Tuesday, November 20, 2012



It definitely sounds like one of the silly words that I would make up, but this time there is something much more fun attached to it.

Movember is becoming more and more popular and is doing a good job raising awareness for men's health issues. It's also allowing men like me to look ridiculous for a month under the guise of charity.

Adding to the charity this year we have Penny Blue hosting a Movember party to close out the month, and there will be a beer brewed especially for it.

7 Cent brewery are an up and coming brewery that we'll expect to see more in the near future, but for now we'll be treated to a Belgian Dark Strong Ale to enjoy on the 30th of November.

Not just a 9.0% ABV manly beer to celebrate the closure of this charitable month, but it will be poured through the Penny Blue handpumps providing some sensual, smooth ale.


We'd love to see the hirsute brotherhood come out in force and celebrate the end of the month of moustaches, and enjoy a lovely exclusive beer to mark the occasion.

We'd love to see everyone there really so bring your brothers, wives, mothers, children (overage children of course....), friends, girlfriends. You get it. Everyone is welcome.

You never know, you might be crowned the Man or the Miss of Movember and what does that mean??

Prizes! Prizes of a currently undisclosed nature, which are the best kind.

See you there.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012


You can probably guess most of the content of this post from the title. It's a bit whingey and whiney. Oh, 'whingey' and 'whiney' are very similar words. Similar meanings too.

But read on only if you're prepared to wade through the complaints.

It's October. The ending of the bitterly cold days and the introduction of the warm, sunny ones.

Starting to get to those afternoons that are perfect to crack a cold beer and enjoy.

But I've decided that I would not take part in that just yet. I thought I'd take a month to detox myself. A sabbatical from all things unhealthy. A decision to lead a more healthy lifestyle in general, starting with 31 days of sacrifice and effort to establish some ground work.

Removing beer from my schedule for a month is not a daunting task for me. A stubborn nature and stoic pride give me the idea that this won't be a challenge.

This made me want to add an element of sacrifice to this little exercise, so I decided to make it during October because I know that this tenth month holds some enjoyable activities would would be a shame to miss.

Not much happening in August, too much happening in December.

October it is. Or...... Detoxtober.

I don't like the name “Octsober”. It's usually used by the kinds of people that I wouldn't care to associate with. Oooh, he's precious, I bet you're thinking. Well it's just what I've observed thus far.

“Octsober” also suggests that it's purely giving up the drink for a month, but I've tried to make a much more rounded and balanced effort to better health.

So, Detoxtober. It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. Don't worry about it. Not important.

Struggling to think of relevant pictures for this post...
I already eat quite well so there hasn't been a great deal of diet change. Maybe a bit more fish and raw vegetables added. A more active lifestyle is what's required. Jogging is going from an irregular folly to a more habitual activity, the punching bag is getting a bit of work put in to it.

Another related event that led to me to this month of good health was triggered by a trip in to Bentleigh for some breakfast and a coffee. It was a sunny Sunday morning and I had a hankering for cafe Bent's homemade baked beans served with poached eggs. Delish.

I got in the car and headed down the back streets along the railway line toward Bentleigh. Nightmare. Quiet backstreets in gridlock. I'd not realised that this particular sunny Sunday was market day at Bentleigh. Mayhem.

Sat in my car waiting for traffic to pass in a short trip made me frustrated. I shouldn't have to drive these short distances. Decision made. The bike was to get reinstated as the method of transport for shorter distances.

Jogging, biking and throwing punches at a hanging bag. That's a good start at establishing some more activity.
The next challenge was going to be resisting the fun elements and events that October would bring.

The month got off to a flyer, too.

The first weekend of the month saw Chapel Street Cellars host a bonanza clearance sale. This was a minor challenge, because after some immediate panic at an opportunity missed I realised there was nothing stopping me attending and picking up some goodies to enjoy come November.

Crisis averted.

I did stock up on some lovely beers including a swag of Moon Dog's Perverse Sexual Amalgam at a knockdown price. A case of Thornbridge's Jaipur IPA was also snapped up, so early on in my month I had an army of delicious IPAs greeting me whenever I wandered past my beer shelves.

