The other week Roxii and I were invited to an incredible tasting event celebrating all things beer thanks to the unique partnership of There’s A Beer For That.
An industry approved, globally backed initiative that’s looking to tempt Britain’s tastebuds firmly away from wine while showcasing the very best of the wonderful world of beer. Until early 2017, the campaign will be being promoted at all 23 Picturehouse Cinemas around the country as they run exclusive tasting evenings featuring bespoke menus, suitable for all diets, that feature pairings of specific dishes and beers. These fifty fun foodie events will also discuss the beer making process, give the British public a proper chance to sample an extensive range of flavours and, at the same time, promote the quality, diversity and sheer versatility of beer itself.
Here in the sumptuous Picturehouse Piccadilly Members Club we were being treated to a whistle stop tour of six very different beers that had been chosen by those in the know to be paired with some amazing dishes. The evening kicked off with us collecting our first beers, a Blue Moon 5.4 %, golden hewed wheat beer. It was smooth, citrusy and boasted just a hint of spice! Our Blue Moon’s were served alongside grilled Salmon and Monzu Skewers with a zesty orange and lemon coating. We immediately noticed that the cold, smooth Blue Moon brought out the full flavour of the crisp salmon as well as complimenting the citrus undertones. Not to be outdone our drinks were also served in sparkling champagne flutes instead of standard pint glasses!
In today’s society where image has increasingly become more important, people’s mere perception of beer as a working mans drink can actually put a beer drinker, be it man or woman off ordering a glass. However, as Programme Director Annabelle Smith, our guide to all things beer stated, this can be easily altered by simply changing up the glassware. Instead of clutching a plain pub glass you’re now holding an elegant, shimmering flute filled to the brim with a smooth golden champagne like liquid. We actually drank all the selected beers from bowl stemmed wine glasses and it really enhanced the whole experience!
Speaking of Annabelle if all the public tastings are so well executed, explained and as fun as ours then There’s A Beer For That will have cinema goers swapping popcorn for mini cottage pies before you know it! She flawlessly blended historical facts with personal anecdotes and interesting industry developments as well as providing a short presentation on each beer and just why that particular pairing had been chosen. In fact, we enjoyed listening to her so much that at times the audience would forget we were supposed to be eating! The best thing to remember is that when it comes to our friend beer the idea is that it should either contrast with, cut through or compliment the food it’s served alongside.
Next up, we enjoyed a delicious San Miguel 5% Lager paired with a thick slice of Serrano ham that had a herbal, biscuity flavour and cut effortlessly through the saltiness of the meat. This, for me, was the least favourite of all the beers but the key aspect of beer is down to an individual’s taste. There are so many varieties of beer that if one flavour isn’t for you then there’s a pretty good chance that the next one will be! Another point regarding beer, is that unlike wine it isn’t too expensive so if you don’t like it you haven’t wasted too much money- just try something else. Our third beer of the evening was a Meantime London Pale Ale 4.3% paired with a Japanese inspired Yakitori Chicken, this beer’s sweet tropical taste complimented the juicy white meat perfectly! If anything, the Pale Ale gave the skewered chicken an almost fruity flavour and together they tasted really, really good.
Interestingly, the next couple of beers, the first a Langunitas IPA 6.4% served with a Mini Beef Tikka, and a Leffe Blonde 6.6% with Mini Cottage Pie and Cheese were, I felt, the most interesting but not the tastiest. The Langunitas has a very distinct flavour, a fusion of orange, spices and pine that smelled aromatic and a very Indian concept despite having been created by a british brewer. In all honesty, I’m not really sure about the banana / caramel, yes you read that right, Leffe Blonde Abbey Beer. This tipple is still brewed by monks today and it’s said that once a year the Abbot takes a spin of the Nuremberg Ring in his Ferrari, thanks to the royalties this sweet beer continues to bring in. It does work particularly well with the mini cottage pie and cheese as the sweetness contrasts nicely with the meatier, heavy flavours in order provide a lighter aftertaste.
However, the best was still yet to come and this is where our favourite beer of the night put in an appearance! Firstly, we tried a Young’s Chocolate Stout 4.3% , served with heavenly Chocolate Brownies that became richer, creamier and more delicious as they matched the beer perfectly. The brownies also made the stout itself sweeter however you couldn’t drink it in large quantities and I noticed that Roxii couldn’t quite finish this selection.
Finally, the group was served an incredible Bacchus Beer 5.8% with a Mini Warm Goat Cheese and Red Onion Tartlet. I’m going to be totally honest and say that this tartlet, apart from Bacchus, was the best thing on the menu because it was so amazingly cheesy, gooey and deliciously crumbly I barely noticed the beer. However, when we eventually got round to looking at our beer glasses they had been filled with this sweet, fizzy crimson liquid that looked like dark cherry soda. Slowly, we cautiously sipped this strange blood like concoction but then we couldn’t get it in our mouths fast enough! In short, a Bacchus Beer is Cherry flavoured, brewed Kriek Lambie style with undertones of tangy marzipan and sweet cherry drops. It is delicious, refreshing and our, and the audience’s, ultimate favourite of the night. Not only that but we both agreed we would swap a boring glass of rosé for this liquid of the gods any day of the week!
Overall, Roxii and I had a brilliant time, made even better by several more glasses of Bacchus, and we think that these exclusive tastings are a great introduction to an undiscovered tipple as well as a fun night out! We would encourage anyone looking to mix up their usual order to get out there, try something new and discover why we should all be falling in love with British beer.
Next time you’re out to dinner why not try #BeerMatch? Just tweet your chosen dish to @BeerForThat and you’ll get an instant beer recommendation from an incredible list of over 1000 matches!
Written by Kirsty Liddle.
Kirsty Liddle is a freelance journalist who has written for Bauer media and Vidados. Catch her tweeting @eclipse1473.
Photography by Roxii Hoare-Smith and There’s a Beer For That