Homestead + first impressions

Homestead Brewery in the Swan Valley have made a great first impression on me and I’ll be spending many a sunny afternoons in their beer garden

My first impressions of Perth’s latest brewery, Homestead Brewery, can be summed up as follows – awesome, really big, friendly and damn good beer.

I could leave it here, maybe throw a few photos up, but it seems too lazy to be even remotely comical so I’ll press on.

Located in the Swan Valley, Homestead is really freaking big. It’s more than just a brewery, it is a pub, it is a dedicated functions space, a beer garden, a deli, a fine dining restaurant and don’t forget there is also Mandoon Estate winery and cellar door too.

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Mandoon Estate vineyards

For me the first big tick is for friendly staff who seem to genuinely give a damn. When I visited last week with Mitch aka Beersine, we were served by Liam who happily took me through a taster of the four beers currently available.

Homestead on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

The second big tick is for seriously tasty beers. Kaiser’s Choice Hefeweizen was delightful, just the right amount of banana and soft spice that reminded me why I fell in love with this style of beer in the first place. The No 1 Premier, a Belgian Pale Ale, immediately reminded me of fruit tingle lollies with it’s almost sherbet-like flavour upfront and big carbonation. We were surprised to hear Liam say it had been the most popular so far. The Pale Ale, named Thunderbird, was bursting with that familiar American hop nose we’ve come to adore and the Black Swan Black IPA was fantastic, that perfect balance of roasty and hoppy that makes you want to do a little dance.

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If you’re keen: great article on Crafty Pint on Homestead Brewing – ‘Setting up Homestead’

Mitch and I visited Homestead for work purposes, planning the details of our upcoming WA Beer Week Event – Beer and Food Masterclass so we painfully restricted ourselves to just one beer. I picked the No 1 Premier because it really grabbed me in that first taster. The sherbet-like sweetness mellowed out into a well rounded, stone fruit and vibrant beer I could easily have a few of on a warm afternoon. This will be a hit of the summer!

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Ryezilla + Wings

Ryezilla – a collaboration between Bootleg Brewery and Mane Liquor bottle shop that appeals to both my taste buds and my inner dinosaur …

For a 30-something female without kids I spent a surprising amount of time making dinosaur noises. Usually these are made to the dog just to see her confused little face but secretly I think it’s kinda fun.

Knowing this you can see why a beer named Ryezilla was always going to appeal to me.

Ryezilla brings together Mane Liquor, one of Perth’s greatest beer retailers, with the oldest brewery in Margaret River, Bootleg Brewery.

Your Sherlock-like senses may have already determined the use of rye in this collaboration but it has another feature, showcasing new hop variety Enigma as its single hop.

Enigma is one of the new hop-kids on the block, introduced by Hop Products Australia in July who describe their new addition as “cheeky” and “enchanting”.

Click here for full Enigma product specs at Hop Products Australia

The result is a beer that’s assertive, fruit driven, bitter and kinda complicated. Ryezilla is an aggressive fruit salad of a beer, big tropical fruit and some citrus but it’s bitterness is punchy and the malt is kinda sweet, rounding out the fruity hops. She’s a big beer, she’s not for everyone and I reckon she was meant to be just as she is.

In my search to find a suitable dinner pairing I decided to try something salty and something spicy.

Ryezilla and a meal to match!

First up, some spicy oven baked chicken wings that whilst I didn’t marinate overnight still worked out pretty tasty. The spice was a bit on the mild side but had enough to stand up to the mighty Ryezilla.

For something on the salty side I went with a broccolini and halloumi salad, though I am not sure that adding lemon juice and bread crumbs to this mix really constitutes the word ” salad “. The salty cheese was a nice contrast to the tropical hops and the cripsy breadcrumbs mixed into the “salad” seemed to go nicely with the beers crisp bitterness.

