Good Beer Here: The Classroom

‘Good Beer Here’ looks at the great bars, restaurants and pubs who might not be a craft beer venue exclusively but do have some kick ass brews …

‘Good Beer Here’ is a celebration of pubs, bars and restaurants with great beer. They might not be a “craft beer venue” but they can still have a kick-ass beer list. It puts a big smile on my face to see venues paying equal attention to their beer list as they do their food, wine and cocktails. Those who don’t, those who have settled on a beer list that features Cascade Light, Crown Lager and Stella, are well and truly behind the eight ball. It’s kinda like getting all dressed up for an elegant night out, putting all that thought into your hair, dress, make up and jewelry and then wearing your muddy sneakers. Crown Lager is a muddy sneaker.
Venue: The Clasroom | 1/356 Charles Street, North Perth

They might not have any events in the WA Beer Week calendar but The Classroom in North Perth have been quietly satisfying beer geeks since they opened in 2012.

Wonderfully themed, The Classroom brings back fond childhood memories of primary school days with blackboards and hopscotch markings, metal lunch boxes and hooks for impossibly big bags.

Whilst they are not specifically a craft beer bar they do boast an excellent selection across their four taps and 20 bottles.

The beer lists changes frequently, working with the seasons and whilst they might not have the biggest selection they do hope it’s one of the best.

During WA Beer Week there will be some extra special beers on their taps including Coopers Vintage 2014, a “particular favourite” of Andrew Bennett’s, one of the owners of The Classroom (pictured below). Boatrocker’s Hop Bomb IPA, Nomad Jet Lag IPA and Feral’s Boris, a Russian Imperial Stout, will also make appearances.

Photo from The Classroom's Facebook page
Photo from The Classroom’s Facebook page

If you visit The Classroom during WA Beer Week Andrew recommends having the Boat Rocker Hop Bomb IPA with their Roast Duck Dumplings – the umami flavours should go nicely with the beers bitter hop character.

In other news The Classroom team are working hard on getting their second venue up and running – Lucky Chan’s Laundry & Noodle Bar which is set to become Perth’s first permanent crowd-funded bar. Located on William Street in Northbridge, Lucky Chan’s plans on serving up traditional Japanese ramen noodles, hand-made no less, and dumplings.

Construction has started but there is a long way to go with doors not looking to open until the new year. You can see the progress, or even contribute to the campaign, here.

For beers at Lucky Chan’s Andrew says they will be “reminding people it’s not just Bintang, Sapporo and Asahi”. Beers will be matched to the food, the same synergy between beer and food that you might find at a hawker’s market.

“We’re not going to stick beers on just because they are Asian”

Just like The Classroom it sounds to me like the beer list at Lucky Chan’s will be carefully selected to be interesting and suitable to the food being served. Hear hear for great beer!

Lucky Chan Sneak Peek in early October
Lucky Chan Sneak Peek in early October

 

 

 

WA Beer Week: Dude Food Feast

Eating sticky chicken wings with my hands at the beautiful venue like The Trustee Bar & Bistro is kinda like wearing a gorgeous evening dress and a pair of thongs. It’s kinda wrong but there’s no denying that it’s really, really good.

Eating sticky chicken wings with my hands at a beautiful venue like The Trustee Bar & Bistro is kinda like wearing a gorgeous evening dress and a pair of thongs. It’s kinda wrong but there’s no denying that it’s really, really good.

On Tuesday night I was lucky enough to be invited to the ‘Dude Food Feast’ presented by The Trustee and Mane Liquor as part of WA Beer Week. Imagine the tastiest dude food you’ve ever stuck into your face paired with fresh WA beer and set in one of the city’s most beautiful venues and you have a good idea of what my Tuesday night was like.

Roxy and Josh

The beers were selected and presented by Roxy and Josh from Mane Liquor and the food was created by The Trustee Executive Chef Michelle Forbes who, to quote my good friend Jess Shaver, is “so f**king kick ass it’s not even funny”.

Jess was right, Michelle and her food was nothing short of kick ass.

