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Monday, February 08, 2010

Beer tasting dinner at MuMu Grill, Crows Nest

"Jamon, Aussie, Jamon... Jamon"

This, I think, should be the cheer I will sing at all functions from now on.

Tonight I'm at a beer tasting dinner at MUMU Grill, a preview event by owner and head chef Craig Macindoe before the soon-to-be regular event is launched to the public in March. We're also among the first to check out the new private dining room, a previously underutilised alcove that has been renovated into an intimate space with a cabin feel, especially with the woodfired oven against one wall.

Private dining room

We'd started with beer in champagne classes outside, a little odd at first, but the Hefeweizen, by Moo Brew in Tasmania, has a crispness and bubble factor not unlike sparkling wine.

Tonight's event focuses on beer, specifically boutique beers, and co-host Dan Hampton, from Beer Snobs, is filled with undeniable passion about the subject. Whilst wine tasting events are quite common, there are few opportunities for people to really explore the nuances of beer. Beer is notoriously difficult to brew, Dan explains, and harder to control than wine. This is primarily due to the number of ingredients in beer, but also by the fact that yeast has to be artificially introduced into beer, unlike wine.

House-made bread, garden-grown Ox Heart tomatoes
and 18-month Jamon Serrano

After snacking on canapes of beef tartare made from grass-fed Angus Pure beef, we move inside the dining room to start our beer journey.

Platters of house-made herb bread (soft and light) are served with giant garden-grown Ox Heart tomatoes and paper thin shavings of 18-month Jamon Serrano. The Jamon makes me weak at the knees, a melt-in-the-mouth lusciousness of cured pork bliss.

Murray's Pilsner from Port Stephens

It's paired with our second beer of the evening, a Murray's Pilsner, and we're taken through the process of proper beer tasting.

Beer tasting

How to taste beer:
  1. Pour carefully, avoiding too much foam
  2. Swirl vigorously
  3. Observe the three Cs: colour, clarity and carbonation
  4. Smell by inhaling deeply three times
  5. Taste and savour, remembering to use the back of your throat

Pacific oysters (left) and Sydney Rock Oysters right

Oysters au naturel are next, the Sydney Rocks are superb, and are matched with Marston's Oyster Stout, the only foreign beer we will drinking tonight.

Marston's Oyster Stout from the UK

Oyster stout is said to have originally come about when oysters were placed in the barrel during the beer fermenting process. The oyster stout by Marston's doesn't have oysters in it, but it's interesting to note its savoury characteristics. Many of us detect Vegemite, probably a result of the yeast, and I get a slight soy sauce echo, in a good way of course.

Pigs Fly Pale Ale by Bowral Brewing Company

Pigs Fly Pale Ale immediately reminds me of my cooking hero Pig Flyin!

Slow-cooked pork shoulder cooked in Pigs Fly pale ale
served on baked cannelini beans with deep-fried sage leaves

The pale ale is paired with a slow-cooked pork shoulder, cooked in the same ale. The pork has been cooked for 11 hours and is incredibly tender. Bacon baked beans, using cannelini beans, have an earthiness to them that is comforting, but the sage leaves are the most addictive, whole leaves dipped in tempura batter and then deep-fried. "We deep-fry them all the time and have them as snacks in the kitchen," Craig says.

Craig Macindoe

The wood-fired oven

Reserve Lager by Enterprise Knappstein Brewery, South Australia

We move onto a lager, matched with the main meal of the evening: meat and potatoes.

Angus Pure 1.2kg T-bone cooked tagliata-style with garlic and rosemary

The 1.2kg T-bone is a sight to behold. Craig, a vocal proponent of grass-fed beef, stocks nothing but grass-fed beef in his restaurant, believing the flavour and texture is superior to grain-fed stock. He is also a firm believer in sustainability and supporting local producers.

Slow-cooked beef

The beef is cooked to a juicy medium-rare and sliced into strips, tagliata-style, with liberal amounts of garlic and rosemary scattered throughout. The end piece is particularly good, ribboned with big chunks of fat. Duck fat potatoes are also tasty.

Duck fat potatoes

Red Emperor Amber Ale by Fish Rock Brewery, Mittagong

Red Emperor Amber Ale has a distinct lychee aroma. Usually the tasting notes that include fruits seem optimistic to my palate, but in this beer the smell of lychees is unmistakeable.

Braised cuttlefish and chorizo

Braised cuttlefish and chorizo seem like an unusual pairing but the cuttlefish is enviably tender, served with sliced of seared spicy chorizo and a salad of finely shredded red cabbage and microgreens that is light and refreshing.

Dark Ale by Moo Brew, Tasmania

Our final beer is a Dark Ale by Moo Brew. Incredibly it does taste like chocolate, as the tasting notes suggest.

Sour cherry chocolate tart served with hazelnut gelato

A sour cherry chocolate tart is the finale for the evening and it's so good that Billy, Karen and I all dig into seconds. The base has a buttery crumb and the tart is chocolately but fluffy, with occasional encounters of whole hazelnuts or tart dried sour cherries.

