Fremantle Beer Fest 2014

Show rides, live music, stand up comedians, a basketball hoop and A LOT of beer – welcome to the Fremantle Beer Fest 2014.

Show rides, live music, stand up comedians, a basketball hoop and A LOT of beer – welcome to the Fremantle Beer Fest 2014.

Returning to the Esplanade in Fremantle under the shade of the Norfolk pine trees and with the cooling breeze of the “freo doctor” The Fremantle Beer Fest kicked off for another year.

Fremantle Beer Fest

I visited on Saturday and it confirmed that this event is my favourite stand-alone beer festival on WA’s calendar. It seems to attract the largest number of brewers and the range of entertainment and other beer related fun on the day is quite extensive.

New additions to this years festival included kids showground-style rides making it more family friendly though a few bigger kids also enjoyed them! The Sail & Anchor Comedy Tent which was jam-packed every time I walked past, I think next year they’ll need a much bigger tent!

The Sail & Anchor Comedy Tent at Fremantle Beer Fest 2014

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Another newcomer to the Freo Beer Fest line up was the crew from Cocktail Gastronomy who set up their Cocktail Lab and shook, strained and stirred four beer cocktails including –

  • Cacao Espresso Martini
  • Saison Meringue Pie
  • Matso’s Lycee Mojito
  • Two Birds in Mexico

Andrew Bennett of The Cocktail Lab at Fremantle Beer Fest 2014

Eagle Bay Cacao Stout + lots of chocolate – my blog post on the launch of this beer in August 2014

For the Cacao Espresso Martini the Eagle Bay’s brewers series Cacao Stout was reduced down to a syrup that was a concentrate all the beers wonderfully delicious flavours.

Two Birds Bantam IPA: session IPA | 4.7% ABV | read more about the beer here

The Two Birds in Mexico was a twist on the classic Margarita using tequila, agave syrup, lime, fresh basil and strawberries and topped with Two Birds Brewing Bantam IPA [pictured above]. This was also the drink that Andrew presented during his Master Class called ‘Hoptails’ for those who love beer, mixed drinks and word play.

Master Classes at Fremantle Beer Fest 2014

Andrew took guests through the inspiration and technique behind the ‘Two Birds in Mexico’ drink and employed audience volunteer Cam to assist in making up some samples for us to try.

“It’s a margarita that’s pimped up and loved up,”

Andrew Bennett, Hop Tails Master Class

In using strawberries and basil Andrew voiced his love for using seasonal ingredients both for freshness and affordability. The drink throws away the usual Cointreau addition, “see you later Cointreau, that’s for pedestrians,” Andrew joked and used agave syrup as well as using chilli and salt to rim the glass.

You can catch Andrew at The Classroom in North Perth for more tasty cocktails and banter

“We add beer to make a great cocktail even better,” Andrews said as the Bantam IPA was added as the final touch.

Two Birds in Mexico cocktail at Fremantle Beer Fest

Another Master Class held on Saturday was the home brewing panel with Ken from Northbridge Brewing Co, Justin from Colonial Brewing, Aaron from Gage Roads Brewing and Jeremy, an award winning home brewer. Questions ranged from malt use, mead and how to use things like chilli in your beers. All this made me think about how long it would be before we started home brewing too … what a slippery slope that would be!

Master Classes at Fremantle Beer Fest 2014

Later in the day I hosted a Master Class with Margi from Eagle Bay Brewing called ‘We Love Beer & Cheese’ which we loved and had a lot of fun at … but I’ll leave the details for another post!

Master Class at The Fremantle Beer Fest

As for the beer … there was so much beer, so much great beer.

I’m pretty familiar with many WA brews so I took the day to catch Master Classes and go hunting for beers that I hadn’t tried yet.

Last Drop Brewing – Sour Cherry Ale

Not lip puckering or abrasive Jan brewed this last year and I hadn’t managed to try any until the festival. At 6.2% ABV it’s a beer I would class as being “dangerous” because I’d never pick it as been that boozy and I could easily drink many of these bad boys before I even realised. Rather than being in-your-face cherry it’s more subtle and reminded me of cherries in a black forest cake. The finish is very dry and makes you want to have another.

Jan and his team at Last Drop at Freo Beer Fest

Last Drop Sour Cherry Ale at Fremantle Beer Fest

Boston Brewery – Rye IPA

Part of Denmark’s Willoughby Park Winery, I got to meet Boston Brewery’s head brewer Tyson who has been brewing there for about seven months. Keen to hit the road and talk to folk, Tyson happily chatted with me as I tried their Rye IPA. “It’s like a spicy mango!” I exclaimed at the time and I’ll be keen to check out their other beers at this weekend’s Gourmet Escape Village.

