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!

girl + goat

Last Wednesday night at Five Bar, located in Perth’s ever trendy suburb of Mt Lawley where Espresso Martinis are in constant demand, it was beer that took centre stage and Mountain Goat was undisputed King.

Five Bar | 560 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
Keep up with beer events at Five at their Facebook page

Not so long ago I was the Assistant Manager at Five Bar, a small bar with a big beer focus, located in the increasingly trendy suburb of Mt Lawley. In an area where the demand for Espresso Martinis runs rampantly high, to be opening a beer focused small bar was just a little bit exciting. We started running beer events, and to see how many people were interested in and loved their craft beer was the best part of my job. I’ve moved on to another job in another place, but I will happily drive back for great beer and to catch up with old friends.

Wednesday night saw Five Bar host Mountain Goat Co-Founder and Chief Brewer Dave Bonighton for ‘A Night of the Goat’. He had come over from Melbourne for a brief visit to see what was happening here in the West and I think he went back to Melbourne with a smile on his face.

The Mountain Goat story starts in the 1990s with two mates, Dave and Cam, who wanted to make craft beers. Their first beer, Hightail Ale, hit Victorian shelves for the first time in 1997 and their Steam Ale, certified organic, soon followed. Since then we have seen a diverse list of limited release beers (called ‘Rare Breeds’) and collaboration beers (called ‘Cross Breeds’) emerge to show off just what this little Australian brewery can do. Whilst I was working at Five Bar I snapped up lots of Mountain Goat beers and delighted in customers trying them for the first time and instantly falling in love. As you can imagine I was really quite excited at the prospect of meeting Dave; I got to Perth at 3pm so I had 3 hours to kill until the event…

After driving for a couple of hours I felt deserving of a pint and so arranged to meet a friend at The Queens, just up the road. Once it was a pub where the taps were an even spilt between Carlton United and Lion Nathan but nowadays their line up of draught beers is rather impressive, boasting Mountain Goat, White Rabbit, Two Birds and Feral Brewing to name a few. I noticed Vale IPA (South Australia) on tap and since I have only enjoyed it once before from the bottle I had to have it. It’s an extremely well balanced IPA with all the great characteristics I love about American IPAs – the citrus, the pine and the stone fruits and the malt sweetness backs it up perfectly too. That pint went down a little embarrassingly quickly. Opting for something a little more refreshing and with bigger tropical fruits and passionfruit I then chose Two Birds Golden Ale for my next drink and that too disappeared rapidly.  The scene was set for a rather beery evening..

Vale IPA at The Queens | 520 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
Vale IPA
5.5% abv | 41 IBUs
Style: American India Pale Ale
Hops: Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin & Citra

It was 5pm when I arrived at Five Bar for ‘The Night of the Goat’ event, still a good hour before it all kicked off so it gave me the chance to say hello to the staff and catch up on what has been happening. My early arrival also came with a beery reward as they had managed to get a hold of a keg of Collaborator – a brew from Feral Brewing (WA) and Two Brothers (VIC) that was created in celebration of 20 years of the Australian International Beer Awards. A schooner would tide me over quite nicely until all things Goat underway (tehehe!).

I sat at the bar enjoying the Collaborator, a really interesting stone fruit/chocolate sort of number (I nabbed two bottles whilst doing my obligatory stop at The International Beer Shop so I’ll be sure to do a separate post shortly on this one) and admired the big blackboard menu. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, it was all hands on deck as the chefs Mitch and Nelly were busy preparing the menu they had specially put together for the night.

Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout
4.9% abv
Style: Sweet StoutMountain Goat Hightail Ale
4.5% abv
Style: English Amber Ale

 

With the kitchen buzzing, Mountain Goat pouring from two taps and bottles of Mountain Goat Rare Breed and Cross Breed in the fridges, it was just a matter of time and people. Looking around the bar at 5.30pm it looked like a fairly typical Wednesday night but by 6.15pm I noticed a lot of familiar beer-loving faces. By 6.30pm it was almost a full house and almost half the people had come down to meet Dave and get their fill of all things Goat – both in the beer and the food sense.

