Gourmet Escape 2014

My Gourmet Escape experience included beer made with roasted agave, a golden ale to celebrate a brewery’s 20th anniversary and the unleashing of the south west’s first canned beer. It’s no wonder I didn’t have a single sip of wine the entire Saturday I was at Gourmet Escape.

My Gourmet Escape experience included beer made with roasted agave, a golden ale to celebrate a brewery’s 20th anniversary and the unleashing of the south west’s first canned beer. It’s no wonder I didn’t have a single sip of wine the entire Saturday I was at Gourmet Escape.

The Gourmet Village continues to be the main event of the three day festival and was again held at Leeuwin Estate Winery. On top of this there are a growing number of satellite events across the whole weekend featuring celebrity chefs, stunning locations and unique dining experiences.

A new addition to the Gourmet Village this year was the Gourmet Village Brewhouse, a dedicated local brewery destination featuring Cheeky Monkey, Eagle Bay, Bootleg, Cowaramup, Gage Roads, Moody Cow, Margaret River Ale Co and the newest south west brewery Young Henry’s.

Read more about Young Henry’s new Margaret River site, their first WA beer and their new mascot

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Eagle Bay Agave Ale

This collaboration brew with the head chef at El Publico Sam Ward which takes his authentic Mexican flare and applies to beautifully to the world of beer. The Eagle Bay Brewing kitchen slow roasted agave for 10 hours before it was added to the mash. You can read more from the brew day here.

“It keeps changing every day!” Margi, Eagle Bay’s retail and marketing manager, said to me at Gourmet Escape.

Eagle Bay at Gourmet Escape

For me it was full of spice and herbs, showed a little stone fruit up front and then finished very dry.

It is great to see a collaboration outside the norm of breweries and brewers, one that bought together two passionate people in different fields of flavour and one that showcases the result of this at a predominately wine/chef focused event.

Bootleg The Twenty Year Beer

It’s incredible to think Bootleg have been around for two decades, that kids are going there because they remember being their with their dad.

Crafty Pint wrote up a great story about Bootleg’s 20 years here

To celebrate their milestone Bootleg brewers past and present gathered to create a golden ale using five kilos of Enigma hops. The last time we saw Enigma hops from Bootleg was for their fabulous collaboration with Mane Liquor to create Ryezilla.

At this stage the beer is only available at the brewery, whether it lasts through summer is uncertain so I’d get in quickly to avoid disappointment!

Bootleg brewer Ryan
Bootleg brewer Ryan

I found this golden ale really interesting and had more balls than you may expect from a golden ale. The hop flavour is all upfront with a nice tropical fruit in the middle and a dry finish.

Colonial Draught Kolsch Ale in CANS

Yup. Cans. That’s right. Mother-freakin-cans.

Colonial Cans

It was hard not to notice all the happy people walking around the Gourmet Escape Village with the distinctive red and white cans.

I wrote an article for Crafty Pint that you can read here – the Draught Kolsch Ale is still the same Colonial Kolsch we all know and love, just renamed to remain relevant to the every day drinker and to call out to the days of beer drinking past where “a jug of super thanks” was a legitimate way to order beer. Now it’s “a few cans of draught thanks” and what a great beer drinking world that is.

Other highlights of the day included tasty pulled pork tortillas by Muster Bar & Grill, the Chief IPA from The Monk Brewery & Kitchen tasting delicious and the discovery of a new jerky called Chewy Mooey.

The Monk at Gourmet Escape

Weekend Reading #22

This week features a great piece on beer writing, beer marketing to women, a great review of Mash CopyCat IPA and a look at trends in the US …

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.

First We Feast | How Craft Beer Fails it’s Female Fan Base

I am not interested in seeing craft beer marketed to women, I’d rather marketing was inclusive, on brand and honest, not gender specific.

Crafty Pint | The Pondering Pint: Beer in the Media

This piece was shared a lot across social media and for very good reason, it’s an excellent piece of writing that looks at how craft beer is portrayed by mainstream media. Aside from excise, perception is a major problem for craft brewing because of misguided and lazy pieces that reinforce an idea that craft beer is a fad, something for hipsters and the over indulgent and is always considerably more expensive than mainstream beer.