Eagle Bay – Steam Ale

This is their latest in the Brewer’s Series range and just in time for summer. Aromas of toast, shortbread, apricot and mango, there’s almost no bitterness in his very clean and refreshing drop. Flavour-wise there’s some apricot, a little citrus and just a hint of toffee. Bring on summer!

As for the rest, you’d need a week to get through them all. Feral had the vast majority, if not all, of their beers available and their tent was packed for most of Saturday. Nail was just as full and I hear they were also serving tastings of their incredible, you-have-to-taste-it-to-believe-it Clout Stout. The Old Brewery’s Tomahawk was popular with beer geeks whilst this paricular beer geek kicked herself for once again missing out due to her own forgetfulness and amazing ability to be distracted by shiny things.

New beer kids on the block, Homestead Brewing had their four core beers available and I happily reacquainted myself with their Black Swan Black IPA whilst chatting with head brewer Ron. These guys are making beautiful beers and have some exciting limited release beers in the works, in fact Ron has even started thinking about what beer to release on the breweries first birthday which is ten months away!

Speaking of Colonial … have you seen they are about to release CANS?!? Check out their FB page for more or stay tuned!

At Colonial Brewing they had six different beers pouring and offered up a chance to win prizes, prizes, prizes bringing their basketball hoop that normally lives at the back of Colonial and transporting it to the event. Those who had a taster of all of Colonial’s beers over the course of the day were allowed to have a throw, depending on how many you got in there were beer glasses, t-shirts and even growlers up for grabs.

Paul (Colonial Brewing) at Fremantle Beer Fest

Colonial’s Paul Wyman shows folks how it’s done

Paul at Colonial Brewing

 

Fremantle Beer Fest

All I can say is “bring on next year!” because I love this festival and it seems to get better every year.

For more Fremantle Beer Fest reading check out this post from The Beer Pilgrim.

I’d love to hear what beers you liked on the day? What beer did you fall in love with? 

East versus West … Re-Match

Three rounds, state versus state, beer versus beer, food versus food and all with delicious results …

At Melbourne’s Good Beer Week in May one of the stand out events was East versus West: A Beer and Food Title Fight at Josie Bones. With the background music of Eye of the Tiger the east coast of Australia, represented by Josie Bones, battled with the west, represented by Five Bar / Beersine, for the bragging rights to beer and food pairing superiority. Despite not having a home ground advantage, WA came out victorious with the title belt aka a plastic WWE replica. Oh it was glorious! You can relive the magic here.

Last weekend as part of WA Beer Week Five Bar and Beersine hosted the re-match, aka round two, aka a chance for Melbourne to level the score. The format remained the same with three rounds covering yeast driven beers, hop driven beers and malt driven beers. It was all blind tastings so you didn’t know what beer you were tasting or whether the dish was a Beersine / Five Bar or Josie Bones creation.

Hard working chefs Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar and Julia from Josie Bones
Hard working chefs Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar and Julia from Josie Bones

Here’s how the battle unfolded …

Round 1 – Yeast Driven Beers

Last Drop Saison with Wort Poached Marron, Pickled Cucumber and Beer Blanc Sauce

versus

Holgate Little Heifer Hefeweizen with Ripened Goats Cheese Croquette with Bacon Jam and Pickled Apple

The marron was a beautiful way to start the afternoon, soft and delicate with the cucumber adding a refreshing element. The Last Drop Saison, after geting rave reviews from punters at the Fremantle BeerFest the day before, continued to be loved here. A slight banana nose, soft and well balanced and lightly spiced, it was gorgeous. The two together proved a nice matching of delicate, soft but still very expressive flavours.

Wort Poached Marron, Pickled Cucumber and Beer Blanc Sauce by Mitch from Beersine / Five Bar
Wort Poached Marron, Pickled Cucumber and Beer Blanc Sauce by Mitch from Beersine / Five Bar

Half way through eating the second dish I decided that bacon jam was the way of the future. Honestly. Think about it. Bacon jam. Just ponder that for a moment and if you’re not drooling then I think there’s something wrong with you and we might not be able to be friends. The bacon jam added salty caramelised goodness to the soft and springy goat’s cheese croquettes. Holgate’s Little Heifer is a great example of a hefeweizen with sweet banana aromas and a nice silky mouthfeel. It cut through the oil in the croquettes and was a nice sweet/salt contrast to the bacon jam. This was my second favourite beer and food match of the day.

