oysters + porter

“One can almost imagine the beer as the knife that cracks the oyster open – there seems to be a primal connection between them. The flavour of the oyster is magically magnified and fills the senses”

Garret Oliver, The Brewmaster’s Table

If you were to look through the photos on my phone you would know a couple of things about me – I really like beer, I really like cheese and my dog is very cute. Another thing I really like, but don’t indulge in as much as in used to, is freshly shucked oysters.

Jerry Fraser: King of Oysters
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I get my oyster fix from one man – the King of Oysters, Jerry Fraser. If you know Jerry then I don’t have to say anything more, you already know that he is one of the nicest people on the planet. If you live in Perth and like oysters but have never met Jerry then I’m staring at you with my mouth open in sheer surprise. I have also put links to the left so you can pay Jerry a visit for the best oyster experience of your life.

A great read from last year by The Food Pornographer – When an oyster hater met the King of Oysters

These days Jerry spends much of his time at The Print Hall in Perth’s CBD, right in the heart of Brookfield Plaza, aka where the majority of Perth’s new bars spung up a couple of years ago. Here you will find Jerry at his shucking bar with all you need to indulge your oyster fetish.

2011: Jerry Fraser and I at Five Bar
2011: Jerry Fraser and I at Five Bar

My partner and I visited The Print Hall on Friday night and happily pulled up a bar stool at Jerry’s oyster bar. We had come straight from dinner at Mt Lawley’s Enrique’s School for to Bullfighting, a delicious meal that I was very tempted to follow up with some cheese however my craving for cheese flew out the window the minute I saw Jerry. I had a new craving – oysters and porter.

“One can almost imagine the beer as the knife that cracks the oyster open – there seems to be a primal connection between them. The flavour of the oyster is magically magnified and fills the senses”

Garret Oliver, The Brewmaster’s Table

The Print Hall pour all the Colonial Brewing beers since they are owned by the same folk, this also includes The Raffles in Applecross and East Perth’s The Royal on the Waterfront, so it is always nice to go in and get a pint of one of my favourite Margaret River beers.

The Colonial Porter is stupidly smooth, like Barry White kinda smooth with light roasty flavours that flirt with chocolate and coffee, all held together by a soft malty sweetness.

The smoothness does not stop with the beer, the oysters almost creamy texture is divine and it’s briney, salty nature melds so nicely with roasted flavours.

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“This isn’t some newfangled foodie gimmick,”

Adam McDowell, National Post: Why you should pair oysters with stout this St Patrick’s Day

It is interesting to think that this pairing is actually a very traditional English/Irish combo. Oysters were once in abundance in both England and Ireland and considered the food of the working class, a pretty far cry from today’s associations with luxury and indulgence thanks in part to their now limited supply. Also considered to be for the working class were porter beers which, as the story goes, were so named after their popularity amongst London porters, men employed essentially to carry heavy things from point A to point B. Being the working class in England in the 1700s looks rather appealing if they had oysters and porter on hand 24/7, that is of course ignoring the scarlet fever, typhoid and other nasty diseases that probably killed you at age 20.

Moving away from the traditional stout and porter pairing the beer world is still, if you’ll forgive me, your oyster for matching to oysters. A saison, a gueuze and even a bold IPA are all suggested in this great article from Serious Eats along side some suggestions for those who might like their oysters fried or grilled. Further, I found this oysters and porter article on nytimes.com with a recipe for fried oysters if you feel so inclined.

However, if you’re anything like me the you’ll love the indulgence of ordering a dozen freshly shucked oysters from the best man in the business and sitting at the bar with your only concern being what beer to choose next …

A dozen of Jerry's finest

Slow Food + Beer

Last Sunday at about 4pm I was eating Blackwood Valley beef that had been braised in beer, malts, herbs and spices. I was drinking Beaten Track Brewery Youngs Scotch Ale that had come all the way from Kalgoorie. I was neck deep in Slow Food Perth’s very first Sunday Session.

Slow Food Collage

Last Sunday at about 4pm I was eating Blackwood Valley beef that had been braised in beer, malts, herbs and spices. I was drinking Beaten Track Brewery Youngs Scotch Ale that had come all the way from Kalgoorie. I was neck deep in Slow Food Perth’s very first Sunday Session.

