Beer and food pairing in SE18

The Woolwich & Plumstead Women’s Institute (aka the Roses) have had a further beery adventure. After the success of our winter micropub crawl on the 51 bus (see London Drinker October/November 2023) we next had a summer beer and food pairing event. This was carefully curated by Nick Turner, the proprietor of our local micropub, who partnered Roses committee member Sonal Dack to produce a great tasting evening! At this point I will give a shameless plug for the CAMRA award-winning Plum Tree Beer Shop, CAMRA South East London branch’s Greenwich District Pub of the Year for 2023.

The evening kicked off with a bit of beery education, given that not all of our members are CAMRA members (or even beer drinkers) and it is helpful to know what you’re about to embark upon. I’m quite familiar with the concept of wine and food pairing but beer and food is a relatively new experience. My beer preference leans towards light ales and IPAs and I haven’t always found sours or juicy beers in a can to my taste. Cask ales for me please! Nick however brought along a varied selection of cans and there was something for everyone.

We kicked off with a Pils lager, Keller Pils (4.9% ABV) from Lost and Grounded in Bristol. This contains Magnum Pearl hops but, not being a Pils expert (my lager days are behind me), I didn’t know what that signified. It was however a good flavour and paired wonderfully with focaccia bread (oily, tomato, rosemary flavours). An excellent starter!

The beer!

We then moved on to a Mosaic Citra blend from Bristol Beer Factory, which is definitely my kind of beer. This was however alcohol free and aptly named Clear Head. It was paired with Cheddar cheese (my kind of snack) and the sharp contrast of flavours was a winning combination. Our third beer was a 4.6% ABV pale ale from Wylam Brewery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This had an exotic hop mix that I hadn’t heard of before (Azzaca and Bru 1 hybrid hops). It went very well with olives, which I was surprised about, and, we were informed, it also works very well with mushrooms on toast.

It was then time to move on to puddings and we had an excellent pairing of Strawberry Sundae Sour (5% ABV) from Vault City in Edinburgh, served with strawberries and cream. That was a super combo but you definitely wouldn’t want a session on that beer!

Strawberries

The final pairing was the Neapolitan Ice Cream Stout (5.5% ABV) from Play Brew, Middlesbrough, which had notes of chocolate and strawberry. This was an awesome pairing with Sonal’s homemade cake (we are the WI, after all) which was a chocolate porter cake made with Anspach & Hobday’s London Black. What a finish!

Sonal said, “Planning the tasting with Nick was a lot of fun and eye-opening too! The goal was to show our members the huge variety of beers that are out there, that there’s something for everyone and that pairing food with beer can be just as natural as food and wine matching. I think we succeeded!” I should make clear that beer tasting with food (on this occasion) meant sampling; we didn’t have five whole cans per person! Otherwise, we might not have fitted this activity into our meeting time (and we may have felt a little unwell).

The tasters

Any women in the SE18 area who might like to join the WI Roses, please feel free to get in touch via facebook . We don’t all drink beer but for those of us who do or might be ‘beer-curious’, we have a Craft Beer sub-committee that meets every couple of months, naturally in local pubs!

Recently we went to the lovely Green Goddess pub in Blackheath Standard and met the brewer for the Good Karma Beer Co who brew low alcohol beers. Serving these is another way of getting people into pubs, as well as beer and food pairings. Let’s all enjoy more beer (with food?) in 2024. Cheers!

Maria Freeman
CAMRA South East London branch
and Woolwich & Plumstead Roses WI