Wednesday 14 November 2012

Grape vs. Grain food pairing night

Keen as I always am to continue my professional development I went to an IBD meeting on Monday. And dedicated beer buff that she is the lovely Lisa came to. The event did happen to be held in a brewpub and included a six course meal which may have influenced her decision.

It was held at The Bull in Highgate, which has a good selection of beers, draught and keg, though as the scotch eggs were reasonably priced it's definitely a pub not a craft beer bar. 

We started with a quick tour of the 2.5 barrel brewery.

The brew house is at one side of the kitchen with the fermenting vessels in the cellar. After the tour we tried one of The Bull's beers in both it's cask and (key) keg form. The kegged version had a bit more aroma but an unpleasant harsh taste that wasn't present in the version served as god intended.

The main even was in an upstairs dining room, where we had a qualified beer sommelier batting for the home team and a press ganged stand in plugging the wine. Both did a great job, though keeping track of the votes got a bit messy as the evening went on.

This was the menu:

Brewers Grain Smoked Salmon, citrus creme fraiche
Beer: Blanche de Namur
Wine: Viognier, Domaine des Terres Rousses

Foie Gras Terrine, sour berries, toast
Beer: Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus
Wine: Syrah Rose, VdeP d'Oc

Smoked Wild Mushroom
Beer: Schlenkerla Rauchbier
Wine: Gruner Veltliner, Weingut Geyerhog

Braised Ox Cheek, celeriac mash, braising jus
Beer: Adnams Broadside
Wine: Malbec, Urban Uco

Apple Pie, vanilla chantilly
Beer: Innis and Gunn Original
Wine: Chablis,  Domaine des Temps Perdus

Black Bomber Cheddar
Beer: Sierra Nevada Torpedo
Wine: Mount Beautiful Pinot Noir

I'm not really one for food and drink pairing, as I prefer to get my dinner in early and then get to the pub, not waste time lingering over food. And there's no real point me going thought my votes as it was beer every time. I very rarely drink wine so it just tastes like wine to me, but as I regularly drink beer I can pick up the subtleties and notice the grapefruit, spice, coffee, liquorish, etc. Others with more rounded palates were more even handed in their voting though, with the final result being a 4:2 win for beer. Wine clearly won the vote for the terrine, and either the ox cheek or the cheese (I not sure which one though but both were close), the rest going to beer.

When matching drinks with food we were told the drink can cut though the food's flavour, complement it or contrast with it. The Cantillon lambic certainly cut through the terrine, though I think it was actually meant to complement the berries. The rauchbier went well with the smoked mushrooms, oddly though as after the mushroom it tasted more like normal beer; and the vanilla flavour of Innis and Gunn went well with the pie and vanilla cream. I guess these two were complementing. I didn't really notice any contrasting going on but spotting three things out of six courses isn't bad going for me. I'd also add the possibility that pairing can be crap as alternating swigs and mouthfuls of the Broadside and ox cheek didn't do anything for either, though maybe if the beer hadn't been too cold it would have gone better.

Despite being a wine philistine and not being one for beer and food pairing I did enjoy this event, maybe it's time for me to give The Brewmaster's Table another go.


  1. *slowly shakes head* You've changed.

  2. Maybe I should have mentioned that this was a heavily subsidised event, normal cynicism will return shortly.