girl + Colonial’s Gazza

Gazza is made with all Australian malts and hops resulting in one very smooth Aussie. A background of fresh stone fruit with a layer of toast and borderline creamy finish. Tasty as hell and a cheeky and unexpected 6.3% ABV.

Yep, you’re looking at a thong stuck to a beer tap.

Why? Well, why the heck not?! It marks Colonial Brewing’s new Australian India Pale Ale “Gazza”.

English IPA: English hops, malt & yeast giving a moderately strong pale ale. Less hop and more malt flavours than American IPAs

American IPA: US hops, malt & yeast giving big hoppy and bitter beer.

Source: 2004 BJCP Style Guidelines

We are all pretty well versed in the English and American IPAs, officially recognised BJCP styles, but what is the profile of an Australian IPA? That’s probably a good start to a debate but let’s take a look at Gazza.

Gazza is made with all Australian malts and hops resulting in one very smooth Aussie. A background of fresh stone fruit with layers of toast, melon and grass with a borderline creamy finish. Tasty as hell with a cheeky and unexpected 6.3% ABV.

For Colonial brewer Paul Wyman Gazza is a great mix of an English and an American IPA,

Gazza’s Malts: Pale, wheat, Munich, crystal, dark crystal & a bit of choc

Gazza’s Hops: Cluster, Helga, Summer, Galaxy, Vic Secret

“That’s what I wanted because Australia clearly colonised from the English but now getting lots of influence from the American IPAs”

L: Paul Wyman M: Justin Fox R: Richard Moroney
L: Paul Wyman
M: Justin Fox
R: Richard Moroney

But the most important element about Gazza is that it showcases the high quality malts and hops we are lucky enough to have growing in Australia.

“Not everything is all about crazy beers from America & Europe. When it comes to IPAs fresh is best so drink local”

The drink local, drink fresh approach to hoppy beers is being echoed more and more. I’ve always known this, fresh is best when it comes to hops, but the burden of the beer nerd is over excitement when spotting beers from infamous US craft breweries like Stone, Rogue or Deschutes. You fill your arms with as many as you can carry, take your imports home, open, pour and enjoy. Then you sit down with something local like Gazza or perhaps Feral Hop Hog or Bootleg Speakeasy and that whack of fresh hops taste better than any American hop giant ever could after a journey over the oceans.

Gazza, you’re bloody beautiful and I’ll finish with the write up from the brewers at Colonial themselves …

Sitting smack back in the middle between a deep copper sunset and Ayers rock in colour, Gazza couldn’t look more Australian. The brew stands up with a fistful of Australian hop aroma, full of floral and grassy punch over background notes of melon and pineapple. The nose is backed up with a hearty malt palate showing sweet, nutty and toffee characteristics. The bitterness is mouth coating, just like any good IPA should be, and it lingers on the mid palate which is crisp and dry. All in All, the beer is a lovely balance of malt sweetness and Australian hops, best enjoyed in thongs!
Colonial Growlers, a gift from Paul Wyman cause he's a good good man. Thanks Paul!
Colonial Growlers, a gift from Paul Wyman cause he’s a good good man. Thanks Paul!

 

 

Beer + Neighbours

A short post about good neighbours and sharing beer

Whilst relaxing on a sunny Saturday afternoon our super nice next door neighbour popped around for a hello and to see if we wanted their old bicycles. Sure, why not?! So I got myself a new/old bike, my partner probably got himself another something to do (i.e. WD40 the hell out of my new/old bike) and we found some time to share a beer with the neighbour.

We had the perfect beer to share since I had been to The Pourhouse in Dunsborough the day before and purchased my first Pourhouse growler.  It joins a growing family of growlers and their squeaker kids at our house already …

This is how every normal kitchen looks isn't it?!
This is how every normal kitchen looks isn’t it?!
Weekend beers read to rumble!
Weekend beers ready to rumble!

The Pourhouse growler contained Moon Dog Love Tap Double Lager, a beautiful beast of a lager at 7% that I haven’t had since May when I did this little blog post. Floral, spicy, tropical fruits and a little fresh lemony citrus to boot, it was a hit with our neighbour and between the three of us the growler soon ran dry.

Next I decided to open the sample bottle of O’Brien spring release India Pale Ale that was sent to me last month. What better moment to taste test a new beer than with a fresh palate at the table.

