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.



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