Beer & Food Pairing … but not all the time

Sure, it’s great when you find a beer and food pairing that’s perfect but it’s not always about THAT moment

It was a stinking hot day in Perth today so what springs to mind when you’re hit with a day like that? Beach, beer and BBQ.

Beach

After hitting the beach with our dog I just had BBQ and beer left on my hot-summer-day-to-do-list so I went home and threw some chicken wings on the BBQ and opened the beer fridge.

Maybe I should have something malty like a brown ale to go with the chicken wings that were coated in barbeque sauce. Maybe something smoky to go with the char of the BBQ. Maybe something hoppy. Maybe, maybe, maybe. In the end I grabbed a Berliner Weisse.

Nomad Brookvaler Weisse
Nomad Brookvaler Weisse – a Berliner Weisse with lemongrass, 3.6% ABV

There was no reason other than ‘hell yeah, I wanna drink that!” and sometimes that’s the best reason of all.

I love beer, of course, and I love it when you have a beer and food pairing that’s so wonderful together that you are convinced the two should never be served without each other. On the other hand, sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy a beer you want to drink and food you like to eat without thinking or even caring about whether they pair together.

After all, beer is fun – that’s the thing to know about beer, that above all else it’s super fun. Above pairing it with food, above pairing it with cheese, above how limited the release was, beer is fun.

Love Berliner Weisse

When temperatures are close to 40, it’s when I love Berliner Weisse beers even more …

“I’m melting, pass the Berliner Weisse!” this was basically the motto of the day in our house on the Monday after Christmas as Perth sweated and complained it’s way through a few 38+ degree days.

Like any sane and sensible humans we stayed inside for most of it, cranked the air conditioner and did lots of sitting around. We also indulged in a little “it’s the holidays!” justified Monday drinking and cracked open a few beers.

When the temperature persistently hovers around the 40 degree mark it’s hard to find a more refreshing beer than a Berliner Weisse. It’s the delicate sourness, the relatively low alcohol content and the zingy mouth feel that ticks all the right boxes.


A little information about Berliner Weisse …
It’s German, or more accurately it has origins in Berlin and it falls under appellation d’origine controllee meaning you can’t say your beer is a Berliner Weiss unless it’s from Berlin. Yup, that’s a law and that’s why frequently you’ll see the word “style” slotted in to the beer name.
It’s sour, not super dooper sour but certainly sour. It gets like this from using lactobacillus that, like yeast, eats sugar but instead of producing CO2 and alcohol like our yeast buddies, lactobacillus will produce lactic acid and therefore the lovely sourness!
It’s a wheat beer. At the heart of this refreshing sour brew is a wheat beer. Percentages of wheat tend to vary, one article I read said as low as 25% and a couple of others said 50%. The remaining malt is usually pilsner malt.
Fun Note: In 1809 when Napoleon and his troops entered Berlin and drank some Berliner Weisse beers they apparently enjoyed them so much they referred to the beer as the “champagne of the North”
Low Booze: Usually 2.8-3.8 percent ABV.
IBU: 3-6, though sour or tart, the beer isn’t bitter.
Cellaring: Debateable. I came across a few forums and the topic caused a good bit of debate and, from time to time, some name calling.
Read: CraftBeer.com style guide for Berliner-style Weisse
Read: German Beer Institute – Berliner Weisse

Buxton Brewery | Far Skyline

This was the first beer we had, it was recommended by Rich at Mane Liquor and if Rich recommends a beer, you should definitely listen because this was a cracker.

It bucks tradition a little with a higher ABV of 4.9 percent and it’s also dry hopped, a departure for a beer style that’s normally without any hop character.

There’s a light tartness, some lime and the zesty yet soft mouth feel you’d expect from this style. The dry hopping adds subtle and simply lovely stone fruit flavours.

Buxton Far Skyline

Boatrocker Brewing | Orange Sherbet

Back closer to home is this one from Melbourne’s Boatrocker Brewing. Again there’s some differences with this one, for one it’s been aged in Chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces (a wild yeast strain).

I wrote no tasting notes at all on this one, I was too busy sipping away happily but it doesn’t disappoint if you like the sound of the label. It’s bright and zingy like sherbet, there’s a lot of orange happening and hints other citrus friends along the way.

Boatrocker Orange Sherbet

Boatrocker’s Orange Sherbet isn’t their first Berliner Weisse and judging from their dedicated barrel room it won’t be the last. If you see any releases from these guys be sure to grab some.

Read more about Boatrocker Brewery, their barrel room and beers at here.

Though Berliner Weisse beers can be hard to find, there are a couple of local ones kicking around –

Feral Watermelon Warhead

Feral Watermelon WarheadThis only makes it out of the brew pub occasionally so you’re best bet is to head to the Swan Valley, grab it at the source otherwise keep an eye out for it at craftier beer bars like Petition, DTC and Bob’s Bar.

