GBW Day 2 : Lots of Cheese and Kaiju! Dinner

Lunch at Milk the Cow, a licensed fromagerie in Carlton, and for dinner – Kaiju! Beer Degustation at one of Melbourne’s best Japanese restaurants

Good Beer Week, Day 2: Tuesday 16 May

MILK THE COW

Licensed fromagerie. Two of the best words ever to be put together.

Day two of my Good Beer Week adventure in Melbourne was spent with two great friends, Dan and Vicky. We met many years ago over a love of beer but we also share a love of all things cheesey – including so-bad-they’re-good jokes – and so we decided to have lunch at Milk the Cow in Carlton.

Cheese and Beer Flight // Large Size which gives you 90ml each beer and 30g each cheese

There’s also paired cheese flights for wine, cognac/armagnac, sake, whiskym, dessert wine/fortified and cider available.

This flight was –

  1. Midnight Moon with Napoleon’s Pale Ale
  2. Reypenaer VSOP with Palm Amber Ale
  3. Meredith Farm Chevre with Bridgeport Hop Czah IPA
  4. La Tur with Codeo Shiro

Each pairing was lovely and well put together, the stand out for me being the Midnight Moon and Napoleon’s Pale Ale and the most interesting was the La Tur with Codeo Shiro.

5 Cheese Cheesemonger’s Choice

The Cheesemonger’s Choice Cheeseboards change weekly depending on what’s fresh and new, we received (left to right)

  • L’Artisan Mountain Man
  • Mothais Sur Feuille
  • Chimay a la biere
  • Quickes Oak Smoked Cheddar
  • Swiss Gruyere

KAIJU! BEER DEGUSTATION DELUXE

The evening ended with my friends Dan and Vicky and I laughing at a very bad but awesome joke Vicky told whilst we tucked into an amazing dessert that was dish number eight in what was an amazing evening of food and beer.

In summary, wow.

The event was held at Japanese restaurant Kumo Izakaya on Lygon Street in Brunswick East, owner Andre Bishop – and official Dassai Sake ambassador – welcomed the packed restaurant to the evening with a serve of Dassai 50 Junmai Daiginjo sake and lead a resounding group “cheers!”

Dassai 50 Junmai Daiginjo

 

Swordfish Ceviche with Avocado Puree, Apple and Kalamansi paired with Kaiju! Krush

Nat Reeves, one of the co-founding brothers behind Kaiju!, explained that in the case of Kaiju! Krush the name popped into his head and he knew he had to make a beer to match it. It had to be a tropical fruit bomb and it had to be immensely drinkable for the ‘Krush’ part. If you have had this beer then you know that they absolutely nailed the brief, it’s a stunning beer!

Paired with the swordfish ceviche it was a gorgeous match, the tropical fruits in the beer working in harmony with the citrus of the dish.

Vegetable Tempura selection of broccoliini, pumpkin and sugar snap pea paired with Kaiju! Savage Wizard American Pale Ale

Massive passionfruit and guava notes in the Savage Wizard made it an absolute delight and it cut beautifully through the light tempura batter.

Home made vege chips and spiced nuts paired with Kaiju! Metamorphosis IPA

These were some seriously moreish snacks and the beer disappeared just as quickly! Metamorphosis is an Californian style IPA with a heavy use of crystal malt supporting Columbus and Cascade hops.

Traditional bincho-tan flame grilled yakitori with Murray River pink salt paired with Kaiju! Hopped Out Red Ale

The Hopped Out Red Ale was the second beer Kaiju! ever made and another great match to the yakitori which, my friend Vicky said, might have been even better than any she’d had on her recent trip to Japan!

Grilled freshwater Eel with cream cheese, blackberry and pickled ginger paired with Kaiju! Cthulhu on the Moon Black IPA

My first experience with eating eel was the stand out dish and pairing for the night! The light roasty character in the Black IPA paired perfectly with the eel and the hoppy notes complemented the slight sweetness in the dish.

Matt remarked that the beer came about after their designer came up with such an incredible label that they had to put a beer in it!

Saikoro Steak – black Angus strip loin with ponzu and wasabi paired with Kaiju! Aftermath Double IPA

The steak was cooked to absolute perfection. The beer was the first Kaiju! beer ever made with Matt describing it as having “lots and lots of dank American hops.”

Mini cheese platter of comte and savourine with sultanas and candied walnuts paired with Kaiju! Betelgeuse Imperial Amber Ale

Because you can never have enough cheese in one day! More delicious cheese and more delicious beer, the Betelgeuse is basically twice as big at their Hopped Out Red making it twice the fun!

