Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Good Beer Week 2013 #1 - From Beechworth to Bombay - India vs India

The use of Bombay wasn't offensive was it? I mean... Beechworth vs Mumbai doesn't quite... After all, I'm not looking to advocate any British imperial sentiment here... though now I think about it, without the British East India Company... we probably wouldn't have been gifted the India Pale Ale... so...


India vs India, the collaboration event between Bridge Rd Brewery and masters of Indian cuisine Horn Please, was the first event locked in for me upon my initial glance at the Good Beer Week program. Indian food matched with IPA's? Genius. And all this before I'd stepped foot in the restaurant. A subsequent reconnaissance mission, (albeit a boozy endeavor of a Sunday $20 All-You-Can-Eat) to Horn Please uncovered a gem of a restaurant with quality fare and a craft beer selection from both local and abroad that would leave most bars envious.

The evening began for Dave and I at the Tramway Hotel with a couple of pre-dinner beverages as part of the South Australian offering for Good Beer Week's Pint of Origin series. Then the Horn Please feast was upon us. Ben Kraus, the brains and brews behind Bridge Road Brewery, was on hand to introduce the beers  that would accompany the culinary offerings from our hosts, explaining the ideas behind his Single Hop IPA series (in which we would be sampling the Summer, Stella and Galaxy versions) as well as the India Saison collaboration with Norwegian brewers, Nogne and the recently brewed Imperial IPA, Bling Bling. Bridge Road Beers are as solid as they come in this country. You always know what to expect, and generally, that's a bloody good beer, and this was evident in the beers sampled on the night.

I was keen to see how the dishes would match up with the beers and how they would interact, but each dish that appeared brought an explosion of flavours that I felt potentially out-muscled a lot of the hop characteristics, but as a result, each beer was a malty palate cleanser making way for further adventures in spice and herb. One thing I will say for Horn Please is that the food is spectacular, and their range of beers on offer makes for the perfect place for a night of great food and drink without spending a small fortune. Its kind of like the result of a drunken conversation... "wouldn't it be great if... you had... a curry shop, that.. also had a bar-worthy range... of good beer... and BLACK JACK!" ... okay... maybe without the black jack.

Anyway, the food! The meal opened with an Indian spin on nachos. topped with chickpea and herb and yoghurt salsa, then samosas, one of the most succulent tandoori chicken's I've ever tasted and a trio of curries, Lamb Madras, Butter Chicken and Goat Curry with rice and naan. The pain of overindulgence kicked in somewhere between the Samosa and the tandoori chicken, but at Horn Please, that part of your brain that would usually kick in to say "you should probably stop eating now, you're going to rupture something" switches off, lays back and guzzles vindaloo sauce... it then becomes a compulsion. To devour everything that reaches the table. It's just that good.

Indian style Nachos.

By the time desert arrived, a coconut homemade iced cream in stick format matched with the delightful Bling Bling DIPA, tears of both joy and pain were being wept at the table. There was no room left anywhere in my torso, yet both items managed to crawl their way in and nestle amongst the rest of what had been an amazing night of beer and culinary indulgence. If you haven't already been to Horn Please, I really can't recommend it enough, even just for the food alone. The two, well stocked beer fridges are just that delightful bonus and further evidence that beer and Indian food are the perfect duo for a great night of taste exploration. 

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