WA Beer Week Preview: South West in the City II

A look into the upcoming WA Beer Week (25 Oct – 2 Nov) – here is a sneak peak at the South West in the City II event, celebrating collaboration between 8 South West breweries

What is the event about?

It’s collaboration but not as you know it – it’s not just two brewers getting together, this is a collaboration brew between some of the South West’s finest brewers including Cheeky Monkey, Colonial, Eagle Bay, Bootleg, Bush Shack, Duckstein and Cowaramup plus new south west residents Young Henry’s.

Last years collaboration was “The Council Worker” Pale Ale and being that it was such a success they decided to join forces again this year.

Your first chance to try this brew will be at this event. Brewers from the day will also be on hand to chat, laugh and share a beer with you.

SW collaboration brew 2013 L-R: Justin Fox, Sorcha Gillen, Jeremy Good, Alex Poulsen, Jared Proudfoot, Nick d'Espeissis and Shannon Grigg Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver
Last year’s SW collaboration brew at Eagle Bay Brewing
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver
When is it?

Sunday 26th October, kicking off at 12noon

Where is it?

Five Bar – 560 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley

Five Bar

How much for tickets and where can I get my grubby mits on them?

$50 per person, purchased through here

Tell me more!

The still unnamed beer was brewed at Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery. Brewers bought along something to contribute to the brew. The result is a wide and varied number of hop varieties including Mosaic (from Roxy, Five Bar venue manager), Topaz (Young Henrys), East Kent Golding (Bush Shack), Galaxy (Bootleg), Chinook (Duckstein) and Enigma (Colonial).

Enigma was most recently used in WA for the Bootleg & Mane Liquor collaboration – Ryezilla

Nick, head brewer at Eagle Bay Brewing, threw in a curve ball with his contribution of star anise and cinnamon.

When I asked Alex, head brewer at Cheeky Monkey, what Cowaramup Brewing had bought along to the brew day his answer was simple, “Jeremy”. The respect and love for Jeremy Good, head brewer at Cowaramup, is absolutely clear.

Besides their generous hospitality, Cheeky Monkey’s contribution was their Belgian yeast strain that is used in their Hagenbeck Belgian IPA.

Whilst last years “The Council Worker” was an Australian Pale Ale Alex said they didn’t want to do the same style again but still wanted something to satisfy both the beer-geek and casual beer drinker alike.

Paul, brewer at Colonial Brewing, is a self confessed malt-man rather than a hop-fiend so having an good malt bill was important to him. With this in mind the brew was designed to be a bit of a red ale, having a good malt structure to support all the hops. Paul is hoping that the beer will have a good burnt toffee malt character to play nicely against the bubblegum flavours from the Belgian yeast.

“It was pretty much a ‘wing it’ brew,”

Paul, Colonial Brewer

Roxy’s choice of hop, Mosiac, was added at the end of the whirlpool for a hint of spice and the relatively new hop variety Enigma was used mostly for aromatics, dry hopped alongside Galaxy.

If your OCD is going crazy and you’re wondering what style this beer is, it’s not really clear cut but Belgian spiced red ale was about as close as Alex got to labelling it. Oh and it should clock in at around the 6% ABV mark.

All in all it’s probably best to get along to South West in the City II and decide for yourself.

WA Beer Week Logo

WA Beer Week banner

girl + SWCBF

A new venue at Busselton’s Old Broadwater Farm, tucked in behind Fairway Drive, gave the festival a bit of a make over for its third year (if my beer soaked brain recalls the years correctly)

Let’s just get it out the way early shall we? 2013 was not a good year for the South West Craft Beer Festival. From the moment those ticketing machines failed and the queue of people got progressively longer festival organisers were facing an uphill battle. I felt for them; sometimes shit goes up and there’s a fan waiting to spread it all over the place.

2014 was much brighter. Luminescent in fact.

A new venue at Busselton’s Old Broadwater Farm, tucked in behind Fairway Drive, gave the festival a bit of a make over for its third year (if my beer soaked brain recalls the years correctly). More space, more trees to relax under and a much improved layout with food and beer stalls scattered amongst each other rather than being separated like troublesome kids. I had a brief chat with organisers on the day, very happy with Saturday’s turn out, and they say next year there will be even more shade for relief from February heat. Of course having said that it rained the first year of the festival so who knows.

