Update! Project Pint Bottle Beer Garden

I guess I could have gone to the shops and bought a pot plant but that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. This project has so far involved an angle grinder, potting mix and the compulsory consumption of Little Creatures Pale Ale

Construction has commenced with a bit of a bumpy start so there may be some rebuilding to be done but at least things are growing … at least I think they are!

Basil and Coriander for ALL!

Brewery Update!

News from Bootleg Brewery – Listen Up folks!

News from Bootleg Brewery, Margaret River

April 2012

Bootleg Black IPA is currently in the tanks just in time for the colder weather. Put aside a weekend and head down to Margaret River, anyone who’s lived there will tell you it’s great in winter, and try (or get reacquainted) a nice big pint!

There’s also a cider in the works, can’t wait to see what comes out!

Stay up to date with Bootleg through their Brew News

Ovila Quad

Gotta love a collaboration brew, especially when it involves Sierra Nevada!

When you say ‘Sierra Nevada‘, I tend to get a little excited. When you say ‘collaboration brew’, I tend to get very excited so imagine my child-like delight to discover Ovila Quad, a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and the monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux.

For those not familiar with Sierra Nevada, here’s a brief run down – freakin’ amazing beers …

Ok, really, it’s the heart & soul of Ken Grossman who built a small brewery in California in 1979 with the goal of producing exceptional ales and lagers. Against a back drop of home brewing, chemistry and physics on 15th November 1980 Ken Grossman brewed his first batch of beer. This would then become Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – a beer I personally love and I am yet to meet anyone who has tried it and not enjoyed it. Today I am always keeping an eye out for their limited release brews, the result of the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp and anything else they might be up to.

The Ovila Project sees Sierra Nevada closely following monastic brewing traditions dating back centuries by the monks of Abbey of New Clairaux. According to the website there are 3 beers that will be produced, all limited releases and bottled in cage and cork 750ml bottles. However, we had the Quad (not the Spiced that’s due for release later in the year) so how many they are brewing over how long, I’m not entirely sure.

Ovila Quad presents beautifully in the glass and, perhaps because I had been looking forward to opening the bottle for weeks (I was waiting for a slab of stinky blue cheese and a night when I didn’t have to work the next day!) it didn’t smack me in the face when I had the first sip. That’s not to say it’s lacking flavour, it’s just that I was expecting a Hulk-type assault on my senses (sorry, just saw ‘The Avengers’ last night). There are wonderful dark fruits and warmed raisins and spice flavours. There’s also that definite booze sweetness coming through the 10.4% abv in a very pleasant way, all in a medium bodied, well balanced Belgian-inspired ale.

We paired it with Blue Cow Blue Cheese and it has to be said that matching beer and cheese is simply divine. When I co-hosted food & beer events at Five Bar I used to enjoy the cheese matching the most. The contrasting flavours of medium bodied, port-like sweetness from the Ovila against the creamy aggressive blue cheese was absolutely lovely.

If you’re in Perth, the best place to try get a hold of this beer would be the International Beer Shop.

Thank You to Andy Mac for the gift of a bottle of Ovila Quad!

Ovila Quad and Blue Cow Blue Cheese
Not a bad way to end a meal!

Dirty Stout Chutney Burgers

“Dirty” because that’s how home made burgers should be, dirty and messy … Stout Chutney for unique and added flavour and a couple of Stouts for good measure to wash it down with

… served with, of course, a couple of stouts, namely Coopers Best Extra Stout followed by limited release Bootleg Oatmeal Stout

There was a little rain last night so with a bit of chill around it very much felt like stout-weather. As a result, I found myself at Cape Cellars and staring at a big bottle of Coopers Best Extra. I was in the mood for something new and my search for the just released Little Creatures Single Batch (The Quiet American) had been thwarted with delivery not expected until Wednesday. In the corner of the bottom shelf I spotted Bootleg Oatmeal Stout … two please!

Example of one of my past Mega-Burger-Patty
(minus the bun since I forgot to buy them)

My history of making burgers has often resulted in a burger patty that could flatten a small child if dropped from a significant height.

This time, my man was smart enough to divide my mixture into 4 patties … however, the end result was still a big, big burger, now divided up into more mouth friendly portions. There’s something very sensory about making burger patties, throwing in whatever you like and hoping it all goes (and holds!) together. The key ingredient on this occasion was a big whack of Spiced Stout Chutney from The Brewers Dray and it worked beautifully!

