Journey to home brew – Part 2, The Challenges

This is the second in a group of posts on how I got involved in home brew. It follows up from part 1. This second part outlines where my beer appreciation took a big step up.

After drinking a lot of lager for many years the discovery of beer with flavour was like a breath of fresh air. What was to follow was like a hurricane.

Ian introduced me to a pub in Melbourne called Mrs.Parma’s. They are famous for two reasons: a big range of parmas, and having only Victorian beers. The only mainstream beer they had on tap was Carlton Draft (earlier this year they finally removed that as well!). All the other 15 taps had craft beer.

It was back in early 2011 that the first challenge was born. After another, somewhat regular, visit to Mrs Parma’s there was a story shared about one of Ian’s friends who ate 99 parmas in one year. What? 99? Surely he could of had just one more and hit 100. Hey, that’s less than two a week. We could do that! That’s a good idea, let’s do that.
And so, with that, the parma challenge started. Target was to eat 100 parmas in 365 days. Photo evidence required. Review strongly recommended. Any other information, like “out of five” score or cost, great to have.
At the end there were three of us who made it: Ian, his wife at the time, and me. I topped the list with 143.

The parma challenge started in Feb 2011 and finished in Feb 2012. As we got to the end of 2011 we started thinking about what we could do for the next challenge. As big fans of Mrs Parma’s we thought about their other offering, beer. Hey, next year is a leap year as well. Maybe we could do something about 366 days. One a day? Is there that many beers?

So we started looking. Where there that many beers made in the world? Okay, looks like that’s not a problem. Could we get at least 366 of those beers in Melbourne? Looks like it.

The rules were debated back and forth. Would it be one beer every day? Or seven in a week, allowing to cram in seven beers over a couple days and rest for the rest? How would we provide evidence of having the beer? How about some sort of “good” side to the whole thing?
Rules were agreed as follows:

  • One beer every single day. No excuses.
  • Photo evidence required with the date. Bottled beer has to be open/beer poured into the glass. Tap beers need to have the tap or description/name included.
  • Review is required. To include beer name, brewer, percentage of ABV (alcohol by volume).
  • No home brew. Beer has to be commercially available.
  • No ginger beer.
  • No cider.
  • For every beer $1 to go to the charity of your choice.

A test run was done in December. It went quite well.

Each month was going to have its own theme: Australian beers for January (Australia Day), American beers for July (Independence Day), German beers for October (October Fest), and so on.
Halfway through January it dawned on Ian and I that there was a crazy amount of Australian beers out there. We were discovering about one new brewery every day! Quickly we both agreed to stuff the themes and try to have Australian bees for the whole year.

Wow. What a year. 366 Days of Beer was a big success.
Technically I was the only one to completed the challenge successfully. Both Ian and I had holidays overseas. I packed my Australian beers in my luggage (which required a reshuffle of items to keep us under the weight limit). Ian was away for nearly two weeks and posted them over. They didn’t turn up. On returning to Melbourne he did two a day to catch up.
Leah was the other person to do the challenge properly. Major dental work took her out for a week and by end of year there were a few other days missing.
Ian put his reviews up on his blog. Mine are going up slowly on mine.

Throughout the year collectively we tried over 600 Australian beers from most of the Australian breweries. Despite that there were many beers, and even some breweries, missed. What was definitely gained was a much greater appreciation of beer, and a deeper understanding of what we do and don’t want in a beer.


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One thought on “Journey to home brew – Part 2, The Challenges

  1. […] In this post I wrap up my story on how I came to making home brew. This follows on from post 1 and post 2. […]

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