girl + truffles

Before I went to Truffle Kerfuffle, a truffle festival in Manjimup, I though truffles were expensive, delicious and fungus. After the festival I know that a) I was right about them being fungus b) I was right about the expensive part too, $2000 per kilo and c) I was wrong about the delicious part … they are so much more than that

Black Truffles from Manjimup Truffles

Before I went to Truffle Kerfuffle, a truffle festival in Manjimup, I though truffles were expensive, delicious and fungus. After the festival I know that a) I was right about them being fungus b) I was right about the expensive part too, $2000 per kilo and c) I was wrong about the delicious part … they are so much more than that. They are off the scale delicious and madly aromatic to the point where the smell has invaded the entire kitchen and I never, ever want it to go.

Truffle Kerfuffle

Saturday was the third annual Truffle Kerfuffle held at Fonty’s Pool in Manjimup, about two hours from Bunbury through WA’s beautiful Southern Forest region.

Truffle Kerfuffle 2013

As one of the main sponsors of the event Colonial Brewing were kind enough to offer tickets to myself and my partner. Of course we accepted – truffles and beer, sign me up!

We arrived as the gates were opening and discovered that whilst truffles might be in abundance right now, mobile phone coverage was not. That put a small dent into my arrangements with Richard, Brewery Manager for Colonial Brewing, who I was to call on arrival to grab the tickets.

After an unsuccessful attempt to use a Telstra pay phone, it most likely failed due to the poor thing never being used and simply forgetting its single purchase in life, we spoke to a lovely woman named Pam. She kindly gave us wristbands and we promised to return very quickly with the tickets as soon as we found the Colonial guys.

We quickly found the bar but there wasn’t a Colonial t-shirt in sight; the Colonial boys were M.I.A. Oh dear.

Whilst that unfolded we attended one of the cooking demonstrations at the Paddock to Plate Auditorium, the first session featured chef Sophie Budd. I met Sophie not long ago at the Slow Food Perth Sunday Session that was held at Sophie’s cooking school, ‘Taste Budds’.

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Sophie held a Children’s Cooking Class featuring pan fried potato gnocchi and shaved black truffle. It made me think that the modern day family kitchens must be a totally different scene than it was twenty years ago when I was a kid (gasp, I’m old, gasp twenty years, gasp!). I remember making scones with my mum and her teaching me to make picklets but we certainly didn’t embark on the culinary journey that some kids are taking. I’m an adult, allegedly, and I’m still trying to cook perfect gnocchi so watching this class and how relevant it was to the kids there just blew me away.

[On a slight tangent, the session reminded me of a recent column I read from Jay Rayner (UK) who talked about experimenting in the kitchen. His wife and nine year old son have a blog called Dan’s Amazing Bread Factory and if you like bread and imagination then you’ll love this]

Back to the Colonial Brewing bar and we discovered that a flat tyre and busted rim had held up our beery heroes.

Justin “Foxy” Fox, Colonial Brewing head brewer, had managed to hitchhike to the event with a lovely older couple who he’d promised a few complimentary ales for their trouble. Richard was still trying to make his way to the event …

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Foxy announced they had a new beer; so new in fact they had only kegged it on Thursday, a reduced alcohol India Pale Ale aka RIPA.

RIPA is essentially a best-of Foxy beer, taking three of his favourite elements from brews from his past – gravity from his award winning Shafto’s Reward from his time at Swan Brewery; malt bill and hop style from The Chief whilst he was head brewer at The Monk Brewery and the mild hopping from that same beer.

Foxy has used citra hops, not hiding his love for them, in the RIPA along with some centennial. The result is a full flavoured reduced alcohol beer, something that there’s simply not enough of. Citrus, light malts and floral but without the sometimes overpowering tropical fruits that are often in American style IPAs. It’s a damn beautiful beer.

RIPA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Richard finally made it to the festival thanks to the guys at Manjimup Tyre and Auto Electrical, woo! Go there for all your tyre needs folks.

Foxy and Richard teased me with information about their truffle baltic porter they’d created that was oh-so-close to being ready. They also gave details of something called Project X … but since this is turning out to be another of my extra long rambling posts I will leave the details of this for later in the week.

Taking a photo whilst people are trying to work is rather hard so I did this quickly. Richo helped by counting to three - it seems I hit the button on 'three' rather than after three. Sorry Richo!
Taking a photo whilst people are trying to work is rather hard so I did this quickly. Richo helped by counting to three – it seems I hit the button on ‘three’ rather than after three. Sorry Richo!

