Clancy’s + Nail

There are a few venues that have dishes that I cannot resist, when I’m there I have to have them. I approach some beers in the same way too. Variety is fantastic but sometimes there’s beer that are almost tradition to order or just downright irresistible …

(edit: bear with me here folks, what’s about to follow is a rambling introduction but it involves a lot of tasty food so hopefully you’ll read on!)

There are certain dishes you just can’t go past when you’re in a particular venue. For instance, when I was assistant manager at Five Bar in Perth we served up slow roasted field mushrooms in sherry vinegar on toasted baguette. I think if we had removed this item from the menu we would have been subject to much swearing and slapping. People loved this dish, people told their friends about it and people ordered it time and time again.

Slow Roasted Field Mushrooms in Sherry Vinegar
Who would have thought mushroom, cheese and bread would cause such love!?

For me it’s the crab spaghettini with tomato sugo and spinach at The Boulevard (Perth). This dish just does weird things to me. There’s a sensational photo by the equally sensational David Gardiner, PR and Events guru, here on Urbanspoon.

The duck liver parfait at Must Wine Bar (Perth) is another compulsory order dish. Simply put, if you don’t have this whilst at Must then you are doing it wrong.

On to the battered side of food life I always have to have the fried mice – jalapenos stuffed with feta and deep fried when at any of the four Clancy’s Fish Pub venues. Whilst each venue might put a twist on the dish, City Beach crumb their jalapenos in panko bread crumbs, the principle remains delicious.

Fried Mice ... two ways!

So that was a really long winded way of saying that I was recently at Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough with my partner and yes, we got a serve of the fried mice.

And just like I have compulsory dishes to order when at particular venues, there are also beers I just have to have. Of course I love variety, don’t get me wrong, but how could you ever visit Feral Brewing (Swan Valley) and not have a Hop Hog or Bootleg Brewery (Margaret River) and not have a Raging Bull. It can’t be done. For me, Clancy’s and Nail Ale go hand in hand, or should that be “pint in hand”?

Nail Ale and Clancy's ... they go together like a horse and carriage

Nail Brewing (Bassendean) have been supporting Clancy’s, and visa versa, for as long as I can remember, ignoring the fact that my memory isn’t what it used to be and just accept the analogy. So if you’ve always had a Nail when you’ve been at Clancy’s then the tradition must continue.

Nine times out of ten, the Nail Ale beer on tap is the classic, the one and only, Nail Pale Ale. An Australian Pale Ale full of fresh fruity, piney hops and crisp citrus.

However, this last visit to Clancy’s was different because they were not pouring the Pale Ale, instead it was Nail Dunn Brown Ale. It’s named after Hugh Dunn in honour of his contribution to the brewing community through Edith Cowan University. It’s a limited release English style brown ale that is currently being prepared to hit shelves in your favourite beery bottleshop, you can check out the label design here.

This is worth putting on your “beer shopping list”; you all have one of those, right?! Aromas are nutty, biscuity and bready with great toasty, earthy (so many y’s) and a little fruit. Basically it’s fabulous.

(apologies for my rotten photo that really doesn’t do this beer justice)

An unflattering photo of Nail Dunn Brown

Add it to your list or just start one now …

Beer Mac & Cheese

When I found this recipe it was hard to get it out of my head, I wanted to make it right there and then. Sadly I couldn’t but finally I got my beer mac & cheese and damn it was good.

When I found this recipe it was hard to get it out of my head, I wanted to make it right there and then. Sadly I couldn’t but finally I got my beer mac & cheese and damn it was good.

The recipe comes from The Beeroness which I only discovered recently. Her slogan is ‘have your beer and eat it too’ – something I am clearly on board with.

So here’s her recipe for Stove Top Mac & Cheese.

I used Perth’s own Nail Golden Ale mostly because that’s what I was drinking at the time. Turned out very well indeed! Next time I’ll be trying it with IPA to see if it does give it a more beery ompf.

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Nail + Clancy’s

What’s not to love about the Clancy’s Fish Pubs? Casual pubs with good food and they’ve always been a haven for craft beer lovers, in fact their Fremantle venue was Little Creatures first customer. It has to be said however that Clancy’s City Beach has the bragging rights to the best views with the gorgeous City Beach practically under the seats.

Clancy's City Beach
Clancy’s City Beach
195 Challenger Parade, City Beach
(08) 9385 7555
No Bookings Required
Open 12noon Daily

What’s not to love about the Clancy’s Fish Pubs? Casual pubs with good food and they’ve always been a haven for craft beer lovers, in fact their Fremantle venue was Little Creatures first customer.

