The Stomping Ground team keeps enticing Melburnians. This winter the Collingwood brewpub served up a rare treat in the beer scene – a vegetarian feast matched with their locally brewed beers.
It was a cold Melbourne night, but the spacious building was warm and cosy. The converted venue cries out for drinking refreshing beers in the sun with its retractable roof, but it also provided solace on the winter night with its vintage fireplace and overhead space heaters.
Stomping Ground embraces sustainable practices such as irrigating the indoor plants with rainwater collected from the roof and stocking biodegradable eco straws. So it was a natural fit to collaborate on ‘Ground Me’ –a special vegetarian dinner featuring an array of seasonal dishes from Me & Mabel.
The food and beer pairings were a treat from start to finish. We were welcomed with a Gipps St Pale Ale upon arrival as we found our seats at the long tables shared by beer drinkers, vegetarians, and industry professionals.
The first course was house-made crackers topped with seasonal ingredients. The term ‘crackers’ was used quite liberally, as one base was a striking slice of dried blood orange topped with Meredith Dairy cheese and fennel. There was also a memorable sweet and salty mix of pumpkin seeds and sweet potato. Matching these tasty bites was the Bad Seed Berliner Weisse. Adding to the authenticity, this German style beer was served in a traditional style with sweet syrups we could add to the tart drink. The green woodruff syrup (from a flowering plant) was a unique addition not normally seen on Australian shores.
Next up was orecchiette with broccoli and fresh rocket and pear salad. The Uber Pils beer served alongside was chosen for its bitterness and carbonation to help cut through the oiliness of the pasta. But my favourite part was how the crispness of the beer complimented the crispness of the salad.
The third course would challenge anyone that thinks vegetarian food isn’t filling. Six different dishes arrived – including spiced cauliflower steaks on baba ganoush, smoked pumpkin with finger lime, lemon sumac potatoes, sticky glazed fried eggplant, and moreish green cauliflower with orange and sweet dates. All of the dishes were enjoyed, but special credit is due to Me & Mabel’s ability to create a surprise favourite among my tablemates in the form of a cabbage salad with pickled apple and currents. The paired Houblon Saison was described as a good beer to go with a little bit of everything – which this course had in abundance.
Sweet, spicy aromas accompanied the dessert dish. The Convent 6 Belgian Dubbel was served warmer to open up the beer’s flavours and compliment the smokiness in the apple gel that dotted a crisp crumble.
Me & Mabel added a bright spot to a cold month with her ability to create tasty, seasonal dishes in the dead of winter. I can say without a doubt that I was full and happy as I made my way home that night.
Jenny S. is an event adventurer, vegetable eater, and craft beer drinker.
Keep an eye out for Stomping Ground’s week of first birthday celebrations happening 21-27 August.
Stomping Ground Brewery and Beer Hall
100 Gipps St.
Collingwood VIC 3066