girl + sou’west smackdown

It was Colonial Brewing going head-to-head with local beer brothers-from-another-mother Eagle Bay Brewing but were we going to witness a friendly play fight or an all out brawl? That was the question I was asking myself as I walked into The Freo Doctor liquor store for the Sou’West Smack down last Wednesday.

The Freo Doctor – 27 Arundel Street, Fremantle – Facebook

The event was held in the cellar of The Freo Doctor where the dim lighting, wooden barrels and long wood tables are a cosy boozy delight. The food was matched by Mitch from Beersine and served with a beer from each brewery. Happy days!

Mitch (Beersine), Margi and Edge (Eagle Bay)
Mitch (Beersine), Margi and Edge (Eagle Bay)

In terms of fighting fair I think Eagle Bay may have missed the memo, bringing along not just their brewer, Nick d’Espeissis but also his partner, his brother and Eagle Bay’s marketing manager, Margi. Over in the Colonial corner was head brewer Justin Fox standing on his lonesome, all by himself but he seemed in very good spirits …

Head Brewer at Colonial - Justin Fox
Head Brewer at Colonial – Justin Fox

The night kicked off with a straight Kolsch versus Kolsch, Colonial’s more traditional brew versus Eagle Bay’s perhaps more modern interpretation with the addition of some New Zealand hops.

“Kolsch is the everyman’s beer”

Justin Fox, Colonial Brewing

I think Justin put it well when he described Kolsch as being the beer that craft beer nerds reach for when they don’t want to think too hard about what they are drinking. This is definitely not to be confused with the idea of not caring what you are drinking. It is a super refreshing style that you can sit back, chat with mates and enjoy a few but at the same time you can pair it with a sharp chevre goat’s milk cheese and it blows you away.

“Stylistically Speaking – Kolsch”, a great article at All About Beer Magazine if you wanted to know the history of the style and who is brewing the real stuff

Kolsch is a beer style protected by an appellation controllée, that same fancy law that says you can’t call a champagne a champagne unless it’s from, you guessed it, champagne so a kolsch needs to be brewed in Köln (Cologne, Germany) to be a real, true blue kolsch. According to Justin some German brewers take this definition even further by saying you need to be able to see the dome of the iconic Cologne Cathedral. So you might be wondering how Colonial call theirs a kolsch, Justin answered this with a cheeky grin – “well, we have a picture of it [the cathedral] at the brewhouse,”

“Oh and ours doesn’t have the two dots over the o,” he says referring to the difference between a kolsch and a kölsch.

“Don’t tell the Germans!”

Justin Fox, Colonial Brewing

Our Kolsch beer were matched by Beersine to local beef, rye bread from Abhi’s Bread and horseradish cream and it was beautiful, for a beer that could be easily overpowered the dish was full of flavour yet simple and went nicely with the bready, slightly tropical fruit flavours of kolsch.

food by beersine: beef, rye bread and horseradish cream
food by beersine: beef, rye bread and horseradish cream

GABS: The Great Australasian Beer Spectapular

Next up we had Colonial’s Gary Le Bron Musk Saison, this years GABS entry that used a very unsubtle amount of musk lollies in the brew.

“We really just had a lot of fun. We put musk everywhere, we had musk hats, shit got real”

Justin Fox, Colonial Brewing

Against the musk saison was Eagle Bay’s Pale Ale, an American style beer that was so fresh it was only bottled the day before the event.

“The three P’s: Pale ale, pork and pineapple, they work every time”

Mitch, Beersine

Beersine served up braised pork, spicy rice and pineapple confident that the “three P’s” as he referred to them – pork, pale ale and pineapple, would always work in beautiful harmony together. He was right.

food by beersine: braised pork, pineapple and spicy rice
food by beersine: braised pork, pineapple and spicy rice

The most unexpected match was the dish with Gary Le Bron the musk saison. The pineapple and the musk just hung out together, being really good mates. The sweetness between the two were complimentary but with enough acidic contrast to not become an overbearingly one dimensional sweet pairing. Plus the dishes spices were great with the background herbal saison that was still lingering under the musk.

“I thought that Gary would take a little better in your mouth”

Mitch, Beersine explains his thinking behind the musk saison pairing

Then came the battle of the black IPAs – Eagle Bay’s Black IPA, their brewers series limited release, and Colonial’s French Black IPA.

