Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ok, Time for a Rant!

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine showed me this website, which I had a laugh over and did not think much of at the time. While I would like to say I am a bit adventurous with what flavours we like to get in our homebrewing, I am not sure what a show like this will accomplish for the beer industry. A brewery owned by Lion Nathan looking for what seems like trinkets and cosmetic improvements to beer does not appeal to me much. I can understand the industry is on the cusp of growth in beer (more in diversity that pure volume), but I just do not see what a venture like this will achieve. Will people question what beers they drink, or just how they drink.

I am reminded of a program I saw recently talking about the beer industry. What Shawn Sherlock says at the beginning about using old techniques but being innovative to explore different styles made me think, 'well, brewing is process orientated. It comes down to that, over the tidbits that may well be the result of what come out of this Hahn and television venture'.

Still, the question remains, how are we best to promote and grow the brewing industry? I hasten to point that I am not talking about drinking more beer, my philosophical approach to beer is one focused more on diversity and tasting 'good' beer...whatever that is for whoever is drinking it.

Having just come through Good Beer Week (GBW) here in Melbourne, of course I see this as a good vehicle for the industry, which I am happy to see is being replicated soon in Queensland ( This showcased not just the diversity and 'craft' of beer itself, but with the festival's continued growth, the different ways it can be enjoyed (eg, with food [degustation, chocolate pairing]), even to the point where drinking beer is not the main aspect to the adventure (eg, beer treasure/scavenger hunt). However, one thing that I was pleased to see in the lead up to GBW was a concept called The People's Pint. While I wouldn't really contemplate putting in something for the Hahn 'Pioneering Beering' program, I was more than happy to put in my thoughts for this 'think tank' venture. It was simply giving people ownership over their own tastebuds and what they would like to see in a beer. Nothing showcases the humility, diversity and openness beer has than allowing people to come up with their own ideas on what beer should/could taste like. Beer was an accident many thousands of years ago, and the knowledge that yeast had anything to do with it at all only came relatively recently in human history. Why should we try to control what is can be. Ok, this is my non-technical, open minded, philosophical approach coming through here, but I think that is how you really connect with other people to help them enjoy beer. Open their mind and you may well open their tastebuds in the process.

Taking this concept back to where I work, Mountain Goat have given the brewer's license to come up with their own beers as specialities for the brewery. The results have differed ('The Craig' came best in its class at the recent beer awards, while it looks like 'The Mike' may not even make it out to the general public because of some issues that occurred in the brewing process), but the open approach is the advantage beer has that I think needs to be the focus. For myself, I am happy to introduce beer to people in a way to find 'their' flavour, and I 'try' not to judge their choices, but then open them to the possibilities of beer. Sure, this has led some people to ask me whether beer can taste like tuna salad, or others describing a beer as tasting like 'arse', but generally I like to think I have allowed them to come to beer in the way they can enjoy it, through the aromas, taste, textures, and sensations (and yes, in some part the alcohol) they want to get from it. I just hope my knowledge is enough to help find a general direction for all the people I meet in this way, and love it when they come back to me saying they have found a beer they like, or if I have tried this beer they just tasted.

Anyway, with my happy 'head in the clouds' part over, I want to come back to the program I saw a few weeks back and be a bit more serious on the topic they focused on. I have quite a bit to do with draught beer seeing I am the main man at Goat that fills the kegs that get sent out to you punters to wet your whistles and hopefully satisfy your tastebuds. Goat have also just come through the biggest ever month in terms of kegs produced by the brewery. Kegs are probably the most efficient and effective way for breweries to get their beer out to the public, and create the least amount of environmental impact in terms of packaging. The issue of larger breweries buying/'tying' the taps of pub and bars is one that is therefore an important one in the logistics of the industry, and the diversity of beers available on tap at your 'local'. For a tap system, maintenance of taps, upgrade of tap system, regular delivery of kegs for a bars stock, discount on kegs, whatever the reason a bar/pub may have to help make them work more efficiently, this system where larger breweries (with more resources than smaller ones) buy or tie the taps of a venue to ensure their beer is available in as many venues as possible, is therefore one of note.
Beer is and should be accessible to those that are legally able to consume it (I would also like to add the proviso that they should also have the right attitude and respect towards alcohol, but that is only my own opinion, and even I do not always have that when I am drinking). The question as to how much of a monopoly there should be on a venues taps is the issue. I am not going to pretend I know all there is on this topic, but as my own personal attitude denotes, I would like to see more diversity in what is available. I would also like to see more of a 'regionalised' approach to beer, where locals are encouraged to support local breweries, much like I have seen in Europe and parts of the Unites States. I guess I am also a bit hypocritical in saying this as I also like going to specialised pubs/bars that have international beers available on tap and in the bottle, and the latter clutter up my house with beers from around the world. However, I have also done enough travel to show I appreciate the regional aspect of beer, and some of my best experiences with beer have been finding them where they are made. I guess I am also lucky living in Melbourne where it is a good region for finding local beers, many of which from microbreweries. However, I wonder with the 'regionalised' attitude whether more small breweries would open up, being open to the tastes of the locals it satisfies and resourceful to the ingredients it has access to, even creating a style/tradition of brewing for itself, that would then attract people like myself to come and taste. I did it for Bamberg in Germany, and the N/W of the US, and the regionalised diversity of Belgium still astounds me.

From all this I am not sure I have a solution, and with my contradictory behaviour with beer, I am probably not best to spout one solution over another. I guess the question comes back to you. Do you want to see the same beers in every pub you go into? Would you prefer the other extreme where brewpubs only supply their own beer on tap? Is there a happy balance between the two? Is my stance just two sides of the same coin, between regionalised and international? Is anyone actually reading this?

So what was to become a rant in this post has become a questioning of myself. I guess I can't be hard on myself though, it is the approach I hope I take with each beer I taste. Be open to it (I hope even my last post on the Dogbolter shows this), question it against what pool of experience I already have, and react honestly, and hopefully with respect.

All I reckon is that this Hahn thing will not do much for the industry, and that I think it comes back to what Richard Watkins spoke of...just make the right product...good beer. I hope it is that simple.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Matilda Bay, Dogbolter


So a bit of a come down from all the craft beers I have been drinking over Good Beer Week, and while it is a brewery now owned through Carlton and United, Matilda Bay have still managed to keep some good qualities in this beer. I have to say, it has been a while since I have tried this beer, and wasn't overly taken by it before. But with no other dark beer at the pub I was at (apart from canned Guinness) I decided to give this a go over a Fat Yak (yeah, another Matilda Bay stalwart) during the Rebels game where they were being belted by the Hurricanes.

I was quite surprised to be able to taste quite a bit of chocolate malt up front, and that it actually held pretty well over the tongue. For a dark lager, it had a fair bit of body which I also enjoyed in combination with the chocolate malt. I actually wouldn't kind tasting this on tap to see how it holds up there.

So there you go, even an old dog with an uncertain pedigree can come up with something good. Maybe the big brewers are learning to add flavour to the beers they control? Well worth a try as the wintery conditions start to hit home here in Melbourne. Ok, not as good as a Holgate Temptress, but surprised at how close it was to it.

In others news, I have just bottled my first Gluten Free beer and Stass and I are starting to put together a recipe for a homebrew clone to one of amy all time favourite beers, the Southern Tier Creme Brulee! I have also decided to take my beer nerdiness to a new level buying some beer journals to help me make notes on beers I try apart from just writing on random bits of paper I happen to find when I feel like taking notes.



