Meats and cheeses on Craft Beer Hour
Next Tuesday will be the third week of the first dedicated Beer & Food month on Craft Beer Hour. In a bid to help us (or me anyway!) learn a little more about pairing meats, cheeses and beers this Christmas, I'm over the moon to tell you that wonderful Friends of Ham will be our hosts.
In preparation for this mouthwatering occasion, Assistant Manager, Billy, has very kindly put together these outrageously good suggestions for us...
Meat: Cecina De Leon
Beer: Kees Caramel Fudge Stout, 11.5%
Big, rich, sweet and moreish. This banger from Dutch masters Kees is every bit on a par with any big stout you can find. Mouthfeel of velvet and the body to back it up! Full of lactose sweetness and rich caramel and brown sugar notes. Finishes of with light roasty flavours and that caramel singing all the way through.
Cecina is a deeply smoky and rich beef, with a texture akin to leather (in the best kind of way!). Super heavy smokiness and a slight herbal note from the seasoning. The smokiness really brings out the roasty malt that can otherwise be lost in a sea of lactose sweetness and sticky caramel. The stichelton cheese adds a creaminess and a tang from the blue veins that backs up the toffee flavours in the beer.
Cheese: Vacherin Mont D'or
Beer: Mad Hatter Harvest Saison, 7.4%
Mad Hatters Harvest saison packs a massive funky, peppery flavour with a very subtle sour finish. Quite boozy at the back end with assertive hop bitterness to finish off. Cracking with funky cheese! Vacherin Mont D'or is a bold and funky wash rind soft cheese from the mountainous Franche-Comte region of France. It sings funk, earthiness, spruce and sweetness. Everything you want to enhance in a great saison.
Finnochiona is a traditional Italian salami, heavily seasoned with wild fennel seeds. The herbal and aniseed notes from the salami compliment the earthiness of the saison, all rounding up into a sweet meaty flavour from the pork that balances the hop bitterness perfectly.
Meat: Iberico Bellota
Cheese: Kirkhams Lancashire
Beer: Cloudwater IPA Mosaic EXP431 6.5%
Cloudwater are (in my eyes) the king of the IPA in the UK. Every one seems to take the previous one to the next level, this is no exception. Mosaic hops bring the tropical fruit party, the EXp431 brings some delightful floral and spicy notes. Just when I'm expecting this massive bitter hit, all of these soft fruit flavours just dance around! Magic! I barely want to play with this beer, but alas here we go!
Kirkhams Lancashire is a beautifully buttery and crumbly Lancashire cheese, the last of its kind! it Has a richness and complexity that only goes to enhance the caramel malt body of this beer, but doesn't overpower the tropical hop notes. The layers of flavour from this cheese intertwine perfectly with the fruit and floral notes.
Iberico Bellota is the king of ham. Fed purely on acorns and cured for 3 years. Christ! It has a sweet and nutty flavour that balances fantastically with saltiness and buttery undertones. Simplicity and depth of flavour compliment the layers of tropical hops and sweetness from the malt brilliantly.
Meat: Carne Salata
Beer: Burning Sky, Gaston Belgian Pale 6%
Gaston, a belgian pale designed to pay homage to the traditions of Belgium. First thing that hits me is Sherbert and sweet candied sugar. Then comes the hops. Light bitterness that sits next to a complexity brought from the yeast cultures. This needs delicacy and and complexity to stand up to it.
Carne Salata is a cured beef, lightly smoked and rubbed with cloves, garlic, salt and pepper. Its texture is tender and delicate, much like the beer we are pairing with. The cloves and herbal notes soften the sherbet and candy flavours in the beer and allow the complex yeast character and spice to come through. the smokiness of the beef is not overpowering, but enhances the malts and brings out a more earthy character in the beer.
Wow! Thanks so much to Billy at Friends of Ham.
Go forth everyone and source some beers, meats and cheeses for Craft Beer Hour on Tuesday 20th December.
I can't wait!