disclaimer: I attended the lunch as a guest of Coopers Brewery.
date of lunch: Friday 5 July 2013
This year I was lucky enough to be invited again, and, as a teaser, a beautiful box of the soon to be released Vintage Ale arrived on my doorstep the week before. It’s a tough life when you not only get a free lunch but also some free beer!
I almost had to miss the lunch this year* but luckily the planets lined up and lunch time saw me at the Earl of Aberdeen, ready to taste the new Vintage Ale, as well as a couple of back vintages.
Proceedings started in the bar with Celebration Ales all round and canapés in the form of chorizos wrapped in filo, baked and presented as cigars. Sausages wrapped in filo pastry should definitely become a ‘thing’!
This year, there was more dining space opened up for the lunch, as well as a seating plan. This was great because it meant the Coopers staff were spread amongst the diners and (hopefully) gave everyone a chance to chat to someone from the brewery.
The menu, put together by the Earl’s chef with Masterchef runner up, Michael Weldon, really focussed on using beer in food. To accompany lunch, we were served the 2007, 2009 and current release Vintage Ales. Entré (easily dish of the day, for me) was scallops and prawns, served with linguine and a Coopers Pale Ale beurre blanc. This was great: the scallops were huge, the seafood was beautifully cooked and I loved the presentation. The sauce had a richness to it which I guess came from the beer but it wasn’t overwhelmingly beer-y in anyway. The pasta also deserves a mention: it was perfectly cooked and delicious.
This was followed by a 2007 Vintage Ale sorbet. I was very indifferent to this but I suspect part of the problem was the HUGE portion. I’d expect a palate cleanser to be two mouthfuls at most but this was almost dessert size in proportion and I found the vanilla notes (also present in the aged Vintage Ale) really over the top.
Main course was beef cheeks – cooked in the current release Vintage Ale, naturally. Last year’s epic steak was a really tough act to follow (and seriously, everyone I know who went last year remembers that steak!) but this was a tasty and hearty meal – quite essential on what was a freezing (by Adelaide standards!) day.
Lunch wrapped up with panettone, served with (you guessed it!) Vintage Ale custard.
The lunch is held annually (first Friday in July – if you want to mark it in your calendar!) and is a great way to taste some back vintages of the Vintage Ale, as well as have a big lunch! It’s a lighthearted way to learn more about both Coopers and beer.
The 2013 Vintage Ale is available now, until sold out, at about $76 a case. Selected pubs will also have it on draught.
* Regular readers may know that my household includes a toddler. He has recently made an unscheduled, but thankfully short and successful (if that’s the right word!), trip to hospital. Everyone is home, happy and healthy. Having seen first hand the smile it brings to a small person in hospital, I’d encourage you to consider donating a bear to your local hospital. If the feel good factor isn’t enough, your donation will help raise funds for cancer research AND be a tax deduction.