DI’s Lucy Britner heads out for a bitter bite

on 14 January, 2011

We’re stepping back in time to Britner’s Beers this month and it’s down the rocky road of beer and food matching we go. It seems just about every brewer – or brewery marketing dept – has had a bash at beer and food matching. Some attempts have been very successful and others have left diners with a nasty taste in their mouths......

Scotland-based Innis & Gunn brewery made its name for its oak-ageing process. This came about in 2002, after a “famous scotch whisky distiller” contacted Dougal Sharp – founder and owner of Innis & Gunn – to see if he could help them make a beer-finished whisky. Sharp created a beer to season the oak barrels with its sweet, malty character and after 30 days the beer was poured away and the barrels filled with whisky. The distiller loved the whisky and ordered thousands more litres to season the barrels. It turned out the beer was pretty good, too, and the rest, as they say...

Eight years later, in a restaurant in English seaside town Brighton, Innis & Gunn is flexing its beer and food matching muscles.

So what’s on the menu? What are we drinking with it and does it work?

Appetiser: Rossmore rock oyster with Innis & Gunn Blonde beer tempura. This was served with Innis & Gunn Blonde and probably quite an easy match since the beer featured in the dish. Still, oysters can be tricky customers and the fudgy, creamy notes of the beer helped to balance their stong, seaweed taste.

The starter was a highlight – locally caught, home-cured sea bass in the form of a pastrami and a gravadlax, and mackerel sashimi and smoked mackerel. The rich, smokey texture of the fish was complemented by the rich, hoppy bitterness of the IPA, all the time carrying the creamy, vanilla notes you associate with barrel ageing.

The main was roasted sirloin of 21-day hung beef served with Innis & Gunn Original slow-braised oxtail pressed potatoes. Accompanying this dish was the Original and its robust, malty taste was a great partner to the beef. The beer itself was similar to the Blonde but with bigger boots on.

The pud was a soufflé of Scottish clootie with eggnog ice cream. Imagine a Christmas pudding that could float out of a ramekin and into your mouth. That’s what a Scottish clootie souffle tastes like. So it has to be a boozy rum cask-finish beer with the boozy pud. A match made for winter.

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