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!

Sorachi Ace + Linguine

I can’t remember the first time I fell in love with Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace, I can’t recall where I was or who gave it to me but I remember thinking “wow”

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace

Brewed in New York by Brooklyn Brewery

Farmhouse Saison

7.6% ABV

34 IBUs

Malt: German Two Row Pilsner

Hops: Sorachi Ace, grown in Washington, USA

I can’t remember the first time I fell in love with Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace, I can’t recall where I was or who gave it to me but I remember thinking “wow”. I still think “wow” each time I have it, like at The Big Apple & The Goat event during last years Good Beer Week where it was matched to Red Square washed rind cheese.

Sorachi Ace Hops: developed in Japan in late 70s | cross between Brewer’s Gold & Saaz hops | available in the US only since 2006

My partner and I opened a bottle over dinner recently and once again it was every bit as good as we remembered. The mouth feel was soft in a way that reminded me of eating fairy floss, the way it dissolves on your tongue. The trademark Sorachi Ace lemon flavours shine through both aroma and flavour, complimented by bubblegum, spice, pears, grass, bread and even a little white pepper.

Dinner was a prawn and chilli linguine, a dish I wouldn’t have picked to go with this beer but turned out to be a surprisingly good match. The beer somehow tamed the heat of the chilli, the delicate bubbles cleansing and soothing the palate, the strong lemony contrasting the heat and also complimenting the prawns.

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace with Prawn and Chilli Linguine

Want more to read? Hell yeah! I enjoyed these:

  • Brooklyn Brewery’s website for the story behind Sorachi Ace, the nerdy beer specs and tasty food pairing suggestions. There’s even an omelette recipe for you to try!
  • Brooklyn Brewshop – Sorachi Ace “Hop of the Month”
  • The Beer Cook – an old post but a good one, it’s a small journey through a few Brooklyn beers with some delicious sounding food to match

Once, Twice, Three Cans a Lady

The beginning of a journey into beer cans …

Craft beer nerds are getting excited about cans.

Wait, let me rephrase that so it doesn’t sound so sleazy.

Craft beer nerds are getting excited about good tasting cans.

I give up.

It sounds wrong but it’s true. Craft beer in the form of cans rather than bottles seems to be the “next big thing”, for lack of a better and less abused term. Us beer nerds are excited at the prospect of cans, there’s no light or oxygen getting through to ruin our beloved beverage and let’s face it, crushing a can is a pretty satisfying, if a little childish, way to spend three seconds.

All three are from Oskar Blues Brewery (USA) and were purchased recently from Cellarbrations Carlisle.

Of course, with anything beer related, the most important thing is “does it taste good?” and so I opened three cans to start my canned-education …

Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red IPA
8.7% ABV

Beautiful copper colour with a good thick head. The first whiff reminded me of fresh Anzac biscuits and it was followed by mango, pineapple and something delicately spicy. Flavour-wise it’s super well balanced between the toffee, toasty malts and floral, tropical fruit hops. I got a little caramel too and a spicy floral finish.

The 8.7% ABV creeps up on you with a cheeky grin on it’s face

A link to follow – check out what Oskar Blues says about their beer and find out who it’s named after

Oskar Blues Deviant Dale’s IPA
8% ABV

Oskar Blues call the colour of this beer a “copper ball of fire” but to me it’s almost the definition of sunshine in a can – orange, bright and vibrant. The bready, biscuity malt and orange, grapefruit hop aromas are lovely. Like it’s G’Knight cousin, it’s another gulp-worthy and very well balanced beer. The hops give off pineapple, grapefruit and stone fruit flavours and the malts provide biscuits and caramel.

A link to follow – read Oskar Blue’s devilish tale behind their beer

Oskar Bluse Ten Fidy Imperial Stout
10.5% ABV

It’s thick and viscous so it doesn’t so much as pour from the can as it oozes into the glass. The aromas weren’t as big as I expected but I got a touch of melon/berry fruitiness at the front with some roast and cacao in there too. I loved the smooth vanilla, chocolate flavours and dry, grapefruit-like finish.

