Tag Archives: The Crafty Pint

Good Beer Week: great food and beer finally collide at the hands of a pro(f)

It should have been obvious: the Terminus Hotel in Clifton Hill has provided ace food and equally ace beer – in bottles and some local stuff in kegs – and yet, Prof Pilsner informed me that the venue had yet to pop its beer-and-food-dinner cherry (kriek? would be more appropriate…).


Finally, on the first night of Good Beer Week, a collision of the two was sought and it did not disappoint. Tickle me biased, but a mate Tully’s collisions might still be cooler but he’s all real sciency and shit. So we had to ‘settle’, as it were.

Because this was the 2010 AIBA Gold Medal Winners showcase, the beer selection was set and most of us beer nuts would have gone out of our way (read: traipsed on down to our local beer merchant and hassled the bejesus out of them) to drink said beers. Where the excitement lies in what was done food-wise and how the beer and food were paired.

First up, the good old faithful Trumer Pils. I don’t think it’s groundbreaking by itself, but the aim of tonight’s game was to see how it paired with the four (how’s that for spoilt!) nibblies dutifully trailed out to us by the ace staff: crumbed pigs’ head with parmesan mayonnaise, salt and vinegar tripe, salt and pepper calamari, and crab cakes. As usual, my photos do not do the starters justice but had to work with what little I had, please be gentle. I know the photo gods cry when amateurs use flash, honest.

crumbed pigs' head, parmesan mayonnaise




The clear winner in the nibblies stakes was the pigs’ head croquetty thing. Great match with the beer. On my table, there was much love for the salt and pepper calamari, but that’s easy enough to do and do well. I think a lot of people were put off by the idea of offal but the tripe wasn’t so bad though it was inconsistent in its seasoning. You either got a piece that was well salted or far too vinegary. Tristan called it “arbitrarily challenging” which our table supported. I wish I’d remembered to ask what chef Matt Merrick had used in his dipping sauce for the crab cakes – though the cakes themselves were not gobsmack amazing, the sauce was beautifully aromatic and its taste lingering in my mouth kept me guessing constantly at what on earth was used.

Our actual first full course was the winner of the night for me as a match – Bridge Road’s Chevalier Saison with Black Angus carpaccio, goats’ cheese mousse, caramelised vinegar and textures of beetroot.



The cheese chosen and the sweetness of the beetroot capitalised with the fizziness of the Chev Saison, which apparently when being brewed, in Ben’s words, “the stinkier the better”. Prof kindly reminded us that the saison started off as a beer brewed for the summer months to refresh the peasants and weighs in at 6% ABV – you don’t want your hired help too sloshed. Perhaps I’ve been watching too much of that reality cooking show (which I’m only really watching to root for @cookinwithgoths – you kick some arse, sonny Jim!), but this beer and course was a desert island match. Grats to really pushing the beer-and-food-matching envelope, guys.

Next up is admittedly my least favourite course. I’m reminded of my art school ex who said he had a teacher that would ask their class “is this piece successful?” An excellent way to judge but of course what constitutes “successful” is more open to debate. The Feral Hop Hog IPA was provided with celeriac gnocchi, freshwater crayfish, pine mushrooms in a sauce Américaine.



The gnocchi wasn’t really gnocchi: harsh but I said it. It was a rectangular, log-like egg quiche minus the pastry. The dish smelt very fishy though oddly was more sour than it was water-borne. I admit to using Google-fu to trying to see how much sauce Américaine and gumbo resemble each other and when I did have the dish’s rendition of the former, I thought more of the latter. As for the beer match? I love the Hop Hog by itself but wasn’t sold on it being coupled with this dish.

No matter, a good treat we were in for with the next course of slow roasted suckling lamb, pomme purée, mushy peas with watercress and snow pea shoots. The accompanying beer was Holgate’s ESB.



ESB is a fairly malty beast and the more I drink of it, the more I seem to like it (though I have been lucky enough to drink it at the actual brewery, on the handpump. So much goodness). It’s got nice caramelly overtones that make it perfect for this weather and a better match than predicted with the meat, which was topped with a surprise sweetbread!

This would be the ‘safe’ course – red meat, mash and peas with a well-chosen beer and just a little bite and wonderful contrasting bitterness from the watercress and snow pea shoots. Our table did wonder whether there was really a difference between “pomme purée” and “mashed potato”. I went to a poetry workshop on the weekend and Geoff Lemon gave us so much sage advice: don’t try to be unneccesarily clever. You’ll look silly. When it’s just peas and mash, there’s no harm in just calling it thus. Was fairly sad not to have the physical space to finish this course, just don’t tell Billy

It was an excellent strategy to not finish my meat so I could slaughter dessert which was phenomenal: chocolate marquise, chocolate ‘rubble’ and honeycomb. The rubble had cocoa mint and was served in a whipped gel (didn’t quite catch the chef’s full explanation as he’s very soft-spoken). These are my notes straight off my menu: fairly safe choice…the white shit and ‘rubble’ was fucking off the hook’. Tables around as well as my table companions seemed to indicate that the dessert was a raging success given how quickly it disappeared.


This was served with Dave Bonighton’s self-confessed ‘hero beer’, the Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout – such a shame it’s a Rare Breed (read: limited edition). It was wonderful to have the man behind the brewery come and talk to us about how he felt about the beer. I’d also recommend heading down to the brewery this Wednesday to catch some serious Good Beer Week wondrousness. Stout with a chocolate-based dessert – can’t really go wrong. Dare I say, to pilfer an above abomination, this was a dessert island dish.

