Meatballs + Amber

Whilst looking for recipes on the Draft Magazine website I came across Classic Beer Meatballs; three different kinds of meat and amber ale – now that’s my kinda recipe!

Twitter recently introduced me to Draft Magazine (US) and when I jumped onto the website the first thing I noticed was a banner advertisement. Though this is not usually a positive thing I caught sight of the words “a hop burp never tasted so good” … so I was immediately compelled to explore the website some more.

As their feature articles flicked across the screen I was unable to resist the one entitled ‘4 Ways to Pair: Hotdogs’. I couldn’t help but wonder about my weekend trips to Bunnings to get a sausage in a bun … oh and some gardening or housey stuff too of course. It’s not like I go to Bunnings just for the hotdogs … that’d be weird … ahem. I reached the conclusion that it would be socially unacceptable to take a beer to a Bunnings sausage sizzle, particularly if it’s a fundraiser for a year six camping trip or for the local seniors bowling club.

Anyway, enough rambling, on with the post …

Whilst looking for recipes on the Draft Magazine website I came across Classic Beer Meatballs; three different kinds of meat and amber ale – now that’s my kinda recipe!

Since the recipe is from a United States website, thus it gives the bird to the metric system, here are the measures I used to make 8 golf ball sized meatballs:

Classic Beer Meatballs Recipe

The result was delicious, using lamb and pork mince seemed to make it lighter than if it had just been beef. It’s a great base recipe from which you can play around and add your own finishing touches. Served with potato mash with spring onions and sliced garlic, it was a tasty Saturday night dinner.

For the beer in the meatballs I used Little Creatures latest Single Batch – Shepherd’s Delight in the hope that a Red IPA instead of an Amber Ale may add a little more floral and fruitness. Without anything to compare them to it’s hard to say whether I succeeded or not. The dish was delicious, I know that much!

Classic Beer Meatballs

As for the beer, it’s a very good drop. Admittedly now that Little Creatures is owned by Lion Nathan it’s hard to stop the brain was wondering if / how this affects the beer. To date my answer is “not at all”.

Like most of their single batch releases Creatures have hopped and hopped generously, apparently their “most lavish hopping regime to date”. The brewers have opted from hops from Australia, New Zealand, United States and UK, using as follows:

  • US Hops – Chinook. This is not surprising as I’m pretty sure it’s the main hop used in Little Creatures Pale Ale (at least it was when I was working for them).
  • UK Hops – East Kent Goldings which are frequently used in English Pale Ales.
  • Aussie Hops – Stella from Tasmania which are known for contributing big floral aromas and Victoria Secret, similar to Galaxy, “imparts strong tropical fruit (pineapple) character, nicely balanced with resiny pine notes”, from Hop Products Australia
  • New Zealand Hops – Southern Cross, which is a mix of a few different hops that imparts citrus and spice and Dr Rudi, or Super Alpha, known for its resinous, grassy notes.

Hop talk aside, for me the Shepherd’s Delight had aromas of tropical fruit, floral notes and a little toast. The mouth feel was medium with a decent length on the palate. There were lots of flavours happening with some resiny, floral IPA characteristics mixed together with biscuits and nuts (perhaps almonds?) and as the beer got warmer more malt came through. Very drinkable and very nice.

Oddly enough as a beer and food match is was a little off with the Classic Beer Meatballs turning out a lot softer in flavour than I had anticipated. Perhaps something like a Kolsch or even a nice malty brown ale would have been better suited.

Little Creatures Shepherd’s Delight is certainly worth seeking out. The usual suspects like Mane Liquor, Cellarbrations Carlisle and International Beer Shop have it, otherwise check it their handy little stockists function at their website.

LC Shepherd's Delight

Eagle Bay + Summer

For those unfamiliar with the Eagle Bay Single Batch range it’s a one off brew of about 1000 litres that changes whenever it runs out. Their latest is a Summer Ale and follows in the tasty footsteps of Romp Ferme Saison, Cacao Stout and American Brown Ale and it doesn’t disappoint.

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The crew at Eagle Bay Brewing are a very tempting bunch, take that as you will, but if you follow them on Twitter or are friends with them on Facebook you’ll know what I’m talking about. Eagle Bay Brewing send out a steady stream of gorgeous photos of sunshine, sunsets and pints that make you dream about being there …

Thankfully there isn’t much between my front door and Eagle Bay Brewery, distance wise it’s kinda the Perth equivalent of heading to Mandurah for the day. My partner and I picked a sun drenched Saturday afternoon to indulge in a late lunch and taste of their new Single Batch limited release beer – Summer Ale.

For those unfamiliar with the Eagle Bay Single Batch range it is a one off brew of about 1000 litres and when it runs out they bring out something new. Generally it’s a brewery exclusive but if they do let it out to play they’ll tell you on their website. Their latest Single Batch Summer Ale, and first for 2013, follows in the tasty footsteps of Romp Ferme Saison, Cacao Stout and American Brown Ale and doesn’t disappoint. Eagle Bay Single Batch Grid The first whiff of Summer Ale was similar to that glorious moment when you stick your head in a bag full of hops and breathe in. As the beer warmed up the fresh hop aroma gave way to grapefruit, orange and honey. It’s a great example of an Australian pale ale with a good balance of citrus, tropical fruits and bitterness. Summer Ale before and after Eagle Bay Summer Ale uses Galaxy hops, a variety from Australia that was developed by Hop Products Australia in the mid-90s, which is the source of that great summery, tropical fruit and citrus deliciousness. You may already be familiar with Galaxy hops if you’re a fan of Stone & Wood Pacific Ale, a sensational beer by Ross and Brad who started Stone & Wood in Byron Bay in 2008. If you’ve got a spare minute there’s a great short blog post from Ross about their trip to Tasmania for the 2011 harvest of Galaxy hops which you’ll find here.