If you only read one of the articles on this list, let it be this one.

Slate | Americans now drink more craft beer than Budweiser 

Lots of the time I hear people saying that our craft beer scene is following in the foot steps of America’s. Perhaps this is a glimpse into the future of craft beer in Australia.

Ale of a Time | Mash Brewing Copycat IPA

This comes from a great Australian beer blog by Luke who co-hosts the Ale of a Time Podcast with Dave and it’s one of my favourite podcasts to listen to on my way to work. Highly recommend if you like beer chat with nice, genuine people and no gimmicks.

I liked this piece from Luke on the Mash CopyCat because it’s great to read how WA beers are received on the other side of the country, especially when you’re talking about a beer that’s won lots of awards recently and it’s so dependent on being as fresh as possible.

5 Minutes with Alex from The Alehouse Project

This edition of 5 minutes with features Alex Summers, director of Melbourne venue, The Alehouse Project – a dedicated craft beer venue. This week sees the start of a state-by-state series of tap takeovers and WA kicks the whole thing off!

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

This edition of 5 minutes with features Alex Summers, director of Melbourne venue, The Alehouse Project – a dedicated craft beer venue who have been spreading the good beer word for over two years.

Over the coming weeks The Alehouse Project will be hosting tap takeovers for each state and they have kicked things off with the best – our very own WA! All week long they will be featuring breweries that we here in the west are lucky to have on our doorstep such as Swan Valley’s Feral, Mash and Homestead as well as south west’s Cheeky Monkey, Eagle Bay and Colonial Brewing.

Here’s Alex talking about The Alehouse Project and some of the exciting beers coming up this week …

alehouse project 1

For those who haven’t been to The Alehouse project, how would you describe the venue?

We opened our doors in August 2012 with a pure focus on local and international craft beer and cider across 12 taps and a hand pump (in the cooler months) dedicated to showcasing a diverse range and heavy rotation of craft beers which are predominately only ever on tap once at a venue. We specialise in beer launches, event one-off beers and supporting as many new and upcoming Australian breweries that we can.

What was your inspiration behind this series of events?

With the large numbers and high quality of breweries throughout all states in Australia we decided it was time to add to our annual festival line up that includes our HopFest’s and Dark Side of Beer with state by state tap takeovers to showcase the premier breweries from each state and the best they have to offer.

Are there any beers coming over that haven’t been on tap in Melbourne before?

We have managed to pick up a great range of specialities from Cheeky Monkey, Colonial, Homestead, Mash and Monk that have never poured in Melbourne before.

Homestead's Munich Lager and Curvee
Homestead’s Munich Lager and Curvee

What will be the first beer you will have from the line up?

From the Monday [24 Nov] starting line up, I personally can’t wait to try Cheeky Monkey’s Margaret River collaboration ‘Too Many Cooks’ Spiced India Red Ale and Monk Brewery’s Double IPA and from Friday’s [28 Nov] line up Homestead’s Curvee Special Oak Aged Dark Ale, Cheeky Monkey’s Milk of the Hoppy IIPA and Monk’s The Bounty Coconut Porter.

alehouse project banner

Colonial’s Gary Le Bron was this years GABS release

Cheeky Monkey’s Too Many Cooks is a collaboration between 8 south west breweries

Eagle Bay Steam Ale is the latest in their limited release range

Homestead Munich Lager has only been out for a couple of weeks

Here’s the full line up for the week – 

Monday 24th to Thursday 27th November:

Bootleg Brewery ‘Speakeasy’ IPA
Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery ‘Too Many Cooks’ Spiced IRA
Colonial Brewery ‘Gary LeBron’ Musk Saison
Eagle Bay Brewing Co ‘Steam Ale’
Feral Brewing Company ‘Hop Hog’ IPA
Feral Brewing Company ‘Nice Guy Dud Root’ English Brown
Homestead Brewery ‘Brauhaus’ Munich Lager
Little Creatures Brewing ‘Pipsqueak’ Apple Cider 
Little Creatures Brewing ‘Pale Ale’
Mash Brewing Co. ‘Rye Porter’
The Monk Brewery & Kitchen ‘Double IPA’
Nail Brewing Australia ‘Clayden Brew’ Imperial Porter 

