Thursday, 6 October 2011

Food, meet Beer. Beer, meet Food. I believe we've met before.

Have you ever had a meal and washed it down with a beer? Have you ever had a pint and thought, “Ooh, I’m peckish, I’ll just have a gander at the menu”? Congratulations! You have “Beer and Food Matched”. You see? It’s not such an alien concept. Still not sure? Remember the last time you went out to that great curry house that does the best mango chutney and lamb Bhuna? Remember that you ordered a pint of Indian beer with it, even though they served Carlsberg?Carling/other standard "cooking lager"? Now imagine that you’re in the pub on a Saturday night, and as you look at the beer taps, you notice that same Indian beer is there right next to Carlsberg/Carling/other standard "cooking lager". Would you pause for a moment before ordering you usual? No. That’s because you know that it goes well with curry, but it’s not what you want right now. There, you know that it “goes well with curry”. Food matched. Done.

You know there’s science to it as well as marketing and phycology? Yes it’s true! Beer has a particular taste. In fact, not only do different styles of beer have different tastes, but within each category of beer, there are of course a whole range of different tastes. And then we have food-stuffs. They too have a whole variety of tastes. And just as your tastebuds are governed by memory, conditioning, sensitivity and a million other variables, so we all have the ability to make decisions about flavour combinations. Some people like Marmite, some people hate it (hey, there’s a catchy phrase!). Some people (admittedly they’re mostly American) like combining Peanut Butter and Jam (sic “Jelly”). Some (call them crazy) put apple sauce on their roast pork. So why is the prospect of matching a particular beer with a particular dish considered so “out there”? I mean, we’re perfectly comfortable with the idea of wine matching. Even those who don’t go in for all of the subtleties of grape variety will know that you generally drink white with fish, but might order something heavier and red when eating steak. Maybe beer matching isn’t considered “out there” at all, but why then is it not part of our everyday dining experience? Why is the wine list given more precedence than the (often paltry, and in comparison derisory) beer list at your local restaurant?

These are questions oft-asked in my household and at this brewery. In fact, tomorrow evening we, and the good folk of Ilkley will be welcoming eminent writer and champion of all things beer, Melissa Cole, as she is speaking as part of the Ilkley Literature Festival (tickets available via https://kiosk.iristickets.co.uk/k?v=ilkleyfestival ). Melissa has long been a vocal proponent of the beer and food matching revolution, and we couldn’t be happier that she’s in town so we can help raise the profile of the nectar of the gods in the food arena. Some of you may also have read the article in last Wednesday's Yorkshire Post http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/lifestyle/food-drink/eating-in-or-out/fine_beer_turns_the_tables_on_wine_1_3814392
This was talking about our recent pairing with Stephanie Moon, chef consultant extraordinaire (she maintained two rosettes whilst Executive Chef at Rudding Park, and you may also have seen her on the Great British Menu). We have been working tirelessly with Stephanie to create the ultimate guide to matching beer to food, and of course in particular, matching our beers to food! And this is what we have come up with:

So whether you want to do something different at a dinner party, or just want to expand your repertoire of tastes and flavour combinations, next time you’re planning to drink something with a meal (you never know, it might catch on!), why not try a beer. And if you’re going to try a beer, why not make it a hand-crafted beer, brewed with patience, passion and skill by us good folk at Ilkley Brewery. We pride ourselves on using only the best ingredients, which means that the flavours are pure and true, and will compliment the flavours of your food. We also aim to maintain a wide range of beers and flavour profiles, so that whatever the occasion, or your particular tastes, we have something for you! If you’ve tried our beers with a particular dish, or have a suggestion, please get in touch, via email ( maryjane@ilkleybrewery.co.uk ) , or via facebook or twitter (@IlkleyBrewery) or of course you are allowed to comment on this blog if you want!! Get involved! Now, whilst I could sit here talking about beer and food all day, I’m off to make some Mary Jane and then eat some food. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a small sup with my sausage roll?!!

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