Beerkary = Beer for Breakfast

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

I don't like beer. Well, I thought I didn't like beer - experience had told me that beer was bitter, made me feel icky and my face bright red (damn Asian genes). Altogether it was not something I would choose to drink if I had a choice. Then microbreweries started to pop up around Brisbane and craft beers began appearing on drinks menus and being the sucker for trying new things that I am, I gave beer another try and discovered that not all beer was completely awful. Still makes me red and I'm tipsy after half a glass so I'm not rushing to down pints of it but I like to try them in places like Green Beacon,  Fortitude Brewing Co. and even visited several when I was in Bangalore. I'm especially a fan of the places that offer small tasting glasses - perfect Gabi size! Anyway when Brisbane hosted Brewsvegas in March this year, I was intrigued and looked into the events that were on. While I didn't get to any of them, I discovered the Beerkary Bakery which is a concept bakery combining beer and baked goods, developed by Ben Devlin (Chef at Esquire and recently awarded the Good Food Guide's Young Chef of the Year) and Yen Trinh. So despite the fact that both beer and bread don't generally agree with me at all, it really appealed to my love of combining unexpected flavours and ingredients. During Brewsvegas they created Beercarons, beer-flavoured macarons, and some delicious sounding beer-infused baked goods at Bosc one morning. I was disappointed to miss out and so when I heard that they were doing another event at The Scratch at Milton last Sunday, I knew I had to be there. I roped in beer lover I, who is a big fan of The Scratch, to accompany me. 

Line on arrival outside The Scratch

The event began at 10am, which is brunch time in my mind. I ate a light breakfast in anticipation but a busy morning cooking meant I didn't actually arrive at The Scratch until close to 11am. When I arrived, there was already a line of about fifteen people. 

The Beerkary was setup outside in front of the bar with a long table displaying freshly baked treats and loaves of bread. The menu was written on a large chalkboard and there were takeaway menus in the form of Beer Bingo. Four Brewtal beers were featured and each were incorporated into a savoury and sweet item. The savoury items were essentially sandwiches and included hot smoked beef on oatmeal stout sourdough, Welsh rarebit (grilled cheese) on brown butter brioche, pork jowl on sprouted grain and honey sourdough and cured trout on a hopped-up croissant. Chocolate oatmeal brioche with caramelised milk, brown butter grilled pear and caramel scroll, honey sourdough croissant with spiced custard and a lemon and wild flower layer cake rounded out the sweet options. 

Beerkary Bingo
By the time I arrived the cake had sold out and the croissants and brioches were selling quickly. The Welsh rarebit was the next item to sell out and I was starting to worry that there wouldn't be anything left by the time I made it to the front! The meats were cooking on Baby Webers and the smoky scents were doing nothing to sate my growing appetite. I was torn between the smoked beef and pork jowl sandwiches and in the end decided to go with the smoked beef and then share a pork jowl sandwich with I. By the time I made it to the front of the line, the line had doubled and since I had no intention of lining up again we also ordered a brioche to share. I was tempted by the sweet croissant as well but restrained myself knowing I wasn't quite that hungry!

Meats cooking on BBQ

The sandwiches were made to order so while they were being prepared we went inside to find seats and get some was close enough to lunchtime that it didn't feel too early. The friendly bartender allowed me to sample all of the options and while I really liked the Brisbane River Brown, I ended up getting a small glass of the Bloody Good Stout which seemed appropriate given that I had ordered both the matching savoury and sweet items. Plus I actually really like stouts. 

After choosing, our sandwiches arrived and I eagerly took them and carried them to one free table that we found at the back of the bar. The sandwiches looked small but it was all deception. The bread was sliced thick and stuffed with meat and the accompaniments. I bit into the smoked beef in hungry anticipation and was hit with a flavour sensation. The freshly baked bread had a crunchy chewy crust and a strong almost-rye-like flavour which married perfectly with the tender smoky rare beef. The stout flavour was present without being overwhelming. The menu said that it came with pickles but I tasted something creamier and there were some spinach or similar leaves poking out. Whatever was in it was absolutely delicious and it was absolutely the best sandwich I've ever eaten! 

Oatmeal stout sourdough, smoked beef and pickles
Sprouted grain and honey sourdough, honey glazed pork jowl, apple and mustard seeds
Next up was a bit of the pork jowl. The bread was equally good but lighter and sweeter in flavour than the oatmeal stout but still had that perfect chewiness of sourdough. The sweet glazed pork was fatty and soft and accompanied by a creamy apple coleslaw. It too was absolutely delicious but perhaps a little fatty and sweet for me to have more than a few bites. I tried to savour them and eat slowly but hunger and desire to have more meant it didn't take long for me to finish them! 

Afterwards we took a break from eating and I sipped my beer slowly. Eventually I felt ready for dessert and opened the paper bag containing the brioche. It was not large so the perfect size to sample between two. A couple that joined us at the table had taken one bite of theirs and made comments that it was awful so I was unsure of what it would taste like. But after taking one bite I decided that they were crazy. It was super chocolate-y with a denser texture than brioches usually have. The caramelised milk centre added a creamy feeling to each bite and the sweetness offset the slight bitterness of the stout and chocolate. Altogether an excellent product! 

I left The Scratch feeling incredibly satisfied and happy with the meal I had just devoured and it was clearly popular with everyone else as they sold out of everything before midday. It looks like they're planning to do another event later this month and I plan on being there! In the meantime, I already have ideas about incorporating beer into some of my baking. I've already tried a chocolate beer cake with great success so maybe it's time to try some beer-infused breads... Thank you Ben, Yen, The Scratch and all others involved in the event - I absolutely loved it!

Edit: Next event confirmed to be 19-20 July at The Scratch - cannot wait!

The Beerkary Bakery setup
Sourdough croissant, honey, rye, spiced custard
Brown butter scroll, grilled pear, and salted caramel

Frantic preparation of items to meet demand

Freshly baked sourdough loaves

Inside of The Scratch

The line of hungry customers

You Might Also Like