When: Sunday 21st April | Where: Taste Budd’s Cooking Studio in Highgate

Organisers:

  • Slow Food Perth, a not-for-profit organisation championing “good, clean and fair food”;
  • Mitch Mitchell aka Chef de Beersine who puts everything that goes into a brewery, sans brewer, into his food; and
  • Jessica Shaver, food photographer, beer lover and all round lovely person who sadly couldn’t make it on the day due to sickness.

With Mitch as our experienced guide we ate, drank and chatted through six Western Australian brewed beers matched to six dishes. A magical way to spend three hours on a Sunday afternoon.

Guests were welcomed with a glass of Eagle Bay Brewing Mild Ale, a great tasting, full of flavoured beer that’s also a mid-strength. It seems these two concepts don’t come together as often as they should.

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Serve #1 – Colonial Brewing Kolsch (Margaret River) + Natural Oysters

I love fresh oysters, I really do, especially when they’re freshly shucked Albany Rocks from King of Oysters Jerry Fraser. Served “naked on a half shell” the Albany Rocks were minerally, salty and plump with a creamy shine. With just a squeeze of lemon, the oysters were (as always) a lovely match to the Colonial Kolsch with it’s clean, floral and citrusy flavours cleansing the palate for the next delicious oyster.

Albany Rock Oysters + Colonial Kolsch

Before the next service Paul, head brewer from The Monk in Fremantle, gave an overview of beer plus insights into his love of brewing. Paul is a self confessed “malt-head” and enjoys making beers that push boundaries just as much as he enjoys brewing a beer perfectly to style. He went through brewing ingredients and passed around malt and hops, the gentlemen beside me seemed happy enough to eat the malt as a course!

Malt and Hops

Serve #2 – Last Drop Brewery Hefeweizen (Canning Vale) + Pumpkin Croquettes with Goat Jamon

Croquettes were a popular dish at Five Bar where I used to work so I’ve certainly had my fair share but these croquettes by Mitch were unlike any I’d had before. The croquettes were inspired by Chinese dim sum with Mitch using glutinous rice flour for a sticky gel like texture. The goat came from Chapman Valley in Geraldton and Mitch cured the meat with beer, spent grains and salt.

The Last Drop Hefeweizen is an amazing example of the style, boasting big bubblegum and banana and just as a hefe should be. The crisp mouth feel of the beer made a wonderful contrast to the sticky croquettes.

Croquettes + Hefeweizen

Serve #3 – Feral Brewing Hop Hog (Swan Valley) + Lamb Bacon with Pretzels

Hello bacon, how I adore you! Mitch cured the lamb with malt, salt and beer and then smoked it over spent grains. The result was a “tropical salty party in your mouth”, which hopefully Mitch doesn’t mind being quoted on but it’s a killer description.

Feral Hop Hog, well, everything is made better with a Hop Hog in your hands which, for me, kinda makes it the bacon of the beer world! The beer cut through the fat in the lamb whilst the tropical notes of Hop Hog contrasted well with the salt of the pretzel.

Lamb Bacon + Feral Hop Hog

Serve #4 – Beaten Track Brewery Youngs Scotch Ale (Kalgoorlie) + Braised Beef Dengaku

The beef was from Blackwood Valley Beef in the states south west, an Australian Certified Organic producer and home to “the happiest cows I’ve ever seen in my life”, says Mitch. The topside beef was braised in beer, grains, herbs and spices and topped with dengaku, a Japanese sweet miso sauce. Mitch put his beery twist on the dengaku by using chocolate and coffee malt grains, all served with eggplant and a bit of brisket on the side.

Beaten Track Brewery from Kalgoorie has only recently popped up on my radar. Their Youngs Scotch Ale had a nice toffee aroma with a sweet malty body and a little smoke. The beers sweet and soft maltiness was a compliment the bold richness in the meats.