I walked in just after 1pm on Saturday, traditionally the busier day of the weekend long festival, and wasn’t greeted by queues, only friendly security and festival staff. Happy days!

Immediately I set about my mission, to taste the eight beers submitted for judging for the Critic’s Choice Award since the organisers were nice enough to ask me to be one of aforementioned critics. I was in fine company too – joined by fellow beer writer and award winning home brewer Jeremy Sambrooks, WA Brewers Association President Brian Fitzgerald and the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail rounding out the judging panel.

Here are the beers that were up for judging …

SW Craft Beer Festival Critic Choice

The Cheeky Monkey Hagenbeck Belgian IPA has always been a favourite of mine. When Jared “Red” Proudfoot was head brewer my tasting notes on my first pint was all praises for it’s strong bitterness, orange and piney hops. Now it’s Alex Poulsen at the brewing wheel, so to speak, and the Hagenbeck is still amazingly tasty. It’s fresher and crisper than ever with a little spice and great stone fruit flavours to whisk you into a happy IPA place.

Cheeky Monkey taps - aren't they pretty?!

Buck Shack’s Milk Stout was full of milky, chocolately, vanilla goodness but perhaps suffered from the almost overwhelming heat of the day. In fact this silly judge wore jeans so I was extra uncomfortable. It was a beer rated highly by all judges on the day.

On the other end of the weather-to-beer chart was Eagle Bay’s Summer Ale, another highly rated beer with all judges. Summer in a glass … that’s all I will say. Summer in a freaking glass.

Eagle Bay tent decked out nicely as always!

The stand out beer of the festival for all four judges was Bootleg’s Coconut Hefeweizen, taking out the Critic’s Choice best of the festival.

“Freaking awesome” I wrote on my piece of paper on the day. Bootleg brewers Michael Brookes and Ryan Nilsson-Linne have created a little tropical monster with this one. The beer is so good that it almost makes me forget about the girl with the coconut boobs on the logo, sorry boys not my cuppa tea. The Coconut Hefeweizen still tastes very much like a hefeweizen should with banana and slight vanilla flavours. The toasted coconut folds in nicely, slipping into the style as if it’s meant to be there the whole time, it’s like an uninvited guest who turns out to be the life of the party. I could barely keep my nose out of the glass long enough to drink it.

And it turns out the drinkers agreed with us with Coconut Hefeweizen, taking out the People’s Choice award for best beer of the festival too! Nice work Bootleg!

Ryan happily sampling Coconut Hefeweizen

Bush Shack Brewery Beer Dinner

Looking for something different to do on Thursday night? Like beer? Like food? Well, I think Yallingup’s Bush Shack Brewery might have you covered …

Looking for something different to do on Thursday night? Like beer? Like food? Well, I think Yallingup’s Bush Shack Brewery might have you covered …

Owner/Brewer Danial has provided me with the menu for the night and it’s positively drool-tastic, you should go because I need to experience it vicariously through someone else since I have a work-thing that night.

The event will be the launch of their yearly release Old Saint Nick’s, a bigger bolder version of their popular Yallingup Old.

The food will be done by Stephen Reagan from Busselton’s Newtown House.

Stephen and his wife Barbara have owned and operated Newtown House for the past 21years. During this time they have established the property as a mecca for fine food lovers the world over. The restaurant regularly features in international publications, Frommers Fodors and Lonely Planet as a ‘Must Visit’ destination for food.

Thursday 31st October, 6.30pm

Canapés

Fresh Albany oyster shooter, stout jelly, stout, lime & mint dressing

Goat curd tartlet, caramelised shallots, rocket pesto

Served with Summer Golden Lager

2nd  Course

Seared Geraldton tuna, udon noodles, spring greens, chilli & coriander, lime

Served with Chilli Beer

3rd  Course

Roast pumpkin & tallegio ravioli, burnt sage butter

Served with Spelt Wheat Beer

Palate Cleanser

Pear Cider Sorbet

4th Course

Confit of duck, puy lentils, game jus

Served with Strawberry Blonde

5th Course

Margaret river venison, chocolate beer jus with chocolate nibs, roast beetroot

Side Dishes of salted roast baby potatoes & sautéed green beans with shallots

Served with Yallingup Old

6th Course

Zuccoto with rum & raisin glace, Italian meringue

Served with Old Saint Nicks

Bookings can be made with Danial on e: info@bushshackbrewery.com.au or ph: 97552848