Chocolate mouse with crumbed brownies, honeycomb ice cream and chilli meringue paired with Kaiju! Where Strides the Behemoth Double India Black Ale

What way to close out a dinner – barrel aged beer and a kick ass dessert, a beautiful pairing. The beer was aged in Pedro Ximenez barrels and this was just one keg of the four they made.

Amazing night, congratulations to the whole team at Kumo and Kaiju! on an excellent evening!

 

GBW Day 1 : Beer School and Stomping Ground

My first day of Good Beer Week included a trip to Beer School, hosted by Boatrocker Brewing, and then dinner by Michelin star chef Daniel Burns at Stomping Ground

Good Beer Week, Day 1 : Monday 16 May

Why walk when you can run? This seems to be the way I approach Melbourne’s Good Beer Week.

BOATROCKER BREWING : BEER SCHOOL

I landed in Melbourne around lunch time Monday and was sitting at the Boatrocker Brewing Beer School at Beer Deluxe for the 4pm session of ‘Cut, Contrast and Complement’ hosted by founder and head brewer of Boatrocker, Matt Houghton, and Rob Kabboord, head chef of Merricote.

Together they guided us through a great flavour education session with a plate of individual examples of flavours such as fresh lemon for sour, parmesan for umami and honey for sweet.

Pretzel for salt, honey for sweet, radicchio for bitter, lemon for sour and parmesan for umami

It’s one thing to read about beer and food pairing but it’s another to taste and experience, particularly with industry pros and broken down in this easy to understand format.

After identifying salt, sweet, bitter, umami and sour it was onto some beer and food pairings looking at examples of cut, contrast and complement.

Boatrockers beers are diverse, interesting and delicious so their ability to pair to food is pretty much boundless.

Contrast pairing of Boatrocker Orange Sherbert with Enokitake mushrooms and parmesan

For me, the Orange Sherbert was delicately acidic and definitely sherberty and paired with the Enokitake mushrooms and parmesan it seemed to round out the beer and soften its acidity. Really interesting!

Boatrocker Stout, only available on tap, a gorgeous English style stout

Trying the Boatrocker Stout was a little special since it’s not available in bottles. Gorgeous nutty, chocolate, coffee and fudgy aromas and flavours like black coffee, burnt toast and chocolate. So damn good.

EVENING WITH MICHELIN STAR CHEF DANIEL BURNS (NYC)

What a way to experience Stomping Ground Beer Hall for the first time – with a dinner by Michelin star chef Daniel Burns, co-owner and head chef at Tørst in New York, paired with beers by Stomping Ground and Evil Twin Brewing, of which Daniel is also co-owner.

Read more about Daniel : ‘Have you met Daniel Burns?’ on Phaidon

Justin Joiner (L) of Stomping Ground welcoming everyone to the evening alongside Daniel Burns (R)

The venue is simply incredible and there wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like about it. Freaking sensational. The brewery itself is beautiful too and I was stoked and surprised at how many beers they had on tap, it’s not your standard pale ale, pilsner, wheat beer, stout line up that’s for sure!

One part of the Stomping Ground beer list

Co-owner Guy Greenstone gave me a very quick brewery tour in-between courses. Half, single, double and triple fermenters give the brewery lots of flexibility and it’s hard not to get excited at the sight of a handful of barrels stashed out the back quietly doing their work.

The beers are fantastic, I wrote down precisely zero notes as I was too busy eating and drinking my way through a menu of deliciousness but my stand outs were the Bad Seed Berliner Weisse that was bang-on in terms of being delicate, lightly sour and immensely refreshing; the Barrel Aged Saison with just enough barrel influence that doesn’t steam roll over the Saison character and the Upside Down Brown was toasty with great sweet malt character.

Roasted Beetroot and Almond with Stomping Ground Bad Seed Berliner Weisse

 

Beef Tartare, Razor Clam and Shiso with Stomping Ground Bad Seed Berliner Weisse

 

Lobster Relish and Daikon with Stomping Ground Bad Seed Berliner Weisse

 

Mackerel. Poblano and Cucumber with Stomping Ground Market Saison

 

Smoked Celeriac, Scampi Roe and Kohlrabi with Stomping Ground Barrel Aged Saison
Duck, Carrot and Brown Butter with Evil Twin Brett Yeast Helles

 

Roasted Sunchoke, Thyme and Caramelised Apple with Stomping Ground Upside Down Brown

Daniel’s book, Food & Beer, was made available to purchase so I grabbed one and he was also signing them so I got to have a quick chat with him and thank him for a wonderful night.

L-R : Me, Daniel Burns and Wendy Marinich

Big thanks to Matt Marinich and the team at Stomping Ground Beer Hall for inviting me as a guest to this amazing event!

