5 Minutes with Wendy from Me & Mabel

5 minutes with … a five minute/five question interview with great beer loving people

This edition of 5 minutes with features Wendy Marinich, founder of Me & Mabel

5 minutes with … a 5 minute/5 question interview with great beer loving people

This edition of 5 minutes with features Wendy Marinich, founder of Me & Mabel …

Me & Mabel, named after her daughter, is a picnic basket catering business with passion and food from scratch at its core. Wendy is a self confessed “obsessive foodie” who caters for corporate events, weddings and anything in between. Me & Mabel features regularly on the beer event calendar with past collaborators including Last Drop Brewing, Cellarbrations Carlisle/Grain Cru and Feral Brewing.

To meet Wendy is to meet someone with a huge amount of talent and passion with one of the most contagiously delightful smiles I’ve had the privilege to laugh with.

If you like beer and food, if you like events that are a little different and if you like supporting local business then be sure to follow Me & Mabel on Facebook and catch Wendy’s next event …

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What was your epiphany beer?

I’m going take this way back 13 years ago when I had my first Hoegaarden in the UK. This got me into Belgian beers and I haven’t looked back (though few Belgian’s get consumed now, they have been replaced by American and local craft beers).

How would you describe your relationship to beer?

It’s a love, I like to think mutual 😉 I am always amazed by beer and the flavour you can get from some relatively simple ingredients. It’s so great when your love can still surprise you.

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What has been the most memorable beer and food match you’ve served up and why did it stand out?

I’m torn on this one between a very well thought out match and a spur of the moment…

The first Beer & Baskets I hosted at Last Drop for 2013 WA Beer Week I match my plate of pork terrine, pork rillettes and orange fennel salad with Boneyard Grapefruit IPA. This match combined my favourite beer with my favourite small producers pork Spencer’s Brook Farm.

The other match is Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta Tea Leaf, this beer has a distinct earl grey flavour, and is another fave. I made my go to dish of ceviche, using the lime juice to extract flavour from loose leaf earl grey tea before curing the fish and adding some rockmelon along with the usual suspects for a little sweet surprise. I think I could eat/ drink this combo for ever.

What is coming up for me & mabel?

I’m in the process of leading Me & Mabel into a more beer focused direction. We will have some great little events and collabs in the near future. This years WA Beer Week shall be very fun!

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Finish the sentence: The WA beer scene needs more …

The WA beer scene needs more collaboration, commitment and can do. I’d love to see beer events expand on the clientèle and I think with these three things it will be definitely possible. We have such awesome industry talent in Perth, I can’t wait to watch the appreciation grow.

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All photos from Me & Mabel’s Beer & Baskets II event at Feral Brewing in February 2014

 

Weekend Reading #11

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.

Business Insider | Craft Beer Consumption in Australia has Passed a Big Milestone

It is always nice to read about craft beer consumption rising, to feel like the old perception of overweight Australian dads drinking VB is fading away and here is another article telling us pretty much exactly that.

“The consumption of import beer also continued to climb from 14% to 17.3% of the population.”

What is also interesting is the increased consumption in imported beers. So basically if you’re craft or if you’re foreign then the market is being pretty good to you. If you’re hoovering somewhere on the outskirts of these categories, domestic premium or domestic mainstream or whatever other terminology pops up, then perhaps you’re scratching your head and wondering why beer consumption overall is dropping.

The increase in imported beer drinking is interesting and I wonder how much parallel/grey imports influences this. If you can get what looks like a fancy pants European lager cheaper than you can a local mainstream like Boag’s or Crown then its not surprising Crown ends up being the bridesmaid and never the bride.

Serious Eats | Sunday Supper: Grilled Bratwurst, Beer and Cheddar Soup

Perth’s brief cold snap and our freezing house as made me think about soup a lot recently and then I found this recipe. I haven’t made it yet because I’m concerned I’ll only make this soup and never anything else.

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my homemade pumpkin soup

Serious Eats | 12 Beer Producing Countries to Watch Right Now

I’ll save you the anxiety in wondering and tell you that Australia doesn’t appear on this list sadly. However our Kiwi neighbours are on there so just like we did with Russell Crowe I think we can claim this one as ours too.

“Kiwi beer culture is on the cutting edge”

It is a list that is hard to argue and includes Denmark, Canada and Italy and it wasn’t until I reached the New Zealand part of the article that I was reminded just how lucky we are to have access to so many great NZ beers.

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one of my favourite New Zealand beers

News.com.au | Best Craft Beers in the World Revealed by Evan Porter, craft beer guru and former pro golfer

Anyone who likes long headlines, beer, golf and lists would have fallen for the clickbait title of this article just like I did, though I don’t actually like golf. I am mildly disappointed the headline didn’t take advantage of Evan’s surname – Porter. “Beer by name, beer by reputation” perhaps? I just think someone missed an amazing opportunity.

