girl + the big 3-oh

It’s my 30th birthday and I’ll drink beer if I want to … that was my motto last weekend and here are the main attractions …

It’s my 30th birthday and I’ll drink beer if I want to … that was my motto last weekend and here are the main attractions:

Friday 

Coopers Pale Ale

An Australian classic, consistently good, very tasty and a great starting point for delving into craft beers and very beery weekends!

Coopers Pale Ale
4.5% abv | 375ml bottles
Australian Pale Ale
Coopers Brewing | South Australia

Temple Midnight IPA

Soft, dark and down right lovely; a black IPA with great fresh hop characteristics and rich bitter roasty notes. It’s made from roasted “midnight” (hence the name) American wheat and Columbus, Centennial and Simcoe hops.

I picked it from the fridge to go with dinner which was Deep Fried Chilli Prawns with Hoi Sin Sauce & Garlic Prawn & Chorizo Pizza. I must admit I picked it without registering it was Black IPA so it wasn’t a food match win but it was still damn enjoyable!

It is the first Temple beer I have ever had, having heard nothing but rave reviews so when it came back into stock at The International Beer Shop I just had to have some.

Temple Midnight IPA
7% abv | 500ml
Black IPA
Temple Brewing Company | Melbourne, Australia
Friday Dinner
Deep Fried Chilli Prawns with Hoi Sin Sauce
Garlic Prawn and Chorizo Pizza

Saturday 

White Rabbit Dark Ale

As I was working at Little Creatures during the time White Rabbit was coming to life I was lucky enough to get a glimpse into the brewery before opening day and watch both the White Rabbit Dark Ale and White Ale hit the shelves. Like it’s sister brewery, Little Creatures, it’s making craft beer accessible in both price and taste.

The sun was out on Saturday but it has still been a chilly few days lately so I was looking for something dark but not heavy and White Rabbit Dark Ale fitted nicely. A good amount of hops in some subtle dark malts and not too much bitterness. It went very nicely with a couple of games of giant dominoes too!

Giant Dominoes + Beer

Colonial Keutebier – Limited Edition

An angry 5.6 % abv wheat beer; but angry in a really good way … feisty banana tones, spicy and and refreshing. A cloudy rich honeyed colour, it just begs to be consumed! I can’t wait to check out the next limited edition, a Baltic Porter, that is due for release in the coming weeks – luckily for me I got to  see the first batch being brewed!

Colonial Keutebier
5.6% abv | on tap at Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough
Keutebier (wheat ale)

Sunday

Feral / 2 Brothers Collaborator – Special Release

I’ve not had that much experience with brown ales but there’s plenty of time for me to fix that however the Feral / 2 Brothers Collaborator may have set my standards rather high. Beautifully hoppy with rich caramel sweetness, hints of stone fruit and spice and since it was made to celebrate 20 years of AIBA (Australian International Beer Awards) it seemed a fitting beer to celebrate my own little milestone – a mention of girl+beer in The Sunday Times STM!

The Collaborator takes its hat off to the AIBAs and the Australian brewing industry as a whole by using nothing but all Australian ingredients. Galaxy, Stella and Summer hops are used along with Pale, Crystal and Australian Oats. Read more about the Collaborator at Australian Brew News. Only 16 hectolitres were brewed for the AIBA awards and Melbourne’s self proclaimed beer-obsessed venue, Beer Deluxe, so getting my hands on two bottles from The International Beer Shop was quite the feat! I wonder how long until we open the second bottle!?

Feral / 2 Brothers Collaborator
5.5% abv | 330ml bottle
Feral Brewing (WA) + 2 Brothers Brewery (VIC)
Australian Brown Ale

Two Birds Sunset Ale

The two birds themselves, Jayne and Danielle, brew their beer at Southern Bay in Victoria and grew up right here in Perth. Sunset Ale is their second beer, following the summery fruity Golden Ale, and I thought it was going to be best enjoyed on the beach. We opened two bottles and sat down in the sun, on the sand and enjoyed the beach that was almost completely absent of people. It was an oh-so-lovely way to end a weekend!

Great rich stone fruit and biscuit characteristics, the Sunset Ale is brewed with US Citra and Australian Cascade hops with Pale, Wheat and crystal malts. This was another find from The International Beer Shop though you can find the Two Birds Golden Ale on tap at The Queens, Mt Lawley.

Two Birds Sunset Ale | Best Enjoyed on the Beach
4.6% abv | 330ml bottle
American Style Red Ale
Two Birds Brewing (VIC)
Loving Life with Two Birds Sunset Ales

So that was my great beery 30th birthday weekend – what more could a beer-loving girl ask for than her amazing boyfriend, beautiful craft beers, a nice pub and way too much food?! Brilliant!

Neon Lights + Burgers

I like surprises and I like burgers so imagine my delight when I’m surprised by a burger. Allow me to elaborate …

I like surprises and I like burgers so imagine my delight when I’m surprised by a burger. Allow me to elaborate …

We had a couple of days of “wild weather”, as the term goes despite you never hearing about “captive weather”, in Perth and the South West. To look at the trees was as though Mother Nature had taken a chainsaw and decided most of them were just too tall. Big trees were ripped out like pesky weeds, fences went a bit further down the road and some basketball hoops fell down too. You get the idea. So with all this storm stuff going on it was only inevitable to lose power.

One of the many trees that fell down during the wild weather

On the first night without power my boyfriend cooked 4 packets of 2 minute noodles on the gas stove and that was fine. On the second night, whilst trying to empty the entire fridge into a borrowed esky, we decided it would be a whole lot easier to head to the pub.