3 Hemsley Road, Yallingup WA

Thinking about flavour …

We all know that flavours in craft beer are practically limitless, that’s what lets us sit down to beers that are adventurous and beer that are very traditional. On any given day we can sip on a Cantillion lambic, traditionally brewed with raspberries, or a Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale made with smoked bacon and pure maple flavouring.

I recently visited Yallingup’s Bush Shack Brewery. For those who haven’t been it’s just south of Dunsborough and it’s a small operation, as the name rightly suggests, and their beers are probably not what you would expect. The core range of beers includes Strawberry Blonde, Chili Beer, Chocolate Beer and Twisted Lemon Lager.

As I sipped on a Strawberry Blonde I thought about beer and flavour and what preconceptions we have about certain additions.

Bush Shack Tasting Tray 2

When you read the words “strawberry”, “chocolate”, “chilli” and “lemon” I’m sure you had some kind of reaction. It might have been positive and it might not have been. I have to confess to a “ugh” reaction when I saw the words “strawberry blonde”. My brain immediately feared a Chupa Chup in beer form. Instead I sipped on a lightly malty beer with hints of real strawberry, not lolly strawberry, and it was fresh and clean and it surprised me.

Acid Freaks – a Baltic Porter that’s been infused with a Shiraz barrel aged balsamic vinegar, a weirdly stunning brew that I highly recommend.

In contrast to my initial reaction to strawberry, when I heard about Melbourne brewer Steve “Hendo” Henderson and his Brew Cult beer called Acid Freaks, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on in. A balsamic vinegar baltic porter?! I was as excited as a kid who’s high on red cordial.

Brew Cult Acid Freaks

We all know that flavours in craft beer are practically limitless; on any given day we can sip on a Cantillion lambic, traditionally brewed with raspberries, or a Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale made with smoked bacon and pure maple flavouring.

Apricots, raspberries, cherries, bacon, tea leaves, balsamic vinegar, chilli, cacao husks, beetroot, honey … these are all additions that can be found in beers today. The list goes on.

But why does one flavour make you think “that would be amazing!” and another make you think “ugh”

I know a lot of our preconceptions come from our own taste preferences and encounters but over my years of beer drinking I’ve noticed there’s certain flavours/additions that are universally cringed at.

Strawberries

I start with strawberries because I had rolled my eyes at the idea of strawberries in beer. I had to then roll them back in the other direction as I found myself enjoying Bush Shack’s Strawberry Blonde. Chris and Merideth from thebeergeek.com, their website documenting their global beer travels, had a similar surprise when they were in Margaret River in March last year.

“Frankly, we were a bit worried. A chili beer, a lemon lager, a strawberry beer; these all raised red flags in our minds. But we couldn’t have been more wrong.”

You can read the full run down of their Margaret River adventures here. From someone closer to home, the great Tipples blog (which is no longer but it’s author hasn’t left us totally – see Drink, Pluck Yell) also had a similar “not sure about this” moment at Bush Shack before coming away happy after a few beers.

Of course there are moments when you’re totally forgiven for rolling your eyes …

Bud-Light-Straw-Ber-Rita

Chili

Oh chili, many of us love and adore you and keep punishing ourselves by overindulging in you but I have yet to have a really positive experience with chill beer. Much like Melbourne beer blogger Glen Humphries aka Beer is Your Friend I’ve found the couple of chili beers I have tried have been either unpleasantly hot or it’s added nothing at all.

“I’d truly given up on chili beers because they are the dumbest things on Earth (…) then I tried Garage Project’s Death From Above and I went, “aha, so that’s how to make a beer with chili that tastes good”.”

Then Glen tried Garage Project’s Death from Above, a beer with Vietnamese mint, mango, lime and chili, and found himself enjoying it. I hope to get my hands on some of this one day, if you like you can read more about it here.