Lunch at the Truffle Kerfuffle was not even close to what you’d call festival food. For me last years Gourmet Escape had raised the bar for food in a festival situation and now, well, I don’t know how you trump this –

Must Pate at Truffle Kerfuffle

Marron at Truffle Kerfuffle

And of course we couldn’t leave without buying some truffles from Manjimup Truffles. We took home twenty grams. Since then shaved black truffles have appeared in a few home cooked dishes and the kitchen still overwhelming smells like truffles. Why isn’t there an air freshener that smells like truffles?

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girl + hotpot

It didn’t matter that iHotPot didn’t stock any Mountain Goat, Stone & Wood or Little Creatures. Of course it would have been nice but the experience would have been totally different.

Sunday 26th May – the final day of Good Beer Week. My partner and I had started the day in style with the fabulous sour beer tasting at Boatrocker Brewery.

After a walk through St Kilda and back to the hotel for a rest back we decided to head out for dinner.

Earlier in the week we had met up with friends for a fantastic yum cha at Crystal Jade Restaurant. Since then I had a mega craving for Chinese food so we once again ventured into Melbourne’s Chinatown.

Yum Cha at Crystal Jade in Melbourne

After peaking (or should that be peking?) into different restaurants we still couldn’t decide. Some places were quite fancy but we weren’t in the mood for fine dining. Others were a bit lifeless and not just not very appealing.

[edit … oh dear, when bad things happen to bad puns – as my friend Dan pointed out, it’s certainly not “peaking”, it’s peeking. Whoops!]

Chinatown in Melbourne

Finally we picked a place called iHotPot. It ticked a lot of boxes – the menu looked good, the place was cosy and there were tables of Asian people – the universal signal that it’s a good Asian restaurant.

What the ‘i’ stood for, I have no idea but the food was tasty and very, very messy. Melbourne’s craft beer scene hadn’t quite made it to iHotPot so the list consisted of Asahi, Crown and a few other similar lagers. Considering the list we decided Tsingtao was the most appropriate way to go.

A big bottle of Tsingtao Beer

We requested the hot pot menu which basically works as an order form, tick the boxes of the things you want and hand it into your friendly waitress. We had to request the hot pot menu as we weren’t given it when we sat down, perhaps we didn’t look like we knew what we were doing.

Hot Pot at iHotPot
Before …

They were right.

There was mess everywhere as we dropped ingredients into the soup, switched between chopsticks and soup utensils and just generally enjoyed ourselves.

iHotPot
… After

It didn’t matter that iHotPot didn’t stock any Mountain Goat, Stone & Wood or Little Creatures. Of course it would have been nice but the experience would have been totally different.

We had a nice waitress who helped us order our dinner, it was delicious, we made a huge mess of our table and laughed a lot in the process. We drank average beer that was totally fitting to our evening, nothing gourmet and nothing fancy but a lot of fun and a great last dinner in Melbourne.

The Beer Boat that Rocked

Our last Good Beer Week event was the Boatrocker Palate Cleanser. Over the previous nine days my palate had been worked over and over again, it seemed to me that the title of the event was more challenge than promise.

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This was the only Good Beer Week event my partner and I attended without having “warmed up” with a beer or two beforehand. Probably something to do with the fact it had an 11 am start time, after all I’m a writer and not an alcoholic (a phrase that’s perhaps closer to a mantra).

We had reached the final day of Good Beer Week and survived. Not only had we survived but we had done it without a single Berocca and barely touched our packet of Asprin. Win!

Our last Good Beer Week event was the Boatrocker Palate Cleanser. Over the previous nine days my palate had been worked over and over again, it seemed to me that the title of the event was more challenge than promise.

We caught the train and were kindly picked up by taxis that Boatrocker had prearranged, a thoughtful touch for a brewery that was a little way out of the city.

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Our host for the day was Matt Houghton, co-owner of Boatrocker Brewery, together with the help of his wife Andrea, assistant brewer Matt and friend of the brewery, Sian. Together they made everyone feel welcome, served up some tasty food and presented us with down right amazing sours. From the delicate to the “deep funk” the journey was like Alice in Sourland through no less than a dozen beers.

