girl + goat

Last Wednesday night at Five Bar, located in Perth’s ever trendy suburb of Mt Lawley where Espresso Martinis are in constant demand, it was beer that took centre stage and Mountain Goat was undisputed King.

Five Bar | 560 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
Keep up with beer events at Five at their Facebook page

Not so long ago I was the Assistant Manager at Five Bar, a small bar with a big beer focus, located in the increasingly trendy suburb of Mt Lawley. In an area where the demand for Espresso Martinis runs rampantly high, to be opening a beer focused small bar was just a little bit exciting. We started running beer events, and to see how many people were interested in and loved their craft beer was the best part of my job. I’ve moved on to another job in another place, but I will happily drive back for great beer and to catch up with old friends.

Wednesday night saw Five Bar host Mountain Goat Co-Founder and Chief Brewer Dave Bonighton for ‘A Night of the Goat’. He had come over from Melbourne for a brief visit to see what was happening here in the West and I think he went back to Melbourne with a smile on his face.

The Mountain Goat story starts in the 1990s with two mates, Dave and Cam, who wanted to make craft beers. Their first beer, Hightail Ale, hit Victorian shelves for the first time in 1997 and their Steam Ale, certified organic, soon followed. Since then we have seen a diverse list of limited release beers (called ‘Rare Breeds’) and collaboration beers (called ‘Cross Breeds’) emerge to show off just what this little Australian brewery can do. Whilst I was working at Five Bar I snapped up lots of Mountain Goat beers and delighted in customers trying them for the first time and instantly falling in love. As you can imagine I was really quite excited at the prospect of meeting Dave; I got to Perth at 3pm so I had 3 hours to kill until the event…

After driving for a couple of hours I felt deserving of a pint and so arranged to meet a friend at The Queens, just up the road. Once it was a pub where the taps were an even spilt between Carlton United and Lion Nathan but nowadays their line up of draught beers is rather impressive, boasting Mountain Goat, White Rabbit, Two Birds and Feral Brewing to name a few. I noticed Vale IPA (South Australia) on tap and since I have only enjoyed it once before from the bottle I had to have it. It’s an extremely well balanced IPA with all the great characteristics I love about American IPAs – the citrus, the pine and the stone fruits and the malt sweetness backs it up perfectly too. That pint went down a little embarrassingly quickly. Opting for something a little more refreshing and with bigger tropical fruits and passionfruit I then chose Two Birds Golden Ale for my next drink and that too disappeared rapidly.  The scene was set for a rather beery evening..

Vale IPA at The Queens | 520 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
Vale IPA
5.5% abv | 41 IBUs
Style: American India Pale Ale
Hops: Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin & Citra

It was 5pm when I arrived at Five Bar for ‘The Night of the Goat’ event, still a good hour before it all kicked off so it gave me the chance to say hello to the staff and catch up on what has been happening. My early arrival also came with a beery reward as they had managed to get a hold of a keg of Collaborator – a brew from Feral Brewing (WA) and Two Brothers (VIC) that was created in celebration of 20 years of the Australian International Beer Awards. A schooner would tide me over quite nicely until all things Goat underway (tehehe!).

I sat at the bar enjoying the Collaborator, a really interesting stone fruit/chocolate sort of number (I nabbed two bottles whilst doing my obligatory stop at The International Beer Shop so I’ll be sure to do a separate post shortly on this one) and admired the big blackboard menu. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, it was all hands on deck as the chefs Mitch and Nelly were busy preparing the menu they had specially put together for the night.

Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout
4.9% abv
Style: Sweet StoutMountain Goat Hightail Ale
4.5% abv
Style: English Amber Ale

 

With the kitchen buzzing, Mountain Goat pouring from two taps and bottles of Mountain Goat Rare Breed and Cross Breed in the fridges, it was just a matter of time and people. Looking around the bar at 5.30pm it looked like a fairly typical Wednesday night but by 6.15pm I noticed a lot of familiar beer-loving faces. By 6.30pm it was almost a full house and almost half the people had come down to meet Dave and get their fill of all things Goat – both in the beer and the food sense.

