Day Trip: Adelaide’s Coopers Vintage Launch

A day trip to Adelaide to attend this years Cooper’s Vintage Ale launch

On Tuesday my alarm went off at the unusually early time of 4:30am. I reached for it with as much ninja-like speed as I could, hoping to not wake my partner, but I’m really far too slow. Sorry honey. By 5:30am I was in a cab and on my way to the airport.

There are not many things I can think of that would get me out of bed at 4:30am but beer is indeed one of them. I was lucky to been invited to the Adelaide launch of this years Coopers Vintage Ale. Similar events were held on the same day in Melbourne and Sydney.

[Beer Reading] 250 Beers blog post on his trip to the Melbourne event here and also the Crafty Pint article here.

I arrived at Adeliade airport just before 11am, took a photo of the Coopers Alehouse bar at the airport and lamented the lack of craft beer at Perth airport, and set about getting a cab to Pirie & Co for the event.

Coopers Alehouse at Adelaide Airport

After dawdling a little at the airport, checking my work phone and doing very important social media-ing etc, I arrived at the Pirie & Co about 5 minutes early. Just enough time to get a coffee …

… Though not quite enough time for me to finish it so I walked into the Coopers Vintage Ale launch with a take away flat white in hand and a sheepish look on my face. About 30 people were already there, most with a beer in hand. I downed the rest of my coffee and quickly disposed of the evidence via a friendly bartender who swapped my empty coffee cup for a schooner of Coopers Pale Ale. It went down effortlessly.

After a couple of beers and canapés we were asked to find a seat at one of three long tables set up in the venue’s Social Club, their underground speakeasy style bar below the main venue.

Pirie & Co

Coopers Vintage Launch

The lunch was introduced by Cam Pearce, National Sales & Marketing Director, who spoke of Coopers current standing, place in the beer market and, of course, their annual release Vintage Ale.

Coopers is 100% family owned and is the counties largest independent brewery by far. Cam was pleased to report that they are currently experiencing 4.7% growth, pretty good in a beer market that we keep hearing is in decline unless you’re a craft brewer. 

Cam spoke positively about the growth of craft beer,

“It creates interest and engagement in beer”

Cam Pearce, National Sales & Marketing Director

Coopers seem to have a unique position in Australian beer drinkers minds.

“We are a gateway for those getting into craft and a welcome rest for geeks tired of a triple hopped beer,” Cam said. Coopers know they are not the small craft brewer with out-there beers or boundary pushing releases and nor do they want to be becuase in the same breath they are also not seen as the mass produced, corporate machine brewer.

Coopers Vintage Ale was first released in 1998 and this year marks the 15th release and yes, you’re right, that means they skipped a couple of  years. The yeast used is always Coopers house strain but the hops are the key ingredient subject to change year to year.

Coopers Vintage Launch at Pirie & Co

The Coopers brewing team select the hops for the Vintage Ale by a process they call “hop idol”, rating each hop variety to find a winner, so to speak, though I don’t believe there is any singing involved.

The winner of this years “hop idol” was Melba, an Australian hop variety that is still relatively new. 100kg were used in the brew alongside Ella and Vic Secret hops. Styrian Golding and Cascade hops were used for dry hopping.

Dry Hopping: addition of hops post fermentation to add extra aroma

The result is that regular Coopers Vintage Ale drinkers may find this years release on the hoppier side compared to previous years and this is deliberate. Recognising palates have adjusted to bigger hop flavours and bitterness, the IBU on this years Vintage is a bit higher than previous releases, coming in at 60 IBU.

“60 is the new 40”

Cam Pearce, National Sales & Marketing Director

Generous samples of the 2010 and 2015 Vintage Ale’s were delivered to tables just before the mains were served. David Medlyn, Cooper’s Technical Brewer, introduced the two beers.

There is also a lot of crystal malt in this years release alongside some wheat for improved head retention. “With a good pair of snow shoes you could run across there,” Dave laughed.

Blood Orange Sorbet

Blood orange sorbet with a drizzle of Coopers Light

It was actually very surprising just how much difference there was between the 2010 and 2015 vintages. Colour wise, the 2010 was darker with a more red hue than its paler younger sibling. They are two entirely different beasts.

Coopers Vintage tasting

Side by Side Tasting of Coopers Vintage: 2010 on left, 2015 on right

2010 Vintage Ale: Packed with Christmas cake, honey, caramel and spicy red fruit aromas. Christmas cake follows strongly in the flavour alongside a faintly citrusy finish.

