Beer Bacon Jam

This is easily my new favourite condiment that combines all the things I love about food and beer – great balanced flavours that taste amazing.

I was recently introduced to a wonderful, mind exploding, taste bud jumping condiment – bacon jam.

Yup. Bacon. Jam. It’s how it sounds too – completely awesome.

It was served up as part of a dish at the East versus West: Food and Beer Title Fight, Round 2 at Five Bar as part of WA Beer Week. As the name suggests it’s the follow up to the very popular event that happened during Melbourne’s Good Beer Week at Josie Bones.

created by Julia Jenkins from Josie Bones
The dish that started a love affair – Ripened Goats Cheese Croquette with Bacon Jam and Pickled Apple created by Julia Jenkins from Josie Bones

I messaged my partner who immediately looked up a recipe, finding this one on www.allrecipes.com and despite the lengthy list of ingredients it sounded pretty do-able. It also sounded like my heart would clog up and stop but hey, life is full of risks.

There were a few adaptions I made to the recipe because a) I wanted to put beer in it b) we didn’t have any whiskey in the house and c) we only have coffee pods at the house. The result was not subtle, packed with big flavours and a nice kick of heat that sits at the back of your throat; sweet plays off spice and the fatty salty bacon brings it all together.

1/2 kilo of diced bacon
1 large brown onion, cut in half and sliced very thinly
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 espresso from a single coffee pod
1 cup Burleigh Brewing Black Giraffe Black Coffee Lager, or another beer with big coffee notes
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup tomato sauce
 
A few key ingredients - beers, coffee and maple syrup
A few key ingredients – beers, coffee and maple syrup
  • Throw bacon into large saucepan, no oil required. Keep on medium high heat and stir until starting to brown. Your bacon should now be swimming happily in about 1/4 cup of bacon fat;
  • Add onion and brown sugar, stir and cook for five minutes;
  • Add cayenne pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and cook for five minutes;
  • Add coffee, beer, sherry vinegar and maple syrup. Bring to the boil then reduced heat to low and cook until mixture thickens up but not too much, you don’t want it to be dry. This should take about 30-40 minutes.
  • Add tomato sauce and let simmer further for five minutes;
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool, keep stored in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Note: you can throw the mixture into a food processor to get a chunky but still spreadable consistency if you like otherwise I just broke up the larger pieces of bacon as it was simmering. I used very cheap bacon for this recipe with plenty of fatty bits to contribute to the final result.

Simmer, simmer, simmer
Simmer, simmer, simmer

Now, all you have to do is sit and ponder the possibilities – burgers, eggs on toast, crackers, cheese …

Beer Bacon Jam

Beer Bacon Jam

East versus West … Re-Match

Three rounds, state versus state, beer versus beer, food versus food and all with delicious results …

At Melbourne’s Good Beer Week in May one of the stand out events was East versus West: A Beer and Food Title Fight at Josie Bones. With the background music of Eye of the Tiger the east coast of Australia, represented by Josie Bones, battled with the west, represented by Five Bar / Beersine, for the bragging rights to beer and food pairing superiority. Despite not having a home ground advantage, WA came out victorious with the title belt aka a plastic WWE replica. Oh it was glorious! You can relive the magic here.

Last weekend as part of WA Beer Week Five Bar and Beersine hosted the re-match, aka round two, aka a chance for Melbourne to level the score. The format remained the same with three rounds covering yeast driven beers, hop driven beers and malt driven beers. It was all blind tastings so you didn’t know what beer you were tasting or whether the dish was a Beersine / Five Bar or Josie Bones creation.

Hard working chefs Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar and Julia from Josie Bones
Hard working chefs Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar and Julia from Josie Bones

Here’s how the battle unfolded …

Round 1 – Yeast Driven Beers

Last Drop Saison with Wort Poached Marron, Pickled Cucumber and Beer Blanc Sauce

versus

Holgate Little Heifer Hefeweizen with Ripened Goats Cheese Croquette with Bacon Jam and Pickled Apple

The marron was a beautiful way to start the afternoon, soft and delicate with the cucumber adding a refreshing element. The Last Drop Saison, after geting rave reviews from punters at the Fremantle BeerFest the day before, continued to be loved here. A slight banana nose, soft and well balanced and lightly spiced, it was gorgeous. The two together proved a nice matching of delicate, soft but still very expressive flavours.

Wort Poached Marron, Pickled Cucumber and Beer Blanc Sauce by Mitch from Beersine / Five Bar
Wort Poached Marron, Pickled Cucumber and Beer Blanc Sauce by Mitch from Beersine / Five Bar

Half way through eating the second dish I decided that bacon jam was the way of the future. Honestly. Think about it. Bacon jam. Just ponder that for a moment and if you’re not drooling then I think there’s something wrong with you and we might not be able to be friends. The bacon jam added salty caramelised goodness to the soft and springy goat’s cheese croquettes. Holgate’s Little Heifer is a great example of a hefeweizen with sweet banana aromas and a nice silky mouthfeel. It cut through the oil in the croquettes and was a nice sweet/salt contrast to the bacon jam. This was my second favourite beer and food match of the day.

Ripened Goat's Cheese Croquettes with Bacon Jam and Pickled Apple by Julia from Josie Bones
Ripened Goat’s Cheese Croquettes with Bacon Jam and Pickled Apple by Julia from Josie Bones

How the votes swung …

Favourite Beer: WA – Last Drop Saison

Favourite Dish: VIC – Ripened Goats Cheese Croquettes

Favourite Pairing: VIC – Holgate Hefeweizen + Ripened Goats Cheese Croquettes

Round 2 – Hop Driven Beers

Boneyard Golden Ale with Prawn Po’Boy with Chipolte Aioli, Vic Secret Hop Salt and Malt Vinegar Game Chips

versus

The Monk Chief IPA with ‘Tongue in Cheek’ – Masterstock Beef Cheek & Ox Tongue Croquette and Kimchi

The menu, pre-reveal, described Boneyard Golden Ale as a “session IPA” and it’s spot on, fresh tropical hops backed up by soft lingering bitterness makes it damn drinkable. The hop salt on the chips had lots of people licking the chips to get the full flavour which was fun and perhaps a little uncouth but hey, that’s the fun of beer and food sometimes!

Prawn Po'Boy with Chipolte Aioli, Vic Secret Hop Salt and Malt Vinegar Game Chips by Julia from Josie Bones
Prawn Po’Boy with Chipolte Aioli with (not pictured) Vic Secret Hop Salt and Malt Vinegar Game Chips by Julia from Josie Bones

The Monk Chief with the aptly named ‘tongue in cheek’ dish was my favourite pairing of the day, the way the kimchi and hops played together was unique, tasty and I couldn’t get enough of it! The beef cheek and ox tongue bought out all the maltiness from the IPA, easily one of my favourite IPAs going around.

Tongue in Cheek - Masterstock Beef Cheek and Ox Tongue Croquette with Kimchi by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar
Tongue in Cheek – Masterstock Beef Cheek and Ox Tongue Croquette with Kimchi by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar

How the votes swung …

Favourite Beer, Favourite Dish and Favourite Pairing: VIC – Boneyard Golden Ale with Prawn Po’Boy.

Round 3 – Malt Driven Beers

Feral Razorback Barleywine with Peppermint Pavlova garnished with Local Berries and Local Milk Chocolate

versus

Boatrocker Ramjet Whiskey Barrel  Aged Imperial Stout with Whiskey Baba with Malted Chocolate Cream, Blood Orange Curd and Liquorice with your choice from three whiskey sauces

The barleywine and peppermint pavlova was, for me, the most intriguing match of the day. On paper I expected the barleywine to completely dominate the dessert but this wasn’t the case. The peppermint was able to stand out and cut through the big bold flavours of the barleywine making for a really interesting contrast. The berries were a nice complement to the deeper sweetness from the beer.

Peppermint Pavlova with Fresh Local Berries and Local Milk Chocolate by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar
Peppermint Pavlova with Fresh Local Berries and Local Milk Chocolate by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar

Like the Razorback, Boatrocker’s beer had that “oh my god” factor, with every sip you were impressed and craved more of those toffee and creme brulee flavours. It melded well with the baba which is essentially a booze soaked cake and you needed a big ballsy dessert to go head to head with the Ramjet. Due to my own eagerness to try the whiskey sauces, and by eagerness I mean I had all three doused on my dessert, I may have ended up with a dish that was more booze than dessert. Prior to this however it was a great match of similar flavours coming together.

Whiskey Baba with Malted Chocolate Cream, Blood Orange Curd and Liquorice with your choice from three whiskey sauces by Julia from Josie Bones
Whiskey Baba with Malted Chocolate Cream, Blood Orange Curd and Liquorice with your choice from three whiskey sauces by Julia from Josie Bones

How the votes swung …

Favourite Beer, Favourite Dish and Favourite Pairing: VIC – Boatrocker Ramjet with Whiskey Baba

So Victoria’s Josie Bones took the title belt on the plane back to the East Coast which just means we need to head back for Good Beer Week 2014 to retrieve it again. Congratulations Julia, Brendan and the Josie Bones team! Well played Mitch and Five Bar, well played.

Photo by Feral Brewing
Photo by Feral Brewing

Scores are level, the fight continues …

Thank you to Five Bar, Beersine and Josies Bones for another fantastic event! I feel privileged to be able to say I’ve been to both East versus West events this year and they have been great experiences in showcasing some fine beers and creative dishes. Bring on 2014!

Thank you also to Andy Mac at Five Bar and Mitch at Beersine for inviting me along. It’s always nice to go back to your old bar and feel like you’ve come home for a visit.

East versus West

When an event starts with Eye of the Tiger blaring from a stereo you know that you’re in for a treat.

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When an event starts with Eye of the Tiger blaring from a stereo you know that you’re in for a treat.

It was East versus West: Beer and Food Title Fight. The prize was the unofficial naming of who was the beer capital of Australia. Some may say it was a fight long in the making.

In one corner we had Josie Bones representing Victoria, in the other we had Five Bar putting on gloves for Western Australia.

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Josie Bones had the home ground advantage and the WA team had travelled a long way, would they have what it takes to go toe to toe with Josie Bones?

The format was simple. Three rounds, each round featuring two beers (one from each state but of course you didn’t know where the beers were from until the end) and food matchings. Patrons were asked to judge each match on a scale of 1-5 and then pick their favourite beer and favourite dish.

The bell was rung, literally, and round one got underway.

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Round One – yeast driven beers

Hefeweizen + Pressed Lamb Terrine and Cured Lamb Loin
VERSUS
Saison de Miel + Pheasant Ballantine with Spiced Chutney

The pressed lamb terrine had lovely spices against the rich lamb loin and the hint of mint on top was refreshing.

The hefeweizen served as a great palate cleanser, cutting through the richness in the meat and complimenting the spices with its own Belgian yeast coriander flavours.

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The texture of the pheasant was just divine, almost luxurious and presented beautifully.

The rich Saison with sweet-ish fruitiness contrasted nicely with the spicy chutney. It also has to be said that the lacing on the saison was down right sexy. You’ll have to take my word for it cause I neglected to take a photo.

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I scored these matches evenly very good, call me a fence sitter but it was a tough round to tell the two apart! My favourite beer was the Saison de Miel and favourite dish was the pressed lamb, to me they were the most interesting of the round.

Round Two – hop driven beers

Imperial Pilsener + Confit Pork Belly with Yabby
VERSUS
Barrel Fermented American IPA + Spiced Brisket

Pork belly is one of those dishes that seems to make people lose their minds, particularly when it is done well. So when it’s presented to you beautifully, melts in your mouth and makes you savour every bite – yep, mind lost. The ‘surf n turf’ style dish with pork from Western Plains in Mt Mercer and yabby from Mildura, set the bar even higher than round one. It had a soft smoky component whilst being sweet and rich yet not overpowering.

The wet hopped imperial pilsner was divine, the aromas wetter of sweet wort, cerealy and a wee bit boozy. It was big on flavour too, I got cooked citrus and tropical fruits.

As a match though I found the beer and food fighting each other, the bubbly tropical fruit in the pilsner against such a creamy, rich and smokey dish.

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Confit pork belly was going to be hard to top but then the spiced brisket swaggered into the room. I say swaggered because it was gorgeous to look at with the rich brisket sitting on a creamy celeriac pillow and topped with a dotting of pomegranate. For me, the pomegranate made the dish, they’d pop in your mouth and release a soft sweetness and fruit into the brisket.

The barrel fermented American IPA (which you may or may not have guessed what it is) tasted amazingly fresh. Big big tropical hops backed up by vanilla oak reminded me why this is one of my favourite beers.

As a match this was my favourite, it was a beautiful and interesting marriage of flavours between the pomegranate and tropical hops, the vanilla oak and rich brisket, the spices and the carbonation and citrus in the beer.

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I scored the brisket and IPA as my preferred match, the IPA also got my score for the preferred beer then I agonised over which dish I preferred the most. I went for the brisket in the end because I found it a really interesting dish, one that made me really think about what I was eating and I like that in a dish.

Round Three – malt driven beers

Imperial Stout + Smoked Waygu Brisket with Carrot and Licorice
VERSUS
Scotch Ale + Off the Wagon Wheel

The imperial stout was outstanding, truly one of the best beers in an event full of beautiful beers. Coffee beans and pure dark chocolate encased in a delicately creamy body … Oh my … And it was a great match with smokey waygu brisket. The dusty chocolate flavours in the beer complimented the charcoal and licorice flavours in the brisket. The sweetness from the carrots, which initially I didn’t expect much from, were needed for the sweetness in the stout.

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The final serve was an Off The Wagon Wheel with a scotch ale. The texture contrasts in the wagon wheel were fun and interesting, crumbly oat biscuit on the outside and soft marshmallow on the inside. Drizzled in elegant chocolate, it was a great dish to end on.

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The scotch ale was perfect for sipping on, contemplating the amazing dishes and beers we had been lucky enough to have. The nose was soft and reminded me of raisins and the taste was full flavoured without the really chewy mouthfeel that can sometimes accompany it.

My vote for the matching favoured the brisket over the wagon wheel, but only just. The imperial stout got my beer vote and the wagon wheel got my food vote.

With the votes all in it was time to count and to keep us entertained we were served Beersine Pale Ale cheese, hop honey and fresh bread. I tried not to drool when the cheese came out but it was tough.

Now … For the reveal … Here’s the full menu, complete with which beers were which and which state served what:

(Again, sorry for the poorly lit photo)

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The winners were declared and WEST was declare the winner! Congratulations Five Bar and chef Mitch aka Beersine.

Huge thanks to all involved in this sensational event, I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the afternoon!

Here’s how it broke down:

Round One – Yeast was won by Victoria with their Pobblebonk Saison de Miel paired with Pheasant ballantine with spiced chutney
Round Two – Hops was won by Western Australia with Feral Barrel Fermented Hog paired with Spiced brisket from Boyup Brook
Round Three – Malt was won by Western Australia with The Monk Scotch Ale paired with the Off The Wagon Wheel
Favourite beer overall went to Feral Barrel Fermented Hog (WA)
Favourite dish overall went to the Spiced Brisket (Beersine / Five Bar of WA)
Favourite beer and food pairing overall went to Feral Barrel Fermented Hog and the Spiced Brisket (WA)

If found please return to … aka: Where I’ll be during Good Beer Week

Holy hop flowers Batman, I am SO excited. It’s just days until Melbourne’s Good Beer Week!

good beer week logo

Holy hop flowers Batman, I am SO excited. It’s just a couple of days until Melbourne’s Good Beer Week!

For those who aren’t aware Good Beer Week, as the name suggests, is a week long celebration of all things beer. There are events across Melbourne to suit everyone whether your’re a beer-nerd or just a little beer-curious.

Meet brewers, drink beer, have fun and survive – that’s my agenda for Good Beer Week but to be more specific, here is what I’m going to during Good Beer Week. Thank heavens for Google calendar …

Saturday 18th May

The Apple & The Goat – a lunch degustation with the guys from Melbourne’s Mountain Goat Brewery and New York’s Brooklyn Brewery

The Gathering – a Stone & Wood event showcasing their 2013 edition of Stone Beer is something I don’t want to miss and with these words included in the blurb it was hard to resist “Entry is free… and so are hugs from the brewer Brad Rogers”

Sunday 19th May

East versus West – Beer and Food Title Fight – Josie Bones in one corner representing Melbourne with Five Bar in the opposite corner punching for Perth. Who will win? Naturally I will be cheering on Five Bar with chef Mitch Mitchell, aka Beersine since he’s not only a great chef but all round good guy and once upon a time I was assistant manager at Five. Come on West!

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver Photography
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver Photography

Monday 20th May

Prickly Moses Rare and Wild – four words, “rare aged reserve beers”. Sold.

Tuesday 21st May

Cavalier Creation Degustation – small batch experimental beers matched with amazing food, this will be a cracker! Plus I get to write about it for Crafty Pint and look extra super nerdy with my Google tablet for note taking. God I’m a dork.

Wednesday 22nd May

Brewers and Chewers – it’s three events in one – meet the brewer, musical chairs and speed dating; I’m in.

Thursday 23rd May

Beer and Cheese Experience – I’ve never been to The Local Taphouse so I figured what better way to introduce myself to the venue than to combine it with two of my favourite things – beer and cheese.

Friday 24th May

Birra del Borgo Collaboration Celebration – for me the Birra del Borgo Duchessic was one of those beers that comes along, totally blows you away and stays with you for ages. That’s why I want to go to this event – to meet the brewer and shake his hand and say thank you.

Duchessic (frame)

Saturday 25th

GABS baby! Oh year – the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular – jam packed with beers brewed especially for the festival aka “festival beers” all in the name of brewing creativity. I’m so very there!

Eagle Bay and Monk Collage
Brew Day – Eagle Bay and The Monk collaborating for the Cacao Cabana, one of the many many festival beers being debuted at GABS

Sunday 26th May

Boatrocker Palate Cleanser – finishing the week off on a sour note.

Oh and somewhere in those days I would like to fit in Pint of Origin too …

I’ve already packed a 30 pack of Berocca and extra strength Asprin, I think I’m going to need it!