I’m very much a girl who enjoys a glass of wine with her food. When it comes to beer I’m confronted with stereotypical images of old men, with beards, large round bellies and cable knit jumpers. However, I have a very broad mind and when the lovely people at the Edinburgh New Town Cook School invited me to attend their Beer and Food Matching event I jumped at the chance. I’m more than happy to have the horizon of my mind stretched.
Drinks writer for The Herald and Spirit Business, Tom Bruce Gardyne led the charge providing the group with an insight into the history of beer. He also confessed that until recently he too was much more a connoisseur of whisky and wine, but now believes beer is much more accommodating when matched with food and can play a strong supportive role.
Referred to in the past as “liquid bread” I was determined to find a beer that would convince me of Tom’s opinions and satisfy my palate. The odds were looking good. There is currently a quiet revolution occurring in Scotland with a host of top class craft breweries brewing beers, boasting a spectrum of flavours. A total of around 60 micro breweries are operating at the moment.
For the next two hours we explored eight very different beers, matched with top quality Scottish produce prepared by Fiona Burrell and her talented squad. What followed proved to be a fun and informative evening and my prejudices sounding beer where slowly diminished.
Served in wineglasses, as Tom again highlighted craft beer deserves the same respect as wine, we mixed and matched a diverse selection of ales. In my humble opinion the Innis and Gunn Original Oak Aged went very well with the hot roasted smoked salmon, trumping the Avalanche from Fyne Ales. I liked the Innis and Gunn Original so much seconds were sampled with the magical chocolate cake we enjoyed later in the evening, which had been baked using stout.
The Caesar Augustus worked wonders paired with Findlays venison sausages, which had been slow cooked in beer and served with crushed new potato’s and gravy. It had the edge over the Highlander. Next up was a glass of Joker IPA and Radical Road, which were both very similar in colour. However the Radical Road really overpowered the Asian haggis, whereas the Joker IPA complemented the hot and spicy taste of what was another superb product from the Portobello butcher, Findlays.
The final ales where slightly tougher and more for the seasoned beer drinking. Both were very dark in colour and as is with marmite I think you will either love or hate both the Innis and Gunn Rum Cask and the Ballechin Porter. I don’t think I’m quite ready to step up to the mark and conquer these beers – yet! The chocolate cake and the Isle of Mull Cheese, served along with these ales, were on the other hand heavenly.
The overall winner for me however in this journey was the Innis and Gunn Original Oak Aged. A very good food pairing beer that I would happily match with smoked salmon, cheese and chocolate cake (if I really had too!).
So, If you’re still looking for some Father’s Day inspiration, why not send him to the next beer and food matching night on August 26 at the Edinburgh New Town Cook School. Better still why not go along too and experience the wide range of flavours and delicious food. It will certainly catch your imagination and tickle your taste buds and like me if you’re not already, you may even be converted!