Eat out, drink up
Best drunk with steak pie, or to help wash down puddings?
Right beer, right now
We’re one of the world’s great beer-swilling superpowers. So why, asks Emily Jones, don’t we show a bit more appreciation?
et‘s face it. this nation loves beer. We meet for pints
after work and knock them back in pubs when
watching sport. Summer barbecues just aren‘t complete without a case of cold ones. Beer — of a sort — has been brewed in Scotland since probably 3000BC. and today we consume on average about 100 litres of it every year. So why do most of us know almost nothing about it'.’
When it comes to grape-guzzling. associations such as the Wine and Spirit liducation Trust have spent decades educating consumers. contributing to a sophisticated wine culture. Meanwhile. the general lack of effort by the beer industry has left our favourite beverage burdened by false myths created by the misinformed. But maybe there’s hope. The Beer Naturally campaign (essentially a marketing gambit of Coors Brewers) is making a good faith effort to educate and the UK Campaign for Real Ale does its bit too. More recently. a Beer Academy has been launched by a group of respected British enthusiasts fed up with watching ale slip silently into the shadows of other drinks‘ limelight.
‘We need to provide consumers with the opportunity to learn more about beer.’ says the Beer Academy‘s chief executive. George Philliskirk. ‘If we can make them aware of the brewing process and different styles. we can essentially raise the profile of beer.‘ After receiving positive feedback from trial classes held last summer at the White Horse Pub in London. the academy created three new courses. Its goal'.’ In a kegshell. to spread knowledge within the industry (pub owners. retailers and journalists) so that consumers may also learn the intricacies of the art of brewing and discover a fresh enjoyment of beer. All I00 or so styles of it.
Seminars can last from three hours to three days. based on a pupil‘s experience. But all include well-presented and entertaining discussions about the history of beer. For example. once upon a time a few pints of beer formed the
IS LESS CALORIFIC
WINE AND PROVIDES B VITAMINS'
backbone of a hearty breakfast. The classes also explain what it‘s made of (all-natural barley. hops. water and yeast). how to taste it (there are over I00 identified
flavours). and why beer can actually contribute to our
never-ending pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. (iet this: it‘s less
calorific than wine and spirits while providing a dose of
fibre. B vitamins and protein.
()n the one-day foundation course 1 attended at Edinburgh's Caledonian Brewery. the reward for a morning of lectures is an afternoon ftrll of a dozen blind beer tastings. each accompanied by canapes to corriplerrient the different styles. While salty tortilla chips seem like an obvious partner for a crisp American lager (Budweiser). digestives with cheese go surprisingly well with Caledonian Brewery's own Deuchars IPA. Dark chocolate with some sweet Belgian cherry beer is also a nice treat.
Though the academy"s courses aren’t yet open to the public. there‘s no reason why we can’t experiment in our own homes. (‘r‘eamy stouts such as Guinness are good partners with shellfish. If you like your grub fried. the naturally high carbonation in lagers like Tennent‘s or Stella Artois cuts through the grease and uncovers flavours you might not otherwise detect. Semi-sweet and easy-to-drink brown ales (try Mann's Brown) work well with rich food such as steak pic. I prefer to wash down puddings with a citrusy Belgian white beer such as Hoegaarden (though some argue that Young‘s Double (‘hocolate Stout is the only way to go).
The rules are flexible; the possibilities immense. With over 2000 different beers brewed in the UK alone. the only thing that's unlikely is not being able to find one you love.
The Caledonian Brewery hosts its annual beer festival on Fri 4 8. Sat 5 Jun; for details call go to www.caledonian-brewery.co.uk.
News to nibble on . . .
I NATIONAL VEGETARIAN week takes place later this month (24-30 May) and Glasgow’s City Café plans a special menu to mark the occasion. Head chef Richard Lyth prides himself on meat-free recipes and his special ‘garden menu’ will offer dishes such as wild mushroom and truffle panacotta with cep dressing. The vegetarian selection will run alongside the regular in la carte and daily specials menus. For more information and bookings call 0141 227 1001 or log on to www.citycafe.co.uk.
I SCOTT CONCHAR. ONE OF the men behind Edinburgh's Human Be-ln. has launched Red Vodka Club on the Cowgate — one of the first venues to emerge after the disastrous Old Town fire, which left the city without the Gilded Balloon and the Bridge jazz bar. Open seven nights a week from 8pm, the bar at Red Vodka Club will feature an international array of premier. frozen and ‘fused’ vodkas. Current promos include “blue Monday' with two-for-one bottled beer and all house spirits and <31 frozen vodkas on Wednesday.
I SIDE DISHES HAS HAD a sneak preview of Oranmor, the ambitious centre for the arts being constructed within the old Kelvinside Parish Church at the corner of Byres and Great Western roads in Glasgow. The old manse is becoming a 60-seat brasserie-style restaurant with oyster bar, while the main entrance across from the West End Hilton will lead to a bar, lounge and a more casual restaurant, the Conservatory. While the latter does not feature a glass ceiling, it will have rather impressive square pane at the end of the rectangular dining room. Oranmor is scheduled to open at the end of May.
' Red Vodka Club
ILS L’ ' Mm. i‘x‘x‘hi THE LIST 105