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

Russian Imperial Stout Weather

Winter is coming. It’s not as bright at 6am as it was a month ago (which means I’m stay in bed longer!) and there’s a chill in the air. The colder weather has reminded me that there’s some deep, dark and downright dangerous beers that are waiting to find a home in my fridge/belly.


Winter is coming. It’s not as bright at 6am as it was a month ago (which means I’m stay in bed longer!) and there’s a chill in the air. The colder weather has reminded me that there’s some deep, dark and downright dangerous beers that are waiting to find a home in my fridge/belly.

This impulse struck me just the other day after having a gorgeous afternoon at Cowaramup Brewing. My partner and I got home and sunk into a very lazy evening, still full from lunch and incapable of doing much at all.

As I lazily typed away on my computer I had the urge to sip on a rich, dark beer. Luckily I had such a beer in the fridge – North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. I had found it at Zinn’s Liquor in Dunsborough where they’ve got a few shelves of great craft beer.

The night was cold and a little rainy, I jumped up from my chair and put on my hoodie and cracked open this beautiful beer …

I sipped on this for a long time, could have been over an hour, and it was perfect for my relaxed mood. I loved the rich and dusty mouth feel with a lengthy palate. The flavours of dark chocolate, you know that proper, real chocolate taste, as well as red berries, licorice and white pepper.

After what seems like a beautifully eternal summer here in WA filled with lots of pale ales and IPAs, drinking more stouts just went pretty high on my to-do-list.


Stout -v- Stout: Round 3 – Chocolate Cake

The cold winter nights have left me craving stouts so my boyfriend and I decided to conduct a little beer battle – Stout versus Stout. One night after dinner we sat down to a table of three desserts, two stouts, a notepad and a pen (this is what normal people do, right?). This post sees the stouts matching with homemade chocolate cake!

To briefly recap …

The cold winter nights have left me craving stouts so my boyfriend and I decided to conduct a little beer battle – Stout versus Stout.

One night after dinner we sat down to a table of three desserts, two stouts, a notepad and a pen (this is what normal people do, right?)

The Stouts: Coopers Best Extra and 4 Pines Stout

Coopers Best Extra Stout                                        4 Pines Stout
              Coopers Brewing (SA)                                        4 Pines Brewing (NSW)          
        6.3% abv | Foreign Extra Stout Style            5.1% abv | Irish Dry Stout Style

Round 1: Homemade Creme Brulee – the best match was Coopers Best Extra, read all about it here

Round 2: Chocolate Brownie – the best match was 4 Pines Stout, read all about it here

Now it is time for Round 3 – Chocolate Cake.

The chocolate cake was a belated birthday cake from a friend and was homemade – happy days! Now it seems that there are varying degrees of chocolate cake, from the light chocolatey all the way to the extreme “death by chocolate” approach where you might as well have just bitten into a kilo bag of sugar. This cake was more on the lighter side and definitely delicious!

Judging from the lightness of the cake I would have initially picked 4 Pines for my favourite match but when the two came together what most jumped out was the coffee bitterness, it was kinda sharp and unexpected. Perhaps there wasn’t enough chocolate in the body of the 4 Pines to lift those flavours from the cake. The Coopers Best Extra seemed a superior match, mostly in texture as it has a more creamy body which went nicely with the light fluffiness from the cake. There was much more milk chocolate notes in this matching, perhaps the creamy texture of the beer washed over the cake and brought out those flavours. I’m not really much for technical bits and bobs so I’m really just guessing here! Whether I’m way off track with the reason, it tasted good me to!

Whilst it wasn’t a match that set hearts and palates racing it was Coopers Best Extra that tasted like it had the upper hand.

Best Match … Coopers Best Extra Stout. I think the next stop will be cheese!

Stout -v- Stout + Chocolate Cake

Stout -v- Stout: Round 2 – Chocolate Brownie

Cold nights means STOUT and what better way to explore this great style by diving head first into some good ol’ head to head tastings. Going all Aussie, the stouts doing battle are 4 Pines Stout versus Coopers Best Extra. The first round was against homemade Creme Brulee with Coopers Best Extra proving the more exciting match … now it’s round two … bring on the Chocolate Brownies!

The first round of Stout -v- Stout saw 4 Pines Stout match head to head with Coopers Best Extra to see what would be the superior match with my homemade Creme Brulee. I’m not the greatest at desserts, except banana bread – my banana bread kicks ass – but the result was pretty damn good. To read the match ups and see which was the favourite pair, read on here.

Coopers Best Extra Stout                                        4 Pines Stout
              Coopers Brewing (SA)                                        4 Pines Brewing (NSW)          
        6.3% abv | Foreign Extra Stout Style            5.1% abv | Irish Dry Stout Style

Now it is time for Round 2 – Chocolate Brownies.

