Fish Curry + Chimay

More cooking from Paul Mercurio’s Cooking with Beer book – this time I tried my hand at the Indian-style Fish Curry with Belgian Ale using Chimay Triple

Cooking with Beer by Paul Mercurio
My new favourite cook book

More cooking from Paul Mecurio’s Cooking with Beer book but this time it wasn’t just for myself and my partner but also for his parents.

I decided to try the Indian-style Fish Curry with Belgian Ale. This was silly for a number of reasons –

  1. I’ve never tried cooking this dish before.
  2. The first and only time I tried cooking a fish curry was so long ago I can’t remember whether it was good or bad. I figure if I can’t remember, it couldn’t have been very good.
  3. The ingredients list was 23 items long.

I’ll cut the suspense and state right now that the dish turned out to be freakin’ amazing.

Indian-style Fish Curry with Belgian Ale
… be prepared with your best pestling skills

One of the ingredients in this dish is, clearly, beer – more specifically a Belgian-style high-alcohol ale. I went to Dan Murphy’s in search of something suitable and came home with Chimay Triple. 8% abv, rich sweetness, fruity and with a good bitter finish.

The Chimay beers remind me of The Belgian Beer Cafe Westende, one of my first jobs as a bartender and where I was first introduced to the big wide world of beer. If you check out the Chimay website you’ll see the words “Chimay, the Art of beer and cheese” … two of my favourite things!

Chimay is one of only 18 authentic Trappist monasteries in the world where the monks and nuns live by the motto “ora et labora (prayer and work) so basically when they’re not praying they are working hard to produce, amongst other things, amazing beer. For more information on Trappist beers, here is a great website.

The beer is rich and complicated with lots going on and with an ingredients list of over 20, the curry is much the same. It’s full of spices like cumin, mustard seeds, curry leaves and turmeric and also uses garlic, ginger, and coriander to ensure there is plenty of flavour. When you throw in a cup of Chimay Triple it’s hard to say whether you can taste the difference with SO much going on. I guess you’d have to make the dish twice – one with and one without the beer – but I have to be honest, that’s a lot of mortar and pestle work thats enough to make my hand cramp just thinking about it. I’m happy enough with the outcome that the recipe was fun to make (though it does need some time and love) and tasted great.

You’ll work up a sweat making this paste!
Fish Curry … Simmering away nicely

Swan + Chips

Sometimes loving beer isn’t just about the latest limited release, collaboration brew or oak aged delight but it’s simply about enjoying a drink with nice people.

Sometimes loving beer isn’t just about the latest limited release, collaboration brew or oak aged delight but it’s simply about enjoying a drink with nice people.

Occasionally my partner and I drive 8km to our “local” on a Wednesday for their cheap pints of Swan Draught. Our local is a bit run down, has horse races on several (small) screens and a few pieces of AFL and Peter Brock memorabilia, just as any good local should. The girl behind the bar is really friendly and knows most people by name, sometimes they put out baskets of hot chips for free. On one visit we were enjoying a pint by the fire and the barmaid came around to sell raffle tickets to win a meat tray. “We’re not in Mt Lawley anymore”, I thought and we swiftly bought 6 tickets. We didn’t win.

When we make a trip to our local we happily have a pint (or two) of Swan Draught and chat about nothing in particular over a packet of salt and vinegar chips. If the sun is out we’ll sit outside in the rarely used but rather nice beer garden. It appears only smokers sit outside. If it’s too cold outside we sit beside the fire.

In the words of Hilltop Hoods, IT’S A SWAN!

We always drink Swan Draught when we are there and whilst it’s not my favourite beer but it’s by no means undrinkable and when you’re at your local it feels like the drink you are supposed to have in your hand. It’s cold, a little malty sweet and easy on the bitterness.

