Whenever I return to Blighty the first thing I do is go to a pub to enjoy the nectar that is a pint of warm beer. In England these days that usually means a craft beer locally brewed. Of late I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the high standard of New Zealand craft beers.
No surprises then that after a meal at the Pig and Whistle in Rotorua’s Tutanekai St I noticed an advert for a beer and food matching session the following evening. More and more I’m enjoying beer rather than wine so I thought I’d give it a whirl.
Friends had come down from Auckland so two of us decided to go to the matching while the others waited downstairs. We were expecting a few nibbles accompanied by a few sips of beer. We were wrong. We were seated at a table in the last two remaining places already occupied by another visitor from Auckland. We fell into convivial conversation.
To our surprise it turned out we were to be fed different bowlfuls of food each accompanied by a few mouthfuls of beer. All free, courtesy of Emerson’s brewery, based in Dunedin, and the hostelry. There was also an explanation of each brew and why it had been chosen to accompany the selected dish, all explained in a complimentary handbook we could take away for future reference. Emerson’s 1812 pale ale was served with breadcrumb coated terakihi, London porter with paella, and I can’t remember the last dish which came with the Bookbinder bitter. All were excellent brews, very hoppy, complex and full flavoured. London Porter was, as its name suggests, a darker stout-like ale. To be honest, I didn’t much care for the pretention of the food matching when the beer spoke for itself.
An hour later we rolled back downstairs where our friends were waiting patiently with their wine ready to order dinner. Needless to say, we weren’t hungry. Nevertheless we managed to chomp our way through a big bowl of spare ribs in plum sauce washed down with a bottle of Bookbinder. Our convivial companion from upstairs joined us and we continued with our truly excellent evening.