2010 Coopers Vintage Ale

Coopers Vintage 2010

2015 Vintage Ale: Fresh passionfruit and citrus aroma; stone fruit, pithy citrus and grapefruit flavours dominate with a little spice that balances things out.

Coopers Vintage 2015

Coopers Vintage 2015

Wagu Scotch Fillet

Wagyu Scotch Fillet with Roasted Heirloom Carrots, Smashed Kipfler Potatoes and a Coopers Sparkling Beef Jus

French chocolate tart with Coopers Stout wafer

French Chocolate Tart with Coopers Stout Wafer

It was such a great experience to be able to attend this event, I have been holding onto a single bottle of the 2013 and 2014 Vintages and now with the 2015 I was looking forward to doing a vertical tasting however given what five years did for the 2010 I am inclined to leave this for a few more years.

Big thanks to Coopers and Corporate Conversation for inviting me to this event including paying for the return flights and cab charges to get from to and from Adelaide Airport. Not to mention the goodie bag we were sent home with and, as they have for the last three years, the media kit with three 2015 Vintage beers presented beautifully. 

girl + winter beers

Ah winter, the time of year when beer geek conversation turns from aggressively hopped American pales to dark malty beasts with punchy roast and chocolate flavours.

Ah winter, the time of year when beer geek conversation turns from aggressively hopped American pales to dark malty beasts with punchy roast and chocolate flavours.

The Food Alternative | Tuesday’s 6pm on RTRFM 92.1 Drivetime

Listen here to past segments

I was invited to Perth’s RTRFM radio station last night to chat about winter beers during the Drivetime segment called ‘The Food Alternative’. It’s a weekly segment every Tuesday at 6pm that explores Perth’s great food and beverage scene. I had an absolute blast chatting about beers with Drivetime hosts Simon and Anth. In the lead up* to last night I had naturally been thinking a LOT about winter beers.

*aka bundle of nerves at being on the radio

As much as the beer geek in me is screaming that stouts and porters are great drinking all year around not just winter, I cannot deny that my palate craves those darker brews more when the temperature drops. Like ballsy red wine, peaty scotch and roast dinner, the darker ales are just the ticket for a wintery night.

I’ve got some exciting beers in our fridge that are perfect for the rain and cold wind –

  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2014, their annual release barleywine style beer
  • Boatrocker Ramjet Whisky Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, a limited release from Melbourne
  • Cheeky Monkey Silverback 2013 Russian Imperial Stout from Margaret River

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2013

But not every night can be filled with beers edging their way over 10% ABV with flavours that shamelessly smack you in the face whilst wearing a devilish grin. So when you’ve come in from the rain, your socks kinda soggy and your wind swept hair looking nothing like it does in shampoo commercials, here are my two of favourite winter to-go beers to cuddle you back to happiness …

coopers best extra stout

Coopers Best Extra Stout Tasting Notes

Easily one of my favourite “good heavens it’s cold outside” beers, it’s liquid ink pouring from the bottle with a light coffee head. There’s a lot happening here, a little roast, a little smoke and big doses of chocolate, liquorice, coffee beans and brown sugar.

Coopers Best Extra Stout
Coopers Best Extra Stout

nail oatmeal stout

More jet black goodness … aromas of milk chocolate and biscuit and something kinda melony. Flavours of chocolate and red fruit dominate the palate with a little fresh citrus in the back. The mouth feel is creamy and soft; its 6% ABV is well hidden amongst a lot of delicious flavours, of course after a few you are aware it is a fraction on the stronger side. Cheeky little stout.

Nail Oatmeal Stout
Nail Oatmeal Stout

Since I have many favourites I’ll be happily re-hashing this theme a couple more times so I hope you’ll join me and please feel free to comment with your winter favourites!

Big thank you to Simon, Anth, Ai-Ling and Laura for inviting me to be part of The Food Alternative and assuring me I’d be okay. Additional thanks to Simon and Anth for not thinking I was weird when they were telling me to stay close to the microphone and I remarked it was like holding the distance before an awkward first kiss. Sometimes my internal filter shorts out.


Beer Ravioli

Recently I had a week off work, a mini-holiday, and it seemed the perfect time to get a little creative in the kitchen and try my hand at pasta. Me being me I wanted to include beer in the mix …

I’ve been meaning to try and make pasta for a while but then I see half price fresh pasta on sale at [insert giant supermarket chain here] and I end up buying a few packets cause it’s cheap and convenient. Recently I had a week off work, a mini-holiday, and it seemed the perfect time to get a little creative in the kitchen and try my hand at pasta. Me being me I wanted to include beer in the mix so I went straight for The Beeroness website and found Jackie’s recipe for Homemade Beer Pasta. Jackie’s recipe calls for wheat beer but since I was already drinking a Coopers Sparkling Ale that’s what went in!

