Slow Food + Beer

Last Sunday at about 4pm I was eating Blackwood Valley beef that had been braised in beer, malts, herbs and spices. I was drinking Beaten Track Brewery Youngs Scotch Ale that had come all the way from Kalgoorie. I was neck deep in Slow Food Perth’s very first Sunday Session.

Slow Food Collage

Last Sunday at about 4pm I was eating Blackwood Valley beef that had been braised in beer, malts, herbs and spices. I was drinking Beaten Track Brewery Youngs Scotch Ale that had come all the way from Kalgoorie. I was neck deep in Slow Food Perth’s very first Sunday Session.

When: Sunday 21st April | Where: Taste Budd’s Cooking Studio in Highgate

Organisers:

  • Slow Food Perth, a not-for-profit organisation championing “good, clean and fair food”;
  • Mitch Mitchell aka Chef de Beersine who puts everything that goes into a brewery, sans brewer, into his food; and
  • Jessica Shaver, food photographer, beer lover and all round lovely person who sadly couldn’t make it on the day due to sickness.

With Mitch as our experienced guide we ate, drank and chatted through six Western Australian brewed beers matched to six dishes. A magical way to spend three hours on a Sunday afternoon.

Guests were welcomed with a glass of Eagle Bay Brewing Mild Ale, a great tasting, full of flavoured beer that’s also a mid-strength. It seems these two concepts don’t come together as often as they should.

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Serve #1 – Colonial Brewing Kolsch (Margaret River) + Natural Oysters

I love fresh oysters, I really do, especially when they’re freshly shucked Albany Rocks from King of Oysters Jerry Fraser. Served “naked on a half shell” the Albany Rocks were minerally, salty and plump with a creamy shine. With just a squeeze of lemon, the oysters were (as always) a lovely match to the Colonial Kolsch with it’s clean, floral and citrusy flavours cleansing the palate for the next delicious oyster.

Albany Rock Oysters + Colonial Kolsch

Before the next service Paul, head brewer from The Monk in Fremantle, gave an overview of beer plus insights into his love of brewing. Paul is a self confessed “malt-head” and enjoys making beers that push boundaries just as much as he enjoys brewing a beer perfectly to style. He went through brewing ingredients and passed around malt and hops, the gentlemen beside me seemed happy enough to eat the malt as a course!

Malt and Hops

Serve #2 – Last Drop Brewery Hefeweizen (Canning Vale) + Pumpkin Croquettes with Goat Jamon

Croquettes were a popular dish at Five Bar where I used to work so I’ve certainly had my fair share but these croquettes by Mitch were unlike any I’d had before. The croquettes were inspired by Chinese dim sum with Mitch using glutinous rice flour for a sticky gel like texture. The goat came from Chapman Valley in Geraldton and Mitch cured the meat with beer, spent grains and salt.

The Last Drop Hefeweizen is an amazing example of the style, boasting big bubblegum and banana and just as a hefe should be. The crisp mouth feel of the beer made a wonderful contrast to the sticky croquettes.

Croquettes + Hefeweizen

Serve #3 – Feral Brewing Hop Hog (Swan Valley) + Lamb Bacon with Pretzels

Hello bacon, how I adore you! Mitch cured the lamb with malt, salt and beer and then smoked it over spent grains. The result was a “tropical salty party in your mouth”, which hopefully Mitch doesn’t mind being quoted on but it’s a killer description.

Feral Hop Hog, well, everything is made better with a Hop Hog in your hands which, for me, kinda makes it the bacon of the beer world! The beer cut through the fat in the lamb whilst the tropical notes of Hop Hog contrasted well with the salt of the pretzel.

Lamb Bacon + Feral Hop Hog

Serve #4 – Beaten Track Brewery Youngs Scotch Ale (Kalgoorlie) + Braised Beef Dengaku

The beef was from Blackwood Valley Beef in the states south west, an Australian Certified Organic producer and home to “the happiest cows I’ve ever seen in my life”, says Mitch. The topside beef was braised in beer, grains, herbs and spices and topped with dengaku, a Japanese sweet miso sauce. Mitch put his beery twist on the dengaku by using chocolate and coffee malt grains, all served with eggplant and a bit of brisket on the side.