We drove towards Bunbury and decided on The Highway Hotel. The fact neither of us had been before seemed like a good enough reason to go. The fact it is owned by one of the two supermarket giants in this country, Woolworth’s, seemed like a good enough reason to counteract the first one but we went anyway.

The side entrance was locked and looked closed; a drive to the front revealed unlocked doors under a neon sign of the letters HH. We walked in to find a handful of tables in the restaurant area and the bar dotted with blokes and pints. They were yelling helpfully at the bartender as she tried to get to the Foxtel channel they wanted, displayed on 3 screens above the bar.

We were very pleased and somewhat surprised to find Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale on tap given the venue doesn’t hint to any sort of craft beer culture. It’s also not a common beer to find  on tap, though this is set to change with Nail Ale and Perth’s other well known brewery, Feral, sharing a new brewhouse in Bassendean, so it’s great to see it around. With a credit card behind the bar, two pints in front of us and the tennis French Open on the screens our Monday night was going fairly well.

Like most Woolworth’s owned ALH (Australian Leisure & Hospitality) pubs the venue was littered with promotional posters, one of which was the Monday night special “Burger n Beer Deal” for $15. We thought, what the hell, its almost alliteration and it makes ordering easy, and got the deal x 2.

I must admit our expectations where not high because a) Its Woolies b) Its a meal deal and c) You don’t normally associate neon lights with good food. Not that we were expecting bad food but we were not expecting a very tasty burger with lots of nice extras.

The burger presented nicely in a focaccia bun and the patty was thick, a good start so far and to see all the little extras was a delightful surprise; finely diced beetroot, cheese, bacon that hadn’t been fried to within an inch of its life, rocket and cherry tomatoes were all big ticks from me! And the chips, though most certainly bulk purchased frozen McCain, were crisp and yummy.

We each got another pint of Nail Ale whilst we finished off our burgers; Pale Ale and Burgers are such a good match! I think it’s the fruity elements of the beer bringing out sweetness in the meat, tomatoes and beetroot but enough bitterness to make sure it doesn’t get slapped around by a big juicy burger! We watched the end of the tennis and then went to pay the bill. I had been expecting to have to pay over and above the “meal deal” because we had chosen Nail Ale instead of something more mainstream but it was included and for four pints and two burgers, I thought $50 was a pretty decent asking. The service had also been good, the girl behind the bar was friendly and checked to see if we wanted more drinks and had clearly away our plates promptly.

Just goes to show you can’t judge a book by its cover or, more accurately, you can’t judge a pub by its massive neon lights.

The Highway Hotel

Corner Forrest Avenue & Spencer Street, Bunbury | (08) 9721 4966

Open Monday – Friday 11am – late

Open Saturday & Sunday 10am – late

Burger n Beer Meal Deal available all day Mondays, just $15

girl + cheeky monkey

A visit to the newest brewery to call Margaret River home – Cheeky Monkey – with a brief stop over at the first – Bootleg – and that’s what I would call a pretty successful day!

4259 Caves Road, Margaret River
Open Daily from 10am – 6pm
(08) 9755 9555

I appear to be developing some sort of animal theme with this post and the earlier one about Mountain Goat but we won’t focus on that …

Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery is the latest edition to the growing number of craft breweries who call the Margaret River, predominately known for being a wine region, their home. They opened in early May after a few hurdles regarding fears of yeast contamination with neighbouring wineries but judging by their Facebook page and the many happy smiling faces I saw, they have been a welcome addition to the region.

Last weekend my boyfriend and I decided it was about time to check it out so we jumped in the car and headed towards Margaret River. On the way we realised we were coming up on Puzey Road and the irresistible allure of a stopover at Bootleg Brewery was too much to refuse!

We couldn’t have chosen two more different Bootlegs to indulge in. Whilst my boyfriend opted for his favourite, Black Market IPA, I went for the new Bootleg Apple Cider (5% abv); it’s crisp and bitter and very Granny Smith apple and it might seem strange but one of the things I liked the most was the fact it wasn’t overly carbonated, making it easy drinking rather than feeling full from just a glass. The Black Market IPA, as always, was as good as ever.

The two extremes of Bootleg – Black Market IPA pint versus Apple Cider middy

With a visit to the first microbrewery in the Margaret River wine region under our belts we did a hop, skip and a jump to the newest – Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery.

It was apparent when we drove in that we would need to park in the overflow parking. Having parked a fair distance from the brewery, a few things became apparent. There are a couple of compulsory items when you have a brewery in the South West – 1. A body of water and 2. A children’s playground. I don’t disagree with either of these – both make complete sense, it’s just funny how they have become mandatory items. Cheeky Monkey’s aquatic effort also has a little jetty that seems to attract kids out to stare down into the water. On this particular day it was also the home of just one little duck; we jokingly wondered if we would find that his friends had found themselves as part of the menu.  The Cheeky Monkey playground doubles as a landmark; its big and green (didn’t mean to make it sound Hulk-like) and easily spotted as you drive along Caves Road. Its a whole other world in there for the kids to get happily lost in.

Yep – that’s one big playground!

We hit the bar and were promptly served by a very friendly guy named Rob. We confessed to being first timers and a good chat about their beers started. I liked that he didn’t default into new-customer-tell-them-about-all-beers strategy, instead asking us about the beers we were keen on trying or wanting to know more about. It was a conversation, not a staff member talking at us.