Friday 28th to Sunday 30th November:

Bootleg Brewery ‘Raging Bull’ Porter
Cheeky Monkey Brewery ‘Milk of the Hoppy’ IIPA 
Colonial Brewery ‘LAGER than LIFE’ Munich Helles
Eagle Bay Brewing Co ‘ESB’
Feral Brewing Company ‘Land of Plenty’ Lager
Homestead Brewery ‘Cuvée Special’ Oak Aged Dark Ale
Homestead Brewery ‘Black Swan’ Black IPA
Little Creatures Brewing ‘Pipsqueak’ Apple Cider 
Little Creatures Brewing ‘Saison’ Single Batch
Mash Brewing Co. ‘Copycat’ American IPA
The Monk Brewery ‘The Bounty’ Coconut Stout 
Nail Brewing Australia ‘Hughe Dunn’ Imperial Brown Ale

Big thanks to Alex for his time and if you get down to The Alehouse Project I’d love to know what WA beer you loved most! Please comment below!

Homestead Brewery Grand Opening

Beautiful food, amazing beers and a killer setting with the red carpet rolled out … welcome to the Homestead Brewery grand opening

“It’s a brewery opening,” I thought to myself, “you don’t need to be too dressy”.

A couple of weeks ago my partner and I were invited to attend the grand opening of Mandoon Estatee & Homestead Brewery and as I stood in line I couldn’t help but notice the overwhelming number of high heels and suits.

Meanwhile I was in jeans and cursing my earlier thought process. It was late to go home and change so I instead focused my attention away from my attire and onto the task at hand – enjoying the opening of the newest brewery in Perth.

Homestead Grand Opening

Homestead Brewery on Facebook

As I walked in, dodging the photo opportunity at the entry, I was greeted by a smiling staff member holding a tray of beer. Like a magnet I was dragged in and collected a glass of the Brauhaus Lager, a Munich style lager that had been kegged about two hours before guests started to arrive. I failed to write any notes on this beer but had two of them which I think says it all –  it’s a genuinely interesting beer without being too complicated, one of those beers you can just drink and enjoy but if you wanted to get all beer-geeky it’s flavourful, balanced and perfectly served.

Homestead Grand Opening

There was no shortage of food for the night with staff circulating through the crowds with delicious platters such as sirloin wrapped beans, mini shepherd’s pies, and buffalo chicken bites with blue cheese sauce. Then there were the dedicated chefs tables – one making mini desserts, mouthfuls of lovely sweets, one located on the other side of the beer garden making a peking duck style dish which I went back for multiple times and near the main bar was a dedicated sushi and fresh oyster table. Between the duck, mini tiramisu and oysters so I could indulge in many of my favourite foods all night. If there had been a cheese station I may have slept the night there!

Homestead grand opening

Homestead grand opening

Homestead grand opening

My partner and I got to meet Derry, Homestead’s bar manager, who was really proud of the venue and how the night was going; he was also good enough to introduce us to their head brewer Ron Feruglio.

As expected the bar was very busy but what I hadn’t expected was to see Ron serving people like any other bartender. Ron had been brewing all day, kegging off the new lager and was now behind the bar. Between serving customers he also managed to find the time to provide us with samples of their first limited release beer Curvee and talk us through the beer.

Homestead grand opening

The release is a Belgian style ale and it’s far from a simple brew, it involves two different types of rye, three types of yeast and palm sugar. It’s also aged in Mandoon Estate Shiraz barrels.

The result is a deceptive 6% ABV beer that’s surprisingly light in body. It’s a beer that evolves dramatically in the glass if you have the patience to sip on it over time to experience flavours like red grape skins, figs, plums, coffee, red fruit and nuts. The finish is dry and light, I kept shaking my head at how light it was on my palate.