The Menu

Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout recommended with Goat Shoulder + Mushroom Pie

Mountain Goat Hightail Ale recommended with Roast Roulade of Goat Leg, Chevre and Beer Baked Quince

Mountain Goat Two Step Cider recommended with Milk Poached Goat Belly w/ Fennel + Apple Salad

Mountain Goat Steam Ale recommended with Goat Tartare and Toasted Baguette

The Gypsy & The Goat Pepperberry Black IPA recommended with Goat Shoulder Sausage + Plum Chutney

Mountain Goat Rare Breed Rye IPA recommended with Ryppa Goat Balls

Goat Shoulder and Mushroom Pie

Now I must admit that I didn’t do any of the beer and food matching suggestions, instead drinking mostly Surefoot Stout and Hightail Ale off tap since it’s pretty rare to find those pouring fresh where I am. It was easy to enjoy several schooners of Surefoot Stout, a 4.9% abv sweet stout that is part of the Mountain Goat Rare Breed range, that was once in yearly production. It boasts well balanced bitterness, soft dark malts and hints of chocolate and coffee. I switched briefly to Hightail Ale to enjoy with the food and it was a sensational match with the Goat Tartare; the meat was soft and flavoursome with the spices from Hightail enhancing all the intricacies of the Tartare. Sadly I missed out on the Goat Shoulder and Mushroom Pie and Ryppa Goat Balls, purely from talking way too much, and therefore there will be no jokes about Goat Balls here; Ryppa or otherwise…

[Apologies in advance for the red hue on all my photos – I could say it was a deliberate tactic to emphasis the amber hue of the great beers on the night but it’s just my lack of attention to colour balance on my camera]

Goat Tartare
Roasted Goat Leg with Chevre & Beer Baked Quince

The Roasted Roulade of Goat Leg with Chevre and Beer Baked Quince was sensational. Garnished with a little malt that soaked up as much of the sauce as it possibly could (and I don’t blame it), this dish was a little sweet and quite rich; it presented beautifully.

The Goat Shoulder Sausage and Plum Chutney was a delightful little dish that was lightly spiced and soft with just enough fruit from the chutney providing a nice contrast. If I had managed to get a hold of The Gypsy & The Goat (a collaboration between Mikkeller and Mountain Goat) before it sold out, I am sure it would have been a lovely match.

Goat Sausage and Plum Chutney

I had not intended on having the Milk Poached Goat Belly with Fennel and Apple Salad as I couldn’t quite get my head around the concept of milk poaching and I have never really enjoyed fennel. However it was ordered for me and it ended up being one of the dishes I enjoyed the most. The meat was falling-apart-soft and against the crispness from the Granny Smith apple it made a simple but amazing contrast. Again, a garnish of malt on top not only looked great but provided a little more contrast and flavour to an already great dish.

Goat Belly with Fennel and Apple Salad

One of the best things about beer is the people and meeting Dave was nothing short of a pleasure. Like all brewers I have been fortunate to meet, Dave is delighted to chat all things beer with fellow beer-lovers. He smiles a lot, laughs a lot and he’s curious about peoples journeys, not purely how they found Mountain Goat, but how they came to delve into the craft beer culture in the first place.

As I have said time and time again, I love the stories behind beer and even when those stories are pretty simple it still speaks volumes about beer. To demonstrate, I was in conversation with Dave and one of Five Bar’s regular beer event attendees who was asking Dave how the collaboration between Mountain Goat and Mikkeller came to be. In different industries I am convinced that if you enquired about the origins of an international collaboration you’d get a very long story involving marketing plans and cross promotional branding activities. Dave’s story, however, was more a case of two brewers who were going to be in the same place at the same time and thought it would be fun to make something together, highlighting the open nature of the beer community.

I am pretty sure I walked around with a big smile on my face for the entire evening. Meeting Dave, enjoying the Goat beers and food and chatting with beer folk from all parts of the industry; it’s all why I love beer.

Co-Founder and Chief Brewer at Goat – Dave – and I; see how happy beer makes you?!

Mountain Goat + Mount Lawley

Don’t you just love Mountain Goat? I do. And don’t you just love it when you get the chance to meet a brewer?