Braised Beef and Scotch Ale

Serve #5 – The Monk Rauch (Fremantle) + Beer Cheese with Hop Honey

Ah beer cheese, I can never get enough (though I was struggling for stomach space by this stage!). Mitch uses Capel cheddar and pale ale to make his cheese and served it with his Beersine Hop Honey, made with locally grown hops. Paul from The Monk introduced his Rauch beer, made with German magnum hops with lovely smokey, caramel and bacon flavours and a soft bitter finish. The contrast between the bacon in the beer with the sweet sticky honey was delightfully different to what I might pair cheese with at home. Just goes to show the versatility in beer, like a never ending horizon that I’ve only just started to explore.

Paul at Slow Food

Beer Cheese and Rauch

Serve #6 – Nail Brewing Oatmeal Stout (Bassendean) + Off the Wagon Wheels

Mitch first created his Off the Wagon Wheels whilst working in the kitchen at The Monk, so named due to their resemblance to the Wagon Wheel biscuits we had as kids (or do they still make them?). Two grain-ita biscuits, no prizes for the key ingredient there, with a strawberry jam and hop marshmallow middle and all topped with chocolate. Not just any chocolate either but Margaret River’s Bahen & Co who make chocolate using traditional methods and just two ingredients – cacao beans and cane sugar.

Nail Oatmeal Stout provided satin smooth chocolate and coffee flavours that only enhanced the dessert, how can you go wrong with strawberry, marshmallows, chocolate and coffee?

I’m full just from writing this blog post and remembering the food and beer, I’m going to have to go and lie down now.

Thank You to all involved – Pauline and the team at Slow Food Perth, Mitch and Paras from Beersine, Paul from The Monk, Jerry Fraser – King of Oysters, Jessica Shaver, Scott Bennett, Sophie from Taste Budd’s Cooking Studio, Abhi’s Bakery and all the breweries who featured their beers and the great company of those who came along to the event.

I’ll leave you with the favourite thing I overheard at the event which was said, if memory serves me right, to Paul,

“It’s amazing how different beers are these days, beer used to be just beer”

girl + festival [part 3]

With the madness of Saturday now behind us it was time to see what the Sunday edition of the South West Craft Beer Festival would bring and with that thought in my head I awoke to the sound of rain. I looked out the window to see that Saturday’s bright sunshine and blue skies had been replaced with cloud.

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With the madness of Saturday now behind us it was time to see what the Sunday edition of the South West Craft Beer Festival would bring and with that thought in my head I awoke to the sound of rain. I looked out the window to see that Saturday’s bright sunshine and blue skies had been replaced with cloud.

Eventually the sun came out but it bought along a friend in the shape of some gusty wind. There were no queues when my partner and I arrived, in fact there was no lining up for anything. In so many ways Sunday was indeed shaping up to be a very different day.

Sunday was family day so admittedly it shouldn’t be surprising that the two days were so different but it was a strange contrast none the less.

Free kids activities seemed popular with countless kids running around with painted faces and balloon animals.  The bouncy castle resembled a containment area for hyperactive kids.

Time for beer.

Since Duckstein Brewery were the first stall in the line up we decided it was a good starting point. Having had the Wolf Pale Ale the day before it was time to try the Pilsner. Toasty, citrusy and with a little green apple it is a really great pilsner and now available in bottles, brewed under license by Gage Roads Brewing Company.

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It was impossible to walk past Colonial Brewery without sampling a Kolsch and Jerry Fraser’s sensational freshly shucked oysters. Knowing Jerry from working together on Sundays at Five Bar in Mt Lawley, it was great to see his smiling face and catch up. Oh and did I mention, I got to eat oysters?! Mmmm oysters …

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Cheeky Monkey Brewery and Cidery were pouring their new limited release Southern Wailer Ginger Pale Ale. It’smone of those beers that stops you in your tracks and completely engages your brain. All I could think was “wow, where has this marriage of hops and ginger been all my life?!” In my notepad I wrote down a few words on this one but I think it says it all when I’ve written “ginger + hops = awesome”.

Head Brewer Jared Proudfoot has used a kilo of fresh ginger during fermentation and ground ginger in the boil. The hops are American Columbus and Centennial, both known for their big citrusy characteristics and typically found in American Pale and IPAs. The result is the citrusy/piney hop bitterness you’d expect from an American Pale Ale that’s been softly wrapped in fresh ginger. To say it’s balanced feels like an understatement. I’ll be seeking out more of this for sure!

