For those of us in Queensland, this is a very special week – it’s our second annual beer week! All over the state people are diving head first into good beer at official events and slightly-less-official-but-still-awesome events. On Sunday night I attended my first event of the week at Archive Beer Boutique – the 4 Pines ‘Beer mimics food’ dinner. This was one of the slightly less than official events, but whatever; there was good beer to be had!
The event was hosted by 4 Pines brewery owner Jaron Mitchell, who began the evening by explaining the theory behind the Beer Mimics Food concept. Basically they team up with different chefs to take the ‘matching’ out of ‘beer and food matching’. The results are beers brewed with some pretty out there ingredients, that end up tasting like the foods they’re mimicking. And who needs to worry about matching food with beer when the beer itself already tastes food?…
…I’ll tell you who does – Brisbane does. That’s why this was a ‘beer that tastes like food matched with some other food different to the original food that the beer tastes like’ event. Yep, we’re taking things to a whole other level.
There were four courses prepared by Archive head chef Tim Wrigley, each matched with one of the 4 Pines ‘beer mimics food’ beers.
First Course: Yuzu Bento Box Lager matched with an entree of seared tuna sashimi, panko prawns with citrus mayonnaise, and an egg roll with shitake mushrooms and shallots.
This beer was brewed in collaboration with the head chef from Urbane in Brisbane. It’s a lager brewed with Yuzu (a Japanese citrus, which Jaron referred to as “blood orange on steroids”), seaweed, soy beans and 4% salt water, resulting in a beer that was surprisingly complex and tasty. You could definitely smell the savoury soy beans, with just a bit of sour citrus in there as well. But it was the saltwater that really impressed me, giving the beer a great “I’ve just hopped out of the ocean” taste. And when paired with the food, things got even tastier. The tuna gave the beer more of a soy sauce flavour, but in that really fresh and sexy Japanese way. The panko prawn on the other hand really brought out the yuzu in the beer. And the egg roll…well the egg roll was just GOOD! This ended up being my favorite meal of the night.
Second Course: Apple-Blackcurrant Crumble Amber Ale matched with a roast rack of pork, celeriac, pear puree and black currant jus.
This one was brewed with the head chef of Bitter Suite. It used 25% unmalted oats in the brew and was dry hopped with apple skins. The initial smell was a bit off – I heard one person at the table mention sulphur, while another mentioned men’s urinals. I think those were a little harsh, but there was definitely something funky going on, and I’m not talking Saison funky. The taste was exactly what you’d expect though, with slightly sour blackcurrant and some tannic apple. After the pork came out the blackcurrant went into the smell of the beer as well, though I’m not sure if this was because of the food or because my beer had warmed. Oh, and the pork was awesome!
I must admit, this beer was the reason I bought tickets to this event. I’d heard about it weeks ago, driving home each day listening to the NOVA drive team Meshel, Tim and Marty. It was Tim Blackwell that helped brew this one, and the team ran a promo that involved the slogan ‘TIM’S CHERRY PIIIIEEE’ sung to the tune of the classic Warrant song ‘Cherry Pie’. Who wouldn’t want to try that beer?!
The beer looked amazing, with a red glow emanating from the glass. It smelled like a cherry ripe, and tastes very similar. Surprisingly, the biggest flavor is the dark chocolate, with cherry playing second fiddle. How they managed to cram so much chocolate flavor into such a light bodied lager is beyond me. The desert was also pretty awesome, a favorite dish amongst my end of the table. But when matched with the beer it overtook things, and the beer lost most of its great taste.
Fourth Course: McConnell’s Signature Relish Ale matched with two types of cheddar, tomato relish and spicy eggplant relish.
This beer was brewed with Chef Andrew McConnell, and as the name suggests, is based on his signature relish. I’ve never tasted the relish, but apparently it’s the shit. The beer is brewed using the same ingredients including mustard, allspice, and even some anchovy. I didn’t really get it initially, partly because this was my eighth beer of the evening (we had a designated driver, and I hate letting beer go to waste). It was tasty, but I got nothing special out of it. Then they brought out the cheese plate, and suddenly the beer made sense. It tasted like…well, relish. Who’d have thought?
Overall it was a fun evening. I had concerns that these beers mimicking foods might just be gimmicks, but they’re not; each was a tasty example of it’s style that managed to twist things up in unique and interesting ways. Big thanks to the team at 4 Pines for brewing such great beer, and to the team at Archive for hosting and providing the great food.
If you haven’t been to a Queensland Beer week event yet, don’t fret! There’s plenty going on this weekend, so get out there and find yourselves some good beer.