That same weekend I found out that Slowbeer still had some bottles of Red Duck's collaboration with Anders Kissmeyer. My favourite beer of the year so far. So joining the army of Jaipurs and collection of PSAs is three Hop Bachs. Quite the gallery watching my performance.

The first weekend of the month also brought about the time that an APA that I have brewed would be ready to drink and it tasted excellent out of the fermenter as I was bottling it, so my anticipation was already high and now there would be 31 more days to wait.

Oh, this is kind of relevant!
Next up we have Mountain Goat's 15th birthday. Now I love the Double Hightail so the idea of a Triple Hightail was mouth watering! The birthday launch at the Great Britain Hotel would have been wonderful to attend, but alas I was probably doing something wonderful like washing dishes or mopping the floor. Rock 'n roll, son.

The Holgate launch of their new 500ml seasonal range occurred at Slowbeer and they had The Empress on tap. The Empress. I mean, this was probably the biggest tempter of the month.

One little gem that was coined and established by James and Jenn Davidson was a novel themed day. October 21. Brown Ale Day. A day to celebrate the oft forgotten and misunderstood style, the Brown Ale. I was active spruiking this idea and would have liked to have participated. Watch this space. Brown Ale Day 2013 will be a bigger day. A group of beer lovers gathered together to enjoy some fine brown ales, some delicious food which recipes include brown ale, a tasting of some home brewed brown ale and so forth.

It will be fun, just you wait and see.

The biggest event that October brings is the one I had in mind in the beginning of my sabbatical as my biggest sacrifice. The Victorian Microbrewery Showcase at Fed Square. Always a cracking event. A great chance to mingle with all the personalities of our great little community and to sample the wide and ever increasing gamut of beers being produced in this state.

So 25 days in to the month and I'm feeling great. Not really struggling with anything, and I haven't felt as healthy in a long time. I'm really happy that I've made this decision and adhered to it because I do honestly think it's a launching pad to a more healthy lifestyle in general.

This isn't relevant, but who doesn't want to see Crafty and two idiots dressed as pirates?
November 1 is just a week away and I won't pretend that I'm not looking forward to a lovely Hop Bach and a Jaipur or two.

Now I can't imagine that anyone is still reading this post now so I'll finish on some nonsense that's completely unrelated.

Beethoven, Beethoven, chocolate milkshake, Nova Scotia.

If you know the correct answer, send your entries to Locked Bag 7002, Sydney, NSW, 2000.

Once it's sent in don't forget to put you head in hands as part of the realisation that you have wasted your time.

Signing off.   