GABS edition: 5 Minutes with Ryan from Bootleg Brewery

Q&A with Bootleg Brewery’s Ryan Nilsson-Linne about their GABS festival beer – Chai Milk Stout

The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, aka GABS, is on again as part of the annual amazingness that is Good Beer Week, a nine day festival throughout Melbourne, all kicking off later this month.

Good Beer Week: 16-24th May

GABS: Imagine a really beautiful building and inside are all your favourite Australian breweries, even a handful of international brewing superstars too, with their beers ready for you to taste and have a chat. Upstairs there’s a variety of beer seminars with people who really know their stuff. There’s plenty of food and live music and on top of all this there are over 100 unique beers, GABS festival beers, which have been brewed especially for the event and all are on their debut outing because that’s one qualification to be a GABS festival beer.

My blog has been pretty free of Good Beer Week activity this year and I can only put this down to an act of self preservation as I am not going to GBW this year. Every time GBW is mentioned I get a pang of beer envy but, nevertheless, I cannot ignore the thirst-inducing creative GABS beers that our fab WA brewers have put together for this years festival so I am hoping to bring you a few Q&A’s with the brewers over the next week or two.

The first Q&A was with Craig, brewer at The Monk in Fremantle, about his GABS beer called Oakey Dokey. You can read it here.

Next up we have Ryan Nilsson-Linne, brewer at Margaret River’s Bootleg Brewery.

Ryan at the 2014 South West Craft Beer Festival

GABS Festival Beer: Chai Milk Sout

The Official GABS Guide says … “Milk Stouts contain lactose, a sugar derived from milk which adds sweetness, body and calories to the finished beer. In the past, Milk Stout was claimed to be nutritious and given to nursing mothers along with other Stouts, such as Guinness. Try this one infused with chai.”

What is so exciting about GABS?

For me GABS is so good because it allows brewers to explore their creative side and make things that they otherwise may not have done.  It opens your eyes to what can be done, how to do it and to the fact that no matter how weird and wonderful the product is someone is going to give it a crack.

Tell us about the Chai Milk Stout and what was the inspiration for it?

Last winter, in a failed attempt to give up caffeine me and Kelley [Kelley is Ryan’s wife] turned to drinking Chai Lattes on the weekend.  I hadn’t really drank a lot of Chai before and enjoyed the different flavour combinations you would get from different venues and really wanted to make a Chai mix for myself. In the general talking of what would be next with GABS I had an inkling that Chai and dark ale would make a good combo and put a teabag into a pint of Raging Bull. It was pretty tasty but not quite right and I thought a sweet stout would be a better combo.

I have had an  itching to make a Milk Stout for a while as I love the creaminess and sweetness of them and thought what better way than making a Chai Latte beer.

Where did you source the chai and how was it used in the brewing process?

The Chai was made by me and our kitchen staff after I did a few trials on different spice combinations at home, I settled on cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, ground ginger and cardamom seeds.

It was added after ferment in small batches until I felt the flavour combination was right.

What was the trickiest part of the brew?

The hardest part was trying to settle on a Chai combination that I felt would work within a beer without completely overpowering it and then figuring out how much I needed to use to get the flavour I wanted.

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

With a hint of jealousy not being able to go this year I have so far refused to read the full list but I love the sound of the Nail Brewing GABS beer – a chilli and coconut imperial stout [Flaming Lamington], how could you say no to that?

Weekend Reading #3

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.

This week I came across a number of interesting articles and they are all American, I don’t know why I ended up with an all USA list of reading material this week but there are definitely parallels with our own craft beer culture and trends. Hope you enjoy this weekends reading!

Table Matters | Quality Control
Online magazine about food, drink and culture

Beer geeks have pretty high expectations of our beloved craft beers but with more and more craft popping up its important to remember that just because something is “craft” doesn’t instantly mean it is going to be good. Incidentally the same goes the other way too, just because something is put out by “the big boys”, aka CUB and Lion Nathan, doesn’t mean that it’s crap. It all comes down to quality and this is a great article exploring just what ” quality” means and how it can affect the overall market.

Table Matters | Beginners Blue

I like my cheese big and stinky and gooey but I have to admit that sometimes the taste buds don’t want to be viciously slapped around, sometimes they wanted to be cuddled and caressed. In these instances these softer blue cheeses sound like they would do just the trick!

