Brewer And The Chef
Like the finest wines, beer is fast becoming a treasured and appreciated drop. Matt Golinski discovers a local team breaking – and making – all the rules.
The craft beer industry has exploded in Australia over the past 10 years or so, with micro-breweries producing beer that would rival the complexity of the flavour profiles of any wine. You could get very cerebral about matching hop characteristics with corresponding flavour compounds, or you could just eat, drink and enjoy.
Jason Cox has had a lot of experience creating enjoyment for the public in Noosa over the years, cooking at Sails on Hastings Street, owning and operating Jimmy Fox and Whisky Boy, before establishing the iconic Copperhead Restaurant Brewery in Cooroy and now its little sister, O-Ren Brewhouse in Hastings Street.
Both restaurants have a strong focus on producing approachable, affordable food teamed with relaxed, unpretentious service. Copperhead is a leader in specifically brewing food-friendly beer to match their food – a move that saw them recognised as Finalists in the Restaurant & Caterers’ Association Awards in their first year of opening.
Copperhead’s generous portions and an eclectic mix of food cultures keeps Cooroy locals and visitors beating down the door seven days week, while O-Ren takes advantage of head chef Leigh Darlington’s knowledge and experience with Asian food to create punchy, shareable dishes with a Thai/Japanese influence.
What sets both of these restaurants apart from their competition is that they not only produce world-class food, they also produce world-class drinks to match.
Both serve straight from the tap all nine of the beers that chief brewer Davy Stabler (ex McLeods/Brouhaha) concocts in the big shiny brewing vats which sit proudly along one wall of the Copperhead space. Davy’s philosophy is to create a constantly evolving range of beers to match the food offerings, with plenty of experimentation to keep his customers (and himself) interested, but with a diverse enough list that there’s always something for everyone.
Specialty brews like Orange Miso Rice Lager and a range of sours, including Passionfruit or Dragonfruit, are a perfect match for Leigh’s style of cooking at O-Ren, and are designed to complement his food, but are not so challenging that you couldn’t spend a long afternoon well past lunchtime sipping your way through all of them as you people-watch from the balcony. For the traditionalists there’s the classic Pale Ale; Red IPA; Cooroy Lager; Ginger Beer; and my all-time favourite, the Irish Red.
But as everyone knows, having great food and drinks sometimes isn’t enough; a great restaurant needs another very important ingredient. Truly honest, heartfelt hospitality is what determines whether an operator succeeds or fails in the food business, and in both venues you instantly get the feeling that Jason and Sharon make fostering that culture a priority. Their staff, led by Matt, are all included in the journey and evolution of the brewing process so if you are looking to experience some food and beer matching, they have the knowledge to point you in the right direction. Let’s face it, life is pretty good if you’re in good company, enjoying quality food and drinks in a relaxed atmosphere with great tunes and friendly service. When the handcrafted or hand-selected beverages perfectly matches your food, life is even better!
Keep an eye out for the Sake Supper Club at O-Ren with a large range of Sake by the bottle or glass and paired perfectly with Leigh’s autumn menu.