The Wall Street Journal | Craft Breweries Scale Up but Keep it Real

You’re cool, you’re indie, you’re craft, you’re cult and then you get bigger and bigger and then you’re mainstream.

It’s a funny old world of perception out there. This article uses Sierra Nevada to paint the picture of the little brewery who had to convince drinkers to try their beers to what is now a multimillion dollar brewery investment.

“Now, instead of convincing the public that good beer can come in tiny batches, the challenge is proving that it can be produced in quantity without losing its soul.”

Interview: Charlie, head brewer at Mash Brewing

Thank you Charlie, it was great to chat with you and I loved reading your interview answers, I’m sure others will too so without any more rambling from me, here we go!

You can follow AIBA on Twitter

I recently wrote an article for Crafty Pint about Mash Brewing’s win at the recent AIBA (Australian International Beer Awards), as always James, the man behind Crafty, put a far better title on it that I could manage – “Copy That“. Damn that man is good.

Mash website for everything Mashy

Another good man is Charlie, the head brewer at Mash. Not only is he a good man because he makes tasty beer but because he was good enough to give me his time so I could write the article.

Charlie with the AIBA trophies at Mash's tap takeover at Five
Charlie with the AIBA trophies at Mash’s tap takeover at Five

Thank you Charlie, it was great to chat with you and I loved reading your interview answers, I’m sure others will too so without any more rambling from me, here we go!

How did you become a Brewer?

I started home brewing in the late 90’s with can kits and got more and more interested in “doing my own thing” (having more input) with the beers I was making! I moved onto partial grain and then moved into full grain once I had scraped together enough gear to get the job done! While all this was happening I started work at Houghton Wines in the Swan Valley as a Cellar Hand (2000) and was there for  six years. I learnt all my cellar trade there; line and pump selection, tank sanitation, lots of oak work and learnt a few different types of filtration. I studied for and passed my General Certificate in Brewing and Packaging in 2005 and was lucky enough to get a position at Gage Roads Brewing Co in 2006 as an Assistant Brewer.

How long have you been brewing at Mash?

I have been the Head Brewer here for two and a half years.

What was it about Mash that appealed to you?

It was/is the dream job really. Brad (Business Owner) has been awesome with me and pretty much lets me do my thing.

“I love designing and refining beers and get a huge amount of job satisfaction out of what I do here!”

Mash has been brewing great beers for a long time now, Dan Turley did a fantastic job here as the original Head Brewer and the opportunity to help build on that was also very appealing

Who else is in your Brewing team? How did they come to work with you?

I have two guys that work with me here. Eddie Still is our Brewer and takes care of most things in the brewery from a production point of view (and is very good at it!!) We worked together briefly at GRB before I left.

Evan Lamb is our Cellar Hand/Delivery man. Evan was in the right spot at the right time when he came in to look for Brewing work and is very important to what we do. Evan has done a fantastic job for us and we have just promoted him to an Assistant Brewers role.

How would you describe Mash and your beers to someone who’s never heard of Mash?

Mash Swan Valley: 10250 West Swan Road, Henley Brook

Mash Bunbury: 2/11 Bonnefoi Blvd, Bunbury

Mash Rockingham: Syren Street, Rockingham Shopping Centre

We are fairly traditional brewers with a subtle twist! There are so many fantastic beer styles that have stood the test of time and been around for centuries! We love to throw in old school raw materials like Peat and Rauch and always have something with Rye in it. We are also enjoying having a play with a little bit of oak during ferment in our “Grasscutter”. Our beers are generally extremely well balanced and we work very hard to find and add elements of complexity that you may or may discover in the product!

We are a nice open and friendly Brew Pub in the Swan Valley. We also have a venue in Rockingham (one hour south of Perth) and another in Bunbury a couple of hours south of Perth. All of the venues have their own feel and vibe, well worth having a look at all of them.

Pretty good views from Mash Bunbury
Pretty good views from Mash Bunbury

What changes did you make when you joined Mash and why?

Most of the changes I made were production focused initially while I got a feel for the beers being brewed. The boys were doing a great job but just needed some direction and a bit of fine tuning. I could then turn my hand to looking at the beers we were making and also giving them some focus and putting my own spin on them.

How would you describe your approach to brewing?

I like to brew by feel (taste). I’m not the greatest technical brewer around but have a very solid understanding of brewery hygiene and sanitation, process control, hitting targets and batch to batch consistency. I love to taste and refine when necessary, most of our beers evolve slowly over time! Where as some don’t get touched at all from a design/recipe point of view.

