Weekend Reading #29

Articles and blog posts I’ve enjoyed this week including a brewer’s perspective on keg etiquette, a retailer’s reasoning for not stocking Garage Project and a few words on excise from The West Australian

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

Platinum Liquor | Why I Don’t Stock …

A friend put me on to this blog post and whilst I don’t particularly agree with what is said, it is still an interesting read from a retailer who I’ve interpreted as opinionated, unapologetic and a lover of beer. The blog is essentially an explanation for not stocking beers from New Zealand brewery Garage Project, which if for some reason you have no intention of reading the blog post, is basically due to a dislike for the beers and the marketing.

I think I find it interesting to read because my personal style of beer writing leans much more towards the unicorns, rainbows and smiles perception of things rather than brash opinion.

There is also a blog post before the ‘Why I don’t stock …’ which is the other side of his retail coin, ‘Why I Stock …’

The West Australian | Excise Taxes Brewers’ Strength

I think Ross puts it well,

“but excise remains the devil”

Craft beer lovers talk about the fight with the ‘big brewers’ and whilst it’s certainly valid it’s also possibly their strength that would assist the whole beer industry to fight the bigger war on excise. I’m no expert on excise, in fact anything with numbers might as well be written in Latin, but if there is one thing about our industry that brewers would change I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t list “excise” as priority one.

I once asked Alex Poulsen, former Cheeky Monkey brewer turned Hippocampus distiller, how he’d explain excise to your average Joe-drinker. Here’s what he said,

“I’d take a $100 note and set it on fire”

The Independent | It’s London’s First Ever ‘Beer Week’, with Cheap Craft Beer at 100 Pubs

My first thought was ‘London’s FIRST ever beer week’?!?! Surely that can’t be right. My second thought was ‘oh man, that’s a great idea!’ The idea is a wristband that gets you into participating pubs and breweries in the city for things like tours, tastings and discounted beers. A simple idea that encourages trial and that’s what we need, I think, to bring more people into the craft beer loving world. It’s not all about expensive rare beers or such gigantic flavours that you’ll never taste anything again, there’s a lot of sessionable, tasty and locally made beers around to ensure you’ll never go back to bland.

Anyway, a short and nice read about London’s rising craft beer scene.

Luke’s Beer | The Problem with Craft Beer

Luke isn’t your average beer blogger, he’s also a brewer at New Zealand’s Epic Brewery. If you’ve not read his blog before I would be bookmarking www.luke.co.nz now.

Anyway, this post highlights a disconnect between brewer and bar – a situation where a hoppy beer, which should be enjoyed as fresh as possible, was being tapped at bar months past its ideal serving period. Don’t worry, you won’t be reading an angry rant, instead Luke presents the situation, how he dealt with it, what he learnt from it and what the consequences are of this kind of beer keg hoarding/mismanagement.

Imagine ordering your meal at a restaurant only to find that instead of it being served to you straight after the chef had plated it, it had sat under the heat lamp for an hour first. It’s the same with beers sent with love from brewery to bar, the brewer wouldn’t send it if it wasn’t in the best drinking condition.

 

 

Weekend Reading #8

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

Serious Eats | How to identify bad flavours in your beer

Looking for the bad or off flavours in beer may not strike many people as a whole heap of fun but it can be a pretty interesting exercise. Just knowing what to look for is a good place to start and I thought this was a good summary, particularly as someone who is still learning these things.

And speaking of learning …

Serious Eats | Ask a Cicerone: What’s the best way to learn about beer?

Cicerone: beer certification program which certifies and educates beer professionals

You may have picked up a common thread in my Weekend Reading posts, aside from the heavy beer focus of course, which is the “ask a cicerone” articles at Serious Eats. I love these! Great questions and an interesting and diverse pool of responses. F-yeah!

“The best way to learn about beer is to immerse yourself in the culture,”

Becki Kregoski, Ask a Cicerone: What’s the best way to learn about beer?

Draft Magazine | Master the beer barbecue sauce

Well if that title isn’t total click-bait for beer lovers then I don’t know what is! Hell yeah I want to learn how to make a kick ass beer barbecue sauce. I want to then take it to people’s homes and have them exclaim at just how kick ass it is! The fact they give you a few options for the sauce depending on what meat is on the BBQ is ace too.

News.com.au | The one thing New Zealand is doing better than us

A nice story about one of my favourite NZ breweries, Garage Project, which makes me want to hop a plane to New Zealand for Beervana!

Vocative | The final frontier for craft beer

Beer and space? Oh, I thought to myself, Aussie’s have been all over this for ages – thinking of 4 Pines Vostok Stout, a beer specifically designed for drinking in space. But this is story is a little different. Like a monkey ready to be shot into space (thank you Tyler Durden) they’re sending brewers yeast on a journey into the unknown and seeing what happens when it returns to earth, if all is good they’ll brew a beer.

