Can Of Bintang Unequivocally The Most Exquisite Beer Ever Crafted

Ding Alley
Ding Alley

(Editor’s note: this dispatch from Ding Alley’s Indonesian correspondent is time-stamped from ‘sometime in the future’, and geo-located as ‘at anchor somewhere in the archipelago’.)

Toonalook Sparky Josh Cassidy – taking his first Indo surf trip since Covid-19 effectively shut the gates on such missions for Australians three odd years ago – has experienced a revelation that may have a seismic impact on the 500-billion-dollar-a-year global beer industry.

Classified as a ‘Pale Lager’, and brewed in a sprawling Heineken-owned complex in the Javanese city of Surabaya, Bir Bintang (translation: ‘Star Beer’) has rarely troubled the scorers in the BIIA (Brewing Industry International Awards), and consistently fails to rate a mention on respected beer-ranking sites such as worldbeerawards.com, globalbeerratings.com, worldsfinestbeers.com or even nottoobadbeers.org. 

Brand wise, Bintang also suffers from the unfortunate (and surely unfair) association of its trademark singlet with a particularly uncouth species of Australian male.

Despite these obstacles, however, a single can of Bintang has – early this evening – been certified with heartfelt conviction by the 33-year old Australian Tradey as “Deadset, that’s the best fucking beer ever.”

While such a sweeping statement naturally invites scepticism, an exhaustive Ding Alley investigation has so far found no evidence to legitimately refute this claim.

Surabaya is known for being one of, if not the, cleanest and greenest cities in Indonesia. And though we may not be coming off a terribly high baseline here, as even the most inexperienced home-brew punter will testify, cleanliness of atmosphere and equipment is vital when whipping up a batch of proverbial malt sandwiches.

Thus, with the environmental preconditions optimised, we cannot discount the notion – no matter how unlikely – that on the day this particular Binnie came to be, (a few months prior to Cassidy’s extraordinary revelation) the Angels of Barley and Hops got together and decided to create a dream come true: Bintang brewing management and staff at the absolute top of their game; hops and grains of stupendous purity and quality; 330 ml of impeccably crystalline water channelled from a remote Tibetan mountaintop stream to the Surabaya water supply via a complex network of trans-equatorial subterranean aquifers – coming together in against-all-odds synchronicity, and funnelled into a single Golden-Ticket Bir Bintang aluminium receptacle.

To fully appreciate the significance of this event, we must deviate from Ding Alley’s hard-nosed reportage style, and ask you, beloved Swellnet reader, to close your eyes and imagine that seemingly inconspicuous day in Surabaya, and among the thousands of Bintang cans marching down conveyor belts, processed, sealed and packaged, picture a solitary can, superior – if only by way of a molecule or two – to its neighbours left and right. Superior, in fact, to every can produced that day or any other day in Surabaya. Superior, indeed, to all and every other can, bottle or keg of beer ever produced in mankind’s 5000 year history of brewing. 

Now, picture the equally remarkable sequence of events that led this Chosen Can to Cassidy’s grateful clutches.

This Binnie, packaged along with 23 companions of near-but-not-quite quality, was stored at comfortable room temperature in a warehouse adjacent to Surabaya’s bustling Port of Tanjung Perak, before being shipped north via the Java Sea – a gentle sea-state subtly massaging the beverage in an optimum state of circulation – to Sumatra, whereupon it was trucked to a bulk retailer favoured as providore by surf trip operators both land and boat based.

Still esconsed in carton form, this ultimate expression of brewing craft and achievement then spent three weeks in the back storeroom of an undisclosed surf camp until 3:30pm today, whereupon said carton was fetched and opened by a staff member, its contents placed in a large, ice-filled esky, which was then carried out to the waiting speedboat. 

Critically, this sacred aluminium artefact was placed in the very centre of the esky, with secure and equal distribution of ice encasing it on all sides, as well as above and below, creating optimum serving crispness – a factor equally important as the ingredients and brewing process.

For the final two hours of this can’s intact existence – 4.25pm to sunset at 6.39pm local time – it rested in the dark of a sealed esky maintaining an optimum three degrees Celsius, while the boat lay at anchor beside a premium quality lefthander.

Positioned just off the reef drop-off, and with the four-wave sets six minutes apart, the intermittent rocking of the boat ever so gently administered the final optimisation of the ingredients – ‘waking up’ the lager by activating and dispersing the fine molecular sediment into a state of perfect suspension, not unlike god’s own snowglobe.

