Yesterday started with a trip down to the Local Taphouse, where I came across Ross, who was down from Brisbane to plug his gear at Biero last night. We both happened at the bar at the same time wanting the Moondog, but was told there was a problem with it. So, with us both waiting for it to get resolved, Ross grabbed a paddle while I stuck to just a Brew 500 from Bridge Road to get me started for the day.
While trying to keep up with Ross's knowledge of beers and brewing, at least we had beer travel to fall back on for anecdotes and even there he easily beat me with a 320 beer journey of the U.S. in 2 weeks (he worked out on average it was a different beer every 30 mins)!
As for the Brew 500, I did not mind the bit of smokiness and the light body of the dark malt was alright for the first beer of the day. As I finished it, the call came that the Moondog tap was working again so we picked up one each. What a great looking Imperial Stout! The tight foamy white head contrasting the black 'as the ace of spades' body. The smell was a little lackluster as was the taste, but the texture was really good. Funny, while the Red Duck Ox Tail Imperial Stout gives so much on the nose but not much in flavour, at least your expectations are not put too high when you smell the Moondog. One thing I also noticed was the same sort of muddling aspect on midpalate which I think also stopped me tasting much pineapple from the Mrs Parma's Moondog beer. I am now not certain if I could get any pineapple at all from it if this muddling is a style of theirs. Just as we were about to leave I asked the girl behind the bar what she was getting into on tap, and she mentioned the Murray's Easter Ale. My mum (god bless her for promoting my drinking) sent me an article about this beer, and so got excited when I actually saw it available. The three of us had a taste each and I have to say, there is some definite cinnamon on the nose and taste, with a yeasty/bready backpalate/aftertaste to make it actually taste like a hot cross bun! With warmth, all of this became even more prominent. Amazing!
With this step forward, we moved out of the Taphouse and onto Cookie. While Ross had the beer knowledge I had the Melbourne knowledge, so was able to get on a tram and find our way there in good time. While Cookie isn't a place I go to often for a beer, I knew they had the Bridge Road Dogs Breakfast, and not knowing it is also know as Brew 500, ordered that again, only to find out they are the same when tasting it. This was when the beer disappointed me, as I wasn't getting any coffee, oats or other aspects that were suppose to be in it. Maybe just a bit of bacon from the smoke character. With that second one finished I tried to convince Ross that Bridge Road do good beers, so got him on the Chevalier Biere De Garde, which was on tap. I have to say I still quite like it, but Ross found the malty front unbalanced the beer a bit and left it cloying on the back. I could taste that as well, but for me I enjoy that aspect of the beer as the malt just adds a deeper flavour under the fruit. After that I stopped trying to convince Ross and he decided to look over the bottled beer menu.
The Les Trios Porter Baltique is one I had been meaning to try for a while, so we both agreed to give it a go. Once I helped the bar girl get the cork out we poured out one for each of us, and seeing it was a 750ml, we offered some to the girl sitting next to us at the bar, as an apology for putting up with our beer talk. Well, isn't this just a classic of the baltic porter style! really nice chocolate smell with a hint of alcohol, big dark sweet malt/fruit up front with some vinous (reminded me a bit like a grappa my uncle let me try) but then a great cleansing back to make you want to go back for more. This was a beer both Ross and I could equally enjoy, even if our palates were a bit different. So clear in flavour, just the right amount of texture for a porter and clean on the back, so at least on taste you did not notice the alcohol much (9.2%). Mind you, the alcohol buzz hit our heads, so lucky we had half an hour travel before getting to Mountain Goat.
Getting in we noticed the beer industry types had assembled and had staked the best spot in the place, and as I lined up to finally try my first Wig and Pen beer, who should I see but Brad also at the bar doing a round for his workmates. Grabbing my Feral Funky Junkie (we realised we had the wrong beer after tasting and consulting the beer menu) we got drinking and chatting. There seemed to be a good authentic sourness to the beer, but wasn't too sharp and cleansed well enough to keep you going back for more. The body was pretty light, which helped as well. Mind you, the taste buds were getting a bit hazy and not even sure the order I drank the beers in but will try and eek out what I can.
I also got to chat to the Goaters and feel a bit more part of the brewing society all together in this one place. This was the first time I saw this sort of collective, and while I caught up with Chris, who I sat next to at the dinner on Monday (we are both looking at hitting the 100 marks of beers tried this weekend), I also got to listen in (well, what could I contribute really) while hanging out with heaps of others, like Matt from brewnews, who I think was chatting with Jason from the Taphouse (ahh, too many people and behind the scenes info for this newbie!). I saw a familar face in Owen from Moo Brew, and also meet other beer nerds like me, just trying to get to as many events as they could in the week. The pirate boys were out in force (getting Crafty in on the act) and met with James Davidson who actually came up to me to have a chat (is it bad to be getting recognised by people I haven't met?).
The collaboration Dubbel tasted a bit better then what I recall a couple of weeks back.
The flavour had become a lot clearer, so could taste the under current of dark malt and fruit, but there was also a lighter sweetness over the top which I quite enjoyed before that yeastiness comes in. I could sense a bit of belgian waffle from this, and didn't the warm belgian chocolate parcels just go so well with it. The two together reminded me of the chocolate coated waffles I had in Belgian, and while the 'beery' aspect does take away from it, the chocolate really gave a good boost to not just the flavour, but improved the texture as well, and it went down a dream.
I actually saw one of the girls from the chocolate and beer tasting event from the night before standing by the cooker waiting for more of the parcels to come out so she could have them with the beer. We agreed it was up there with what we had tried the night before.
All in all it was all a bit of a head spin and not just from the beer. Though, I did realise I needed to eat something substantial, and after have been stood up by a friend I was suppose to meet up with for dinner, I went to the Royston for a hearty parma and help out a random team doing trivia next to me. I saw a couple more beer nerds from the night before there, and I made sure to sit near the tap that normally has Carlton Draught on, just to smile and continually see it not there. I went with the Swartzbier, which was true to style, and so couldn't do much for my languishing taste buds. I did manage though to get back to Mountain Goat to try the final beer on the list, the Saison DuMoo, that Dan gave to me half price, as he only had pint glasses available and I wanted a pot. With that pint I reached the top of my stomach, but at least could sense I enjoyed it a bit more than the first time I tried it. As the beer industry types headed off to Biero, with a weighted tongue from tasting, a weighted stomach, a weighted head from all the info I was trying to absorb from industry people, and a slightly weighted heart from having been stood up by a friend at another beer event this week, I made my way home...