My grandma says beer tastes like “soapy water”.

I always remember this, because when I first tried beer as a kid I thought exactly the same. Tasting notes of Fairy Liquid.

I recalled this to Sharp's Brewery's beer sommelier, Ed Hughes, who has a fantastic ability to be an absolute know-it-all about beer without coming across as a know-it-all.

Ed was hosting a beer and food matching event during London Beer Week (LBW), and while I no longer drink beer with the same soapy resentment, he did teach me how beer can seriously enhance and change an eating experience.

The menu was developed by Zack Hawke, head chef at The Mariners at Rock Cornwall (jointly owned by Sharp’s and chef Nathan Outlaw), so the food was always going to be excellent.

However, my pudding for example, was transformed from a lovely St. Clements posset to a posset that I am still craving right now (pictured below).  

It was paired with a 5% ABV juniper wheat beer called “Botanicale”, brewed especially for LBW, and the combination made my taste buds zing.  

 

lbw1_26.jpg

 

Ed’s argument is that beer pairing should be no less natural than wine pairing, which has been around a few hundred years. Why do you have to be a wine drinker to reap the benefits of matching your drink to your food? 

It's not a new idea, but there is certainly scope for growth. And it's not snobby. Your customers naturally pair flavours all the time. Smoked salmon & eggs? Chips with salt & vinegar, and what's a biscuit without a cup of tea after all?

Our deputy editor, Robyn Black, has written a whole article about the popularity of beer and food matching this month which is definitely worth a read.

It’s also quite fun. As someone obsessed with food, I loved tasting a dish in two different ways - once before the beer and once after sipping the beer. It's a great way to engage with customers. 

That being said... if your customer is my grandma then she’ll stick to the wine please. Or my "favourite granddaughter" title is at stake!