Saturday, July 21, 2012

50 Shades Of Grey

I feel like I really should preface this post by making it crystal clear that these will be my thoughts on grey importing. 
Stock photo from "grey import" Google image search
Sorry to the menopausal women that have navigated here in error. Though, the name of the blog should have made you suspicious in the first place. No matter. 
I’ll give a brief outline of what “grey importing” is although now that I think of it anyone who has the inclination of reading this will most likely be well versed on what grey importing is, and what the implications are. 
But maybe my mum will read it, or maybe the erotic fiction fans who haven’t worked out that this post isn’t for them have persevered.
Grey importing in the beer market is the same as grey importing in any other market, whereby legal goods are sold outside normal distribution channels by companies which may have no relationship with the producer of the goods. Thanks to Wikipedia for the tight definition...
There we go Mum! Hi! Yes, I’m eating well. We’ll discuss it another time. 
So that all sounds pretty dodgy, right?
If the goods are not being obtained via regular distribution channels then how do we know that fair prices are being applied to these products? How do we know how much the retailers are tacking on as a mark up?
Specifically in the craft beer market it’s a touchy subject. The cogs in the craft beer machine are an honest bunch. And honesty is also what they demand.
A good example of this is the contract brewing debate that has, and continues to rage in the scene. What I have made of it is not that we don’t like contract brewing, we just don’t like people being dishonest about contract brewing and this kind of snowballed into a general distrust of contract brewing. Don’t even say the C word. 
In reality, contract brewing is a sensible way for new and developing breweries to grow without having to mortgage houses and harvest organs to purchase their own expensive breweries. 
What’s so bad about grey importing then?
With such a miniscule percentage of the beer market share, craft brewers live and die by their product. Through their nominated distribution channels they can control how the beer is handled to ensure that it reaches the end customer in the desired condition. So if a distribution channel with no relationship to the brewer gets their beers, there is no way to see how it’s being treated along the way. You see where the conflict is here. 
One of the vocal protesters of grey importing is Greg Koch from Stone Brewing Company in California. Australian Brews News spoke with Greg about the subject in 2010 and expressed his disapproval that his Stone beers were getting grey imported into Australia. 
It’s an interesting interview, Greg makes some really valid points. I’d heartedly recommend giving it a listen/watch as it’s good to hear how passionate he is about his craft even though he is publicly denying his beers to us. 
In the case of Stone, they distribute their unpasteurized stock in refrigerated freight once it leaves their refrigerated storage rooms and is guaranteed fresh for their local customer base. This is a guarantee that simply cannot be made when it’s grey imported. 
The upshot is that particularly with American beers, they are nearing their best before date as soon as they hit the shelves meaning we won’t taste exactly what we’re supposed to be tasting. Punters may taste this and think it’s typical and not be prepared to purchase local beers thinking that it’s all the same. Literally leaving a bad taste in a punters mouth can hurt the local brewing scene which needs as much help as it can get. 
It also puts independent retailers that utilize legitimate distribution channels for stock, and take proper care of their beers at a disadvantage as they will not have the stock that can be obtained through grey importing to compete. 
But you know what? While I think it’s really important for people to know the information about how their beer got from the brewery to their glass I always think the same thing:
If the people that are savvy enough to be aware of grey imported beers are craft beer nerds/ beer geeks/ informed beer drinkers then they already know these things. It’s not going to discourage them from drinking local beer or away from any particular brewery. 
It’s curiosity.
Craft beer drinkers want their beer to be in the best possible condition, and they can tell when they are and are not. 
You’ll often hear someone who has picked up something unique from Dan Murphy’s for example say “It wasn’t right, but Dan’s might not have taken the best care of their beer.”
The first thought of people is to troubleshoot why the beer might taste stale or not quite right. Not dismissing it as being a poor beer that they would not try again.
The choice is often made to buy a grey imported beer for the pure fact that it is something that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s understood that it might not taste perfect, but it’s a risk that people are prepared to take to try something new. It’s not always about finding something new either. Sometimes it might be that even though it might not be brewery fresh it’s still a cracking beer. 
In keeping with the already mentioned Stone Brewing Company, I have purchased grey import Ruination IPAs because of the great reputation it has in the States. Several people have independently told me that they have had grey imports here and fresh bottles in California and the fresh bottles are a cut above, and I believe them. That doesn’t mean that the Ruination on my shelf still doesn’t taste amazing. I know it will be better from the source. I still want to try it.
Alright, I feel like I’m starting to get ranty, I’ll wrap it up. 
It needs to be understood that the quality of the goods inside the bottle can not be guaranteed on grey imported beers, but if these things are understood then what’s the harm in letting us make the decision. 

All we want in any situation is to be able to make an informed decision, why should this be any different?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Raconteur Reloaded: Hendo's Hopfest

Steve "Hendo" Henderson
If there's one thing that becomes immediately apparent in initially meeting Steve 'Hendo' Henderson, its that the man just loves beer. Good beer. And hops. He really loves hops.

The former Prickly Moses brewer (now plying his trade at Southern Bay Brewing) loves good beer and hops with an infectious passion that beams from every part of him as he waxes lyrical on the topic, it's the kind of enthusiasm that comfortably treads the tightrope between genius and madman. As with his passion, his talents as a brewer are equally unquestionable.

He has been responsible for some of the finer beers to come out of this country in the recent craft beer explosion, unleashing the Raconteur, the Tailpipe Big Ass Brown Ale and the Black Panther, just to name a few from the Prickly repertoire. It was the first of these that would be the focus of Raconteur IPA: Reloaded, a collection of 5 single-hopped versions of the original hop rocket.

