A degustation is more than just a meal or a means of satisfying one’s hunger – this is something that anyone who has ever attended one will attest to. Degustation is slow food taken to the next level – a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods, focusing on the senses, culinary art and good company.
Most restaurants that offer a degustation will, for an additional cost, serve accompanying wines to complement each dish. Outside of Belgium, beer matched degustations are a relatively new, though increasingly popular concept. Being a beer lover and a serious ‘foodie’, a beer degustation combines both of my passions and therefore, is pretty much my idea of heaven. When I discovered that The Quarie was holding their first ever ‘Beergustation’, I didn’t hesitate to book a seat.
Since opening in November last year, The Quarie Bar & Brasserie has quickly earned a reputation as one of Perth’s best craft beer venues. The majority of the venue’s 36 taps are under contract, so venue manager Matt Marinich has carefully chosen beers from the Fosters and Lion portfolios, some of the more flavourful options including Leffe Blond, Belle Vue Kriek and Hoegaarden as well as beers from James Squire and Matilda Bay. Also on tap is Feral Hop Hog and The Quarie’s contract brewed house beer – Quarie Ale. However, it’s the selection of bottled beers that makes The Quarie a genuine craft beer destination. With 60 beers from esteemed breweries such as Brasserie Dupont, BrewDog, Cantillon, Mikkeller and Green Flash, it is a list that will please even the most vehement beer geek.
It was from the bottled list that Matt chose the six beers that would feature in the Beergustation. The Quarie’s kitchen team created dishes to match the flavours of each beer, with some of them listing their accompanying beer as an ingredient.
As I took my seat, I noticed that nearly half of my fellow diners were female – a rarity at beer events and an encouraging sign. Matt introduced himself and briefed the audience on the concept of degustation and how beer can compliment food just as well as (and often better than) wine. Our appetites whetted, it was time to eat.
The first course of the evening was a generous serving of soft shell crab, tempura prawns and Kilpatrick oysters with a pickled cucumber salad and house-made sauces. This was paired with Hitachino Nest White Ale – a refreshing, spiced Witbier from Japan. Wheat beer is well-known to be an excellent match for seafood, and this pairing was no exception. The tartness and high carbonation of the White Ale helped to cut through the fat of the tempura batter and fried crab, while the low bitterness of the beer matched perfectly with the subtle, sweet flavours of the prawn and crab meat.
Next to come was the entrée – a braised duck leg with Asian vegetables, steamed rice and a master stock & pilsner broth. Served with this was Sly Fox Pikeland Pils – a Northern German style Pilsner from Pennsylvania. Matt drew everyone’s attention to the Pilsner’s unusual packaging – a shiny silver aluminium can. He explained that cans are a better package than glass, as they are lighter, less prone to breakage, keep beer fresher longer and despite popular belief, do not negatively affect beer’s flavour. The Sly Fox beer was a cracker – fresh as a daisy with a pungent noble hop aroma, sweet Pilsner malt backbone and an elegantly dry finish. Subtle notes of the same beer were evident in the master stock & pilsner broth, whose sweetness went beautifully with the rich and succulent duck.
After such a flavoursome dish, it was time for a cleanser – a lime sorbet with Lindemans Framboise raspberry granita and candied lime. Once again the beer used in the dish was also the pairing. Being a fan of the more traditional lambics from Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen, I generally have little time for sweeter lambic beers, but given that most of the diners had likely never had a sour beer before, the Lindemans was a smart choice. The heavy sweetness and raspberry jam notes of the beer were offset by its own acidity and that of the refreshing lime sorbet. The framboise granita was a nice touch that tied dish and beer together.
By now we were all ready for the main course of the evening – roasted pork belly with roasted vegetables, king prawns and chilli caramel sauce. Paired with the dish was Brooklyn Brown Ale – a beer on the maltier end of the American Brown Ale style. Like all previous dishes, the serving size was more than generous, with a Rubik’s cube of pork belly, topped with crisp crackling and layered with fudgy pig meat. The sweetness of the chilli caramel sauce was a perfect match for the salty, fatty pork and mimicked the crystal malt flavours in the beer.
It’s often said by those possessing a sweet tooth that ‘there’s always room for dessert’. The saying must be true, as nobody failed to finish their sweet course of Self-saucing chocolate pudding with a white chocolate cherry filling. Pairing the dish was a beer that is widely considered to the one of Australia’s best – Holgate Temptress Chocolate Porter. As the only Australian beer at the degustation, the Holgate brew didn’t disappoint, with its light roastiness, bitter cocoa and vanilla providing the perfect foil for the gooey chocolate pudding.
At any other occasion I would have thrown in the towel after dessert, but, knowing what was to come, I bravely soldiered on. The final course of the evening was a Triple Cream Brie, served with quince paste, dried fruit and nuts, crackers and muscatels. However, the reason for my anticipation for this course was the beer – a 100mL pour of the BrewDog/Nogne-O/Mikkeller collaboration, Black Tokyo Horizon. Anyone who hasn’t tried this monster brew should buy one now, although consider recruiting a friend to split it with, as its 17.2% abv packs a punch! To drink, Black Tokyo Horizon has all the espresso, chocolate and liquorice notes of a good imperial stout, as well as the dark fruit of a sweet port and the warming alcohol of cognac.
It was the perfectly indulgent end to a wonderful evening, which at $90 per-head was truly outstanding value. Best of all, Matt has informed me that the Beergustation definitely wasn’t a one-off, and to expect three or four Quarie beer dinners per year in the future. Good news indeed!
2 Macquarie Boulevard
Hammond Park WA 6164
Phone: 9414 3500