The first postcode I resided in when I obtained the “inoz” suffix was NSW 2041. That was some 13 years ago when the Wallabies held the Bledisloe and the RWC, and my only exposure to Aussie beer was VB and Tooheys.
Fast forward to 2012 and the only thing on the above list that still holds true is that I’m back in NSW 2041 (with a number of different postcodes in between including a couple of other countries). For those who aren’t in the know, 2041 is the Balmain/Rozelle postcode – the glorious inner west!
2041 is well known for its old style pubs such as The London, the Dry Dock, the Riverview and many more.
The latest entrant into the popular Balmain pub scene is East Village Balmain. They aptly describe themselves on twitter:
“Balmain’s only true craft beer venue dedicated to serving real beer and real pub food to real people every day and night of the week”.
East Village Balmain is a fantastic bar and restaurant that this correspondent can now stumble home from after working through the latest in craft beer without needing a cab fare. This is well worth the trip for those looking for somewhere new. It’s only a stone’s throw from Balmain East Wharf. It’s the old Belgian Beer Café.
The early sitting showed that this is a family friendly pub, with plenty of rug rats and older kids enjoying pizza while their folks enjoyed their end of the week beverage in the dining area at the rear of the pub.
The front area is rug rag free, in fact we enjoyed our food and drinks while almost forgetting the other area. East Village Balmain is a place for all.
Mrs kiwisinoz and I had a fantastic meal consisting of chicken wings, croquets, and pizza a couple of Fridays ago. You really know you’re in 2041 in this place. The walls are lined with photos and pictures of the area dating back to the early 1900’s. There’s also memorabilia from the area scattered throughout.
Onto the beer review. It’s Stone & Wood’s ’The Mash Collective’ Amasia Rumweizen. It’s actually already been reviewed on this blog, however, this correspondent has a different view to the one already documented. This drop is described by Stone & Wood:
The first brew from our side project The Mash Collective is a rumweizen called Amasia. For this single batch, we’ve taken a classic German dunkleweizen and mashed it together with molasses, the core ingredient of a popular local spirit. Blended with some brew house magic, we finished it off with a splash of rum. Think fresh local bananas, loaded with rum and raisin ice cream and dark chocolate with the lingering warmth of a fine spirit.
For me, it was too exotic. The rum flavour was over powering. It certainly didn’t taste like just a ‘splash’. It was not enough of a beer for mine. However, credit to Stone & Wood for having a crack at this. As mentioned, others have viewed it more favourable so it must be doing ok.
I’ll certainly be back to East Village Balmain to experience the magnificent food, service and variety of craft beers in the fridge….and then stumble home afterwards.
Last Sunday saw this correspondent on the sun dappled back deck of fellow correspondent – illiards. Sydney had turned on a great Sunday on the last week-end of Autumn and illiards decided to turn the hospitality and his barbecue. The least I could do was raid The Cantina’s fridge for a few uniques to sample. We were joined by the always loquacious Fergus – whose appeared more than once on these pages.
First cab off the rank was the latest offering from Stone & Wood. If this doesn’t finish in the top 20 of Hottest 100 beers contest in 2013 – then I’m a poor judge. This is a ripper in all respects. The colour is particularly fine. According to beer label hyperbole, the colour is reminiscent of the red volcanic soil of the Byron Bay hinterland. The boys are well read, because “Jasper” means “a compact, opaque, cryptocrystalline variety of quartz, usually colored red” – didn’t know that!. This is a beer to be savoured. It’s wonderfully malty, almost earthy to start with a subtle but growing hoppy finish at the end. I’ve seen this on tap as well, and I hope that this gets into more than a few pubs. Could be a go-to beer. In sort of related trivia, the team name for the Manhattan College is the Jaspers. They’re named after Brother Jasper – a legendary figure from their early days – who is credited with creating baseball’s 7th inning stretch – there you go.
The second beer we tried was a collaboration that has been one of the stars of the Australian twitterverse lately. The Gypsy and the Goat is made by Mountain Goat and Mikkel Borg Bjergsø of the “gypsy” brewery Mikkeller. Mikkeller is an idol of world brewing. There is no brewery – they just brew with other people. This drop is an outstanding collaboration – a black pepperberry IPA, which is intense from head to toe. The colour is an opaque black, black. There’s a wonderful spice to the sip, but it is the bitterness that is the king. I had it with a steak, and the pepper in the beer compliments the meat well. One to snaffle if you can.