Canapes

Pork Slider + Colonial Small Ale

The pork had been marinated for 15 hours and its richness was a great match to the bold hops in the Small Ale and the bread was a little on the sweet side highlighting the subtle caramel malt in the beer.

First Entree

Crispy Squid + Cheeky Monkey New Zealand Pilsner

“It’s real tasty”

How Alex, head brewer Cheeky Monkey, described his beer to Josh, Mane Liquor

The squid was thick crumbed and served with chilli aioli and dill mayonnaise, it was also a serving so big that I fear there are no more squid in the oceans. The beer, brewed by Alex and Ross at Cheeky Monkey, uses three New Zealand hop varieties – Dr Rudi, Motueka and Wakatu and the resulting beer was a gorgeous mix of soft tropical fruits and citrus notes. The beer cut through the thick crumb on the squid and the hops were drawn out by the chilli aioli. My favourite part of this dish was the dill mayonnaise cutting through the fresh hops and adding another layer of flavour. Paired with the food, the beer started to take on a kind of sweet glazed ham flavour which may not sound amazing but it really was.

photo 4

Second Entree

Sticky Chicken Wings + Bootleg/Mane Liquor Ryezilla

Sticky Chicken Wings & Ryezilla
Sticky Chicken Wings & Ryezilla

The serving of chicken wings made the plate of squid look tiny. Biting into my first wing my palate got a big whack of coriander. Also made with honey, soy, chilli and lemongrass, the wings were deliciously sticky and fabulous fun to eat. Ryezilla, the collaboration beer between Mane Liquor and Bootleg Brewery, is still boasting heaps of juicy pineapple and mango Enigma hop character though it has rounded out nicely. The wings coaxed out the spice in the beer whilst the sweetness from the glaze on the wings and the caramel malt in the beer worked nicely together.

Sticky Chicken Wings
Sticky Chicken Wings

Main

Beef Short Ribs Slow Braised with Sticky BBQ Sauce, Espresso Aubergine Puree + Eagle Bay Cacao Stout

At this stage of the event I was very full, not just regular full but Christmas-dinner-I-went-back-for-thirds kind of full. Then the ribs landed and they were impossible to resist. The meat was rich and stupidly soft, barely holding on to the bone. The sauce had a subtle sweetness and the espresso aubergine puree provided a nice contrast to the richness of the meat, it also lifted the coffee notes from the Cacao Stout.

Pouring Cacao Stout

The Eagle Bay Cacao Stout is their annual winter release and I was a little sad to realise it would probably be a year until this beer was in my hands again. Made from cacao bean husks, the by-product of the chocolate making process, from Margaret River chocolate maker Bahen & Co, the beer is ultra smooth, chocolatey, roasty and with hints of berry fruit.

Beef Short Ribs
Beef Short Ribs

Dessert

Salted Caramel Beer Ice Cream + Feral Brewing Razorback Barley Wine

“I’m glad it’s not cheese”

Me reflecting on the final course with words I never thought I would say

When I had the first bite of this dessert it was clear that despite being ready to either burst or fall asleep I was going to eat every part of this amazing dish. The dessert was served with a caramel sauce made with Feral Hop Hog creating a pairing of sweet with sweet when paired with the beer. The roasty flavours of the beer cut through the vanilla wafers and delicate ice cream, this pairing was a great example of when beer and food come together to be amazing and you wouldn’t want to have one without the other.

Salted Caramel Beer Ice Cream
Salted Caramel Beer Ice Cream

Thank you Mane Liquor and The Trustee for inviting me to this fantastic event!

WA Beer Week: Beer & Food Masterclass

On Monday night, as part of WA Beer Week, I co-hosted an event with my friend Mitch of Beersine. It was something he asked me to be a part of a while ago and I said ‘yes’ because it’s Mitch. His food is amazing and I love the way he approaches food – nothing pretentious, all delicious and with attention to detail.

I talk kinda fast and a little loud at the best of times so god help anyone that comes along to an event where I’m co-hosting. I attribute my loud/too fast talking to a) excitement b) nerves and c) I’ve probably had a beer or two before you’ve even seen me.

