5 Minutes with Craig, head brewer at The Monk

This edition of 5 minutes with is with The Monk head brewer, Craig Eulenstein, chatting about WA Beer Week.

5 minutes with … a 5 minute/5 question interview with great beer loving people

This edition of 5 minutes with is with the man behind the beers at The Monk and who has one of the beards in the business, Craig Eulenstein and he’s been kind enough chat all about WA Beer Week and tease us with his plans.

WA Beer Week is happening 25 October – 2 November, filled with beer events across Perth and regional WA with collaboration brews, beer and food matching, meet the brewer nights and more. Save up your sick days now cause you won’t want to miss any of the action!

The Monk

What is most exciting about WA Beer Week?

I think WA has a lot of excellent breweries and brewers, just look at the AIBA [Australian International Beer Awards] each year to see how many WA breweries bring home the gold. What WA does lack a bit of though, is bars and venues that are solely dedicated to craft beer. It is a slow process converting the masses and WA Beer Week is a great opportunity to get punters into your shop/venue or brewery who would not normally be there, and who will hopefully take away a great experience, help peach the love, and forever only drink quality brews. Collective improvement and progress is the key to anything and as an industry we all need to work together to promote craft beer.

WA Beer Week Logo

What events are you doing for WA Beer Week?

The Monk Brewery and myself are going to keep ourselves busy this year!

Following the PRBS [Perth Royal Beer Show] awards night on the 24th, we will be hosting a beer and food matched degustation dinner at The Monk Brewery in Fremantle on Sunday night the 26th.

The Freo Doctor Liquor Store | 27 Arundel Street, Fremantle

Tuesday night, the 28th, I will be hosting a Beer and Whiskey matching night, along with Diageo (Talisker/Lagavulin etc…), at The Freo Doctor, this one will be a great night! Excellent whiskies matched with one-off specially brewed beers with food to match as well!

Wednesday night, the 29th, I will be taking part in the Young vs Old brew off, along with the likes of Hugh Dunn [Edith Cowan University], Justin Fox [Colonial Brewing] and Charlie Hodgson [Mash Brewing].

Before taking reigns at The Monk, Craig was a brewer for Mountain Goat in Melbourne

Friday the 31st, The Monk Brewery will be hosting a collaboration launch with Victorian heavyweights Mountain Goat Brewery with a smoked BBQ out on the terrace. Both myself and Dave Bonighton from Mountain Goat will be there to talk all things beer.

Mountain Goat, Richmond

Saturday the 1st, we will be hosting an open brew day with a beer style invented by an online competition we will run through our Facebookt and Instagram/Twitter feeds.

Sunday, the 2nd, I will sleep sleep sleep!!!!

Are you releasing any special beers for WA Beer Week?

Along with our regular seasonals, we will have a collaboration brew with Victorian based Mountain Goat Brewery. We may even sneak a few extra kegs across the border as well!

You used to be a goat in Melbourne, how do you think the WA and VIC craft beer worlds differ?

First of all, there no difference in quality!!! I think the ultimate difference in the two scenes comes down to population density and demand. In Melbourne, due to the higher and more progressive population, there are a lot of small bars that will only serve independent craft beer, some venues can have up 16 taps only pouring good beer. This keeps the industry charging forward with innovative and original ideas, with the likes of American Pale, IPA and Hybrid beers being prominent styles, with an exponential growth of craft beer drinkers. In Perth, due to a lower and more conservative population, you find all the breweries spread out into rural wine regions surviving primarily on tourism. This, I’ve found, has kept the beer styles quite traditional with the likes of Kolsch and Australian Pale ale being quite prominent, with a slower growth of craft beer drinkers. If I had my way, I would put all the WA breweries in one area, with a few key venues like Sail and Anchor, Five Bar etc and we would have am industry to challenge Portland, Oregon!

What does your perfect WA Beer Week look like?

Fresh, hoppy, malty and well balanced…

 

The Cheesy Italian Job

“We are so lucky to be able to create something new in collaboration, wineries can’t” – Leonardo di Vincenzo, Head Brewer at Birra del Borgo

My partner and I had reached Friday of Good Beer Week – day seven of an epic nine days of beer amazingness.

We started our day at The Gertrude for the Tasmanian Pint of Origin, then lunch at Brother Burger and the Marvelous Brew where they were hosting a tap takeover of Kiwi beers and finished the afternoon at The Tramway for the SA Pint of Origin. Our palates were well and truly warmed up and ready for the event for the evening – Birra del Borgo Collaboration Celebration at Slowbeer in Richmond.

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The event promised to be full of great beer, cheese and meat. That is exactly what we got and it was fantastic!

But of course it wasn’t that simple.

The beers were from Italian brewery Birra Del Borgo and all were collaboration brews. The cheese was also all Italian and the meats, well they were just yum.

