oysters + porter

“One can almost imagine the beer as the knife that cracks the oyster open – there seems to be a primal connection between them. The flavour of the oyster is magically magnified and fills the senses”

Garret Oliver, The Brewmaster’s Table

If you were to look through the photos on my phone you would know a couple of things about me – I really like beer, I really like cheese and my dog is very cute. Another thing I really like, but don’t indulge in as much as in used to, is freshly shucked oysters.

Jerry Fraser: King of Oysters
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I get my oyster fix from one man – the King of Oysters, Jerry Fraser. If you know Jerry then I don’t have to say anything more, you already know that he is one of the nicest people on the planet. If you live in Perth and like oysters but have never met Jerry then I’m staring at you with my mouth open in sheer surprise. I have also put links to the left so you can pay Jerry a visit for the best oyster experience of your life.

A great read from last year by The Food Pornographer – When an oyster hater met the King of Oysters

These days Jerry spends much of his time at The Print Hall in Perth’s CBD, right in the heart of Brookfield Plaza, aka where the majority of Perth’s new bars spung up a couple of years ago. Here you will find Jerry at his shucking bar with all you need to indulge your oyster fetish.

2011: Jerry Fraser and I at Five Bar
2011: Jerry Fraser and I at Five Bar

My partner and I visited The Print Hall on Friday night and happily pulled up a bar stool at Jerry’s oyster bar. We had come straight from dinner at Mt Lawley’s Enrique’s School for to Bullfighting, a delicious meal that I was very tempted to follow up with some cheese however my craving for cheese flew out the window the minute I saw Jerry. I had a new craving – oysters and porter.

“One can almost imagine the beer as the knife that cracks the oyster open – there seems to be a primal connection between them. The flavour of the oyster is magically magnified and fills the senses”

Garret Oliver, The Brewmaster’s Table

The Print Hall pour all the Colonial Brewing beers since they are owned by the same folk, this also includes The Raffles in Applecross and East Perth’s The Royal on the Waterfront, so it is always nice to go in and get a pint of one of my favourite Margaret River beers.

The Colonial Porter is stupidly smooth, like Barry White kinda smooth with light roasty flavours that flirt with chocolate and coffee, all held together by a soft malty sweetness.

The smoothness does not stop with the beer, the oysters almost creamy texture is divine and it’s briney, salty nature melds so nicely with roasted flavours.

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“This isn’t some newfangled foodie gimmick,”

Adam McDowell, National Post: Why you should pair oysters with stout this St Patrick’s Day

It is interesting to think that this pairing is actually a very traditional English/Irish combo. Oysters were once in abundance in both England and Ireland and considered the food of the working class, a pretty far cry from today’s associations with luxury and indulgence thanks in part to their now limited supply. Also considered to be for the working class were porter beers which, as the story goes, were so named after their popularity amongst London porters, men employed essentially to carry heavy things from point A to point B. Being the working class in England in the 1700s looks rather appealing if they had oysters and porter on hand 24/7, that is of course ignoring the scarlet fever, typhoid and other nasty diseases that probably killed you at age 20.

Moving away from the traditional stout and porter pairing the beer world is still, if you’ll forgive me, your oyster for matching to oysters. A saison, a gueuze and even a bold IPA are all suggested in this great article from Serious Eats along side some suggestions for those who might like their oysters fried or grilled. Further, I found this oysters and porter article on nytimes.com with a recipe for fried oysters if you feel so inclined.

However, if you’re anything like me the you’ll love the indulgence of ordering a dozen freshly shucked oysters from the best man in the business and sitting at the bar with your only concern being what beer to choose next …

A dozen of Jerry's finest

Weekend Reading #6

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

Serious Eats | Ask a Cicerone: How to Pair Beer and Chocolate

If you asked me about beer pairings with chocolate I would probably default to porters and stouts but like everything to do with beer the picture is a lot bigger. How about lambics, barrel aged, smokey beers and all those big Belgian beers …. Oh man, does anyone else want to have a chocolate/beer tasting session?!