Check out all the WA Beer Week action here happening 25 Oct – 2 November

If you haven’t tried the Ryezilla then I suggest you follow Mane Liquor on Twitter to see where you can catch it next, being a limited release I’m sure you’ll need to be quick! Otherwise there is also WA Beer Week coming up where Ryezilla will be making an appearance at the Best of the West – a Degustation with Mane Liquor & The Trustee Bar and Bistro on Tuesday 28 October. Ryezilla plus four other limited release WA beers will be matched to food from The Trustee kitchen. Tickets are $99 each and can be booked here.

Weekend Reading #16

This weeks edition of Weekend Reading features pilsner and food pairings, an awful beer as that’s all boobs but no substance and an interesting cost breakdown of craft beer

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.

SBS News | Goodbye the blokey beverage: Calls for a reinvention of beer

I do like reading articles about the image of beer, for far too long this image has consisted of an overweight middle aged man in shorts and a single with his pint of fizzy yellowish stuff. Wine doesn’t get lumped with this image, why should beer be so damned? The biggest issue I have with the current accepted image of beer, you will be unsurprised to read, is the MEN bit.I could dribble on for ages but I’m sure you know what I’m going to say. This article, however, doesn’t go into this. Instead its about the unhealthy image of beer and even mentions nutritional labels as a possible reinvention tool for beer.

… Yup.

Somehow I’m unconvinced that nutritional value is where beers image is falling down. This ad is where beers biggest and continual image problem lies.

Beer is your friend | Another beer as gets it wrong

Now this, this is where I say a big, fat “DITTO” to Glen from beer blog Beer if your friend for his response to the horrible ad I linked to above. The ad is so bad it is actually insulting.

“That someone figured I was some sexist yob who just likes to sink piss and look at boobs makes me angry”

Serious Eats | Ask a Cicerone: The Best Pilsner (and what to eat with it)

Serious Eats is fast becoming one of my preferred reading materials and I especially like the Ask a Cicerone sessions. Though most of the suggestions in the articles are not available here there are plenty of local beers that would work beautifully.

Huffington Post | Here’s how a six pack of craft beer ends up costing $12

Putting aside that this article is based on the US and if us Perth-ites could get a tasty craft beer six pack for $12 we would be rejoicing, it is still a rerwlly interesting read in terms of breaking down costs and seeing where the large scale mainstream breweries are saving costs.

Weekend Reading #15

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.

After a couple of weeks off from Weekend Reading due to house moving antics, I am getting back into some resemblance of normality. Here is what has been in my reading list recently …

Serious Eats | The 6 Beers You Should Always Have in Your Fridge for Killer Pairings

I find that most food and beer pairings I do at home are the product of way too much thinking. It depends on any random combination of the following – what is in the fridge, what mood I am in, what beer is in the fridge, what bottle shop I am going past on the way home, what article I have read recently and the list goes on and on. The result is often a plan that has been in the works for days and frankly I’m a little stressed because there’s now pressure on this match to work since I’ve invested so much effort. Sometimes I am not very bright.

Instead I think this guys boy scout / be prepared for anything approach makes a whole lot more sense because beer and food should be fun, it shouldn’t have to rely on planning and it should happen way more often that it does.

Worth a Thousand Beers | Off Flavour Fun

I have always wanted to learn more about off flavours in beer but have never gotten around to it. I stumbled across this blog a couple of weeks ago and as I am quite a visual person I liked the representations of what the author had learnt from participating in an off flavour course.

Crafty Pint | Stockings and Spice

For the second year in a row the brewers of our wonderful south west got together to brew a collaboration beer that almost needed is I own role call for all the brewers involved. Last year’s effort was an Australian Pale Ale called The Council Worker, so named due to the amount of standing around and chatting that happened in the brewery on brew day.

You can read about last year’s brew here at Crafty Pint as well as on my blog, you know, just in case one link to my own work wasn’t self indulgent enough.

