There is a lot of radio chatter at the moment surrounding what appears to be the ‘new wine’ (only joking Leigh!), no not the new wine, just beer in its own right. Not only beer, but beer and food, see The Good Stuff and Called to the Bar for some recent insight into this. I’m interested in both of these culinary components and whole heartedly agree that there should be more food and beer pairing happening, although I have also met a skeptic, my wife, who cannot comprehend how anyone could drink a pint of fizzy beer with each course of their meal. For the sake of marital relations and also as an ulterior motive for generally championing my rampant interest in all things beer, I refrained from a forehead-slap, although I did think of doing it and that made me feel better. I went on to explain that there are many different styles of beer and that not all beer is fizzy and served in a pint glass. She humoured me by listening with one ear while using the other to stay tuned to The Great British Bake-Off on the beeb. My tired brain caught up with itself and realised that I could demonstrate my ramblings and disappeared off to the kitchen (and to the beer fridge – yes a dedicated beer fridge *smiley face*). I wasn’t in the room anymore to confirm this, but I think she was glad that I’d gone. Without asking (rock n roll) I pre-heated the oven and swiped the box of Gü Chocolate Soufflé‘s from the fridge. I know these aren’t the real thing, but neither am I the kind of guy who can knock up a soufflé on demand. So the puddings were in the oven and I reached for the bottle of beer I knew would come in handy some day. Today!
A few months back I bought a mixed case of La Rulles Belgian beers from Ales by Mail. As far as I am aware Ales by Mail are still the sole UK distributor of these beers. The case included bottles of La Rulles Blonde (7%), Brune (6.5%), Triple (8.4%), Estivale (5.2%) and two bottles of Jean Chris Numero 1 (6.0%). It was the Jean Chris Numero 1 that I knew I was going to pair with this pudding and hopefully demonstrate the beauty of beer and food to my wife. She likes chocolate and she doesn’t hate beer, so I knew I had a chance of proving a point. The Jean Chris Numero 1 was a collaboratively brewed at the Brasserie Artisanale de Rulles along with Christophe Gillard, the owner of Miorge Mihoublon a bottle shop in Arlon (Belgium), and his friend Jean who is a local chocolatier, based in Habay-La-Neuve (also Belgium). Jean created three praline chocolates designed to go with the beer, sadly I had to settle for a chocolate pudding, but was confident that it would still be a tasty match.The beer is a 6% Belgian Pale Ale, non filtered, non pasteurised and bottle conditioned. It’s made with Pale Malt – Munich and single hopped with Amarillo to a pleasant 40 EBU (released in 75cl bottles).
So, the puddings were out of the oven and the beer poured into two tulip glasses, I was proud to be showcasing the beer and my novice ability to match the two together. I re-entered the front room and presented them to my wife, who turned to me and said; “I’ve just brushed my teeth so won’t have any this time”. I masked my frustration and fought back a tear and decided the best thing to do was to eat both puddings and drink all of the beer myself. Imagine if I had prepared one pudding and poured one glass of beer for myself, she’d have wanted some then! Unbelievable! Anyway, the chocolate soufflé and Jean Chris Numero 1 where a brilliant match. There was no fight between the fruit and bitterness of the beer and the sweetness of the chocolate. Puddings finished, I still had a glass of beer left in the bottle so poured that to drink on its own. It still poured the same deep gold and had a bready, citrus aroma, but it was now, without the chocolate to accompany, that I realised how sour the beer was, sour in a good way of course, but to my relatively unconditioned palate to the likes of Belgian lambics and gueuzes this was probably a good introduction to what you might expect from the real lip-puckering deal!
Thanks for reading.
If you have read this and used my links to the excellent blogs on food and beer and still doubt the power of this pairing, then check out some more recent examples of genius at work:
Check out Eating isn’t Cheating for regular food and beer pairings and also recent media activities involving David Bailey of Hardknott (re: Saturday Kitchen) and Des de Moor’s valiant effort to assist BBC’s the One Show, although they could have used his input a little less sparingly! Also, Raising the Bar and Gastroturf provide details on their International IPA Day Feast at the Dean Swift, London.