Crab Spaghettini + Two Birds Golden Ale

Lunching at The Brisbane Hotel, indulging in one of my favourite dishes and finding Two Birds Golden Ale the perfect match …

The Brisbane Hotel is more than an iconic Perth pub to me, having worked there for a lot of years it’s a place where I’ve laughed a lot, drank too much and made friends I still have today.

With all these great memories, though some more fuzzy than others, it’s always a pleasure to visit “the brissie” and today was no exception.

The Brisbane Hotel

292 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley

(08) 9227 2300

Facebook

It’s nice to see the menu still has a few of the classics, original menu items from day one, like the salt and pepper squid and roast pumpkin pizza.

*also available at sister venue, The Boulevard Hotel

One new/old addition is the blue swimmer crab spaghettini & tomato sugo, ‘new’ because it was added at their last seasonal menu release and ‘old’ because it has featured a number of times as a special. This is one of my all time favourite Brisbane Hotel dishes* rivalled only by the homemade sausage rolls.

blue swimmer crab spaghettini with tomato sugo

I didn’t even need to look at the menu to know I was ordering the crab spaghettini so I set about trying to decide what beer to have with it. Whilst I pondered I had a glass of the James Squire Hop Thief 6, their varietal series American Pale Ale featuring American hop varieties Simcoe and Columbus.

Two Birds Golden Ale, brewed with Southern Cross & Moteuka hops

The food arrived promptly and I ordered a Two Birds Golden Ale which turned out to be a great match! Hoppy enough to cut through the thick tomato sugo and the beer’s soft honeyed sweetness lifted the flavour of the crab. There was a warming chilli through the sugo that was nicely tempered by the beer’s fruit sweetness.

crab spaghettini and Two Birds Golden!

The serving size was beyond generous, it was more like daring, as though the dish was challenging me to finish it. I rose to that challenge … and then went home and fell asleep on the couch.

Beer + Beach

Considering it is almost the weekend and the weather appears to have turned sort of wintery on us, here is something light, fluffy and warming for a Friday.

Beer and Beach

Considering it is almost the weekend and the weather appears to have turned sort of wintery on us, here is something light, fluffy and warming for a Friday.

Australia has gorgeous beaches and amazing beers, damn right we’re the lucky country!

So to tip my hat to two of my favourite things – good beer and beautiful beaches (especially the one on my door step!) here’s a few of my favourite photos …

Two Birds Sunset Ale

Fish and Chips on Busselton Beach

Brooklyn Lager

James Squire and Sunset

Pumpkin Soup + IPA

Trying my hand at a creamy Thai Pumpkin Soup and discovering that the IPA in my fridge goes really, really well with it. Happy Sunday!

Thai Pumpkin Soup with James Squire Stow Away IPA

I’ve had a flu for the better part of the week, leaving me feeling far more ‘girl+snot’ than ‘girl+beer’ so it’s not been a very beery week. No point in drinking it if I can’t taste it.

To kill off the last of this bug, I decided to try my hand at a Thai Pumpkin Soup from Bill Granger’s ‘Bill’s Everyday Asian’ cook book. I’ve used this book many times and it’s suitably covered in dots of sauce and oil. I love when my cook books look like this and it makes it easy to remember what recipes I’ve liked the most! This soup is stupidly good and pretty easy. That’s two boxes ticked! It also makes quite a fine match to a James Squire Stow Away IPA. I have to be honest, this kinda surprised me.

Bill Granger’s Thai Pumpkin Soup
from ‘Bill’s Everyday Asian’

I don’t find the Stow Away IPA particularly bitter; the bitterness is more soft than tongue-rippingly sharp but there’s a little spice and some malt sweetness in there too. I suspect an American style IPA with far bolder bitterness would have pulverised the poor little soup into submission and perhaps this is why this particular IPA made for a good match to the soup which calls for spices such as cumin, coriander and cinnamon. As it is a Thai style soup it also required some heat so in went a couple of chillies and a nice dash of paprika. I say “dash” because the recipe calls for a teaspoon but I didn’t have any clean ones on hand so I guessed. The chilli and paprika created a slight chilli heat to the soup and mirrored the slight bitterness in the beer.