We poured out the beer into three glasses and stuck our noses in. Our neighbour liked the nose on it and it was certainly inviting with fresh green hop aromas throwing out a piney/resiny character. It was a great little IPA, vibrant and clean with stone fruit flavours and lingering bitterness.

O'Brien IPA  ... vibrant and piney
O’Brien IPA … vibrant and piney

Risotto + IPA

Cooking with beer is still something of an undiscovered land for me. I am aware of it and have read about it but have only dabbled with it at home. However, you have to start somewhere.

“If there’s liquid in a recipe, it might as well be beer”
Paul Mecurio “Cooking with Beer”

Cooking with beer is still something of an undiscovered land for me. I am aware of it and have read about it but have only dabbled with it at home. However, you have to start somewhere.

So when I found myself running out of stock whilst cooking risotto it made sense to throw some beer in there. I was drinking James Squire IPA at the time so almost two bottles of that went into the pan.

IPA wasn’t the ideal addition to the dish as it added a bit too much bitterness to what was essentially a soft flavoured risotto served with rosemary lamb french cutlets. Perhaps a nice rich amber ale with more malt sweetness would have matched better to the spanish red onion and red capsicum. But that’s the great thing about beer, experimenting with it and seeing what works beautifully or, in same cases, what could work better.

Spanish Onion, Red Capsicum & IPA Risotto
Rosemary & Mustard French Lamb Cutlets

Spanish Onion, Red Capsicum & IPA Risotto

Spanish Onion, cut into wedges

Button Mushrooms, thinly sliced

Red Capsicum, thinly sliced

2 cups Aborio Rice

Chicken Stock and James Squire IPA

Rosemary & Mustard French Lamb Cutlets

Fresh Rosemary

Seeded Mustard

Garlic

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Leave to marinate and cook to medium rare on hot pan

The Final Product
Risotto & French Lamb Cutlets with James Squire IPA

Fried Mice + Fresh Fish + Local Beer

I love the Clancy’s Fish Pubs, the food is always tasty and fresh with a great range of tap beers with a local focus. When visiting any of the Clancy’s Fish Pubs – Fremantle, City Beach, Applecross and Dunsborough – it should be compulsory to order a minimum of one serve of Fried Mice and a pint of something local.

It was my boyfriends birthday over the weekend so his folks came down for a visit and we thought a Sunday lunch would be a nice way to spend an afternoon. We wanted to take them somewhere they hadn’t been before and if that place happened to have some fantastic beers on tap, well, that was just a cheeky bonus. Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough fit the bill nicely, and since they don’t take bookings it was an easy exercise of rolling up at our leisure.

I love the Clancy’s Fish Pubs, the food is always tasty and fresh with a great range of tap beers with a local focus. When visiting any of the Clancy’s Fish Pubs – Fremantle, City Beach, Applecross and Dunsborough – it should be compulsory to order a minimum of one serve of Fried Mice and a pint of something local.

Fried Mice
Battered and deep fried Jalapenos stuffed with Persian Fetta
Served on Red Capsicum Rouille with Sour Cream
(gotta have something to ease the burning heat!)

It was just after 12noon when we arrived at Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough and plenty of other people had clearly had the same idea; not surprising since it was a sunny long weekend and the last one West Australians will get for a few months.

We hit the bar and delved head first in a diverse list of tap beers with a lot of local representation from Little Creatures, Nail Ale, Eagle Bay Brewing, Bootleg Brewery, Cowaramup Brewery, Tanglehead Brewing and Feral Brewery. With so many great local beers to choose from, it makes for a delightfully hard choice! We selected an array of beers to start with so we could do a little tasting of our own …

  • Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale
  • Eagle Bay Kolsch
  • Mountain Goat Steam Ale
  • Cowaramup Pilsener
It’s always a pleasure to have a pint of Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale, it’s consistently delicious with a great balance of bitter and fruit. It uses pale and crystal malts with Tasmanian Pride of Ringwood hops, for earthy, strong flavours, and Hallertau for floral aromas. Since Clancy’s are the only venues I see Nail Ale on tap it almost seems mandatory to get a pint.
Pint of Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale
They may not be the biggest brewery but Nail Ale do make headlines – Antarctic Nail Ale was a very limited release of 30 bottles in 2010; Nail Ale Pale brewed with Antarctic ice brought back by the Sea Shepard from an anti-whaling campaign. A single bottle sold for $800 in a fund raising auction for the Sea Shepard Conversation Society. If anyone tried it, I’d love to know the result!
I was given the responsibility of selecting beers for my boyfriends parents, a task that I happily took on. They enjoy lagers and pilsners and shared in a few Coopers Pale Ales we had the evening before. With this in mind I picked the Eagle Bay Kolsch and Mountain Goat Steam Ale.
I’ve said it a number of times but Kolsch is one of my favourite styles both for flavour, and as a style for recommending to lager enthusiasts. Eagle Bay Kolsch is light bodied with lovely hops and a little spice and stone fruit. It’s bright and looks gorgeous in the glass.
The words Mountain Goat Steam Ale conjure up images in my mind of a goat driving an old steam train. As for the beer itself, it is delicately herbal and fruity with a bit of wheat malt for extra refreshment and Cascade and Citra hops. Coming in at #37 in the 2011 The Critics’ Choice: Australia’s Best Beers, up from #47 the previous year, it’s also 100% certified organic.
Thankfully both beers were enjoyed; there’s something sweetly rewarding when you pick a beer for someone and they like it and order another.
It had also been almost a year since I’d tasted the Cowaramup Pilsener from a tasting paddle on a visit to the brewery almost a year ago. During my day in the brewhouse of Colonial Brewery with Mal, Head Brewer, he had been singing the praises of Jeremy and his Cowaramup Pilsener so when I spotted it off tap I was keen to have a pint. The family owned and operated Cowaramup Brewery lies on the edge of Margaret River in Cowaramup, a town that is affectionately known by the locals as “cow town”, and they grow a few hop varieties on site that are used in their beers. Their Pilsener was awarded a Champion Lager trophy at the 2011 Australian International Beer Awards and made its first appearance in latest The Critics’ Choice Australia’s Best Beers at #58. It’s a German style Pilsener conditioned for seven weeks and using Perle and Tettnanger hops, both of which originate in Germany.
Perle Hops were breed from the English variety, Northern Brewer and an undisclosed male parent at the German Hull Hop Research Institute. Whilst that may bring up a kind of Frankenstein inspired image of producing hops, the result here is not disastrous. Perle has great versatility for bittering, flavour and aroma. Perhaps this sort of versatility, combined with a resistance to common hop diseases, is why it’s the most widely planted hop variety in Germany.
Tettnanger, a Southern Germany hop variety, possessing similar characteristics to Saaz hops (most known for their presence in Pilsners) and considered a bit of a “classic” hop. In wide demand from all over the world, it’s traditionally used to produce German Pilsners for it’s citrus/grassy flavours.
We soon noticed the line for ordering food was starting to grow so we grabbed our beers and headed for the queue. When we first joined the line our intention was to order one serve of Fried Mice and one serve of Grilled Sardine Fillets. By the time we reached the counter we ordered 2 serves of Fried Mice, the Grilled Sardine Fillets and 2 serves of Tempura House Fish & Chips. I wonder whether that happens to everyone standing in the line which just happens to be right where the food comes out of the kitchen.
Soon it was time for another round and my boyfriend and I opted for something different again and something darker.
  • Bootleg Black Market IPA
  • Tanglehead Stout
The Black Market IPA is one of my favourite offerings from Bootleg Brewery which has been operating in the Margaret River region since 1994. The happy harmony between dark malts, creating richness and darkness, and aromatic and floral hops, makes for one of my favourite brews. It was also an interesting match to the Fried Mice, acting like an IPA would to the heat of the dish on top of dark malt richness adding a contrasting rich sweetness. The Black IPA, India Black Ale, or whatever you want to call it, has been surfacing in popularly in recent years and if you’re keen you’ll find a great article on the style on ‘Australian Brew News’.
Bootleg Black Market IPA + Fried Mice + Tempura Fish & Chips
The fish was caught and delivered that day!
Tanglehead Brewery is located in Albany amongst the Great Southern region of Western Australia, the town is most commonly associated with whale watching, the Stirling Ranges and Bluff Knoll. I have not visited Albany since I was a kid (and the only thing I remember is being car sick and throwing up in the hotel) so I will have to make a point of returning soon. They had the Tanglehead Stout on tap, which is an Oatmeal Stout, silky and rich and dominated by chocolate and coffee notes. It was a rather strange follow up to the Black Market IPA and played a bit of havoc with my palate but certainly a nice velvety drop.
The food arrived in good time considering the place had filled up very quickly and we wondered just how many serves of their Tempura Fish & Chips would have been pumped from the kitchen over the long weekend. The fish tasted fresh and flavoursome and was perfectly cooked; the Fried Mice were great (as always) and thankfully didn’t burn your palate to the point of numbness and the Grilled Sardine Fillets were a great tangy little bite to start on.
Grilled Sardine Fillets with Chargrilled Ciabatta and Scorched Lemon
Tempura House Fish and Chips with Green Salad and Tartare Sauce
The atmosphere at Clancy’s is always a bright and bubbly one with yellow, red and blue seats scattered throughout the venue. The grass, having seen a decent dose of rain recently, was healthy and green with parents and kids running around, kicking a footy (despite seeing West Coast lose to Brisbane on the big screen TV inside) and enjoying the open space and sunshine. The staff are friendly and it speaks volumes when you see the bartenders having a laugh and a joke with each other and their customers; it looks like a great team with Jane (formerly of the Clancy’s Fish Pub Fremantle) running the show. Combine this with great fresh food (their fish is caught and delivered fresh daily) and an impressive representation of local beers and ciders and it really captures what the South West is all about.