Holy shitballs Batman, this is a freaking great beer!

 

 

A link to follow – when these guys say it’s a “smooth blanket of malt” they’re not kidding!

How sexy is this photo!?

And in something a little closer to home one of my favourite Australian breweries Mountain Goat have had their cans out for a while now. It’s a welcome addition to summer 2014 – it’s uber refreshing, lemon zesty with peach, pear and lime and a light spiciness and oh, did I mention it’s really refreshing?! 

Mountain Goat Summer Ale
4.7% ABV
Some canned-reading  if you’re keen …

Craft Beers Say Hello Cans – Forbes

A podcast from The Craft Beer Academy

Canned versus Bottled Beer – Esquire

It’s in the Can – Crafty Pint

girl + hopfweizenbock

Untappd entry - Hopfweizen

This was my Untappd check in as I got stuck into the latest Mountain Goat Cross Breed, a Hopfweizenbock made with American beer royalty Brooklyn Brewery.

Though I can’t remember the first time I tried a Brooklyn Brewery beer they are now a firm favourite in my ever growing list of favourite brewers. Not only are their beers kick ass but their brewmaster Garrett Oliver edited The Oxford Companion to Beer, the only book to have permanent residency on my bedside table.

It won’t surprise anyone who knows me, even a little, that I’m a huge fan of Melbourne brewery Mountain Goat. Each goat beer that’s touched my lips has been brilliant. Their beers have been a big part of my continuing beer journey in the last two years, from first discovering Hightail Ale to now frothing at the mouth with each Cross Breed (limited release collaboration brews) and Rare Breed (limited release) that comes my way.

Me at Mountain Goat

Mountain Goat collaborated with Brooklyn Brewery during Good Beer Week in Melbourne earlier this year, you might have read one or seventy tweets and Facebook posts from my time there. The brew day was held the morning of the amazing The Apple and The Goat degustation lunch, a lunch that was my first visit to Mountain Goat Brewery and my first Good Beer Week event, you can check it out here if you want to drool all over your screen. Fifteen eager beavers joined the Goat and Brooklyn brewers to create the Hopfweizenbock and here is the end result.

Mountain Goat Hopfweizenbock

In this collaboration Brooklyn Brewery brings the German yeast strain and grain bill used in their Brooklyner Weisse whilst Mountain Goat contributes big Australian hops in the form of Galaxy from Tasmania. Basically it’s the bastard child of a German wheat beer and an Australian pale ale resulting in an unashamedly complex 6.5% abv gem of a beer.

Hops at Mountain Goat

I served it up with salmon risotto with big squeeze of fresh lemon, button mushrooms and leek. It was a decent pairing, the lemony citrus bringing a nice freshness to the ‘weizen’ part of the beer. Next time I’ll try for something a bit bolder in flavour to go head to head with the ‘hop’ and ‘bock’ (strong) elements.

Mountain Goat Hopweizenbock and Risotto

If you’re keen on some more reading, here’s a few good articles I found on the Hopfweizenbock –

  •  The Crafty Pint – as always my first stop for beery information and again offers up a great run down of the beer, if you don’t subscribe to Crafty already you’re a damn fool!
  • The Oz Beer Baron – one of the lucky 15 to be part of the brew day
  • From the mouths of the Goats themselves

GBW Day 1 – From Goat to Cookie

It started at Mountain Goat, invaded The Royston, then Stone and Wood before ending at Cookie

It started in Richmond at Mountain Goat Brewery and it finished at Cookie …

We arrived at Mountain Goat a little early but found most people had the same idea. We were greeted with Mountain Goat Steam Ale and Brooklyn Brown Ale, I had the Steam Ale and that went down very, very well. A little to well perhaps …

The afternoon consisted of five courses of amazing food and each matched with a beer from Mountain Goat and Brooklyn Brewery. The afternoon also contained a lot of memorable quotes that are perhaps not fit for printing and since I dropped an entire wedge of cloth aged cheddar on the floor, I had best keep my mouth shut. I blame the knife.