I’d like to be able to say this beer + food match was set up, planned and expertly executed but I’m not that clever. In reality I made the soup and my boyfriend wandered past and dropped a beer beside me thinking it might work – he’s a good man.

Soup + Beer
You’ll note that saucepan is almost filled to the brim …
I’m not sure what ‘serves 4’ means to Bill but I think he’s feeding some very big people!

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

Quesadillas + IPA

When we decide to cook Mexican at home it usually ends up being tortillas, always delicious and I always have just one too many! This particular night, however, I decided to stretch my Mexican cooking skills a little further to quesadillas; a Mexican dish that Jamie Oliver describes as “basically a Mexican-style stuffed pancake”. Two different IPAs to match and another successful night in!

Drinking Ginger Beer and making Homemade Guacamole

When we decide to cook Mexican at home it usually ends up being tortillas. They are always delicious and I always have one too many because the pain of completely over eating seems totally worth it at the time.

On this particular night, however, I decided to stretch my Mexican cooking skills a little further to quesadillas; a Mexican dish that Jamie Oliver describes as “basically a Mexican-style stuffed pancake”. Its hard to fault that logic.

I am going to be adding quesadillas to my list of fun dishes to cook at home. I did them on the hot plates which ended up looking great on the table and kept them hot, hot, hot!

We always go for Pale Ales or IPA with this style of food and perhaps it is because it’s a great pairing or perhaps because it’s the type of beer we buy the most, hell it’s probably both.

Feral Hop Hog
Swan Valley, WA
American IPA | 5.8% abv

I had found Feral Hog Hog on special at Cape Cellars for just $14.99 leaving me no choice but to snap it up. Meanwhile, unknown to me, my boyfriend was picking up a case of James Squire Stow Away IPA. I guess great minds think alike (or, as my father would say, fools seldom differ).

Feral Hop Hog, always amazing, was first up before the cooking started. There was something very cool about coming home to find your boyfriend and dog playing in the backyard and a case of India Pale Ale by the back door.

James Squire Stow Away IPA
Sydney, NSW
IPA | 5.6% abv

The four pack of Hop Hog disappeared quickly which was sad but, knowing it will soon be flowing from a new brewery capable of 10 million litres of beer a year put the smile back on my face! We moved to James Squire Stow Away IPA for dinner. The change in IPAs proved to be an interesting little taste experiment, the Hop Hog boasting far more hop aromas and flavours with crisp stone fruits whilst the Squire version was more malty sweet and biscuity. Maybe it’s about time we did an IPA tasting, I guess I better get to the International Beer Shop!

Beef Quesadillas with Fresh Lime, Guacamole and Sour Cream + Stow Away IPA

Quesadillas

  • Beef Mince
  • Garlic
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Spanish Onion
  • Chilli
  • Mushrooms
Throw it all together and breathe deep cause it all smells great!

Guacamole

  • Avocado
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • Spanish Onion
  • Fresh Lime

Fire up a hot pan and don’t be shy with the oil. I did this by cutting my tortilla in half but I guess it would be easier to just fold it over – not sure why I automatically picked the harder way to do it but never mind that! Sprinkle on a little cheese (I use the local Capel Shredded Cheddar) and then spoon the mix on over the top. Fold (or place the other half of your tortilla) and flatten with a spatula. Cook until crisp and repeat with all the ingredients you have left! Serve with sour cream, the guacamole and a wedge or two of fresh lime.

Oh, and don’t forget the beer!

James Squire + Lime Butter Pan Fried Local Snapper

One of my most successful home cooking matches to beer so far with James Squire Four Wives Pilsener plus a few words on James Squire branding and the birth of Pilsener. Oh and you can see what my beer + food of choice whilst writing this post.

