Archive for February, 2011

February 28, 2011

Freo Three: The Monk Brewery & Kitchen, 33 South Terrace, Fremantle, WA

Completing the round up on my Freo Three is the Monk Brewery & Kitchen. It’s another place that I’d heard of well before even setting foot in Australia, let alone Freo. Back in the UK I am always slightly dubious of somewhere with Kitchen or Dining House or some other such term in in the title. My natural reaction is to question what is wrong with just terming yourself as a Pub? Isn’t it just a little bit poncey? But this is Australia and these kinds of pommey musings aren’t necessarily valid as while you’ve got the traditional pubs you’ve also got a move towards the micro’s whether purpose built or on an existing site with a proposition that is good food and beer together. And besides the weather’s warm, there’s beer so who cares what they call it! The open deck merges into the inside and looking out over South Terrace it’s easy to fall for the surrounds as well as Freo itself. In fact on this partuclar day I’d more than once voiced an opinion that selling up and moving to Freo wouldn’t be the worst move – and i’d not eve been drinking. Maybe there’s just hops in the air!

Matt Marinich of the Sail & Anchor praised the Monk in his recent Pub Diaries Q&A and i’m defintely with him on this one. Although my visit to the Monk was for one beer – in fact my last beer before heading to the airport – it had to be a winner. The Monk had eluded me on a few previous visits to Freo and I just wanted to get one in before I headed back. There’s a wealth of choice, brewed on-site under the watch of Head Brewer, Justin Fox, but it comes down between the Rauchbier and the Hibiscus Wheat Beer. It’s difficult and I turn to the waitress for an opinion. Her recommendation is the Hibiscus. She gives a convincing and knowledgeable  pitch and i’m easily swayed. I’m not disappointed as I take my first sips of my last beer. It’s a flavoursome final choice and I can’t say i’ve had Hibiscus in anything other than maybe tea; but it works for me. My only regret is that I can’t stay longer sample all the taps and the food… So I suppose i’ll just have to visit again.

The Monk Brewery & Kitchen, 33 South Terrace, Fremantle, WA

February 26, 2011

Q&A with The Crafty Pint

The Crafty Pint is one of my go too sites for the lowdown on the Aussie Craft Beer scene. I caught up with Crafty ‘s James to get the lowdown on his view of beery Heaven and Hell.

Favourite place to enjoy a Crafty Pint? 

In the UK a Bass from the jug at my folks’ local.

In Australia pretty much any Barbie, anywhere with the right people and a well-stocked Esky.

Can you define the perfect pub?

Good beer selection that’s well looked after and understood by everyone from owner to bar staff – ideally with a bit of rotation and some craziness in the fridge – plus good music (but not so loud you can’t talk), comfy chairs (but not necessarily sofas – can be too relaxing for proper beer enjoyment) and a well conceived beer garden. Food optional if everything else is up to scratch.

What’s your idea of Beer or Pub hell?

In the UK, Yates’s (do they still exist?). Possibly the very definition of hell full stop. Shit beer (and wine), clueless staff, bonehead security, dickheads slamming Jagerbomb’s to a backdrop of extremely loud R ‘n’ B and flashing disco lights at 5.30pm on a Wednesday. At least that’s how I remember them!

In Oz, sadly, the most common format: TAB (sports betting), pokie room (gambling machines), monochromatic beer selection, design based on the Woodall Service Station canteen. Thankfully, times appear to be a-changin’.

What’s most likely to be heard while writing Crafty?

Currently, John Grant’s Queen of Denmark is getting a good run with The Lemonhead’s It’s A Shame About Ray; but usually it’s iPod on shuffle, with the Flaming Lips, Alabama 3, Super Furry Animals, Paul Kelly and Aphex Twin having the greatest probability of appearing.

What was the last thing you got excited about – beer or otherwise?

This message from a Mountain Goat brewer: “Just bottled 400 cases of IPA. Tasting great.” Hopefully, he’s mislabeled a few for the staffies pile.

Whats happening?