Sunday, May 20, 2012

GBW 2012 Day 8: Italian's Sing as Curtain Closes

Yes, I understand there are only 7 days in a week, but with the blur of what happens when drinking, you need an extra day just to make it feel like you have gone through a week with good beer. Maybe it can be like a bakers dozen...a good beer week.

Finally having a day off work to help recover from the weekdays, with their work/ beer event/sleep cycle, I used it to stretch my mind (as seen in the previous post) and my body (that was still feeling all the running around I had done on Thursday) I rested up to prepare for the three things I was going to be up to.

With Brad celebrating his 30th birthday with the crew, we took my bbq around to his and Seda's new place, and kept myself to water to make sure I would make it through the day. Well, that was until we had enough of us together to pull out the 'rummy' Abbey Collaby I had snuck out of Goat from the last keg on the run. It certainly tasted like it was more alcoholic with the additional rum character. We also pulled out the Sunday Roast to share with the crew and Team Harrod brought their Scotch Ale for us to try. There is some classic malt character and do sense the alcohol from the midpalate which also works, then the hop character and french oak come through well together towards the back. It is quite well made and some interesting flavours between the hop and oak. The only drawback was a sense it may be slightly overcarbonated to take away from the smoothness (interesting to use some brown sugar for fermenting with), but am certain it will beat our own Scotch Ale attempt.

Leaving that party, I made it to Slowbeer just as the first beer was being poured. Finding a little section of empty shelf to call my own in the crowd, with some familiar faces from other beer events and previous Slowbeer tastings (really good turn out for this event...still, no wonder this event sold out so quickly), the first Birra Del Borgo beer made its way around the room. Mary, the distributor for this Italian brewer in Australia spoke a bit about the brewery and introduced the Genziana as a Belgian Saison. For me, it was quite dark for a saison and had a sweetness that related more to a St Feuilien Saison, rather than the classic Dupont, and the sweetness itself was more honey than malt, and come through more from the midpalate and back than front. The body is quite full to go with the sweetness, so is not as refreshing as most saisons, but get a sort of ginger spice with helps compliment and offset the honey. There is only the slightest of yeast character to it. So to the food pairing with this beer. The duck and pistachio terrine with apricot cardamon jam and cornichon on rustic wood fired baguette had a sweetness through the meat and jam that complimented the honey sweetness of the beer. The Pecorino with honey and hay also had a corresponding sweetness, but found the cheese also brought out more yeast and fruit qualities in the beer, which were naturally coming out of the beer more as it warmed up.

The Equilibrista is definitely a beer I have never tasted anything like before, with a 50/50 blend of Biere Brut with Chianti. Champagne yeast with red wine...very out there, and funny as my brother had recommended I try the Chianti style of wine after enjoying a Sangiovese the night before (there you go, drinking wine has actually helped me during Good Beer Week!!!). The yeast sure creates a spritzy quality to the beer, and I think that yeast with the red wine brings a sort of kriek/lambic flavour, but is quite a clean sourness, so works well for anyone not use to the lambic style. Pairing it with a rabbit and prune terrine with rhubarb raspberry jam and cornichon one rustic wood fired baguette brought out more of the kriek flavour through the raspberry jam. The Saporini white mould also seemed to even out the sourness by building up its flavour around it, and the fruity sauce served with it related well to the red wine aspects in the beer. Definitely a beer to try out on my wine snob of a brother.

Next, a Perle ai Porci Oyster Stout, which I found had quite a coffee malt flavour which brought some bitterness with it at the back of the palate. One of the guys near me noticed some mineral flavours near the back also. However, was probably most disappointed by the lack of body it had on it. Not sure if it was the same beer Ben had tried the other night at Beer Deluxe, but definitely did not have the body or alcohol taste of that one, so will assume not. Only the anchovies of the food pairing with this beer had a mild complimentary flavour to it in combination, so overall, the beer that was least interesting to me.

Finally, the Hoppy Cat graced its presence on us, which while noted as a Cascadian Dark Ale, tasted like a Pale, or IPA, especially with the Simcoe hop really coming across in aroma, taste and bitterness. The malt character must have been stripped from the flavour through dehusking and because of this it came across a bit watery for what I was expecting. Keeping with the theme of the food pairings, it was the plum jam in the food pairing that reacted the most with the beer, even though I did enjoy the Wagyu Bresaola on its own.

After sitting around and spouting off my beer philosophy to another familiar face from Slowbeer tastings, I finally had a chance to chat with Jade from the Wheaty who had also been at the event, and ended up tagging along with her and her crowd to the GB, where the final event of Good Beer Week was already in full swing, judging by the queue we had to stand in just to gain entry. Who should rock up at the same time, but the Goat crowd, so once we were in, grabbed a round and hang out with the crew. Seeing the Sierra Nervada Pale Ale on tap, knew that would be one Jade would like to try, so did that up front. Actually tastes better on tap than in the bottle I think, as there is a better evenness to the malt and hop than what I get from the bottle. While on that beer met up with a few others I had met over the week, so the event had a real closing party feel to it, with everyone discussing the week, their favourite events, and looking forward to what it will manifest into next year. Even had a quick catch up with Crafty himself, and Miro who had also put a lot of effort into the week, and was happy to see they were content with what they had achieved yet again, and think there may have even been some talk about having it every 6 months (mind you, that could just be the good vibes from it all being over, and not thinking about the extra organisation that would need to occur to make that happen). Seeing the Pale went down so easy, even felt like having a pint after all that has happened this week, so moved to a Little Creatures Bright next which also went down well and at least gave me a bit of time to walk around catching up with people without having to get in line at the bar again for a while. I don't think so many calls of 'Bogan' have been directed towards me in one place for a long time (if ever), but it at least got my attention from the likes of Josh, and also Jon from Moo Brew, who I had not seen thus far during the week. He told me there were some interesting things happening in barrel aging at Moo, so looks like another visit will have to be planned to Hobart in the near future...

After a quick sit down with the smokers out the back and meeting a muso from Darwin ('This Town' was a cool song he was giving out to everyone via dropcard) who was chatting to Naz (funny how brewers and musos can have a similar look to them), I went back in for my final beer of the night and the week. With a Holgate Temptress, I silently sat down and quietly contemplated the week, with people walking past and looking at me as if I was security (yeah, with a beer in my hand). Feeling more content in life after this week compared to the previous week, I was then ready to call an end to Good Beer Week, so said bye to anyone I could find and walked home just after midnight.

So the tally after this years GBW stands at 70-odd beers. 40 less than last year, but still surprising to see I even got that far in different beers I had seeing I was also working through it. Great to have some different events this year to expand the concept of a beer event, most surprising the scavenger hunt that ended up having 200 people attend. But was also good to see chocolate and beers get more of a showing, and to revisit some venues like Mrs Parma's to remind me of last years GBW. The amount of sold out events really shows that even with the expansion from last year, there has been a great swell of interest towards craft beer, and a great deal more interest towards the week-long event. It is interesting to see that Brisbane is looking to set up a similar week long event, and that Sydney may even be starting to get on the ball with craft beer.

As I would have said this time last year, a big thanks to Crafty and all involved in getting this festival up and running, and even bigger and more successful than last year. Thanks to all the venues and hosts of all the events, especially those that I have attended and could see the effort put in to make each event stand out in their own way with their take on beer. I look forward to this expanding as the 'conversation' grows in beer here. I also have to thank all the people that were once again annoyed by my presence at these events, especially my friends that I dragged along to join me. Hope you enjoyed yourself in some way, even if it may not have been more than me. So I'll stop myself before I cry and start thanking god or even myself for this week...

