The main course on most beer matching menus tends to be meat. Not just any meat, pork. And I’m not talking about a couple of chops or a sausage, I’m talking about roast suckling pig or trotters stuffed with chicken mousse. The kind of pig you’d eat at a feast.
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.
Last week I looked at the basic principles of matching beer with food; complementing, contrasting and cutting. For the next few weeks I’m going to going to look in more detail at specific food and beer pairings that are particularly delicious. So, from the beginning, this week will be the aperitif.
Beer is the new wine. Fine dining no longer requires an accompaniment of the grape variety; discerning drinkers are increasingly opting for a glass of craft over chardonnay.
Last weekend was bliss for two reasons. One; it was the first time I had felt the warmth of the sun on my fair skin for six months. Two; I spent it in Cornwall, visiting the St Austell brewery.
Selecting an unknown beer to try can be a difficult business. But when the pumpclips run the length of the bar and the fridges are cluttered with colourful bottles competing for your attention, sometimes that decision can be a shallow one. Sometimes – and I hate to admit it – the beer with the prettiest label is the one that will first fill my glass for the night.
You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But if that book was called ‘Ginger Tosser’ would it really make it off the shelves? How about ‘Burton Snatch’? Or ‘Voluptuous Vicky’? Granted, if you are a fan of low-grade pulp erotica then you might snap up a copy of the latter but we’re not talking about books here. We’re talking about beer.
This weekend I began preparations to grow my own hops. The first crucial step to making my own beer. The rather unattractive, dark green, vine-like plant produces flowers (these are the hops), which contribute a bitter flavour to the brewing mix and offset the sweetness of the malts. You wouldn’t want to use them for anything else; however, they taste absolutely disgusting.
If your St Patrick’s Day celebrations went the way mine did last year, then you probably can’t look at another pint of the black stuff in the eye right now. But just because the sight of a Guinness evokes fuzzy green-tinted flashbacks of a night spent spilling as many pints as you drank, there’s no need to forsake stouts completely.
Last night I spent the evening settled comfortably in the Craft Beer Co pub in Islington. Cosy and snug, with a warm red carpet and an impressive selection of beers, on both keg and cask, it was the ideal place to shelter from the dreaded Spring snow.
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter