Category Archives: craft beer goodness

an unlikely but brilliant combination

Breakfast and beer.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds, as amply demonstrated by the two beermen.tv breakfasts, one of which was held this year as part of Good Beer Week.

Having missed the Royal Mail Hotel’s breakfast offerings (first world sob!) and needing to hit the road after a late morning check-out, I suggested that Daylesford’s famous Breakfast & Beer might be a worthy detour before hitting the city life, where perpetual city kids like me can go nuts everytime they see ducks fly…

Daylesford is indeed quite the oasis, it’s picturesque, has an ample amount of places for rich city folks to spend their dollars at getting in touch with their inner selves and then finding charming trucs at charming antique shops, like this and naturally going ga-ga over them:

Enid Blyton's The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat

Oh, but the lovely little Beetle outside the shop was also very noteworthy – all beaten-up but still so colourful, literally and figuratively.

Oh, but we’re losing our purpose! Breakfast & Beer.

The two dogs in the stained glass window have some significance to the venue (either currently owned or formerly owned), but I forget exactly which – apols.

To say the owner was ecstatic at my beer choices (apparently, Tris had made the executive decision that I had to choose for both of us…pressure, yikes!) was an understatement. He even snuck a straw-sip of this beauty, the Beer Here Hopfix. I blame him not one bit. My beer strategy was to choose one beer that matched our food and one that matched the chilliness. This one was for the dishes we ordered. It is bitter, hoppy, weed-like goodness. I’ve smelt weed before…in fact just the other night at the Faust gig it was great to see some oldies enjoying a spliff or several?

Onto the food – if you want deliciously prepared comfort food, then this is the place to come and get it, truly. I chose a serving of the roasted Lancashire sausages with bread and butter pickles, with a fried egg on toast, garnished with some rocket. Hop-strong beers are well suited to fatty meat-type things like sausages and pork belly (as well as curry) – a good tip I learnt from Ben Kraus, Bridge Road’s brewer: a tip-off I’m forever grateful for. Also, juiciest sausages ever!

Tristan chose the honey baked Istra ham, Brussels sprout bubble and squeak with horseradish. My mouth is watering, just looking at the photo.

Our season-appropriate beer was the Emerson’s London porter. Whinge as you all may about the unusually cold snap in Melbourne’s late autumn before the onset of winter proper, you cannot deny that it is consummate porter and stout enjoying weather. Drink up that liquid roastiness! I love the glass they served it to us in too. Reminds me of some of my parents’ 70s Cristal d’Arques wine glasses which are probably older than I am and made the migration from England to here!

If you were really in doubt on just how extensive the beer range is at this delicious, quirky little place, I beseech you to view the photographic evidence below. There’s an excellent range of good local and international brews to whet your whistle and I can assure you, deciding what to order was not particularly easy.

The owner and staff are passionate and enthusiastic and scores of locals known to them came in and out as we dined. An excellent sign, I’d wager! My lit nerd curator girlfriend keeps ‘threatening’ to take me to Daylesford next time I visit her in Ballarat and I dare say I will let her next visit and truthfully, Daylesford is not too far from Melbourne either.

When possible, Breakfast & Beer support local causes and produce. When chatting to the staff and owner, I got the impression they love to be active within the community and not necessarily related to just food or beer-specific activities. Their coffee is a local Coffee Basics Arabica blend, roasted in Castlemaine despite my being obsessed with their otherwise branded coffee cups: simple things do indeed amuse simple minds.

Before…

Map coffee mug & saucer

And after – an obsessive-compulsive sufferer’s* worst dream:

an out-of-line Map coffee mug & saucer

I much preferred the beautiful old world ceramic glasses used for lattes, as modelled by a very dapper albeit slightly tired-looking Tristan.

an unusual but gorgeous ceramic latte glass as modelled by a man of the same calibre

What a wonderful bookend to a fabulous weekend away in the country.

Breakfast & Beer on Urbanspoon

*and no, not to make light of any such mental illness, OCD is hard shit, folks

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Good Beer Week: when our sheepish friends came to visit

Full to the brim with good cheer, great beer and even better company (though sad at missing Yeastie Boy Stu’s breakdancing in quail blue trousers), it was time to jet off to the Kiwi SpecTAPular at the Local Taphouse.

SpecTAPulars normally mean there are twenty special beers on tap, a bell is rung once a keg is drained and there is an opportunity to taste all the beers on offer in paddles of five. Me, Tiff (fellow #beergirlrager), Tristan and bestie K had decided on our gameplan very early – we’d all buy paddles of all twenty beers and each have a sip of every beer.

After being spoilt rotten at the beermen.tv Hair of the Breakfast, it seemed like the logical and responsible thing to do.

If the idea of twenty beers to choose from seems very daunting, fear not! The Local always have a ‘passport’ to make your journey a good one – not only does it have a list of all the beers, but notes and general advice on beer tasting.

Kiwi SpecTAPular passport to goodness

Steve, the owner of The Local Taphouse, and I directly quote, was very heartened by the success of the day:

Of the 20 or so SpecTAPulars we’ve held across both Taphouses, there have been some big ones but the Kiwi SpecTAPular was the biggest yet in both venues.

Quite an achievement! I remember the last one I was able to attend, the Aussie SpecTAPular had punters lining up at the doors pre-hour of establishment’s open.

But onto the beers, eh? I suspect I might’ve had palate fatigue but my personal highlights were the second half of the beer listed in the passport – from Yeastie Boys’ Rex Attitude (which you guys already know I love from previous post at the breakfast) onwards.


There were oddities, like my palate preferring Renaissance Stonecutter in the bottle over it in the keg?! Sacrilege, I know. 8 Wired’s Hopwired couldn’t displease if it wore its dirtiest underwear – that was fab.

