Looking back, Ladies Love Beer may have been a little misguiding name for a group that was created to bring more ladies in the fold of beer-loving folk. I have very few regrets, though, as I am hoping that the ladies who attended the first Ladies Only Beer Night did leave with a new appreciation for all things ale, and maybe will even come back for seconds.
The ladies were 15 strong on Thursday 19th February, settling in downstairs of the Cellar. Most of them didn’t really know what to expect. Some were veterans when it came to Beer Appreciation, some had dabbled in the world of ale before, some declared they didn’t even like beer before the event started. One thing was for sure; their host was determined to make it a memorable night.
Walking in, each lady was presented with a champagne flute with a bubbly, tasty beer. Of Spanish origin (or Catalonia to be exact) their glasses were filled with Inedit, created by renowned chef Ferran Adrià, and his team of sommeliers from elBulli restaurant. Filled with barley malts, hops, coriander, liquorice and orange peel the bubbly drink went down a treat with most of the ladies, who never knew beer could be like champagne, fine vintage and light.
The first course, smoked salmon blinis with cream cheese and chives was accompanied with Plateu from Burning Sky brewery. The reason this pale ale was chosen with the dish was the fact that US & NZ hops (which this tipple is filled with) do to beer what lemon juice does to fish – they cut through the oiliness of the fish and the richness of the cream cheese – in fact you’ll find that a lot of NZ hops have citrus-like qualities about them.
The second course, spicy Patatas Bravas and chilli-chicken and roasted pepper skewers were paired with a Brewdog/Buxton brewery collaboration, Rough C’s. This amber lager works well with spice because lagers in general have a tendency to be dryer on the finish which refreshes your palate after the spiciness of the chicken and patatas. The fruity notes worked well with the fragrant tomato sauce which also had chilli, both of which are in fact fruits. The sweet malts matched with the peppers which were dry roasted first to bring out the sweeter taste in them.
On we went to the third course, a triple-chocolate, almond covered brownie whch was infused with Marble Brewery’s Chocolate Stout. Traditionally, chocolate is paired with darker beers to bring out their sweetness, but as this brownie packed so much richness and those tantalising sweet notes, it was paired with Weihenstephaner brewery’s Hefeweissbier, a crispy wheat beer which worked as a sharp but enjoyable contrast to the pudding. Chocolate works well with spices and wheat beers are known for their spicy nature; think of cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and orange, some of which the ladies also found in the brownie. The match here emphasised the contrast of the two and the lighter beer gives a lift to the end of the meal instead of bogging the drinker down with sticky sweetness.
The last pairing was Marble Brewery’s 125 Imperial Stout, a powerful 10% delight which was matched with three types of different cheeses; mature cheddar, creamy blue cheese and brie. Stouts are notoriously smooth on the palate, and the cheeses chosen for this dish were very creamy in themselves, so apart from the dark malts complimenting the creamy notes of the cheese, it’s also a texture match we aimed for. This beer, being an imperial stout packs a greater punch than most tamer beers and this can be matched with the blue cheese as it also has a tang to its taste. The cheeses were presented with a homemade beer-chutney which was infused with Wild Beer Brewery’s Redwood Sour red ale and freshly baked bread.
I have long since wondered aloud why more women are not into beer. What I hoped to achieve on the Ladies Only Beer Night was to have a comfortable surrounding where to try different things and to learn about the different ways to enjoy beer – matching it to food being one of my personal favourites. Sharing my passion for beer has become, to a degree, a personal crusade for me. If just one lady went home thinking they would try a beer next time they go out , the night accomplished what it set out to do and all the nerves I blew while organising it were worth it. Did that happen? The jury’s still out. At least the food cooked by Tom was much loved by all.
It was always going to be a challenge to convince a load of Ladies to attend a night of beery shenanigans – but it seems Ladies Love Beer achieved it. With a 15 strong crowd a first-time solo host could not really ask for more. The Ladies asked questions, some even (to my horror) took notes. It would seem that regardless of all the stress involved in cooking a four course meal and matching it with beer it is worth it, and now I’m pining for another run!
So because I am somewhat mad, I am now planning the next event.