Four Wives & Lime Buttered Local Snapper

My boyfriend came home last week with a case of James Squire Four Wives Pilsener. I do love coming home to him and if there’s beer involved, well, I’m hardly what you would call an unhappy woman.

James Squire is a brand I’m pretty familiar with as my former employer Five Bar is one of their Ambassador Venues, translating into me having done quite a few sessions of James Squire education. In turn it also meant, much to my delight, first dibs on their limited releases including the Mad Brewers range. I like James Squire beers, I’ve sat down happily to many a pint of Golden Ale (incidentally, the only James Squire beer to make it into the 2011 Critics’ Choice Australia’s Best Beers – they had 6 in 2010) and I have liked most of their marketing. I like the wood(ish) tap handles representing beer barrels, I like the James Squire signature but the latest, though by no means recent, branding efforts are a bit of a mixed bag. They have been outlined nicely by Matt on Australian Brew News back in April 2011 but just to highlight my favourite element of this re-branding, let’s look at the stories. I’ve fallen in love with stories around beer, it’s history and it’s heroes, I find them fascinating and completely endearing. However, really only half of the James Squire permanent range seem to have a decent story. Now, I’ll be the first (or at least the third) to admit I have a tendency to ramble. With that in mind I have been rather considerate and separated the following James Squire branding rant so you can easily skip ahead to the main part of this post. See? I’m a lovely girl.

So, Four Wives Pilsener? Yeah, the man was said to be popular with women and had a little more than just a bit on the side. I’ll buy that. Stow Away IPA? Yeah, he was on the all female boat to Australia instead of being squished in with other smelly, thieving men of questionable moral standing. I’m okay with that story too however please note we are a mere two stories into the infamous James Squire and it’s all been about what’s in his pants. Not what I would call revolutionary male thinking. Nine Tales Amber Ale? Ok, yes, he had a lot of tales to tell throughout his varied career from baker to copper and a few in between. Having said that, this name is largely dependent on the visual of distinguishing tales from tails. Take a moment to consider how much more of a magical story it be if James was reported to actually have nine tails. Then you’ve got 150 Lashes Pale Ale. I’ll even pay that too just for the sheer cheekiness of the story, stealing and then bribing out of half the punishment with ale. The remaining new names are a little less solid. The Chancer Golden Ale? Ahem … that’s cause he took a lot of *clearing throat cough* chances in his life. Jack of Spades Porter, from the press release, barely makes sense, aside from a vague gambling reference. I had been under the impression it was because ol’ Mr Squire was a Jack of all Trades – butcher, baker, candlestick maker (one of those isn’t right) and thus a little play on words. You can almost hear the marketing pitch in the Lion Nathan boardroom, the tone becoming stronger with each weakening correlation. And don’t forget about Sundown, because people would visit James’ tavern as the sun went down. Good thing they didn’t go when they were clinically depressed, I don’t know the marketability of a beer called ‘Life Sucks, I Hate Digging Holes’ Australian Lager.

In short, as I said, I like all the beers from the Malt Shovel Brewery, especially the Mad Brewers releases. Also, I understand the desire to tell stories and create history around your beer, I’m just not totally sold on all of the James Squire stories.

Now that I’ve got that out of my system … let’s move on.

We had a few Four Wives Pilseners throughout the evening and my brain started to get hungry. I was concurring up ideas of a lemon or lime grilled white fillet of fish, swimming in creamy butter and garlic, lying on top of soft potato mash dotted with crunchy fresh spring onion … (wow, I really shouldn’t write when I am hungry) … so that’s what I did the following night.

Four Wives is a Bohemian style Pilsener so there’s a good whack of Saaz hops (GER) in there for lovely floral aromas. I believe it’s Munich and Pale Malts for the base, resulting in pleasant bready sweetness. But what surprised me, having not had this beer for a while, was the lemony citrus I was getting and that’s where the home cooking light bulb popped over my head.

