Weekend Reading #3

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.

This week I came across a number of interesting articles and they are all American, I don’t know why I ended up with an all USA list of reading material this week but there are definitely parallels with our own craft beer culture and trends. Hope you enjoy this weekends reading!

Table Matters | Quality Control
Online magazine about food, drink and culture

Beer geeks have pretty high expectations of our beloved craft beers but with more and more craft popping up its important to remember that just because something is “craft” doesn’t instantly mean it is going to be good. Incidentally the same goes the other way too, just because something is put out by “the big boys”, aka CUB and Lion Nathan, doesn’t mean that it’s crap. It all comes down to quality and this is a great article exploring just what ” quality” means and how it can affect the overall market.

Table Matters | Beginners Blue

I like my cheese big and stinky and gooey but I have to admit that sometimes the taste buds don’t want to be viciously slapped around, sometimes they wanted to be cuddled and caressed. In these instances these softer blue cheeses sound like they would do just the trick!

Blue Cow Blue Cheese

The Times of Northwest Indiana | Brewers get crafty using spent grain from beer

I linked back to another article about using spent grain in last weeks edition of ‘Weekend Reading’ but I really liked this one too. Love the idea of spent grain doggy biscuits

Serious Eats | Secrets of the Spice Trade: How to Run a Spice Shop
A family of food focused websites

You may have noticed that I recently was in Melbourne for Good Beer Week during which I went to an amazing beer versus wine event called Brew vs Cru. The lunch saw Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery go head to head with Ten Minutes by Tractor winery and featured some incredible beers and wines. One of these beers was Brooklyn Brewery La Boite, named after the spice shop who helped create the beer. Garrett spoke very highly of this shop, saying that it was an evocative experience just walking in, the aromas so compelling that they transported you places. Imagine my delight to accidentally stumble across this article which features that same spice shop ‘La Boîte à Epices’.


Draft Magazine | 10 foodie beers to savour now
American online beer magazine

Speaking of Good Beer Week, this article seemed more relevant with my memories still fresh from the GABS festival where beer ingredients included black peppercorns and sesame seeds. I liked the sounds of the wheat beer with kaffir lime leaves and made me wonder what the hell a huckleberry tastes like.

Entrepreneur | Could rising costs mean the end of craft beer brewers?
Online business news and strategy website

I’ve heard many people debate the cost of a pint of craft beer and whilst taxes is a big part of this cost it’s also using quality ingredients. This interesting article touches on the rising cost of hops and looks at how such increased costs can/could affect the little brewers.

Beer and Hops at Cowaramup


Old Stock Ale + Gorgonzola

Just for a change of pace, just for something different, here’s (yet another) post about a delicious beer and cheese pairing!

Just for a change of pace, just for something different, here’s (yet another) post about a delicious beer and cheese pairing!

The pairing of barley wine and English Stilton is one of those absolute classic matches. It basically puts two flavour heavyweights against each other but rather than knock each other out they dance together beautifully. Rich meets rich, sharp meets boozy, fruity meets sweet, beer meets cheese.

Here’s a little tweak on this classic –

The Beer …

North Coast Old Stock Ale 2012

“The original old ales were literally old by beer standards of the day, matured for months and often in wooden casks.”

“Long ageing in wood allowed the ale to mellow in bitterness but also to acquire some flavour from the raw wood, a slightly stale taste from oxidisation, and a dash of sourness from wild yeasts, particularly Brettanomyces, and lactic bacteria with which the brew would invariably come into contact”

The Oxford Companion to Beer

The name suggests this is an old ale or stock ale, two styles very closely related to barley wines. All three are traditionally British with the styles being mentioned by name in the 1700’s, “the definitions of these categories, however, have never been very precise, either technically or historically,” from The Oxford Companion to Beer. As a generalisation we are talking sweet malt driven ales with high alcohol content and rich fruity flavours.

