Monday, November 14, 2016

Canberra Beer Week 2016

Our Canberra Beer Week kicked off with Beer Day Out. Him Outdoors was working on the Festival Beer stand, and they had run out of gas - literally, not figuratively. He asked me if I could bring along the CO2 cylinder, and I didn't want to cart the wrong thing along in a taxi, so I sent a photo to make sure I had the right thing. I did.

The largest queue was at The Festival Bar where patrons waited to taste the beers brewed especially for Beer Day Out. I sampled the Canberra Beer Week Collaborative Beer (five hops; five grains; five Canberra Breweries - very sessionable, like an English Bitter), the Sauvin Nouveau 2016 from Garage Project (fruity and very drinkable), the Chinatown Lager from Southern Bay (refreshing and surprisingly tasty for a lager, with rice in the grist and the addition of ginger and kaffir lime), the Noho Saison from Shambles Brewery (fruity, spicy, Belgian Saison with all the requisite flavours), the Sonic Prayer IPA from Modus Operandi (citrus, stone fruit and pine with some sweet malt to balance the 6% strength), the Mysterio IIPA from Stockade (fantastically fruity, fresh and strong citrus; bitter hop and sweet malt is well balanced), the Lamington Dark Ale from Bacchus Brewing Co (chocolatey coconut sweetness, as you would expect), the B2 Bomber Mach 6.0 from Bridge Road (Belgian, black Imperial IPA - all of the above), and the War Hog American IPA from Feral (hoppy, strong and bitter fun). Yes, they were small amounts, thank you.

I had taken my Dad along with me (well, he was in the country and it would have been remiss not to), so we then proceeded to work our way around the stalls, chatting to the brewers and drinking their wares in the sunshine.

There was a really pleasant atmosphere, with everyone enjoying the fine beers and the plentiful food on offer. The location worked well, with everything contained in a space with both indoor and outdoor seating, and the beer talks and masterclasses were well-attended and successfully received.

BentSpoke Brewing Co, like it says on the sign
A pint of Crankshaft with a Big Nut chaser
Bill making beer at the Canberra Brewer's stand
Modus Operandi
Garage Project from across the ditch
The Pact crew
The next day we went out to Mitchell for the Cannery Carnival - BentSpoke threw open the doors to their new cannery, with lots of shiny bling, good beer, fine food, music and sunshine (I don' t think they had much to do with the latter, but it went well with the whole chilled back ambiance thing they had going on).

Shiny bling
Tours of said shiny bling

La Sirene beers are among my favourite in this country, so I was not going to miss this tasting. Once again, Costa Nikias didn't disappoint, and the new sour red is an absolute winner. The tasting was held in a great venue too. I've not been to Avenue C Wine Co before, but it's a stylish spot with a sunlit patio and a great selection of fine wine to drink there or take home. We'll be visiting again.

Not the usual tasting
Costa with a great line-up of his artisanal beers
And on to Transit Bar where the regions battled it out for top beer honours. The ACT was represented by Pact Beer Co and Wig & Pen Brewery, while the South Coast NSW was represented by Five Barrel Brewing (Woolongon) and HopDog BeerWorks (Nowra). I'm not actually sure who won the showdown, but I know that enjoyed my beers! 

I had Tennent's Peak from Pact (A really tasty Imperial IPA - very nice indeed), Wee Heavy from Five Barrel (a chewy, flavoursome dark beer with ruby hints of goodness), The Halloween Project 3five9 from HopDog (smoked pumpkin - curious but not unpleasant), and Velvet Cream from Wig & Pen (an always enjoyable rich, full, creamy dark stout).

ACT takes on NSW South Coast at Transit
Saturday saw us at the GIO Stadium, partly because the Wellington Phoenix were playing the Central Coast Mariners, and partly because the Stadium had agreed to serve local craft beer from the participating cities. Hence, Garage Project and BentSpoke cans were available, which made the match much more enjoyable. Also the Phoenix won 2-0, so we were happy. 

Best beer list seen at a sporting venue
Garage Project White Mischief: sour, smart, fruity white beer with tastes of peach and salt - perfect pre-match drink
Garage Project Garagista: serious hopping going on
The Yellow Fever (away supporters)
Garage Project Hapi Daze: really pleasant combination of Kiwi hops
As we left the moon was out, and I managed to get it into a perfect position for this shot of the wheelchair basketball sculpture. (To confirm: I didn't actually manoeuvre the moon; just my camera angle.)

Shooting for the moon
The following day as I had a day-long rehearsal, Him Outdoors cycled off to Pialligo Estate for their sausages and cider event. The Small Acres Cyder was going down well, and the honey and sausages were also liberally sampled.