Brewers Boatrocker

“Why sour beers?”, you might ask. Why didn’t Boatrocker host an event that featured their beers? Well, the answer is very simple – Matt wanted to do a sour beer tasting.

Matt’s aim for Boatrocker is to produce sour beers, he wants to play with oak aging and whiskey barrels. “Sour beers can be the next prosecco”, he said to us and he hopes restaurants will get on board the sour beer train.

Just ignore the beer nerd in the corner ...
Just ignore the beer nerd in the corner …

Matt fell in love with sours whilst backpacking in Belgium with Michael Jackson’s book ‘The Beer Hunter’ firmly in his grip. His first sour was served to him at Cantillon Brewery in Belgium, one of the best sour producers in the world. Matt recalls this strange cloudy beer being put in front of him and it completely opened his mind.

Matt showed us through the new Boatrocker brewery in which they had only been licensed to brew for a couple of weeks. Boatrocker had previously been contract brewed since 2009 at Southern Bay Brewing.

Boatrocker Brewery inside

We also got a look into the Boatrocker barrel room, currently home to 60 wine barrels.

The barrels are all cold stored within a massive coolroom that’s been divided into two parts – one half for kegs and the other a dedicated barrel room. The barrels are French oak from Yearling Station, a Yarra Valley winery and will impart delicate flavours compared to if they had American oak barrels.

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At the time of the event the barrel room was holding a Berliner Weiss and had another couple of months to go.

Barrels Boatrocker

With all this talk of sours it was time to sit down for the journey Matt had prepared.

New Belgium (USA) – Lips of Faith 2013 Sour Brown Ale

Lips of Faith goes through primary fermentation in stainless steel and secondary fermentation in wood barrels. The primary ferment in stainless would give brewers greater control over everything and perhaps allow less woody characteristics through.

It had a delicate sour black cherry taste and light caramel malts. Right there and then I think sour brown ales became my next big beer crush.

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The Bruery (USA) – Sour in the Rye American Wild Rye Ale

As the name and descriptor suggests this beer is made with lots of rye malt; it’s then aged in oak barrels to finish.

The rye gives soft spices like clove and nutmeg. There’s a tangy and warming spice finish, like a nice warm cuddle … but in your mouth, you know? You know.

Derek reading the back of the beer. Derek is a home brewer who got to brew a GABS beer with Red Duck - check out his story at http://www.hophead.com.au/centennial-men/
Derek Hales reading the back of the beer.
Derek is a home brewer who got to brew a GABS beer with Red Duck this year – check out his story at his website www.hophead.com.au

Liefman’s (BEL) – Goudenband Sour Red Ale

Fresh red berries and something sweety, like toffee, put it on your sour beer shopping list.

Liefmans

Birra del Borgo (ITA) – Prunus Kriek

Brewed using spelt this Kriek had that lovely rosey colour and tasted of bright red cherries with soft tartness.

Birra del Borgo (ITA) - Prunus

Rodenbach (BEL) – Grand Cru Flanders Red Ale

They use big wooden vats for this brew and it is a blend of 33% young red ale with older beer, at least two years old.

“A classic, you can’t go wrong”, Matt said as he poured and he wasn’t wrong. Definitely one of my favourites for the day. It was spicy sweet with a Christmas cake fruitiness and spices – think cinnamon, think raisins, think a little boozy.

Rodenbach (BEL) - Grand Cru

Rodenbach (BEL) – Vintage 2009 Red Ale

“It smells like a drunken sultana”, I said at the time. The vintage is selected from a single outstanding vat/cask.

It had a drying mouth feel, warming sourness and red fruits and maybe even prunes or perhaps something fruiter and sweeter. I struggled to put an exact name to the sweetness outside of “damn that’s nice”.

Vintage 2009 Rodenbach

3 Fonteinen (BEL) – Oude Geuze Geuze

“We are starting to enter the world of deep funk”, Matt said as he introduced this one.

It’s a collaboration brew between Armand Debelder of 3 Fonteinen and Tomme Arthur of Pizza Port/Lost Abbey. It’s made with four year old Boon Lambic and Armand’s 2008 lambic.

The smell was not unlike a stinky blue cheese. It was very tart green apple, dried apple and sour lollies with aggressive back palate sourness on the back. Oh and incase it wasn’t clear I really did enjoy that beer! (a beer that smells like my favourite cheese – not surprising I’d like it!)

