The concept is fairly simple here, Australia has 6 states so why not have a six event run of evenings, spread a month and a half to two or so apart, showcasing food and beer from those states. Hosted by Kirrily Waldhorn (aka. The Beer Diva), the events are held in the Garden Pavilion of The Oaks Hotel in Neutral Bay north of Sydney.
The first 3 events featured:
- Victoria: Beers, Bites & Beats
- Tasmania: Beer & Cheese
- Western Australia: Beer & Chocolate
Well last night was the fourth such event on the calendar and featured Beer & Pork from NSW.
Naturally, I was excited and got there half an hour early… no worries, I’ll just wander around and see what’s on tap, mainstream, slightly off mainstream and kind of craft beer present… fairly disappointing standard fare available on tap for a place hosting a craft beer event, but that’s ok… I’m not here to drink from the main bar.
I wander into the courtyard and it appears the owner has decided to spend a crapload on fairy lights for the big tree in the centre, this is good because watching these guys hang from the tree and put up lights provides me with some entertainment while I wait. I love watching other people work.
Ok, now it’s time to enter, excited I head straight into an almost empty room get my passport stamped and am advised to sit anywhere… so naturally I sit right up front so that I don’t miss a thing and am more likely to be served first.
I pick up the menu for the evening and have a quick read while I wait, Fairly quickly I’m served a bottle of The Little Brewing Company’s Kolsch, quite a tasty drop with a nice lemon finish.
Some people turn up and fairly quickly the place is full, introductions are made and I’m quite pleased to find out that the gentleman across from me is a homebrewer also, this makes me a little more comfortable to have a common interest with at least one person at the table. pretty quickly the first course is brought out and Kirrily introduces the first guest – Dan from Young Henry’s in Newtown to talk about his beer Young Henry’s Real Ale. He also drops news that they are looking to open a new venue in Western Australia soon, seems like they’re branching out a bit.
On to the 2nd course, this time its Seared Tuna with Pigs Ear Salad, accompanied by 4 pines Pale Ale. No Stranger to the Pale ale or 4 pines for that matter, the meal is the complete opposite. Normally I’m not a Tuna eater and well, the pigs ear I’d normally associate with dog food I approach the meal with a fair level of trepidation. Completely unwarranted as it’s delicious! the beer goes down pretty well too.
Ok second course over and with the main a little way away it’s time for a bit of competition, Kirrily asks 3 contestants up (2 bearded men & one beardless lady) for a beer pour challenge. Having been to the first event, I declined heading up when chosen as it was a repeat of the challenge from that event. A reasonable strong showing from the beardless one and one of the beards, however one of the guys missed the mark completely. his beer was flat and lifeless and as such he was forced to stay up front whilst the demonstration was completed. Poor bugger! (for those interested in the correct way to pour a beer refer to the demonstration here)
Ok, fun stuff over – on to the Main Course and one of my favourite brewers – Dave Padden from Riverside Brewing Company. Main menu consists of some roasted vegetables, smoked potatoes and suckling pig. accompanying this is Dave’s 44 American Amber Ale. I’m a big fan of Riverside and of amber ales in general, this one is no exception. My favourite beers from the Riverside core range would have to be the 77 IPA and the 44 Amber. Almost night and day in comparison, the 77 hoppy and dry and the Amber nice and malty.
Last but not least, is the dessert course – Pork Belly donuts and Stone & Wood‘s 2014 Stone Beer. The stone beer is brewed in a traditional way by heating up special volcanic rocks until they are glowing bright read and then throwing them into the boil kettle in order to heat the wort to boiling point and to maintain that boil. This provides a kind of earthy, smoky, sweet, burnt toast kind of flavour as the wort around the stones themselves undergoes maillard reactions which provides all kinds of differing flavours. The beer itself is akin to a porter, dark and roasty, but without the heavy body of a stout. I’m quite the fan of this year’s iteration.
The night over I head straight home to get some sleep in anticipation of work the next morning. Suffice to say I went to sleep dreaming of pigs jumping fences, not sheep.