GBW Day 6 : Boatrocker + GABS (again)

Good Beer Week, Day 6

Saturday 20 May

AMONGST THE BARRELS AT ONE OF MY FAVOURITE BREWERIES

After another slightly dusty start to the day, easily made better by the Donut Shop on Gertrude Street, I ventured out to Braeside to check out the Boatrocker Barrel Room with my friend, and brewer for the upcoming Nowhereman Brewing, Paul Wyman.

The bar greets you in the middle of the room when you walk in and it’s eye catching bar front is covered in delightfully fun pink flamingos.

The food on offer is simple – a charcuterie and a cheese board and a few pizzas but it’s hard to go past the boards when you are drinking sours beers and such.

Paul Wyman looking pretty happy at the Boatrocker Barrel Room, charcuterie board (left) and cheese board (right)

The tasting trays are the way to go if you’re like me and want to try as many beers as possible. There’s no set trio of beers, you just pick whatever three beers you’d like to try and the staff will line them up on your tray in the order they recommend you enjoy them in.

The beers were all fantastic. From the hoppy beers on offer, the stand outs for me were California Dreamin’, a US style pale ale, that was bursting with tropical fruit flavour but in a very light body so it was super easy drinking. Stepping up next to the Jabber Jaw Double IPA, that had been freshly tapped that day, was another great beer.

Boatrocker California Dreamin’

The Wilde Cherry beer, that is a blend of 12 and 18 month French oak barrique aged Flanders style red ale, and aged on whole, fresh Morello cherries, was stupidly beautiful. Miss Pinky, their raspberry berliner weisse, was on point as always and the Roger Ramjet (2014) was, as you’d imagine, sensational.

You can re-visit one of my previous blog posts about Boatrocker’s 2013 Ramjet which includes an interview with founder and head brewer Matt Houghton.

It’s pretty cool to be drinking beers amongst the barrels some of them have likely come from. The barrels vary from what appears to be clean and unused to others that have clearly been there for a while, darkened and even damp from what was probably a tasting to check how its contents were evolving.

Admittedly Boatrockers Barrel Room is a bit of a distance out of the city but much like recommending someone visiting Perth should go to Fremantle, it is well worth the trip. Paul and I split an Uber to and from Melbourne CBD and it cost just shy of $50 each way.

(Another) GABS session

What better way to follow up tasting a dozen or so great Boatrocker beers than by trying more beers at the Saturday night session of the GABS Festival. During this session, I made a point of checking out some festival beers.

Sierra Nevada Bombastic Monastic

The Sierra Nevada (USA) Bombastic Montastic, a Belgian Brown Ale aged in Brandy barrels with additions of cocoa and mandarin, was beautiful! Lovely and right with dark fruit notes and surprisingly easy drinking even though it’s 10.2 percent ABV.

Another great beer was the Behemoth (NZ) Chocolate Fish Milk Stout that hasn’t got anything to do with actual fish in the ocean. Apparently there is a chocolate lolly in New Zealand called ‘chocolate fish’ that is a pink marshmallow, shaped like a fish, and covered in chocolate. The beer wasn’t at all sickly sweet like you may expect from a lolly inspired beer. It had a lovely raspberry fruit character complete with the raspberry tartness you get in real raspberries, of course, balanced into soft chocolatey stout.

 

GBW Day 5 : GABS

Discovering great new beers all day at the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (aka GABS)

Good Beer Week Day 5

Friday 19 May

ALL ABOUT GABS

GABS aka The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular kicked off on Friday its three day run in Melbourne before the festival hits Sydney on Saturday 27 May and Auckland Friday 16 and Saturday 17 June.

More information about GABS at their website

Feeling mildly hungover from the night before, I devoured a Bahn Mi on my way to GABS which sorted me out nicely. Thanks to Kyle from Gage Roads for recommending N Lee Bakery on Smith Street for really great Bahn Mi (incidentally The Urban List Melbourne also agrees!)

Rather than trying to get around to trying all the GABS festival beers, the unique and one-off brews made especially for the festival, I instead focused on just making sure each beer I had was something I had never tried before and most likely couldn’t get in Perth.

Stomping Ground Hook Turn Pilsner

My first beer at GABS was the Stomping Ground (VIC) Hook Turn Pilsner, something tasty but something that would also be a nice way to ease myself into the festival. It’s quite gutsy for a pilsner with a larger and rounder mouth feel than I was expecting and went down really, really well.

Rodenbach Vintage

I followed this up with Rodenbach (BEL) Vintage, bracing and wonderfully balanced sourness. Then some Fixation (VIC) Squish and Fury & Son (VIC) Grapefruit Session Ale, both were excellent beers!

Fury & Son’s head brewer Craig pouring some Grapefruit Session Ale

On recommendation from several people, I went to the La Siréne (VIC) stand to try their GABS Festival beer – an espresso sour, a dark farmhouse sour ale brewed with espresso and fermented in French oak, soured using their house souring bacteria. Getting this beer from the La Sirene stand meant it was served on nitro so it had a soft creaminess to it. The overall result was deliciously interesting. The aroma reminded me of opening a fresh bag of coffee beans and there was no indication of the sourness inside. The flavour was a clean and good balance of black coffee and sour.

Another recommendation I followed up was the Pirate Life (SA) Vanilla Malt Thickshake, an IPA that tasted a lot like it had been blended with white chocolate. This was delightfully confusing and really quite sessionable.

