When it comes to food and drink pairing, wine gets all the plaudits. Why?
Wine, relatively speaking, is so simple to make - squish some grapes in the presence of yeast and boom ... you've got wine.
Making beer, on the other hand, is a far more complicated process - mill the grain, convert grist to mash, separate the wort, add hops and boil for a while, cool, now you can ferment, then maturate, filter, carbonate, and cellar, as required.
Clearly, it's a way more complicated process to make beer than it is to make wine. Sorry winemakers.
The difference is in the drinking. Superficially speaking, wine trades simplicity for complexity, whereas beer trades intricacy for simplicity; the final beer tends to taste just like a blend of its composite ingredients. Indeed, brewing is akin to cooking. So, when it comes to matching food with drink, beer - theoretically - is infinitely more versatile than wine. Sorry sommeliers.
"There are a few general rules to follow when finding ways to match beer with food which we rely upon whenever we're putting together our 'Beergustation Dinners'," says Corey Crooks, ardent supporter of independent beer and owner of craft beer paradise The Grain Store in Newcastle.
"The goal, of course, is to match the flavours of the beer with the flavours of the food ... lighter beer with lighter fare, while fuller flavoured beers go with more robust foods."
Lobster Club Sandwich with Yulli's Brews Seabass Mediterranean Lager
First course begins at Newcastle's most iconic takeaway locale, Scotties.
Chef Joel Humphreys has come up with an extravagantly simple match to kick this dream brews and food feast off.
"For me, the perfect lunch has to be simple and delicious. A fresh sandwich with a clean, dry lager is a great place to start. Yulli's Seabass Lager has some subtle floral notes from the motueka hops, with these gentle tropical flavours that make it very refreshing to drink alongside our Lobster Club Sandwich.
"Poached lobster folded through spicy sambal aioli is placed on top of a fried hash brown, a slice of cheese, some fresh salad leaf, and some red pickled onions, all sitting between three slices of soft, white sliced.
"It's probably a bit indulgent, but it's a very satisfying."
Scotties, 36 Scott St, Newcastle East
Buffalo Wings with Hope Tropical NEIPA
For the second course we take a short stroll from Scotties to get to Newcastle's foremost host of regular 'Beergustations' (and home to some of the best hot chips in town, hands down), The Grain Store.
Crooks explains his approach to matching beer with food.
"Beer makes a great match to many different kinds of food, so long as you get the three C's right - complement, contrast, and cut.
"You complement by matching the flavours of the beer to the flavours of the food.
"You contrast by pairing opposite flavours in harmony with each other, like a stout paired with oysters.
"Cutting happens almost naturally, thanks to the bitterness and carbonation in the beer cutting through the richness of fatty foods.
"It's why Hope's smooth and juicy Tropical NEIPA goes so well with a basket of our sticky Buffalo Wings. The pairing does all three, beautifully."
The Grain Store, 64 Scott St, Newcastle East
Baked Kumera and Grilled Pork Loin w/ COEDO Beniaka Amber Ale
Third course comes care of Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, where serious Japanese craft beer connoisseur Yohei Namba provides a serving of parallel perfection, elevating this fantastical feast of brews & food to new heights.
"We always strive to create pairings that pay homage to traditional Japanese flavours, with a modern twist. The Baked Kumera with grilled pork loin, balsamic and red miso sauce, toasted walnuts and nori is a great match to the earthy hop bitterness and kumera based flavours of the Coedo Beniaka. The red miso and balsamic sauces both highlight and challenge the rich caramel and sweet-potato sweetness of the beer, while the toasted walnuts and nori add an extra level of smokiness and umami character for a more complete tasting experience."
Nagisa, N2/1 Honeysuckle Dr, Newcastle
PRINCE OF MEREWETHER
400g Fairlight Ribeye on the Bone w/ Bad Shepherd Hazelnut Brown
Course four. More beer. More food. Please. A dish fit for a Prince. Budding beer cicerone, Stephanie Chiasson from The Prince of Merewether, pulls together an elegant no-brainer; steak and ale.
"We're pretty famous for our steaks, so it makes total sense to pair our 400g Fairlight Ribeye with a schooner of Bad Shepherd's Hazelnut Brown Ale. This malt forward beer, showing caramel, espresso and hazelnut flavours, is exactly what this ribeye needs. The char and grilled umami flavours of the meat highlight the caramel and coffee tones in the beer, while lovely layers of fat melting within the meat perfectly complement the prominent hazelnut flavours of the beer. I can't think of a better beer and food match... Perfectly intense, rich flavours all round."
The Prince of Merewether, 1 Morgan St, Merewether
Strawberry Trifle and Shortbread Crumble w/ Modus Operandi Cherry Coconut Cream Haze.
For Course five, we head to Wine Country, and say "hooray for dessert!". Sommelier Patrick Hester from Yellow Billy Restaurant is familiar with pushing pairing limits, but this beer and food match exists somewhere in a sumptuous dreamland. It's the perfect beer/food combo to bring this dream brews and food feast to a close.
"When chef Sam said he was planning to put on a Strawberry Trifle with toasted almonds, zabaglione and shortbread crumble on the menu, my mind instantly thought of pairing the new Modus Operandi Cherry Coconut Cream Haze. This can delivers everything it says on the tin - soft and luscious, like cherry flavoured ice-cream, but with a hint of coconut and stone-fruit bitterness from the unique sabro hops they used. The strawberry and cherry flavours combine so well, while the combination of coconut with custard takes this pairing to new heights. The perfect way to finish."
Yellow Billy, 697 Hermitage Rd, Pokolbin
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