Eagle versus Goat

Eagle versus Goat – Melbourne versus Dunsborough, feathers versus horns, bird of prey versus surefooted mountain dweller, beer versus beer. A friendly fight at The Pourhouse during WA Beer Week …

WA Beer Week might be over but I’m behind in my blog posts so I’m inviting you to travel back in time with me.

We’re going back to Wednesday 13th November at The Pourhouse in Dunsborough where Melbourne’s Mountain Goat went head to head, mano-a-mano, feathers to horns to our beloved locals Eagle Bay. It was a great night of beautifully crafted beers, tasty little sliders and lots of beery chat – a perfect casual Wednesday. Here’s a few photos from the night …

Drinkers were asked to place their vote for their favourite beer of the night. The winner was Mountain Goat Summer Ale!
Drinkers were asked to place their vote for their favourite beer of the night. The winner was Mountain Goat Summer Ale!
Brewers Unite! Dave from Mountain Goat and Nick from Eagle Bay kindly indulging my request for a photo
Brewers Unite! Dave from Mountain Goat and Nick from Eagle Bay kindly indulging my request for a photo
Don't they look so happy?!
Happy Brewers!
Four little sliders, perfect for beer!
Four little sliders, perfect for beer!
Two down, two to go!
Two down, two to go!

Beer + Cheese Masterclass

I spent all Saturday at the Fremantle Beer Festival and left just before 10pm with three new hats and a few new favourite beers. I think that easily qualifies as a successful day. During both days of the festival there were masterclasses on various beery topics and on Saturday Margi from Eagle Bay Brewing and I held a masterclass on beer and cheese.

I spent all Saturday at the Fremantle Beer Festival and left just before 10pm with three new hats and a few new favourite beers. I think that easily qualifies as a successful day.

During both days of the festival there were masterclasses on various beery topics and on Saturday Margi from Eagle Bay Brewing and I held a masterclass on beer and cheese.

You may already know this because I’ve rambled on about it on the blog a couple of times now or perhaps you were one of the smiling faces I saw in the crowd and if so, thank you very much.

The session attracted around 60 guests

we all basically hung out eating cheese and drinking beer for twenty minutes

The response seemed very positive which could be due to all our prior “research” resulting in fantastic pairings or maybe if you give people free beer and cheese they are inevitability going to be pretty happy. Either reason is fine by me.

Conducting some beer and cheese research with Margi at Eagle Bay Brewing
Conducting some beer and cheese research with Margi at Eagle Bay Brewing

Here are the beer and cheese pairings we put together –

Eagle Bay Vienna Lager + Beersine Vienna Cheese

A straight forward match showing off complementary flavours. The Vienna Lager boasts nice toffee aromas backed up by caramel flavours and it’s also a little earthy and nutty. The cheese, that’s made with the same beer, carries nice fruity slightly sweetish notes that go nicely with the caramel thing the beer has going on. The cheese is also suitably rich for the beer, neither dominating the other.

Eagle Bay Pale Ale + Maffra Aged Cheddar

Another great complementary pairing with the fresh fruity hops from the pale ale walking hand in hand with the fruity and slightly tangy cheddar.

Eagle Bay Kolsch + Meredith Ashed Chevre

This was my favourite pairing of the day. I first had this cheese at The Cheese Barrel in the Swan Valley and instantly thought how great it would be with a kolsch. Within days I had a growler of Colonial Kolsch and had located some ashed chevre and the result was beautiful. This was no different.

The tanginess and zesty of the goat’s cheese highlighted the fresh limey citrus characters in the beer

The match was also an excellent palate cleanser, the beer effortlessly cuts through the sinfully creamy cheese … god damn I love this pairing!

Meredith Ashed Chevre

Eagle Bay Single Batch IPA + Bassett Colston Stilton

Eagle Bay’s IPA has a great balance of caramely malt and fruity hops. The hops are a great contrast to the saltiness of the Stilton. This cheese, a cow’s milk from England, is sensational and we had people begging for more. It’s uber-creamy, rich and the texture makes you want to smear it on your hands and face.

That's one big hunk of stinky Stilton!

A few people at the masterclass asked where they could get the cheeses we tasted – Blue Cow have a store finder on their website that might be handy, you can check it out here and be sure to keep tabs on the Beersine website for all their tasty treats.

Thank you

Margi and the Eagle Bay Brewing team for providing the beer on the day and inviting me to be a part of this event;

Beersine for providing the Vienna Cheese, and

Blue Cow Cheese Company for providing the other three cheeses and being very good about giving us samples when we were constructing the menu.

Love your work!

Kolsch + Goat’s Cheese

A trip to Swan Valley’s The Cheese Barrel inspires a great beer and cheese match back home in the south west …

The Cheese Barrel - Swan Valley

The Cheese Barrel is a magical place in the Swan Valley that serves, almost exclusively and probably unsurprisingly, cheese. Cheese, cheese and more cheese. If you were to throw in beer and some prosciutto The Cheese Barrel would be my promised land, my Mecca, my own “if I could open a bar” fantasy of a beer/cheese/cured meat bar.

