Venues and events

Beer + Food = Fun

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The Illawarra Brewing Company is doing some fine, fine things for craft beer in Wollongong.
Most obviously, there’s the fact that they make beer here. Then there’s the swinging taps they have down at the bar (which is what the guys at the brewing company call the Illawarra Brewery. Makes sense I guess because otherwise you’d have two things called “the brewery” – the place where the beer is sold and the place where it’s made. And no-one would know which brewery you were talking about).
Those swinging taps are great for craft beer lovers because it gives us access to beers we might otherwise have to travel to Sydney for, or not get the chance to try at all.
Then there’s the Good Beer Dinners. I went to the very first one at the Little Prince a few months ago and was instantly smitten with the concept – it’s great food matched with a great selection of beers, most of which I’d never had before.
That first one had a US theme, which meant the chance to try beers that I’d never seen in a bottle shop (with the exception of Ballast Point’s Big Eye).
They’d had two more dinners since then but I wasn’t able to get to them. So I was happy when I snaffled a ticket to last night’s Australia Vs New Zealand dinner. I’d only had one of the six beers before – the excellent Big Wednesday from Murrays.
Of the others, the intriguing ones included Mornington Peninsula’s Sorachi Kolsch, which tasted more butterscotchy and not very lemony. Given that the only other Sorachi Ace beer I’d tried was Feral’s Sorachi Ace (which is rather lemony), I was expecting some lemons from Mornington’s but that butterscotch was a surprising difference.
On the Kiwi side there was the odd Five Hop from Moa. Weird because the label only lists three hops. Weird because you expect something with a name like “Five Hops” to be like some souped-up IPA thing. Weird because it’s actually classed as a winter ale which, with the warm caramel notes and the slight thickness, is actually pretty accurate description.
There was also the Haywired wheat beer from 8 Wired, which was served with a pavlova for dessert. I know I liked this one but I can’t recall why – it came at the end of the night and I’d stopped taking notes by that point because I just wanted to enjoy the beers.
The food was good – the standout was the beef fillet with broccolini and a red wine jus (that was quite well paired with a Biere de Garde from Bridge Road Brewers.
An unusual part of the evening was the one table in the corner where people were drinking Coronas (yes, Coronas) in between meals. And instead of the supplied Australian and New Zealand beer samples, judging by how many virtually-full glasses they left on their table.
I’m sure they had their reasons for spending $75 a pop for a ticket to a beer dinner and then eschewing the beers on offer for super-bland Coronas, but I’m damned if I can work out what that is. Surely half the reason to go to an event called a Good Beer Dinner is to drink  good beer. And anyone with a bit of beer nous knows that Corona is miles and miles away from being considered “good beer”.
I wish I knew at the start of the night that they were going to be drinking Coronas – I’d have gone over and arranged to have their samples sent to my table.

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