Getting the Gang Back Together – Black Vanilla

Eagle Bay Brewing love collaborating and it’s time for their winter release with Mane Liquor, Whipper Snapper and artist Kyle Hughes-Odgers – Black Vanilla

“It’s fun … except when I get left in the brewery to do all the work!” Nick laughs when I ask him about collaboration brews at Eagle Bay Brewing.

Eagle Bay Brewing seem to love collaborating more than anyone in WA. From annual collabs like the Cacao Stout with Bahen & Co chocolate makers to once-off brews like their West Coast Native Ale with Fremantle venue The Mantle, Eagle Bay seem* to have an open door policy to their (brew)house. In fact they’re working on another collaboration brew right now with Clancy’s Fish Pubs and Twin Peaks coffee.

*always best to ask before you attempt to just wander into a brewery though!

“Working with like-minded producers is always such a pleasure,”

Margarita Wallace, marketing and communications, Eagle Bay Brewing

This year Eagle Bay reunited with retailer Mane Liquor, Whipper Snapper Distillery and artist Kyle Hughes-Odgers to make a beer called Black Vanilla, a whiskey barrel-aged coconut and vanilla imperial stout.

Brew day for Black Vanilla – Photo from Eagle Bay Brewing Facebook

This has become an annual collaboration to make a barrel-aged dark beer and started in 2015 when Eagle Bay teamed up with Mane Liquor and Kyle Hughes-Odgers to make Black and Tannin, a black IPA aged in former Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.

“Collaborating gives you a chance to play with new ideas,”

Nick d’Espeissis, head brewer, Eagle Bay Brewing

In 2016 the crew made Forest for the Trees, and brought in Perth craft coffee roasters Twin Peaks and swapped red wine barrels for whiskey ones with new team mates Whipper Snapper Distillery on board. The result was a whiskey barrel-aged coffee imperial porter.

To make this years Black Vanilla they brewed an imperial stout and barrel-aged it for three months in two Whipper Snapper “Upshot” whiskey barrels. “It’s quite a privilege”, Margarita says “because once those whiskey barrels are given over to us they can’t use them for whiskey again.”

After aging they added toasted coconut and vanilla beans. The result is complex and rich, dark and roasty and it’s drinking great now and will also certainly age nicely.

I was lucky enough to be amongst the first to try Black Vanilla at The Dark Side event at Eagle Bay Brewing last week which they kindly invited me to. The event was held as part of the Cabin Fever Festival in Margaret River. Photos are below from the wonderful evening of food, beers and chat.

My partner once told me about a guy he knew who loved whiskey and when an awesome one would come out he would always buy three bottles – one to drink, one to keep and one just in case. I applied this to Black Vanilla, purchasing three bottles before leaving the brewery.

If you this sounds like an event you’d love and you’re sans a time machine, you can catch the crew who made the beer at the Black Vanilla Winter Feast dinner at Lalla Rookh tomorrow night (Wednesday 25 August). Tickets are $82+bf, more information can be found here.


GABS Edition: 5 minutes with Elliot from Mane Liquor

Q&A with Elliot Moore from Mane Liquor about their collaboration with Eagle Bay Brewing for GABS beer – Black & Tannin

The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, aka GABS,  is on again as part of the annual amazingness that is Good Beer Week, a nine day festival throughout Melbourne which kicked off on Friday.

Good Beer Week: 16-24th May

GABS: Imagine a really beautiful building and inside are all your favourite Australian breweries, plus a handful of international brewing superstars, with their beers ready for you to taste and brewers keen to have a chat. There’s a variety of beer seminars with people who really know their stuff, plenty of food and live music and on top of all this there’s over 100 unique beers, GABS festival beers, which have been brewed especially for the event and all are on their debut outing because that’s one qualification to be a GABS festival beer. Oh and it’s three marvellous days of this!

