Hurstbridge was cold. It’s always cold in Hurstbridge, except in summer when it’s as hot as hell. Maybe I’ve just never visited in spring or autumn.
It was the monthly Sunday farmers’ market. I don’t usually like markets when they’re full of trinkets and junk and strawberry soap, but this one is different. The market rambles across open space on the river flat below the main street, just north of where the train line ends in a pile of junk in the old rail yards.
The children were queuing for pony rides at the edge of the market grounds where Diamond Creek meanders through the eucalypts, so I went over to the Grand Ridge Brewery stall just to admire the labels on the bottles. No cutting edge minimalism here. Each label has the magnificent Grand Ridge Brewery lyrebird logo over different background colours to indicate which beer variant it is. Handy, because you don’t want to be reading small type late at night when you reach into the fridge for your seventh beer, especially when the scores are close. You just want to grab a colour. Carlton & United Breweries knew this years ago, and made blue, red, green and white (later yellow) beers. The brand was the colour.
I noticed one I hadn't seen before, with a black label that read Supershine, which sounded like a car polish. The label revealed that the beer had an alcohol content of 11.5%, so it was probably not a bad comparison.
- It’s from my private collection, the man told me. Not available in stores, he said. It’s a silky smooth scotch ale with notes of treacle, molasses and herb with distinctive cashew and toast. Best sipped after dinner on a cold night when rain is lashing the house and you’re in front of an open fire and the telephone isn’t ringing. He didn't say the last bit but that was the picture he was painting with the treacle and cashew and toast descriptions. Not to mention the 11.5% on the label. The man was Eric Walters. He runs the brewery and drives about the state doing markets and promoting the beer, so he has the best job in the world.
I bought a couple of bottles of private collection Supershine and wandered back to the pony rides. William had been happy to roll along on his pony at pony speed, but Tom had tried to gallop his mount but it did not oblige. Can't have children racing horses around Hurstbridge on a quiet Sunday morning.
Pork hocks with Grand Ridge Brewery Supershine.
Take a pork hock and place it in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add one bottle Grand Ridge Brewery Supershine (don’t tell Eric), one carrot chopped into thick rings, one bay leaf, two cloves, one scant half teaspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon and a tablespoon of honey. Add water to just cover hock, bring to the boil and simmer for two hours.
When tender, remove hock and reserve stock. Chop an onion and fry it in another pan in a good amount of butter. Gently add somewhat less than a tablespoon of plain flour and stir to combine until thickened. Add some strained stock - and the carrots – and bring it to a gentle boil, then turn down the heat and stir until it reduces a little.
Serve the hock with roasted potatoes and pour the sauce over the lot. Drink: the remaining bottle of Supershine.