A Brief History … Pilsner was brought to life by Josef Groll in 1842 in the town of Pilsen in what is now known as the Czech Republic. In what could be seen as a dramatic example of the power of consumers, the citizens of Pilsen, fed up with the poor and inconsistent nature of their beloved beer, sent an entire season of it down the drains, unfit for consumption. They then built a brand spanking new brewery and set about joining forces to brew better beer (and perhaps pinch an idea or two from the neighbouring Bavarians). Enter Josef and put the spotlight on Bohemian Saaz Hops and the unique soft Pilsen water (allowing for more flavours from hops and barley to shine through). Now you’ve got yourself the birth of Pilsner which, as you may have figured out by now, was named after the town, originally meaning “from Pilsen”. People caught on quickly to this great new style and similar beers quickly starting popping up all over Europe. It was another 17 years before “the original pilsner” (the brewery then becoming know as The Pilsner Urquell brewery) would be trademarked. Despite the name now thrown around like confetti, there are two true styles of Pilsner – German and Bohemian/Czech, both using Saaz hops. German Pilsners tend to be bigger in hop bitterness and possess earthy qualities whilst Czech Pilsners, such as Four Wives is styled on, tend to be darker in colour, a little more delicate, grassy and floral.

The result was a lime, garlic and butter pan fried local snapper sitting happily on a bed of ruby red potato mash with garlic dosed mushrooms and leeks on the side. There was some nice savoury sweetness through this dish to play happily with the malt in the Four Wives. Limey goodness went well with the zesty lemon I had picked up in the beer (and yes, that is a char-grilled piece of lime as part of my garnish in the photo) and the fish and mash as the bulk of the meal were delicate but still flavoursome enough to not dominate other elements of the dish. I was very pleased with this match up as far as home cooked meals and beer go if I do say so myself.

Inspired by Bill Granger’s “Bill’s Everyday Asian” Lime Butter Recipe

Lime Butter Pan Fried Local Snapper w/ Ruby Red Potato Mash and Garlic & Butter Mushrooms

  • 2 Limes
  • Snapper Fillets
  • Ruby Red Potatoes
  • Spring Onions
  • Garlic
  • Button Mushrooms
  • 1/2 Leek
  • Butter
Do up your lime butter first, using one of your limes, and set aside. I know Bill’s recipe only calls for a single tablespoon of lime juice but I wanted a pretty dominating lime flavour!
Pan fry your mushies and leeks in garlic and butter and be sure to have your potatoes boiling away. Get your big pan fired up and ready for the snapper. Throw it on, douse it in butter and garlic (if you’ve not noticed I do like butter and garlic) and randomly squeeze some fresh lime on the it from time to time.
Mash your spuds and mix in some freshly cut spring onions to finish them off.
Serve it all up and drizzle your lime butter on the top of everything!
The Quiet American & Ham and Cheese Toasties
Feeding my brain whilst I was writing this post

Beer + Shower

Happiness is the simple things … like a cold beer in a hot shower – you know it’s true!

The great thing about our shower caddy is the space, there’s a spot for the body wash, there’s a spot for face wash and there’s a little space left over … oh look, my beer fits there!

We all know it. We all love it. You perhaps don’t post about it on the internet but a cold beer whilst you’re in the hot shower … holy hell … it’s bliss.

Running at Sunset

Having come home to find a case of James Squire Four Wives Pilsener had made it’s way into our fridge, I popped one open and took a sip before realising my intention was to come home and go for a run. Despite the cold refreshing beer begging me for attention like a neglected only child, I went running.

I have to say, I live in a beautiful part of the world.

I arrived home and lets just say, not confidently fit, more weazy and sweaty, but opening a beer solves all and there’s something properly relaxing about a hot shower.

It’s the merging of two wonderfully simple things – a crisp, cold and refreshing beer that you’ve been thinking about for at least an hour and a hot shower where you just couldn’t give a damn about how much water you’re using.Happy Wednesday everyone!

Everyone does this … right?!