Barossa Valley Brewing, Sat 5 Mar
Mention the Barossa Valley and one immediately thinks ‘great wine’. There is however a growing trend for artisan brewers to set up shop alongside their vintner neighbours, and go to work producing boutique beers that challenge the palette and complement more than a packet of chips and a footy pie. Barossa Valley Brewing founder Denham D’Silva has it in mind to raise the profile of beer in this country by brewing the very best examples of high end beer his company can produce. And what better way to showcase his achievements than through a monthly marathon of beer, wine and food – a degustation dinner that matches one beer and one wine with each course, and leaves it to patrons to decide which suits the food best – genius, right? Of course this can’t work without the wine and this night we were lucky to have Barossa winemaker Sam Clarke throwing his hat in the ring, sharing some great wines from nearby award winning Thorn-Clarke Wines.
After a short tour of the brewery itself, we returned to our tables for a first course of Vietnamese cold rolls accompanied by the first pairings, the recently renamed, “On The Fringe” a summery, fruity ale with a good hop balance. Denham shared a few stories about the beer and why it matched the food perfectly. Likewise, Sam tried hard to convince us that his 2015 Sandpiper Riesling (a wholly enjoyable, typically fresh Eden Valley Riesling), was the obvious winner here. Good-natured jibes between winemaker and brewer set the tone for a fun, energy filled evening where the serious business of deciding which worked best was greeted with gusto by an increasingly boisterous crowd.
As a beverage matching exercise, the boys do well to extoll the virtues of their pairings, yet the Chef should perhaps have been given a Guernsey, adding another dimension to the night. Also, by the time dessert arrived, Denham and Sam both had issues gaining everyone’s attention over the noise and the use of a microphone system might have made it easier and faster to get and maintain attention. On that note, it is a night of drinking lots of booze, so water could have been quicker arriving and good coffee would have been a great way to end the night.
If you love your wines, you won’t be disappointed. If you love your beer, you won’t be disappointed. You will however, learn to appreciate the intricacies of beer and likely insist on drinking the beverage from a wineglass in future.
Rosie van Heerde