The Menu

Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout recommended with Goat Shoulder + Mushroom Pie

Mountain Goat Hightail Ale recommended with Roast Roulade of Goat Leg, Chevre and Beer Baked Quince

Mountain Goat Two Step Cider recommended with Milk Poached Goat Belly w/ Fennel + Apple Salad

Mountain Goat Steam Ale recommended with Goat Tartare and Toasted Baguette

The Gypsy & The Goat Pepperberry Black IPA recommended with Goat Shoulder Sausage + Plum Chutney

Mountain Goat Rare Breed Rye IPA recommended with Ryppa Goat Balls

Goat Shoulder and Mushroom Pie

Now I must admit that I didn’t do any of the beer and food matching suggestions, instead drinking mostly Surefoot Stout and Hightail Ale off tap since it’s pretty rare to find those pouring fresh where I am. It was easy to enjoy several schooners of Surefoot Stout, a 4.9% abv sweet stout that is part of the Mountain Goat Rare Breed range, that was once in yearly production. It boasts well balanced bitterness, soft dark malts and hints of chocolate and coffee. I switched briefly to Hightail Ale to enjoy with the food and it was a sensational match with the Goat Tartare; the meat was soft and flavoursome with the spices from Hightail enhancing all the intricacies of the Tartare. Sadly I missed out on the Goat Shoulder and Mushroom Pie and Ryppa Goat Balls, purely from talking way too much, and therefore there will be no jokes about Goat Balls here; Ryppa or otherwise…

[Apologies in advance for the red hue on all my photos – I could say it was a deliberate tactic to emphasis the amber hue of the great beers on the night but it’s just my lack of attention to colour balance on my camera]

Goat Tartare
Roasted Goat Leg with Chevre & Beer Baked Quince

The Roasted Roulade of Goat Leg with Chevre and Beer Baked Quince was sensational. Garnished with a little malt that soaked up as much of the sauce as it possibly could (and I don’t blame it), this dish was a little sweet and quite rich; it presented beautifully.

The Goat Shoulder Sausage and Plum Chutney was a delightful little dish that was lightly spiced and soft with just enough fruit from the chutney providing a nice contrast. If I had managed to get a hold of The Gypsy & The Goat (a collaboration between Mikkeller and Mountain Goat) before it sold out, I am sure it would have been a lovely match.

Goat Sausage and Plum Chutney

I had not intended on having the Milk Poached Goat Belly with Fennel and Apple Salad as I couldn’t quite get my head around the concept of milk poaching and I have never really enjoyed fennel. However it was ordered for me and it ended up being one of the dishes I enjoyed the most. The meat was falling-apart-soft and against the crispness from the Granny Smith apple it made a simple but amazing contrast. Again, a garnish of malt on top not only looked great but provided a little more contrast and flavour to an already great dish.

Goat Belly with Fennel and Apple Salad

One of the best things about beer is the people and meeting Dave was nothing short of a pleasure. Like all brewers I have been fortunate to meet, Dave is delighted to chat all things beer with fellow beer-lovers. He smiles a lot, laughs a lot and he’s curious about peoples journeys, not purely how they found Mountain Goat, but how they came to delve into the craft beer culture in the first place.

As I have said time and time again, I love the stories behind beer and even when those stories are pretty simple it still speaks volumes about beer. To demonstrate, I was in conversation with Dave and one of Five Bar’s regular beer event attendees who was asking Dave how the collaboration between Mountain Goat and Mikkeller came to be. In different industries I am convinced that if you enquired about the origins of an international collaboration you’d get a very long story involving marketing plans and cross promotional branding activities. Dave’s story, however, was more a case of two brewers who were going to be in the same place at the same time and thought it would be fun to make something together, highlighting the open nature of the beer community.

I am pretty sure I walked around with a big smile on my face for the entire evening. Meeting Dave, enjoying the Goat beers and food and chatting with beer folk from all parts of the industry; it’s all why I love beer.

Co-Founder and Chief Brewer at Goat – Dave – and I; see how happy beer makes you?!

Mountain Goat + Mount Lawley

Don’t you just love Mountain Goat? I do. And don’t you just love it when you get the chance to meet a brewer?

Don’t you just love Mountain Goat? I do. And don’t you just love it when you get the chance to meet a brewer? … Brewers on tour !

Mountain Goat has been bringing us great beers since their Hightail Ale first hit Victorian shelves in 1997.

Dave from Mountain Goat will be dropping by Five Bar, Mount Lawley, to showcase some of their damn fine beer. The line up will include regulars such as Hightail Ale, Steam Ale and their new apple cider, 2 Steps. Also on the billing will be their latest Cross Breed, a collaborative brew with Mikkeller – Pepperberry Black IPA – and Rare Breed – a limited release Rye IPA. If you needed another reason to mark the event in your calendar there is something special appearing on tap.

One of the starts of the night – Cross Breed Black Pepperberry IPA

Just because they can, the boys in the Five Bar kitchen – Nelly & Mitch, will be serving up goat signature dishes to match the beers on offer.

Goat brewer + Goat beer + Goat food = I will see you there!

