Beer sessions at the Food & Drink Symposium (FADS)

Sometimes beer gets forgotten at food and drink events but this isn’t the case at the Food and Drink Symposium. There will be a couple of opportunities to chat beer with a few great beer industry personalities making their way to the day.

WA’s first Food and Drink Symposium, aka FADS, is happening at the Claremont Showgrounds on Sunday May 28 and will “bring farmers, producers, chefs, educators and consumers together for a unique, community creating and sustainable food and drink event, with a day long program of talks, panel discussions and workshops.”

The concept is based on similar events such as Noma‘s MAD conferences and is being organised by Katrina Lane and Ai-Ling Truong, two well-known and active members in the local food scene. Katrina is a passionate local food advocator and Ai-Ling is the food curator and founder of Food Truck Rumble.

If you are interested in where you food comes from, if you use your own cloth shopping bags instead of plastic ones and if you prefer the markets over the nearby Coles, this event should be in your calendar!

Sometimes beer gets forgotten at food and drink events but this isn’t the case at the Food and Drink Symposium. There will be a couple of opportunities to chat beer with a few great beer industry personalities involved in the day. At the Q&A – Exploring the history of WA’s alcohol industry – Jack Purser from Indian Ocean Brewing and Sean Symons from White Lakes Brewing and former chief judge at the Perth Royal Beer Show Awards, will be looking at the craft beer world and how it has evolved.

Jack striking a pose at the Eagle Bay tent at last years Fremantle Beer Fest

After the lunch break, as part of the FADS Conversations sessions, Gerrard “Mitch” Mitchell and Paul Wyman will be hosting two sessions about beer and food. Each session will be focused on a beer style and pairing it with food but the guys don’t want people standing on ceremony, they’re there for a chat with you too! These casual and interactive sessions are free to attend.

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As a beer drinker in WA chances are you have enjoyed many of Paul’s beers. The Chief, a beautiful American Pale Ale that impressed both punters and beer judges, was from Paul’s time as head brewer at The Monk in Fremantle. From there Paul went on to head up the Colonial Brewing Margaret River brewhouse and now he is at the helm of Nowhereman Brewing, a new brewpub in West Leederville due to open mid-year.

Mitch is the executive chef for the Mary Street Bakery venues with extensive experience both locally and abroad, previously heading up the kitchens at Feral Brewing, The Monk and Five Bar. Mitch has established himself not only as a wonderful chef but as the beer and food chef in WA.

Paul (left) and Mitch (right) at Nowhereman Brewing

Within these sessions, Paul will examine one beer style, diving into its history and the style guidelines and Mitch will discuss the food he would pair with it and why. A small amount of beer and food will be provided since all that chatting will most certainly make you thirsty and hungry. But this isn’t a presentation, this is a discussion so the guys welcome feedback and comment, after all, beer and food is about conversation as much as it’s about flavour.

It’s having these sorts of conversations that Mitch and Paul both firmly believe is how food and beer culture will be promoted and shared.

“You need people who are passionate and constantly telling the same story,”

Paul

Small producers and brewers are often mistakenly labelled as each other’s competition but I rarely find any of them think like this, the reality is they are all fighting the same fight and one of the ways they do this is by singing the same tune. It’s about the importance of supporting local, about the stories behind each producer and why they do things a way that results in a better product in favour of something that purely serves to slash production costs.

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver Photography

When I ask the guys about how the industry will get these messages across, their answer is the same – education.

“Talk until someone starts rolling their eyes at you,”

Mitch

“Because all the big guys are constantly in peoples’ faces, you turn on the TV, open a paper, drive down the road, there’s something right there.” Competing with that kind of saturation is certainly challenging but constantly education and conversation is how that battle can be fought.

The conversation is never over because the industry is always changing. Free range eggs, Mitch says, are a great example, where the definition of what a free range egg has changed. “Now they [consumers] have to look for pasture raised,” Mitch remarks, “but we have only just taught people to look for ‘free range eggs’” and so the conversation continues.

