Weekend Reading #27

This week features articles on the that word again – “CRAFT” – and branding and what happens when a big guy buys a little guy …

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.

All About Beer | A Single Word: The Case for Beer

I don’t know if I am surprised or not by the continued spotlight on the word “craft” and what it means to the industry and/or what it represents about the industry to the outside world aka the consumer. This is a nice piece from John Hall, the editor of All About Beer Magazine, explaining why they have made a conscious effort to minimise their use of the word “craft” in the magazine. I like this piece, it feels like they are keeping it simple and inclusive rather than categorising and excluding.

“One word shouldn’t be a dividing point,”

John Hall, editor All About Beer Magazine

Stone & Wood Brewery | Being Good … Not Crafty!

More on the word “craft” but this time from a local Australian brewery perspective – namely Jamie, Brad and Ross who are the founders and owners of Stone & Wood Brewery. I think their words resonated with my own feelings on the topic the most; we can debate the parameters of “craft” all we like but in the end it’s about being genuine and honest. Tell us what you believe in, how you want to do business, what sort of beers you want to put out there and then go ahead and do it. Most importantly, do it well.

“At the end of the day though, it’s a description that needs to be earned, it can’t be self proclaimed”

All About Beer | Why Brands Matter

Thanks Steve Finny, Feral Brewing, for bringing this article to my attention via the wonderful world of Facebook. I have always liked reading about branding, I find it really fascinating and probably why I ended up doing an advertising degree. My greater love of booze is probably why I now have a degree in advertising that I don’t use.

“We have strangely complex relationships with brewery. The mention of a name produces a tangle of impressions, memories, prejudices and emotions.”

Branding is a funny one because when it’s so good you really believe, or at least you really want to believe, but there is a cynical part that resists buying into it.

When I think about branding and beer I think about Little Creatures and the reaction to Lion Nathan buying them. Some seemed to respond like an admittance of defeat, as though a friend of theirs had been inevitably captured by the enemy. Others seemed to feel like they had been betrayed, like their friend had been captured and tortured behind enemy lines. The reaction was far more interesting than the situation itself.

Draft | AB buys Elysian: A View from Seattle from the Rhine

On the subject of brands, feelings and breweries buying breweries, here is an article on the recent acquisition in the US. The end of the article sums things up nicely,

“Like any other business it depends on consumer choice”

How important is ownership? How significant is its impact on the final result?

 

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!

If found please return to … aka: Where I’ll be during Good Beer Week

Holy hop flowers Batman, I am SO excited. It’s just days until Melbourne’s Good Beer Week!

good beer week logo

Holy hop flowers Batman, I am SO excited. It’s just a couple of days until Melbourne’s Good Beer Week!

For those who aren’t aware Good Beer Week, as the name suggests, is a week long celebration of all things beer. There are events across Melbourne to suit everyone whether your’re a beer-nerd or just a little beer-curious.

Meet brewers, drink beer, have fun and survive – that’s my agenda for Good Beer Week but to be more specific, here is what I’m going to during Good Beer Week. Thank heavens for Google calendar …

Saturday 18th May

The Apple & The Goat – a lunch degustation with the guys from Melbourne’s Mountain Goat Brewery and New York’s Brooklyn Brewery

The Gathering – a Stone & Wood event showcasing their 2013 edition of Stone Beer is something I don’t want to miss and with these words included in the blurb it was hard to resist “Entry is free… and so are hugs from the brewer Brad Rogers”

Sunday 19th May

East versus West – Beer and Food Title Fight – Josie Bones in one corner representing Melbourne with Five Bar in the opposite corner punching for Perth. Who will win? Naturally I will be cheering on Five Bar with chef Mitch Mitchell, aka Beersine since he’s not only a great chef but all round good guy and once upon a time I was assistant manager at Five. Come on West!

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver Photography
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver Photography

Monday 20th May

Prickly Moses Rare and Wild – four words, “rare aged reserve beers”. Sold.

Tuesday 21st May

Cavalier Creation Degustation – small batch experimental beers matched with amazing food, this will be a cracker! Plus I get to write about it for Crafty Pint and look extra super nerdy with my Google tablet for note taking. God I’m a dork.

Wednesday 22nd May

Brewers and Chewers – it’s three events in one – meet the brewer, musical chairs and speed dating; I’m in.

Thursday 23rd May

Beer and Cheese Experience – I’ve never been to The Local Taphouse so I figured what better way to introduce myself to the venue than to combine it with two of my favourite things – beer and cheese.

Friday 24th May

Birra del Borgo Collaboration Celebration – for me the Birra del Borgo Duchessic was one of those beers that comes along, totally blows you away and stays with you for ages. That’s why I want to go to this event – to meet the brewer and shake his hand and say thank you.

Duchessic (frame)

Saturday 25th

GABS baby! Oh year – the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular – jam packed with beers brewed especially for the festival aka “festival beers” all in the name of brewing creativity. I’m so very there!

Eagle Bay and Monk Collage
Brew Day – Eagle Bay and The Monk collaborating for the Cacao Cabana, one of the many many festival beers being debuted at GABS

Sunday 26th May

Boatrocker Palate Cleanser – finishing the week off on a sour note.

Oh and somewhere in those days I would like to fit in Pint of Origin too …

I’ve already packed a 30 pack of Berocca and extra strength Asprin, I think I’m going to need it!