Berliner Weisse – a sour German wheat beer characterised by a tart and refreshing profile and low on the booze

Our chat with Ron and his assistant brewer Jackson revealed they have a lot planned for Homestead including their next two limited release beers – a pair of Berliner Weisse beers called Napoleon and Josephine, the former being made in a traditional style and the latter being made with raspberries. These should be ready early next year. Beer nerds rejoice!

The grand opening certainly put the emphasis on the “grand” but it was much more about substance and passion than pretty lights and design. Ron and Jackson have produced some of the best beers you’ll try in WA and will satisfy both new comers to beer and self proclaimed beer geeks. Personally I cannot wait to spend more time at Homestead.

Homestead grand opening

Additional Reading – Setting up Homestead on Crafty Pint and an interview with Ron at What’s Mashing WA

Big thank you to Sandra, Ron, Jackson, Denny and the rest of the team at Mandoon Estate & Homestead Brewery for the invitation to attend their grand opening!

 

 

Fremantle Beer Fest 2014

Show rides, live music, stand up comedians, a basketball hoop and A LOT of beer – welcome to the Fremantle Beer Fest 2014.

Show rides, live music, stand up comedians, a basketball hoop and A LOT of beer – welcome to the Fremantle Beer Fest 2014.

Returning to the Esplanade in Fremantle under the shade of the Norfolk pine trees and with the cooling breeze of the “freo doctor” The Fremantle Beer Fest kicked off for another year.

Fremantle Beer Fest

I visited on Saturday and it confirmed that this event is my favourite stand-alone beer festival on WA’s calendar. It seems to attract the largest number of brewers and the range of entertainment and other beer related fun on the day is quite extensive.

New additions to this years festival included kids showground-style rides making it more family friendly though a few bigger kids also enjoyed them! The Sail & Anchor Comedy Tent which was jam-packed every time I walked past, I think next year they’ll need a much bigger tent!

The Sail & Anchor Comedy Tent at Fremantle Beer Fest 2014

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Another newcomer to the Freo Beer Fest line up was the crew from Cocktail Gastronomy who set up their Cocktail Lab and shook, strained and stirred four beer cocktails including –

  • Cacao Espresso Martini
  • Saison Meringue Pie
  • Matso’s Lycee Mojito
  • Two Birds in Mexico

Andrew Bennett of The Cocktail Lab at Fremantle Beer Fest 2014

Eagle Bay Cacao Stout + lots of chocolate – my blog post on the launch of this beer in August 2014

For the Cacao Espresso Martini the Eagle Bay’s brewers series Cacao Stout was reduced down to a syrup that was a concentrate all the beers wonderfully delicious flavours.

Two Birds Bantam IPA: session IPA | 4.7% ABV | read more about the beer here

The Two Birds in Mexico was a twist on the classic Margarita using tequila, agave syrup, lime, fresh basil and strawberries and topped with Two Birds Brewing Bantam IPA [pictured above]. This was also the drink that Andrew presented during his Master Class called ‘Hoptails’ for those who love beer, mixed drinks and word play.

Master Classes at Fremantle Beer Fest 2014

Andrew took guests through the inspiration and technique behind the ‘Two Birds in Mexico’ drink and employed audience volunteer Cam to assist in making up some samples for us to try.

“It’s a margarita that’s pimped up and loved up,”

Andrew Bennett, Hop Tails Master Class

In using strawberries and basil Andrew voiced his love for using seasonal ingredients both for freshness and affordability. The drink throws away the usual Cointreau addition, “see you later Cointreau, that’s for pedestrians,” Andrew joked and used agave syrup as well as using chilli and salt to rim the glass.

You can catch Andrew at The Classroom in North Perth for more tasty cocktails and banter

“We add beer to make a great cocktail even better,” Andrews said as the Bantam IPA was added as the final touch.

Two Birds in Mexico cocktail at Fremantle Beer Fest

Another Master Class held on Saturday was the home brewing panel with Ken from Northbridge Brewing Co, Justin from Colonial Brewing, Aaron from Gage Roads Brewing and Jeremy, an award winning home brewer. Questions ranged from malt use, mead and how to use things like chilli in your beers. All this made me think about how long it would be before we started home brewing too … what a slippery slope that would be!