SW collaboration brew 2013 L-R: Justin Fox, Sorcha Gillen, Jeremy Good, Alex Poulsen, Jared Proudfoot, Nick d'Espeissis and Shannon Grigg Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver
SW collaboration brew 2013
L-R: Justin Fox, Sorcha Gillen, Jeremy Good, Alex Poulsen, Jared Proudfoot, Nick d’Espeissis and Shannon Grigg
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver

Sadly I couldn’t make it to brew day this year but I have heard good things! Hosted by Cheeky Monkey, each brewery bought along an ingredient for the brew. Once again the finished product will feature at Five Bar’s event – South West in the City happening on 26 October. Not only is it your chance to try the beer but also chat to the brewers and sample some tasty Five Bar food. You can check out last year’s event via yours truly (damn I am shameless today!) here.

Beer is Your Friend | The reality of the beer writer

I had a good giggle at this read from Glen, a fellow beer blogger but with the added bonus of being a proper journo.

For me it is the look of delight on peoples faces and they say “wow, how do I get a job like that?!” Like I would know! This isn’t my job, it is my hobby, a bit like stamp collecting or knitting just with more yeast.

On the subject of free stuff, I have been very fortunate to have attended events and enjoyed beers from lots of people in the beer industry. It’s not why I write but it is a nice gesture of support for my silly little words.

FINAL WORDS … This isn’t related to beer except that I think beer would go great with it – pull apart pepperoni and garlic knots. Good heavens, this recipe almost had my kicking my tablet screen.

No beer at Robbie Williams

Robbie Williams is a fantastic entertainer and surprisingly funny, like referring to himself as a “fat Justin Bieber” and I had a smile on my face for the whole show. I didn’t, however, have a single beer for the whole show.

I didn’t think I would have ever expected to be writing a blog post on Robbie Williams, much less be using his name for the post title.

The reason for this strange turn of events is because I happened to see Robbie Williams live at Perth Arena last week during his Swings Both Ways Tour.

It was a last minute thing and whilst I’m not exactly a huge fan I certainly thought it would a great show.

I had been enjoying the official opening of Northbridge Brewing Co. when I got the phone call …

“Do you want to see Robbie Williams?”

“Hell yeah”

“Cool, you need to be here fast”

“Ah …. ”

And so I made my departure from brewery to arrive at the arena after a brisk ten minute walk.

Northbridge Brewing Co official opening that I was lucky enough to be invited along to - Thank you NBC!
Northbridge Brewing Co official opening that I was lucky enough to be invited along to – Thank you NBC!

Robbie Williams is a fantastic entertainer and surprisingly funny, like referring to himself as a “fat Justin Bieber” and I had a smile on my face for the whole show. I didn’t, however, have a single beer for the whole show. The reasons for this were a) I didn’t feel like lining up with the rest of the female population of Perth to use the bathroom and b) the uninspiring nature of the beer available.

I think we were close enough to the action ...
I think we were close enough to the action …

The last time my partner and I were at the Arena was for Queens of the Stone Age & Nine Inch Nails where we had plastic cups of Hahn Super Dry. Oh so rock n roll.

Our post-Robbie Williams dinner was at Grill’d on Murray Street where we sat down to a couple of burgers and two of our absolute favourite Australian beers – Feral Hop Hog and Stone & Wood Pacific Ale. Whilst this is great I couldn’t help but think it was a shame we couldn’t have enjoyed the same local brews at our own Perth Arena; especially given how many local breweries we have in the state let alone if we extend the idea of “local” out to the rest of the country. Of course I get why, I know I’m probably not part of a huge portion of the Robbie Williams crowd who would have killed a glass of Bootleg Speakeasy IPA or Colonial Small Ale but wouldn’t be nice to have some kind of local beer on offer?

Chicken burger at Grill'd
Chicken burger at Grill’d

I feel like having great Australian craft beers fits perfectly at Grill’d, it reflects my perception of them as a venue that is concerned with supporting local companies, where quality is more important than dollar margins and from this I conclude that I’m going to get food with the same qualities. Grill’d embrace the point that so many places time and time again fail miserably to show the slightest bIt of attention to – the beers on your list are just as much a reflection of your venue as your wine list, your food options, the music you play and the way you decorate. Having a list entirely made up of mass produced lagers is like having a wine list of only New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or playing R&B despite being an Irish pub – it doesn’t fit and it tells people you didn’t care enough to think about it.