Not the same sort of monkey bars I played on when I was a kid

We were going to be having lunch so I decided to start with a Hatseller Pilsner (4.8% abv), made with 100% New Zealand hops, to work my way into something bigger with food. Rob gave us a taster first and we were surprised at the big characters, much more going on than your regular run of the mill pilsner, a characteristic Rob put down to the beer sitting for two weeks on yeast, allowing it to develop more complexity and depth. It had some nice citrus and fruit notes with a strong crisp, bitter finish; I was very pleased with my first Cheeky Monkey brew. My boyfriend drove head first into the Hagenbeck, a 5.8% abv Belgian IPA; although considering he started on Bootleg Black Market IPA I guess it wasn’t that big a dive! Made with Belgian yeast and dry hopped, it was a nice divergence from the mostly American styled IPAs that have been dominating our fridge. There was some nice banana aromas and flavours, spices that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, and strong tropical hops.

Hatseller Pilsner & Hagenbeck Belgian IPA

Like the other breweries I’ve visited recently it’s a service style where the bar is for getting your drinks and there is a separate counter for ordering food. It does mean that the time between ordering your beer and taking a gulp is no longer than 60 seconds but the wait to order food, during peak times, is a much longer. Whilst I am not necessarily an advocate for this style of service, it’s not all doom and gloom as the short wait allows me the chance to look around and absorb other parts of the venue and check out the food specials. I did, however, feel sorry for the customers I saw who had not realised they needed to know their table numbers.

Inside Cheeky Monkey
So that’s what the inside for a monkey looks like …

I had placed our food order so it was now time to chose our second round of beers. I went for the Traveling Monk – a mid-strength Red Ale, and my boyfriend couldn’t resist the ‘Brewer’s Choice’ Souther Wailer, a Black IPA. It’s the most cheeky of the beers at a belly-warming 6.4% abv, with pronounced roastiness and hop bitterness without drowning out the tropical fruit and citrusy flavours. Having now tried four of the range we agreed the Traveling Monk was our favourite. At 3.5% the Cheeky Monkey’s have produced an ale they say proudly follows in the footsteps of beers like Rogers’ Amber Ale (3.5% amber ale) and other similar styles to showcase that a big abv isn’t a necessity. The Traveling Monk boasts aromas of orange and hops, it’s appearance is nothing short of gorgeous deep amber and flavours of sweet malt, marmalade and fresh hops are delightful.

Food arrived and we tucked in to the three dishes we’d selected to share; they were all seafood as we have been doing a lot of home cooking lately, and enjoying every minute of it, so it’s important when we go out we order food we couldn’t make at home. With that in mind we chose the Marinated Fremantle Sardines, Squid with Wasabi Aioli and the Crab Bocadillo.

The Marinated Fremantle Sardines were a special for the day that we had chosen because the Chilli Mussels had sold out and it fitted with our seafood theme. They were beautifully marinated; the sharp flavours of the sardines going well with crisp spanish onion and peppery rocket, served on toasted bread.

Marinated Fremantle Sardines
with Rocket, Cherry Tomatoes, Spanish Onion on Toasted Bread

We both love squid and we both love wasabi aioli so it’s probably not a surprise the Squid with Wasabi Aioli was our favourite dish and we would have happily added more wasabi to the mix. Crispy coated squid with fresh lemon squeezed on, I know it’s not an uncommon dish these days but it doesn’t make it any less delicious. The squid was perfectly cooked and it was nice to get two generous wedges of lemon to squeeze.

Squid with Wasabi Aioli with Fresh Lemon

The Crab Bocadillos were interesting with the contrast between the crisp coleslaw and tempura battered soft shell crab.

It was also a little funny to be eating what is very similar to a burger and having little legs sticking out the side of it! The lime and pickled yellow chilli aioli added a very subtle tanginess to the dish that went really well with the crab. Whilst we enjoyed the Squid with Wasabi Aioli the most, we had the most fun with the Crab Bocadillos because you’re never too old to play with your food …

Being silly with Cherry Tomatoes

We were comfortable sitting outside and being a couple of big kids and I guess that in itself says a lot about a venue. What also stood out was seeing a couple of kids kicking a footy around and, perhaps inevitably, it sailed up and onto the roof. Perhaps ten minutes, if that, passed before we saw a guy with a ladder prop it up against the side of the building and retrieve it. From where we were sitting it wasn’t clear if he was a Cheeky Monkey employee or just a punter, either way, I think it says something positive about the venue. If he was an employee, to take the time to fetch a kids footy on a Sunday afternoon is pretty decent. If he was a punter I think it’s nice that no manager stormed out shouting things about occupational health and safety (though the ex-bar manager in me might see the situation alternatively ending with incident reports and a set of crutches but that’s mostly due to my own disturbing level of incoordination).

Our first contact at Cheeky Monkey, Rob, was knowledgable, passionate and friendly; if you ran a bar you’d want as many Robs as you could get your hands on. They are produced great beers, tasty food and all in a setting with lots of different seating styles for your mood or occasion. I will happily be going back to Cheeky Monkey soon to try the Pale Ale ‘Old Reliable’ and the ciders that I missed tasting on this first visit. Oh and great name, love the name.

deep fried everything

I think everyone gets the occasional craving for fish & chips; the golden deep fried, salty goodness calls out and combined with a nice beer in hand at the same time – bliss! That craving hit my boyfriend and I a couple of nights ago so we armed ourselves with some Mac’s Hop Rocker, two fillets of Gold Band Snapper from the local seafood place and set about making a rather unhealthy dinner

I think everyone gets the occasional craving for fish & chips; the golden deep fried, salty goodness calls out and combined with a nice beer in hand at the same time – bliss!