Here is a collage of beer stuff I have collected over the past week.

Cheers to good beers enjoyed over a week (plus 1 day) and those that made it happen,


Saturday, May 19, 2012

GBW Day 7: 'Know it all' Stage of Drinking

We have all seen it. In others at the pub and even in ourselves. That point in a session where people get opinionated and think they know it all, and if we just sit down like this with a few beers, we can solve all the world's problems. I guess it is really a sign we are nearly at the end of our tether and things are about to start going downhill pretty quick. I guess over the past couple of days of GBW, a philosophical theme has crept into my mind, so going to use the latter stages of this week of good beer to delve into that a little. Now someone get me a beer, then sit down, shut up and listen to me...youse might learn sumfing eh?!

Last week, I learnt the tolerance of a fermenter under negative pressure. Looking at life we have tolerances that we can take as human beings (heat/cold, physical/mental pressure/strain, chemicals, etc), and even tolerances of what we are looking for in life (does your job satisfy you enough, what qualities are important to you in people you befriend/date/marry/etc, are you stable enough to buy a house, have kids, be a rockstar [and not wreck your life], etc...yes, you can tell this is being written by a man in is early 30's). You look at the many different ways people look at these things, and the many other questions/senarios oustide of the limited scope above that people relate their lives to, and you realise the diversity of life, and the need for tolerance.
As humans we have the ability for communication, empathy, and knowing that we know gives us a conscious ability to relate, find differences and commonalities, that build up the connection/appreciation we have with anything we can sense around us and in us. Ok, so now I have brought it to that lofty height, let me smash it by bringing it back to beer. As I have written previously, the diversity of beer is something that astounds me nearly as much as the diversity life shows us. As humans we can relate the the 'life' in beer (yeast) and its own tolerances to survive and produce alcohol. I guess one part we can find similarity in beer is being able to say it has 4 main ingredients, a very common ground to work off, but still an amazing premise to hold onto when you try so many different beers, and find it hard sometimes to think they still have somewhat similar ingredients in them. I see that the tolerance I am thinking about now relates to the 'robustness' I spoke about then, and that while life can be such a fragile thing in an individual, it has still continue somehow as a collective. We need to embrace the tolerance that comes from the collective. I know for me, I have a style of beer I enjoy most (malt based) and a style of beer I like least (hops based...working off the four basic ingredients of beer), but it does not stop me looking for my most favourite IPA (Moylans Hopsickle), English Bitter (Holgate ESB), etc, and finding my least favourite malt based beers (Invalid Stout, etc).

I guess I want to bring up now is something I found on another blog. Firstly, the topic found traction in me enough to reply to James with my own thoughts, and secondly, by replying it created a small conversation inside the larger conversation happening in the 'Session'. As I said above, our ability to communicate allows us to see the differences and similarities, and think Pete Brown did a great job at finding both of these from all the responses he was given on his topic in beer. For me then, the conversation of beer James and I touched on in our own thoughts is really what has stuck in my mind from this, that we are always trying to find new styles/tastes (looking for difference) and perfect current styles/tastes (look at similarities), and then of course we can find both. Building up an openness to beer has started giving me a higher tolerance and broader conversation I can have with beer (I hope) and I hope this is part of the appreciation we can all have with beer...and maybe even life in general. Whatever beer you have been trying over Good Beer Week, you can't go wrong with an open mind, a respectful but honest opinion, and maybe just for me, a dulled palate to help you deal with the extremes of tolerance beer can have in it. Maybe that is the point I am trying to make in all this...I am not sure. All I know is my conversation with beer is not over, even after a long week of drinking every day, and this is just trying to make sense of that conversation, and maybe look forward to being silent with it a bit more after this. What do you think I am talking about, and what are your thoughts from the random musings I have thrown up here?



PS: Geez, lucky I had that to talk about, as Day 7 was pretty slow for me in GBW. Lots of people hung over at Goat after the beer awards the night before, catching up with my bro over a parma at the Royston for lunch (Emerson's Bookbinder Bitter is a good english style, and the Epic Armageddon [unfiltered] was of course too much for my hop weak palate), trying a Henry Young Hop Ale (sort of between a Hargreaves ESB and Holgate ESB, not bad), getting one more hit of the Abbey Collaby before it started getting busy at Goat, then leaving to drink wine (would you have preferred I just say I didn't drink at all) with my bro and sister-in-law at a wine bar in town and over pizza at Ladro. I at least made sure I ended the night on beer with a 2 minute visit at the Pinnacle to see a casual Goater who owes me beers, and tried knocking back a Tuatara beer they had on tap (phoar...hops much!) as I dashed out to door to catch my tram. Would have loved to of gone back to Rainbow with Mick to try the Thirsty Crow Vanilla Milk Stout, but again, falling asleep on trams stopped me pursuing this option.

GBW 2012 Day 6 - This is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

After a subdued day coming off the back of a too long night at Mountain Goat, I thought this was the point I was going to start struggling, and the sprint I put on last night was going to put me out of the marathon of a week of good beer. I had the offer to go to the beer awards, but knew I would not be able to do another sprint of beers and make it through the week. Still, maybe doing something beer orientated but without too much actual beer drinking may help. Maybe with a dose of exercise to flush out some toxins that had been building up during the week...

Therefore, I steeled myself and made it out to a packed Fox Hotel in Collingwood to catch up with Brad and Seda to partake in the beer scavenger hunt. Being late, I was running up Wellington St just to try and get there (an omen for the night to come) in time, but with a staggered start, we had time for a Cavalier Imperial Stout, which I must say tasted pretty good and with a bit of alcohol in it to loosen us up for the journey to come.
Setting off at 7:30, we worked out The Rose as out next venue so started making our way, trying to complete as many of the challenges we could do on the way. This pic is probably my fav from the night on our way to The Rose, with us all fitting into a small recycling bin. We also managed to get a few strangers to take team shots, and one guy gave Seda a piggyback to get the ball rolling

Once we got to The Rose we stalled a bit trying to figure out the famous people related to beers The Rose has on tap, but after some prodding by one of the staff and finding the nine inch nails poster on the wall, we finally figured it out. Also had a slow start on working out the next venue (thank you google!) but got enough for me to work out the next place was The Rainbow. At least I had time to drink the Squires nine lashes while I was there, but of course not focusing much o how it tasted

More bin shenanigan, trams, statues, Brad and I in a little arcade and trying to find a building with 150 on it and we finally made it to the Rainbow. No sooner had I walked in, and I knew what beer we were going to be having a pot of here. I nearly forgot I was on a beer scavenger hunt (or thought I had found the major prize and so the game was over) when I saw Thirsty Crow's Vanilla Milk Stout on tap. Ordering 3 pots of that and doing the beer style challenge (I swear that beer was an IPA!) we did as much of the find-a-word for me to work out Grumpy's Green was the next venue. Unfortunately we worked it out too quickly for the beer to warm up, so felt really bad sculling this amazing beer. Still, for tonight, tasting beer was not the focus, so quickly took this shot of us with the beer, and kept on moving.

