One of the sub-themes of Sydney Craft Beer Week 2012 is ‘Beer Mimics Food’. An innovation of the team behind SCBW, Beer Mimics Food is targeted at food lovers of Sydney, to draw them into the wonderful world of beer and fire up imaginations about the weird flavour tangents into which beer can stretch. The exciting keystone of the theme is a very special Keller Door series from 4 Pines Brewing; four beers (+1) devised by prominent Sydney foodies and brewed at the 4 Pines pilot brewery in Manly.
SCBW co-founder Todd Venning siad the idea was to show the range that beer has.
“Beer Mimics Food is about showing the general public that beer has a flavour potential beyond wine and beer as they know it,” he said.
“So we challenged some of the best local brewers, and some celebrity chefs in NSW to get together and create beers that represent some form of food.”
In the case of 4 Pines, head brewer Andrew Tweddell has certainly had his work cut out for him: handing over the creative reins to non-brewers. He’s had to set aside his own thoughts and philosophy and concentrate on shaping his technical expertise to fit others’ visions.
“I had to remind myself that these guys know a lot about food, but as far as brewing goes I’m more the expert,” Tweddell says.
“One thing I had to keep in mind was that a lot of flavours and aromas that you get from the brewing process are food-related already, although a lot of them are by-products or faults.
“To your average punter it smells great, but as a brewer you know it’s got something wrong with it. So I had to untrain myself a bit.”
The beers will be released as a special edition of 4 Pines’ Keller Door series: sets of 4 single-release beers they have brewed at regular intervals since January of this year. Most of the series have followed a theme – starting with single hops and moving through the gamut to stouts, American-style beers and British style-beers. The BMF series extends the usual Keller Door format to include five different beers.
Adriano Zumbo – Dessert Witbier
The first of the celebrity chef collaborations involves celebrated pastry chef Adriano Zumbo and his vision for a dessert-style beer. The base beer is a Belgian-style witbier, with added elements of pineapple, coconut, black pepper and lactose.
“Being a dessert specialist, we decided to play around with lactose, which is traditionally used in your milk stouts and darker beers. For the sake of the exercise I thought it was worth throwing it into a witbier,” Tweddell said.
Zumbo is famous for his extravagant centrepiece desserts, as well as his hugely popular macarons, themselves often featuring unusual flavour combinations. Todd Venning lets out an unconfirmed rumour that Zumbo will potentially be furnishing the BMF launch party with a specially-made beer macaron.
Three Blue Ducks – Seaweed Mandarin Porter
The second BMF celebrity collaboration was devised by the kitchen team from Three Blue Ducks restaurant in Bronte: Darren Robertson, Shannon Debreceny and Mark Labrooy. The vision for their beer was a mandarin-infused seaweed porter. Tweddell himself admits to being a bit of a novice in brewing with seaweed, but says he got some helpful advice from Williams Brothers brewery in Scotland, who brew possibly the most accessible seaweed beer on the worldwide market, the Kelpie Seaweed Ale.
“I got in contact with them, and they gave me a few pointers about dosage rates, and basically where to add it. I’ve got 2 kilos left over to add to the conditioning tank to add a bit more umami, as they call it.”
Myffy Rigby – New Orleans Breakfast Beer
Myffy Rigby, chief food and drinks critic of Time Out Australia, was the creative genius behind the third BMF beer. “She had a lot of crazy ideas,” Tweddell says.
The idea they eventually agreed upon was to mimic a New Orleans breakfast beer, inspired by the traditional Creole combination of a beignet, with chicory root, dandelion and coffee. Tweddell speaks of their good fortune in discovering that chicory root and dandelion can be purchased together from health food stores, and says they have worked closely with Belaroma coffee in nearby Manly Vale to obtain a single-blend coffee that doesn’t strangle the other flavours.
“We wanted to find something that would complement the other ingredients rather than just become a full-on coffee beer. I think we’ve come up with something pretty good.”
Rob de Paulo – Sunday Roast Beer
The fourth BMF brew was devised by 4 Pines’ own in-house chef, Rob de Paulo. Centring on the classic Sunday Roast, de Paulo’s vision is a more savoury one, brewed with sweet potato and fennel seed. Not quite as unusual as its counterparts, the beer sounds reminiscent of American spiced pumpkin ales, but the brewer is mysteriously contrary.
He calls this a “pretty different beer”. The first to have been brewed, Andrew is satisfied with this beer and has already kegged it off ready for public release.
Brewshare Winner – Chilli Ruby Adobo Ale
The final, and perhaps most special, BMF beer was selected at a special Brewshare at the Local Taphouse recently. The winner of the ten amateur brewers was Anna ‘Ping’ Lyons, who gets a unique opportunity to work with 4 Pines in upscaling a homebrew recipe for commercial release.
Lyons’ homebrewed beer– made in partnership with James Hatherly — is a red chilli ale inspired, Lyons says, by her love of Mexican pulled pork. Although this final brew is still in the works, I think everybody who was present at the Taphouse last Tuesday will agree it was pretty special in homebrew form.
The launch party for the BMF Keller Door series will be on Tuesday 23rd October, and the beers will be pouring at 4 Pines for as long as they last. For more details check www.sydneycraftbeerweek.com.