The above mentioned craving hit my boyfriend and I a couple of nights ago so we armed ourselves with some Mac’s Hop Rocker, two fillets of Gold Band Snapper from the local seafood place and set about making a rather unhealthy dinner.

I remember first trying Mac’s Hop Rocker about 5 years ago and loved it because it was a damn interesting pilsner; crisp hoppy bitterness and tangy citrus aromas in a smooth, medium bodied beer (5% abv). I think it may have been the first New Zealand beer I had come across and since then I have recommended it to friends and customers over the years. It was also a pretty good choice for the meal as the crispness of the beer cuts through the batter but doesn’t overpower the fish. The only thing I dislike, I have to say, is the pull tab cap to open. It strongly appeals to the degree-in-marketing part of me but it threatens to slice open the finger of the bartender part of me!

In order to make fish & chips we decided to each take on a section of the meal; my boyfriend took “fish” and I took “chips”. I think I did well in the delegation of responsibilities.

The batter was made as per normal and it was a case of some Mac’s for the batter and some Mac’s for the batter-maker and threw in some diced spring onions and garlic into the batter just for good measure. I, myself, had no excuse as no beer went into the potatoes, just devoured by me and honestly, I’m okay with this.

My first step was to slice the ruby red potatoes into wedges and then cheat by throwing them into the microwave for a little bit to save time. Next they were doused in garlic, paprika and olive oil and tossed into a hot pan. And honestly, that was about the extent of it.

It’s hard for me to say what effect adding Mac’s Hop Rocker had to the batter. I’ve had many versions of “beer battered fish” at several pubs and perhaps I don’t have the palate to recognise the differences. However, what I do know is that the meal was delicious. The Gold Band Snapper fillets were thick and perfectly cooked through, the batter was tasty and golden and didn’t taste fatty or greasy. The potato wedges, if I do say so myself, where fab but could perhaps have used more paprika. I should also add here that we got a little carried away once the fish was done and wondered what else we could deep fry since the oil was sitting there, begging to be used. I guess this is how deep fried Mars Bars came into being but we threw in sliced chorizo instead. It’s really not healthy and it’s really wrong … and it’s kinda right too. We threw on the rocket to add some greenery and also just to ensure the entire meal wasn’t fried! It also colour coordinates with the beer!

Locally caught Gold Ban Snapper from a little seafood shop beside Stratham Downs Roadhouse (clearly I’ve forgotten the name) which also has Forbidden Fruit – my favourite little fruit n veg shop

girl + goat

Last Wednesday night at Five Bar, located in Perth’s ever trendy suburb of Mt Lawley where Espresso Martinis are in constant demand, it was beer that took centre stage and Mountain Goat was undisputed King.

Five Bar | 560 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
Keep up with beer events at Five at their Facebook page

Not so long ago I was the Assistant Manager at Five Bar, a small bar with a big beer focus, located in the increasingly trendy suburb of Mt Lawley. In an area where the demand for Espresso Martinis runs rampantly high, to be opening a beer focused small bar was just a little bit exciting. We started running beer events, and to see how many people were interested in and loved their craft beer was the best part of my job. I’ve moved on to another job in another place, but I will happily drive back for great beer and to catch up with old friends.

Wednesday night saw Five Bar host Mountain Goat Co-Founder and Chief Brewer Dave Bonighton for ‘A Night of the Goat’. He had come over from Melbourne for a brief visit to see what was happening here in the West and I think he went back to Melbourne with a smile on his face.

The Mountain Goat story starts in the 1990s with two mates, Dave and Cam, who wanted to make craft beers. Their first beer, Hightail Ale, hit Victorian shelves for the first time in 1997 and their Steam Ale, certified organic, soon followed. Since then we have seen a diverse list of limited release beers (called ‘Rare Breeds’) and collaboration beers (called ‘Cross Breeds’) emerge to show off just what this little Australian brewery can do. Whilst I was working at Five Bar I snapped up lots of Mountain Goat beers and delighted in customers trying them for the first time and instantly falling in love. As you can imagine I was really quite excited at the prospect of meeting Dave; I got to Perth at 3pm so I had 3 hours to kill until the event…

After driving for a couple of hours I felt deserving of a pint and so arranged to meet a friend at The Queens, just up the road. Once it was a pub where the taps were an even spilt between Carlton United and Lion Nathan but nowadays their line up of draught beers is rather impressive, boasting Mountain Goat, White Rabbit, Two Birds and Feral Brewing to name a few. I noticed Vale IPA (South Australia) on tap and since I have only enjoyed it once before from the bottle I had to have it. It’s an extremely well balanced IPA with all the great characteristics I love about American IPAs – the citrus, the pine and the stone fruits and the malt sweetness backs it up perfectly too. That pint went down a little embarrassingly quickly. Opting for something a little more refreshing and with bigger tropical fruits and passionfruit I then chose Two Birds Golden Ale for my next drink and that too disappeared rapidly.  The scene was set for a rather beery evening..

Vale IPA at The Queens | 520 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
Vale IPA
5.5% abv | 41 IBUs
Style: American India Pale Ale
Hops: Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin & Citra

It was 5pm when I arrived at Five Bar for ‘The Night of the Goat’ event, still a good hour before it all kicked off so it gave me the chance to say hello to the staff and catch up on what has been happening. My early arrival also came with a beery reward as they had managed to get a hold of a keg of Collaborator – a brew from Feral Brewing (WA) and Two Brothers (VIC) that was created in celebration of 20 years of the Australian International Beer Awards. A schooner would tide me over quite nicely until all things Goat underway (tehehe!).

