Random albums to mix things up a bit

I've taken to using the "Random Albums" option on my music system to surface music I haven't listened to in ages. It doesn't force you to listen to whatever comes out, that would be painful with the diverse library I have. Instead you can choose from the random albums it throws up.

It's been a fantastic tool for rediscovering great music I haven't listened to in a long time. It's really diversified my listening too, which is something I always try to do to keep out of music ruts..

Current pick I'm loving is the amazing Street Horrrsing by Fuck Buttons, first encountered at the Nick Cave-curated All Tomorrow's Parties festival held on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour back in 2009. That was a mammoth day of incredible music! Still a great album too.

(See also Holy Fuck if you're looking for band t-shirts you can't wear to work.)

A month without booze

It's March which means my February booze fast is over. I tried a lot of alcohol free beer over February and there were some real gems amongst them.

The real standouts were the Vandestreek Playground IPA, Heaps Normal and the three Upflow brews. These made me not really miss beer at all. I'll be buying more of these!

The Sobah brews were disappointing. The backstory is great and I love the use of bush foods but the brews themselves weren't great. The Pepperberry one is great but I actually tipped out the Lemon Aspen. The finger lime one is okay but nothing special.

The mainstream brews were predictably underwhelming. The ones who get close in that category are the German wheat beer brands.

Sydney is starting to emerge from the restrictions we had over Xmas so there were a few outings in February. We went to a gig last week and then this weekend to a friend's birthday party in a local bar. The gig had Heaps Normal available so that was great. Out at the bar this weekend the bartender made me a really nice alcohol free cocktail with various juices and flavours, and I drank some plain tonic as they were using a good brand.

It's interesting to find I can get by without booze pretty happily though there are things I noticed. A lot of drinking is really giving you something to do with your hands. Without the booze, I ended up drinking quite a bit of water. No real problem but it was interesting to notice. Otherwise you end up drinking a lot of sugar.

Socially there's definitely a lubricating effect from alcohol. I didn't feel as talkative and definitely noticed the people around me loosening up as the night wore on. It's quite interesting observing it without being deep in it. Definitely worth experiencing from time to time anyway.

I've stocked up on a few favourite brews for my return to drinking. Since the whole idea is to cut down on drinking that definitely crept up in COVID-land, I probably won't crack anything open until Friday. Bummer that 1st March is a Monday but it won't hurt me.

So far in the stock is the Balter Hazy which is just brilliant summer quaffing and our closest brewery's best brew, the Sauce Bubble & Squeak. I'd also like to some of the Philter Marrickville Nights which is a brilliant Dark Ale, but I'll have to wander down that way to pick some up. Open to other suggestions.

A gig! EGOISM supported by Ultracrush

Last night Holly, Rachel and I managed to get out for some live music. Amazing after all this time.

The band we saw was local act EGOISM who we've been trying to see for a while. The earlier booking was for a December show that got cancelled with the Northern Beaches outbreak. Finally we got to see them at Mary's Underground, previously known as the famous Sydney venue The Basement.

It was weird going to a gig with all the checkin business for COVID. We were shown to a table and had to stay seated for the whole gig. Deeply weird. But rather civilised. Like a cabaret!

Better yet, Mary's stocks Heaps Normal, my favourite booze free beer.

EGOISM were great. Tightly performed their tracks, were fun with banter between songs. More polished than I'd expected. Their harmonies are really quite something.

Support act Ultracrush were good fun. Started off jingly jangly then went a bit shoegaze. Enjoyable show.

Booze free beer: Upflow Pale Ale

Pale Ale tends to be the most common craft beer style and so tends to be the yardstick you measure against. This was always going to be a tough one for alcohol free beer. Upflow have got damn close here with a good fruity hop aroma and balanced bitterness. There's always going to be missing body but it's pretty damn good. I like it.

Booze free beer: Upflow Stout

I think this one may be my favourite yet. You could easily drink this and not realise it's got no booze, which is probably only something you could get away with in a dark beer. Fortunately I love dark beer! Amazing. Really impressive work here.

Upflow: how about a nut brown ale as another dark brew in the set?