Another part of our (hopefully) year-long video project, A Year of Beer. looking at the idea of beer and seasonality - how different styles of beer are more appropriate to different seasons, weathers, festivals and so on. There will also be a bit of beer and food matching thrown in because, hell, we love to eat as much as we love to drink.
This week: Beer & Asparagus
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Asparagus & Beer
For a blog-type website that purports to be about food and beer, there isn't really very much of the two together going on. In fact, let's be honest, this isn't really about just beer, or just beer and food - the whole project is, as I've come to realise, about how beer fits into one's life, and how the way you live your life differently across the year influences the style of beer that you drink. Last year, the start of the asparagus season was a watershed moment in this, and whaddyaknow, it is again this year.
I should 'fess up and admit that this isn't totally off my own back. The good people at R&R Teamwork have sent out packs of asparagus on behalf of British Asparagus (I'm assuming that this is a trade body, rather than them being commanded to do so by the mighty asparagus nation). Cunningly, as they are also a drinks PR company, they put together a load of beer, a load of asparagus and a load of recipes (you can see them here). They've done their bit, now it's down to me.
Kasteel Cru is the sort of beer that tastes great, as long as it's the first beer of the day. It's so light and delicate that if you try some after, say, a bottle of Budvar, it will just taste cold, wet and slightly astringent, But as an appetiser, it's pretty damn good, and it copes admirably with both the runny egg, the asparagus and the smoked salmon - tricky food matches all.
Coors Blue Moon vs Grolsch Weizen is an unfair match, I know. Blue Moon is a slender interpretation of a Belgian witbier, and having tried it several times, I'm not sure that it's a beer I enjoy very much. I know lots of people who seem to really enjoy it, and we sell a lot of it at the shop, but it leaves me a bit cold. After the intitial orange and coriander attack, it seems a little hollow mid-palate, and has a fairly short finish (nothing wrong with that though). Grolsch Weizen is a splendid stab at a Bavarian weissebier, and very good it is. SOftly creamy, medium bodied and a little sweet, with lots of classic clove, nutmeg and banana aromas and flavours, although I still think that there's a hint of Belgian spiciness to it. Both beers enhance the rich soft egginess of the asparagus and smoked ham tart.
The risotto recipe is great - a perfect mix of textures and flavours. Jennings Sneck Lifter is a dark, nutty, oaty beer, which at first try seems far to robust to be a match for this dish, but hold the front page, because this really is a perfect pairing. There's something about the silky textures in both the beer and the risotto, versus the contrast in rich creamy flavour of the rice, and the dry nuttiness of the beer. Sensational. Not even the bittersweet lemon fruitiness of the mighty Duvel could match it, and Duvel is a beer that over the years has given me quite a bit of pleasure (and a bit of pain too, but that's usually been my own fault).
Prices for beers and stockists are as follows:
Blue Moon - £1.99, Sainsbury's
Kasteel Cru - £1.99, Booths, Waitrose and selected Sainsbury’s and Morrisons stores
Grolsch Weizen - £1.99, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury's
Snecklifter - from £1.51, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose
Duvel - from £1.58 all major supermarkets