Porter & Stout Tasting at Northbridge Brewing Co.

On Wednesday 15 July Northbridge Brewing Co will have their next beer club, in preparation I look back at the last one …

Every two months Northbridge Brewing Co hold their Beer Club, a beer tasting around a particular style/s hosted by head brewer Ken Arrowsmith. It’s held on the rooftop Sky Deck bar, perfect for a cool Northbridge evening.

I have been lucky to have been invited to these tasting where Ken guides the group through up to eight generous samples and the Northbridge Brewing Co kitchen sends out an assortment of picky food.

Stout and Porter Beer Club at Northbridge Brewing Co

The next Beer Club is an extra special one – a Trappist Beer Tasting – with a line up of beers that includes the ‘best beer in the world’ – Westvleteren  12. Other beers listed for tasting are Westvleteren 8, Westvleteren Blonde, Rochefort 10, Orval and La Trappe Triple.

Trappist Beers – beers brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery by their monks, beers are produced not for profit but for the maintenance of the monastery with any extra funds going to charity

[Beer Reading] Business Insider: How a tiny brewery run by monks came to make the best beer in the world

Northbridge’s Trappist Beer Tasting is on Wednesday night, tickets and more information found here.

In the mean time, just to get your taste buds tingling, here’s the beers we tasted at the last Beer Club – Porters & Stouts … Hope to see you Wednesday for Trappists!


Samuel Smith Teddy’s Porter | 5.0% ABV | North Yorkshire

I enjoyed this one, a lot going on but the body was much lighter than I was expecting.

Billabong Porter | 5.0% ABV | Perth

Fuller’s London Porter | 5.4% ABV | London

Northbridge Brewing Co Japanese Porter | 5.0% ABV | Perth

Beer Club usually coincides with the breweries own limited release beer. Their Japanese Porter, which there may still be one keg left if you hurry, was brewed with the Japanese Sorachi Ace hop variety which added a citrus lemon.

Northbridge Brewing Co Japanese Porter

Feral Smoked Porter | 4.7% ABV | Perth

Gotta love a beer that promotes itself as having “bacony undertones”

Nail Oatmeal Stout | 6.0% ABV | Perth

I had only just started my job with Nail Brewing at the time of this event so I was keen to hear what Ken had to say, “it’s a bit of a legend and rightly so in my opinion”. Thanks Ken!

Coopers Best Extra Stout | 6.3% ABV | Adelaide

This was a really great and interesting inclusion because I’ve had this beer on many an occasion but rarely break it down like I would a beer I’ve not tried before. Comparing it with the other beers reinforced my love for this beer; I found it really interesting that I got bigger roasty flavour and fruitiness than in the previous beers.

Heretic Shallow Grave Porter | 7.0% ABV | California

I think Ken’s description said it all – “delicious, luscious and rich”. This is one of the first beers I had from this US brewery and I was mighty impressed when it had it then and still like it very much now. The nose, to me, just smells like fresh chocolate cake.

Stouts and Porter Beer Club at Northbridge Brewing Co

Weekend Reading #13

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

Crafty Pint | Getting Blind with Crafty: Porter

This is a great series from Crafty Pint where a panel of tasters including commercial and home brewers and beer reps get together for a blind tasting on a particular style. In short, people who love beer get together and drink it. It makes for excellent reading, interesting results and a severe case of drinks envy.

Colonial Baltic Porter
Colonial Baltic Porter

 Popular Mechanics | The Science Behind the Craft Beer Explosion

A great little Q&A with Chris Baugh, a molecular biologist and brewing scientist at Sierra Nevada Brewing in California. Love a little science with my beer!
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NDTV Cooks | The Craft Beer Revolution: How Hops got Hip

First, a word of warning, if you are really annoyed by internet ads then this article may prove a little challenging / so irritating you want to poke yourself in the eye just as a distraction. Two ads appear down either side of this article, the one of the left obscures the first letter of each line. It was really annoying but not enough to make me stop reading, a comment on the article more than my patience.

