Beer Bacon Jam

This is easily my new favourite condiment that combines all the things I love about food and beer – great balanced flavours that taste amazing.

I was recently introduced to a wonderful, mind exploding, taste bud jumping condiment – bacon jam.

Yup. Bacon. Jam. It’s how it sounds too – completely awesome.

It was served up as part of a dish at the East versus West: Food and Beer Title Fight, Round 2 at Five Bar as part of WA Beer Week. As the name suggests it’s the follow up to the very popular event that happened during Melbourne’s Good Beer Week at Josie Bones.

created by Julia Jenkins from Josie Bones
The dish that started a love affair – Ripened Goats Cheese Croquette with Bacon Jam and Pickled Apple created by Julia Jenkins from Josie Bones

I messaged my partner who immediately looked up a recipe, finding this one on www.allrecipes.com and despite the lengthy list of ingredients it sounded pretty do-able. It also sounded like my heart would clog up and stop but hey, life is full of risks.

There were a few adaptions I made to the recipe because a) I wanted to put beer in it b) we didn’t have any whiskey in the house and c) we only have coffee pods at the house. The result was not subtle, packed with big flavours and a nice kick of heat that sits at the back of your throat; sweet plays off spice and the fatty salty bacon brings it all together.

1/2 kilo of diced bacon
1 large brown onion, cut in half and sliced very thinly
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 espresso from a single coffee pod
1 cup Burleigh Brewing Black Giraffe Black Coffee Lager, or another beer with big coffee notes
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup tomato sauce
 
A few key ingredients - beers, coffee and maple syrup
A few key ingredients – beers, coffee and maple syrup
  • Throw bacon into large saucepan, no oil required. Keep on medium high heat and stir until starting to brown. Your bacon should now be swimming happily in about 1/4 cup of bacon fat;
  • Add onion and brown sugar, stir and cook for five minutes;
  • Add cayenne pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and cook for five minutes;
  • Add coffee, beer, sherry vinegar and maple syrup. Bring to the boil then reduced heat to low and cook until mixture thickens up but not too much, you don’t want it to be dry. This should take about 30-40 minutes.
  • Add tomato sauce and let simmer further for five minutes;
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool, keep stored in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Note: you can throw the mixture into a food processor to get a chunky but still spreadable consistency if you like otherwise I just broke up the larger pieces of bacon as it was simmering. I used very cheap bacon for this recipe with plenty of fatty bits to contribute to the final result.

Simmer, simmer, simmer
Simmer, simmer, simmer

Now, all you have to do is sit and ponder the possibilities – burgers, eggs on toast, crackers, cheese …

Beer Bacon Jam

Beer Bacon Jam

Beer + Neighbours

A short post about good neighbours and sharing beer

Whilst relaxing on a sunny Saturday afternoon our super nice next door neighbour popped around for a hello and to see if we wanted their old bicycles. Sure, why not?! So I got myself a new/old bike, my partner probably got himself another something to do (i.e. WD40 the hell out of my new/old bike) and we found some time to share a beer with the neighbour.

We had the perfect beer to share since I had been to The Pourhouse in Dunsborough the day before and purchased my first Pourhouse growler.  It joins a growing family of growlers and their squeaker kids at our house already …

This is how every normal kitchen looks isn't it?!
This is how every normal kitchen looks isn’t it?!
Weekend beers read to rumble!
Weekend beers ready to rumble!

The Pourhouse growler contained Moon Dog Love Tap Double Lager, a beautiful beast of a lager at 7% that I haven’t had since May when I did this little blog post. Floral, spicy, tropical fruits and a little fresh lemony citrus to boot, it was a hit with our neighbour and between the three of us the growler soon ran dry.

Next I decided to open the sample bottle of O’Brien spring release India Pale Ale that was sent to me last month. What better moment to taste test a new beer than with a fresh palate at the table.

We poured out the beer into three glasses and stuck our noses in. Our neighbour liked the nose on it and it was certainly inviting with fresh green hop aromas throwing out a piney/resiny character. It was a great little IPA, vibrant and clean with stone fruit flavours and lingering bitterness.

O'Brien IPA  ... vibrant and piney
O’Brien IPA … vibrant and piney

Eagle versus Goat

Eagle versus Goat – Melbourne versus Dunsborough, feathers versus horns, bird of prey versus surefooted mountain dweller, beer versus beer. A friendly fight at The Pourhouse during WA Beer Week …

WA Beer Week might be over but I’m behind in my blog posts so I’m inviting you to travel back in time with me.

