Weekend Reading #16

This weeks edition of Weekend Reading features pilsner and food pairings, an awful beer as that’s all boobs but no substance and an interesting cost breakdown of craft beer

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.

SBS News | Goodbye the blokey beverage: Calls for a reinvention of beer

I do like reading articles about the image of beer, for far too long this image has consisted of an overweight middle aged man in shorts and a single with his pint of fizzy yellowish stuff. Wine doesn’t get lumped with this image, why should beer be so damned? The biggest issue I have with the current accepted image of beer, you will be unsurprised to read, is the MEN bit.I could dribble on for ages but I’m sure you know what I’m going to say. This article, however, doesn’t go into this. Instead its about the unhealthy image of beer and even mentions nutritional labels as a possible reinvention tool for beer.

… Yup.

Somehow I’m unconvinced that nutritional value is where beers image is falling down. This ad is where beers biggest and continual image problem lies.

Beer is your friend | Another beer as gets it wrong

Now this, this is where I say a big, fat “DITTO” to Glen from beer blog Beer if your friend for his response to the horrible ad I linked to above. The ad is so bad it is actually insulting.

“That someone figured I was some sexist yob who just likes to sink piss and look at boobs makes me angry”

Serious Eats | Ask a Cicerone: The Best Pilsner (and what to eat with it)

Serious Eats is fast becoming one of my preferred reading materials and I especially like the Ask a Cicerone sessions. Though most of the suggestions in the articles are not available here there are plenty of local beers that would work beautifully.

Huffington Post | Here’s how a six pack of craft beer ends up costing $12

Putting aside that this article is based on the US and if us Perth-ites could get a tasty craft beer six pack for $12 we would be rejoicing, it is still a rerwlly interesting read in terms of breaking down costs and seeing where the large scale mainstream breweries are saving costs.

Lagunitas IPA + Cheese

Recently I have been working hard to prepare for my Beer & Cheese Masterclass with Eagle Bay Brewing which is happening at this weekend’s Fremantle BeerFest. Being the determined researcher that I am this means there have been higher than normal levels of beer drinking and cheese eating in the house.

Freo BeerFest

9 & 10th November

on the Esplanade, Freo

Recently I have been working hard to prepare for my Beer & Cheese Masterclass with Eagle Bay Brewing which is happening at this weekend’s Fremantle BeerFest. Being the determined researcher that I am this means there have been higher than normal levels of beer drinking and cheese eating in the house. This has resulted in both palate exercise and missed dinners as I don’t think many would cheese alone as a meal.

Beer & Cheese Research – Lagunitas IPa

A tasty American India Pale Ale characteristically dominated by piney flavours coming from the use of Cascade and Centennial hops with a nice malt backbone.

Cheese #1 Maffra Mature Cheddar

Fruity with soft citrus notes with a nice tangy bite in the middle, the texture is hard and very slightly crumbly and it leaves a nice rich coating on the palate.

Together …

A lovely match but doesn’t stand out as being incredible. The tropical piney hops act as a fairly nice complement to the fruitness in the cheese but there could be too much hop character overshadowing the softer flavours in the cheddar. The hops in the IPA do a nice job of cutting through the richness of the cheddar.

Lagunitas IPA and Maffra Cheddar

Cheese #2 King Island Endeavour Blue

Indulgently soft and creamy with ripples of blue veins that add a little roughness to the overall texture of the cheese. It’s not overpowering but instead a medium intensity blue with a nice long finish.

Together …

A very good match with the strong hop character in the beer acting as a good contrast to the saltiness of the blue, adding intensity for intensity so one does not overpower the other. The hops also give the palate a thorough cleanse from the creaminess of the cheese.

Lagunitas IPA and King Island Endeavour Blue

You can catch the Beer & Cheese Masterclass, hosted by Eagle Bay’s Margi Wallace and myself on Saturday at 2pm at the Fremantle BeerFest! Hope to see you there!