I don’t read a lot about the craft beer scene in the UK so this really interested me as the UK beer scene isn’t just mainstream and craft but there’s the CAMRA, Campaign for Real Ale movement to consider also. From the sounds of it Camra beers are perceived as being for old farts whilst craft beer gets the all embracing term “hipster” image. It’s grandad yelling at punks to get off their lawn. I wonder how accurate this is? How much of beer drinking is a matter of identification?

“Real ale struggled to shake, as Brown puts it, its “old man, flat cap” image; craft beer is young, urban and fashionable.”

The West Australian | Craft Brewer Bucks Trend

A super short article that, if you are super pushed for time can be summarised as – Matso’s to release mid-strength soon.

Whilst I am not pants-wettingly excited I’m certainly not saying it’s not welcome. The more craft brews that are lower in ABV the better if you ask me. Why I included this short piece here is because I’m not entirely sure I agree with the idea that mid-strengths are the redheaded step-child of the beer world. I feel like there were more lower ABV beers at this years GABS (Great Australasian Beer Spectapular) which may reflect more brewers going down this path. In WA alone we had Rogers’ by Little Creatures changing the idea of a mid for lots of drinkers. I am pretty sure that Eagle Bay and Cheeky Monkey have had a mid on their taps from day one. Colonial also recently added their lower ABV beer to the rotation, their Small Ale. I have not gotten the feeling that brewers shy away from mids, in fact I kinda get the opposite.

Incidentally, the story I heard when I worked for Creatures, the story I always liked, was that Rogers’ wasn’t designed to be a lower ABV beer, it just happened to come out that way and they didn’t change it. I like stuff like that.
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oysters + porter

“One can almost imagine the beer as the knife that cracks the oyster open – there seems to be a primal connection between them. The flavour of the oyster is magically magnified and fills the senses”

Garret Oliver, The Brewmaster’s Table

If you were to look through the photos on my phone you would know a couple of things about me – I really like beer, I really like cheese and my dog is very cute. Another thing I really like, but don’t indulge in as much as in used to, is freshly shucked oysters.

Jerry Fraser: King of Oysters
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I get my oyster fix from one man – the King of Oysters, Jerry Fraser. If you know Jerry then I don’t have to say anything more, you already know that he is one of the nicest people on the planet. If you live in Perth and like oysters but have never met Jerry then I’m staring at you with my mouth open in sheer surprise. I have also put links to the left so you can pay Jerry a visit for the best oyster experience of your life.

A great read from last year by The Food Pornographer – When an oyster hater met the King of Oysters

These days Jerry spends much of his time at The Print Hall in Perth’s CBD, right in the heart of Brookfield Plaza, aka where the majority of Perth’s new bars spung up a couple of years ago. Here you will find Jerry at his shucking bar with all you need to indulge your oyster fetish.

2011: Jerry Fraser and I at Five Bar
2011: Jerry Fraser and I at Five Bar

My partner and I visited The Print Hall on Friday night and happily pulled up a bar stool at Jerry’s oyster bar. We had come straight from dinner at Mt Lawley’s Enrique’s School for to Bullfighting, a delicious meal that I was very tempted to follow up with some cheese however my craving for cheese flew out the window the minute I saw Jerry. I had a new craving – oysters and porter.

“One can almost imagine the beer as the knife that cracks the oyster open – there seems to be a primal connection between them. The flavour of the oyster is magically magnified and fills the senses”

Garret Oliver, The Brewmaster’s Table

The Print Hall pour all the Colonial Brewing beers since they are owned by the same folk, this also includes The Raffles in Applecross and East Perth’s The Royal on the Waterfront, so it is always nice to go in and get a pint of one of my favourite Margaret River beers.

The Colonial Porter is stupidly smooth, like Barry White kinda smooth with light roasty flavours that flirt with chocolate and coffee, all held together by a soft malty sweetness.

The smoothness does not stop with the beer, the oysters almost creamy texture is divine and it’s briney, salty nature melds so nicely with roasted flavours.