Don’t you just love Mountain Goat? I do. And don’t you just love it when you get the chance to meet a brewer? … Brewers on tour !

Mountain Goat has been bringing us great beers since their Hightail Ale first hit Victorian shelves in 1997.

Dave from Mountain Goat will be dropping by Five Bar, Mount Lawley, to showcase some of their damn fine beer. The line up will include regulars such as Hightail Ale, Steam Ale and their new apple cider, 2 Steps. Also on the billing will be their latest Cross Breed, a collaborative brew with Mikkeller – Pepperberry Black IPA – and Rare Breed – a limited release Rye IPA. If you needed another reason to mark the event in your calendar there is something special appearing on tap.

One of the starts of the night – Cross Breed Black Pepperberry IPA

Just because they can, the boys in the Five Bar kitchen – Nelly & Mitch, will be serving up goat signature dishes to match the beers on offer.

Goat brewer + Goat beer + Goat food = I will see you there!

No tickets required for this event

Where: Five Bar | 560 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
When: Wednesday 13th June 2012
Time: 6.00pm

Boogoop + Cheese

Boogoop is the fourth collaboration brew from Denmark “gypsy” brewer, Mikkeller, and Chicago artisanal brewery, Three Floyds. It follows in “goop” predecessors – Hvedegoop, Oatgoop and Ruggoop – and whilst its got a funny sounding name it’s also seriously good. Grab a chunk of your favourite blue cheese to match and enjoy!

Boogoop … funny name, awesome beer

Not only is Anthony Williams the front man for BEERTasters, a Perth outfit spreading the good beer word, but he’s also a good guy and as such dropped by on my last shift at Five Bar to give me a present. I love presents and I love beer so even better when the gift is beer! It was a bottle of the Mikkeller & Three Floyds collaboration brew, Boogoop. For some time it waited to be consumed, taking a prominent place on the bookshelf and being saved for the right occasion.

Boogoop is the fourth collaboration brew from Denmark “gypsy” brewer, Mikkeller, and Chicago artisanal brewery,  Three Floyds. It follows in “goop” predecessors – Hvedegoop, Oatgoop and Ruggoop – and whilst its got a funny sounding name it’s also seriously good.

The beer is a buckwheat wine-style ale which had me grabbing for my books to find out what exactly was buckwheat. First, it’s not a grain, it’s actually part of the herb family that’s Asian in origin; and secondly because buckwheat has grain-like qualities it’s another something for brewers to play with. From what I can gather Boogoop is using a certain amount of buckwheat in the mash (not sure how much but would love to know) and producing a barley wine styled ale. I am happy for anyone who’s more knowledgable on the topic to expand on this for me. At a throat-grabbing 10.4% abv and flavours that smack you around (but cuddle you after) it certainly felt like a barley wine style to me!

The special occasion my boyfriend and I waited for to enjoy the Boogoop ended up being any old weekday night when we really, really felt like a rich beer and some cheese. Of course it was going to have to be a suitably big and rich cheese so my boyfriend picked up a wedge of Blue Cow Blue Cheese.

We popped the bottle open and a gorgeous, hazy burnt caramel colour with a big white foam head filled the wine glass. I initially got a nose full of spices with plenty of IPA characteristics like grapefruit and floral notes and just a heck of a lot of hops. Ok, I thought to myself, smells like a spicy IPA. Wonder what it tastes like? I took a gulp and it’s certainly not a subtle beer and I’m certain it’s not supposed to be. Looking at the 3Floyds website subtle really isn’t their thing. Caramelised tones with warming alcohol and perhaps a hint of tropical fruits (passionfruit?), it’s rich and a little chewy which. When paired with blue cheese it made for a wonderful contrast in two different kinds of rich, the beer being the sort of sweet that is dark and sticks to the back of your mouth and the rich bitter and creamy blue cheese. Delightful! We also had a little camembert lying around and tried this with the beer too, resulting in another great matching of creamy sweet cheese and sticky sweet beer.

Cheese + Beer can be mind-blowingly, taste bud-dancing experience. Head to the shops, find a few different types of cheese and then hit your favourite craft beer bottleshop.

