girl + sou’west smackdown

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

The Freo Doctor – 27 Arundel Street, Fremantle – Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

“Kolsch is the everyman’s beer”

Justin Fox, Colonial Brewing

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

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

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

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

“Don’t tell the Germans!”

Justin Fox, Colonial Brewing

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

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

GABS: The Great Australasian Beer Spectapular

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

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

Justin Fox, Colonial Brewing

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

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

Mitch, Beersine

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

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

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

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

Mitch, Beersine explains his thinking behind the musk saison pairing

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

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

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

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

Justin Fox, Colonial Brewing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GABS + Five Bar

If the mountain won’t come to Muhammah, Muhammah must go to the mountain …

“If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain”

proverb: If someone won’t do as you wish or a situation can’t be arranged to suit you, you must accept it and change your plans accordingly.

GABS: The Great Australiasian Beer SpecTAPular – part of Melbourne’s Good Beer Week featuring over 100 unique festival beers all launched during the event.

Perhaps inspired by this old proverb or perhaps just overcome with jealously of Melbourne’s GABS festival, Five Bar in Mt Lawley arranged for some of WA’s GABS beers to appear alongside a specially designed menu by Beersine aka Mitch.

Five Bar: 560 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley

The beer list and menu looked like this:

Cheeky Monkey Rastapopolouse Belgian Stout

paired with: Bahen & Co Chocolate Mousse with Smoked Plums

Naked Monkey Old Fashoined Double IPA

paired with: Slow Cooked Beer Short Rib

Little Creatures SS Menno Sour Beer

paired with: Singapore Chicken and Rice

This was my dinner and a mighty fine dinner it was! Back in my bartending days I had many, many late night dinners at Uncle Billy’s in Northbridge and one of my favourite, must-have dishes was the vinegar chicken. Soft chicken, slightly crispy skin and that powerful acidic sauce that’s so addictive I’d practically drink it from the bowl.

This pairing of MM Menno and Singapore Chicken took me back to those meals, the beer filling the shoes of a tangy dressing, complementing the lemon grass and gingery notes of the dish. It all played out very nicely and was not a match I was expecting. I love surprises!

Sorry for the very average photo - apparently being hungry does not make me a good photographer!
Sorry for the very average photo – apparently being hungry does not make me a good photographer!

Eagle Bay Nigella’s Mulberry Beer

paired with: Beersine Paprika Cured Pork Loin with Pickled Fennel

Bootleg Peanut Butter Amber Ale

paired with: Sour Strawberry Jelly Sandwich

I loved this pairing. Peanut butter ale and strawberry jelly?! Talk about big kid food! The two went together really well and kept in the spirit of the original GABS beer idea of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich beer made by two different breweries – Bootleg taking the peanut butter half and NSW brewing Thirsty Crow taking care of the jelly bit with a strawberry jelly sour.

Beer is Your Friend, a great Australian beer blog, did an interview series with some GABS brewers including Thirsty Crow – you can check it out here.

Colonial Gary Le Bron Musk Saison

paired with: Goat’s Cheese and Roasted Pepper Croquettes with Aioli

These croquettes sold out before I could get my grubby little hands on them but I heard nothing but great reports. Perhaps if I ask nicely Beersine will whip these up again some day!

Gary Le Bron

The Monk Dark Monk Black IPA

paired with: Five’s Beef Tartare with Brioche and Truffle Oil

Feral Funk’N Phresh 100% Brett Ale

paired with: Coconut and Lime Cured Salmon with Cucumber Salad

Five Bar's Andy Mac is a little excited about the beers
Five Bar’s Andy Mac is a little excited about the beers

GABS Edition! 5 Minutes with Justin & Paul from Colonial Brewing

5 minutes / 5 Questions with the brewers at Colonial Brewing, talking all things GABS!

Good Beer Week is fast approaching! 10 days of epic adventuring through Melbourne with beer as your guide, what more could you want?