Pirate Life Vanilla Malt Thickshake

Given my love of beer and cheese I was delighted to see cheese at the Stomping Ground stand. Presented by Milawa Cheese Company, they were serving up great little cheese boards and they even had a couple of beer cheese – King River Gold, a wash rind cheese, that had been brined in wort and washed in Stomping Ground Rauchbier and a blue cheese infused with the Stomping Ground Bricktower Barley Wine.

Thanks to the team at GABS for providing me with media pass for all sessions and including $25 value on my card.

GBW Day 4 : Colonial, Starward + beer awards

Good Beer Week, Day 4

Thursday 18 May

Friends of mine who work in the booze industry had organised to tour through Colonial Brewing and Starward Distillery, both in Port Melbourne and a stones throw, if you have a really, really good arm, from each other. Luckily they didn’t seem to mind if I tagged along and so my fourth day at Good Beer Week started pretty damn well!

Checking out Colonial Brewing

Colonial Brewing, Port Melbourne // Artwork by Ian Mutch // White space is used for their projector screen

Colonial’s Port Melbourne site, previously occupied by Matilda Bay, is home to a 25 hectolitre brew kit and though that’s the same size as the one at their Margaret River brewery, they have triple the number of tanks. The brewery is currently running with six brewers doing triple brews every day resulting in more than a million of litres of beer per year.

The canning line is equally busy, pushing through 100 cans per minute and there’s room to grow, in fact the machine could accommodate up to three times the work load it’s currently doing.

The canning line isn’t just fast, it’s also fantastic for quality control, for instance it weighs each can and if it’s not the correct weight, the machine removes it from the line.

 

Thanks heaps to Stiv, Georgia, Joel and Margaret for the tour, the t-shirt and a couple of cheeky tastings too!

Checking out Starward Distillery

Starward moved into this location from Essendon in December. Production runs seven days a week doing three distillations every day plus opening the bar from Friday to Sunday.

A 1,000 tonne grist in the mash yields 5,000 litres after which fermentation then distillation happens and then the waiting game, aging.

Thanks to Paul, Starward Brand Ambassador, for the tour and tasting!

L-R : Steve from 100 Proof, Starward’s brand ambassador Paul and Adam from 100 Proof

The 25th annual Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA)

AIBA hosts Pete Mitcham and Kirrily Waldron

This is THE night for the Australian craft beer industry and between this and Good Beer Week it makes Melbourne an irresistible time for hundreds across the country.

Will (Feral Brewing), Caitlin (Nail Brewing) and I

Returning from last year, the evening was hosted by Kirrily “The Beer Diva” Waldron and Pete “Prof Pilsner” Mitcham. The food was by Adam D’Sylva from two Melbourne restaurants, Coda and Tonka.

Hot smoked yellowtail kingfish, green papaya, cucumber, tamarind and roasted rice dressing paired with Gage Roads Little Dove
Roasted yellow duck curry with jasmine rice paired with Fixation IPA
Classic apple tarte tatin, caramel popcorn ice cream and black salt paired with the AIBA 2017 Collaboration beer Citrus East Coast IPA

As is always the trend, the awards received a record number of entries. WA breweries were awarded 88 medals in total with 15 of those being gold. Colonial Brewing took home a trophy for the can design on their Pale Ale and The Beer Farm got a trophy for Best International Lager for their India Pale Lager.

Full results can be found here.

Me and the boss aka John (Nail Brewing)
Stiv (Colonial Brewing) and Ben (Beer Farm)
L-R : Ross (The Sip), Blainey (100 Proof), me, Ash and Eddie (Little Creatures)

Queensland breweries Green Beacon and Balter Brewing were awarded trophies for Champion Small Australian Brewery and Champion Medium Australian Brewery respectively. In addition, Balter were also awarded Best New Exhibitor.

Steve (Feral) and Kyle (Gage Roads)
Brent and Brendan (Cheeky Monkey) and I
Blainey (100 Proof), Dan (Dainton Family Brewing), me (weirdly sticking my arms out for some reason), Dave (Mountain Goat) and Reece (Nowhereman Brewing)
Blainey (100 Proof) and I

Over in the media section I was stoked to see my name in the top three, for the second year running, alongside Australian Brews News editor James Atkinson and Crafty Pint‘s Kerry McBride. James Atkinson was awarded the media trophy for his excellent work.

Blainey (100 Proof), Reece (Nowhereman Brewing), Kyle (Gage Roads) and Caitlin (Nail Brewing)
Margaret (Colonial), myself and Caitlin (Nail Brewing)

GBW Day 3 : Marketing and Brewers & Chewers

Another great day of Good Beer Week stuff with a great branding panel in the afternoon and Brewers & Chewers in the evening

Good Beer Week, Day 3

Wednesday 17 May

THE ROYSTON

In an Uber on the way to The Royston, taking a street that seemed to be packed with endless speed bumps, I realised that perhaps I was a little dusty from the night before. When I got to The Royston in Richmond, I was delighted to find Feral’s Biggie Juice on tap – a beer I’d not managed to try back home in Perth – and I asked the bartender, Ed, to recommend good food for a slight hangover.

That’s when cheeseburger spring rolls entered my life and all the right in the world again!

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Cheeseburger Spring Rolls with Tomato Sauce, Mustard and Pickles and Feral Biggie Juice

MARKETING : MAKE YOUR BRAND TALK

In the late afternoon I headed to Beer Deluxe at Federation Square, otherwise known during Good Beer Week, as the Trade Hub. The hub has been hosting great talks and panel discussions and the opportunity to learn from some of the industries finest.

