Wednesday, May 16, 2012

GBW 2012: Day 4 - More Chocs!!!

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 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.

Leaving him to get his Prince vibe on for the night, I dashed to Southern Cross station to meet Harriet just in time to get on the train to Seddon...perfect timing. Unlike last year, I arrived 30 mins early, so had time for a 2 Brothers Growler (very caramel!) and chat with Jayne from Two Birds Brewing, whose first line of questions was all about the fermenter I destroyed last week...yeah, thanks for reminding me Jayne! Sitting down to the tasting, they brought the plate of chocolates around. As you can see, the foodie in Harriet contemplated what was to come as the first beer was being poured...Holgate Hopinator IPA. Matched with the chilli chocolate mole, the chilli wuss in me got a tongue burning, which then made the hop feel like salt in the wound each time I tried them in combination. I got more of an english style IPA with big malt character in colour and taste, bit like a Red Ale, but on first taste, the warmth from the chilli really brought out the malt character, but after a few tries, the burn hit, and hit a bit too hard for me, especially seeing it was the first pairing of the night.

Jayne got up and had a chat as her new Red Ale beer was brought around. Felt very special as this was only the second event to have the beer, so was very interested just to try it by itself. However, I had not had a chance to rinse my glass of the Hopinator before it was filled with the Red Ale, and with my tongue still burning, I was starting to anticipate a night going downhill. Still, I did manage to get some good malt and citrus notes on the very tip of the tongue, before I felt the beer watered out a bit, and did not bring much to the back of the palate. I was happy to hear from Jayne at the end of the night saying as a first batch, they still had a fair way to go...Phew, always feel a bit awkward in those's not you, it's the beer... I was also initially disappointed with the mini cigar with white chocolate, raspberry and rhubarb, and the raspberry really reacted a bit too much with the citrus and sweet malt front on the beer, but then died off quickly to leave a lingering of rhubarb at the back. However, once we got to the white chocolate base, it all made sense as the chocolate subtled the front and drew out the flavours across the palate to make for a more balanced and even tasting.

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!!!!

So today is a big (in terms of important) filter run in at Goat that I do not want to stuff up, or Mike will have my nuts. Then the Abbey Collaby launch tonight which will be a wait and see as to how long I hang out for before I need to get to bed. In need of sleep, but think drinking every night takes its toll on your sleep patterns, not to mention my nerves in the brewery not making things any better. We shall see how I fair today.



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!!!!!

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