Enough about style, this beer is lovely. The aroma is slightly reminiscent of black forest cake with a lot of red fruit and I do mean a lot. It’s like a red fruit party where they all got rather drunk. Bold fig and raisin flavours are along for the ride and the finish stays rich in fruit.


North Coast Old Stock Ale 2012

The Cheese …

Castel Regio Gorgonzola DOP Piccante

Piccante is a style of Gorgonzola, more traditional and mature than it’s Dolce counterpart

It was nice to discover this at my local IGA, it’s a small store and it hasn’t won me over like other IGA’s but at least there’s Gorgonzola.

This Gorgonzola is rich, salty and a little creamy but the rind adds a dusty mushroom taste for more complexity.

Together …

The old barley wine and blue cheese combination once again holds water. The rich fruit flavours of the beer matching the richness of the cheese and providing a nice contrast to the saltiness.

Together, these two are just lovely. Not subtle in any way, shape or form but indeed very lovely.

North Coast Old Stock Ale and Gorgonzola

Thanks Josh at Cellarbrations Carlisle for recommending the North Coast Old Stock Ale. Great pick!

For more blue cheese and barley wine reading – here’s what I looked through …


Burgers + Beer Camp

We recently had a special occasion in our house – the first use of our BBQ for summer, happy days! For such an occasion we decided to make burgers and crack open our first Sierra Nevada Beer Camp beer for 2012 – #43, the Imperial Pilsner.

Sierra Nevada … two words every craft beer lovin’ hop head loves to hear/read/consume.

It’s Beer Camp time once again. What is Beer Camp, you might ask? Well, it’s basically a competition run by Sierra Nevada every year whereby wanna-be brewers submit a video as to why they should be chosen for Beer Camp. Winners get to hang out at Sierra Nevada with Ambassador Steve Grossman and together they all brew. The results are usually pretty amazing.

Thanks to the guys at The International Beer Shop I got a hold of the four beers in this years Beer Camp variety pack:

#43 Imperial Pilsner
#45 Floral IPA
#53 Oatmeal Stout
#65 Imperial Red Ale

We recently had a special occasion in our house – the first use of our BBQ for summer, happy days! For such an occasion we decided to make burgers and crack open our first Beer Camp beer for 2012 – #43, the Imperial Pilsner.

In keeping with female / male household stereotypes I was inside at the kitchen taking care of the potatos (we forgot to buy stuff to make a salad so it was a strictly burgers + chips affair) whilst my boyfriend was outside at the BBQ, paint scraper in hand, cooking up two pieces of scotch fillet and a few rashers of bacon.

Burgers with Smoked Paprika Potato Wedges
+ Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Imperial Pilsner

It was a hands-down delicious burger. It was simple, just beef, bacon, blue cheese and pan-fried mushroom and onions, which is highly unusual for me due to my tendency to get a fraction carried away, and the potato wedges were (I might say) crisp and yummy!

The burgers were great and the beer was sensational – upfront floral flavours backed up by breadiness and grassiness – but sadly together they were not a perfect beer + food match. The blue cheese and bacon easily trumped the beer with too much musty bitterness from the blue cheese and salt from the bacon. Oh well, as always, it’s damn fun trying!

Blue Cheese & Bacon Burgers + Collaborator

The only way to accurately describe the burgers we made at home on Friday night is “over the top”; though “epic” and “freaking amazing” would also do nicely. Matched with the Feral / 2 Brothers Collaborator was nothing short of fantastic!

The only way to accurately describe the burgers we made at home on Friday night is “over the top”; however “epic” and “freaking amazing” would also do nicely.

I had done some random internet clicking and ended up looking at the Food Republic; a website for guys about food and drink and although it may not sound revolutionary, it’s really quite good. Great recipes and articles, all done with a bit of humour, and sound advice – all well presented. I will be visiting this site again I am sure, despite my gender not being the specific target market! The recipe that caught my attention was for a “Bacon Blue Cheese Burger” simply because it sounds amazing and really, anything with blue cheese has to be good!