I attended panel called Marketing : Make Your Brand Talk hosted by Luke Robertson of Ale of a Time, a podcaster and journalist. The panel consisted of Lawrence from Colonial Brewing, Danielle from Two Birds Brewing and Steve from The Honey Bar and Chunky Media.

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L-R : Lawrence from Colonial Brewing, Danielle from Two Birds and Steve from The Honey Bar and Chunky Media

It was a great panel and discussion topic that potentially could have gone for hours if time permitted.

Steve from Melbourne’s The Honey Bar and co-founder of Chunky Media, recommended that if you don’t have much budget for social media, the best approach is to pick one channel and focus on it.

“Dive into something that’s the best reflection of what your brand can be,” Steve said and was quick to point out this isn’t always Instagram.

“Facebook controls the world,” Steve noted about social media advertising, stressing that there can be much benefit from taking the time to learn about Facebook advertising.

Lawrence from Colonial Brewing discussed their approach to social media by using different channels for the different aspects of their business that encompasses two breweries plus several venues across Western Australia and Victoria. Whilst Facebook is used for the venues and the brewery, Instagram is for their overall brand communications so there is lot of forward planning and coordination when it comes to social media.

“We have to be nimble and smart,”

Lawrence, Colonial Brewing

Danielle from Two Birds Brewing discussed the importance of making sure your social media is authentic and personal. “It’s important to have a legitimate voice,” Danielle said.

“We are fortunate enough to have a story that people like to tell,”

Danielle, Two Birds Brewing

“People care about individuals,”

Steve, The Honey Bar

On the topic of dealing with negative comments on social media, Steve, Lawrence and Danielle agreed it’s best to take the conversation out of the public comment section, not to avoid, but to speak directly to that person. The fact that the complaint was made, Lawrence says, can be positive if it means that person wants to engage in conversation with you. Steve agrees and believes they will appreciate that, as the brewer/owner responding to the complaint, they’ll appreciate you’ve have taken the time to acknowledge and reply.

Whatever you do, all three agree, is do not hit back.

“Don’t reply to a direct hit with a direct hit back,”

Danielle, Two Birds Brewing

As a woman in the beer industry, Danielle is often asked about this topic and also the branding of Two Birds which she actually credits to someone else.

“We didn’t come up with the name. Someone else did and we paid them,” Danielle laughed. They loved it and the reference to her and Jayne, the co-founder and brewer, as the ‘two birds’.

‘Believe it or not, not everyone gets it,” Danielle said to a pretty surprised audience.

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Two Birds T-Shirt
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Two Birds Brewery aka Two Birds Nest in Spotswood, Victoria

The brand isn’t, and never was planned, to be about targeting women, instead they see themselves as a “gender friendly brand” and much more about the brand being a direct reflection of her and Jayne’s personalities.

When asked about advice for a brands personality and brand plan, the panel had some great tips.

“Try not to be everything to everybody,” Danielle said. “Focus on one thing.”

Lawrence added however that you still need to have some flexibility, such as the opportunity Colonial recently had to get involved with the Essendon Football Club.

“You need to be fluid,” Steve echoed reminding the audience that a business plan is not a business reality until it actually happens.

“The market will tell you who you are,”

Steve, The Honey Bar

Whilst planning is important, Steve reminded people to pay attention to data. Whilst your brand plan might include a particular target audience, you may get data telling you another group are the people getting into your brand. You need to listen to what the data is telling you.

When it comes to making time for journalists and bloggers, Danielle admits that it isn’t always easy to find the time around everything else involved in running a brewery. “It can be frustrating but it is worth investing in,” Danielle said, “and we’ve noticed a dip in sales when we have shied away from PR.”

“There are always interesting stories coming from the brewery,”

Lawrence, Colonial Brewing

BREWERS & CHEWERS AT THE LOCAL TAPHOUSE

This, to me, is a staple on the Good Beer Week calendar. It’s a beer dinner that combines speed dating with a meet the brewer event and it’s held at one of the most iconic beer venues in the country, The Local Taphouse in St Kilda.

Catching up with a table full of great WA people

Over appetizer, entrée, main and dessert, eight brewers take a seat at a table each, giving you the chance to chat before the bell rings and they’re up and off to the next table and you get another brewer to talk to!

Duck and pistachio terrine, mustard fruit chutney and autumn leaves

The evening was expertly MC’d, as always, by Pete “Prof Pilsner” Mitcham who also made sure to get each brewer on the microphone for a short interview throughout the night.

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Adrian Walker from Firestone Walker (US)

Adrian describes the Double Barrel Ale as his “home coming beer”, the beer that, no matter where he drinks it, always makes him feel at home.

The Double Barrel Ale was the first beer they ever released, an English Pale Ale that is partially fermented in their oak barrel brewing system and then blended with beer fermented in stainless, Adrian estimates the approximate blend being 25/75 respectively.

You can follow Adrian on Twitter here.

During his interview with Pete “Prof Pilsner”, Adrian turned the interview into more of a speech and encouraged drinkers to speak up if they see any Firestone Walker older than 60 days and he also encouraged drinkers not to forget about their local brewers, saying “you should drink your local beer.”

Fuller's (UK) Black Cab Stout
John Keeling from Fuller’s (UK) with their Black Cab Stout

Served on nitro, Black Cab is a beautiful roasty stout with a light body, black coffee and dry finish.

“Great beers have personality and character,”

John Keeling, Fuller’s

John strongly believes that in order to have great beers you need to employ people with personality and character too; boring and dull people will result in boring a dull flavour.