Beersine: Mitch uses beer and all the ingredients you’d find in a brewery to create delicious beer inspired food

On Monday night, as part of WA Beer Week, I co-hosted an event with my friend Mitch of Beersine. It was something he asked me to be a part of a while ago and I said ‘yes’ because it’s Mitch. His food is amazing and I love the way he approaches it – nothing pretentious, all delicious and with close attention to detail.

Our event was the ‘Beer and Food Masterclass’ where we presented three dishes with two beers per dish to try and show that there are no rules when it comes to beer and food matching. One beer can go just as well with a dish as another, each will bring something different to the party and, quite frankly, that’s where all the fun comes into it.

Welcome

We served up Eagle Bay Kolsch on arrival alongside Beersine Pale Ale Cheddar and homemade soft pretzels.

Delicate, flavoursome and highly drinkable, Eagle Bay Kolsch is a sensational beer to start a night with. Zesty citrus, light bready malts and a super dry finish. The beer cut effortlessly through the soft and tangy cheese that is made using Feral Hop Hog. The soft warm pretzels were magic. I would have taken a photo but I was too busy stuffing my face.

1ST COURSE

Menu

“Saison is not just versatile – it’s downright promiscuous”

Garrett Oliver, The Brewmaster’s Table

With their delicate nature and baffling complexity, Saison’s might be the perfect food beer. They are farmhouse ales originating from a French speaking region of Belgium where, before the miracle of refrigeration, it made the most sense to brew beer in winter. This gave farm workers something to do since there’s nothing to harvest in winter whilst providing a nutritious and refreshing beer to enjoy whilst working the fields in summer. Of course today you wouldn’t really go and recommend a 6-point-something ABV beer whilst operating farming equipment but hey, things were different back then.

Chevalier Saison: 6% ABV | Beechworth, Victoria | #7 in The Critics’ Choice Australia’s Best Beers 2014

The saison we served was from Victorian brewers Bridge Road. Tart and dry with citrus and a little sweetness, it was a great match to the salad. The sweetness of the beer was heightened by the mango in the salad whilst the beer’s bubbles cut through the chunks of macadamia nut. The fresh mint in the salad provided a clean and refreshing zest that went well with the beer’s bright citrus characters too.

Chevalier Saision with Prawn. Mango and Macadamia Salad

The second beer served with the salad came from Perth’s newest brewery, Homestead in the Swan Valley. This Hefeweizen, a German style wheat beer, is just so damn beautiful. A graceful beer that is full of fresh banana, spice and clove. As with the saison pairing, the beer’s banana notes were a great complement to the mango in the salad. The spice in the beer gets a good omphf from fresh prawns.

Homestead Hefeweizen

 

2ND COURSE

Menu

We served up the Colonial Altbier and we were lucky enough to have Paul Wyman, brewer at Colonial, at the table to talk about this beer. It’s a softer approach to pale ales compared to the big ballsy pale ales that are now so prevalent. A traditional German ale that’s nutty, biscuity and peppery and was a good match to the rich meat and spice of the curry.

Paul talking about Colonial Altbier
Paul talking about Colonial Altbier

On the other end of the pale ale spectrum there’s Bootleg Speakeasy IPA that’s got so much hop character bursting from it that it could be a starburst lolly. Caramel malt backs up the citrusy, tropical fruit hops and together it was a good combination for the rendang curry. Hops tend to accentuate chilli but because heat wasn’t the focus for this style of curry it didn’t turn your palate into a fiery world of pain. Instead it seemed to freshen up the dish, adding a brightness to the dense rich meat. Meanwhile the caramel in the beer was a nice backdrop for the same rich meat flavours.

Rendang Curry

3RD COURSE

I think it’s safe to say that we finished the night with a bang. Mitch did a particularly amazing job on this one.

Menu

 

photo 3 (8)

Once again I dragged poor Paul from his seat to chat about the Colonial Porter, I love this beers smooth chocolatey notes and roasty flavours. I could drink pints of this beer all year around.

The Bridge Road B2 Bomber Mach 4.0, a beer produced annually to celebrate the breweries birthday, is stupidly good. Previously I only had a taster but I remember loving this beer. There’s a lot going on here from the Belgian yeast giving off fresh fruit notes behind the black IPA’s big roast, chocolate and booze flavours.

