For Sydney Craft Beer Week, SydneyOnTap were generously invited by Rocks Brewing Co to attend a beer, cheese, and chocolate tasting at Harts Pub. Excited at the prospect of cramming our three favourite indulgences into our faces simultaneously, we sent our best crew to check it out.
Coming in from the rain, we were welcomed into the warm and friendly pub and escorted to our table. Just as the beers were to be paired with the cheeses, our SydneyOnTap representatives were paired with the lovely couple Lindsay and Scott. They seemed to know a thing or two about beer, so we were happy to stick around. By the night’s end we were bound tight by our shared experience.
Before the beers were served, we decided to chat with a couple of the event’s coordinators. First, we spoke to Ben the Cheese Guy (actual title, probably). Ben had just come from his day’s toil of matching beers and cheeses to tell us about matching beers and cheeses. He was keen to explain his goal of connecting Sydney with local farms, and before long we were pumped to taste the fruits of his efforts. Ben had truly earned his title of Cheese Guy.
Next we had a chat with Kane, one of the brewers at Rocks Brewing Co. Having worked at the brewery for around 15 months, it was Kane’s job tonight to describe each of the beers and how they were meant to pair with the cheese. As we were already fans of Rocks’ various brews, we couldn’t resist asking Kane which was his favourite. His answer: Scotch Ale. “I love all our beers as if they were my children,” he explained, “but Scotch Ale just behaves better.”
It was time to sit for our first pairing. Our table trembled with anticipation. First up was Rocks Kellerbier, served alongside Odysseus Barrel Aged Feta. We dug in, excited to share this bounty with our new friends Lindsay and Scott. Kellerbier, Kane noted, is only brewed once a year for Oktoberfest. Made with Bavarian hops, this is a truly characterful beer. Our reactions:
SydneyOnTap: Fresh. Clean. The feta works surprisingly well. I really like cheese.
Lindsay & Scott: The cheese is making the beer better.
Before we could stop shovelling cracker after cracker of feta into our greasy maws, we were greeted with the second pairing. Governor Golden Ale, Rocks’ second best selling beer, was paired with Woombye Truffle Triple Cream Brie. This beer was a bit lighter than the last, and a tiny bit fruity, made with Australian hops. We went straight to work:
SoT: Fruity nose; surprises with bitterness.
L&S: Beer picks up the bitterness nicely. Bite at the end.
At this point we were treated to a welcome cracker refill interlude. We were about to be served Boerenkass 15mth Aged Gouda, which set off a minor pun battle. We wondered if this cheese was going to be gouda than the last. Lindsay told us that we could do feta than that. “Hello, is it brie you’re looking for?” chimed in Scott. The gouda was brought out with the Hangman Pale Ale, Rocks’ flagship product. Made with American hops, its strong citrus flavour compliments its bitterness nicely.
SoT: A beautiful pairing that feels as shocking and promising as a first kiss.
L&S: Best pairing of the night. Both make the other better.
The fourth pairing of the night was Le Dauphin Delice de Chablis with Rocks Conviction Series IPL. A surprisingly strong lager at 7.1%, Rocks’ IPL has a limited exposure, only being served in three bars for the moment.
SoT: A very solid pairing. Strong, yet accessible.
L&S: That’s a cracking beer.
The last of the cheese pairings brought Le Roi Roquefort in perfect harmony with Rocks Butcher Porter. Rocks’ porter is characterised by its malty sweetness and jet black colour. At 7.6%, this beer is not to be messed with.
SoT: Strong and powerful like my dad.
L&S: Smokiness. A tour de Roquefort.
The much-anticipated chocolate pairings were about to begin. Admittedly, we were slightly sceptical of washing down chocolates with beer, but in the next few minutes we were all Believers. The first chocolate had a honey flavoured filling and A PICTURE OF A BEE ON IT. Already encouraged by this friendly visage, Kane returned to talk about its pairing, Rocks Boxer Red Ale. Rocks’ very first beer, it is simple and malt driven.
SoT: Very Sweet.
Mango chocolate was next on the menu. We were each given a glass of Rocks India Session Ale, a lightly alcoholic brew with a floral nose and light malt base.
SoT: Easily goes with the mango. Strong chocolate and light beer.
L&S: Sweet notes.
The final pairing of the night was now imminent. We were disheartened to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but recognised that all things must end. This was our Return of the King. Our Deathly Hallows. Our Matrix Revolutions. The last chocolate was a coconut truffle, which was matched with the famous Rocks Scotch Ale. The aforementioned personal fave of Kane the Brewer, it has a prominent strength of 8.4% and a strong, smokey aftertaste.
SoT: Creamy chocolate pairs well with the biscuity aftertaste.
L&S: You’re not going back to regular beer after this one.
And with that, we were done. We turned to Lindsay and Scott and said our goodbyes. Though we were strangers but a few hours ago, we departed as close friends. They say blood is thicker than water, but the most important thing we learned that night was that beer is thicker than blood (maybe).
SydneyOnTap would like to thank Rocks Brewing Co for the opportunity to attend this eye-opening event, and Harts Pub for their hospitality.
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thoughts & feelings - extended edition
This is where we at Sydney On Tap post all the things that couldn't fit into the paragraphs on each bar page, or the comments under each beer.