And you need something to go with a burger. Hmm, salad? Hell no. That won’t work. Lightly fried Paprika Red Potato Wedges … hell yes. Throw in a mass amount of rosemary? Why the heck not?

Dinner was stouty, messy and delicious.

(Pardon me whilst I attempt to get my beer geek on now please!)

Coopers Best Extra proved to be the winning match to the wide variety of flavours coming from our ridiculously loaded burgers. It had the power and body to cope with such an assault of flavours and that beautiful soft bitterness and hint of dark chocolate reflected contrasting sweet and acid flavours in the burger.

Bootleg Oatmeal Stout, although a beautiful brew, was a bit too sweet for the burger but a nice beer to sip on once the burger was devoured! It’s kinda like soft liquorice and black coffee got together and had a baby. I also had vanilla bean ice cream pop into my head whilst I was drinking this, perhaps because of the silky, creamy texture and head retention. The more it warmed up, the more liquorice popped into life.

Dirty Stout Chutney Burgers
and Bootleg Oatmeal Stout for Dessert

For anyone interested, here’s a role call of ingredients:

Dirty Stout Chutney Burgers

Beef Mince combined in a big bowl with …

  • Very Generous Teaspoon of Spiced Stout Chutney
  • Teaspoon of French Mustard
  • Cracked Pepper
  • 1 x Spring Onion
  • 1/3 cup Breadcrumbs
  • 1 x Chilli
  • Oregano

Burgers were then built with tomato, avocado (though I think the poor avocado got belted into submission and lost in the sea of other flavours!), Paul Newman’s Lime & Chilli Mayonnaise, Capel Cheddar, garlic sauteed mushrooms & onion, of course, our own Salsa Eternal.

Paprika Red Potato Wedges were simply cut and nuked in the microwave until half way cooked before thrown in a hot frying pan with extra virgin olive oil, paprika and rosemary. Served with a bit of Sour Cream.

Bootleg Oatmeal Stout

Did someone say liquorice?! Bootleg Oatmeal Stout – limited release

Liquorice, Liquorice and Liquorice!

Crafted By: Bootleg Brewery, Margaret River

Status: Limited Release – get it when you see it people!

Booziness: 5.5% abv

Taste: Lots of Soft Liquorice and Black Coffee, fiercely wrestling each other and I got a hint of little vanilla in there too.

Look: Silky, smooth and sexy as hell and all under a pretty black label. Great tan head retention too I might add.

Production Bits:

  • Infused with Star Anise (post fermentation)
  • Rolled Oats
  • 4 Dark Malts
Dirty Stout Chutney Burgers
and Bootleg Oatmeal Stout for Dessert

Roaming – Ferguson Valley

Taking full advantage of living down south and exploring the beautiful Ferguson Valley – oh and finding a new brewery along the way along with rather a lot of gnomes

There are oh-so-many towns, wineries, breweries and random things to see in the South West so it’s to be expected there will be much spontaneous day adventures to be had. Yesterday was such a day. The intention was to drive to the Ferguson Valley, find one of the many walking trails and take a 10-12km walk though the trees and the sunshine. We did end up doing this in the end (just knock off about 8km!) but first … we stumbled across a brewery.

Ferguson Valley is another beautiful part of the South West, rolling hills (it might be a cliche but it’s still pretty) covered in various tress and vines and stuff, and it’s a mere 20 minutes from Bunbury. Well worth a trip and it’s a beautiful drive.

Roaming Time: 5 hours

Where We Roamed: Ferguson Valley – Wild Bull Brewery, Willow Bridge Estate Winery, Wellington Forest and Gnomesville

Wild Bull Brewery

A new discovery for us, it was one of those happy accidents. Thank God for green signposts that show us the way!

We arrived to Wild Bull Brewery to find we had to use the overflow parking, evidently many people connect beautiful sunny day with beer, and grabbed ourselves an Amber Ale and a Bitter. The Bitter was crisp with a refreshing bitter bite at the end and the Amber Ale held a great burnt caramel flavour. We found a nicely shaded table outside and plonked ourselves down. They had a bit of live acoustic guitar action being played which was nice, although a strange contrast to the fancy dress birthday party at the nearby large table. It’s not often you see Wonder Woman at a brewery. They had the obligatory (for those breweries in the South West) kids playground but the setting amongst Ferguson Valley is certainly a bit unique.

There is plenty of merchandise to immerse yourself in if you like, growlers and 5lt take home kegs, glassware and hats and bar mats and everything one might need to set up their back room to pretend you are actually at the brewery.

