Blog Archive

Friday, January 30, 2015

Nest launch @ Jen Hotel on Roma Street

If I said one of the newest and trendiest looking asian restaurants was opening in Brisbane city you would be forgiven for assuming it was on Eagle St which for a couple years now has been home to a large portion of new and hip venues in the CBD.

But trends and times change so it's nice to see a potential shift in locale for new modern venues with one of the  newest in Nest, roosting just above Roma Street on the second floor of Hotel Jen just next to the Transit Centre.

Nest is an interesting mix of restaurant, cafe, nightclub, cocktail bar and casual eatery along with a modern themed interior and some friendly staff it creates an enjoyable atmosphere and venue for almost any occasion.

For the launch party the main dining area was setup to allow for standing,eating, drinking and mingling but normally it is a sit down dining experience.

The bar has a pretty good range of drinks to choose from with some really tasty cocktails along with wine, cider and spirits but for me what was impressive was that they had a fairly decent range of craft beer.

I'll be honest being the beer geek that I am, I  go into a venue like this expecting to not find a beer that I can enjoy but I was really happy to see some great Australian craft beer and breweries being represented with Stone & Wood, Six String and 4 Pines featuring on the taps.

I started out with a Pacific Ale which went down a treat and just as I was nearing the end of my glass a tasty looking jam jar filled with kraken rum and lime and rimmed with sugar caught my eye so I tried that too and it went down way too easy!

Cocktails do take centre stage here with a nice menu with several choices with catchy names for you to try out.

The menu is Asian fusion style but also caters for a range of eating styles from breakfast food to shared plates and even a sit down dining menu which would be great for a romantic dinner looking out onto the lantern lit fig tree.

We enjoyed prawn and chicken laksa, skewers of tasty calamari and deep fried fish as well as a fried rice, mini burgers and even chocolate pudding with everything tasting great!

Overall Nest fits in well to the CBD and provides a clean, new and modern looking venue which would be great for after work drinks, before work breakfast or if you are staying at Jen it could be your go to dining spot!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

First Impressions: Brisbane Brewing Co. @ West End

Click to add a blog post for Brisbane Brewing Co. on Zomato
Brisbane's newest beer and food venue also has one of the oldest brewing setups, having moved around a few times in it's life it now rests in what is hopefully it's final home down an inconspicuous lane way in West End.

As you walk down boundary street you will no doubt turn your head as a large, intricate metal fence catches your eye. Doubling as the brewery sign, the words Brisbane Brewing Co have been masterfully metal worked and with the longer than normal entrance create intrigue as you make your way in.

I watched as many people stopped and had to double take before continuing past making sure they weren't missing something special. For those that kept going, they are actually missing something pretty special and quite unique as far as brew pubs go!

Heading into the main bar area I made my way past the kitchen, with chefs were preparing food and the cold cuts, and brisket sitting in the window creating a conundrum of "do I order food or beer first?"

I persevered, I had to, the thirst had been building for a few days and after hearing about the opening of this new venue and how well it had been received I just had to check it out!

Starting out with a Brisbane Pale Ale (BPA, catchy huh?) I sniffed, greeted by a hint of galaxy hops, then I drank and enjoyed a smooth but not overly bitter finish making for a very quaff-able pale ale.

As I enjoyed my beer I thought to myself, this beer has been around for awhile now at Brewhouse Brisbane, why haven't had I had it? The truth is I find Wollongabba to be a lackluster area to visit for craft beer but West End whilst not perfect is far more interesting with several decent venues within walking distance of each other.

There is about 10 taps with a range of house beers from a honey infused wheat beer to an IPA, with a cider and a couple of guest taps filling out the spots.

The bottle range contains over 60  different beers with a lot of old favourites and recent releases being featured like beer from the excellent Aussie micro brewery, La Sirene and even Garage Project's recently released Hop Trial #2. They also have some interesting sounding cocktails and wine if beer isn't your thing!                                

The food menu is just huge! two a3 pages of foodaliciousness, (patent pending..) with starters like corn bread as well as share plates of meats and cheese, hoagies and sliders. 

The standout part of the menu (for me) is the ability to to choose a meat option and then simply add sides to it like chips or feta and watermelon salad and create a main or your own share platter and everything is decently priced ranging from under $10 for corn bread to $36 for some of the platters. 

