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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.

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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?!

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