girl + winter beers

Ah winter, the time of year when beer geek conversation turns from aggressively hopped American pales to dark malty beasts with punchy roast and chocolate flavours.

Ah winter, the time of year when beer geek conversation turns from aggressively hopped American pales to dark malty beasts with punchy roast and chocolate flavours.

The Food Alternative | Tuesday’s 6pm on RTRFM 92.1 Drivetime

Listen here to past segments

I was invited to Perth’s RTRFM radio station last night to chat about winter beers during the Drivetime segment called ‘The Food Alternative’. It’s a weekly segment every Tuesday at 6pm that explores Perth’s great food and beverage scene. I had an absolute blast chatting about beers with Drivetime hosts Simon and Anth. In the lead up* to last night I had naturally been thinking a LOT about winter beers.

*aka bundle of nerves at being on the radio

As much as the beer geek in me is screaming that stouts and porters are great drinking all year around not just winter, I cannot deny that my palate craves those darker brews more when the temperature drops. Like ballsy red wine, peaty scotch and roast dinner, the darker ales are just the ticket for a wintery night.

I’ve got some exciting beers in our fridge that are perfect for the rain and cold wind –

  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2014, their annual release barleywine style beer
  • Boatrocker Ramjet Whisky Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, a limited release from Melbourne
  • Cheeky Monkey Silverback 2013 Russian Imperial Stout from Margaret River

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2013

But not every night can be filled with beers edging their way over 10% ABV with flavours that shamelessly smack you in the face whilst wearing a devilish grin. So when you’ve come in from the rain, your socks kinda soggy and your wind swept hair looking nothing like it does in shampoo commercials, here are my two of favourite winter to-go beers to cuddle you back to happiness …

coopers best extra stout

Coopers Best Extra Stout Tasting Notes

Easily one of my favourite “good heavens it’s cold outside” beers, it’s liquid ink pouring from the bottle with a light coffee head. There’s a lot happening here, a little roast, a little smoke and big doses of chocolate, liquorice, coffee beans and brown sugar.

Coopers Best Extra Stout
Coopers Best Extra Stout

nail oatmeal stout

More jet black goodness … aromas of milk chocolate and biscuit and something kinda melony. Flavours of chocolate and red fruit dominate the palate with a little fresh citrus in the back. The mouth feel is creamy and soft; its 6% ABV is well hidden amongst a lot of delicious flavours, of course after a few you are aware it is a fraction on the stronger side. Cheeky little stout.

Nail Oatmeal Stout
Nail Oatmeal Stout

Since I have many favourites I’ll be happily re-hashing this theme a couple more times so I hope you’ll join me and please feel free to comment with your winter favourites!

Big thank you to Simon, Anth, Ai-Ling and Laura for inviting me to be part of The Food Alternative and assuring me I’d be okay. Additional thanks to Simon and Anth for not thinking I was weird when they were telling me to stay close to the microphone and I remarked it was like holding the distance before an awkward first kiss. Sometimes my internal filter shorts out.

 

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.

P1050952

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”