It has to  be said however that Clancy’s City Beach has the bragging rights to the best views with the gorgeous City Beach practically under the seats.

Clancy's City Beach Menu Grid

By my count the beer list boasts more than 70 beers featuring local Aussie rock stars like Temple, Red Duck, 4 Pines, Boneyard, Feral, Two Birds and Moon Dog and international beasts like Anchor, Sierra Nevada, Brewdog, Heretic and Green Flash. The term “spoilt for choice” barely covers it.

It’s rare for me to go into a Clancy’s venue without having a Nail Ale so in keeping with tradition that’s what we ordered. It also saved me from the embarrassment of drooling on a beer list. Fruity hops and clean refreshing bitterness, it’s a classic and a firm favourite on my god-i-love-that- beer list (a list that grows longer by the week).

What makes Nail Ale so special? It tastes amazing and it’s brewed by ONE guy who has been dedicated to this for over 15 years. The best way to understand the Nail Ale story is to read it – here it is.

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Ordering food was another tough decision and resulted in ordering way too much food but it was all delicious.

The Prawns with fresh kiwi fruit and coriander were a stand out, massive prawns cooked perfectly and the zing from the kiwi fruit added a delicious extra dimension. It was impossible to resist the urge to order chilli mussels, just one of those dishes I find hard to pass up, and whilst they weren’t very hot on the fire alarm scale, they were very tasty. Then there’s the Fried Mice, another impossible dish to pass by and a signature dish in all Clancy’s venues however these have a unique City Beach twist. The Fried Mice, jalapenoes stuffed with cheese and deep fried, are done with panko bread crumbs and served with tomato salsa. Panko Bread Crumbs are used mostly in Japanese cooking, which I already knew but what I didn’t know or even think to ask was what makes the bread different? The dough is baked by passing an electric current through it, thus baking bread without crust and making it crisper and airier. Wiki told me so. The result is a lovely crisp but light batter with great texture and a nice change to the usual regular batter. The careful food presentation was greatly appreciated, showing a lot of care from start to finish in the kitchen.

Now I’m making mental notes to try the Clancy’s Cafe, next door to the pub, as I hear they’re food and coffee are tops too!

Chilli Mussels Coconut Crumbed Prawns Fried Mice

girl + clancys

Having found myself unexpectedly unemployed the guys at Clancy’s Fish Pub in Dunsborough suggested working a few shifts with them. It sounded like fun, it involved beer and it paid … that’s three pretty good boxes ticked right there.

Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough
1710 Caves Road, Dunsborough

Having found myself unexpectedly unemployed the guys at Clancy’s Fish Pub in Dunsborough suggested working a few shifts with them. It sounded like fun, it involved beer and it paid … that’s three pretty good boxes ticked right there.

It has been great to chat with customers about the range of beers available on tap, some of which they know and some they don’t. Thankfully most are happy to taste test and be subjected to my over enthusiastic rambling.

The current tap beer menu looks something like this:

  • Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale
  • Little Creatures Pale Ale
  • Rogers’
  • Colonial Kolsch
  • Cowaramup Pilsener
  • Eagle Bay Extra Special Bitter
  • Bootleg Sou’West Wheat
  • Coopers Vintage Ale
  • Coopers Vintage Stout
  • Feral Hop Hog
  • Pipsqueak Pear Cider
  • Stowford Press Apple Cider
  • White Rabbit Dark Ale
  • Mountain Goat Steam Ale
  • Moody Cow Simply Red Irish Ale
LC Pale Ale, Cowaramup Pilsener, Feral Hop Hog and Mountain Goat Steam Ale
Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough
Pipsqueak Pear Cider, Eagle Bay ESB and Bootleg Sou’West Wheat
Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough

Conversation is easily one of my favourite things about beer. I love chatting to people about the beers they like, tastes and aromas they find in a beer that they’ve never tried before, breweries they have visited or their favourite bar / bottle shop. I definitely get warm fuzzy feelings when a customer walks away from my bar with a pint of something they really enjoy, not just because it’s a hot day, but because it tastes amazing. Yup, I’m a sucker for a beer and a smile!

Over the weekend I chatted with a woman in her 50s who said she loved dark beer. I recommended Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout with the words “oh my god … it’s amazing”. She got one, tried it and agreed. Sam Smith’s Imperial Stout is, hands down, one of my favourite beers and everyone I’ve recommended it to (as I put it on the beer menu at Five Bar so I’ve been recommending it for a couple of years now) has fallen head over heels in love with it too. Roasty chocolatey wonderful goodness!