Here are a few links if you wanted some more cheese + beer reading …

And here is the menu for the beer + cheese event I co-hosted with Nick Bath from Blue Cow Cheese Co at Five Bar to support the 2011 Beaufort Street Festival:
Pilsner Urquell + Boerenkaas 15 Month Matured
Samuel Adams Lager + Montgomery’s Cheddar
Endeavour Pale Ale + Isle of Mull
St Peter’s Ruby Red + Blue Cow Swiss Gruyere
Coopers Vintage + Gutshofer Ziegenkase
Weihenstephaner Korbinian + Colombo Taleggio D.O.P
Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout + Mon Sire Cendre Royale

Saturday Sunshine + Mt Lawley

Five Bar and The Brisbane Hotel – both in Mt Lawley and both former employers of mine and both amazing venues. Get acquainted or simply visit again and again like an old friend. Just be sure to get a beer whilst you’re there …

Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
During Beaufort Street Festival 2011

Driving up to Perth inevitably results in visiting places with friends behind the bar, so it was not a surprise that my boyfriend and I found ourselves hanging out at Five Bar & The Brisbane Hotel on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Located along Beaufort Street in the always evolving suburb of Mt Lawley, it is the sort of strip you can spend a whole day exploring. Book shops, almost endless cafes, clothing, knickknacks stores, day spa, florists, furniture stores, and don’t forget the pubs, the bars and the places to eat. What’s best is that you could spent a fortune in a day or you could spend very little. I have had many happy days doing a delightfully cheap n’ cheerful feed at Taka’s before grabbing a pint at The Flying Scotsman then walking around Hyde Park on a nice sunny day.

We arrived at Five Bar just before lunch and as my most recent ex in terms of employers, where I was Assistant Manager, it’s always nice to drop back for a visit! We sat at the bar and watched as it slowly filled with hungry Saturday lunch people. We had gone straight for the Feral taps, sighting Barrel Fermented (Hop) Hog and Karma Citra (India Black Ale) on offer. It made sense for us to get one of each and share since we are both wildly in love with Feral Brewing.

This may be a good time to congratulate Brendan and his team on Feral Hop Hog taking out #1 spot in the 2011 The Critics’ Choice Australia’s Best Beers!

Five Bar is a bit unique in that although they are a James Squire Ambassador Venue, offering 5 James Squire Beers and their Orchard Crush Cider on tap, they are also able to offer 2 Feral beers from a second set of taps. This second set of taps is also set a little differently, both in appearance and function. They stand out as two old wooden barrels on the bar, it’s hard not to wander down and take a look (though the barrels don’t actually store any beer) and secondly, the temperature is set a fraction higher and the carbonation a fraction lower. This has been done with consultation from Brendan, Owner and Head Brewer at Feral, meaning his beers are served with a little less chill to enhance flavours and with a little less bubble which, I find, results in a smoother, fuller mouth feel. Five Bar tend to get a couple of kegs of this and that from Brendan so it always pays to look down the end of the bar and see what’s there. More often than not it’s something offered normally only at Feral Brewing and always something sensational.

The B.F.H (Barrel Fermented Hog) remains the American IPA style of Hop Hog but, as though been sent to a naughty corner, has spent time in new French oak. The result is some delightful vanilla flavours lingering on the front of your palate. Dominant American hops are still very much present and very much welcome!

Sometimes I think beer tastes better out of glasses with handles …

The Karma Citra, always a favourite of mine, is an India Black Ale, or Black IPA, or whatever you want to call the style. On it’s first appearance at the bar, I explained the style to people as a porter and an IPA who had a baby. It seemed to get the idea across in the most time efficient manner. Dark malts for chocolate overtones, and we’re talking proper dark chocolate here, the 70% and above cocoa stuff. It’s a wonder they even manage to get to your nostrils with all the big hop aromas going on but they manage nicely. Citra refers to the hop variety used, which was created in a cross breeding hop program in 1990 and so named for a heavy citrus characteristics it brings to the table. Tropical fruits tag along for the ride too. It’s jet black in appearance with a smooth tan head and then those fruity flavours jump out at you with hop bitterness and malts. Love.