3 Fonteinen (BEL) - Oude Geuze

Cantillon (BEL) – Bruscella Three year old Lambic

I wrote four points for this beer and they are as follows:

“Sour” (how is my excellent note taking?), “green apricot”, “flat” and “full on”.

I forgot to write down “yum”.

\Cantillon (BEL) - Bruscella

New Holland (USA) – Envious Vintage 2012

It smelt like cooked brown sugar with a hint of raspberries. A nice beer but not a stand out among a fairly outstanding line up.

New Holland (USA) - Envious Beer Vintage

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (USA) – Maracaibo Especial Special Brown Ale

Inspired by the brews of Belgian monks, it uses cacao, cinnamon and orange peel – gotta love those monks.

You could certainly taste the spices and it had a nice dry finish with a musty funkiness.

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (USA) - Maracaibo Especial

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (USA) – La Parcela Spiced Pumpkin Ale

It reminded me of a mulled wine with those same spices and it had a distinctive savoury flavour.

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (USA) - La Parcela

What an incredible line up of beers, it was so good to delve into sours – a beer style I really enjoy but until this event had only touched the surface of what’s out there.

Thank you Matt & Andrea for putting on a great event and for inviting us into the brewery as though it was your home. The gift pack to take home was both delicious (beers and lollies!) and extremely considerate (for including a bottle of water) – it was a pleasure to meet such genuine and passionate people.

Thank you to Sian for dropping us to St Kilda after the event.

Thank you to James Smith and Tiffany Waldron at Good Beer Week and Matt and Andrea at Boatrocker for allowing myself and my partner to go along to this event.

Beer Mac & Cheese

When I found this recipe it was hard to get it out of my head, I wanted to make it right there and then. Sadly I couldn’t but finally I got my beer mac & cheese and damn it was good.

When I found this recipe it was hard to get it out of my head, I wanted to make it right there and then. Sadly I couldn’t but finally I got my beer mac & cheese and damn it was good.

The recipe comes from The Beeroness which I only discovered recently. Her slogan is ‘have your beer and eat it too’ – something I am clearly on board with.

So here’s her recipe for Stove Top Mac & Cheese.

I used Perth’s own Nail Golden Ale mostly because that’s what I was drinking at the time. Turned out very well indeed! Next time I’ll be trying it with IPA to see if it does give it a more beery ompf.

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The Cheesy Italian Job

“We are so lucky to be able to create something new in collaboration, wineries can’t” – Leonardo di Vincenzo, Head Brewer at Birra del Borgo

My partner and I had reached Friday of Good Beer Week – day seven of an epic nine days of beer amazingness.

We started our day at The Gertrude for the Tasmanian Pint of Origin, then lunch at Brother Burger and the Marvelous Brew where they were hosting a tap takeover of Kiwi beers and finished the afternoon at The Tramway for the SA Pint of Origin. Our palates were well and truly warmed up and ready for the event for the evening – Birra del Borgo Collaboration Celebration at Slowbeer in Richmond.

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The event promised to be full of great beer, cheese and meat. That is exactly what we got and it was fantastic!

But of course it wasn’t that simple.

The beers were from Italian brewery Birra Del Borgo and all were collaboration brews. The cheese was also all Italian and the meats, well they were just yum.

We were lucky enough to have the head brewer of Birra del Borgo himself, Leonardo di Vincenzo to guide us through his beers and the stories behind their creation.

“We are so lucky to be able to create something new in collaboration, wineries can’t”

Leonardo di Vincenzo

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Beer #1 My Antonia – in collaboration with Dogfish Head (USA)

I’ve heard lots of good things about Dogfish Head but sadly have only tried one of their beers, their 90 Minute IPA, which was pretty damn tasty.

Leo recounted meeting Sam Calagione, head brewer for Dogfish Head, at a beer festival in Montreal, and have now collaborated on two separate beers. The other being Etrusca which makes an appearance later in the evening.

Leo described My Antonia as a traditional European style beer with some “special characters”. It’s an imperial pilsner that is continuously hopped, dry hopped and bottle fermented. It uses saaz hops, true to a European pilsner, in additional to two American hops – Simcoe and Warrior.

My Antonia is brewed by both Birra Del Borgo and Dogfish Head separately. Whilst the recipe is the same Leo says there’s definitely a difference between the two.

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The My Antonia we tasted was brewed by Birra del Borgo. It was a lovely hazy straw colour with a thick mouth feel and big tropical fruits.

It was served with Gorgonzola, an Italian cows milk blue cheese, and cured pork loin that was sweet and peppery.

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Beer #2 Agua Calienta – in collaboration with Opperbacco, Brewfist and Toccalmatto (all ITA)

This is what happens when you get four Italian breweries together – Agua CalientaLeo calls this a “crazy beer”.

The beer is their interpretation of a traditional British India Pale Ale. They used French oak fermenters, normally used for wine production, to increase oxidisation in the beer. It’s their way of representing to the long journey that IPAs of old would have made from Britain to India. They used four types of malt and popular English hop East Kent Goldings with New Zealand Pacific Jade hops.

The result is an earthy, spicy and biscuity beer with hints of raisins and I even got a little caramel.

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Agua Calienta was served with black truffle salami and taleggio cheese. We almost asked if the cheese was cave ripened since we had just been educated about taleggio at the event at The Local Taphouse but you don’t want to be those people. Plus it’s not like we are experts, just shameless cheese eating machines.

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Beer #3 ReAle in Kilt – in collaboration with Brewdog (SCT)

ReAle in Kilt is a reimagining of Birra del Borgo’s flagship ReAle, an American style pale ale, made with Scottish brewery Brewdog.

They started this project with Brewdog last year and says they are pretty good friends, “when we drink beer, we drink strong beer”. This made the 8.4% abv of ReAle in Kilt pretty unsurprising.

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ReAle in Kilt uses wood fermentation and all German hops, showing a definite break from the original ReAle.

It’s an intriguing and rather moreish beer. I got flavours like bacon, smoke, biscuit and toffee. It was a great match to Wagu bresaola, oak smoked cheddar and rocket sliders.

Wagu Sliders

Beer #4 Etrusca – in collaboration with Dogfish Head (USA) and Baladin Brewery (ITA)

Etrusca goes exploring through the ancient Italian Etruscan civilisation, roughly around where we call Tuscany. Leonardo, Sam (Dogfish Head) and Teo Musso (Baladin) traveled to Rome with an archaeologist to examine drinking vessels from 2,800-year-old Etruscan tombs and from there they created Etrusca.

The beer aims to be as authentic as possible and as such incorporates some different fermentation vessels and ingredients to create an ancient ale.

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Ingredients include gentian root, hazelnut, pomegranate and grapes as well as an ancient yeast strain. For variety each brewery used a different fermentation vessel – Dogfish Head using brass, Baladin using wood and Birra del Borgo using terracotta.

Etrusca was served with an Italian cows milk cheese wrapped in walnut leafs and olives.

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Leonardo was asked about his thoughts on beer trends and consumers expectations. It was certainly a relevant question considering the range of beers we tasted throughout the evening were arguably not appealing to the mass beer market. So how does a brewer balance their brewing creativity and curiosity with beers that, without being crass, make money? I strongly suspect this question is not that simple but Leonardo’s response was interesting.

“I don’t care about the expectation of the customer”, he said without a tone of intolerance but more in the sense that it’s not what drives him to create new beers. He doesn’t get into trends either, “if craft brewers think about the trends of the market they lose their soul”. Ultimately Leonardo is looking for something different, something that tastes special. I think Birra del Borgo have certainly achieved that.

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On a side note it seems to me a striking testament to Good Beer Week as a whole that Leonardo flew all the way to Melbourne to speak to us crazy Australian beer fans!

Also, I have heard an unconfirmed report that Birra del Borgo’s Duchessic – a blend of their Saison with Cantillon Lambic – is currently available at The International Beer Shop. If this is true, be still my beating heart …

Girl + GABS

This year saw 90 unique beers hit the taps! Combined with lots of old favourites from dozens upon dozens of brewers, it was enough to blow my Untappd count into the next century (if I could be bothered updating it frequently of course!)

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The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, aka GABS, was held at the Melbourne Royal Exhibition Hall on Friday 24th – Sunday 26th May. It coincided with the last three days of Good Beer Week so I deliberately didn’t booked any GBW events for my partner and I on Saturday so it could be our “GABS day”.

GABS is the brain child of Steve and Guy, the guys behind The Local Taphouse venues in Darlinghurst and St Kilda. I had the pleasure of meeting Steve and Guy when I visited GABS. They are obviously passionate about craft beer and about providing the right platform for consumers to enjoy, discover and share.

