Tag Archives: Brewers and Chewers

Good Beer Week: no more brewin’ now we’re just chewin’

Due to space concerns and not giving The Local Taphouse’s food at the Brewers and Chewers event in my last post any coverage whatsoever, I decided to do one dedicated solely to the food and the beer (see previous post here discussing brewery-industry-journalisty types and wonderfully esteemed, scintillating company it was too). It never felt like we had enough time with either person which indicates to me that the event was a roaring success.

I already mentioned Bob’s Armpit by Wig & Pen frontman Richard Watkins so I’ll skip that and head onto Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweis. Look, I’ll confess upfront that I didn’t make any notes on the beer…but I do remember enjoying this with the mixed leaf salad with Stone & Wood Pacific Ale mustard dressing, a beer that’s clocked up an impressive accolade best read about on Oz BrewsNews. You can also buy a copy of The Critics’ Choice to Australia’s Best Beers which I highly recommend (full disclosure: I do know several of the contributors).

Sorry, my table. I stole a lot of the tomatoes. I’m destined to suffer a similar fate to St Augustine for such crimes…(when he’s not talking about his racy past and how sorry he is about that, he also goes on about how wracked with guilt he was at stealing pears from a neighbour’s tree as a kid. Read his Confessions if you don’t believe me). Beautiful salad: nice mix of leaves and the dressing was subtle but special and an excellent appetite-whetter.

Not really paying attention to beer and food matching but desperate to get just as many Sierra Nevada beers into me (responsibly: Tristan and I shared a single bottle of all of the ones we had for the whole night), next up was the Sierra Nevada Summerfest lager, 2011. Fresh off the boat!

sn summerfest

This was drunk alongside two courses – field mushrooms with chorizo sauté with Brewdog Tokyo (eeeee!) and beef empanadas with 8 Wired Big Smoke porter. Both courses were phenomenal – juicy, sauce-soaked-up mushies and the beef empanadas I could easily have done with another though given the generous servings, that probably wouldn’t have been wise.

Raising the culinary bar even further, two generous dishes designed to complement each other were served yet again – Moroccan spiced couscous steamed with Sierra Nevada Kellerweis, with roast vegetables served separately. The second actual dish however was the most moreish for me of the evening – BrewDog Paradox Isle of Arran lamb neck tagine with snow peas and tomatoes. The meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender and again, greedy sot that I am, it didn’t feel like there was enough to go around. Heavenly. The couscous soaked up the tagine’s sauce making sure not a drop was wasted! Bless you couscous. Our table companions opposite us TJ and Chris were also celebrating its deliciousness.

Forgive me, but I did not have a beer that matched any of these dishes, drinking ‘rogue’ if you will: in fact the word ‘iconic’ comes to mind to describe my next shared beer…as does two songs (replacing the word ‘atomic’ for ‘iconic’).

Then it was onto their Torpedo IPA. What a treat to enjoy these beers guilt-free as well as fresh…I’m not implying I would judge you for your decision to drink grey, but personally, it was something that did bother me when I chose to do it though the temptation and the lure to try a beer I’d never had before was just too great. I’m like Jonathan Safran Foer being all private about eating meat as described in the first chapter of his book Eating Animals (which for the record I never intend to give up).

Dessert time! Oh lord. I said I would only have half a slice but it was just too fab to share.

To finish the sumptuous dinner we had a Feral brown ale gingerbread pudding served with crème anglaise and butterscotch sauce. What a perfect end to a glorious evening. The gingerbread flavouring was fairly subtle but the sauce! Absolute gustatory gleefulness.

TJ, the lovely lass across from me was proudly extolling the virtues of a damn good dark beer from very early on in the evening. Finally, after going through all the beer on the beer menu I’d not previously tried, it was time to get our SN porter and stout on.

Sierra Nevada porter

Sierra Nevada stout

The amount of positive things I have to say about The Local Taphouse, you’d seriously think I worked for them (I don’t) but they just do so much for good beer. Aside from the dishes being fantastic as stand-alone dishes, I felt like they had a small element that connected each to the previous one served, the progression was natural.

If Brewers and Chewers runs next year for Good Beer Week and how Steve & co. managed to run it so effortlessly this year given it was a brand new format is awe-inspiring, you really ought to make an attempt to get to it. Things really can only get better from this point onwards.

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Good Beer Week: do some chewin’ while you talk to those that do the brewin’

Think speed dating, but you all stay in your seats and when the bell is rung, a fairly prominent brewer(ish type) has to get up and move on along to the next table.

That is the concept behind The Local Taphouse’s ‘Brewers and Chewers’ event. Not that I know anything about speed dating, but one of my lovely table companions TJ was keen to clue us all in. Basically, we had a sit-down dinner and then a bell was rung and one of seven beery folks had a cloche brought to them and their plate, and they were whisked away.

