing and sterilizing everything as well as for the beer itself, it's best done somewhere that we have access to water ashore.


Bottled Brew 1


So while Nine of Cups is berthed here in a quiet marina with plenty of water, I'll brew up a couple of batches. Of course, with that comes the necessity of frequent taste tests to maintain proper quality control.

Our youngest son was interested in trying his hand at homebrewing, so I checked to see what was available in the States. It turns out that Coopers markets the same brew kit via Amazon in the U.S. I highly recommend it.

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