BentSpoke Brewing has released a beer dedicated to a Belgian farmer who helped co-founders Richard Watkins and Tracy Margrain many years ago.
"We had been touring the famous Rodenbach brewery and went into this little brasserie for lunch and no one was speaking much English and there was this rough-looking guy sitting at the bar and he ended up helping us get through the menu and recommended all sorts of good beers," says Watkins.
Flemm, named after the farmer, is a Flanders Red beer. First brewed by Watkins more than 15 years ago, it is one of the original barrel-aged sour recipes in Australia.
The beer itself is aged in oak for 12 months and blended with an aged, unoaked version and a younger unoaked version to balance the acid and add vibrance.
"It is a harder beer style to make," Watkins says. "We let it sit in the barrel for 12 months before we taste it, it's always a nervous thing, that first taste. It's not a normal brewing process to put beer in a barrel and leave it for 12 months like wine.
"But I love brewing these styles of beers and I'm excited to put them in cans for the first time with Flemm. The wild yeast creates some funky characters with a touch of sweaty-horse blanket and zoo like aromas. I cannot wait for people to taste what has been years in the barreling."
Watkins had no hesitation in releasing a beer during the COVID-19 restrictions.
"We're hearing from our off-premise retailers that people are looking for something different at the moment," he says.
"Package sales for beer have been doing pretty well and we wouldn't release it much on premise anyway.
"It's what people are wanting at the moment, they're investigating and curious about new products, trying different types of products, trying different wines and spirits and beer from different places."
He says BentSpoke has been doing it tough. The Braddon Brewpub is doing takeaway food and drinks only, running at about 15 per cent of sales.
In February they employed 100 people, that's down now to just over 60 and some staff are working voluntary reduced hours.
"But off-premise sales have been doing okay and we're keeping up production to meet that."
Flemm is available through BentSpoke's retail partners and at the Brewpub in cans and for Traveller fills.
Well almost. Ovolo Nishi is offering "Restaurant in Room" packages where you can book a room for private dining and enjoy a set menu from Monster Kitchen and Bar.
Two guests can enjoy three courses for $229 (with matching beverages for another $50) or five courses for $289 (beverages $60). There's even the option to add in an overnight stay, (from $70).
The overnight stay is inclusive of The Perks, Olovo's signature inclusions from wi-fi, inroom mini bar and breakfast.
We like the idea of a little staycation, even more so when there's excellent food and wine involved.
Victoria's longest-running wine festival, Winery Walkabout, will return on Saturday, June 6, after the Winemakers of Rutherglen announced this year's festival will take place online with Australian DJ, Hot Dub Time Machine, headlining the event.
Winery Walkabout the House will see Rutherglen wineries come together to virtually showcase the very best of North-East Victoria's celebrated wines with online wine chats, masterclasses and live entertainment.
The popular wine festival - which usually sees thousands of wine lovers converge on Rutherglen across the Queen's Birthday long weekend - will bring Australia's wine community together virtually; offering those who have never been able to get to Rutherglen the chance to participate in Winery Walkabout the House.
Winery Walkabout the House will feature some of Walkabout's most iconic pastimes, like the festival's unofficial dress-up theme, with the addition of new activities for 2020. Instead of purchasing a ticket, participants will purchase a wine pack for $85 - a delivery of four bottles of Rutherglen wines to be enjoyed over time.
From 12pm to 6pm, participants will be hosted by wine enthusiast and TV personality, Tim Campbell, and invited to take part in a series of activities, challenges and games to win points for their team. At the end of the day, the team with the most points will be crowned the Winery Walkabout the House 2020 'Team of the Year' and will receive a Rutherglen prize pack.
- More information at winemakers.com.au/winery-walkabout