It has been a while since I’ve had the ciders from Custard Cidery Donnybrook so it was nice to revisit their delicious Scrumpy Cider and try their new Original Sparkling Apple Cider. Chatting with Ian and Tom, it is clear the guys are super passionate about cider and they love it, their energy is infectious. It’s a good thing they have so much energy because they’re set to open a venue near Meelup Beach appropriately called ‘The Cider Room’ and hope to open the doors sometime near Easter. The Cider Room will feature a fully local line up of food and endeavour to be as environmentally low impact as possible.

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Time for cheese.

We headed over to see the brilliant Mitch, Chef at Five Bar and the man behind Beersine who makes hops and beer a key ingredient in his food. Luckily for us Mitch had something special to try, his new Beersine Malty Wit Cheese made with Colonial Brewing Witbier and whole grains of malt. It was served picnic style with a fresh bread roll, wooden knife and some hop honey and … holy mother of …. WOW. It’s amazing. I’ll be honest, he’s my friend, a great chef and all round top guy so you may think I’m a bit biased but trust me – eat this! The hop honey is made with Saaz hops which is a little based on availability and also based on their lower alpha acid content which means lower bitterness and thereby less aggressive with the honey.

Keep an eye out for an upcoming beer and cheese event with Mitch at The International Beer Shop.

Malty Wit Cheese

My final beer for the day was the Eagle Bay Vienna Lager, lovely toasty aromas and rich malty character, it was nice to finish with a beer I’ve not had in a while.

Eagle Bay Vienna

The last stop of the day, however, wasn’t for a beer but it was for a beer related product. The Brewers Dray, run by husband and wife team Matt and Mara, make a mean Spiced Stout Chutney that’s featured on many a beef burger in our house and we were in dire need of a top up. Matt and Mara were kind enough to give us their chutney and also their Tomato Chilli Hopped Relish as a gift, thank you!. I’m looking forward to dishing these up with some home cooking soon!

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A Drive Down the Road

Colonial Brewing has a new limited release out – Keutebier – available only off tap and just happens to be a mere 60 minutes from my front door

If I get in the car and drive for just one hour I can be at Colonial Brewing. That small fact makes me very happy.

People Watching at Colonial during Easter

Over Easter, since we had a few days off, it seemed like a great chance to head down to try their latest release. I didn’t know what it was but Mal, the Head Brewer, had told me about it at the South West Beer Festival and he was damn excited about it.

We got there in the afternoon, hit the bar and grabbed two pints of Keutebier. Hanging around on the back verandah, we sat and had a good look around. Plenty of people, another small bar, a kid’s playground, a guy on stilts and Jerry Fraser shucking oysters. We’ve both worked with Jerry in Perth so wandered over for a hug and an hello. About then, the band came on stage. It was an 80s band and the spandex to fluoro ratio was about 50/50 and deliberately over the top. They were, I have to say, ridiculously awesome.

So there we sat, in the south west, a mere hour from home, enjoying our Keutebiers in the sun. It’s an old world style beer and it’s a wheat beer. I’ve always loved wheat beers and it’s normally the first thing I try when I go to a new brewery. But it’s not just any wheat beer, it’s kinda complicated, like it’s got a darker side.

I fetched our two Colonial Growlers from the car and had them filled, one with IPA and the other with Keutebier. 4 litres of beer to go please, it had to be done. We popped the growler of Keutebier when we got home and for a moment it smelled like someone had exploded an orange! It went down sensationally with a couple of home-made pizzas.

Keutebier with Homemade Spicy Chicken Pizza

where to get it

If you’re in the south west, head straight to Colonial Brewing and try it at the source. Be sure to waive to Mal if you see him in the brewery (incidently that’s basically how we met him one day – just looking through the glass and next thing we knew, we were standing in the brewery talking about beer and fermentation …how very rock ‘n’ roll). Also, be sure to read the flyer, it’s bright yellow and hard to miss. It’s also very wordy and I like that.

If you’re in Perth, stop by The Royal in East Perth and try it there.

Either way, don’t forget your growlers!