GBW 2014: Brew vs Cru

Yesterday marked the first Good Beer Week event on my calendar – Brew vs Cru featuring Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn Brewery and Martin Spedding from Ten Minutes by Tractor and held at Vue de Monde

Yesterday marked the first Good Beer Week event on my calendar – Brew vs Cru featuring Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn Brewery and Martin Spedding from Ten Minutes by Tractor and held at Vue de Monde.

On Arrival …
Vue de Monde is located on level 55 of Melbourne’s Rialto tower. Guests were checked in at lobby reception before heading up via the elevator where the buttons only go up to 54. Yep, this place is a little fancy.

Walking into the venue and seeing the view of Melbourne is breathtaking though after a lot of drinks perhaps somewhat overwhelming! But that was a problem for later in the afternoon.

Staff greeted each guest with two glasses, one of Brooklyn Brewery 2009 Wild One and the other of 2010 Blanc De Blanc Sparkling.

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Introductions …
Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at New York’s Brooklyn Brewery, was well known by most of the guests given the level of beer-geek attendance. Highly respected and a wealth of experience, we were all ears when Garrett spoke. He introduced himself and talked to the twenty years he has spent with Brooklyn Brewery, one of the most loved American craft breweries, remarking how Brooklyn have “grown more interesting over time” with new releases, dedicated barrel programmes and a dedication to making beers they want to drink.

Martin is the owner and wine maker at Ten Minutes by Tractor, the winery is located on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula where he says the conditions lend themselves perfectly to Pinot and Chardonnay. The name of the winery comes from the distance between their three vineyard sites taking ten minutes by tractor to get to. I love this little story.

1st Course
Food: Crab, Kohlrabi
Beer: Brooklyn Sorachi Ace | Wine: 2011 Tmbt Estate Chardonnay

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Chef Michael used WA crab for this gorgeously delicate dish along with fresh dill, lemon and sesame toast. The Sorachi Ace was stunning as always with it’s lemon peel, hints of dill and fairy floss-like mouth feel. The Chardonnay used grapes from all three Tmbt sites and I loved it’s fruity, slightly buttery and rich flavours.
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For me I felt the beer was the winning match, the dill and lemon flavours in both the dish and beer were wonderfully complementary. The wine was beautiful but felt a little too big for the delicate dish.

How the Room Voted: A draw!

Second Course
Food: Smoked Bone Marrow, Onion, Thyme
Beer: Brooklyn Cuvee La Boite | Wine: 2013 Tmbt 10x Pinot Noir

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The dish was served with onion done three ways – roasted, pickled and fried. The beer came from Brooklyn’s Ghost Bottle range, experimental beers and very limited release, so limited in fact that these beers came from Garrett’s personal beer stash. The Cuvee La Boite is made with a variety of spices including fresh kaffir lime leaves and saffron and so named after the spice shop La Boite who inspired and assisted in developing this beer.

I stretched a canvas for him to paint on

Garrett described La Boite as the world’s leading spice blender and walking into the store is an evocative experience “like paintings, they [the spices] took you places.” The beer was beautiful with subtle spices and a delicate mouth feel and pretty appearance thanks to the saffron.

The wine was amazing, a single vineyard Pinot Noir from north of Mornington Peninsula. It was full of juicy rich red fruit and will be released at the end of June.
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For me the beer and the smoked bone marrow dish were perfect for each other, the sort of pairing that reminds you why you seek out these experiences. It’s the sort of pairing that should never be pulled apart, when having this dish you should have this beer and visa versa. I particularly loved the way the sweetness of the onion bought out sweetness from the beer.

How the Room Voted: Beer – this was the only round to have a clear winner

Third Course
Food: BBQ Beef, Beetroot, Munthari
Beer: Brooklyn Cuvee Noire | Wine: 2009 Tmbt Estate Pinot Noir
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The barbeque sauce in this dish took two days in the making and the beef was wagu tenderloin. For those like me who are thinking, ‘what on earth are munthari?!’ they are a native Australian berry that added a hint of sweetness to the dish. The beer boasted roast, chocolate and coconut qualities that only got better as the beer warmed up. Made with a Belgian yeast and it went into Woodford Reserve barrels in June last year for up to eight months. Garrett pointed out that the beer wasn’t in a champagne bottle, “champagne is in a beer bottle, the French just have better marketing.”