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“This isn’t some newfangled foodie gimmick,”

Adam McDowell, National Post: Why you should pair oysters with stout this St Patrick’s Day

It is interesting to think that this pairing is actually a very traditional English/Irish combo. Oysters were once in abundance in both England and Ireland and considered the food of the working class, a pretty far cry from today’s associations with luxury and indulgence thanks in part to their now limited supply. Also considered to be for the working class were porter beers which, as the story goes, were so named after their popularity amongst London porters, men employed essentially to carry heavy things from point A to point B. Being the working class in England in the 1700s looks rather appealing if they had oysters and porter on hand 24/7, that is of course ignoring the scarlet fever, typhoid and other nasty diseases that probably killed you at age 20.

Moving away from the traditional stout and porter pairing the beer world is still, if you’ll forgive me, your oyster for matching to oysters. A saison, a gueuze and even a bold IPA are all suggested in this great article from Serious Eats along side some suggestions for those who might like their oysters fried or grilled. Further, I found this oysters and porter article on nytimes.com with a recipe for fried oysters if you feel so inclined.

However, if you’re anything like me the you’ll love the indulgence of ordering a dozen freshly shucked oysters from the best man in the business and sitting at the bar with your only concern being what beer to choose next …

A dozen of Jerry's finest

Porter versus Porter + Roast Lamb

I spent my Friday working / day dreaming about cooking a lamb roast for dinner. Yup, I know, I’m so rock n’ roll.

I spent my Friday working / day dreaming about cooking a lamb roast for dinner. Yup, I know, I’m so rock n’ roll. Oh and I posted it on Facebook …

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Most of the suggestions screamed Porter, including this great idea. Thanks Chris!

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I was now a woman with a plan, it was time to go shopping. Well, after work anyway.

Nine long, mouth drying hours later I was finally at the bottle shop. Fifteen minutes later I was out the door with a case of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, a six pack of Sierra Nevada Porter and a bottle of Nøgne Ø Porter. Not a bad haul for a Friday afternoon from my local bottle shop.

I got home, opened a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and started in the kitchen.

With a title such as “Best Roast Leg of Lamb” it was hard to go past Jamie Oliver’s recipe and I love idea of a big whack of lemon rind in the marinade.

Preparing Lamb

I found this great little recipe for homemade gravy here which was simple and tasty though perhaps a little salty. I threw in a dash of white wine vinegar which seemed to ease the saltiness a fraction. The Porter also proved an excellent rich and bitter feature in the gravy.

Gravy with Sierra Nevada Porter

Sierra Nevada Porter

And here is the end result … Roast leg of lamb with roast onion, pumpkin, garlic, potato and carrot with Yorkshire Puddings.

Roast n Porter

Roast Lamb

Porter versus Porter

Both the Nøgne Ø Porter and Sierra Nevada Porter matched nicely to dinner, both having soft roasty characters that didn’t overwhelm the beer and food.

The Nøgne Ø Porter boasted brown sugar, red fruit and raisin flavours all wrapped up in a decent bit of booziness. Its predominately sweet-ish flavours went so nicely with the roasted veg.

Sierra Nevada’s Porter provided more floral and stone fruit flavours that acted as a refreshing cut through the oils from the lamb and Yorkshire pud.

Dinner didn't last long!

girl + beer … on location

Only in the South West could an attempt to catch up with a mate result in a day in a brewhouse. Mal is Head Brewer at Colonial Brewery in Margaret River and invited me to hang out in the brewery for the day whilst they brewed the next Limited Edition Colonial beer – a Baltic Porter. Due to release in late June/early July – start planning your South West getaway now!

girl+beer on location at Colonial Brewing, Margaret River

Friday 25th May 2012 …

Only in the South West could an attempt to catch up with a mate result in a day in a brewhouse …

I’ve spent many a happy conversation chatting with Mal, Head Brewer at Colonial Brewery at various beer events. At some of these events Colonial have been offering beautiful Western Australian oysters with their Kolsch and I’ve indulged in more than one (or five) at a time, shovelling them as elegantly as I could manage whilst standing up and juggling a beer.