We really started getting some momentum from here with police station, construction site and shopping trolley all in close proximity, and Brad and I having a push up off for a free beer (Grumpy's Pils was actually alright, or maybe I just didn't care). Also grabbing our pot each (I had the Goat Hightail...this race was not a poster-child for responsible drinking), we did the dash back up to The Fox, singing a beer song to passing cyclists, making our team name out of rubbish, following Brad to do the Macarena in front of Coles and whatever else we could fit in on our way back. I think we made it back just a few minutes late from our allocated 2.5 hours for the hunt, but think we did ok, and was a fun experience. My legs are smashed though. Not being a gym junky and not doing any cardio workouts, the running we did between venues and searching for photo ops took its toll not only on the night but after the fact. All I could handle once we got back to the Fox was some glasses of water, before we called it a night and left before the prizes were given out. Still, it was about the adventure and each team went home with a little pack of things to share which was nice.

So, the Beeroni's may not have gotten anywhere on the leader board, but was great to do a different sort of event during Good Beer Week. The end is nigh and starting to feel like I could actually survive what remains of it. But looking forward to what I have left, and that after that I will be happy to regain a little normality (and more importantly, sleep) in life. Thanks to all the venues for opening their pubs to rushing, sweaty people that no doubt affected the vibe in their establishments, to the Fox or oganising the event and getting some cool prizes and attracting so many people to it (I heard there were over 200 people in the hunt), and of course to Brad and Seda, for making up a team for me to go with, and experience another facet of Good Beer Week with some other friends (I swear my mates have a roster just so they don't get bogged down drinking beer with me too much. Good on 'em!)



Thursday, May 17, 2012

GBW 2012 Day 5 - Dammit! Stuck at Work all Day!

Unfortunately, I was at Goat from 8am to 11pm yesterday. Fortunately, we had a Good Beer Week event at the Goat bar last night.

After what I will call a successful filter run yesterday (well, as good as I can do at the moment) and a clean up of the brewery to deal with the amount of people that would be walking through it that night, I had just finished my day of work and was heading across to the bar, when I see Pete. Perfect, just in time for a beer! Tried him on the Moon Dog American/Belgian Brown Ale while we caught up and showed him the brewery from the comfort of our seats. Deano turned up not long after and thought it best to start him on a Hightail. After bagging them both out for looking like they are in a Mother's group together (know it is footy season, but get off the pies boys), we stepped up into the Pepperberry Black IPA and the beer I was looking forward to...the Abbey Collaby itself.

The bar was starting to pack out a bit, so also grabbed one of the special sausage pizzas to help us get through the big beers on offer. As I have probably mentioned before, the Mikkeller/Goat (Gypsy and the Goat) Collab Pepperberry Black IPA has that malt character that I relate to Mikkeller beers quite a bit, with a sweet boldness that prepares you for the alcohol the normally follows. The fruity spice of the pepperberry come through quite well on the midpalate and rises into the hop character and cleanse. However, there is a muddiness to this beer that dulls off all of this when on tap. I recommend having it from the bottle where the flavours are much better pronounced.
The Abbey Collaby this year was an Imperial Stout (yep, right up my alley) that had used candied sugar and been 'dry chipped' with oak that had been soaked in rum. The candied sugar seems to have fleshed out the front palate as there is some good malt body to go with it before the alcohol sense kicks in with the slight rum character. It actually tasted better than I remember from when I kegged it, but the 'rummy' keg (last one of the run) did not make an appearance I suspect...I just hope we still have it and it hasn't been sent anywhere else. Little disappointed it only got to 8.1%, but probably means I have pulled up that slightly bit better this morning for it.

While working our palates back and forth over these two beers for the night, Stass rocked up, giving me a chance to grab another special pizza for the night, a blue cheese (yes, blue cheese makes another appearance this Good Beer Week) and pear, with some cured meat thrown in for good measure, to help line Stass's gut, and keep me going through the night. What was going to be 'just a couple' seeing GBW is starting to take it's toll, became a 3 time telling from the guy on security that we had to finish our drinks and leave as the bar was closing...oh dear.

Was great hanging out with the boys for a very 'unwinding' beer session, meeting up with a couple of people I have seen over GBW, showing Jayne my fermenter troubles we had discussed the night before, catching up with Simon, who use to work at Purvis but is now working the bar at Matilda Bay (hope to get down there soon), somehow getting into an arm wrestle with Josh from Moon Dog (no actually, I think I do know how, I instigated it between him and Karl after Josh lost to Karl in the battle of the footy teams on Monday night with St Kilda beating Carlton...Karl lost to Josh, but then I beat Josh...Karl had softened him up for me), and ending the night with Stass and I spouting our philosophy of beer to Pete who had got attached to our group over the night.

So all in all, a pretty standard Wednesday night at the Goat Bar...or is that Goat Bahhh. Sorry, it is getting late in this week full of good beer. The only event I forgot to take a photo from, but may be for the best as it was a long day in my Mountain Goat uniform.

...and so Good Beer Week continues...hope I can find enough people to join me for the beer scavenger hunt tonight...



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

GBW 2012: Day 4 - More Chocs!!!

The more I do beer and chocolate tastings, the more I am reminded of my arrival in Belgium a couple of years ago, walking up to customs, handing my passport to the officer, and the following conversation occurring;
Customs: Australia?! What brings you all the way to Belgium?
Me: Beer and Chocolate
Customs: Ok, I accept that (stamps passport). Enjoy!

While actually completing a filter run at Goat that did not contain any caveating fermenters and blowing holes in filter beds (but with me nearly completely breaking a gehaltermeter), who should turn up at Goat but Eric from Brooklyn Brewery. I so nearly got the bottle of Black Chocolate Stout I have in my locker to get him to sign it for me (yes, nearly. I didn't actually do it!), but instead once finished for the day had a bit of a chat to him and the blokes he came in with. One of them actually remembered me from an incident in Purvis where he was able to confirm for me that the Black Chocolate Stout was coming to Australia, and the level of excitement I had shown upon hearing that news. He even turned to the guy next to him to say 'this is that guy I told you about...' and also brought up the story of me going over to Adelaide just to have the Rogue Choc Stout on tap at the is tough being known as a beer nerd. I also happily regaled them with my thoughts from the Brooklyn dinner (hmm, chocolate and blue cheese mousse with black chocolate stout) and was so caught up talking with them I was running late to meet up with a mate in the city before heading out to Sabroso.

I hadn't seen Marshy since our trip to Hobart to visit Moo Brew a couple of years back, and unfortunately only had 20 mins to catch up before having to do the dash. But with the Italian kegs getting tapped, of course had a chance to sample a beer with him. He went the Oyster Stout, which had a very dark thick body to it and a good steady rise in alcohol across the palate and up into the chest after swallowing. I went the black lager, which while kept some refreshingness with a thinner body, the alcohol really spiked from the midpalate.

Leaving him to get his Prince vibe on for the night, I dashed to Southern Cross station to meet Harriet just in time to get on the train to Seddon...perfect timing. Unlike last year, I arrived 30 mins early, so had time for a 2 Brothers Growler (very caramel!) and chat with Jayne from Two Birds Brewing, whose first line of questions was all about the fermenter I destroyed last week...yeah, thanks for reminding me Jayne! Sitting down to the tasting, they brought the plate of chocolates around. As you can see, the foodie in Harriet contemplated what was to come as the first beer was being poured...Holgate Hopinator IPA. Matched with the chilli chocolate mole, the chilli wuss in me got a tongue burning, which then made the hop feel like salt in the wound each time I tried them in combination. I got more of an english style IPA with big malt character in colour and taste, bit like a Red Ale, but on first taste, the warmth from the chilli really brought out the malt character, but after a few tries, the burn hit, and hit a bit too hard for me, especially seeing it was the first pairing of the night.