My friend Dan looking pretty happy and who can blame him?! Roast pork bell, cumberland stuffing, confit garlic and thyme

 

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Renn Blackman from Blackman’s Brewing (VIC) with Arthur Smoked Porter

This beer is named after brewer and co-founder Renn’s great grandfather Arthur. An easy drinking porter with a smokiness that’s in balance with the beer instead of totally dominating it.

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Stu from Yeastie Boys (UK / NZ) with Big Mouth Session IPA

The Big Mouth Session IPA was beautifully citrusy and lime pithy with a crisp bitterness and the recipe is one that Stu made as a home brewer.

I think it’s also worth nothing the t-shirt that Stu choose for the dinner knowing that Joel (Dutch Trading Co and formerly Cellarbrations Carlisle) would be at the dinner and who had organised these t-shirts back in 2013.

Ryan Schmiege from Deschutes Brewing with their Passionfruit IPA

The passionfruit IPA does what it says on the label with lovely passionfruit flavours and soft malts in support.

Ryan told us about the new two barrel pilot system being installed back home whilst he was in Australia. Previously experimental batches were brewed at their Bend brewpub but Ryan is looking forward to using this new system instead.

Profiteroles
Profiteroles, vaniella creme, salted caramel, pistachio praline

The Wild Beer Co beer that was served was the Wild Goose Chase Farmhouse Ale, Andrew described this beer has an introductory sour beer. It was a beautiful farmhouse ale and made using their apple yeast culture. Andrew said the culture came from one of their employees who had a small orchard, they collected it and put it into fresh wort and were really happy with the results.

In addition to this apple yeast culture, the brewery uses many others including a house ale yeast, a Saison and Brettanomyces mix, a grape culture, a sourdough culture and a mix lacto and Brettanomyces strain.

 

Having had a few beers and being fans of Bruce Willis movie, The Fifth Element, we asked Dave early about the name Akasha which refers to the ‘fifth element’ and they have indeed made a beer referencing the movie – the Korben D IIPA.

Sven and Juan from Naparbier with host Pete Mitcham

The guys from Spanish brewery Naparbier, Juan Rodrigues and Sven Bosch, were very interesting to chat with and hence the lack of photos.

Brewer Juan was a home brewery for ten years before starting at Naparbier. Sven, CEO of the brewery, wasn’t shy in proclaiming Juan was one of the best brewers in Europe.

Located near Pamplona, Naparbier exports half of their beer. Their home country of Spain is still largely “wine country” but is now home to around 600 breweries.

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L-R : Steve from Local Taphouse, Stu McKinlay from Yeastie Boys and Guy from Local Taphouse

Congratulations​ to Steve, Guy and the whole Local Taphouse team on another great event!

GBW Day 2 : Lots of Cheese and Kaiju! Dinner

Lunch at Milk the Cow, a licensed fromagerie in Carlton, and for dinner – Kaiju! Beer Degustation at one of Melbourne’s best Japanese restaurants

Good Beer Week, Day 2: Tuesday 16 May

MILK THE COW

Licensed fromagerie. Two of the best words ever to be put together.

Day two of my Good Beer Week adventure in Melbourne was spent with two great friends, Dan and Vicky. We met many years ago over a love of beer but we also share a love of all things cheesey – including so-bad-they’re-good jokes – and so we decided to have lunch at Milk the Cow in Carlton.

Cheese and Beer Flight // Large Size which gives you 90ml each beer and 30g each cheese

There’s also paired cheese flights for wine, cognac/armagnac, sake, whiskym, dessert wine/fortified and cider available.

This flight was –

  1. Midnight Moon with Napoleon’s Pale Ale
  2. Reypenaer VSOP with Palm Amber Ale
  3. Meredith Farm Chevre with Bridgeport Hop Czah IPA
  4. La Tur with Codeo Shiro

Each pairing was lovely and well put together, the stand out for me being the Midnight Moon and Napoleon’s Pale Ale and the most interesting was the La Tur with Codeo Shiro.

5 Cheese Cheesemonger’s Choice

The Cheesemonger’s Choice Cheeseboards change weekly depending on what’s fresh and new, we received (left to right)

  • L’Artisan Mountain Man
  • Mothais Sur Feuille
  • Chimay a la biere
  • Quickes Oak Smoked Cheddar
  • Swiss Gruyere

KAIJU! BEER DEGUSTATION DELUXE

The evening ended with my friends Dan and Vicky and I laughing at a very bad but awesome joke Vicky told whilst we tucked into an amazing dessert that was dish number eight in what was an amazing evening of food and beer.

In summary, wow.

The event was held at Japanese restaurant Kumo Izakaya on Lygon Street in Brunswick East, owner Andre Bishop – and official Dassai Sake ambassador – welcomed the packed restaurant to the evening with a serve of Dassai 50 Junmai Daiginjo sake and lead a resounding group “cheers!”

Dassai 50 Junmai Daiginjo

 

Swordfish Ceviche with Avocado Puree, Apple and Kalamansi paired with Kaiju! Krush

Nat Reeves, one of the co-founding brothers behind Kaiju!, explained that in the case of Kaiju! Krush the name popped into his head and he knew he had to make a beer to match it. It had to be a tropical fruit bomb and it had to be immensely drinkable for the ‘Krush’ part. If you have had this beer then you know that they absolutely nailed the brief, it’s a stunning beer!

Paired with the swordfish ceviche it was a gorgeous match, the tropical fruits in the beer working in harmony with the citrus of the dish.