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Entrees were a selection of dishes to pick and choose from. Bloody Mary onion rings in Brroklyn dark ale batter, salt cod brandade croquettes and mini open Reuben sandwiches but the highlight was definitely the sticky New York ribs. It was a delicious match with the Brooklyn Silver Anniversary Lager.

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As you can see, the ribs were very tasty, sorry if you actually wanted to see them served! They were rich and sticky but not over the top, or end of the table picked out spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

Tom from Brooklyn Brewery chatted about their Silver Anniversary Lager, basically a special version of their flagship lager, they dry hop this one with Cascade hops and it is bottle conditioned. It was stunning, it poured this gorgeous vibrant copper colour so I found it hard not to keep holding it up to the light. This action left me very vulnerable to looking like a total beer nerd but hey, it’s going to happen to all of us at Good Beer Week.

The lager had huge flavours that held up perfectly to the smack down of sticky ribs; citrus, tropical fruit and a shot of candied sugar sweetness. Delicious.

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A small group of us then went to have a quick look at the brewery where there was a brew already on the go and it needed a little attention, namely hop attention. When asked if someone wanted to throw 3kg of hop pellets into the tank my arm instinctively shot up. Yup, I’ll now be adding Mountain Goat to my list of beers which I will lay claim to having helped brewed. Soon I will be intolerable I’m sure.

Mains were served and it was more than a little indulgent … Not five or ten but 18 hour braised lambs neck with caramelised sweet potato mash. Pardon my awful photography but frankly it is a miracle I remembered to take a photo before devouring this dish in a very unladylike manner.

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They served the Brooklyn East India Pale and the Mountain Goat Rye India Pale Ale with mains and it was the rye IPA that not only stood out, it jumped in the air, did a back slip and then took a bow. It was amazing.

I couldn’t help but compulsively stick my nose in the glass, the aromas of ruby red grapefruit from the Goat Rye IPA were addictive. Hoppy, spicy and a little honey, the beer was uber-fresh, less than two days old, and was an instant favourite at our end of the table.

Then dessert arrived. According to the menu there were five different cheeses heading our way after dessert so many of us had agreed that cheese was way better than dessert so we would probably just taste dessert rather than overindulge. Oh how wrong we were.

Chilli and dark chocolate fondant with freeze dried mandarin, oh yeah! Served with Brooklyn Local 1 and Mountain Goat Fx Stout, from looking at the beers it seemed obvious that the stout would win over the hazy straw colour Local 1. Wrong again.

Brooklyn Local 1 is a strong Belgian ale made with their house Belgian yeast. Its spicy coriander and almost witbier like characters were a surprisingly good match to dessert. I think it was a little contrast and a little compliment, especially the Belgian yeast qualities with the chilli and freeze dried mandarin.

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Ok, now time for cheese and admittedly my notes have been getting a little less detailed. We were spoilt with Milawa Ceridwen Goat’s cheese, Berries Creek Blue cheese, Ashgrove matured cloth cheddar (the one I accidentally dropped on the floor), Wicked white mould brie and Red Square washed rind.

The stand out match was easily the washed rind with Brooklyn’s Sorachi Ace. Our end of the table were already Sorachi Ace fans and we happily tucked into our bottle before stealing a half bottle from an adjoining table who were heading for the door. The washed rind was a fantastic example of great creaminess and strong mushroom rind that just begs to be eaten. The Sorachi Ace just bubbled over it and it was heavenly!

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From there we invaded, and trust me that is the correct word for it, The Royston – home to the WA Pint of Origin so it was a showcase of Feral, Bootleg, Matso’s and more. I went for a Feral Fanta Pants that, whilst delicious, was perhaps a little over ambitious considering the mass of beer we had just come from.

