Sunday, May 20, 2012

GBW 2012 Day 8: Italian's Sing as Curtain Closes

Yes, I understand there are only 7 days in a week, but with the blur of what happens when drinking, you need an extra day just to make it feel like you have gone through a week with good beer. Maybe it can be like a bakers dozen...a good beer week.

Finally having a day off work to help recover from the weekdays, with their work/ beer event/sleep cycle, I used it to stretch my mind (as seen in the previous post) and my body (that was still feeling all the running around I had done on Thursday) I rested up to prepare for the three things I was going to be up to.

With Brad celebrating his 30th birthday with the crew, we took my bbq around to his and Seda's new place, and kept myself to water to make sure I would make it through the day. Well, that was until we had enough of us together to pull out the 'rummy' Abbey Collaby I had snuck out of Goat from the last keg on the run. It certainly tasted like it was more alcoholic with the additional rum character. We also pulled out the Sunday Roast to share with the crew and Team Harrod brought their Scotch Ale for us to try. There is some classic malt character and do sense the alcohol from the midpalate which also works, then the hop character and french oak come through well together towards the back. It is quite well made and some interesting flavours between the hop and oak. The only drawback was a sense it may be slightly overcarbonated to take away from the smoothness (interesting to use some brown sugar for fermenting with), but am certain it will beat our own Scotch Ale attempt.

Leaving that party, I made it to Slowbeer just as the first beer was being poured. Finding a little section of empty shelf to call my own in the crowd, with some familiar faces from other beer events and previous Slowbeer tastings (really good turn out for this event...still, no wonder this event sold out so quickly), the first Birra Del Borgo beer made its way around the room. Mary, the distributor for this Italian brewer in Australia spoke a bit about the brewery and introduced the Genziana as a Belgian Saison. For me, it was quite dark for a saison and had a sweetness that related more to a St Feuilien Saison, rather than the classic Dupont, and the sweetness itself was more honey than malt, and come through more from the midpalate and back than front. The body is quite full to go with the sweetness, so is not as refreshing as most saisons, but get a sort of ginger spice with helps compliment and offset the honey. There is only the slightest of yeast character to it. So to the food pairing with this beer. The duck and pistachio terrine with apricot cardamon jam and cornichon on rustic wood fired baguette had a sweetness through the meat and jam that complimented the honey sweetness of the beer. The Pecorino with honey and hay also had a corresponding sweetness, but found the cheese also brought out more yeast and fruit qualities in the beer, which were naturally coming out of the beer more as it warmed up.

The Equilibrista is definitely a beer I have never tasted anything like before, with a 50/50 blend of Biere Brut with Chianti. Champagne yeast with red wine...very out there, and funny as my brother had recommended I try the Chianti style of wine after enjoying a Sangiovese the night before (there you go, drinking wine has actually helped me during Good Beer Week!!!). The yeast sure creates a spritzy quality to the beer, and I think that yeast with the red wine brings a sort of kriek/lambic flavour, but is quite a clean sourness, so works well for anyone not use to the lambic style. Pairing it with a rabbit and prune terrine with rhubarb raspberry jam and cornichon one rustic wood fired baguette brought out more of the kriek flavour through the raspberry jam. The Saporini white mould also seemed to even out the sourness by building up its flavour around it, and the fruity sauce served with it related well to the red wine aspects in the beer. Definitely a beer to try out on my wine snob of a brother.

Next, a Perle ai Porci Oyster Stout, which I found had quite a coffee malt flavour which brought some bitterness with it at the back of the palate. One of the guys near me noticed some mineral flavours near the back also. However, was probably most disappointed by the lack of body it had on it. Not sure if it was the same beer Ben had tried the other night at Beer Deluxe, but definitely did not have the body or alcohol taste of that one, so will assume not. Only the anchovies of the food pairing with this beer had a mild complimentary flavour to it in combination, so overall, the beer that was least interesting to me.

