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

Monday, June 13, 2016

My Weekend with Marilyn

For some reason, Bendigo was the only town in Australia to get the Marilyn Monroe exhibition in collaboration with Twentieth Century Fox. Due to this, and the fact that friends have connections to the place, we decided to visit for a long weekend. 

We stayed at the charming Stonehaven B & B in the delightful Vintage Suite (really comfy bed; large sitting area and huge spa bath!).


It just so happened to be World Gin Day, so we had a wee drop to celebrate.

Dr Kay and Calamity Sue (and gin)
In the evening we went out to dinner at Masons of Bendigo, an award-winning restaurant which proudly uses local produce in its menu. We ate in one of the upstairs private dining rooms and shared the Banquet Menu. All the food was delicious but disappeared far too quickly for photos.

I did manage to get this one of dessert, however, featuring creme brulee, strawberry ice cream sandwich, chocolate pot with coffee soil, macaron, Opera Cake with orange curd, Holy Goat and lychee pannacotta, choc-hazelnut delice, and Favourite Flavours ice cream & Persian fairy floss.

Masons of Bendigo Dessert Tasting Plate
There were stunning frosts in the morning, when we went jogging. 

Bendigo's history and past wealth is largely based on the discovery of gold during the 1850s, which made it one of the most significant Victorian era boomtowns in Australia. News of the finds brought many thousands of Chinese to Bendigo, and within ten years the Chinese miners and merchants made up 20% of the Bendigo population. 

While most of the Chinese gold miners returned home when all the alluvial goldfields declined, a small population remained to form the Bendigo Chinese community, which has continued to influence the city. We strolled around the Chinese Gardens appreciating the enduring legacy they have left behind.

Rosalind Park is also home to hundreds of fruit bats, who hang out in the trees.

Conservatory in Rosalind Park
The following are details of the sculpture Man Fighting Wild Animals presented by Major Harkness in 1899.

Bendigo's goldmines were the highest producing goldfield in Australia in the 19th century, and the largest gold mining economy in Eastern Australia. The huge prosperity of the town can be seen in the ostentatious architecture and flamboyant buildings.

Chase the Dragon sculpture at Dudley House

Bacon and egg toastie, Bendigo style
To complement the exhibition at the Art Gallery, Bendigo secured Seward Johnson's iconic eight metre high sculpture of Marilyn Monroe, Forever Marilyn to display at the corner of the gardens. The sculpture, which has been seen in Chicago and Palm Springs made its international debut in Bendigo, and looks peculiarly incongruous among the Victorian buildings.


After going to the exhibition, we had lunch at The Rifle Brigade Hotel (with its curious mirror which is neither concave nor convex, but looks to be both from different angles). I tried a Clear as Mud Porter by 40 Acres Brewing, which was rich and dark with a complex bitter finish - perfect for a crisp winter's day. (I did have food as well, for those who are curious: a pig pizza made with braised pork, bacon and ham, and barbecue sauce.)

We then visited Wine Bank on View, which is a favourite of our tour guides, as you can see. It's another great building where you can wine and dine with high ceilings but narrow aisles stacked either side with great wines you can buy, including a very healthy local selection.

Mirror in the dining room (please don't break... you can watch yourself while you are eating, etc.)
General Philosopher spoilt for choice
Where oh where is Calamity Sue?
That afternoon we went to Heathcote, where a wine weekend was in full swing, and we sampled some of the local produce.

Heathcote on Show
The Farmer and the Scientist

Him Outdoors and Dr Kay at Mitchelton Wines
Beautiful colours on trees make me feel homesick
We left the next day - it's quite a long drive for a day and a half. Once again we went for a jog in the morning, and once again it was crisp and cold, freezing the water in the bird bath.