This years GABS will be 23-25 May at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton, MelbourneOne of the many, many, many events on the GBW calendar is the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, aka GABS for short (and much easier communication after many beers). It’s a celebration of brewing creativity  and at it’s heart are the “festival beers” – beers brewed especially for and launched during the festival. The result is 115 beers that are totally unique and available for very first time.

Even more at GABS … The marketplace with even more beer, live music, plenty of food and craft beer college

Now we turn the spotlight on two of my favourite beer people – Justin Fox and Paul Wyman, brewers at Colonial Brewing in Margaret River, to tell you about their GABS beer – Gary Lives On, a musk saison – a beer that has had a life all of it’s own …

GABS 2013 gave us Gary the White but where has Gary been all this time? He returns in 2014 in Gary Lives On
GABS 2013 gave us Gary the White but where has Gary been all this time? He returns in 2014 in Gary Lives On

What is so exciting about GABS?

Paul: What is not exciting about GABS? The fact that you have pretty much every brewery in Australia and the top brewieres from NZ and the world now all brewing a one of beer that you have never ever done before, seen before or even thought of before. Just to blow the palates and minds of the average punter who still thinks beer is just beer…wrong! Beer is so much more, means so much more and is an artistic expression of a passion and love that brewers have for their beers.

Justin: Paul was spot on, there is nothing not to like. The idea of introducing your lips to over 100 new beers appeals to the brewers as much as it does the beer geeks. GABS lets you taste flavoUr combinations you didn’t think possible, styles you have always wanted to brew, and interpretations that open up new doors… It’s a 2 session minimum event.

What beer are you brewing for GABS and what was the inspiration for it?

Paul: I will leave it to Justin to tell the story, he is a lot more romantic than me.

Justin: An occasion such as GABS is just the right time for us to bring back our old friend Gary (Did he ever really leave??).

[girl+beer: from here, we’ll let the pictures tell the story of Gary, the musk saison] …

CLG3558_GaryLeBron_Web_3 CLG3558_GaryLeBron_Web_2 CLG3558_GaryLeBron_Web_1

What will be the trickiest part of the brew?

Paul: I think the use of the candy Musk, these will posses very simple sugars that the yeast will love. Therefore trying to keep the taste, flavours and alcohol percentage under control will be the challenge. Plus getting the right amount of Musk flavour and aroma without being too over the top and still showcasing a well made Saison. 

Justin: Wow Paul is a wise man, the balance is the trickiest part of this brew as it is just about all brews. Showcasing an ingredient like Musk without forcing it down people’s throats is our goal.

Gary Le Bron
2014 is looking a little pink

Favourite beer from last year’s GABS, and why?

Paul: From last year I was impressed with the complexity of Two Birds Taco Beer. Plus surprise surprise Feral was up there with their Barrel Fermented Black IPA – Barrique O Karma. I think it is just awesome that so many beers released at GABS have become core range for some of the breweries now.

Justin: From memory I put Mountain Goat, Two Birds, True South and Feral all on the list. They were all very well constructed beers that gave a hint of something new but maintained that old favourite hype word – sessionability.

Who’s beer are you most keen to try this year, and why?

Paul: Ummm all of them! Just want to taste and try what inspired each brewer to brew what they did. Stand out’s though will be the crazy brewer’s from around Australia like Bacchus from QLD, Doctors Orders from NSW and Moon Dog from VIC and of course anything from WA.

Justin: Considering we plan to spend three sessions at GABS, the full list is well within reach. The thing I like about GABS and Beer in general, is the only real way to decide if a beer is good is to drink it! Beyond all the clever names and tempting tasting notes, you really have to have a few swigs of it all to decide what you like best!

For a full list of beers at this years GABS, click here

Keep up to date with all of Colonial’s GABS shenanigans by liking them on Facebook (cause they like you too!) and stalking them on Twitter