We left, intrigued by the Mash Up, a New Zealand collaborative brew reportedly by 44 NZ craft breweries but had a lunch appointment at The Brisbane.

One of my favourite city beer gardens that has been meticulously cared for since The Brisbane re-opened her doors in 2005. Perhaps it’s a bit on the cliche side but when you’re sitting there and the sun is shining through healthy green trees, it’s just a wonderful place to be! The Brisbane is another one of my former employers, a place I spent many happy years with, and it always makes me smile to come back and visit.

We sat in the back corner of the beer garden and I had decided to re-visit a beer I hadn’t had in quite some time, Redback Original Wheat (no lemon), and HELLO BANANA! I don’t remember tasting that much banana on it in the past. I was quite pleased and it had to be said, the beer looked sensational too. That distinctive shape, the red streak, the clarity and the sun, well, we were soon ordering another. Also, if you go to The Brisbane and don’t get the Homemade Sausage Rolls, you’ve done yourself a grave disservice and you should slap yourself on the wrist, write it down in your phone and make sure you order it next time.

A clear Redback branding win in the sunny Brisbane beer garden

All in all a rather successful afternoon in Mt Lawley and that only covered two spots!

You can visit Five Bar any day from 11am for tasty Feral beers on tap and be sure to ask the bar staff if there’s anything new in the fridges.

You can drop by The Brisbane any day too if you fancy indulging in Homemade Sausage Rolls with a pint in the beer garden.

James Squire + Lime Butter Pan Fried Local Snapper

One of my most successful home cooking matches to beer so far with James Squire Four Wives Pilsener plus a few words on James Squire branding and the birth of Pilsener. Oh and you can see what my beer + food of choice whilst writing this post.

Four Wives & Lime Buttered Local Snapper

My boyfriend came home last week with a case of James Squire Four Wives Pilsener. I do love coming home to him and if there’s beer involved, well, I’m hardly what you would call an unhappy woman.

James Squire is a brand I’m pretty familiar with as my former employer Five Bar is one of their Ambassador Venues, translating into me having done quite a few sessions of James Squire education. In turn it also meant, much to my delight, first dibs on their limited releases including the Mad Brewers range. I like James Squire beers, I’ve sat down happily to many a pint of Golden Ale (incidentally, the only James Squire beer to make it into the 2011 Critics’ Choice Australia’s Best Beers – they had 6 in 2010) and I have liked most of their marketing. I like the wood(ish) tap handles representing beer barrels, I like the James Squire signature but the latest, though by no means recent, branding efforts are a bit of a mixed bag. They have been outlined nicely by Matt on Australian Brew News back in April 2011 but just to highlight my favourite element of this re-branding, let’s look at the stories. I’ve fallen in love with stories around beer, it’s history and it’s heroes, I find them fascinating and completely endearing. However, really only half of the James Squire permanent range seem to have a decent story. Now, I’ll be the first (or at least the third) to admit I have a tendency to ramble. With that in mind I have been rather considerate and separated the following James Squire branding rant so you can easily skip ahead to the main part of this post. See? I’m a lovely girl.

So, Four Wives Pilsener? Yeah, the man was said to be popular with women and had a little more than just a bit on the side. I’ll buy that. Stow Away IPA? Yeah, he was on the all female boat to Australia instead of being squished in with other smelly, thieving men of questionable moral standing. I’m okay with that story too however please note we are a mere two stories into the infamous James Squire and it’s all been about what’s in his pants. Not what I would call revolutionary male thinking. Nine Tales Amber Ale? Ok, yes, he had a lot of tales to tell throughout his varied career from baker to copper and a few in between. Having said that, this name is largely dependent on the visual of distinguishing tales from tails. Take a moment to consider how much more of a magical story it be if James was reported to actually have nine tails. Then you’ve got 150 Lashes Pale Ale. I’ll even pay that too just for the sheer cheekiness of the story, stealing and then bribing out of half the punishment with ale. The remaining new names are a little less solid. The Chancer Golden Ale? Ahem … that’s cause he took a lot of *clearing throat cough* chances in his life. Jack of Spades Porter, from the press release, barely makes sense, aside from a vague gambling reference. I had been under the impression it was because ol’ Mr Squire was a Jack of all Trades – butcher, baker, candlestick maker (one of those isn’t right) and thus a little play on words. You can almost hear the marketing pitch in the Lion Nathan boardroom, the tone becoming stronger with each weakening correlation. And don’t forget about Sundown, because people would visit James’ tavern as the sun went down. Good thing they didn’t go when they were clinically depressed, I don’t know the marketability of a beer called ‘Life Sucks, I Hate Digging Holes’ Australian Lager.

In short, as I said, I like all the beers from the Malt Shovel Brewery, especially the Mad Brewers releases. Also, I understand the desire to tell stories and create history around your beer, I’m just not totally sold on all of the James Squire stories.

Now that I’ve got that out of my system … let’s move on.

We had a few Four Wives Pilseners throughout the evening and my brain started to get hungry. I was concurring up ideas of a lemon or lime grilled white fillet of fish, swimming in creamy butter and garlic, lying on top of soft potato mash dotted with crunchy fresh spring onion … (wow, I really shouldn’t write when I am hungry) … so that’s what I did the following night.

Four Wives is a Bohemian style Pilsener so there’s a good whack of Saaz hops (GER) in there for lovely floral aromas. I believe it’s Munich and Pale Malts for the base, resulting in pleasant bready sweetness. But what surprised me, having not had this beer for a while, was the lemony citrus I was getting and that’s where the home cooking light bulb popped over my head.

A Brief History … Pilsner was brought to life by Josef Groll in 1842 in the town of Pilsen in what is now known as the Czech Republic. In what could be seen as a dramatic example of the power of consumers, the citizens of Pilsen, fed up with the poor and inconsistent nature of their beloved beer, sent an entire season of it down the drains, unfit for consumption. They then built a brand spanking new brewery and set about joining forces to brew better beer (and perhaps pinch an idea or two from the neighbouring Bavarians). Enter Josef and put the spotlight on Bohemian Saaz Hops and the unique soft Pilsen water (allowing for more flavours from hops and barley to shine through). Now you’ve got yourself the birth of Pilsner which, as you may have figured out by now, was named after the town, originally meaning “from Pilsen”. People caught on quickly to this great new style and similar beers quickly starting popping up all over Europe. It was another 17 years before “the original pilsner” (the brewery then becoming know as The Pilsner Urquell brewery) would be trademarked. Despite the name now thrown around like confetti, there are two true styles of Pilsner – German and Bohemian/Czech, both using Saaz hops. German Pilsners tend to be bigger in hop bitterness and possess earthy qualities whilst Czech Pilsners, such as Four Wives is styled on, tend to be darker in colour, a little more delicate, grassy and floral.

The result was a lime, garlic and butter pan fried local snapper sitting happily on a bed of ruby red potato mash with garlic dosed mushrooms and leeks on the side. There was some nice savoury sweetness through this dish to play happily with the malt in the Four Wives. Limey goodness went well with the zesty lemon I had picked up in the beer (and yes, that is a char-grilled piece of lime as part of my garnish in the photo) and the fish and mash as the bulk of the meal were delicate but still flavoursome enough to not dominate other elements of the dish. I was very pleased with this match up as far as home cooked meals and beer go if I do say so myself.

Inspired by Bill Granger’s “Bill’s Everyday Asian” Lime Butter Recipe

Lime Butter Pan Fried Local Snapper w/ Ruby Red Potato Mash and Garlic & Butter Mushrooms

  • 2 Limes
  • Snapper Fillets
  • Ruby Red Potatoes
  • Spring Onions
  • Garlic
  • Button Mushrooms
  • 1/2 Leek
  • Butter
Do up your lime butter first, using one of your limes, and set aside. I know Bill’s recipe only calls for a single tablespoon of lime juice but I wanted a pretty dominating lime flavour!
Pan fry your mushies and leeks in garlic and butter and be sure to have your potatoes boiling away. Get your big pan fired up and ready for the snapper. Throw it on, douse it in butter and garlic (if you’ve not noticed I do like butter and garlic) and randomly squeeze some fresh lime on the it from time to time.
Mash your spuds and mix in some freshly cut spring onions to finish them off.
Serve it all up and drizzle your lime butter on the top of everything!
The Quiet American & Ham and Cheese Toasties
Feeding my brain whilst I was writing this post

The Quiet American + Loud Food 1

The Quiet American is a damn fine beer bursting with flavour so you need some loud food to go with it

Being down south, things move at a slightly slower pace so it has taken me a few extra days to get my hands on the latest Single Batch release from Little Creatures, The Quiet American.

I first heard about it when we did a Little Creatures Beer + Food Event at Five Bar in February. We had been lucky enough to have along Andy, one of the Little Creatures brewers, who hinted at the upcoming release. So I’ve been keeping my eye out and now, having read all about it for the last week and no less than 4 trips to the bottle shop I finally got some. Of course I looked like an indecisive alcoholic on the first 3 trips as I stood staring at the fridge doors. The last trip resembled more of a Indiana Jones / Holy Grail style moment as I spotted the bottles on the shelf though I grabbed 6, not just 1.

I also picked up the copy of The Critics Choice Australian Best Beers I had on order so it was a very happy, beery day!

Beer + Beer Book
A Great Beer Day

For those who don’t have a copy here’s the Top 10 and Congratulations to everyone!

  1. Feral Hop Hog
  2. Stone & Wood Pacific Ale
  3. Little Creatures Pale Ale
  4. Holgate Temptress
  5. Bridge Road Brewers Chevalier Saison
  6. Little Creatures The Big Dipper
  7. Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale
  8. Knappstein Reserve Lager
  9. Mountain Goat Hightail Ale
  10. Murray’s Angry Man Pale Ale

Little Creatures describes The Quiet American as a hybrid style. I prefer to think of it as the bastard child of a one night stand. The two parent styles who stumbled drunkenly on to each other are a Belgian Strong Ale and an American IPA. The nose is unmistakably fresh American hops, aromatic and raging with grapefruit and as though someone put a dollop of honey in there too. We’re talking proper honey too, the type you’d find in some country shed, made by a kind old lady named Betty. The Quiet American tastes rich, spicy and bursting with sugared orange, maybe even a hint of vanilla somewhere in there and distinct hop bitterness that comes together in an oh-so-nice contrast.

I was dying to try a little home cooking + beer matching and cook a dish with a good amount of heat (but not so much you burn off your taste buds) to go with IPA elements and some spice to go with the Belgian yeast. It had to be a dish screaming with the right flavours (hence by title of ‘loud food’) … so we made Cayenne Pepper Spiced Hake Fillet with Butter & Garlic Leeks, Mushrooms, Red Onion and Capsicum.

Cayenne Pepper, Oregano & Black Pepper
Preparing the Hake Fillets

The Quiet American washed over the Cayenne Pepper with ease and that great Cascade and Chinook Hop bitterness somehow boosts and settles the flavour at the same time. The red onion slightly caramalised so it went really well with the rich orange flavours of the beer and the leeks provided delicate spice.

Cayenne Spiced Hake Fillet matched with The Quiet American

We sat back after dinner and somehow our bottle of Ron Zacapa XO made it to the table. A sip of this followed by The Quiet American and oh-my-god. It was good. It was damn good! They complimented each other extremely well, rich orange notes, spice and alcohol sweetness from a bigger than normal booze level in both the rum and the beer. Of course that booziness may have also contributed to the happy feeling I was having but we’ll forget that for now.

A Great Beer Day – Ron Zacapa XO with LC Quiet American & 2011 The Critics’ Choice Australia’s Best Beers

Cayenne Pepper Spiced Hake Fillet with Butter & Garlic Leeks, Mushrooms, Red Onion and Capsicum

  • 2 x Hake Fish Fillets
  • Butter
  • 2 x cloves Garlic, finely diced
  • 1/2 Leek, sliced
  • Button Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 Red Onion, sliced into wedges
  • 1/2 Red Capsicum
  • Cayenne Pepper, Plain Flour, pinch of Oregano, crack of Black Pepper and Egg White for the light coating