Is beer the best drink with food?

There was an interesting exchange in the “Daily Telegraph” last year. It started with a report by the paper’s Science Editor on Jane Peyton’s claim that beer is a better drink to serve with food than wine. As Jane was named Beer Sommelier of the Year by The Beer Academy in 2015, she should know what she is talking about.

However, the following day’s Telegraph editorial stated that Jane was utterly wrong. The writer was of the opinion that, “Beer should be drunk in a public house on a summer’s day, preferably while watching cricket. Should sustenance be needed, a Scotch egg or even a pork scratching will suffice, but never a full meal.”

This rather blinkered view prompted Jane to launch into a detailed explanation of why beer is the best drink to match with food. As beer is up to 95% water and contains carbon dioxide and hops, it is very efficient at cleansing the palate. Apparently, this allows the aromas of the food to travel more efficiently into the nasal cavity, from where the brain registers most flavour.

In addition, as I’ve mentioned here before, there are many styles and flavours of beer these days. This versatility means that there is a beer to match with every sort of food.

In uphill Lincoln, we have two new restaurants where we can test Jane’s theories.

Cask is located on Drury Lane, in what was Roman’s Place. An Italian brick pizza oven takes centre stage in the open kitchen. According to managing director Lee Thomas, “We aim to bring an immersive and engaging beer experience to Lincoln. There are plans to expand the menu to take the fight to wine when it comes to matching drinks with food.” The bar has six or seven real ales, and the on-site microbrewery should be operational in the near future.

A little further round the castle walls is the Lincoln TapHouse & Kitchen, run by the team behind the West End Tap. The building has been through a number of incarnations, including the Terrace on the Bail and the Cloud Bar. The major refurbishment includes an open kitchen and an extensive bar. Diners can enjoy the wide range of beers from the UK, US and Belgium.

And what about the beer? With my falafel burger at the TapHouse, I drank the house beer, TapHouse Pale (4.0% ABV). The straw-coloured brew comes from Oakham Ales of Peterborough. It has a citrus character and a clean, dry finish. I’m no expert in matching beer with food, but it certainly went down well. Not only did the beer complement the meal, but the food also seemed to intensify the flavours in the beer. Mmm, I agree with Jane!