Just before Christmas I wrote about pairing beers with the various courses of my Christmas day menu. The day is now well in the past – but I’ve finally sat down and written up a quick summary of how it went. In a nutshell: well.
Terrine of sweetbreads, black pudding, and spiced pork mince
Served with a salad of rocket, fresh orange, Kalamata olives, and shaved Pecorino Romano – with a zesty orange vinaigrette
1st Beer: Lambic/Tripel
Brouwerij Loterbol “Tuverbol” (2007) – 10.5% (Belgium)
The Tuverbol with its spicy and zesty orange notes matched the food brilliantly, especially the zesty orange vinaigrette. The lambic qualities acted as a crisp and cleansing counterpoint to the rich solidity of the cold terrine, while the beer had enough body to not seem too thin in contrast.
Everyone seemed to approve of this pairing.
Whole confit duck leg
Served with tempura black pudding pieces, lemony puy lentils, and a salad of julienne celeriac, carrot, and beetroot
2nd Beer: Witbier
Beer: Brouwerij ‘t IJ “Scharrel IJwit” (Netherlands)
This pairing wasn’t as successful as the first one. The beer was light, refreshing, and lemony and matched lemony flavours used in the dish. Unfortunately it didn’t really stand up to the in-your-face richness of the confit and black pudding. It was effectively drowned out – despite being quite a tasty witbier when drunk in isolation.
On reflection I think this beer would be a better match for a white fish dish.
In a future rendition of this pairing I think I’d try for something more hoppy and herbal. Something along the lines of BrewDog’s 5AM Saint, Moor’s JJJ IPA, or HardKnott’s Infra-Red. I could also, perhaps, use the same beer in the “tempura” batter used for the black pudding.
Served with the usual bits and bobs: a pear, currant, and walnut “stuffing”; roast vegetables; parsnip chips; something green perhaps …
3rd Beer: Real Ale?
Ringwood “Old Thumper” – 5.6% (UK)
Tring’s “Colley’s Dog – 5.2% (UK)
I changed my mind and decided to go with a real cask conditioned ale for the main course instead of the bottled Old Thumper from Ringwood. My choice of ale was the ever-popular Colley’s Dog from Tring Brewery.
This really worked as expected, a good rich ale with a good rich meal. No pussyfooting about!
The caramel/malt body of the Colley’s Dog held up well against all the rich roasty flavours of the meal. With better preparation I’d have liked to have used a bit of the Colley’s dog in the gravy, maybe next time!
Alvinne “Melchior Calvados Barrel Oak Aged” – 11.5% (Belgium)
We sipped this while relaxing and watching Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”.
Traditional Christmas Pudding made with Nethergate Old Growler Porter
Possibly served with a whisky crème-anglaise and vanilla-bean icecream
Dogfish Head “Palo Santo Marron” – 12% (USA)
This was a perfect combination, as planned the beer complimented dessert like a rich and beery chocolate sauce. We didn’t actually have dessert until about 02:30 on Boxing Day though. It was a long day of cooking, eating, and gourmet beerination!
I declare the matching of food and beer for Christmas experiment a success. Of course, if this meal were to be repeated there are certainly some refinements that could be made. Beer has been used here in a considered way, no swigging boxes of bland fizzy crap; rather: a careful study of flavours and textures. As you can see from the photo above we didn’t drink copious quantities of alcohol on the day.
I will definitely do this again, and also put more thought toward everyday drinking of beer alongside food.