Booze free beer: Big Drop Brewing Uptown Craft Lager

Being a lager, this isn't going for the fruity delights of a pale ale or similar. To survive being alcohol free a lager has to make up for the lack of body somehow.

This one tries to make do with some heft hops and a bit of malty body but it still has that thinness and a hint of the standard commercial booze free beers.

It's not bad but for my tastes lager is always going to fall flat without alcohol. A good effort but it's a tough gig.

Booze free beer: Ochakovskiy kvass (Очаковский квас)

I rode to Bondi Beach yesterday for a nice leisurely swim in the hot weather. I try to do this ride once a week leaving early on Tuesday mornings but the weather in 2021 hasn't been helpful. It's a really lovely ride with a single challenging hill in Waverley and the enticement of a swim at the end.

Normally I'm riding too early so whenever I do the ride late enough I drop in to the Russian deli on the way back up the hill. Yesterday was a late ride so I popped in to pick up some Eastern European delights. I got a big loaf of black caraway bread, some salted herring fillets and a couple of big bottles of kvass, perfect for my booze free month.

Kvass is an interesting drink made from fermented rye bread, popular in the former Soviet states and some of Eastern Europe. On a hot day it's a really delightful refreshing drink. I remember having a glass at a market in Riga on a hot day in July and it being such a great way to cool down.

I discovered Kvass from a couple of Russiaphile friends and have been in love with it ever since. It's not really a beer though but something different. Still a satisfying cold drink.
This brand, Очаковский, was recommended by the woman in the shop. They have a few brands so I needed some help.

One of these days I'm going to drive over with a freezer bag so I can pick up some of the bags of pelmeni they stock too. Yum.

Booze free beer: Kronenbourg Blanc

Kronenbourg is a terrible beer that was available everywhere in the UK when we lived there. It's bloody awful stuff, but still better than the equally ubiquitous Fosters. Once we discovered Real Ale though, we avoided this garbage.

The zero alcohol one here is weird. It's got something citrus going on in there. It's trying to be a "wheat beer with a taste of citrus" but the citrus doesn't taste like the real deal. It's an artificial flavouring would be my guess.

The underlying beer isn't too bad. The best way I'd describe it is like a good tea being ruined with bergamot to make Earl Gray. You can taste the two things separately in the palette.

A lot of these alcohol free beers go for the wheat option. They're generally lighter anyway and often have fruity esters that give some body. This one wouldn't be bad if they removed the citrus. Punters could always add their own at serving time.

Update: I tipped this one out. It was awful.

Booze free beer: Peroni Libera

There's a good chunk of middle-of-the-road mainstream beer brands in my selection and this tastes as expected. It's a lot like the Cooper's 0% beer. Lots of dry hops to give a crisp taste but not much else going on. I expect a lot of these to taste similar.

Still, they're doable. When Holly was pregnant with both kids we had a bunch of these in the house. They're okay but now that I've had the good craft stuff, my expectations are higher.

Dry February alcohol free beers: Vandestreek Playground Non Alcoholic IPA

Holly and I are having a break from booze for the month of February. It's a difficult month cos it's often got the hottest stretches of weather all year, so not having a cold beer at the end of an especially hot day.

I went and splurged on $170 worth of no alcohol beers. They range from craft brews to the mainstream like Carlton Zero and Erdinger's alcofree version.

I'll try and review each one I try. First up is Vandestreek's Playground IPA. This is a Dutch brewery but it's a long way from Heineken or Amstel. It's clearly an IPA with a strong bitter hoppiness and a reasonably full body. It's still a bit on the thin side but you have to give up something when you give up the booze. This one's really good and I'd gladly drink it again.

Blogging again

Wow I can't believe I haven't blogged since 2019. I'm going to make an effort to blog a bit more, trying to crank out at least one thing per month, hopefully something thought provoking. I'll probably also chuck up random stuff.

Like, we have a puppy now! We've had her about 3 months now. She's a 9 month Camp Dog from the NT who joined our family after many, many months of searching for a suitable rescue dog.

Her name is Foxie and she's quickly become a much loved member of the family.

Breed: unknown. We speculate that there's probably some Corgi, Kelpie and maybe Dingo in her, but we're really guessing.


Gong Ride 2019

Yesterday I did my second ever Gong Ride, an 83km charity bike ride from Sydney to Wollongong through the Royal National Park and along the coastline. It's a stunning ride with great scenery and a big logistical operation with 10,000 riders.

I did a better job training long term this time around so I made it in about 5 hours, beating last year. But it's not a race and it was really a lot of fun. Challenging in places, especially the hefty long climb up and out of the National Park.

Loads of fun and there's still time for you to donate to the cause for which we were riding, helping people with MS and funding research.

MeasureCamp Sydney 2019 wrap up

This weekend we held the fourth iteration of MeasureCamp Sydney. For those who don't recognise the term, MeasureCamp is an unconference. A slightly chaotic affair quite unlike an ordinary conference.

It's free. It's on a Saturday. There's no keynote speakers or vendor pitches. Everything is sorted out on the day.

Once things kick off, people rush to write up sessions they plan to run and get them up on the board. The day flows from there.

This year we had about 180 people through the door, a record for us. Given it's free, we're always a little unsure of the exact numbers to expect which can be nerve wracking but it's great to see such a large group willing to spend a gorgeous sunny Saturday indoors learning from each other and sharing knowledge.

We're able to do this because of an amazing sponsors who chip in the funds to house, clothe and feed all the attendees. Without them we wouldn't be able to do it!

Highlights for me? I really dug Vincey Au's session on building anomaly detection in Python and Corinne Brooker's Introvert's Guide to the Galaxy where she explained how to make the most of both your loud extroverts and your quieter, more thoughtful introverts.

It was a brilliant day and we all learnt heaps. Afterwards we retired to a local pub for food, drink and analytics trivia. Lots of great prizes handed out for some very creative answers and work on the Pop Charts.

And the whole thing wouldn't happen without our amazing organising committee who've put in countless hours of hard work to make it happen. It's the fourth year so we're getting pretty smooth with it these days, but there's still a lot of work finding sponsors and badgering for payment, organising t-shirts, catering, venues, lanyards, volunteers, software, websites, emails. Thanks so much for Rod, Josh, Priscilla, Moe, Jethro, Mike, Calum and Chaoming for all the hard work.

I took a bunch of photos.

Some more roundups from LinkedIn:

What biscuit should I eat: an analysis

This has become quite topical again with The Guardian and Good Food weighing in on the best biscuits in a standard Arnott's assortment. Of course the moral of that story is to not buy the assortment. You end up with mostly terrible biscuits. Just buy individual packs of Kingstons and Monte Carlos.

However, back in 2016 my other half and I were arguing about biscuit purchases. My point was that if you're eating a biscuit, you're already on the hook for a decent dollop of sugar and fat. My partner kept buying the biscuits that tasted like they'd been made out of pencil shavings. Digestives, those awful fruit pillow things etc. Being a data nerd, I decided to win the argument with data.

I downloaded the Arnott's nutritional information and parsed the table into a spreadsheet, then pulled together a visualisation in Tableau.

As you can see, there's not a huge amount of difference in kilojoule content between the tasty biscuits like Kingstons and Tim Tams and those godawful shredded wheat and fruit pillow things. If you want to avoid fat and sugar, have an apple.

I presented my findings to Web Analytics Wednesday as well.

Result: I won the argument. We now eat decent biscuits. Amazingly, we're still together!

See the full analysis