My blog has been pretty free of Good Beer Week activity this year and I can only put this down to an act of self preservation as I am not going to GBW this year. Every time GBW is mentioned I get a pang of beer envy but, nevertheless, I cannot ignore the thirst-inducing creative GABS beers that our fab WA brewers have put together for this years festival so I am hoping to bring you a few Q&A’s with the brewers in the lead up to GABS.

Mane Liquor on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Today we have Elliot Moore from Mane Liquor who have collaborated with Eagle Bay Brewing for a GABS beer called ‘Black and Tannin’. This is the second time the bottle shop and brewery have collaborated, the first was a Saison aged in fresh chardonnay barrels in late 2013 called Saisonnay, 18 months later here they are again doing what they love most, making beer with friends.

(top) Elliot, Mane Liquor and (bottom) Nick from Eagle Bay

(left) Elliot – Mane Liquor and (right) Nick – Eagle Bay Brewing

GABS Festival Beer: Black and Tannin | 6.5% ABV | Speciality IPA

The Official GABS Guide says: “This collaboration brew with Mane Liquor features their three favourite things: IPA, dark malts and Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon. This Black IPA has been aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.”

What is so exciting about GABS?

It’s the biggest beer event in the country – 150+ beers that have never been released to market to sample in one venue – what’s not to love?!

Tell us about the Black & Tannin and what was the inspiration behind the brew?

It’s no secret we are great mates with EBBC [note: Eagle Bay Brewing Co] – hanging out in the brewery is what we do best – producing Saisonnay was so much fun we had to do another beer – we hope to do a different collab together every year. Margarita [note: retail and marketing manager for Eagle Bay Brewing] had the idea of using this years collab for the GABS event – and we are very honored to be asked. We wanted to do another barrel aged beer and to showcase the local Margaret River area and produce. We are lucky to have access to wine barrels so decided Cabernet would be the best barrels to pair with a winter themed beer.
The Black IPA from EBBC  is one of our favourite beers so I asked Nick [note: Nick d’Espeissis, head brewer at Eagle Bay] if we could pump up the ABV and malt build to create a 7.5% ABV black IPA, we then decided to age the beer for three months before returning the beer to tank and dry hopping.

What was the trickiest part of the brew?

Black & Tan: a beer cocktail of pale ale with dark beer/stout on top

Deciding on a malt build for the beer was the toughest and coming up with a name. Black & Tannin is a play on Black & Tan as a Black IPA is essentially a new world black and tan – Cabernet has a high tannin level – so from this we created Black & Tannin.

Mane have collaborated with brewers in the past, what makes this collaboration special?

Every collaboration is special, it’s such a treat to be invited into the brewery to assist on the beer itself, I also love coming up with the beer style, recipe, name and label design.
This is the first dark beer we have collaborated on, it’s also the biggest beer Nick has ever made so that was by far the most exciting aspect of the brew.
I’m also super excited to see the beer going into 640ml wax coated bottles – our label has been designed by Kyle Hughes-Odgers, an amazing local artist, so in a way it’s a three way collaboration between brewer, bottle shop and artist.

Who’s beer are you most keen to try this year, and why?

Pirate Life Brewing (SA) are doing a 10.4% ABV Black Belgian Imperial India Pale Ale – that’s exciting! The boys from Moondog (VIC) never disappoint on the GABS beers and 8 Wired (NZ) are doing a Hippy Berliner, a Berliner Weise, which sounds amazing. Also keen to try Ryan from Bootleg’s Chai Milk Stout. [Read my Q&A with Ryan about this beer here].

Gourmet Escape 2014

My Gourmet Escape experience included beer made with roasted agave, a golden ale to celebrate a brewery’s 20th anniversary and the unleashing of the south west’s first canned beer. It’s no wonder I didn’t have a single sip of wine the entire Saturday I was at Gourmet Escape.

My Gourmet Escape experience included beer made with roasted agave, a golden ale to celebrate a brewery’s 20th anniversary and the unleashing of the south west’s first canned beer. It’s no wonder I didn’t have a single sip of wine the entire Saturday I was at Gourmet Escape.

