Some girls get flowers, I get beer

I like beer more than I like flowers so it’s a good thing I have such a wonderful partner who often brings me gifts of the beery variety

Flowers are nice. They are pretty, they smell good but let’s face it, you can’t drink them. You can’t savour a well poured flower in your glass. You can’t share a flower with your friend and say “Try this! It goes really well with the Gorgonzola”. This is why I like beer more than I like flowers. Lucky for me I have a wonderful boyfriend who often chooses to surprise me with presents of beer rather than bunches of flowers.

Brewdog & Oskar Blues Shipwrecker Circus Barley Wine 10.5% ABV
Brewdog & Oskar Blues Shipwrecker Circus Barley Wine
American style Barleywine | 10.5% ABV

My partner got me this after I had my first taste of beers by Oskar Blues Brewery, Colorado (US) and raved on and on about them. I grabbed them on one of my trips to Cellarbrations Carlisle, getting their Ten Fidy Imperial Stout, Deviant Dale’s IPA and G’Knight Imperial Red Ale. You can check out my blog post on those here. Since I enjoyed them so much he figured I’d like their collaboration with Brew Dog.

He was right.

Barleywines: Big ass beers, originally British, lovingly adopted by the US, both American and English Barleywines are acknowledged as a style with the major difference largely coming down to the almighty hop.

What was the beer like? Well, imagine you got a fruitcake, turned up the spices and plums and in your enthusiasm you were overly generous with the rum. Then you got a little distracted and burnt the bottom of your cake so the base caramelised a little. Then you liquified it.

Chimay Gold 4.8% ABV
Chimay Gold
4.8% ABV

When my partner was beer shopping at Cellarbrations Carlisle the topic of trappist beers came up resulting in this Belgian baby landing in my hot little hands.

Trappist: “where brewing is performed by, or under the supervision of, Trappist monks” [Oxford Companion to Beer] of which there are only seven breweries in existence – 6 in Belgium and 1 in the Netherlands. Not strictly a style as such as it’s their authenticity rather than similar flavours/ingredients that categorise them. In short – monk make awesome brewers.

It’s been a while between Chimay’s for me so it was nice to come back to one of the first breweries I got to know when I got hooked on beer many years ago.

Aromas reminded me of the base of a lemon cheesecake but there’s much more happening, I got hints of melon, lemon and banana. Soft yet with a full mouth feel with big spices coming through as the beer warmed up a little, loved the clove and lemony flavours.

8 Wired Superconductor Double IPA Double IPA | 8.8% ABV
8 Wired Superconductor Double IPA
Double IPA | 8.8% ABV

We love our hops in this house so when my partner gave me this present it was only a matter of hours before it was opened.

8 Wired: from New Zealand, brewer Søren Eriksen, well known for their HopWired IPA

His timing was great, my two most recent visits to The Pourhouse in Dunsborough have involved drinking the little brother of this beer, suitably named Semiconductor – a session IPA at a very reasonable 4.4% abv (you can read more here if you’re so inclined). Now it was time to see how it’s big brother stacked up.

It was really freakin’ good.

The aromas on the Superconductor are big and punchy, so much so that I found the flavours weren’t as strong as I was expecting. But don’t get the wrong impression, this is a very flavoursome beer. Toffee, citrus and tropical fruits with the emphasis on pineapple. The mouth feel verges on oily with a long dry and citrusy finish.


Fish Curry + Chimay

More cooking from Paul Mercurio’s Cooking with Beer book – this time I tried my hand at the Indian-style Fish Curry with Belgian Ale using Chimay Triple

Cooking with Beer by Paul Mercurio
My new favourite cook book

More cooking from Paul Mecurio’s Cooking with Beer book but this time it wasn’t just for myself and my partner but also for his parents.

I decided to try the Indian-style Fish Curry with Belgian Ale. This was silly for a number of reasons –

  1. I’ve never tried cooking this dish before.
  2. The first and only time I tried cooking a fish curry was so long ago I can’t remember whether it was good or bad. I figure if I can’t remember, it couldn’t have been very good.
  3. The ingredients list was 23 items long.

I’ll cut the suspense and state right now that the dish turned out to be freakin’ amazing.

Indian-style Fish Curry with Belgian Ale
… be prepared with your best pestling skills

One of the ingredients in this dish is, clearly, beer – more specifically a Belgian-style high-alcohol ale. I went to Dan Murphy’s in search of something suitable and came home with Chimay Triple. 8% abv, rich sweetness, fruity and with a good bitter finish.

The Chimay beers remind me of The Belgian Beer Cafe Westende, one of my first jobs as a bartender and where I was first introduced to the big wide world of beer. If you check out the Chimay website you’ll see the words “Chimay, the Art of beer and cheese” … two of my favourite things!

Chimay is one of only 18 authentic Trappist monasteries in the world where the monks and nuns live by the motto “ora et labora (prayer and work) so basically when they’re not praying they are working hard to produce, amongst other things, amazing beer. For more information on Trappist beers, here is a great website.

The beer is rich and complicated with lots going on and with an ingredients list of over 20, the curry is much the same. It’s full of spices like cumin, mustard seeds, curry leaves and turmeric and also uses garlic, ginger, and coriander to ensure there is plenty of flavour. When you throw in a cup of Chimay Triple it’s hard to say whether you can taste the difference with SO much going on. I guess you’d have to make the dish twice – one with and one without the beer – but I have to be honest, that’s a lot of mortar and pestle work thats enough to make my hand cramp just thinking about it. I’m happy enough with the outcome that the recipe was fun to make (though it does need some time and love) and tasted great.

You’ll work up a sweat making this paste!
Fish Curry … Simmering away nicely