Ripened Goat's Cheese Croquettes with Bacon Jam and Pickled Apple by Julia from Josie Bones
Ripened Goat’s Cheese Croquettes with Bacon Jam and Pickled Apple by Julia from Josie Bones

How the votes swung …

Favourite Beer: WA – Last Drop Saison

Favourite Dish: VIC – Ripened Goats Cheese Croquettes

Favourite Pairing: VIC – Holgate Hefeweizen + Ripened Goats Cheese Croquettes

Round 2 – Hop Driven Beers

Boneyard Golden Ale with Prawn Po’Boy with Chipolte Aioli, Vic Secret Hop Salt and Malt Vinegar Game Chips

versus

The Monk Chief IPA with ‘Tongue in Cheek’ – Masterstock Beef Cheek & Ox Tongue Croquette and Kimchi

The menu, pre-reveal, described Boneyard Golden Ale as a “session IPA” and it’s spot on, fresh tropical hops backed up by soft lingering bitterness makes it damn drinkable. The hop salt on the chips had lots of people licking the chips to get the full flavour which was fun and perhaps a little uncouth but hey, that’s the fun of beer and food sometimes!

Prawn Po'Boy with Chipolte Aioli, Vic Secret Hop Salt and Malt Vinegar Game Chips by Julia from Josie Bones
Prawn Po’Boy with Chipolte Aioli with (not pictured) Vic Secret Hop Salt and Malt Vinegar Game Chips by Julia from Josie Bones

The Monk Chief with the aptly named ‘tongue in cheek’ dish was my favourite pairing of the day, the way the kimchi and hops played together was unique, tasty and I couldn’t get enough of it! The beef cheek and ox tongue bought out all the maltiness from the IPA, easily one of my favourite IPAs going around.

Tongue in Cheek - Masterstock Beef Cheek and Ox Tongue Croquette with Kimchi by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar
Tongue in Cheek – Masterstock Beef Cheek and Ox Tongue Croquette with Kimchi by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar

How the votes swung …

Favourite Beer, Favourite Dish and Favourite Pairing: VIC – Boneyard Golden Ale with Prawn Po’Boy.

Round 3 – Malt Driven Beers

Feral Razorback Barleywine with Peppermint Pavlova garnished with Local Berries and Local Milk Chocolate

versus

Boatrocker Ramjet Whiskey Barrel  Aged Imperial Stout with Whiskey Baba with Malted Chocolate Cream, Blood Orange Curd and Liquorice with your choice from three whiskey sauces

The barleywine and peppermint pavlova was, for me, the most intriguing match of the day. On paper I expected the barleywine to completely dominate the dessert but this wasn’t the case. The peppermint was able to stand out and cut through the big bold flavours of the barleywine making for a really interesting contrast. The berries were a nice complement to the deeper sweetness from the beer.

Peppermint Pavlova with Fresh Local Berries and Local Milk Chocolate by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar
Peppermint Pavlova with Fresh Local Berries and Local Milk Chocolate by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar

Like the Razorback, Boatrocker’s beer had that “oh my god” factor, with every sip you were impressed and craved more of those toffee and creme brulee flavours. It melded well with the baba which is essentially a booze soaked cake and you needed a big ballsy dessert to go head to head with the Ramjet. Due to my own eagerness to try the whiskey sauces, and by eagerness I mean I had all three doused on my dessert, I may have ended up with a dish that was more booze than dessert. Prior to this however it was a great match of similar flavours coming together.

Whiskey Baba with Malted Chocolate Cream, Blood Orange Curd and Liquorice with your choice from three whiskey sauces by Julia from Josie Bones
Whiskey Baba with Malted Chocolate Cream, Blood Orange Curd and Liquorice with your choice from three whiskey sauces by Julia from Josie Bones

How the votes swung …

Favourite Beer, Favourite Dish and Favourite Pairing: VIC – Boatrocker Ramjet with Whiskey Baba

So Victoria’s Josie Bones took the title belt on the plane back to the East Coast which just means we need to head back for Good Beer Week 2014 to retrieve it again. Congratulations Julia, Brendan and the Josie Bones team! Well played Mitch and Five Bar, well played.

Photo by Feral Brewing
Photo by Feral Brewing

Scores are level, the fight continues …

Thank you to Five Bar, Beersine and Josies Bones for another fantastic event! I feel privileged to be able to say I’ve been to both East versus West events this year and they have been great experiences in showcasing some fine beers and creative dishes. Bring on 2014!

Thank you also to Andy Mac at Five Bar and Mitch at Beersine for inviting me along. It’s always nice to go back to your old bar and feel like you’ve come home for a visit.