Mildura, Mrs Parmas and Two Birds.

Stefano’s amazing Parma

On Sunday I popped along to the launch of Mildura Week at Mrs Parma’s. Mildura Week sees a range of Mildura Brewery beers on tap, including the amazing Choc Hops which I can confirm is even better on tap than it is in the bottle. In fact I’m thinking of holding an Easter egg hunt next year where the Easter eggs are replaced with bottles of Choc Hops. Safe to say best idea I’ve had in a while.

Now I’m not going to tell you much about the Mildura beers because, well I’ve done that before, but I can tell you that Stefano (of Mildura Brewery/gondoliering/owning half of Mildura fame) has conjured up a special chicken parma for the occasion featuring pesto, marinated eggplant and cherry tomatoes and it is absolutely fantastic.  If you get a chance this week get into Mrs Parma’s, for their best parma this side of the Good Beer Week smoked parma. 

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Good Beer Week Day 2 – A tale of Moondogs, Dinosaurs and some bits of wire.

Life is a blur at the Royston

Now that I had finished with GABS it was onto Good Beer Week proper. the days started with a hearty brunch and then made a detour past Etihad stadium to watch what can only loosely be called a game of football. Not wanting to hear the ‘Sons of the West’ and wanting to forget about the game a quickly as possible as soon as the siren blew we made for the exit, jumped a tram and twenty or so minutes later we were out our first beery point of call for the day, the always underrated Mrs Parmas.

We were there for what I’m going to start calling the traditional Moonparma event. Last year it was Moondog’s Coconut and Pineapple beer matched with a Hawaiian parma. This year Moondog have gone a little more traditional with a smoked altbier, whilst Mrs Parma and her Chef’s have got more wacky, this year the crumbed chicken is topped with sauerkraut, bratwurst and smoked Chutney.

I’m here to tell you that the Moondog Kaiser Saute was fantastic, in my opinion it’s close to the best beer that Moondog have put out, it was sweet, almost caramel with a hint of smoke and some alcohol heat in the aftertaste, perfect for the freezing cold afternoon. Pint. The parma was even better, in fact it was so good it made us ponder why all parmas don’t come with sausages on the top. If you find yourself hungry at any point during Good Beer Week get down to Mrs Parmas, I assure you, you will not regret it.

We couldn’t stay however, after a second Moondog it was time to jump on another tram to travel across to New Zealand, which for this week has moved to the Royston in Richmond. Now you may remember that I claimed yesterday the NZ beer scene was more advanced than Australia’s so the line-up of NZ brews had a lot to live up to.

We started in safe territory with 8 Wired’s Haywire, which is a highly hopped wheat beer, and boy was it hopped. I fear for anyone picking this up thinking they were getting a nice gentle wheat beer, instead It’s more like an IPA with a slightly floury body. A great beer – Pint.

Next up was the Tautara Pale Ale, which was just a pretty run of the mill pale ale. I guess any other week of the year you would be happy with this beer, but this is good beer week I won’t settle for just a sessionable and enjoyable pale ale when there is so much else to try. Schooner. It did however start the biggest fight of the evening over what a Tautara was, Andre was claiming lizard I was claiming modern dinosaur. Pretty sure Andre was right, kind of.

Emerson’s Bookbinder is a beer I see in the bottleshop many a time but never buy because it doesn’t really look interesting enough. But it is GBW and time to try things so this was the next choice.  Safe to say not buying it all those times was the right choose. Both Andre and Jord claimed it had a stale like quality to it, and Andre went as far as calling it manky. I didn’t bother finishing it. Pot

We got back on track with an Epic Armageddon which is always an outstanding beer. Then it was time for dessert, the Royston’s amazing sticky date pudding which got wow’s from both our table and the table next to us. We coupled this with 8 Wired’s Tall Poppy which was a nice beer, but again not ground breaking, in fact it reminded me a lot of Mountain Goats Hightail ale (which is not a bad thing at all). It had a great caramel backbone, for some reason I thought it would be hoppier (for no other reason than poppy rhymes with hoppy, logic is not one of my strong points) A good little beer well matched to a sweet sticky dessert Pint.

We then finished off with the 8 Wired Big Smoke, which is an outstanding beer. The beers tonight were a little hit and miss, but we did get to try some new brews and had some great food along the way. A good afternoon/evening had by all.

Birthday Beers – Redux

It was a momentous day on Wednesday. It was a very special birthday. That’s right it was the birthday of the dude that sells the copies of the Big Issue at Parliament station. Or at least this is what he claimed as he yelled “It’s my Birthday, help me out” at us as we purposely walked past our heads bowed into the misty rain.