Master Classes at Fremantle Beer Fest 2014

Later in the day I hosted a Master Class with Margi from Eagle Bay Brewing called ‘We Love Beer & Cheese’ which we loved and had a lot of fun at … but I’ll leave the details for another post!

Master Class at The Fremantle Beer Fest

As for the beer … there was so much beer, so much great beer.

I’m pretty familiar with many WA brews so I took the day to catch Master Classes and go hunting for beers that I hadn’t tried yet.

Last Drop Brewing – Sour Cherry Ale

Not lip puckering or abrasive Jan brewed this last year and I hadn’t managed to try any until the festival. At 6.2% ABV it’s a beer I would class as being “dangerous” because I’d never pick it as been that boozy and I could easily drink many of these bad boys before I even realised. Rather than being in-your-face cherry it’s more subtle and reminded me of cherries in a black forest cake. The finish is very dry and makes you want to have another.

Jan and his team at Last Drop at Freo Beer Fest

Last Drop Sour Cherry Ale at Fremantle Beer Fest

Boston Brewery – Rye IPA

Part of Denmark’s Willoughby Park Winery, I got to meet Boston Brewery’s head brewer Tyson who has been brewing there for about seven months. Keen to hit the road and talk to folk, Tyson happily chatted with me as I tried their Rye IPA. “It’s like a spicy mango!” I exclaimed at the time and I’ll be keen to check out their other beers at this weekend’s Gourmet Escape Village.

Eagle Bay – Steam Ale

This is their latest in the Brewer’s Series range and just in time for summer. Aromas of toast, shortbread, apricot and mango, there’s almost no bitterness in his very clean and refreshing drop. Flavour-wise there’s some apricot, a little citrus and just a hint of toffee. Bring on summer!

As for the rest, you’d need a week to get through them all. Feral had the vast majority, if not all, of their beers available and their tent was packed for most of Saturday. Nail was just as full and I hear they were also serving tastings of their incredible, you-have-to-taste-it-to-believe-it Clout Stout. The Old Brewery’s Tomahawk was popular with beer geeks whilst this paricular beer geek kicked herself for once again missing out due to her own forgetfulness and amazing ability to be distracted by shiny things.

New beer kids on the block, Homestead Brewing had their four core beers available and I happily reacquainted myself with their Black Swan Black IPA whilst chatting with head brewer Ron. These guys are making beautiful beers and have some exciting limited release beers in the works, in fact Ron has even started thinking about what beer to release on the breweries first birthday which is ten months away!

Speaking of Colonial … have you seen they are about to release CANS?!? Check out their FB page for more or stay tuned!

At Colonial Brewing they had six different beers pouring and offered up a chance to win prizes, prizes, prizes bringing their basketball hoop that normally lives at the back of Colonial and transporting it to the event. Those who had a taster of all of Colonial’s beers over the course of the day were allowed to have a throw, depending on how many you got in there were beer glasses, t-shirts and even growlers up for grabs.

Paul (Colonial Brewing) at Fremantle Beer Fest

Colonial’s Paul Wyman shows folks how it’s done

Paul at Colonial Brewing

 

Fremantle Beer Fest

All I can say is “bring on next year!” because I love this festival and it seems to get better every year.

For more Fremantle Beer Fest reading check out this post from The Beer Pilgrim.

I’d love to hear what beers you liked on the day? What beer did you fall in love with? 

5 Minutes with Ross from Cheeky Monkey

There has been a changing of the guard at Margaret River’s Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery with assistant brewer Ross Terlick taking over the reigns as head brewer from Alex Poulsen.

There has been a changing of the guard at Margaret River’s Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery with assistant brewer Ross Terlick taking over the reigns as head brewer from Alex Poulsen.
The change comes as Alex swaps beer for spirit, moving over to Hippocampus Memorable Drinks to add distilling to his list of talents.
Alex and Ross at Cheeky Monkey
Alex and Ross at Cheeky Monkey

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For Ross this role is exactly what he has been working towards. Ross caught the home brew bug whilst working with Jeremy Good at Cowaramup Brewery, whilst there he was awarded ‘Beertender of the Year’ by Beer & Brewer Magazine in 2012 (which you can read more about here), he then moved to Cheeky Monkey late last year. It’s been a great journey which now brings Ross to his dream job.

