If you’re looking to extend your tastebuds and celebrate with a pint or two, but don’t know quite where to start, we have got some good news for you!
Kirrily Waldhorn, the self-confessed “Beer Diva”, is here to guide you through your Pilsners and porters on an educational journey that will have you swilling your brew with the best of them in no time.
Beer is one of the world’s oldest prepared beverages. In fact, archaeologists speculate that beer was instrumental in the formation of civilisations. But from its undoubtedly humble beginnings, the brewing of beer has been taken to a whole new level in recent years.
According to Kirrily Waldhorn, beer consultant at The Beer Diva, Australians who like beer have never had it so good.
“There is pretty much every style of beer imaginable available within Australia, including an incredible range of locally, Australian-brewed beers,” she says. “Thanks to a new generation of innovative brewers who are not afraid to take risks, there is a wide variety of brews on offer in Australia, from Pilsners to porters, golden ales to amber ales and barrel-aged to sours,” she explains.
So, how’s a girl to know what to choose for who and when?
A brew for every palate
Waldhorn suggests thinking about the occasion and who you’re drinking with when it comes to choosing the perfect brew.
“In summer I might choose a fruity, funky Saison; in winter, a sultry, smooth stout… of course there are many in between each of these beers as well. If you are buying beer to share with someone, it’s a good idea to understand their tastes — do they enjoy lighter, fruitier flavours in their beer or do they enjoy the occasional walk on the dark side?” she says.
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Of course, then there is the choice between light or full-bodied, spritzy or creamy, and the most important — whether your companion prefers a more hop-driven beer with fresh aromatics or a malty style with caramel and chocolaty characters.
“There are definitely a number of considerations when choosing a beer, but there’s also a lot of fun in selecting a few different bottles to share and discovering which ones everyone prefers,” enthuses Waldhorn.
A perfect match
Looking for the perfect brew to pair with pork for an elaborate Father’s Day feast? Or maybe there’s a beer out there that’s found its soulmate in a chocolate fondue?
Beer is incredibly complex in its flavour makeup and, according to Waldhorn, there is no food that beer cannot enhance.
“The first lesson in any food and beverage pairing is to ensure the flavours in the pairing are balanced and that one does not overpower the other,” she advises. “Ask yourself, does the beer complement the food? Are there similar flavour characteristics that will work in delicious harmony? Or is the beer acting as a palate cleanser?”
For a Father’s Day feast fit for your king, Waldhorn suggests pairing an English-style amber ale alongside a heavenly slow-cooked pork belly. “The caramel characters found in the beer will certainly enhance the right caramelisation found in the pork and the beer will also cut through the richness of the belly,” she says.
“Alternatively, beer-battered fish and chips paired with a crisp, clean Pilsner is a fabulous example of how well beer can cleanse the palate,” suggests Waldhorn.
If you’re really feeling adventurous, pair a rich, decadent stout with a chocolate pudding. “This is truly a magical combination and one that everyone should try at least once in their lifetime!”
Rules of engagement
Finally, a word on how to best enjoy your beer.
“Get it out of the bottle or can and into a glass,” says Waldhorn. “Aromas are imperative to flavour, accounting for over 75 per cent of what we taste. So, swirl the glass, release the aromatics, take a deep inhale through your nose and pause before you taste. Of course, you then sip, consider the flavours and then swallow as it’s only here that you can experience the full bitterness of the beer at the back of your mouth,” she says.