Finally, the Hoppy Cat graced its presence on us, which while noted as a Cascadian Dark Ale, tasted like a Pale, or IPA, especially with the Simcoe hop really coming across in aroma, taste and bitterness. The malt character must have been stripped from the flavour through dehusking and because of this it came across a bit watery for what I was expecting. Keeping with the theme of the food pairings, it was the plum jam in the food pairing that reacted the most with the beer, even though I did enjoy the Wagyu Bresaola on its own.

After sitting around and spouting off my beer philosophy to another familiar face from Slowbeer tastings, I finally had a chance to chat with Jade from the Wheaty who had also been at the event, and ended up tagging along with her and her crowd to the GB, where the final event of Good Beer Week was already in full swing, judging by the queue we had to stand in just to gain entry. Who should rock up at the same time, but the Goat crowd, so once we were in, grabbed a round and hang out with the crew. Seeing the Sierra Nervada Pale Ale on tap, knew that would be one Jade would like to try, so did that up front. Actually tastes better on tap than in the bottle I think, as there is a better evenness to the malt and hop than what I get from the bottle. While on that beer met up with a few others I had met over the week, so the event had a real closing party feel to it, with everyone discussing the week, their favourite events, and looking forward to what it will manifest into next year. Even had a quick catch up with Crafty himself, and Miro who had also put a lot of effort into the week, and was happy to see they were content with what they had achieved yet again, and think there may have even been some talk about having it every 6 months (mind you, that could just be the good vibes from it all being over, and not thinking about the extra organisation that would need to occur to make that happen). Seeing the Pale went down so easy, even felt like having a pint after all that has happened this week, so moved to a Little Creatures Bright next which also went down well and at least gave me a bit of time to walk around catching up with people without having to get in line at the bar again for a while. I don't think so many calls of 'Bogan' have been directed towards me in one place for a long time (if ever), but it at least got my attention from the likes of Josh, and also Jon from Moo Brew, who I had not seen thus far during the week. He told me there were some interesting things happening in barrel aging at Moo, so looks like another visit will have to be planned to Hobart in the near future...

After a quick sit down with the smokers out the back and meeting a muso from Darwin ('This Town' was a cool song he was giving out to everyone via dropcard) who was chatting to Naz (funny how brewers and musos can have a similar look to them), I went back in for my final beer of the night and the week. With a Holgate Temptress, I silently sat down and quietly contemplated the week, with people walking past and looking at me as if I was security (yeah, with a beer in my hand). Feeling more content in life after this week compared to the previous week, I was then ready to call an end to Good Beer Week, so said bye to anyone I could find and walked home just after midnight.

So the tally after this years GBW stands at 70-odd beers. 40 less than last year, but still surprising to see I even got that far in different beers I had seeing I was also working through it. Great to have some different events this year to expand the concept of a beer event, most surprising the scavenger hunt that ended up having 200 people attend. But was also good to see chocolate and beers get more of a showing, and to revisit some venues like Mrs Parma's to remind me of last years GBW. The amount of sold out events really shows that even with the expansion from last year, there has been a great swell of interest towards craft beer, and a great deal more interest towards the week-long event. It is interesting to see that Brisbane is looking to set up a similar week long event, and that Sydney may even be starting to get on the ball with craft beer.

As I would have said this time last year, a big thanks to Crafty and all involved in getting this festival up and running, and even bigger and more successful than last year. Thanks to all the venues and hosts of all the events, especially those that I have attended and could see the effort put in to make each event stand out in their own way with their take on beer. I look forward to this expanding as the 'conversation' grows in beer here. I also have to thank all the people that were once again annoyed by my presence at these events, especially my friends that I dragged along to join me. Hope you enjoyed yourself in some way, even if it may not have been more than me. So I'll stop myself before I cry and start thanking god or even myself for this week...

Here is a collage of beer stuff I have collected over the past week.

Cheers to good beers enjoyed over a week (plus 1 day) and those that made it happen,


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