Christmas in Australia is a time of family gatherings, barbeques that often include the sharing of refreshing beers as we reflect on the year past and plan for the year ahead. Our sunny hot climate sends many Christmas drinkers to the bottle shop for slabs of thirst quenching and easy drinking lagers. However, what will those people who make or dissect Australia’s beers be drinking?
Australian Brews News asked brewers and beer writers from across the country what they will be drinking this Christmas. We also sought a recommendation for how to match those beers with festive food.
Ian Morgan, Senior Brewery with Holgate Brewhouse will be drinking…
“My in-laws live in Canberra, so a visit to the Wig & Pen to sample Richard Watkins’ excellent ales will be in order. However, at Christmas dinner we’ll be enjoying Holgate’s own ESB.
The ESB is a perfect match for the traditional Christmas roast, but also goes nicely with lamb (snags or chops) off the bbq, if you go for the more informal tradition.”
Dr Jon Meneses, Brewing Manager at Coopers will be drinking…
“As a tradition our families and friends get together on Christmas Eve to have a feast of mostly Filipino dishes. I will be starting the evening with Coopers Clear, then moving on to Sparkling Ale [Coopers Red] for most of the night before having Vintage Ale for desert. I like to start with a lighter style lager like Clear before moving on to heavier Ales.
With Coopers Clear I would recommend cold seafood starters like prawns, crab meat or Relleno (milk fish stuffed with marinated meat and spices). The main dish we have during the evening is Lechon (roasted pig), which match well with Sparkling Ale especially the crispy skin mixed with finely chopped onions and chillies (Kinilaw). Finally I would have Vintage ale to match with sweet desert like Leche Flan (custard).”
Brewer Dan Dainton of the James Squire Brewhouse at the Portland Hotel in Melbourne will be drinking…
“I’m a big fan of well balanced hoppy beers with high sessionability. So that means a lower alcohol level and a good malt back bone to stand up to the high hop levels. Beers like Holgate’s Road Trip IPA or Feral’s Hop Hog spring to mind. Black Heart’s US APA is also a newbie I’ve really enjoyed. We’ll be doing something similar over Xmas at the James Squire Portland to satisfy all the hop heads out there, myself included!
I like to match the intensity of the beer with the food I’m eating. And I’m generally eating pizza! Lots of intense ingredients like garlic, salami, chorizo, olives and of course authentic mozzarella! For me, IPA’s and APA’s go great with bringing out the flavours in such ingredients and at the end of the day its a about big flavour!”
Mornington Peninsula Brewery’s Head Brewer, Andrew “AG” Gow will be drinking…
“When the sun comes out over Xmas l find myself more and more reaching for a Belgian Wit beer. I find this style eminently refreshing, and it gives the tastebuds a real wake-up call. Hoegaarden and Feral Wit would be my wits of choice. Drink these at Christmas on Mornington beach with fish’n’chips, or at home for dinner with pan-fried flathead tails or steamed salmon with a summer salad…special.”
Beer Diva, Kirrily Waldhorn will be drinking…
“Our Christmas lunch this year will be seafood and ham so naturally the beers will need to complement our meal. Here is my Christmas beer menu:
- Saison Dupont — because it is one of the most delectable Saisons around! Matched with fresh oysters with ground pepper and a drizzle of truffle oil. Love it! We’ll probably be drinking this with our next door neighbours, I have converted them to the funk.
- Wicked Elf Witbier — again, a fabulously aromatic, enticing and engaging beer. Great for drinking at home, on the deck, with Thai style marinated prawns.
- Bridge Road 500 Smokey Breakfast Lager — what hasn’t gone into this beer? I am also a huge fan of the smoke. This will be enjoyed at the Christmas dining table over lunch and glazed baked ham
- Ninkasi’s Angel Tripel — because I had a hand in brewing it and I think it’s amazing! There may be a few bottles of this consumed on Christmas day, starting at the table, ending up on the couch with a spiced tarte tatin with vanilla bean ice-cream for dessert. (Ninkasi may get herself poured over the ice-cream too!)”
And what about the hosts of our Radio Brews News podcast?
Pete Mitcham (“Prof Pilsner”)…
“With a nickname like Professor you need to know a bit about beer and Christmas and every year since I discovered the wonders of the world’s oldest brewery, Weihenstephan, I have made sure their beers have had pride of place on the table. Weihenstephan was granted the first commercial brewing license back in 1040 meaning that beer production was no longer the sole domain of the monasteries. The King who granted this right was none other than King Wenceslas. As in GOOD King Wenceslas, you know, from the Christmas song?
No matter what other special beers find their way into the Christmas day celebrations there will always be at least one Weihenstephan Pilsner to go with the abundance of fresh seafood and grilled meats that weigh down the table at any of the many family celebrations we find ourselves at.
As for any other Christmas beers? Many of our family gatherings feature a narrower selection of more mainstream offerings but, at the end of the day, it’s all about family and friends and the best beer is the one in your hand.”
My New Year’s resolution last year was, all else being equal I was going to drink local as much as possible this year. It’s one resolution I have found easy to stick to for a change, with Burleigh Brewing and Stone & Wood being two of my closest breweries. I’ll have plenty of Burleigh Brewing’s Duke Lager and 28 Pale on hand during the festivities and will be matching Stone & Wood’s Pacific Ale to prawns on Christmas Day.
From further afield I have secured a carton of Redhill’s excellent Christmas Ale to share, but I’ll also be tucking into some Bridge Road Saison with my Turkey and, having the benefit of having seen Kirrily’s suggestions above, I will also now be pulling my last bottle of Bridge Road 500 Smokey Breakfast Lager out of the cellar to drink with my baked ham. My one imported indulgence will be a bottle of Deus to savour with oysters.