We’re going back to Wednesday 13th November at The Pourhouse in Dunsborough where Melbourne’s Mountain Goat went head to head, mano-a-mano, feathers to horns to our beloved locals Eagle Bay. It was a great night of beautifully crafted beers, tasty little sliders and lots of beery chat – a perfect casual Wednesday. Here’s a few photos from the night …

Drinkers were asked to place their vote for their favourite beer of the night. The winner was Mountain Goat Summer Ale!
Drinkers were asked to place their vote for their favourite beer of the night. The winner was Mountain Goat Summer Ale!
Brewers Unite! Dave from Mountain Goat and Nick from Eagle Bay kindly indulging my request for a photo
Brewers Unite! Dave from Mountain Goat and Nick from Eagle Bay kindly indulging my request for a photo
Don't they look so happy?!
Happy Brewers!
Four little sliders, perfect for beer!
Four little sliders, perfect for beer!
Two down, two to go!
Two down, two to go!

#temptingtuesday – November

As WA Beer Week approached I asked you guys a question – what are your top 3 WA beers? The only rule was that they had to be available now, draught or bottle didn’t matter just as long as it was able to be drunk right now.

What the heck is #temptingtuesday I hear you say? (well, in my head you do). It’s combining my love affair with Twitter, the fun of chatting with great people and my eternal affection for beer. The mechanics are simple, just like its author, where on the first Tuesday of each month I ask the big wide Twitterverse a beer related question. I get inspired and blog the results.

I dropped the ball on my own #temptingtuesday thing in November in that I missed it by an entire day. So instead we have tempting Wednesday but I figure a) no one is really paying that much attention and b) it was Melbourne Cup so I probably wasn’t really going to get a straight sober answer out of anyone that day.

Since, at the time of asking the question, it was leading to WA Beer Week I decided to ask the question,

What are your top 3 wa beers?

The only rule was that they had to be available now, draught or bottle didn’t matter just as long as it was able to be drunk right now. Normally I only ask the question on Twitter but his time I also asked Facebook, here’s how the votes were cast and thank you to everyone who posted a comment!

temptingtuesday november

As for me, well I hate to have to choose between so many of my favourite things but I did manage to narrow it down in what might be considered a predictable but certainly delicious list!

If I had to pick three ...

East versus West … Re-Match

Three rounds, state versus state, beer versus beer, food versus food and all with delicious results …

At Melbourne’s Good Beer Week in May one of the stand out events was East versus West: A Beer and Food Title Fight at Josie Bones. With the background music of Eye of the Tiger the east coast of Australia, represented by Josie Bones, battled with the west, represented by Five Bar / Beersine, for the bragging rights to beer and food pairing superiority. Despite not having a home ground advantage, WA came out victorious with the title belt aka a plastic WWE replica. Oh it was glorious! You can relive the magic here.

Last weekend as part of WA Beer Week Five Bar and Beersine hosted the re-match, aka round two, aka a chance for Melbourne to level the score. The format remained the same with three rounds covering yeast driven beers, hop driven beers and malt driven beers. It was all blind tastings so you didn’t know what beer you were tasting or whether the dish was a Beersine / Five Bar or Josie Bones creation.

Hard working chefs Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar and Julia from Josie Bones
Hard working chefs Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar and Julia from Josie Bones

Here’s how the battle unfolded …

Round 1 – Yeast Driven Beers

Last Drop Saison with Wort Poached Marron, Pickled Cucumber and Beer Blanc Sauce

versus

Holgate Little Heifer Hefeweizen with Ripened Goats Cheese Croquette with Bacon Jam and Pickled Apple

The marron was a beautiful way to start the afternoon, soft and delicate with the cucumber adding a refreshing element. The Last Drop Saison, after geting rave reviews from punters at the Fremantle BeerFest the day before, continued to be loved here. A slight banana nose, soft and well balanced and lightly spiced, it was gorgeous. The two together proved a nice matching of delicate, soft but still very expressive flavours.

Wort Poached Marron, Pickled Cucumber and Beer Blanc Sauce by Mitch from Beersine / Five Bar
Wort Poached Marron, Pickled Cucumber and Beer Blanc Sauce by Mitch from Beersine / Five Bar

Half way through eating the second dish I decided that bacon jam was the way of the future. Honestly. Think about it. Bacon jam. Just ponder that for a moment and if you’re not drooling then I think there’s something wrong with you and we might not be able to be friends. The bacon jam added salty caramelised goodness to the soft and springy goat’s cheese croquettes. Holgate’s Little Heifer is a great example of a hefeweizen with sweet banana aromas and a nice silky mouthfeel. It cut through the oil in the croquettes and was a nice sweet/salt contrast to the bacon jam. This was my second favourite beer and food match of the day.

