Rodenbach Grand Cru + Tomato Pasta

Simple tomato pasta with one of my absolute favourite beers – Rodenbach Grand Cru

It’s finally winter in Perth, a fact that is more exaggerated by our very cold house. My always sexy thermal underwear and big woolly socks have made their way into regular rotation and we are looking for any excuse to cook something in the oven for a house-warming treat.

It’s this train of thought that lead me to making pasta for dinner with a tomato and roasted capsicum sauce. I served it up with a bottle of Rodenbach Grand Cru, a pairing that was oh-so-delightful and made me wish I had purchased more than a single bottle of Grand Cru. Total rookie mistake.

Rodenbach Grand Cru

The pasta was a nice simple dinner well suited to both our lazy Saturday night and our desire to turn the oven on and warm up the house.

Pasta Sauce

350g Passata (fresh tomato puree), I used the jar stuff cause it was cheap but you can make your own too!

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 small brown onion, diced

1 red capsicum

1 red chilli, finely diced

Approximately 250g diced button mushrooms

10-12 Kalamatta Olives and handful Sun Dried Tomatoes

Sherry Vinegar and Tomato Paste

Fresh or dried herbs like oregano, thyme and basil

Shaved Pecorino or Parmesan and fresh basil for serving – How to Roast Capsicum – I sliced the capsicum first cause it seemed easier

Set oven on high (220-250C), cut sides of capsicum and discard middle. Place pieces on baking paper, skin side up and roast until skin blackens a little.

Meanwhile, heat pan with olive oil then add onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes before adding mushrooms and chilli. When mushrooms have started to cook through add passata. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

When your capsicum is done peel the skin away (tongs are good here unless you have amazing heat resistant hands), roughly dice and add to sauce. Tear up olives, slice sun dried tomatoes and add to sauce.

Stir and taste as you go, add your desired amount of sherry vinegar and tomato paste. I added a generous lashing of both but it depends on your taste buds. Stir through fresh herbs.

Heap sauce onto cooked pasta and top with shaved peccorino and torn fresh basil just before serving.

Pasta and Rodenbach Grand Cru

Brouwerij Rodenbach: Belgium | Est. 1836 | There are more than 300 oak vats in their 11 maturation halls with the oldest vat dating back to 1868

I have to say that this worked beautifully with the soft acidity in the Rodenbach Grand Cru, a Flanders Red Ale from Belgium. . In short, it’s awesome. Wildly complex and utterly engaging, it’s a soft rounded vinegar acidity with a dark fruit sweetness.

“The brewers, indifferent as ever to attempts at categorisation, prefer to refer to their beers as the “Burgundies of Belgium.””

Garrett Oliver, The Brewmaster’s Table

Rather than going head to head, the acidity from the beer melds perfectly with that from the pasta sauce. I found that even though I only used a dash, albeit it a big dash, of sherry vinegar the Grand Cru was able to pull it out from the dish and really highlight the flavour. There is also a nice sweet/salt contrast with the olives and Grand Cru.

“The brewery is like a great monument to the art of beer-making,”

Michael Jackson, Great Beers of Belgium

Overall it was magical, a really simple pasta dish and a pairing you can whip together on any given night.

For more sour and wild beer pairings, check out this great article from the US at by Ashley Routson aka The Beer Wench


#temptingtuesday – July

One of my recent random ideas as been #temptingtuesday – combining my love affair with Twitter, the fun of chatting with great people and my eternal affection for beer.

girl+beer logo with twitter

One of my recent random ideas has been #temptingtuesday – 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, hopefully next time it won’t take me the whole month!

I kicked it off last month and given that I would live off beer and cheese if I wasn’t worried my heart would stop, the first topic for #temptingtuesday made sense …


You can check out the results here.

For July’s #temptingtuesday I wanted to know what beers had changed your life, the ones that totally rocked your world and made you wish the bottle or glass would instantly refill itself.


It was so good to read peoples fond memories for the beers they love so much. Thank you to everyone who contributed, I now have a hell of a shopping list.

