girl + Cowaramup Beer Dinner

When Jeremy Good, co-owner and head brewer at Cowaramup Brewing, invited me along to the brewery’s 7th annual beer dinner I would have been a fool to say no. And I ain’t no fool.

“Beer dinner”, the words just roll so nicely off the tongue. Beer … dinner …

So when Jeremy Good, co-owner and head brewer at Cowaramup Brewing, invited me along to the brewery’s 7th annual beer dinner I would have been a fool to say no. And I ain’t no fool.

Jeremy hosted the evening with the aid of an empty pint glass and a knife to rattle around in it, boys and girls you should remember that for the next time you have to do speeches at weddings. It gets attention, trust me.

Over five dishes matched to Cowaramup beers we all quickly warmed up over what was a very cold and foggy Saturday night.

Brie Arancini with Rocket and Dijon Dressing + Cowaramup Hefeweizen

A nice gentle pairing to start the evening with the soft, almost sweet flavours in the beer not overpowering the arancini.

Brie Arancini and Cowaramup Hefeweizen

Salmon Sashimi with Asian Slaw, Capers and Wasabi + Cowaramup Lightsign Summer Ale

Refreshing with low to mid bitterness, Jeremy hoped the Lightsign would act as a good compliment to the sashimi. The sweetish fresh salmon went well with the fruitiness and soft spices of the Lightsign. The wasabi was very mild but then again if it had been any stronger it would have thumped the beer. For me the only part of the pairing that didn’t quite gel were the capers; the saltiness seemed at odds with the beer but outside of that capers and salmon are joy together.

Salmon Sashimi and Cowaramup Lightsign Summer Ale

Porkerhouse Medallion with Sweet Potato Mash + Cowaramup Special Pale Ale 

I must confess I thought this was a typo when I read the menu but low and behold a nice little pork dish landed in front of me. The Special Ale Ale had a lovely spiciness that was an easy compliment to the pork and mushroom sauce.

Porkerhouse and Cowaramup Special Pale Ale

Indian Goat Curry with Wild Rice + Cowaramup India Pale Ale and Cowaramup Pilsner

Jeremy chose the India Pale Ale to compliment and the Pilsner to cleanse. Special guest chef and supplier of the goat was Shane Blount from the local Cowaramup Butchers, incidentally I think their tagline “meats to please you” is simply amazing.

Goat Curry

 Gabriel Chocolate Surprise + Cowaramup Porter

Gabriel Chocolate Surprise

Chocolate and porter … it’s hard to go wrong there and a great way to end the night.

“They say all good things must come to an end … but I’ll have a drink when I get home”, and with that Jeremy closed the evening.

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Big big thanks to Claire and Jeremy for having me along to the dinner.
See you next year!

Moon Dog versus Gorgonzola

Victorian brewery Moon Dog produce some damn good and genuinely interesting beers. Definitely beers that grab my palate just as strongly as they grab my brain, rattle it around and scream “so … many … flavours!”

Moon Dog Barrelly Wine

We all seem to love a collaboration brew, at least I know I do. I have a tendency to lose my mind a little when they appear. I like the idea of two brewers coming together to produce something new and special, something worthy of a little excitement. The “why” behind the beer is always interesting, whether it’s an opportunity for two brewers separated by ocean to work together, I’m looking at you Thorny Goat IPA, or for an occasion like Pig Pen for the Australian International Beer Awards, there’s often a story behind the beer. You never read or hear someone say “dunno, just cause” or “to sell more piss” when asked why they collaborated. Granted it would be a stupid thing to say even if that was the reason but you get my drift. Of course the combination of two breweries doesn’t make for an automatically incredible beer but personally I can’t recall a collaboration beer I’ve disliked. Lucky streak? Perhaps.

Clearly with my rambling about collaboration brews and the photo of the Moon Dog bottle at the start you’ve probably, and correctly, guess that I’m about to launch into post about a Moon Dog collaboration. We have lift off …

Moon Dog teamed up with Anders Kissmeyer, a Danish brewer who was in Australia last year as a judge for the Australian International Beer Awards and to do a few brews with the locals. The result is this tasty little number – Barrelly Wine.