girl + beer … on location

Only in the South West could an attempt to catch up with a mate result in a day in a brewhouse. Mal is Head Brewer at Colonial Brewery in Margaret River and invited me to hang out in the brewery for the day whilst they brewed the next Limited Edition Colonial beer – a Baltic Porter. Due to release in late June/early July – start planning your South West getaway now!

girl+beer on location at Colonial Brewing, Margaret River

Friday 25th May 2012 …

Only in the South West could an attempt to catch up with a mate result in a day in a brewhouse …

I’ve spent many a happy conversation chatting with Mal, Head Brewer at Colonial Brewery at various beer events. At some of these events Colonial have been offering beautiful Western Australian oysters with their Kolsch and I’ve indulged in more than one (or five) at a time, shovelling them as elegantly as I could manage whilst standing up and juggling a beer.

Mal and I have been meaning to catch up over a pint for a while now so when I found myself with a Friday off I thought it would be a great opportunity. After all, who could refuse a Friday afternoon beer?! However my suggestion was nicely one-up-ed  by Mal’s invitation to spend a day at the brewhouse whilst they brewed the next limited release – a Baltic Porter. “Do you want to come and join in?”, he asked. I think my reply was “hell yes”.

I was excited … really excited. Mash in was scheduled for 8am and Mal gave me an open invitation to head over whenever. There seemed to be an understanding that 8am might be what I’d consider “violently early”. I really wanted to be there for the mash and my boyfriend pointed out that I’d be mad to miss it. I knew he was right so I set my alarm and dreamt a beery-sleep. It was still very dark outside when my alarm started making seriously unpleasant noises. It went off again after the factory determined “snooze” time was up and it was still dark and it was really cold and as you’ve probably guessed by now, I missed the mash in.

I arrived just after 9am after a quick read through my Oxford Companion to Beer to remind myself about Baltic Porters.

An English style, referring to strong Porter beers exported off to the Baltic countries such as Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Mal introduced me to his partner in brewing crime, Sorcha, and I proceeded to spend the day being either one of their shadows. I was encouraged to ask as many questions as I liked and, in most cases, needed because keeping up with brewer jargon in the wild is a little fast paced for this beer drinking gal. I’ve done a number of tours through breweries in my career – Matilda Bay, Gage Roads, Little Creatures, White Rabbit and Elmar’s in the Valley but it’s all surface stuff – here’s some equipment, here’s what is does, and so forth which is always great, don’t get me wrong, but compared to spending a whole day at a brewery … it’s the difference between listening to a CD and seeing the act live on stage.