Honey

Braggot – a blend of mead and ale dating back to the 12th century

Once upon a time my go-to beer was Matilda Bay’s Beez Neez but as my craft beer journey continued I left it long behind. It was many sips until my next honey beer which was The Bear by Red Duck Brewery, a honey braggot. It was stunning with soft smooth honey sweetness combined beautifully with biscuit, fruit and a little spice.  You can read more about my braggot discoveries here.

Red Duck Beers

Have any flavours/additions in beers surprised you? I’d love to know ..

girl + festival [part 2]

A few days before the South West Craft Beer Festival I received an email from Carolina at Buzz Marketing, the team behind the event, to tell me I had been chosen to participate as a beer judge. Moi? A judge? It seemed a little strange since my only qualification is drinking. I have not studied brewing nor have I home brewed, I’ve just enjoyed drinking and recently done a little typing but hey, I was happy to run with it. It sounded like a good fun!

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A few days before the South West Craft Beer Festival I received an email from Carolina at Buzz Marketing, the team behind the event, to tell me I had been chosen to participate as a beer judge as part of the People’s Choice Award.

Moi? A judge? It seemed a little strange since my only “qualification” is drinking. I have not studied brewing nor have I home brewed, I’ve just enjoyed drinking and recently done a little typing but hey, I was happy to run with it. It sounded like a good fun!

The People’s Choice Award was designed to be a collaborative effort between votes cast by the people and four judges consisting of Brian Fitzgerald, President of the Western Australian Brewers Association; Vic Crossland, beer writer for The West Australian, Jeremy Sambrooks, freelance beer writer for The Crafty Pint, Australian Brews News, Beer and Brewer Magazine and Menu Magazine; and little ol’ me, blogger and occasional Crafty and Brews News contributor.

Voting was done with good old fashioned paper and pen with punters asked to submit their top five. A smiley friendly man in a green beer bottle suit, Scotty, ran around in the afternoon to encourage people to get their votes in.

Next year I’d like to see a smart phone app, or something similar, to make voting even easier. Having said that, Scotty was a great sight running around the festival!

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Whilst the votes were tallied the judges took the chance to sit and chat about beer, certainly not a shocking turn of events I’m sure. The Bootleg Brewery Bramling Cross had really impressed and we all agreed that Jeremy Good’s Cowaramup Pilsener was still sensational. There was a lot of beer to chose from and sadly all of us had a small list of beers we had not been able to get to in time, this is the first world problem of the craft beer judge.

For me, my top 5 was largely made up of new or limited release beers because they were the main ones I tried that day. With just a few hours and a self imposed restriction on booze intake, no-one wants a boozy judge, I skipped over beers like Old Coast Road Wheat, Bootleg Raging Bull, Eagle Bay Pale Ale, Colonial Kolsch and Cowaramup Pilsener because I knew they were great having drunk one or twelve in the past.  Instead I tried to get my hands on new stuff and so my top 5 looked something like this, and in no particular order –

  1. Eagle Bay Summer Ale
  2. Bootleg Brewery Bramling Cross
  3. Duckstein Ubekannt
  4. Bush Shack Brewery Old Saint Nick
  5. Cheeky Monkey Hagenbeck Belgian IPA

The People’s Choice Top Five looked like this –

  1. Colonial Kolsch
  2. Eagle Bay Kolsch
  3. Eagle Bay Pale Ale
  4. Old Coast Road Acres of Wheat
  5. Bush Shack Brewery Twisted Lemon Lager

We were given the people’s choice top five, scrambled so we didn’t know what had been voted number one, and discussed the list for a while. All judges highly rated the Colonial Kolsch brewed by Head Brewer Mal Secourable and when we found out it was the people’s number 1 it was clear that we had ourselves a winner!

I know Mal has worked hard to get the Kolsch to be as close to a true Cologne (German) Kolsch beer as possible, keeping a careful eye over each batch and the result is clear. Fresh citrus, soft bitterness and a delicate mouth feel, it’s always a pleasure to have whether you’re at the brewery, The Royal on the Waterfront in East Perth or The Print Hall in Perth City.

Congratulations to Mal, Sorcha, Rich, Sarah and the rest of the crew at Colonial – looking forward to seeing the trophy behind the bar!

… part two down, one more to go!

