Beer and food – it’s a pairing as solidly on the up as Kim and Kanye. While for some, wine will always be their dinner party tipples, a host of beery pioneers are setting out to prove how good the amber nectar should be considered as being worthy of a place on the dinner table. It’s no surprise then that Sharp’s, one of the UK’s most successful breweries (thanks largely to Doom Bar being the biggest selling cask ale in the country) is at the helm of this culinary renaissance.
As part of their ‘Adventure’ series celebrating the notoriously adventurous Cornish spirit, covering everything from beach rugby to surfing, Sharp’s teamed up with Nathan Outlaw to challenge beer fans to come up with the best recipes to pair with beer. This search for the perfect beer and food pairing culminated in the final at Cornwall College, Cambourne, where Nathan Outlaw, Sharp’s beer sommelier Ed Hughes and The Mariner’s chef Zack Hawke got to judge the final dishes of competitors.
The finalists will have all of their dishes served at The Mariners in mini-form on a sharing plate, so that the public can decide which dish is the best. The winner’s dish will then appear on the menu from December. As Nathan Outlaw notes, the standard from finalists Helen Upshall, Matthew Kinnes and Andrew Hesser has been high:
'I was extremely surprised by the standard of entries for this competition. The finalists' dishes were all very different and it made judging them incredibly difficult. In fact, in the end we decided to put all three dishes on the menu at The Mariners as tapas style plates throughout November and will then be asking customers to choose their favourite. I'm looking forward to seeing the result as there's so little between them!'
We spoke to beer sommelier Ed Hughes about the beer renaissance, his favourite pairings and dos and don’ts of pairing beer with food.
How did the collaboration between Sharps and Nathan come about? Was it with the opening of The Mariners or before that?
The collaboration started when we first brewed our Connoisseurs Choice range in 2011, that year Sharp’s has brewed fifty-two different beers in one year, not for commercial availability – it was just really to test and pay homage to so many different styles of beer. It coincided with Nathan when he was at St. Enedoc and he ran masterclasses, so we ran a masterclass with Nathan to start off with which was a full beer and food menu, and then the second masterclass which came a year later was with Nathan and Tom Kerridge, so it just went from strength to strength.