Vegetable Tempura selection of broccoliini, pumpkin and sugar snap pea paired with Kaiju! Savage Wizard American Pale Ale

Massive passionfruit and guava notes in the Savage Wizard made it an absolute delight and it cut beautifully through the light tempura batter.

Home made vege chips and spiced nuts paired with Kaiju! Metamorphosis IPA

These were some seriously moreish snacks and the beer disappeared just as quickly! Metamorphosis is an Californian style IPA with a heavy use of crystal malt supporting Columbus and Cascade hops.

Traditional bincho-tan flame grilled yakitori with Murray River pink salt paired with Kaiju! Hopped Out Red Ale

The Hopped Out Red Ale was the second beer Kaiju! ever made and another great match to the yakitori which, my friend Vicky said, might have been even better than any she’d had on her recent trip to Japan!

Grilled freshwater Eel with cream cheese, blackberry and pickled ginger paired with Kaiju! Cthulhu on the Moon Black IPA

My first experience with eating eel was the stand out dish and pairing for the night! The light roasty character in the Black IPA paired perfectly with the eel and the hoppy notes complemented the slight sweetness in the dish.

Matt remarked that the beer came about after their designer came up with such an incredible label that they had to put a beer in it!

Saikoro Steak – black Angus strip loin with ponzu and wasabi paired with Kaiju! Aftermath Double IPA

The steak was cooked to absolute perfection. The beer was the first Kaiju! beer ever made with Matt describing it as having “lots and lots of dank American hops.”

Mini cheese platter of comte and savourine with sultanas and candied walnuts paired with Kaiju! Betelgeuse Imperial Amber Ale

Because you can never have enough cheese in one day! More delicious cheese and more delicious beer, the Betelgeuse is basically twice as big at their Hopped Out Red making it twice the fun!

Chocolate mouse with crumbed brownies, honeycomb ice cream and chilli meringue paired with Kaiju! Where Strides the Behemoth Double India Black Ale

What way to close out a dinner – barrel aged beer and a kick ass dessert, a beautiful pairing. The beer was aged in Pedro Ximenez barrels and this was just one keg of the four they made.

Amazing night, congratulations to the whole team at Kumo and Kaiju! on an excellent evening!

 

GBW Day 1 : Beer School and Stomping Ground

My first day of Good Beer Week included a trip to Beer School, hosted by Boatrocker Brewing, and then dinner by Michelin star chef Daniel Burns at Stomping Ground

Good Beer Week, Day 1 : Monday 16 May

Why walk when you can run? This seems to be the way I approach Melbourne’s Good Beer Week.

BOATROCKER BREWING : BEER SCHOOL

I landed in Melbourne around lunch time Monday and was sitting at the Boatrocker Brewing Beer School at Beer Deluxe for the 4pm session of ‘Cut, Contrast and Complement’ hosted by founder and head brewer of Boatrocker, Matt Houghton, and Rob Kabboord, head chef of Merricote.

Together they guided us through a great flavour education session with a plate of individual examples of flavours such as fresh lemon for sour, parmesan for umami and honey for sweet.

Pretzel for salt, honey for sweet, radicchio for bitter, lemon for sour and parmesan for umami

It’s one thing to read about beer and food pairing but it’s another to taste and experience, particularly with industry pros and broken down in this easy to understand format.

After identifying salt, sweet, bitter, umami and sour it was onto some beer and food pairings looking at examples of cut, contrast and complement.

Boatrockers beers are diverse, interesting and delicious so their ability to pair to food is pretty much boundless.

Contrast pairing of Boatrocker Orange Sherbert with Enokitake mushrooms and parmesan

For me, the Orange Sherbert was delicately acidic and definitely sherberty and paired with the Enokitake mushrooms and parmesan it seemed to round out the beer and soften its acidity. Really interesting!

Boatrocker Stout, only available on tap, a gorgeous English style stout

Trying the Boatrocker Stout was a little special since it’s not available in bottles. Gorgeous nutty, chocolate, coffee and fudgy aromas and flavours like black coffee, burnt toast and chocolate. So damn good.

EVENING WITH MICHELIN STAR CHEF DANIEL BURNS (NYC)

What a way to experience Stomping Ground Beer Hall for the first time – with a dinner by Michelin star chef Daniel Burns, co-owner and head chef at Tørst in New York, paired with beers by Stomping Ground and Evil Twin Brewing, of which Daniel is also co-owner.

Read more about Daniel : ‘Have you met Daniel Burns?’ on Phaidon

Justin Joiner (L) of Stomping Ground welcoming everyone to the evening alongside Daniel Burns (R)

The venue is simply incredible and there wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like about it. Freaking sensational. The brewery itself is beautiful too and I was stoked and surprised at how many beers they had on tap, it’s not your standard pale ale, pilsner, wheat beer, stout line up that’s for sure!

One part of the Stomping Ground beer list

Co-owner Guy Greenstone gave me a very quick brewery tour in-between courses. Half, single, double and triple fermenters give the brewery lots of flexibility and it’s hard not to get excited at the sight of a handful of barrels stashed out the back quietly doing their work.

The beers are fantastic, I wrote down precisely zero notes as I was too busy eating and drinking my way through a menu of deliciousness but my stand outs were the Bad Seed Berliner Weisse that was bang-on in terms of being delicate, lightly sour and immensely refreshing; the Barrel Aged Saison with just enough barrel influence that doesn’t steam roll over the Saison character and the Upside Down Brown was toasty with great sweet malt character.