We were lucky enough to have the head brewer of Birra del Borgo himself, Leonardo di Vincenzo to guide us through his beers and the stories behind their creation.

“We are so lucky to be able to create something new in collaboration, wineries can’t”

Leonardo di Vincenzo

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Beer #1 My Antonia – in collaboration with Dogfish Head (USA)

I’ve heard lots of good things about Dogfish Head but sadly have only tried one of their beers, their 90 Minute IPA, which was pretty damn tasty.

Leo recounted meeting Sam Calagione, head brewer for Dogfish Head, at a beer festival in Montreal, and have now collaborated on two separate beers. The other being Etrusca which makes an appearance later in the evening.

Leo described My Antonia as a traditional European style beer with some “special characters”. It’s an imperial pilsner that is continuously hopped, dry hopped and bottle fermented. It uses saaz hops, true to a European pilsner, in additional to two American hops – Simcoe and Warrior.

My Antonia is brewed by both Birra Del Borgo and Dogfish Head separately. Whilst the recipe is the same Leo says there’s definitely a difference between the two.

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The My Antonia we tasted was brewed by Birra del Borgo. It was a lovely hazy straw colour with a thick mouth feel and big tropical fruits.

It was served with Gorgonzola, an Italian cows milk blue cheese, and cured pork loin that was sweet and peppery.

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Beer #2 Agua Calienta – in collaboration with Opperbacco, Brewfist and Toccalmatto (all ITA)

This is what happens when you get four Italian breweries together – Agua CalientaLeo calls this a “crazy beer”.

The beer is their interpretation of a traditional British India Pale Ale. They used French oak fermenters, normally used for wine production, to increase oxidisation in the beer. It’s their way of representing to the long journey that IPAs of old would have made from Britain to India. They used four types of malt and popular English hop East Kent Goldings with New Zealand Pacific Jade hops.

The result is an earthy, spicy and biscuity beer with hints of raisins and I even got a little caramel.

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Agua Calienta was served with black truffle salami and taleggio cheese. We almost asked if the cheese was cave ripened since we had just been educated about taleggio at the event at The Local Taphouse but you don’t want to be those people. Plus it’s not like we are experts, just shameless cheese eating machines.

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Beer #3 ReAle in Kilt – in collaboration with Brewdog (SCT)

ReAle in Kilt is a reimagining of Birra del Borgo’s flagship ReAle, an American style pale ale, made with Scottish brewery Brewdog.

They started this project with Brewdog last year and says they are pretty good friends, “when we drink beer, we drink strong beer”. This made the 8.4% abv of ReAle in Kilt pretty unsurprising.

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ReAle in Kilt uses wood fermentation and all German hops, showing a definite break from the original ReAle.

It’s an intriguing and rather moreish beer. I got flavours like bacon, smoke, biscuit and toffee. It was a great match to Wagu bresaola, oak smoked cheddar and rocket sliders.

Wagu Sliders

Beer #4 Etrusca – in collaboration with Dogfish Head (USA) and Baladin Brewery (ITA)

Etrusca goes exploring through the ancient Italian Etruscan civilisation, roughly around where we call Tuscany. Leonardo, Sam (Dogfish Head) and Teo Musso (Baladin) traveled to Rome with an archaeologist to examine drinking vessels from 2,800-year-old Etruscan tombs and from there they created Etrusca.

The beer aims to be as authentic as possible and as such incorporates some different fermentation vessels and ingredients to create an ancient ale.

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Ingredients include gentian root, hazelnut, pomegranate and grapes as well as an ancient yeast strain. For variety each brewery used a different fermentation vessel – Dogfish Head using brass, Baladin using wood and Birra del Borgo using terracotta.

Etrusca was served with an Italian cows milk cheese wrapped in walnut leafs and olives.

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Leonardo was asked about his thoughts on beer trends and consumers expectations. It was certainly a relevant question considering the range of beers we tasted throughout the evening were arguably not appealing to the mass beer market. So how does a brewer balance their brewing creativity and curiosity with beers that, without being crass, make money? I strongly suspect this question is not that simple but Leonardo’s response was interesting.

“I don’t care about the expectation of the customer”, he said without a tone of intolerance but more in the sense that it’s not what drives him to create new beers. He doesn’t get into trends either, “if craft brewers think about the trends of the market they lose their soul”. Ultimately Leonardo is looking for something different, something that tastes special. I think Birra del Borgo have certainly achieved that.

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On a side note it seems to me a striking testament to Good Beer Week as a whole that Leonardo flew all the way to Melbourne to speak to us crazy Australian beer fans!

Also, I have heard an unconfirmed report that Birra del Borgo’s Duchessic – a blend of their Saison with Cantillon Lambic – is currently available at The International Beer Shop. If this is true, be still my beating heart …