Jayne got up and had a chat as her new Red Ale beer was brought around. Felt very special as this was only the second event to have the beer, so was very interested just to try it by itself. However, I had not had a chance to rinse my glass of the Hopinator before it was filled with the Red Ale, and with my tongue still burning, I was starting to anticipate a night going downhill. Still, I did manage to get some good malt and citrus notes on the very tip of the tongue, before I felt the beer watered out a bit, and did not bring much to the back of the palate. I was happy to hear from Jayne at the end of the night saying as a first batch, they still had a fair way to go...Phew, always feel a bit awkward in those's not you, it's the beer... I was also initially disappointed with the mini cigar with white chocolate, raspberry and rhubarb, and the raspberry really reacted a bit too much with the citrus and sweet malt front on the beer, but then died off quickly to leave a lingering of rhubarb at the back. However, once we got to the white chocolate base, it all made sense as the chocolate subtled the front and drew out the flavours across the palate to make for a more balanced and even tasting.

Having just randomly meet and spoken to one of the guys from Black Heart yesterday at Mrs Parma's, was really interested to try their American Brown Ale. Unfortunately I think we got a bad bottle, as could smell straight away an alkaline and dusty malt character that I get from over-carbonated beers and beers that have been poured into a dirty glass. Even trying to warm it up didn't help, so of course it ruined the pairing, and so just came off as a spritzy but dusty malt character with very little hop noticable at all. However after my blue cheese and choc mousse from the other night, was happy to try it with a darker style chocolate (tastes like mud cake ganache) and a really salty cheese sensation. Much more out there than the fluffy, milk choc and subtly mixed blue cheese mousse from a few nights ago (maybe it just felt subtle as it all worked together so well). This bigger version still spun my tasebuds about, but having built an appreciation, I enjoyed it by itself quite well.

With Ian again getting up to speak of the last beer of the night, I was very excited to see their Temptress chocolate porter with a rich (and I mean 'rich') chocolate brownie. Looking at the bottle, was interested to see it had only been bottled last month, so thought it might be the same batch The Royston had that I enjoyed so much last week. However, the beer lacked the vanilla character I am use to, and had a more hop bitterness than the slight mocha coffee bitterness I had before. Still, the brownie just completely dominated the beer, and was just tasting chocolate when tasting the beer after coating the tongue in the brownie. Not a bad experience, just not what you look when pairing a beer a chocolate I guess.

Having gotten our orders to move on for the second session, there was only one thing to do. Having just had dessert, it was time for dinner, so we hung around Sabroso to keep critiquing the tasting and the food we were having and just have a good old chin wag. Still, meant we stayed on longer than I thought we would and so it was another sleepy trip home afterwards. My personal favourite chocolate was of course the brownie by itself, even though I appreciate what was being done with the chocolate and blue cheese. My favourite pairing came down to a single bite, the last one of the cigar and how it really lifted the beer up front with the raspberry and lengthened the palate with the white chocolate.

Thanks to Jayne, Ian and Roxy for hosting us, and even bigger thanks to Harriet for stepping in to take a spare ticket I had available. Too bad I wasn't able to get Jarrod along too for this one, but was sort of nice to do what is the closest to me to having a girly chat with one that appreciates food as much as I do beer. Big Ups Haz!!!!

So today is a big (in terms of important) filter run in at Goat that I do not want to stuff up, or Mike will have my nuts. Then the Abbey Collaby launch tonight which will be a wait and see as to how long I hang out for before I need to get to bed. In need of sleep, but think drinking every night takes its toll on your sleep patterns, not to mention my nerves in the brewery not making things any better. We shall see how I fair today.



PS: Ok, you probably knew I could not go to an event with a Holgate brewer without asking about the Empress. Yes, Ian confirmed another batch will be out for winter, and that there is going to be more of it available this year. YES!!!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

GBW Day 3 - Parma and Dog

Hey anyone reading this, with this post I will finally catch up on myself with Good Beer Week! Yay!

Seeing I had a decent day trying to manage my first bottling run at Goat, and realising GBW is only for a week, thought I should get out and do something beery, so headed along to Mrs Parma's for their Bratwurst Parma with Moon Dog Kaiser Saute Altbier pairing. Finding it hard to get a seat, I manage to get next to some blokes about to tuck into the Bratwurst Parma and talking to them found one is working in Black Heart Brewery. I hadn't actually tried any of their 8 beers (not bad for 500 litre batch brewery in a residential area), so he bought one of his own beers at the bar and shared some of it with me. The Pale Ale has some good hoppy zest to go with a full and darker malt than I would expect from a Pale. Is fairly well made, and citrus really comes through more as it warms up, to the point where after taking so long to eat the parma, I could almost taste orange juice in the beer. Thanks to Brad for the chat and beer sharing.

Ok, for the parma and altbier. As you can see, the brat is just on top with a smokey and spicy tomato chutney. I found the spice heat to be a bit much, but the chicken and sausage actually went well together. There was definitely some hammy flavour in the sausage, which combined with the smoke in the chutney to compliment well with the smokey flavours in the beer. The Moon Doggers had also added spice to the beer, but to be honest, I would have liked more of a clean and refreshing altbier to go with the parma. Everything else in the parma seemed to work well, and was happy to find the altbier malt character underlying the other flavours in it to be quite clean to keep with the style (one I am getting into more after also trying one at GABS over the weekend). Just as I was getting halfway through the parma and Brad and Tony had left, who should walk past me but Karl and Josh from Moon Dog, so also gave them a piece of my mind over the beer and gave them a taste of the Pale Ale Brad had left with me. I am sure I will see the Moon Dogs at Goat tomorrow night, and they said they saw me in my silly hat at GABS, but was too busy to see them waving at me.

So in the end what I thought would be a quiet night just enjoying a meal by myself ended up with meeting guys from two breweries. This is the great things about GBW, you can just meet so many other people interested or working in beer everywhere you go. This is a great sign for the growth of this sort of festival, and something I am happy to go out and be part of in my own little way. Just a simple bloke appreciating a beer, and happy to chat with anyone that would like to do the same.



PS: Will be returning to the filter today after my two disasters last week. Here is hoping for a better result today when I get back on the horse.

Good Beer Week Day 2 - GABS drinking and Mamor Chocolates and Beer

So Sunday, being Mother's Day, was spent with my cousin's and aunty from here in Melbourne before I hit GABS for my free session. Having not seen some of the family for 6 months, it was interesting to get a Christmas pressie. Yes, it was beer related, and a great book full of old beer cans, which got me thinking of Fox Hotel, which I have yet to visit, but hope to later in the week to see their beer can display (Sorry, just realised how nerdy that sounds...what am I the beer equivalent to a train spotter? [sorry to my dad, if he ever works out how to use the internet and reads this]...still anyone who has read a few of my posts knows that I am a beer nerd anyway, so what have I got to hide?).

Anyway, to GABS. While I hadn't planned to go with anyone, funnily enough the Beer Deluxe crew were heading in to the event at the same time I was, so with Miro as our leader, we headed around to scope out the place. While they had VIP passes to get upstairs, I took the opportunity to sit down with the booklet and start planning the beers to try, with the free tokens I had. I had enough time to plan and pick up my beers from the bar before Miro came back (bloody beer schmoozer), along with Sarah and Sam to bring the Mountain Goat family together.

Have to say, the beer hall style of the building and set up really works well, even if maybe there is not enough bar space for the heavy traffic that came through on the Saturday. Was great to sit in that environment with lots of light chatter from some areas, stern silent concentration coming from other punters, and others have D&M's over the beers they were having with friends, all with the band(s) in the background. A good environment to feel comfortable in whatever approach you take in the appreciation of beer.