Paul says it’s the same with beer, namely the definition of ‘craft beer’ that seems to be an increasingly blurring and overlapping category with global corporations releasing beers with packaging and marketing that echoes the style of a small, independent brewers. Often reading the small print on the back of a label or doing a Google search is the only way to determine if the beer in your hand is made locally by an independent brewery.

2014 : Paul, then with Colonial Brewing, chatting about beer at an event

For Paul and Mitch, presenting beer and food together makes a lot of sense and it’s more than just having something to wash down a messy burger. The increasing interest in food culture and the rise of craft beer are very much linked.

“It is amazing to see it start to come back – the rise of farmers markets, the rise of craft beer, all crafts are getting bigger. People want to know where stuff comes from,” Mitch says.

But the conversation about food culture is more than just knowing the name of the farm your cut of beef came from, it’s the importance of understanding exactly how every bit of food on your plate got there so that kids don’t grow up thinking that bananas come from supermarket.


Three easy ways to be more sustainable – Tips from Mitch

  1. Stop buying the “new” free range eggs and look for pasture raised eggs – if everyone did this tomorrow, “the big boys would have to go back to the farmers and make the system better.”

  2. Eat seasonally – with such easy access to almost anything we want, it is easy to forget that fresh product doesn’t grow in our backyard all year round but eating what is in season won’t just rack up points for sustainability, it will make for more flavourful produce in your cooking too!

  3. Eat 100% grass fed beef – Sure, it’ costs a little more but isn’t it worth it? “A few dollars per kilo in the scheme of things isn’t that much,” says Mitch and “instead of having 300gm of steak just have 200gm”


Like food culture, at the heart of craft beer is a sense of community, a connection with it’s local environment and an appreciation for quality ingredients.

Food and beer, individually and together, have a rich and long history – just look at the monks of old Belgian monasteries making beer and cheese – and bringing the two together is a great way to introduce people to good beer.

“Just getting people to drink craft beer is hard enough but I think if you can break that barrier down with food included, I think that really does impress on a lot of people,” says Paul. Beer is amazing on its own and then, when paired with the right dish, it can be incredible and take the beer to the next level.

The best food and the best beers I’ve ever had have always had two things in common – well put together flavours and an authentic story.


Paul and Mitch will be hosting two sessions as part of FADS CONVERSATIONS and each will feature a different style so if you’re thinking heading to one session, it’s most certainly worth returning for the second – just like any good beer is.

The Food and Drink Symposium is a crowd funded project, you can donate or donate AND get a perk with your hard earned cash here.

 

Weekend Reading #2

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there is excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

For those who didn’t notice from my ridiculous rate of Instagram-ing, Twitter-ing and Facebook-ing I have recently returned from 9 days of Good Beer Week action so I might be a little light on for reading material for you but I was busy drinking beer! Whoops!

The Guardian | Cooking with Beer: Ale and Hearty Ideas

The Australian edition of The Guardian news website

A post by Perth based writer, Max Brearley in the ‘Australia Food Blog’ section featuring my good friend and great chef Mitch Mitchell aka Beersine. Mitch shares two of his favourite recipes accompanied by photography by another talented person I’m fortunate enough to call friend, Jessica Shaver.

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver Photography
Photography by Jessica Shaver

Craft Beer | Sustainable Uses of Spent Grain

American craft beer website

You can read about Game of Cones here if I can be so bold as to plug my own blog within my blog … which apparently I can

Inspired by Beersine’s spent grain pretzels at the Good Beer Week ‘Game of Cones’ event, I went looking for a few related articles on using spent grain. This was a really interesting read on what some American breweries are doing with their spent grains. It’s more than cattle feed!

Spent Grain on a Brew Day for Colonial Baltic Porter
Spent Grain at Colonial Brewing, Margaret River

Crafty Pint | Good Beer Week 2014 Review: De Vrolijke Boot

One of Australia’s very best craft beer news website

Naturally most of my beer reading has been orientated around Melbourne’s Good Beer Week and living vicariously through others by reading reviews of events I wasn’t able to attend. In my defence there were hundreds of events and the week only goes for nine days! This event was held at Merricote along with beers by Boatrocker Brewery and stretched across six courses. The cacao cigar paired with Ramjet, a whiskey barrel aged imperial stout, sounds like something I would really, really like!