Oh yeah and it was Frewy’s birthday. And that was why myself, Frewy and Pip were walking along Spring Street. We were on our way to Mrs Parmas to join MB, Jord and Imma for a few celebratory beers and a beer or two.

We were running late so when we arrived there were already a collection of empty glasses on the table in front of the CBD based half of our crew. I was looking forward to this. Mrs Parmas produce some seriously good crumbled chicken and more importantly they have a great range of brews. In fact I’d even heard a rumour that they had the 2Brother’s Terminator on tap.

Now the full time range of beers at Mrs Parmas is great (Jord claimed that it had more depth than Beer deluxe which is a controversial statement) but the real interest for me is in the two rotating taps. This is where the truly exciting limited release beers are showcased. I promptly presented  myself at the bar and asked ‘What’s on the rotating taps?”

I was a little disappointed when I was told the Terminator actually wasn’t on yet.

I ordered the Saison Noir from Bridge Road. Which led to the bartender going off to play with kegs out the back, eventually she returned and presented with the two beers  and told me there is only two beers left in the keg then they would change it over to Terminator. The excitement in my eyes was probably more appropriate for being told that you’ve won a million dollars rather than you have the opportunity to purchase some beer.

The Bridge Road Saison Noir was a fantastic place to start the night. Described as their B2 Bomber (the malt bill) crossed with Chevalier Saison (the yeast) this is, as the name suggests in a Frenchy sort of way a Black Saison (because black is so hot right now). It is an outstanding beer, it has a big malty body, hugely complex with hints of everything you expect from toasted malts like coffee, nuttiness but then it’s all overlayed with the spicy flavours of their Saison. It ends crisp, but then half a second later this interesting tanginess comes through. It’s all quite strange, but in a really exciting interesting way – Jug.   

By now we had caught up to the rest of the crew and it was time to head back to the bar. We enquired but they had not sold anymore Saison Noirs, and we were now being told there was only 3 or 4 beers left in the keg, it appeared this was some sort of magical fishes and loaves type beer keg.

We went to our fallback plan. The Cavalier Weizen. Now first things first. Cavalier should not be confused with the Chevalier range from Bridge road.  Whilst Bridge Road are one of the mainstays of the Victorian Craft Beer scene and have been around for six years Cavalier are young upstarts that no one had heard about before the microbrewer’s showcase earlier this year, but are very quickly becoming the darlings of the Melbourne beer mafia crew and this beer may explain why.

Now as fallback plans go this was one of the better ones.  It’s is a good beer, It is exactly what I expect a Hefeweizen to be. It pours a deep yellow colour, slightly hazy with nice thick pure white head.  It has these great agricultural bready smells to it, like wet sour dough bread, which smells better than it sounds.  The body is full and silky and the flavours stay with you all the way through the sip. A seriously good example of a traditional European Wheat beer. Definitely Pint worthy

Now two exciting things happened whilst we were drinking the Cavalier Weizen. Firstly a well dressed gentleman from the table next to us walked back to his table holding four goblets of what I surmised was the Bridge Road Saison. I raised my eyebrows and announced. You know what that means don’t you? It’s Terminator time.

Then something truly amazing happened. In a moment akin to the inaugural robots vs wrestling outing we saw MB’s Doppelganger, which surprisingly wasn’t Fernando Alonoso or the dude from the Lynx ad, but rather a scruffy looking fella which we dubbed Nick Gradley.

 

There was only one way we celebrate a sighting of a doppelganger and that is with a doppelbock, which leads us nicely into the 2Brother’s Terminator which was a Doppelbock that was darker than I expected. It was almost black with just some red tinged sections at the bottom of the glass. It poured with a wispy little head, but a fair amount of lacing down the glass as we drunk it. The overwhelming thought on this was that it tasted like liquid you would get if you took a whole heap of prunes and marinated them in some dark rum and then added brown sugar. It was sweet, slightly sticky, big alcohol monster. Myself and Frewy loved it, we both instantly agreed it was Pint worthy. Jord and MB on the other hand found it a little too much, which just proves you have to be an old, seasonal beer drinker like myself and Frewy and not a pansy girl like MB and Jord to really appreciate a complex beer like this one.