Ripened Goat's Cheese Croquettes with Bacon Jam and Pickled Apple by Julia from Josie Bones
Ripened Goat’s Cheese Croquettes with Bacon Jam and Pickled Apple by Julia from Josie Bones

How the votes swung …

Favourite Beer: WA – Last Drop Saison

Favourite Dish: VIC – Ripened Goats Cheese Croquettes

Favourite Pairing: VIC – Holgate Hefeweizen + Ripened Goats Cheese Croquettes

Round 2 – Hop Driven Beers

Boneyard Golden Ale with Prawn Po’Boy with Chipolte Aioli, Vic Secret Hop Salt and Malt Vinegar Game Chips

versus

The Monk Chief IPA with ‘Tongue in Cheek’ – Masterstock Beef Cheek & Ox Tongue Croquette and Kimchi

The menu, pre-reveal, described Boneyard Golden Ale as a “session IPA” and it’s spot on, fresh tropical hops backed up by soft lingering bitterness makes it damn drinkable. The hop salt on the chips had lots of people licking the chips to get the full flavour which was fun and perhaps a little uncouth but hey, that’s the fun of beer and food sometimes!

Prawn Po'Boy with Chipolte Aioli, Vic Secret Hop Salt and Malt Vinegar Game Chips by Julia from Josie Bones
Prawn Po’Boy with Chipolte Aioli with (not pictured) Vic Secret Hop Salt and Malt Vinegar Game Chips by Julia from Josie Bones

The Monk Chief with the aptly named ‘tongue in cheek’ dish was my favourite pairing of the day, the way the kimchi and hops played together was unique, tasty and I couldn’t get enough of it! The beef cheek and ox tongue bought out all the maltiness from the IPA, easily one of my favourite IPAs going around.

Tongue in Cheek - Masterstock Beef Cheek and Ox Tongue Croquette with Kimchi by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar
Tongue in Cheek – Masterstock Beef Cheek and Ox Tongue Croquette with Kimchi by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar

How the votes swung …

Favourite Beer, Favourite Dish and Favourite Pairing: VIC – Boneyard Golden Ale with Prawn Po’Boy.

Round 3 – Malt Driven Beers

Feral Razorback Barleywine with Peppermint Pavlova garnished with Local Berries and Local Milk Chocolate

versus

Boatrocker Ramjet Whiskey Barrel  Aged Imperial Stout with Whiskey Baba with Malted Chocolate Cream, Blood Orange Curd and Liquorice with your choice from three whiskey sauces

The barleywine and peppermint pavlova was, for me, the most intriguing match of the day. On paper I expected the barleywine to completely dominate the dessert but this wasn’t the case. The peppermint was able to stand out and cut through the big bold flavours of the barleywine making for a really interesting contrast. The berries were a nice complement to the deeper sweetness from the beer.

Peppermint Pavlova with Fresh Local Berries and Local Milk Chocolate by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar
Peppermint Pavlova with Fresh Local Berries and Local Milk Chocolate by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar

Like the Razorback, Boatrocker’s beer had that “oh my god” factor, with every sip you were impressed and craved more of those toffee and creme brulee flavours. It melded well with the baba which is essentially a booze soaked cake and you needed a big ballsy dessert to go head to head with the Ramjet. Due to my own eagerness to try the whiskey sauces, and by eagerness I mean I had all three doused on my dessert, I may have ended up with a dish that was more booze than dessert. Prior to this however it was a great match of similar flavours coming together.

Whiskey Baba with Malted Chocolate Cream, Blood Orange Curd and Liquorice with your choice from three whiskey sauces by Julia from Josie Bones
Whiskey Baba with Malted Chocolate Cream, Blood Orange Curd and Liquorice with your choice from three whiskey sauces by Julia from Josie Bones

How the votes swung …

Favourite Beer, Favourite Dish and Favourite Pairing: VIC – Boatrocker Ramjet with Whiskey Baba

So Victoria’s Josie Bones took the title belt on the plane back to the East Coast which just means we need to head back for Good Beer Week 2014 to retrieve it again. Congratulations Julia, Brendan and the Josie Bones team! Well played Mitch and Five Bar, well played.

Photo by Feral Brewing
Photo by Feral Brewing

Scores are level, the fight continues …

Thank you to Five Bar, Beersine and Josies Bones for another fantastic event! I feel privileged to be able to say I’ve been to both East versus West events this year and they have been great experiences in showcasing some fine beers and creative dishes. Bring on 2014!

