Crafty has already done a much better write up of this event, so if you want a more lucid retelling of the facts, here’s your chance to check that version instead. (Look closely in the background of the pic and you can even see me!)
Wait, you’re still with me? Ok cool – the following is my vague and hazy recollection of how the day unfolded for me.
I have a bad habit of arriving at events far too early, so I tried to time my cab ride to get me there right on the start time of 8:30am. I was happy to walk through the brewery door at 8:29…
…to find I was the first there by a long way. It was scheduled to start at 9am.
Thankfully, James (the dude behind ‘Crafty Pint’ and Good Beer Week) walked in right behind me, and quickly introduced me to Dave (co-founder, owner and chief brewer at Mountain Goat), and brewer Craig (you know ‘The Craig’…well this was that Craig). Next thing I know I’m putting rice husk in a tank, learning my first lesson of the day:
Lesson 1: Adding rice husk to a brew. When brewing with malted barley, the husk from the barley gets into the wort and creates a sort of natural filter when going from tank to boiler. But malted wheat doesn’t have the husk, so brewing with wheat means you lose some of this natural filtration. The solution? Add some rice husk effectively putting in ‘what would usually be there’ without affecting the flavor.
Eventually the other 14 lucky participants arrived along with the Brooklyn Brewers, Tom and Al. Introductions were made, coffees were handed out, croissants were consumed and a vague game plan for the day was devised. I was part of the first group to go on a tour of the brewery floor.
I already had a fair idea of how the beer making process worked, but seeing it in action was very cool. Dave explained the names and uses for all of the equipment – but then I had some beers and forgot all of it. What I didn’t forget was the first notable quote of the day:
“Brewers don’t make beer; they just set the optimal conditions for the yeast to do its thing” – Dave
We were also able to taste and smell some raw ingredients, and then got to ‘sample’ some beer straight out of the tanks. The greener stuff (including our beer) was interesting, but most of us were quite hesitant to taste it. This led to quote number two from Dave:
“Beer will never kill you” – Dave
But it was the bright tanks that really held the attention of the group. Seriously, there’s nothing better than a Steam ale drawn straight from the tank. Unless it’s an IPA from the tank next to it. Or a Rye IPA from the tank next to that one…
After morning tea, which included sampling the final bottles of last years Good Beer Week collaboration brew, ‘My Dark Secret’ Black IPA, we had a sit down with the Brooklyn Brewers. It was meant to be a Q & A session, but we all ended up just talking shit – you know what beer people are like once we start drinking! I did manage to score a quote from Tom though; when asked if Brooklyn was planning on doing any sour beers in the future, his response included the words:
“Sour beer gives you a bad hangover” – Tom
You read it here first…although I may have to put my body on the line and test this out, just to be sure.
Next thing we know, the small group has grown into a large crowd, with another 75 people arriving to partake in the degustation lunch.
At this point in the day, my note taking ended. After all, it’s rude to be writing things when there’s so many fun people to talk to. However I did snatch a menu, so here’s what we ate:
There were bar snacks available – Cajun Salted Popcorn and Dukhah Roasted Peanuts. I didn’t try either of these, even though I drank plenty of the beer match – Mountain Goat Steam Ale
The entrée consisted of share plates, with Sticky New York Ribs, Open Reuben Sandwiches, Salt cod croquettes and Bloody Mary onion rings in Brooklyn Dark ale batter (my favourite by far!). These were matched with Mountain Goat Brown Ale and Brooklyn Anniversary Lager.
For mains we were served 18 hour braised lamb neck with caramelised sweet potato mash, Fancy Caesar and Red slaw. This was matched with Brooklyn East India Pale Ale and Mountain Goat Rye IPA. I was getting far too boozy to tell if these were a good match or not, but everything was obviously tasty, so I guess it worked.
Next was desert – Chilli and Dark chocolate fondant with freeze dried mandarin matched. This was matched with the Mountain Goat FX Stout, which I thought was the obvious choice to match with luscious dark chocolate. The other match was Brooklyn Local 1. I’d never think to match a light Belgian with chocolate and chili, but it worked beautifully by lifting all of the flavours off the palate with some magical effervescence. This was the stand out meal for me.
There were also cheeses served at the end, but I’d lost all interest in the food by now. My focus was totally on the final beer matches; Surefoot Stout randied with coffee beans and the Brooklyn Sorachi Ace. Great finish.
When lunch was over, most of the rowdy group began the long (20 meters or so) journey to the Royston Hotel, to check out the Western Australian Pint Of Origin Beers. I’m not going to go into detail here; let’s just say that WA brews some great beer (Feral Fanta Pants), some awful beer (Matsos Chili Beer), and that I’m surprised I managed to find my way back to my hotel afterwards.
And the beer…
So what kind of beer did we brew? I guess that’s an important question…it’s a hoppy weizenbock, or something like that (the style name changed a few times throughout the day). When quizzed about why they went with this style, Al from Brooklyn said that they wanted to do something that wasn’t really prevalent in the Aussie beer scene. And Dave from Mountain Goat added that, as expected, they wanted to hop the hell out of it – so was born the hoppy weizenbock. It’ll be released in kegs and in bottles, so keep your eyes peeled.
Cheers go to
Huge thanks must go to the Goats for opening up their brewery floor to a bunch of amatuers. Also to the Big Apples for flying over and brewing the beer with us, and for handling our drunken questions with grace. Thanks to the caterers for putting on a great feast, and to the rest of the Goat staff for keeping the day running smoothly. Thanks to Crafty for helping to organise the day, and for making this Brisbane kid feel right at home. And finally, thanks to Spieglau for supplying the awesome glassware (you can thank me later for that one Crafty…)
I had a great time in Melbourne, and am already planning to stay for the full week next year. Time to start saving