Thursday GABS

So, what is GABS? I’m glad you asked – it’s a beer festival that celebrates brewing creativity. At the heart of the festival are the GABS beers – those which are brewed specially for the festival. This year saw 90 unique beers hit the taps! Combined with lots of old favourites from dozens upon dozens of brewers, it was enough to blow my Untappd count into the next century (if I could be bothered updating it frequently of course!). And it wasn’t just Australian brewers showing off, breweries from the United States, the UK, Italy and Aussie neighbours New Zealand also showed off their brewing flair.

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The folk at GABS were kind enough to provide me with a media pass for the event and our friends at Eagle Bay Brewing provided my partner with a ticket. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I love the beer community, their generosity knows no bounds. Thank you Steve and Guy, thank you Margi and Adrian.

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Best Beer of GABS

The “best of” categories fell into two categories – People’s Choice and Brewer’s Choice.

My vote for the People’s Choice Best Beer of GABS went to the collaboration brew from Moon Dog / Nøgne Ø – Selvmordstokt, a cherry wheat porter. Gorgeous black cherry, coconut and chocolate, a little funky and a whole lot yummy.

The winner was Bacchus Brewing White Chocolate Raspberry Pilsner and sadly one I didn’t have! I did try their White Chocolate Pilsner at Dejavu as part of Pint of Origin and very much enjoyed it. I even thought it had a touch of raspberry to it, perhaps it was my palate trying to tell me something about the future. Congratulations to Bacchus, hopefully we see this make it into their regular line up for more folks to enjoy.

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The winner of the Brewer’s Choice went to a brewery who must have a hell of a trophy cabinet these days – Feral Brewing for their Barrique O Karma. Being one of my favourite brewers and from my home state, I made sure I didn’t miss out on this one. It had a soft and sweet maltiness and the nose on it was great. Being that it’s based on their Karma Citra, a black IPA, that I have enjoyed many times it’s unsurprising I really liked this one.

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More Beery Highlights

Staying with Feral, their collaboration with Richard from The Wig & Pen (ACT) was appropriately called ‘Pig Pen’ tipping its hat to both breweries (not that pigs wear hats of course … actually maybe some do) it was called a ‘free range ale’. What does this mean? I’m not sure, perhaps it comes from the ingredients reading like a global shopping list or perhaps simply because they didn’t brew it to a specific style. Regardless of the reason it is a very good drop. Slightly tart, refreshing and with great drinkability. It was the first beer I wrote “yum” beside.

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Two Birds Brewing (VIC) Taco, “a hoppy wheat beer with inspiration” or as I wrote it “wheat beer with omf”. Twitter and crackbook had provided a few insights into this beer so I knew to expect lime and coriander and that’s exactly what I got. It was inspired after eating fish tacos in San Diego and so I’m not sure whether I read this and expected to taste corn chips or whether I really could taste corn chips. Either way, damn good beer!

Birra Del Borgo (ITA) won me over with their fabulous name – Myrtle’s Bunga Bunga Party. A spiced ale that was just lovely with honey and almost nectar sweetness. Also oddly moreish.

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Speaking of fun names, Cacao Cabana from Eagle Bay (WA) and The Monk (WA) had a smushed banana flavour going on with soft chocolate notes buried inside. It was like peeling back the layers on a dessert!

Gary the White from Colonial Brewing (WA) was a white stout, dry and rich, the flavours were all strangely familiar packaged in the unexpected. Fab!

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The GABS beer from Steve ‘Hendo’ Henderson’s Brewcult had been a bit of a talking point in the lead up to the event. A collaboration brew with Steve’s brother, a craft vinegar maker, it was described as porter infused with barrel aged balsamic vinegar. The aptly named “Acid Freaks” had the beer geeks intrigued. I had met Hendo by chance a few days earlier and asked how Acid Freaks had turned out. He simply replied that he didn’t want to say too much and inadvertently influence peoples opinions but he would say he was happy with it. My notes read: “soft tang, weirdly stunning”. The all important balance of sweet and bitter was spot on. God I hope he sends some to WA.

Taking me back to my childhood, the Duckstein (WA) Porter tasted like lamingtons. I love beers that evoke my memories and this beer did exactly that.

So many beers …. god that was amazing! Thank you GABS, loved every minute!

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Bro! Burgers and Kiwi Beers

As a part of Good Beer Week Brother Burger were playing host to a tap takeover of New Zealand brewers.