Taking The Crafty Pint interstate one step at a time. Persuading the mainstream media to give what’s happening with Aussie craft beer more column inches. Getting more Aussies to wake up to what they could be drinking rather than what they’ve been forced to drink for so long. More hand pumps and quality real ales in Aussie beer bars. And working out how to lose weight while doing what I do.

If you weren’t writing The Crafty Pint?

I’d be writing about something else with a fatter wallet and a slimmer gut.

Get your daily top up at www.craftypint.com

February 23, 2011

Help your Bru’s: Christchurch Earthquake

Without starting to look like a charity website I can’t help but be moved by the events in Christchurch… if you want to donate go to www.redcross.org.nz … don’t take it from me, take it from the Beached Whale.

February 18, 2011

Aussie Fundraiser: Punch Tavern, 99 Fleet Street, EC4

Floods, cyclones and fire… Australia has been positively biblical of late. For many Aussies watching from the UK, thoughts of home can’t be far away. For Dave Pocock (AKA the Punch Tavern’s “token Aussie”), these thoughts have turned to action and a special fundraiser.

The Punch Tavern will be opening it’s doors, on the evening of Saturday 5th March, in aid of the Red Cross (for Victoria) and the Premiers Disaster Relief Appeal (for Queensland).

As well as an ample supply of Aussie inspired finger food there will be a Raffle, Auction and an “Australian music marathon”. Tickets are just £10 with 50% donated. To buy in advance contact dave@punchtavern.com or alternatively buy on the door (if there’s any left).

The Punch Tavern, 99 Fleet Street , London, EC4Y 1DE

February 15, 2011

Freo Three: Little Creatures, Fremantle, WA

A visit to Perth without venturing to Fremantle and Little Creatures would, could or should be grounds for deportation. Their citrus packed Pale Ale became my go to beer throughout my time in WA and the chance to visit the mothership was one that I wasn’t going to miss. Established on the site of an old Crocodile farm the brewery has gone from strength to strength. Yes, I said Crocodile farm. Lou, Col and Elise told me of the Crocodile farm they once visited on the site as children. Only a week later they told me of the “Drop Bears”. A marsupial that drops from low hanging trees, biting and and scratching the unlucky sod below. They exist purely in fiction, to torment tourists and in particular Poms.  I looked up into the trees for a matter of seconds, but that’s a minute long enough for its still to be brought up. I’m pretty sure that the Freo Crocs did exist unless that’s all an elaborate conspiracy as well. It’s quoted on the Little Creatures site so I thinks it’s a safe bet that they did exist. Anyway, what is left is a great experience for the beer lover and foodie alike. For the Beer Geek in us all you have the breweries inner working around you and plenty of space to enjoy the finished product, great food and in the heat of WA.

On a weekday afternoon it was busy with a mix of locals, and tourists alike. Service initially was slow but the promise of a cold Pale Ale, a light sea breeze and Lou’s favourite White Rabbit and that can be easily forgiven. I am reminded of a Sunday afternoon at the Brooklyn Brewery with English, which I always thought would take some topping. As the food is served I think it has. It would be easy to have the great setting and beer and fail on the food but the food ranks up there with the beer. The Chilli Squid I could eat all afternoon and writing this from a cold London my mouth is watering with the thought. If there is a perfect chip it’s at Little Creatures and then there is the wood fired Lamb pizza… I should stop before I drool too much!

 