Crafty Pint has a great little write up that you can read here but basically you’re looking at a barley wine style beer that’s been left to it’s own devices in Shiraz and Pinot Noir barrels.

It’s Moon Dog so a fun name and quirky label are a given – I present Love Tap Double Lager and Perverse Sexual Amalgam as supporting evidence,

Moon Dog Beers

Inside the packaging is a beer that doesn’t disappoint. It’s jammy and full of spice, figs and warming booze – a genuinely interesting beer that engages your brain. It also made me sorely wish I had bought more than just one bottle.

We opened this whilst nibbling on some cheese after dinner and only the Gorgonzola managed to hold up and even pair nicely to Barrelly Wine – a fine combination of deep dark sweetness and in-your-face blue.

Gorgonzola - blue gooey goodness

Whilst writing this post a couple of interesting pieces on collaboration brews popped up –

Do craft beer collaborations always make for a good brew? by James Smith

Collabortion fatigue by Max Brearley

Fancy Pants + Pie

Fancy Pants – great name, super tasty beer and goes down a treat with homemade pies!

Fancy Pants Amber Ale

Woohoo! Another Mountain Goat Rare Breed has landed, this time in the form of the wonderfully named Fancy Pants Amber Ale.

It’s a beer they’ve brewed a few times before but this is it’s first outing into bottle format. I love the 640ml bottles because normally a mere 568ml pint of almost any Mountain Goat beer just isn’t enough. The labels are always a delight to read and if it wasn’t for a severe space shortage at my house I’d have a half decent bottle collection that would most certainly include these bad boys.

Earthy, spicy and big stone fruits, the Fancy Pants is worthy of it’s name.

I served it up up a rich beef, mushroom and rosemary pie and mash potato which went very nicely. The pie’s rich tomato-y sauce and big sprigs of rosemary made super friends with the spicy and earthiness of the beer. Yum!

The only thing I won't make it the pastry ... store bought the whole way baby!

Incidentally, if you like your Goat (and who doesn't?!)
the 3rd edition of 'Night of the Goat' is happening at
Five Bar in Mt Lawley on Wednesday 7th August @ 6pm.
All things Mountain Goat will be there ...
 ... you should be too!

Great Beer Menus – The Precinct

But just because you’re not a “craft beer venue” doesn’t mean you can’t have a kick ass beer list. It puts a big smile on my face to see venues paying equal attention to their beer list as they do their food, wine and cocktails. It’s time to put the spotlight on these great places, starting today with The Precinct …

I love craft beer and going to venues who share my passion, pubs likes The Sail & Anchor and Clancy’s Fish Pub and bottle shops like the International Beer Shop are WA institutions for great craft beer. It’s what they love, it’s what they know, it’s what they do.

Feral Tap Takeover at The Sail

But just because you’re not a “craft beer venue” doesn’t mean you can’t have a kick ass beer list. I’m delighted to find more restaurants, small bars, local bottle shops and pubs whose fridges were previously filled with European lagers have been invaded by a few local and international craft beers.

It puts a big smile on my face to see venues paying equal attention to their beer list as they do their food, wine and cocktails. Those who don’t, those who have settled on a beer list that features Cascade Light, Crown Lager and Stella, are well and truly behind the eight ball. It’s kinda like getting all dressed up for an elegant night out, putting all that thought into your hair, dress, make up and jewelry and then wearing your muddy sneakers. Crown Lager is a muddy sneaker.

It’s time to put the spotlight on these great places, starting today with The Precinct in East Victoria Park where their classic food with a twist and epic long table dinners have put smiles on many faces (I’m looking at you Laura Moseley!).

The Precinct

Here’s front of house manager Daniel Morris talking about the beers at The Precinct –

Tell us a bit about The Precinct ...

The Precinct is a speak easy bar, cafe and restaurant where people can come in at any hour of the day and enjoy a coffee, beer, glass of wine, small eats or a full three course meal. It’s a very multipurpose type venue with an ever changing beer & wine list which makes it the perfect place to try and be recommended new products (beer or wine) that we have featured every week.

What's your inspiration for your beer list?

We want to feature small breweries, interesting styles of beers and beers that are in short supply. Beers for the “beer nerds”, but saying that we serve a couple of well known ones with a Precinct twist.