Good Beer Hunting | Uppers and Downers kicks off with Roast

Whilst we are on the topic of darker beers and chocolate/roasty flavours here’s an article from the US about a series of events that has started recently and they are centred around coffee and beer. But this isn’t just another collaboration or stout tasting, they will be looking at the full coffee bean journey. I wish I could attend something like this!

Draft Magazine | TBT: The Future of Berliner Weisses, via 2011

GABS: The Great Australasian Beer Spectapular

It is a style that seems to be gaining popularity lately. The Feral Watermelon Warhead, a Berliner Weisse infused with local fresh watermelon, continues to be a juggernaut of a beer. I must have it every time I see it and at last months GABS festival I had many conversations with people about it, mostly trading information on how much Feral had left at their stand. I had a Berliner Weisse from Cavalier Brewing at the same festival and Boatrocker’s Mitte, which featured at a couple of events during Good Beer Week, totally blew me away. I seem to have gotten a little sidetracked in my excitement but if you like the style, it is a good read.

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Chris Badenoch | A Bit of a Pickle

Pickles have been kinda dominating my world in recent months – first a friend of mine started a pickle club and so I’m attempting pickling at home on a regular basis. I’m starting to get the hang of it but reading this blog post from Chris, of Josie Bones and Boneyard Brewing fame, made me realise it’s a big pickled world out there. Smoking veg first?! Oh be still my beating heart!

“The tart bite of a pickle is amazing with beer”

All About Beer | Beer Growlers: Beyond the Basics

I have multiple beer growlers in the house, all local of course, and the urge to buy new ones when I see them is virtually irresistible. This was a really interesting read given the fairly standard three or four growler styles most Australian breweries seem to have, at least from my limited observations. How far can/should the design go, is it really necessary for beer to be able to keep in a growler for more than a week? I don’t think I’ve been able to hold off on opening a growler more than a couple of days! Anyway, like I said, interesting. Oh and I like the look of the Sierra Nevada growler at the end. I would totally buy that if it was here.

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girl + pickled onions

I like pickles. I like beer. Now I can bring them together!

I really like pickled onions. Actually I like pretty much anything pickled. If there’s are a jar of pickled onions in the fridge I will randomly snack on them like they are bowl of chips in the middle of the table.

Pickle Club – make pickles, bring everyone together, trade pickles, laugh and eat. Repeat. Highly recommended with beer and wine. Set one up with your friends!

Naturally it was only inevitable before I tried pickling onions. Being the proud member of a little pickle club here in Perth also encourages me to play with pickles.

Wait, that sounded wrong. Let’s move on.

So I tried this recipe for Stout Pickled Onions that I found at a fun food blog called One Tomato, Two Tomato and followed almost all the directions, I excluded juniper berries because I didn’t have any. I only made one little jar and gave it away at pickle club so I never tasted it but apparently it was quite good.

My second attempt had a few more changes – apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar and I threw in some fennel seeds too, it seemed like a good idea. The fennel came out stronger than I had thought given the smaller amount compared to the other spices but it didn’t dominate the flavours. I used Coopers Best Extra Stout as the beer in the recipe because:
a) it is seriously tasty – black coffee and chocolate, with a silky mouth feel and just a little bit feisty,
b) easily found in most bottle shops, and
c) I can buy a big bottle and have plenty left over to keep me company as I pickle.

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This recipe was enough for a 700g jar –
8 small brown pickling onions
330ml Coopers Best Extra Stout
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt, sugar, black mustard seeds, coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds

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Slice the ends off the onions and peel skin off. Put beer and cider into saucepan and bring to boil. Stir in sugar and salt until it dissolves. Remove from heat, add onions and all your spices. Stir occasionally until onions start to feel a little softer.

Remove onions and place in jar, pour liquid over the top to cover. I had a little leftover liquid so I made sure to strain all the spices and pack those into the jar as a priority! Screw lid on tight, leave to cool before putting in fridge. These were good to go after about 3 days.