Roasted Beetroot and Almond with Stomping Ground Bad Seed Berliner Weisse

 

Beef Tartare, Razor Clam and Shiso with Stomping Ground Bad Seed Berliner Weisse

 

Lobster Relish and Daikon with Stomping Ground Bad Seed Berliner Weisse

 

Mackerel. Poblano and Cucumber with Stomping Ground Market Saison

 

Smoked Celeriac, Scampi Roe and Kohlrabi with Stomping Ground Barrel Aged Saison
Duck, Carrot and Brown Butter with Evil Twin Brett Yeast Helles

 

Roasted Sunchoke, Thyme and Caramelised Apple with Stomping Ground Upside Down Brown

Daniel’s book, Food & Beer, was made available to purchase so I grabbed one and he was also signing them so I got to have a quick chat with him and thank him for a wonderful night.

L-R : Me, Daniel Burns and Wendy Marinich

Big thanks to Matt Marinich and the team at Stomping Ground Beer Hall for inviting me as a guest to this amazing event!

WA Beer News #11

There is a lot of stuff happening in WA’s craft beer scene that it’s genuinely hard to keep up with all the new beer releases and WA really is kicking ass when it comes to craft beer and so I thought I’d try and make a regular feature out of all the new beery goodness our state has to offer.

There is a lot of stuff happening in WA’s craft beer scene that it’s genuinely hard to keep up with all the new beer releases and WA really is kicking ass when it comes to craft beer and so I thought I’d try and make a regular feature out of all the new beery goodness our state has to offer.

The girl+beer Facebook page has a list of upcoming beer events that you might find worth subscribing to!


New Releases

Colonial Brewing : Dark Pale

  • Available on tap only
  • Limited Release

Colonial’s autumn release is an Altbier, a traditional German style beer and they’ve used European hops alongside Best Heidelberg and Best Vienna malts.

“The Altbier opens with a nose of deep fruit and brooding plum that leads into a very smooth and approachable bodied beer”

Colonial Brewing

Look out for this beer at –

Bootleg Brewing : Traditional ‘The Flaming Youth’ Gose

  • Limited Release (being considered for permanent line up)
  • Available on tap only

Bootleg have been hitting the Gose hard with two releases of this style already this year. Now they’re releasing a traditional gose, the base beer for the previous Passionfruit Gose.

The beer uses 60% wheat malt and 40% pale malt plus WA pink salt and locally sourced coriander seeds.

Though the beer is a limited release, there is talk at the brewery of making it part of the core range meaning it would be available all the time. If you’re keen for this, let them know!

Mash Brewing : Bull Stout

  • Limited Release
  • 330ml bottles

An easy drinking and approachable stout, brewed under contract for Redbull.

Billabong Brewing : Smash Pale Ale

  • Limited Release
  • Available on tap from the brewery only

It seems Idaho 7 is getting popular, Innate Brewers created an imperial pale ale using the variety not that long ago and now we have Billabong Brewing, located in Myaree, creating a pale ale too.

It’s a single malt, single hop beer described on their  Facebook page as “bursting with citrus and tropical goodness.”

Gage Roads : American Brown Ale

  • Sneak peek keg available at The Balmoral
  • Official release end May/early June

Brewed with the autumn season in mind, Gage Roads representative Tim Milhouse says the beer has “added lactose to add to the creaminess and nice heavy caramel notes. Think hot buttered rum.”

Gage Roads : Sea Devil Stout

  • Sneak peek keg available at The Balmoral
  • Official release in July

Coming in at 9 percent ABV and 70 IBU, the Sea Devil Stout is a pretty gutsy beer.

“Starts off super rich and smokey then finishes with chocolate and black coffee bitterness,”

Tim Milhouse, Gage Roads

5 minutes with Brendan from Cheeky Monkey

Thanks heaps to Brendan for taking the time to do this Q&A, here he is chatting about what he loves about his job, his epic epiphany beers and more …

This edition of 5 minutes with … features Brendan Day, sales manager and brand ambassador for Cheeky Monkey Brewery.

Brendan recently became a certified cicerone, a globally recognise certification for beer professionals that covers ingredients, serving, pairing, styles and, of course, tasting.

It’s reported that the certification has a daunting 1 in 3 pass rate in the United States. Here in WA Brendan sat the exam alongside Scott Earley from Mash Brewing and Adam Leske from Cellarbrations Carlisle, and I am stoked to say that all three smashed the 80% minimum requirement to pass.

Read : 5 minutes with … Scott from Mash Brewing

“We had a study group that would meet up weekly for months before,” Brendan says, “so it was a pretty big journey culminating in a four hour exam, so to find out I had passed was pretty special.”

The study group, organised and headed up by Steve Blaine, aka “Blainey” who was one of WA’s first certified cicerones. With Brendan, Scott and Adam, WA now has five certified cicerones.

“I’d like to give a quick shout out to Blainey, who helped all three of us pass the exam!”

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Photo – DTC, January 2017, Study Session for Cicerone Exam

 

Thanks heaps to Brendan for taking the time to do this Q&A, here he is chatting about what he loves about his job, his epic epiphany beers and more …

What makes a beer a really great beer?

A really great beer is one you remember a long time after drinking it. Whether that’s because it’s so enjoyable to drink, a style you’ve never tried before or a beer helping to celebrate a special occasion. There’s a lot of really great beers in my life haha.

What is the most exciting thing about WA craft beer right now?

The WA scene is absolutely killing it at the moment and I think that’s the most exciting part about WA craft beer, the scene. You have brewers that are producing world class beers, reps that live and breathe beer, bottle shops that stock hundreds of different beers and are knowledgeable on them, consumers that are loyal to their locals and a community that supports each other. It’s a pretty amazing thing to be a part of.