Blue Cow Blue Cheese

The Times of Northwest Indiana | Brewers get crafty using spent grain from beer

I linked back to another article about using spent grain in last weeks edition of ‘Weekend Reading’ but I really liked this one too. Love the idea of spent grain doggy biscuits

Serious Eats | Secrets of the Spice Trade: How to Run a Spice Shop
A family of food focused websites

You may have noticed that I recently was in Melbourne for Good Beer Week during which I went to an amazing beer versus wine event called Brew vs Cru. The lunch saw Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery go head to head with Ten Minutes by Tractor winery and featured some incredible beers and wines. One of these beers was Brooklyn Brewery La Boite, named after the spice shop who helped create the beer. Garrett spoke very highly of this shop, saying that it was an evocative experience just walking in, the aromas so compelling that they transported you places. Imagine my delight to accidentally stumble across this article which features that same spice shop ‘La Boîte à Epices’.

wpid-img_20140518_223011.jpg

Draft Magazine | 10 foodie beers to savour now
American online beer magazine

Speaking of Good Beer Week, this article seemed more relevant with my memories still fresh from the GABS festival where beer ingredients included black peppercorns and sesame seeds. I liked the sounds of the wheat beer with kaffir lime leaves and made me wonder what the hell a huckleberry tastes like.

Entrepreneur | Could rising costs mean the end of craft beer brewers?
Online business news and strategy website

I’ve heard many people debate the cost of a pint of craft beer and whilst taxes is a big part of this cost it’s also using quality ingredients. This interesting article touches on the rising cost of hops and looks at how such increased costs can/could affect the little brewers.

Beer and Hops at Cowaramup

 

GBW 2014: Mega Dega

Last year’s Mega Dega was held after the East versus West event and since I couldn’t see myself surviving a multi-course lunch AND multi-course dinner I opted to only attend East versus West.

This year things were different and I grabbed my ticket for Mega Dega II

GABS: The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular festival held over three days at the Royal Exhibition Building featuring over 100 beers, market stalls, seminars, food and on one day there were free haircuts!

My day started with a GABS session before heading to Pope Joan for the second edition of Mega Dega, not a bad way to warm up for a big dinner.

There were canapés of mushroom croquettes and oysters on arrival along with a glass of Boatrocker’s Mitte Berliner Weisse style beer. Matt, owner and brewer at Boatrocker, introduced the beer which uses two strains of yeast, Brettanomyces and a German ale yeast, and is aged in Chardonnay barrels. Mitte is delicately sour, very refreshing and is now my new favourite way to start a meal.

1st Course

Beef kibbeh nayeh, crisp flat bread, fresh herbs, cucumber & radish crudités, Lebanese & Iranian pickled vegetables

… paired with 961 Lebanese Pale Ale

Food By: Joseph Abboud from Rumi / Moor’s Head

Beef kibbeh nayeh, crisp flat bread, fresh herbs, cucumber & radish crudités, Lebanese & Iranian pickled vegetables
Beef kibbeh nayeh, crisp flat bread, fresh herbs, cucumber & radish crudités, Lebanese & Iranian pickled vegetables

This dish was like a minced beef tartare and had bulgur wheat mixed through; its softly sweet flavours were wonderfully contrasted by the pickled vegetables and big sprigs of fresh herbs like mint and Italian parsley.

Why 961? That’s the Lebanese telephone code!

961 Lebanese Pale Ale is made to reflect Lebanese food and uses spices such as za’atar, otherwise known as wild thyme, sage, anise and chamomile. The result is a beer that’s unsurprisingly big on spice with a pleasant tropical fruit base.

Together the beer and food paired smoothly, the pale ale adding a nice spice to the dish whilst the fruity sweetness complemented the soft sweet meet.

2nd Course

Hay Custard, Portarlington Mussels and Pickles

Food By: Rob Kaboord from Merricote

… paired with Weihenstephan Kreuz des Sudens Weizenbock

An interesting dish with the hay custard carrying some very soft flavours and adding a big textual feature to the course. The custard set naturally and therefore did not use any eggs causing Rob too joke, “I kinda wish we’d used one or two eggs,” given the 120 custards they had to made for the 120 people in attendance.

Hay Custard, Portarlington Mussels and Pickles
Hay Custard, Portarlington Mussels and Pickles

The Kreuz Des Sudens uses Weinhenstephan’s traditional yeast as well as a bordeaux yeast which their brewer Frank says “you have to kick it a little” when working with wine yeasts such as this. The beer’s name roughly translates to “southern cross” as it was inspired by Australia and uses Australian Galaxy hops however the words “southern cross” are protected, hence the German translation. The Galaxy hops give the beer a lovely passionfruit aroma alongside some banana and toffee. Kreuz des Sudens is big on tropical fruits like mango and pineapple with a clean bitter finish.

