This week there was a wrap up of the recent Melbourne Food & Wine Festival in The AGE Epicure (22/03/2011) that provides an important perspective on where beer stands in the local cultural scene.
This cover-story article has not been published online, so here is what you will find on page 8:
By David Sutherland
"It's a shame more people weren't at the festival's first masterclass beer and food matching session - it seems food and wine aficionados still can't quite come to grips with the fact beer is a complex beverage with a multitude of flavour and aroma nuances that can complement or provide contrast to those in food.
Still, the crowd of 40 or so at The Beer and Cider House Rules session were eager, and increasingly ebullient as they make their way through samples of eight different beers and four ciders, each matched with tiny but exquisite dishes created by Andrew Black of Blakes Feasts.
Kirrily "Beer Diva" Waldhorn and Eric Walters from Gippsland's Grand Ridge Brewery provided witty and knowledgeable commentary, while Epicure's Ralph Kyte-Porwell moderated with his usual charm.
Guests were genuinely surprised by how well some of the dishes matched the beers - which ran the gamut from light blond wheat beers to hefty Scotch and Belgian ales - and the ciders.
At their best, the matches highlighted interesting flavour characteristics in both food and beverage, and the session was another small step in defying perceptions that beers and ciders are merely wine's poor - and rather crude - cousins."
Fantastic words there by David, who clearly understands the potential for and under appreciation of beer in a dining setting.
(Shame there was no mention throughout the feature of The Beer Diva's Victoria's Women of Beer show.)
So yes, whilst my fellow craft beer writers and geeks are caught up in the groundswell of amazing beer circling Melbourne, we are still an uber minority. Along with the building call to end beer tap contracts at pubs in favour of diversity and CHOICE in beer styles and flavours, we also need to explain to those around us at $28 for a slab of VB is NOT a good thing.
Alternatively...maybe everyone just needs to hold on and get ready to experience beer like never before...with Good Beer Week on its way!
We will see the likes of the Josie Bones crew taking on those "food and wine aficionados" with a new wave of detail and sensation provided to a food and beer pairing experience. Over in St Kilda, the The Local Taphouse will sit you with the brewers whilst you eat and drink (check out who will be at the exciting Brewers & Chewers Dinner on May 19)
For a sneak peak of what Good Beer Week is all about, check out The Crafty Pint story at: http://craftypint.com/news/post/good-beer-great-week/