The reader will not be surprised to learn that the swells that rocked the boat were being ridden by Cassidy and two companions, enjoying a lengthy and sublime dusk session at this, Cassidy’s favourite wave – a wave he has quietly pined for, for quite some time. 

With the backlight illumination of the lowering sun giving the waves an emerald green and gold intensity, and the just-overhead swell size perfectly proportioned to hit and hug the reef in a hypnotic, slinky roping coil for up to two hundred metres, this was the kind of session that occupies the default position in Cassidy’s mind when daydreaming of the ultimate enjoyable surf.

Perhaps the only complaint that could be mustered was the length of the paddle back out after each ride, where screaming shoulder muscles demanded immediate retreat to the boat, but were shouted down by the knowledge that surfs like this are finite in number, and that failure to extract every last skerrick of stoke from the session would be somehow disrespectful of the opportunity, and ungracious to the elements.

Cassidy had always taken pride in making the most what the ocean had to offer. Back home, he never wasted whatever beachies and Point sessions Toona threw at him, but this reef vibrated at an entirely different frequency. You could take a decent week of waves at Toona Point, cherry pick all the best parts from your best rides and still come up short of a single wave here. Even the Indian Ocean itself felt more silken.

And so by the time Cassidy pulled himself over the transom, towelled off, slammed down some water and collapsed onto the aft bench seat, staring open mouthed back at the empty lineup, the sky was ablaze with the dying embers of the day. 

It had been years since he’d felt so sated.

As boards were stowed and the anchor chain lifted in preparation for the cruise back to camp, the laconic surf guide dug his hand into the esky, plucked out the Bintang in question, and wordlessly gestured it towards Cassidy with a knowing smile and raised eyebrow.

And then, with the crisp crack of the ring pull, the finest and most wonderful beer ever in the history of beers fulfilled its destiny.

// DING ALLEY

Ding Alley is two old – fuck they ARE old – mates, illustrator Dave @maccatoons McArthur and writer Gra Murdoch. Macca adds an important postscript to this story: “Cans are way colder than stubbies and therefore superior in boat eskies”. 

Comments

Jono's picture
Jono's picture
Jono commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 10:16am

10/10

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 10:23am
rrr's picture
rrr's picture
rrr commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 10:24am

oh yea . just slipped into haze of memories , slightly faded , but brought back into sharp focus .

Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 11:26am

Got me feeling homesick for a place I've never been to by writing about a beer I've never drunk... well written Gra.
Best cartoon yet too Macca.

He who hesitates is lost

rj-davey's picture
rj-davey's picture
rj-davey commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 11:10am

So good

mattlock's picture
mattlock's picture
mattlock commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 11:34am

5 Gold Stars.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 11:51am

One of a surfers finest moments in life for sure!

That story rings true almost to the exact detail for me one particular late arvo several years ago except there were 6 of us and the waves were rights. Thanks for the reminder!

*Anyone else find that Bintang tastes awesome at the end of the day in Indo but are pretty average when you drink them here?

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 6:11pm

100% to me the ones sold here taste nothing like Bintang in Indo, i dont thinks it's our imagination, I'm pretty sure the ones sold here are made in Australia under licence probably use different hoops or different additives or something?

Id love to taste test them side by side.

NDC's picture
NDC's picture
NDC commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 11:51am

Good memories Ding Alley - thanks

Bob Sacamano's picture
Bob Sacamano's picture
Bob Sacamano commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 11:55am

I could hear that crisp crack of the ring pull and nearly taste it myself.

Epic illustration.

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 12:31pm

So true DA. And you can bet that call has been made thousands and thousands of times.

I'm with you ringmaster. God's nectar in Indo but barely drinkable here.

Similar to Tsingtao. Perfect at a cheap and cheerful Chinese restaurant but you wouldn't touch it elsewhere.

viccokook's picture
viccokook's picture
viccokook commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 8:58am

Funny you mention the Tsingtao Bnkref. Launched into a few for the first time last night at a not so cheap Chinese restaurant and they tasted very Bintang like and had my longing for a surfed out rusted bottle top ice cold Bintang.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 12:42pm

Hahaha amazing

H2O's picture
H2O's picture
H2O commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 12:56pm

Loved the slow build up to that crisp crack. Why did I read this at 12.55pm at work?

H20

andy-mac's picture
andy-mac's picture
andy-mac commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 1:00pm

Unreal!!!
Geez I miss my Binnies and Ulu sunsets!!
Love ya work....
Have turned into a bit of a craft beer snob back here in Oz, but concur Bintang best beer on earth!!!

