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BeerGustation – An Experience of the Hart

25th May 2011

It was with much anticipation and excitement that we attended the first official Harts Pub ‘BeerGustation’ and boy, did it more than live up to expectations.

Held on the third Wednesday of every month, this R.S.V.P event is a must-do for food and craft beer lovers a-like. Consisting of 6 courses expertly paired with 6 unique craft beers, Harts Pub Managing Director Mark Fethers and Head Brewer Scotty Morgan wowed the diverse crowd with this novel take on the classic degustation dining experience.  While I could write at depth about all 6 courses and their respective beer pairings, I will just touch on what I think were the highlights of the evening.

With a name like Ruination IPA, we all knew we were in for a true hop experience when an Apple and Blue Cheese salad was matched with this hard-to-find offering from Stone Brewing Company in California. And at 100+ IBU’s (International Bitterness Units – the scale by which the bitterness of beer is measured) it certainly lived up to its billing. It takes a big beer to cut through the sharp and salty flavour of blue cheese and this was definitely the beer to do it.

The third and fifth courses of the evening were without doubt the most polarizing of the evening and provided several talking points. Both courses played on the contrasting flavours of sweet and sour, the third the pairing of a Timmermans Strawberry Lambic Ale Beer Sorbet with a Cantillon Brewing Co. (Belgium) – Grand Cru Bruocsella the fifth the reverse – a Grand Cru Bruocsella sorbet and a glass of the Strawberry Lambic Ale.

The first sorbet was deliciously sweet with a very strong smell of strawberries on the nose while the paired Grand Cru Bruscella was anything but. Oak-barrelled aged for 3 years before bottling and a shelf-life of 20 plus years, this was always going to be a very unique beer. While some in the group openly said that they enjoyed the dry and acidic flavour, others could barely finish their tasting glass. Interestingly, when the Gran Cru Bruscella was made into a sorbet in the fifth course it tasted even more sour and saw many reaching for the Strawberry Lambic Ale to help wash it down.

Either side of these two controversial courses were what I think were the food highlights of the evening – Confit of Lamb, and for dessert The Butchers Porter and Peanut Pie. Slow-cooked over several hours, the succulent lamb melted in the mouth and combined brilliantly with the accompanying sweet pea risotto. Paired with Rock’s Brewing’s own The Boxer, the malty characteristics of this red ale provided a rounded sweetness to go with the red meat. For dessert, The Butchers Porter and Peanut Pie paired with a Mildura Brewing Co – Chocolate Stout were breath-takingly indulgent and topped off what had been a fantastic evening.

A huge compliment has to be paid to the Head-Chef at Harts Pub and his kitchen staff for what was an incredible menu. By plating up the dishes before the diners they provided a touch of ‘Master Chef’ and helped give us a real appreciation of the skill and artistry that goes into preparing a restaurant quality meal.

It goes without saying that I can’t wait for the next BeerGustation!