The Crafty Pint has also put together a list of beer that is worth visiting this pub and the Royston in Richmond for as part of his ‘curation’ so even if you can’t make dinnerish events like this, don’t let that deter you from popping in for a cheeky one. Looking at the lineup, it’s well worth it. Plus, you get out of Prof’s trivia and don’t get all embarrassed when you only get four out of fifteen answers correct…

Terminus Hotel on Urbanspoon

not quite the pub with no beer

Tuesday night last week saw Murray’s Brewing head brewer Shawn Sherlock come to the monthly Ale Stars meet-up at The Local Taphouse. I have to say that I feel Shawn (pictured below, left) was expecting a crowd that would be more…divided in its love over the beer he makes. Not so! He was indeed preaching to the converted.

While Murray himself is not a brewer, he had something of a beer epiphany when he tried a Sierra Nevada pale ale for the first time. Interestingly enough, despite being initially and continually inspired by the US craft brewing scene, the brewery does not use any US ingredients.

A few days ago via The Local Taphouse blog, there was a most tantalising blog post on the 3 Beer Beef Burger. Yes yes, I know it’s not new but I hadn’t had it and had decided I had to eat it before Ale Stars. Peak-hour traffic of course had its own ideas so I was furiously stuffing it down when Shawn was up on the podium. I have to a big-up to Burger Adventure for further encouraging my inner ravening carnivore.

Behold, the 3 Beer Beef Burger in all its glory. A juicy medium-rare pattie with a subtle smokiness and perfect grill lines. Dear god, this thing has battered onion rings in it! Being a teensy lass, I had to eat mine with a knife and fork, incurring the ridicule of Tristan and my dear beer chum Jourdan. And the chips and mayo! Yeah, it’s a rad burger. The only gripe I had was I did have to discreetly spit out a few chunks of gristle but I can forgive. It’s worth taking your non-beer nerd mates to The Local for this burger, as well as many other delish items on the menu.

murray's ale stars

It was fab to see The Crafty Pint in attendance and if you don’t know who he is or what is site is about and you’re a beer-lover, you have your head under a…keg! I may never recover from having him introduce me to Die Antwoord and their ‘Evil Boy’ video clip (please note: not for prudes or those in the workplace). It has to be the most…inventive protest on African tribal circumcision I’ve ever seen.

Did I mention ‘Crafty’ (as he is affectionately called and also because there are many Jameses in the world) was kind enough to interview me for his site? There’s only a few days left, but it was pretty cool to be nominated October’s blog of the month!

I haven’t forgotten about the beer, promise. I’m taking a cue out of our beloved beer stalwart (I did say I’d quit with the ‘old man’ digs!) Prof Pilsner’s book and keep the beer nerdiness out of my Ale Stars posts from now on. Let’s see if I can keep my impressions on the beers brief, shall we?

Murray’s Punch & Judy ale – is this really 3.9%?!?!? Made in the style of an English bitter (though Murray’s Brewing is very clear that they brew to taste and use style as a guideline), this is an amazingly flavoursome beer. Sadly a seasonal – great shame given that it screams to be drunk by the multiple pint. There were whispers it may become permanent which would be freaking fantastic.

Murray’s Angry Man – who is the angry man in question (it was hinted at, but never uttered)? Don’t we all have an angry man within? Well yes, we do, as soon as we’ve imbibed this American brown ale (again, just a guide, not brewed to the letter). Shawn named this as his personal session beer. It’s late hopped and the crystal malts give it its brown colour along with the malty caramel flavour. Yum!

This is Jourdan’s Tristan-please-stop-taking-multiple-shots-it’s-hard-work-looking-fabulous face. With a glass of beer, natch.

Murray’s Grand Cru – a Belgian-style tripel/golden strong ale hybrid. I found this one very hard to define in terms of taste, but it was my least favourite. Not at all a criticism on the brewers or the brewery: it’s just not a style I really get excited about, probably because of the sweetness. It looks beautiful though – clear, gold colour with a thin to medium body. Fairly hefty too at 8.8% ABV. Shawn said it’s one of his favourites.

Murray’s Icon 2IPA – good god, if you want hops, you got hops with this beer. Some notes of citrus and pepper cut through the bitterness. The thing I am really beginning to appreciate is that an intensely hopped beer does not necessarily equal the sort of bitterness that makes you screw up your face. Shame that the brewery can only brew half batches of this.

Despite it not being available, there was considerable discussion about their Heart of Darkness stout. I confess I may have heckled Shawn a bit (not being able to let go of an opportunity to unite my new-found love of craft beer with an older love for modernist literature). I really do wish they had’ve put ‘the horror, the horror’ on the labels! Sorry about the heckling, Shawn! And no, you’re not really a dickhead if you don’t like it. The owner Murray said that for the lolz. A few of us Ale Stars mentioned that we felt it had got smoother and a tad sweeter a month after being in the keg. It was pretty bold when fresh, but I’ve discussed this all before at a previous Ale Stars session.

One last beer! The Murray’s crew were super-kind and aside from giving us extra Grand Cru, we were treated to Spartacus imperial IPA! I’d previously paid an exorbitant sum (I felt) for a goblet of it at Beer Deluxe but it was nice to revisit – it seemed more floral and less sweet than on initial tasting.

Before I shut up, I’d just like to add that this was probably one of my favourite Ale Stars sessions in terms of beers offered. It was ridiculously difficult to choose which beer I preferred overall – they all cater for different sorts of beer-drinking sessions. In some ways it would be like choosing which child you love more.

As always, you can read an account of this fabulous Ale Stars session on The Local Taphouse’s blog with Jimmy’s pretty pictures. Included therein is a link to Prof’s post – he’s a speedy man and always gets his posts up before me.

The Local Taphouse on Urbanspoon