An evening of beer and charcuterie at the Beer Boutique

Beer BoutiqueBeer 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.

Siren tap takeover at Brewdog Camden

On the plus side I have enjoyed everything I have tried from Siren Craft and have great respect for them. On the debit side I am deeply cynical about everything Brewdog does. Both opinions were reinforced during an enjoyable evening with my new ‘meet-up’ chums. It was my first time at Brewdog Camden and I was somewhat surprised at how small it was. Brewdog relentlessly market Brewdog and only Brewdog, the pumps carry no clips, lens or fisheyes except the Brewdog logo, it is everywhere else too. If, say, Budweiser did this there would be uproar. Anyway before I go too far with this rant let’s talk about beer.

Sound Wave IPA and Broken Dream ‘breakfast’ stout I had tried before and are both excellent benchmarks for their style. Undercurrent and Liquid Mistress make up their core four.

Undercurrent, 4.5% is a pleasant entry level pale ale, a good thirst quencher.

Liquid Mistress is among the growing band of red IPA’s and red ales which I predict could become the next drinking man’s bitter. Like most of Siren’s offering this is not shy of hops and definitely falls into the red IPA category.

Seven Seas is a black wheat IPA, 6% and full marks to anyone who names the seven US and German hops beginning with C. I am a big fan of black IPA but I’m not sure a black wheat IPA adds anything to equation.

White Tips (4.7%) was my first ever wit IPA, brilliant, why has nobody done this before? All the refreshing, citrus notes of a witbier topped up with plenty of hops for the IPA lover.

I should have tried the Calypso first off. It is a Berliner Weiss style, as Kernel have recently been brewing – but at 4% this is stronger, if you haven’t tried it before, think fresh gueuze – it is a sour. It’s Marmite and I love it. Too thin and they can be just acidic but this had the Amarillo hop to give it some body (and a decent ABV). It’s a must try, if you haven’t done so before.

Heavyweights always come last on the bill, so time to move on to 10 Finger Discount, a collaboration with To Øl, cedar spirals being the novelty ingredient. At 7.3% with hops to match this tastes as what I would describe as a double IPA, hoppy but with that rich marmalade-y thing going on. My fave IPA of the evening.

Americano, is a brand new ‘coffee IPA’. At 9.2% it was good but for me the Seven Seas delivered more for less.

Caribbean Chocolate Cake (Jerk edition) is Cigar City collaboration. Tropical stout, 7.4% contains experimental hops, cacao nibs and ‘Cyprus wood’ (Cypress?). As full as you’d expect, big choc flavour, what’s not to like?

Odyssey 001 is from the barrel aged range and boy, was it worth waiting for! For once I could actually taste all the flavours in the description, complex, boozy, warming sipper. Delightful. For the purists here is the website description “An imperial stout brewed with liquorice root and dark muscovado sugars rest in 3 different barrel types ready for blending together to create a unique flavour profile. The coming together of Banyuls, Brandy & Bourbon with a dash of Liquid Mistrress will make this complex beer a keeper.”

Date:                         Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Venue:                       6/10
Beer selection:           7.5/10
Beer quality:               8/10
Atmosphere:               7/10
A good night out:        6/10
Total score:                34.5/50, 69%