Sadly The Cheese Barrel doesn’t serve beer but their wines, from their winery partner-in-crime, Olive Farm Wines are quite tasty.

But I’m getting a little sidetracked … Between five of us we devoured over 1/2kg of assorted cheese across three platter selections, the Spanish Board, the Blue Lovers Paradise and Affineur’s Choice.

Indulging in piece after piece of cheese I couldn’t help but think about what beers I’d try to pair with them – in the middle of the blue cheese board I made a wish to the beer gods for an imperial stout to magically appear, sadly it was not granted.

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One cheese that jumped out at me was the Meredith Ashed Chevre which came out on the Affineur’s Choice board, three cheeses that The Cheese Barrel recommend you try before you die.

The Meredith Ashed Chevre is from Victorian dairy Meredith Dairy and run by a husband a wife team who are the “largest on farm producer of sheep and goat milk in Australia”. You can read more about Meredith Dairy and their philosophy around sustainable productivity at their website here

Tasting the Meredith Ashed Chevre I thought it was beautifully delicate and citrusy with a nice tang to remind your palate to keep its wits about it. Then DING!, like when the coyote gets a new idea about catching the road runner, it hit me … my god, that cheese would be fan-freakin-tastic with a Kolsch.

Colonial Kolsch and Ashed Chevre

And I was right …

I now had a very short shopping list – 1 x ashed goat’s milk cheese and 1 x growler of Kolsch. I found some WA goat’s milk cheese from IGA Margaret River produced by Kytren in Gidgegannup. I fetched myself a growler of Kolsch from Colonial Brewing. Yippee!

The ashed goat’s milk cheese from Kytren was citrusy, creamy and a little fruity and a wicked pairing to the lemony, bready and soft bitterness of the Colonial Kolsch. I reckon I’ll be adding this pairing to my regular line up!

tasty tasty goat's milk cheese

Kytren

girl + festival [part 2]

A few days before the South West Craft Beer Festival I received an email from Carolina at Buzz Marketing, the team behind the event, to tell me I had been chosen to participate as a beer judge. Moi? A judge? It seemed a little strange since my only qualification is drinking. I have not studied brewing nor have I home brewed, I’ve just enjoyed drinking and recently done a little typing but hey, I was happy to run with it. It sounded like a good fun!

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A few days before the South West Craft Beer Festival I received an email from Carolina at Buzz Marketing, the team behind the event, to tell me I had been chosen to participate as a beer judge as part of the People’s Choice Award.

Moi? A judge? It seemed a little strange since my only “qualification” is drinking. I have not studied brewing nor have I home brewed, I’ve just enjoyed drinking and recently done a little typing but hey, I was happy to run with it. It sounded like a good fun!

The People’s Choice Award was designed to be a collaborative effort between votes cast by the people and four judges consisting of Brian Fitzgerald, President of the Western Australian Brewers Association; Vic Crossland, beer writer for The West Australian, Jeremy Sambrooks, freelance beer writer for The Crafty Pint, Australian Brews News, Beer and Brewer Magazine and Menu Magazine; and little ol’ me, blogger and occasional Crafty and Brews News contributor.

Voting was done with good old fashioned paper and pen with punters asked to submit their top five. A smiley friendly man in a green beer bottle suit, Scotty, ran around in the afternoon to encourage people to get their votes in.

Next year I’d like to see a smart phone app, or something similar, to make voting even easier. Having said that, Scotty was a great sight running around the festival!

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Whilst the votes were tallied the judges took the chance to sit and chat about beer, certainly not a shocking turn of events I’m sure. The Bootleg Brewery Bramling Cross had really impressed and we all agreed that Jeremy Good’s Cowaramup Pilsener was still sensational. There was a lot of beer to chose from and sadly all of us had a small list of beers we had not been able to get to in time, this is the first world problem of the craft beer judge.

For me, my top 5 was largely made up of new or limited release beers because they were the main ones I tried that day. With just a few hours and a self imposed restriction on booze intake, no-one wants a boozy judge, I skipped over beers like Old Coast Road Wheat, Bootleg Raging Bull, Eagle Bay Pale Ale, Colonial Kolsch and Cowaramup Pilsener because I knew they were great having drunk one or twelve in the past.  Instead I tried to get my hands on new stuff and so my top 5 looked something like this, and in no particular order –

  1. Eagle Bay Summer Ale
  2. Bootleg Brewery Bramling Cross
  3. Duckstein Ubekannt
  4. Bush Shack Brewery Old Saint Nick
  5. Cheeky Monkey Hagenbeck Belgian IPA

The People’s Choice Top Five looked like this –

  1. Colonial Kolsch
  2. Eagle Bay Kolsch
  3. Eagle Bay Pale Ale
  4. Old Coast Road Acres of Wheat
  5. Bush Shack Brewery Twisted Lemon Lager

We were given the people’s choice top five, scrambled so we didn’t know what had been voted number one, and discussed the list for a while. All judges highly rated the Colonial Kolsch brewed by Head Brewer Mal Secourable and when we found out it was the people’s number 1 it was clear that we had ourselves a winner!