It's an informative evening, and especially inspiring when Dan tells us that women are said to make better beer tasters, noted for their ability to identify and articulate different flavours and aromas in beer.

The Beer Tasting Dinners are set to commence in March 2010. For upcoming event details, keep an eye on the MUMU website or blog.

Grab Your Fork attended the Beer Tasting Dinner as a guest of MUMU head chef and owner Craig Macindoe.

View Larger Map
Mumu Grill on Urbanspoon

MUMU Grill
70 Alexander Street, Crows Nest, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9460 6877

Open 7 days
Lunch 12pm-3pm
Dinner 6pm-11pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
MUMU Grill, Crows Nest (Apr10), (Feb10) and (Jul09)

Crows Nest - Counter, The (Burgers)
Crows Nest - Grill'd (Burgers)
Crows Nest - MUMU Grill (Mod Aust)
Crows Nest - Not Bread Alone (Mod Aust)
Crows Nest - Paradoxe Restaurant Francais (French)
Crows Nest - Ryo's Noodles (Mar08), (Aug07) and (Jul07) (Japanese ramen)
Crows Nest - Vineyard, The (Mod Aust)

Crows Nest - Waqu (Japanese)
13 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 2/08/2010 06:00:00 am


  • At 2/08/2010 6:52 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Mmm, fermented oysters... :P

    Also, I'm surprised Dan didn't say that women are better at everything - isn't that pretty common knowledge? :D

  • At 2/08/2010 7:55 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    Jamon, Aussie, Jamon! That made me laugh! LOL.

    Not a beer fan, but the gathering looked fab!

  • At 2/08/2010 10:18 am, Blogger Lilia said…

    Hope that there is other option, replacing berr with wine or juices as most women dislike beers due to its strong smell. I would love to have these meals without beers.

  • At 2/08/2010 10:45 am, Blogger Eyes Bigger Than Belly said…

    Being married to a Butcher - this sounds like a normal night at home for me!! LOL :) But great post,

  • At 2/08/2010 10:46 am, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    I like how I always sat at the best corner at the table where food is the focus and always none left. I'm glad we hijacked the last two pieces of the chocolate tarts! LOL

  • At 2/08/2010 5:46 pm, Blogger Just Desserts said…

    If you are ever in Melbourne & want some "Jamon Aussie Jamon" then try

    Dino's Deli -
    34 Chapel Street, Windsor

  • At 2/08/2010 6:57 pm, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    the steak and chocolate tart was definitely my favs. :-)

  • At 2/09/2010 7:17 am, Anonymous LetsEat said…

    Red Emperor never had one but I read that it was rated one of the best Australian beers, The photos look great

  • At 2/09/2010 8:33 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Hmm I'm not a huge beer fan but this looks like fun! *sigh* Jamon is happiness in a thin slice of meat isn't it?

  • At 2/09/2010 11:02 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    omgomgomgomgomgg beerbeerbeerbeerbeerbeer XD! Everything from the beer to the food looks soooo goodd!!!

    I think women make better tasters cos the men just skull the beer down :P

  • At 2/10/2010 1:20 am, Blogger nomnomnibblies said…

    Hi Helen,

    We've been following your food blog for a while now and have been inspired to start one of our own!
    Here is the link to our blog http://nomnomnibblies.blogspot.com/
    Please pop by when you have time!

    ps: the food looks great, except we're not much of a beer fan :P but we must go try it out one day!

    Love, L & J xx

  • At 2/11/2010 1:11 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great article and good to see that beer is being recognised as a great beverage with far more subtlety and variety than wine. But beer is actually pretty easy to brew - all those home brewers (including me) can't be wrong. The great thing, though, is you can make it as complex as you like - 100s of varieties of malt, 100s of varieties of hops, 100s of varieties of yeast, and even the water (mineral content etc) can vary a lot depending on the origin ("terroir"). Go beer!


  • At 2/12/2010 3:00 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Hannah - lol. I wouldn't say everything, otherwise where would be the fun?

    Hi Joey - It's quite worrying the things that come to me when I start to write a post. lol

    Hi Lilia - I think this was more an event about seeing how the beers complemented the meals, and I did find boutique beers a lot lighter and more flavoursome. Perhaps you might give some a go?

    Hi Joy - Lucky you! I'd love to learn more about cuts of meat. At least you're never short of a good steak!

    Hi Billy - Ha, that's cos you're sitting with the crazy food bloggers. The chocolate tarts were amazing - we did well!

    Hi Just Desserts - Thanks for the tip!

    Hi Simon Food Favourites - I will always have a soft spot for the jamon, but I agree, the steak and the chocolate tart were great as well.

    Hi LetsEat - It's always interesting to try new boutique products. I loved the product packaging and the flavours were quite incredible.

    Hi Stephcookie - Ha there's always fun when there's food and food bloggers around! Jamon is my happy place :)

    Hi FFichiban - You may have a point there. lol

    Hi nomnomnibblies - Thanks for letting me know and great to hear another food blogger has been inspired!

    Hi Stan - I've never tried making my own beer but have heard a few horror stories from others. lol. Beer can be a complex beverage, something I learnt from a crash course in some great ales in the UK.


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