The 2008 Tmbt Pinot Noir sold out in a couple of weeks after it appeared in James Halliday with a rating of 97/100 and pictured side-by-side with a Grange of the same rating but priced hundreds of dollars more than Tmbt. This wine is made with grapes from all three Tmbt estates and is the result of what Martin describes as a generally cool year in terms of weather.

For me the Pinot Noir was a beautiful match to the beef, adding some spice and richness to the meat that complemented it very well.

How the Room Voted: Another draw!

Fourth Round
Food: Apple, Truffle
Beer: 2013 Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout | Wine: 2010 Blanc De Blanc Sparkling with 30 grams Dosage
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This pairing was the one that generated the most conversation and debate on our table. A few of us wanted to spilt their vote in half because there were elements of the dish that were perfect for the beer and others perfect for the wine. The dish was a wonderful combination of soft layered apple, candied walnuts, truffle, grape and celery leaf. The apple and celery leaf was great with the wine’s acid, citrus and very subtle sweetness from the dosage. Incidentally only a dozen bottles of the Blanc De Blanc received the 30 grams dosage and ten of them were at this event.

It’s a shame you had to resort to doping!

Garrett Oliver joking with Martin Sledding on his dosage

The rest of the dish, the truffle, crumb, grape and walnuts were just fantastic with Brooklyn’s imperial stout. The Black Chocolate Stout was the first beer Garrett made at Brooklyn back in 1994 and they often do tastings of their older vintages to see how they aged. For matching with desserts Garrett likes to use younger, fresher vintages, as they have “more elbows”, perhaps referring to the fresh chocolate and coffee notes that dominate this luscious beer.
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For me, given that I couldn’t chop myself in half and vote for both the wine and the beer I had to go with beer only because I’d never think to pair such a bold beer with an apple desert and this pairing really made me think and dissect what was happening. I freakin’ love that!

How the Room Voted: Another draw!

Even my wife voted against me!

Martin commenting on the Apple, Truffle pairing

Fifth Round
Food: Cheese, Bread and Jams
Beer: 2012 Brooklyn “K” is for Kriek | Wine: 2004 Mccutcheon Vineyard Chardonnay

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Oh cheese, how I love you! Mounds of sliced Comte cheese, a French cow’s milk cheese, started landing on tables and I had to stop myself from grabbing fistfuls of the buttery fruity cheese just for myself. Served with assorted breads from a local Melbourne baker it was a great way to finish a delightful long lunch.

The Kriek clocked in at over 10% ABV and is the result of a beer from their Ghost Series. Aged on Wisconsin cherries for five months there are a couple of hundred barrels back at Brooklyn that will be released in 2015. Moreish as hell, a little funk and cherries that make you want to jump in a bathtub of them, I can only imagine what it will taste like next year.
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Martin’s Chardonnay was equally special, coming from his own “museum stock” it’s another single vineyard number and its slightly buttery and crisp acidity were great with the cheese … As did the beer. This pairing was a seriously hard call.

For me I had to go with beer, I’ve been told Kriek and Comte cheese are great together and I well and truly understood the hype when having it here.

How the Room Voted: Almost a draw – 4 1/2 versus 3 1/2 in favour of beer
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This man’s seriously got game!

Garrett remarked this was one of the closest matches he has participated in for a beer versus wine event. The room was buzzing throughout the afternoon with excitement at the calibre of guests and the pairings. Both Garrett and Martin clicked as presenters and clearly loved being in an environment of people who want to learn and experience what these two professionals had put together.

It’s not just passion – we fell in love

Garrett’s comment was hard not to write down, simple and genuine and what makes the brewing industry so wonderful to be involved in.

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Good Beer Week 2014

Here’s my calendar for the “week” and I cannot wait to drink beer, over indulge in meat and cheese, soak up as much beery knowledge as I can and, most of all, hang out with some really great people!