Soon it was time for a nap and whilst you might be giggling at me, it was a damn good nap! Unlike some I managed to keep it to a quick nap and not a three hour sleep and in no way am I referring to a certain tall brewer from Fremantle. I’m confident that my cheekiness will come back to bite me in the coming days …

Next we were off to The Gathering where Stone and Wood were pouring their first kegs of this years Stone Beer, an annual limited release. Set at Blender Studios filled with various art projects, located down an alley that was marked by the presence of a big taco truck it seems fitting to describe it as ‘oh so Melbourne’. It is a phrase that as a Perth-ite feels compulsory for me to say at least once during my Melbourne adventures.
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The Stone Beer was lovely and light bodied with a great roastiness and toffee notes going on. I briefly got to meet the brewer, Brad Rogers, and hopefully I managed to avoid sounding like a crazy beer fan as I told him how much I enjoyed their beers.

By this stage it was definitely time for some dinner so a handful of us walked to Cookie, Melbourne’s beer hall meets Thai food and we sat down to a feast of spiced chicken, soft shell crab, drunken noodles (name of the dish and in no way reflective of how we were), pan fried squid and pork ribs. The beer list was a short novel but I didn’t have a look in fear of analysis paralysis, instead I opted for a nice little Berlinerweiss from Bridge Road Brewers that I had spied on tap earlier. At 3% abv with a little funk and a little green stone fruit flavours, it was a great way to softly finish a very big day.

Day 1 survived … Day Two, let’s see what you’ve got!

If found please return to … aka: Where I’ll be during Good Beer Week

Holy hop flowers Batman, I am SO excited. It’s just days until Melbourne’s Good Beer Week!

good beer week logo

Holy hop flowers Batman, I am SO excited. It’s just a couple of days until Melbourne’s Good Beer Week!

For those who aren’t aware Good Beer Week, as the name suggests, is a week long celebration of all things beer. There are events across Melbourne to suit everyone whether your’re a beer-nerd or just a little beer-curious.

Meet brewers, drink beer, have fun and survive – that’s my agenda for Good Beer Week but to be more specific, here is what I’m going to during Good Beer Week. Thank heavens for Google calendar …

Saturday 18th May

The Apple & The Goat – a lunch degustation with the guys from Melbourne’s Mountain Goat Brewery and New York’s Brooklyn Brewery

The Gathering – a Stone & Wood event showcasing their 2013 edition of Stone Beer is something I don’t want to miss and with these words included in the blurb it was hard to resist “Entry is free… and so are hugs from the brewer Brad Rogers”

Sunday 19th May

East versus West – Beer and Food Title Fight – Josie Bones in one corner representing Melbourne with Five Bar in the opposite corner punching for Perth. Who will win? Naturally I will be cheering on Five Bar with chef Mitch Mitchell, aka Beersine since he’s not only a great chef but all round good guy and once upon a time I was assistant manager at Five. Come on West!

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver Photography
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver Photography

Monday 20th May

Prickly Moses Rare and Wild – four words, “rare aged reserve beers”. Sold.

Tuesday 21st May

Cavalier Creation Degustation – small batch experimental beers matched with amazing food, this will be a cracker! Plus I get to write about it for Crafty Pint and look extra super nerdy with my Google tablet for note taking. God I’m a dork.

Wednesday 22nd May

Brewers and Chewers – it’s three events in one – meet the brewer, musical chairs and speed dating; I’m in.

Thursday 23rd May

Beer and Cheese Experience – I’ve never been to The Local Taphouse so I figured what better way to introduce myself to the venue than to combine it with two of my favourite things – beer and cheese.

Friday 24th May

Birra del Borgo Collaboration Celebration – for me the Birra del Borgo Duchessic was one of those beers that comes along, totally blows you away and stays with you for ages. That’s why I want to go to this event – to meet the brewer and shake his hand and say thank you.

