by Wendy Margetts
If you ask most people about what they drink with a meal, I imagine the vast majority will reply wine – red or white depending on what they are eating. The wine industry has successfully created an association of wine and food, but wine has a higher alcohol content and less variety in flavour than beer, so the beer industry is fighting back.
The Beer Academy aims to educate people about beer, helping them understand, appreciate and enjoy beer sensibly. They offer a variety of courses, training and tasting courses to the trade and beer retailers. One of the courses they offer is that of beer sommelier, attendees are recognised for their significant knowledge of beer styles and beer and food matching, in fact Kathy and Tim Britton from Oldershaw Brewery in Grantham passed the beer sommelier qualification back in 2013.
Many people are already partial to a lager with their spicy curries, but many pubs and restaurants are now offering a beer menu to match their food menu, so you could be offered a smoked porter to go with your rib-eye steak or a fruit beer with your chocolate dessert. Beers come in a variety of styles and flavours that mean there is beer to go with most foods and situations.
The new campaign by The Beer Alliance plays on this nicely with a caption ‘There’s a Beer for That’, the new TV advert shows people from all walks of life enjoying beer with different meals, highlighting the fact that for a small island the UK really does have a diverse range of beers being brewed with diverse flavours.
I don’t know of any pubs or restaurants in Lincoln who are currently offering beer and food matched menus (please feel free to correct me though), but don’t let this put you off from trying a beer with food next time you are out for a meal.
Another easy way to try beer with food is to cook with it. At this time of year, with the cold, dark night’s drawing in, some of the traditional warming foods like stews and casseroles can be improved by being made with a bottle of beer. There is a wealth of recipes available using beer or as an accompaniment to the finished dish, recipes range from bread and cakes to soup and pies. Lincoln CAMRA branch have a recipe in each issue of our local branch magazine ImpAle for readers to try. Bottled beer to use for cooking (and drinking) can be purchased direct from brewers, farm shops and supermarkets, look for one with a ‘CAMRA says this is Real Ale’ logo which identifies the beer as bottle conditioned which means the beer inside is the next best thing to the draught real ales you enjoy in your local pub.
So what about the beer? I decided to give the most recent ImpAle recipe ago. The recipe was for soup made with Grafters Darker Side of the Moon. The recipe was easy to follow and gave me a lovely warming bowl of soup that had hints of the smoky, chocolate taste of the beer. The best bit was that the recipe didn’t call for the whole bottle to be used, so I was able to drink the rest myself – oh the perks of being the chef in my household!