Beaten Track Brewery from Kalgoorie has only recently popped up on my radar. Their Youngs Scotch Ale had a nice toffee aroma with a sweet malty body and a little smoke. The beers sweet and soft maltiness was a compliment the bold richness in the meats.

Braised Beef and Scotch Ale

Serve #5 – The Monk Rauch (Fremantle) + Beer Cheese with Hop Honey

Ah beer cheese, I can never get enough (though I was struggling for stomach space by this stage!). Mitch uses Capel cheddar and pale ale to make his cheese and served it with his Beersine Hop Honey, made with locally grown hops. Paul from The Monk introduced his Rauch beer, made with German magnum hops with lovely smokey, caramel and bacon flavours and a soft bitter finish. The contrast between the bacon in the beer with the sweet sticky honey was delightfully different to what I might pair cheese with at home. Just goes to show the versatility in beer, like a never ending horizon that I’ve only just started to explore.

Paul at Slow Food

Beer Cheese and Rauch

Serve #6 – Nail Brewing Oatmeal Stout (Bassendean) + Off the Wagon Wheels

Mitch first created his Off the Wagon Wheels whilst working in the kitchen at The Monk, so named due to their resemblance to the Wagon Wheel biscuits we had as kids (or do they still make them?). Two grain-ita biscuits, no prizes for the key ingredient there, with a strawberry jam and hop marshmallow middle and all topped with chocolate. Not just any chocolate either but Margaret River’s Bahen & Co who make chocolate using traditional methods and just two ingredients – cacao beans and cane sugar.

Nail Oatmeal Stout provided satin smooth chocolate and coffee flavours that only enhanced the dessert, how can you go wrong with strawberry, marshmallows, chocolate and coffee?

I’m full just from writing this blog post and remembering the food and beer, I’m going to have to go and lie down now.

Thank You to all involved – Pauline and the team at Slow Food Perth, Mitch and Paras from Beersine, Paul from The Monk, Jerry Fraser – King of Oysters, Jessica Shaver, Scott Bennett, Sophie from Taste Budd’s Cooking Studio, Abhi’s Bakery and all the breweries who featured their beers and the great company of those who came along to the event.

I’ll leave you with the favourite thing I overheard at the event which was said, if memory serves me right, to Paul,

“It’s amazing how different beers are these days, beer used to be just beer”

Discovering Garage Project

Garage Project are three guys in Wellington, New Zealand who make craft beer – Pete, Jos and Ian. I recently had my first Garage Project experience after the guys at Cellarbrations Carlisle recommended it. They were pouring Garage Project Pernicious Weed from their growler system, there was just one litre left and they said I HAD to try it. Done!

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Garage Project are three guys in Wellington, New Zealand who make craft beer – Pete, Jos and Ian. I recently had my first Garage Project experience after the guys at Cellarbrations Carlisle recommended it. They were pouring Garage Project Pernicious Weed from their growler system, there was just one litre left and they said I HAD to try it. Done!

The Pernicious Weed was Garage Project’s first beer in their 24/24 series – 24 different beers in 24 weeks. On their website they cite Ernest Hemingway’s quote “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut”, as their motivation for the 24/24 series. As valid as it is just imagine what other ideas will become reality with this sort of motto!

Pernicious Weed poured a hazy golden orange with aromas of apricots and honey. The flavour was hoppy, and I mean really freakin’ hoppy; as though a pine needle forest was invaded by an army of oranges and stone fruit (how’s that for a mental image?!)

So, having tasted this great beer you can imagine my excitement when I saw Garage Project at my local bottleshop. For the record, my local bottleshop is in a little country town where Carlton Dry and Emu Export are the biggest sellers. It seems the manager has recently been bitten by the craft beer bug which can only mean good things, like a shorter travelling time for me and my beery needs.

