Hop Nation & Two Birds breweries

I was in Melbourne for a conference yesterday. I arrived during the weekend and I spent my Sunday evening exploring two local breweries and tasting craft beer. It was an awesome way to spend a Sunday in my mind. The first one on my list was Hop Nation. Second was Two Birds. This blog will go through the atmosphere and beer tasting of these two breweries.

Hop Nation brewery

https://goo.gl/maps/V8RWA7eHCdm

The Atmosphere

This is the first time I’ve been to a brewery that felt more like a barn than a big industrial shed. The exposed brick is a pleasant change from the big shed feel. The building was built in the 1880’s and was originally used as a whale fat candle and wax factory. There was extra seating upstairs and big “stained glass” paintings which gave the feel of a church. I believe the idol of worship here is the humble beer. Considering their slogan is, “in hops we trust” the theming feels on point.

The Beer

Having 15 tap options is an impressive amount to choose from. Hop Nation specialise in hoppy beers (Who da though it?) but they do experiment with other styles. There’s plenty here to tickle your fancy. I’m not a huge fan of Hoppy beers, I’ve been drinking craft beer for 7 odd years now and it’s taken me this long to start to aprreciate the IPA (which stands for Indian Pale Ale). Basically if you see IPA on a beer just assume it will be hoppy and bitter.

Malibu Stacey – milkshake IPA sounds interesting. I had one from a can a few weeks ago. The sweetness comes from adding lactose into the beer post fermentation. Lactose is a non fermentable sugar that adds sweetness without being fermented into alcohol. It’s weird at first but drinkable once tastes are adjusted. Other milkshake flavours can be added to bring out different flavour profiles. 

Beer Tasting

The Punch – Mango Gose

I like a good sour beer, this one was my favourite out of the tasting paddle. It wasn’t over fruity or over sour and it was nice to kick off a pretty heavy paddle with this one.

Jedi Juide – NEIPA

Hop Nation is probably best known for this beer. NEIPA stands for New England Indian Pale Ale. This beer doesn’t have much to do with England or India and is more of an American invention. These beers usually use fruitier hops, tend to be cloudier than other IPA’s and I feel like they can be a good introduction to the hoppier styles of beer. This one was a bit offensive to begin with (most IPA’s are). I probably wouldn’t use this beer as an introductionary NEIPA. Once accustomed to the hoppy taste it went down easy enough.

The Dawn – Double NEIPA

Another offensive IPA. Once you get past the initial shock of the bitterness it was easy enough to drink. Watch out for that 9 percent alcohol though, you wouldn’t want to drive after having a pint of this stuff.

2018 Kalash – Russian Imperial Stout

I like a dark beer. However getting a strong russian imperial stout that feels easy to drink can be challenging. It’s easy for these beers to feel over powering because of the high alcohol content. This one will kick you in the teeth on your first sip before you are able to settle in to enjoy it.

Blonde Melange – Golden Sour

I also had a sample of the sour beer on my way out. I probably shouldn’t have done this after a Russian Imperial Stout; but I’ll say, “Forgive me father because I have sinned”, and I believe this venue will forgive me. This was more of a sour lemon pucker up type of beer. Not for the faint of heart if this isn’t your style.

Two Birds brewery

https://goo.gl/maps/Wii6iS7jEBy

The Atmosphere

This feels more industrial compared to Hop Nation. The artwork on the wall adds a nice touch. There is this huge bridge you can see from the banks of where this brewery is. It was pretty quite on a Sunday evening, maybe daylight savings had an impact on this?

The Beer

There’s another impressive selection of 12 taps here with a variety of styles to choose from. I went to a Two Birds dinner and beer party at the Kirriblli Pub for the Sydney Beer week last year when they were first launching passion victim. You won’t find many IPA’s on their menu; their beers are more geared towards the easy drinking with family and friends on a weekend backyard BBQ with some experimental flavours thrown in.

Taco Beer

Their taco beer is always a good introductionary craft beer that sounds very gross but is pleasantly nice. They’ve changed the recipe recently so I thought it was worth trying again in this tasting paddle. It’s easy to drink, light and refreshing.

Sakura Sour

Look at the colour of this beer. It’s just amazing. This one is done with a sake yeast. I’d say it borders on the pucker up sour but it’s not going to make you screw your face up on first sip.

Hibiscus Saison

Again there’s an amazing colour for this beer and it smelt amazing. This one was my favourite that I sampled on this paddle. I enjoyed sipping this beer while I read my book in the brewery.

Irish Red IPA

This beer doesn’t look like a red IPA, it’s pretty dark in colour. It wasn’t offensive for an IPA which is always a pleasant surprise

Spring Saison

I finished my beer adventures with this farmhouse ale. Saison is my preferred style and this was a good beer to finish on. It was one of the least “pucker up sour” beers I’d had all night. It is a crisp and dry with wine-like characters.

Summing it all up

I really enjoyed checking out both Hop Nation and Two Birds breweries. I got very toasty sitting in breweries and ready a good book. I’m not going to go out of my way for a Hop Nation beer any time soon, hoppy beers aren’t my style but I’ll always grab a new two birds sour if I see one.

