Blackrock Brasserie closed in 2016.
The Sutherland Shire probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind when discussing craft beer in Sydney. But to forget it altogether would mean missing out on some great beer.
Blackhorse Brewhouse is the brewing arm of Blackrock Brasserie, a restaurant in Sylvania. It’s here that I indulged in the “Beergustation”.
This is great as a starter or a light lunch and it provides a sample of four of Blackhorse’s staple beers, paired with some delicious bitesize morsels.
Firstly, Blackrock isn’t in the best location. It’s between two main roads, very close to a car showroom. It looks more commercial estate than “casual fine dining” as I think the restaurant is best described.
But once you step inside you know where you are. This is a nice restaurant with a focus on beer. You’re faced with huge stainless steel. You can sit near the bar where you’re separated from the brewery by a mere sheet of glass. Great for beer geeks.
There is, however, a distinct lack of that gorgeous yeasty smell you sometimes get in breweries. But it’s obvious why, the atmosphere is geared towards dining rather than drinking.
This isn’t a place to kill an afternoon sinking schooners. It’s a leisurely lunch or nice-dinner-out kind of place.
I’m here in the afternoon so it’s the Beergustation for me. Best of both worlds, something to eat and a sample of Blackhorse’s beers.
The tasting paddle is four midi sized glasses, more than your usual tasting flight which often resemble shot glasses more than beer glasses.
First course – Prawn cocktail and Kolsch
The prawn cocktail is a good starter. Nice small juicy prawns, fresh seafood aromas and flavours. The rest of the kind-of-coleslaw-kind-of-not cocktail salad is decent enough but it doesn’t matter, the beer is fantastic and a great match for the prawns.
It’s a pale straw coloured Kolsch. It has a very light head and light, crisp aromas. The subtle spiciness and very light bitterness goes well with fresh seafood. The Kolsch has an incredible clarity and it’s served at a perfect cool temperature.
It’s a very refreshing beer and could probably be used as an excellent palate-cleanser. In this case it’s just enough to get the tastebuds tingling for the next course.
Second course – Pork belly hash cake with chilli jam and Aussie Ale
The pork belly hash cake is great. It’s meaty, with a substantial bite to it for such a small size. The crumbed exterior has just enough fat in it to make it satisfying.
Also excellent is the chilli jam, with a real punchy fruit spice taste. It cuts through the pork very well.
Fruity and citrusy, the Aussie Ale alone is a good, if not spectacular, pale ale. It delivers solid and enticing aromas and the Galaxy hop flavours serve to bring out the juicy, rich tomato fruitiness of the chilli jam.
The Aussie Ale is carbonated just enough so that it should cut through the fat and cleanse your palate but there is a real lingering bitterness as you’d expect from this style of beer which means it’s probably not the best pairing. They’re all fine beers but perhaps this dish would be better paired with a cider.
We also had bread and oils on the table and the Aussie Ale went really nicely with these. The citrus flavours in the beer were a perfect match for the oil and balsamic vinegar.
Third course – Beef shin and mushroom pie with potato mash and Red Ale
It’s a tiny little pie. It’s quite cute really but this is no party pie. This has delectable and crispy crust pastry encasing a succulent piece of beef shin in a rich gravy.
There’s a little bit of silky smooth mashed potato which brings this course into a sufficiently satisfying realm. The beer is where the action is here though.
This is the highlight of the four. It’s a red ale, very dark for the style – almost a raisin colour – but with rich, toasty and malty caramel flavours it pairs perfectly with the meat and gravy.
It has a fairly creamy head which complements the potato in both colour and smoothness.
Sneakily, I snatched some bacon from a BLT and ate it alongside this beer too. The bacon is cooked in this red ale and it’s one hell of a match. Sweet and rich at the same time, it really hits the spot.
Fourth course – Chocolate and stout brownie with muscavado cream with Stout
It’s a rich chocolate brownie, possibly a bit firm but delicious nevertheless. The dark muscavado cream is the same colour as the head on the stout. It’s a very well executed pairing.
The stout is quite bitter and it reminds me of 4 Pines Stout, if a little less chocolatey and perhaps more biscuity. But in this case that’s a good thing. The deep raisin flavours go perfectly with the chocolate brownie, almost dragging the fruitiness and the chocolate together to make a mini black forest explosion on your tongue.
Cheeky fifth course – Blueberry Wit
The Beergustation was immensely enjoyable and gave an enormous amount to think about when considering beer and food pairings.
Not wanting to miss out on some of the limited releases that were available on tap, I indulged in a Blueberry Witbier.
Served in a very tall, elegant glass it was the perfect way to round off the meal. It’s a comparable colour to rosé wine with a sparkle like champagne but solid wheat flavours.
There’s a subtle blueberry aroma and taste but it’s not overpowering. The comparisons to wine are completed in its mouthfeel which is like a dry white wine. All in, it’s a very refreshing beer.
Great for craft beer in the Sutherland Shire
Blackrock Brasserie is a worthwhile experience, certainly for craft beer lovers in the Shire, who can otherwise be short-changed on the availability of good venues and beer.
Blackhorse are making some great, on-style beers that are more readily available in bottles around Sydney, particular south of Tom Ugly’s bridge.
It’s definitely worth venturing out to Sylvania for the Beergustation and to try some of the smaller batches they have on tap.
Hopefully Blackhorse can continue to lead the way for craft beer in the Sutherland Shire.
Leave a comment if you’ve been to Blackrock Brasserie or have tried Blackhorse beers. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on the craft beer scene in Sutherland Shire too.