Do you have a favourite style of beer to brew and why?

I do like to lean towards English style beers but these days unless a beer is loaded with hops or bitterness it can be hard to sell. We need to be mindful of what the public and more importantly the craft beer drinkers want to drink which is why we felt we needed to take on the challenge of brewing a big AIPA (Copy Cat) and what a result that was! I do like to indulge myself a fair bit though and have a nice little Rye Porter in the system at the moment.

What trends do you see emerging in the Craft Beer Scene and do they have an impact on what you brew?

The craft beer scene is certainly on the move and getting busier and busier. The range of beers beers available and “styles” can be quite daunting and/or exciting depending on you being new to the craft beer scene or lining up to taste the next crazy sub style being released. It does have an impact on what we brew but I am pretty firm on us doing our own thing, sticking to brewing what we love and know best.

A few of the taps at Mash Bunbury (please note this photo is from 2012)
A few of the taps at Mash Bunbury (please note this photo is from 2012)

Did you have any expectations heading into AIBA?

We try not to have any, but each year we make sure we have fresh tanks of the styles we will be sending ready to keg as late as possible before they get shipped. We are always very excited about the beers we put forward for judging.
We knew the Copy Cat was special but that doesn’t always count for much come judging day. This year was very special for us and the brand and we hope to build on that.

What was your reaction on hearing Copy Cat had been awarded Champion Australian Beer?

Still hard to explain! A massive amount of pride in myself and our brewing team!

How did the Copy Cat come about?

To put it simply if you can’t beat them, join them! Such a fashionable style, it was hard to ignore! I wanted to stay the course and do our own thing (continue to build on the support for our English IPA), many breweries have several IPA’s of varying styles in their line up these days. There are some other pretty special styles out there to brew.

We thought we would play Copy Cat with the style and essentially turn our Pale into something big and brash and go to town with some of our favourite hops!

Mash Pale Ale
Mash Pale Ale

What does winning Champion Australian Beer mean to you and Mash?

It’s huge for myself and the brand! For me again, a huge amount of pride in a recipe I designed (my first ever AIPA!) and also very proud of Eddie and Evan for getting it through the system in fantastic shape.
For the brand its super important to get not only the Copy Cat into the hands of the public now but our other products as well.

“Mash in my opinion is and has been a bit of a sleeper in the craft beer drinkers opinions”

Hopefully this will earn us some cred and we can show off what we can and have been doing week in and week out since the Brewery opened in 2006.

Do you consider judging style guidelines when you create a new recipe? If not what guides you in creating a new beer?

Yes and no. We certainly do for beers that fit into guidelines. We look at them and have also started trying to judge them impartially against those guidelines to see how they stack up and make changes if needed.

Some beers, especially these days are hard to fit in for many reasons. Then they go into the speciality class and that class was huge this year!

“I love playing with raw materials and some things just sound like they should go together!”

A little 4% Rye Porter is in tank now, a classic subtle new age spin on a beer style that originated a couple of hundred years ago without going nuts on it (big alcohol, crazy grists etc)!

Rye the Hop Not - English ESB which was delicious but sadly no longer brewed
2012: Playing with rye gave us Mash’s Rye the Hop Not, an English ESB

What is next for Mash? Any future plans for Copy Cat?

As mentioned earlier, we need to make hay (beer) while the sun shines and while our name and brand is in the spotlight show the public how good and consistent all of our beers are. Copy Cat will be in bottle by mid July*

*being the clever reader that you are this is where you realise I did this interview some weeks ago but didn’t get around to turning my article into Crafty until this week

If someone was to visit Mash for the first time, what would you recommend them to eat and drink?

I’d like to say a Charlie burger (steakless steak sandwich) and a GrassCutter but that’s not on the menu. Russell, our Amber Ale with the pie and chips is a winner!

 

 

girl + sou’west smackdown

It was Colonial Brewing going head-to-head with local beer brothers-from-another-mother Eagle Bay Brewing but were we going to witness a friendly play fight or an all out brawl? That was the question I was asking myself as I walked into The Freo Doctor liquor store for the Sou’West Smack down last Wednesday.

The Freo Doctor – 27 Arundel Street, Fremantle – Facebook

The event was held in the cellar of The Freo Doctor where the dim lighting, wooden barrels and long wood tables are a cosy boozy delight. The food was matched by Mitch from Beersine and served with a beer from each brewery. Happy days!