A Crowded Royal Standard Hotel
The Royal Standard Hotel played host on a cold, rainy Monday night, (where Melbourne had seemingly decided that it had probably been a bit half-arsed at doing winter of late and that it was time to pull it's proverbial socks up) and the punters began shuffling in just after 6:30, a throng of beer nerds, industry folk and curious locals all keen to sample the five specially brewed ales.

On the wall, amongst the sporting memorabilia and the Good Beer Week promotions, a poster read "Raconteur IPA: A Love Story About Hops". Probably the most appropriate tagline for the event and the man himself, let alone the beer whose poster it rightfully adorns. The hops on offer were Galaxy, US hop Citra, Brambling X from the UK, Simcoe and the now-rare Riwaka flower, 5 hops with contrasting flavours and characters, some not often used in Australian beer.

Simcoe, Raconteur IPA and Galaxy
As a showcase for diversity in ingredients, the difference from one beer to the next was evident even to the most novice of novice beer drinkers, from the aromatic floral sweetness of the Riwaka, to the deep bitterness of the Simcoe, the passionfruity lightness of the Galaxy, to the bittersweet finish of the Citra, there was much to be analysed, discussed and compared amongst those who had filled the bar.

There was no subtlety with the hops either. Hendo, (who had been seen not two days before, sporting a t-shirt with a picture of a man firing a 'hop bazooka' on it) explained the importance of making each beer a hop explosion, to showcase each hop's individual characteristics. The end result was a feast of six (the five single-hop varieties and the original Raconteur) hop-charged IPAs, each with clear and unique identity and individuality and each capable of being a quality stand alone beer.

The pick of the beers was the Riwaka Flowers version. With origins in New Zealand, there has been something of a shortage of this hop recently. The last available Riwaka flowers in the country for some time reportedly went into this particular brew.

A strong floral sweetness gives way to citrus and grapefruit that take a firm grip without being too overbearing. It's sad to know we won't be seeing the hop used locally for some time, but I thank Hendo for gifting us the opportunity to sample it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Brooklyn Brewery Degustation Dinner

It’s the first night of Good Beer Week and already one my most highly anticipated events has rolled around. The Brooklyn Brewery Degustation Dinner.
Brooklyn is one of those breweries that just oozes cool, so having their beers matched to five courses prepared by the kitchen at Beer Deluxe is just too good to pass up. 
Just get to the beers, you say? Give me a chance, there are some other cool elements of the event. 
Making the long trip across the water was Eric Ottaway, the General Manager of the brewery to be our host for the evening. Eric introduced each course and took the time to regale us with some anecdotes and give us some insight to the genesis of some of the beers. 
Eric personalized his role as host and made it around to each table for a chat to the punters and proved himself to be a warm and genuine person to share some excellent beer and food pairings with. 
Now that I’ve mentioned the pairings, what better time to start having a look at what we were presented with. I know, slick journalism right?
Upon entry everybody was served a glass of Brooklyn Lager matched with some cajun spiced popcorn that was on the tables for everyone to share. Now, this already was a stroke of genius. I could write a whole post about this combination alone, but that would not be entertaining for anybody. 
It was a combination that would suit almost any situation. Watching a football match with a Brooklyn Lager and this cajun popcorn would be omnisensory bliss. That’s my word by the way, I’m coining it right now. 
Next up was pork belly with an apple mash with walnuts. Chosen to accompany this was the Brown Ale. In this course the beer played the support role as the big, bold flavours of the pork belly took over and made everyone in the room enjoy the moment. The sweetness of the sultanas in the apple mash made an excellent match to the Brown Ale. 
The food was expertly prepared and tasted delicious on it’s own. 
For those playing at home, I’ve just realised that “omnisensory” is already a word. How silly do I feel at the moment?
The next dish to be served was gravlax cured salmon on a shredded Thai salad matched with Brooklyn’s East India Pale Ale. This was another matching hit. The hop character of the IPA harmonised with the tang of the salad and combined for a truly tasty pairing. The salmon was cured beautifully and it rounded out a classy dish. 
Now following this was my favourite pairing of the night. Crispy lemon chicken with the Brewmasters Sorachi Ace Saison was classic flavour compliments executed professionally and I wanted to keep enjoying these all night but alas, there was more to come.
It was at this stage that the penny dropped that these pairings had been carefully considered and they were all just superbly complimentary.
After this onslaught of flavour it seemed like our tongues could use a break, and this was achieved with the serving of a Cuvee de la Crochet Rouge Rose as a palate cleanser.
Palates cleansed, the next matchings were out to please the sweet tooth in us all. A vanilla bean custard tart with candied acidulated malt. A dual pairing here, with the Monster Barleywine and the Companion Ale served with this dish. The Monster is a treat by itself, but the Companion Ale was my favourite of the two as a match to the dish (as well as a beer nerds delight. The rarity!). 