3rd Course

Slow Cooked Wild Rabbit & Chorizo with Homemade Green Sriracha

on the side: Autumn Vegetable Fattoush, Pine Mushroooms, Roasted & Smoked Garlic and New Potatoes, Capers and Caramelised Onion

Food By: Rohan Anderson from Whole Larder Love

… paired with Renanissance Stonecutter Scotch Ale

Slow Cooked Wild Rabbit & Chorizo with Homemade Green Sriracha
Slow Cooked Wild Rabbit & Chorizo with Homemade Green Sriracha

“He’s basically been killing things for your pleasure”

Good Beer Week/Crafty Pint’s James Smith sure knows how to introduce someone and Rohan followed through effortlessly with some great commentary around the planning and preparation for the dish. “Rabbits are fluffy and juicy but there will be no fluff, just juicy,” Rohan declared. Each bunny was “skinned, gutted, massaged and loved” and for 120 people, that’s a lot of bunnies to shot and prep as Rohan humorously pointed out when asking everyone to think about this with each bite of food and gulp of beer. We were indeed tasting a labour of love.

His efforts were not under appreciated though; the rabbit had a good peppery and spicy kick mixed through the soft meat and it was hard not to go back for more.

As a match it was a stand out for the night with the rich maltiness and spice in the Stonecutter making for a gorgeous pairing.

AIBA: Australian International Beer Awards

Scotch Ale: aka Week Heavy, malt driven (since hops won’t grow in Scotland) and top fermenting

The beer was introduced by their brewer Andy, fresh from winning Champion Small Brewery at this years AIBAs. The Stonecutter is Renaissance’s flagship beer with a personal connection for Andy as his parents are Scottish. Andy explained the malt driven nature of Scotch Ales in a way I’ll never forget – “buying hops meant given money to the English.” Stonecutter uses 9 different malts including a small amount of distilling malt, the result is a really beautiful beer, one that I will be keeping an eye out for now that I’m back home, with toast, cinnamon and a hint of smoke just a few flavours coming through this complex malty brew.

“Makes great pies”

Andy, Renaissance Brewing on their Stonecutter Scotch Ale

Roasted and Smoked Garlic New Potatoes
Roasted and Smoked Garlic New Potatoes

5th Course

Food by: Darren Purchese from Burch & Purchese

… paired with Murray’s Grand Cru

Orange, Malt, Caramel, Honey and Chocolate
Orange, Malt, Caramel, Honey and Chocolate

The previous course was a highlight but this one knocked it out of the park. The dessert and the beer complemented each other so much so that if they were people they would have been mockingly told to get a room. The dessert emphasised the bright orange citrus in the beer whilst the Grand Cru highlighted the dessert’s rich chocolate base. The caramel in the dessert shined through the Grand Cru’s dank, apricot, lemony goodness.

Orange, Malt, Caramel, Honey and Chocolate
Orange, Malt, Caramel, Honey and Chocolate

“We wanted to do something different from the traditional chocolate malted beer with chocolate dessert,” Shawn from Murray’s said and they definiately achieved that and then some! According to Shawn it’s one of the best matches he’s ever had with one of his beers.

6th Course

Cheese: Pecora’s Jamberoo Mountain Blue & Berry’s Creek Tarwin Blue

… paired with Mornington Peninsula Russian Imperial Stout

Mega Dega

Merricote’s Rob Kaboord introduced the cheese and beer course, presenting two types of blue cheese. The Percora’s Jamberboo a sheep’s milk cheese from NSW, lightly chalky and soft, like a halloumi cheese that has been dipped in mould. The Berry’s Creek hailed from VIC, a cow’s milk but with more pronounced blue flavours, salty, rich and fruity.

“Holy fuck, what are we going to match with this?!”

Rob on the hunt for a pair with the Mornington Russian Imperial Stout

“AG”, brewer at Mornington Peninsula, introduced the beer remarking it was the fourth time during Good Beer Week that he was discussing this brew. I guess we all have impeciable taste! For AG the match showcased the classic roasty malt and salty cheese pairing that seems to work time and time again.

Weekend Reading #2

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 is 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.

For those who didn’t notice from my ridiculous rate of Instagram-ing, Twitter-ing and Facebook-ing I have recently returned from 9 days of Good Beer Week action so I might be a little light on for reading material for you but I was busy drinking beer! Whoops!

The Guardian | Cooking with Beer: Ale and Hearty Ideas

The Australian edition of The Guardian news website

A post by Perth based writer, Max Brearley in the ‘Australia Food Blog’ section featuring my good friend and great chef Mitch Mitchell aka Beersine. Mitch shares two of his favourite recipes accompanied by photography by another talented person I’m fortunate enough to call friend, Jessica Shaver.