Mitch (Beersine), Margi and Edge (Eagle Bay)
Mitch (Beersine), Margi and Edge (Eagle Bay)

In terms of fighting fair I think Eagle Bay may have missed the memo, bringing along not just their brewer, Nick d’Espeissis but also his partner, his brother and Eagle Bay’s marketing manager, Margi. Over in the Colonial corner was head brewer Justin Fox standing on his lonesome, all by himself but he seemed in very good spirits …

Head Brewer at Colonial - Justin Fox
Head Brewer at Colonial – Justin Fox

The night kicked off with a straight Kolsch versus Kolsch, Colonial’s more traditional brew versus Eagle Bay’s perhaps more modern interpretation with the addition of some New Zealand hops.

“Kolsch is the everyman’s beer”

Justin Fox, Colonial Brewing

I think Justin put it well when he described Kolsch as being the beer that craft beer nerds reach for when they don’t want to think too hard about what they are drinking. This is definitely not to be confused with the idea of not caring what you are drinking. It is a super refreshing style that you can sit back, chat with mates and enjoy a few but at the same time you can pair it with a sharp chevre goat’s milk cheese and it blows you away.

“Stylistically Speaking – Kolsch”, a great article at All About Beer Magazine if you wanted to know the history of the style and who is brewing the real stuff

Kolsch is a beer style protected by an appellation controllée, that same fancy law that says you can’t call a champagne a champagne unless it’s from, you guessed it, champagne so a kolsch needs to be brewed in Köln (Cologne, Germany) to be a real, true blue kolsch. According to Justin some German brewers take this definition even further by saying you need to be able to see the dome of the iconic Cologne Cathedral. So you might be wondering how Colonial call theirs a kolsch, Justin answered this with a cheeky grin – “well, we have a picture of it [the cathedral] at the brewhouse,”

“Oh and ours doesn’t have the two dots over the o,” he says referring to the difference between a kolsch and a kölsch.

“Don’t tell the Germans!”

Justin Fox, Colonial Brewing

Our Kolsch beer were matched by Beersine to local beef, rye bread from Abhi’s Bread and horseradish cream and it was beautiful, for a beer that could be easily overpowered the dish was full of flavour yet simple and went nicely with the bready, slightly tropical fruit flavours of kolsch.

food by beersine: beef, rye bread and horseradish cream
food by beersine: beef, rye bread and horseradish cream

GABS: The Great Australasian Beer Spectapular

Next up we had Colonial’s Gary Le Bron Musk Saison, this years GABS entry that used a very unsubtle amount of musk lollies in the brew.

“We really just had a lot of fun. We put musk everywhere, we had musk hats, shit got real”

Justin Fox, Colonial Brewing

Against the musk saison was Eagle Bay’s Pale Ale, an American style beer that was so fresh it was only bottled the day before the event.

“The three P’s: Pale ale, pork and pineapple, they work every time”

Mitch, Beersine

Beersine served up braised pork, spicy rice and pineapple confident that the “three P’s” as he referred to them – pork, pale ale and pineapple, would always work in beautiful harmony together. He was right.

food by beersine: braised pork, pineapple and spicy rice
food by beersine: braised pork, pineapple and spicy rice

The most unexpected match was the dish with Gary Le Bron the musk saison. The pineapple and the musk just hung out together, being really good mates. The sweetness between the two were complimentary but with enough acidic contrast to not become an overbearingly one dimensional sweet pairing. Plus the dishes spices were great with the background herbal saison that was still lingering under the musk.

“I thought that Gary would take a little better in your mouth”

Mitch, Beersine explains his thinking behind the musk saison pairing

Then came the battle of the black IPAs – Eagle Bay’s Black IPA, their brewers series limited release, and Colonial’s French Black IPA.

L: Eagle Bay Black IPA R: Colonial French Black IPA
L: Eagle Bay Black IPA
R: Colonial French Black IPA

‘A French Black IPA?’ I hear you say. Yup, within a style like IPA where there seems to be no rules or boundaries, Colonial wanted to do something different whilst breaking away from the American IPAs that are dominating the market. The result is this more grassy and spicy IPA as opposed to buckets of tropical fruits and citrus.

“There is so much to do with IPA, the IPA label really can be anything”

Justin Fox, Colonial Brewing

As in keeping with the night, Justin dobbed in one of the Eagle Bay entourage to talk about their beer, his way of taking the edge off their potential power in numbers (not that there was any score keeping going on). Justin nominated Margi, Eagle Bay’s fabulous marketing manager.

“It’s one of my absolute favourite beers of ours” Margi said after hesitating a bit at the prospect of speaking without any preparation, “I can’t dazzle you with the hops and the malt cause I don’t know but I know that it’s delicious” Margi’s enthusiasm was contagious and wonderful.