As usual, the lucky punters had Prof Pilsner from Beer Blokes to assist with MC duties. Here he is introducing a very affable Soren of 8 Wired Brewing to the crowd.

This is going to be a difficult post to rein so bear with me: let’s start with the brewers and if applicable, their beers imbibed. The non-brewy folks had their own spot to sit in and stayed in said spot for duration of the evening. Downstairs of our beloved Local was cleared of its usual suspects (ie. the comfy green couch which eats my fat arse every time I sit in it) and it was converted into a rather swanky dinner hall for the evening. Little did I know that I had the great fortune to be seated next to Richard Watkins, head brewer of the Wig & Pen in Canberra.

Lovely, soft-spoken fellow, shown here listening to a question from a fellow diner. Coincidentally, Tris and I had started with an unstyled wild bacteria and yeasty number that was on its way to becoming a lambic but not quite (his words, not mine!) that is then aged for a year. This beery complement to our esteemed guest was called Bob’s Armpit, at 7% ABV. Incidentally, knock Canberra all you like (goodness knows our MC did!), the weather there is actually very stable and predictable and thus quite good for brewing. I cannot comment on its denizens, never having been…

Though many of you know the Wig & Pen has changed owners, Richard said he’ll still have a fair bit of involvement with the brewpub and definitely with beer. Phew.

Next up was our lovely launchess of the Barley’s Angels Melbourne chapter, the Beer Diva Kirrily Waldhorn. I didn’t get to chat to her much, but just enough to gush to her about her being the one starting me off on my beer-and-food journey. Sam from True South and Karen of Red Hill were also chatting to her at the other end of our table.

Third brewy suspect was Brad Rogers of Stone and Wood, wearing their eponymous “water hops malt & yeast” T-shirt (want!). Stone and Wood is up in Byron Bay, is about five acres and Brad said they like to keep it simple. His beery insight was that Galaxy hops can be variable whatsits. Given last event’s and post’s personal insult hurled at this here writer, I can assure you, this is the last time my ugly mug will ever appear in a blog post. I’m only sorry the beer being imbibed was not Brad’s (confession: it was most likely Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweis).

That damn bell, you keep ringing and robbing us of beery folks! Our fourth brewy person in the hotseat was the ever charming Soren Eriksen of 8 Wired Brewing from New Zealand, pictured at the beginning of the post. He divulged that due to shipping and lower excise costs within Australia, the brewery is selling almost more beer in Australia than in their home country! Happy to keep on appreciating, Soren!

It was Brendan Varis of Feral Brewing in Western Australia that got me writing down furiously – he’s been a great inspiration to a lot of Australian brewers and beer drinkers. Karen of Red Hill Brewery (yes, she owns a brewery, she is not a brewer, I’d best specify that) happily sited him in front of our table as what got them started. Brendan was insanely generous with his take on brewing: he said he loves Chinook as his ‘go to’ hop but that the 2011 Australian one wasn’t as fantastic as previous incarnations and that it took ten tanks (or twenty brews!) to actually discover this. He also showed fondness for Columbus and Horizon but was getting all cosy of late with the Sorachi and its lemony goodness but it was his discussion of terroir and whether or not it exists for beer that was truly scintillating. Is this something beer industry folks will be talking more about down the track…?

Though I’d got to listen to James Watt twice before the dinner, I still cannot fucking believe he sat next to me and talked to me personally for the next brewer stint. Oh. My. God. He apologised for coming off as condescending at Ale Stars and seemed to be operating on a cyborg-like amount of sleep since he’d arrived in Australia but look: speaking with him at the dinner is easily going to be the highlight of the week for me. James gave me four minutes to take a sip of his own glass of Hardcore IPA and come up with a poem for him. I did feel like we bonded because and pardon this profanity but I did refer to that fundamentalist organisation as ‘cunts’, or rather how they treated him (yes yes, I realise, not doing my fellow wymmins favours by using the word in a pejorative sense, but as a quick aside, in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, it’s slang for the female nether regions and not considered rude. So there).

Did he like it? As a poetaster, I’ll never really know but he took a photo and I caned it out in less than four minutes. If I’m lucky, it may end up on a beer bottle but these brewing rockstars, bet they say that to every sassy brunette they meet in a foreign town (I wish I’d suggested to James that Sassy Brunette might actually be an excellent name for a future BrewDog brew…).

So could the highs that punky James provided be topped? Last brewy-type Steve Grossman opening with an anecdote about how Sierra Nevada gave the film Get Him To The Greek an ample supply of their beer was a great conversation starter. When I watched it with Tristan, we’d spotted the bottles (and I laughed so much during the film I couldn’t sleep for its sheer hilarity) with much glee. Great to see that the thirty-one-year-old craft brewery got their product on a film rather than *insert your chosen commercial swill’s name here*


This post is a bit longer than intended so will publish a hopefully shorter post next up about the drinky-chewy aspect of the evening, which really does deserve only the brand of long-winded critique I can give it *wink*.

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