Weekend Reading #11

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.

Business Insider | Craft Beer Consumption in Australia has Passed a Big Milestone

It is always nice to read about craft beer consumption rising, to feel like the old perception of overweight Australian dads drinking VB is fading away and here is another article telling us pretty much exactly that.

“The consumption of import beer also continued to climb from 14% to 17.3% of the population.”

What is also interesting is the increased consumption in imported beers. So basically if you’re craft or if you’re foreign then the market is being pretty good to you. If you’re hoovering somewhere on the outskirts of these categories, domestic premium or domestic mainstream or whatever other terminology pops up, then perhaps you’re scratching your head and wondering why beer consumption overall is dropping.

The increase in imported beer drinking is interesting and I wonder how much parallel/grey imports influences this. If you can get what looks like a fancy pants European lager cheaper than you can a local mainstream like Boag’s or Crown then its not surprising Crown ends up being the bridesmaid and never the bride.

Serious Eats | Sunday Supper: Grilled Bratwurst, Beer and Cheddar Soup

Perth’s brief cold snap and our freezing house as made me think about soup a lot recently and then I found this recipe. I haven’t made it yet because I’m concerned I’ll only make this soup and never anything else.

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my homemade pumpkin soup

Serious Eats | 12 Beer Producing Countries to Watch Right Now

I’ll save you the anxiety in wondering and tell you that Australia doesn’t appear on this list sadly. However our Kiwi neighbours are on there so just like we did with Russell Crowe I think we can claim this one as ours too.

“Kiwi beer culture is on the cutting edge”

It is a list that is hard to argue and includes Denmark, Canada and Italy and it wasn’t until I reached the New Zealand part of the article that I was reminded just how lucky we are to have access to so many great NZ beers.

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one of my favourite New Zealand beers

News.com.au | Best Craft Beers in the World Revealed by Evan Porter, craft beer guru and former pro golfer

Anyone who likes long headlines, beer, golf and lists would have fallen for the clickbait title of this article just like I did, though I don’t actually like golf. I am mildly disappointed the headline didn’t take advantage of Evan’s surname – Porter. “Beer by name, beer by reputation” perhaps? I just think someone missed an amazing opportunity.

The Wall Street Journal | Craft Breweries Scale Up but Keep it Real

You’re cool, you’re indie, you’re craft, you’re cult and then you get bigger and bigger and then you’re mainstream.

It’s a funny old world of perception out there. This article uses Sierra Nevada to paint the picture of the little brewery who had to convince drinkers to try their beers to what is now a multimillion dollar brewery investment.

“Now, instead of convincing the public that good beer can come in tiny batches, the challenge is proving that it can be produced in quantity without losing its soul.”

Sierra Nevada + Cheddar

Beer and cheese are two of my favourite things – stupidly delicious with a huge arrays of flavours and just so damn good together. Just like my beer journey, exploring cheese and beer pairings never ends and is, first and foremost, a lot of fun.

Beer and cheese are two of my favourite things – stupidly delicious with a huge arrays of flavours and they’re just so damn good together. Just like my beer journey, exploring cheese and beer pairings never ends and is first and foremost a lot of fun.

The Beer …

Sierra Nevada Autumn Tumbler 2013 – sweet malt, brown sugar, chocolate and roasty with low hop bitterness

The Cheese …

Maffra Mature Cheddar – fruity, slightly tangy, nutty and coats the tongue nicely. Aged for 8-12 months and made in Victoria.

Maffra Cheddar

Together …

The malts from the tumbler mingled happily with the nuttiness in the cheese, even bringing it out a little more as if it was shy to begin with. Being a more malt driven beer with low hop bitterness, the fruitiness in the cheese was able to shine through and go nicely with the beers sweet malt/brown sugar flavour.

There’s also a nice contrast between the cheddars tangy quality against the roasty flavours in the beer.

A Silly Analogy to sum things up …

Like a boxing match between two even opponents, both the beer and cheese bought some tasty punches to the ring – where beer punched with malt, cheese countered with fruitiness – but neither knocked the other out.

Should you try this at home?

For sure! As long as you can find some Sierra Nevada Autumn Tumbler 2013 still kicking around. Maffra cheddar is supplied by Blue Cow Cheese Company and shouldn’t be too hard to stumble across if you hit your local store that has a decent cheese selection.

Accidental Pairing

Guacamole and Sierra Nevada Kellerweis – why hasn’t anyone told me about this before?! Delicious!