On my visit I shared the brew platter which was pretty impressive, with warm brisket and pulled pork taking centre stage along with potato and bacon salad, house made pickles, cheddar cheese, beer infused seeded mustard and tomato relish as well as corn and rye breads. All of which matched quite well with a pint of the house brewed Walker IPA.

Beers come in pots, pints and jugs and are competitively price with most pints being $10 or under which is good value and if you aren't sure what to drink there is also tasting paddles available if you want to try a few different beers.

I finished the evening with a pint of a guest beer from Cavalier, their  Russian Imperial stout which isn't really a summery beer but went down a treat as it had rained all day so it felt like stout weather anyway!

It's really great to see this type of brew bar setup in West End and hopefully it has a long future because so far it is fitting in brilliantly with the other local bars and should be help ensure the area is buzzing BrewsVegas in March.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

To Export or Not to Export? That is the question.

You are a small micro brewery achieving local success and you are for the most part supplying a sufficient amount of beer to your locals which is the most important thing to begin with.

Your steady growth has seen the demand for your beer grow in other states and even countries to the point that you feel you need to satiate some of this demand.

You export a small amount of your beer and thirsty drinkers gobble it all up leaving an empty hole in shelves possibly for months at a time.

The above scenario is a very real one and one that I'm sure many breweries are faced especially as the growth of the industry continues in spades.

So as a small business operator, faced with this situation you have a few choices..

A.) Don't Export.
Don't export your product, grow your business slowly and overtime expand to accommodate the export market by up-scaling/up-sizing your business but potentially risk losing that international demand and buzz around your product that you have currently.

B.) Export small amounts.
Keep fulfilling the demands of your locals but export small amounts of your product to satiate that market. This will mean that most likely only the dedicated fans and hardcore beer geeks will pickup your beer because others may find it difficult to track down.

There is a third choice but some brewers may be resistant to this concept as it could feel like you are giving a child away..

C.) Contract Brewing.
What this means is that you find a brewery with the capacity and setup for what you need and you hand over your recipes and provide guidance for them to brew the volume you require. You do this regularly enough so that the amount produced is enough to give the export market a better crack at your beer.
There is however now some business that are making this type of brewing their job which can ease the risk and the trust involved because you are entering into a legally binding contract in some cases but in QLD there isn't anything of this type currently.

I don't home brew and haven't ever been involved in a brew before but my opinion on this is just that, an opinion. That said I'm a fence sitter on this subject, by that I mean I sit somewhere between A and B and possibly lean a little into C and can understand why as a business owner or even a head brewer you would need to way up your options before doing any of these things.

I can see the benefits of exporting a small amount to get your name out there and in turn create demand but I imagine it could be a bit of a slippery slope with bottleshops not understanding why you can't maintain a shelf spot and more so consumers not understanding why they can't get the beer they love.

Your average beer nerd realises that if you love craft beer you need to be willing to accept that certain beers will be hard to get but as the industry expands and new, potentially uneducated consumers jump on board they find may it difficult at first although with that same growth this should ease anyway as breweries expand.

As for contract brewing it makes sense in many ways and with contract breweries taking the difficulty out of it by focusing on this as their own business then it will continue to remain an option and form it's own niche part of the industry.

This post is my opinion only and not based on any insider knowledge or anything like that so feel free to add to the conversation if you'd like..

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

First Impressions: Burgers Up @ Springfield

Burgers Up on Urbanspoon

Living on the Northside I don't often venture far beyond the CBD but when I heard about Burgers Up I knew at some point I had to try it! Being on holiday seemed like the perfect time to drop in for a visit and seeing some family in Springfield was an extra excuse!

With a full range of burgers in both chicken and beef as well as something for the kids this homestyle burger shop really gives you a lot of choice for a very affordable price.

You can add extra meat, extra cheese, egg, pineapple, beetroot, lettuce, tomato, extra sauces and a bevvy of other stuff  which means you can make a different burger every time you visit if you want which is awesome.

The only thing (which I find odd) is that they don't have pickles on the menu which for me really makes a burger, however there is enough optional extras that you can add something to make up for that like jalapenos or pineapple and I'll admit with mustard on there I didn't miss the pickles as much.