Normally we don’t have a lot of dessert in the house but winter has been damn cold so we are looking for any excuse to turn on the oven; as a result my boyfriend frequently disappears down the cake mix aisle at the shops.

Baking is always fun and usually a little messy in the mixing process. Like a true gentlemen my boyfriend gave me the wooden spoon to lick; I don’t care how old you are, it is always fun to eat the mix straight off the spoon!

Coopers Best Extra got a little overrun by the chocolate brownie. There was indeed great chocolatey notes from the beer and brownie but it seemed the bitterness and almost liquorice flavours stood out like an awkward pimply teenage at a school dance. The difference was a little jarring on the palate.

The 4 Pines Stout proved to be more complimentary; the sweet dark chocolate flavours from the beer and brownie was nicely balanced. There was still an element of coffee bitterness as in the Coopers but the 4 Pines was a more subtle and delicate touch. The more we tasted these two together, the more delightful the combination. Smooth, balanced and just lovely – perfect for a winter night and the fact the house warmed up whilst the oven was on made it even better!

Best Match with Chocolate Brownies … 4 Pines Stout!

Next Time: The third and final round between 4 Pines and Coopers … good old trusty chocolate cake!

Stout -v- Stout + Choc Brownies

Fried Mice + Fresh Fish + Local Beer

I love the Clancy’s Fish Pubs, the food is always tasty and fresh with a great range of tap beers with a local focus. When visiting any of the Clancy’s Fish Pubs – Fremantle, City Beach, Applecross and Dunsborough – it should be compulsory to order a minimum of one serve of Fried Mice and a pint of something local.

It was my boyfriends birthday over the weekend so his folks came down for a visit and we thought a Sunday lunch would be a nice way to spend an afternoon. We wanted to take them somewhere they hadn’t been before and if that place happened to have some fantastic beers on tap, well, that was just a cheeky bonus. Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough fit the bill nicely, and since they don’t take bookings it was an easy exercise of rolling up at our leisure.

I love the Clancy’s Fish Pubs, the food is always tasty and fresh with a great range of tap beers with a local focus. When visiting any of the Clancy’s Fish Pubs – Fremantle, City Beach, Applecross and Dunsborough – it should be compulsory to order a minimum of one serve of Fried Mice and a pint of something local.

Fried Mice
Battered and deep fried Jalapenos stuffed with Persian Fetta
Served on Red Capsicum Rouille with Sour Cream
(gotta have something to ease the burning heat!)

It was just after 12noon when we arrived at Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough and plenty of other people had clearly had the same idea; not surprising since it was a sunny long weekend and the last one West Australians will get for a few months.

We hit the bar and delved head first in a diverse list of tap beers with a lot of local representation from Little Creatures, Nail Ale, Eagle Bay Brewing, Bootleg Brewery, Cowaramup Brewery, Tanglehead Brewing and Feral Brewery. With so many great local beers to choose from, it makes for a delightfully hard choice! We selected an array of beers to start with so we could do a little tasting of our own …

  • Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale
  • Eagle Bay Kolsch
  • Mountain Goat Steam Ale
  • Cowaramup Pilsener
It’s always a pleasure to have a pint of Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale, it’s consistently delicious with a great balance of bitter and fruit. It uses pale and crystal malts with Tasmanian Pride of Ringwood hops, for earthy, strong flavours, and Hallertau for floral aromas. Since Clancy’s are the only venues I see Nail Ale on tap it almost seems mandatory to get a pint.
Pint of Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale
They may not be the biggest brewery but Nail Ale do make headlines – Antarctic Nail Ale was a very limited release of 30 bottles in 2010; Nail Ale Pale brewed with Antarctic ice brought back by the Sea Shepard from an anti-whaling campaign. A single bottle sold for $800 in a fund raising auction for the Sea Shepard Conversation Society. If anyone tried it, I’d love to know the result!
I was given the responsibility of selecting beers for my boyfriends parents, a task that I happily took on. They enjoy lagers and pilsners and shared in a few Coopers Pale Ales we had the evening before. With this in mind I picked the Eagle Bay Kolsch and Mountain Goat Steam Ale.
I’ve said it a number of times but Kolsch is one of my favourite styles both for flavour, and as a style for recommending to lager enthusiasts. Eagle Bay Kolsch is light bodied with lovely hops and a little spice and stone fruit. It’s bright and looks gorgeous in the glass.
The words Mountain Goat Steam Ale conjure up images in my mind of a goat driving an old steam train. As for the beer itself, it is delicately herbal and fruity with a bit of wheat malt for extra refreshment and Cascade and Citra hops. Coming in at #37 in the 2011 The Critics’ Choice: Australia’s Best Beers, up from #47 the previous year, it’s also 100% certified organic.
Thankfully both beers were enjoyed; there’s something sweetly rewarding when you pick a beer for someone and they like it and order another.
It had also been almost a year since I’d tasted the Cowaramup Pilsener from a tasting paddle on a visit to the brewery almost a year ago. During my day in the brewhouse of Colonial Brewery with Mal, Head Brewer, he had been singing the praises of Jeremy and his Cowaramup Pilsener so when I spotted it off tap I was keen to have a pint. The family owned and operated Cowaramup Brewery lies on the edge of Margaret River in Cowaramup, a town that is affectionately known by the locals as “cow town”, and they grow a few hop varieties on site that are used in their beers. Their Pilsener was awarded a Champion Lager trophy at the 2011 Australian International Beer Awards and made its first appearance in latest The Critics’ Choice Australia’s Best Beers at #58. It’s a German style Pilsener conditioned for seven weeks and using Perle and Tettnanger hops, both of which originate in Germany.
Perle Hops were breed from the English variety, Northern Brewer and an undisclosed male parent at the German Hull Hop Research Institute. Whilst that may bring up a kind of Frankenstein inspired image of producing hops, the result here is not disastrous. Perle has great versatility for bittering, flavour and aroma. Perhaps this sort of versatility, combined with a resistance to common hop diseases, is why it’s the most widely planted hop variety in Germany.
Tettnanger, a Southern Germany hop variety, possessing similar characteristics to Saaz hops (most known for their presence in Pilsners) and considered a bit of a “classic” hop. In wide demand from all over the world, it’s traditionally used to produce German Pilsners for it’s citrus/grassy flavours.
We soon noticed the line for ordering food was starting to grow so we grabbed our beers and headed for the queue. When we first joined the line our intention was to order one serve of Fried Mice and one serve of Grilled Sardine Fillets. By the time we reached the counter we ordered 2 serves of Fried Mice, the Grilled Sardine Fillets and 2 serves of Tempura House Fish & Chips. I wonder whether that happens to everyone standing in the line which just happens to be right where the food comes out of the kitchen.
Soon it was time for another round and my boyfriend and I opted for something different again and something darker.
  • Bootleg Black Market IPA
  • Tanglehead Stout
The Black Market IPA is one of my favourite offerings from Bootleg Brewery which has been operating in the Margaret River region since 1994. The happy harmony between dark malts, creating richness and darkness, and aromatic and floral hops, makes for one of my favourite brews. It was also an interesting match to the Fried Mice, acting like an IPA would to the heat of the dish on top of dark malt richness adding a contrasting rich sweetness. The Black IPA, India Black Ale, or whatever you want to call it, has been surfacing in popularly in recent years and if you’re keen you’ll find a great article on the style on ‘Australian Brew News’.
Bootleg Black Market IPA + Fried Mice + Tempura Fish & Chips
The fish was caught and delivered that day!
Tanglehead Brewery is located in Albany amongst the Great Southern region of Western Australia, the town is most commonly associated with whale watching, the Stirling Ranges and Bluff Knoll. I have not visited Albany since I was a kid (and the only thing I remember is being car sick and throwing up in the hotel) so I will have to make a point of returning soon. They had the Tanglehead Stout on tap, which is an Oatmeal Stout, silky and rich and dominated by chocolate and coffee notes. It was a rather strange follow up to the Black Market IPA and played a bit of havoc with my palate but certainly a nice velvety drop.
The food arrived in good time considering the place had filled up very quickly and we wondered just how many serves of their Tempura Fish & Chips would have been pumped from the kitchen over the long weekend. The fish tasted fresh and flavoursome and was perfectly cooked; the Fried Mice were great (as always) and thankfully didn’t burn your palate to the point of numbness and the Grilled Sardine Fillets were a great tangy little bite to start on.
Grilled Sardine Fillets with Chargrilled Ciabatta and Scorched Lemon
Tempura House Fish and Chips with Green Salad and Tartare Sauce
The atmosphere at Clancy’s is always a bright and bubbly one with yellow, red and blue seats scattered throughout the venue. The grass, having seen a decent dose of rain recently, was healthy and green with parents and kids running around, kicking a footy (despite seeing West Coast lose to Brisbane on the big screen TV inside) and enjoying the open space and sunshine. The staff are friendly and it speaks volumes when you see the bartenders having a laugh and a joke with each other and their customers; it looks like a great team with Jane (formerly of the Clancy’s Fish Pub Fremantle) running the show. Combine this with great fresh food (their fish is caught and delivered fresh daily) and an impressive representation of local beers and ciders and it really captures what the South West is all about.