4 Pines Stout 5.1% abv | Irish Dry Style 4 Pines Brewing, Manly (NSW)
4 Pines Stout
5.1% abv | Irish Dry Style
4 Pines Brewing, Manly (NSW)

 

#temptingtuesday – September

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 Twitterverse a beer related question. I get inspired and blog the results.

girl+beer logo with twitter

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 Twitterverse a beer related question. I get inspired and blog the results.

Hello September! I used this months #temptingtuesday as a way to outsource a beer to pair with a specific dish I wanted to make for dinner.

Prawn and Chorizo Linguine

I went to Chris’s Sea to You seafood van in Busselton for the prawns and used the last bit of Coat of Arms Chorizo we had in the fridge. For those unfamiliar with Coat of Arms Chorizo, it’s from the Margaret River Venison Farm and it’s amazing. Spicy, rich and totally over-the-top and tasty as hell. It’s name comes from the two animals it’s made from …

Coat of Arms

I found a recipe from taste.com.au that suited my craving – chorizo and prawn fideos (a very quick Google search told me it’s Spanish for noodles) and it was a delicious success. It’s also a nice way of using a single pan for cooking dinner, spaghetti and all! God I hate dishes.

Cooking up a storm ... well, pasta anyway

Armed with a bare boned descriptor of “prawn and chorizo linguine” I got back some great suggestions for potential beer pairings. Most of them were pilsners or imperial pilsners, the crowd had spoken so I set to work on dinner.

Since the Coat of Arms chorizo is very punchy I thought an imperial pilsner would be in order and so I opened this …

Garage Project's Hops on Pointe

Now you might be saying “but girl+beer, that’s not an imperial pilsner!” and you’d be right, it isn’t but for some reason I had it in my head that it was. From when I poured it into the glass and right up until I read the label, I thought I was about to delve into an imperial pilsner. I don’t know why. It’s actually a lager.

Moving past this little beery misjudgement the beer itself was lovely. Another nice drop from Kiwi outfit Garage Project and according to their website it was brewed to “celebrate the world’s first ‘Beer Ballet’ called Bier Halle” being staged by the Royal New Zealand Ballet. The lager is brewed with German malts and New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops, a variety that gets it’s name from it’s sauvignon blanc grape like flavours.

Hops on Pointe had soft honey and melon aromas and I got floral, grassy, bready and slight bitterness on tasting.

As far as matching to prawn and chorizo fideos, it was a bit of a debate. My partner thought the delicate beer got spanked by the richness of the meal. I thought (or perhaps hoped, considering my incorrect style assumption) the beer acted almost like a palate cleanser, its soft bitterness kinda tingling over the spicy chorizo.

Either way, a delicious meal and a good beer but I reckon an imperial pilsner would have been great! Mental note to self, don’t rely on memory, it’s been marinating in booze for more than a decade, read the label!

Dinner is served!

Garage Project + Beer Bread Sticks

If you haven’t discovered The Beeroness aka Jackie Dodd then I suggest you make like Indiana Jones and discover her NOW! Well, maybe not right this instance, you’re here already so I hope you’ll keep reading.

If you haven’t discovered The Beeroness aka Jackie Dodd then I suggest you make like Indiana Jones and discover her NOW! Well, maybe not right this instance, you’re here already so I hope you’ll keep reading. Besides, I’ve made it easy for you, here’s The Beeroness website and Twitter. Please feel free to click away furiously…

The Beeroness combines two things I love – beer and food. If she had lots of photos of a kelpie on her website I’d be looking into whether she was my twin sister; you know aside from me being Asian and stuff but you get my meaning. Oh and she’s a way better cook than me. Which brings me to how I found The Beeroness, it was a recipe for Stove Top Beer Mac & Cheese that I made with much excitement and enthusiasm; the result was delicious. Then there was the Garlic and Beer Butter Prawns. Oh be still my beating heart. Oh wait, the butter will probably do that for me! At least I’ll go out with a smile.

Stove Top Mac & Cheeseyummy dinner

A week or so ago Jackie posted a recipe for Italian Beer Bread Sticks. I’m a sucker for beer and for bread so it was unsurprising that this caught my attention. I went for the Venusian Pale Ale from Kiwi lads Garage Project for my bread sticks to try give the sticks a some punchier flavours as I was serving it with a hearty beef and mushroom cannelloni.

Beer Bread Sticks

I’m slowly drinking my local bottleshop out of the Venusian Pale Ale yet not doing myself any favours as I recommend it to people when I’m there. Rich, fruity, spicy and complicated, my kind of beer.