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Please note I don’t have a lot of pickling experience so I haven’t mentioned anything about sterilising jars or how long these will keep. I don’t think these will last long in my house anyway cause I’ll eat them all in two weeks so I figure I’m safe.

Next time I think I’ll throw in some fresh Thai chillies …

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girl + Profs and Pints

If you have ever thought “I just wish science and beer would come together under one roof!” then Profs and Pints is going to make you wet your pants a little.

Certain words catch my attention and I’m not just talking about the rude ones, any word relating to beer will draw me in like a drunk person walking by a 24hr McDonalds. So whilst randomly looking at the Scitech website recently I was compelled to click on the words “Profs and Pints”.

Velvet Lounge – back room at The Flying Scotsman
639 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
The Flying Scotsman on Facebook

If you have ever thought “I just wish science and beer would come together under one roof!” then Profs and Pints is going to make you wet your pants a little. Profs and Pints puts Perth’s brightest scientists/knowledgeable folk on stage for a Q&A on an predetermined topic and it is all presented in one of the best pubs in town, The Flying Scotsman. Happy Days!

Profs and Pints getting ready for kick off

Profs and Pints has just three events left in the series happening over June and July at The Velvet Lounge, the back room at The Flying Scotsman.

What is even better is the fact these events are free. Yep, I said free. Keep your credit card in your wallet, well at least until you get thirsty and decide that you want a beer, you’ll need to pay for that. The Flying Scotsman, aka The Scotto, sometimes gets forgotten when talking about where to get good craft beer in Perth. These guys are long-term Little Creatures, Coopers, Feral Brewing, Gage Roads supporters so you’re bound to find something you like.

The first Profs and Pints was last week and the night was entitled “Ground Control to Mars: Should we put a human on Mars?” and after my initial reaction of “Just one? That seems mean” I settled in to a very entertaining and interesting night. The “profs” were Josh and Korum, both are Mars One astronaut candidates in a selection process that has currently been reduced from 2000 to 700 applicants.

“Mars One will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Crews of four will depart every two years, starting in 2024. Our first unmanned mission will be launched in 2018.”

Mars One website

My chosen “pint” for the night, as I was driving so only had one, was Feral B.F.H – Barrel Fermented Hog, a barrel version of their famous Hop Hog American style pale ale. A big whack of vanilla and woody characters not only dominated what was left of the hog but dominated my palate too!

It was a really great night. I don’t consider myself to be particularly sciencey and let’s face it, the fact I’ve just written “sciencey” is evidence in itself, but I found myself not only enjoying the beers and banter but thinking about the idea of sending people to Mars, something I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention to otherwise.

Follow Josh on Twitter here
Follow Korum on Twitter here

Highlights of the discussion included:

Sex – it was an inevitable question from a bunch of adults in a pub which Josh and Korum answered in both a joking man-love kinda way and a serious pregnancy-would-be-a-disaster way. In short, I don’t think there will be any walks of shame on Mars.

Survival expectancy – Josh was quick to answer with “Four to seven minutes” at which we all laughed but this could be what happens or not. Who knows.

Australia’s lack of a space agency – It seems we are the only one in the top 20 GDP nations (gross domestic product) who do not have a space agency. Given that we don’t have a science minister this may be unsurprising now but something Josh and Korum would very much like to change. Korum’s comment that one weeks worth of the US military budget would pay for the entire Mars One project was interesting. (I hope I quoted that correctly!)

The selection process – From over 2,000 applicants there are now 700, including Josh and Korum. A very interesting thing from this discussion was the possibility of a reality TV show during the later stages of the process which Josh was quick to defend, remarking that a realty TV show is in essence a documentary. Would you feel differently if it was called a reality TV or a documentary?
L-R : Host Tom with Josh and Korum

During the session Josh mentioned he also visits schools to talk to students about Mars One. After the event I chatted with Josh and asked how different the questions from kids were. He laughed saying kid are “brutal” but not in a bad way, he enjoys the kids session because they have no filter, no social fear of asking certain questions. Examples he gave included “what happens if someone dies?” and “if someone dies what do you do with the body? Do you eat it?” Ah kids, cute as buttons hey?

