Kris: We have been waiting in anticipation for our first Tasmanian Beer Fest experience. It was a great weekend to drink some great beers, eat some tasty food and enjoy the company of beer lovers from all over the world.

 It is a gathering that reaffirms the passion and community spirit that exists in the Australian craft beer community. Everyone was in high spirits and there were plenty of old and new favourites to taste from Tasmania, Australia and overseas.My favorite Australian craft beers (non Tasmanian) that I tried on the weekend were Mountain Goat IPA, 4 PinesHefeweizen and Little Creatures Big Dipper IPA.

Kris: It is always difficult to choose your favourite beers/moments at a festival such as this. The tapping (and tasting) of the Lark/ Moo Brew Whisky Barrel Aged Stout at the distillery on Friday afternoon, just before the opening of the festival was a major highlight. This was an awesome collaboration between a Tasmanian brewery and distillery.It was exciting to see the differences in each of the 3 20 litre barrels that we got to try over the weekend. A perfect match for ripe, creamy blue cheese.

 Kris /Caroline : The pick of the Tasmanian beers on show for us were the Van Diemen‘s Two Head IPA, Seven Sheds Smokin Bagpipes Scotch Ale, Iron House Porter and the Moo Brew Seasonal/Imperial Stout. It was also great to see Morrison’s, a new brewery from Launceston ,showing their first batches of some English/Irish style beers.They need to tweak their recipes a bit, but their beers were showing some real promise. Definately a brewery to watch in the future.

There were also so amazing international beers on tasting at the festival too. Floyd’s/Brew Dog Bitch Please was a standout. A barley wine brewed with a selection of malts, including Laphroig peat smoked whisky malt and a mixture of  shortbread, fairy floss and fudge that was thrown into the kettle. We also really enjoyed theMikkeller Santa’s Little Helper, a Belgian brown ale brewed with christmas spices.

 The Ambersandwich business cards also made a debut at the festival.


Ocean Trout baked in Paperbark with Moo Brew Pils

Kris : I love using native Australian ingredients in my cooking. This is one of my favourite dishes to make:
Ocean Trout baked in Paperbark.

 Weeping Paperbark trees (of the genus Melaleuca) are fairly common ornamental trees found in a lot of Australian gardens. Aboriginal people have used them for thousand’s of years to bake food in; it’s nature’s baking paper. It gives an interesting, smoky flavour to food, particularly to seafood and vegetables.

It is best to soak the bark in water for a few hours before using it; this stops it from burning and help’s to partially steam the food. On the left, you see the soft inner side of the bark, this is the side you want to use to wrap your food (unlike the gnarly, outside bark on the right).

I bought an ocean trout to wrap in my paperbark. When baking, use an oilier fish (like trout or mackerel)  as white fleshed fish tend to dry out. I seasoned each side of the fish with sea salt and drizzled it with olive oil. I then stuffed it with fresh lemon myrtle leaves, Tasmanian pepper berries and a couple of cloves of garlic.

If you don’t have lemon myrtle leaves or Tasmanian pepper berries, you can use lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and freshly cracked black pepper.Also, if you can’t find paperbark you can wrap the fish in baking paper.

Tightly wrap the fish, rolling it in the bark like a burrito so the juices can’t leak out while baking. Use twine to secure both ends and the middle.

Place it into an oven pre-heated to 180 C and bake for 1 hour.

While waiting for the fish to bake, I made a salad of finely sliced iceberg lettuce, mint, orange segments and macadamia nuts. Simply dress the salad with a good quality olive oil and some lime juice.

Caroline: We ate the fish just by pulling the flesh off the bone with a fork. It was juicy and savory and tender. The macadamia nuts gave the combo great crunch and the citrus in the salad cut through the oiliness of the fish.


Kris: I dropped out to the Moo Brew brewery yesterday and was lucky to pick up a 4-pack of Pilsner fresh off the bottling line. It’s a clean, crisp german style Pilsner. I thought the beer would be a perfect match for the dish. It was. It cut through the richness of the fish and worked really well with the citrus in the  salad.