Botak

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 1:23pm

Here’s a little known fact : Just like the way you can hear the ocean by holding a seashell up to your ear , when you do the same with the mouth of an empty long neck of Bintang you can hear the rumbling inside of a drop perfect , backlit left handed reef break .

True story.

blackers's picture
blackers's picture
blackers commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 1:06pm

“Not unlike god’s own snow globe”, who needs Hemingway (either in 140 characters or more) when we have writing like this. Fantastic work fellas. I doff my cap.

Just Floating's picture
Just Floating's picture
Just Floating commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 2:50pm

Take me there.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 3:31pm

What a grower, that just kept getting better and better, I could also here the crisp sound of the can opening and oh, what a late session!

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 3:46pm

Not dissimilar to the time a mate and I drove his HT panno for 24hrs straight, arrived at Cactus just as the sun was setting.

"I'll set up the camp," said I, "you get the beers."

Forty minutes later, the tent is up, the fire is crackling and I'm tonguing for refreshment, old mate returns with a warm case of West End Light.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 4:30pm

He had One Job.

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 5:09pm

Camping at Cactus ,,24 hours on the road and it never crossed your mind to get a toon or 3 on the way,, and a bag of ice at the last servo ? The mind boggles.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 5:15pm

No, and I blame him for that too.

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 7:01pm

haha , I can join the dots from here.. no further questions , thank you

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 7:18pm

Please tell me you had a bag of ice at least!

mattlock's picture
mattlock's picture
mattlock commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 4:39pm

You need new mates Stew.

ljkarma's picture
ljkarma's picture
ljkarma commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 4:52pm

Once upon a time there was the "green dream"
It sits before me, unopened date stamped '72 on the base....
A survivor and immigrant of times past and memories little faded...
In a can, from an esky on a speedboat...tidak!

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 5:09pm

Most of my Indo trips have been land based where you'd have to wait til you made it back to land before cracking a cold one. Hard to beat settling in after a long day's surfing, watching the sun set and thinking about the day's waves and what's in store for the next day with a crisp longie in hand.

That said, I went on Dreamweaver a few times back in the day. Bali - Lembongan - Lombok - Sumbawa. The guy that drove the tinny between the lineup and where the boat was moored would pick you up from the arvo surfs with arctic cold 'tangs ready to go. That was as good as life gets.

Westofthelake's picture
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Westofthelake commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 5:25pm

Man I really felt I was there as both the beer, and the surfer. Unreal all round.

san Guine's picture
san Guine's picture
san Guine commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 6:12pm

That made me laugh

upnorth's picture
upnorth's picture
upnorth commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 7:49pm

Evocative piece of writing, hit the spot.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 8:16pm

Brilliant.
We’ve all tasted it and we’re all right there reading that.

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 9:09pm

Curious Gra,
how old are you "old mates"?
MR, and many in that era, thought he was too old for the tour in his late 20's if I remember correctly. Kelly, who is surely one in 8 billion, I think turns 50 this or next Feb. As the helmetted German soldier, head emerging from the bushes in "Laugh in" said....."werrrry interestingk". Yep, I'm old enough to have watched this on B&W tv then.
God Bless

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 9:27pm

Hey fella. 53 and counting. cheers

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 9:49pm

Thanks Young Fella. Keep on keepin' on

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 9:28pm

The writing is XXXX Gold.

(without the Fourex)

1173

Standingleft's picture
Standingleft's picture
Standingleft commented Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021 at 11:07pm

Limited edition Swellnet surf charter. Satiation guaranteed

tiger's picture
tiger's picture
tiger commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 10:22am

Awesome work DA. It's classic isn't it, the Pavlov dog like response mechanism ingrained in us, to a good day of waves. I rarely drink these days, but after a good surf, I'm fanging for a beer. The amplification effect of a day of quality waves in indo, watching the sun sink into the ocean, is one of life's great marvels.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 10:29am

The perfect summary Tiger!

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 11:19am

You been getting waves and / or fish Tiger ?

Unbelievable day today.

tiger's picture
tiger's picture
tiger commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 3:36pm

Hey Blowin, haven't surfed since the weekend. The gun bank hasn't fired since the pre Xmas run. The beachies have been plenty fun though, hovering around 3ft. Flat out with big reno on my house, so having trouble fitting any fishing in. Could murder a binnie right now. Glad to hear your scoring!

