November 20, 2014 by Max Brearley
While most of the promotional focus surrounding the Margaret River Gourmet Escape has been on the stellar names they've attracted to WA for this weekend's event, there's a solid showing for the region's brewers too, not least in the form of a brewer-chef hook up, for which Max Brearley was in attendance.
Margaret River Gourmet Escape sees the world's culinary elite jet into WA for a weekend of fine food, the likes of which is hard to find anywhere: Heston Blumenthal, Rick Stein, Massimo Bottura, Peter Gilmour, Matt Wilkinson and a host of top talent descend on the region [including one chef who once pinned The Crafty Pint's younger brother to the wall with a kitchen knife during service; pretty sure he would have deserved it – Ed].
You'd think that that being Margaret River it would all be about wine and food, but beer is getting ever more of a look in when it comes to the Gourmet Escape and festivals like it.
Eagle Bay Brewing is leading the charge for the amber nectar this year with an event at the brewery and special collaboration beer with one of the stars of the WA restaurant scene. Launched at the brewery's long sold out Long Table Fiesta with Perth's El Publico, the beer will also be available at the brewery and in the Gourmet Village Brewhouse.
El Publico head chef Sam Ward was on hand at the brewery to get the brew underway. And, given he is the man who introduced the dining public of Perth to deep fried crickets and proper Mexican cooking, this was never going to be some lame duck Corona clone.
What they came up with is loosely based on Eagle Bay's Kolsch, weighing in at about 4.9 per cent and using Southern Cross and Waimea hops. The star is the agave, which is more associated with tequila but has been used recently by local brewers including Young Henrys and is an ingredient the El Publico crew know a good deal about. Eagle Bay's kitchen team sourced Americano agave and slow roasted it for about 10 hours in the wood fired. With Sam on hand, this was added into the mash along with some star anise added during the boil for a subtle aniseed character.
Eagle Bay's head brewer Nick d'Espeissis says he was hoping for a "clean, sessionable beer", very much in keeping with the Eagle Bay ethos.
Latest reports from the brewery suggest it will be pouring with a straw colour, grainy front palate, with a little spice lent by the rye malt and some smokiness apparent in the aroma and flavour from the agave.
For those who didn't bag tickets for the Long Table Fiesta (which sold out in a matter of hours), you can check the beer out in the Gourmet Village Brewhouse. There, you'll also find beers and ciders from the following:
- Bush Shack
- Cheeky Monkey
- Colonial (who will be launching their first ever canned beer – look out for a story on Crafty next week)
- Gage Roads
- The Monk
- Margaret River Ale Co
- Moody Cow
- Young Henrys (who are opening a brewery in the region shortly)
For more on the Gourmet Escape, head here.
Or you can view some photos from the day by Offshoot Creative below...