The Three Boys Oyster Stout and Mike’s Imperial Porter absolutely hit the spot for the weather (though it was nice and toasty inside the Local given the amount of punters).

One of the earlier beers sampled that I liked though advertised as hoppy, I preferred its maltier characteristics – the Moa Five Hop. Again, could be my palate crack talking.

Every one of these SpecTAPulars is an absolute treat to attend. The staff do a phenomenal job, the patrons are always so polite and you end up exchanging tasting notes with absolute strangers and on top of that, it’s a great way to sample beer from a specialised place – in this case New Zealand.

I didn’t see him at the Local in costume but co-owner Steve got into the sheepish spirit of things too.

Till next SpecTAPular…see you at the next one?

The Local Taphouse on Urbanspoon

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Good Beer Week: that time of year again when beer is had with breakfast

Last year beermen.tv did a truly wild and wacky thing: they put on a breakfast and beer event. This year, it was tied to Good Beer Week and was bigger and badder than ever.

Ten beers were served up with five delectable courses. How did they manage to pull it off? It was great value too – $35 a head was a very reasonable price for so much on offer. Upon arrival, everyone was greeted with the Feral Brewery Golden Ale. I recalled that Brendan Varis, the head brewer was keen on Sorachi Ace hops so when I picked out lemony notes in the beer, I was chuffed to see that yes, the hop in question had been employed – such palate epiphanies are awe-inspiring. My palate is not that great and though it’s slowly improving, it has a loooooong way to go. Good excuse for more beer imbibing? In any case, Golden Ace was quite a refreshing start to the day.

The next beer remains a bit of a personal fave – Bridge Road’s chestnut pilsner. Though some may criticise, I actually like that it’s so variable. The first time I had it, I couldn’t taste any chestnut, but the last time I had before this, it was nothing but roasted chestnutty goodness. Autumn in a bottle. This time around, the chestnut was subtle and sweet and it felt less like a pilsner? It could be the first beer colouring my palate, admittedly.

Then the first course came out and all thoughts of beer dissipated: a smoked trout and lemon myrtle quiche. Fantastic match with the Feral but not too shabby with the chestnut pils either. It was great that they served us our beers, gave us one course between the beers and let our taste guide us to decide which beer matched what food best.

Our next duo of beers was the Red Hill Hop Harvest ale and the 8 Wired Hop Wired.

I’m a massive fan of both, but have to say that the Hop Harvest ale matched the veal sausages with caramelised onion beautifully – the beer really accentuated the caramelisation long after the sausages had been polished off! (note: I’m hoping it’s veal – a few staff members serving didn’t seem to be sure about what they were bringing out. A menu along the beer menu would’ve been awesome for us food blog wanksters)

I think the Hop Wired would have worked on fattier sangas – but that’s just a guess. Half a sausage wasn’t enough: take from that what you will…(I wanted two full ones, ha)

Next up, a beer that is an old friend, Holgate’s Temptress, and a brand spanking new one, Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude – the latter causing quite a bit of dissension amongst the ranks: a fair few folks (brewing industry folk and ‘regular’ punters alike) had a a lot of trouble finishing their Rex Attitude because it was one smoky whatsit. Maybe I’m broken or just in want of more good whisky, but I freaking loved it.

Rex Attitude was my official number one beer for the breakfast, however neither Temptress or Rex suited the dish it was served with – steak and onion on bruschetta.

At this point of the breakfast, a bottle of Holgate’s Empress (a limited release beer that is a divine jazzed up version of their Temptress) was auctioned off for Beyond Blue for the princely sum of three hundred and one dollars. Yea for socially conscious beer lovers *heart swells with pride*!

Dessert time! Darren Robinson of Doctor’s Orders Brewing was on hand to take us through his creation to be served with one of the desserts – his Zephyr. I’m not sure that Doc’s beer matched dessert but wow, it’s summer in a glass. Imagine, stinking hot day, horrible day at work, go to the fridge and quench your thirst with a glass of this…almost makes me long for summer and I loathe summer!

Thankfully, we didn’t have to travel through jungles in the Congo or listen to boring-arse stories by a dude on a boat – no horror whatsoever, just reach for the bottle of Murray’s Heart of Darkness stout, thanks.

It’s pictured by the side of the ‘space beer’ by 4 Pines, the Vostok Stout.

Greedily, I scoffed down my share of rhubarb and ANZAC crumble…

…before moving onto the chocolate sauce pancakes. I confess I cannot tell you which of the stouts were best suited to the pancakes because I was too busy stuffing my face.

There were also plenty on non-beery highlights. I absolutely adore this photo of my #beergirlrage mate Jenn and her glee at winning trivia:

Soon-to-be-leaving (pout) Mountain Goat head brewer Jayne Lewis wearing merch of the ‘competition’, so to speak (as you can gather from the photo, it’s not really like that, is it?)

Mark of beermen.tv explaining how Damo lost a bet and ended up in a rather fetching costume. Details of the bet lost were not divulged…

Two punters consenting to a blind tasting – first of some evil cola soft drinky whatsit then the liquid that united us all.

And what happened to the jolly good sport who lost the beer taste-off…

But wait, that’s not all! Clear out you bastards!

And enjoy your last beer, the Stone and Wood Pacific Ale (formerly draught ale) outdoors (Tristan insisted I use this photo. Sorry).

But be buoyed by Brendan Varis and Shandy never looking so damn happy in his life.

Beer Deluxe did an amazing job with the Hair of the Dog breakfast: the staff were phenomenal, always attentive, helpful and just damn hospitality ninjas. Thanks to all involved as it made for a cracking start to the weekend.

Beer Deluxe on Urbanspoon

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