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Friday 24th May – Day 7 into Good Beer Week …

Still standing and still wanting more beers, day seven consisted of multiple GBW events, starting just before lunch at Pint of Origin Tasmania venue The Gertrude Hotel and ending at PoO Western Australia, The Royston about ten hours later.

My partner and I started at The Gertrude, ticking off another Pint of Origin venue, before lunch at Brother Burger then a short walk to The Tramway for the South Australian PoO. From there it was time to get to Slowbeer for the Birds del Borgo event and when that finished there was The Royston just a short stumble away.

For such a big day/night it’s a good thing we got a big feed in for lunch at Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew; oh and what a mouthful of a name by the way! As a part of Good Beer Week Brother Burger were playing host to a tap takeover of New Zealand brewers.

The week-long event was called Marvellous Liberty, presumably a call out to both their venue and New Zealand’s Liberty Brewing to whom half the taps were dedicated. The other half were pouring Croucher Brewing beers.

We had two beers from each brewery. From Liberty we had the XPA Extra Pale Ale and Yakima Scarlet, a hoppy red ale. From Croucher we had their Pilsner, a Czech style done with Kiwi hops, and The Patriot, a black IPA.

Liberty Brewing
When I read the words “pale pacific ale” on the Liberty XPA my mind immediately went to Stone & Wood. Their Pacific Ale is just gorgeous and seems to be universally loved. Unintentionally this may have put some pretty high standards in my head.

Liberty XPA had some stone fruit, citrus and a little cereal-ness with a good solid bitter finish. It’s a pretty good drop but when we had their hoppy red ale, the Yakima Scarlet, it quickly became a favourite for the day. Spicy, hoppy, fruity and just really damn good.

Croucher Brewing
The pilsner was a good little beer and did exactly it says on the box – a Czech inspired pilsner with generous Kiwi hops giving the otherwise bitter, floral and crisp style a fruity New Zealand edge.

Having had a lot of hops in our weekly beer diet and encountering some big hop monster beers during Good beer Week we were a little reluctant to go down the path of a black IPA. Reluctant but not against and since it was highly recommended by the guy serving us we ordered it.

Thank god we did.

What a great black IPA! Certainly full of fruity hops but equally boasting fantastic malt characters like coffee, burnt toast and chocolate.

It was great to discover two more New Zealand breweries which I’ll definitely keep an eye out for their beers in WA.

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Pint of Origin SA – The Tramway Hotel

My partner and I had been enjoying walking around Melbourne during our Good Beer Week, it felt like a trade off for all the amazing food and beer we were consuming. So when we left The Gertrude to visit another Pint of Origin venue, The Tramway, we opted for walking instead of taking a tram.

Pint of Origin

My partner and I had been enjoying walking around Melbourne during our Good Beer Week, it felt like a trade off for all the amazing food and beer we were consuming. So on Friday when we left The Gertrude to visit another Pint of Origin venue, The Tramway, we opted for walking instead of taking a tram.

A growing sense of urgency to for the ladies room and 2.6km later we were at The Tramway only to find it wasn’t open. Not only that but it wouldn’t be open for another two hours. We walked back up Brunswick St to stumble upon Brother Burger and the Marvelous Brew where we had lunch … oh and more beers. Before you knew it, 2 hours had past and The Tramway was opening it’s doors and we could hit up yet another Pint of Origin venue.

Quick PoO recap (words I didn’t ever think I would type on the interwebs) – Pint of Origin started during last years Good Beer Week where five pubs with ample taps acted as homes for WA, SA, NSW, TAS and QLD. The term itself came from Adelaide’s Wheatsheaf Hotel. It meant that throughout Good Beer Week punters could cover off an Australia wide beer tour without straying far from the remaining Good Beer Week shenanigans. Happy days!

I chose Birbeck Brewing’s The Captain; the tasting notes sounded nice and it was only 2.9% abv. There were not many beers lower than 5% amongst the Good Beer Week agenda so I was keen to discover a great tasting low abv beer.

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The Captain was light bodied but by no means watery. Light spices and biscuity malt, it had definite drinkability about it. Whilst it didn’t blow me out of the water it was certainly something I’d happily become repeat offender if it was available in WA.

Both my partner and I have consumed our fair share of Knappstein Reserve Lager in our time, loving the the big floral flavours so when we saw they had a barrel aged version we gave it a shot.