Duchessic (frame)

Saturday 25th

GABS baby! Oh year – the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular – jam packed with beers brewed especially for the festival aka “festival beers” all in the name of brewing creativity. I’m so very there!

Eagle Bay and Monk Collage
Brew Day – Eagle Bay and The Monk collaborating for the Cacao Cabana, one of the many many festival beers being debuted at GABS

Sunday 26th May

Boatrocker Palate Cleanser – finishing the week off on a sour note.

Oh and somewhere in those days I would like to fit in Pint of Origin too …

I’ve already packed a 30 pack of Berocca and extra strength Asprin, I think I’m going to need it!

Feral + Fremantle

Love Fremantle, love The Sail & Anchor and even better when there’s a Feral Tap Takeover and the new Mountain Goat Fancy Pants …

High Street Fremantle

My partner and I recently did a day trip to Fremantle to see his family and play tourists for the day. We walked to The Roundhouse, originally a gaol back in 1831 that is the oldest public building in WA and I learnt that they hung one person in the 55 years it operated. I never knew that! We also did a tour through the HMAS Ovens submarine at the Fremantle Maritime Museum, a highly recommended experience unless you are claustrophobic or considering a career in the navy, if either of these are applicable to you I suggest avoiding it as you would a warm pint of VB.

HMAS Ovens

The destination for lunch was The Sail & Anchor and whilst you may assume this was my idea it was in fact where my partners mum wanted to go. Yippee!

I was, of course, well aware of the Feral tap takeover happening at The Sail for the month of March so I was extra excited about being at The Sail.

To get the bad news out of the way, the Feral Watermelon Warhead continues to elude me. Originally created for the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular (GABS) last year, the beer proved popular and thankfully it’s now on regular rotation. I have missed it a couple of times now, clearly indicative of a brilliant beer I reckon, but hopefully there will be a pint in my future.

The first beer I had was the Feral Runt, an American Pale Ale that takes it name from it’s position as Hop Hogs little brother, talk about big trotters to fill! The Runt has big aromas of fresh floral hops that had me compulsively sticking my nose in my glass like some sort of hop addict, a light mouth feel and flavours of grapefruit, pine and resin.  There’s no doubt the Hop Hog genetics are there but just a little softer. I really enjoyed it though I did feel a little taunted by the Feral website, describing the Runt as being for those who “can’t hack the true Hop Hog experience” Oh those cheeky hogs, someone get me a pint of Hop Hog stat!

Feral at The Sail

Next up, and last for that matter since I had no desire to be the intoxicated girlfriend at a family gathering, was the Mountain Goat Fancy Pants. After trying to decide on another Feral beer I noticed Fancy Pants on the list and I just had to have it. Just like Feral The Runt has beeretic links (that was me trying to combine the words “beer” and “genetic”, bare with me folks) to Feral Hop Hog, the Mountain Goat Fancy Pants is a decedent of Mountain Goat Hightail Ale. Like it’s Hightail predecessor the Fancy Pants is also an Amber Ale except a lot bigger and, to quote Crafty Pint, “sans financial constraints”. The nose is toasty with caramel and red fruit and a fuller body than its Hightail brother. The flavours are bold with the toasty aroma following through to the palate, floral and herbal stuff going on, tropical fruit and an assertive, but not aggressive, bitter finish.

According to Crafty, the hops Mountain Goat are using in their Fancy Pants are Galaxy and Cascade, two popular varieties many beer lovers will be familiar with. Galaxy can be found in the likes of Stone & Wood Pacific Ale and Eagle Bay Single Batch Summer Ale. Cascade will be well known by hop heads from many American style Pale Ales and India Pale Ales such as Little Creatures Pale Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

I am more than slightly excited to see what Feral and Mountain Goat will be doing at GABS and Good Beer Week in May … the countdown is on and I’m already mentally packing!

Mountain Goat Fancy Pants