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BELGIAN OR BELGIAN�STYLE BEER
Belgium is a Mecca for beer fans and home to a wide variety of styles,
from sour fruit beers called lambics to highly prized Trappist beers made
in monasteries. These beers are so well respected that some non-Belgian
brewers use their yeast strains to create Belgian-style brews, including
Honey Spice Tripel from Sharp's in Cornwall, which contains honey,
ground coriander seeds and citrus peel. Beers this complex work in a
similar way to dessert wines. They can match the sweetness of, say,
treacle tart, but also have enough punch to work with goats' cheese.
For a great introduction to the complexities of Belgian beer, stalwart
Duvel is a good benchmark. At 8.5% abv, it's packed with barley richness
underpinned by a bed of hops. Matching foods bene t from being
complex - so if you want to enjoy it with, say, sh and chips, it helps if the
sh has a Duvel batter or added herbs. 'Try it with pesto pasta, or pork
with a creamy sauce,' suggests Duvel general manager Matthew Wilson.
BRITISH BEERBritish bitter has long been a bastion of the bar, and now
that we're experiencing a craft beer explosion, any style
goes. For a traditional combo, try a full-bodied, 5.5% abv
Fuller's ESB (Extra Special Bitter) with steak and ale pie.
Then there's IPA - or India Pale Ale - originally brewed
with extra hops to keep its avour on long sea journeys.
Its increased hoppiness can stand up to spicy food and
richly textured, creamy sauces, so try something like
Meantime IPA next time you order a chicken korma.
Darker versions such as Marston's Revisionist Dark IPA
have richer, deeper avours, with notes of chocolate and
to ee. These lend themselves to partnering with spicy
and fuller- avoured food, such as a rogan josh curry or
lamb koftas. The dark malt notes also work well with red
fruit desserts such as chocolate and raspberry tart.
Now chefs including Mark Hix and Michel Roux Jr are
gettin involved. Hix's beer range is made by Palmers
brewery in Dorset, close to his hometown. 'It's important
to support local producers,' he says. He recommends Hix
Blonde with wild salmon, monk sh or pike.
Meanwhile Roux says of his beer Roux Brew Two: 'It
has a combination of citrus and pepper, with a soft malt
character and is inspired by the summer farmhouse
beers of northern France and southern Belgium. It's
great for pairing with rustic dishes and funky cheeses.'
NOTES ON BEER & FOOD MATCHING
'Often beer avours are more de ned than those of
wine, making it easier to pick out the particular contrasts
it may have with what you're eating. It's a question of
balance: if you have a dish with a lot of bitterness, it
may be a good idea to pair it with something slightly
smoother, for balance. Additionally, it's not just taste
that you should consider: other senses such as sight
can make a huge di erence. For instance, I don' t know
if a vintage ale would go with scallops - the colours
simply don't work together.'
David Galetti, head sommelier, Le Gavroche
CIDERThe tried and tested pairing of pork and
apple sauce should tell you that cider and
food are happy bedfellows - and there
are now more types of cider than ever.
For a traditional sip, try a Somerset cider
such as Thatchers. Its Vintage oak-aged
cider pairs well with rich, full- avoured
dishes such as curry.
For something a little more o -piste
and at the sparkling end of the spectrum,
Spanish cider Pomarina is
fresh and zesty, making
it a great partner for
dishes such as sushi;
its acidity contrasts
nicely with the
umami of the sh.
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