What do you hope the beer menu says about The Precinct?

That we LOVE BEER!! That we like a diverse range, that we are individual.

How many beers are currently on your menu and
how often will you update the beer list?

How many beers? I think about 40, but there are usually some treasures hiding in the fridge as we can’t fit them all on the menu! The list updates weekly, we usually buy a couple of cases of a individual beer then keep on changing it up, so it stays interesting and fresh!!

Big Beers at The Precinct

Any memorable customer moments in someone trying a
new beer at The Precinct?

One guy destroyed a magnum of Moa Stong Ale [St Joseph’s] by himself…pretty cool

What beer and food matches would you recommend for
entree, main and dessert at The Precinct?

We don’t do a lot of pairing with beer and food just yet, it’s more about giving people that freedom to try different styles or beers from boutique brewery’s. Its about the “whole experience “. Our food has lots of strong rich flavours so we tend to get into the IPA’s and ales instead of lagers and pilseners.

The Precinct

What I love about beers at The Precinct …
♥ Big format beers for sharing
♥ Weekly changing beer list
♥ Limited release and rare beers
Thank you to Sarita and Daniel at The Precinct for letting me bug them with beery questions and providing photography from the very talented Jessica Wyld – check out here site here.
If your favourite local bar, restaurant, cafe, bottleshop, anything has a great beer list, I’d love to know about them!
 

girl + Vintage 2013

Getting beer in the mail and drinking it … yup, it’s a complicated blog post today folks!

I’ve been the happy recipient of beer in the mail recently. Last week I received a parcel of O’Brien’s latest limited release, a couple of weeks earlier I received a lovely wooden box containing three bottles of Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale 2013.

When the Coopers arrived I opened the box excitedly and didn’t even touch the beers, just looked at them. They looked all snuggly and warm in their faux-straw beds I didn’t want to disturb them; it would appear that any maternal instincts I might have are translating weirdly.

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It wasn’t until a fellow beer writer pointed it out that I realised the back labels of said bottles had been stuck on upsidedown. Perhaps this years vintage is channelling a little Mr Squiggle?

Sadly I didn’t have any 2012 vintage to do a comparison tasting and stores were all out too, well the whole two that I went to. I’ve therefore kept one of the three bottles in the hope of eventually having a concurrent set, that being 2013-2015. My partner used to work with fancy pants scotch and said he had a customer who would always buy three bottles of a scotch – one for drinking, one for keeping and one just in case. That is a theory I can get behind in this instance and as much as I’d like to do that with many other beers my bank balance couldn’t handle it. I also doubt my ability to resist that third “keeping” beer, damn my rubber arm!

So I have indulged in two of the three bottles of Coopers Extra Strong Vintage 2013.

The first was just to drink, no matching, just enjoying. I was surprised at how much melon flavour I got; there was a nice apricoty thing going on and a tartness at the finish. Fruity, boozy and not nearly as much up-in-your-face malt character as I had been expecting.

The second bottle I decided try to pair with dinner. I put the word out on Twitter for food pairings and The Quarie Bar + Brasserie suggested steak, stroganoff or stew – three suggestions I liked and not just for their alliterative efforts.

I decided to go with stroganoff and also, because apparently cooking one dish for dinner isn’t enough, did gnocchi with proscuitto.

Beef stroganoff was a simple and easy match richness and the beer easily cut through the dish. Sadly I went a little overboard with lemon in the dish so it was a little distracting.

Beef Stroganoff and Coopers Extra Strong VIntage 2013

My thinking behind the proscuitto was because of the melon flavour I had gotten from the first bottle and there’s something simply divine about proscuitto wrapped rockmelon. I hoped the combination would translate in the beer and gnocchi dish and I was totally right … well, at least half right. The salty prosciutto acted as a nice contrast to Coopers fruitiness and rich enough to stand up to the malt. The poor gnocchi however, the potato just didn’t stand a chance.

Gnocchi with Proscuitto and Coopers Vintage 2013

Thank you Coopers for sending me beer! Thank you very much!

girl + Perth

A quick visit to Perth for a few Saturday night drinks and delighted to find that there was excellent beer at every corner.

