Craft Beer of the Week: Top-Notch Craft Beer and Food Pairing with Brews We Plate
I’ve mentioned Brews We Plate in a couple of posts before. They only started their pop-up events a few months ago, but they’ve already received raving reviews and praise across the board. With years of work in Michelin Star restaurants and front-of-house experience behind them, they are dishing up food that can hold its own against any of the top Dublin restaurants, and it’s all designed to pair perfectly with Irish craft beers. What’s not to like about that?
Now that Eric and Flo have regular events lined up, you can go and check out their amazing offerings for yourself. I decided to catch up with them ahead of their next 2 events coming up this month.
Tell us about yourselves and your backgrounds
Flo: I’m from France and I’ve been living in Dublin for about 5 years now. I came here to study, I did my ERASMUS here, then my Master’s, and decided not to leave. I fell in love with Dublin and Ireland, and of course Eric. I fell in love with everything Dublin has to offer in the world of food, craft beer and culture. I studied Communications and Journalism and was working in the restaurant industry while studying. I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t not work in the restaurant industry and that if I could combine my 3 passions – communications, food, and craft beer – I’d be the happiest person ever. So that’s what I’m trying to achieve.
Eric: I was born in Hungary and grew up in Hamburg in Germany. I did my apprenticeship in Germany and worked in a Michelin Star restaurant there. Then I went to work in a Michelin Star restaurant in Spain. After that, I came over here for a job in the West of Ireland, which was great. Then I moved on to Dublin, and I’ve worked in a good few restaurants here. I actually wanted to quit cheffing and go to college to become a Web Designer, but then I met Flo. We both hated the idea of continuing to “slave away” in this industry for someone else, and we both loved craft beer.
How did you come up with the idea of Brews We Plate?
Flo: Basically, we …
Eric: … got drunk. Here in Cassidy’s, right over there, in that chair actually! [The very chair they’re sitting on in the pics above]
Flo: We were talking about our love for craft beer and food and we came to the conclusion that despite the fact that you have great restaurants and you have great craft beer pubs, you don’t have one experience that brings everything together and elevates the food, elevates the beer, and just creates a whole experience. So we decided to do it.
Eric: I have a background as a Wine Sommelier, but I got bored with it. I never liked beer until I discovered craft beer. My first craft beer ever was Punk IPA. Then I thought there’s more to beer. Beer still doesn’t have the same status as wine, even though it deserves it. Beer is so much more versatile, there are so many more possibilities and flavours. It’s so much more interesting. Wine can be very snobby. Beer is not, beer is fun. Beer is amazing, and there is no reason why we shouldn’t pair it with amazing food and still create an experience that is not snobby at all.
Flo: What we are looking for is “no fuss”. Just having great beers, great food, in a great atmosphere. Food that people would consider “fine dining”, but we don’t like that label. We just want great food.
Eric: It’s very good, well-executed food. “Fine dining” itself got overused as a label and has a bad reputation now. You think of people sitting there in a suit, white table cloths, that’s not what we do. My plates are not huge, but you’re still full after the meal. It’s more about flavours, produce and combinations than about massive portions, but I don’t like the label “fine dining”, it’s not what I’m doing. It’s outdated, it’s gone. What we do is more fun. And it’s still better food than some overrated pubs in Dublin, I think, that sell their menus for the same price as we do, for less value.
Your ingredients are always very carefully sourced and local.
Eric: We’re working with a local butcher, a Dublin farm, a local fishmonger. We try to keep it as local as possible, as fresh and seasonal as possible. It is Irish produce, beautiful produce. It’s based on French cooking, classic cooking with a modern twist…
Flo: ..with a grain of madness. When people discover new beers, they discover flavours they thought couldn’t happen in a beer. We want them to think the same of the food. Eric has been pairing flavours that, when you first look at them, you’d think, “Really? I’m not too sure about that”. And then when you have the food and the beer, you’re like “Fucking hell!”, excuse my French. It’s just so unexpected. Like when you try a new beer. It’s about this unexpected aspect.
So far, the response has been great, but has it been mostly from craft beer fans?
Eric: Yes, so far it has been mostly “beer nerds” (that’s a bad label, I know). We’re trying to open it up to a wider audience, because at the end of the day, we want to bring craft beer to the people. We want a Heineken drinker to discover craft beer and great food. Someone that would usually go for a carvery and a pint of whatever, we want them to discover a beautiful pint of Irish beer and lovely, lovely food, based on Irish produce.
Flo: We have a solid base of craft beer lovers, but we’ve had a few foodies coming to our events. We’ve even had people coming from Luxembourg and France. What we want is to democratise craft beer. The worst that could happen to craft beer is what happened to wine, for it to become a non-accessible thing. It needs its connoisseurs so that the word gets out and people get interested in it, but we shouldn’t just narrow it down to “beer nerds”.
Eric: We love having them at the events, but the mission is to open up craft beer and amazing food to a wider audience. Of course beer lovers do know their food, but we want people to learn more about “real” beer, something beyond the macros. We want to convert people to go up to the bar and ask, “Do you have any craft? Do you have any Irish beer?” We want to promote real Irish beer, real Irish craft, made by people who are putting passion into it.
Flo: That’s why we get the brewers to come to all our events. They’re present, and they don’t speak in jargon, they just explain, “that’s what we’re doing, that’s what we’re aiming for with this beer, that beer”, and so on. We want it to be informative, but in a fun way.
What are your plans for the future with Brews We Plate?
Eric: I’ve gone part-time in my job in The Headline now to take care of Brews We Plate more. I’ll still be in The Headline, designing the menus there and doing food and beer tastings, but I’ll be taking care of our business more. Lining things up, writing menus, getting in touch with brewers. What we’re planning to do is at least 2 events a month.
Flo: We’re trying to get as many breweries as possible. We want to offer the best of Ireland in craft beer. Something exciting. We already have a few events lined up. It’s gonna be great!
Eric: We have the event with Dungarvan on the 23rd, and on Friday we’re going to announce another event in a great café, Brother Hubbard, with a great Irish brewery from the south, Co. Cork. That’s going to happen a week after, actually the same day as the birthday party of the Dublin Ladies Craft Beer Society!
Flo: Go to both of them!
Eric: The ultimate plan is for both of us to quit our jobs and to be working in craft beer and food. It’s going well so far, we’re looking at different aspects of Brews We Plate as well, to do longer events, takeovers and so on. We’ll see how it goes.
Flo: A lot of planning ahead, a lot of new concepts. The future is more craft beer, more food, and more fun!
Eric: And more funky things on the plate. When I do my menus, you’ll always find something on your plate that you’ve never had in your entire life. Something you’d never had, ever. We work with the nose-to-tail concept. I use a lot of cheap cuts, a lot of offal. We make them tasty and put them into a tasty-looking context.
Flo: That’s why, when we release our menus, we always just put the produce on them, as opposed to a description of the dish. It would be too long. If you know exactly what you’re going to have, you expect a certain thing, or you think, “I’m not going to like this, I’m not going to go there”.
Eric: If I would list all the elements on the plate… my next menu consists of between 9 and 16 elements on every plate! It would be a novel instead of the menu. I just list the produce, I de-construct it and re-construct it. That’s the whole thing.
Since this is “Craft Beer of the Week”, favourite Irish beer right now?
Eric: Wit Woo. [Rascal’s]
Flo: Full Irish. [8 Degrees]