L: Eagle Bay Black IPA R: Colonial French Black IPA
L: Eagle Bay Black IPA
R: Colonial French Black IPA

‘A French Black IPA?’ I hear you say. Yup, within a style like IPA where there seems to be no rules or boundaries, Colonial wanted to do something different whilst breaking away from the American IPAs that are dominating the market. The result is this more grassy and spicy IPA as opposed to buckets of tropical fruits and citrus.

“There is so much to do with IPA, the IPA label really can be anything”

Justin Fox, Colonial Brewing

As in keeping with the night, Justin dobbed in one of the Eagle Bay entourage to talk about their beer, his way of taking the edge off their potential power in numbers (not that there was any score keeping going on). Justin nominated Margi, Eagle Bay’s fabulous marketing manager.

“It’s one of my absolute favourite beers of ours” Margi said after hesitating a bit at the prospect of speaking without any preparation, “I can’t dazzle you with the hops and the malt cause I don’t know but I know that it’s delicious” Margi’s enthusiasm was contagious and wonderful.

Gorgonzola: Italian blue cheese made from cow’s milk, punchy and delicious

Beersine paired these beers with a Gorgonzola and poached pear tart. “It will probably work well with Colonial because I’ve not tried it before,” Mitch had joked since it was his first time trying the French black IPA too along with the rest of us.

food by beersine: Poached pear and gorgonzola tart
food by beersine: Poached pear and gorgonzola tart

The last round was my favourite, Colonial served up their Truffle Tripel – a beer brewed in a single small batch for the Truffle Kerfuffle with truffles donated by The Wine & Truffle Company.

Eagle Bay has been making their Cacao Stout every winter starting in 2012, you can read about their first batch here and last year’s here.

Eagle Bay poured their winter favourite, a limited release Cacao Stout brewed using cacao husks from Bahen & Co, a bean to bar chocolate maker in Margaret River. Brewed each year since 2012 with each year a little different depending on the type of husks used. This year sees a mix of three cacao husks – Brazilian, Papua New Guinea and Madagascar. Eagle Bay had bought along boxes of each type of husk and the Papua New Guinea was my stand out favourite with it’s divine big red berry fruit aromas. Indecently good.

Beersine served up a Bahen & Co Chocolate mousse with hazelnuts that didn’t just melt in your mouth, the mousse laid itself out on your tongue and then just cuddled it. The mousse and Eagle Bay’s Cacao Stout wanted to be together, they wanted to be best friends. The way the hazelnuts lingered after all the chocolate had begun to fade was gorgeous.

As a contrast, the mousse was great with the Truffle Tripel – the rich fruity chocolate stood up against the earthy truffle with it’s spice and banana and it worked very well in a way I wouldn’t have expected from an earthy/chocolate match.

food by beersine: Bahen & Co Chocolate Mousse with hazelnuts
food by beersine: Bahen & Co Chocolate Mousse with hazelnuts

Thank you to Eagle Bay Brewing for inviting me to be a guest at this event.

Beer + Cheese Masterclass

I spent all Saturday at the Fremantle Beer Festival and left just before 10pm with three new hats and a few new favourite beers. I think that easily qualifies as a successful day. During both days of the festival there were masterclasses on various beery topics and on Saturday Margi from Eagle Bay Brewing and I held a masterclass on beer and cheese.

I spent all Saturday at the Fremantle Beer Festival and left just before 10pm with three new hats and a few new favourite beers. I think that easily qualifies as a successful day.

During both days of the festival there were masterclasses on various beery topics and on Saturday Margi from Eagle Bay Brewing and I held a masterclass on beer and cheese.

You may already know this because I’ve rambled on about it on the blog a couple of times now or perhaps you were one of the smiling faces I saw in the crowd and if so, thank you very much.

The session attracted around 60 guests

we all basically hung out eating cheese and drinking beer for twenty minutes

The response seemed very positive which could be due to all our prior “research” resulting in fantastic pairings or maybe if you give people free beer and cheese they are inevitability going to be pretty happy. Either reason is fine by me.

Conducting some beer and cheese research with Margi at Eagle Bay Brewing
Conducting some beer and cheese research with Margi at Eagle Bay Brewing

Here are the beer and cheese pairings we put together –

Eagle Bay Vienna Lager + Beersine Vienna Cheese

A straight forward match showing off complementary flavours. The Vienna Lager boasts nice toffee aromas backed up by caramel flavours and it’s also a little earthy and nutty. The cheese, that’s made with the same beer, carries nice fruity slightly sweetish notes that go nicely with the caramel thing the beer has going on. The cheese is also suitably rich for the beer, neither dominating the other.