Recently my boyfriend and I caught up with his sister in Collie, another great small town in the South West. We found a nice little pub that had a few people sitting inside and the owner was kind enough to open the beer garden gate so we could have our puppy, Barley, with us too. The line up of beers on tap was about what you’d expect from a nice small town so we got a jug of Swan Draught. The three of us chatted, had a laugh and put a buck or two in the juke box for some cheesy 80s tunes. When we got hungry we ordered a serve of chips that were perfectly cooked with plenty of chicken salt. Happy Days!

Beer, laughs with good company and friendly bar staff – sometimes it’s just that simple.

Sharing a Jug of Swan Draught
Is it concerning that my keys have two bottle openers?
A sign in the beer garden at a pub in Collie

Work + Last Drop

Ah, the benefits of working at a beer lovin’ bar … beer! Last week the new limited release from Last Drop Brewery – a 5% abv Oktoberfest Bier – landed at Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough where I have been working casual shifts in recent weeks.


Ah, the benefits of working at a beer lovin’ bar … beer!

Last week the new limited release from Last Drop Brewery –  a 5% abv Oktoberfest Bier – landed at Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough where I have been working casual shifts in recent weeks.

Last Drop Brewery, boasting traditional European style beers and food, lays claim on their website that “it feels like Oktoberfest every day of the year” so it seems very fitting that they release something special around this time every year.

From my reading it seems there isn’t a specific beer style for Oktoberfest though lately they tend to be sweeter malt driven ales. One thing that is set in stone is who can serve beer. Only large breweries from inside Munich’s city limits are allowed to deliver beer to Oktoberfest. That brings the breweries down to just six. Oh and for those of you who, like me, have wondered why Oktoberfest is held mostly over September here’s some trivia for you to bust out at pubs and quiz nights. Oktoberfest was moved forward in the 1870s due to the practical reasons such as the weather, up until then it was in fact held in early – mid October.

My own personal experience with Oktoberfest involves staying in pure luxury at the Sofitel Hotel Munich, being sick with the flu and wandering around the festival wishing I had functioning taste buds. That was back in 2010 and wasn’t really how I had envisaged my trip to the world’s biggest beer festival.

One of many great beer halls at Oktoberfest (2010)

Two year later I’ve been happily drinking the Last Drop Oktoberfest bier as my preferred staff drink (sorry Feral Hop Hog, I’ll be back soon). It is full of flavour and available only on tap at Last Drop Brewery and selected venues. Last Drop Oktoberfest Bier has dominant aromas of those banana lollies you had as a kid, you know the ones I’m talking about. The sweet flavours of the beer reminded me of the last piece of cheesecake crust. It’s biscuity, nutty and there are hints of caramel before a moderate bitter finish.

Last Drop Oktoberfest Bier
5% abv
Now Available at Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough

Friday Night Feast

I am in danger of drooling over my phone every time Eagle Bay Brewing put up a photo on Facebook and Twitter about their monthly Friday Night Feast dinners. Running from May to October I booked in early for the October edition to ensure it wasn’t another 6 months before I got to go. It’s a pretty straight forward concept – fifty bucks gets you a three course meal, three choices for each. Simple. October was the final Friday Night Feast for 2012 and was themed as “Into the Wilderness” with game dishes created by Head Chef Rupert Brown.

Eagle Bay Brewing Co
Eagle Bay Road, Eagle Bay
“Into the Wilderness” Friday Night Feast

I run the risk of drooling over my phone every time Eagle Bay Brewing put up a photo on Facebook and Twitter about their monthly Friday Night Feast dinners. Running from May to October I booked in early for the October edition to ensure it wasn’t another 6 months before I got to go.

It’s a pretty straight forward concept – fifty bucks gets you a three course meal, three choices for each. Simple. They also go to the trouble of setting the food to a theme. September was all Bollywood with three courses of Indian inspired delights and, for the final Friday Night Feast for 2012 October was themed as “Into the Wilderness” with game dishes created by Head Chef Rupert Brown.

My boyfriend and I arrived to be seated to a nice table for two near the fire and ordered beers – the ESB and the Vienna Lager.

