Simon Rimmer and a Stockport brewery on mission to match food and beer
PUBLISHED: 16:52 03 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:49 20 February 2013
Volumes have been written about matching food with wine. But what about our national tipple, beer? The Robinsons brewery in Stockport is tackling that WORDS BY RAY KING
Volumes nay libraries have been written about matching food with wine. But what about our national tipple, beer? Apart from the clichd Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps or, in the case of a fiery vindaloo, ten pints of lager we havent travelled very far with a widely recognised beer-food relationship despite the best endeavours of some traditional brewers and their champions, the Campaign for Real Ale.
But as the trend towards making the most of excellent local ingredients in food recipes gathers pace, it is ridiculous to ignore one of the most iconic of all local produce traditionally brewed ale. And one of Britains most respected independent family-owned brewers is proving that beer is not only a fine accompaniment to popular dishes, but can also be a key ingredient in a wide range of recipes.
Robinsons, based at the Unicorn Brewery in Stockport for more than 150 years and boasting more than 200 pubs across Cheshire and north Wales, has teamed up with celebrity chef and restaurateur Simon Rimmer in devising appetising dishes using its beers that can be reproduced in pub kitchens.
At the brewerys latest tenants lunch at the Quay Hotel, Deganwy, to which licensees from Robinsons north Wales estate were invited to meet key suppliers and members of the brewing family, Simon and Robinsons catering support manager Christian Whittleworth staged a cookery demonstration showing how two very different beers could be used as ingredients in contrasting dishes.
Veltins Pilsener lager was used in a refreshing, zesty salsa to accompany sea bass fillets served on potato rosti and Robinsons strong ale, Old Tom, voted the worlds best, was an ingredient along with borlotti and butter beans, onions, black pudding and mustard in a tasty gratin served alongside roasted lamb rump.
At the lunch itself, Old Tom featured in chicken liver pate and a tangy sweet-sour chutney served with cheese and its cousin Chocolate Tom perked up the chocolate sauce partnering Merlyn chocolate torte.
Lager, beer and stout are essential ingredients in many recipes as varied as fajitas, steak and ale pie, beer-battered fish, and hearty stews - theres even a version of the French classic casserole boeuf en daube that employs beer. And Cheshire ice cream flavoured with Robinsons Ginger Tom has become a county classic.
Tips from Simon Rimmer:
When cooking with beer, add a pinch of sugar to the mix to counter any bitter aftertaste from the hops.
For a grown up dessert, add a good glug of Old Tom to the sauce of a sticky toffee pudding.
Tomatoes play havoc with the taste of wine, so next time pizza is on the menu try a light, refreshing bitter or lager.
Indian curry and lager is a tried and tested pairing since the spices will overpower the vast majority of wines.
Ginger Tom, as well as going well with ice cream, will compliment a Thai curry.
Stout is the classic match for oysters, but a light summery bitter like Robbies Dizzy Blonde goes perfectly with beer-battered haddock and chips and the vinegar wont ruin the beer like it would a wine.
Despite a squillion cheese and wine parties, most wines dont match most cheeses. Try Old Tom with Blue Cheshire, Blue Shropshire or Stilton and a pint of real ale is a must with a mature cheddar ploughmans; just dont let wine anywhere near your pickled onions.
The same goes for that spicy Melton Mowbray pork pie with English mustard; a pint of bitter please!
Chocolate is the wine killer, but its made for Chocolate Tom and vice versa.
The print version of this article appeared in the August 2011 issue of Cheshire Life
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