A few weeks back TVG was treated a unique dining experience at Sean’s Panorama at North Bondi for the launch of a great new campaign for Wellington Tourism (New Zealand). If you haven’t eaten at Sean’s you definitely should, it’s one of Sydney’s iconic restaurants and with the ever-evolving menu you won’t’ be disappointed. On this particular evening though we dined with a difference – 6 courses of venison each served with matching beers from the Wellington based brewing company The Garage Project.
The food was exceptional, however today I’ll be focussing on the beers. Having never experienced a ‘matching beer’ menu I was amazed by the level of intricacy, flavour and skill that went into not only matching the beers to each meal but the incredible brewing process involved with each beer
The Garage Project is part of what is becoming an increasingly common story in Wellington – two guys with a passion for brewing in their spare time who ended up making it their day job. Co-founder Jos Ruffell, 29, said he and head brewer Pete Gillespie had watched the craft beer scene change significantly since they started talking about setting up their brewery in 2009. “The biggest change I’ve seen in Wellington is having (craft beer) in restaurants,” Ruffell said. “Eight months ago it might have been passable to have a mediocre beer selection on the menu. Whereas now, it’s not excusable.”
Below are the 5 beers we tasted on this particular night, each with their own unique qualities and amazing labeling:
1. Pernicious Weed
The arrival of hops to the brewing scene in England in the 1500’s led to a moral panic. Hops were condemned as a “wicked and pernicious weed”, one which would lead to the erosion of social and moral standards. Thank goodness they were right. This beer is a homage to the original pernicious weed continues this gradual decline. Organic Rakau and whole cone Nelson Sauvin go head to head in this strong, golden, hoppy brew. Think bitter & Intensely hoppy.
2. VPA (Venusian Pale Ale)
Venusian Pale Ale, an interesting beer which uses some of the local flora and fauna you find hanging around the Wellington area. Lemon grass, kaffir lime leaf and grapefruit peel meld seamlessly with Venusian Spear Fungus. The beer is notably zesty and at 7.3% abv it’s great got some kick to it.
Red Rocks is a rich ruby red ale with loads of chewy malt character. There wasn’t a lot of restraint shown in the hopping of this beer, evident by the large amount of Nelson Sauvin hops in each sip. The end result is a nice balance of malt sweetness and bitterness, with some assertive hop aroma and flavour.
4. Lord Cockswain’s Courage
Brewed using five different malts, Khargunthi hops, black strap molasses, bull’s testosterone and a thousand yard stare, Cockswain’s Courage is as black as space and at 6.3% abv guaranteed to warm the cockles. Rich and complex there’s also a merry hint of toasted oak – it’s a full on beer with a tonne of flavour, not for the faint hearted.
5. Razor Sharp ( No image available)
The most subtle and delicate beer we tasted on the night. At 4.5% it’s the least strong beer so far of the 5. A light golden straw colour, the beer is based on the Belgian Wit style but with an orange and cardamom twist. This is not a hop driven beer. Instead it has an aromatic hit from the late addition red grapefruit, tangelo, orange and lemon peel, camomile flowers, vanilla bean and freshly crushed green cardamom.
Take a look at The Garage Project’s great online store for posters, beers and branded products