I love a little alliteration and word play in beer events but most of all I just love creative and fun beer events – enter ‘Beer and Baskets’.
Presented by the wonderful Wendy Marinich of Me & Mabel food and held at Feral Brewing in the Swan Valley, it was an afternoon of sunshine, picnic baskets filled with lots of delicious food and plenty of Feral beer.
I loved the attention to detail at Beer and Baskets, from the little native flower centrepieces to the Me & Mabel cushions and hand labeled jars each pieced added a little something to the event. But none of this meant that there big ticket items – the actual beer and food pairings – were overlooked. I couldn’t fault any of the pairings, each course was inventive, tasty and a little surprisingly. Brilliant!
First up we had Feral Sly Fox matched with Bookara goat’s fetta, fennel jam and orange & fennel salad with crostini.
Feral Sly Fox was drinking very nicely and on a warm afternoon slipped down very nicely. Nectarine and tropical fruit aromas, lightly floral and very refreshing, it’s not hard to see why demand for this bad boy is growing.
As for the food I have to admit that I’m generally not a fennel fan, I’m usually anti-aniseed. However, I’ll try almost anything and this was a dish I sent back for seconds and perhaps even thirds. The fennel, despite listing twice in a fairly delicate dish was very subtle, it didn’t smack you in the face. The juicy fresh orange worked at bringing out citrusy flavours in the Sly Fox whilst the fennel bumped up it’s spices. Sly Fox effortlessly cut through the dreamy creaminess of the goats fetta and I was left pondering the social ramifications of licking the jar clean.
Round two matched Feral White with beetroot cured salmon, zucchini and sweet corn loaf and beetroot relish.
At a table of self confessed hop heads it seemed Feral White was the least likely to be ordered from the Feral range. With the likes of Hop Hog, Fanta Pants, Karma Citra and Boris, all huge flavour bombs, White was the quiet spoken step child. But having it then only reinforced to me that this is a top drop. A solid Belgian white beer with those great orange peel and coriander additions that make the style so accessible and refreshing.
This match grabbed me, the pairing of sweet but earthy beetroot to the sweetness of the beer was spot on. The fresh salmon practically melted on your tongue and the beer continued on with those fresh and clean flavours.
The sweet corn and zucchini loaf was an unexpected treat. Feral’s head brewer Brendan Varis discussed this element of the pairing, highlighting the sulphur flavours of Belgian white beers, a flavour normally unwelcome in other styles, nicely complimentedcomplimented by the sweet corn.
Round three matched Feral Hop Hog with chicken liver pate, Beersine Pale Ale Cheddar, Beersine palecetta, fig paste, fresh pear and Wild Bakery baguette
Everyone knows I’m a sucker for cheese and pate so this course had my name written all over it. Historically my two favourite places to get chicken liver pate have been The Brisbane and Must Wine Bar, both in Mt Lawley, that is until Sunday. Oh my, Me & Mabel’s chicken liver pate was sensational and had our table scrapping the jar. Uber creamy, full favoured and smooth, it was stunning.
The matches here were great – creamy pate with crisp Feral Hop Hog, rich pale ale cheddar against a big dose of hops in the Hog, rich slightly salty palecetta (aka pale washed pancetta) contrasting fresh, zingy and tropical fruits in the beer, it all made for a great grazing plate for the award guzzling Hop Hog.
Round four matched Feral Fanta Pants with potted Blackwood Valley beef, Blackwood Valley smoked Bresi, fresh fig, Cambray Blue cheese and witlof salad with a balsamic and orange reduction.
The perfect matching of the Blackwood Valley smoked Bresi, wood smoked beef, with the Fanta Pants couldn’t have been more apparent unless it had grown limbs and slapped me in the face. In fact, I wish it had so I could shake its hands! It had been a while between Fanta Pants for me and this time around I got soft cured meat flavours, reminiscent of walking into The Re-Store, backed up with rich spices.
The fig went well with the dark fruitiness in the beer whilst the other more aggressive flavours like blue cheese and balsamic stood up to the bigger spice and bitterness that makes Fanta Pants so tasty.
Round five was a Delish Ice Salted Malted Caramel Popsicle with Feral Barrique O’Karma
I first met Mr Barrique O’Karma at last years Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular and once again found myself loving another Feral beer. It’s velvet smooth with big oaky vanilla flavours, thanks to some time in barrels, and hints of coffee, chocolate and citrus. It finds its other half in the Delish Ice pop, created by Delish founder Katie Earl. It was such a good match that I promised Mitch aka Beersine I would quote my initial reaction to this pairing – “holy f**kballs”, I think I said (sorry mum) and proceeded to not talk whilst I enjoyed sips of beer and bites of salted malted pop. Rather than one flavour from the beer matching to one flavour in the pop it was more a case of everything just mingled together on harmony, like they were designed to go together.
Keep an eye out for the next Beer and Baskets event because it’s one of the best events I’ve been to in WA with well thought out pairings, attention to detail that adds so much character to the afternoon and, of course, held in conjunction with our states best brewers.