I sat at the bar enjoying the Collaborator, a really interesting stone fruit/chocolate sort of number (I nabbed two bottles whilst doing my obligatory stop at The International Beer Shop so I’ll be sure to do a separate post shortly on this one) and admired the big blackboard menu. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, it was all hands on deck as the chefs Mitch and Nelly were busy preparing the menu they had specially put together for the night.

Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout
4.9% abv
Style: Sweet StoutMountain Goat Hightail Ale
4.5% abv
Style: English Amber Ale

 

With the kitchen buzzing, Mountain Goat pouring from two taps and bottles of Mountain Goat Rare Breed and Cross Breed in the fridges, it was just a matter of time and people. Looking around the bar at 5.30pm it looked like a fairly typical Wednesday night but by 6.15pm I noticed a lot of familiar beer-loving faces. By 6.30pm it was almost a full house and almost half the people had come down to meet Dave and get their fill of all things Goat – both in the beer and the food sense.

The Menu

Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout recommended with Goat Shoulder + Mushroom Pie

Mountain Goat Hightail Ale recommended with Roast Roulade of Goat Leg, Chevre and Beer Baked Quince

Mountain Goat Two Step Cider recommended with Milk Poached Goat Belly w/ Fennel + Apple Salad

Mountain Goat Steam Ale recommended with Goat Tartare and Toasted Baguette

The Gypsy & The Goat Pepperberry Black IPA recommended with Goat Shoulder Sausage + Plum Chutney

Mountain Goat Rare Breed Rye IPA recommended with Ryppa Goat Balls

Goat Shoulder and Mushroom Pie

Now I must admit that I didn’t do any of the beer and food matching suggestions, instead drinking mostly Surefoot Stout and Hightail Ale off tap since it’s pretty rare to find those pouring fresh where I am. It was easy to enjoy several schooners of Surefoot Stout, a 4.9% abv sweet stout that is part of the Mountain Goat Rare Breed range, that was once in yearly production. It boasts well balanced bitterness, soft dark malts and hints of chocolate and coffee. I switched briefly to Hightail Ale to enjoy with the food and it was a sensational match with the Goat Tartare; the meat was soft and flavoursome with the spices from Hightail enhancing all the intricacies of the Tartare. Sadly I missed out on the Goat Shoulder and Mushroom Pie and Ryppa Goat Balls, purely from talking way too much, and therefore there will be no jokes about Goat Balls here; Ryppa or otherwise…

[Apologies in advance for the red hue on all my photos – I could say it was a deliberate tactic to emphasis the amber hue of the great beers on the night but it’s just my lack of attention to colour balance on my camera]

Goat Tartare
Roasted Goat Leg with Chevre & Beer Baked Quince

The Roasted Roulade of Goat Leg with Chevre and Beer Baked Quince was sensational. Garnished with a little malt that soaked up as much of the sauce as it possibly could (and I don’t blame it), this dish was a little sweet and quite rich; it presented beautifully.

The Goat Shoulder Sausage and Plum Chutney was a delightful little dish that was lightly spiced and soft with just enough fruit from the chutney providing a nice contrast. If I had managed to get a hold of The Gypsy & The Goat (a collaboration between Mikkeller and Mountain Goat) before it sold out, I am sure it would have been a lovely match.

Goat Sausage and Plum Chutney

I had not intended on having the Milk Poached Goat Belly with Fennel and Apple Salad as I couldn’t quite get my head around the concept of milk poaching and I have never really enjoyed fennel. However it was ordered for me and it ended up being one of the dishes I enjoyed the most. The meat was falling-apart-soft and against the crispness from the Granny Smith apple it made a simple but amazing contrast. Again, a garnish of malt on top not only looked great but provided a little more contrast and flavour to an already great dish.

Goat Belly with Fennel and Apple Salad

One of the best things about beer is the people and meeting Dave was nothing short of a pleasure. Like all brewers I have been fortunate to meet, Dave is delighted to chat all things beer with fellow beer-lovers. He smiles a lot, laughs a lot and he’s curious about peoples journeys, not purely how they found Mountain Goat, but how they came to delve into the craft beer culture in the first place.

As I have said time and time again, I love the stories behind beer and even when those stories are pretty simple it still speaks volumes about beer. To demonstrate, I was in conversation with Dave and one of Five Bar’s regular beer event attendees who was asking Dave how the collaboration between Mountain Goat and Mikkeller came to be. In different industries I am convinced that if you enquired about the origins of an international collaboration you’d get a very long story involving marketing plans and cross promotional branding activities. Dave’s story, however, was more a case of two brewers who were going to be in the same place at the same time and thought it would be fun to make something together, highlighting the open nature of the beer community.

I am pretty sure I walked around with a big smile on my face for the entire evening. Meeting Dave, enjoying the Goat beers and food and chatting with beer folk from all parts of the industry; it’s all why I love beer.

Co-Founder and Chief Brewer at Goat – Dave – and I; see how happy beer makes you?!

Epic Larger + French Lamb Cutlets

Since my last trip to the International Beer Shop, my boyfriend and I have been slowly making our way through the stash of great beers. We decided to crack open the Epic Larger and cook up some French Lamb Cutlets for dinner which we had marinated in what you may call an “overdose” of seeded mustard and rosemary.

Since my last trip to the International Beer Shop my boyfriend and I have been slowly making our way through a stash of great beers. We decided to crack open the Epic Larger and cook up some French Lamb Cutlets for dinner which we had marinated in what you may call an “overdose” of seeded mustard and rosemary.

