It's my own fault. I saw the IBD were putting on a six course meal, a different beer and wine included for each course, for only a tenner a head. An excellently economical way to give the lovely Lisa a treat I thought. It was an enjoyable evening, but unfortunately it seems to have given Lisa expensive tastes.
I came in from work last week to see her face beaming up at me. "I booked us tickets for Pete Brown's IPA dinner" she said. "Shit, that's going to cost" I thought, "What an excellent idea Darling" I said. Sadly it seems the days when I could take her our for a night down 'Spoons are behind us.
So on Monday we headed up to the Meantime Old Brewery at Greenwich. No boat trip this time as it was bleedin' cold and it's easy to get the train from Waterloo East. The place had the look of a craft beer bar: wooden floors, bare brick, loads of keg fonts. It was certainly craft beer prices too, but on the plus side I did spot the two hand pumps before I ordered. I had a pint of Darkstar Hophead (3.8% ABV) and the lovely Lisa had half of keg Meantime stout (4.5% ABV). The Hophead was as good as ever, but the keg stout was cold, thin and fizzy. What do people see in craft keg? I suspect to do it right you need to make a totally over the top imbalanced beer and then knock enough flavour out of it by kegging to make it drinkable. Perhaps she should have gone for an Imperial stout.
The entertainment for the evening started with us being seated in rows and handed a small glass of Worthington White Shield. Now it being brewed in a big brewery in Burton I think it's the best it's been in years. Still not as good as it was when I were a lad, but at least the dark days of sweet brown gloopery seem behind it.
There was an introductory talk from Rod of Meantime, not that he introduced himself. Why I don't know but I guess it made sense to him. Then it was Pete Brown to talk about IPA. He knows a thing or two about this subject and has a reassuring Pattersonian view on beer styles. A couple more examples of the wide variation of India Pale Ales were distributed to lubricate the talk, but it was slightly disturbing to peer into a murky glass and see the staff had no idea about pouring bottle conditioned beer.
The food started with a scallop in a shell, which came sealed round the edges with pastry and sat on a pile of rock salt. We were warned not to eat the salt though I was a bit unsure about the pastry sticking the shell together. But as I'd paid for it I picked it off with my fingers and ate it. The scallop itself was perfectly edible, which was a bit of a relief as I'd feared something whelk like could be lurking inside the shell. The IPA to go with it was a grapefruity one from the Meanitme Old Brewery.
Next course was a chicken and mushroom thing with two tiny slivers of truffle on top. Oh yes, me, eating truffles - how posh is that? The beer to match it was La Chouffe Houblon, apparently a Belgian IPA but it tasted like Duvel to me.
Lamb cooked two ways followed, one way made it go pink and one way made it go brown. I preferred the brown to the pink. Though don't take that out of context. Jaipur went with this dish. I was trying to work out if the beers cut, complemented or contrasted with the food but wasn't really getting it.
Then we were on to the pudding course, which we weren't really keen on. Meantime Old Brewery Jasmine IPA was the beer, which the lovely Lisa thought smelled of sick, whereas I only found it unpleasant. When the pudding arrived looking like sick Lisa though this must be that beer and food matching thing, but in fact the weird curry ice cream and Jasmine IPA cancelled each other out and became more bearable together.
Three cheeses followed, with three matching beers, in small glasses varying in size according to the price. The only real pairing I got that night was the Fuller's Vintage and a goats cheese (which was actually the wrong match), as it's a cracking beer and it took away the unpleasant goaty taste of the cheese.
Having now now been to a couple of beer and food pairing events I can say it's mostly bollocks, but still good fun. So I think of it as like going on a foreign holiday and dabbling in a different culture, knowing I'll soon be back home to normality.