Wild Bull Brewery
Pile Road, Ferguson Valley
Amber Ale & Bitter
Wild Bull Brewery
And Some Other Stuff
Although not strictly beer related, ending up at Wild Bull Brewery guided the remainder of the day so I will prattle further (also, I took some more photos so I need somewhere to put them).

Wine Barrels
Willow Bridge Estate Winery

Willow Bridge Estate Winery was delightful and what you would want from a cellar door visit. Leona, who has been working there for 11 years, loves nothing more than to talk to people. In fact, we barely talked wine whilst we were there. But isn’t that lovely? To talk to a real person who gives a damn rather than someone who learnt some facts about wine from a sheet? We thought so. The Tempranillo was our favourite so we walked away with a bottle of that. We had gotten so caught up in conversation we totally forgot to ask about the many, many wine barrels out the front (full of what appeared to be wine?).

I’ll skip over Wellington Forest as it was mostly just us walking, chatting, kicking gum nuts and me walking through spider webs (and then looking like a crazy person as I tried to wave my arms about to free myself from them).

Jarrah Trail
Wellington Forest

Gnomesville was worth it just because you spend the whole time giggling. There are (as the name suggests) so, so many gnomes. For whatever reason people have started putting gnomes there, there are signs from sporting clubs and families and I even saw a hen’s night and a pretty decent size Welsh flag. The Gnome Detention Centre (i.e. gnomes surrounded by chicken wire) on the other side of a fence was a little odd but then again, the whole thing was delightfully odd.

Gnomes, Gnomes and the more Gnomes
Wellington Mill & Ferguson Road, Ferguson Valley

Project Pint Bottle Herb Garden 3

A trip to Bunnings (complete with sausage sizzle) = a big bag of potting mix, herbs and one rather excited Asian

Bunnings! Gotta love a weekend trip to Bunnings, made complete only with $2.50 hotdog thats devoured mostly by the time you walk into the store.

We hit the gardening section and I have to try not to get too carried away and grab lots and lots of things to grow. I don’t even know whether I’ve got a green thumb or not. The most vivid gardening based memory I have is sitting outside my old house, rather unsober, whilst my mate decides to kill the weeds in our lawn by putting them on fire “just a little bit”. Perhaps the fact I knew that was a bad idea at the time means I have some sort of gardening prowess.

I almost got pulled in by the great packaging that came with the 3 types of chilli (complete with carry handle) to plant but settled on the original plans of basil and coriander. Oregano to follow (instead of mint because we don’t, sadly, make that many mojitos at home). If I can keep these alive, I’ll go back for the chilli.

Ready for the Transplant!

We throw a bag of potting mix on the trolley, it has written on the front “1. Pot 2. Water 3. Enjoy” and as a list of instructions go, even I can’t stuff that up. I instantly have a smile on my face!

Back at home and the back of the potting mix bag now elaborates on the simple 1,2, 3 method written on the front. Recommend gloves, don’t inhale (duh), pack lightly, water well, dead roots, transplanting plants, more and more … I panic a little and then decide to ignore that and go with the front instructions and just plant my herbs.

Splitting the coriander and basil in two, like some sort of conjoined twins operation, there is dirt and potting mix all over the place now. At this point I am using a plastic shopping bag as a glove just in case those skin recommendations were real (and I’m a bit of a bubble child). So I now have 2 Little Creatures Pint Bottles of coriander and two of basil. I water them, pounce on my boyfriend as he wakes up from an afternoon nap and take him outside to look.

Ta-DA! Now, to keep them alive!

Project Pint Bottle Herb Garden 2

Angle grinding beer bottles to grow herbs? That’s normal, right?

The delightful Jess Shaver put me on to a good video on bottle cutting involving flame and ice – found at Ephrem’s Bottle Works – which we watched this morning. It was good because it was certainly neater than our efforts with the angle grinder however it didn’t look nearly as much fun as it was with the angle grinder! And I am very okay with the bottles being a little crooked, it gives them character (as you have to say about all good things that are not quite right)

This morning it was back to the angle grinder to smooth off the more edgey-edges so we don’t slice our fingers every time we pick some herbs. Blood and basil doesn’t sound particularly appealing.

The Angle Grinder Strikes Again!

With that done it was time to try and put a hole in the base for the water to run out. We used the angle grinder again for pretty decent results!