There was a second dessert offering, and I think most people were expecting it as we’d gotten to this stage of the dinner and hadn’t seen the Black Chocolate Stout yet. 
Sure enough, accommodating a dark chocolate, blue cheese mousse was the Black Chocolate Stout and the rumoured Black Ops Imperial Stout (that may or may not exist...). Both of these beers matched the chocolate mousse beautifully and it was just excellent to get to try (or not try....) the Black Ops. 
The dinner was one of the best degustations that I’ve been to in relation to the pairings. Each course was beautifully presented and more importantly really appropriately paired with the beers from Brooklyn. 
It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and one that Beer Deluxe can be proud about holding.
A big thank you is also due to Eric Ottaway for his hosting duties, he made the night that extra bit special with his interaction with all the punters.

If this is how Good Beer Week starts, it’s going to be a wonderful seven days.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Celebrity Brew Day

A cause for celebration.

The chance to brew a Raspberry Saison at True South Brewery with head brewer Sam FΓΌss, local comedians Charlie Pickering and Danny McGinlay, Beer Diva Kirrily Waldhorn and beer scene writing stalwarts James and Jenn Davidson.

Yes, it does justify the aforementioned celebration, but you've jumped the gun. 

The reason this celebrity brew day took place was to brew the ceremonial beer to be shared and to be given to guests of the wedding of Danny McGinlay and his lovely fiancee Lesya.

Pickering and McGinlay are avid home brewers and Sam's blind tasting of their Celtic Red Ale at the recent Ballarat Beer Festival was the trigger to this idea to put the icing on top of the finishing touches of the wedding.

The two close friends operate their home brewing under the moniker "McGickering Brewing Industries" and clearly have a passion for the activity. 

To give the day an extra special touch, Sam decided she would throw open the doors of the brewery and invite the public to come and watch, or even join in if they felt so inclined. This is how I managed to worm my way into proceedings. Very clever, I know. Besides, my innate ability to... reach things from high shelves.... was most likely a total blessing to all involved.

You're welcome.

Raspberry Saison was the choice to to commemorate the occasion and it piqued the interest of everyone involved as the Saison Du Victorien was such a nice example of the style with the local kick, and today's brew to was draw from the base of that offering.

Right from the get go it was clear that the day would be about brewing beer and cracking wise, with the two lads turning even the most mundane of tasks into chuckles, giggles and fun. The element of "kids in a candy store" was apparent for the entire day with the chapter of McGickering Brewing Industries stepping into the full production volume for the first time. 

So not really "kids in a candy store", they were adults. In a brewery. That is the adult equivalent. 

Once we were mashed in and boiling in the kettle, it was time for a little bit of food, and of course a beverage. First honorable mention goes to the True South Pale Ale which is tasting better than it ever has, but the special siren that stole everyone's heart was the ever fading supply of Ninkasi's Angel that was being poured and tasting a treat.

Now, if you haven't been to True South for a meal then may I ask you why? In an excellent illustration of the magnificent food being prepared in the brewery kitchen we sampled the tapas menu and were continually delighted with the dishes being served up to us. 

I could probably eat the salt and pepper calamari perpetually, but I couldn't attempt it on this occasion because lunch was over and there was work do. 