No tickets required for this event

Where: Five Bar | 560 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
When: Wednesday 13th June 2012
Time: 6.00pm

Me + Redback Original Wheat

There are so many great stories around beer and breweries and people but often the best are the ones that are personal, that mean something to you. Here’s my own story around me + Redback Original Wheat

Redback Original Wheat
A beer almost as old as me …

Define difference between beer and craft beer?

 

As someone who really, really likes beer and lives in Australia there is a certain amount of *tsk tsk* about liking anything associated with Matilda Bay Brewing (aka Carlton United) and Malt Shovel Brewing (aka Lion Nathan). Yes, they are the certainly the two big players in the world of beer but it doesn’t make them evil or villainous. Judging from their photo in the 2011 Beer Lovers Guide to Australia, the guys at Matilda Bay are nice, smiley and happy people who probably really like beer too. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Dr Chuck Hahn a couple of times and he’s real nice too. Most importantly, just because they are the “big boys” doesn’t mean they make bad beer.

I have fond memories of Matilda Bay’s first born, Redback Original Wheat Beer. It reminds me of Saturdays spent with my parents in Fremantle. Dad always parked in the same car park near Myer despite the fact it meant we had to walk past the giant fake white pointer shark head that stuck out from one of the loading bays. I have yet to find anyone else who remembers this thing and I worry that my imagination is trying to scare me. Either way, I hated it. It scared the pants off me. I think Dad thought it was funny but thankfully Mum was a little kinder and would be sure to hold my hand as we went past. The rest of the Saturday would go pretty well – we’d shop around a bit, stop at Cully’s Tea Rooms for coffee and party pies and a good long stroll around the Fremantle Markets. We’d emerge from the markets to The Sail & Anchor and stop in so Dad could have a pint and I remember it was always Redback Original Wheat.

The artistic stylings of my boyfriend and I whilst drinking some single hop IPA at The Sail & Anchor

I’ve always loved wheat beers, from when I discovered Hoegaarden whilst working at The Belgian Beer Cafe Westende, and even now. The more I’ve journeyed through beer the further I’ve travelled away from Redback. However, one sunny day recently I made a quick decision to get a pint and get reacquainted with an old friend.

I am not even sure what prompted the thought in my head. I hadn’t walked past the beer taps. I knew the pub had it (since I had previously worked there) and perhaps I had walked past a table who were drinking it and it slipped into my subconscious. After all, they do have the branded glasses and they are rather striking in a sunny beer garden.

With the first sip it was banana! Someone had smushed a banana into my beer glass … and it tasted lovely with a little sweetness in there too. It’s by no means a heavy beer, very light on and so it easily falls into the refreshing category. This isn’t a bad characteristic either. There are hints of spice too but to be honest I was so happy sitting in the sun with friends that I didn’t focus solely on the beer and just happily gulped away.

What does make me sad is that Matilda Bay Brewing no longer brew in it’s home town of Fremantle, having moved away to Melbourne some years ago. I was lucky enough to do a brewery tour through Matilda Bay in 2005 before it closed the doors. I remember two things – lots of copper and an occupational health and safety poster that had a close up of an eye with a nail in it. With such a rich history in Western Australia, being the first craft brewery (to the best of my knowledge) around, I found it sad to see her leave for the East Coast.

Call me sentimental but I’ve known this beer since I was a kid. And whilst it’s not my favourite beer in the world (and really, who could pick just one) and I don’t rant on about how sensational it is like I do with Mountain Goat, Feral or Sierra Nevada, it still has a place in my beer drinking world.

Redback Original Wheat

4.7% abv

Kristallweizen

A German style filtered weissbier (meaning “white beer”) brewed with malted wheat and barley using Saaz and Pride of Ringwood Hops.

Weissbier …

This beer style has had a rollercoaster ride over it’s long history, going from massive popularity in its early days until it’s brewing was outlawed by a Bavarian Duke. He wanted to be the only one who was brewing wheat beer and he and his family had his way for 200 years. Over this time demand for wheat beer steadily declined. With profitability down the family put the right to brew wheat beer up for grabs. Other people tried brewing wheat beer but sales continued to fall, no one wanted it, opting for Bavarian Lagers instead. However, one brewer who purchased the rights to brew weissbier persevered and eventually saw great success. For whatever reasons weissbier production in Germany went from 3% in the early 1950s to holding about 1/10 of the overall beer market in the country and continues to be an ever popular category, brewed all over the world.