Thank you also to Andy Mac at Five Bar and Mitch at Beersine for inviting me along. It’s always nice to go back to your old bar and feel like you’ve come home for a visit.

Beer + Cheese Masterclass

I spent all Saturday at the Fremantle Beer Festival and left just before 10pm with three new hats and a few new favourite beers. I think that easily qualifies as a successful day. During both days of the festival there were masterclasses on various beery topics and on Saturday Margi from Eagle Bay Brewing and I held a masterclass on beer and cheese.

I spent all Saturday at the Fremantle Beer Festival and left just before 10pm with three new hats and a few new favourite beers. I think that easily qualifies as a successful day.

During both days of the festival there were masterclasses on various beery topics and on Saturday Margi from Eagle Bay Brewing and I held a masterclass on beer and cheese.

You may already know this because I’ve rambled on about it on the blog a couple of times now or perhaps you were one of the smiling faces I saw in the crowd and if so, thank you very much.

The session attracted around 60 guests

we all basically hung out eating cheese and drinking beer for twenty minutes

The response seemed very positive which could be due to all our prior “research” resulting in fantastic pairings or maybe if you give people free beer and cheese they are inevitability going to be pretty happy. Either reason is fine by me.

Conducting some beer and cheese research with Margi at Eagle Bay Brewing
Conducting some beer and cheese research with Margi at Eagle Bay Brewing

Here are the beer and cheese pairings we put together –

Eagle Bay Vienna Lager + Beersine Vienna Cheese

A straight forward match showing off complementary flavours. The Vienna Lager boasts nice toffee aromas backed up by caramel flavours and it’s also a little earthy and nutty. The cheese, that’s made with the same beer, carries nice fruity slightly sweetish notes that go nicely with the caramel thing the beer has going on. The cheese is also suitably rich for the beer, neither dominating the other.

Eagle Bay Pale Ale + Maffra Aged Cheddar

Another great complementary pairing with the fresh fruity hops from the pale ale walking hand in hand with the fruity and slightly tangy cheddar.

Eagle Bay Kolsch + Meredith Ashed Chevre

This was my favourite pairing of the day. I first had this cheese at The Cheese Barrel in the Swan Valley and instantly thought how great it would be with a kolsch. Within days I had a growler of Colonial Kolsch and had located some ashed chevre and the result was beautiful. This was no different.

The tanginess and zesty of the goat’s cheese highlighted the fresh limey citrus characters in the beer

The match was also an excellent palate cleanser, the beer effortlessly cuts through the sinfully creamy cheese … god damn I love this pairing!

Meredith Ashed Chevre

Eagle Bay Single Batch IPA + Bassett Colston Stilton

Eagle Bay’s IPA has a great balance of caramely malt and fruity hops. The hops are a great contrast to the saltiness of the Stilton. This cheese, a cow’s milk from England, is sensational and we had people begging for more. It’s uber-creamy, rich and the texture makes you want to smear it on your hands and face.

That's one big hunk of stinky Stilton!

A few people at the masterclass asked where they could get the cheeses we tasted – Blue Cow have a store finder on their website that might be handy, you can check it out here and be sure to keep tabs on the Beersine website for all their tasty treats.

Thank you

Margi and the Eagle Bay Brewing team for providing the beer on the day and inviting me to be a part of this event;

Beersine for providing the Vienna Cheese, and

Blue Cow Cheese Company for providing the other three cheeses and being very good about giving us samples when we were constructing the menu.

Love your work!

Lagunitas IPA + Cheese

Recently I have been working hard to prepare for my Beer & Cheese Masterclass with Eagle Bay Brewing which is happening at this weekend’s Fremantle BeerFest. Being the determined researcher that I am this means there have been higher than normal levels of beer drinking and cheese eating in the house.

Freo BeerFest

9 & 10th November

on the Esplanade, Freo

Recently I have been working hard to prepare for my Beer & Cheese Masterclass with Eagle Bay Brewing which is happening at this weekend’s Fremantle BeerFest. Being the determined researcher that I am this means there have been higher than normal levels of beer drinking and cheese eating in the house. This has resulted in both palate exercise and missed dinners as I don’t think many would cheese alone as a meal.

Beer & Cheese Research – Lagunitas IPa

A tasty American India Pale Ale characteristically dominated by piney flavours coming from the use of Cascade and Centennial hops with a nice malt backbone.

Cheese #1 Maffra Mature Cheddar

Fruity with soft citrus notes with a nice tangy bite in the middle, the texture is hard and very slightly crumbly and it leaves a nice rich coating on the palate.