Watermelon Warhead is a Berliner Weisse brewed with fresh Swan Valley watermelon which also spends a little time in chardonnay barrels.

Mash Brewing Wizz Fizz

This one comes from 3 Ravens / Mash brewer Brendan O’Sullivan whose passion for sours is second to none. Wizz Fizz is not only a great Berliner Weisse but it’s also the base for a series of Berliner Weisse beers of which we’ve seen Purple Stain, Granny’s Apples and Cola Nick.

Read more about these beers here and here.

Mash Purple Stain

Wizz Fizz is intended to be a regular brew so this should be the easier of the bunch to find, there has been two versions released now. I went along to WA Beer Week’s Sour Power event at Mane Liquor in November where Brendan presented a few of his beers including the second version of Wizz Fizz. He said he had tweaked a couple of things from the first Wiz Fizz, using Vienna malt instead of pilsner malt, using 100% lactobacillus for primary fermentation and he also added some Brettanomyces* (a wild strain of yeast) after the first fermentation. Also, just to keep clouding the topic of cellaring Berliner Weisse beers, I’ll add in here that Brendan mentioned this beer in particular had cellaring potential to keep evolving.

*Read more about Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces etc at this great article on Draft Magazine – Yeast and Bacteria 101: Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces and Pediococcus

More Reading …

Paste Magazine – Tasting and Ranking 11 of the Best American Berliner Weisse

All About Beer – Stylistically Speaking: Berliner Weisse

Sour Beer Blog – Ask Dr. Lambic: Brewing a Berliner Weisse

 

Homestead Brewery Grand Opening

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

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

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

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

Homestead Grand Opening

Homestead Brewery on Facebook

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

Homestead Grand Opening

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

Homestead grand opening

Homestead grand opening

Homestead grand opening

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

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

Homestead grand opening

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

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

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

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

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

Homestead grand opening

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

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

 

 

Special Monkeys + Beer

If the words “special monkeys” and “beer” didn’t get your attention then I am at a total loss …

If the words “special monkeys” and “beer” didn’t get your attention then I am at a total loss …

Cheeky Monkey

A couple of weeks ago I caught up with Cheeky Monkey brewer Jared Proudfoot over a glass of beer and discovered, as always, he’s quite the busy brewer.

If you were at the South West Craft Beer Festival you may have tasted the latest limited release from Cheeky Monkey, the ginger pale ale. After resisting many requests from customers for a ginger beer Jared decided he would meet them half way with a ginger pale ale. Jared has used ground ginger during the boil followed by one kilo of fresh organic ginger during fermentation, ensuring a balanced flavour. The ginger pale ale has been dry hopped with Simcoe and Cascade hops, which basically means they’ve been added post fermentation for mega hop aromas and flavours. The result is a beer that is fresh and dry with a zingy ginger hit balanced nicely with fresh floral hops.

P1050593

I took some of it to a friend’s house for dinner a few nights later and my friend Mitch aka the man behind Beersine and chef behind Five Bar, pondered a pairing with some kind of black bean dish. The thought of the thick black bean sauce contrasting with the crisp ginger pale ale would have resulted in drooling if we hadn’t just finished a delicious meal.

Anyway, back to the monkey house …

Other special beers coming up are an apricot berliner weisse and imperial stout, the latter being in celebration of Cheeky Monkey’s first birthday on the 5th May.

I was fortunate enough to be able to sample the two beers in their current, unfinished state.

The berliner weisse style apparently originated in or around Berlin, as your detective skills may have already determined, and the “weisse” refers to wheat. The exact origins are subject to multiple theories but I think the guys at BeerAdvocate provide a nice clear reference:

Berliner Weisse is a top-fermented, bottle conditioned wheat beer made with both traditional warm-fermenting yeasts and lactobacillus culture. They have a rapidly vanishing head and a clear, pale golden straw-coloured appearance. The taste is refreshing, tart, sour and acidic, with a lemony-citric fruit sharpness and almost no hop bitterness.

So Jared is brewing one of these with 100 kilos of apricots he sourced from a local grower in Manjimup, about 150km from Cheeky Monkeys home in Margaret River, which were deseeded by hand. Yup, by hand. That’s dedication folks. At the time of tasting the beer had been conditioning for approximately four weeks at 4-5 degrees. The taste was a soft lactic sourness with pronounced apricot coming through as the beer warmed up. Jared was pretty happy with its progress so far.

The imperial stout had spent 60 days in tank with two more weeks to go. The sample was strong and hit you with rich coffee and chocolate with promise of more to come. The beer will be bottle conditioned for up to six weeks and should come out somewhere around the ten percent mark.

Looking forward to tasting the finished apricot berliner weisse and birthday imperial stout soon and you can tell I’m excited because I completely forgot to take photos of the samples I tasted!