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.

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