Some time ago my boyfriend had the idea to make yorkshire puddings when I was cooking a beef stew for dinner. We soon discovered yorkshire puddings was essentially flour, milk and a heck of a lot of oil. No wonder they tasted so good! We decided we’d try making them again for the lamb and tweaked the recipe slightly to use less oil and more butter. The result was even tastier and highly addictive; we’d made little ones using a very shallow mini-muffin tin and by the end of the meal the full dozen were gone.

Our sides for the lamb cutlets were a salad and some hash browns, keeping it simple but very tasty. Hash browns seem to fall into that ‘irresistible’ category of foods that if I see them I just have to have them; that list currently also includes pork belly, sweet potato and prosciutto.

Dinner was seriously tasty. The lamb cutlets were perfectly cooked and there is something really great about eating with your hands and off the bone, almost like it enhances the whole experience by getting your hands dirty! The marinade had plenty of garlic and the new organic seeded mustard we had bought made us realise that not all mustards are created equal.

Epic Larger not only has a great name but is a pretty great beer. Epic Beer comes to us from New Zealand  and according to the website the name has three references – epic flavours and aromas, the epic journey it takes to get to New Zealand and the epic challenge in breaking through a beer category that’s dominated by a couple of big names and a reputation that’s connected to beer-guzzling fat guys scratching themselves on building sites. The Epic Larger is an Imperial Pilsner, so basically take your run of the mill pilsner and make it bigger … do this a few more times and that’s kinda what we are talking about. I love the marriage of flavours in this beer, drinking a lot like an American Pale Ale in terms of big hops but there is a definite crisp, light, pilsner mouth feel about it. It’s a little on the sweeter side with fresh citrus and tropical notes together with pronounced bitterness. I can now add this to the growing list of Epic beers I have enjoyed.

We sat down to dinner and it might not have been the epitome of beer + food matching but had a really yummy meal and a fantastic beer …

Epic Larger
8.5% abv
70 IBU
Malt – Weyermann Pilsner
Hops – NZ Pacific Jade, NZ Kohatu, US Liberty, US Tettnang, US Santiam

Mustard + Rosemary Marinade

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic

2 large garlic cloves, finely diced

Handful of Rosemary

2 big-ass tablespoons seeded mustard

Yorkshire Puddings

We made ours in a mini-muffin tray so they were little and cute however it was somewhat of a dangerous exercise with a decently high risk of being burned by hot oil. I am sure there is a better way to do this but so far we are unscathed …

1 cup plain flour

1 cup milk

1 egg

Put a blob of butter and some oil into each pocket in the tray and put into a hot oven. Meanwhile whisk together egg and milk, gradually adding flour. Whisk lots and lots. Put a spoonful into each pocket once it’s sufficiently/scarily hot. Try not to burn yourself with hot oil. Return to oven for a while and look in on it careful, you’ll soon know when they are ready!

Bread + Beer

Coopers Pale Ale Damper and trying their 150th celebration ale, funnily enough named Thomas Cooper’s Celebration Ale

Whilst writing up my post for Coopers Pale Ale I stumbled across a recipe from the Coopers website for Damper. Bread beer, huh? Yeah, I’d like that.

First I had a couple of hurdles to overcome. One was not having any beer after a rather indulgent weekend so a trip to the local bottleshop soon fixed that. The second was a little more difficult – we don’t have a sieve in the house and neither did our local IGA. Damn. Whilst I was staring at a large tea strainer and wondering just how much patience I possessed (as a female only child the answer was unflatteringly clear); my boyfriend was juggling a packet of paper cups. It seemed like a decent solution – poke some holes and Bob’s your uncle! (and I do have an Uncle Bob).

After stabbing several paper cups with a variety of instruments – corkscrew, screwdriver, pen and sewing needle – it became glaringly apparently it wasn’t such a good idea after all. I continued on with the ingredients list and threw in rosemary picked fresh from our backyard and thickly sliced Spanish olives and, of course, a generous bit of Coopers Pale Ale. It was a strange thing to pour beer into a measuring glass so, for good measure I poured the rest of the 750ml bottle into two glasses for myself and my boyfriend.

As I write this the damper has another ten minutes in the oven so I thought I’d look into the origins of damper since I don’t much except some association with Australian Aborigines; I think I remember doing some sort of damper cooking thing as a kid at primary school. Wikipedia describes damper as “Australian soda bread” by mixing flour, water and milk (if available) and shoving it into the ashes of the camp fire. I figure since mine is in the oven it’s gotta have a fighting chance of being half decent .. surely.

Whilst at the bottleshop, reaching for a king brown size bottle of Coopers Pale Ale, I noticed the Thomas Cooper’s Selection Celebration Ale and just had to grab a 6 pack. Released in celebration of their 150th year, the Celebration Ale uses hops from Australia, New Zealand and United States and local malt. I hadn’t read a great deal about the ale but in my head I was expecting some sort of hybrid of their pale and vintage ale, instead it’s more of a hopped, sweeter and earthier pale ale with a nice deep red colour. As it warmed up in the glass all the flavours came together with really nice balance and medium body. A nice drop.

Just over an hour and 2 Cooper’s Celebrations Ales later …

Not a resounding success, it was still a bit doughy in the middle and perhaps being in a cake tin didn’t help it much either. I went a little overboard in the rosemary department but the olives were delightful. Looking at other recipes I think I can easily improve on the Coopers one by actually making a dough rather than a goo and do the whole kneading thing. We ate it anyway in a platter of marinated octopus, grilled chorizo, camembert and red capsicum dip.  Oh well, it means I will have to get some more Coopers Pale and try it again sometime …

Coopers + Busselton Jetty

But there are beers that you happily return to time and time again, that you’ll take a 6 pack to dinner at a friend’s house, that you’ll reach for in the bottleshop safe in the knowledge you’ll get something you will really enjoy. Coopers Pale Ale most certainly falls into that category for me.