How is this for an amazing shopping list ...Damn it, just noticed a typo in my list. Rookie Mistake. Oh well, I’ve had a few beers so I’m just going to leave it, hope you find it amusing as opposed to lazy.

I had the pleasure of trying to Rodenbach Grand Cru at Boatrocker Palate Cleanser for Good Beer Week. The Grand Cru is a beautiful Flanders Red Ale, a style that incorporates barrel aging, blending and special Belgian yeast strains. I found a good article on the style here if you’re keen.

Saison Dupont, Feral Hop Hog and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale are all firm favourites in my book but with all these great beers it was time to go shopping! Not for everything of course, stupid credit card limit …

Green Flash Double Stout


Tripel Karmeliet

So, I guess I’d better let you go, you’ve got some shopping to do!

The Beer Boat that Rocked

Our last Good Beer Week event was the Boatrocker Palate Cleanser. Over the previous nine days my palate had been worked over and over again, it seemed to me that the title of the event was more challenge than promise.


This was the only Good Beer Week event my partner and I attended without having “warmed up” with a beer or two beforehand. Probably something to do with the fact it had an 11 am start time, after all I’m a writer and not an alcoholic (a phrase that’s perhaps closer to a mantra).

We had reached the final day of Good Beer Week and survived. Not only had we survived but we had done it without a single Berocca and barely touched our packet of Asprin. Win!

Our last Good Beer Week event was the Boatrocker Palate Cleanser. Over the previous nine days my palate had been worked over and over again, it seemed to me that the title of the event was more challenge than promise.

We caught the train and were kindly picked up by taxis that Boatrocker had prearranged, a thoughtful touch for a brewery that was a little way out of the city.


Our host for the day was Matt Houghton, co-owner of Boatrocker Brewery, together with the help of his wife Andrea, assistant brewer Matt and friend of the brewery, Sian. Together they made everyone feel welcome, served up some tasty food and presented us with down right amazing sours. From the delicate to the “deep funk” the journey was like Alice in Sourland through no less than a dozen beers.

Brewers Boatrocker

“Why sour beers?”, you might ask. Why didn’t Boatrocker host an event that featured their beers? Well, the answer is very simple – Matt wanted to do a sour beer tasting.

Matt’s aim for Boatrocker is to produce sour beers, he wants to play with oak aging and whiskey barrels. “Sour beers can be the next prosecco”, he said to us and he hopes restaurants will get on board the sour beer train.

Just ignore the beer nerd in the corner ...
Just ignore the beer nerd in the corner …

Matt fell in love with sours whilst backpacking in Belgium with Michael Jackson’s book ‘The Beer Hunter’ firmly in his grip. His first sour was served to him at Cantillon Brewery in Belgium, one of the best sour producers in the world. Matt recalls this strange cloudy beer being put in front of him and it completely opened his mind.

Matt showed us through the new Boatrocker brewery in which they had only been licensed to brew for a couple of weeks. Boatrocker had previously been contract brewed since 2009 at Southern Bay Brewing.

Boatrocker Brewery inside

We also got a look into the Boatrocker barrel room, currently home to 60 wine barrels.

The barrels are all cold stored within a massive coolroom that’s been divided into two parts – one half for kegs and the other a dedicated barrel room. The barrels are French oak from Yearling Station, a Yarra Valley winery and will impart delicate flavours compared to if they had American oak barrels.


At the time of the event the barrel room was holding a Berliner Weiss and had another couple of months to go.

Barrels Boatrocker

With all this talk of sours it was time to sit down for the journey Matt had prepared.

New Belgium (USA) – Lips of Faith 2013 Sour Brown Ale

Lips of Faith goes through primary fermentation in stainless steel and secondary fermentation in wood barrels. The primary ferment in stainless would give brewers greater control over everything and perhaps allow less woody characteristics through.

It had a delicate sour black cherry taste and light caramel malts. Right there and then I think sour brown ales became my next big beer crush.


