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So, Beerhouse. Let me say upfront that my history of beer includes taking first sips of my dad’s beer whenever I go home and a handful of fond memories of my student days in the USA. Other than that, my experience with beer is pretty limited. Also, I have horrible memories of eating hops a few weeks ago (let’s just say I have friends who were thoroughly amused) and almost dying in the process. Note to anyone curious: Never, never, never, never, never eat hops. It’s a terribly bad idea. Anyway, so when I found myself at the Meet the Brewers beer-and-food pairing event at the Beerhouse on Long Street earlier this week, I wasn’t quite sure how I would respond to what was awaiting me. But, alas, I had come prepared with a beer-drinking buddy, and off we went on new adventures.

Meet the Brewers is a monthly event in which the Beerhouse hosts different, well, brewers, and Roy the marvellous chef whips up wonderful creations to go with different beers. This was obviously my first one, though I had been to the Beerhouse before, more to nibble on their yummy food than to work my way through the 99 bottles of beer on the wall, but, hey, a visit is a visit.

My friend and I found our way to the back room in which Meet the Brewers was to be hosted, and everything was simply yet wonderfully laid out – long tables with benches, candles in beer bottles, fine glasses, and a menu of what was awaiting us. We spotted some friends and joined their table, and I was thoroughly amused by the chit-chattering among the crowd and the host, Murray. Turns out beer lovers are pretty mellow chaps (I should’ve known that), and it was without a doubt one of the friendliest, most welcoming, and warmest crowds I have ever encountered. I would go back simply to be in their company again. It was fantastic.

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The evening started with an introduction to Red Sky Brew, the guest brewers of the night, and a brief break-down of the beer-making process. Some laughs, some knowledge, and more information on the ingredients of beer followed. No one advised against eating hops, but we were informed that, even though it is releated to cannabis, it’s not so good for smoking. Seems like it’s made for drinking and found its destiny in beer. Good for you, hops.

On we went to the first pairing of the night. Instead of giving you a step-by-step account of the pairings, I’ll just give you a quick summary of them all (which I’ll sneakily copy from the menu I was given). Those well-acquainted with beer will possibly understand all the taste notes and flavours described; for the rest of you, read on. Though, before I do that, let me quickly add that Red Sky Brew possibly has the coolest beer names I’ve ever come across, as you’ll see in a second, and I was silently giggling about that all night. So:

Pairing One: The Avengers Pale Ale

Tasting Note: A fruity nose is followed by a spicy hop character. Great malt backbone but hop forward. Good effervescence.
Food Pairing: Beer & Gruyere Soup, Sage Pistou.

Pairing Two: Tweety Bird Amber Ale

Tasting Note: American are used in the brew contributing to its citrus flavour profile, while caramel malts bring through a slight sweetness. Low effervescence.
Food Pairing: Smoked Mackerel Pate, Sweet Chilli & Onion Jam.

Pairing Three: Dubble Trouble Belgian Dubbel

Tasting Note: Sweet malt, candy notes, burnt sugar, low carbonation.
Food Pairing: Pulled Pork Bitterballen, Andalous Sauce.

Pairing Four: Rauch Beer

Tasting Note: Smoked sweet malts, bacon notes.
Food Pairing: Goats Cheese Devils on Horseback, Maple Glaze (wrapped in bacon, which the chef described as a sweet cheesy devil. Haha)

Pairing Five: The Vampire Robust Porter

Tasting Note: Chocolate malt with great chocolate notes, coffee. High malt with good acidity, moderate but balanced hops. Great effervescence.
Food Pairing: Vampire Robust baked cheesecake, Dark chocolate sauce, raspberry coulis.

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As the dear chef explained to us, pairings either serve to complement, contrast, or cut the flavour, and I’ve never quite experienced this as distinctly as I did with the beer and food pairing. For the first time in my foodie adventuure, I was actually able to pick up the caramel tastes in the Amber Ale and taste how the Belgian Dubbel worked perfectly with the bitter ballen. And I even got the smoked bacony-taste in the Rauch Beer, which went so well with the sweetness of the Maple syrup. It sounds weird, I know, but the pairings were exquisite.

My favourite, of course, was the Vampire Robust Porter, not only because of its wickedly cool name (though the Tweety Bird Amber Ale definitely comes first in the name game), but also because of its divine chocolate and coffee tastes. I kid you not, there was definitely chocolate and coffee in there. Sure, I picked up a bit on the bittery hops taste, but I think that I’m extra sensitive to hops given my recent ordeal.

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So, even as a beer newbie, Meet the Brewers was pretty awesome. The food was great, the pairings were fantastic, I actually drank all of my beer, the hosts, guests, and speakers had me in stitches most of the night, and I genuinely enjoyed every moment being there. It’s definitely an event I’d recommend, but even if you don’t feel like doing the ‘official’ pairing and meeting, you can always check out some of the general pairings the Beerhouse offers on their regular menu. I haven’t tried these yet, but given this experience I might just go back to do that (though I’m also tempted to go back for their awesome lunch specials; perhaps I’ll just have to do both).

Before I round off and give you the Beerhouse’s details, I would like to take a moment to comment on the tragic events of the weekend, in which Beerhouse doorman Joe Kanyona tragically passed away, leaving behind a wife and baby daughter. The Beerhouse is raising funds to support Joe’s family, so please check out their support page and do what you can. Please also support the #SaveLongStreet campaign.

The Beerhouse certainly has made a mark in the news and in our lives this week, and that’s not even taking their regular offerings into acocunt. Visit the Beerhouse at 223 Long Street, check them out online, or give them a call on +27 21 424 3370. Also visit their Facebook and Twitter accounts for regular updates.

With love, from I Love Foodies.

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Written by Benike Palfi
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Review Date: June 2015

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