Beer and pig, what could be better? Well, smoked beer and smoked pig perhaps? We’ll come to that later. Mid-December, thoughts of Christmas shopping on hold, we go to Putney for a small ticketed event at the craft beer shop, Beer Boutique.
The evening was organised with The Charcuterie Board and Moons Green, passionate British artisan producer of everything piggy. Quite a broad group of people from beer lovers, pig lovers (no tittering at the back) and people fancying a good evening. Nice simple format with Beer Boutique Max introducing beer and meat men introducing the meat, eating and drinking our way through six beers and six different meats.
What Max lacks in beer and brewing knowledge he more than makes up for with enthusiasm, adrenaline and genuine passion. This worked well because it broke the ice and people weren’t afraid to ask questions. Most of all it was a fun evening, no beer geekery or po-faced tasting.
The beers were all classics and the charcuterie was both beautiful and plentiful.
We kicked off with Sam Smith’s Winter Welcome and marmalade glazed ham. Both relatively undemanding but simple and classic. The slightly bocky paired well with ham glaze and neither dominated.
Saison Dupont and English saucisson sec came next. The taste of the farmyard and a perfect marriage, a really successful pairing. This classic saison has a straw flavour which matched will with the earthy pig in a charcuterie board staple.
Most adventurous on both counts were Rule of Thirds (Siren/Beavertown/Magic Rock collaboration) and guanciale, that’s cured pig cheek to you. The beer was a very good IPA but given the stellar contributors not great and the guanciale was nice, a fine way to use cheeks. Personally a straight heavily hopped Citra or Cascade with a slice of lardo might have been better. The bitter IPA cutting the high fat is a fine principle though.
Westmalle Dubbel paired venison and wild boar salami. Malty and complex, the beer held up superbly against the rich venison. Keep eating, keep drinking and layers of flavour keep coming through.
Duchesse de Bourgogne paired with rosemary bresaola. The beer, a Flanders red ale aged in oak casks, is one of my all time favourites but pairing it with charcuterie was always going to be difficult. Both beer and meat were superb. As a pairing, average.
Schlenkerla Märzen and hot smoked bacon. Do I need to say more? Rauchbiers are often described as having the smell and taste of bacon, and the Schlenkerla is the one against which they are all judged. Hot smoking of bacon is a clever twist on something we all love. Lovely.
What a great evening! I’ll say it again both the beers and charcuterie were superb. No geekery, no pretentiousness. Only disappointment was that the charcuterie was not for sale and not easily available to the public. I really hope that this is the first of many such evenings. Sign me up now.