Dish of the Day: Beer matching menu – Part 2 – The Starter
Choosing a beer to match your starter can be more difficult than selecting the aperitif – which for me, usually fulfils the simple requirement of being just the lightest, most refreshing beer on the menu. Starters can be varied: a fresh seafood starter could just as easily warrant a stout as it could a bitter.
I like to save the heavier beers for later so the beer I’m choosing for this starter is another light one, but this time with a more discerning flavour. Curious Brew is a simply divine lager produced by Chapeldown Vineyard. The award winning beer – it was a gold medal winner at last year’s International Beer Challenge – is served on tap at some of Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants and a few independent pubs. Luckily for me there’s one not far from where I live; The Compass on the Angel’s Chapel Market being on of them. The beer is brewed using champagne yeast – an unlikely experiment that results in the fresh tasting brew having the essence of a sparkling wine in it.
The Kent-based vineyard only started brewing beer recently, around two years ago, but they’ve pretty much nailed it first time. Curious IPA is equally delicious and they also produce a much loved porter.
The starter that I always have in mind for this beer is a dry, delicate salad. Grilled goats cheese, walnut and caramelised pears on a bed of rocket and watercress. The salad should be dressed with a dash of balsamic vinegar – no oil – and a squeeze of lemon.
Curious Brew, with its refined taste complements this salad perfectly. The elderflower notes in the beer balance nicely with the soft sweetness of the caramelised pears and the walnuts help allude to the champagne base in the drink. Finally, the dryness of the lager cuts through the rich, sticky goats cheese.
If you prefer a sharper taste in the salad, replace the caramelised pear with pomegranate seeds, which add a beautiful dash of colour too.
Next week I’ll be looking at the matching for the main course – a course that could possibly warrant two beers to accompany it… I realise the aperitif and starter have both been lagers and I promise that’s your lot for now, but stand by the fact that sometimes lagers can be simply the most refreshing and delicious beers around.
Follow Will at @will_coldwellTagged in: beer
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