Tag Archives: Stone and Wood draught ale

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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spring hops and curd you say…

It’s pretty much a match made in heaven: I know that when I’ve had a bit too much beer to drink, I start to crave cheese pretty badly. So when I read about North Melbourne’s Court House Hotel having some sort of beer and cheese matching called ‘Spring Hops and Curd’, I asked a fellow beer nerd @injerarufus, if she’d like to check it out with me.

I’d been to The Court House before for a beer dinner and decided not to do a post about it because…well, it was pretty damn average. Three courses of croquettes (one course errantly called a fritter) does not a degustation make. The best thing about the whole evening was unexpectedly bumping into my good friend Colin and getting to chat personally with the head brewer Jamie of Stone & Wood Brewing from Byron Bay. Even if it did mean having to suffer through the meal thanks to some old bird’s rudeness. Apparently some people don’t like food bloggers or new media. AYHSMB.

Before beer and cheese, we had meals off the front bar menu. This was some freaking fab pub grub. Oh, and we were in food blogger friendly company! Mr Rufus got a steak and didn’t mind T taking a snap.

T-dawg and Ms Rufus got the corned beef with mash. I nearly went for this myself! I was quite surprised when T said he wasn’t overly impressed by the corned beef. I think he found it…wanting.

I had no such complaints with my lamb, rosemary, honey and feta sausages with mash. Yeah, feta in a sausage, weird eh? But it freaking worked. As did the honey! Seriously, I could have done with an extra sausage. Generally speaking, the serves were a little on the small side.

The time came to fork over $25 for three cheeses matched with three beers. I’d been chatting to Ben Kraus, head brewer of Bridge Road Brewery on Twitter and he had informed me that their saison would be one of the beers served so I was fairly excited.

When we got there, no one could really tell us what beers were going to be served…till they were served. We ended up with glasses of Stone & Wood draught ale, the Little Creatures pale ale and the Bridge Road B2 Bomber. I’ve waxed lyrical about the B2 Bomber before: it’s a damn fine drop and was easily the most suited to cheese pairing.

While the Stone & Wood draught ale is a good session beer, I don’t think it was really a suitable candidate for any of the three cheeses we were given. I will happily drink pints of it come summertime – the passionfruit note in the beer screams summer! – but this was a disappointing beer choice.

The Little Creatures pale ale was more suited to the cheeses but still not fantastic. I have to confess that beer-wise I wasn’t confident the pub knew what it was doing.

This was further backed up by us being told that we were to taste all the cheeses and beers and ‘decide’ which beer went with what beer best. Erm…is that how it works? I certainly didn’t think so. This approach was a little too open-ended for my liking.

I spoke with someone in the beer industry who suggested that this might have been the pub’s way of getting rid of unwanted or excess stock (the beer, not the cheese). UGH.

Don’t get me wrong, the cheeses were delicious and the manager very kindly supplied me with full details of what we gorged ourselves on upon request.

From left to right: Locheilan Mundoona cow’s milk cheese from the Goulburn Valley; Shaw River Buffalino buffalo milk cheese from Yambuk; Strzelecki blue goat’s cheese from Gippsland. I used to love the stronger, more pungent cheeses but found that I finished the Locheilan Mundoona first then the buffalo. Don’t think I’ve forgotten that you nicked a good chunk of my blue, T!

Best pairing would be the Bridge Road B2 Bomber with the buffalo milk cheese – the B2 Bomber is a tad smoky and went a treat with the smoothness and occasional ‘bite’ of the buffalo.

Of course the night didn’t end without the new guy trying to charge $18 for a Mad Abbot tripel…poor kid wasn’t having an easy run (he’d managed to stuff up our orders quite a bit that evening).

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the Court House. I love the food, but I’m not convinced they know what they’re doing with beer (and believe me, it pains me to say that). I’d definitely go back for a meal though would steer clear of their beery events. Having said that, their beer dinners are excellent introductions for those who don’t have much craft beer exposure.

T wagered that the beer and cheese do would be a bit of a cock-up and sadly he was right. I was very stupid indeed to bet my sherbet fountain on it. Don’t you make the same mistake, y’hear?

In any case, all four of us did eat, drink and stagger. Kind of inevitable when one of your awesome dining companions sports the following badge.

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