Saturday Sunshine + Mt Lawley

Five Bar and The Brisbane Hotel – both in Mt Lawley and both former employers of mine and both amazing venues. Get acquainted or simply visit again and again like an old friend. Just be sure to get a beer whilst you’re there …

Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
During Beaufort Street Festival 2011

Driving up to Perth inevitably results in visiting places with friends behind the bar, so it was not a surprise that my boyfriend and I found ourselves hanging out at Five Bar & The Brisbane Hotel on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Located along Beaufort Street in the always evolving suburb of Mt Lawley, it is the sort of strip you can spend a whole day exploring. Book shops, almost endless cafes, clothing, knickknacks stores, day spa, florists, furniture stores, and don’t forget the pubs, the bars and the places to eat. What’s best is that you could spent a fortune in a day or you could spend very little. I have had many happy days doing a delightfully cheap n’ cheerful feed at Taka’s before grabbing a pint at The Flying Scotsman then walking around Hyde Park on a nice sunny day.

We arrived at Five Bar just before lunch and as my most recent ex in terms of employers, where I was Assistant Manager, it’s always nice to drop back for a visit! We sat at the bar and watched as it slowly filled with hungry Saturday lunch people. We had gone straight for the Feral taps, sighting Barrel Fermented (Hop) Hog and Karma Citra (India Black Ale) on offer. It made sense for us to get one of each and share since we are both wildly in love with Feral Brewing.

This may be a good time to congratulate Brendan and his team on Feral Hop Hog taking out #1 spot in the 2011 The Critics’ Choice Australia’s Best Beers!

Five Bar is a bit unique in that although they are a James Squire Ambassador Venue, offering 5 James Squire Beers and their Orchard Crush Cider on tap, they are also able to offer 2 Feral beers from a second set of taps. This second set of taps is also set a little differently, both in appearance and function. They stand out as two old wooden barrels on the bar, it’s hard not to wander down and take a look (though the barrels don’t actually store any beer) and secondly, the temperature is set a fraction higher and the carbonation a fraction lower. This has been done with consultation from Brendan, Owner and Head Brewer at Feral, meaning his beers are served with a little less chill to enhance flavours and with a little less bubble which, I find, results in a smoother, fuller mouth feel. Five Bar tend to get a couple of kegs of this and that from Brendan so it always pays to look down the end of the bar and see what’s there. More often than not it’s something offered normally only at Feral Brewing and always something sensational.

The B.F.H (Barrel Fermented Hog) remains the American IPA style of Hop Hog but, as though been sent to a naughty corner, has spent time in new French oak. The result is some delightful vanilla flavours lingering on the front of your palate. Dominant American hops are still very much present and very much welcome!

Sometimes I think beer tastes better out of glasses with handles …

The Karma Citra, always a favourite of mine, is an India Black Ale, or Black IPA, or whatever you want to call the style. On it’s first appearance at the bar, I explained the style to people as a porter and an IPA who had a baby. It seemed to get the idea across in the most time efficient manner. Dark malts for chocolate overtones, and we’re talking proper dark chocolate here, the 70% and above cocoa stuff. It’s a wonder they even manage to get to your nostrils with all the big hop aromas going on but they manage nicely. Citra refers to the hop variety used, which was created in a cross breeding hop program in 1990 and so named for a heavy citrus characteristics it brings to the table. Tropical fruits tag along for the ride too. It’s jet black in appearance with a smooth tan head and then those fruity flavours jump out at you with hop bitterness and malts. Love.

We left, intrigued by the Mash Up, a New Zealand collaborative brew reportedly by 44 NZ craft breweries but had a lunch appointment at The Brisbane.

One of my favourite city beer gardens that has been meticulously cared for since The Brisbane re-opened her doors in 2005. Perhaps it’s a bit on the cliche side but when you’re sitting there and the sun is shining through healthy green trees, it’s just a wonderful place to be! The Brisbane is another one of my former employers, a place I spent many happy years with, and it always makes me smile to come back and visit.

We sat in the back corner of the beer garden and I had decided to re-visit a beer I hadn’t had in quite some time, Redback Original Wheat (no lemon), and HELLO BANANA! I don’t remember tasting that much banana on it in the past. I was quite pleased and it had to be said, the beer looked sensational too. That distinctive shape, the red streak, the clarity and the sun, well, we were soon ordering another. Also, if you go to The Brisbane and don’t get the Homemade Sausage Rolls, you’ve done yourself a grave disservice and you should slap yourself on the wrist, write it down in your phone and make sure you order it next time.

