BentSpoke Beer at the European for Good Beer Week
An epic event for Good Beer Week was the degustation featuring BentSpoke Brewing Co (from Canberra) and The European restaurant! Held at a quintessentially Melbourne location, the private Team Room at iconic The European restaurant in Spring St Melbourne, this was a night to remember! BentSpoke Brewing, one of Australia's highly awarded craft brewers, was a perfect match for a Melbourne food and wine dining institution. Comments were made about "if these walls could speak they would mainly tell wine stories" but now "we are bringing the beer stories". And so they did!
Usually at the European, the special event agenda is dominated by all things wine, but for Good Beer Week 2018, we enjoyed a degustation with a twist. This event was exceptional for The European's first foray into Good Beer Week and we are hoping they hold another such event next year, because they rock!
BentSpoke joined The European for a special dinner to showcase the diverse and important connection that great beer has at the table of good food. The beers came to us in cans with 360 degree lids - facilitating capture of aromas and full palette tasting. The European also supplied its fine glassware if you wanted to experience the beer from a glass. I love the 360 lids on the beer can but my argument for enjoying the beer in a glass for that particular night was that the beer was so good I found myself sipping it like a wine. Nuances.
A table of beer enthusiasts (the diners around me were mostly involved in IT - not sure if there's a link between IT and craft beer?
Celebrating the talents of champion brewer Richard Watkins, BentSpoke served up six stunning beers matched to six exceptional courses prepared by the European's Head Chef Peter Sheldon. Peter had a few words with the guests explaining the background behind the dishes and answering questions. The food received rave reports and was of the highest standard for such an event. We would find it hard to believe any other Good Beer Week menu could exceed what we were served at The European. Not only that but the matching was perfect. We heard about all the preparation of the kitchen team trying out various dishes and flavour profiles to match the beers and why they chose the food they did.
Richard Watkins answered several questions from the table - including comments of the USA craft beer scene v Australia, the number of players in the Australian craft beer industry, and trends such as aged barreling of beers.
Canape on arrival with Mort's Gold Lager, blini, cod roe, salmon pearls. We were off to a flying start mingling, enjoying our first beer, and a top notch canape.
Course 1: Barley Griffin Pale Ale with charcuterie & pickles from The European house butcher Simon.
Course 2: Crankshaft IPA with cured kingfish, burnt orange vinaigrette, fennel. A standout dish - a hit of chilli worked beautifully in matching the IPA.
In true Good Beer Week style I overlapped on my beers, still finishing my Crankshaft IPA when the Red Nut IPA arrived.
Course 3: Red Nut Red IPA with aged duck, radicchio, barley & sour pear. This was a stunning duck dish with duck done 3 ways. Head Chef Peter Sheldon said he doesn't like to waste any of the duck, and the duck sausage was delicious. Seriously I wasn't expecting 3 portions of superb duck with such technique, perfectly accompanied by radicchio, barley and sour pear for balanced texture and flavour profile. I loved the rendering of the duck and crispy skin. The dark sauce was also exceptional.
Course 4: GFG ginger beer with rhubarb & apple pie, spiced cream. Another stunning dish - the chef explaining that the ginger in the beer was well rounded and not overpowering and sharp, allowing for the rhubarb matching (he also modified his recipe for the matching).
We like big and hoppy so this beer was right down our alley. A big bold beer but also with some elegance.
Course 5: Sprocket 'Big & Hoppy' IPA with cheese & traditional accompaniments as selected by our cheesemongers Spring Street Cheese Cellar.
Finally a cleansing sour beer! Puss In Boots was a triumph and possibly my favourite ( as a sour beer lover).
BentSpoke is a brewing company that was named "on the fly". We heard that half the name is derived from cycling and the other half from beer, bringing together two passions. Richard Watkins is a passionate brewer who gets out of bed at 5am every morning for work (although we're not sure about the morning after this event). As a Uni student studying Mechanical Engineering he wanted to be "creative" and found his outlet in all things beer. The journey grew from there - until today commanding the brewing at a celebrated and award winning Canberra brewery. They have a big birthday bash coming up in June having been operating for 4 years.
Kudos to both BentSpoke and The European! What an epic night!