My boyfriend and I didn’t follow the recipe, instead just grasping the title words and putting it together in a way that made sense to us; it seemed more fun this way! The patties were made with beef mince, garlic, breadcrumbs and egg. We topped them (and yes, we made double decker burgers for no good reason other than we could) with a slab of blue cheese, egg and a gravy mix of mushrooms, bacon, spanish onion and garlic. Built into three layers of toasted turkish bread, the end result was by far the messiest and tastiest of our home made burger efforts to date.

Deciding what beer to go with it was more of a challenge. I avoided pale ales because that’s what we have done most times with burgers and even though it’s been a wonderful match in the past I wanted to try something different. Hello Collaborator!

Our second and final bottle of the 5.5% abv Feral/2 Brothers Collaborator beer, an Australian Brown Ale, turned out to be a fantastic match to our artery-clogging burgers. Bold enough to stand up to the many competing flavours happening in the burger, the beer itself had a contrasting bitter hop flavour, sweet caramel malt and tropical fruit. Rather than trying to pick out individual flavours in both beer and burger I think my best description of the match is just that it was really, really good with both contrasting and complimenting elements. Most importantly, however, it was all damn good fun making the burgers, trying to eat them and washing it all down with a sensational Australian beer.

Blue Cheese & Bacon Burgers … girl+beer style!

Burger Patty

  • Beef Mince
  • Garlic, finely diced
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Egg
  • Chilli

Mushroom & Bacon Mix

  • Button Mushrooms, sliced
  • Garlic
  • Red Capsicum, diced
  • Bacon, diced
  • Chicken Gravy Mix
  • Brown Onion, diced
Build It and They Will Come (starting from the base)…
  1. Turkish Bread
  2. Burger Patty
  3. Mushroom & Bacon Mix
  4. Fried Egg
  5. Turkish Bread
  6. Burger Patty
  7. Mushroom & Bacon Mix
  8. Blue Cheese
  9. Cheddar Cheese (yup, two different kinds of cheese)
  10. Turkish Bread top
Stab with a steak knife to hold it all in place and serve with Rosemary & Garlic Potato Wedges
The first layer ….
Don’t forget the egg!
and hold into place …
and have FUN!

Nøgne Ø + International Beer Shop

International Beer Shop + Kjetil Jikiun, Head Brewer of Nøgne Ø + 4 great Nøgne Ø beers = a happy beer girl

Kjetil Jikiun from Nøgne ø + Me
Nøgne ø … the brewery from Norway that refuses to compromise, committed to taste, committed to craft beer

This is the first sentence you see on the Nøgne Ø website. I like it’s simplicity and directness. There’s no messing around here – it’s not sunshine and lollipops it’s just damn fine beer. Their beers, from the ones I have experienced so far, certainly seem to reflect these elements too. If you have time, read through the story behind Nøgne Ø. It is an interesting read because it feels like a real story from a human being instead of a marketing spiel, edited and changed to a more romantic version of events. You could almost be sitting beside Kjetil Jikiun (Founder, Head Brewer, Owner and All Round Nice Guy) enjoying a beer and listening to the history of the brewery unfold on the bar table. As a side note, he is described in the website as “the bearded giant”. Since it was pretty close to the first thing I thought when I met him, I thought that was worth mentioning.

The International Beer Shop played hosted to Kjetil Jikiun on Monday night for a Nøgne Ø Tasting and Tap Takeover, an hour of beer talk and sampling of four of their beers. With almost 20 beers in year round production and countless other special, seasonal and collaboration brews it was a delight to taste a nice cross section of their different offerings.