Lessons in Branding : HelloFresh

In a world of time poor families and social media every where; HelloFresh is nailing their branding.

I got my first HelloFresh box this morning. I really like the idea; a food subscription with fresh ingredients delivered to your door with recipes to make for easy meal prep at home. I think their branding is just top notch:

Image Source: https://flic.kr/p/ToXrwp

I’m going to walk you through my unboxing experience while I delve into the branding behind it.

Unboxing & Recipe Cards

Woo the box, each recipe actually came in separate brown paper bags
My box came with 5 recipes
Here is the back of one of those cards, pictures make it easy to follow

Leveraging Technology

HelloFresh has a sleek website that was easy to use and an app that pairs with their product offering. I haven’t used their app but having that digital way to plan meal preps sounds like a good idea for them. You should leverage technology as part of your marketing campaigns as much as possible. If I had discovered bugs with my first ordering experience I would have viewed the overall product with less favor. The on boarding experience here is super important to get right especially when you are pairing a physical product with a digital offering.

Product Idea

Hello Fresh could sell a binder and each recipe card could have a 2-3 punch hole on the side to add to the binder. It would be an easy way to keep the physical cards. They are so nicely put together it would be a shame to toss them. It would be similar to the magazine subscriptions I use to have back in the day:

Source: http://www.modernbookbinders.com/

Aggressive marketing

I see HelloFresh everywhere; at least in Sydney they frequently have reps on the street giving out vouchers. I’m sure I have 2 floating around somewhere. Even the box comes with coupons to share with your network. Partnerships are important. If you had a similar product to HelloFresh and partnered with them to give out a coupon code on their next delivery cycle you’d get a reasonable amount of reach. Postal marketing is seeing a resurgence lately.

Good branding needs good marketing to support it.

They also have an instagram photo competition (#HelloFreshAU) going on to engage customers around their brand. What marketing tactics have you seen HelloFresh use that you’ve also tried?

Will I continue with it?

Short answer, probably not. I had 80% of my stomach surgically removed for weight loss surgery 2 years ago. I can only eat tiny meals now and I need to focus on protein first. I would waste some food on this program because the protein to everything else ratio doesn’t suit my dietary needs. I also enjoy researching my own recipes and perusing fresh food markets on weekends to get ideas for meal prep. The convenience doesn’t sell me because I am a foodie at heart and love putting my own research into food. I do think this company is doing an awesome job at branding.

Personal Branding

Warning: This blog contains promotional content. Personal branding is all about that, what else did you expect?

We had a pretty awesome CV clinic for Sydney Testers yesterday held at Opus Recruitment Solutions. Barry Smith and Mike Hollowbread specialise in recruitment for software testers and went through their pointers for CVs. These guys see a lot of CVs and had built up years of experience in this area. They had tons of pointers and have put together some awesome resources with this advice:

Opus CV Pointers

This event completely booked out and the waiting list filled out to double the event capacity within 24 hours of the announcement. If you missed out don’t worry. We are doing a month of these events. Next week will be at Four Corners Recruitment. This event is already full but please join the waitlist. We had a dozen people change their RSVP at the last minute with the last one which opened up the event for half the people on the wait list. If you want some inspiration for your CV I’ve blogged about the evolution of mine before.

Have a good LinkedIn Photo

My LinkedIn Photo

My LinkedIn profile came up in Barry and Mike’s talk as an example of a good LinkedIn photo. I’d like to dig into more detail the planning that went behind that photo in this blog post. I used a professional photography service called Snappr. I paid a photographer $59 for a 2 hour photoshoot with the soul purpose of getting a good LinkedIn photo. They now charge $75 for this service. Snappr is a Sydney based startup that’s making the news for disrupting the photography industry and being successful in funding rounds. I quite enjoyed the photoshoot and I had a bit of fun with it too:

Some of my favourite photos from the photoshoot

For the photoshoot we walked around Pyrmont and the Star Casino looking for good backdrops. Maybe you can recognise a few of the locations? Some of the photos didn’t come out that great but it was still fun. You should check out Snappr’s LinkedIn Photo analyser, it’s a fun way to analyse your photo using an algorithm. What score did you get?

Hair and Makeup

The thing is, the photographer was not the only thing I paid for leading up to this shoot. It was my birthday, I decided to treat myself to a pampering. So I also got my hair and makeup professionally done. I think that cost me around $150 at CatWalk hair and beauty in Gladesville. And then there’s the outfit:

I bought the suit from the Oxford Factory Outlet in Alexandria for roughly $200. The shoes were from Paul Dane; $90. The tie was an impulse purchase from an antique suit shop in Melbourne. I think it cost me $140 but I love that tie. It’s so groovy. I didn’t purchase this outfit just for this shoot, I will wear my suit on the odd occasion. You don’t have to spend what I did on this shoot but I’m trying to highlight the planning that went into that one smiling photo.

