The Portland Hotel, played host to the first 90 minute Beer Academy Australia tasting session in Melbourne where four tables of 6 happy people enjoyed 5 good beers and 5 good bites to eat as part of a professional beer tasting by experts.
The Beer Academy Australia is affiliated to the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and initially started in England with the goal of giving easy to understand information to people with different levels of beer appreciation and understanding. The 90 minute tasting sessions are aimed at people ‘who like beer’ but ‘don’t know too much about it’ or ‘would like to know more about it’.
Introducing the night Pete Mitcham noted it would be an ‘open and honest’ session where questions and answers would be free flowing ‘out in the open’ or at the individual tables due to the small and intimate nature of the tasting. The only guidance given to us all was to drink some beer first, eat some food second then drink some more beer third and other than that the rules are ‘no rules’.
With Australian beer consumption sadly in decline the mandate given to the people was ‘its ok to drink less but at least drink better beer’. Five carefully selected beers and dishes were matched working from the lighter to darker styles, starting with 2011 best craft beer people’s choice Stone & Wood Pacific Ale matched with Prawn & Cocktail Spring Rolls. Next we tasted a Belgium style blond Trappist beer from Holland’s La Trappe with a ½ steamed mussel. Aroma and tasting notes were shared openly within the group and discovery of bubble-gum, banana, pear and possibly even ‘furniture polish’ created some good humour in amongst the enjoyment of the beer and food.
The balanced softer style of the English Amber Ale style Mountain Goat Hightail Ale was delightfully matched up with Rabbit Pasties before moving onto bolder beer and food flavours with the multiple awards winning Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale matched up with an equally strong flavoured food of Kangaroo fillet on a sourdough Crouton. Rounding out the 5 was the James Squire Jack of Spades Porter matched with a flourless Chocolate Brownie and offset the sweetness so well with its hints of malt chocolate and roasted coffee.
Future plans include rolling out an extended ½ day course and the full 2 days course targeted at beer sommeliers as the good beer blokes take their challenge to restaurants to match that telephone book size wine list with more than a postcard beer menu of moderate flavoured lagers. From where this reviewer sat there was discovery, enjoyment and laughter on the table. The amount of beer and food fitted the time slot beautifully and there was time to talk to Pete and others afterwards over yet another ‘good beer’ at the bar before getting home at a reasonable hour.
For more details on upcoming Beer Academy Australia events check out their website and sign up for their e-newsletter at: http://www.beeracademyoz.com/about/