It’ just over a week until Good Beer Week kicks off for 2014 and to say I’m excited is a small understatement. It’s like saying that having a TARDIS would be a really nifty way of travelling. No it wouldn’t, it would be freakin’ amazing, just like Good Beer Week is going to be!

Planning for this began last year. I work for a big company so they ask you to submit your requests for annual leave for the year towards the end of the previous year. This meant I booked off my holiday for Good Beer Week many months in advance. Did I know for sure I was going? No. Did I book the time off work just in case? Hell yes.

Months went by, 2014 arrived and before you knew it the Good Beer Week program was coming up! I needed to get my act together if I was going, I needed flights and a bed to crawl into.

Hello Jetstar sale! Love cheap flights, I snapped up those bad boys quick smart. I rang the hotel I stayed in last year. Got an available room? Great weekly rate that didn’t cost the earth? Yup! Done! I was just short of a packed bag and it was only March.

Then the Good Beer Week program was released … Mother. Of. God. This thing is EPIC! The program is one great event after another; my copy will be dog eared before I’ve even checked my bags.

Here’s my calendar for the “week” and I cannot wait to drink beer, over indulge in meat and cheese, soak up as much beery knowledge as I can and, most of all, hang out with some really great people!

Saturday 17 May

A free day, I haven’t bought any tickets for events at all. Perhaps a good chance to check out Pint of Origin venues, tap takeovers in selected Melbourne bars based on geography – all corners of Australia are represented along with New Zealand, Europe, USA and The Rest of the World.

There are also a tonne of free entry, week long events I’d like to check out, including Cookie’s Daily Food and Beer Matching, Rogue Beer and Burger at Beer DeLuxe and Mystery Cellar Dwellers at The Local Taphouse.

The Royston - one of the many PoO locations

Sunday 18 May
The Event: Brew vs Cru featuring Garrett Oliver [sold out]

Why I’m going: Because I’d kick myself, punch myself, slap myself, if I did not go to this event. First, its Garrett Oliver – brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery and beer author, I need to hear what this man has to say! Second, it is being held at Vue de Monde Rialto – a restaurant I have heard outstanding comments about. Third, not that I really need one, is the five courses of food, beer and wine pairing.

Excitement Level: Kid who has skulled red cordial and has a free pass to Disneyland.

Sophie’s Choice: If I wasn’t going to Brew vs Cru I’d be at Barrel and Beast at The Local Taphouse, barrel aged beers matched to slow cooked meats from the Taphouse’s American smoker.

Monday 19 May

The EventRussian Imperial Banquet

Why I’m going: I love Russian Imperial Stouts, they’re like a loving embrace – lingering, comfortable and they always leave you wanting more. How I’ll be after an entire night of them is anyone’s guess but I’ll be sure to keep you updated. I’m also fortunate enough to be representing Crafty Pint at this event, hopefully I’ll be capable of writing something coherent and mildly entertaining the following morning.

Excitement Level: When you wake up in the morning after a big night out and smell bacon cooking

Sophie’s Choice: If I wasn’t at the Russian Imperial Banquet I’d be at An Evening with Yeastie Boys at East of Everything for 6 beer and 6 courses with one of my favourite NZ brewing guys!

 

Tuesday 20 May
The EventGarage Project & Moon Dog’s Local Taphouse Tag Team Tap Takeover

Why I’m going: Aside from the accurate and astounding alliteration (geddit?!) this event showcases two of my favourite breweries

Excitement Level: Kid in candy store but instead of a kid it’s me and instead of candy it’s awesome beer!

Sophie’s Choice: If I wasn’t at Garage Project & Moon Dog’s Local Taphouse takeover I’d be at The Baird Beer Omakase.

Wednesday 21 May
The Event: Sourfest II [sold out]

Why I’m going: I need more sour beers in my life, I truly do. This event was a sell out last year and I didn’t get along. I hear it was amazing so I’m super keen to check it out in 2014.

