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.
“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!”
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 …
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
*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
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.
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.
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.
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,”
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.
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,”
“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.
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
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.”
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!
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.
This edition of 5 minutes with … features Scott Earley, brand ambassador for Mash Brewing Co.
This edition of 5 minutes with … features Scott Earley, brand ambassador for Mash Brewing Co. Like many people in the beer world, Scott is passionate about great beer and also happens to be a downright great guy too. Scott has been at Mash during a time of a lot of change including a full re-brand and the introduction of cans, both of which he played very significant roles in, not to mention the celebration of Mash’s 10th anniversary.
Scott has been hitting the books and recently sat the Certified Cicerone exam, the results of which are still unknown, and will continue to learn and study and he’s keen to help others learn about beer too. That’s why he is teaming up with the Belgian Beer Cafe in Perth’s CBD to present School of Beer.
He’ll be covering six topics, one per month held on the first Wednesday of the month, you can sign up for one or two or all of them!
Before you join Scott at School of Beer, you can get to know him a little better here where he talks about changing the way his mates drink, the growth of craft and what he loves about his job.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about craft beer?
I think the most common misconception about craft beer is that it is just beer. It’s not just a beer it’s a drink, it’s a luxury, it’s a lifestyle, it’s sustenance, it’s massively varied, it’s food, it’s a status symbol, it’s heavily ingrained into our history as human beings and most of all it’s just plain freaking gloriously delicious when done right! I feel that all beer is tarred with the same brush by so many and it has copped a bad rap over the many years due to unscrupulous large corporations and ridiculous tax laws that have strangled the life of beer over the years and left us with the conception that beer is a light fizzy yellow drink that is good for blokes to get pissed on and cause all of society’s problems.
I think the best thing about my job is I feel like part of an army of educators going out there and changing people’s minds!
You sort of get that Matrix kind of feeling when you start to see your mates bringing their own good beer to your parties rather the same old swill they have been drinking for years. It’s like “he’s starting to believe!”
What do you look for in a beer label / can design?
My opinion on label design is probably a little more skewed towards what’s ticking off the boxes from a marketing perspective rather than what looks cool. I look at everyones designs and think, “yep, they get it” or “nope, sorry looks cool but your message is lost”. It’s a tough gig trying to be individual out there at the moment. With so many people getting it right, it often feels like all your ideas are copying someone else’s work and you have to start again.
What has surprised you the most in your time at Mash Brewing?
I would say the growth of the industry in such a short time. Not only is the demand going crazy but the amount of breweries popping up is bananas. You sort of think “geez, I hope this demand keeps growing otherwise we are going to see a lot of cheap brewing equipment for sale in a few years.”
What is your favourite food and beer pairing?
I have been studying food and beer pairing for short while now and really I am not sure I have completely struck gold yet but a recent beer dinner saw a lot of the beer used in the actual food preparation and this really made a measurable difference to how the food was perceived and the what people thought of the actual taste while drinking and eating the same thing.
What is the most exciting thing about craft beer in WA right now?
Right now I think WA really seems to be kicking all sorts of arse. We have some truly solid breweries pushing boundaries that I think would certainly give anything from the US or NZ a run for its money. Though some stand out more than others there is little brewed in WA that is not quality. The crew in the industry I get to work with and learn from in WA is also pretty rad. I was only an outsider less than 18 months ago with ZERO industry experience and the amount of people who were more than happy to help me along was amazing.