Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Courthouse Beer Dinner comes in from the cold

What you really have to love about a traditional cold Melbourne winter is (A) How much it makes you appreciate summer and (B) How good a nice hearty meal served with winter warming beers can be.

The Magistrate’s Chambers in the Courthouse Restaurant in Berwick is the perfect setting for a night where the wind is sending chills up even the hardiest spine. A separate room behind the old Magistrate’s bench it is an ideal place to seat twenty or so guests and treat them to the joys of two open fires, four warming courses and six beers that will challenge the novices’ preconceptions of beer in general.

And so it was on Friday when the back room was filled with anxious punters waiting to see what wonders a nice winter brew can bring. A palate-preparing Gosser Pale Ale bought me some time to introduce the newcomers and welcome back the ten regulars while the first course of sweetish corn fritters and egg croquettes was prepared. This was paired with a Holgate Big Reg Vienna Lager which not only complemented the meal well with its caramel sweetness but also opened a few eyes to lager in its different forms.

A White Rabbit Dark Ale was matched with a beautiful dish of Crispy Pork Wontons and Asian style Pork Belly and the warmth of the ale and its open fermentation flavours worked a treat with the sticky unctuousness of the pork. I decided on a beer that I had only recently discovered as a favourite to go with the main course. A cold night and warm company demands a nice hearty comfort-food kind of meal and a rich Beef and Ale open topped pie was a fitting centrepiece for the dinner.

We coupled it with Timothy Taylor Landlord Strong Pale Ale and the nuttiness, the biscuity sweet malt and the light freshness of the hops just seemed to go hand in hand with the rich and filling elements of the beef.

To finish we popped the top off a Harrington’s Wobbly Boot Porter Ale which we matched with a lovely rich homemade Tira Misu. The coffee and chocolate in each saw a fitting end to the official part of the evening although it took another hour and a half and several beers for the last three tables to make their way gingerly into the chill Melbourne night.

But that’s probably what I like best about these Beer Dinners!

Prof Pilsner


Koops said...

The Holgate Big Reg is a personal favourite of mine. Will keep an eye out for the others mentioned - delicious!

James said...

I second that for sure! Seriously love Holgate's Big Reg...it really opened my eyes to the delicious potential of quality craft lagers.

A beautifully smooth, malty and sessionable lager!

Beer Blokes said...

I guess the most pleasing aspect was the fact that many of those at the dinner (mostly 'novice' category) were surprised to find that Reg is a lager and not an ale - a real eye-opener and a good pointer to the rise of the craft beer scene in Australia. Anything to break the "I like both kinds of beer - VB and Carlton Draught"!!


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