A clear and beautiful winter day at The Jetty

I love the Busselton Jetty, it’s intriguing, romantic and historic all at the same time.

It’s a lovely stroll along 1.8km of timber which apparently makes it the longest timber piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere; apparently you can’t have a major tourist attraction unless it’s the biggest, longest, tallest, something-est etc. Whether record breaking or not, the walk will take you past people casting lines out into the ocean; there’s significant black splotches on the timber to indicate it’s a good spot for catching squid. There’s a fair few tired looking kids with parents full of encouragement who just want to convince the kid it’s worth getting to the end of the Jetty; always funny to see a temper tantrum in full action. Outside of the great people watching there is, of course, the Jetty itself with the walk taking you along beautiful blue water and the Underwater Observatory going 8 metres below sea level to reveal hundreds of species of marine life. As you walk the Jetty there are stories to be found, bits of history to take in and sections of the old jetty linger as more tangible reminder of what used to be there.

One of two weather vanes on Busselton Jetty

Every visit is a little different. Sometimes I will do the Underwater Observatory, sometimes it’s just a walk to the end and back and sometimes it’s just a quick look before heading into The Goose for some breakfast. I can go and visit the Jetty time and time again and it’s always enjoyable … just like your favourite beer.

Now I should probably scratch those words “favourite beer” because they don’t mean much, I can’t pick a single favourite beer. Hell, I can’t even pick a single favourite beer style. It depends on mood, time of day, the people you’re with, what you’re eating, what music you’re listening too …

But there are beers you happily return to time and time again, that you’ll take a 6 pack to dinner at a friend’s house, that you’ll reach for in the bottleshop safe in the knowledge you’ll get something you will really enjoy. Coopers Pale Ale most certainly falls into that category for me.

Coopers Pale Ale is brewed without any artificial preservatives or anything nasty like that and it’s bottle conditioned, meaning yeast will go through a secondary fermentation in the bottle after it’s been capped. This processes creates carbon dioxide for natural carbonation rather than using an injection of CO2 to force carbonation. This mean lots of great things for the beer such as longer shelf life, more complex flavours, finer carbonation and better head retention and, all in all, a happier beer.

I might not have spent the weekend trying to cook up some sort of Masterchef inspired dish to match it and it’s not a limited release or a collaboration brew. What it is, however, is a damn fine beer that is fruity with light malt and a pleasantly bitter finish; it is consistently good quality, all Australian owned and with a rich history and all of this for a good price. It’s the beer my boyfriend and I have been enjoying this weekend and it’s nice to remember that great beer isn’t just the one-off cross country collaboration brews but also the home grown, well crafted beers you’ve been drinking for years.

Fried Mice + Fresh Fish + Local Beer

I love the Clancy’s Fish Pubs, the food is always tasty and fresh with a great range of tap beers with a local focus. When visiting any of the Clancy’s Fish Pubs – Fremantle, City Beach, Applecross and Dunsborough – it should be compulsory to order a minimum of one serve of Fried Mice and a pint of something local.

It was my boyfriends birthday over the weekend so his folks came down for a visit and we thought a Sunday lunch would be a nice way to spend an afternoon. We wanted to take them somewhere they hadn’t been before and if that place happened to have some fantastic beers on tap, well, that was just a cheeky bonus. Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough fit the bill nicely, and since they don’t take bookings it was an easy exercise of rolling up at our leisure.

I love the Clancy’s Fish Pubs, the food is always tasty and fresh with a great range of tap beers with a local focus. When visiting any of the Clancy’s Fish Pubs – Fremantle, City Beach, Applecross and Dunsborough – it should be compulsory to order a minimum of one serve of Fried Mice and a pint of something local.

Fried Mice
Battered and deep fried Jalapenos stuffed with Persian Fetta
Served on Red Capsicum Rouille with Sour Cream
(gotta have something to ease the burning heat!)

It was just after 12noon when we arrived at Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough and plenty of other people had clearly had the same idea; not surprising since it was a sunny long weekend and the last one West Australians will get for a few months.

We hit the bar and delved head first in a diverse list of tap beers with a lot of local representation from Little Creatures, Nail Ale, Eagle Bay Brewing, Bootleg Brewery, Cowaramup Brewery, Tanglehead Brewing and Feral Brewery. With so many great local beers to choose from, it makes for a delightfully hard choice! We selected an array of beers to start with so we could do a little tasting of our own …

  • Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale
  • Eagle Bay Kolsch
  • Mountain Goat Steam Ale
  • Cowaramup Pilsener
It’s always a pleasure to have a pint of Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale, it’s consistently delicious with a great balance of bitter and fruit. It uses pale and crystal malts with Tasmanian Pride of Ringwood hops, for earthy, strong flavours, and Hallertau for floral aromas. Since Clancy’s are the only venues I see Nail Ale on tap it almost seems mandatory to get a pint.
Pint of Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale
They may not be the biggest brewery but Nail Ale do make headlines – Antarctic Nail Ale was a very limited release of 30 bottles in 2010; Nail Ale Pale brewed with Antarctic ice brought back by the Sea Shepard from an anti-whaling campaign. A single bottle sold for $800 in a fund raising auction for the Sea Shepard Conversation Society. If anyone tried it, I’d love to know the result!
I was given the responsibility of selecting beers for my boyfriends parents, a task that I happily took on. They enjoy lagers and pilsners and shared in a few Coopers Pale Ales we had the evening before. With this in mind I picked the Eagle Bay Kolsch and Mountain Goat Steam Ale.
I’ve said it a number of times but Kolsch is one of my favourite styles both for flavour, and as a style for recommending to lager enthusiasts. Eagle Bay Kolsch is light bodied with lovely hops and a little spice and stone fruit. It’s bright and looks gorgeous in the glass.
The words Mountain Goat Steam Ale conjure up images in my mind of a goat driving an old steam train. As for the beer itself, it is delicately herbal and fruity with a bit of wheat malt for extra refreshment and Cascade and Citra hops. Coming in at #37 in the 2011 The Critics’ Choice: Australia’s Best Beers, up from #47 the previous year, it’s also 100% certified organic.
Thankfully both beers were enjoyed; there’s something sweetly rewarding when you pick a beer for someone and they like it and order another.
It had also been almost a year since I’d tasted the Cowaramup Pilsener from a tasting paddle on a visit to the brewery almost a year ago. During my day in the brewhouse of Colonial Brewery with Mal, Head Brewer, he had been singing the praises of Jeremy and his Cowaramup Pilsener so when I spotted it off tap I was keen to have a pint. The family owned and operated Cowaramup Brewery lies on the edge of Margaret River in Cowaramup, a town that is affectionately known by the locals as “cow town”, and they grow a few hop varieties on site that are used in their beers. Their Pilsener was awarded a Champion Lager trophy at the 2011 Australian International Beer Awards and made its first appearance in latest The Critics’ Choice Australia’s Best Beers at #58. It’s a German style Pilsener conditioned for seven weeks and using Perle and Tettnanger hops, both of which originate in Germany.
Perle Hops were breed from the English variety, Northern Brewer and an undisclosed male parent at the German Hull Hop Research Institute. Whilst that may bring up a kind of Frankenstein inspired image of producing hops, the result here is not disastrous. Perle has great versatility for bittering, flavour and aroma. Perhaps this sort of versatility, combined with a resistance to common hop diseases, is why it’s the most widely planted hop variety in Germany.
Tettnanger, a Southern Germany hop variety, possessing similar characteristics to Saaz hops (most known for their presence in Pilsners) and considered a bit of a “classic” hop. In wide demand from all over the world, it’s traditionally used to produce German Pilsners for it’s citrus/grassy flavours.
We soon noticed the line for ordering food was starting to grow so we grabbed our beers and headed for the queue. When we first joined the line our intention was to order one serve of Fried Mice and one serve of Grilled Sardine Fillets. By the time we reached the counter we ordered 2 serves of Fried Mice, the Grilled Sardine Fillets and 2 serves of Tempura House Fish & Chips. I wonder whether that happens to everyone standing in the line which just happens to be right where the food comes out of the kitchen.
Soon it was time for another round and my boyfriend and I opted for something different again and something darker.
  • Bootleg Black Market IPA
  • Tanglehead Stout
The Black Market IPA is one of my favourite offerings from Bootleg Brewery which has been operating in the Margaret River region since 1994. The happy harmony between dark malts, creating richness and darkness, and aromatic and floral hops, makes for one of my favourite brews. It was also an interesting match to the Fried Mice, acting like an IPA would to the heat of the dish on top of dark malt richness adding a contrasting rich sweetness. The Black IPA, India Black Ale, or whatever you want to call it, has been surfacing in popularly in recent years and if you’re keen you’ll find a great article on the style on ‘Australian Brew News’.
Bootleg Black Market IPA + Fried Mice + Tempura Fish & Chips
The fish was caught and delivered that day!
Tanglehead Brewery is located in Albany amongst the Great Southern region of Western Australia, the town is most commonly associated with whale watching, the Stirling Ranges and Bluff Knoll. I have not visited Albany since I was a kid (and the only thing I remember is being car sick and throwing up in the hotel) so I will have to make a point of returning soon. They had the Tanglehead Stout on tap, which is an Oatmeal Stout, silky and rich and dominated by chocolate and coffee notes. It was a rather strange follow up to the Black Market IPA and played a bit of havoc with my palate but certainly a nice velvety drop.
The food arrived in good time considering the place had filled up very quickly and we wondered just how many serves of their Tempura Fish & Chips would have been pumped from the kitchen over the long weekend. The fish tasted fresh and flavoursome and was perfectly cooked; the Fried Mice were great (as always) and thankfully didn’t burn your palate to the point of numbness and the Grilled Sardine Fillets were a great tangy little bite to start on.
Grilled Sardine Fillets with Chargrilled Ciabatta and Scorched Lemon
Tempura House Fish and Chips with Green Salad and Tartare Sauce
The atmosphere at Clancy’s is always a bright and bubbly one with yellow, red and blue seats scattered throughout the venue. The grass, having seen a decent dose of rain recently, was healthy and green with parents and kids running around, kicking a footy (despite seeing West Coast lose to Brisbane on the big screen TV inside) and enjoying the open space and sunshine. The staff are friendly and it speaks volumes when you see the bartenders having a laugh and a joke with each other and their customers; it looks like a great team with Jane (formerly of the Clancy’s Fish Pub Fremantle) running the show. Combine this with great fresh food (their fish is caught and delivered fresh daily) and an impressive representation of local beers and ciders and it really captures what the South West is all about.