The Eagle Bay Extra Special Bitter, or ESB, is a down right beautiful beer, nutty and biscuity with hints of caramel. ESB is predominantly an English style beer and if you are a fan of this you have to try the original – Fuller’s ESB. Brewed in West London and, from my understanding, the words “multi-award winning” are a bit of an understatement. It’s a great beer and I’ve not met anyone who hasn’t enjoyed it yet.

The Eagle Bay Vienna crisp, clean and a few shades darker than your average lager beer. I found hints of stone fruit, sweet biscuits with a good bitter finish. The Vienna Lager is an Austrian beer style with history dating back to the 1800s and is a close relative to the Marzen style. It’s always nice to see brewers reviving beer styles that have declined in popularity, not only is it good for the taste buds but I get to get my beer geek on with my Oxford Companion to Beer.

We selected our entrees, mains and desserts before settling in for a relaxing night.

“Into the Wilderness” Entrees
Crocodile with Coconut & Lemongrass Broth, Enoki Mushrooms and Snow Peas
Duck, Rabbit & Pork Terrine with Beetroot and Orange Pickle

The Eagle Bay Vienna was a brilliant match to both entrees …

  • Duck, Rabbit and Pork Terrine with Beetroot and Orange Pickle

The flavours in the terrine were subtle and well balanced and was a good match to the Vienna that has more flavour to it than your average lager but not so bold that it dominated.

  • Crocodile with Coconut and Lemongrass Broth, Enoki Mushrooms and Snow Peas

The subtle coconut sweetness in the crocodile dish was a nice  match to the hints of stone fruit in the beer. The soft bitterness at the end of the Vienna was a great way to bring out the sharp lemongrass and fresh coriander.

“Into the Wilderness” Mains
Venison Ossobucco with Gremolata and Polenta
Kangaroo Tagine with Tabouleh

Mains were equally delicious, the stand out however was the Kangaroo Tagine with Tabouleh. It was full of different spices and flavours that all married together nicely It went perfectly with the Extra Special Bitter, similarly built with layers of different flavours – nutty, spicy (not in the chilli sense), biscuity and a little bitter.

“Into the Wilderness” Desserts
White Chocolate & Raspberry Meringue
Orange & Fennel Pannacotta, Rhubarb and Wattle Seed Anzacs

The Eagle Bay Single Batch Cacao Stout was an easy choice to have with desserts. With seriously rich dark chocolate, almost dusty like mouth feel, the Cacao Stout was a great match to the White Chocolate & Raspberry Meringue. It was a deliciously rich dessert, big raspberry bittersweetness and a chewy texture that reminded me of eating cookies when they are just a little uncooked. The rich raspberry against the rich chocolate was a hell of a way to finish off a meal and send us into full blown food comas.

White Chocolate and Raspberry Meringue … well what was left of it …
with Eagle Bay Cacao Stout

Sunshine + Baltic Porter

I was very excited to order two glasses of the limited release Baltic Porter when my boyfriend and I dropped into Colonial Brewing, Margaret River, one recent Sunday. Though I do get rather excited about beer in general anyway, this beer is a little different – after all, I helped make it … kinda

Colonial Brewing is COOLKeut
Gotta love a little creativity in a coaster!

I was very excited to order two glasses of the limited release Baltic Porter when my boyfriend and I dropped into Colonial Brewing, Margaret River, one recent Sunday. Though I do get rather excited about beer in general anyway, this beer is a little different – after all, I helped make it.

(ahem…)

Perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration. I was merely present during a day of brewing but nevertheless it was rather exciting for me!

Spent Grain on a Brew Day for Colonial Baltic Porter

The Baltic Porter follows in the footsteps of previous limited release brews, Keutebier and Mumme, reviving old German beer styles that have been forgotten in recent memory. The Baltic Porter refers to strong Porter beers that were exported off to Baltic countries like Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Basically we’re looking at a sort of love child from a Russian Imperial Stout and London Porter – what a union!

