Sunshine + Baltic Porter

I was very excited to order two glasses of the limited release Baltic Porter when my boyfriend and I dropped into Colonial Brewing, Margaret River, one recent Sunday. Though I do get rather excited about beer in general anyway, this beer is a little different – after all, I helped make it … kinda

Colonial Brewing is COOLKeut
Gotta love a little creativity in a coaster!

I was very excited to order two glasses of the limited release Baltic Porter when my boyfriend and I dropped into Colonial Brewing, Margaret River, one recent Sunday. Though I do get rather excited about beer in general anyway, this beer is a little different – after all, I helped make it.

(ahem…)

Perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration. I was merely present during a day of brewing but nevertheless it was rather exciting for me!

Spent Grain on a Brew Day for Colonial Baltic Porter

The Baltic Porter follows in the footsteps of previous limited release brews, Keutebier and Mumme, reviving old German beer styles that have been forgotten in recent memory. The Baltic Porter refers to strong Porter beers that were exported off to Baltic countries like Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Basically we’re looking at a sort of love child from a Russian Imperial Stout and London Porter – what a union!

When we visited Colonial the sun was out and shining, it was a beautiful day, and a wonderful contrast to the jet black appearance of the Baltic Porter.

Aromas of dark fruits and raisins that reminded me of the yummy, slightly burnt bits you get at the base of a fruit cake. Taste wise, it’s even better with dusty dark chocolate, more dark fruits and black coffee bitter, all encased in warming 7.5% boozyness.

Read more about Colonial’s Baltic Porter in my article for Australian Brew News and then get down to Colonial to try it for yourself!

Colonial Limited Release Baltic Porter
Colonial Growler of Baltic Porter – being enjoyed on day 3 of being unemployed … not a bad way to spend some time

 

girl + the big 3-oh

It’s my 30th birthday and I’ll drink beer if I want to … that was my motto last weekend and here are the main attractions …

It’s my 30th birthday and I’ll drink beer if I want to … that was my motto last weekend and here are the main attractions:

Friday 

Coopers Pale Ale

An Australian classic, consistently good, very tasty and a great starting point for delving into craft beers and very beery weekends!

Coopers Pale Ale
4.5% abv | 375ml bottles
Australian Pale Ale
Coopers Brewing | South Australia

Temple Midnight IPA

Soft, dark and down right lovely; a black IPA with great fresh hop characteristics and rich bitter roasty notes. It’s made from roasted “midnight” (hence the name) American wheat and Columbus, Centennial and Simcoe hops.

I picked it from the fridge to go with dinner which was Deep Fried Chilli Prawns with Hoi Sin Sauce & Garlic Prawn & Chorizo Pizza. I must admit I picked it without registering it was Black IPA so it wasn’t a food match win but it was still damn enjoyable!

It is the first Temple beer I have ever had, having heard nothing but rave reviews so when it came back into stock at The International Beer Shop I just had to have some.

Temple Midnight IPA
7% abv | 500ml
Black IPA
Temple Brewing Company | Melbourne, Australia
Friday Dinner
Deep Fried Chilli Prawns with Hoi Sin Sauce
Garlic Prawn and Chorizo Pizza

Saturday 

White Rabbit Dark Ale

As I was working at Little Creatures during the time White Rabbit was coming to life I was lucky enough to get a glimpse into the brewery before opening day and watch both the White Rabbit Dark Ale and White Ale hit the shelves. Like it’s sister brewery, Little Creatures, it’s making craft beer accessible in both price and taste.

The sun was out on Saturday but it has still been a chilly few days lately so I was looking for something dark but not heavy and White Rabbit Dark Ale fitted nicely. A good amount of hops in some subtle dark malts and not too much bitterness. It went very nicely with a couple of games of giant dominoes too!

Giant Dominoes + Beer

Colonial Keutebier – Limited Edition

An angry 5.6 % abv wheat beer; but angry in a really good way … feisty banana tones, spicy and and refreshing. A cloudy rich honeyed colour, it just begs to be consumed! I can’t wait to check out the next limited edition, a Baltic Porter, that is due for release in the coming weeks – luckily for me I got to  see the first batch being brewed!

Colonial Keutebier
5.6% abv | on tap at Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough
Keutebier (wheat ale)

Sunday

Feral / 2 Brothers Collaborator – Special Release

I’ve not had that much experience with brown ales but there’s plenty of time for me to fix that however the Feral / 2 Brothers Collaborator may have set my standards rather high. Beautifully hoppy with rich caramel sweetness, hints of stone fruit and spice and since it was made to celebrate 20 years of AIBA (Australian International Beer Awards) it seemed a fitting beer to celebrate my own little milestone – a mention of girl+beer in The Sunday Times STM!

The Collaborator takes its hat off to the AIBAs and the Australian brewing industry as a whole by using nothing but all Australian ingredients. Galaxy, Stella and Summer hops are used along with Pale, Crystal and Australian Oats. Read more about the Collaborator at Australian Brew News. Only 16 hectolitres were brewed for the AIBA awards and Melbourne’s self proclaimed beer-obsessed venue, Beer Deluxe, so getting my hands on two bottles from The International Beer Shop was quite the feat! I wonder how long until we open the second bottle!?

Feral / 2 Brothers Collaborator
5.5% abv | 330ml bottle
Feral Brewing (WA) + 2 Brothers Brewery (VIC)
Australian Brown Ale

Two Birds Sunset Ale

The two birds themselves, Jayne and Danielle, brew their beer at Southern Bay in Victoria and grew up right here in Perth. Sunset Ale is their second beer, following the summery fruity Golden Ale, and I thought it was going to be best enjoyed on the beach. We opened two bottles and sat down in the sun, on the sand and enjoyed the beach that was almost completely absent of people. It was an oh-so-lovely way to end a weekend!

Great rich stone fruit and biscuit characteristics, the Sunset Ale is brewed with US Citra and Australian Cascade hops with Pale, Wheat and crystal malts. This was another find from The International Beer Shop though you can find the Two Birds Golden Ale on tap at The Queens, Mt Lawley.

Two Birds Sunset Ale | Best Enjoyed on the Beach
4.6% abv | 330ml bottle
American Style Red Ale
Two Birds Brewing (VIC)
Loving Life with Two Birds Sunset Ales

So that was my great beery 30th birthday weekend – what more could a beer-loving girl ask for than her amazing boyfriend, beautiful craft beers, a nice pub and way too much food?! Brilliant!

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

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!