Tag Archives: beer and food matching

and we have in the red corner, beer – in the blue corner, wine

It seems only fitting that at a pub called The Courthouse one should deliberate upon the merits of both good beer and good wine and so one evening a large contingent of the Australian Beer Writers’ Guild found themselves at The Courthouse in North Melbourne to do just that at the invitation of Scott, the manager and the newly appointed (at the time) head chef Julian Hill.

Now what on earth was a gastropub manager doing, inviting a bunch of self-confessed stinky amber ale lovers to a dinner where there would be wine?! Conversion, of course! Did it work? We’ll see…

I have nothing but deep admiration for wine nerds: there is so much to learn and as much as I would love dearly to be as wine nerdy as I attempt to be beer nerdy (for I also have bucketloads to learn in that area too), the truth is, I’ve no idea where to start. Yes, it is that simple. It also feels more intimidating. It might sound stupid, but this is not a thought process exclusive to foodie-drinkie aspects of my life. I’ve been a classical flute player for half of my life and absolutely terrified of learning jazz because I never felt I mastered classical.

However, as if to ease us in, we were given a canapé that had only a beer match: an ocean trout cornet matched with the Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus. It looked beautiful and tasted delightful and got the table talking excitedly in promise of what was to come.

The first proper course, the entrée, was crumbed pork head with sauce gribiche and remoulade.

It seems any meat on the pig’s head is prized for its porkier-than-usual element and the course was matched with a whopping three beverages: two beers – the Stone and Wood Pacific Ale (formerly known as their Draught Ale) and the Weihenstephaner Kristall Weissbier, a beer from the oldest brewery in the world. The wine chosen was the Max Ferd Richter Brauneberger Juffer riesling from 2008.

To my palate, the best match was the Kristall Weissbier though even that was not entirely perfect: I felt the course needed something along these lines style-wise but more ‘beefed up’. The Stone and Wood beer oddly enough got too hoppy: not usually an issue I would raise with this particular beer as I find it quite fruity and enjoy its passionfruit notes.

For the next course of venison shanks en crepinette with sweet potato and horseradish, it was the same deal – two beers and one wine and left up to us to nominate the one that best matched the course.

The meal had a distinctly French slant to it and this largely reflects what The Courthouse do, both in their dining room menus and the pub fare available in the less formal area.

From left to right we have the Bridge Road Bière de Garde, Three Ravens Dark Alt Noir (a Melbourne microbrewery out in Thornbury!) and the Alpha Box and Dice ‘Enigma’ Barbera-Cabernet Sauvignon blend from 2009.

The liquid match here was no contest: it was the Bière de Garde (god, am I forever jealous I missed out on imbibing this confessed favourite on hand pump at the Tanswell pub in Beechworth. The Three Ravens I had sampled prior to dining and the Barbera-Cabernet Sauvignon I found too rough on my palate. Yes, I emphasise ‘my’ palate and fully disclose that it is not one developed for adequately judging wines.

Usually, French-influenced dining gives you the choice of a cheese or dessert course. Scott and Julian exceeded our expectations by spoiling us with both: to finish, we were treated to ‘textures of chocolate’ and raspberry sorbet. It sounds like a standard dessert but the treatment of chocolate in its various iterations ensured it stayed interesting.

The two beverages served with this were the Hargreaves Hill Abbey Dubbel and the NV Sanchez Romate Cardinal Cisneros Pedro Ximenez, the latter of which won most of the hearts around the table as best suiting dessert.

But Hargreaves Hill was yet to come back to a triumph for the last course of Isle of Mull cheddar, beating the De Bortoli Melba Reserve cabernet sauvignon 1999 vintage with their humble English Special Bitter. I confess I am very partial to a good ESB though I seem to recall that this was one of the pairings that divided the table the most.

The excellent news is that you do not have to be an Australian Beer Writers’ Guild member to come along to such a dinner as the folks at The Courthouse have decided to host one for the general public! Simply head on to The Crafty Pint for booking details – several ABWG members will be there and we’d love to say hello and hear your thoughts on whose alcoholic beverage reigns supreme!

Crafty on the right, Champion of Beer. Chris McNamara on the left, Reformed Wine Nerd ponders his defection to the dark, beery side. Could it be that he is thankful for his defection when beer was named the winner on this very night…?

BYO boxing gloves, shorts and boots in your chosen colour, of course.*

The Courthouse on Urbanspoon

*we encourage responsible drinking. Please don’t brawl. Bruises and the like will hurt when you’ve sobered up.

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Good Beer Week: that time of year again when beer is had with breakfast

Last year beermen.tv did a truly wild and wacky thing: they put on a breakfast and beer event. This year, it was tied to Good Beer Week and was bigger and badder than ever.