Excitement Level: When you finally see that band you love live in concert and you sing too loud during every song

Sophie’s Choice: If I wasn’t going to Sourfest II I’d be at Brewers and Chewers at The Local Taphouse. Much like Sourfest this was a sold out night in 2013. Speed dating crossed with a meet the brewer session over a fantastic dinner with the wonderful Pete Mitcham hosting, if last year was anything to go by, this event is a highlight.

Brewers and Chewers 2013
2013 Brewers and Chewers – the venue, the menu and the line up of brewers being interviewed by MC Pete Mitcham

Thursday 22 May
The Event: The Cheese and Cask Ale Experience

Why I’m going: It’s a cheese event, enough said. Plus I went to last year’s edition, which was not cask ale, and it was great! The pairings were genuinely tasty and interesting, I can’t wait to see what they do with cask ales.

Excitement Level: Whenever I step foot into The Re-Store in Leederville … times a hundred.

Sophie’s Choice: If I wasn’t at The Cheese and Cask Ale Experience I’d be at the AIBA Awards Presentation Dinner to cheer on and mingle with the great beer people.

Beer & Cheese Experience at The Local Taphouse last year. This years edition is featuring all cask ales!
Beer & Cheese Experience at The Local Taphouse last year. This years edition is featuring all cask ales!

Friday 23 May
The Event: Game of Cones

Why I’m going: To see some of my favourite people doing their favourite things – Colonial Brewing and Beersine team up for a beer and food matching session on board a tramcar. I’m sooo on board for this one (toot toot!)

Excitement Level: When you’re six years ago and just about to go to your best friend in the whole wide worlds birthday party and you know there’s going to be a magician, fairy bread and lots of cake!

Sophie’s Choice: No choice, it was always going to Game of Cones!

Saturday 24 May
The Event: The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular

Why I’m going: Because it would borderline on insanity not to go. This is the beer festival to end all beer festivals, like a great barley wine this event gets better with every year. Food stalls, craft beer college, the beer market place and the shining diamond on the crown – the festival beers. Over 100 beers brewed just for the festival. Where else can you try that many brand new, never before released, beers in one place?!

Excitement Level: Remember that kid from earlier who drank the red cordial and went to Disneyland? Now they’re at the gift shop being told they can take whatever they can carry.

Sophie’s Choice: If I wasn’t as the first Saturday GABS session I’d be at Woods of the North at 3 Ravens Brewery for barrel-aged brews, whiskeys, BBQ and boilermakers! Breweries like Feral, Moondog , Boatrocker and Starward will be there for your drinking pleasure.

The Event: Mega Dega II [sold out]

Why I’m going: I missed out last year, opting not to follow a multiple course lunch with a degustation dinner, I was keen to get along this year. Four chefs, six brewers and I think I’ll be rolling out the door of this one!

Excitement Level: When they finally announce the new Doctor Who series (sorry for the second Doctor Who reference of the post but I’m getting frustrated at waiting so long between seasons).

Sophie’s Choice: If I wasn’t at Mega Dega II I’d probably be at the GABS Saturday night session!

GABS-LOGO-FINAL-WHITE

Sunday 25 May
The Event: Boatrocker Palate Cleanser

Why I’m going: This was the wild card event of my GBW experience last year. It’s on the last day of the week and it is an EPIC week of palate abuse and indulgence and this event, though ever so slightly earlier than others at 11am is such a welcome treat for those who like their wild and sour beers. They welcome you like family, hell even one of the brewers friends even dropped my partner and I back to St Kilda in her own car last year, and it a really lovely few hours at the Boatrocker brewery.

Excitement Level: When you step off the plane in that city you’ve always wanted to explore.

Sophie’s Choice: Let’s face it, if I wasn’t at Boatrocker I’d be at the last GABS session. Hell, if I made haste I could even catch the last 30mins of GABS straight after Boatrocker!

From last years Palate Cleanser event, can't wait to see what's been happening in these barrels for the last 12 months!
From last years Palate Cleanser event, can’t wait to see what’s been happening in these barrels for the last 12 months!