After the bigness of the Terminator, which Frewy did describe as ‘Still big after a Mexican Schnitzel.’ Which made Pip exclaim ‘Oh Man!’ it was time to get a little more gentle. MB headed to the bar and returned with four bottles of Hargreaves Hill Hefeweizen.  This was similar to the Cavalier, just a good solid wheat beer, exactly on style and hugely enjoyable. It claimed banana tones which I wasn’t really picking up, but still a great beer all the same – Pint

So all in all a great evening. The most consistently impressive beer related food outing since my birthday back in April. Four great new beers and four winners, topped off by the always impressive Holgate Temptress which MB described as ‘The Best Beer I’ve ever had’ so many he does understand beer afterall

So thankyou Mrs Parmas (even if Frewy and Pip continued to call it Madame Schnitzel’s) for a great night, and Happy 153rd birthday to Frewy.

Long Bow YouTube Clip: Doppelgangers, how good are they?

Good Beer Week at Mrs Parmas

It would be hard to spend any time in the beer fuelled blog world without hearing about Good Beer Week. That’s right down here in Melbourne Town we are nearing the end of a week long festival of craft brewing.

I have heard of the exploits of many of the Melbourne beer blogging mafia and looked on with envy. My problem has been that I have been sick all week, struck down with Man Flu. (a cold by any other name) This, combined with my absence from the country recently had limited my beery adventures.

But I summoned up all my strength and went on a (little) drinking trip last night. To do this I first had to go to work (which was a mistake, although on the plus side I’ve probably made a whole bunch of other people sick just in time for the weekend) and collect Jordan and Frewy.

Then it was off to Mrs Parmas for the Gidget goes Doggy, which is an exceeding  stupid name for an event, but it signaled the partnering of Moondog brewery and Mrs Parmas in a Hawaiian themed extravaganza.

Moondog had provided a very special beer for the occasion. The George Freeth Memorial Tropical Brown Ale. The first question everyone asks is who the god diggens is George Freeth? Well according to the interwebs he is thought to be the father of modern surfing, and that’s him Up there on the left.

The second question is what is the Tropical Brown ale?. Well Moondog claim it’s the closest thing to pina colada you will find in a beer. It a brown ale, meaning it’s malty, but with hints of Pineapple and Coconut in it. It sounds awesome I know. But does it live up to the claim? – Almost.

Now I should start this review by explaining that I had a terrible head cold and was doped up to within a inch of my life so couldn’t really taste anything, Jordan wasn’t much better (but was whining about it a lot less, because well she isn’t the giant sook that I am) so we are relying heavily on Frewy’s tasting skills for this review (thanks Frewy I owe you one)

The Moondog brew was a cloudy light brown colour, I inhaled deeply and could sense the pineapple scents. I was struggling to get much flavour at the front of sip, although Frewy claims crystal malts, and a slight roasted flavour. I did however pick up the pineapple flavours in the aftertaste (coming I suspect from the hops). None of us however could find the coconut. Overall it was a great beer though, really interesting, and perfectly suited to some sips on the beach (Although I think you can only get it an Mrs Parma’s so that might be hard) We all agreed it was Pint worthy.

Next up we tried Bright’s Topaz Harvest beer. This is a Marzen (ain’t they everywhere all of a sudden?) that uses the Topaz variety of hops. It is a golden colour with a wispy head, which sits around and laces down the glass with each sip. Strangely it smelt sweet. Investigations this morning say the hops give paw paw and passionfruit characters, so that would make some sense then. It is more Ale than Lager in its carbonation, which I liked, but Frewy thought was a shortcoming.  There was a nice malty, almost biscuit body, with a fruity hoppy aftertaste. A very drinkable beer.

There was much arguing over the rating for this one, with everything from a Pot to a Pint being mentioned. In the interests of harmony I’ll spilt the difference and give it a Schooner.

So if you get a chance get into some Good Beer Week action. If I make a remarkable recovery I might even make it to the Kiwi Spectapular a Local Taphouse tomorrow. You can check it all out at http://www.goodbeerweek.com

Rankings:

The George Freeth Memorial Tropical Brown Ale: I’ll have a pint thanks

Bright Topaz Harvest: Let’s have a Schooner

Six degrees of Norm: Where we prove that all beers can be linked back to Norm from Cheers in 6 easy steps:

  1. We enjoyed these beers are Mrs Parma’s at the top end of Little Bourke Street in the City.
  2. Anyone who went to uni in the city in the late 90’s will know that Mrs Parmas used to be a different bar.
  3. And that bar was called Cheers
  4. Which was a rip of bar in Cheers the TV show (it even had the same logo)
  5. Although it was actually a beer barn that was famous for ‘Toss the Boss’ nights
  6. So it was nowhere near as good as the Cheers that Norm drunk in

Long Bow Youtube Clip: I can’t explain the vision, but the song is Jewel Theives by The Lucksmiths, which has a nice surfer vibe to it and involves, well, thieving jewels, like Topaz. (See how clever that is?)