It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come in the last few years in terms of good beer. Conversely it’s easy to forget how far we have to go. Many people still aren’t aware of beers most readers probably consider household names.
I was reminded of both sides recently after receiving an invite to the Grosvenor Hotel In St Kilda; Melbourne, for a beer degustation dinner.
The bar has recently turned it’s taps over to names such as Moo Brew, Trumer, Stone , Mountain Goat and 2 Brothers and wanted to showcase the beers and how they match with their food to the public.
Manager at the Grosvenor, Darcy Murphy, said tickets for the dinner sold out in a week and he was pleased with the uptake from locals who may not necessarily be familiar with the beer on offer.
“I think it’s better than filling the room with people who already know everything about craft beer. You are sort of preaching to the choir with that,” he said.
It was heartening to see those same locals discuss the merits of each brew and to hear the first question of the night, which was “where do we get it?”.
The “it” in this context being Stone Pacific Ale.
To me I think that sums up the general mood of the room. People interested and excited to try something new and enjoying it paired with fine food.
Darcy also talked of the support from the breweries and their sales reps, who all took part in matching the beer to the food at a test run.
“The breweries have been great for us. That’s the other great thing with craft, the brewers and the reps. The support you get from them is fantastic.” he said.
Since changing their beer list, a move Darcy says was designed to bring it in line with the standard of both their wine list and restaurant, they have noticed an upswing in beer sales.
“We are selling more volume of beers since the craft beers have gone up,” he said.
And they don’t plan on stopping here. As the Australian Brews News slogan tells us, “beer is a conversation” and Darcy says they will have those conversations with their customers .
“We’re going to continue to rotate our taps. We are going to keep it fairly local, and good quality and we’re just going to see how the venue evolves and it’s going to driven by the customers… we’re happy to change our taps based on feedback”
The menu for the evening started with scallops paired with Stone Pacific, and then on to quail with Trumer Pils. The third course of smoked pork belly bacon with Moo Brew Pale Ale drew praise from around the room and was definitely the crowd favourite. Dry aged beef and Mountain Goat Hightail was the main course, finishing with a rich dark chocolate marquise, peanut brittle and 2 Brothers growler.
While I was more than familiar with the beer presented the food helped elevate and remind me what I love about each one.
If I was to offer one critique on the evening it would be there were some delays between courses – and I, and some around me, got the feeling of a kitchen slightly frazzled. However considering they were serving five courses for 80 people to go along with 80 beers being poured from taps for each, while still doing a normal dinner service; it’s hard to begrudge a night with such fine food, beer and free flowing conversation.
Five, or even as few as two years, ago an event like this would have been clambered to by beer lovers from around the city. Now it’s not just beer lovers getting to these events but rather the uninitiated and unfamiliar. It shows the buzz being generated about the product and also how much growth there still is for quality beer.
If the evening was an indication of what we can expect from the Grosvenor Hotel in the future, then I’m excited to welcome another venue and the local drinkers on board the good beer bandwagon.