The Colonial Baltic Porter will follow in the footsteps of earlier limited edition beers Keutebier and Mumme to continue the journey in old beer styles that have been a little neglected in recent times. Without concern for the latest trending styles or what Joe Bloggs is brewing down the road or on the other side of the Earth for that matter, Mal and Colonial are about beer styles that have captured their attention and, in turn, their desire to brew it for themselves. Colonial’s Limited Editions have gained significant momentum, flying out the door of the brewery, on show at sister venues The Royal and The Raffles and a few stray kegs making their way to like minded beer venues like Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough and The Norfolk Hotel.

Having not brewed the Baltic Porter before the process was almost like baby sitting a small child, watching everything it was doing to make sure it was okay. It can’t be too hot or too cold or too thick and there was continuous testing. As the morning went on I had started to feel somewhat of a really incompetent stalker, following too closely behind poor Mal and Sorcha, so I volunteered to help with the testing. I was proud as punch as I stood in the brewery with a beaker of soon-to-be Baltic Porter in a small tub of ice water, swishing it around and watching the thermometer reach 20 degrees when it was ready for testing. I must have resembled some sort of mad Asian scientist, swishing a black liquid and smiling a slightly deranged smile. It’s a miracle I was invited back again or perhaps Mal was just being super polite.

The first step I got to see was the mash being transferred to the lauder tun. I peered in to see what was happening whilst the contents of the tank slowly rose as the pump worked diligently. That pump certainly had it’s work cut out for it with the Baltic Porter mash being a much thicker one than it had previously dealt with so we were on the look out for any signs of struggle. As the mash began recirculating Sorcha and I decided it looked a little like a cappuccino.

Now it was time for sparging. I used to think sparging was simply washing the mash with water from a thing that looked like an upside sprinkler. Whilst I’m not essentially wrong I did learn a lot more. Yes, it’s about washing the mash and basically making sure you’re getting the most good stuff that you can but it’s also a balancing act between too little, too much, too hot and too cold. There was more staring into the tank at this stage and without a functioning torch it was trickier but thankfully Sorcha had a back up – the iPhone Torch app. It was severely battery draining but turned out to be rather handy on this particular day. Oh and even now on reflection I still stand by my original thinking that the sparging bit looks like an upside down sprinkler.

Soon it was time for the almost-beer to move house again. This time from the lauter tun to the kettle, ready for the boil and the whirlpool. As it bubbled along I was once again struck by the intricacy of it all. Who’ve have thought beer was so sensitive? I mean I knew it was an art and I knew, in theory, that any number of factors could affect the final outcome but it’s really ANY number of factors, no matter how seemingly small. It’s crazy. As we watched the bubbles, monitoring what they were doing, Sorcha remarked it sounded like a babbling brook and from there we came up with the idea for a ‘Sounds of the Brewery’ relaxation tape. I think we were half serious; I’ll have to chat with her later to further develop the idea.

Now it was time for hops and so carefully measured doses of East Kent Goldings and Northern Brewer were thrown in for a nice hot bubbly swim in the kettle. I spent more time with my head in the tank and although I was blinking profusely as my contact lens’ struggled with the steam; I was also enjoying the aromas.

“Time for the messy part” I was told. Sorcha and Mal played around with the forklift and positioned a big white tub under the gaping mouth of the lauter tun. Then a slightly scary looking piece of machinery with spinny things was wheeled in. The process I am poorly describing is the removal of all the spent grain from the lauter tun, ready to be taken away and eaten by the local cattle or, sometimes, pigs. Apparently pigs go nuts for it. Those crazy, drunken pigs.

Mal started up the machine and it was damn loud. He declared himself to be a gentlemen as he handed me his ear muffs for my already slightly deteriorated ears. The spent grain overfilled two of these huge tubs, hitting home again just how much of a bigger style the Baltic Porter is going to be.

Time for the whirlpool. The whirlpool removes all the hop fragments and other bits and pieces that don’t belong by whirling it all up into one mass of stuff called the trub. We had to listen out for the gurgling noises and I remarked how it sounded like a bath tub being emptied. From here it was time to cool things down and the heat exchanger quickly went to work since yeast doesn’t really like to be boiled. Fair enough too.