Meelup Beach

It has been almost two years since my partner and I moved from Perth to the south west. Swapping a city for country lifestyle is easily one of the best decisions we have made.

We regularly return to Perth for quick overnight visits, see a few friends and family before heading home and wishing we had more time to see more people.

On this particular visit we went out for a few Saturday night drinks and was delighted to find that craft beer wasn’t at all hard to come by.

First Stop – Tan Po Po

Damn I have missed this place! Teriyaki Fish for under $7, love love love. Please if anyone knows of anywhere in the south west who’s not charging more than $12 for the same dish I’d love to know. Great food, amazing prices AND BYO. Happy days!

Liquor Barons Mt Lawley is just up the road and carries a great selection of craft beer. We decided a 6 pack of Stone & Wood Pacific Ale would do quite nicely with dinner.

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Second Stop – Defectors

Upstairs at The Flying Scotsman with cosy couches and a balcony for people watching, Defectors is a nice little spot.

A good range of beers on tap and in bottle, I opted for a 330ml bottle of Saison Dupont. It had been far too long since I’d had one of my favourite beers. Spicy, musty, dry and a little fruitiness, I’ve missed you.

Third Stop – The Mechanics’ Institute

There has been an explosion of new bars opening in Perth in the last 18 months. Rather than tasking ourselves with the hangover inducing adventure of tackling them all we simply picked one. We chose The Mechanics’ Institute.

From what I’ve seen on their Facebook page they are mostly known for some fabulous cocktails but it was great to see a fine selection of bottled beer too. I spied Two Birds Sunset Ale, Burleigh 28 Pale Ale, Feral Hop Hog, Rogers’ and Brewdog Punk IPA cans. Happy Days!

Fourth Stop – 399 Bar

Time for a Campari …

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Fifth Stop – The Brisbane Hotel

It’s not long ago that the craft beers on tap at The Brisbane were Beez Neez and Redback, both of which I have enjoyed many a pint of don’t get me wrong, but the word “craft” is debatable. Now you can find the likes of Little Creatures Single Batch on tap and a respectable bottled list with the likes of Two Birds, Brewdog, Holgate, Sierra Nevada and Mountain Goat. On this particular night we enjoyed a couple of glasses of Monteith’s Dopplebock Winter Ale. I’ve not really rated Monteith’s beers in the past but their Winter Ale is lovely – rich and with a drunken raisin sort of taste going on.

Craft beer is emerging, I guess we all knew that, but from what I saw finally more and more beer lists have had as much thought put into them as any other menu in the bar – Fantastic!

Oh Boris!

Boris is rich, dark and oh-so-smooth. You should totally go and hook up with Boris.

Boris isn’t a very sexy name. It doesn’t conjure up images of an oiled, big muscle man or even a well dressed gentlemen who’ll open the door for you. However I’ll happily say that Boris is smooth, definitely sexy and just downright tasty.

I’m clearly talking about beer and you’ve probably figured out that it’s Feral Brewing’s Russian Imperial Stout “Boris”. Normally only available on tap at their Swan Valley brewery it is the latest beer to receive the bottling treatment as part of their Brewpub Series. A limited release of kegs also ventured into the outside world. I have been lucky enough to have both in my own backyard … well, within an hours drive anyway.

Feral Russian Imperial Stout Boris

Bottle

I snatched up a bottle from Cape Cellars in Busselton, the only liquor store in town when I’ve found good craft beer. They have super nice staff too so if you’ve not been in you really need to change that.

Tap

Good ol’ Clancy’s Fish Pub in Dunsborough. I don’t just say that because I used to work there but because, like all the Clancy’s, their tap beers are craft-beer-tastic. Right now they are pouring Boris but be careful, at % abv Boris won’t be nice to you if you are the designated driver. As a fellow customer at the bar said to me, “Boris is a bad man”. You bet your ass he is!

I didn’t detect any difference between tap and bottle Boris, both tasting super fresh. I stuck my nose in, had a big whiff and got chocolate cake and a little caramel. Boris tastes roasty, that’s a strange way to start a sentence, with some licorice and a malty dry finish. Boris is rich, dark and oh-so-smooth. You should totally go and hook up with Boris.