Tag Archives: Australian International Beer Awards

beer, breakfast, and three men drinking better beer

Beer Expo posters

(picture is of some promotional posters snapped at previous evening’s beer showcase as part of AIBA)

Beer and breakfast.

No, it does not sound like a marriage made in heaven.

However, I’m not a stranger to having beer in early part of the day. When I used to live in North Melbourne, I lived with an excellent homebrewer who had kegs and taps and everything. I was living the drunkard poetaster dream. One morning (8am or so), two of us woke up to discover that due to roadworks in the area we had no water.

We got water back at 3pm. Shall I let you connect the dots?

So no stranger to beer and breakfast, I went along to the ‘Hair of the Dog’ Breakfast at Beer Deluxe hosted by beermen.tv. I’m an avid hater of long, talky podcasts (though beermen.tv are really a ‘vodcast’ – that term doesn’t have much popularity though) but indebted to Todd of beermen.tv for kindly e-mailing some beer tasting notes my way (the term ‘mouthfeel’ is actually starting to creep in to my beer vocabulary and it feels goooood).

Being a little late, we were rushed through the door and sat down – it was a full house. Upon arrival, a glass of Mountain Goat’s organic steam ale, a beer I’ve enjoyed plenty of. Argue with me if you like, but this beer tastes markedly different on tap to what it’s like from the bottle and I prefer the latter. Don’t stone me yet though. Better yet, go and buy a 6-pack of it to drink, and then pay the Mountain Goat brewery in Richmond a visit and compare.

First course was already up as we rushed to our seats. Everything was too fast and furious for me to take notes on the dishes, so I’ve cheated and pinched a bit of info off James’ blog post whose blog you should all be reading anyway. I feel pretty guilty about this, so James, if you’re reading, I owe you a drink…or three *wink*.

Behold, crepes stuffed with ricotta, mandarin and sultanas. Scoffing these down was easy as piss. I haven’t had stuffed crepes for ages.

crepes stuffed with mandarin, ricotta and sultanas

This was matched with the Razor witbier by Bright Brewery. Like James, I too do not jump for joy for at witbiers but they’re a damn fine start for breakfast. Would definitely buy a 6-pack for some good old session beer drinking.

Bright Razor witbier

The second course was a slice of Spanish omelette with leek and prosciutto. I found this a bit dry and oily. Of course, that didn’t stop me from demolishing it.

Spanish omelette with leek and prosciutto

It was matched with Murray’s Whale Ale. There were jokes from beermen.tv fellow Mark that they chose this for its cute label, giggle. This is an American-style wheat beer, but it doesn’t have the characteristics of a traditional wheat beer that put me off. Quite a refreshing drop, and I would drink it again.

Murray's whale ale

For the third course of toasted rye bread topped with bratwurst and fruit chutney, we were given two beers in accompaniment. Pictured below with the course was Red Hill’s wheat beer (largely responsible for my palate deciding to give wheat beers another go). Apologies for the blurriness – the staff at Beer Deluxe were fantastically efficient! The second beer was Bridge Road’s Hans Klopek Hefeweizen. I wasn’t a big fan of the Bridge Road hefe the first time I tried it at a bar (at night, even). It seemed much nicer with food. My favourite breakfast beer and food match was this course and the Red Hill wheat beer, the beer being one of my least favourite beers from Red Hill Brewery, incidentally.

Red Hill wheat beer

Bridge Road Hans Kloper hefeweisen

Lost count of the courses and beers yet? We had started with beers with an ABV of 4.5% and slowly moving up the scale to 5% and this was in the space of about, ooh, thirty minutes? Work, kidneys and liver, work damn you!

I somehow managed to not get a snap of our fifth beer – Stone and Wood’s Stone Beer. I’d tried this the night before at the AIBA beer tasting in the Atrium, Fed Square and not liked it much. On this occasion, it was so much better. The fourth course nosh was baked lima beans with tomato and caramelised onion. The servings of this were huge and enough for me to get seconds! I looooove beans and seems like not everyone on my table shared this love. Oh well, more for me!

baked lima beans with tomato and caramelised onion

Two beers to go with the last two courses which were desserty – first the Sable Breton, my favourite course. These were just scrumptious! I found that the Holgate chocolate Temptress (a beer I could jolly well marry) went better with this than with the last course of Belgian waffles drowned in chocolate sauce. The richness of the Holgate and the fig were heavenly. Technically, however, it was the White Rabbit dark ale that was served with these pastries. The White Rabbit dark ale is far more sessionable drinking than the Holgate which I love as an after-dinner beer. I’ve knocked down a few pints of the dark ale and have to confess…I’m a little over it – it was my least favourite beer at this event. Good thing White Rabbit have a newly released white ale!

Sable Breton with crème fraiche and a fig molasses

White Rabbit dark ale

Holgate Temptress chocolate porter

Everyone was a bit sozzled and full by the time the Belgian waffles in chocolate sauce came out. I still managed to force one down, hehe.

Belgian waffles with chocolate sauce

A fantastic event. We were amply guided through the beer and food with good humour by our lovely hosts Mark, Damien and Todd and I even got to meet Mark briefly which left me starstruck for the day! I think I would have liked the breakfast to be a bit more leisurely as we really were cramming down the food and beer pretty fast but that’s a minor issue – the staff at Beer Deluxe were flawless and our fellow diners were friendly and keen to share thoughts on the beer. It was twenty (yes, that’s all!) bucks well spent! I understand that the event was possible due to the extreme generosity of all brewers of the beers served and you could do no wrong to go out and get a 6-pack of any of these beers. I even got to chat to Tom from Mountain Goat and met James of Beer Bar Band for the first time – I swear this dude is my beer twin (we seem to love a lot of the same beers and have similar preferences).