The bread sticks turned out beautifully (though a little overcooked on one side which I am going to blame on my awful, awful oven) and made a nice alternative to my default Italian side dish, garlic bread. Simple, easy and tasty, I’ll be doing this again. Next time I will try it with the wheat beer …

Why My Wife’s Bitter … and other Brewers & Chewers stories

A beer event that combines elements of a meet the brewer session with musical chairs and speed dating is destined to be sensational.

Brewers and Chewers Collage

A beer event that combines elements of a meet the brewer session with musical chairs and speed dating is destined to be sensational.

That’s exactly how the Brewers and Chewers event was described in the Good Beer Week programme and that’s exactly what we got – minus the potential awkwardness of speed dating and lack of seats at musical chairs of course.

Brewers and Chewers found a handful of Australian and International brewers and tempted them to The Local Taphouse in St Kilda for a dinner party with the twist.

Here’s how it worked – Eight brewers, eight tables and about twenty minutes on each table before the bell would sound and it was time for the brewer to move on.

The food was plentiful and delicious. The main of roast pork featured some heart stopping good cracking and social etiquette was the only thing stopping me from licking the plate clean from the beet cured ocean trout.

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The beers, as you’d expect, were all stunning. Each brewer had one of their beers represented and the taps flowed freely. Picking a favourite would be like choosing your favourite child … but since I don’t have any I guess it should be easier. I’m going to go with Bright Brewery’s Fainters Dubbel – it still stands out in my mind and after nine days of Good Beer Week, that means I really, really liked it.

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It was a fantastic event with great food, tasty beers and magnificent company. What made the evening a complete stand out was all this combined with excellent service from the staff at the Local Taphouse and having Pete Mitcham aka Professor Pilsner to host proceedings.

“In no particular order but starting with number one …”, Pete Mitcham

On stage Pete got the event started by introducing each brewer with a few words and a round of applause before they were sacrificed/seated at their first table.

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The story of the beer from Camden that almost didn’t make it

Jasper Cuppaidge – Camden Town Brewing (UK)

“We love lager!”, Jasper told our table so it’s not surprising he chose his Camden Town USA Hells Lager to bring along to Brewers and Chewers. The USA Hells Lager had lovely citrus, cereal and apricot notes and light stone fruit flavours and is an American hopped version of their regular Hells Lager.

But the beer nearly didn’t make the journey from UK to Melbourne and at the last minute Jasper was left with little option but to put the beer on a plane. Jasper joked, “it cost more to get the beers here than it did me!”.

Jasper also chatted about what’s coming up soon for Camden Town including plans to go to cans and a twice yearly keg swap with Stone & Wood (Byron Bay, Australia). Exciting!

The story of how Eric was destined to become a brewer          

Eric Ottaway – Brooklyn Brewery (USA)

Eric said that for him it’s all about good beer and friends, he was clearly in good company at Brewers and Chewers.

I asked Eric how he got into brewing, “do you believe in fate?” he asked in reply. Eric was in health care before he began as a brewer and has since discovered that his great, great, great, great, great uncle had links to a hop farm in Brooklyn. It seems Eric may have been destined to brew great beer for us!

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The story of why My Wife’s Bitter

Brennan Fielding – Burleigh Brewing (QLD)

Burleigh Brewing make a beer called ‘My Wife’s Bitter’. It begs the question, why? It’s an obvious question and one that Brennan seems to be asked frequently. I asked him at our table and then later the host, Pete Mitcham, asked him to tell the story for the crowd.

“How many nights did you sleep on the couch?”, Pete asked Brennan.

“You guys have it all wrong”. Here’s the story.

It was actually Peta’s, Brennan’s wife, idea to name the beer. Whilst in Hawaii Brennan made beer and named one after their daughter and another after their son. “Why don’t I have a beer named after me?” Peta asked Brennan. There was no reason, the right beer just hadn’t come up yet. Then one day, whilst hanging out the washing, Peta had a lightbulb moment. “My beer’s name is My Wife’s Bitter”, she exclaimed, as in a bitter beer for her not a statement about her. However Brennan didn’t feel the meaning would translate in Hawaii where there’s no English heritage for the traditional English style. “Hold on to that name”, he told her.

At Burleigh Brewing the beer started life as a special release beer and now is part of their regular line up, so Brennan made an English Bitter as a gift for his wife.

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The story of many, many new beers        

Jos Ruffel – Garage Project (NZ)

I had to ask about the Garage Project their 24/24 concept – 24 new beers in 24 weeks – I had to ask “why?”

“The more you brew the better you get” Jos remarked and after brewing 40 new beers in their first year of operation he would know what he’s talking about. Initially gaining brewing inspiration from chefs and restaurants in what ingredients they use and how they use it, they now have their own library of ingredients. The brewery itself has transformed into it’s own source inspiration. With this in mind, check out their GABS beer – Death from Above.

