Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Adventures in Creme Brulee!!!

As mentioned in a previous post, a beer I have been searching for a while is the Southern Tier Creme Brulee. With a shipment coming through, I was 'lucky' enough to get one bottle after scouring a few bottle shops in Melbourne. I was also 'lucky' enough to get the dregs of the only keg I had ever found of this beer at Slowbeer a couple of weeks back, and apart from needing a spoon to get through the foam, and the extra bitterness that come from the end of a keg, the smell was amazing, and only made me want to proper try of the beer on tap.

Since then, the beer hunter in me went into overdrive...

I think my girlfriend saw the effect of me only 'getting the crumbs' of Creme Brulee and went searching in Sydney for me at a few bottle shops up there. Like Melbourne, they had sold out of their stock very quickly, but she was given some advice that ended up being 'close to home'. It seems my old stomping ground of Newcastle has quite a good selection of beers available at a bottlo called Warners at the Bay. I know I have been able to get a growler of Rogue's Double Chocolate Stout from there before, so looking on their site I found they had quite a bit of the Creme Brulee left. When going to order a bottle, I was surprised to find I could actually order a case of the stuff, so duly did so and had it sent to Hannah's place in Sydney, seeing I would be up there that weekend. It was a surreal and happy moment when the picture below was taken.

While I was up that weekend, we did not crack open a bottle, but we did visit some other beery places, like the Welcome Hotel in Balmain (where we got to chat with Mark from Riverside Brewing), the Little Guy in Glebe, and Young Henry's, the latter being set up similarly to Mountain Goat with a bar in the brewery, and great to see a tasting paddle available (mind you, with Oktoberfest activities on there, people were not drinking beer in vessels any smaller than a schooner). Hannah also found Wayward Brewing (they are actually using Riverside to brew through at the moment), and was able to try their Keller and IRA, while having a day by the beach on the Sunday. Yes, I am very lucky to have a girlfriend that 1) likes beer, and 2) indulges me in my love of beer.

Anyway, with my bottle collection of Creme Brulee sorted for the next few years, it was just the tap version that had so far stayed out of reach. Still, Eric from the Royston Hotel just across the road from Mountain Goat did begin teasing me with the knowledge he did have a keg of it sitting in his cellar. Initially I thought he would put it on while I was away in Sydney for a weekend with Hannah, but happily he put it on last Wednesday, and so was able to enjoy my first proper taste of this beer on tap. The aroma is so strong in vanilla that I can't help but think they have to be using an extract at the conditioning stage of the brewing process, and does definitely smell like the Cottee's caramel topping. At 9.5%, the alcohol is a bit higher than when I had this beer the very first time at Chapel Street Cellars over 2 years ago, and the boozy taste is very strong in this, along with that bitterness in roast and hop. I can really see that with age this beer with condition very nicely, and glad I now have enough of that to keep aging some from quite some time.

Having had it on Wednesday night, and being on the early shift at Goat that week, I was able to head back after work the next day for another round, this time with a bottle to do a taste off and a creme brulee dessert that happened to be on the menu at the Royston. As expected, the lesser ability for a bottle to purge oxygen from it before filling it with beer meant that the aroma was not so strong in the bottle as it was from the keg, keeping it smelling fresher and stronger. Comparing it to the creme brulee dessert, the big thing you notice is the inability for beer to replicate the custardy texture, but something I hope to do better at with my next homebrew version of it (along with reducing the bitterness).

Letting Stass know the beer was on at the Roy, he came around that arvo and we had one together, along with some creme brulee truffles I had picked up from Haigh's earlier in the week.

So, in the end, managed to have 3 tastes of the Creme Brulee on tap!!! Feeling very happy to have been able to find this beer and be able to experience it again after a 2 year battle to get it.



Tap and Tap

A while back my girlfriend Hannah came down to Melbourne for a tap dancing festival, and asked me if I would be interested in trying out a first time tappers class that was free to anyone that wanted to give it a go. Being the open minded kind of guy who does not mind embarrassing himself in such ways I said 'yes'.

Seeing the festival was happening somewhat near the Local Taphouse in St Kilda, I took the opportunity after dropping Hannah to her first class, to wander down for a parma and flight of beers to limber me up for a dance and help me come to terms with what I was about to do. This was helped by seeing quite a number of imperial stouts on tap (who doesn't like a bit of extra alcohol in their beer at such times?!).

Thinking starting straight on an imperial stout might be a bit much for noon, decided to get things rolling with the latest version of the Bridge Road Brewery B2 Bomber...at a lowly 8.2%. I think the malt character has come up a bit from previous years, and the funky yeast back has come down a little. For a beer that has so much going on it is still quite well balanced. Looking forward to trying out the bottle version in comparison with other vintages I have.

The imperial stouts available were the classic aussie Moo Brew, which actually came off quite subtle in comparison at 7.9% and with some time in the keg seeing it was last years batch. Still, time has given it a great smoothness, unfortunately something some of the others imperial stouts also had. It might have been the journey from the US and UK, but the Mission Brewery Dark Seas and Magic Rock Bearded Lady also had great texture to them, and was quite amaze to see a 10.5% stout come from the UK (well, apart from Brew Dog). Still, the one that blew me away was the local Victorian brewed Stubborn Russian from Bright Brewery, which has been barrel aged in whiskey barrels. However, I think the barrels may well have still been half full with whiskey still when they put the beer in their. The heat on the nose and palate was quite strong with the whiskey aspects, and unfortunately the beer was a little bit lost behind it.

The other surprising aspect of the beer journey was the parma I had with it. They have definitely stepped up from previous ones I have had there before. Speaking to one of the owners who was also having lunch at the time, I asked him if they had changed it as it tasted more like bacon than ham with a thickness and salty character to it, but he said they have started used a cured ham. Whatever it was it tasted great.

After that Taphouse lunch was well and truly ready to take on my first tap class While it was fairly frustrating, it was still good fun (especially with a few beers under the belt)...and no, I won't be putting up any pics of me trying out that sort of tap...