So guys, when’s the next one?!

Beer Deluxe on Urbanspoon

Red Hill Secret Stash weekend is as foodie as it is beery

Last post for beer week at EDS! Last weekend was the ‘Secret Stash’ weekend at the Red Hill Brewery down in the Mornington Peninsula area and thus an excellent excuse to get together some good foodie/beerie mates for a stellar pub lunch.

I have much fondness for the Red Hill Brewery because it was one of the places that helped me realise just how wonderful the Australian craft beer scene is. When I first went there, it was Secret Stash weekend which is generally when special brews go on tap and are made available to the public – this particular weekend, they had their scotch ale (remains a favourite of mine to this day) which had been aged in a barrel – just a tad more special than the scotch ale proper. I bought a stein and elected to get it filled up with the special scotch ale. Not a drop wasted!

For lunch that day, I had the bratwurst with parsnip mash and braised red cabbage and Tris had the pork hock with beetroot spätzli. Not fantastic photos, sorry, was in a bit of a rush to eat!

This Secret Stash just passed (as in last weekend to the time of this being published) was promising the Hop Harvest Ale (6% ABV) on tap (which you can also have on tap at the Local Taphouse as they are currently showcasing Red Hill’s beer – the Hop Harvest, Scotch Ale and wheat beer, to be precise). I remember reading about how they made it too – a bunch of beer loving folks got up very early one morning and picked the brewery’s own hops on the premises to make it. I quote directly from the website…

The brewers were knee deep in our hops for this special brew, using hops just harvested from our own vines which were then steeped in our conditioning vats for months, this is a traditional English style bitter. Copper in colour with a strong malt character, balanced by the use of our new seasons Willamette and Goldings hops to create a full hop flavour and aroma. The complex grain bill provides a full, rich & malty ale that has hints of marmalade and lashings of hop resin flavours, finishing with a peppery spicy note.

Good chums Colin, Suz and Lindsey had got there before us and were chowing down on starters – Colin’s nuts (I’m afraid that joke isn’t ever getting old even though it’s been done to death) and some gouda cheese. Colin had ordered the Welsh rarebit but it was scoffed into oblivion before I arrived.

Drink-wise both Suz and Colin got beer tasting paddles – the one offering the Bohemian Pilsner, Belgian Blonde, Hop Harvest Ale and Temptation.

 beer paddle

I got to test the ‘hair of the dog’ theory after a rough night beforehand and ordered a pot of the Bohemian Pilsner. It’s extremely crisp and refreshing, has a thin body and would be a fantastic summer session beer. It becomes less hoppy as you continue to drink it. Gah, why wasn’t I drinking more of this when it was summer?!

Time for lunch! Suz and I both ordered the chicken pot pie. Just perfect for the nippy weather. Very hearty! I think this might also have been flavoured with one of the Red Hill beers but because I neglected to take a photo of the menu, I can’t tell you which one but I suspect it might have been the wheat beer. Update: the kind RHB folks tell me the pie is flavoured with their scotch ale and has wild mushrooms in it. Cheers guys!

 pot pie

Lindsey and Tris both ordered the waterzooi – a seafood chowder. Fuku-san! update: I’m told it had a generous amount of seafood including mussels, prawns, Moreton Bay bugs, some sort of fish and possibly scallops. Shame there was only one piece of bread to mop up the rest of the moreish soup. You see Linds, I do know what Iron Chef is.


But it was Colin who got the best dish on offer – the pork belly with mash and braised red cabbage. I might have to make a trip just to go and try this. The first time I went to Red Hill it wasn’t on the menu which changes to reflect the seasons, so I missed out. Despite the deliciousness of all our dishes, we looked on in envy at Colin’s. I think Lindsey is still lamenting not having chosen it! So say we all…

 pork belly

Thankfully, there was no choice regarding dessert. It was steamed chocolate pudding, or nothing. All five of us had dessert. A most generous serving it was too!

 steamed chocolate pudding

Suz, Lindsey and I had a goblet of the Imperial Stout though I think I was the only one to get it with dessert. It is rich, with a thick creamy head. I find it has hints of burnt coffee and it’s very velvety. No wonder I didn’t finish dessert.

Oh yes, and the Hop Harvest…

 hop harvest

Much maltier and sweeter than I expected, it’s also quite a filling beer. Medium bodied and suited the bracing Victorian weather which on this particular day could not make up its bloody mind.

I do wish I took Mum here for Mothers’ Day lunch after all. While it is a brewery, they serve excellent food, locally sourced when possible. People don’t just come here for the excellent beer and that was evident upon last visiting. The tables were packed with very hungry folks.

On a personal note, it was lovely to meet Karen, the part-owner of Red Hill Brewery and the lady responsible for the brewery’s Twitter presence. The very first Ale Stars I ever attended, we had the pleasure of the other co-owner and brewer David coming up and giving us the ideal show-and-tell. I won’t lie – I was flattered that Karen wanted to meet me. It’s not often people want to do so just because of what I write (usually when I tell people I write poetry, they back away like I’m an escaped psych ward patient. Sad thing is, I don’t blame them!). Enough babbling from me, if you’d like more information on the brewery, head over to their website and plot a visit.

News-flash! Red Hill Brewery picked up some awards – will update with more comprehensive information and please forgive me for the time being for referencing a tweet! No official information as yet but you can read some of the results over at The Crafty Pint.

Red Hill Brewery on Urbanspoon