The story of beer battles in Italy        

Leo DiVincenzo – Birra Del Borgo (Italy)

I only know two things about beers in Italy,

1. Moretti

2. Birra Del Borgo’s Duchessic is one of the best beers I’ve ever had.

The Italian craft beer scene is clearly very healthy; Leo estimates there are more than 500 craft brewers – “we are all fighting against Peroni, Moretti and Heineken”.

With so many craft brewers in a country known for it’s wine I couldn’t help but find some similarities between Italy and Margaret River. Given a recent article that threw up the idea that breweries in the south west were harming the reputation of the Margaret River wine region, I asked if there was any competition between craft brewers and wineries.  The answer was simply no. A sentiment that I am confident is shared by the vast majority of the south west but I was interested to ask.

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The story of Scott’s first ever barley wine

Scott Brandon – Bright Brewery (VIC)

We talked about the Great Australiasian Beer SpecTAPular and his entry into the festival – the Supermucilaginisticepialidocious. Not only is it a mouth full but it’s a barley wine. They went for this style because he had never brewed one before which begged the question, “how is it?”, we asked.

“It’s awesome”, he replied.

I had the Bright Fainters Dubbel with dessert and it was an amazing match. The dessert of honeycomb ice cream, chocolate stout brownie and butterscotch sauce was chewy and decedant, nutty and sweet. The dubbel’s richness, raisins and spice was a perfect compliment.

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All brewers were fantastic company, each time the bell rang it was much too soon. Other brewers who I haven’t mentioned yet are Tim Thomas from Hop Dog (NSW) and Ashur Hall from Illawarra Brewing Company (NSW) who were also excellent company but sadly my note taking wasn’t perfect.

Thanks to Steve, Guy, Ashley, Head Chef Paul and all the staff at The Local Taphouse for going to great lengths to ensure we all had a lovely night, never wanting for anything.

Thanks to Pete Mitcham for being the host with the most, it was great to meet you and I hope to cross paths again with you soon, preferably where there’s beer of course.

And of course thank you to the Tim, Scott, Ashur, Jasper, Leo, Jos, Brennan and Eric, it was a genuine pleasure to meet all of you. So long and thank you for all the beer.

Discovering Garage Project

Garage Project are three guys in Wellington, New Zealand who make craft beer – Pete, Jos and Ian. I recently had my first Garage Project experience after the guys at Cellarbrations Carlisle recommended it. They were pouring Garage Project Pernicious Weed from their growler system, there was just one litre left and they said I HAD to try it. Done!

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Garage Project are three guys in Wellington, New Zealand who make craft beer – Pete, Jos and Ian. I recently had my first Garage Project experience after the guys at Cellarbrations Carlisle recommended it. They were pouring Garage Project Pernicious Weed from their growler system, there was just one litre left and they said I HAD to try it. Done!

The Pernicious Weed was Garage Project’s first beer in their 24/24 series – 24 different beers in 24 weeks. On their website they cite Ernest Hemingway’s quote “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut”, as their motivation for the 24/24 series. As valid as it is just imagine what other ideas will become reality with this sort of motto!

Pernicious Weed poured a hazy golden orange with aromas of apricots and honey. The flavour was hoppy, and I mean really freakin’ hoppy; as though a pine needle forest was invaded by an army of oranges and stone fruit (how’s that for a mental image?!)

So, having tasted this great beer you can imagine my excitement when I saw Garage Project at my local bottleshop. For the record, my local bottleshop is in a little country town where Carlton Dry and Emu Export are the biggest sellers. It seems the manager has recently been bitten by the craft beer bug which can only mean good things, like a shorter travelling time for me and my beery needs.

The beer I saw was Garage Project Red Rocks Reserve, a limited release version of their Red Rocks beer and neither of which I’d had before or had any knowledge of. Turns out that Red Rocks is an India Red Ale and another beer in the 24/24 series; week 11 for anyone playing at home. The Reserve version was created using a super boil that involved “heating rocks in a great big fuck-off fire in the forecourt of an old petrol station”. You can read more about that here and I dare say you’ll want to – it involves beer, exploding rocks and big fire!

The Red Rocks Reserve is a beautifully rich and smooth beer. It smells like a burnt Anzac biscuit with toffee and flowers. The taste is seriously malty and floral with some caramalisation (which I now know is from the super-dooper boil) plus there’s a dirty herbal quality. There is a good chance I will buy all of this from the bottleshop and hopefully ensure more Garage Project beers hit their shelves.

I served it up with my very first attempt at homemade lasagne, a recipe from Jamie Oliver, and as a dish it was a huge success. Mind you, topped with 400g of Mozzarella and made with Rogue Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale (instead of red wine) it was destined to be great.

Sadly it was a bit of a miss fire as a beer and food match; the Red Rocks Reserve beat the lasagne into submission rather than being compliment I had been hoping for. Granted, perhaps I should have read about the beer before I tried to match it but hey, it’s fun to discover these things as you go!

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