Gorgonzola: Italian blue cheese made from cow’s milk, punchy and delicious

Beersine paired these beers with a Gorgonzola and poached pear tart. “It will probably work well with Colonial because I’ve not tried it before,” Mitch had joked since it was his first time trying the French black IPA too along with the rest of us.

food by beersine: Poached pear and gorgonzola tart
food by beersine: Poached pear and gorgonzola tart

The last round was my favourite, Colonial served up their Truffle Tripel – a beer brewed in a single small batch for the Truffle Kerfuffle with truffles donated by The Wine & Truffle Company.

Eagle Bay has been making their Cacao Stout every winter starting in 2012, you can read about their first batch here and last year’s here.

Eagle Bay poured their winter favourite, a limited release Cacao Stout brewed using cacao husks from Bahen & Co, a bean to bar chocolate maker in Margaret River. Brewed each year since 2012 with each year a little different depending on the type of husks used. This year sees a mix of three cacao husks – Brazilian, Papua New Guinea and Madagascar. Eagle Bay had bought along boxes of each type of husk and the Papua New Guinea was my stand out favourite with it’s divine big red berry fruit aromas. Indecently good.

Beersine served up a Bahen & Co Chocolate mousse with hazelnuts that didn’t just melt in your mouth, the mousse laid itself out on your tongue and then just cuddled it. The mousse and Eagle Bay’s Cacao Stout wanted to be together, they wanted to be best friends. The way the hazelnuts lingered after all the chocolate had begun to fade was gorgeous.

As a contrast, the mousse was great with the Truffle Tripel – the rich fruity chocolate stood up against the earthy truffle with it’s spice and banana and it worked very well in a way I wouldn’t have expected from an earthy/chocolate match.

food by beersine: Bahen & Co Chocolate Mousse with hazelnuts
food by beersine: Bahen & Co Chocolate Mousse with hazelnuts

Thank you to Eagle Bay Brewing for inviting me to be a guest at this event.

Weekend Reading #10

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.

Draft Magazine | Beyond the pale

Quick and punchy article our lighter and brighter beers of the world, in short – not all fizzy yellow beer is crap.

Boneyard Brewing | Too hot to handle

Chili in beer is a funny little beast and not often one I’ve had and enjoyed. This one sounds like it solved the problem of “how hot is too hot?” by just disregarding this thought altogether.

Brewed Crude & Bitter | Wow You’re So Cool For Not Liking That Thing That People Do

Did you enjoy the beer? Yes. Then that’s good. Did you detect the use of French hops dipped in fairy dust collected from the hooves of unicorns? Good for you but it isn’t a prerequisite for if you enjoyed the beer or not. The intricacies of a beer can be really interesting, at least to some, but at the end of the day if you liked the beer then that’s kinda all that matters. Often I’ve heard people talk about a beer who were almost apologetic for not rambling off a poetic beer review with seven adjectives for it’s hop aroma. Who’s cares? You liked it, that’s the key element here.

We had friends over for dinner last night and we enjoyed many beers. I didn’t check them into Untappd and I didn’t take notes, we just drank them. I liked them, a couple were new beers I’d never had before, we chatted about the beers briefly before the conversation naturally moved on to the business of free d catching up.

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Rogue Beard Beer - a conversation piece for sure and an unexpectedly pleasant beer.

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Nail Imperial Hugh Dunn Brown Ale - I've been waiting for a few people to be around to crack into this one, it just feels best shared. Predominant chocolate and silky smooth and I'll always remember sharing it with great people

WNY Craft Beer | Crowd funding Stone Brewing Company

The whole crowd funding idea is genuinely interesting and if people will give money to that potato salad dude then this is as good a reason as any especially when it allows Stone to expand and grow on their own terms and not those of a partner required to bring in the coin.

Weekend Reading #9

This weeks edition of Weekend Reading is a little delayed for no reason other than forgetfulness – forgetting to post that is, not forgetting to read. So, under the ever faithful guise of “better late than never” here is this week’s reading material for you.

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.

This weeks edition of Weekend Reading is a little delayed for no reason other than forgetfulness – forgetting to post that is, not forgetting to read. So, under the ever faithful guise of “better late than never” here is this week’s reading material for you.

Philly.com | Over-hyped and over-hopped, craft brewing needs some fresh strategies

I found this article link on beer blog Beer is Your Friend. Us funny little beer geeks get so caught up in the latest brew with the craziest additions with arguably so much boundary pushing that we potentially push away other beer drinkers. I’m not saying these beers are bad or shouldn’t be around, I’m always on board for a little crazy, but shouldn’t we be getting just as excited about a smooth and well balanced porter as we do about a juniper berry infused scotch ale aged on ex-shiraz barrel wood chips?