Getting back to Eagle Bay, since we had moved on to round two of Summer Ale it was time for some grub. I did my usual thing of trying to consume my body weight in food because it was so darn good and consequently rolled rather than walked out the doors a couple of hours later.

Lunch at Eagle Bay

Of course I just had to have cheese for no good reason other than I wanted it; living up wonderfully to my only child status. In my defense I needed something to accompany the third pint of Summer Ale – I think the correct term is “dangerously drinkable”.  Once we’d managed to heave ourselves from our chairs we made sure to take home a growler of Summer Ale to enjoy over the rest of the weekend. I have to say, based on each visit we’ve taken to Eagle Bay Brewing it’s always a brilliant way to spend a few hours.

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Sticky Chicken Wings + Little Creatures

Trying out Sticky Chicken Wings (using Coopers Pale instead of Sake since I had no sake!) matched with the latest Little Creatures Single Batch – The Day of the Long Shadow (and even longer beer name that makes it a real mouthful!) …

8.9% abv
Little Creatures | Fremantle (WA)
Spiced Christmas Ale

The latest Little Creatures Single Batch ‘The Day of the Long Shadow’ is a big mouthful not just in the extensive name but also the beer itself.

Styled with a cold European Christmas in mind; it’s a boozy 8.9% abv that smacks you lovingly in the face but it’s nicely balanced with assorted spices and dark fruits. Whilst Little Creatures are normally known for a more American hop approach they have used UK Sovereign and Challenger hops. These English hops lend softer and more earthy characteristics with Challenger hops, in particular, providing fruitiness and sutble spices. There is a little bit of bitterness lurking about as well so I thought a dish with some contrasting bitter/sweet flavours could be an interesting match.

Bill’s Everyday Asian
Bill Granger

I flicked through Bill’s Everyday Asian and landed on a recipe for Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings. The contrasting soy, chilli and sugar sounded like it could work up against the Little Creatures “the day of the long tea time of the soul darkness etc etc” but at the same time I had my doubts however I liked the sound of the dish and couldn’t be bothered looking into it any further. I had briefly contemplated something Christmas inspired, in keeping with the theme, but I really didn’t have the time to be trying to roast a leg of ham or turkey and fruitcake isn’t really dinner appropriate. I had also committed myself to cooking three other dishes that night (related to other occasions) so I was inclined to get on with it!

Simultaneous cooking of 4 dishes and drinking 2 beers

I kinda followed the recipe however we didn’t have Sake so I just used the nearest booze in arms reach … in went a generous dash of Coopers Pale Ale. I had palm sugar in hand, which I had purchased for another dish, so I grated some and tossed it through instead of the regular white sugar the book called for because, to be perfectly honest, it felt more asian-y. I ditched the sesame seeds because I just couldn’t be bothered. The result was a recipe that went a little something like this:

Sticky Chicken Wings (based on Bill Granger’s Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings)

Serves 2

I served with chilli fried rice so dinner wasn’t just a plate of chicken wings …

6 Chicken Wings

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped

1 red chill, finely chopped

2 tablespoons Mirin

2 tablespoons Soy Sauce

Generous splash of Coopers Pale Ale

Grated Palm Sugar (approx 30 grams)

Throw chicken wings into a dish lined with baking paper and into a hot oven (200 degrees) for about 35-40 minutes. In a saucepan over medium heat throw in the other ingredients, garlic and chilli first and then the rest. Cook for a few minutes or as long as it takes for the liquid to reduce by about half. Whether this was because of my handful of variations this actually took a good 15 minutes.

After 35-40 minutes remove chicken wings from oven and coat with the sauce, toss through to ensure they are covered. I was a little skeptical at this stage, thinking the sauce wouldn’t stick but after another 15-2o minutes in the oven the result was just as the title promises!

Sticky Chicken Wings
Based on a recipe from Bill Granger’s “Bill’s Everyday Asian”
Using Coopers Pale Ale instead of Sake due to a lack of Sake!

Dinner was sticky and good but sadly not a winning match with the beer with far too much contrast going on between the food and the beer. Ah well, I get another chance at it with a Gauloise Christmas still in the fridge!

Little Creatures: The Quiet American

In a passionate one night stand a Belgian Strong Ale and an American IPA got together and made something beautiful!

Hoppity hop hops and sweet rich orange …

Crafted By: Little Creatures, Fremantle

Style: Hybrid (the bastard child of a Belgian Strong Ale & American IPA)

Status: Limited Release – get it when you see it people! ‘Single Batch’ means not much will be around

Available by/through: 568ml Pint Bottles and on tap at Little Creatures and a handful of select venues

Booziness: 7.2% abv

Taste: Rich oranges, spices and American hop bitterness

Look: Pours clear golden and quickly settles into a slightly darker form

Production Bits:

  • Pale Ale Malt, Abbey Malt, CaraBeige, CaraAroma, MunichMalt and Belgian Candi Syrup.
  • 55 IBU
  • New Seasons US Cascade and Chinook Hops