“I’ve had many heated debates with sommeliers about food and drink pairing, whether you want to contrast or match ingredients with the flavour profile of a beer. For me, it’s more about the yin and yang, the contrast and I’ve had the best results when pairings challenge people’s perceptions.
Trapper’s Hat is the quintessential bitter. It carries a rich, deep flavour without being overly heavy. There’s a finely balanced and memorable aftertaste to Trapper’s which cuts really well with a traditional British charcuterie.
At a basic level, just think about the salinity and smokiness of roasted nuts and how well they go together with a great beer at your favourite bar. It’s really important, particularly for a chef, because food and drink pairing promotes these lasting memories. Some memories can be bad! But it gets more exciting and rewarding the further you take it; Trapper’s is a beautifully crafted beer and you could even match it with peppered mackerel or cold smoked sea trout, for example.
Here are some of my matching tips and ideas for three of the fabulous Brimstage Brewery range:
1) Elder Pale Ale
When I tasted this wonderfully refreshing beer the floral Elder notes, Perle hops and prominent tropical fruit flavours immediately made me think of an ‘Alsace wine’. In gastronomy, these beautifully floral fruit driven wines are ideal to be paired with spicy food from Asia and my top tip would be to match this beer with rich Indian curries, spicy jerk chicken or even the likes of Singapore vermicelli. This beer is equally at home with these flavours or as an aperitif in a beer flight; at 4.1% its about flavour and balance. The beer has cooling and calming properties on the taste buds hence its match with the heat and spice.
I couldn’t comment on Brimstage beers without discussing Trapper’s Hat. A beer of unsurprising prominence and popularity. Its refreshing depth of flavour and citrus notes make a balance of flavour that is incredibly moreish. But this beer for me is not just for a session. In terms of matching, I often crave contrasts and not always following a theme.
I would match the flavour of seared rare-cooked steak, or at this time of year, venison loin with Maldon salt and cracked black pepper. The juices from the rare cooked and carved meat, plus the saltiness mingling with the malted barley and Savinjski Golding hop flavours give a fabulous ‘umami’ moment. Savoury and bitter meets sweet and salty to give the ultimate balance!!!
3) Oyster Catcher Oatmeal Stout
The name of this dark delight immediately made me think of a classic type match of stout and fresh oyster with red wine vinegar and chopped shallots. Which would still work perfectly due to the rich, deep sweetness of the beer contrasting with the salinity, savoury and acidic elements within the oyster. But I want to direct you to another element of flavour matching: this beer works incredibly well with smoked fish and dairy in the form of cheese. I will also give a shout out to another food hero of the Wirral in Wards Fish. In this instance their flakes of hot smoked mackerel served with chopped chives, lemon zested, black peppered cream cheese on a piece of freshly baked wholemeal soda bread (we actually make soda bread using Oyster Catcher). Smoked, salted, oily fish with citrus dairy and the dark, deep sweetness of the stout!!! Yes please!!! A wonderful combination to enjoy.”
Paul serves three different tasting menus, paired drinks flights, local produce: basically the full gastronomic voyage at his renowned restaurant The Art School. You can pick up ingredients, ideas, and, of course, some Brimstage beers at the Art School Emporium of Food & Wine, 1 Sugnall St., Liverpool. www.theartschoolrestaurant.co.uk
Check out the highly recommended, Birkenhead Market based Wards Fish at www.wardsfish.co.uk