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Transcript of Froth_The Plough
FROTH CRAFT BEER MAG
We talk with Carwyn Cellars bar manager Ben Duval about their Thornbury venue.
FOOD & BEER
THE PLOUGH HOTEL
Devout craft beer aficionados regularly make the pilgrimage to Carwyn Cellars in Thornbury, braving the dangers of the 86 tram to check out the ridiculous range of offerings at this bottleshop in Melbournes north. After drooling over the 200-plus selection of rare and quality beers available in the shop, they pass through into the inner sanctum to salivate over the 16 rotating taps of seriously intriguing brews in the Back Room Bar.
Since Ben Carwyn took over this High Street store in 2007, it has grown from a ordinary bottleshop to an Aladdins cave of exciting finds. Run by two blokes with wine backgrounds owner Ben Carwyn and bar manager Ben Duval the focus is on quality products and a dedicated selection of local and international craft beer.
The Back Room Bar only recently celebrated its first birthday but it has already been voted the eighth-best Australian craft beer establishment by Beer and Brewer. With seating for 50 people, there are also long wooden benches outside on the pavement
the perfect spot to lounge in the sun with a crafty drop. The beers on tap include a diverse range of Australian and overseas brewers, and unlike most bars, none of the taps are under contract to big-name beers, giving Duval free rein to put on quirky, rare and top-quality brews.
Carwyn also excels at boilermakers, and they have 250 whiskies (including 40 Australian, 50 American and 30 Japanese). There is also a negroni tap and 50 mezcals (a tequila-like substance which I frankly could not swallow, but apparently goes well when sipped with beer).
Duval, who has worked at Carwyn for several years after moving to Melbourne from South Australia, reckons their point of difference is the bottleshop, stocked full of the rarest and coolest beers on the planet, where punters can grab a bottle of something special and drink it in the bar with a small corkage fee.
were looking forward to taking it to the next level
Whats better than drinking craft beer? Drinking craft beer with some goddamn delicious food that perfectly matches its frothy flavour.
The Plough Hotel in Footscray might look like a bit of a rough old gaff from the outside but its a classy affair indoors, with funky modern industrial design deco and a buzzing gastropub vibe. There are seven Victorian craft beers and one cider on tap, as well as 20 craft beer bottles, a delectable-sounding scran menu and a good-looking crowd of locals to share the experience with.
My hungry date and I couldnt go past the slow-cooked pork, celeriac and pickled cabbage pie served up with creamy mash, red wine sauce and mushy peas.
And let me just say it was almost pie-fect (sorry) with the only complaint
being the need to play a game of find the pickled cabbage, but that was easily forgiven. The tender, juicy lumps of pork cosily placed inside buttery melt-in-your mouth pastry was enough to keep a smile on our happily chewing dials. We accompanied it with a light, fruity beer, opting for a Sample Brew Golden Ale from Collingwood. Smooth and crisp, the citrus and stone fruit scent, mixed with hoppy undertones, looked and tasted like sunshine in a glass.
Now for dessert and one phrase will suffice pure dead brilliant. But I will share (not the food, pals, but the memories and I wouldnt have shared if you were there either. Thats how good it was, and how much of a glutton I am. Just saying.)
So listen to this I had steamed brown ale pudding, with muscovado caramel, peanut praline and salted caramel ice
Claire Henderson is a perpetually
hungry Scot who lives life with her
glass at least half full at all
cream. It was the darkest wee sponge Ive ever seen (and trust me, Ive seen a lot of those bad boys in my time) plonked into a lovely puddle of treacly sauce and topped with super crunchy praline and a big dollop of ice cream. It was intensely salty enough to justify that every gorgeous mouthful had to be followed by a swally of bitter, malty Little Smith Brewing Bastard Son from Fitzroy.
Plough Hotel manager Ellen Turner says: We focus on Victorian craft breweries and avoid bigger players. We also rotate seasonally or more often if we can. Our menu is seasonal too, so for example we go lighter in summer and we get darker beers in when its cooler and the food will naturally match with that. All our staff is trained in beer flavours and history.
Rating: Get over there and gie it laldy!
Scottish-English dictionary:Gaff: HouseScran: FoodPal: Friend or enemySwally: DrinkGie it laldy: Do something with extreme enthusiasm.
Words and pictures by Claire Henderson
Duvals father John was Chief Winemaker at Penfolds, and started his own wine label in 2003. Hes probably not too disappointed though that his son has embraced the beer world in fact Ben somehow found time while running a bar and brewing craft beer to also whip up 1800 bottles of Nero DAvola.
Sounds a little crazy, but as Duval says: A lot of people think were nuts but really were just getting started and were looking forward to taking it to the next level.
Carwyn Cellars plans to expand into next door to meet the demand of thristy drinkers, are are constructing an adjoining area which should be open early next year. Therell be more seating, a small kitchen, a cellar and a nanobrewery inside a small shipping container.
They also make their own beer when I visited the 40ft Redneck English Easter Bunny was on tap. Based on an ESB or English Amber Ale, the ingredient list includes London ESB yeast, Cascade hops and 20kg of Vietnamese cacao 10% of which was soaked in rye whisky and 90% soaked in the beer post-ferment for a week and a half. The result is a smooth and pleasantly bitter drop with a subtle chocolatey finish.
Duval says that unlike wine-making which has so many rules, craft beer is all about breaking the rules. But they are not into brewing extreme ales: We want to make beer thats really enjoyable and drinkable.
Words and picture: Emily Day