Profs and Pints is great way to spend a Tuesday night that won’t cost you much, where the beer is good and the chat is awesome!

The next Profs and Pints happens Tuesday 1 July, kicking off at 6pm – “It’s the end of the world as we know it: What will Perth 2050 look like?” Find out about this and the remaining series here.

Weekend Reading #5

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

An unusually busy week resulted in a lot less writing than I’d normally do but I still caught some good reading which I hope you like!

Paste Magazine | The World’s Next Great Beer Town? Paris, France
Pop culture website covering everything from gaming, food and drink, tech and entertainment

I read somewhere that “beer is to Belgium what wine is to France,” but judging from this article some French palates are craving a more frothy beverage. Romantic as hell, beautiful countryside and great cheese and now great beers too?! Oh my, Paris you are looking damn fine.

Serious Eats | Cheese 101: The Stinky World of Washed Rind Cheese
Food blogs and tasty stuff

Almost any article with “cheese” in the headline gets my full and complete attention like a kitten chasing a laser pointer. I’m a cheese-hopeless, if that’s a thing. Throw in the word “stinky” and I’m even more signed on. This is a great read that covers off an overview of what washed rind actually means, how they are made and the all important examples with droll inducing descriptions. My favourite description from the article is definitely this one:

Though it stinks up their air with shockingly rude odors, the flavor is deliciously meaty.

lingot d’argental
lingot d’argental

Serious Eats | Your Guide to Father’s Day Drinking

More from the Serious Eats page. It was father’s day in America recently so the usual articles appeared but I liked this one for the tasty food and drink recommendations that are normally not so enticing in a fluffy insert-celebratory-day-here piece.

Australian Brews News | On the Definition of Craft Beer
One of the best sources of information on beer in Australia

This topic isn’t very new, it is a debate that has kicked around for a bit. Personally I don’t really see the need for everyone to agree on a definition but when you consider how often the term is used it is unsurprisingly people want to define it in specific terms. How you would do this I have no idea. This article does not attempt to put a definition out there but does give us two very different examples which is an interesting talking point in itself. Well, interesting cause I’m a massive dork, hopefully you all are too!

Crafty Pint | A Spooning Spectacular
The other awesome Australian craft beer source of what’s happening

It’s collaboration fever, last month’s Good Beer Week attracted lots of international brewers to our sunny country so it’s only inevitable that some ended up brewing whilst they were here. The Fingerlime Saison sounds divine!

Beer of Tomorrow | There is only one thing you need to turn your wife or girlfriend into a Craft beer lover and you won’t believe how simple it is
Craft beer website from LA

I saw this title and almost didn’t click on it because I didn’t want to subject myself to another hideous “how to make women like beer” article. I just get mad and then feel compelled to open a stupid percent barley wine just to spite them. Anyway, I got a pleasant surprise when I read it. The last dot point is my favourite.

 

Cowboys + Saisons

Saturday night at home with my partner cooking a beautiful big steak and I opened two beers we had never tried before

A few years ago if someone had told me I’d be drinking a Saison brewed in Kalgoorlie I think I might have laughed at them. Granted I’ve never been to Kalgoorlie but a few years ago it would have seemed to me as an unexpected source of some great craft beer. However here I am with an empty bottle of Kalgoorlie’s own Beaten Track Brewery’s Saison on my table.

Beside this bottle is another, also empty, from American brewer Evil Twin called The Cowboy. It’s a smoked pilsner with one of the funniest blurbs I have read on a beer bottle.

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This label speaks to all my silliness and child-like simplicity whilst containing a tasty beer that definitely speaks to the adult in me.

Together these were my two beers that I presented to accompany dinner on Saturday night.