On Saturday I sat down to a snack and a beer, nothing unusual there, and unwittingly found my new favourite and dead easy beer and food pairing – Sierra Nevada Kellerweis and guacamole.

I had bought a 6 pack of Kellerweis on Friday as I had a bit of a craving for it and the avocados were fresh from the farmers market that morning. I had no idea they’d be so good together!

My new favourite thingFrom the first mouthful of guacamole followed up with a swig of Kellerweis I was sold. As I munched away, happily loading up my toasted pita bread with mounds of tasty green stuff I realised the pairing was actually very obvious. You’ve got lots of similar flavours happening between the two – coriander, citrus, bitterness/acidity. Plus the beers carbonation cuts through the avocado beautifully.

Then it hit me – my mini revelation wasn’t anything of the sort. Two Birds Brewing made a delicious hoppy wheat beer with coriander, lime and corn called Taco for the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular beer back in May. Damn that was a good beer, perhaps it left a bigger imprint on me than I had originally thought, the remnants of those wonderful flavours all coming out in this pairing.

The pairing reminded me of something I had recently read at The Beeroness about her beer and food matching considerations – “think about all the flavours being in one bowl“. So true. Often I have mistakenly tried to match to the dominant flavour in the dish and the resulting pairing was alright but lacking in that “holy-freaking-hell” moment.

This was a little bit of a “holy freaking hell” moment and probably the closest I’ll get to another tasty glass of Two Birds Taco. Mmm, taco …

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 + IPA Day

Any excuse to have a beer or three, yeah? Not that I needed another excuse …

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Any excuse to have a beer or three, yeah? Not that I needed another excuse …

IPA Day was last Thursday, celebrating the loved and popular beer style. Originating in 2011 in the US the idea rippled through the global beer loving community. Each IPA Day the hashtag #IPAday starts trending and everyone nose dives into their best hops for the occasion. It is all summed up rather nicely here at craftbeer.com and here at Australian Brews News. IPA Day is about celebrating beer, making noise about beer and starting a conversation. Does the date have historical associations to the origins of India Pale Ales? I don’t think so but if the day continues to grow and create conservation around great beer, drive education and spawn love affairs with beer then who cares?!

I celebrated IPA Day with two beers, one local and one international – Colonial Small IPA and Sierra Nevada Hoptimum.

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum

Colonial Small IPA

The Colonial Small IPA represents the first beer from the Margaret River breweries newest adventure – Project Beer (formerly known as Project X). The beers produced under this new label will be experimental limited releases and could be anything rather than being brewed to a specific style. I had the pleasure of chatting with Richard and Justin from Colonial about Project Beer which you can read here at The Crafty Pint.

The Small IPA is a reduced alcohol India Pale Ale and what a nice change it is to find a beer that clocks in under the 5% abv mark. Great tasting lower alcohol beers seem few and far between, in fact there are just two that spring to my mind – Rogers’ Amber Ale by Little Creatures (Fremantle/Geelong) and The Traveling Monk by Cheeky Monkey (Margaret River). More oh-so-tasty mids are needed and very welcome!

Dinner celebrations for IPA Day involved a growler full of Colonial beer paired with pork belly marinated in char siu sauce – a rich, sweet and spicy meal that proved a great compliment, bringing out the beers floral hoppiness.

Colonial and Pork Belly

I’d make an excellent monk…

More specifically I’d make a great Belgian monk circa 1800s. Why? Cause much of their time was spent making beer and making cheese

… aside from lots of the God stuff and the no hanky panky rule (I don’t actually call it that but I’m very aware that parental eyes look over this from time to time). But that aside, I think specifically I’d make a great Belgian monk circa 1800s. Why? Cause much of their time was spent making beer and making cheese, two of my favourite things! I guess I would have been a pretty fat monk with a heart condition too. Oh well.

Considering my love for beer and cheese I eagerly got tickets to the Good Beer Week event at the Local Taphouse St Kilda, entitled ‘A beer and cheese experience’.

The Beer and Cheese Experience was five beers matched to cheese and presented by James Smith of the Local Taphouse (there must be something about a love of craft beer and this name!) and Pascal Tremblay from Calendar Cheese Company.

We arrived early, being the eager beavers we were, and picked our seats at the long, long table.