In short (because I have rambled) when I go to the Perth Arena to see an amazing concert, an act with international fame of unmeasurable proportions, inside a structure that has been designed and built to be a drawcard and icon for our city and I look down at my cup of boring … Well, I love you Perth Arena but why does it feel like no one cares about the beer?

Feral Hop Hog and Stone & Wood Pacific Ale at Grill'd Murray Street, Perth

Feral Hop Hog and Stone & Wood Pacific Ale at Grill’d Murray Street, Perth

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2013 + 2014

As reward after a busy weekend of house cleaning and unpacking boxes I decided to open a 2013 and 2014 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot.

The epic saga of “moving house ” continues with our pile of Bunnings receipts and list of things that need to be done both growing at steady rates.

Weekend #2 involved much cleaning and unpacking and I also learnt about spakfilla in early hours of Sunday evening. This resulted in a sleep deprived me wandering around the house looking for holes and cracks in the walls to practice my new found skill.

As reward after a busy weekend I decided we would open a 2013 and 2014 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot.

The Bigfoot is a barley wine style beer, a style with British origins that experienced a resurgence with the craft beer revolution in the United States. This resurgence, according to The Oxford Companion to Beer, kicked off with Anchor Brewingy Co’s Old Foghorn release in 1975.

“Within several years barley wine had become something of a seasonal show off amongst American small brewers,”

The Oxford Companion to Beer

Barley wines are a bit like a passionate footy fan – uncompromising, boozy and loud. Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot is no exeception. It was released in 1983, four years after the company was founded and has a cult-like culture around it because it is a damn good beer only released once a year and it ages wonderfully, well if you can keep your grubby little mits off them of course.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2013

Despite my relatively poor impulse control I managed to hold on to a couple of 2013 bottles and here’s my notes from each –

July 2013 – rich, fruity, caramel and toasty

September 2014 – rich cooked caramel aromas, stone fruit, raisins, burnt toast and a warm boozy finish

Clearly I was a little less wordy last year, not sure why, perhaps I was just too busy drinking it to write down tasting notes more than five words long.

Another year seemed to give the 2013 Bigfoot more depth, everything got a little darker, thicker and more caramelised.

Delving into the 2014 Bigfoot by comparision was almost bright with its rich red fruit and soft tropical fruit flavours. But don’t be fooled, the heft of the beer was ever present with the malt providing that great caramel, toasty base but when layered with more fruit you end up with a beer that rivals any port for its richness and complexity.

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Being a local …

More moving house fun, tasty wings and beer …

Moving house has been a mixed event – the dismay at just how many boxes were required for the accumulation of our stuff, the amount of sugar soap we have gone through to clean houses old and new and the delight in unpacking boxes and setting up our new house (well, the banks house but our names are on the papers!).

The first weekend was the actual moving part – cleaning of the old house, hiring removalists and multiple moments of thinking “where the hell did I pack (x) thing that’s quite important”.

Last weekend was about unpacking/finding spots for things/spending too much money at Bunnings so we decided Friday night would be a night off to check out the local pub.

Now that we are living in the east, Midland is our new stomping ground so we headed to The Principal Bar & Restaurant.

The Principal – 23 Cale Street, Midland – open 10am every day

First of all, it is a good looking pub. Second, the food servings are huge. We noted the latter whilst we watched big dish after huge dish go out from the kitchen, their waitresses much have forearms of steel! We thought we were being sensible when we decided to get a few of the small dishes to share but we ended up with this …

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You are looking at, from left to right, is squid, Spanish marinated chicken wings, beer battered onion rings and three sliders. This is otherwise known as ‘way too much food for two people’, I would have also accepted ‘food that needs beer’, mostly just because there is an awful lot of oil and yum for the beer to play merrily with.