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Richard from Colonial Brewing accepting the People’s Choice Trophy for their Kolsch
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Me with Richard from Colonial Brewing

girl + festival [part 1]

Recently the second annual South West Craft Beer Festival was held at 3 Oceans Winery in Margaret River. I went along on behalf of The Crafty Pint, you can read my article for Crafty here, so I was lucky enough to attend both days as a VIP.

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Recently the second annual South West Craft Beer Festival was held at 3 Oceans Winery in Margaret River. I went along on behalf of The Crafty Pint, you can read my article for Crafty here, so I was lucky enough to attend both days as a VIP.

I know a lot of people were unhappy with the festival organisation. There was a long line to get in, a line to buy tokens and more lines for beer. The South West Craft Beer Festival Facebook page reflected these frustrations and it was great to see the organisers jump in, acknowledge the problems and apologise, promising to address these issues next year. I’m sure we’ll see this great event just get better and better.

My partner and I had driven into 3 Oceans and upon seeing the line decided to kill some time at Cowaramup Brewing, a mere 10-15 minutes down the road. A walk through their hop bines and a middy later, we were back at the festival more than ready to get into the swing of things.

Beer and Hops at Cowaramup

First up we tried the Duckstein Wolf Pale Ale, an unfiltered American Pale Ale, that I really enjoyed though didn’t get the typical big grapefruit, pine needle characteristics that I was expecting. I got big aromas of cooked lemon and spices whilst the palate had a nice fruitiness and upfront bitterness. That’s the beer in the top picture if you want to see its hazy glory!

Next up was the latest seasonal from Michael Brookes at Bootleg Brewery, the Bramling Cross. It’s a twist on an extra special bitter using imported Chinese Blackcurrant tea in post fermentation and the English hop variety Bramling Cross, known for its blackcurrant characteristics. This beer completely blew me away with it’s subtle tartness and bitterness that was perfectly balanced with fresh blackcurrant fruit. Initially I tried the Bramling Cross at the start of December and since then this beer has really settled, all the flavours have balanced out and created a very unique and beautiful beer.

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Not to get all boring and talk about the weather but it was a freakin’ sensationally sunny day. So much so that it seemed improper not to stop by the Eagle Bay Brewing stall and have a glass of their Single Batch Summer Ale. Though it had only been a few weeks since we were introduced it was great to revisit such a tasty little number. Tropical fruits, fresh bitterness, citrus and pineapple. Gorgeous.

We pulled on our metaphorical lederhosen and walked back to see the guys at Duckstein Brewery where they were pouring something new. Assistant Manger, Patrick, presented us with their latest limited release, the Unbekannt. German for “unknown” it is a beer with no proper stylistic home. Head Brewer (or as Patrick says, “the hardest working brewer in WA”) Shannon Grigg has used Belgian yeast and German malts to create a complex and tasty ale with funk, toast, chocolate and red fruit all getting along nicely.

It was time for some food and though there was some delicious food being put out in the VIP room I wasn’t about to miss out on a Spicy Goat Balls Sub from my friend Mitch, aka Beersine.

Beersine

Back to the beers again and this time I stole a gulp of a friend’s honey pale ale from Brew 42. It was just enough to think “damn that was tasty, I gotta remember to visit them!” and add it to my long, long beery to-do-list.

I don’t think a beer festival in WA has gone by without me having a Colonial Kolsch and a freshly shucked oyster. It’s now a ritual and one I’m happy to continue until they stop serving me!

I reacquainted myself with the the Cheeky Monkey Hagenback Belgian IPA and had one of those moments when you realise your memory of a beer has barely done it’s justice. Good hits of citrus and tropical fruits, a little honey and a whack of bitterness.

In between trying to serve a long queue of thirsty drinkers Josh, Assistant Brewer at Bush Shack Brewery, managed to find a little of their Old Saint Nick Christmas Ale just before punters had run them dry. Thick and devilishly moreish with big red fruit characteristics I instantly wanted more. I added another brewery visit to Bush Shack to my list of things to do!

By this time it was getting late into the afternoon and there was the People’s Choice Award. Votes had to be counted from punters and the judges added their two cents too – somehow I ended up in that category but that’s all for Part 2 I think …

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