Beer is Your Friend | Good Beer Week Recap

One of my favourite Australian beer blogs by Glen Humphries

Summing things up nicely, an art I am yet to master due to my tendency to simply spew words, Glen writes about discovering Feral Watermelon Warhead and Rodenbach, going to GABS and eating lots of cheesesteaks.

GBW 2014: Game of Cones

A Melbourne tramcar restaurant, some silly costumed Colonial men with beer and a food menu by the one and only Beersine

“Tonight, we feast”

These were the words that started the menu for Friday night’s Game of Cones event for Good Beer Week. Held on Melbourne’s iconic Colonial Tramcar restaurant the coincidentally named Colonial Brewery teamed up with beer/food chef Mitch Mitchell aka Beersine to present a menu of beer inspired food matched to hand picked hop driven beers.

We were greeted at tram stop 125 by our Colonial hosts for the night, brewery manager Richard and brewers Justin and Paul who were all suitably dressed in Game of Thrones attire. Recovering from a cold, Paul’s unusually raspy voice added gusto to his already impressive costume whilst Richard’s legs were all too comfortable in black leggings.

Richard and James
I love this photo! [left] Colonial Brewery Manager Richard Moroney [right] Crafty Pint James Smith
On board we filled three tramcars and set off towards St Kilda, each carriage hosted by one of our costumed Colonial friends. The carriage I was on was hosted by Richard who guided us through the menu, discussing the selected beers and the food pairings.

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Please pardon my awful phone photography here …

To start we tucked into some spent grain pretzels, made with the leftover malt from after mashing in the brewing process, with ‘I can’t believe it’s hop butter’. We were also treated to Smoked Wort Jubes with Hop Sugar made with Cascade hops; wonderful little cubes that melted in your mouth.

Our starting beer was Colonial’s own Small Ale, a reduced alcohol india pale ale that is a full flavoured, tropical fruit and citrusy beer in a 3.5% ABV responsible body.

Kim Chee, or kimchi, a fermented vegetable dish from Korea that generally uses cabbage as it’s main ingredient

Next up was a kim chee omelette which was served up with collaboration brew My Antonia by American brewery Dogfish Head and Italian brewers Birra del Borgo. My Antonia boasts fresh citrus and pine flavours and a medium bitter finish, a great match to the spicy/sweet character of kim chee and base for the omelette’s fresh chilli to play on.

“Bridgeport is my beer spirit animal,”

Richard explains this feelings for this American craft brewery

The main event was a pork shoulder croquette served up on a celeriac romoulade. To accompany there was Mountain Goat’s Rye IPA and Bridgeport’s IPA. The latter is an IPA favourite amongst the Colonial guys whilst Richard spoke of their admiration for Mountain Goat who have been brewing since 1997 and laid the path for many since.

Beersine cheese is available from Mane Liquor and Cellarbrations Carlisle

As we neared the end of our tramcar ride we were served Beersine’s Pale Ale Cheddar, hop honey and lamb bacon – three life changing foods that I’ve had the pleasure of indulging in in the past. True South Black Rock India Lager and New Zealand’s 8 Wired Fresh Hopwired landed on our tables to accompany. The Fresh Hopwired was mind blowing and exactly as it sounds, a fresh and punchy and ridiculously good with the Pale Ale Cheddar and hop honey. Meanwhile lamb bacon in all it’s sweet, fatty goodness happily went with the Black Rock India Lager.

We departed off the tram, some of us smuggling whatever we couldn’t bare to leave behind, whether that be beer or that last precious chunk of cheese, and jumped on a bus to go to The Botanical. More beer and food goodness was unleashed with lamingtons and Colonial’s Gazza, the limited released Australian IPA. Made with all Aussie malts and hops I think Richard says it best:

“It’s big and it’s loud and it’s hairy”

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… and it ends not with a bang but with a lot of beer The tramcar leaves us at The Botanical

Thank you to Colonial who gifted my seat to this wonderful event, I keep telling them if they spoil me like this I’ll keep coming back. I think they are now stuck with me. But in all sincerity, thank you very much!

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”