The chicken wings were my favourite, messy to eat and full flavoured with the magic addition of paprika. The sliders were a nice variety of chicken and avocado, BLT and good old fashioned beef. But again, seriously, way too much for two people.

We had The Principal’s beers on tap, their pilsner and wheat beer which the staff thought might have been brewed at Last Drop Brewing. I’m not sure but regardless of their origins the beers are pretty tasty. The pilsner was fruitier than I had expected but with a nice hint of spice and a clean, lightly bitter taste. The wheat was very sessionable, not too much banana and not overloaded with spice. My beer world gets caught up in beers that have words like “imperial”, “smoked” or “aged” or some sort of combination of all three so it is nice to have a pint of something clean and refreshing that I don’t have to think too much about.

All in all, not too shabby for a lazy Friday night close to home.

What I’ve been doing instead of blogging …

Moving house seems like a horrible process we have created in order to punish ourselves for our overindulgence. I have now moved house three times with the same grey backless dress that I have never worn but seem convinced that one day I’ll wear/fit into/feel comfortable in/all of the above.

Regular readers (hi mum and dad!) may notice the lack of posts in the last week and a bit and it is all due to the process of moving house. The silver lining is the fact my partner and I have purchased a house therefore, if we want, we don’t ever have to move ever again. Instead of flat packing boxes and storing them for the next move I am shoving them into the recycling bin with psychopathic delight.

Not to say that moving house hasn’t involved any beer, quite on the contrary, beer has been very involved in the process – from the careful packing of special bottles I haven’t opened yet like a 2013 Cheeky Monkey Russian Imperial Stout and Boatrocker Mitte, a Berliner Weisse style beer, to drinking it to make the whole process a bit more bearable.

Packing …
Doing a task like this sober seems like an exercise in self loathing. We paired our packing with some 4 Pines Hefeweizen that we had purchased from our new local bottle shop after completing the final inspection of the house. I get the feeling that 4 Pines sales in the area are about to increase significantly.

Procrastinating …
Having decided that going out for a bite to eat on Thursday night, the eve of the big move, was a really good idea we found ourselves at Swallow Bar in Maylands. A little live music and some of the best food I’ve had in recent memory, it was just what we needed to successfully procrastinate for the task at hand.

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Swallow Bar - rare beef involtini with horseradish cream, celery heart and crispy garlic

Moving
Thank god for removalists, it was the first time we had paid other people to move our stuff and it was money well spent. Oddly enough we didn’t crack any beers until late into the evening. First we opened a bottle of Gosset champagne, my partners favourite, and then we enjoyed some Mornington Peninsula Sorachi, a gift from the guys at Mane Liquor where my partner stopped for celebratory booze.

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Thank you to the guys at Mane Liquor who gifted us the beer

Unpacking
Having zero motivation for cooking on the night of said move I decided to try the local fish n chip shop which just so happens to be next door to the bottle shop. I popped in to get some 4 Pines Pale but they were down to their last three single bottles and after 16 hours of moving house it was definitely a 6 pack kinda night. Instead I got some James Squire Porter, a decision made on a whim and the fact it had been raining that day but I hadn’t factored in how much it did not go with fish n chips and how much I didn’t feel like anything remotely roasty. My brain was a little mushy at this point.

Cleaning the old house
Feral Hop Hog, a job so crap deserved a beer decidedly not so. This was our final farewell to renting as we mopped the last part of the floor and shut the door.

More damn unpicking …
How did we end up with so much stuff?!

I decided to delve into our now unpacked and reloaded beer and dug out the Prairie Artisan Ale Prairie Ale, a Belgian style Saison Ale that felt like the liquid reward I had been hoping for. Initial thought was it was a funky lemon meringue pie, the smell on it was utterly gorgeous – cheesecake, sour fruit, citrus and straw, there was a lot going on but nothing overwhelming, like a really polite meeting where everyone gets to have their say.

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One of the tastiest beers I have had this week