This is an interesting meal in so far as it offers a beer tasting with the food which brings a whole new dimension to the food served. As a recent graduate of the Foundation course at The Beer Academy, I am aware of the benefit of food and beer matching which can at least match food and wine paring if not superior in certain food type and flavour. So, this interesting option does come at a very appropriate time especially having spent the whole day in the company of Garrett Oliver’s “The Brewmaster’s Table” which explain extensively on the subject of beer and food matching amongst other things.
The first course of crab with crab consume served with celery crisps is certainly full in crab flavour but the celery crisp is a little detached along with the crab. The beer paired is Nogne o Saison which is a wheat beer from Norway and it has a nose of clove and banana just as a good flavoured wheat beer should have. At 6.5%, it comes initially as light and refreshing whilst supported by a good, thick bitterness. The second course is a scallop on a bed of cuttlefish served with Sharp’s Honey Spice Tirple, 2011 Vintage. The scallop is beautifully cooked but it is not well integrated with the cuttlefish and its ink. However, the caraway crisp served works well with the triple fermented beer which comes with a subtle coriander and honey taste without the oiliness which associate with honey flavoured beer. It is surprisingly light in body for a 10% beer and comes with a pleasingly medicinal bitterness which lingers.The third course is marinated quail and smoked egg served with Sharp’s Single Brew. For the third course running, the food plays second fiddle to the beer. The beer is nicely chilled with a citrus flavour and comes with good fine bubbles. It has a lovely lemon verbena aroma and hugely refreshing. The quail is succulent and the citrus of the beer works extremely well with the smoky egg. The fish course is a slow cooked cod with coco bean served with Goose Island IPA from Chicago. The dish is over salty and rather uninteresting but the beer is absolutely outstanding. It has an intense floral, sweet hoppy aroma with a great depth of smooth bitterness and a light golden syrup sweetness. This is definitely the beer of the evening. The main course of middle white pork with quince and was served with the famous Schlenkerla smoke beer (Marzen) from Bamberg. Frankly, this is just a beautiful beer which is obviously smoky with a lovely medicinal nose. Unfortunately, it was served too cold and the subtleties of the maltiness and sweetness is lost. The afterthought here of the pork is adequate and the beer frankly makes the dish.Finally, the desert is the acorn crème Catalan with pear served with a Cider from Dunkertons, Hereforshire. The cider and pear combination is a natural combination and the acidity of the cider softens the richness and sweetness of the cream.
This experience brings out a few interesting observations. The beers here are so interesting that it might have completely overshadowed the food. There is certainly a much greater scope and diversity in beer that lacks in wine and it makes much more sense since there is a wide range of flavour in food. Borrowing the word terroir from the wine trade, since the food served is mainly local British fayre, serving mostly locally produced beer should compliment the food more adequately. There are two anecdotal drawbacks serving beer with food and one of them is there will be more visits to the toilets than drinking wine. Secondly, it is sometimes difficult to understand the French sommelier who is usually so eloquent on pronouncing names of wine struggling to differential Hertfordshire and Herefordshire. But these are very minor compared to all the interesting beers this meal has brought. I think this is the way to go in the future with the renaissance of beer brewing and the craft beer movement in America.