“It’s that moment when you can convincingly imagine the delightful prospect of eating everything the establishment has to offer,…momentarily untroubled by the knowledge that one’s stomach has a limited capacity and thus one must alas, choose in the end.” D Gabaldon, Written in my own hearts blood, p.709
My thoughts were exactly that as I stared at my dessert of Choc Hop Bavarois sitting in front of me along with my umpteenth schooner of beer. This one a Choc Hops to match the dessert was scrumptious and rich- both the beer and dessert! Chocolate and beer mixed together in my mouth happier than I thought they would. I had four courses previous to this and many of those had two parts to it, I would be stretching the truth if I said I wasn’t already ridiculously close to over capacity.
I was at Mildura Brewery‘s first beer and food pairing and I was facing defeat. The evening was hosted by Stefano de Peri one of the founders of the brewery and chef and I had lucked out by persuading one of my flatmates to come with me to dine and drink for the evening. It wasn’t a hard sell really. The opportunity for potentially delicious food, tasty beer, explained pairings and a chance to doll up slightly won me over in a heart beat. I think the beer and food won him. So off we went, on a Thursday night, dressed in our backpackers best to a fancy dinner without a clue what was on the menu.
Originally the Paramount Theatre, The main part of the Mildura Brewery is filled with comfortable leather couches and chairs with a dining area behind. The giant beer vats acting as a backdrop to the restaurant/bar. To the back left a spiral iron staircase leads to a private bar and dinning area. This was where we were going to get to taste the wears. I had never been to a beer pairing before as wine would normally be my drink of choice. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if I didn’t like the beer. Thankfully my fears were dispelled once the evening got started and I was handed my first schooner of beer.
There were twenty of us sat around one giant table. A mix of friends and family of the owners, and a dabble of Mildura’s who’s who surrounded us. We took our seats next to an elderly couple from the area – a retired Doctor and his wife, who worked in the arts and event management. While we all discussed where we were from and our backgrounds – I stretched my brain as he wanted to discuss nanoscience with me, the focal of the talk for the evening centred around the beer and food. Both of which were excellent!
We started with canapés – stuffed chilli’s with anchovies and homemade sausage rolls paired with their Sunlight larger – a light and crisp beer. It was a good taste of what was to come and it took a lot of effort not to have seconds or thirds but looking at the menu for the evening I knew I wanted space for it all.
King Fish marinated with olive oil, fennel & citrus
Honey Wheat & Winter Smoke
Sausage & Chilli with homemade rough cuts
Stefano’s Pilsner & Storm Pale Ale
Beef cheeks & Braised Lamb with Polenta
Mallee Bull & IPA
Choc Hop Bavarois
Stefano de Peri explained each dish and beer. How they made it and why they chose it to go with the paired beer. Explaining what our pallets should be experiencing as we went. As most courses had two parts to it, each course was paired with two beers and we were encouraged to express our views and thoughts on the pairings and tastes. I, personally, did a lot of smiling and nodding too nervous to speak out at my first pairing and listened and learned from those around me. My favourite dish in the end was the one I was most nervous about, the beef cheeks. Not something I would normally venture to try solely due to the idea of what I would be consuming. However, they were scrumptious! They literally melted in your mouth, so tender and full of flavour! Pairing wise, other than the dessert which matched the beer perfectly (aptly named) the best pairing in my opinion was the Mallee Bull with the braised lamb. The rich favours of both complimented each other so well that when I had a sip of the ale afterwards without the lamb it didn’t quite taste the same.
Between the constant flow of tasty beer and my stomach at top capacity I rolled home completely satisfied and proud to know that I hadn’t been defeated and got to taste a little bit of everything that Mildura Brewery had to offer. “Life is too short to drink ordinary beer” the top of the menu stated and after my culinary experience at the Brewery I would definitely agree and would like to think they should include food in that quote as well.