Mal and I have been meaning to catch up over a pint for a while now so when I found myself with a Friday off I thought it would be a great opportunity. After all, who could refuse a Friday afternoon beer?! However my suggestion was nicely one-up-ed  by Mal’s invitation to spend a day at the brewhouse whilst they brewed the next limited release – a Baltic Porter. “Do you want to come and join in?”, he asked. I think my reply was “hell yes”.

I was excited … really excited. Mash in was scheduled for 8am and Mal gave me an open invitation to head over whenever. There seemed to be an understanding that 8am might be what I’d consider “violently early”. I really wanted to be there for the mash and my boyfriend pointed out that I’d be mad to miss it. I knew he was right so I set my alarm and dreamt a beery-sleep. It was still very dark outside when my alarm started making seriously unpleasant noises. It went off again after the factory determined “snooze” time was up and it was still dark and it was really cold and as you’ve probably guessed by now, I missed the mash in.

I arrived just after 9am after a quick read through my Oxford Companion to Beer to remind myself about Baltic Porters.

An English style, referring to strong Porter beers exported off to the Baltic countries such as Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Mal introduced me to his partner in brewing crime, Sorcha, and I proceeded to spend the day being either one of their shadows. I was encouraged to ask as many questions as I liked and, in most cases, needed because keeping up with brewer jargon in the wild is a little fast paced for this beer drinking gal. I’ve done a number of tours through breweries in my career – Matilda Bay, Gage Roads, Little Creatures, White Rabbit and Elmar’s in the Valley but it’s all surface stuff – here’s some equipment, here’s what is does, and so forth which is always great, don’t get me wrong, but compared to spending a whole day at a brewery … it’s the difference between listening to a CD and seeing the act live on stage.

The Colonial Baltic Porter will follow in the footsteps of earlier limited edition beers Keutebier and Mumme to continue the journey in old beer styles that have been a little neglected in recent times. Without concern for the latest trending styles or what Joe Bloggs is brewing down the road or on the other side of the Earth for that matter, Mal and Colonial are about beer styles that have captured their attention and, in turn, their desire to brew it for themselves. Colonial’s Limited Editions have gained significant momentum, flying out the door of the brewery, on show at sister venues The Royal and The Raffles and a few stray kegs making their way to like minded beer venues like Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough and The Norfolk Hotel.

Having not brewed the Baltic Porter before the process was almost like baby sitting a small child, watching everything it was doing to make sure it was okay. It can’t be too hot or too cold or too thick and there was continuous testing. As the morning went on I had started to feel somewhat of a really incompetent stalker, following too closely behind poor Mal and Sorcha, so I volunteered to help with the testing. I was proud as punch as I stood in the brewery with a beaker of soon-to-be Baltic Porter in a small tub of ice water, swishing it around and watching the thermometer reach 20 degrees when it was ready for testing. I must have resembled some sort of mad Asian scientist, swishing a black liquid and smiling a slightly deranged smile. It’s a miracle I was invited back again or perhaps Mal was just being super polite.

The first step I got to see was the mash being transferred to the lauder tun. I peered in to see what was happening whilst the contents of the tank slowly rose as the pump worked diligently. That pump certainly had it’s work cut out for it with the Baltic Porter mash being a much thicker one than it had previously dealt with so we were on the look out for any signs of struggle. As the mash began recirculating Sorcha and I decided it looked a little like a cappuccino.

Now it was time for sparging. I used to think sparging was simply washing the mash with water from a thing that looked like an upside sprinkler. Whilst I’m not essentially wrong I did learn a lot more. Yes, it’s about washing the mash and basically making sure you’re getting the most good stuff that you can but it’s also a balancing act between too little, too much, too hot and too cold. There was more staring into the tank at this stage and without a functioning torch it was trickier but thankfully Sorcha had a back up – the iPhone Torch app. It was severely battery draining but turned out to be rather handy on this particular day. Oh and even now on reflection I still stand by my original thinking that the sparging bit looks like an upside down sprinkler.