I found many people were totally unaware about Nail Ale and once they tried the Pale Ale for the first time they were coming back for more.

Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale
4.7% abv | Perth
Citrus, stone fruit and nice bitterness

A number of Pure Blonde and Carlton Dry drinkers discovered that their taste buds were rather fond of Mountain Goat Steam Ale and Colonial Kolsch. Of course, there was one customer who didn’t like anything I offered and was more than happy to voice his distaste for anything craft beer. He settled for a glass of squash. You win some, you lose some.

And best of all, I got to discover something new myself! I was introduced to Moody Cow Simply Red Irish Ale – lightly creamy and soft balanced bitterness. It reminded me that there are so many styles out there that I have barely scratched the surface of. I better make myself a shopping list!

Neon Lights + Burgers

I like surprises and I like burgers so imagine my delight when I’m surprised by a burger. Allow me to elaborate …

I like surprises and I like burgers so imagine my delight when I’m surprised by a burger. Allow me to elaborate …

We had a couple of days of “wild weather”, as the term goes despite you never hearing about “captive weather”, in Perth and the South West. To look at the trees was as though Mother Nature had taken a chainsaw and decided most of them were just too tall. Big trees were ripped out like pesky weeds, fences went a bit further down the road and some basketball hoops fell down too. You get the idea. So with all this storm stuff going on it was only inevitable to lose power.

One of the many trees that fell down during the wild weather

On the first night without power my boyfriend cooked 4 packets of 2 minute noodles on the gas stove and that was fine. On the second night, whilst trying to empty the entire fridge into a borrowed esky, we decided it would be a whole lot easier to head to the pub.

We drove towards Bunbury and decided on The Highway Hotel. The fact neither of us had been before seemed like a good enough reason to go. The fact it is owned by one of the two supermarket giants in this country, Woolworth’s, seemed like a good enough reason to counteract the first one but we went anyway.

The side entrance was locked and looked closed; a drive to the front revealed unlocked doors under a neon sign of the letters HH. We walked in to find a handful of tables in the restaurant area and the bar dotted with blokes and pints. They were yelling helpfully at the bartender as she tried to get to the Foxtel channel they wanted, displayed on 3 screens above the bar.

We were very pleased and somewhat surprised to find Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale on tap given the venue doesn’t hint to any sort of craft beer culture. It’s also not a common beer to find  on tap, though this is set to change with Nail Ale and Perth’s other well known brewery, Feral, sharing a new brewhouse in Bassendean, so it’s great to see it around. With a credit card behind the bar, two pints in front of us and the tennis French Open on the screens our Monday night was going fairly well.

Like most Woolworth’s owned ALH (Australian Leisure & Hospitality) pubs the venue was littered with promotional posters, one of which was the Monday night special “Burger n Beer Deal” for $15. We thought, what the hell, its almost alliteration and it makes ordering easy, and got the deal x 2.

I must admit our expectations where not high because a) Its Woolies b) Its a meal deal and c) You don’t normally associate neon lights with good food. Not that we were expecting bad food but we were not expecting a very tasty burger with lots of nice extras.

The burger presented nicely in a focaccia bun and the patty was thick, a good start so far and to see all the little extras was a delightful surprise; finely diced beetroot, cheese, bacon that hadn’t been fried to within an inch of its life, rocket and cherry tomatoes were all big ticks from me! And the chips, though most certainly bulk purchased frozen McCain, were crisp and yummy.

We each got another pint of Nail Ale whilst we finished off our burgers; Pale Ale and Burgers are such a good match! I think it’s the fruity elements of the beer bringing out sweetness in the meat, tomatoes and beetroot but enough bitterness to make sure it doesn’t get slapped around by a big juicy burger! We watched the end of the tennis and then went to pay the bill. I had been expecting to have to pay over and above the “meal deal” because we had chosen Nail Ale instead of something more mainstream but it was included and for four pints and two burgers, I thought $50 was a pretty decent asking. The service had also been good, the girl behind the bar was friendly and checked to see if we wanted more drinks and had clearly away our plates promptly.

Just goes to show you can’t judge a book by its cover or, more accurately, you can’t judge a pub by its massive neon lights.

The Highway Hotel

Corner Forrest Avenue & Spencer Street, Bunbury | (08) 9721 4966

Open Monday – Friday 11am – late

Open Saturday & Sunday 10am – late

Burger n Beer Meal Deal available all day Mondays, just $15

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.