Oktoberfest food and beer matching | The Brewery, The Pepys Building, London SE10 9LW
This is the second time we’ve hopped (no beer pun intended) off the train at Greenwich to visit the Old Brewery for a beer pairing session. Our first visit was more of a traditional event, no theme as such, simply good food paired with good beers. Read our full review here. This time there was a theme and that theme was, Oktoberfest! So we prepared ourselves for a totally Germantastic evening – but wait a minute, where are the cute waitresses in lederhosen? Missed a trick there guys or maybe it would have been too obvious!
Again we sat in the main dining hall, right next to the shiny brass tanks of the Meantime micro brewery. Although this time there wasn’t the formal area set aside for the guest speakers. American born brewmaster Eric Toft and Meantime founder Alastair Hook simply stood up introduced each course from their table. To be honest I preferred the talk at the beginning of the meal as I wasn’t too keen on stop/start method! Plus I found it extremely rude when certain tables continued to talk over Eric and Alastair. You simply don’t do that, especially to people as knowledgeable as Mr Toft and Mr Hook – shut up and you may actually learn something! Even though most of what Eric said went over our heads (we’re still not beer experts by any stretch of the imagination) it’s hard not to admire his passion and enthusiasm.
Right, on to the food and more importantly the beer. The menu consisted of five courses and eight, yes eight, beers. Many of which were topped up during the evening. First up was the ‘Introduction’, Sülze is a traditional ‘poor man’s dish’ this time served using ‘rich man’s ingredients. Braised ham in aspic (jelly) with cornichons (small pickled gerkins) and a broad bean relish. Three beers went with this course. 1) Augustiner Hellespont, a traditional Bavarian beer that dates back to the 15th century. 2) Schönramer Gold, a pale beer with a 6% ABV, usually drunk from 1L jugs – Danger! Danger! 3) Meantime Fest Bier, a dark beer with a subtle malt sweetness based on the classic Oktoberfest tipple.
Starters were our favourite course by far, Matjes, marinated herrings with roast baby beets. The sweetness of the root vegetables and the sharp acidity of the fish was complimented by the Meantime Pilsner, a north German style beer with a dry finish. The main course was very overwhelming! As it was served I watched the other diner’s reactions, one mouthed ‘Oh my god!’ Another crudely said ‘What the f***!’ And the reason for this was the immense size of the Kalbschnitzel mit rösti. Apparently a schnitzel should cover the plate, and this veal schnitzel was served on a huge wooden platter – note to chef, next time use a smaller board!. Unfortunately it was a little bland even with the mushroom sauce and the potato cakes were more dry than crisp. The Schönramer Dunckle, a dark 5% ABV beer had incredible depth of flavour though, like treacle or caramel.
This slight disappointment of the main course was made up for by the delicious Schwarzwälder Torte (Black Forest Gateux). This classic torte had the perfect mix of boozy sponge, soaked black cherries, sweet cream and bitter dark chocolate. The matched beer, Schneider Aventinus, was probably my favourite of the evening. A cloudy, mid-dark beer with a sweet aftertaste.
Just when we thought that was that, out came the cheese course and another two beers. The serving of Obatzer was huge, enough to feed a small army and way out of proportion to the two pretzels it was served with. This soft cheese, spiced with paprika and caraway seeds was good but I barely made a dent in the bowl. Out of the two beers the smokey scented Schönramer Saphir Bock easily outshone the Schlenkerla Marzen…
So four courses and eight different beers later that actually was that! If the truth be known, I much preferred the whole experience the first time I went. On this occasion the between course talks were a little rushed and the emphasis seemed to be quantity not quality. But fear not they will soon have the chance to redeem themselves. For next month (7th November) The Old Brewery is hosting its ‘Travel Broadens the Palate‘ event with guest speaker, beer and travel writer, Adrian Tierney-Jones. Beer and travel writer – now that’s what I call a job! If I double barrel my surname maybe I could get await with it… Maybe, maybe not.
The Old Brewery,
The Pepys Building,
The Old Royal Naval College, London SE10 9LW
Telephone: 0203 327 1280
10am to 5pm, Monday to Sunday
6pm to 11pm Monday to Saturday &
6pm to 10.30pm on Sunday
11am to 11pm Monday to Saturday &
12pm to 10.30pm Sunday