It’s pretty much a match made in heaven: I know that when I’ve had a bit too much beer to drink, I start to crave cheese pretty badly. So when I read about North Melbourne’s Court House Hotel having some sort of beer and cheese matching called ‘Spring Hops and Curd’, I asked a fellow beer nerd @injerarufus, if she’d like to check it out with me.
I’d been to The Court House before for a beer dinner and decided not to do a post about it because…well, it was pretty damn average. Three courses of croquettes (one course errantly called a fritter) does not a degustation make. The best thing about the whole evening was unexpectedly bumping into my good friend Colin and getting to chat personally with the head brewer Jamie of Stone & Wood Brewing from Byron Bay. Even if it did mean having to suffer through the meal thanks to some old bird’s rudeness. Apparently some people don’t like food bloggers or new media. AYHSMB.
Before beer and cheese, we had meals off the front bar menu. This was some freaking fab pub grub. Oh, and we were in food blogger friendly company! Mr Rufus got a steak and didn’t mind T taking a snap.
T-dawg and Ms Rufus got the corned beef with mash. I nearly went for this myself! I was quite surprised when T said he wasn’t overly impressed by the corned beef. I think he found it…wanting.
I had no such complaints with my lamb, rosemary, honey and feta sausages with mash. Yeah, feta in a sausage, weird eh? But it freaking worked. As did the honey! Seriously, I could have done with an extra sausage. Generally speaking, the serves were a little on the small side.
The time came to fork over $25 for three cheeses matched with three beers. I’d been chatting to Ben Kraus, head brewer of Bridge Road Brewery on Twitter and he had informed me that their saison would be one of the beers served so I was fairly excited.
When we got there, no one could really tell us what beers were going to be served…till they were served. We ended up with glasses of Stone & Wood draught ale, the Little Creatures pale ale and the Bridge Road B2 Bomber. I’ve waxed lyrical about the B2 Bomber before: it’s a damn fine drop and was easily the most suited to cheese pairing.
While the Stone & Wood draught ale is a good session beer, I don’t think it was really a suitable candidate for any of the three cheeses we were given. I will happily drink pints of it come summertime – the passionfruit note in the beer screams summer! – but this was a disappointing beer choice.
The Little Creatures pale ale was more suited to the cheeses but still not fantastic. I have to confess that beer-wise I wasn’t confident the pub knew what it was doing.
This was further backed up by us being told that we were to taste all the cheeses and beers and ‘decide’ which beer went with what beer best. Erm…is that how it works? I certainly didn’t think so. This approach was a little too open-ended for my liking.
I spoke with someone in the beer industry who suggested that this might have been the pub’s way of getting rid of unwanted or excess stock (the beer, not the cheese). UGH.
Don’t get me wrong, the cheeses were delicious and the manager very kindly supplied me with full details of what we gorged ourselves on upon request.
From left to right: Locheilan Mundoona cow’s milk cheese from the Goulburn Valley; Shaw River Buffalino buffalo milk cheese from Yambuk; Strzelecki blue goat’s cheese from Gippsland. I used to love the stronger, more pungent cheeses but found that I finished the Locheilan Mundoona first then the buffalo. Don’t think I’ve forgotten that you nicked a good chunk of my blue, T!
Best pairing would be the Bridge Road B2 Bomber with the buffalo milk cheese – the B2 Bomber is a tad smoky and went a treat with the smoothness and occasional ‘bite’ of the buffalo.
Of course the night didn’t end without the new guy trying to charge $18 for a Mad Abbot tripel…poor kid wasn’t having an easy run (he’d managed to stuff up our orders quite a bit that evening).
Overall, I have mixed feelings about the Court House. I love the food, but I’m not convinced they know what they’re doing with beer (and believe me, it pains me to say that). I’d definitely go back for a meal though would steer clear of their beery events. Having said that, their beer dinners are excellent introductions for those who don’t have much craft beer exposure.
T wagered that the beer and cheese do would be a bit of a cock-up and sadly he was right. I was very stupid indeed to bet my sherbet fountain on it. Don’t you make the same mistake, y’hear?
In any case, all four of us did eat, drink and stagger. Kind of inevitable when one of your awesome dining companions sports the following badge.