The beer I saw was Garage Project Red Rocks Reserve, a limited release version of their Red Rocks beer and neither of which I’d had before or had any knowledge of. Turns out that Red Rocks is an India Red Ale and another beer in the 24/24 series; week 11 for anyone playing at home. The Reserve version was created using a super boil that involved “heating rocks in a great big fuck-off fire in the forecourt of an old petrol station”. You can read more about that here and I dare say you’ll want to – it involves beer, exploding rocks and big fire!

The Red Rocks Reserve is a beautifully rich and smooth beer. It smells like a burnt Anzac biscuit with toffee and flowers. The taste is seriously malty and floral with some caramalisation (which I now know is from the super-dooper boil) plus there’s a dirty herbal quality. There is a good chance I will buy all of this from the bottleshop and hopefully ensure more Garage Project beers hit their shelves.

I served it up with my very first attempt at homemade lasagne, a recipe from Jamie Oliver, and as a dish it was a huge success. Mind you, topped with 400g of Mozzarella and made with Rogue Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale (instead of red wine) it was destined to be great.

Sadly it was a bit of a miss fire as a beer and food match; the Red Rocks Reserve beat the lasagne into submission rather than being compliment I had been hoping for. Granted, perhaps I should have read about the beer before I tried to match it but hey, it’s fun to discover these things as you go!

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Getting Oaked at Bootleg

Working away quietly at Bootleg Brewery in Margaret River, head brewer Michael Brookes has been experimenting with oak fermentation and oak aging his current range of beers.

Bootleg Brewery

Working away quietly at Bootleg Brewery in Margaret River, head brewer Michael Brookes has been experimenting with oak fermentation and oak aging his current range of beers.

Back in October when Bootleg had released The Grandfather Barley Wine, an annual limited release beer aged in Merlot barrels, there were plans to play around with oak fermenting their core range. Right now you can try Bootleg Wils Pils that has not only been fermented in oak but also aged in oak for two months. Not just any oak either, Michael has used the same barrels that he used for The Grandfather.

Bootleg Barley Wine

Michael poured the oaked Wils Pils and my excitement got the better of me as I stuck my nose into the glass without registering the golden straw clarity of the beer. The clarity of this unfiltered, oak aged pilsner was a bit of a nice surprise to Michael.

Oaked Wils Pils is an interesting beer and one that makes you sip, think and repeat. It has an unexpected sour funky thing going on and it’s buried in flavours of a recently empty glass of bourbon. Elements of a nice malty pilsner linger in the background but it’s being bear-hugged by some vanilla and spicy yet also sweet characters. Wils Pils on oak is definitely one I would recommend trying.

Drunk side by side with the regular Wils Pils, it is amazing what a little comparison can do. The aromas on the Wils Pils were just as though I’d stuck my face into a bag of pale malt. Citrus flavours that I’d never really thought were big in the Wils Pils were suddenly announcing themselves with great fanfare.

The next beer to get the oak treatment is Tom’s Amber Ale, currently fermenting away happily as I type. Tom’s Oaked Amber Ale will also be dry hopped with Australian Galaxy hops and sent off to next months GABS Festival (Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular).

Since I know very little about oak aged beer I’ve been doing some reading, good beery reading. If you’re interested, here a couple of articles I enjoyed:

In other Bootleg news, Michael has recently purchased a couple of cognac barrels so it will be interesting to see what he has planned for those. The recent addition of a new bright beer tank also means improved consistency in the brew house which certainly makes for a happy brewer!

You may have already seen on Facebook but Bootleg have new t-shirts with funky designs that I just couldn’t pass up. Available in both girls and boys sizes; girls will be pleased to know these tees have some length in them, not leaving you pulling them down every thirty seconds; and are a nice fit, as opposed to small man shirts disguised as women’s t-shirts.

