Slow Braised and Barrel Aged

Today, the world is a little fuzzier; my body a bit more tired. I can thank the good folks at Tippler’s Tap and Bacchus Brewing for that. I am feeling surprisingly fresh for the high ABV beers that were presented last night. The fact that I’m able to string together a coherent sentence should be proof of that.

Slow braised and barrel aged was the theme for the night, with 4 dishes being paired with a Bacchus aged brew. I know I promised “no fancy food”, but I’m going to make an exception this time.

Mushroom, Truffle and Goats Cheese Risotto with a red ale reduction. Served with Bacchus Flanders Red Ale

First dish was a Mushroom, truffle, and goat’s cheese risotto with a red ale reduction. I love mushrooms, so this was the perfect start. The risotto was nice and creamy and the goats cheese matched beautifully with the Flanders Red Ale (9.3%). The beer itself was a lovely sour that helped cut the richness of the dish. There was also a bit of grains from the mash in the risotto itself!

Confit of Pork Belly with Barley Wine Jelly and Thyme Jus. Served with Toy Box Barely Wine.Second dish was a confit of pork belly with barley wine jelly and thyme jus. Pork belly is something that I could eat morning, noon, and night. I absolutely loved this dish. The jelly was the perfect compliment to the saltiness of the pork belly. Everything on the plate just worked. The Toy Box Brewery barely wine, though strong at 13.2%, was very mellow due to the aging and worked perfectly.

Red Bellied Black Beef Cheeks with cauliflower puree and crumbed caper berries. Served with Barrel Aged Red Bellied Black.

Next up, we had what could be considered the main. The Red Bellied Black beef cheeks with cauliflower puree and crumbed caper berries sounds fancy, looks fancy, and tasted fancy. The meat fell apart the moment your fork got close to it, and it literally melted in your mouth. The Barrel aged Red Bellied Black that paired it was much better than the first one I tried. The rum barrel aging added a new depth of flavour and the massive 14.1% ABV warmed you up pretty quick. I want kegs of this stuff.

Warm Bread and Butter Pudding with Hazelnut Praline and Malt Ice Cream. Served with Bacchus Tamira Porter.

Final dish of the night was a warm bread and butter pudding with hazelnut praline and malt ice cream, matched with a Bacchus Tamira Porter (8.9%). You couldn’t dream of a better dessert/beer combo. The rich coffee flavors in the porter complimented the sweetness of the pudding. The ice cream itself was heaven. I’m not a chocolate person at all, but I would happily easy this after dinner every night.

The closed door event, I’ve been told, sold out in under 36 hours. If word gets out about last night’s event, I would imagine the next one will go even faster. If you are not already, make sure to Like the Tippler’s Tap Facebook page and keep an eye out for upcoming events. It’s definitely worth the effort.

Beer Trek

image Beer: The final frontier.

These are the voyagers of the app called “Untappd”. Its continuing mission, to explore strange new ales. To seek out new stouts and new tasty libations.

To boldly go where no beer drinker has gone before! cue music

I’ll stop now.I’m fairly sure if I continue on, I’ll be sued for copyright infringement. I can almost feel the cease and desist letter coming from the estate of Gene Roddenberry. I’ll beam out of this parody now. Alright, that’s the last one… I promise.

For those of you who are unaware of the app, “Untapp’d” (available on most major mobile platforms), it’s a handy little tool for keeping track of what beers you have tried, and rating them as you go along. It will keep a tally of the number of unique beers you’ve tried and reward you with badges for hitting certain milestones, such as having 10 dark beers, checking in 7 beers at an airport, or having a big night out and checking in more beers than you can count in a single night (the fact that you can still operate your phone by that point is badge-worthy in itself). The imaginary, internet points are what make drinking fun. But really, did you need another excuse?

It’s social element lies in it’s connection to Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare, so you can share your check ins and badges with friends. The downside of this, as my brother-in-law has eloquently put it, “now everyone can see how much of a raging alcoholic you are”. On the plus side, sharing is optional, so if you don’t want that nervous call from Mum worried about your drinking habits, you can always opt out.
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I write this purely out of an appreciation for the app. It’s made my beer experience more structured and it’s really nice to read what others have said about the beers you are trying. Also, as most other users will agreed, nothing beats the thrill of getting a new badge. It’s a feeling of accomplishment knowing you’ve attained a new level of beer appreciation. I also get a bit giddy when I see that I’m only the second or third person to check in a particular beer. The hipster in me rejoices!

So, if you like trying as many new beers as you can and sharing those with your friends while having a bit of fun doing it, I’d recommend downloading it and giving it a try. Feel free to add me “jason.poffley” as a friend and keep an eye on what I try. You’ll see me referring to it frequently throughout this blog and I think I might take a page out of www.250beers.com ‘s blog and keep a running tally (currently at 274 unique beers as of posting), so keep an eye out for that as I’m just figuring out the format. God damn it, Jim, I’m a blogger, not a web designer!

You didn’t REALLY believe I wasn’t going to do anymore Star Trek references, did you?

Redoak Brewery – Sydney

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My original thoughts when first coming down to Sydney would be that I would do one post covering my whole trip. I figured I would do everything in a nice, wrap-up style blog with lots of content, but after spending 4 out of 5 nights at RedOak Boutique Beer, I feel I wouldn’t be doing them any justice by making them a Cliff Note.

Located at 201 Clarence St in the heart of Sydney, Redoak caters to both the beer snob and non-beer drinker alike. It’s atmosphere is laid back but sophisticated, with a bit of old world charm. Their selection is plentiful and the taps are always rotating with something new and fresh.

