Manchester Beer and Cider Festival 2019, Manchester Central, Jan 23rd-26th
People can be sniffy about food pairing but we do it all the time. You might fancy a chocolate covered peanut, but you would never have chocolate cake and pesto, despite them both containing cocoa and nuts. The aim of this tasting was to launch a new food pairing dynamic on the unsuspecting public – biscuits and beer. This genius idea came from MBCF organiser Peter Alexander, who passed it on to Matthew Curtis, who was given a choice between attending the cricket in the West Indies or training it up to Manchester in the rain. After some cajoling, he went to the beach, and I went biscuit shopping. Fourteen punters came to the session, and no-one was sick, at least not immediately.
Budvar – Oatmeal and Raisin
Anything light will go with fruit, especially a nice premium lager like Budvar. Despite being on the controversial end of the biscuit spectrum, oatmeal and raisin cookies were virtually sold out when I went biscuit shopping. All that were left were frankly overpriced gluten free versions, but they still did an excellent job of soaking up the beer. The sugar in the cookie reduces the sweetness of the beer and brings out the dryness.
Brouwerji Boon Framboise – custard creams
This was the real revelation and the punters’ choice of the tasting. The creaminess of the filling balances the fruit richness on the palate and so you don’t get that cloying over sweetness. In the same way that Rhubarb and Custard sweets work because they mix tart fruit flavours with creamy vanilla, this is a dynamite flavour combination.
‘Interesting’ fact, the worlds largest custard cream was about the size of a hotel pillow, which is pretty underwhelming to be honest.
St Bernabus Brewerij Wit – Hobnob
Wheat beer has a naturally sourness to it so you want something which has grains but not too much sugar. The hobnob is actually younger than me, it was born in 1985. The hobnob was the first one we attempted to dunk, but actually we just ended up with crumbs in our beer, so a failed experiment.
Beerbliotek Bobek Citra IPA – Cheese balls and savoury cheese biscuits
Controversial to add a savoury snack at this stage in the game but then beer and cheese go together so well, better, in fact, than with wine.
Pale ales cut through the fat of the cheese to cleanse the palate – the best cheese for these would be an aged cheddar, not sure what fine cheese was in these biscuits.
Marstons EPA – Bourbon cream
There was no science behind this one, we entered into it in the spirit of adventure. It was pleasingly delicious, the saltiness of the bourbon really set off the brightness of the beer. Well done everyone.
Brasserie de la Seine Stout – dark chocolate digestive
Stout and dark chocolate are best friends, the pairing highlights the roasted character which comes from the Maillard Reaction – that’s a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars. Named for Louis Camille Maillard who had an excellent handlebar moustache. There is an International Maillard Reaction Society, but I can’t work out what exactly they do.
Thanks to all the participants, the excellent volunteers Sue and Neil, and Peter for his hospitality.