Mitch’s dessert of Bahen & Co chocolate mousse was divine. The sweet strawberries, smokey Laphroaig and earthy rosemary was a weirdly incredible addition but it added layers of happy flavours over each beer. The mousse not at all overwhelmed by each beers big malty chocolate and roast flavours whilst the rosemary, whisky and strawberries cut through the chocolate and added so much to each mouthful.

Dessert

THANK YOU to Sophie for letting us use Taste Budds Studio to host the event and Homestead, Eagle Bay, Colonial, Bridge Road and Bootleg for donating the beers for the night.

And thank you from me to Mitch for asking me to do this event, I loved it, I was nervous as hell but I loved it.

 

 

WA Beer Week: South West in the City II

The second annual South West brewers collab beer was released at Five Bar. It’s a spiced Belgian india red ale called ‘Too Many Cooks’

Last year several south west breweries collaborated on a brew and released it at an event at Five Bar. The beer was a big hoppy Pale Ale called ‘The Council Worker’, the name referring to how many brewers were involved and how much standing around and chatting happened as a result. You can check out last years action here and here.

This year the south west brewers collaborated again but this time with more brewers and a new style. The Belgian Spiced India Red Ale, yup it sounds like a mouthful and the beer itself is much the same, was named ‘Too Many Cooks’ and once again, released at an event at Five Bar.

Too Many Cooks IRA

‘Too Many Cooks’ is the handy work of no less than eight of the breweries in the south west including Eagle Bay, Colonial, Cowaramup, Bootleg, Cheeky Monkey, Duckstein, Bush Shack and Young Henry’s NSW brewers who are in the process of building their new brewery in the south west. Five Bar favourites Roxy and Zack were also there to lend a hand. The result is a beer with a lot of hops, some cinnamon and star anise, a solid malty backbone and the Belgian yeast used in Cheeky Monkey’s Hagenbeck Belgian IPA. For a full run down of the beer you can check out this on my blog and this article from Crafty Pint.

Roxy & Zack showing off the great local tapline up
Roxy & Zack showing off the great local tapline up

The resulting beer was surprisingly approachable at 6.7% ABV and not the ball-buster you may have expected from such a complicated brew. ‘Too Many Cooks’ has a great biscuit malt base layered with spice, melon, citrus and a fresh dry finish. There’s a lot going on here but frankly it was so damn drinkable that I soon found myself staring into an empty glass. Good thing it was on tap and another glass wasn’t far away.

Meanwhile there was great food to accompany the beers with the special tasting board on the menu for the day which featured Beersine Pale Ale Cheddar and his amazing lamb pancetta.

Justin Fox at Five Bar
Justin Fox, Colonial Brewer, enjoying a beer at Five Bar

Another great WA Beer Week event done and dusted, it just keeps getting better and better!

WA Beer Week: Mane Liquor Beer Spectacular

It’s here, it’s finally here! WA Beer Week kicked off today and the official opening event, Mane Liquor’s Beer Spectacular, delivered beer, food and good times in spades, setting the standard for the rest of the week.

It’s here, it’s finally here! WA Beer Week kicked off today and the official opening event, Mane Liquor’s Beer Spectacular, delivered beer, food and good times in spades, setting the standard for the rest of the week.

Mane Liquor transformed their car park into a mini beer festival that showcased both local and international breweries such as south west favourites Eagle Bay and Colonial Brewing alongside New Zealand’s 8 Wired and Epic. I can’t continue without saying the 8 Wired Saison Sauvin is pretty stunning.

Epic & 8 Wired at Mane

The beers that travelled the farthest were from London’s Camden Town Brewery and included their Hells Lager, Gentlemen’s Wit and Pils. Sarah from Hippocampus Drinks, the Australian distributors for Camden, said the Pils had only landed yesterday – what perfect timing for WA Beer Week! Camden Pils is an unfiltered and dry hopped version of their flagship Hells, it’s clean, lightly malty and seriously drinkable.

