Sunday, May 26, 2013

Good Beer Week 2013: Hair Of The Dog Breakfast with BeerMenTV

How did we get to Friday morning already? Good Beer Week only just started!

In fact, I actually wrote this on Sunday so we're a good 48 hours closer to the bitter end of this great week.

But going back to Friday, there is really only one way to properly kick off the day and that's with the Hair Of The Dog Breakfast hosted by BeerMenTV.

It was cold outside waiting for the doors to open. Some would say it was the low temperatures combined with the persistent gusts of wind, others would say it was the inevitable crumbling of one's immune system after six days of valiant battle.

Sitting down there was an immediate moment of realisation of what we were up against. The beer list for the breakfast was displayed in each set place on the table. This is what we were dealing with;

  • BrewCult - Hop Zone IPA
  • Boneyard Brewing - Grapefruit IPA
  • Murray's Brewing - Punch and Judy's Ale
  • Bridge Road Brewing - Chevalier Dunkel Weizen
  • Doctors Orders Brewing - Morning After Pill
  • Moon Dog Brewing - Love Tap
  • Feral Brewing - Raging Flem
  • Riverside Brewing - Ring of Friar
  • The Old Brewery - Memorial Ale
  • Yeastie Boys - His Majesty's 2012
  • Mountain Goat - IPA

That's a pretty serious list of beers to contemplate at 10am on a Friday.

Chris Franklin, doing his thang. 

So what's a good way to assist with the mental process of working through these breakfast courses?

I imagine that you have all answered the same way in unison. With a rendition of the hit single 'Bloke' from the year 2000 performed by the surprising entertainment juggernaut that is Chris Franklin.

You'll be pleased to know that he seamlessly substituted 'VB' for 'craft beer' in that timeless verse.

Anyway, that's more than enough characters assigned to that particular section of proceedings.

The food prepared by the chef's at Beer Deluxe was first rate and created some pretty interesting matches with that ridiculous list of beers provided.

I already mentioned Raging Flem, right? Man that's good.

Where was I? Lost my train of thought.

You know how good that lineup of beer is, and you'll have to take my word on how good the food was, but what makes these events so enjoyable is the hosting duties of the gentlemen from BeerMenTV providing entertaining commentary to proceedings and fun games for the punters and brewers alike.

Ponytail-less Todd
The first promise made to us was that the perpetually ponytailed Todd would shed the hair tie and unleash the beast for all to admire and enjoy.

To make him feel more comfortable, wigs were provided to some punters to wear as a sign of solidarity and support. Hendo was one who donned the wig, and I must say that it's quite a striking look for him.

Hendo rocking the follicles
The result was fairly terrible and all was well when the hair tie was returned to it's natural position.

Food highlights were the cheese kransky wrapped in puff pastry served with house made chutney, which was outstanding with the Love Tap and the Raging Flem, but the clear winner of the day was the smoked trout with avocado mayonnaise, sumac, asparagus and garlic croutons.

This dish was brought out heaped on a serving dish and it looked like an obscene amount of food, but it was so damned delicious that we made extremely light work of it.

The next game on the agenda was for a group of punters to mix a clamato style beer cocktail for Todd to taste. The catch was that they were instructed to make them as vile and offensive as possible. The winner would be the one that concocted the most awful atrocity for Todd to sample.

One such punter was Matt Boustead from 7 Cent Brewery who seemed pretty happy with himself after he tasted his handy work, so surely his wouldn't be the worst of the lot.

Cheese kranksy. Hello. 
His was the worst. By far, judging from Todd's grief stricken face as he begrudgingly took a swig of that grey poison.

There were laughs all around though, so I don't know if that's reward enough for the suffering.

Special mention ought to go to Doc and and Riverside Brewing who created a beer specifically for this event. Doc produced an easy drinking spiced gruit style which went down magnificently well.  

The Riverside Ring of Friar was a chipotle brown ale that had a good whack of warming chilli, but the fact that these beers were created just for the breakfast was a wonderful gesture.

Again this is one of the highlight events of Good Beer Week and we hope to see the BeerMenTV boys return again for Good Beer Week 2014.

Cheers lads!

Extra large photo of some delicious smoked trout. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Good Beer Week 2013 #1 - From Beechworth to Bombay - India vs India

The use of Bombay wasn't offensive was it? I mean... Beechworth vs Mumbai doesn't quite... After all, I'm not looking to advocate any British imperial sentiment here... though now I think about it, without the British East India Company... we probably wouldn't have been gifted the India Pale Ale... so...


India vs India, the collaboration event between Bridge Rd Brewery and masters of Indian cuisine Horn Please, was the first event locked in for me upon my initial glance at the Good Beer Week program. Indian food matched with IPA's? Genius. And all this before I'd stepped foot in the restaurant. A subsequent reconnaissance mission, (albeit a boozy endeavor of a Sunday $20 All-You-Can-Eat) to Horn Please uncovered a gem of a restaurant with quality fare and a craft beer selection from both local and abroad that would leave most bars envious.

The evening began for Dave and I at the Tramway Hotel with a couple of pre-dinner beverages as part of the South Australian offering for Good Beer Week's Pint of Origin series. Then the Horn Please feast was upon us. Ben Kraus, the brains and brews behind Bridge Road Brewery, was on hand to introduce the beers  that would accompany the culinary offerings from our hosts, explaining the ideas behind his Single Hop IPA series (in which we would be sampling the Summer, Stella and Galaxy versions) as well as the India Saison collaboration with Norwegian brewers, Nogne and the recently brewed Imperial IPA, Bling Bling. Bridge Road Beers are as solid as they come in this country. You always know what to expect, and generally, that's a bloody good beer, and this was evident in the beers sampled on the night.