The idea of craft breweries doing mass marketing advertising was really interesting to me. In a world of Untappd badges and #instabeer hashtaging where does an ad on the telly fit in?

Since craft breweries are operated almost exclusively by white males, this marketing approach helps explain why the vast majority of craft beer’s audience is white and male.

If craft beer is to reach its stated goal of 20-percent market share, it needs to connect with women and minorities. It needs to cast a wider net, and the most efficient way to do that is paid, mass-media advertising.

Now I’ll admit that I have loved some of the advertising for Carlton Draught, their Big Ad was fantastic, I think I even chose it to study for a university assignment. But it doesn’t make me want to have a pint of the stuff however the fact I still remember the ad and know the brand must say something for the campaign. I think Coopers is the one craft beer, and no I don’t care to argue the definition of craft, I see continuously advertising in the mass media area – bus shelters, billboards, magazines. Maybe it’s time for other craft brewers to get on board, even as a collective or handful, to recruit more to our wonderful world.

Coopers Best Extra Stout I've been seeing these at bus stops recently
Coopers Best Extra Stout
I’ve been seeing these a lot at bus stops recently
Canadian Club "over beer" campaign
Canadian Club “over beer” campaign Image from adnews.com.au
Coopers sends their reply to Canadian Club
Coopers sends their reply to Canadian Club
You can check out the full story here at the adnews website

Boston Globe | Monks in Spencer launch brewery

When the next Mane Liquor Beer Quiz night is held and the question is asked, “How many Trappist breweries exist?” you will be glad you read this article. This year the Spencer Brewery in the United States was added as one of the very few authentic Trappist breweries in the world and the only one on the US, most are in Belgium.

Money.com | 5 beer trends you’ll be seeing this summer

GABS: The Great Australasian Beer Spectapular

People are always saying that the Australian craft beer scene follows the United States but (insert subjective number here) years later. Whether this article gives a look into what we can expect soon I don’t know. Judging from this years GABS festival the sour beer love affair has already started but as to whether we would see a craft beer hotel or Trappist brewery here in Oz, well who knows?!

Marketing Magazine | Blogs: Small brands, big impact: why craft beer is top of the hops

This article is a little dated now, published just over a year ago, but even so it is still an interesting read. I think the “big boys”, aka Lion Nathan and CUB, very much understand the importance of connecting the brand with a story, a history that consumers can resonate with. That’s why you’ve got James Squire talking about, well, James Squire and the stories behind the beer names like 150 Lashes and Four Wives.

Maybe the difference is the smaller craft brewers have their brewer/s, who are sometimes also the owner/s, at every event. They are pouring beers at the beer festivals, talking to customers at the pub during ‘meet the brewer’ sessions and who may even be delivering the kegs to the bar. All this brings a connection between brewer-brewery-drinker that is extremely difficult to create in an ad.

girl + (more) winter beers

It’s hard to just pick one, two or even three favourite winter beers so I am compelled to stretch this winter beers thing out longer by throwing out two more local beers that belong beside warm fires and good books …

Ah winter, the time of year when beer geek conversation turns from aggressively hopped American pales to dark malty beasts with punchy roast and chocolate flavours.

Last week I posted about two of my favourite winter beers which followed my radio appearance on Perth’s own RTRFM 92.1, I was kindly invited on a segment called ‘The Food Alternative’ and chatted with hosts Simon and Anth about winter beers.

If you’d like to hear me ramble on about winter beers you can check out the segment here

But me being me it’s hard to just pick one, two or even three favourites so I am compelled to stretch this winter beers thing out longer by throwing out two more local beers that belong beside warm fires and good books …

Bootleg Raging Bull

What a cheeky beast this one is! I remember chatting to brewer Michael Brookes (I’m such a name dropper!) a while ago and he was commenting on how Bootleg had been being for so long that now, since 1994, there are guys coming into their drinking years who remember their dads drinking Raging Bull at Bootleg. I reckon that’s brilliant!

Rich red fruits, chocolate, coffee, plums, spice and biscuits there is so much happening here it’s like a vibrant party but everyone dressed in black.

Bootleg Raging Bull
Bootleg Raging Bull

Eagle Bay Brewing Cacao Stout

Visiting the Eagle’s Nest, my article on Australian Brews News in 2012 on the first Eagle Bay Cacao Stout

First brewed in 2012 this collaboration brew between Eagle Bay Brewing and local bean-to-bar chocolate maker Bahen & Co has quickly become a staple of my WA winter drinking.

