Brews and barbecues: Boerewors and a beer - summer perfection

Ralph Bungard loves summer beers.
Ralph Bungard loves summer beers.

The brew I'm favouring this summer is: The Three Boys Wheat. As a Belgian-style witbier [white beer], it is based on perhaps one of the oldest style of beer that we still commonly brew in the modern world. And despite having that very European heritage, it still manages to be a perfect match with the modern Asian flavours that Kiwi cooking has embraced.

It's best served in: A glass and, as with Belgian beers, the grander the glass the better. In Belgium it is common for every beer to be served in its own, often ornate, vessel. I used to have quite a good collection of Belgian glasses, but since the Christchurch earthquakes I now have only two to toggle between. One is an open-style bowl-shape Westmalle on a stem, and the other a Duvel glass with a more restricted neck. Both are good, but you can substitute with a big red-wine glass if necessary. Pour with vigour to rouse a good head.

And goes best with: I had this beer the other day in a beer-food match dinner designed by Christchurch chef Jonny Schwass.

He matched it with his Pork Lunch Box, a take on a Vietnamese banh mi. It was judged the best match of the night. The spiciness of the banh mi and the lemon and coriander from the beer worked perfectly.

My formula for a successful barbecue is: To be honest, I'm more of a "build a small barbecue and sit really close" type. I used to work in Malaysia and still like to visit there. One of the best things is the night food markets in every town. The small charcoal grills that just pop up at dusk and start producing that fantastic smoky smell and tastes are very special.

I know it's a bit weird, but one of my all-time favourite smells is that brief waft of a freshly struck match followed by burning meths on charcoal. That combination of aromas is so fleeting, so I have to make sure I position myself perfectly when I light the barbecue to get the full effect: just close enough to catch that smell, but not so close that it is overpowered by the smell of scorched eyebrow hair!

My never-fail barbecue recipe is: Usually small cuts or kebab-style on a charcoal-fired Asian kebab rack. Cook small pieces quickly and then get them into some good flat bread with a green salad and some nice Asian dressing. My favourite homemade one makes good use of my red-zoned neighbour's kaffir lime tree. I cut the leaves really fine and mix with oil, lemon juice, fish sauce, honey and a little sweet chilli sauce. I think I found that in an Annabel Langbein book.

My equal favourite would be a simple boerewors sausage - Canterbury Biltong make a spectacular one - unadulterated and again on the charcoal. Simply don't overcook a good sausage and use good bread. That is actually our cricket team's Saturday ritual at the end of the game. If we win and the sun is shining, the boerewors washed down with a beer is perfection.

My favourite guests: Aside from my cricket team, they are probably just our neighbours who drop in on a Sunday evening if they happen to be wandering by. It's a treat to offer a nice beer and perhaps something to eat. Simple and relaxed.

Ralph Bungard

Dubbed one of the aristocrats of the craft breweries' scene by drinks columnist Don Kavanagh, Christchurch-based Three Boys Brewery is a regular prizewinner at the national brewing awards. Brewer Ralph Bungard, also head of the national Brewers Guild, loves summer beers _ wheat, pils and golden ale styles as well as the traditional hop lovers' IPA .

- NZ Herald

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