I was keen to see how the dishes would match up with the beers and how they would interact, but each dish that appeared brought an explosion of flavours that I felt potentially out-muscled a lot of the hop characteristics, but as a result, each beer was a malty palate cleanser making way for further adventures in spice and herb. One thing I will say for Horn Please is that the food is spectacular, and their range of beers on offer makes for the perfect place for a night of great food and drink without spending a small fortune. Its kind of like the result of a drunken conversation... "wouldn't it be great if... you had... a curry shop, that.. also had a bar-worthy range... of good beer... and BLACK JACK!" ... okay... maybe without the black jack.

Anyway, the food! The meal opened with an Indian spin on nachos. topped with chickpea and herb and yoghurt salsa, then samosas, one of the most succulent tandoori chicken's I've ever tasted and a trio of curries, Lamb Madras, Butter Chicken and Goat Curry with rice and naan. The pain of overindulgence kicked in somewhere between the Samosa and the tandoori chicken, but at Horn Please, that part of your brain that would usually kick in to say "you should probably stop eating now, you're going to rupture something" switches off, lays back and guzzles vindaloo sauce... it then becomes a compulsion. To devour everything that reaches the table. It's just that good.

Indian style Nachos.

By the time desert arrived, a coconut homemade iced cream in stick format matched with the delightful Bling Bling DIPA, tears of both joy and pain were being wept at the table. There was no room left anywhere in my torso, yet both items managed to crawl their way in and nestle amongst the rest of what had been an amazing night of beer and culinary indulgence. If you haven't already been to Horn Please, I really can't recommend it enough, even just for the food alone. The two, well stocked beer fridges are just that delightful bonus and further evidence that beer and Indian food are the perfect duo for a great night of taste exploration. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Good Beer Week 2013

"There comes a time in one's life when all harvests of existence align so all the fruits of labour can be picked and enjoyed. These are the times when the heart is full of joy and the mind rests easy. Be true to your instinct and desire and you will be rewarded with harmony and pleasure."

That is a famous quote by a man that I haven't made up yet because I only just finished making up that quote.

But it's applicable to Good Beer Week, isn't it?

Of course it is, I made it up with that very intention.

Good Beer Week 2013 is upon us. It's here. It's finally here!

The culmination of an incredible amount of time and effort, crammed into 9 joyous days for the enjoyment the local (and not so local) public.

Where do you even start when you're talking about something as sensational as Good Beer Week? Well I'll keep this short and sweet. Here's a few thoughts about the week ahead and what I'll be doing;

What am I doing during the week?

Saturday the 18th.

Rhythm and Brews: Swinging by Trunk for some Honey APA and a little bit of pig on the spit before Ubering my way to the launch party.

Festival Hub Opening Party: Kicking off with a bang. The Terminus Hotel are hosting the launch party, and how awesome does it sound?

Sunday the 19th. 

Going Large: Goat IPAs, fried chicken with all the sides. Need I say more? If you're not going to this I have a few questions for you.

Monday the 20th. 

India v India: How good are Bridge Road's IPAs? How good is Horn Please? Put them together? An obvious choice for me.

Wednesday the 22nd.

Sourfest: After all these IPAs I'm attacking I'll need to cleanse the pallet with some sours. New and exclusive sours from Hendo's BrewCult and the 7 Cent lads. Hell yeah.

Abbey Collaby: Come on, one of the must-do events of the week. Matilda Bay and Moon Dog collaborate with the Goats for some good, old fashioned Abbotsford teamwork.

Friday the 24th. 

Hair Of The Dog Breakfast: BeerMenTV return to the mantle for the premiere breakfast event in town. Beer and breakfast? Heavenly match.

Hold on a second there, idiot. You've missed a couple of days!

Well spotted.

I plan on filling the weekdays sauntering around to the Pint Of Origin (PoO...)venues tasting the best of what the various states have to offer.

The weekend will heavily feature GABS. I haven't planned any of that yet. Not like some of these mechanical beasts that have structured the week down to a tee. I tip my hat to you guys. I'm not organised enough to execute that.

I'll probably hit up that giant 30cm burger with Rian at some stage.

I'll head to a few free events too, it's going to be a wonderful week.

What do I want from Good Beer Week this time around?

I just want pure enjoyment. Isn't that what everyone wants in life? Oooh, that marries up really tidily with that quote at the beginning of this post that I made up.

I also want to meet all the punters. Not all of them. I want to put faces to names of people that I've tweeted to, heard about etcetera and so forth.

That's why I've gone through this utterly pointless process of telling you what I'll be doing over the week. If you're doing any of the same events that I am, then come and say hello to me. I'll be nice. I promise.

I know what you're thinking. If I don't know my PoO or GABS schedule then how do I expect you to synchronise any of your schedules with me?


Let me know when you're going and I'll see if any of it marries up with my schedule. I'll probably tweet my movements anyway. I don't even think you really care, to be honest.

Alright, well I'm bored now. I think it's time for a pre Good Beer Week beer anyway.

I'll see you suckers at the Terminus for the launch!

Classic Good Beer Week moment featuring James Smith as landlubbin' pirate with two idiots.