Croc Free Sand Pit

Little Creatures, 40 Mews Road, Fremantle WA 6160

February 11, 2011

Cockney Pub, Maren Smeds Gyde 8, Aarhus, Denmark

With a name like the Cockney I could be in a Magaluf “Fun Pub”, eating egg and chips and drinking Carling; not in Aarhus on a cold January afternoon. My guide to Denmarks second city is L and she is determined to show me all the small City has to offer. The Cockney thankfully isn’t all Union flags, deerstalkers and imperial tat. It’s a proper British pub circa 1986. Already busy early on a Friday afternoon the one room bar is pleasingly worn. The kind of wear from years of revelry not mail order pub package. There is a thin fog of smoke building as we  arrive as and for a moment I’m reminded of what pubs were like pre smoking ban. I’m told that the pub is small enough to allow smoking whereas larger bars aren’t. A point that makes sense for the small business owner but is the kind of logic that would have smoking killjoys in the UK rabid. As with the worn aesthetic the cigarette smoke isn’t wholey unpleasant. I was happlily a social and passive smoker before the ban. Now like many I find myself resenting smokers even outside a pub. Maybe this will serve as a little reconditioning and a realisation that first it was cigarettes and now the focus is alcohol. A good range of whisky sits behind the bar and amongst the pumps stands London Pride. My choice is the Fur Ale which while unremarkable is preferable to something I can get readily at home. I’d been told to expect high prices in Denmark but at around £7.70  for the round it was a welcome start to my time in Aarhus.

Cockney Pub, Maren Smeds Gyde 8, Aarhus 8000, Denmark

February 4, 2011

Q&A: Matt Marinich of Sail & Anchor, Fremantle

In a first for The Pub Diaries we caught up with Matt Marinich of Fremantle’s Sail & Anchor for a quick Q&A.

What’s most likely to be overheard in the pub?

“I can’t choose, there are too many beers!” I like when I hear a customer say this, its rewarding. With 43 beers taps with 26 different beers running
through them, I like to spoil the beer geek in everyone.

Favourite place to enjoy a beer?

Short of my own haunt, Monk Brewery and Kitchen is about 30m across the road. Great Rauchbier, superb Kolsch and a 6.2% Hibiscus Wheat beer with serious flavour. I worked with the Head Brewer Justin Fox at the Sail back in the day.
If I wasn’t running a pub I’d be…

a commercial brewer. I am an avid home brewer and massive beer geek so I would get certified and would love it.

What’s your definition of a perfect pub?

Tough question…a venue with solid examples of beer styles on tap and in package, not just random beers for the sake of it. Simple offerings, nothing over the top; genuine customer service from staff who really care about the beer.

What’s your vision of Pub hell?

I had a nightmare once that all I could order at this pub was XXXX Gold. It really disturbed me. I woke to realise no one is that mean.

What was the last thing you got excited about?

Becoming BJCP certified. Currently studying with random brewers/beer judges whenever I can. I will be associate judging at this years Perth Royal Beer Show. Secondly, I’m pretty proud of my organisation/execution of FEBREWARY. Also, the Sail and Anchor being voted “BEST BEER VENUE 150PAX+ IN WA.”

What’s happening? Future projects, hopes etc.

IRON BREW

Amateur Brewing Competition will see an old school favourite be welcomed back to the taps. Moreover, the chance for some talented Aussie home brewers to shine. FEBREWARY -
Pouring in Febrewary will be a total of 42 beers from:

Rogue (US), Southern Tier (US),

Mikkeller (DEN), Nogne-O (NOR), Dupont (BEL), Lindemans (BEL), BOCQ (BEL), Weinhenstephan (GER), Sunner (GER), Weltonburger Kloster (GER), and Brew Dog (Scot).

Epic (NZ), Renaissance (NZ), 8 Wired(NZ)

For some of these beers it will be the first time they have been poured in WA

Sail & Anchor, 64 South Tce, Fremantle, Western Australia, 6160

February 3, 2011

Freo Three: Sail & Anchor, 64 South Tce, Fremantle, WA

Before I had even reached Western Australia I’d had Craft Beer recommendations from friends in Perth and via Twitter. Out in front was a visit to Fremantle and in particular the Sail & Anchor, so it seems fitting that’s its my first Aussie post.

Many see Fremantle as a part of the Perth sprawl but it’s got its own character beyond the mix of colonial and industrial architecture. Freo has a feel and pace different to Perth. Perhaps the presence of 3 great Craft Beer destinations has something to do with it? As much as I loved Little Creatures and The Monk (keep your eyes peeled for these posts soon), the Sail & Anchor spoke more about how you can take an appreciation of Craft Beer and the Aussie pub and put them together to create something great.

Firstly it’s a proper pub. Looking around on a busy Saturday, it’s a real mix of drinkers, all enjoying the 43 taps, 25+ beers and 3 bars. We  head up to the first floor and the wrap around balcony where we are meeting friends. Its my last day in Australia and as we sit in the warm afternoon heat with the sound of the buskers below i’m thinking of ways to not get on the plane. A great pub with great beer (which I confess I took a note of and subsequently lost) will do that to you.

