Brooklyn Brewery’s Mash Tour rolled into London this week. It’s a week of various foody and cultural events in partnership with local venues and people all lubricated by BB’s marvellous beers. I joined one of the events, an educational session about pasta making, in Shoreditch.
I’m going to be honest with you. I wasn’t sure how interesting a pasta-making demonstration was going to be. I was more keen on finding out what beers Brooklyn Brewery’s new(ish) chef Andrew Gerson was going to pair with pasta – particularly those in tomato sauces which I think can be quite tricky to match. But I went with an open mind and ended up learning more than I thought I would.
The event was held at a tiny ‘pastificio’ – meaning ‘artisan’ – called Burrio e Salvia (where if you don’t want to get practical with pasta you can simply go for lunch) and was a double header with expert Sfoglina (Italian for pasta maker) Gaia Enria and the BB Chef.
What struck me as they talked about the importance of high quality, fresh ingredients (rather than ‘pasteurised eggs from huge containers’ used by industrial pasta makers) and traditional techniques (there’ll be no pasta filled with prawns, curry or beetroot here thank you!) through to the joy of eating something fresh and handmade (best consumed no more than a day or two after it’s made) was the comparison with craft beer – and I use the term on purpose. It was at this point that pasta-making and beer didn’t seem like such an odd combination.
Andrew and Gaia each made a different pasta – he a thin, flat ribbon-like one called ‘taglierini’ and she a filled ‘tortellini’ with spinach and ricotta – and talked us though the differing techniques required for making certain types. For example ribbon pasta styles need the dough to be kept quite dry so it doesn’t stick together whereas filled pasta benefits from being wetter to provide a seal for the parcels.
But what I really wanted to know was what beers would they be matched with and how would the pairings work. I didn’t have to wait too long. While Gaia showed us how to make filled pasta Andrew went to cook his taglierini. After boiling for a couple of minutes he tossed it in some browned butter with a little sage and delivered us plates of perfect little pasta nests accompanied by Brooklyn Local 1 (9%).
The pasta was incredibly light and fresh and delicately creamy – although it only had butter on it. Local 1 is a sweet, golden Abbey style beer. When the two came together the sweetness of the beer was knocked back and bubblegum-like, fruity and estery flavours came to the fore – being not the biggest fan of sweet beers this was a match that worked for me.
While we were munching and quaffing away Gaia’s filled pasta was being prepared for us in a tomato sauce. It was to be paired with Brooklyn Local 2 (also 9%) - another Abbey style beer but this one a brown ale. It’s a gently earthy beer with a restrained sweetness. It’s quite dry and caramelised sugars emerge in the finish as you might expect with a Belgian-inspired beer of this style. With the pasta in tomato sauce the beer became much fruitier. Although this wasn’t a pairing that sang to me – it did show that beer and tomato sauces can be paired. I should also mention there was limited amounts of pasta so if I get the chance to revisit and reconsider I will.
Overall this Brooklyn Mash ‘Edu’ event was good fun and everyone who attended was clearly having a great time. My only complaint was I’d have like to have heard more about matching pasta (and pasta sauces) with different beers – but I guess I can use that as reason to conduct some practical research of my own and learn by trial and error!
Brooklyn Brewery is not only a producer of great beers and home of renowned Brewmaster Garrett Oliver, it is a well known brand. Events like the Brooklyn Brewery Mash show the power brands have to make beer look good and to bring it to new audiences. So as well as enjoying the Mash – which continues its London leg until Sunday 3rd August – we can make it part of the knowledge share the brewing industry is so famous for.
Find details of the remaining BB Mash events here.
If you want to learn to make pasta at Burro e Salvia there are pasta workshops throughout August.
Thanks to photographer Ev Sekkides who took all the photos used in this post. Find Ev’s website here.