Together …

A lovely match but doesn’t stand out as being incredible. The tropical piney hops act as a fairly nice complement to the fruitness in the cheese but there could be too much hop character overshadowing the softer flavours in the cheddar. The hops in the IPA do a nice job of cutting through the richness of the cheddar.

Lagunitas IPA and Maffra Cheddar

Cheese #2 King Island Endeavour Blue

Indulgently soft and creamy with ripples of blue veins that add a little roughness to the overall texture of the cheese. It’s not overpowering but instead a medium intensity blue with a nice long finish.

Together …

A very good match with the strong hop character in the beer acting as a good contrast to the saltiness of the blue, adding intensity for intensity so one does not overpower the other. The hops also give the palate a thorough cleanse from the creaminess of the cheese.

Lagunitas IPA and King Island Endeavour Blue

You can catch the Beer & Cheese Masterclass, hosted by Eagle Bay’s Margi Wallace and myself on Saturday at 2pm at the Fremantle BeerFest! Hope to see you there!

The article I would have liked to have seen

Over the weekend an article appeared in the paper, “Paying top dollar for a pint of posh”. The article disappointed me, I started writing out a list of reasons why but rather than being the person who says “that’s crap” here’s the article I would have liked to have seen instead …

Over the weekend an article appeared in the paper, “Paying top dollar for a pint of posh”. The article disappointed me, I started writing out a list of reasons why but rather than being the person who says “that’s crap” here’s the article I would have liked to have seen instead …

Get in the TARDIS or whatever time machine you have at your disposal and go back ten years, do you think you could have sold a 330ml beer in Australia for $200? Probably not but in the current beer drinking landscape things are a little different.

The image of the average Australian beer drinker is changing, in fact it’s hard to say whether there is such a thing anymore. The guy in white singlet and shorts, double pluggers on his feet and a can of Emu Export in his hand is probably still around but now he’s joined at the bar by a new Australian beer drinker. One who’s got a thirst for supporting Australian brewers, who’s looking for new beers to try, who’s on the hunt for flavour and who could easily be a man or woman, in short the emerging Australian beer drinker is a craft beer drinker.

Whilst the definition of “craft beer” remains contentious the general idea seems to be agreed upon – breweries that put flavour first, that value what goes into the beer as opposed to cheaper inferior ingredients, breweries who are run by beer passionate people.

Those, including myself, who call themselves craft beer drinkers or beer geeks are growing in number and keen to spread the message. The message is simple – craft beer is king.

The best ingredients, passion, experimentation and innovation are terms commonly associated with craft beer and sometimes this means a few extra dollars from your pocket.

Now stay with me because I know I may have lost some of you. We live in Perth, we are constantly being told we’re living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, we’re constantly mocked for the price of our coffees, hotel rooms and pints. I’m not saying these statements aren’t valid but just forget all that for a moment.

We’re not talking kidney donations or home remortgages here, in many cases we’re talking about a mere six bucks. Six dollars is the difference between a 6 pack of Perth brewed Nail Ale and a 6 pack of Stella Artois, that’s a dollar per bottle. I pay that without batting an eyelid, not because I’m a beer wanker and not because I’m rich because I’m neither of these things, but I pay it because I think Nail Ale is a better beer.

I like the flavour, I like the fact I’m supporting local and I like the fact that the brewer is immensely passionate about his craft.

With craft beer drinkers growing in number it’s clear I am not the only one of this mindset. I guess that explains why Dan Murphy’s is sold out of pricey beers from Scottish brewers Brewdog such as Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink the Bismarck, beers that go for up to $200 per 330ml bottle. In the same breath it also explains why beers from breweries like Perth’s own Nail Brewing and Feral Brewing and east coast operators like 4 Pines Brewing and Mountain Goat Brewing are being sold from there too, most for around $20 a 6 pack.

Now some of you may be wondering whether price accurately reflects quality, just because you pay a few bucks more for a beer does that make it a better beer? Well the answer is no, it doesn’t. Aside from the fact that everyone is different and entitled to like whatever beer they want, just as is the case with wine, food, hotels and cars it’s not a case of the best product having the biggest price tag. For fun we put this to the test in our own little lab and dragged in four taste testers to blind taste five Australian Pale Ales.

On the panel – Joe Bloggs, brewer at insert name here brewery in Perth; Jane Doe, restaurant manager at well know, up-market restaurant; Bob McBobson, random blue collar tradie and Sally Smith, food blogger.

The beers – Coopers Pale Ale, Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale, 4 Pines Pale Ale, James Squire 150 Lashes Pale Ale and Matilda Bay Fat Yak.

Grab next weeks edition of the generic newspaper to find out the results from our tasting panel.