When an event starts with Eye of the Tiger blaring from a stereo you know that you’re in for a treat.
It was East versus West: Beer and Food Title Fight. The prize was the unofficial naming of who was the beer capital of Australia. Some may say it was a fight long in the making.
In one corner we had Josie Bones representing Victoria, in the other we had Five Bar putting on gloves for Western Australia.
Josie Bones had the home ground advantage and the WA team had travelled a long way, would they have what it takes to go toe to toe with Josie Bones?
The format was simple. Three rounds, each round featuring two beers (one from each state but of course you didn’t know where the beers were from until the end) and food matchings. Patrons were asked to judge each match on a scale of 1-5 and then pick their favourite beer and favourite dish.
The bell was rung, literally, and round one got underway.
Round One – yeast driven beers
Hefeweizen + Pressed Lamb Terrine and Cured Lamb Loin
Saison de Miel + Pheasant Ballantine with Spiced Chutney
The pressed lamb terrine had lovely spices against the rich lamb loin and the hint of mint on top was refreshing.
The hefeweizen served as a great palate cleanser, cutting through the richness in the meat and complimenting the spices with its own Belgian yeast coriander flavours.
The texture of the pheasant was just divine, almost luxurious and presented beautifully.
The rich Saison with sweet-ish fruitiness contrasted nicely with the spicy chutney. It also has to be said that the lacing on the saison was down right sexy. You’ll have to take my word for it cause I neglected to take a photo.
I scored these matches evenly very good, call me a fence sitter but it was a tough round to tell the two apart! My favourite beer was the Saison de Miel and favourite dish was the pressed lamb, to me they were the most interesting of the round.
Round Two – hop driven beers
Imperial Pilsener + Confit Pork Belly with Yabby
Barrel Fermented American IPA + Spiced Brisket
Pork belly is one of those dishes that seems to make people lose their minds, particularly when it is done well. So when it’s presented to you beautifully, melts in your mouth and makes you savour every bite – yep, mind lost. The ‘surf n turf’ style dish with pork from Western Plains in Mt Mercer and yabby from Mildura, set the bar even higher than round one. It had a soft smoky component whilst being sweet and rich yet not overpowering.
The wet hopped imperial pilsner was divine, the aromas wetter of sweet wort, cerealy and a wee bit boozy. It was big on flavour too, I got cooked citrus and tropical fruits.
As a match though I found the beer and food fighting each other, the bubbly tropical fruit in the pilsner against such a creamy, rich and smokey dish.
Confit pork belly was going to be hard to top but then the spiced brisket swaggered into the room. I say swaggered because it was gorgeous to look at with the rich brisket sitting on a creamy celeriac pillow and topped with a dotting of pomegranate. For me, the pomegranate made the dish, they’d pop in your mouth and release a soft sweetness and fruit into the brisket.
The barrel fermented American IPA (which you may or may not have guessed what it is) tasted amazingly fresh. Big big tropical hops backed up by vanilla oak reminded me why this is one of my favourite beers.
As a match this was my favourite, it was a beautiful and interesting marriage of flavours between the pomegranate and tropical hops, the vanilla oak and rich brisket, the spices and the carbonation and citrus in the beer.
I scored the brisket and IPA as my preferred match, the IPA also got my score for the preferred beer then I agonised over which dish I preferred the most. I went for the brisket in the end because I found it a really interesting dish, one that made me really think about what I was eating and I like that in a dish.
Round Three – malt driven beers
Imperial Stout + Smoked Waygu Brisket with Carrot and Licorice
Scotch Ale + Off the Wagon Wheel
The imperial stout was outstanding, truly one of the best beers in an event full of beautiful beers. Coffee beans and pure dark chocolate encased in a delicately creamy body … Oh my … And it was a great match with smokey waygu brisket. The dusty chocolate flavours in the beer complimented the charcoal and licorice flavours in the brisket. The sweetness from the carrots, which initially I didn’t expect much from, were needed for the sweetness in the stout.
The final serve was an Off The Wagon Wheel with a scotch ale. The texture contrasts in the wagon wheel were fun and interesting, crumbly oat biscuit on the outside and soft marshmallow on the inside. Drizzled in elegant chocolate, it was a great dish to end on.
The scotch ale was perfect for sipping on, contemplating the amazing dishes and beers we had been lucky enough to have. The nose was soft and reminded me of raisins and the taste was full flavoured without the really chewy mouthfeel that can sometimes accompany it.
My vote for the matching favoured the brisket over the wagon wheel, but only just. The imperial stout got my beer vote and the wagon wheel got my food vote.
With the votes all in it was time to count and to keep us entertained we were served Beersine Pale Ale cheese, hop honey and fresh bread. I tried not to drool when the cheese came out but it was tough.
Now … For the reveal … Here’s the full menu, complete with which beers were which and which state served what:
(Again, sorry for the poorly lit photo)
The winners were declared and WEST was declare the winner! Congratulations Five Bar and chef Mitch aka Beersine.
Huge thanks to all involved in this sensational event, I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the afternoon!
Here’s how it broke down:
Round One – Yeast was won by Victoria with their Pobblebonk Saison de Miel paired with Pheasant ballantine with spiced chutney
Round Two – Hops was won by Western Australia with Feral Barrel Fermented Hog paired with Spiced brisket from Boyup Brook
Round Three – Malt was won by Western Australia with The Monk Scotch Ale paired with the Off The Wagon Wheel
Favourite beer overall went to Feral Barrel Fermented Hog (WA)
Favourite dish overall went to the Spiced Brisket (Beersine / Five Bar of WA)
Favourite beer and food pairing overall went to Feral Barrel Fermented Hog and the Spiced Brisket (WA)