  • India Saison
  • Brown Ale
  • Kollaborator
  • #500 Imperial IPA
I wanted to take photos but it proved rather tricky. I had tasting notes in one hand and beer in the other and I didn’t fancy drawing attention to myself as I tried juggling them. For those who know me, hand/eye coordination doesn’t spring to mind as one of my strong points. You’ll just have to head down to The International Beer Shop (or even shop online!) and grab them to see and try for yourselves. In the mean time, perhaps I can tempt you further with a brief run down on how beautiful these beers are.
India Saison – in collaboration with Victorian brewery Bridge Road Brewers
I first had this a few months ago and recycled the bottle for flowers I was given. Trying it the second time around I was struck by how spicy it was, I didn’t remember that from the first time! It is balanced out very nicely with tropical notes from fresh Australian hops and cheekily weighs in at 7.5% ABV.
Brown Ale – one of their regulars
The carbonation was bigger than I had expected and was a pleasant surprise, giving a delightfully light and playful mouth feel. Putting my nose in the glass reminded me of opening a fresh bag of coffee beans. Spicy and malty and delicious.
#500 Imperial IPA – another of their regulars
Imperial IPA. There’s something great about this style, taking a IPA – a bigger version of Pale Ales – and then just making it bigger again which is great for my already beaten up taste buds. As the name suggests, it’s a celebratory brew, made to signify the 500th batch of ale. It’s nothing short of slap-you-in-the-face big, heaving with hops and bitterness. With the recent explosion of New Zealand hops around, other hops heads might recognise the Nelson Sauvin hop notes in there with very unsubtle fruit thanks to the dry hopping.
Nogne O Kollaborator – in collaboration with Ægir, a fellow Norwegian craft brewer.
It’s a DoppelBock, doppel = strong and bock = lager so the style becomes simple math. Rich, boozy with lots of dark fruits. It’s got great thick texture and just begs to be sipped on whilst reading a good book in winter. Or, in the case of my boyfriend and I last night, devoured in gulps with rich blue cheese and exclaiming how great the two go together!
Kjetil Jikiun at International Beer Shop
This is what happens when I visit the International Beer Shop

Boogoop + Cheese

Boogoop is the fourth collaboration brew from Denmark “gypsy” brewer, Mikkeller, and Chicago artisanal brewery, Three Floyds. It follows in “goop” predecessors – Hvedegoop, Oatgoop and Ruggoop – and whilst its got a funny sounding name it’s also seriously good. Grab a chunk of your favourite blue cheese to match and enjoy!

Boogoop … funny name, awesome beer

Not only is Anthony Williams the front man for BEERTasters, a Perth outfit spreading the good beer word, but he’s also a good guy and as such dropped by on my last shift at Five Bar to give me a present. I love presents and I love beer so even better when the gift is beer! It was a bottle of the Mikkeller & Three Floyds collaboration brew, Boogoop. For some time it waited to be consumed, taking a prominent place on the bookshelf and being saved for the right occasion.

Boogoop is the fourth collaboration brew from Denmark “gypsy” brewer, Mikkeller, and Chicago artisanal brewery,  Three Floyds. It follows in “goop” predecessors – Hvedegoop, Oatgoop and Ruggoop – and whilst its got a funny sounding name it’s also seriously good.

The beer is a buckwheat wine-style ale which had me grabbing for my books to find out what exactly was buckwheat. First, it’s not a grain, it’s actually part of the herb family that’s Asian in origin; and secondly because buckwheat has grain-like qualities it’s another something for brewers to play with. From what I can gather Boogoop is using a certain amount of buckwheat in the mash (not sure how much but would love to know) and producing a barley wine styled ale. I am happy for anyone who’s more knowledgable on the topic to expand on this for me. At a throat-grabbing 10.4% abv and flavours that smack you around (but cuddle you after) it certainly felt like a barley wine style to me!

The special occasion my boyfriend and I waited for to enjoy the Boogoop ended up being any old weekday night when we really, really felt like a rich beer and some cheese. Of course it was going to have to be a suitably big and rich cheese so my boyfriend picked up a wedge of Blue Cow Blue Cheese.