Bahen & Co Chocolate Maker | Margaret River | website

Using the cacao nibs from the chocolate making process, a by-product that would normally go to waste, brewer Nick puts it to good use in this gorgeous stout. It was even used in 2013 for the Eagle Bay and The Monk Brewery collaboration for the GABS festival that year – a beer called Cacao Cabana, a choc brown hefeweizen. But I am getting side tracked …

Eagle Bay Cacao Stout 2013 write up in Crafty Pint

The Eagle Bay Cacao Stout strikes a great balance of fruit, spice, fresh roasted coffee and, as one would expect, luscious chocolate.

Now before you throw your hands in the air in frustration because this beer normally doesn’t make it too far from it’s Eagle Bay home, I have good news for you. Such good news in fact I suggest your hands remain in the air and wave in excitement – this year, for the first time, Cacao Stout is making its way into BOTTLES! Keep your eyes peeled on the Eagle Bay eagle bay on Facebook and like, favourite and retweet Eagle Bay to your hearts content feed for more info in the coming weeks!

Eagle Bay Cacao Stout served at one of their Friday Night Feasts dinners – see their website for more information on these winter dinner treasures!

 

 

Colonial + Truffles

You’ll have to act quick to get your hands on Colonial’s Truffle Tripel, a beer made especially for this years Truffle Kerfuffle

“I had a truffle tripel at the Truffel Kerfuffle,” would have been quite a hard sentence to say after a few of the aforementioned truffle tripel beers by Colonial Brewing, beer sponsor of the annual Truffle Kerfuffle festival in Manjimup.

Celebrating its fourth year, the Truffle Kerfuffle was held on the last weekend in June at Fonty’s Pool, about two hours south of Bunbury through WA’s beautiful Southern Forest region.

Sadly I wasn’t able to go along this year so I had to be content with my memories of the 2013 Truffle Kurfuffle instead. Just to add salt to the wound of not going I also caught up with Colonial Brewing’s head brewer Justin Fox, after an epic five game of telephone tag, who told me all about the truffle beer they brewed for the festival.

Justin Fox at Truffle Kerfuffle 2013
Justin Fox at Truffle Kerfuffle 2013

In 2013 Colonial brewed a truffle porter, this year they opted for a Belgian style tripel. Stocks of the truffle porter were so limited that the promise of your first born probably could not have guaranteed you a glass and while this years truffle tripel is not quite that elusive they still only brewed six hectolitres. For those of you who speak fluent pub that equals about eleven kegs.

Colonial Brewing on Facebook to keep up to date with all things Colonial!

Colonial brewers Justin and Paul brewed the truffle tripel at the Edith Cowan University (ECU) brewhouse using five kilos of truffles from The Wine & Truffle Company. That’s just under 500g of truffle per keg. “Half of Edith Cowan smelled like truffles!” Justin laughed.

Brewing at ECU allowed the guys to brew in a small batch and highlight those unique truffle characteristics. They also made their own clear candi sugar using the ECU 50lt pilot brew system. For those brewing along at home they also used a Belgian ale yeast strain, French hops and Belgian pilsner malt. The rest you’ll have to work out yourself whilst you’re trying to find five kilos of truffles.

Fresh Manjimup Black Truffle
Fresh Manjimup Black Truffle

The beer was allowed to cool after fermentation before the truffles were added to happily swim inside for over a week. Afterwards, not leaving anything to waste, the truffles ended up in the hands of chefs from The Print Hall, Amuse and of course Colonial Brewing. Who have thought that chefs would be so keen to get their hands on beer soaked truffles?

Justin says the truffle tripel boasts much of the Belgian yeast aromas you would expect like banana and clove whilst the truffle sits quietly in the back waiting to be discovered, “once you stopped thinking about it you get it”. Also waiting in the beer’s background is it’s dangerous 9.5% ABV though Justin swears it only tastes like it is 6.5% “Last years porter melded well with the truffles whereas the tripel provides more contrast,” Justin remarks, “the tripel has hints of spice and a bit of fruit going up against the earthy truffle.”

There’s only a few venues where you’ll find the remaining kegs after Truffe Kerfuffle festival go-ers demolished three kegs in two days. It is currently pouring at Colonial Brewing and The Print Hall in Perth’s CBD and the last couple of kegs will make their way to The Raffles, Applecross and The Royal on the Waterfront, East Perth sometime week. I suggest following Colonial on Twitter for exact dates for getting your truffle on!

Weekend Reading #8

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 | How to identify bad flavours in your beer

Looking for the bad or off flavours in beer may not strike many people as a whole heap of fun but it can be a pretty interesting exercise. Just knowing what to look for is a good place to start and I thought this was a good summary, particularly as someone who is still learning these things.

