So, 2015, how good was it?

Doing the whole “reflection” thing even though I wasn’t going to but 2015 was a pretty kick ass year

Pretty damn freaking good, that’s how 2015 was.

I had no intention of doing the whole “highlights of the year” blog thing but I did find myself looking through my photos from the year and thinking, “damn it’s been a great year” so here we go, here’s a few stand outs for 2015 …  (in no particular order)

La Sirene Beer & Cheese Night

Mane Liquor hosted a handful of great events throughout the year, including a ‘King of the Hops’ Dinner at The Trustee and an intimate sour event during WA Beer Week, but one of their stand out events was the stunning beer & cheese session featuring beers from Melbourne’s La Sirene.

Mane Liquor teamed up with the Little Cheese Shop to create these magical beer and cheese matches that blew everyone away.
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WA Beer & Cheese Night

Staying with all things creamy and delicious, the Little Cheese Shop have hosted a number of beer & cheese events at their shop in Bayswater. All are a sell out due to the quality of the night and the limited places, here is hoping that Geoff and the team at Little Cheese Shop keep them coming in 2016.

You can read my post on this event here*.

*warning: graphic cheese content that will make you want to eat lots of cheese
Little Cheese Shop - Cheese & WA Beer

A New Job with Nail Brewing

On 1st June I started a new job with Nail Brewing. Nail are WA local, independent, family owned and operated and owner/director John Stallwood’s reputation for brewing is highly regarded so when this opportunity came my way I don’t see how I could have possibly said no. I love my job and I love being involved in the craft beer industry every single day.

Dutch Trading Co. & Petition Beer Corner

We were pretty lucky in 2015 to have two pretty kick ass, dedicated craft beer venues open up. Dutch Trading Co in Victoria Park and Petition Beer Corner in Perth CBD together have more than 40 taps of craft beer goodness.

You can read about DTC here in this article by Guy Southern of Good Times Craft Beverages and fellow WA contributor for Crafty Pint.

Beer at Dutch Trading Co

Day Trip to Adelaide

Coopers invited me, flights and all, to the Adelaide for the launch of this years Coopers Vintage. Though under normal circumstances a day trip from Perth to Adelaide might be madness this was beery related and positively delightful madness.

Read more about my experience at the Coopers Vintage Launch here.

Coopers Vintage tasting

Judging (with training wheels)

Being asked to be an associate judge at the Perth Royal Beer Show this year was an amazing experience both as a challenge and learning for my palate and just to get to hang out with some of the best beer people in the industry.

Read more about my experience here.

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Brewing with Women of Beer

Being a part of this years International Women’s Collaboration Brew in WA was a really special event. I day tripped it down to Margaret River and came back with a stomach sore from laughing so much and shoes covered in grape juice!

Read more about this annual event via my article at Crafty Pint.

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Countless Great Beers

I could really go nuts refining and categorising a list of great beers I had this year but don’t want to fall down that rabbit hole, it’d be February before I resurfaced! Instead here is a haphazard list of beer highlights from beers I’d had for the first time in 2015 –

    • Little Creatures Return of the Dread
    • Pirate Life IIPA
    • Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio

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“just a few beers”

Because being a beer nerd means a trip to the bottle shop is rarely a simple exercise

I should know by now that I am pretty much incapable of popping into a good beer retailer with the intention of getting “just a few beers”. Nine times out of ten I leave with a mixed carton of delightful beery goodness.

Not that I am really complaining, I mean if this is the worse thing that happens to me then I’m leading a damn good life.

It’s really more of an observation, a beer geek trait shared by many and results in a fridge packed with beers, credit cards a little heavier and partners a little perplexed. Well, most partners, not mine, he’s used to it by now and his whisky collection can at times rival my beer collection.

But what is it about nerding out on beer that makes me want to buy them like I’m stockpiling for some kind of global beer shortage?

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VARIETY

I won’t lie, it’s nice to have a variety of beer to choose from at home. Going to the fridge and wondering whether I feel like an IPA, a Saison or a Stout is a nice place to be. Spontaneous nights where you open something really special for no other reason than you want to are great.