What was your first reaction to your new job role?

Shock.  I was really surprised when Alex told me he was moving on.  After that it was equal parts elation and trepidation.  I had really been expecting to spend a couple more years in an assistant role before moving up, but was absolutely stoked to get the opportunity.

What has been the best thing about working with Alex?

His knowledge of lab practices and the like.  I really learnt a hell of a lot from him about QC [quality control] and ensuring we had a good level of consistency to the beers.  The fact that we shared a similar taste in beer and music certainly helped as well!

What is your favourite Cheeky Monkey beer and why?

Travelling Monk was awarded the trophy for Best Reduced Alcohol Draught at this years Perth Royal Beer Show

Tough one…
Whichever beer is freshest and drinking the best, depending what mood I’m in.  If I absolutely had to pick one it would be the Hagenbeck Belgian IPA.  I love my big hoppy beers and really enjoy the difference that the Belgian yeast throws into the beer.

You just gotta love a bit of funk,

Having said that the beer I drink the most of is the Travelling Monk Red Ale.  Having to drive back up Bussell Hwy to Busselton every day means a mid strenght just makes sense.
Cheeky Monkey Bar

What will be your first Southern Wailer beer?

Souther Wailer – Cheeky Monkey’s limited release beer series

I have a couple of ideas.   First up I’m thinking of an Extra Special Belgian.  Use a blend of British and Belgian malts, with British and European hops and our Belgian yeast strain from the Hagenbeck.  I’m also pretty keen to try my hand at a Grodziskie.

What do you have planned for the future of Cheeky Monkeys beers?

All the beers are drinking pretty well I think so I won’t be making any wholesale changes.  I may do a little bit of tweaking in the future but not too much.  We have got a new core beer coming out in the next few weeks.  It will be an easy drinking Golden Summer Ale.  Using Maris Otter, Wheat and Caramunich malts and Australian Summer hops.
Thanks for your time Ross and huge congratulations on your new role, I can’t wait to see what beers you send out! You’ll be able to catch up with Ross at this weekend’s Gourmet Escape at the Gourmet Village Brewhouse, be sure to visit him at the Cheeky Monkey tent!

Weekend Reading #21

This weeks beery reading features another WA Beer Week event recap, the closure of an Australian brewery and some words from Sierra Nevada

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.

Queen of Bad Timing | Beer 101 at The Brisbane Hotel

Beer 101 was a beer event held by The Brisbane Hotel and Little Creatures Brewing during WA Beer Week where they did a little beer education, sampled their new summer menu and even did a little bar-top brew. Though I didn’t make it to the event I did stop by The Brisbane a week later to try the beer – a brew done on the bar-top and made with every variety of malt and hop that Steven (Little Creatures) could get his hands on. The result is a bit rough but let’s face it, it was brewed on a bar so it is about the fun of the exercise but if you are a hop head who likes aggressive beers then I hope you managed to try some!

Gizmodo | Five Craziest Aussie Craft Beers

Don’t be put off by the image, it doesn’t match the article but move past that. It’s a nice little list of which I’m happy to say I’ve had three out of five of these beers.

Charlotte Business Journal | Sierra Nevada founder says quality is the key to growth for N.C brewing industry

If I see an article on Sierra Nevada I almost always read it, the more I read the more I like the sound of their business and their approach which makes drinking their beers even better!

Crafty Pint | White Rabbit’s on the Hop

Boo! I remember when White Rabbit opened; I was working for Little Creatures at the time and during our sales conference, held in Melbourne, we were lucky enough to get a tour through the newly opened White Rabbit brewery in Healesville. It was the first time I’d seen an open fermenter and the little “warren” reminded me of breweries in our own south west. To hear it is closing is really kinda sad.