When we visited Colonial the sun was out and shining, it was a beautiful day, and a wonderful contrast to the jet black appearance of the Baltic Porter.

Aromas of dark fruits and raisins that reminded me of the yummy, slightly burnt bits you get at the base of a fruit cake. Taste wise, it’s even better with dusty dark chocolate, more dark fruits and black coffee bitter, all encased in warming 7.5% boozyness.

Read more about Colonial’s Baltic Porter in my article for Australian Brew News and then get down to Colonial to try it for yourself!

Colonial Limited Release Baltic Porter
Colonial Growler of Baltic Porter – being enjoyed on day 3 of being unemployed … not a bad way to spend some time

 

Brown Ale + Homemade Steak Sandwiches

Note: Apparently I write posts and then forget to actually post them. Although I am new to the world of blogging I am pretty sure this would be a fairly preventative action in people actually reading what I write. Hence, you may find the following post a fraction outdated but since it’s about Eagle Bay Brewing, who I love, and limited release beer, which I also love, and one of the best steak sandwiches I have ever made – I just had to post it … Read on! (of course it’s a slight tease since the beer in question has since consumed to the point of extinction but the good news is that their Cacao Stout is still available).

Eagle Bay Brewing Company
Eagle Bay Road | Cape Naturaliste

Note: Apparently I write posts and then forget to actually post them. Although I am new to the world of blogging I am pretty sure this would be a fairly preventative action in people actually reading what I write. Hence, you may find the following post a fraction outdated but since it’s about Eagle Bay Brewing, who I love, and limited release beer, which I also love, and one of the best steak sandwiches I have ever made – I just had to post it … Read on! (of course it’s a slight tease since the beer in question has since consumed to the point of extinction but the good news is that their Cacao Stout is still available).

On with the show …

I do love a limited release beer; it just screams “drink me NOW!” and that’s something I can respond to!

Eagle Bay Brewing Company produce their limited releases under the label ‘Single Batch’. You may associate this tag with Little Creatures since that’s one of their labels too but, from what I remember from my days working for them, they produce way more than one batch. Whilst this is certainly good for craft beer fans it does mean that the label isn’t strictly true. However, when Eagle Bay say ‘single batch’ they are not kidding, producing one brew of approximately 800 litres from their microbrewery. These beers are largely brewery exclusives and therefore another reason why I love the fact we have moved here.

Recently my boyfriend and I were fortunate enough to spend an afternoon at Eagle Bay and hung out with Margi, their Marketing & Retail Manager. We chatted about all things beer, and of course you can’t talk about beer without having one, and shared a pizza. On a foodie note, the Prosciutto, Field Mushroom and Rocket pizza is absolutely lovely! Eagle Bay kindly picked up the tab so a big thank you to Margi and the team for their hospitality.

Eagle Bay Single Batch
American Brown Ale
5.6% abv

I had seen on the Eagle Bay Facebook page that their Single Batch American Brown Ale was close to running out so it was easy to order my first drink.

Eagle Bay Brewing Co is family owned and operated and when one of their fellow beer loving friends, Chantelle, expressed a desire to collaborate on a brew, it was destined to be a good idea. Chantelle knew she wanted to brew a winter beer but didn’t want to make anything too heavy. Nick, Head Brewer and Co-Owner, sent her off to do a little research and she came back with the idea for an American Brown Ale. This is a girl after my own heart!

Nick used imported US Cascade and Zyphos hops, both seemingly popular hop varieties used for bold American IPAs and similar styles and adding a subtle hint of citrus at the end. Bigger flavours of biscuit, nuts and a bit of toffee jumped out at me when I first tasted it. Smooth, rich and dark with beautiful balance, it makes me think Chantelle should not leave it too long before she gets back into the brewhouse.