Saturday Sunshine + Mt Lawley

Five Bar and The Brisbane Hotel – both in Mt Lawley and both former employers of mine and both amazing venues. Get acquainted or simply visit again and again like an old friend. Just be sure to get a beer whilst you’re there …

Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
During Beaufort Street Festival 2011

Driving up to Perth inevitably results in visiting places with friends behind the bar, so it was not a surprise that my boyfriend and I found ourselves hanging out at Five Bar & The Brisbane Hotel on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Located along Beaufort Street in the always evolving suburb of Mt Lawley, it is the sort of strip you can spend a whole day exploring. Book shops, almost endless cafes, clothing, knickknacks stores, day spa, florists, furniture stores, and don’t forget the pubs, the bars and the places to eat. What’s best is that you could spent a fortune in a day or you could spend very little. I have had many happy days doing a delightfully cheap n’ cheerful feed at Taka’s before grabbing a pint at The Flying Scotsman then walking around Hyde Park on a nice sunny day.

We arrived at Five Bar just before lunch and as my most recent ex in terms of employers, where I was Assistant Manager, it’s always nice to drop back for a visit! We sat at the bar and watched as it slowly filled with hungry Saturday lunch people. We had gone straight for the Feral taps, sighting Barrel Fermented (Hop) Hog and Karma Citra (India Black Ale) on offer. It made sense for us to get one of each and share since we are both wildly in love with Feral Brewing.

This may be a good time to congratulate Brendan and his team on Feral Hop Hog taking out #1 spot in the 2011 The Critics’ Choice Australia’s Best Beers!

Five Bar is a bit unique in that although they are a James Squire Ambassador Venue, offering 5 James Squire Beers and their Orchard Crush Cider on tap, they are also able to offer 2 Feral beers from a second set of taps. This second set of taps is also set a little differently, both in appearance and function. They stand out as two old wooden barrels on the bar, it’s hard not to wander down and take a look (though the barrels don’t actually store any beer) and secondly, the temperature is set a fraction higher and the carbonation a fraction lower. This has been done with consultation from Brendan, Owner and Head Brewer at Feral, meaning his beers are served with a little less chill to enhance flavours and with a little less bubble which, I find, results in a smoother, fuller mouth feel. Five Bar tend to get a couple of kegs of this and that from Brendan so it always pays to look down the end of the bar and see what’s there. More often than not it’s something offered normally only at Feral Brewing and always something sensational.

The B.F.H (Barrel Fermented Hog) remains the American IPA style of Hop Hog but, as though been sent to a naughty corner, has spent time in new French oak. The result is some delightful vanilla flavours lingering on the front of your palate. Dominant American hops are still very much present and very much welcome!

Sometimes I think beer tastes better out of glasses with handles …

The Karma Citra, always a favourite of mine, is an India Black Ale, or Black IPA, or whatever you want to call the style. On it’s first appearance at the bar, I explained the style to people as a porter and an IPA who had a baby. It seemed to get the idea across in the most time efficient manner. Dark malts for chocolate overtones, and we’re talking proper dark chocolate here, the 70% and above cocoa stuff. It’s a wonder they even manage to get to your nostrils with all the big hop aromas going on but they manage nicely. Citra refers to the hop variety used, which was created in a cross breeding hop program in 1990 and so named for a heavy citrus characteristics it brings to the table. Tropical fruits tag along for the ride too. It’s jet black in appearance with a smooth tan head and then those fruity flavours jump out at you with hop bitterness and malts. Love.

We left, intrigued by the Mash Up, a New Zealand collaborative brew reportedly by 44 NZ craft breweries but had a lunch appointment at The Brisbane.

One of my favourite city beer gardens that has been meticulously cared for since The Brisbane re-opened her doors in 2005. Perhaps it’s a bit on the cliche side but when you’re sitting there and the sun is shining through healthy green trees, it’s just a wonderful place to be! The Brisbane is another one of my former employers, a place I spent many happy years with, and it always makes me smile to come back and visit.

We sat in the back corner of the beer garden and I had decided to re-visit a beer I hadn’t had in quite some time, Redback Original Wheat (no lemon), and HELLO BANANA! I don’t remember tasting that much banana on it in the past. I was quite pleased and it had to be said, the beer looked sensational too. That distinctive shape, the red streak, the clarity and the sun, well, we were soon ordering another. Also, if you go to The Brisbane and don’t get the Homemade Sausage Rolls, you’ve done yourself a grave disservice and you should slap yourself on the wrist, write it down in your phone and make sure you order it next time.

A clear Redback branding win in the sunny Brisbane beer garden

All in all a rather successful afternoon in Mt Lawley and that only covered two spots!

You can visit Five Bar any day from 11am for tasty Feral beers on tap and be sure to ask the bar staff if there’s anything new in the fridges.

You can drop by The Brisbane any day too if you fancy indulging in Homemade Sausage Rolls with a pint in the beer garden.