July 24, 2013 by 250 Beers
…do as the Romans do. That’s how the saying goes right? So what does a drinker of good beer do when in somewhere like, say, um, Ipswich for example?
No, no, no, a good beer drinker wouldn’t drink XXXX Gold! He would join the ever-increasing wave of beer drinkers in the vicinity switching over to the ‘craft side’ and following their leader Darth Wader.
Of course, I’m referring to local home-brewer turned saviour of the Ipswich craft beer scene, Wade Curtis, and his beers from 4 Hearts Brewing.
I found myself with a green light from Mrs 250 Beers for the evening of Thursday 18th July. She is well aware of my love of beer and, despite me being out the night before for Beer of Origin 3, gave me a pass to continue the festivities during a week of amazing beer-related events in and around Brisbane.
There were a few events that were close to receiving my hard-earned cash that evening. However, one stood out from the rest. I chose to hot-foot it to the Yamanto Tavern‘s Alehouse 24 for a 4 Hearts Brewing degustation; an evening of eight beers and eight courses for a mere $65. How’s that for a good return for my money? Plus, I’d be supporting two local businesses in the process.
I have to set the scene because I work in Brisbane’s CBD and Ipswich is an hour in the opposite direction to where 250 Beers HQ is. It took me an hour to get into work that morning only for me to journey an hour south after work. Those mathematicians out there will realise that my journey home would entail a two-hour stint with my favourite rail operator, Queensland Rail. I’m being facetious of course because the service is generally below sub-sub-standard.
Anyway, the place filled up ready for the 6.30pm start. Despite the dinner being sold-out, there were no designated seating arrangements and so I sat like a child on the first day at a new school – all alone – at the end of a long banquet table.
As fellow ticket holders began to take a pew, I realised that I’d struck gold with my seat. I happened to be surrounded by great people. Looking back, I wouldn’t have swapped seats if I’d been asked to.
I had two guys to my left, Robbie and Tim, both of whom were previous employees of the Yamanto Tavern (I took this as a good sign figuring that if the place was shite then these guys wouldn’t be there). Opposite me was Jane and her mum, Mary. They both turned out to be as geeky as I. My heart melted when Mary told me that they keep track of what craft beers they try – and when. Same! I knew there and then that I was in fantastic company.
Course number one: Cheese platter with goats cheese, watercress, dried apricot and water biscuits. Accompanied by: Wien Lager (4.8%). This was a great starter. The cheese wasn’t very strong but enough to really get those taste buds going. It perfectly matched the beer which was clean, malty and crisp. Nice start to proceedings.
Course number two: Lemon grass Chicken Salad. Accompanied by: Ipswich Challenger (3.0%). A plentiful helping of delicious chicken amongst this salad was a welcome surprise. I was expecting more leaves and less meat. Great! The subtle zest of the lemon grass promoted the famous Ipswich Challenger which is a very sessionable pale ale.
Course number three: Laksa shot with wombok, julienne carrot and bean sprouts. Accompanied by: Summer Wheat (4.8%). Everybody’s palate was really beginning to get warmed up now. The delicate thoughts that had gone into producing the menu were becoming apparent. A sensible serving of Laksa provided a spicy edge dampened down wonderfully by the freshness of Wade’s wheat beer.
Course number four: Vegetable pakora with coriander and mint dipping sauce. Accompanied by: IPA (7.5%). An Indian dish with an India Pale Ale. Genius. Coming from a country where Indian cuisine is the best seller, it was a safe bet that I would enjoy the pakora. I certainly did. It was the best pakora that I’d eaten since skidding on the runway at Brisbane airport with my worldly belongings five years ago. The IPA? Loved it too. I wanted more but figured I should restrain myself. I love a decent IPA and would happily see this on tap anywhere in Brisbane.
Course number five: Mexican jambalaya with tomato passata. Accompanied by: Cluster F#ck (2.6%). The general consensus was that we were all getting a bit full around this point. As tasty as the dish was, the rice was proving difficult to swallow. So I put more of my concentration into Cluster F#ck which was Wade’s 2013 GABS entry. I was trying to compare it with my memory of Hop X which was a toned down ‘practice run’ version which Wade named after my juvenile April Fools prank. I preferred the Hop X of course!
Course number six: Spiced pork with Mediterranean vegetable couscous, salad and mango/pawpaw chutney. Accompanied by: Pale Ale (4.8%). The pork was served raw yet on the hottest of hot stones so it sat there and cooked itself in front of our very eyes. Alluring whiffs and noisy sizzles filled the air as we slurped the fruity pale ale. Robbie poured a decent amount of his beer onto his pork to add to the flavour. Not sure if it cooled the stones quicker or simply made for a sticky piece of washing up later for somebody. The beer was another sessionable brew. The passionfruit freshness quickly gave way to malty bitterness on the back on the tongue.
Course number seven: Grilled black pudding with potato salad, pretzel grissini and pomegranate paint. Accompanied by: Fest Bier (6.0%). After nibbling through as much pork as I could from the previous course, I was really pushing myself to eat this one! I’m not a lover of black pudding and neither were my cohorts. I, along with those closest to me, at least tried it. It was too soft in my opinion but I was too full to be critical. I slid a few particles of the potato salad down my gullet with the pretzel but attended to the malty Fest Bier more so. It was definitely the maltiest liquid offering of the night and washed away that black pudding with ease!
Course number eight: Plum pudding ice cream. Accompanied by: Coal Miners Stout (3.8%). Those that know me will vouch for my sweet tooth. Hmmmm, ice cream…plum pudding at that. It was divine! The serving was small but perfect. The warmness that embodied the stout proved, again, to be a perfect match; rich but not overpowering at all. It was a fantastic conclusion.
But wait! As a bonus, Wade had bought along a keg of his Imperial Coal Miners Stout (7.8%) as a surprise. Woohoo! Knowing that I was on a bit of a time limit, Wade came over and poured a few for the guests at the table that I was sat at. What a decent stout and a perfect way to wash down the preceding eight edible delights.
Before I left, there was just about enough time to join a loud round of applause for the young chef who came out from the kitchen to face a very happy crowd. It wasn’t just the chef that warranted huge congratulations because all of the staff working that night did a magnificent job. There was not an empty glass in sight all night; they were kept topped up (generously) for the duration.
Like Cinderella trying to avoid the worst, I dashed off as the clock struck 10pm. The taxi driver¹ that had brought me to the ‘posh’ Yamanto Tavern (his words not mine) from the train station earlier in the evening returned for another fare and I made the 10.37pm train in time to empty my bladder before the long haul train trek home. I walked through my front door at 12.50am.
Putting the length of the journey home aside it was all very worthwhile. It was such a great night to be a part of and I absolutely chose the right thing to do with my 65 dollars. If ever there’s another 4 Hearts Brewing degustation at Alehouse 24, I will definitely head back there.
It’s marvellous to see the locals embracing not just Wade and 4 Hearts Brewing but craft beer as a whole.