The first Colonial Baltic Porter was now well on it’s way to completion! It was time to celebrate and unwind with a little more testing, this time of the tasting variety …

The limited release beers I’ve tried in recent memory have all been big, hoppy American styles and I’ve enjoyed them all but, as a category, pale ale is wider reaching than this and Colonial Pale Ale is a great reminder to this. Inspired by German ale styles the Colonial Pale Ale is an Altbier, a type of Pale Ale, that is beautiful with great biscuity malt, peppery spice and medium body. The background for Altbier evolves from older German ales, like the Keutebier style which was Colonial’s last limited release, with the name “alt” meaning “old” being a relative term to when lagers were gaining in popularity.

Next up we tasted the Kolsch and although by strict definition a true Kolsch is brewed in Cologne, Germany, there are a couple of great Australian breweries producing their own Kolsch style beers. I’ve enjoyed countless Colonial Kolsch pints and it’s always a sensational beer exhibiting great balance in spiciness, bitterness and hoppiness. I also love this style because it’s a great one to recommend to people who are tipping their toes in the water of craft brewing. When I was working at Five Bar we recommended it to a bunch of fellow hospitality folk and they drank us out of both the Sunner Kolsch, from Cologne, and 4 Pines Kolsch.

The final taster was the Colonial Porter, a fittingly dark number to end the day on with coffee and chocolate delivered with medium body.

I left Colonial with a massive smile on my face, as I normally do anyway, and a far better understanding of the beer making process. Mal and Sorcha were fantastic hosts, as well as Sarah in the bar for making me a great coffee and Adam in the kitchen for an epic fish burger for lunch. Be sure to look out for Colonial’s next Limited Edition – Baltic Porter – due to land in late June/early July. What a perfect excuse for a winter South West getaway, huh?

Colonial Brewing | Osmington Road, Margaret River
Open Daily 11am – 6pm

Saturday Sunshine + Mt Lawley

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

Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
During Beaufort Street Festival 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A clear Redback branding win in the sunny Brisbane beer garden

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

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

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

Saturday Night + The Pourhouse

The perfect place for a bunch of beer lovers go for dinner in Dunsborough to debate beer in cans versus beer in bottles, eat great food, check out something interesting off the beer taps and above all else, have a chat and a laugh and good catch up.

Anyone who’s worked hospo will tell you that the best thing about the job isn’t necessarily free and/or cheap booze (depending on your current level of alcohol intake/tolerance/consumption/addiction) but it’s the people you meet. Customers, work mates, booze reps and every person in between, there are some fantastic people around and if you’re really lucky, like me, after you’ve left the bar, you keep in touch and get together for wee shandy or two. Saturday night was one of those nights.

It was our first evening visit to ‘the-bar-formerly-known-as-The-Malt-Market’. Normally our trips to The Pourhouse are in the afternoon and involve playing a few board games, usually inventing slightly altered versions such as Speed Chess. This involves going through the game at breakneck speed and though it sounds relatively simple but it’s not, especially when you’re opponent is waving his arms about and screaming “hurry up!” but at least it’s entertaining.

For those who have not been to The Pourhouse, be sure to add it to your South West to-do-list. It’s a fabulous beer bar with a regularly rotating list of tap beers, dominated by local breweries, plus an expansive list of bottled beers. They’ve got great food served in good time by smiling staff members so combine this with interesting beer and it’s no wonder I like this place. Recently they have teamed up with Eagle Bay Brewery to encourage beer culture in Dunsborough, creating Growlers that can be purchased and refilled at either venue. Happy Days! Growlers appear to have exploded in the last couple of months and bring it the F on, I say! [Click here for more details on The Pourhouse and other great Dunsborough spots]

So we were in a great beer venue and now add in great company (apart from each other, of course!), dining and chatting a lot about beer with Scott & Jess, fellow beer lovers and all round super nice people. They also bought me a wonderful present of Mountain Goat Cross Breed Pepperberry IPA. It’s not often I walk out of a bar with a full unopened beer bottle stuffed into my handbag, I’m sure that wasn’t one of the envisioned items Mimco considered when designing their range of bags.

Burger at The Pourhouse
Tasty and Big!

