Here at Froth magazine we are a bit of a fan of Hargreaves Hill. These champs produce some excellent drops – including their lovely ESB and stout. We were super excited to hear that they had paired up with George Calombaris (who while I do find him terribly annoying on Masterchef, does make a great kebab) to make a GREEK PALE ALE (cool, huh?!) for a food and beer degustation at the Press Club on Friday August 5.
Being extremely nosy, I asked Reuben Davis, development chef at The Press Club, a few questions about the beer and the event.
What is a Greek Pale Ale?
The Greek Pale Ale (GPA) was created through a collaboration between The Press Club and Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company. The GPA is based on a white IPA and features a blend of Grecian spices recognised in the traditional Greek Easter Bread, tsoureki.
The mahlepi [an aromatic spice made from the seeds of a species of cherry] offers a nutty bitterness while the smooth honey flavour comes from the star anise and sweet orange peel. The brew has a soft bready-wheat malt profile, along with tropical and stone fruit characteristics from the Australian and US hops.
Our team handcrafted the brew in the Yarra Valley with head brewer, Kai Dambergs.
How do you come up with the idea for this beer?
We wanted to create a brew that would be complementary to the food we serve at The Press Club and Gazi, allowing us to match dishes with the subtle spice characters within the GPA.
Everything we do at the restaurant adds to the guests’ dining experience and by working with the Hargreaves Hill brewers, we have created a Victorian ale with local ingredients and a Greek influence.
How is it made?
GPA started life as hops, wheat, oats and pilsner malt at the brewery. Our head sommelier here at The Press Club, Fabien Moalic, was heavily involved in the process, and helped mash in before the mixture was moved to the kettle for boiling. The spices were added at various stages during the brewing process to retain the desired flavor profiles.
What kind of dishes will you be serving with the beer?
For our event on Friday 5th August (International Beer Day) in The Press Club – Projects, we are looking to put our twist on classic beer food but will also make sure the dishes stay true to the flavours of the beer. For example, we are looking to start with mezethes which include a play on some beer snacks including pork scratchings, a bacon brioche using tsoureki (Greek Easter bread) and taramosalata with salt and vinegar loukoumades. Then for dessert, a chocolate pudding with milk and stout.
Are there any other Greek beers available in Australia?
There’re a few Greek-imported mainstream lagers in Melbourne but little in the way of Greek craft beer, which is another reason behind the development of our GPA.
Do you think that craft beer is finally being considered like wine, in that it can be paired with classy food?
Yes! The history of food and wine matching stretches back over hundreds of years. Pairing the flavour and texture profiles to enhance the diners’ experience is a winning formula and, as chefs, we are now beginning to understand more about the nature and scope of the craft beer industry. It’s a great way to add a different twist to a degustation dinner and there are lots of interesting craft breweries who are all pushing the boundaries in terms of flavour combinations at the moment.
(Press Club – Projects is the development kitchen next door to The Press Club that does private and exclusive dinners for up to 14 people)