The Bruery (USA) – Sour in the Rye American Wild Rye Ale

As the name and descriptor suggests this beer is made with lots of rye malt; it’s then aged in oak barrels to finish.

The rye gives soft spices like clove and nutmeg. There’s a tangy and warming spice finish, like a nice warm cuddle … but in your mouth, you know? You know.

Derek reading the back of the beer. Derek is a home brewer who got to brew a GABS beer with Red Duck - check out his story at
Derek Hales reading the back of the beer.
Derek is a home brewer who got to brew a GABS beer with Red Duck this year – check out his story at his website

Liefman’s (BEL) – Goudenband Sour Red Ale

Fresh red berries and something sweety, like toffee, put it on your sour beer shopping list.


Birra del Borgo (ITA) – Prunus Kriek

Brewed using spelt this Kriek had that lovely rosey colour and tasted of bright red cherries with soft tartness.

Birra del Borgo (ITA) - Prunus

Rodenbach (BEL) – Grand Cru Flanders Red Ale

They use big wooden vats for this brew and it is a blend of 33% young red ale with older beer, at least two years old.

“A classic, you can’t go wrong”, Matt said as he poured and he wasn’t wrong. Definitely one of my favourites for the day. It was spicy sweet with a Christmas cake fruitiness and spices – think cinnamon, think raisins, think a little boozy.

Rodenbach (BEL) - Grand Cru

Rodenbach (BEL) – Vintage 2009 Red Ale

“It smells like a drunken sultana”, I said at the time. The vintage is selected from a single outstanding vat/cask.

It had a drying mouth feel, warming sourness and red fruits and maybe even prunes or perhaps something fruiter and sweeter. I struggled to put an exact name to the sweetness outside of “damn that’s nice”.

Vintage 2009 Rodenbach

3 Fonteinen (BEL) – Oude Geuze Geuze

“We are starting to enter the world of deep funk”, Matt said as he introduced this one.

It’s a collaboration brew between Armand Debelder of 3 Fonteinen and Tomme Arthur of Pizza Port/Lost Abbey. It’s made with four year old Boon Lambic and Armand’s 2008 lambic.

The smell was not unlike a stinky blue cheese. It was very tart green apple, dried apple and sour lollies with aggressive back palate sourness on the back. Oh and incase it wasn’t clear I really did enjoy that beer! (a beer that smells like my favourite cheese – not surprising I’d like it!)

3 Fonteinen (BEL) - Oude Geuze

Cantillon (BEL) – Bruscella Three year old Lambic

I wrote four points for this beer and they are as follows:

“Sour” (how is my excellent note taking?), “green apricot”, “flat” and “full on”.

I forgot to write down “yum”.

\Cantillon (BEL) - Bruscella

New Holland (USA) – Envious Vintage 2012

It smelt like cooked brown sugar with a hint of raspberries. A nice beer but not a stand out among a fairly outstanding line up.

New Holland (USA) - Envious Beer Vintage

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (USA) – Maracaibo Especial Special Brown Ale

Inspired by the brews of Belgian monks, it uses cacao, cinnamon and orange peel – gotta love those monks.

You could certainly taste the spices and it had a nice dry finish with a musty funkiness.

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (USA) - Maracaibo Especial

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (USA) – La Parcela Spiced Pumpkin Ale

It reminded me of a mulled wine with those same spices and it had a distinctive savoury flavour.

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (USA) - La Parcela

What an incredible line up of beers, it was so good to delve into sours – a beer style I really enjoy but until this event had only touched the surface of what’s out there.

Thank you Matt & Andrea for putting on a great event and for inviting us into the brewery as though it was your home. The gift pack to take home was both delicious (beers and lollies!) and extremely considerate (for including a bottle of water) – it was a pleasure to meet such genuine and passionate people.

Thank you to Sian for dropping us to St Kilda after the event.

Thank you to James Smith and Tiffany Waldron at Good Beer Week and Matt and Andrea at Boatrocker for allowing myself and my partner to go along to this event.