THE NEW AND THE TASTY

With so many breweries even just in Australia it’s impossible get to every beer, or even just new and limited releases, but damned if any good beer nerd isn’t going to try their best to get to as many as they can. Working in the industry makes it that much harder to resist the allure of “oh, I’ve not had THAT beer!” Call it research, call it a tax deduction, call it staying up to date with industry trends, call it whatever you like, your beer geek brain rationalises it whilst your hand has reached into the fridge and grabbed the beer on question.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Asking the staff at your favourite beer retailer, “what have you been drinking lately?” can be like letting children run free in a toy store it will result in them grabbing everything they can get their grubby hands on. The sheer number of beers to choose from is huge and so when someone recommends something not only is this very useful but it’s a damn compelling reason to buy. That beer just went from a gamble to a sure thing or you’re about to discover your new favourite brewery, either way, very exciting beer nerd stuff.

EDUCATION

Being a beer nerd is an ongoing adventure, it is finding new beers and learning about new styles, new methods of brewing, what hops do what and what new ingredients are being used by your favourite brewers, it’s about getting nerdy about your palate, the science behind yeast and most of all, enjoying lots of great, different beers.

On that note, I have to say, I am not sure what point, if any, I have really made here but it seems like a good final post for 2015, a post that is mildly reflective, a shared experience (as I am sure this over the top beer shop doesn’t just happen to me) and first and foremost, a love of beer.

May your holidays be filled with laughter and the people and beers you love!

 

 

 

 

Beer Interpretation #3: Malty

An irregular series of posts where I try to decipher the sometimes strange and always wonderful world of beer jargon, phrases and catch cries by drilling into the basics and interpreting the lingo. Basically I’m going to try and translate the nerdy beer stuff.

Beer Interpretation is an irregular series of posts where I try to decipher the sometimes strange and always wonderful world of beer jargon, phrases and catch cries by drilling into the basics and interpreting the lingo. Basically I’m going to try and translate the nerdy beer stuff.

You can read previous posts here – #1 Hoppy and #2 Fresh is Best


Seeing as the first two posts were focused on hops it seemed logical to go to another ingredient of beer – malt. But what do people mean when they describe a beer as “malty”?

“MALTY”

Much like its “hoppy” counterpart, “malty” can mean any number of different things because as an ingredient “malt” can vary from a light pilsner malt to a heavily roasted malt and all in between, each giving off very different flavours. Malts can provide flavours like honey, caramel, biscuit and nutty and bolder flavours like coffee, chocolate, roast and smoke and even borderline meaty characters. How does malt do all that? Well, perhaps this is a good time to talk about what malt exactly is.

What is this magical thing called Malt?

Malt refers to grain that has been malted and more often than not the grain is barley. The barley is harvested and then steeped in water to start the germination process which is then halted by the barley being dried and kilned. The degree to which the barley is kilned determines what sort of malt you end up with.

Bridge Road Brewers do an awesome job of explaining the brewing process, including a breakdown of malt and the process, on their website.

What does Malt do for Beer?

So, so much. Without malt there’s no sugar and if there’s no sugar then the yeast can’t eat it and that means there’s no alcohol being produced. In short, without malt there’s nothing even resembling beer, just a watery bitter liquid.

Of the four ingredients needed for beer – those being malt, water, hops and yeast – malt is often referred to as the backbone of the beer, the foundation for everything else.

Besides providing the sugars that the yeast consume in order to produce alcohol, malt also contributes to the colour, aroma and flavour of a beer.

Yet whilst malt contributes to a lot of what a beer is in the end, when a beer is described as “malty” it is usually about the flavour having significant malt influence.

Read: Beer Advocate Malt and Adjunct Guide

So, as a descriptor “malty” could mean lashings of coffee and chocolate like you’d find in a stout from roasted malt or perhaps it could refer to a melody of caramel and dark fruits like you’d get in a strong ale. Going bigger, malty could also describe the bold richness of molasses of a Barley Wine or the oddly tantalising smokey, meaty, sweet malt flavours that can be found in a German Rauchbier.

In short, “malty” is about as useful as saying a fruit salad tastes “fruity”.*

*and I say this knowing I have often used “malty” as a descriptor!

Go Buy Some Beer …

Feral Karma Citra

An instance of malty meets hoppy in this year round brew from Feral Brewing, it’s an India Black Ale which is a fancy way of saying it’s a love child of an IPA (the hoppy bit) and a dark beer (that’d be the malty bit).

What’s so malty? Well, the colour for one but mainly it’s the chocolate and roasty flavours that are just as prominent as the hops.