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver Photography
Photography by Jessica Shaver

Craft Beer | Sustainable Uses of Spent Grain

American craft beer website

You can read about Game of Cones here if I can be so bold as to plug my own blog within my blog … which apparently I can

Inspired by Beersine’s spent grain pretzels at the Good Beer Week ‘Game of Cones’ event, I went looking for a few related articles on using spent grain. This was a really interesting read on what some American breweries are doing with their spent grains. It’s more than cattle feed!

Spent Grain on a Brew Day for Colonial Baltic Porter
Spent Grain at Colonial Brewing, Margaret River

Crafty Pint | Good Beer Week 2014 Review: De Vrolijke Boot

One of Australia’s very best craft beer news website

Naturally most of my beer reading has been orientated around Melbourne’s Good Beer Week and living vicariously through others by reading reviews of events I wasn’t able to attend. In my defence there were hundreds of events and the week only goes for nine days! This event was held at Merricote along with beers by Boatrocker Brewery and stretched across six courses. The cacao cigar paired with Ramjet, a whiskey barrel aged imperial stout, sounds like something I would really, really like!

Beer is Your Friend | Good Beer Week Recap

One of my favourite Australian beer blogs by Glen Humphries

Summing things up nicely, an art I am yet to master due to my tendency to simply spew words, Glen writes about discovering Feral Watermelon Warhead and Rodenbach, going to GABS and eating lots of cheesesteaks.

GBW 2014: Game of Cones

A Melbourne tramcar restaurant, some silly costumed Colonial men with beer and a food menu by the one and only Beersine

“Tonight, we feast”

These were the words that started the menu for Friday night’s Game of Cones event for Good Beer Week. Held on Melbourne’s iconic Colonial Tramcar restaurant the coincidentally named Colonial Brewery teamed up with beer/food chef Mitch Mitchell aka Beersine to present a menu of beer inspired food matched to hand picked hop driven beers.

We were greeted at tram stop 125 by our Colonial hosts for the night, brewery manager Richard and brewers Justin and Paul who were all suitably dressed in Game of Thrones attire. Recovering from a cold, Paul’s unusually raspy voice added gusto to his already impressive costume whilst Richard’s legs were all too comfortable in black leggings.

Richard and James
I love this photo! [left] Colonial Brewery Manager Richard Moroney [right] Crafty Pint James Smith
On board we filled three tramcars and set off towards St Kilda, each carriage hosted by one of our costumed Colonial friends. The carriage I was on was hosted by Richard who guided us through the menu, discussing the selected beers and the food pairings.

image
Please pardon my awful phone photography here …

To start we tucked into some spent grain pretzels, made with the leftover malt from after mashing in the brewing process, with ‘I can’t believe it’s hop butter’. We were also treated to Smoked Wort Jubes with Hop Sugar made with Cascade hops; wonderful little cubes that melted in your mouth.

Our starting beer was Colonial’s own Small Ale, a reduced alcohol india pale ale that is a full flavoured, tropical fruit and citrusy beer in a 3.5% ABV responsible body.

Kim Chee, or kimchi, a fermented vegetable dish from Korea that generally uses cabbage as it’s main ingredient

Next up was a kim chee omelette which was served up with collaboration brew My Antonia by American brewery Dogfish Head and Italian brewers Birra del Borgo. My Antonia boasts fresh citrus and pine flavours and a medium bitter finish, a great match to the spicy/sweet character of kim chee and base for the omelette’s fresh chilli to play on.

“Bridgeport is my beer spirit animal,”

Richard explains this feelings for this American craft brewery

The main event was a pork shoulder croquette served up on a celeriac romoulade. To accompany there was Mountain Goat’s Rye IPA and Bridgeport’s IPA. The latter is an IPA favourite amongst the Colonial guys whilst Richard spoke of their admiration for Mountain Goat who have been brewing since 1997 and laid the path for many since.

Beersine cheese is available from Mane Liquor and Cellarbrations Carlisle

As we neared the end of our tramcar ride we were served Beersine’s Pale Ale Cheddar, hop honey and lamb bacon – three life changing foods that I’ve had the pleasure of indulging in in the past. True South Black Rock India Lager and New Zealand’s 8 Wired Fresh Hopwired landed on our tables to accompany. The Fresh Hopwired was mind blowing and exactly as it sounds, a fresh and punchy and ridiculously good with the Pale Ale Cheddar and hop honey. Meanwhile lamb bacon in all it’s sweet, fatty goodness happily went with the Black Rock India Lager.

