We’re allowed to drink beer at restaurants now

The boys got a bit antsy between dishes, so that's where the other beers came from

Every craft beer drinker out there must be loving the direction that the beer industry is moving. The social perception and profile of beer is changing for the better.

Five years ago just the idea of a food and beer degustation dinner was unheard of, you probably would have been laughed out of the restaurant for mentioning it. Admittedly the conversation probably would have went something like this:

Chef: The first course seems an easy match, a lager won’t override the subtle flavours of shellfish, what do you have for the second course?
Large Commercial Brewer: A lager.
Chef: Hmm, ok. I’d like to have some strong game flavours in there too, like duck or venison, what would you have for those?
Large Commercial Brewer: A lager.
Chef: Right… well, how about something to offset a sweet dish?
Large Commercial Brewer: I think we have a lager that’ll fit that bill.

Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but the point is valid; creativity and choice were a little lacking to the majority of beer consumers.

Fortunately times have changed and last week I attended my first degustation dinner matched with beer.

The night was put on by The Internationalist in Rothesay Bay and Epic Brewing Company and consisted of seven courses. We first heard about the evening from Kelly Ryan’s tweeting and were as keen as mustard to cross the bridge for the experience.

We arrived a bit before 7pm and ordered a beer each at the bar. The Internationalist didn’t have anything special on tap but they did have a few good beers starring in their fridge. The locals had clearly not garnered a taste for craft beer yet; as they sat there nursing their Monteith’s pints they asked us what the beer we ordered with the number on was (a Hallertau Statesman). When we told them it was a craft beer brewed in West Auckland, they responded with, “It doesn’t taste like those shit beers from that creek place in Browns Bay does it?” Each to their own, I guess.

There was food too, but you should check the link in the post for them

We sat down at our table and before long Martin Cahnbley, founder of The Internationalist, welcomed us all and gave us a bit of an intro and overview to the evening before passing the floor to Luke Nicholas, Epic Brewer. Luke then informed us that Kelly had been sent back to the ‘office’ to grab some special beers. That announcement was pretty exciting as I had heard talk of new Epic beers before Christmas so was hoping we might get a sneak preview.

Before too long the first course was being served with its matching beer and we started making our way through the dishes. For each course the chef or the brewer, or sometimes both, would speak about the matching or introduce the next and then open the floor to any questions we might’ve had.

Steve Taylor took some great shots of the courses that night, check them out at foodspotting.com.

I think everyone was in agreeance that the star of the night was the Epic Stout matched with beef pie served on mash with caramelised stout reduction.

Flying Nun 30 Anniversary Pale Ale

At the end of our seven course degustation we were treated to a sneak preview tasting of a new limited edition beer from Epic. The beer is a pale ale brewed specifically for Flying Nun Records’ 30th Anniversary. Kelly told us it was a little more subdued than the Epic Pale Ale, and was done so purposefully to cater to the diversity of a Flying Nun gig crowd.

Evidently, Flying Nun had asked Epic to brew a beer for the anniversary as they were already Epic Beer fans. The 30 year anniversary pale ale is available in November at the shows and selected supermarkets.

2 comments to “We’re allowed to drink beer at restaurants now”

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  1. Kelly Ryan - 19 Oct, 2011

    Great write up! Really enjoyed the night 🙂

  2. billofbeer - 20 Oct, 2011

    Thanks Kelly. We thoroughly enjoyed it too, looking forward to more of these!

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