4 Pines ESB

There aren’t heaps of Australian brewed ESBs, the style doesn’t have the almost fanatic-like following that IPAs and Pale Ales have, but none the less they can be an absolutely cracking beer and this is one of my favourites.

What’s so malty? It’s the toffee, red fruit and biscuity malt presence in this beer that makes it so gorgeous.

4 Pines ESB

Feral Boris

Russian Imperial Stouts aren’t just a show case for dark malts, they’re the main act, the big gig.

What’s so malty? Almost all of it; there’s a few different malts at play here to provide the roasty, liquorice, coffee and chocolate mash up that’s happening here.

Feral Russian Imperial Stout Boris

Schlenkerla Rauchbier

A traditional German beer using Beechwood smoked malts, a speciality of Bamberg. A beer style not for everyone but well worth trying at least once if not a few times.

What’s so malty? The smokey malts of course! But it’s not like licking an ashtray, it’s smokey but also borderline bacon-like with hints of toast and sweetness from the malts too.

 

 

 

 

 

a beer list in a make-believe bar #2

Welcome to my make-believe bar with six taps and five packaged beers; here’s what I am serving right now. Aka an excuse for me to write beer lists.

At the end of October I decided I would have a make-believe bar so that I could indulge in a little beer list writing. It was prompted by a blog post I wrote a couple of months earlier called ‘A few words on beer lists’ and it was one of my most popular posts for the year. It seems a few people agree there are plenty of beer lists out there that could do with a little TLC.

A few notes on my beer lists –

  • Availability – I will try to only list beers that are available here in Perth
  • Price – Whilst I don’t know the cost of goods on all beers, nor am I inclined to go and get them for a make-believe bar, I will try my best to have a good spread of beers across a reasonable price.
  • Limited space – capping things at just six taps and five bottled/canned beers.

You can check out the last (and first) beer list here and now it’s time for a little change.


a beer list for the crazy / festive season …

ON TAP

  1. Pirate Life Throwback IPA | Hoppy, mid strength and fabulous
  2. Feral Karma Citra | One of my favourite Black IPAs and one of my most beloved of the Feral range
  3. Eagle Bay Pale Ale | A go-to pale ale, consistently great and tasty
  4. Last Drop Pilsner | There aren’t many local pilsners and this is one of the best
  5. Two Birds Taco | Light enough for summer, interesting enough for the geeks, a freaking great beer
  6. Stone & Wood Pacific Ale | Fast becoming a classic and perfect for the onset of summer

Pirate Life Throwback IPA

IN THE FRIDGE

  1. Anderson Valley Blood Orange Gose | Have been enjoying a few of these lately and I’m totally in love!
  2. Epic Hop Zombie | Bring out the hops!
  3. Colonial Small Ale | A fantastic reduced alcohol beer with one of the most satisfying cans you’ll find
  4. Young Henry’s Newtowner | I’ve only seen the tinnies on Facebook in the last few days so I figure it’s kinda new and I know they’re tasty so why not chuck them on the list for summer?
  5. Holgate Temptress | Something a little dark but not overpowering, even when the weather is hot who wouldn’t want a chocolate porter with a luscious dessert?

Holgate Beers

Weekend Reading #52

For those lazy weekend mornings when you just want to stay in bed and catch up on a little reading – Weekend Reading is a weekly (ahem, usually) post with the articles I’ve enjoyed in the past seven days.


Craft Beer | Cascade Reigns: Top Hops 2007 vs 2015

I’ve often thought that craft beer has more in common food than wine, from the careful balance of flavours to the variety of those flavours and the boundaries that seem to be constantly being pushed. Ingredients in cooking seem to come in and out of fashion and so it seems do hop varieties, there are some classics of course but also bright new stars.

I wonder whether a hop usage report for Australian brewers would look much different? Galaxy would surely make the list I’d guess.

Business Insider Australia | Here’s why Pabst Brewing isn’t afraid of the craft beer movement

The language and jargon in this article is interesting to me and certainly it’s not limited to just this one article. Terms like “SKU count”, “consumer” and “lifestyle brands” are corporate speak that, to me, feels out of place in the craft beer community. Maybe this is one of the differences between corporate beer and craft beer, one side analyses it whilst the other is part of it, is genuine and helps drive it.

New York Post | Craft brewers say new FDA mandate will limit beer selection

Nutritional information on beers seems to be coming up more and more though I think the jury is still very much out on whether that’s what we really want.