My partner cooked a big, thick steak, sous vide style using an esky and a thermometer. Yeah, that’s right, you can stick your fancy sous vide machine cause an esky, a kettle and thermometer will do the job just nicely; a quick sear on the BBQ and your got yourself a bloody good piece of meat! For sides he did potato and parsley rösti and a salad of rocket, parmesan, sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts.
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Beaten Track Saison
This beer is part of their Brewmaster’s Small Batch series of which there appears to be quite a few. I spotted these at Mane Liquor where Jackson, one of the staff, recommended the Saison as a highlight of the range.

This Saison is complicated in a totally lovely way, in a way that challenges you to peel away each layer and figure out what’s happening. It is very herbal and has a big whack of spices, all continually evolving as it warms. I sat on this beer for a while and at varying stages got flavours like under ripe apricots or apricot seed, banana and cooked lemon.
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Evil Twin The Cowboy

Evil Twin The Cowboy on Ratebeer

This is the first smoked pilsner I have ever had and for some reason I wasn’t expecting a huge dose of smoke, perhaps because as a generalisation I tend to expect softer flavours from pilsners compared to ales. Anyway, I was wrong. There is an unmistakable smokiness to this beer, the campfire variety that makes you want to pack up your tent and get away from it all. It does well to support a sweet meaty flavour, a hint of fruit and citrus which, I’ll admit might sound a little odd, but the flavours are a winning combination.

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But which went better with steak???
I’d have to give the preference to The Cowboy though it was perhaps a bit too big for the steak. Maybe a roasted dish would have been a better fit.

One thing I did conclude from the dinner, aside from my partner being a wicked home-sous vide cook, is that pine nuts and saisons should get married. There is something about the pine nuts sweeter, more oily nature that goes really well with saison, I don’t know why but I am not going to argue!

Both beers also added something of their own to the potato rösti which also had garlic and Italian parsley through it. Again The Cowboy probably dominated but it was interesting to taste the smokiness as you got into the rösti. Meanwhile the herbal and hint of grassiness in the Saison was a great harmony with the mix of spud and parsley.

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Weekend Reading #4

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

New York Times | Strange Brews: The Genes of Craft Beer
I think we all know of the New York Times so I won’t even attempt a clever sounding one-liner summary here

This article is freakin’ brilliant. I couldn’t help but read it again straight after I finished it the first time. I bang on about hop varieties, dry hopping, Australian hops; malt, roasted malt, chocolate and smoked malts but I often overlook yeast. This is most probably because of the three magical beer ingredients yeast is the one I know the least about, which is strange since it seems to be the most magical beer ingredient of them all! This article goes into research currently underway to understanding what makes up each strain of yeast and then imagine what possibilities would lie ahead ….

Draft Magazine | Easy Backyard Beer Dinner
American craft beer website, a bookmarked favourite of mine

This article had me when I spotted the words “dubbel butter”. I love how approachable these recipes are for someone like me who happily dabbles (or maybe now dubbels?!) in cooking with beer and marrying flavours.

The Beeroness | Sriracha Beer Butter Grilled Corn
Jackie Dodd indulges us with another stupidly lovely sounding delight

El Publico | 511 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley | Facebook

I love corn. I don’t know why, I just love it. From the simple act of opening one of those tiny tins and putting corn into two-minute noodles to El Publico’s Street Corn, it’s one of my favourite foods. I’ll be trying this recipe out very, very soon.

Craft Beer | Cellaring Craft Beer: To Age or Not To Age?
My other favourite American craft beer site

I think the title gives away what this article is all about. The appeal for me was the views of brewers and what their intention for a beer is and also the way flavours may develop as a beer ages. One of my beer shopping habits is to check the mark downs, if a store has them, for beers that are past their “best before” date. If they are boozy and not hop driven I grab those suckers with both hands!

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Beers aging in Chardonnay barrels at Boatrocker Brewery, Victoria

Scoop Business | Yeastie Boys to Release Innovative spoonbender “wine beers”
New Zealand business website

A press release from the Yeastie Boys themselves on an upcoming collaboration of the not-so-straight-forward variety. I very much liked the story behind ” spoonbender” as a name.