What do you think is the greatest misconception about craft beer?

That craft beer is all about the hops. Yes, they may be slightly over represented in bars and on shelves, but if you think craft beer is all about the hops you aren’t spending enough time in your local breweries!

What was your epiphany beer?

I have two that I can’t decide between. Rodenbach Original and Anderson Valley Barrel Aged Stout. Both of these beers really changed my perception of what beer can and should be. I fell in love with them both as soon as I tried them and instantly started researching and hunting for other examples of the styles. Barrel aged stouts and sours continue to be the most memorable beers, although, perhaps not as life changing as those first two!

Finish this sentence: The WA beer scene needs more …

Barrels. More barrel aged beers and sours please.

WA Beer News #10

There is a lot of stuff happening in WA’s craft beer scene that it’s genuinely hard to keep up with all the new beer releases, beer dinners, free bottle shop tastings, expansion plans, constantly rotating beer taps, beer festival … WA really is kicking ass when it comes to craft beer and so I thought I’d try and make a regular feature out of all the beery news that our state has to offer.

The girl+beer Facebook page has a list of upcoming beer events that you might find worth subscribing to!

New Releases

Rocky Ridge Brewing : Gold Leader

  • 6.2 percent ABV
  • Limited Release
  • Available only on tap

Our newest brewery, Rocky Ridge from Busselton, have teamed up with The Left Bank, Fremantle, and the Margaret River Roasting Co to create what head brewer Hamish Coates calls a white/gold stout.

“It’s been designed as a sensory challenge to show just how heavily we rely on our vision to assess and categorise the beer we drink,”

Hamish Coates, Rocky Ridge Brewing

Hamish says the beer has aromas of strong coffee, a little dark chocolate and raisins with flavours like toffee, white chocolate, honey, black coffee and a dark chocolate bitterness. Many of these characteristics are what we’d associate with stouts but in this case, the colour is copper / golden appearance, challenging the normal associations we make with golden beers.

Rocky Ridge have used two varieties of Brazilian coffee beans – Brazilina Meloso and Blue Diamond – that were specially roasted for this beer. The beans were added whole at about a ratio of 2:1 Meloso to Blue Diamond which allowed for “the rich dark chocolate and raisin of the Meloso to shine with the more subtle white chocolate of the Blue Diamond added to the body,” says Hamish.

The whole coffee beans were added much like you’d dry hop a beer, and they circulated in the brew for eight hours to get the most aromatics from the beans without the colour.

Find this beer at* –

Beer at DTC
Dutch Trading Co, July 2016

Cheeky Monkey Brewery : Pilot Batch – Pale Ale

  • 5.0 percent ABV
  • Limited Release

This one isn’t just an ordinary limited release, it’s a trial run for a pale ale to replace the current pale ale in their core range, the Old Reliable.

They’ve used classic American hops and modern Australian hops to create what brand ambassador Brendan Day describes as a “modern pale ale”, perhaps a hybrid of an American and an Australian style pale ale.

The team at the brewery are seeking as much feedback as possible on this one so give it a go and get in touch via social media or send them an email.

Find this beer at* –

Oh and expect to see an Australian Lager from these guys soon too!

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Pizza at Cheeky Monkey, June 2016

Little Creatures Brewing : Fire Falcon

  • 5.8 percent ABV
  • Winter seasonal beer
  • Available on tap and packaged

Described as a hoppy red ale, the Fire Falcon is named after the beers main hop variety Falconer’s Flight which is from the United States. The variety was developed in 2010 to “honor and support the legacy of Northwest brewing legend, Glen Hay Falconer.”

The brewers notes on this say the Falconer’s Flight hops give the beer citrus and pine notes whilst the six speciality malts add caramel, raisin and subtle nuttiness.

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Feral Brewing : Big Biggie

  • 6.0 percent ABV
  • Collaboration with The Royston Hotel, Richmond (VIC)
  • Available on tap only

According to the Feral website, “the Royston crew joined us over in the West to brew a beer teaming with punchy tropical hip hop aromas full of apricot, peaches and passionfruit. Day dreamin’ in a cloud of haze, this IPA is intentionally cloudy contributing to a creamy mouth feel.”

The beer is on tap at the brewpub and will, of course, be available at The Royston and other Melbourne venues over Good Beer Week.

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*The beer isn’t always able to be tapped straight away so please contact the bar beforehand if you’re heading there specially for these beers

 

 

Beer sessions at the Food & Drink Symposium (FADS)

Sometimes beer gets forgotten at food and drink events but this isn’t the case at the Food and Drink Symposium. There will be a couple of opportunities to chat beer with a few great beer industry personalities making their way to the day.

WA’s first Food and Drink Symposium, aka FADS, is happening at the Claremont Showgrounds on Sunday May 28 and will “bring farmers, producers, chefs, educators and consumers together for a unique, community creating and sustainable food and drink event, with a day long program of talks, panel discussions and workshops.”

The concept is based on similar events such as Noma‘s MAD conferences and is being organised by Katrina Lane and Ai-Ling Truong, two well-known and active members in the local food scene. Katrina is a passionate local food advocator and Ai-Ling is the food curator and founder of Food Truck Rumble.

If you are interested in where you food comes from, if you use your own cloth shopping bags instead of plastic ones and if you prefer the markets over the nearby Coles, this event should be in your calendar!

