Every couple of months I head for Plymouth to appear on the Bill Buckley show as part of his Foodie Friday. We usually try to have a theme, I take in a few beers to fit in with said theme and we chat and taste the beers.
I’m fresh back from my latest guest slot which you can listen to here (for around a week after the date of this post. I’m on during the last hour of the show) in which we took a little look at how sophisticated beer can be.
I chose beers in large 750ml bottles – wine size bottles if you like – aiming for brews which would challenge received ideas of ‘what beer is like’. I also opted for beers in special packaging (see pictures).
Here’s what we tasted:
We started with Wild Beer Co and Fyne Ales Cool as a Cucumber (2.9%) – a low ABV delight perfect for hot summer afternoons. It has the characteristic dryness of many of their beers – brought about by the use of saison and brettanomyces yeasts. The flavour is delicate but with hints of fruitiness. The cucumber flavour is very subtle, emerging as you swallow the beer – as if a slice of cucumber had slipped across your toungue – giving way to a pleasant malty aftertaste. I am looking forward to trying this beer as a mixer to a glass of gin served with cucumber instead of lemon!
Next up we headed south east to Italy (please do not even mention upcoming footballyness) to sample one of the delightful beers from Mastri Birrai Umbri. Because we were already having two saison-style beers I opted for their No. 42 Dark Malt beer (6%) which is made with lentils – grown in the same part of Italy as the beer is brewed. This beer is deliciously rich and dark and not dissimilar to a Belgian dubbel, with an aroma of dried fruit and a hint of chocolate which carries through to the taste. I am looking forward to pairing this with something like venison – which I have learned is sometimes served with a chocolate sauce! Mastri Birrai Umbri is imported into the UK by Alivini – who will soon have an online shop for retail customers to buy the beer from.
We finished off with another Wild Beer Co brew: their Ninkasi (9%), named for the Sumerian goddess of booze. It features New Zealand hops, apples and wild yeast – which all come together perfectly to make you want to eat strong Cheddar cheese as per the food matching suggestion on the bottle.It’s crisply dry, with a noticeable appley tang and a reined-in sourness likely to appeal to cider-lovers as well as fans of funky beers.
As per the episode of my Beertalkers podcast which looked at the question, “Is beer posh?” with these beers I was trying to show there is more to beer than:
- A pint of the usual,
- Generic, uni-flavoured brown or yellow stuff,
- I like beer but I prefer wine with food.
If you are a beer-savvy reader or – a beer geek – you’ll know all this but I hope any beer newbies that have stopped by (perhaps after hearing me on Radio Devon) might find this food (or beer) for thought.