And finally, did you know Bootleg Brewery is on tap at the new Jamie’s Italian in Perth? (sadly there’s no beer menu on their website) I hear that Bootleg and Feral Brewing were specially selected on the basis of the high quality of their beers, the ingredients they use and how they produce their beer. I’m very much looking forward to trying Jamie’s Italian soon with an entree of Feral White and main course of Bootleg Raging Bull!

New Bootleg Tshirts

Business Time + Brewery

Let me set the scene …

It’s a Saturday afternoon and inside Eagle Bay Brewing there is what appears to be a monk dressed in a brown robe, held together with just visible safety pins, staring into a mash tun.

If you had looked inside Eagle Bay Brewing on Saturday you may have seen what appeared to be a monk dressed in a brown robe, that was held together with safety pins, and peering into a mash tun.

Now you might be asking the all important question, “why?” Because Eagle Bay Brewing have teamed up with The Monk to brew a collaboration beer for GABS. Paul, the head brewer for The Monk, has a monk robe that he wears from time to time and thankfully this was one of those times. The beer is call the Cacao Cabana and you can read here to discover more about the beer.

The birth of Cacao Cabana was serenaded by Flight of the Conchord’s “Business Time” played during mash in. There was no good reason for this other than because someone had mentioned the song earlier and we all had a giggle. Paul’s monk robes were a hit but since they were held together with only a handful of safety pins we were all glad he’d chosen to keep his clothes on underneath. You had to admire his dedication to character as he remained in his robes from milling to mash.

Watching the brewers work together, finding out differences in approaches or minor cases of equipment envy (“man, I wish we had one of those at my brewery!”) was also interesting.

And at the end of the day we sat down with pints of Eagle Bay Single Batch Summer Ale (just 15 litres to go). Great day for what I’m sure will be a great beer!

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Two Monks and an Eagle walk into a Brewery …

Two monks and an eagle walk into a brewhouse …

The guys at Eagle Bay Brewing and The Monk Brewery & Kitchen were kind enough to invite myself and my partner to join them on Saturday at Eagle Bay Brewing. We were invited for a special occasion (not merely for our witty banter and captivating conversational skills of course) of the first brew day for their collaboration brew for the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular festival.

The guys at Eagle Bay Brewing and The Monk Brewery & Kitchen were kind enough to invite myself and my partner to join them on Saturday at Eagle Bay Brewing. We were invited for a special occasion (not merely for our witty banter and captivating conversational skills of course), the first brew day for their collaboration brew for the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular festival.

Eagle Bay and Monk Collage

The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, or simply GABS for short, is a three day beer festival in Melbourne that brings together brewers from Australia, New Zealand and beyond. It’s a great opportunity to taste craft beer and meet the brewers; there is also live entertainment, educational seminars and gourmet food stalls. It’s no wonder the event attracts so much attention … and it only started last year. The 2013 edition of GABS is happening on Friday 24th – Sunday 25th May, coinciding with the final days of the annual Good Beer Week.

The highlight of GABS are the festival beers, beers brewed especially for the festival showcasing brewing creativity and experimentation. Previous GABS beers that have won the hearts of beer fans include Feral Watermelon Warhead and Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta IPA which have gone on to be regular brews for Feral and Yeastie Boys alike.

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The South West’s own Eagle Bay Brewing have teamed up with Fremantle’s The Monk to create a beer for GABS – the Cacao Cabana.

If by this point you don’t have Barry Manilow singing Copacabana in your head then you’re a stronger person than me.

Spending the day with brewers is always both educational and very funny but I’ll save the details of brew day antics for another post, for now here are some beery details to get your palate excited …

Eagle Bay and The Monk Grid

What’s Happening …

Eagle Bay Brewing | Head Brewer – Nick d’Espeissis

The Monk Brewery & Kitchen | Head Brewer – Paul Wyman, Assistant Brewer – Jack

Cacao Cabana | Choc Brown Hefeweizen

Cacao Cabana in Fermentation Tank

The Inspiration …

Paul wanted to make a beer reminiscent of choc/banana lollipops and was also keen to play with a hefeweizen yeast. He threw the idea at Nick and he jumped on board, bringing with him the know-how in using cacao husks in beer (having brewed with them for their winter single batch Cacao Stout), the idea for an English brown ale base and an invitation to come hang out down south.