Sometimes beer gets forgotten at food and drink events but this isn’t the case at the Food and Drink Symposium. There will be a couple of opportunities to chat beer with a few great beer industry personalities involved in the day. At the Q&A – Exploring the history of WA’s alcohol industry – Jack Purser from Indian Ocean Brewing and Sean Symons from White Lakes Brewing and former chief judge at the Perth Royal Beer Show Awards, will be looking at the craft beer world and how it has evolved.

Jack striking a pose at the Eagle Bay tent at last years Fremantle Beer Fest

After the lunch break, as part of the FADS Conversations sessions, Gerrard “Mitch” Mitchell and Paul Wyman will be hosting two sessions about beer and food. Each session will be focused on a beer style and pairing it with food but the guys don’t want people standing on ceremony, they’re there for a chat with you too! These casual and interactive sessions are free to attend.

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As a beer drinker in WA chances are you have enjoyed many of Paul’s beers. The Chief, a beautiful American Pale Ale that impressed both punters and beer judges, was from Paul’s time as head brewer at The Monk in Fremantle. From there Paul went on to head up the Colonial Brewing Margaret River brewhouse and now he is at the helm of Nowhereman Brewing, a new brewpub in West Leederville due to open mid-year.

Mitch is the executive chef for the Mary Street Bakery venues with extensive experience both locally and abroad, previously heading up the kitchens at Feral Brewing, The Monk and Five Bar. Mitch has established himself not only as a wonderful chef but as the beer and food chef in WA.

Paul (left) and Mitch (right) at Nowhereman Brewing

Within these sessions, Paul will examine one beer style, diving into its history and the style guidelines and Mitch will discuss the food he would pair with it and why. A small amount of beer and food will be provided since all that chatting will most certainly make you thirsty and hungry. But this isn’t a presentation, this is a discussion so the guys welcome feedback and comment, after all, beer and food is about conversation as much as it’s about flavour.

It’s having these sorts of conversations that Mitch and Paul both firmly believe is how food and beer culture will be promoted and shared.

“You need people who are passionate and constantly telling the same story,”

Paul

Small producers and brewers are often mistakenly labelled as each other’s competition but I rarely find any of them think like this, the reality is they are all fighting the same fight and one of the ways they do this is by singing the same tune. It’s about the importance of supporting local, about the stories behind each producer and why they do things a way that results in a better product in favour of something that purely serves to slash production costs.

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver Photography

When I ask the guys about how the industry will get these messages across, their answer is the same – education.

“Talk until someone starts rolling their eyes at you,”

Mitch

“Because all the big guys are constantly in peoples’ faces, you turn on the TV, open a paper, drive down the road, there’s something right there.” Competing with that kind of saturation is certainly challenging but constantly education and conversation is how that battle can be fought.

The conversation is never over because the industry is always changing. Free range eggs, Mitch says, are a great example, where the definition of what a free range egg has changed. “Now they [consumers] have to look for pasture raised,” Mitch remarks, “but we have only just taught people to look for ‘free range eggs’” and so the conversation continues.

Paul says it’s the same with beer, namely the definition of ‘craft beer’ that seems to be an increasingly blurring and overlapping category with global corporations releasing beers with packaging and marketing that echoes the style of a small, independent brewers. Often reading the small print on the back of a label or doing a Google search is the only way to determine if the beer in your hand is made locally by an independent brewery.

2014 : Paul, then with Colonial Brewing, chatting about beer at an event

For Paul and Mitch, presenting beer and food together makes a lot of sense and it’s more than just having something to wash down a messy burger. The increasing interest in food culture and the rise of craft beer are very much linked.

“It is amazing to see it start to come back – the rise of farmers markets, the rise of craft beer, all crafts are getting bigger. People want to know where stuff comes from,” Mitch says.

But the conversation about food culture is more than just knowing the name of the farm your cut of beef came from, it’s the importance of understanding exactly how every bit of food on your plate got there so that kids don’t grow up thinking that bananas come from supermarket.


Three easy ways to be more sustainable – Tips from Mitch

  1. Stop buying the “new” free range eggs and look for pasture raised eggs – if everyone did this tomorrow, “the big boys would have to go back to the farmers and make the system better.”

  2. Eat seasonally – with such easy access to almost anything we want, it is easy to forget that fresh product doesn’t grow in our backyard all year round but eating what is in season won’t just rack up points for sustainability, it will make for more flavourful produce in your cooking too!

  3. Eat 100% grass fed beef – Sure, it’ costs a little more but isn’t it worth it? “A few dollars per kilo in the scheme of things isn’t that much,” says Mitch and “instead of having 300gm of steak just have 200gm”


Like food culture, at the heart of craft beer is a sense of community, a connection with it’s local environment and an appreciation for quality ingredients.

Food and beer, individually and together, have a rich and long history – just look at the monks of old Belgian monasteries making beer and cheese – and bringing the two together is a great way to introduce people to good beer.

“Just getting people to drink craft beer is hard enough but I think if you can break that barrier down with food included, I think that really does impress on a lot of people,” says Paul. Beer is amazing on its own and then, when paired with the right dish, it can be incredible and take the beer to the next level.

The best food and the best beers I’ve ever had have always had two things in common – well put together flavours and an authentic story.


Paul and Mitch will be hosting two sessions as part of FADS CONVERSATIONS and each will feature a different style so if you’re thinking heading to one session, it’s most certainly worth returning for the second – just like any good beer is.

The Food and Drink Symposium is a crowd funded project, you can donate or donate AND get a perk with your hard earned cash here.