When it comes to the marriage of good beer and good food, Matt Kirkegaard is your go-to guy. As freelance beer writer and advocate BeerMatt, Matt draws on his knowledge and passion for beer to educate others on how to truly appreciate the frothy beverage and perfectly pair it with food.
LET’S START FROM THE BEGINNING – WHEN DID YOUR PASSION FOR BEER ORIGINATE?
I have always enjoyed beer, but my passion originated when I realised that beer wasn’t just for refreshment. I discovered beer could have flavours as interesting and nuanced as wine and could be enjoyed during occasions other than only after mowing the lawn or watching the footy.
IN ADDITION TO BEING A FREELANCE BEER WRITER, YOU ARE A PRESENTER, EDUCATOR AND MEDIA COMMENTATOR, PLUS YOU’VE DEVELOPED A NATIONAL REPUTATION AS ONE OF THE FEW INDEPENDENT BEER ADVOCATES IN AUSTRALIA. CAN YOU GIVE US AN INSIGHT INTO HOW MATT KIRKEGAARD BECAME BEERMATT?
I started sharing my passion for beer around 15 years ago when beer was still seen as fairly uninteresting and uncool, but blogs, podcasts and social media all came about during that period, which gave me an opportunity to communicate about beer before there was a mainstream interest. I have been lucky enough that there has been a resurgence, especially over the last five or six years, allowing me turn an interest into a business.
YOU’RE A PASSIONATE ADVOCATE FOR THE QUEENSLAND BEER INDUSTRY. ARE THERE ANY INCREDIBLE LOCAL BREWERS THAT YOU’VE DISCOVERED RECENTLY?
The biggest question is who to leave out of this list, Queensland abounds in great brewers. Ian Watson, who is currently brewing at Slipstream, is my personal Mr. Miyagi and has been a huge influence on my career. I really respect Johann Van der Walt at Green Beacon and Scott Hargrave at Balter for the amazing quality and consistency they produce.
WHILE YOU LIKE TO SUPPORT LOCAL, WE KNOW THAT YOUR LOVE OF BEER KNOWS KNOW BOUNDS AND HAS SEEN YOU TRAVEL ALL OVER THE WORLD SAMPLING FROTHY DROPS. DO YOU HAVE AN ALL-TIME FAVOURITE BEER?
I usually say my next one because it is so hard to choose a single beer, but last year I was privileged to be at the ceremonial tapping of the very first keg at Oktoberfest in Munich and that was a special beer. The ‘best’ beer is always about the people or the situation as much as the beer itself.
TALK US THROUGH A BEER TASTING – WHAT ARE THE VARYING BEER ATTRIBUTES THAT PEOPLE SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR?
The biggest change that people can make to tasting beer is, if practical, use a nice glass. If a beer has flavour, a glass will let you perceive the aroma and the flavours much better.
YOU NOT ONLY CONDUCT IN-DEPTH BEER TASTINGS, BUT ALSO BEER AND FOOD PAIRING EVENTS INCLUDING BEER AND CHEESE, BEER AND CHOCOLATE, AND BEER, BEEF AND BARBECUE. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE ULTIMATE BEER AND FOOD FLAVOUR PAIRING?
Beer and cheese. Wine is usually the drink of choice with cheese, but the wine industry’s dirty secret is that cheese can often mask the flavours of wine, while beer and cheese work so well together. Try a scotch ale with blue cheese to discover just how well they can work.
WHAT IS THE MOST UNUSUAL BEER AND FOOD MATCH YOU’VE EVER ENCOUNTERED?
When Brisbane chef Frank Correnti served me a blue steak topped with ice-cream and I matched it with a stout. It sounds bizarre, but it worked and taught me so much about abandoning preconceptions in food matching.
DO YOU HAVE AN ALL-TIME FAVOURITE DISH TO COOK AND/OR EAT?
Mussels cooked in beer Belgian style. Hit me up for the recipe!
DO YOU HAVE ANY FOND MEMORIES OF DINING AT SOUTH BANK YOU’D CARE TO SHARE?
The annual Regional Flavours festival at South Bank is a treasured memory. I get to work with the awesome team at The Charming Squire to pair its food to some of Queensland’s best beers, plus create what I think is Brisbane’s best pop-up craft-beer bar in The Hunting Club.