The most amazing aspect of the event this day was that with it being Mother's Day and bad weather outside, crowd numbers were down, and while we had needed 9 people manning the front area of the bar the day before, they could easily get away with 3 today, and even then, some of them looked bored. Even though I may not have been able to enjoy my day on the bar, I think I still appreciate the Saturday more for being what this event should be, an opportunity for all people to come and try beers they would never had tried before and continue to build an understanding of beer in a great atmosphere. That it was sillingly busy just means more people were on that journey, which is great from my perspective. Plus, I did not get caught up in any lines on my day there as a punter. As soon as I took my paddle to the bar, was always served within 30 seconds, and then would wait a minute for the volunteer to get my beers to me.

When it came to drinking, even though the tasters are quite small, I took my time with them to try and get the most out of each, which meant minimising conversation, which probably offended my fellow drinkers. Also, I was just very tired after the previous week, so keeping all my concentration energy for the beers (it's ok, the Goaters know I am a beer nerd too).

So finally, here are the beers I tried, in numerical order from the booklet, with my notes:
14) Renaissance Stonecutter Oak (7%) - a good malt and alcohol balance, with just the slightest touch of alkaline or overcarbonation to take away from the beer. However, it does warm up quite well on the tongue so this aspect disappears ok and it gets a little bit meaty with a decent body to push it along. Classic caramel for a Scotch Ale.
18) 4 Pines Beetroot Belgian Ale (8.5%) - Was interested to see if any beetroot would come through seeing they only extract sugars from the beet, and in smell I have to say I did notice it. However, in taste I did not, but is definitely some alcohol on what I could call a strong Belgian blonde in style.
19) Barry Cranston's Brown Dog (5%) - A Homebrew entry that got my interest, and is quite dark for a brown ale. Is very fruity on the nose and tongue, with a bit of dusty malt on the midpalate the only sign it is a darker malt beer before a fruity bitter finish cleans up at the back. Was getting a similar pineapple aspect to the Stone and Wood Pacfic Ale with this one.
29) Wig & Pen 'This Beer's not Real Craft' (5%) - One Miro let me try of his that to me had a similar level of 'quality' to the Murray's Farmhouse. While this one could have easily been a bit too much with the sourness, but holds it character quite well and get a full breadth of flavour to support the sourness.
30) 2 Brothers Diamond Knott Bloody Oak (9.7%) - My personal favourite from the line up with a big caramel malt character that balanced out and melded well with the higher alcohol that warms very well towards the back of the palate. Simple, but well made Barleywine, and a bargain at only 5 tokens for a 370ml fill.
34) Grand Ridge Sarsaparilla Stout (4%) - Yep, definitely sarsaparilla in there, and overpowers anything else in the beer, but did manage to spot some licorice that went well with the main flavour. Unfortunately the sarsaparilla lingers long in aftertaste to make you feel you have just had cough syrup.
44) Red Duck Bumble Bee (5.6%) - Sweet honey tingle up front with a dusty feeling towards the back, but then the Bramling Cross hop cleans it up nicely at the back to give sense of nobel hop character so as not to get residual sweetness from the honey. A bit one dimensional, but the honey is at a good level, and impressive after our own failed home brew attempts at this style.
45) Red Hill Sticke Alt (5.4%) - Another beer I would put in the well made category, with a good sense of clean and stable flavours, that flow across the tongue quite well for an overall balanced approach. The notes on this one says it all...'Extended cold conditioning and a cool ferment combine to create a clean, crisp ale with a light hop nose, good malt background and dry finish'. Technically very good.
46) Temple Smoked Weizen (5.2%) - Like other wheat smoke beers I have had, the hammy smoke flavour is quite subdued/'cloudified' by the wheat and they meld together well to make this a good beginners beer for anyone just getting into smoked beers.
49) Moo Brew Belgo (4.5%) - There is some good fruit up front, but it dies off at the back with a slighty yeasty quality in aftertaste. Technically good, but unlike other well made beers here, does not have a bit more kick to it that I might expect from a beer labelled an American/Belgian Ale. Maybe I am just hard on these guys as they make good beer (and love that my surname is Bogan. That reminds me, I met head brewer Owen having trouble getting into the joint). Reminds me a little of the slight disappointment I had from the first batch of Saison they came out with, but have heard subsequent batches have shown improvement. Maybe they like to take it easy first time around before playing with it. I guess when a brewery's production gets bigger, doing bigger batches can make them want to play it safe on first attempt...sorry, that just turned into a bit of an essay...(cough) 'beer is good'...that's better.
59) The Monk Sweet Potato Porter (4.3%) - After our Sunday Roast homebrew attempt, was interested to see if the sweet potato would come through on a darker base beer than on the amber ale base we used for ours. It certainly came through quite well, but not sure if I enjoyed the coffee aspects with it.

Of course I would have liked to have tried more (for some reason I just thought I remembered trying the Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta on Saturday, but not being personally impressed with the lemon and what is termed as 'punget bergamot orange'), but was happy with my selections, even if I did not delve into IPA's. I wanted to keep my palate alright for the first beer and chocolate event I had lined up for GBW this year, which after a short stroll from GABS, I arrived at Mamor Chocolates ready to get into it. However, my partner in beer and chocolate tasting did turn up a little late so we were behind the others going through the selection. Still, it gave me a chance to talk with our hosts and the 4 other people involved in the small event. After the beer hall, it did feel a little claustrophobic, but guess it is called an 'Intimate Beer and Chocolate Tasting' for a reason. The hosts were actually quite entertaining and wanting a lot of feedback from it to help them improve and branch out what they could do with this and similar events, which is good from first timer GBW hosts, and once they heard I work at Mountain Goat and really enjoy pairing beer and chocolate, they were even more interested in what I had to say...and I was happy to say it. They also provided a lot of information to help guide us through the tasting, but also a notes sheet was available for me to fill in with my own thoughts. Was also good to see they had only chosen Victorian beers for the pairing, showing off to those attending the diversity of beers coming out of our own backyard, and hopefully stimulating people to go out and try more.

