GBW 2014: Meeting new people – Paul from The Rainbow Hotel

Today I met Paul who is a bartender at The Rainbow Hotel and it only reaffirmed my strong belief that beer people are the best people.

Today I met Paul who is a bartender at The Rainbow Hotel and it only reaffirmed my strong belief that beer people are the best people.

Wandering round Fitzroy I was looking for a Pint of Origin venue, a designated venue doing tap takeovers all week showcasing beers from each state in Australia, and found The Rainbow Hotel on St Davids Street. All Good Beer Week long they have handed their beer taps to New South Wales, meaning that beers from the likes of EKIM, Doctors Orders, Thirsty Crow and Young Henry’s are all here for your beer drinking pleasure.

On arrival I asked Paul for a recommendation, given it was my first beer of the day he suggested Young Henry’s Newtowner, a beer that apparently doesn’t usually make it outside of Sydney’s Newtown. I grabbed a pint, ordered some food and sat down in the beer garden in the unseasonal sunshine.

This was my very first Young Henry’s beer. The Newtowner is an English Summer Ale with lovely apricot and mango aromas. Beautiful stone fruit, medium bitterness and citrus, it was a great beer to start the afternoon!

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My very first Young Henry's beer - Newtowner
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The Hod Rod Burger ... The burger was ace - messy enough to enjoy but not so much that you were concerned for your clothes!

As time passed and I took photos of my beers, caught up on some emails and stalked people on Twitter, you know, the usual, I overheard Paul talking customers about Pint of Origin and what beers were available. He happily gave tasters to help people pick their next beer and plugged upcoming events at The Rainbow for the rest of the week. He spoke highly of the previous nights food and beer matching event where he says the stand outs were the Thirsty Crow Vanilla Milk Stout with a caramel driven dessert and the Murray’s Angry Many Brown Ale with a heavily spiced kangaroo dish.

Paul’s pick of the bunch is the Riverside Seventy Seven IPA, a big American style IPA using four different hops and clocking in at 7.7% ABV. Like many of us Paul is a self confessed hop head so if you’re the same I suggest you drop in for a pint!
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Pint of Origin SA – The Tramway Hotel

My partner and I had been enjoying walking around Melbourne during our Good Beer Week, it felt like a trade off for all the amazing food and beer we were consuming. So when we left The Gertrude to visit another Pint of Origin venue, The Tramway, we opted for walking instead of taking a tram.

Pint of Origin

My partner and I had been enjoying walking around Melbourne during our Good Beer Week, it felt like a trade off for all the amazing food and beer we were consuming. So on Friday when we left The Gertrude to visit another Pint of Origin venue, The Tramway, we opted for walking instead of taking a tram.

A growing sense of urgency to for the ladies room and 2.6km later we were at The Tramway only to find it wasn’t open. Not only that but it wouldn’t be open for another two hours. We walked back up Brunswick St to stumble upon Brother Burger and the Marvelous Brew where we had lunch … oh and more beers. Before you knew it, 2 hours had past and The Tramway was opening it’s doors and we could hit up yet another Pint of Origin venue.

Quick PoO recap (words I didn’t ever think I would type on the interwebs) – Pint of Origin started during last years Good Beer Week where five pubs with ample taps acted as homes for WA, SA, NSW, TAS and QLD. The term itself came from Adelaide’s Wheatsheaf Hotel. It meant that throughout Good Beer Week punters could cover off an Australia wide beer tour without straying far from the remaining Good Beer Week shenanigans. Happy days!

I chose Birbeck Brewing’s The Captain; the tasting notes sounded nice and it was only 2.9% abv. There were not many beers lower than 5% amongst the Good Beer Week agenda so I was keen to discover a great tasting low abv beer.

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The Captain was light bodied but by no means watery. Light spices and biscuity malt, it had definite drinkability about it. Whilst it didn’t blow me out of the water it was certainly something I’d happily become repeat offender if it was available in WA.

Both my partner and I have consumed our fair share of Knappstein Reserve Lager in our time, loving the the big floral flavours so when we saw they had a barrel aged version we gave it a shot.

If you like vanilla, I mean if you really like vanilla you would have liked this barrel aged beer but sadly it seemed to smack down any of the Knappstein-ness we fell in love with in it’s original form.

Now with three pubs under our belt it was time to head towards Richmond for an event at Slowbeer with Italian brewery Birra Del Borgo, but that’s another post.

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Pint of Origin TAS – The Gertrude Hotel

I don’t know a lot about Tasmanian beer except for Cascade and Boag’s and the “pure Tasmanian water”, I know I’ve heard that phrase a lot. So I was definitely looking forward to introducing myself to some new beery Tasmanian friends at The Gertrude Hotel, home to the TAS Pint of Origin.

Pint of Origin

I don’t know a lot about Tasmanian beer except for Cascade and Boag’s and the “pure Tasmanian water”, I know I’ve heard that phrase a lot. Oh and that great Boag’s TV commercial – if only they were true.

On the crafty side I’ve had a few Moo Brew beers, particularly enjoying their Pale Ale, but that’s where my Tassie knowledge ends.

So I was definitely looking forward to introducing myself to some new beery Tasmanian friends at The Gertrude Hotel, home to the TAS Pint of Origin.

To quickly recap, Pint of Origin started during last years Good Beer Week where five pubs with ample taps acted as homes for WA, SA, NSW, TAS and QLD. The term itself came from Adelaide’s Wheatsheaf Hotel. It meant that throughout Good Beer Week punters could cover off an Australia wide beer tour without straying far from the remaining Good Beer Week shenanigans. Happy days!

Where: The Gertrude Hotel – 148 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
When: Friday 24th May, about lunchtime

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Beer
I decided to ease myself into our 7th day of Good Beer Week with a Hefeweizen from Iron House Brewery. The aromas were lovely and reminded me of a banana and honey milkshake. There was lots of coriander flavour and spice with the banana seeming more like a backdrop for the other flavours rather than playing the biggest role. Even my partner who usually doesn’t enjoy wheat beers agreed it was tasty.

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Whilst I eased myself into the day with a lighter style of beer my partner went in the opposite direction and selected a stout. It was gorgeous, rich with great chocolate bitterness but as I neglected to write any notes on this beer (writer fail) I sadly cannot remember what it was. I do however remember having a mild case of beer envy.

The next beer I tried was the Houn Dark Apple Ale from Two Metre Tall Brewery, it sounded intriguing. Made with unfiltered apple juice, it definitely had the smell of fermented fruit. I posted a photo of my beer to Instagram with a single word – weird. I was getting the appleness, some perhaps biscuity malts too but it just wasn’t coming together for me.

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With a few new beers under our belts it was time to make a move … Next up, Brother Burger for a dose of NZ and The Tramway for PoO SA.

Pint of Origin ACT – The Courthouse

Pint of Origin was a seriously good beer event that happened all week long for Good Beer Week. It also had the added bonus of the childish but endlessly amusing acronym of PoO.

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Pint of Origin was a seriously good beer event that happened all week long for Good Beer Week. It also had the added bonus of the childish but endlessly amusing acronym of PoO.

Pint of Origin started during last years Good Beer Week where five pubs with ample taps acted as homes for WA, SA, NSW, TAS and QLD. The term itself came from Adelaide’s Wheatsheaf Hotel. It meant that throughout Good Beer Week punters could cover off an Australia wide beer tour without straying far from the remaining Good Beer Week shenanigans. Happy days!

This years PoO saw additional pubs representing VIC and ACT plus three regional venues took showcase a selection from every state.

My partner and I managed to visit all the states PoO venues during Good Beer Week, usually as a warm up or cool down from an event.

First up we have The Courthouse Hotel who represented the ACT.

Oh and advanced apologies for my awful night time phone photography!

Where: 86-90 Errol Street, North Melbourne
When: Monday 20th May after the Prickley Moses Rare and Wild event

Beer

I had heard many good things about the Wig & Pen Mother Funker Gueuze but sadly it was not available that day. Instead I chose the Weizenbock from Zierholz, a nice big wheat beer on steroids with nice real banana flavours. I liked it!

Next up I had the Wig & Pen Bob’s Armpit sour ale, the name was strangely enticing or perhaps I’m just too curious for my own good. I found it lightly sour, maybe more like a sour and an amber ale had a baby. Of course I might also be talking dribble since I had tasted more than ten different beers at the Prickley Moses event earlier.

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Food

Steak Tartare, Olive Tart and Truffled Aioli – this was beautifully served, I love it when the presentation is so good you almost don’t want to eat it. This was definitely some of the best steak tartare I’ve ever had.

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Cheese – there are generally only two reasons why I don’t order a cheese board – a) the cheese sounds bland and/or b) the price tag is ridiculous. The Courthouse cheese board was neither of these things. Another nicely presented dish and we sent back a virtually clean plate.

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Service

We sat at the bar which is always our preferred “table”, I guess that is the bartender in both of us. As a result, we’ve met some great bartenders and this was one such night. Harpreet at The Courthouse was fantastic, he was friendly, polite, knowledgeable and happy and helped us pick beers and food. Thank you Harpreet. We mentioned his name during conversations with a few Melbourne locals and they agreed wholeheartedly!

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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!