Eagle Bay Pale Ale + Maffra Aged Cheddar

Another great complementary pairing with the fresh fruity hops from the pale ale walking hand in hand with the fruity and slightly tangy cheddar.

Eagle Bay Kolsch + Meredith Ashed Chevre

This was my favourite pairing of the day. I first had this cheese at The Cheese Barrel in the Swan Valley and instantly thought how great it would be with a kolsch. Within days I had a growler of Colonial Kolsch and had located some ashed chevre and the result was beautiful. This was no different.

The tanginess and zesty of the goat’s cheese highlighted the fresh limey citrus characters in the beer

The match was also an excellent palate cleanser, the beer effortlessly cuts through the sinfully creamy cheese … god damn I love this pairing!

Meredith Ashed Chevre

Eagle Bay Single Batch IPA + Bassett Colston Stilton

Eagle Bay’s IPA has a great balance of caramely malt and fruity hops. The hops are a great contrast to the saltiness of the Stilton. This cheese, a cow’s milk from England, is sensational and we had people begging for more. It’s uber-creamy, rich and the texture makes you want to smear it on your hands and face.

That's one big hunk of stinky Stilton!

A few people at the masterclass asked where they could get the cheeses we tasted – Blue Cow have a store finder on their website that might be handy, you can check it out here and be sure to keep tabs on the Beersine website for all their tasty treats.

Thank you

Margi and the Eagle Bay Brewing team for providing the beer on the day and inviting me to be a part of this event;

Beersine for providing the Vienna Cheese, and

Blue Cow Cheese Company for providing the other three cheeses and being very good about giving us samples when we were constructing the menu.

Love your work!

#temptingtuesday – August

What the heck is #temptingtuesday I hear you say? (well, in my head you do). It’s combining my love affair with Twitter, the fun of chatting with great people and my eternal affection for beer. The mechanics are simple, just like its author, where on the first Tuesday of each month I ask the big wide world of the Twitterverse a beer related question. I get inspired and blog the results.

girl+beer logo with twitterWhat the heck is #temptingtuesday I hear you say? (well, in my head you do). It’s combining my love affair with Twitter, the fun of chatting with great people and my eternal affection for beer. The mechanics are simple, just like its author, where on the first Tuesday of each month I ask the big wide world of the Twitterverse a beer related question. I get inspired and blog the results.

It kicked off in June with – What’s your favourite beer and cheese pairing in recent memory? July was – Which beers have changed your life and totally rocked your world? It resulted in a hell of a beer wish list which you can check out here.

Which brings us to August, on the first Tuesday of August I asked –

#temptingtuesday

For me it all started with Hoegaarden, that’s the beer that changed everything for me. Until then I’d been drinking mainstream lager stuff and enjoyed it enough but Hoegaarden was something else entirely. It was low on bitterness and tasted like banana and spices and what do you mean it’s made with coriander and orange peel?! So I went exploring … and that’s how it all started.

For others the beers that sparked true beery love range from Emu Bitter, that I fondly remember drinking at The Grosvenor Hotel back when they were a dirty live music pub, to Spaten Optimator which appears to be only available in the United States and Germany. It was so much fun reading through people’s replies and in no particular order here is the list for your viewing pleasure …

Spaten Optimator | German double bock | @SBbrew

Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale | Pumpkin Ale | @maria_fulmer

Chimay Blue | Trappist Ale | @JustBeer_NoBull

Redback Original | Weizen | @chefdebeersine

New Belgium Fat Tire | Amber Ale | @JessShaverPhoto 

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | Pale Ale | @JessShaver Photo (I know, I know, that’s two answers but sometimes it’s hard to narrow it down!)

Little Creatures Pale Ale | Pale Ale | @ruskijp

Photo by Sandra Megan
Photo by Sandra Megan

Emu Bitter | Lager | @DrRiggsy and @buckets74 – no other beer got two mentions except good ol’ EB

Toohey’s Extra Dry | Lager | @buckets74

Eagle Bay Pale Ale | Pale Ale | @buckets74

Eagle Bay

James Squire Amber Ale | Amber Ale | @frozensummers

Naked Ned Pale Ale (Bridge Road Brewers) | Pale Ale | @mpbrew

Brew Works Blueberry Belch | Fruit Beer | @beergirlbites

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (in a nitro can) | Stout | @beergirlbites

Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter | Porter | @MelbDave

Rooster’s Cream | Strong Pale Ale (seasonal) | @MelissaCole

Kelham Island Pale Rider | Pale Ale | @MelissaCole

Fustenberg | Lager | @BrewinLex

Le Fin De Monde | Tripel Golden Ale | @RafflesLiquor

Hope to see you all for September’s #temptingtuesday …

Great Beer Menus – Muster

Just because you’re not a “craft beer venue” doesn’t mean you can’t have a kick ass beer list – here’s my second post on where you’ll find great beers outside the usual suspects

I love craft beer and going to venues who share my passion, pubs likes The Sail & Anchor and Clancy’s Fish Pub and bottle shops like the International Beer Shop are WA institutions for great craft beer. It’s what they love, it’s what they know, it’s what they do.
But just because you’re not a “craft beer venue” doesn’t mean you can’t have a kick ass beer list. I’m delighted to find more restaurants, small bars, local bottle shops and pubs whose fridges were previously filled with European lagers have been invaded by a few local and international craft beers.
It puts a big smile on my face to see venues paying equal attention to their beer list as they do their food, wine and cocktails. Those who don’t, those who have settled on a beer list that features Cascade Light, Crown Lager and Stella, are well and truly behind the eight ball. It’s kinda like getting all dressed up for an elegant night out, putting all that thought into your hair, dress, make up and jewelry and then wearing your muddy sneakers. Crown Lager is a muddy sneaker.
It’s time to put the spotlight on these great places …

The first venue I wrote on this particular topic was The Precinct in East Victoria Park, a bar/cafe/restaurant boasting a impressive beer list of both single serve and large format, ideal for sharing, beers.

Big Beers at The Precinct

Next up, Muster Bar and Grill – the venue formerly known as Must Margaret River.

A recent name change hopes to define the well known wine bar from it’s even more well known sister venue Must Wine Bar in Perth. Must Wine Bar, located on Beaufort Street in Mt Lawley, is an institution so it caused quite the excitment when Must Margaret River opened its doors. A few years later and Must has been given an “E” and an “R” and presents a more casual and friendly proposition that fits into every day Margaret River, a venue not just for uber-special occasions.

Here’s a few words from Muster manager Mark (that’s a mouth-full!) about the venue and the beers …

Muster Bar and Grill

Tell us a bit about Muster Bar and Grill ...

Wow Muster, it’s funny how you have to change your name to get people’s attention. We have been evolving Must to Muster over the last year with small renovations and a huge push on local produce with our new head chef Sean Carter. Offering quality service, great food and wine at an affordable price and appearing a little less formal to when Must first opened its doors back in 2009.

What's your inspiration for your beer list?

Craft beer whether it is local or international, there are so many micro breweries opening around the world and all producing so many great beers. I was only speaking with someone this morning about pairing beer and cheese. Sensational! Beer has come a long way and is going to carry on doing so.

What do you hope the beer list says about Muster?

I hope it says we are out to give everyone a good time drinking a variety of beers.

How, if at all, do you think beer drinking habits
have changed since you started at Must two years ago?

They haven’t really changed and Australians don’t really drink seasonally like a they would in Europe. But everyone is open to trying new beers if you suggest it, recently I bought in some Rogue Chipotle Ale [brewed with roasted chipolte peppers]  thinking it would sit there for a while but everyone kept hearing me talking about them and I sold out in a week.

How many beers are currently on your menu and
how often will you update the beer list?

24 beers on our list, you can have a stubby, a schooner or a 1.3ltr jug, we even serve some of our beers in wine glasses as we feel they should be appreciated like a glass of wine. I update our list every month or sometimes fortnightly.

What is your favourite beer on the list and what Muster dish would you pair with it?

I have two “go-to” beers at the moment – North Coast Old No .38 Stout and it pairs so well with our 500g Rib Eye! I also love the Brooklyn East India Pale Ale as a staffie or with our Duck Breast and Risotto.

Squid and Eagle Bay at Muster

What I love about the beers at Muster …

♥ Two new beers taps! Installed just a couple of weeks ago, they’re pouring $7 schooners of Eagle Bay Pale Ale and Sapporo

♥ Bottle list is varied deliciousness – you can go for something brewed within 20km or something a little further over the ocean

♥ Unafraid to go big and bold with the likes of Rogue Chipolte Ale and Sierra Nevada Torpedo both currently on the list

Muster Margaret River

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!

P1050597

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!

P1050619

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!

P1050614
Richard from Colonial Brewing accepting the People’s Choice Trophy for their Kolsch
P1050616
Me with Richard from Colonial Brewing