The more I do beer and chocolate tastings, the more I am reminded of my arrival in Belgium a couple of years ago, walking up to customs, handing my passport to the officer, and the following conversation occurring;
Customs: Australia?! What brings you all the way to Belgium?
Me: Beer and Chocolate
Customs: Ok, I accept that (stamps passport). Enjoy!
While actually completing a filter run at Goat that did not contain any caveating fermenters and blowing holes in filter beds (but with me nearly completely breaking a gehaltermeter), who should turn up at Goat but Eric from Brooklyn Brewery. I so nearly got the bottle of Black Chocolate Stout I have in my locker to get him to sign it for me (yes, nearly. I didn't actually do it!), but instead once finished for the day had a bit of a chat to him and the blokes he came in with. One of them actually remembered me from an incident in Purvis where he was able to confirm for me that the Black Chocolate Stout was coming to Australia, and the level of excitement I had shown upon hearing that news. He even turned to the guy next to him to say 'this is that guy I told you about...' and also brought up the story of me going over to Adelaide just to have the Rogue Choc Stout on tap at the Wheaty...it is tough being known as a beer nerd. I also happily regaled them with my thoughts from the Brooklyn dinner (hmm, chocolate and blue cheese mousse with black chocolate stout) and was so caught up talking with them I was running late to meet up with a mate in the city before heading out to Sabroso.
I hadn't seen Marshy since our trip to Hobart to visit Moo Brew a couple of years back, and unfortunately only had 20 mins to catch up before having to do the dash. But with the Italian kegs getting tapped, of course had a chance to sample a beer with him. He went the Oyster Stout, which had a very dark thick body to it and a good steady rise in alcohol across the palate and up into the chest after swallowing. I went the black lager, which while kept some refreshingness with a thinner body, the alcohol really spiked from the midpalate.
Having just randomly meet and spoken to one of the guys from Black Heart yesterday at Mrs Parma's, was really interested to try their American Brown Ale. Unfortunately I think we got a bad bottle, as could smell straight away an alkaline and dusty malt character that I get from over-carbonated beers and beers that have been poured into a dirty glass. Even trying to warm it up didn't help, so of course it ruined the pairing, and so just came off as a spritzy but dusty malt character with very little hop noticable at all. However after my blue cheese and choc mousse from the other night, was happy to try it with a darker style chocolate (tastes like mud cake ganache) and a really salty cheese sensation. Much more out there than the fluffy, milk choc and subtly mixed blue cheese mousse from a few nights ago (maybe it just felt subtle as it all worked together so well). This bigger version still spun my tasebuds about, but having built an appreciation, I enjoyed it by itself quite well.
With Ian again getting up to speak of the last beer of the night, I was very excited to see their Temptress chocolate porter with a rich (and I mean 'rich') chocolate brownie. Looking at the bottle, was interested to see it had only been bottled last month, so thought it might be the same batch The Royston had that I enjoyed so much last week. However, the beer lacked the vanilla character I am use to, and had a more hop bitterness than the slight mocha coffee bitterness I had before. Still, the brownie just completely dominated the beer, and was just tasting chocolate when tasting the beer after coating the tongue in the brownie. Not a bad experience, just not what you look when pairing a beer a chocolate I guess.
Having gotten our orders to move on for the second session, there was only one thing to do. Having just had dessert, it was time for dinner, so we hung around Sabroso to keep critiquing the tasting and the food we were having and just have a good old chin wag. Still, meant we stayed on longer than I thought we would and so it was another sleepy trip home afterwards. My personal favourite chocolate was of course the brownie by itself, even though I appreciate what was being done with the chocolate and blue cheese. My favourite pairing came down to a single bite, the last one of the cigar and how it really lifted the beer up front with the raspberry and lengthened the palate with the white chocolate.
Thanks to Jayne, Ian and Roxy for hosting us, and even bigger thanks to Harriet for stepping in to take a spare ticket I had available. Too bad I wasn't able to get Jarrod along too for this one, but was sort of nice to do what is the closest to me to having a girly chat with one that appreciates food as much as I do beer. Big Ups Haz!!!!
PS: Ok, you probably knew I could not go to an event with a Holgate brewer without asking about the Empress. Yes, Ian confirmed another batch will be out for winter, and that there is going to be more of it available this year. YES!!!!!