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1. Mornington Peninsula Cask Conditioned Brown Ale (VIC) with Meli Melo (France)

With this match James and Pascal tried to “think outside the mould”, I’m not sure how many people actually heard those words but I am sure I did and damn I am a sucker for a good pun!

Our hosts were hoping the beer and cheese would compliment, rather than contrast or cut through. They were right! The toffee, dark fruit sweetness bought out the sweetness in the cheese. I thought textually they were nicely matched too, the lack of carbonation in the beer making for a really smooth mouthfeel with the semi-hard cheese.

I loved the nutty, mushroom rind on the cheese, which was a blend of both goat and sheep’s milk cheese, that just hinted at being creamy without actually being creamy (if that makes any sense to anyone outside my own head).

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2. Budejovicky Budvar (CZE) with Coolea (IRE)

They had surprised us by opening with a fair full flavoured pairing in the cask conditioned ale and Meli Melo before this one which was a much softer pairing. It was, of course, a deliberate act so that we “started the night with a bang” explained Pascal.

So the first pairing was a wake up call for the palate, now it was time to cleanse a little.

“Every beer in the world is trying to be a pilsner and failing epically at it”, James.

I’d almost forgotten what a nice clean pilsner Budvar was.

The cheese was a Dutch style Gouda that was sweet, a little fruity and I thought had a little melon in there too. It was a beautiful match to the pilsner with it’s subtle spices and it effortlessly washed over the thick mouth feel from the cheese.

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3. Manchester Marble Lagonda IPA (UK) with Healey’s Pyengana Cheddar (TAS)

This match was inspired by the English tradition of the ploughman’s lunch, the staples of which are cheese, chutney and accompanied by a beer.

The Lagonda IPA is made with all English hops and malt and arguably this style is a classic match to a good strong cheddar.

This match worked a treat, fruity spicy hops with the rich fruity cheddar with hints of white pepper. The cheese also had a sharp tang not unlike the hop bitterness at the end of the beer.

The cheese was also textually fun – hard but slightly crumbly and I thoroughly enjoyed pulling it apart.

A few years ago when I co-hosted a beer and cheese event at Five Bar with Nick Bath of Blue Cow Cheese, I remember his words of advice around tasting cheese. He emphasised that it was an experience for all your senses, not just your taste buds. He encouraged everyone to pick up the cheese with their
hands, play with it, smell it and look closely before eating it. That advice has stayed with me since.

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4. Abbaye Notre-Dame D’Orval Orval (BEL) with Mauri’s Taleggio (ITA)

I’ve only just discovered taleggio (thank you Tiff @beergirlbites) so it was great to get a little more insight into this style of cheese. Pascal’s advice was only to buy cave ripened taleggio, not only for authenticity but because it creates a richer, deeper flavour. I can’t wait to sound like a cheese expert when buying my next bit of taleggio!

The beer, Orval, is not one I’ve had since I was 19. Back then I was only just getting into my beers and I hated this beer. I’ve often described it as ‘the worst taste ever but then the after taste is even worse’.

My how things change. This Belgian Trappist beer is funky, it has some oranges and spice happening together with soft tropical fruits.

The cheese was really rich with vegetable flavours, in particular I found cooked cauliflower. The tropical hop flavours bought out the sharpness in the cheese whilst the beers spicy notes went well with the cheeses vegetable flavours.

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5. Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Bigfoot Barleywine (USA) with Cashel Farmhouse Blue (EIRE)

Ok, it was time to break out the big guns. The Bigfoots port, raisin, spicy fruit cake flavours were going to bump uglies with a creamy, ballsy and slightly ashy blue cheese.

Rich for rich, bold for bold, sweet for sweet, it was a clash of titans with a delicious result.

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Thank you Local Taphouse for another top night!

Ashley, James (below left) and Pascal (below right) – thank you all very much, it was a pleasure!

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Beer + Christmas

Christmas is just a few days away so I thought I’d quickly share a few of the yummy beers over got lined up for the festive season (in between beach visits and lots and lots of food of course!).

Christmas is just a few days away so I thought I’d quickly share a few of the yummy beers over got lined up for the festive season (in between beach visits and lots and lots of food of course!).

I’d also like to take the chance to thank you for reading my beery ramblings. The girl +beer blog has been an exciting adventure for me and I’m very grateful to you all for taking the time to read. I’m also lucky to have been supported by my amazing boyfriend, Crafty Pint, Australian Brews News and plenty of beer loving folk.

Happy Beery Christmas everyone and I’ll catch you in the new year!

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