2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup wheat beer

I mixed all ingredients together in a large bowl until I had a nice elastic dough which was then left to rest for half an hour. In this time you can make whatever mix you would like for your ravioli, I decided on a mushroom, chive and goat’s cheese filling –

300g button mushrooms, finely diced
Handful fresh garlic chives
white pepper
2 tablespoons goat’s cheese
Put olive oil into pan and add mushrooms, leave to slowly cook on low heat, stirring occasionally. Add white pepper when about half way cooked through. When mushrooms are cooked place in bowl and mix in chives and cheese.

Back to the pasta – cut the dough into 4 – 6 manageable pieces, start with one and leave the others in a bowl with a damp teatowel over the top to stop the dough from drying out. Rolled the piece of dough into a flat and roughly rectangular (and I do mean “roughly”) shape about 2mm thick. If you have a pasta roller this will probably be a lot easier and quicker than a rolling pin but if not, a rolling pin will still get the job done. Place heaped teaspoons of your filling and lay it out evenly on the pasta, be sure to give yourself enough space to cut into ravioli.

Laying out the mushroom mix
Laying out the mushroom mix

Next you want to roll out a second piece of pasta, hopefully of similar size and shape to the first and place it over the top. This can be a little tricky, you want to try and get it right the first time as it’s kinda like when you put contact paper on your school books as a kid, if you peel back a section to start again it ends up a little sticky and not quite right!

Lay another sheet of pasta over the top
Lay another sheet of pasta over the top

Squish the two pasta layers together whilst getting rid of any of the pesky air pockets that have probably formed. Use a pastry brush to lightly moisten the pasta around the filling (i.e. not on the lumps) then take a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut out the ravioli squares. The water should help you squish the layers together so your ravioli stays together.

Toss into salted boiling water and ta-DA now you have fresh homemade ravioli!

Homemade Mushroom, Chive & Goats Cheese Beer Ravioli, tossed in Parmesan and Fresh Thyme
Homemade Mushroom, Chive & Goats Cheese Beer Ravioli, tossed in Parmesan and Fresh Thyme

And now that you’re an expert on homemade ravioli you can play with different fillings –

BBQ Sweet Potato, Ricotta and Baby Spinach
BBQ Sweet Potato, Ricotta and Baby Spinach
Sweet Potato, Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli
Sweet Potato, Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli

Indian + Coopers Red

Despite how I might make it look in my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds I don’t do all the cooking in the house. My partner has dished up some truly tasty meals and I felt it was about time I shared one of these with you (and yes, you can probably come around for dinner, just make sure you bring beer!).

Despite how I might make it look on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds I don’t do all the cooking in the house. My partner has dished up some truly tasty meals and I felt it was about time I shared one of his great dinners with you (and yes, you can come over for dinner, just make sure you bring beer!

This recipe was taken from a book simply called “India Cookbook” and the recipe is also known as Handiwala Murg. The “handi” part refers to the earthware pot used for slow cooking and “murg” I think refers to the chicken; aren’t my googling skills amazing?!

The recipe calls for the chicken thighs to be made into “lollipops”, think a little ball of meat on the end of the bone. My partner opted not to do this since a) it’s fiddly as hell and b) why take off meat when there’s so many awesome spices to coat them in! He hates waste.

India Cookbook

The list of spices in this dish is incredible (a common theme throughout the book, who’d have thunk it!?) which meant that our random purchasing of spices proved very handy, in particular my recent discovery of 2 Brothers Foods for all our spice buying needs. The fun of online shopping from these guys is enhanced by the huge aromas that waft from the parcel before you’ve even opened it.

Lots of spices!

The chicken thighs are marinated in fresh coriander, ginger, garlic, yoghurt, lemon juice, black pepper, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. They are slow cooked in a frying pan (since we had no appropriate earthware pots) before having tomatoes (he used tinned chopped tomatoes which was way easier than dicing that many fresh ones!) with even more seasoning for simmering the chicken in.

Simmering chicken goodness

The result is a complicated, heavily spiced but very balanced dish that’s rich and warming. We had Coopers Sparkling in the fridge, my partner is very fond of this beer, and it was a pretty good match to the meal. It was nice to have something cold, refreshing and lightly fruity to wash over the food.