What really impressed me was the staff. From the moment I walked in, I was greeted with a warm smile and feeling of ease. As I strolled up to the bar, I could tell the staff were enthusiastic and well versed on the beers they were serving and were more than willing to have a chat with you about them. Being a beer snob myself, we were able to talk about the subtle aromas and flavours that each beer presented. This was all fine and good, and kind of what you expect from an establishment like this, but what caught my attention while I sat at the bar drinking my “2006 Wee Heavy Ale”, is the conversations between the bartenders and the beer newbies. Drinkers of your standard Big Brew beers are easy to please by finding a nice light lager or easy drinking Pale Ale, but these guys were handling wine drinkers as well. By simply listening and talking about their preferences in vino, they were able to find a beer that matched their tastes and no one walked away unhappy.

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Let me taste your wares

Now, all in all, I had about 14 beers in this place, ranging from a Winter Lager to a punchy 2007 Blackberry Wheat, and I have to say, I was impressed by most if not all of the ones I had. To rate them all, I’d be here a while, and I’m sure we’d have all fallen asleep by the end of it, so here are my top 5 picks from the list along with the Untappd rating I gave them:

5) RedOak Christmas Cheer – 6.2% ABV – Herb/Spice Beer – 4/5

Have you ever wanted to drink a Christmas Pudding? This is the beer for you! You get a huge spice hit in the aroma and the taste is similar to nutmeg. Slightly weaker in the flavour department though in the finish but all in all, this was a very interesting beer. Would be great to have around a Christmas fire!

4) RedOak All Day Breakfast – 5.3% ABV – Golden Lager – 4.5/5

This beer was apparently made using WeetBix cereal. It’s decisively hoppy for a Golden Lager, but I’m not going to complain. You smell a lot of citrus fruit on first whiff, but a nice strong pine flavoured punch when you are tasting it. This beer goes down very well and would be really easy to race through a few of these before you knew what hit you.

3) RedOak Special Strong Ale – 5.8% ABV – English Strong Ale – 4.5/5

Such a well balanced beer. It’s got a fruity flavour to it, but it’s matched with a malty richness which is kind of like a caramel. You also get a nice little sour hit at the end. Great beer if you prefer something a bit heavier.

2) RedOak Framboise Froment – 5.2% ABV – Fruit Beer – 5/5

Pucker up! From the first smell to the last sip, your getting smacked in the teeth with raspberries. Fruit beers for some are an acquired taste, and even this might be a bit much for those who appreciate them, but the huge level of flavour and tartness made this one a top choice for me!

1) RedOak Wee Heavy Ale (2006) – 8% ABV – Scotch Ale – 5/5

This beer actually made me sad. The closer and closer to the bottom of the glass I got, the better it was. Only problem with that was the better it got, the less I had, and I knew it had to end. A tear was shed. The Wee Heavy was fully flavoured with a smokiness that mellowed away to a sweet malt and finisheed with a peat flavour of whiskey (it’s aged in whiskey barrels). My best description of this would be “earthy”. Drink this while wearing your best flannel shirt, swinging your axe to chop down some trees to feed your fire. Lumberjacks are “earthy”, right?

Redoak has some food pairing with their beers as well, with a rotating daily special. I had the meat pie which was paired with the Organic Pale Ale. The combination of the two went very well together as the gravy in the pie was very rich, and the beer itself very crisp. I don’t think I could have finished the pie without it, to be honest. For the sweet tooth in you, you can also check out their beer infused desserts, which include a variety of beer and fruit sorbets and a Banana, Chocolate and Beer Bread Pudding.

Although Redoak took a lot of time I could have spent exploring other locations, the sacrifice made was well worth it. Out of 4 nights being there, I hadn’t had a single repeated beer or one I regretted. For me, the biggest draw is the staff; knowledgeable and personable and ready to welcome all comers. Definitely worth the stop in Sydney.

Brews and Bacon first post!

Hello and welcome to my blog! This site will be a chronicling of my beer drinking experiences, with a bit of food here and there.

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I’m an average guy with an above average love for craft beer. It’s something about the right combination of malt, yeast, water and hops that makes me weak in the knees. I was first introduced by friends of mine who home brew and since then I haven’t looked back. I’m partial to strong, hoppy beers, but I’ll drink almost anything from saisons to lagers to stouts and everything in between.

I’ll endeavour to give you my take on the beers I have tried in a not-so-beer-snobby type of way, but I may still sneak into that territory from time to time, so please forgive me if I do (and feel free to call me out on it). I’m hoping by not being too technical, I can persuade a few of the non-craft beer drinkers over to the dark side (or light side, depending on your choice of beer…). I’ll also be rating the establishments I’m enjoying my brewed brilliance based on things I look for like atmosphere, staff knowledge and interest in the beers, selection, and food.

Which brings me to my next point. The ‘bacon’ in the name does mean I’ll be taking a bit of a culinary diversion now and then, but I will warn you, I AM NOT A FOODIE. I can not stress this enough. Don’t be expecting anything fancy like foie gras or amuse bouche’s (or as I like to call them, booze moose’s). The fact that I had to Google them to get the spelling should tell you something. I’ll be sticking to good, solid, pub style food, and anything that matches well with the beer I’m having at the moment. Expect chili dogs, ribs, chicken wings, and burgers. If it’s got bacon on it, even better.

I’m a Canadian ex-pat living in Brisbane, QLD, so the majority of my reviews will be based in that area, but as I travel around and sample foreign drops, they’ll be up here as well.

Well, that’s me in a nutshell. I’ll certainly be telling you more and more as time goes on, and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. I can be contacted by email at jason@brewsandbeers.com and on Twitter @brewsandbacon. You can also follow me on Untappd here. If you have any suggestions of places to try or beers to drink, send me a line!

Happy drinking!