I started my night with the Renaissance Voyager IPA off tap, an English style IPA brewed in New Zealand. Since I’ve been hammering my palate with American IPA for quite sometime it was nice to change it up a little. Floral and a little spicy, my boyfriend noted some upfront toasty qualities in there too. A lovely little IPA as an opening act. They also offered up their Elemental Porter on their taps if you were looking for velvety dark chocolate tones. Since there was driving to be done later I switched happily to Rogers’ from Little Creatures, Fremantle. Perhaps not the ideal match with my dinner of Mussels Cooked in Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier, Garlic and Shallots but neither detracted from the other. The mussels were big and plump and tasted sensational, I’m normally a fan of chilli mussels but this was light and delicate (much like me, *ahem*) and still full of flavour. The Burger was also very tasty and big, no small portions here folks! But there was just enough room to finish the evening by sharing a bottle of Pot Kettle Black, another great New Zealand production, from the Yeastie Boys. Black and hoppy and always a favourite, it’s always far too long between visits because you fall in love with it every single time. Try it and tell me it’s not true!

We had been debating the idea of beer in a can, debating whether it could take off in Australia rather than actually being fans of the idea (which we all were incidentally) and as though it was planned (though it was only coincidence) Brewdog Punk IPA in it’s two lives appeared – can and stubbie. Only 3 months separated the batches.  The bottle was a little hazy with more pronounced bitterness whilst the can was brighter with more floral and grapefruit elements dominating. It was an interesting exercise, thank you Jess! [check out her photography at www.jessicashaver.com] And one I am sure I’ll repeat down the track.

It was great to look around the bar and see growlers hanging from the ceiling, guys and girls with Brewdog Punk IPA, Weihenstephaner glasses, Gauloise Blonde and a variety of glassware for each – beer lovers get down to The Pourhouse, play some games, drink some beer and be sure to get a serve of the Chilli Squid and Chorizo to snack on.

Chilli Squid and Chorizo
The Pourhouse

The Quiet American + Loud Food 2

Curry is certainly what I’d classify as LOUD food and proved to be a great match with The Quiet American. Great to play with locally produced foods as well, this dish uses Crunch Preserves Chilli Achar, made in Busselton, and enhanced the curry and stood up boldly to the fresh American hops

It’s not a secret that beautifully hoppy beers can be great partners to food with a bit of heat in them, like a loved-up couple. It’s about balance between hop bitterness in your beer and heat in your dish. So it’s not about using so much chilli that it brutally murders your taste buds, subjecting them to a slow and painful death, but instead it’s about being just spicy enough so the hop bitterness from a gulp of delicious IPA or Pale Ale enhances that spice.

As winter approaches I will be doing a short series on beer and curry experiments as I’ve read lots of bits and pieces on lager with curry, links between India Pale Ale and curries (it seems the British ‘Curry and Pint’ night is a pub favourite) and played around a little with beer & food matching for small events in the past but I think it requires a more dedicated approach. And yes, if it means drinking more beer and making lots of different curries then I’m happy to take on the role. I’m just dedicated like that.

Anyway, back to the point of The Quiet American, Little Creatures latest limited release, and another LOUD dish – Curry!

My boyfriend and I got home from work late one night and decided curry was a tasty but easy, ‘cannot-be-stuffed-with-anything-else’ dinner. We used sauce from a jar and added some locally produced Chilli Achar (Crunch Preserves) just for shits and giggles. And by “some” I refer to the massive dose that fit on the largest spoon we could get into the jar. Incidentally, the Chilli Achar was an impulse purchase from Boyanup Petrol Station on our Ferguson Valley adventuring where we also got bird seed … love country towns. Moving on … our Chicken Madras Curry with Chilli Achar, Mushrooms and Red Onion was another great hit with The Quiet American. I’m really enjoying the way red onion plays with the rich sweetness in this beer though my opinion is bias since I have started a (totally healthy) love affair with red onion and add it to almost every single dish. It tastes good and it’s just so darn pretty (there’s a joke in there somewhere). With the addition of the Harissa Paste, the curry carried the right amount of heat matched with the American hop bitterness. I keep saying “matched” because, well, it’s accurate but it’s more than that. It enhances and alters the spice flavours, like a collaboration between two great brewers that gets all beer geeks excited.

Madras Chicken Curry & The Quiet American

Chicken Madras Curry with Chilli Achar, Mushrooms and Red Onion

  • 1 Chicken Breast, diced
  • Jar Madras Curry Sauce
  • Massive dollop of Crunch Preserves Chilli Achar (or Chilli Pickle)
  • Sliced Button Mushrooms
  • Sliced Red Capsicum
  • Diced Red Onion
  • Garlic
Throw in everything and simmer for ages!