Next it’s building a little home for the bottles and we have plywood lying around in the shed. There was measuring and double checking, as I am bad with numbers. There was some sawing involved (with the only saw we had around clearly designed for jobs bigger than our little 170mm requirements) and therefore a lot of me learning how to use a saw. The only way my brain got around the process was pretending I was playing pool.

The plan now is:

  1. Drink a few more Little Creatures Pale Ale
  2. Fit all our sawn and sanded pieces together into a box to hold 3 x 2 bottles
  3. Plant 1 row each of coriander, basil and mint.
(cross fingers now)

Project Pint Bottle Herb Garden 1

An idea born from overuse of Spring Onions and a case of Little Creatures Pale Ale

We go through an inhuman amount of spring onions. I used to hate buying them when recipes called for them because I’d buy a bunch, use two and that’d be that. Now, we are buying about 2 bunches a week. They are being used in EVERYTHING from scrambled eggs, stir fry, salad and our “salsa eternal”

Salsa Eternal on Poached Eggs, hiding under some Capel Cheese with Chorizo n' Toast

[“Salsa Eternal” refers to the mix of diced tomatoes, red capsicum, chilli, spring onion, spanish onion, capers, coriander and whatever else we decide to throw in that lives constantly in our fridge. We make it batch by batch and it goes on just about anything. It seems we both have palates begging for punishingly strong flavours]

So, the idea for growing our own spring onions came up … oh, and basil, I’d love to grow chilli … oh, and chilli too …. and you get the idea.

Now, what to grow them in? Don’t want to plant them because we’re in a rental, those babies will be coming with us when it comes time to move! Perhaps we could go to Bunnings, a great excuse to have a sausage sizzle for lunch on Saturday, but that’s not particularly creative.Then today I bought a case of Little Creatures Pale Pint Bottles and the image of a case of pint bottles, tops cut off and beautiful herbs n’ stuff growing out from the top, well, it had to be done.Here’s the start of the project involving me, my boyfriend and an angle grinder (I should mention here that I am in no way, shape or form able to confidently use power tools so the fact I am typing this and no blood loss, that’s a win). Updates, of course, to follow as we progress!

In the words of the the Queen of Hearts ..."Off With Their Heads!"
The First Four LC Pale Pint Bottles
Next Step: Angle Grind the tops so I don't slice my hand open every time I pick some basil!

A Drive Down the Road

Colonial Brewing has a new limited release out – Keutebier – available only off tap and just happens to be a mere 60 minutes from my front door

If I get in the car and drive for just one hour I can be at Colonial Brewing. That small fact makes me very happy.

People Watching at Colonial during Easter

Over Easter, since we had a few days off, it seemed like a great chance to head down to try their latest release. I didn’t know what it was but Mal, the Head Brewer, had told me about it at the South West Beer Festival and he was damn excited about it.

We got there in the afternoon, hit the bar and grabbed two pints of Keutebier. Hanging around on the back verandah, we sat and had a good look around. Plenty of people, another small bar, a kid’s playground, a guy on stilts and Jerry Fraser shucking oysters. We’ve both worked with Jerry in Perth so wandered over for a hug and an hello. About then, the band came on stage. It was an 80s band and the spandex to fluoro ratio was about 50/50 and deliberately over the top. They were, I have to say, ridiculously awesome.

So there we sat, in the south west, a mere hour from home, enjoying our Keutebiers in the sun. It’s an old world style beer and it’s a wheat beer. I’ve always loved wheat beers and it’s normally the first thing I try when I go to a new brewery. But it’s not just any wheat beer, it’s kinda complicated, like it’s got a darker side.

I fetched our two Colonial Growlers from the car and had them filled, one with IPA and the other with Keutebier. 4 litres of beer to go please, it had to be done. We popped the growler of Keutebier when we got home and for a moment it smelled like someone had exploded an orange! It went down sensationally with a couple of home-made pizzas.

Keutebier with Homemade Spicy Chicken Pizza

where to get it

If you’re in the south west, head straight to Colonial Brewing and try it at the source. Be sure to waive to Mal if you see him in the brewery (incidently that’s basically how we met him one day – just looking through the glass and next thing we knew, we were standing in the brewery talking about beer and fermentation …how very rock ‘n’ roll). Also, be sure to read the flyer, it’s bright yellow and hard to miss. It’s also very wordy and I like that.

If you’re in Perth, stop by The Royal in East Perth and try it there.

Either way, don’t forget your growlers!