It’s not every beer dinner where one of the brewers recounts a story from a failed relationship where the punchline is “nice guy, dud root”. Welcome to the annual Feral Brewing “Beergustation” dinner.
Feral invited my partner and I to the evening where we enjoyed seven courses of food, beer and banter with 128 other thirsty/hungry people.
The welcome beer was, of course, Hop Hog – delicious, award winning and beer-geek pants-wettingly good. A very nice way to start the night.
Head brewer and owner Brendan Varis opened the night with a characteristically casual welcome, sharing with us his inspiration for starting Feral Brewing – a dislike for sweet potato. He painted an imaginary world where sweet potato was the only vegetable available and what an awful place that would be – same goes for beer. If boring lager was the only beer available … well, you get the idea. Thankfully our only vegetable isn’t sweet potato, though I happen to love the stuff, and Feral unapologetically make some big, bold, fantastic beers.
Blue Swimmer Crab and Horseradish Bruschetta w/ Feral Funky Junky
Pediococcus: bacteria that produces lactic acid, gives sour/tart qualities
Brettanomyces: wild yeast, gives “funk” and very dry qualities
For a little more info here is a short article I really enjoyed
Funky Junky is the oldest beer at Feral. Brewed back in 2012 with pediococcus (bacteria) and two types of brettanomyces (wild yeast) it was then left inside barrels to do it’s thing before being blended with some fresh stuff, a little like gueuze. The result is a sour beer with a good dose of funk and fresh sharp citrus.
Gueuze: a blend of young and old lambic
Lovely match to the dish especially with a squeeze of fresh lime and peppery rocket going nicely with the beers funk.
chinese bbq quail w/ white hog
The sweet glaze on the quail worked beautifully with the tropical fruit hops from the White Hog, a beer hybrid of two existing Feral beers – Hop Hog and White. This was one of my favourite pairings of the night. Laid under the quail like a little surprise were ribbons of pickled vegetables that complimented the crisp citrus in the beer. The dried noodles seemed to balance it all out, giving a counterpoint to hang the sweetness and citrus.
Smoked eel and pecorino croquettes w/ smoked porter
Having not had eel before I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this dish without the imagery of a slimy fat eel like you see on Animal Planet or something. Instead I took big sips of the smoked porter and almost forgot the intricacies of the dish and just enjoyed what a good smoked beer can add to food. Just that little more depth, that extra level of flavour. God I love a good smoked beer.
This is where door prizes were given away and brewer Will Irving was handed the microphone. He shared a story with everyone, a story attributed to the name of the next beer we were to be served – Nice Guy, Dud Root.
And so the story goes, whilst dating a girl they had been watching a movie on her couch and she was texting a friend and it appears Will was the subject of said messages. He was assured they were saying good things but when she then left the room curiosity took hold, he looked at the phone and read the words “nice guy, dud root”. He retold this story at work and now there’s a beer. This is why you don’t tell stories like this to co-workers, especially co-workers with a history of fun beer names like the Fanta Pants red ale or Karma Citra black IPA.
“That was years ago,”
Will added quickly to finishhis story
Incidentally this is not the story told in Crafty’s article “What’s in a Name: Feral Brewing”
miso glazed patagonian tooth fish w/ nice guy dud root
Nice Guy Dud Root is an English style brown ale that was, according to sales manager Steve Finney, originally going to have coconut added to it as a late addition but upon tasting it was decided just to leave it alone, it was great as it was.
Certainly it is one of the most delicious brown ales I’ve had in recent memory with biscuit, tropical fruits and hints of red berry. It was a nice match with the sweetness from the glaze on the fish and a contrast with the pickled cucumber.
slow cooked beef cheeks with baby root vegetables w/ razorback
Hello Razorback, a 10% English style barleywine that’s just beautiful. Sweet red berries, a little port and a lot of warming booze; it’s unapologetically rich, smooth and delicious.
Barleywine: strong ale style, originated in Britain
The beer made for a bold pairing with an equally rich dish, the meat fell apart at the merest touch of the fork and the beetroot added a nice earthy sweetness that stood out from a largely rich pairing.
gorgonzola profiterole with watermelon jelly & sherbet w/ watermelon warhead
Ah, Watermelon Warhead, how I love thee. Low ABV, big flavour, crisp and refreshing and perfectly sour. It’s made with fresh local watermelon and left in Chardonnay barrels and I can’t get enough of it.
My first Watermelon Warhead experience – read about it here.
This was certainly the most left-field pairing for me of the night, the earthy gorgonzola playing against the sour beer and the sherbet together with a sip of Watermelon Warhead was like a small firecracker. Zingy and textually interesting, it was a talking point at the table.
I still cannot get enough of Watermelon Warhead and almost fell off my seat in enthusiasm as the waitress offered a top up.
The chocolate nemesis w/ boris
Stupidly rich and indulgent, this chocolate nemesis almost defeated me … almost. Together with one of my absolute favourite Feral beers, Boris was his usual charming self – chocolate, fresh coffee beans and super smooth. Matching a Russian Imperial Stout to a chocolate dessert is one of those pairings that works time and time again.
Happy beer news – Boris will soon join the Feral family as a regularly brewed and bottled beer. Every day can be Russian Imperial Stout day!
You can read about the full range of Feral’s beers here at their website.
Thank you again to the whole team at Feral who invited my partner and I to this great event, we loved it!
Thanks also to my lovely partner who helped me get photos that weren’t black and the rest of the table for not laughing at me too much during photo taking!