Late hops go in and we get this baby transferred into a fermenter to let the yeast get busy and eat all those fermentable sugars, but our work isn't quite done yet. To the fermenter was added six containers of pureed fresh raspberries (Yes, this is the "raspberry" component of the title. Raspberry Saison.) to round out the tartness of this celebratory beer.

Adding the raspberries was both a necessary task and a spectacle with our Beer Diva Kirrily not afraid to get her hands dirty. There are pictures around that tell a thousand words. Two thousand.

Set to bubble away we set ourselves on cleaning the brewhouse, and funnily enough the celebrities had to go off and make some important appointments, that's weird timing huh?

Capping off what was a remarkably fun day in Black Rock we went our own separate ways. 

We'd like to take this opportunity to wish Danny and Lesya all the best for the wedding day and what is to come in the future.

Now although this Saison has been brewed specially for the big day, there will be some available at the brewery, and very limited supply going out to the venues that regularly pour True South beer. This will be the last single batch brew done by Sam as head brewer so if you see it around make sure you snap it up and enjoy!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pepper Steak Porter

A foreword: I just read this over, and it may be long and uninteresting. You’ve been warned. 

A journey. A short journey. What’s the threshold of time/distance that constitutes a journey? I don’t know. 
A journey nevertheless. 
Rian and I have oft discussed getting our brains together over a lovely ale and brainstormed working out some really interesting ideas at styles of beer that we’d like to brew. 
The only downfall to this picture of Utopian living is that neither of us are any good at brewing.
It’s a damn shame. 
For example, the Cheeseymite Saison is trapped in our creative psyche, likely never to see the light of day. You might say that’s a good thing. Of course, one Ryan Tyack from Southern Bay Brewing might mount the executive head brewers throne on the bridge of his Death Star home brewery and electroshock some life into this Frankenstein of a beer yet.
Also, he might not. 
Anyway, one such brainstorming session Rian floated his idea of a Guava IPA. Rian, that is. Not Ryan. Ugh, this is so confusing.
This was the extent of the planning for this beer, as we were under no illusions that if we tried to brew it up it would end in failure and tears possibly. Likely, actually. 
So this was swept under the rug for a while. 
Many moons later (it was probably only two moons, three tops. I’m not down with the celestial cycles) we decided we’d make the trip to the Otways and take part in the Prickly Moses Brewers Experience, a package deal allowing you to go up to the Prickly Moses brewery for a day and brew a batch of their beer with the brewers and a couple of other punters. They run a couple of these a year so we had some time to look forward to it. 
You get a day of brewing, a gorgeous lunch, endless beer, and excellent fun along the way. 
Was that a good plug for Prickly Moses? I’d imagine they’ll want to send me some free stuff after that. 
Half a moon after we’d decided to participate in this experience, it was approaching another of our favourite parts of the beer calendar: The October installment of the Victorian Microbrewery Showcase. What fun!
I won’t go into detail about the showcase, but we made our way to the Prickly Moses stall and met Hendo for the first time in person. We’d conversed on Twitter as I jealously asked him to stop documenting his wonderful beer romp through the United States to all us poor folk at home. 
As we chatted, Hendo said “You guys should come up to the brewery some time and have a look around.” to which Rian replied “Well, we’re actually coming up to do the Brewers Experience in January.” 
“Oh is that so?” said Hendo, with a wry grin appearing. “Well how about this? We normally brew what we have on our schedule, but for that session why don’t you guys come up with a beer that you want to brew?”
At this stage I think I can speak for the both of us when I say we were being all cool and relaxed on the outside but yippee-ing and celebrating on the inside, and we both shared the telepathic message: Guava IPA. 
We hadn’t thought of marrying it up to a hilarious hair style, but we’re not professional brewers, you see?
So excited by the thought of getting our Guava IPA into tanks Rian suggested “ Tweet the idea to Hendo NOW.” 
“No.” said I. “Let’s keep this card close to our chest and throw some red herrings out into the Twitterverse.”
“Opiate Infused Wheat Beer”
“Pepper Steak Porter”
Resident beer geek James Davidson took this bait and demanded somebody created it for him. I apologized and explained I was just getting my creative juices flowing. Idea!
“Creative Juice Infused Flanders Red Ale!!”. 
Mildly entertained with ourselves we sent a private message to Hendo suggesting we make the Guava IPA. 
We didn’t get a response. 
Hendo pictured, looking like a crazy person.
We waited for a response. After a week we had heard nothing of this Guava IPA. Had we offended Hendo at the very suggestion of a Guava IPA? 
We were to get our response soon enough, but it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. A simple tweet from Hendo about a week later set some things in motion. 