Camden Town Brewery

Last night Cheeky Monkey was awarded the trophy for ‘Best Reduced Alcohol Draught’ at The Perth Royal Beer Show for their Travelling Monk, a mid-strength red ale. Both Alex and Ross, head brewer and assistant brewer, were at Mane this afternoon and as expected both were pretty stoked with the win. It comes at a bit of a passing of the baton at Cheeky as Ross prepares to take over as head brewer with Alex leaving to expand his career into distilling.

Colonial’s brewers Justin and Paul were also at Mane today and pouring their Kolsch, Small Ale and current release in their IPA series – an English IPA. The next IPA will be an American style which Paul says was brewed last week so keep an eye out for that soon!

Paul at the Colonial bar at Mane Liquor

Gage Roads showcased their new beers – Narrow Neck, Breakwater and Summer Ale. The Narrow Neck was my pick of the three with a great pineapple/mango nose. The body of the beer really benefits from warming up a little with more malty characters coming through. Narrow Neck is a reduced booze beer, joining the likes of Rogers’, Cheeky Monkey Travelling Monk, Eagle Bay Mild and Colonial Small Ale and expanding the mid-strength craft category in WA, a trend that I hope continues.

Homestead Brewery threw out the conventional methods of sampling with their brewer Jackson roaming the crowd with a keg in his backpack. I had at least half a dozen conversations with people who told me to go and find the guy with the keg in a backpack for a sample of a really good beer. Said beer was Homestead’s Black Swan, their black IPA – a wonderful balance of roasty malts and big hops. I loved this approach to sampling though hope Jackson’s back isn’t too sore tomorrow!

Mane Liquor Beer Spectacular
L-R: Me (laughing), Bill (Old Faithful Bar & BBQ), Jackson (Homestead), Reece (WA Beer Week) and Alex (Cheeky Monkey)

Recommended Reading: Brazilian Truckers – blog post by Laura Moseley on Comida do Sul

Other breweries at the event included Bickley Valley and Nail Brewing, Nail picked up a trophy at last night’s Perth Royal Beer Show for ‘Best Stout Packaged’ for their Hughe Dunn Imperial Brown Ale. Little Creatures showed off their latest Single Batch release – a Saison. Mash Brewing were there fresh from their trophy haul last night where they took out ‘Best Commercial Brewery’, ‘Best West Australian Brewery’ and ‘Best Ale Draught’ for Copy Cat AIPA. Eddie Dickens was solo at the Feral Brewing tent as the rest of the team prepared for Feral Fest, held at the Perth Cultural Centre after the Mane Liquor event featuring over 16 Feral beers, pig on a spit and live music until late.

Recommended Reading: Beer Awards – Perth Royal Beer Show by Crafty Pint

There was no shortage of food alongside all this wonderful beer with Comida do Sul Brazilian Food Truck and Toastface Grillah serving up their tasty treats. The smell of delicious melting cheese wafted through half the festival but I couldn’t go past the Choripan from Comida do Sul – $9 gets you a chorizo sausage in a bun with salsa and mayo and it’s divine.

Still on the food side of things Beersine started their assault of WA Beer Week with samples of his infamous Pale Ale Cheddar, made with Feral’s Hop Hog, and their fermented chilli sauce. Mitch, the man behind Beersine, is involved in an event on every single day of the calendar. Now THAT is commitment to WA Beer Week, folks. Basically if you don’t get to have Beersine’s food at least twice during the week you’d have to conclude that you are doing WA Beer Week wrong.

The event was a fantastic way to start WA Beer Week – excited to see what the rest of the week will bring!

5 Minutes with Joel from Cellarbrations Carlisle

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

This edition of 5 minutes with features Joel Beresford from one of Perth’s best beer bottleshops, Cellarbrations Carlisle.

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

This edition of 5 minutes with features Joel Beresford from one of Perth’s best beer bottleshops, Cellarbrations Carlisle.

WA Beer Week is right around the corner, just waiting for you like some crazy eyed stalker and it’s going to pounce on you TOMORROW. People are excited, planning what events to attend and dreaming of fantastic local beer, the brewers they’ll meet and the food they’ll overindulge in.