We departed off the tram, some of us smuggling whatever we couldn’t bare to leave behind, whether that be beer or that last precious chunk of cheese, and jumped on a bus to go to The Botanical. More beer and food goodness was unleashed with lamingtons and Colonial’s Gazza, the limited released Australian IPA. Made with all Aussie malts and hops I think Richard says it best:

“It’s big and it’s loud and it’s hairy”

image
… and it ends not with a bang but with a lot of beer The tramcar leaves us at The Botanical

Thank you to Colonial who gifted my seat to this wonderful event, I keep telling them if they spoil me like this I’ll keep coming back. I think they are now stuck with me. But in all sincerity, thank you very much!

GBW 2014: The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular aka GABS

If you’re thinking of heading to the last session of this years GABS festival I highly recommend you do! Read on if you really need more persuading …

Over the last two days I’ve survived two sessions at this years GABS festival held at the Royal Exhibition Building nestled in Carlton Gardens.

Two sessions + 45 different beers = one palate wrecked but very happy girl.

Session Five, the final one for the weekend, kicks off at 12noon with loads of events and activities on top of all the beery goodness. At 1pm there’s a Paddle Race Challenge at The Local Taphouse stall, you can learn about beer and cheese pairing at 2pm in the Coopers Craft Beer Challenge and if you’re feeling strong you can arm wrestle a brewer at the Bridge Road Brewing stall. For more information on these and more events, download the ‘GABS 2014’ app for both android and iPhone or check out the website.

I was impressed with the festival last year and this year they’ve continued to leave me wide-eyed. Improved layout gives you a wider scope of the brewers market where you’ll find stalls from your favourite Australian and International brewers. When I say stalls I’m not talking trestle tables with an ice bucket on top, I’m talking full bars and there’s giant cardboard monsters, lots of fresh hops, a caravan and today there was even a barber on hand for free haircuts!
image

Now let’s get into the beer. There is a lot of it, there are easy drinking ones and rich, crazy ones. Here are my top tips from the last two days …

Sharing is caring
Did I mention there are lots of beers at this festival? The festival beers, those brewed especially for the GABS festival, number well over 100 so if you’re looking to try as many as possible then I’d recommend playing team. Share paddles with your friends, consult and get different beers.
image

Eat first and eat big
Make sure you have a big feed before you get there and start drinking lots of beer. There’s plenty of food at the festival however if you drink first and then think about food you might find you’re already a few stumbly steps behind.

Talk to people
There are brewers and brewery reps galore who are always up for a chat, introduce yourself, say hello and ask whatever you want to ask. The beer community is generous and full of great stories.
image

Remember context
Some of these beers are monsters, rich and truly indulgent. Some are clean pilsners and low ABV ales, remember this when evaluating your beers. You wouldn’t have a steak tartare and complain that it wasn’t cooked enough! Same goes here, there are beers that aren’t meant to be hop monsters or extremely boozy.

Beers to try

Temple Scarlet Super – fresh cranberries, hibiscus flowers from Queensland and bacteria to give you a real cranberry fruit flavour with assertive tartness. This is the best way to start your day.
image

True South Spice Market – if you’re like me and have a cupboard full of assorted spices like cumin, curry powder and coriander this beer embraces all these spices within a soft Belgian witbier. I don’t know how but it is so well balanced and flavoursome and still very much a wheat beer at heart.

2 Brothers Creme Caramel – stupidly rich and indulgent, this baby is not subtle and not for the faint hearted. If you’re the sort of person who orders decadent chocolate desserts then this is for you.
image

Brewcult Pepper Steak Porter – 60kg of black peppercorns went into this bad boy, the taste is just what it says. I reckon some beef jerky wouldn’t go astray here.

Renaissance Brewing Export Pilsner – full of NZ hops it is clean, refreshing with hoppy tropical fruit. You could easily have a few of these on a Friday night.

Have fun and don’t forget to vote for your favourite beer of the festival!

Apologies if this post is riddled with typos, it has been a rather big day!

GBW 2014: The Cheese & Cask Ale Experience

My intentions for Good Beer Week was to go to events I hadn’t attended last year but there were two events I couldn’t bare to miss because they were so good last year – one of them was the cheese and beer experience at The Local Taphouse in St Kilda.

My intentions for Good Beer Week was to go to events I hadn’t attended last year but there were two events I couldn’t bare to miss because they were so good last year – one of them was the cheese and beer experience at The Local Taphouse in St Kilda.