Soon it was time for the almost-beer to move house again. This time from the lauter tun to the kettle, ready for the boil and the whirlpool. As it bubbled along I was once again struck by the intricacy of it all. Who’ve have thought beer was so sensitive? I mean I knew it was an art and I knew, in theory, that any number of factors could affect the final outcome but it’s really ANY number of factors, no matter how seemingly small. It’s crazy. As we watched the bubbles, monitoring what they were doing, Sorcha remarked it sounded like a babbling brook and from there we came up with the idea for a ‘Sounds of the Brewery’ relaxation tape. I think we were half serious; I’ll have to chat with her later to further develop the idea.

Now it was time for hops and so carefully measured doses of East Kent Goldings and Northern Brewer were thrown in for a nice hot bubbly swim in the kettle. I spent more time with my head in the tank and although I was blinking profusely as my contact lens’ struggled with the steam; I was also enjoying the aromas.

“Time for the messy part” I was told. Sorcha and Mal played around with the forklift and positioned a big white tub under the gaping mouth of the lauter tun. Then a slightly scary looking piece of machinery with spinny things was wheeled in. The process I am poorly describing is the removal of all the spent grain from the lauter tun, ready to be taken away and eaten by the local cattle or, sometimes, pigs. Apparently pigs go nuts for it. Those crazy, drunken pigs.

Mal started up the machine and it was damn loud. He declared himself to be a gentlemen as he handed me his ear muffs for my already slightly deteriorated ears. The spent grain overfilled two of these huge tubs, hitting home again just how much of a bigger style the Baltic Porter is going to be.

Time for the whirlpool. The whirlpool removes all the hop fragments and other bits and pieces that don’t belong by whirling it all up into one mass of stuff called the trub. We had to listen out for the gurgling noises and I remarked how it sounded like a bath tub being emptied. From here it was time to cool things down and the heat exchanger quickly went to work since yeast doesn’t really like to be boiled. Fair enough too.

The first Colonial Baltic Porter was now well on it’s way to completion! It was time to celebrate and unwind with a little more testing, this time of the tasting variety …

The limited release beers I’ve tried in recent memory have all been big, hoppy American styles and I’ve enjoyed them all but, as a category, pale ale is wider reaching than this and Colonial Pale Ale is a great reminder to this. Inspired by German ale styles the Colonial Pale Ale is an Altbier, a type of Pale Ale, that is beautiful with great biscuity malt, peppery spice and medium body. The background for Altbier evolves from older German ales, like the Keutebier style which was Colonial’s last limited release, with the name “alt” meaning “old” being a relative term to when lagers were gaining in popularity.

Next up we tasted the Kolsch and although by strict definition a true Kolsch is brewed in Cologne, Germany, there are a couple of great Australian breweries producing their own Kolsch style beers. I’ve enjoyed countless Colonial Kolsch pints and it’s always a sensational beer exhibiting great balance in spiciness, bitterness and hoppiness. I also love this style because it’s a great one to recommend to people who are tipping their toes in the water of craft brewing. When I was working at Five Bar we recommended it to a bunch of fellow hospitality folk and they drank us out of both the Sunner Kolsch, from Cologne, and 4 Pines Kolsch.

The final taster was the Colonial Porter, a fittingly dark number to end the day on with coffee and chocolate delivered with medium body.

I left Colonial with a massive smile on my face, as I normally do anyway, and a far better understanding of the beer making process. Mal and Sorcha were fantastic hosts, as well as Sarah in the bar for making me a great coffee and Adam in the kitchen for an epic fish burger for lunch. Be sure to look out for Colonial’s next Limited Edition – Baltic Porter – due to land in late June/early July. What a perfect excuse for a winter South West getaway, huh?

Colonial Brewing | Osmington Road, Margaret River
Open Daily 11am – 6pm