We popped the bottle open and a gorgeous, hazy burnt caramel colour with a big white foam head filled the wine glass. I initially got a nose full of spices with plenty of IPA characteristics like grapefruit and floral notes and just a heck of a lot of hops. Ok, I thought to myself, smells like a spicy IPA. Wonder what it tastes like? I took a gulp and it’s certainly not a subtle beer and I’m certain it’s not supposed to be. Looking at the 3Floyds website subtle really isn’t their thing. Caramelised tones with warming alcohol and perhaps a hint of tropical fruits (passionfruit?), it’s rich and a little chewy which. When paired with blue cheese it made for a wonderful contrast in two different kinds of rich, the beer being the sort of sweet that is dark and sticks to the back of your mouth and the rich bitter and creamy blue cheese. Delightful! We also had a little camembert lying around and tried this with the beer too, resulting in another great matching of creamy sweet cheese and sticky sweet beer.

Cheese + Beer can be mind-blowingly, taste bud-dancing experience. Head to the shops, find a few different types of cheese and then hit your favourite craft beer bottleshop.

Here are a few links if you wanted some more cheese + beer reading …

And here is the menu for the beer + cheese event I co-hosted with Nick Bath from Blue Cow Cheese Co at Five Bar to support the 2011 Beaufort Street Festival:
Pilsner Urquell + Boerenkaas 15 Month Matured
Samuel Adams Lager + Montgomery’s Cheddar
Endeavour Pale Ale + Isle of Mull
St Peter’s Ruby Red + Blue Cow Swiss Gruyere
Coopers Vintage + Gutshofer Ziegenkase
Weihenstephaner Korbinian + Colombo Taleggio D.O.P
Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout + Mon Sire Cendre Royale

Ovila Quad

Gotta love a collaboration brew, especially when it involves Sierra Nevada!

When you say ‘Sierra Nevada‘, I tend to get a little excited. When you say ‘collaboration brew’, I tend to get very excited so imagine my child-like delight to discover Ovila Quad, a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and the monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux.

For those not familiar with Sierra Nevada, here’s a brief run down – freakin’ amazing beers …

Ok, really, it’s the heart & soul of Ken Grossman who built a small brewery in California in 1979 with the goal of producing exceptional ales and lagers. Against a back drop of home brewing, chemistry and physics on 15th November 1980 Ken Grossman brewed his first batch of beer. This would then become Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – a beer I personally love and I am yet to meet anyone who has tried it and not enjoyed it. Today I am always keeping an eye out for their limited release brews, the result of the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp and anything else they might be up to.

The Ovila Project sees Sierra Nevada closely following monastic brewing traditions dating back centuries by the monks of Abbey of New Clairaux. According to the website there are 3 beers that will be produced, all limited releases and bottled in cage and cork 750ml bottles. However, we had the Quad (not the Spiced that’s due for release later in the year) so how many they are brewing over how long, I’m not entirely sure.

Ovila Quad presents beautifully in the glass and, perhaps because I had been looking forward to opening the bottle for weeks (I was waiting for a slab of stinky blue cheese and a night when I didn’t have to work the next day!) it didn’t smack me in the face when I had the first sip. That’s not to say it’s lacking flavour, it’s just that I was expecting a Hulk-type assault on my senses (sorry, just saw ‘The Avengers’ last night). There are wonderful dark fruits and warmed raisins and spice flavours. There’s also that definite booze sweetness coming through the 10.4% abv in a very pleasant way, all in a medium bodied, well balanced Belgian-inspired ale.

We paired it with Blue Cow Blue Cheese and it has to be said that matching beer and cheese is simply divine. When I co-hosted food & beer events at Five Bar I used to enjoy the cheese matching the most. The contrasting flavours of medium bodied, port-like sweetness from the Ovila against the creamy aggressive blue cheese was absolutely lovely.

If you’re in Perth, the best place to try get a hold of this beer would be the International Beer Shop.

Thank You to Andy Mac for the gift of a bottle of Ovila Quad!

Ovila Quad and Blue Cow Blue Cheese
Not a bad way to end a meal!