Beer can be a great match with lots of different foods, and owner of Bertie’s Butchers, Darren Moncrieff is making great pairings happen. For the Bertie’s crew, preservative-free beer and ethically sourced meat are part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle. Paired together, they make quite the impression.
We caught up with Darren, over some of our favourite brews, to chat about the benefits of opening the Little Bertie’s Beer Garden out the back and some of his favorite beer-meat pairings.
There’s no doubt that if beer and meat were people, they’d be the best of friends. A nice cold brew and a sweet sizzling sausage go hand in hand (literally!). This dynamic duo is so well respected in Australia, that butchers don’t even need a liquor license to sell alcohol in Victoria. But Bertie’s Butchers has taken it one step further – opening a rustic beer garden and café out the back of their iconic Richmond store. The venue showcases their delicious free-range meats alongside some iconic beers.
Each day at Little Bertie’s, the chef selects two proteins from Bertie’s range of fresh, hormone-free produce and prepares them for breakfast and lunch. With the menu changing every day, patrons can sit down and try some slow-cook pork shoulder, a porterhouse steak, or lamb cutlets for a late lunch, then head ‘round to the front of the shop and order a rack or a slab of what they’ve just eaten.
There’s a myriad of great reasons to have a beer garden out the back of a butcher shop, and Darren knows exactly why it works, explaining that customers have, “just had the product, they know exactly where it’s from”, so they can go home to try and recreate the dish. There is, after all, nothing quite like sitting down with a delicious beer and an expertly cooked piece of meat, sliced and treated by talented butchers in-house. It’s taste testing on a whole new level.
A big fan of beer, and an expert in all things meat, we’ve paid close attention to Darren’s picks for the best beer-meat-romances.
“[Hanh’s] Super Dry and [Toohey’s] Extra Dry are real session beers,” he explains, “they’re really good for when [your friends] are just standing around [the BBQ] having sausages and bread.”
We agree. These preservative-free beers are perfect, because they’re fresh, easy to drink and on average are 99.9% sugar free.
Meanwhile, Furphy, Darren’s go-to beer, “sits somewhere between the session beers and the craft beers,” as a ‘refreshing ale’. You can drink a lot more of it and is pretty versatile.
“It goes with all food…it could go with a nice steak and eye fillet or a nice salad but at the same time you could have it with a sausage and bread or a heap of buffalo wings,” says Darren.
Darker brews, Darren continues, like White Rabbit, tend to sell when people are having a quiet night in with better food. These beers complement most red meats, roasts, and expensive steaks.
Porters and dark ales are also excellent when added to warm winter recipes like goulash, pies, stews, and short ribs. When cooking pork, many people like to use cider, injected into their roasts or as a marinade in the slow cooker. Pale ales make a great addition to batter for cooking fish and a standard lager is the go-to choice for a juicy beer-can chicken.
If you’re more adventurous you can try a recipe using some of the more “edgy” cuts being popularised lately by cooking shows – for example, beef cheeks or chicken hearts, Darren’s favorite BBQ nibbles. As a nose-to-tail, full carcass butcher, you can find all of the above at Bertie’s Butcher plus some high-quality advice on the best pairings and recipes for their locally and ethically sourced meats.