Cellarbrations Carlisle

2 Wright Street, Carlisle

One such excited person is Joel from one of Perth’s best beer bottleshops, Cellarbrations Carlisle and their beer club Grain Cru. During WA Beer Week his shop will be hosting a number of events including:

There are a record number of events for WA Beer Week this year, why do you think this is?

I think the groundswell of support of craft beer, especially local, has greatly increased. People as well as venues have realised that there is a whole world of great beer out there, and it’s becoming easier to find.

What can people expect at the Grain Cru CarPark Day?

A fair bit actually! Each year has been getting bigger and better and the third annual event will be showcasing a collaborative brew between Victoria’s Moon Dog Brewery and New Zealand’s Garage Project.

We will have stalls of WA brewers, from the smallest micro to the largest producer. Other stalls include beer distributors, food, hops & rhizomes and funky craft.

The Beermuda Triangle is always a sell out, what makes it such a popular event?

It’s probably my most enjoyable event.

I am proud to see an idea of a progressive dinner turn into such an anticipated annual event over the last 4 years or so.

It encapsulates many of my favourite things about craft beer – amazing company, top class venues, awesome beer & food and lasting memories. Last year with Stu McKinlay [from New Zealand brewing outfit Yeastie Boys] will always be in my memory. The man made  a lasting impression on everyone that met him and the vibe was just fun and friendship. This year’s event will be amplified 3 fold, with members of Garage Project, Moon Dog and Brew Dog being involved!

What other WA Beer Week events are you keen to check out?

Unfortunately I’ll be working a fair bit throughout the WA Beer Week but Bob’s Bar looks like it’s dangling far too many carrots for me to avoid at least one visit!!! I wish I found out earlier about the Old Faithful / Feral dinner [Old Faithful goes Feral] before it got sold out too.

What five beers are currently in your fridge at home?

La Sirene Praline, Amager Kaaad, Mikkeller Hues, Oersoep Brettanosaurus Rex (love the name!)and Nail Imperial Porter are probably the highlights.

“What WA Beer Week events are you keen to check out?”

Sifting through the 60+ events of special release beers, tap takeovers and multi-course indulgent dinners is a somewhat daunting task.
In what may help or hinder your planning, I have asked several WA beer folk what events they were keen to check out

Perhaps, like me, you find yourself flicking through the WA Beer Week event calendar and wondering ‘how could I clone myself in five days?’

If so, you’re not alone! Sifting through the 60+ events of special release beers, tap takeovers and multi-course indulgent dinners is a somewhat daunting task.

WA Beer Week banner

In what may help or hinder your planning, I have asked several WA beer folk what events they were keen to check out … here’s their answers –

Paul Wyman, brewer Colonial Brewing

Mane Liquor Beer Spectacular | Bob’s Fest | A Co-Op Beer Lunch

Matt Marinich, beer dude at The Print Hall / Bob’s Bar

We Want Sour! | Young Henry’s at the Freo Doctor

Matt Marinich at Bob's Bar - WA Beer Week official HQ
Matt Marinich at Bob’s Bar – WA Beer Week official HQ

Margi Wallace, retail & marketing manager at Eagle Bay Brewing

East v West at the Village Bar | We Want Sour!Mane Liquor Beer Spectacular | Beer & Whisk(e)y Dinner

Alex Poulson, brewer at Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery

Brazilian BBQ | Dude Food & Beer Degustation | Not For Profit 8 Course Beergustation | Feral FEST | A Co-Op Beer Lunch | GrainCru Car Park Brewday | Bob’s Fest

(L) Alex (R) Ross at Cheeky Monkey in December 2013
(L) Alex (R) Ross at Cheeky Monkey in December 2013

Dave Bonighton, brewer/founder Mountain Goat Brewing

Bob’s Fest | Night of the Barrel – Aussie Edition

Reece Wheadon, director of WA Beer Week

Note: Reece pretty much listed every event on the calendar so I’ve taken the liberty of including the ones that haven’t already been mentioned!

Two Birds & The Doctor in the Cellar | Hapi Daze Brew | Beer Through the Ages | The Monk & The Goat Collaboration BBQ