“Can’t stop thinking about Pepper Steak Porter. Maybe our entry for GABS?”
Once Rian and I pick ourselves up off the floor, the excitement of one our stupid jokes becoming reality sets in.
It was decided that we’d brew a pilot batch, and if it didn’t suck or kill anybody Hendo would tweak and hone the recipe for GABS. 
As much as we were looking forward to the Brewers Experience anyway, now we’re going to be brewing Pepper Steak Porter. 
Now the speculation begun about how the hell we were going to make a beer taste like pepper steak. 
A week before the brew day we get notified by Hendo that he has been smoking the malt with mesquite and hickory and he has smelled like meat ever since. This excited us. Hendo had it all figured out.
On the drive up we stopped in at Forrest Brewery for lunch and a couple of quiet ones. Good food and beer from Forrest, but we won’t go into detail here. 
Brew day arrived and we awoke at the crack of dawn ringtone that I had set as my alarm on my phone that was set just prior to the crack of dawn, got into a cab and were on our way to the Prickly Moses Brewery. 
We gathered with a couple of other Brewers Experience attendees and realized that a brewery has to start functioning the same way any workplace does.
With coffee.  
By the bottom of the cup, we were all feeling a little more normal and ready to get cracking on the brewing. 
I quite enjoyed watching the other punters faces when Hendo instructed that we’d be brewing an experimental Pepper Steak beer today. The large brew we made was the Otway Ale. 
The Brewers Experience really offers what it says on the label, it takes you through every aspect of creating a commercial grade beer from start to finish, and Hendo is really in his element when conducting it. He’s got a pure passion for educating people on and encouraging the experience of craft beer. 
Brewing the Otway Ale on the large gear was fun, as well as pretty educational for this novice home brewer but the real fun came when we turned our attention to the pilot brewery to get the Pepper Steak Porter rolling. The grain smelled great. It smelled like meat. I didn’t want to stop smelling it. 
Once the boil started it became more aromatic and meatfully delicious.
At this point in time I’ll go off on a tangent. During the boil Hendo cracked open some bottles of the experimental “Saboteur”, big brother of the excellent Raconteur IPA, and wow! When Hendo gets a brewery at Southern Bay that can support that you can be sure he will turn out a mighty Double IPA if the Saboteur is anything to go by. 
The boil was 60 minutes, what better time to go and have some lunch?
What else would it possibly have been? We all sat down and tucked in to a mouth watering pepper steak that was cooked perfectly. 
After some steak, some Raconteur and some good chin wagging it was back into the brewhouse to get the beer into the fermenter and let the yeast do it’s thing. 
Pepper Steak Porter was in a fermenter and now it was just down to time and yeast. After some cleaning up (and a Raconteur or two...) our brew day was over. 
Now, the tale of the Pepper Steak Porter didn’t quite go as we thought it may have done, because for those playing at home, this was the time that Hendo accepted the job as Head Brewer of Southern Bay Brewing Company. This meant that the Pepper Steak Porter would need to be withdrawn from GABS, which is disappointing but there wasn’t really a feasible way of doing it with Hendo taking over the helm at Southern Bay. 
The upside to this was that when it was ready and I received my three growlers, we’d created a really great beer. Big, smoky, meaty characters dominate this porter that finishes with the pepper flavour from dry hopped peppercorns. 
The porter itself stood up as pure class and I would not be surprised of this is used as a basis for a Southern Bay Robust Porter when the time comes. 
A joke come to fruition. That’s just how we roll. 
If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this garbage and are excited by the idea of the Brewers Experience then I strongly recommend it and you can call Prickly Moses to make a booking on 03 5233 8400.

For added pleasure, I have posted some more photos.