Tag Archives: Good Beer Week

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*

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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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Good Beer Week: the beer god has its angels, and for women only too

The Beer Diva, Kirrily Waldhorn, came down from Sydney to launch a Melbourne chapter of what I didn’t realise is a world-wide women-only beer appreciation club – the Barley’s Angels. Even more inspiring, the session was packed to the gills!

Who says women don’t drink beer, huh? Don’t make me thump you with my choice of dark lager…

I single-handedly credit Kirrily for being the person who first got me interested in beer and food matched dinners. I attended one she ran at The Local Taphouse in 2009 and I can still remember Steve and Guy, the owners thinking me mad for taking photos of the food. What food wankster pioneers we were.

Though sadly I missed a few of the starting beers and especially matched nibbles and despite Kirrily giving Tristan permission to ‘sit in’ and not participate, management overruled this decision. Very disappointing given that at the end of the evening, Kirrily said it would be fantastic to have photos of the event. Poor Tris just sat there at the drawn curtain, waiting for me and handed me his camera.

So, pictureless post. Here’s the rundown of what a score of beer-loving lasses came down to sample for a mere $20:

1. Oude Gueuze, matched with a cheese and radish salad.

2. BrewDog’s Punk IPA, no food match given

3. BrewDog’s 5AM Saint, with liver parfait (I got my beer but unfortunately missed out on the food match even though I’d snuck in at just the right time).

4. BrewDog’s Trashy Blonde, at a 4.1% ABV served with a lovely prosciutto-topped flaky pastry. Chosen to complement the tropical fruit notes of the beer.

We were extremely fortunate to have James Watt of BrewDog take us through his beers and while this was an excellent treat, I question just how this decision (nothing personal James, honest!) fits in with the ethos of the women-only beer chapter. I feel passionately about this because there were a fair few female brewery bigwigs actually at Barley’s Angels aside from Kirrily – Sam from True South in Black Rock, Jayne from Mountain Goat in Richmond, Karen from Red Hill Brewers.

I don’t think we necessarily had to sample their beer for the session, but wouldn’t it been an inspiring women-only lovefest (minds out of the gutter, you lot) if we’d had one of these amazing women chat to us about what they do as brewers? It also sets up a precedent for how future sessions are run: so my male photographer wasn’t allowed but it’s all good if you’re male and a brewer? In case you’re wondering, I’m arse at using his DSLR but if I want to do the sessions justice, I might just look at taking a course on how to use the damn thing!

Women with knowledge on varied topics are wonderfully dangerous *wink*.

No matter, we had Kirrily back for our last beer:

5. Moondog’s Cock-sockin’ Ball-knockin’ Chipotle Stout, matched with a chocolate truffle with cayenne pepper. What a note to finish the session on! I’d been dying to try this beer and it didn’t disappoint and matched the peppery choc sweetie we had perfectly.

The Melbourne chapter of Barley’s Angels has so much promise and last night was an excellent exhibition of that. If you’re interested in joining, feel free to ‘like’ the Barley’s Angels Australia Facebook page and keep ‘abreast’ of future events organised. Cannot wait for the next one.

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Good Beer Week: why cookies and zombies mixeth well

Luke Nicholas of Epic Beer owes me a beer.

How freaking cool is that? Though it’s perfectly obvious that I’m more than willing to pay for it anyway. In fact, me, Tris and bestie headed up to Cookie in the city to try out his newly released ‘Hop Zombie’ an imperial IPA – it took forty minutes for the one keg Cookie had to sell out. My ‘epic’ Google-fu tells me that this is 124 US pints.

The tale of why Luke owed me a beer and a chat was a simple one: at one of the more internationally focussed beer tasting events at the Atrium in Federation Square, I lined up all eager to pump the fellow serving for info on the Epic range. My eyes widened at the mention of numbers of hop flowers used in particular brews.

Alas, when it came time to serve me the serving lad didn’t seem as interested in sharing the knowledge he’d been so generous with his brethren. I seem to cop that a lot, eh? Either that, or seem to take it to personal offence.

In any case, I updated on Twitter what had happened and Luke direct messaged me with a promise that next time he was in Melbourne, we could have a chat and he’d buy me a beer.

I got my wish. It’s documented too – courtesy of a fellow who made his claim upon Tristan’s camera and subjected us to his regurgitation on a study about the crumbs and bottom contents of potato crisp packets and somehow likening it to beer. Uh-huh…

Epic Beer Hop Zombie launch at Cookie

And not before sampling the wares of Cookie’s Asian-influenced yummies: taro dumplings with chilli soy:

tapioca dumplings with pickled turnip, pork and peanuts:

wild mushroom salad with coriander, mint, chilli and lime:

stir fried pork belly with red curry, kaffir lime and beans:

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The winner out of all these was the tapioca dumplings, though I didn’t think the taro ones too shabby either. The pork belly was a little over-fried (I keep going to spell ‘fried’ as ‘friend’ first: how telling!). I’ve dined at Cookie and the food has always been ace – too bad I can’t use any of my previous dining photos (quality of them is appalling) because the duck jungle curry, whilst being hot enough to make you see through time, is really, really good.

I still keep telling my mate Luke (who incidentally homebrews, even brought some in for me at my old work) that friends do not let friends eat jungle curry. But oh yes, oh yes they do. Cookie is not just a great venue for some good nosh, but they do have a great range of craft beer too.

If you missed out on sampling the Hop Zombie at Cookie as many punters did indeed, the Epic rep in Australia informs me that there are two kegs at The Local Taphouse in St Kilda (as well as two more at the sister venue in Darlinghurst), and one at the Royston in Richmond, just opposite the Mountain Goat Brewery, which you really should be checking out on Wednesday and Friday nights when you can.

Though Ben Kraus’ duplicitous new baby which goes by the name of either ‘Dog’s Breakfast’ or Brew 500 Rauchbier which I think I should have let warm up a bit to get its true flavours shining through. Still, if you were bereft of Hop Zombie, check it out too.

As for Epic Luke, I’ll see you at the Kiwi SpecTAPular and yep, I’ll be claiming that free beer. So damn starstruck right now.

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