High Tea Paired with a Selection of Craft Beers

Menu Set UpAfter only about 12 months of workshopping this idea in my head, I finally hosted my first high tea paired with a selection of fine beers on Sunday.

I’d been wanting to do this for quite a while and for a number of reasons. Being passionate about good beer and food, I wanted to share this love of mine with my nearest and dearest. I also wanted to showcase beer as being a choice beverage for enjoying with some of the finer, girlier things in life – which, let’s face it, is not exactly what it’s known for. If I can help make beer just that little bit more accessible to women I’ll be as pleased as punch. But perhaps most of all, I wanted another opportunity to spread the good beer message and an excuse to prattle on and on about beer which my guests involuntarily yet graciously endured.

Beers for High TeaI invited a bunch of girlfriends over; some were beer drinkers but overwhelmingly beer was not a beverage of choice for the majority. Nevertheless, all were willing particpants and gave every beer a go with an open mind.

Sweet ServiceFive courses and six beers later I hadn’t completely converted any of the self-professed non-beer drinkers into fully-fledged craft beer nuts, but I can safely say a new appreciation and understanding of beer was achieved – so, partially converted. I’m pretty sure the girls all had a good time too and were happy to learn more about brewed beverages of the malt, hops and yeast variety.

Drinks TableIf you’re thinking of hosting your own beer high tea and are looking for some inspiration, here’s the complete menu. Some tips for hosting your high tea are below and links to recipes (where available) are at the end of the post.

High Tea Menu

Hosting a Beer High Tea: some tips

If thinking about hosting your own high tea, here are a few tips I learnt along the way to hosting mine:

  • Pairing a number of items with the one beer can be a little tricky and planning a menu takes time – give yourself plenty.
  • Sourcing beers may be a challenge so choose ones you know you can get your hands on or plan a similar alternative to your first preference.
  • Be sure to cater to your guests, not just in terms of dietary requirements but also in terms of passing on your beery wisdom. Keep in mind that your guests may not be a bonafide craft beer geek like yourself.
  • Fresh is best; source local if you can. Not only will you be supporting your local craft beer scene but your guests will love hearing about local breweries and their wares.*
  • It’s a lot of work making a ma-zillion mini dishes so make in advance what you can and freeze it to defrost on the day. Another trick is to employ family and friends to make a couple of things, particularly if they have a specialty such as my Grandma and her Hazelnut Chocolate Slice.

Mini Cherry GalettesThe Menu: a breakdown

First course, the Traditional Service, all had a citrus twist. Lemon, dill and chive butter on the cucumber sandwiches; subtle citrusy twang to the thousand island relish with the ham; chicken and avocado mixed with lemon on Turkish bread; and the lamb being marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and mixed herbs. Continuing with the theme of fresh, citrus flavours a zesty witbier was just the ticket for this service and it was hard to go past Holgate Brewhouse’s 15th anniversary White Ale.

Traditional ServiceThe Savoury Service was next with a trio of spicy dishes (and then the odd one out, mini quiche lorraines). To quell the heat, what better than Australia’s number one craft beer of 2014, Feral Brewing Co’s Hop Hog Pale Ale – fresh, fruity and a decent amount of hop bitterness to offer respite from the curry and chilli cuisine (and help transcend the robust saturated dairy fats of the quiche).

Savoury ServiceNext up were the quintessential high tea staple, scones. To add another craft beer element to the afternoon I used my recipe posted on this site recently and made them with a wheat beer – Green Beacon Wayfarer USA, a local Brissy brew. You can read about the pairing with La Sirene Farmhouse Red here.

Beer SconesSweet service was, well, sweet and the decadent yet dry chocolate stout from White Lies was right on the money served with some chocolatey treats and fruit-flavoured sweeties. The mini cherry galettes were particularly divine against the brew – if you’ve ever had a choc cherry stout such as Bacchus Brewing Co’s Ben Jungles, you know what I mean.

Aerial Sweet ServiceFinally, it was time to get rid of some of my stock of beer sorbets and free up some freezer space. A superb summer finale and a real crowd-pleaser like the somewhat sweeter beer cocktail served on arrival.

Links to Recipes

Sandwiches High TeaBeer Drinker in the making

Girly Beery Afternoon

* Sadly, the effects of ex-tropical cyclone Marcia over south-east Queensland [read: torrential downpours] on Saturday ensured I didn’t stray too far from home to fill up any growlers with deliciously, fresh local goodness this time round.

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