b a t t l e
o f t h e
b o t t l e
After a solid 12 hours on the road, my glorious Barossa Gourmet Weekend was finally coming to an end, I was tired to the point of semi-delirious but nothing could suppress my excitement for the five course dinner at Barossa Valley Brewing for the monthly event called ‘Battle of the Bottle’.
Unlike a traditional degustation with matched wine, this one also comes with beer. Why? Because what the team at BV Brewing are wanting to do, is show people that beer doesn’t necessarily have to be matched with footy and pies as per the stereotypical Aussie tradition. They want to share the complexity of flavours that craft beer brings and it’s ability to be both complimentary and enhancing to your dining experience.
‘Battle of the Bottle’ is a fun and interactive dinner in which an exceptional local winemaker and brewer go head to head to try and convince the audience which beverage is better suited to each course of the degustation. This round saw Ben Edwards, assistant winemaker from Chateau Tanunda go up against Denham D’Silva, owner of Barossa Valley Brewing.
We started the evening with a welcome beer, their award winning honey blonde variety called the Bee Sting. We did a bit of mingling and then headed down to the brewery for a tour and presentation about the basics of brewing.
Denham explained wherein winemakers are sometimes limited to experimentation by grapes and seasons, “the only restriction brewers have is their imagination”.
After a quick Q&A session from the audience, we headed back into the restaurant, The Brasserie to begin the eating, drinking and debating.
The menu, designed by the BV Brewing kitchen (but also sampled prior to the event by Ben to keep it fair) covered all bases of the palate (salty, spicy, sweet etc.). The aim of the game was for winemaker and brewer to pick one of their drinks which they believed best suited each dish. They each gave a rousing speech explaining why they came to the decision to match each particular beer or wine, as well as some great information about each product too.
As the audience, we then tasted and voted.
A particular topic that kept coming up in discussion was whether the beer or wine cut, cleansed or complimented the food, it was up to the punters to decide. Ben explained that it was not necessarily one versus the other when it came to which was better suited out of the beer or wine, but more of a triangle type situation in which it was beer versus wine, wine versus food and beer versus wine. A complete crossover for the senses.
One particular gentlemen shared that in regards to the Smokey Bay Oysters, the beer made the oysters taste better, yet the oysters make the wine taste better. It was all very much up for your own interpretation, and a whole lot of fun.
Some of the highlights throughout the meal were the beer sorbet palate cleanser, the pork ribs in Red Ale marinade, and the chocolate coffee stout cake. For the beverages it was the Barossa Smoke, a seasonal beer in which the malt is smoked in small batches at award winning local small goods producer Steiny’s, giving an aromatic and earthy spice. On the wine side of of the game it was a renegade move by Ben giving us a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, served chilled to combat the spicy Lamb Madras.
In the end, the results of the battle favoured the wine. However, only just. But really – Battle of the Bottle was for the show, for the fun and for the theatre of it all. And it was a right good time.
What this experience really emphasized is, as Denham said of the Barossa Valley, “people come up here to spoil their palate”, and not necessarily for just wine, but now with beer as well. It’s about educating people about the experimentation of flavours brewing craft beer allows and that it can be just as complimentary to food in the way we’ve always known wine to be.
Battle of the Bottle is an absolute must-do whether you’re a wine drinker, a brew-head or a foodie, or maybe all of the above. A fantastic night of delicious food, exceptional drinks and above all, an educational experience about the miracle of our palates.
photography by Daniel Purvis