The second Australian National Homebrew Conference is just under a month away with the event promising to be even bigger than the original conference held two years ago.
Boasting a panel of homebrewing experts including internationally acclaimed author Randy Mosher and Beer Judge Certification Program President, Gordon Strong, the event provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about beer and how it is made whether you are a homebrewer or just a beer lover with a thirst for knowledge.
The national homebrew conference after John Preston, owner of the Grain and Grape homebrewing shop visited the National Homebrew Conference in the United States and thought about bringing US homebrewing legends John Palmer and Jamil Zainasheff out to Australia and selling tickets to cover the costs. Once he’d floated that idea to the Melbourne homebrew community, the idea snowballed into a full-blown national conference. The first conference saw more than 200 of Australia’s keenest home brewers and beer tragics make their way to Melbourne for the inaugural conference where they enjoyed two days of presentations from a range of internationally-renowned homebrewers and assorted other experts across a range of topics and disciplines.
Among the many highlights of the conference is the Beer and Food Pairing Dinner which sees four champion homebrewers present beers they’ve specially produced for the dinner, alongside meals that have been specially selected by the expert chefs at the William Angliss Institute. The inaugural dinner was one of the best examples of beer matching to fine food seen in this country.
The conference is being held in Melbourne from October 28-30.
To whet your appetite, here is the menu from the 2008 Food & Beer Pairing Dinner with comments from Chef Jeff Wyant (now a brewer at Victoria’s Holgate Brewery). Jeff is again presenting this year’s dinner.
Seared Japanese scallop, pickled Cucumber and ponzu pearls paired with Temple Golden Ale, a Belgian-style strong golden ale aged on French oak (Brewer – Ron Feruglio)
Jeff’s comments: Expect a soft, fruity spice character to the beer with smooth warming alcohol playing off sweet, salty and slightly sour flavours of the salad. Watch the subtle oak before and after the bite, and how it dissipates but gently complements the slight sweet caramelisation of the seared scallop. Higher carbonation level of the beer lifts the flavours off the palate leaving the diner ready for the next course…
Confit duck, chorizo crisps on fennel and orange with vincotto dressing paired with Corio Bay 1042 Weizen, a typically refreshing wheat beer (Brewer – Charles Pedder)
Jeff’s comments: A clove and phenol dominant weizen with esters in the back, low hopping and a medium-light body. It works to lighten the bold richness of the meats while complementing the delicate citrusy salad infused in sweet wine tones. Explore each ingredient between sips and watch how the beer changes with each draw.
Slow-roasted sirloin of beef, mixed mushroom ragout, potato galette and merlot jus paired with #*@%, not a session English ale but a stronger, mellow, sipping version of the style (Brewer – John Strantzen)
Jeff’s comments: Watch this malt driven, moderately bittered ESB work with the sweetness of the beef, bringing up and flushing out flavour in both beer and the meal. Expect ingredients like mushroom and spinach to throw the bittering and malt perception to and fro.
Victorian cheeses served with dried fruits, nuts and lavosh paired with Blue Monk, a Trappist-style dark ale in the tradition of Chimay Blue (Brewer – Tony Wheeler)
Jeff’s comments: Likely the most complementary union in the food pairing, with a marriage highlighting the direct punch in offerings. Complex, rich malty sweetness, some fruit, with spice and bready tones perfectly pair to each of the cheeses, fruit, and nuts.