This year the team at the Taphouse teamed up with Milk the Cow, a licensed fromagerie also located in St Kilda, to present five cheeses matched to five cask ales. Hosts for the night were James, resident beer geek at the Taphouse and Laura from Milk the Cow, together they presented some great matches that this cheese and beer loving gal happily indulged in.
image

Meredith Farm Chevre + Red Duck Secret Squirrel English Brown Ale
The fresh goat’s milk cheese with it’s uber-creamy texture, big citrus flavours and tart finish was a beautiful way to start the evening. It was a really good and really unexpected match to the Red Duck beer, it’s nuttiness and fruitiness mingled nicely with the cheese’s fruity citrus flavours. The beer itself was by Derek Hale, an award winning home brewer who was invited to brewed with Red Duck, and he added crushed and toasted hazelnuts alongside some Frangelico.
image

Quickes Mature Cheddar Truckle + Timothy Taylor’s Landlord Pale Ale
The English cheddar, a cows milk clothbound cheddar is aged for twelve months and was everything you want from a strong cheddar – sharp, bitey and a little dusty. “Make fantastic nachos with this!” Laura suggested and I’m sure she’s right! The stone fruit flavours in the cheddar softened the hop bitterness in the beer and acted as a good complement to the English Pale Ale’s soft sweetness.
image

Wensleydale + Bright Traditional English Best Bitter
Many of us associate Wensleydale with claymation cartoon Wallace & Grommit but we were all surprised to hear that sales jumped huge 27% when the movie was released. Laura also surprised us with the fact the recipe for this cheese originated with a French Cistercian monk who moved to Wensleydale. The cheese is sharp, citrusy and a little dirty, like it was stored in a container that previously held a strong blue. Bright’s traditional English Best Bitter was one of my favourite beers of the night. I loved the sweet malt combined with spicy, peppery and biscuit flavours. The malt sweetness softened the bite from the cheese but didn’t dominate the pairing.

Reypenear VSOP + Illawarra Black IPA
Laura declared this to be her favourite cheese, “cut off a wedge and just chew on it” is a serving suggestion I could really great behind. Biting into this cheese, you can see why she loves it so much. Reypenear is a two year old Dutch cow’s milk Gouda, the long aging process actually results in a 25% loss in original weight. It is washed in hot water to remove the lactic acid and showcase sweetness and caramel flavours. This cheese is hard to come by in Australia so it was extra special to have it on our plates. Paired with the Black IPA with it’s sweet malt and slightly roasty flavours it was a gorgeous complement of sweet cheese and sweet malty beer whilst the roasty bitterness provided just enough contrast to keep things really interesting.
image

Herve Mons Brillat Savarin + Prickly Moses Barrel Aged Brett Red Ale
The night finished with a bang with this ultra oozy creamy triple cream brie, bloomy mushroom and salty flavours and at 75% fat you just know it’s going to taste amazing. The Prickly Moses Red Ale showed a little funk with sweet plum and raisin notes. Together it was a nice match, funk playing nicely with the mushroom in the brie.
image

GBW 2014: Meeting new people – Paul from The Rainbow Hotel

Today I met Paul who is a bartender at The Rainbow Hotel and it only reaffirmed my strong belief that beer people are the best people.

Today I met Paul who is a bartender at The Rainbow Hotel and it only reaffirmed my strong belief that beer people are the best people.

Wandering round Fitzroy I was looking for a Pint of Origin venue, a designated venue doing tap takeovers all week showcasing beers from each state in Australia, and found The Rainbow Hotel on St Davids Street. All Good Beer Week long they have handed their beer taps to New South Wales, meaning that beers from the likes of EKIM, Doctors Orders, Thirsty Crow and Young Henry’s are all here for your beer drinking pleasure.

On arrival I asked Paul for a recommendation, given it was my first beer of the day he suggested Young Henry’s Newtowner, a beer that apparently doesn’t usually make it outside of Sydney’s Newtown. I grabbed a pint, ordered some food and sat down in the beer garden in the unseasonal sunshine.

This was my very first Young Henry’s beer. The Newtowner is an English Summer Ale with lovely apricot and mango aromas. Beautiful stone fruit, medium bitterness and citrus, it was a great beer to start the afternoon!

image
My very first Young Henry's beer - Newtowner
image
The Hod Rod Burger ... The burger was ace - messy enough to enjoy but not so much that you were concerned for your clothes!

As time passed and I took photos of my beers, caught up on some emails and stalked people on Twitter, you know, the usual, I overheard Paul talking customers about Pint of Origin and what beers were available. He happily gave tasters to help people pick their next beer and plugged upcoming events at The Rainbow for the rest of the week. He spoke highly of the previous nights food and beer matching event where he says the stand outs were the Thirsty Crow Vanilla Milk Stout with a caramel driven dessert and the Murray’s Angry Many Brown Ale with a heavily spiced kangaroo dish.

Paul’s pick of the bunch is the Riverside Seventy Seven IPA, a big American style IPA using four different hops and clocking in at 7.7% ABV. Like many of us Paul is a self confessed hop head so if you’re the same I suggest you drop in for a pint!
image