Sausages and cider menu
We finished off Canberra Beer Week with an outing to our local, The Pot Belly, where Nomad Brewing Company had taken over the taps. I sampled their Saltpan Desert Gose (desert limes up front with a tangy salt finish), Long Reef Pale Ale (earthy hoppy notes; on the English Bitter end of the pale ale spectrum, so I like it), Choc-Wort Orange (a little too bitter orange rather than fruity, which overrides the complexity of the malts), and Wild Mongrel (still one of the sourest beers I've tasted, but a lot more balanced from the keg than the last time I had it in a bottle). It was a wonderfully relaxing way to end the week's drinking.

Choc-Wort Orange, Saltpan Desert Gose and Long Reef Pale Ale from Modus at Pot Belly

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Into the (Clare) Valley

Leaving Adelaide and heading north, our route took us through the Clare Valley. It was a little cold and overcast, so we called into the historic pub in Auburn (as one does) and had very tasty meals and a glass of wine by the fire.

The Rising Sun, Auburn
Kangaroo madras with cumin rice and poppadom

Salt bush lamb bangers with garlic mash, roast tomato and gravy
St Bernard's Catholic Church
I had told Him Outdoors that there was a brewery (Clare Valley Brewing Company) in Auburn, and there had been the last time I visited. The location is still there, but it is no longer a brewery, hence the sad face.

I, however, managed to spot a liver bird outside a winery, so of course called in to discover that Claymore Wines are an official partner of the mighty Liverpool FC. Many of their wines are named after LFC references - Boot Room Shiraz; You'll Never Walk Alone Sauvignon Blanc; This is Anfield Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay. We sampled several wines and ordered a case to be delivered.

We also called in to the vineyards at Taylors and Mr Mick's, and soon the back of the truck was clinking with bottles.

Taylors Wines
Mr Mick Cellar Door
We stayed in a cute little cottage a mile or so outside the little village of Clare. Among its charms were the fresh breakfast provided (eggs and bacon and bread and jam) and the fact that it was right next to the Riesling Trail, which provided great access to wineries and walks/ runs.

The Riesling Trail
The next day we continued in a similar vein, heading to several wineries including Mad Bastard (we liked the name), Sevenhill (we liked the barrels and the cellar), Paulett's (we liked the food) and Jeanneret (we liked the beer).

Mad Bastard artwork (they have a thing about birdcages it seems)

Sevenhill was the first winery established in South Australia's Clare Valley. It was settled by the Society of Jesuits in 1851 to produce sacramental wine. While it still does so, it also has a great reputation for its table wines. 

We sampled the range and left with several from the very reasonably-priced Inigo and Saints range. The fortifieds are also exceptional, particularly the Liqueur Verdelho (rich and silky palate with flavours of candied orange peel followed by a toasty caramel and nutty lingering finish: marmalade, anyone?). Him Outdoors was rather taken with the cellaring situation, as you can imagine.

St Aloysius' Church, Sevenhill 
For lunch we went to Paulett Wines. Their Rieslings are internationally award-winning with crisp lemon, lime and mineral flavours, and the aged Polish Hill River Riesling (2009) is superb. They also have a beer called Last Minute ESB, brewed for them at the Clare Valley Brewing Company. That was pretty damn tasty too.

To make up for previous disappointment, we discovered that the Clare Valley Brewing Company is now displaying its beers for tasting at Jeanneret Wines. I sampled the wines while he sampled the beers. The smile returned to his face. 

We didn't actually go to Knappstein (because we have had their wine on many occasions already, and the only beer they produce is a lager), but the buildings were picturesque. 

Knappstein Enterprise Winery and Brewery

Another day; another morning jog along the Riesling Trail. I like the information markers, which point out all you could possibly need to know. 

One for the Super-in-Law
Heading north, we had a brief stop at Mintaro because I wanted to go to Reillys Wines (their Watervale Riesling is one of my favourite wines). Him Outdoors loved the little village and canvassed spots for a potential brewery.

Former petrol pumps (or bowsers, as they call them here)
Doesn't that just look inviting?
Potential do-up brewery?
Magpie & Stump Hotel
Onwards and inwards to this mighty land mass. The tale of traversing this country has always fascinated me, and Terowie is significant for its rail history. It is situated 220km north of Adelaide and was the point at which the broad gauge line from the South terminated. The narrow gauge line continued 20km further north at Peterborough, where lines met from Perth, Alice Springs, Broken Hill and Sydney. 

Terowie was a thriving trans-shipment point at the railway break-of-gauge from the 1880s for decades until the broad gauge line was extended to Peterborough in 1970. The railway line was closed and removed in the early 1990s, effectively signing the town's death warrant. 

You know you're in the middle of nowhere (Yunta, S.A., 320km from Adelaide), when this is the only building apart from the petrol station. Moving on...

Yunta, S.A.