Nick O / 10.10.12
While great beer is always the top priority at The Crafty Pint, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t partial to a light snack to accompany it every now and then. Actually, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t partial to rather more than a light snack, but we digress…
Pairing your beer with appropriate food is always worth a bit of extra effort. That little added attention make an overall dining experience disproportionately rewarding – a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Fortunately, this beer and food matching movement really seems to be catching on. People are waking up to the fact that the artisans of the brewery aren’t so different to their kitchen-based counterparts, relentless as they all are in pursuit of quality and flavour.
For Sydney Craft Beer Week, brewers, chefs and venues have been mixed together like a giant stir fry, combining to remind us of the diverse ways in which beer and food go together. It doesn’t matter if the pinnacle of your previous beer and food matching attempts is a mass-produced lager with a processed sausage or if you’re an expert at matching porters and puddings, SCBW will undoubtedly have something to tickle your particular tastes.
For those wanting to head straight to the top table, Sydney’s plethora of high quality restaurants has you well covered. A forewarning though – if you’re interested in some of these one-night-only, once-in-lifetime beer dinner experiences, your main obstacle may be in obtaining one of the rapidly-diminishing number of tickets remaining. Case in point is Three Blue Ducks, who are hosting two feasts, one of which is already sold out. But if the menu for that Bridge Road dinner is any indication, the one hosted by the guys from Beer Days and 4 Pines should be equally impressive.
Bloodwood in Newtown is stepping up to the plate by piling on the plates during their six brewer’s dinners. Each of those will be hosted by a different brewer, such as Steve Henderson from Southern Bay who’ll also be bringing along ‘Pepper Steak Porter 2’ – a beer made as part of the ‘Beer Mimics Food’ theme that’s running through the week.
Adding to that theme is the magnificent menu for Food Flight @ Danks St Depot, where Riverside Brewing and HopDog BeerWorks have done a ‘tri-collaboration’ with chef Jared Ingersoll on a beer named ‘Assaisonner Tri Canus Flumen’. At the Harts Pub Degustation, Craig Wealands from Thirsty Crow and Scotty Morgan from Rocks Brewing will be testing the food-matching skills of the chefs by bringing four beers each to the table, two of which will be brand new and right up the heaviness scale.
Brewers will be a permanent fixture at dinner tables around town as they share their beer and help guests get the most out of the beer and food experience. The Brewers & Chewers rates pretty highly on the uniqueness scale with a bunch of top brewers playing a speed-dating style of game, changing tables as guests munch on tasty treats from the The Local Taphouse Darlo and overseen by the Secret Foodies. In a more brewery-specific event, The Oak Barrel has the challenge of pairing food with Holgate’s much-loved beers, with Paul Holgate on hand to help break down the flavours.
Chefs at other venues will be looking to all parts when sourcing ingredients, like the Woolloomooloo Hotel who are going fishin’ for beer and MADE in Balmain who’ll be pitting the paddock against the nest in the Cow vs Bird dinner featuring Moo Brew and Two Birds. All the offcuts can probably be found at MuMu where you’ll get heads, tails, ears, and nipples paired with some equally strange brews. The animal references conclude neatly in The Hive where the chef has lined up half a dozen beers to go with their tasting boards.
If you want to get a little competitive, there’s the Blokes vs Broads dinner or the ever-popular Beer vs Wine Showdown where all bias has to be put aside to find out which beverage truly goes better with food. For those who only want to compete with themselves by testing how many hops they can imbibe in an evening, head to Murray’s At Manly where they’re using SCBW to launch a barrage of IPAs – eight of them to go with five courses of food.
Breakfast is often spoken of as the most important meal of the day. If so, the Hair of the Dog may be the most important meal of the year, filling you with 10 beers and six courses before lunch and getting SCBW off to a rolicking start at The Union Hotel. That same venue also hosts the Critics Choice Beer Degustation where meals are being prepared specifically to complement what are, officially, some of Australia’s best beers.
If you prefer the comfort of a casual pub setting over silver service and having to guess which sized fork goes with which course, many of Sydney’s finest craft beer-friendly pubs are putting on deals for the everyday punter: burgers at Harts, pies at the Lord Nelson, sausages at Sydney Brewhouse and spit roasts at East Village – all matched to the appropriate beer, no doubt. Chuck in some other nifty deals like that of Spiedo who are serving 3 small plates with 3 small beers or Firefly Walsh Bay’s tapas & beer and you’ll be begging the boss for forgiveness when you roll in from lunch an hour late.
At the funky end of the spectrum, The Pumphouse Bar is going into the black with a Chocolate and Dark Beer event before lightening the mood again with a girls-only beer-based High Tea, and you can discover the mysterious art of ale blending at the Beer Cocktail degustation with the Beer Diva. But the last word here goes to the hipsters because SCBW simply couldn’t be considered cool without a Food Truck ambush.
Next week will be The Crafty Pint’s final preview of Sydney Craft Beer Week, so it’s all about the beer. We’ve already been in touch with the brewers behind the brand new brews appearing at SCBW and you can take our word that they’re all weird, wonderful and utterly unique.