If you like vanilla, I mean if you really like vanilla you would have liked this barrel aged beer but sadly it seemed to smack down any of the Knappstein-ness we fell in love with in it’s original form.

Now with three pubs under our belt it was time to head towards Richmond for an event at Slowbeer with Italian brewery Birra Del Borgo, but that’s another post.

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Pint of Origin TAS – The Gertrude Hotel

I don’t know a lot about Tasmanian beer except for Cascade and Boag’s and the “pure Tasmanian water”, I know I’ve heard that phrase a lot. So I was definitely looking forward to introducing myself to some new beery Tasmanian friends at The Gertrude Hotel, home to the TAS Pint of Origin.

Pint of Origin

I don’t know a lot about Tasmanian beer except for Cascade and Boag’s and the “pure Tasmanian water”, I know I’ve heard that phrase a lot. Oh and that great Boag’s TV commercial – if only they were true.

On the crafty side I’ve had a few Moo Brew beers, particularly enjoying their Pale Ale, but that’s where my Tassie knowledge ends.

So I was definitely looking forward to introducing myself to some new beery Tasmanian friends at The Gertrude Hotel, home to the TAS Pint of Origin.

To quickly recap, Pint of Origin started during last years Good Beer Week where five pubs with ample taps acted as homes for WA, SA, NSW, TAS and QLD. The term itself came from Adelaide’s Wheatsheaf Hotel. It meant that throughout Good Beer Week punters could cover off an Australia wide beer tour without straying far from the remaining Good Beer Week shenanigans. Happy days!

Where: The Gertrude Hotel – 148 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
When: Friday 24th May, about lunchtime

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Beer
I decided to ease myself into our 7th day of Good Beer Week with a Hefeweizen from Iron House Brewery. The aromas were lovely and reminded me of a banana and honey milkshake. There was lots of coriander flavour and spice with the banana seeming more like a backdrop for the other flavours rather than playing the biggest role. Even my partner who usually doesn’t enjoy wheat beers agreed it was tasty.

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Whilst I eased myself into the day with a lighter style of beer my partner went in the opposite direction and selected a stout. It was gorgeous, rich with great chocolate bitterness but as I neglected to write any notes on this beer (writer fail) I sadly cannot remember what it was. I do however remember having a mild case of beer envy.

The next beer I tried was the Houn Dark Apple Ale from Two Metre Tall Brewery, it sounded intriguing. Made with unfiltered apple juice, it definitely had the smell of fermented fruit. I posted a photo of my beer to Instagram with a single word – weird. I was getting the appleness, some perhaps biscuity malts too but it just wasn’t coming together for me.

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With a few new beers under our belts it was time to make a move … Next up, Brother Burger for a dose of NZ and The Tramway for PoO SA.

When Rabbits Attack

There were a few possible titles for this blog post – alternatives included “bunnies plague”, “bunnies take Melbourne” and “no, its rabbit season!”, the latter in my best Elmar Fudd voice.

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There were a few possible titles for this blog post – alternatives included “bunny plague”, “bunnies take Melbourne” and “no, its rabbit season!”, the latter in my best Elmar Fudd voice.

The bunnies and rabbits I am referring to are those of the beer variety, more specially those from the White Rabbit Brewery in Healesville, about an hour out of Melbourne. As a brand under the Little World Beverages (aka Little Creatures, aka Lion Nathan, aka Kirin) White Rabbit did a takeover of the Little Creatures venue in Fitzroy for Good Beer Week.

Takeover is certainly the best way to describe it. Not only did the taps pour wild with only White Rabbit beers but the venue itself was transformed. Yellow hazard tape covered every red cherub / flying baby / Little Creatures logo and a small forest was moved inside the venue.

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Each day they featured a brand spankers new White Rabbit beer. On the day we went it was the Grace Burn Ale, named after the pedestrian path going over the creek behind the White Rabbit brewery. It used American hop varieties simcoe and palisade, and a warm fermentation.

Hazy golden straw, fruity, soft and a little bitter, it was just lovely! It was a great warm up for another evening of Good Beer Week goodness and had we not have an event to go to we would have happily stayed for a few more!

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You can see the invasion of bunnies in this short video from the Little Creatures guys featuring my old work colleague and all round top guy Dave Myers.

And as a final send off for this post and something funny for Friday, did you know that there are two bunnies having “special time” on all White Rabbit packaging? Check the base of the tree towards the back left hand corner, seriously.