Tailored Suits

If I was to get another photoshoot, I’d probably order a tailored suit from Luxury Plus Suits, they do a basic suit for $349. They will measure you here in Sydney and it’ll get made in China. I actually did get one of their suits but it was just before my weight loss surgery. I’ve now lost 50kg since I bought that suit so it’s safe to say it doesn’t fit me any more.

Corporate branding

There’s two testing companies that I love the branding for; Ministry of Testing and House of Test. I love the sense of Community that Ministry of Testing is working on building. They even inspire community members to get tattoos of their logo:

Rockstar Testers

House of Test literally market themselves as rock star testers. If I ever move to Europe, this is the company that I’d be begging to join. I’ll tell you a secret. There’s a small community of context driven testers out there (House of test) are one such group. Mentioning context driven testing is like secret handshake material that gets you on top of interview list with these people.

Do you want to improve your Context Driven Testing? Do the Rapid Software Testing course by James Bach at the end of August. I consider James Bach to be the original rockstar tester. If I ever saw a CV with his course on it, it would be at the top of my interview pile, no questions asked. It is some of the best training any tester worth their salt can do.

You will occasional see this secret handshake material mentioned in Job ads too; like this one for a Quality Coach role at Campaign Monitor. Campaign Monitor is an awesome company to work for; awesome people, awesome perks (free breakfast and lunch) and awesome views of Sydney.

Taking Personal Branding to the next level

Edward Zia is an example of someone in my network who has taken personal branding to the next level. He even has a caricature made up with his facial birthmark as part of his branding:

If you don’t have a personal brand, people won’t want to do business with you. What have you done with your own personal branding before? Have you ever made a bad investment?

Good morning World, what offends you today?

Ah the internet… is it just me or a things getting angrier lately?

Sometimes I can see how the internet makes people angry. E.G. there is a bit of a Uncle Bob vs Sarah Mei thing happening on twitter over how the word craftsman isn’t inclusive. I think it’s a reasonable point to raise, I’ve intentionally tried to stop using the word “guys” in my vocabulary here is an example tweet that demonstrates why I might try to avoid using those words;

A fond memory from my university days: I was seeking to understand why we can't use "mankind" or "men" for all cases. A wise woman asked me to name 10 famous men. I named 10 famous males, and no females. Her point exactly. That's the problem with using craftsmen for all cases.
https://twitter.com/srogalsky/status/991431460681854976

So I’ve come to realize words like guys and men aren’t really all that gender neutral/inclusive after all. I personally didn’t think about the word craftsman being noninclusive before this point. I do talk about the craft of testing and will continue to talk about it. But I’ll make sure to try to catch myself if I’m about to use the word craftsman. Huzzah, the power of language; it changes and adopts to new cultural expectations. Original tweet for reference;

Uncle bob says; "Rude. Craftsman is a gender neutral term"
https://twitter.com/unclebobmartin/status/990411971106426880?s=19

My takeaway here; it’s hard to be polite on twitter. Both sides are being rude (but their online personas are built around this, I imagine these people are too busy to give a shit over how the world interprets their tweets and rudeness/bluntness can help drive conversation, it motivated this blog after all and many people are now re-assessing the word craftsman). But I’d have to side with Sarah on this one and I think Uncle Bob was just a little ruder than Sarah here. Do you disagree with me on this one?

Other things I see are just riding the “anger” train to get people riled up. People on both sides of the equation are guilty of over reacting though. Then there’s this teenager who found a Chinese dress in a thrift store and wore it to prom;

How did this become news? I was given a Japanese Yukata from a mayor of a Japanese town, do I have to be concerned when I wear that now? I think that aj+ piece is just asking for that knee jerk emotional reaction, I’m actually a little disappointed in aj+ about this. It reminds me of an article I saw come up in my facebook feed from a pop culture media outlet about wonder woman’s hairless armpits; about how angry feminists were critiquing the trailer and asking, how does wonder woman shave? This was clearly click baity because 1 “okay the Wonder Woman movie looks rad but why does Diana have clean shaven armpits” is hardly angry (or did I miss something?) and the article was clearly shared on facebook for the knee jerk facebook reaction, “dam special snowflake feminazi’s ruining a good movie like wonder woman”. I stopped following the pop culture media outlet because of it. Does anyone remember how angry Australia got over Yassmin’s, “Lest. We. Forget. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…)” tweet? I definitely wasn’t proud to call myself Australian after the hate she received after that.

However anger is pretty effective at engaging people, it’s a common marketing tactic now (get people angry and talking about it). BUT I think it causes people to get into a “defensive” thinking mode and it can be really hard to reason through that knee jerk emotional reaction.

Now I’m not a christian but when I feel that anger bubble up and inspire me to get all keyboard warrior I take a moment to reflect and think, “how would Jesus react with love and compassion in this situation?”. Jesus is my role model in these kind of situations. How do you catch yourself before you respond in anger? Or maybe I should harness my anger to drive discussion? Like James Bach does in this blog about Machine Learning tools in software testing are bullshit. It definitely has a lot of people talking about it.

Is it just me or are there more angry people out there?