Beer: The perfect drink for Saturday morning
Plenty of people, no doubt, find ‘Saturday Kitchen’ annoying, but few do anything about it. The BBC show’s unchallenging mixture of cooking advice, old clips (Keith Floyd, invariably, being any given week’s highlight) and weak banter will not, inevitably, appeal to everyone but there is one group who have particular reason to feel aggrieved. That group is Britain’s growing army of craft beer lovers.
How so? Well, an important part of the show involves the matching of food and wine. Every week a different wine critic is dispatched to a supermarket somewhere in the UK to find something to drink with the dishes produced in the studio. Increasingly, brewers and beer drinkers are wondering why that drink couldn’t be beer rather than wine. One brewer and beer writer, Dave Bailey of Cumbria’s HardKnott Brewery, has decided to try and convince the BBC to take beer more seriously. He wants ‘Saturday Kitchen’ to feature beer as well as wine.
The issue, he says, first reared its head – as most subjects appear to now – on Twitter. “During a recent episode of ‘Saturday Kitchen’, a friend of mine tweeted that they regularly featured named brand wines from named supermarkets,” he says. “He made the point that it was a bit unfair because they don’t mention beer brands. For the BBC to be advertising an imported product, or any product for that matter, and not mentioning competing products in not right.
“This is a feeling that has been simmering away in the beer community for a number of years: we don’t feel that the mass media – including the BBC – recognise what quality beer there is out there now.”
That was before last week’s ‘Saturday Kitchen’; since, then, the campaign has gathered momentum, to the extent that wine critic Tim Atkin – who regularly features on the BBC show – was drawn into a good-natured Twitter debate about the relative merits of wine and beer. Bailey says there are plans afoot to take the campaign further.
“I’d like to pitch up outside the Saturday Kitchen studio in London, camp outside and do a beer dinner while the show is being filmed,” he says. “To step it up, we need a real live event that has real people there, rather than something in the virtual world. I think we could rally a team together to do that.”
Certainly there seems to be growing interest in combining beer with food. The London steak restaurant Hawksmoor recently launched two of their own beers, made in conjunction with London brewers The Kernel and Camden Town Brewery (more information here). Will Beckett, the restaurant’s co-owner, is a beer lover and appreciates how the British scene is growing and evolving.
“Will said to the guys at Kernel, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if Hawksmoor did their own beer?” says Hawksmoor’s Missy Flynn. “It’s not that unusual – Mark Hix’s restaurants have their own beer, for example. We don’t just want to see good beer, we want to sell our beer.”
Flynn says that The Kernel’s beer – called Seven Barrels Red Rye – goes particularly well with one popular item on their menu. “It goes perfectly with food, especially burgers,” she says. “We served the rye beer with our smoked burgers: everyone was like ‘this is amazing, it goes really well, it complements the food, the spiciness comes out’.”
According to Bailey, who runs beer dinners in Cumbria, beer is increasingly seen as a serious partner for food, as it has been in other parts of the world – notably Belgium – for many years. “There is a definite growth in interest,” he says. “We’re getting more and more big-flavoured foreign beers being imported, and British brewers are saying ‘hey, we’re missing a trick here. We can brew those beers just as well’ – people like Brewdog, Marble in Manchester, The Summer Wine Brewery. They’re producing beers that are fuller flavoured and match with food much better. You talk to these guys and they say their businesses are growing because the market is growing.”
Which is one very good reason why TV needs to pay more attention to beer, Bailey believes. He certainly won’t be happy until his favourite drink gets as much respect as wine. “I’m not anti-wine, everything has its place,” he says. “It’s a fun fight to have – which is better with food, beer or wine? Sometimes wine will be better, sometimes beer will. It’s all to do with our personal palates.”Tagged in: bbc, beer, Camden Town Brewery, food, HardKnott, The Kernel, wine
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