Anyway to the combos, and first off the bat was the Mountain Goat Hightail Ale. Knowing the beer quite well and seeing all beers were from the bottle, I did notice the aspects that detract from it compared to the keg version, but was happy to see these did not take away from the chocolate combinations put with it. I found with the ginger dipped in dark chocolate that the bitterness of the beer tries to cut through the somewhat oppressive ginger flavour (Sorry to my grandma, who is a massive ginger fan), while the malty character works well with the dark chocolate. Was good to get some contrasting and complimentary sensations in this and many of the other chocolate pairings. The Hightail was also used in combination with a raspberry framboise chocolate, with the fruit and malt bringing out a slight sour flavour overall which was interesting.
Second beer, another Goat, but this time the Pepperberry Black IPA. Such a good beer by itself (especially in the bottle) with dark malt, fruity hops, and a touch of raspberry and spice from the pepperberry. However, with it being such a robust beer, It is a good base to add some other flavours, to which Mamor provided on this night. A rosemary sea salt truffle? Yep, and found the spicy malt aspect of the beer was brought out with the salt well (would you believe it?!). Thinking that had been a pretty different experience, they then upped it, pairing the same beer with a kangaroo salami chocolate, which I found the spice and malt worked well with again, but this time with a smokey character that was also coming from the meat.
Finally getting off Goat (maybe they should have used goat salami?), we turned our attention to what was a forerunner to the Saison revolution in Australia with the Temple Saison. The chocolates; a rosewater cardamon, where the prominent rose/floral flavour of the chocolate reacted quite well with the fruit and yeast of the beer to create this musky character, and a chilli kaitaia, where the chilli wuss in me found it difficult to find refreshment from the heat through the beer. Howard also offered a passionfruit chocolate to me to try this beer against, but found the white chocolate high sweetness did not mix well with the yeastiness of the beer.
Next was the 2 Brothers James Brown Belgian Ale, which I quite like by itself for the beer journey it takes me on (too bad there are so many other beers to try in this world!), and I like how Mamor took two different approaches with the chocolates they paired to see what people would like. For me, the Marzipan was too subtle a flavour to go with the big belgian yeast and was completely overpowered once the beer hit your chocolate coated tongue. However, the orange ginger worked much better for me, with the jaffa quality from the chocolate reacting well with the brown malt and the yeast bringing a nice cleansing aspect at the back.
Red Hill's Wheat took the stage, accompanied by a hazelnut and honey truffle and an orange cointreau. The honey did go ok with the sweet wheat malt, but not enough to bring out anything overly exciting, whereas for me the orange seems to bring a zest to the cloudy wheat to add that other dimension I was looking for from a pairing.
Final act of the night was one of my favourite chocolate beers, the Holgate Temptress, again interestingly paired from two extremes, nut and sour cherry. The dark nut cluster complimented well with the chocolate also in the beer, but did not bring anything more apart from maybe a bit of vanilla sweetness. I could have had the chocolate by itself for a similar effect. However, the sour cherry brandy truffle brought with it a lot of alcohol heat that the chocolate in the beer helped suppress and contrasted well with the sourness of the fruit.

What is really interesting now as I think about the event and all the flavours I encountered over the session, is that I find it very hard to find a favourite, as the contrasts and complimentary get lost in which beers and chocolates I like by themselves. The raspberry framboise, marzipan and hazelnut and honey truffle were all stand alone chocolates I really liked, and of course, the darker beers (Black IPA, James Brown and Holgate) were my favs. However, the Saison and rosewater carmadon was a great combination even someone like my mum (who doesn't drink beer, or any alcohol) could enjoy. Still, if I had to choose one combo as my favourite, I would have to go the James Brown with the orange ginger. I think I have a bit of a jaffa soft spot, and the extra journey the beer put through the chocolate, really emphasised and then also neutralised it.

Still, the richness of all the chocolates did become almost overbearing by the end, and was too much for my friend, who ended up leaving half eaten chocolate and and half drunk beers at the venue (sacrilege!). She ended up leaving with a doggy bag of chocolates, which I heard she then proceeded to eat as soon as she got self control that one (said the beer nerd to the foodie geek). Still, here is a bit of anonymous embarrassment for you Weeny...ok, maybe not so anonymous now. Not to mention she only had one comment to make on her notes the whole night, and happened to be a pairing that was not one set by the hosts. Still, means she is open minded, enough to be friends with a beer nerd, so I shouldn't give her shit... but I will.

Anyway, one of the parting gifts the hosts gave us was some chocolates they made with Hightail Ale, which I took into Goat and shared with the crew. Have to say it is very resinously hoppy with a bitter kick to boot. Still,  dare say I will be heading back to Mamor Chocolates for another chocolate fix, and recommending the high tea to the girls I know (not many since I am a beer nerd unfortunately).

Thanks to the Taphouse crew for the effort they have put in for GABS, and to Hanna and Howard at Mamor for an overindulgent chocolate and beer session...and for Weeny for giving me someone to laugh at/with between my periods of serious consternation over beer and chocolate.



Monday, May 14, 2012

GBW 2012: Day 1 - GABS Volunteering and Brooklyn Dinner

What? It is Monday and I am already falling behind keeping up this blog during Good Beer Week! Not a Good sign, and this is only my first post for the week!!!!

After my bad week, I really felt like letting loose at GABS with my volunteering session. Not drinking beer, but just wearing a silly hat and dancing around the bar a bit...well when I had a chance. If you saw a guy on Bar 4 looking like this, then you saw me just trying to have a bit of fun. Still, with it being so busy and hearing from a few people they sometimes had to wait 45mins just to get beer, I was busy just trying to get beer to punters. Most of the time you hardly even had a chance to say hi or even look at their face, was just about looking at paddles to see what numbers they had, and mostly talking to the pourers when we were running low on a beer or filling an order. So, not as relaxing as I would have liked it, but certainly did my bit to get good beer to the good folk at the event, and did get a few comments from people over the silly hat. After the bar had closed, I did manage to scrounge around for a taste of some of the left over beers. The Garage Project Double Day of the Dead was good on colour, but noticed a bit too much coffee from the malt. Still, not as coffee as the Matilda Bay Double Stout. The Invercargill Red Hot Chocolate had a chilli burn that was too big for me to be drinking like a shot, with the warmth really coming up the back of the throat and the chocolate character being good, but not enough to balance it out seeing it was mostly up front. As for the Moa Cocoa Weizen, I was just getting coconut from it which was a bit weird. One of my early favs was the Murray's Bob's Farmhouse Ale, a great example of the style, and unlike the weird and sometimes unbalanced nature of some of the beers at this event, a subtle and well balanced beer. I think I also shot a Bridge Road God Save the Lager, which seemed fine but did not do much for me, and of course I had already tried the Mountain Goat Red Saison, which I find has a good balance of refreshingness with the ginger/saison fruit style, with the slight back of the tongue heat from the chilli and a bit of spice to boot with the pepperberry. Having shoted all these beers in 10 minutes I left the event feeling content, a little tired, but excited for my most anticipated event for the whole week...The Brooklyn Brewery Degustation at Beer Delux.

Having seen Naz from Goat and Josh from 2 Brothers at GABS, I caught up with them at Beer Delux and decided to cleanse the palate a bit with the La Sirene Saison, which I reckon is one of the better Aussie saisons going around. Great fruit and yeast character, with just enough kick to it to make you pay attention to it but still make it easy drinking and refreshing. A perfect beer to get my palate reset for what it was about to go through. While Naz and the boys went off to the Rugby (Wow, Rebels beat Crusaders...still, preferred being Beer Delux that night), Stass and I went upstairs in girly anticipation of what was to come. As soon as we arrived, our first beer and food pairing was at out table, with the Brooklyn Lager and Cajun spiced popcorn. The lager is actually quite malty for what I am used to having in this style (maybe it is just an Australian thing) and the dry hopping keeping that side of things subtle, but refreshing enough to cut through the buttery and spiciness of the popcorn.

The Brown Ale was paired with a great pork belly with apple mash and walnuts. The ale and pork combined to make the sweetness too big, but there was something in the walnut that offset this sweetness well to bring it back to balance.
The english style East India Pale with a nobel hop being used with the malty character, a combo I quite liked, and something to differentiate Brooklyn Brewery from the West coast IPA style in the States. But the slight hop bitterness character was really brought out more in combo with the acidic cooking style of the Gravlax cured salmon to make it very interesting. The basil, carrot and cucumber (?) in the thai salad also worked well with the beer, but the coriander did not seem to me to work well with the beer or food as it overpowered both a bit too much.