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 3:51pm

Unbelievable weather...no surfing for me.

I know what you mean about that Bintang. This story just about brought tears to my eyes.

etarip's picture
etarip's picture
etarip commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 2:12pm

Great write up DA. Took me back.
Dunno when that’s going to happen again. Bintangs do taste better in Indo. SP only tastes good in PNG.

Fosters tastes shit everywhere.

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 3:57pm

Also , too Maccas postscript on cans being superior to stubbies in a boat esky ,, wise words. The other problem with stubbies ,especially in an ice slurry ,is that , after some heavy rocking the lids can actually break their seal and allow your precious cargo to be heavily diluted , even worse should you have bait in the same esky. Stow responsibly.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 4:33pm

Re: bottles versus cans: on charters, the way the can can be crushed post-consumption to minimise the space it takes up as rubbish... I remember the mighty Barrrenjoey as having a hand press mounted somewhere on the back deck purely for Binnie crushing... very functional and highly satisfying to operate.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 4:36pm

A minute’s silence for the fallen stubbies lost to the ice slurry .

Sorely missed.

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 7:55pm

Binnie crushing machine..hehe , on an Indo boat trip I'd make the Solo Man look like he's standing still.
And yeah Blowin, hats off, gone but not forgotten. I've seen four cartons lost in one night due to a closed bung in the ice box ,,, days from land ,,It was a faarken massacre . ,, there is no God.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 8:03pm

God doesn’t drink in those parts......apparently.

Verifying that is hard though . Depends who you ask .

etarip's picture
etarip's picture
etarip commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 4:59pm

It’s like camping when you’re hiking in. Only rookies take bottles.
That’s said, goon bags are the option in terms of weight / effect - and a free pillow.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 5:40pm

Seconded.

1173

san Guine's picture
san Guine's picture
san Guine commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 6:10pm

Classic! We've all lived this.

eat-your-vegies's picture
eat-your-vegies's picture
eat-your-vegies commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 7:45pm

Vailima tastes good anywhere you can get it.!

mattlock's picture
mattlock's picture
mattlock commented Wednesday, 13 Jan 2021 at 8:31pm

We once had at least 10 Coopers Paley stubbies blow their lids off in the ice slurry whilst driving the limestone track to surf at xxxxxxx.
My Bro and I were completely devastated.
Pheonix beer tastes pretty good after getting barrelled at Tamarin Bay. It tastes even better after surfing the Black Stones at 8ft with one other

tangles 65's picture
tangles 65's picture
tangles 65 commented Thursday, 14 Jan 2021 at 9:04pm

great read!

tangles

braudulio's picture
braudulio's picture
braudulio commented Thursday, 14 Jan 2021 at 5:54pm

Just tried to imitate the feeling by smashing out 20 minutes on the exercise bike with tracky dacks and hoodie on (it's 30 odd degrees here) then sucking down an icy cold can of Binny substitute in my boardies on the balcony overlooking my little view of coastal suburbia with some Bob playing too loud on a tinny speaker.

Result was totally underwhelming. I blame the lack of a Gudang.

‘IF YOU UNDERSTAND, things are just as they are;
if you do not understand, THINGS ARE JUST AS THEY ARE.’

mattlock's picture
mattlock's picture
mattlock commented Thursday, 14 Jan 2021 at 6:20pm

Thanks for the laugh Braudilio. Maybe you should have had a warm shower after the bike.

braudulio's picture
braudulio's picture
braudulio commented Thursday, 14 Jan 2021 at 9:52pm

Yeah, in hindsight shoulda gone the bucket of tepid water over the head to complete the picture

‘IF YOU UNDERSTAND, things are just as they are;
if you do not understand, THINGS ARE JUST AS THEY ARE.’

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Friday, 15 Jan 2021 at 1:24pm

Very funny braudulio. Spot on with your Bob comment and it being too loud.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Saturday, 16 Jan 2021 at 10:03am

The writing, excellent. The cartoon, sublime!

How would you spell the sound that the ring pull makes?

Pssst!

Asking for a friend.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Saturday, 16 Jan 2021 at 11:26am

ccckkKKKSSSSHHhhhh

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Saturday, 16 Jan 2021 at 10:35pm

Thanks Gra, much obliged. Might need to use it in future.

I mean my friend might. :-)

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Saturday, 16 Jan 2021 at 5:11pm

Gra ,, your a true wordsmith ,, and yeah, pssst is for stubbies , and if there is any sign of a pop towards the end it's too warm.