Prices range from $4.90 for a standard beef burger up to to $10.90 for the epic Three's a Crowd and for extras they range from 40c for lettuce upto $2.90 for an extra beef patty which just makes it even more worth a visit as the pricing is so competitive!

I got the Three's a Crowd which comes with Double Beef, Double Cheese and Double Bacon but for some reason I thought it was a good idea to add pineapple, beetroot, cooked onion and an egg and mustard.

It was a great idea but it made the burger so big I couldn't eat it easily even with two hands, but I got through it! Next time though I won't add much to it.

The beef was as moist and tasty as I expected but the stand out was the bacon, its locally sourced and smoked and is quite thick cut for a burger which just makes it tastier!

I'm not sure how something like this would hold up as take away as the juice was just flowing out of it and the buns are quite soft, but if you can sit down and eat it quickly they are great burgers. (probably wouldn't be as juicy if you didn't have so much on it either!)

The Criss Cut fries? Omg, what a great invention...

These beauties were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and sitting somewhere between a potato skin and a french fry, delicious and worth the extra to get them over normal fries.

Overall I was happy with the experience and if we are out at Springfield again I will probably use it as an excuse to return, if you live near there and haven't gone then I suggest you do.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Who Let the Dogs Out - BrewDog Tasting @ Malt Traders

BrewDog, founded by the humorous but serious beer geeks James Watt and Martin Dickie (and a dog!) are arguably the worlds most famous craft brewery right now with their own TV show airing in the USA.

They have produced some cracking beers however, with many that are true to style as well as beers that transcend, test and break styles. They have also won many awards with their brews both in Scotland, the UK and Internationally.

They have also let the public, staff and shareholders choose what beers to brew and have even offered capital to grow and improve the industry by assisting new breweries to get started in the UK.

Given Australia's love of craft beer, travel and self pioneered business it should be no surprise then that a former Brisbane-ite would make their way into the BrewDog fold. Sienna was our host for the tasting session and the manager of the BrewDog pub in London and a cicerone for craft beer.

Phoenix, the importer for BrewDog (in Aus) and many other quality craft breweries along with Malt Traders, manager Greg and Sienna hosted a small tasting session for about 18 people.

As the event began we heard some BrewDog history, how they got started, what they've given back to the community and how far they've expanded since their humble beginnings in 2007.

It was also pointed out that there is potential (if we are loud enough) for Australia to get a BrewDog pub in the future so take to social media and let them know that Brisbane is the place!

We were taken through a few of the iconic brew's beginning with the flagship Punk IPA, followed by Libertine Black Ale, 5AM Saint (Red Ale), Electric India (Hoppy Saison), Hardcore IPA (Imperial IPA) and finishing up with Cocoa Psycho which is a big rich, chocolate and coffee tasting Imperial Stout.

Each brew was explained in detail so that we knew what we were looking for in tasting them along with information about it it's origins. For example Electric India was chosen and brewed by the Shareholders of BrewDog.

In between beers we were chatting to each other and others were entering the beers into UntappD which really let me know I was with some budding members the craft beer community!

Photo by Sienna

I'd had all the beers before with the exception of Cocoa Psycho which was great to try but the standout is Electric India which has a big hoppy nose with a Belgian style funk to it that is expected from a saison which results in a smooth but full flavoured and ultimately refreshing beer.

At the end of the night myself and some other attendees were able to have a chat Sienna and we talked about how Australian craft beer is booming and I suggested some beers from Australia to try whilst here or to take back to London, a great way to end a good night!
So I'm going to write this one a little backwards and finish with the venue, Malt Traders as not only did they host the event but they are a cracking little bottle shop with a rather unique setup (at least for Brisbane).

Malt has a tonne of wine, spirits, craft beer, cider and even snacks and take away meals but what makes it stand out is that you can drink what you want and do so at decent prices.

A large table can be found in the centre of the shop making it the perfect setting for a sneaky after work drink, a pre-drink or even just a quiet little session with a couple of friends.

There is also a Growler fill station with local and international beers usually adorning the 3 taps which have nifty Star Wars tap toppers.

If you drink craft beer, work in the city and haven't checked out Malt it might be time to visit this great little venue.

event pre-drink with Brisbane brewed White Lies - Chocolate Stout