The Gourmet Village continues to be the main event of the three day festival and was again held at Leeuwin Estate Winery. On top of this there are a growing number of satellite events across the whole weekend featuring celebrity chefs, stunning locations and unique dining experiences.

A new addition to the Gourmet Village this year was the Gourmet Village Brewhouse, a dedicated local brewery destination featuring Cheeky Monkey, Eagle Bay, Bootleg, Cowaramup, Gage Roads, Moody Cow, Margaret River Ale Co and the newest south west brewery Young Henry’s.

Read more about Young Henry’s new Margaret River site, their first WA beer and their new mascot


Eagle Bay Agave Ale

This collaboration brew with the head chef at El Publico Sam Ward which takes his authentic Mexican flare and applies to beautifully to the world of beer. The Eagle Bay Brewing kitchen slow roasted agave for 10 hours before it was added to the mash. You can read more from the brew day here.

“It keeps changing every day!” Margi, Eagle Bay’s retail and marketing manager, said to me at Gourmet Escape.

Eagle Bay at Gourmet Escape

For me it was full of spice and herbs, showed a little stone fruit up front and then finished very dry.

It is great to see a collaboration outside the norm of breweries and brewers, one that bought together two passionate people in different fields of flavour and one that showcases the result of this at a predominately wine/chef focused event.

Bootleg The Twenty Year Beer

It’s incredible to think Bootleg have been around for two decades, that kids are going there because they remember being their with their dad.

Crafty Pint wrote up a great story about Bootleg’s 20 years here

To celebrate their milestone Bootleg brewers past and present gathered to create a golden ale using five kilos of Enigma hops. The last time we saw Enigma hops from Bootleg was for their fabulous collaboration with Mane Liquor to create Ryezilla.

At this stage the beer is only available at the brewery, whether it lasts through summer is uncertain so I’d get in quickly to avoid disappointment!

Bootleg brewer Ryan
Bootleg brewer Ryan

I found this golden ale really interesting and had more balls than you may expect from a golden ale. The hop flavour is all upfront with a nice tropical fruit in the middle and a dry finish.

Colonial Draught Kolsch Ale in CANS

Yup. Cans. That’s right. Mother-freakin-cans.

Colonial Cans

It was hard not to notice all the happy people walking around the Gourmet Escape Village with the distinctive red and white cans.

I wrote an article for Crafty Pint that you can read here – the Draught Kolsch Ale is still the same Colonial Kolsch we all know and love, just renamed to remain relevant to the every day drinker and to call out to the days of beer drinking past where “a jug of super thanks” was a legitimate way to order beer. Now it’s “a few cans of draught thanks” and what a great beer drinking world that is.

Other highlights of the day included tasty pulled pork tortillas by Muster Bar & Grill, the Chief IPA from The Monk Brewery & Kitchen tasting delicious and the discovery of a new jerky called Chewy Mooey.

The Monk at Gourmet Escape

Weekend Reading #15

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.

After a couple of weeks off from Weekend Reading due to house moving antics, I am getting back into some resemblance of normality. Here is what has been in my reading list recently …

Serious Eats | The 6 Beers You Should Always Have in Your Fridge for Killer Pairings

I find that most food and beer pairings I do at home are the product of way too much thinking. It depends on any random combination of the following – what is in the fridge, what mood I am in, what beer is in the fridge, what bottle shop I am going past on the way home, what article I have read recently and the list goes on and on. The result is often a plan that has been in the works for days and frankly I’m a little stressed because there’s now pressure on this match to work since I’ve invested so much effort. Sometimes I am not very bright.

Instead I think this guys boy scout / be prepared for anything approach makes a whole lot more sense because beer and food should be fun, it shouldn’t have to rely on planning and it should happen way more often that it does.

Worth a Thousand Beers | Off Flavour Fun

I have always wanted to learn more about off flavours in beer but have never gotten around to it. I stumbled across this blog a couple of weeks ago and as I am quite a visual person I liked the representations of what the author had learnt from participating in an off flavour course.

