Those of us who have been writing about beer and food for a while have seen many false dawns in the UK - breweries positioning their beers as perfect for different kinds of food, competitions to find the best beer for British staples such as fish and chips, Indian restaurants offering beer pairing menus . . . there was no lack of ingenuity but it didn’t quite take off. But with the number of events and initiatives taking place this summer it really looks as if beer and food pairing has reached a tipping point.
Maybe it’s the increasing use of the phrase ‘craft beer’ rather than just beer or, less appealing still to the younger consumer, ale. Certainly there’s been an explosion in new breweries offering some incredibly exciting beers. Maybe it’s the move to more casual eating or the fact restauranteurs are discovering that customers are prepared pay more for a premium pint. Whatever - it finally looks like it’s here to stay. Here’s a round-up of what’s happening:
The first fully-fledged batch have emerged from the Beer Academy after passing a stringent set of tests including how to judge beer, beer and food pairing and a blind tasting of 15 beers. They include Britain’s first female beer sommelier, beer blogger Sophie Atherton.
Beer themed restaurants
The Draft House group is expanding into its fifth outlet while in Bristol, Bath Ales have set up Beerd - a craft beer and pizza joint - in an area of the city frequented by students and hospital workers. More and more restaurants are boasting of their craft beer offering such as the new Beard to Tail restaurant opening in Shoreditch is October from the team behind Callooh Callay.
Beer menus and dinners
* Food writer Charles Campion and beer writer Pete Brown have collaborated on a Gastronomic Beer Menu at Great Taste at the Cadogan - part of a series of promotions that explore the best in British food and drink which kicks off on July 24th and runs till the end of September. Ring 0800 023 5445 to book.
What’s interesting about the menu is that it avoids the usual clichés when it comes to cooking with beer. Dishes apparently include
Mosaic of quail in Monty’s Sunshine jelly, pickled Scottish girolles and cabbage
Sea Bass poached in Bristol Hefe broth with a Quickes vintage cheddar and herb crust
and Chocolate and prune brownie made with Harviestoun Ola Dubh served with vanilla ice cream.
Smoked Mackerel with poached rhubarb & mustard cream with Timmermans Lambicus Blanche
Bury Black Pudding Scotch Egg with homemade ketchup & mushroom relish with Marble Beers Manchester Bitter
Potato & Wild Garlic Soup with Lefebvre Blanche de Bruxelles
Oxtail & Kidney Pudding and Lovibonde Henley Dark
Grapefruit Posset with celery granita & grapefruit sherbet with Thornbridge Wild Swan White Gold Pale Ale from Derbyshire
and Chocolate Fondant with blue Wendsleydale & frozen yoghurt with Redwillow Fathomless Oyster Stout from Macclesfield.
Goat Cheese Crouquet (sic) with Field Greens paired with Dark Star American Pale Ale
Sweet, Spicy Miso Cod with Beavertown 8-Ball India Pale
Succulent Smoked Beef Ribs with Beavertown Smog Rocket Porter and Chocolate Brownie with Candied Espresso Beans
and Caramel Ice Cream with Kernel Black IPA
What’s interesting about these events - apart from the ambitiousness of the food - is that they’re priced at the same level as a wine dinner would be.
Beer and food festivals
Well beer and sausage festivals anyway like this one at TV personality Jimmy’s Farm last weekend. It can only be a time before we have beer and cheese festivals . . .wait! There was one at the Old Bell & Steelyard in Woodbridge last weekend
Beers for food
I’m less convinced about this one but I suspect we’lll see more of it. After all wine went through a phase of marketing wines to go with food (remember Tesco’s ‘Great With . . . ‘ series? After Wadworth’s Beer Kitchen series we now have Sharp’s popping up with their Connoisseur’s Choice range and food and beer pairing competition on Facebook.
As I say, the bandwagon is rolling . . .
If you know of any other interesting beer and food initiatives do add them below or drop me a line at fiona AT matchingfoodandwine DOT com