And speaking of learning …

Serious Eats | Ask a Cicerone: What’s the best way to learn about beer?

Cicerone: beer certification program which certifies and educates beer professionals

You may have picked up a common thread in my Weekend Reading posts, aside from the heavy beer focus of course, which is the “ask a cicerone” articles at Serious Eats. I love these! Great questions and an interesting and diverse pool of responses. F-yeah!

“The best way to learn about beer is to immerse yourself in the culture,”

Becki Kregoski, Ask a Cicerone: What’s the best way to learn about beer?

Draft Magazine | Master the beer barbecue sauce

Well if that title isn’t total click-bait for beer lovers then I don’t know what is! Hell yeah I want to learn how to make a kick ass beer barbecue sauce. I want to then take it to people’s homes and have them exclaim at just how kick ass it is! The fact they give you a few options for the sauce depending on what meat is on the BBQ is ace too.

News.com.au | The one thing New Zealand is doing better than us

A nice story about one of my favourite NZ breweries, Garage Project, which makes me want to hop a plane to New Zealand for Beervana!

Vocative | The final frontier for craft beer

Beer and space? Oh, I thought to myself, Aussie’s have been all over this for ages – thinking of 4 Pines Vostok Stout, a beer specifically designed for drinking in space. But this is story is a little different. Like a monkey ready to be shot into space (thank you Tyler Durden) they’re sending brewers yeast on a journey into the unknown and seeing what happens when it returns to earth, if all is good they’ll brew a beer.

4 Pines Stout 5.1% abv | Irish Dry Style 4 Pines Brewing, Manly (NSW)
4 Pines Stout
5.1% abv | Irish Dry Style
4 Pines Brewing, Manly (NSW)

 

girl + winter beers

Ah winter, the time of year when beer geek conversation turns from aggressively hopped American pales to dark malty beasts with punchy roast and chocolate flavours.

Ah winter, the time of year when beer geek conversation turns from aggressively hopped American pales to dark malty beasts with punchy roast and chocolate flavours.

The Food Alternative | Tuesday’s 6pm on RTRFM 92.1 Drivetime

Listen here to past segments

I was invited to Perth’s RTRFM radio station last night to chat about winter beers during the Drivetime segment called ‘The Food Alternative’. It’s a weekly segment every Tuesday at 6pm that explores Perth’s great food and beverage scene. I had an absolute blast chatting about beers with Drivetime hosts Simon and Anth. In the lead up* to last night I had naturally been thinking a LOT about winter beers.

*aka bundle of nerves at being on the radio

As much as the beer geek in me is screaming that stouts and porters are great drinking all year around not just winter, I cannot deny that my palate craves those darker brews more when the temperature drops. Like ballsy red wine, peaty scotch and roast dinner, the darker ales are just the ticket for a wintery night.

I’ve got some exciting beers in our fridge that are perfect for the rain and cold wind –

  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2014, their annual release barleywine style beer
  • Boatrocker Ramjet Whisky Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, a limited release from Melbourne
  • Cheeky Monkey Silverback 2013 Russian Imperial Stout from Margaret River

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2013

But not every night can be filled with beers edging their way over 10% ABV with flavours that shamelessly smack you in the face whilst wearing a devilish grin. So when you’ve come in from the rain, your socks kinda soggy and your wind swept hair looking nothing like it does in shampoo commercials, here are my two of favourite winter to-go beers to cuddle you back to happiness …

coopers best extra stout

Coopers Best Extra Stout Tasting Notes

Easily one of my favourite “good heavens it’s cold outside” beers, it’s liquid ink pouring from the bottle with a light coffee head. There’s a lot happening here, a little roast, a little smoke and big doses of chocolate, liquorice, coffee beans and brown sugar.

Coopers Best Extra Stout
Coopers Best Extra Stout

nail oatmeal stout

More jet black goodness … aromas of milk chocolate and biscuit and something kinda melony. Flavours of chocolate and red fruit dominate the palate with a little fresh citrus in the back. The mouth feel is creamy and soft; its 6% ABV is well hidden amongst a lot of delicious flavours, of course after a few you are aware it is a fraction on the stronger side. Cheeky little stout.

Nail Oatmeal Stout
Nail Oatmeal Stout

Since I have many favourites I’ll be happily re-hashing this theme a couple more times so I hope you’ll join me and please feel free to comment with your winter favourites!

Big thank you to Simon, Anth, Ai-Ling and Laura for inviting me to be part of The Food Alternative and assuring me I’d be okay. Additional thanks to Simon and Anth for not thinking I was weird when they were telling me to stay close to the microphone and I remarked it was like holding the distance before an awkward first kiss. Sometimes my internal filter shorts out.