Crafty Pint | Stockings and Spice

For the second year in a row the brewers of our wonderful south west got together to brew a collaboration beer that almost needed is I own role call for all the brewers involved. Last year’s effort was an Australian Pale Ale called The Council Worker, so named due to the amount of standing around and chatting that happened in the brewery on brew day.

You can read about last year’s brew here at Crafty Pint as well as on my blog, you know, just in case one link to my own work wasn’t self indulgent enough.

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
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

Sadly I couldn’t make it to brew day this year but I have heard good things! Hosted by Cheeky Monkey, each brewery bought along an ingredient for the brew. Once again the finished product will feature at Five Bar’s event – South West in the City happening on 26 October. Not only is it your chance to try the beer but also chat to the brewers and sample some tasty Five Bar food. You can check out last year’s event via yours truly (damn I am shameless today!) here.

Beer is Your Friend | The reality of the beer writer

I had a good giggle at this read from Glen, a fellow beer blogger but with the added bonus of being a proper journo.

For me it is the look of delight on peoples faces and they say “wow, how do I get a job like that?!” Like I would know! This isn’t my job, it is my hobby, a bit like stamp collecting or knitting just with more yeast.

On the subject of free stuff, I have been very fortunate to have attended events and enjoyed beers from lots of people in the beer industry. It’s not why I write but it is a nice gesture of support for my silly little words.

FINAL WORDS … This isn’t related to beer except that I think beer would go great with it – pull apart pepperoni and garlic knots. Good heavens, this recipe almost had my kicking my tablet screen.

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.


Moon Dog versus Gorgonzola

Victorian brewery Moon Dog produce some damn good and genuinely interesting beers. Definitely beers that grab my palate just as strongly as they grab my brain, rattle it around and scream “so … many … flavours!”

Moon Dog Barrelly Wine

We all seem to love a collaboration brew, at least I know I do. I have a tendency to lose my mind a little when they appear. I like the idea of two brewers coming together to produce something new and special, something worthy of a little excitement. The “why” behind the beer is always interesting, whether it’s an opportunity for two brewers separated by ocean to work together, I’m looking at you Thorny Goat IPA, or for an occasion like Pig Pen for the Australian International Beer Awards, there’s often a story behind the beer. You never read or hear someone say “dunno, just cause” or “to sell more piss” when asked why they collaborated. Granted it would be a stupid thing to say even if that was the reason but you get my drift. Of course the combination of two breweries doesn’t make for an automatically incredible beer but personally I can’t recall a collaboration beer I’ve disliked. Lucky streak? Perhaps.

Clearly with my rambling about collaboration brews and the photo of the Moon Dog bottle at the start you’ve probably, and correctly, guess that I’m about to launch into post about a Moon Dog collaboration. We have lift off …

Moon Dog teamed up with Anders Kissmeyer, a Danish brewer who was in Australia last year as a judge for the Australian International Beer Awards and to do a few brews with the locals. The result is this tasty little number – Barrelly Wine.

Crafty Pint has a great little write up that you can read here but basically you’re looking at a barley wine style beer that’s been left to it’s own devices in Shiraz and Pinot Noir barrels.

It’s Moon Dog so a fun name and quirky label are a given – I present Love Tap Double Lager and Perverse Sexual Amalgam as supporting evidence,

Moon Dog Beers

Inside the packaging is a beer that doesn’t disappoint. It’s jammy and full of spice, figs and warming booze – a genuinely interesting beer that engages your brain. It also made me sorely wish I had bought more than just one bottle.

We opened this whilst nibbling on some cheese after dinner and only the Gorgonzola managed to hold up and even pair nicely to Barrelly Wine – a fine combination of deep dark sweetness and in-your-face blue.

Gorgonzola - blue gooey goodness

Whilst writing this post a couple of interesting pieces on collaboration brews popped up –

Do craft beer collaborations always make for a good brew? by James Smith

Collabortion fatigue by Max Brearley