Thursday, 10 September 2009

An afternoon of beer and puddings..............

Now I didn't get this figure on crisp breads alone, I had to really work at it, so when the devilishly handsome (I think that's how he described himself)Rupert Ponsonby invited me along to Brown's Hotel to spend an afternoon indulging in beer and pudding matching I was only too happy to get idea of heaven.

To me I can't imagine a better way to spend an afternoon but when I went bragging to my girlfriends I was surprised just how much the very idea was knocked back. The majority of my girlfriends fall into the 60% of women that don't drink beer* and while they might humour me and have the occasional pre dinner Kasteel Cru, taking away the wine at pudding time is apparently a step far to far. So could they be proved wrong? Well I was prepared to give a blooming good go (I'm selfless like that) with 7 scrummy puddings and 9 beers and finally I've got round to writing about it.

Lime and mango Eton Mess and Sol 

I approached this with some trepidation. I love Eton Mess, it’s my number 2 pudding, but I’m an Eton Mess purist and it goes with strawberries in my book but I could see Rup’s thinking – you have lime with Sol and lime goes with mango so it should work right? Well it nearly did but the mango was very sweet, too sweet and left me with a sticky mouth that the Sol was just too light to cut through.

Steamed orange pudding and Blue Moon 
Orange on orange was just a step too far, even for someone with my sweet tooth. The pudding was lovely, really light and airy but the extra hit or orange drowned the coriander spice in the Blue Moon which I think is it’s key attraction. But I was a lone voice – it was voted joint top on the night.

Poached pear in white wine and Grolsch Weizen
Am a huge fan of Grolsch Weizen and can easily see how the strong banana notes would make this a good pudding match. However am much less of a poached pear fan but despite that could see how it could work, but it didn’t quite hit the mark. The vanilla flavours in the pear were just to sweet for the beer and when we try adding some cream (well you have to at pudding time) it was a disaster and brought out a lot of bitterness in the beer.

Spotted Dick and custard and Schneider Aventinus
This was one of the one’s I was waiting for – the only beer on the menu that I hadn’t tried before and it was definitely worth the wait, in fact voted the overall joint winner. The Aventinus was gorgeous, big ripe banana and clove flavours that was perfect with the raisins and spice in the pudding. True winter comfort, felt like the old lemsip advert were the chair grows around you. Absolutely gorgeous and one you should try - although you may have to rename it to Spotted Richard if the 
PC brigade get their way!

Raspberry crème brulée and Innis & Gunn, Bacchus Frambozen and Hix Oyster ale
I dived into this with undisguised joy – and wasn’t disappointed. The Innis & Gunn combination was just dreamy, the combination of the creamy brulee and the caramel beer was just stopped short of being to sweet with the tartness of the raspberries – why this didn’t win I’ll never know! The Bacchus was not such a winner, too sweetness and I think (well I know from many happy experiences) red fruit beers are a much better pairing with a chocolate pudding. The Oyster Ale was the weakest pairing, the beer was very cold which helped but the pudding was just too sweet and made the ale seem overly bitter.

Ginger Parkin and Worthington’s White Shield IPA
Sadly I had to catch a train at this point which was very disappointing as I had been really looking forward to it. I did recreate it at home (my ginger parkin is nothing on what Brown’s would prepare though). For those that stayed it seems this was a very marmite moment – but I loved it. Lots and lots of big flavours from the beer and the pud which for some could be overwhelming but a good match for me.

Pannacotta and caramelised oranges with Goose Island IPA
I was already at Watford Junction by the time this one came round and I’m hopeless at making pannacotta so I haven't yet tried this but you can see how it did here 
 and  here. My hunch is it wouldn't work, the caramelised orange would be just to sweet and leave this great beer seeming bitter.

So can we trade in the Chablis……
Some really great pairings that definitely show that beer should be on the menu at pudding time. Some not so strong but with a bit of tweaking – a chocolate brownie with the Bacchus would have been divine and fruity spiced Christmas pudding with the White Shield – and I would definitely have missed that train.

*blatant corporate plug - you can find more stats like this about women and their relationship with beer at 
BitterSweet Partnership


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