The last @untappd newbie was one from a range of Schneider Weisse beers that has infiltrated Vintage Cellars recently. The website indicates that there are at least 8 varieties and Vintage is stocking at least 3 of them. “Tap 1″ is a vibrant, fragrant wheat beer. The colour is awesome and as the sun set over the insular peninsula, this wheat beer lit up like an orange. It is a really fine example of a wheat beer with plenty of fizz and aroma. Better in summer, but not bad for an autumn day.
Any coast trip North is not complete without a visit to Byron Bay – even at the most packed and crazy time of the year, Christmas to New Year. Wategos and the Pass were producing the bluest waves and the water feels like champagne.
Since 2008, there’s been another reason to get to Byron Bay. Stone & Wood commenced operations in the industrial zone of Byron, which can be found off the Ewingsdale Road. They operate a cellar door and it is possible to buy beer as close as possible to the source.
Ross, one of the founders, very kindly gave me a sample of the almost finished latest batch of Pacific Ale straight from the vat. It still had to be carbonated, so was flat, but that unmistakeable hoppy freshness shone through. That’s Ross in front of a whole bunch of cartons waiting to be filled with 24 stubbies of Byron Bay sunshine.
The boys at Stone & Wood sound like they’ve had a great 2011. This year’s edition of Stone Beer was one of my favourites of 2011 and they’ve made good inroads into NSW. Even the Steyne’s got ‘em on tap.
Thanks for the hospitality boys and here’s hoping 2012 is an even better year for you.
Stone & Wood has made a couple of appearances on Back of the Ferry. That’s as many as they’ve been able to make as they keep it pretty simple up in Byron. Generally Stone & Wood make two beers – Pale Lager and Pacific Ale (formerly known as Draught Ale). These have both been reviewed and both were enjoyed immensely – particularly the Pacific Ale.
It’s been way too long since I’ve been to Byron and the lads have come up with another reason to go – their Stone Beer. Now the S&W boys reckon that early brewers used to use stone and wood to make beer before the invention of steam power. Stone Beer is made using some of those pre-steam techniques as homage to the pioneers. The technique is to add “wood fired stones to the kettle to rouse the boil and caramelise the brew”. Hmmm – very Byron – but gees it works. Stone Beer is so special that it’s launched each time with a festival at the brewery. The latest launch (the 3rd) featured bands, pizzas, arty stalls and a surf flick. I think this’d be one beer launch the missus would join me at.
So, was the effort worth it? Well, the hardest part was getting my hands on some. This is pretty limited, but Porters at Balgowlah had a couple of the very attractive 500ml bottles lurking in their fridge. Helpfully, there was no paraphenalia accompanying their presence so I was able to snaffle one. I drew the short straw on the weekend and had to drive to a boozy lunch on the North Snore. I took my Stone Beer with me as my one tipple and waited until the wonderfully cooked Scotch Fillet arrived. It was a magnificent match – the complex, dark hued Stone Beer had plenty of hoppiness, but there was also a molasses flavour to it, without being sweet. It was big and handled the heavy marinade well. It’s worth waiting once a year for this beauty – and don’t hesitate if you see one – grab it.
Thursday is #IPADay, a US instigated day for people to drink IPAs. BotF will be joining in with a special IPA from Orange. See you out the back.
Stone & Wood is the next best thing to going to Byron. Byron Bay is simply one of the greatest places in the world. Even with the wealth that has entered the joint there is still a vibe that permeates the Eastern most point in Australia that makes it irresistable. This beer is very much in the spirit of Byron. Natural, clean, unpretentious – and that’s just the packaging. The blokes that have produced this drop know about the important things in life and have worked out a way to do it in Byron. Brew, surf, go to the Rails, hear a band, brew, surf etc etc etc.
This beer is awesome. If there was a beer made for deckage, this is it. If you can’t be on a balcony on Brownell Drive overlooking Wategoes – then at least drink this beer on your own deck and pretend you are in Byron. The missus tried it and was rapt. Get an esky, fill it full of ice – pour in 24 of these beautiful green bottles, put on a Rodriguez CD and then just pretend you are in Byron.