Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 687 Here’s a thought. If you’re a brewery that enjoys matching your beers with a variety of dishes, how does this sound? On my plate there’s a fillet of celeriac, which has been smoked, then seared before being braised, and then presented with the grace and elegance of the finest piece of steak. It’s tender, earthy and salty-sweet, and it completely wrong-foots my senses, especially as I’ve never been that excited about celeriac. It’s a vegetarian dish as well and I’m not one (a vegetarian that is). There’s also a choice of two beers to match the dish, which is accompanied by rainbow chard and pickled walnuts. Both are from the USA; Sticke Alt is brewed by Harpoon in New England while Baba Black Lager has come all the way from Utah’s Uinta. If we’re talking about which beer goes best with the dish then the Baba brings out the earthiness of the chard, but the clear winner is the Sticke Alt, whose rich malt character is an intriguing match with the caramel chewiness of the seared celeriac, as if the beer was searching to pick out new flavours. The celeriac also has a sweetness that seems to be intensified by the beer. I did try a few more sips of the Baba, but it was the Sticke Alt that spoke long words of love to this dish and turned what on paper would seem like a dreary vegetable (celeriac is often the kind of veg that only a mother could love) into something more over-reaching and intense on the palate. This beer dinner happened back in August, at the Brixton restaurant Salon, and was organised by the American Brewers’ Association (hence the beers) with the grand idea of demonstrating that beer and vegetarian food can be ideal partners on the dining table. It’s not exactly a new idea — during my time as Secretary of the British Guild of Beer Writers I worked on the beer and food matching for several Guild award dinners and we did try to find beers that would be suitable for vegetarians, but we were not always successful as one vegetarian attendee said to me later on. I wonder if I held an unconscious belief that the best matches were always between beer and meat or fish, a belief that I often find is shared by the majority of breweries who celebrate beer and food matching. Elsewhere in the dinner, we had marinated beetroots, whipped sheep curd, puffed barley, hibiscus accompanied by a saison; girolles, sweet corn, orange and allspice butter was matched with a West Coast-style IPA and after the celeriac a dessert of olive oil ganache, salted caramel and cherry hazelnuts was the perfect partner to a strong old ale. The evening was an eye-opener and a revelation. As well as being delicious, it also got me thinking about how matching vegetarian food and beer is still very much an esoteric pursuit when it comes to the table. After all, there’s a chance that quite a few drinkers excited by the British beer revolution are also vegetarians and why should they be sitting on the gastronomic version of the naughty step when it comes to beer and food? According to the Brewers Association’s Executive Chef, Adam Dulye, who oversaw the meal with the restaurant’s head chef Nick Balfe, ‘we wanted to show what’s happening in the world of beer and food today. Chefs like Nick and restaurants like Salon together with small and independent craft brewers are on the same path. Small and independent is now the cornerstone of the craft brewing and culinary movement. It’s all about quality — from the brewers who brew your beer to the chefs using quality ingredients —and the connection between what’s in the glass and what’s on the plate. We wanted to challenge people’s perceptions of how they think about beer and food, and pairing American craft beer with British vegetables was one way to achieve this aim.’ It all sounds very exciting and something I would recommend any brewery looking to throw a beer and food dinner to try. A small caveat though. Even though beer and food matching is common in the brewing industry and we have seen the rise of such creatures as the beer sommelier, I would hazard a guess that outside our small beer bubble there are many whose idea of beer and food is still stuck at stout with oysters or a pint of bitter with fish and chips. The idea of matching high-end food (never mind vegetarian) with equally high-end beers is still very much a minority pursuit. On the other hand, welcoming vegetarians can only be good news as this would be about breweries showing initiative and inclusivity as well as continuing to demonstrate the versatility of beer when it comes to the dining table. Now if you excuse me, I’ve got to go and see my grocer about some celeriac. Adrian Tierney-Jones Adrian Tierney-Jones The versatility of beer knows no culinary bounds! Adrian Tierney-Jones is a freelance journalist whose work appears in the Daily Telegraph, All About Beer, Beer, Original Gravity, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, and Publican’s Morning Advertiser amongst many others. He’s been writing books since 2002 and they include West Country Ales, Great British Pubs, Britain’s Beer Revolution (co-written with Roger Protz) and the history of the International Brewing Awards Brewing Champions; general editor of 1001 Beers To Try Before You Die and contributor to The Oxford Companion to Beer, World Beer and 1001 Restaurants You Must Experience Before You Die. Chair of Judges at the World Beer Awards and also on the jury at Brussels Beer Challenge, International Beer Challenge and Birra Dell’Anno. 7_Layout 1 30/10/2016 18:05 Page 1