Ten beers were served up with five delectable courses. How did they manage to pull it off? It was great value too – $35 a head was a very reasonable price for so much on offer. Upon arrival, everyone was greeted with the Feral Brewery Golden Ale. I recalled that Brendan Varis, the head brewer was keen on Sorachi Ace hops so when I picked out lemony notes in the beer, I was chuffed to see that yes, the hop in question had been employed – such palate epiphanies are awe-inspiring. My palate is not that great and though it’s slowly improving, it has a loooooong way to go. Good excuse for more beer imbibing? In any case, Golden Ace was quite a refreshing start to the day.

The next beer remains a bit of a personal fave – Bridge Road’s chestnut pilsner. Though some may criticise, I actually like that it’s so variable. The first time I had it, I couldn’t taste any chestnut, but the last time I had before this, it was nothing but roasted chestnutty goodness. Autumn in a bottle. This time around, the chestnut was subtle and sweet and it felt less like a pilsner? It could be the first beer colouring my palate, admittedly.

Then the first course came out and all thoughts of beer dissipated: a smoked trout and lemon myrtle quiche. Fantastic match with the Feral but not too shabby with the chestnut pils either. It was great that they served us our beers, gave us one course between the beers and let our taste guide us to decide which beer matched what food best.

Our next duo of beers was the Red Hill Hop Harvest ale and the 8 Wired Hop Wired.

I’m a massive fan of both, but have to say that the Hop Harvest ale matched the veal sausages with caramelised onion beautifully – the beer really accentuated the caramelisation long after the sausages had been polished off! (note: I’m hoping it’s veal – a few staff members serving didn’t seem to be sure about what they were bringing out. A menu along the beer menu would’ve been awesome for us food blog wanksters)

I think the Hop Wired would have worked on fattier sangas – but that’s just a guess. Half a sausage wasn’t enough: take from that what you will…(I wanted two full ones, ha)

Next up, a beer that is an old friend, Holgate’s Temptress, and a brand spanking new one, Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude – the latter causing quite a bit of dissension amongst the ranks: a fair few folks (brewing industry folk and ‘regular’ punters alike) had a a lot of trouble finishing their Rex Attitude because it was one smoky whatsit. Maybe I’m broken or just in want of more good whisky, but I freaking loved it.

Rex Attitude was my official number one beer for the breakfast, however neither Temptress or Rex suited the dish it was served with – steak and onion on bruschetta.

At this point of the breakfast, a bottle of Holgate’s Empress (a limited release beer that is a divine jazzed up version of their Temptress) was auctioned off for Beyond Blue for the princely sum of three hundred and one dollars. Yea for socially conscious beer lovers *heart swells with pride*!

Dessert time! Darren Robinson of Doctor’s Orders Brewing was on hand to take us through his creation to be served with one of the desserts – his Zephyr. I’m not sure that Doc’s beer matched dessert but wow, it’s summer in a glass. Imagine, stinking hot day, horrible day at work, go to the fridge and quench your thirst with a glass of this…almost makes me long for summer and I loathe summer!

Thankfully, we didn’t have to travel through jungles in the Congo or listen to boring-arse stories by a dude on a boat – no horror whatsoever, just reach for the bottle of Murray’s Heart of Darkness stout, thanks.

It’s pictured by the side of the ‘space beer’ by 4 Pines, the Vostok Stout.

Greedily, I scoffed down my share of rhubarb and ANZAC crumble…

…before moving onto the chocolate sauce pancakes. I confess I cannot tell you which of the stouts were best suited to the pancakes because I was too busy stuffing my face.

There were also plenty on non-beery highlights. I absolutely adore this photo of my #beergirlrage mate Jenn and her glee at winning trivia:

Soon-to-be-leaving (pout) Mountain Goat head brewer Jayne Lewis wearing merch of the ‘competition’, so to speak (as you can gather from the photo, it’s not really like that, is it?)

Mark of beermen.tv explaining how Damo lost a bet and ended up in a rather fetching costume. Details of the bet lost were not divulged…

Two punters consenting to a blind tasting – first of some evil cola soft drinky whatsit then the liquid that united us all.

And what happened to the jolly good sport who lost the beer taste-off…

But wait, that’s not all! Clear out you bastards!

And enjoy your last beer, the Stone and Wood Pacific Ale (formerly draught ale) outdoors (Tristan insisted I use this photo. Sorry).

But be buoyed by Brendan Varis and Shandy never looking so damn happy in his life.

Beer Deluxe did an amazing job with the Hair of the Dog breakfast: the staff were phenomenal, always attentive, helpful and just damn hospitality ninjas. Thanks to all involved as it made for a cracking start to the weekend.

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