Friday, 16 July 2010

The big night, Beer & Cheese at Dene House Longframlington

I have never staged an event talking to an audience about beer (or anything else) before, so big nerves for this one. I stuck with my football analogy that my selection of chosen beers and cheeses were my squad of 12 (not 11), with myself being the manager. This is because the outcome of the event would depend ultimately on how well they worked together. I know how good they are, they knew how good they were, it's time for them to prove how good they are. Enough of that Carlsberg ad rubbish, Here was the lineup and how they went down with the crowd:

Pairing 1. Opening partnership.

Van Eecke Watau Wit and Rosary Goats cheese:

Both soft textured, subtle and fluffy, a real crowd pleaser that went down well.

Pairing 2. The locals.

Wylam Rocket with Doddingtons Admiral Collingwood.

Orthodox 5% pale ale meets semi-soft cows milk cheese washed in Newcastle Brown ale. Not a bad pairing, but nothing overly special.

Pairing 3. The old school traditionals.

Worthingtons White Shield meets Glastonbury Farmhouse Cheddar.

Tangy cheddar contrasted by the mellow biscuity malt and earthy hops of this historic British IPA. A brilliant contrast with many earthy pungent flavours finding good harmony.

Pairing 4.

Halve Maan Bruges Zot and Northumberland Coquetdale.

The fruity yeasty, hoppy character of this Belgian Golden session beer attempt to harmonise with the strong fruity, salty flavours of this mould ripened Northeast cheese. Again not bad considering this one was thought up last minute and next time I would probably consider replacing the beer with a Belgian Triple or similar.

Pairing 5. The Scots.

Brew Dog Punk IPA and Strathdon Blue.

Waves of citrus, tropical fruit like hop flavours cutting across the rich Scottish blue cheese. In brief, it works, but if aggressively hopped beers are not thing it won't go down well. So a mixed response here.

Pairing 6. The big guns.

Anchor Old Foghorn and Colton Basset Stilton.

A pairing of real power and intensity that actually received a very positive response.

So a great night was had and at times I wished I wasn't standing up talking through it all so I could sit back and take in the awesome pairings. All the samples were brought out on time, and many questions were asked (admittedly I struggled with the cheese questions, I tried to revise as much as I could about cheese, but I'm no expert). The only real flaw of event came early on, it was a big flaw that ultimately meant the event ran at a loss. Proceedings went a little like this...

19:00: Arrive in the pouring rain, restaurant looks quiet, lets go an chat to the staff, get things sorted. Every ones ready for the sum total of 10 people who agreed to be here to turn up shortly.

19:15: Still quiet, getting beers out the fridge now to be served at the right temperature. Cheeses are lined up, Beers are lined up in order, bar staff educated ready to go.

19:22: Only 8 minutes to go but still no ones arrived! Whats going on has the rain put them off (in combination with the fact that only 2 tickets were pre paid for).

19:29: Still no one here yet. I sit next to my home brewed 4.5 gallon pin of golden ale brewed especially to be served complementary for the event (what a waste of beer, maybe I'll draw off another pint).

19:35: Not looking good.... Just 5 more minutes... Just give it alittle longer... This can't be happening.

19:43: Wait! PEOPLE ARE TURNING UP!! Joy to the world!

So myself and my capacity crowd of 3 people enjoyed a lovely evening of beer and cheese. I got to chat to the audience more than expected and the whole thing had a very personal feel. Do I class my efforts as successful or a complete failure? Going by numbers (only 5 of 30 tickets were sold) it was a failure. But like the feedback says, 'who wants to go to an £18 event in and area that's not that easy to find on a Wednesday night' maybe the tactical approach was a bit wrong. Anyway, it was memorable none the less.


ChrisM said...

Sounds like it would've been a good night, especially with a few more people. It's a shame, but I suspect it's not the only event of this kind with a poor turn out recently: the Bacchus had to cancel a beer and food matching event due to poor ticket sales, and this is a well established and successful event. I guess the recession is still a factor. Don't let it put you off doing another one, though! If the timings work out I'd be more than happy to try and get a few people together to come along.

Also, what were the beer and cheese for pairing 5?

Ed said...

I'm sure the next one will be bigger!

Rob said...

Well Chris if another one does occur we were planning it on the 18th of August. Namedly our American Craft beer and Beef night (why beef? I'm not entirely sure)

Mark said...

Fantastic pairings, shame you didn't get the numbers you hoped for though. Still, it's a good start - onwards and upwards!! Top effort.