Brazilian Cacao Husks

The Beer …

The Cacao Cabana uses a hefeweizen yeast with cacao husks from Bahen & Co Chocolate, Margaret River, and an English Brown Ale base.

Hops – English varieties East Kent Goldings and Target. The beer will be yeast driven, Paul and Nick are looking for big fat banana characteristics from the hefeweizen yeast so they don’t want too much hop aroma interfering.

Malts – a pale malt base with the likes of carafa (German roasted malt), caramunich and a touch of wheat thrown in.

Cacao Husks – from Margaret River company Bahen & Co who make stone ground chocolate from bean to bar. During the chocolate making process the cacao beans are broken, separating the nibs from the husks and these husks are a by-product. Thankfully they had somewhere to go – into this beer! Paul and Nick are using husks from Brazilian and Madagascan cacao beans, about even amounts of both, thrown into the mash. There is a chance they will also be used for dry hopping too.

All GABS festival beers are released first at the festival so if you’re heading along to Melbourne be sure to give it a go, I know I’ll be there!

Paul, Nick and Jack

Big thanks to Eagle Bay’s Margi, Nick and Adrian, and also Paul and Jack from The Monk, for inviting us to Eagle Bay Brewing for the day. It’s always an education to hang out with brewers and learn about brewing plus there’s always a laugh and a beer too. Thanks also to the chefs at Eagle Bay Brewing for feeding us during a busy lunch service and spoilt us with amazing pizzas, pate, cheese, bread and fries. 

27 April 2013 | Update

I dropped into Eagle Bay Brewing on Friday, taking advantage of their special $15 growler refills, and Nick kindly have me a sample of the Cacao Cabana. Only just post ferment, the beer has a lovely banana characteristic, real fresh banana. The chocolate is there but very subtle, Nick tells me there might be a case to throw in more cacao husks, “dry husking” you might even call it! Oh how intriguing! I can’t wait for GABS!

Meatballs + Amber

Whilst looking for recipes on the Draft Magazine website I came across Classic Beer Meatballs; three different kinds of meat and amber ale – now that’s my kinda recipe!

Twitter recently introduced me to Draft Magazine (US) and when I jumped onto the website the first thing I noticed was a banner advertisement. Though this is not usually a positive thing I caught sight of the words “a hop burp never tasted so good” … so I was immediately compelled to explore the website some more.

As their feature articles flicked across the screen I was unable to resist the one entitled ‘4 Ways to Pair: Hotdogs’. I couldn’t help but wonder about my weekend trips to Bunnings to get a sausage in a bun … oh and some gardening or housey stuff too of course. It’s not like I go to Bunnings just for the hotdogs … that’d be weird … ahem. I reached the conclusion that it would be socially unacceptable to take a beer to a Bunnings sausage sizzle, particularly if it’s a fundraiser for a year six camping trip or for the local seniors bowling club.

Anyway, enough rambling, on with the post …

Whilst looking for recipes on the Draft Magazine website I came across Classic Beer Meatballs; three different kinds of meat and amber ale – now that’s my kinda recipe!

Since the recipe is from a United States website, thus it gives the bird to the metric system, here are the measures I used to make 8 golf ball sized meatballs:

Classic Beer Meatballs Recipe

The result was delicious, using lamb and pork mince seemed to make it lighter than if it had just been beef. It’s a great base recipe from which you can play around and add your own finishing touches. Served with potato mash with spring onions and sliced garlic, it was a tasty Saturday night dinner.

For the beer in the meatballs I used Little Creatures latest Single Batch – Shepherd’s Delight in the hope that a Red IPA instead of an Amber Ale may add a little more floral and fruitness. Without anything to compare them to it’s hard to say whether I succeeded or not. The dish was delicious, I know that much!