It doesn’t stop there as with Iron Brew and Febrewary, the Sail & Anchor shows that it’s is run by beer lovers for beer lovers. Febrewary offering punters the chance to travel the world in 28 days, with a mix of imports and Local Breweries’ international-styled beers. Iron Brew steps beyond celebrating commercial brewers and tips its hat to the humble homebrewer; pitched as an Australia wide search… to find an amateur brewer game enough to clone brew an old school Sail & Anchor brew, the Iron Brew English Strong Ale. The concept of Iron Brew fires my imagination and sat in the departure lounge has me looking for homebrew recommendations. An Iron Brew fermenting as far a field as South East London.

Sail & Anchor, 64 South Terrace, Fremantle, Western Australia, 6160

February 1, 2011

#Meateasy, Goldsmiths Tavern, 316 New Cross Road, London SE14

I’ve come to the Meatwagon late. In fact so late that it’s been stolen. The South London burger wagon that became a food cult was stolen in December and it looked like I’d never get to taste the meaty goodness I’d heard so much about. I was just going to have to live with it. At least until the birth of the #Meateasy. This pop up venture above the Goldsmiths Tavern in New Cross is looking to raise funds for a new Meatwagon. This is their second chance and my meaty redemption.

It’s just English who responds to my #Meateasy invitation and like me I think he’s considering his choice days in advance. As we arrive at Goldsmiths Tavern we know we’re in the right place but all the same its not giving us any clues. The barmaid, looking the two suits up and down, has the answer: Meateasy? Thru-the-back-turn left-thru-the-door-up-the-fire-escape. She’s obviously said this a few times over the last few weeks. Peering into the back and a darkened dancefloor it looks unlikely to lead anywhere but we obediently make our way to the back. And this is how I find myself stood on a dark dancefloor in New Cross, with English; as Rhythm is a Dancer pumps through the speakers. It’s a bizarre moment to say the least. Then to the left, a chink of light and we’ve either found it, or the bogs. It’s raining as we ascend the fire escape from the beer garden. A family pass us on the stairs and straight faced tell us that it’s not too busy. I don’t get my hopes up as the meatwagon queues were legendary. My caution is well placed as we are greeted with a smile, given a raffle ticket and told that we will order in around two hours. There’s no question of leaving – we have tickets and we have a bar – what else do we need?

The room is busy with expectant punters sat, stood and perched; the kitchen looks to be working at full capacity and the front of house staff are screaming. Raffle ticket numbers to call people into the order queue and names for those about to be served. As time passes voices start to strain and the loud hailer comes out. At the bar its as hectic with a choice of cocktails and Meantime London Lager and Union. At £3.50 a bottle its not going to be the cheapest of nights but then they hardly need to push cheap beer to pull the punters and to be fair the atmosphere is better than any bar in Central London which would charge the same or more.

As food leaves the open kitchen necks are strained, usually followed by ohhh I might have that, or that, ohh no that. We hardly notice the wait, which is pretty much the 2 hours predicted, though coming later seems to be the best tactic for a shorter wait. Before long our numbers are called and we are in the queue having to make choices. Not everything at the #Meateasy is easy! With the French Dip and Philly Cheese Steak sold out I opt for the Dead Hippy as much for the name as for the fact that it’s what Big Macs should taste like with its double patty and special sauce. Onion Rings, Fries and Buffalo wings accompany – I mean it would be wrong not to wouldn’t it. I can honestly say that I could have closed my eyes and been in Brooklyn. Its the best burger experience i’ve had in the UK and perhaps anywhere.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

The Goldsmith Tavern is due a Capital Pub Company makover shortly and #Meateasy is open now until March. My advice is to get in while you can. When the Meatwagon returns a fleet may be needed to satisfy fans old and new.

Pics courtesy of Tehbus

#Meateasy, Goldsmiths Tavern 316 New Cross Rd,  London SE14 6AF

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