We took home one of the Eagle Bay Growlers full of this great beer and I had originally wanted to match it with a nice cheddar but dinner was fast approaching and you shouldn’t really have cheese for dinner (though I happily would!). Instead, I decided to make steak sandwiches with vintage cheddar.

Growler full of American Brown Ale

The match was certainly one of my most successful with the vintage cheddar highlighting more subtle nutty and biscuity flavours I picked up from the beer. Overall neither the beer nor sandwich dominated in flavour, sweeter notes from the beer going nicely with the slightly caramalised onion and mushroom mix.

Steak Sandwich

Oyster Blade Steak

Button Mushrooms

Spanish Onion

Rocket

Vintage Cheddar

Turkish Bread

Served with paprika spiced potato wedges

Eagle Bay American Brown Ale + Steak Sandwich

Food + Beer

Love beer. Love cooking. Putting the two loves together is not only fun but it’s efficient! Here’s what I’ve been getting up to lately … some worked, some didn’t but hey, that’s all the fun …

Love beer. Love cooking. Putting the two loves together is not only fun but it’s efficient!

Here’s what I’ve been getting up to lately … some worked, some didn’t but hey, that’s all the fun …

2 Brothers Kung Foo Rice Lager
Victoria | Australia
4.7% abv | Rice Lager

The Food:

Spicy jalapanoes, beef mince and cheese – oh and don’t forget the sour cream, mushrooms and red capsicum, fresh lime and spring onions. Not exactly ingredients that you’d describe as light or delicate but definitely delicious.

The Beer:

The 2 Brothers Kung Foo Rice Lager is delicious – well balanced light flavours, a bit citrusy and hoppy and a bit of fun. After all, who could resist a beer with Bruce Lee on the label called Kung Foo?! It’s also nice to see a sessionable summer type beer from a relatively unfamiliar style. It reminds me of the Kolsch style; great beer styles that can be the door for many people to get discover a love of craft beer.

Food + Beer:

This is a match that didn’t quite work. Not knowing what to expect from a rice lager, which it turns out is a fairly delicate beer, the rice lager was trampled, stomped and run over by the food.

Uncommon Brewers Baltic Porter
California | North America
7.8% abv | Baltic Porter

The Food:

Whilst this wasn’t the most creative meal it’s hard to go past a great piece of steak and potatoes. I think I’d have any meal that had hash browns with it. The steaks were perfectly cooked to medium rare (thanks to the boyfriend) and the hash browns were golden and crisp.

The Beer:

My boyfriend and I had recently polished off a growler of Colonial’s limited edition Baltic Porter so we were keen to open the Uncommon Brewers Baltic Porter for comparison. The two Baltic Porters share a few similarities in their flavours with chocolate, dark fruits and black coffee plus both are nice and high in the boozey factor at 7.5% and 7.8% abv respectively. The Uncommon Brewers Baltic Porter had a sneaky smokey element too, a really interesting taste after you get a nose full of dark red fruits and black currant. In short, just delightful!

Food + Beer:

Though it wouldn’t be my first choice as a best match it was a surprisingly decent mate to the Uncommon Brewers Baltic Porter. The food was simple but full of flavour, smokiness from the beer was a nice addition to a medium rare steak,

Bridge Road’s The Harvest
Victoria | Australia
4.6% abv | Harvest Ale

The Food:

The teriyaki chicken burger was finger licking good. Sticky and savoury sweet and just the sort of meal you’re glad to be eating at home because it’s not elegant to eat but that doesn’t matter because it’s tasty as hell.

The Beer:

Bridge Road’s The Harvest 2011 ale is oh-so-deliciously amazing. Gorgeous tropical fruits, crisp citrus and plenty of hops – it all makes for one amazing beer.

Food + Beer:

Both the dish and the beer bring a certain element of sweetness in two very different ways and it turns out to be a nice little match. Instead of two sweet things coming together and making it like biting into a bag of sugar, the tropical sweetness in the beer is refreshing and cleansing and cuts through the thick sweetness of the burger.