I know Mal has worked hard to get the Kolsch to be as close to a true Cologne (German) Kolsch beer as possible, keeping a careful eye over each batch and the result is clear. Fresh citrus, soft bitterness and a delicate mouth feel, it’s always a pleasure to have whether you’re at the brewery, The Royal on the Waterfront in East Perth or The Print Hall in Perth City.

Congratulations to Mal, Sorcha, Rich, Sarah and the rest of the crew at Colonial – looking forward to seeing the trophy behind the bar!

… part two down, one more to go!

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Richard from Colonial Brewing accepting the People’s Choice Trophy for their Kolsch
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Me with Richard from Colonial Brewing

Margaret River + 4 Hours

What to do in Margaret River for 4 hours?

You could walk through the town centre, pick up a take away coffee from The Urban Bean and duck your head into any one of the great stores for local produce, gifts, surf wear or a good book to read. You could park yourself at Settlers Tavern, try a pint of something locally brewed and order a generous and hearty lunch. Or … if you’re me … you cram as much food and beer into that 4 hours as you can …

What to do in Margaret River for 4 hours?

You could walk through the town centre, pick up a take away coffee from The Urban Bean and duck your head into any one of the great stores for local produce, gifts, surf wear or a good book to read.

You could park yourself at Settlers Tavern, try a pint of something locally brewed and order a generous and hearty lunch.

You could drive down to the River Mouth and, if you’re not completely uncoordinated like me, have a surf, then lie on the sand where champion world surfers like Kelly Slater have hung out during the famous Margaret River Masters surf comp.

Or … if you’re me … you cram as much food and beer into that 4 hours as you can …

Stop #1 – Margaret River Dairy Company | Bussell Highway, on your way south towards Margaret River

Margaret River Cheese Shop … the more quaint one

Beer and Cheese are just meant to be. There was no way I was going to just drive past without stopping and the best thing about the Margaret River Dairy Company, apart from yummy cheese, is that they give you two shots at making sure you get some. Both shops are on Bussell Highway, admittedly one is pretty big and the other is a quaint little shop but as long as there is cheese I’m not complaining! I always seem to go to the second shop; it could be because I like the country-feel of the smaller shop or, more likely, I fail to stop in time for the first one.

My normal purchase is the $30 pack which consists of Water Crackers, Marinated Fetta, your choice of Cheddar, Brie or Camembert and a choice of one of their Farmhouse Cheeses. Great gifts if you can resist opening them and diving head first into cheese-topia.

This time I changed things up and opted for some others that I had not eaten recently, selecting some Emmental, Double Cream Camembert, regular Camembert and Baked Ricotta. Beer and Cheese night at the house will be happening shortly!

Hand picked and soon to be devoured in a beer + cheese frenzy

Stop #2 – Colonial Brewing | Osmington Road, Margaret River

I arrived before the lunch rush and, since it’s school holidays, managed to avoid lots of kids running around being human trip hazards. After a short chatter with the brewers Mal and Sorcha, I started to feel guilty as I was doing nothing and they were hauling kegs around so I thought I’d better make a move. Of course I had to try the Kolsch before departure which Sorcha poured for me and I was much appreciative. They are using a paler malt now and it’s getting closer to Mal’s experience of a true Cologne (Germany) Kolsch. Delicate and citrusy, it was indeed very good! The Baltic Porter, or “balty” as Mal referred to it, is very close to release, give it another couple of weeks and keep your eyes on Facebook.

Colonial Brewery … Baltic Porter coming soon!

Stop #3 – Margaret River Venison Farm | 5103 Caves Road, Margaret River

Margaret River Venison Farm

I had intended on going from Colonial to Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery. I took Cowaramup Bay Road (that would end at gorgeous Gracetown) and approached Caves Road. I knew that if I turned right I would be only a few kilometres from Cheeky Monkey however signage told me that if I turned left it was a mere 3km to the Margaret River Venison Farm. I thought about their Coat of Arms Chorizo and turned left whilst trying not to drool.

I walked out with a small selection of goods with the idea of meat + beer buzzing in my head and wondered what would match with Emu Ham, Coat of Arms Chorizo (Kangaroo and Emu) and Smoked Beef. I gotta get myself to the International Beer Shop sooner rather than later!

Meat, glorious meat …

Stop #4 – Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery | 4259 Caves Road, Margaret River

Sitting down to a middy of their Old Reliable Classic Pale Ale meant I had now tried all the Cheeky Monkey beers on offer. I also got to meet and chat with “Red”, the Head Brewer and it was well over an hour later before I stopped inundating him with questions. Poor guy.

The Pale Ale, nicknamed amongst staff as “space monkey” (check out the graphics to see why) was great with well balanced hop bitterness and nice biscuity notes. Had I not been driving I would have easily and happily indulged in a pint. There are plenty of ideas of the next few single batches, or “Brewer’s Choice” releases so its well worth keeping an eye out for those on their Facebook page.

And that was my afternoon, back home in time to walk the puppy and cook some dinner and wonder why we didn’t move to the South West sooner!

Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery
Margaret River

Here’s a rough map (i.e. please don’t use it in lieu of proper directions!) of my afternoon …

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