The dill and lemon characters I was getting from the Sorachi Ace Saison was quite strange to see from this style of beer, and thought it may be a bit off putting by itself, but in combination with the crispy lemon chicken, it was probably my favourite pairing in terms of complimenting each other. The refreshing flavours of the beer really cut through the chicken fat and cooking oils in the food, but did so in such a subtle way there was almost balance in the offsetting (if that make any sense). So delicate was this balance, that just a little too much lemongrass sauce on the chicken really overpowered the beer, but if you got it right, the offsetting flavours neutralised each other in a cleansing way but where you could still appreciate each flavour you were picking up on. The driness of the beer did also help clean up, but not liking asian pilsners personally, the Sorachi hop character was not good when drinking the beer by itself. a very interesting experience though.

Then having the Cuvee de la Crochet Rogue Rose by itself as a palate cleanser was great. While cold, it smelt like a Faro, but in taste and warmth has a bit more belgian lambic character, but even this is subtle in combo with the vanilla aspect that could have come through the barrel aging, if they had used American oak. It had me thinking of the similar traits I get from a Linderman's Faro and a JJ Purm Riesling, so was great to find a beer that had brought together beer and wine flavours in a similar way. It was at this point, the general manager of Brooklyn Brewery finally made his was to our table to get our thoughts. spouting out some of these comments got a reply of 'oh, so you know beer then'...instant mancrush!

Onto my favourite part of the meal, 2 serves of dessert and 4 beers to go with them....oh yeah!

Dessert course 1: Vanilla bean custard tart  and candied acidulated malt (not quit sure what acidulated means, but the malt had quite a spritzy quality to it) with Monster Ale and Companion Ale. The pastry and malt seemed to go well with the wheat and fruit flavours I was getting from the Companion Ale, and the syrupy sweetness of the barley wine went great with the vanilla custard. Still, better was to come in the next course, but did take the opportunity after Eric had spoken again to quickly intercept him going to another table and invite him to come along to Goat during the week. He said he had already been planning to come visit the Goat brewery at some point, so told him to be there Wednesday or Friday for the best opportunity.

Dessert course 2: Dark chocolate blue cheese mousse with Black Chocolate Stout and Black Ops...yep, mess in my pants time! The stout of course went great with the dark chocolate flavours, and the hoppy character of the Black Ops went well with the blue cheese character in the desert. Having seen this, I then proceeded to blend the two beers together (sorry if this is sacrilege to anyone reading this) to make the experience of the two beer with the dessert all happen at once in your mouth...amazing!
Keeping aside some of the Black Chocolate Stout to warm up, everyone started leaving the dinner. Eric then came back over to our table and sat down with us to talk more beer with us. It was then I had a moment: Stass and I sitting there with a warming Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout with the General Manager of Brooklyn Brewery sitting next to us talking beer and the beer industry, even at this early stage, I think it will be the moment of the whole week for me.

After that, going downstairs to see Joel and the boys back from the rugby, not even them, the rebels winning the rugby, or the Mikkeller barley wine Stass got for me penetrated the moment, I was just still living in that bubble. I think the day and that moment must have been too much for me, as started falling asleep on the tram on the way home. Unfortunately, I only got 4 hours sleep that night, making yesterday hard to get through...

However, I don't even have time to put up yesterday's adventures as need to get ready for a bottling day at Goat. Not a good start to trying to keep track of my week if I can't even get my weekend down on here, but hope to have a chance this arvo, as thinking I may have a quite Monday to help get me through the week... Geez, that is not a good thought after only 2 days of GBW. May need more than luck to get me through this one.



Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Week That Was and The Good Beer Week (GBW 2012) to Come...

Hi all,

For those that keep up to date with this blog, sorry it has been a while between posts. This week has not been a good one for me personally, so is not the best lead up to one of my favourite festivals of the year (ok, so it is only the second GBW ever...still, high hopes it will be as good as last year).

Even in beer this week has not been good for me. No, I haven't been getting drunk, but in my attempts to step up at Mountain Goat with one of the brewers away on holidays, I have made some major stuff ups, and had to make everyone else work harder around me (These pics show what happens when you allow a Bogan into your brewery). I made sure during the meeting yesterday to apologise for ruining a 5000ltr fermenter, stuffing up another filter run, and thanking them for their help and understanding this week. I am just glad to see the back of it, and lucky to have GBW to look forward to now, and hoping to do better in the brewery next week too.

Today I will be volunteering at the Great Australasian Beer Spec'tap'ular (GABS), a massive beer event to start the week off, with 60 beers from around Australia and New Zealand on tap. No, I won't be drinking during the event today, and in more bad news, I found my role will have nothing to do with beer at all...I will be serving wine and cider...AT A BEER EVENT!!! So if anyone wants to see the saddest sight ever, come watch a beer nerd pouring wine and cider at bar 4 at GABS. I am sure to try and persuade people onto beer at every opportunity, especially helpful when they find out my knowledge of wine comes down to that it comes in red and white colour varieties.

Still, after that I have one of my most anticipated events during the whole week (and happy for it to be so as want my tastebuds fresh for it), with a Brooklyn Brewery Degustation at Beer Delux tonight. Will be great to catch up with Stass and Brad, and after a day surrounded by beer (but more closely surrounded by wine and cider, dammit!), am sure to love this event even more than I anticipate.

The rest of the week looks to be going like this:

Sunday - Each volunteer at GABS get s a free session and tokens, so will be using mine during the day before I head to a Chocolate and Beer tasting that I am also highly anticipating, and so happy to get done early as well.

Monday - Try not to stuff up a bottling run at Mountain Goat and maybe hit Mrs Parma's with a mate that is in town for their Bratwurst Parma with a corresponding Moon Dog beer (which reminds me, saw the Moon Doggers at the Royston for a free tasting of their new Billy Ray Citrus, the honey and orange peel really tingle nicely on the tongue...still, this I prefer the McGuava in their Mullet Series. The Holgate Temptress was tasting amazing that night. In hindsight, I am surprised I haven't been back again for it).

Tuesday - Yes, try not to stuff up whatever I am doing in Goat that day (let's just call that a given for the rest of the week), and then my second Beer and Chocolate event, which hopefully this year I turn up on time and again get to talk to some of the brewers.

Wednesday - If all goes well and I feel like staying back at Goat after work, the Abbey Collaby will be on with a few other beers as with last year. The beer may not be as big as they had hoped, but know of one particular keg that has more rum notes in it than others. I will be keeping an eye out to see if that makes it over the bar on the night.

Thursday - I am suppose to be getting together a team for a beer scavenger hunt, but at the moment only have a couple of people interested, so hoping I get a last minute influx of friends wanting to join me or will have to pull out of this one. :(

Friday - Was thinking of doing Good Beer O'Clock, but with my brother in town, might just have a pizza with him and a few beers at Goat and see how everyone pulls up from the AIBA dinner they are going to the night before.

Saturday - While I probably start the recovery session by now, I still have a Slowbeer event (the store is looking great and with beer available on tap and in the bottle, and new courtyard area under development out the back), as I did last year to finish off the week, but this time with an Italian flair which will be interesting. If I still feel ok after that the closing party, and just remembered I have Brad's birthday (Woohoo). Phew, this could be an interesting end to the week.

Still, I have to get to the end of the week, and from my point of view now, even though I probably won't get to the over 100 beers I tried last year, I have much to look forward to, which is good for me right now. So let the good beer flow, and come and say hi to me if you see me at any events...especially today at GABS...WINE AND CIDER...BEER EVENT...ME NOT POURING BEER...I'm sorry, it just doesn't make sense to me, but I guess that works with the surreal week I have had.

Good luck to us all,