Classic Beer Meatballs

As for the beer, it’s a very good drop. Admittedly now that Little Creatures is owned by Lion Nathan it’s hard to stop the brain was wondering if / how this affects the beer. To date my answer is “not at all”.

Like most of their single batch releases Creatures have hopped and hopped generously, apparently their “most lavish hopping regime to date”. The brewers have opted from hops from Australia, New Zealand, United States and UK, using as follows:

  • US Hops – Chinook. This is not surprising as I’m pretty sure it’s the main hop used in Little Creatures Pale Ale (at least it was when I was working for them).
  • UK Hops – East Kent Goldings which are frequently used in English Pale Ales.
  • Aussie Hops – Stella from Tasmania which are known for contributing big floral aromas and Victoria Secret, similar to Galaxy, “imparts strong tropical fruit (pineapple) character, nicely balanced with resiny pine notes”, from Hop Products Australia
  • New Zealand Hops – Southern Cross, which is a mix of a few different hops that imparts citrus and spice and Dr Rudi, or Super Alpha, known for its resinous, grassy notes.

Hop talk aside, for me the Shepherd’s Delight had aromas of tropical fruit, floral notes and a little toast. The mouth feel was medium with a decent length on the palate. There were lots of flavours happening with some resiny, floral IPA characteristics mixed together with biscuits and nuts (perhaps almonds?) and as the beer got warmer more malt came through. Very drinkable and very nice.

Oddly enough as a beer and food match is was a little off with the Classic Beer Meatballs turning out a lot softer in flavour than I had anticipated. Perhaps something like a Kolsch or even a nice malty brown ale would have been better suited.

Little Creatures Shepherd’s Delight is certainly worth seeking out. The usual suspects like Mane Liquor, Cellarbrations Carlisle and International Beer Shop have it, otherwise check it their handy little stockists function at their website.

LC Shepherd's Delight

Red Duck + Southern Bay

I love being introduced to new Australian breweries and recently Victorian breweries Red Duck and Southern Bay have found their way into my beer filled heart.

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I love being introduced to new Australian breweries and recently Victorian breweries Red Duck and Southern Bay have found their way into my beer filled heart.

Red Duck was recommended to me by Mitch, chef at Five Bar and beer/food dude behind Beersine who I may have mentioned once or twice in the past. I think his wording was something along the lines of “you have to get them, they’re f**king fantastic”. Hard to go past that sort of review. [p.s. mum, sorry for the swearing]. I picked up The Bear and Smells like a Pony and damn was Mitch right! My partner and I had these a while back to put some fun into cleaning the house.

Red Duck Beers

My latest Red Duck experience came in the form of their Topaz, a single hop pale ale and another limited release. I loved the big floral aromas with hints of apricots and flavours of lemon, tropical fruits and some grassy characteristics too. I instantly thought it would be a grand love affair with a strong vintage cheddar. Sadly, and rather unusual, there was no cheese in the fridge for me to test my theory.

Topaz is an Australian hop variety that the guys at Red Duck had previously played with for their Hop Bach beer, using it alongside 24 other hop varieties. In doing so they saw a lot of potential in Topaz, you can read more about it here.

Red Duck Topaz

Southern Bay Brewing was recommended to me by Joel at Cellarbrations Carlisle, in particular the Southern Ocean Ale which I took to a great Chinese dinner at The Red Teapot.

This time I had the Southern Bay Requiem, beautifully labelled with a hint of Shakespearean ink and classical music, which boldly makes the statement “lager is not dead”. Light straw in colour with kiwi fruit, citrus, delicate malt, herbs and a soft bitterness to finish, it’s brilliant. Not only does remind you that lager isn’t dead but lager can be subtly amazing.

If you’re heading to Good Beer Week in Melbourne next month there’ll be plenty of chances to indulge in both Red Duck and Southern Bay Brewing. Check out the program of events at the Good Beer Week website.