A clear Redback branding win in the sunny Brisbane beer garden

All in all a rather successful afternoon in Mt Lawley and that only covered two spots!

You can visit Five Bar any day from 11am for tasty Feral beers on tap and be sure to ask the bar staff if there’s anything new in the fridges.

You can drop by The Brisbane any day too if you fancy indulging in Homemade Sausage Rolls with a pint in the beer garden.

The Quiet American + Loud Food 2

Curry is certainly what I’d classify as LOUD food and proved to be a great match with The Quiet American. Great to play with locally produced foods as well, this dish uses Crunch Preserves Chilli Achar, made in Busselton, and enhanced the curry and stood up boldly to the fresh American hops

It’s not a secret that beautifully hoppy beers can be great partners to food with a bit of heat in them, like a loved-up couple. It’s about balance between hop bitterness in your beer and heat in your dish. So it’s not about using so much chilli that it brutally murders your taste buds, subjecting them to a slow and painful death, but instead it’s about being just spicy enough so the hop bitterness from a gulp of delicious IPA or Pale Ale enhances that spice.

As winter approaches I will be doing a short series on beer and curry experiments as I’ve read lots of bits and pieces on lager with curry, links between India Pale Ale and curries (it seems the British ‘Curry and Pint’ night is a pub favourite) and played around a little with beer & food matching for small events in the past but I think it requires a more dedicated approach. And yes, if it means drinking more beer and making lots of different curries then I’m happy to take on the role. I’m just dedicated like that.

Anyway, back to the point of The Quiet American, Little Creatures latest limited release, and another LOUD dish – Curry!

My boyfriend and I got home from work late one night and decided curry was a tasty but easy, ‘cannot-be-stuffed-with-anything-else’ dinner. We used sauce from a jar and added some locally produced Chilli Achar (Crunch Preserves) just for shits and giggles. And by “some” I refer to the massive dose that fit on the largest spoon we could get into the jar. Incidentally, the Chilli Achar was an impulse purchase from Boyanup Petrol Station on our Ferguson Valley adventuring where we also got bird seed … love country towns. Moving on … our Chicken Madras Curry with Chilli Achar, Mushrooms and Red Onion was another great hit with The Quiet American. I’m really enjoying the way red onion plays with the rich sweetness in this beer though my opinion is bias since I have started a (totally healthy) love affair with red onion and add it to almost every single dish. It tastes good and it’s just so darn pretty (there’s a joke in there somewhere). With the addition of the Harissa Paste, the curry carried the right amount of heat matched with the American hop bitterness. I keep saying “matched” because, well, it’s accurate but it’s more than that. It enhances and alters the spice flavours, like a collaboration between two great brewers that gets all beer geeks excited.

Madras Chicken Curry & The Quiet American

Chicken Madras Curry with Chilli Achar, Mushrooms and Red Onion

  • 1 Chicken Breast, diced
  • Jar Madras Curry Sauce
  • Massive dollop of Crunch Preserves Chilli Achar (or Chilli Pickle)
  • Sliced Button Mushrooms
  • Sliced Red Capsicum
  • Diced Red Onion
  • Garlic
Throw in everything and simmer for ages!

Little Creatures: The Quiet American

In a passionate one night stand a Belgian Strong Ale and an American IPA got together and made something beautiful!

Hoppity hop hops and sweet rich orange …

Crafted By: Little Creatures, Fremantle

Style: Hybrid (the bastard child of a Belgian Strong Ale & American IPA)

Status: Limited Release – get it when you see it people! ‘Single Batch’ means not much will be around

Available by/through: 568ml Pint Bottles and on tap at Little Creatures and a handful of select venues

Booziness: 7.2% abv

Taste: Rich oranges, spices and American hop bitterness

Look: Pours clear golden and quickly settles into a slightly darker form

Production Bits:

  • Pale Ale Malt, Abbey Malt, CaraBeige, CaraAroma, MunichMalt and Belgian Candi Syrup.
  • 55 IBU
  • New Seasons US Cascade and Chinook Hops