Food matching

The Beer Lover’s Table: Pumpkin & Feta Puff Pastry Pinwheels and Crooked Stave Colorado Wild Sage Brett Saison

There is no shame in frozen puff pastry. Like croissants (like many baked goods, in fact), the store-bought stuff is so reliable, of such high quality, that attempting to make it from scratch has almost zero comparative advantages.

I came to puff pastry late, which is ludicrous because there are few simpler ways to make sweet or savoury pastries that look (and taste) professional. Seriously: serve a tray of fruit tarts or I-just-whipped-up-these- perfectly-flaky-palmiers and your friends will be in awe of your culinary skills.

Because we’re on the cusp of autumn, I opted to make simple, puff pastry pinwheels filled with pumpkin. For those who are wary of all things pumpkin spice, don’t fear: here, pureed pumpkin is cooked down with garlic and paprika and coriander, and topped with crumbled feta and mint before being rolled into the pastry. The result – decidedly savoury, and extremely moreish – should appease even the most hardened pumpkin skeptics.

Pumpkin and sage is a classic autumnal pairing, and I decided to evoke it here by serving these puff pastry pinwheels with Crooked Stave’s Colorado Wild Sage Brett Saison. Brewed with lemongrass and white sage, this lightly tart, piquant beer is refreshing enough for end-of-summer drinking, though the sage – a classic cold-weather herb – evokes a pleasing seasonal shift.

Together, this pairing couldn’t be more simpatico, whether you serve it as a boozy weekend brunch, as an appetiser, or simply as an anytime snack.

Pumpkin and Feta Puff Pastry Pinwheels
Makes approximately 14-16 pastries

For the puff pastry pinwheels:
1 sheet (375g/13oz) frozen puff pastry
200g (7oz) feta
2 tablespoons dried mint
1 egg
1 tablespoon cumin seeds

For the spiced pumpkin filling:
1 425g (15oz) can pureed pumpkin (substitute pureed sweet potato)
Large pinch flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon garlic powder

1. Several hours before you plan to bake, remove the puff pastry from the freezer and leave out at room temperature until completely thawed, approximately 3-4 hours.

2. Meanwhile, while the puff pastry is thawing, prepare the spiced pumpkin filling. Add all ingredients to a saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently so it does not stick and burn, for approximately 20 minutes, or until the mixture is significantly reduced, thickened, and slightly darkened in colour. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl; cover and chill for approximately 45 minutes, or until cool.

3. Finely crumble the feta into a small bowl. Add the dried mint and mix through. Set aside.

4. Once the pastry is completely thawed, place on a sheet of parchment paper. Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry out gently until it measures approximately 9” x 15”. Using a spatula, spread the pumpkin filling in an even layer across the pastry, leaving a small margin at the edges. Sprinkle the feta and mint mixture evenly on top.

5. With the pastry still on the parchment paper, and beginning from one of the long sides, roll tightly into a log. Wrap the log tightly in the parchment paper and transfer to the fridge. Chill for 30-45 minutes, or until firm. While the pastry is chilling, preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).

6. Line a large baking sheet with another sheet of parchment paper. Remove the chilled pastry from the fridge and unwrap. In a small bowl, crack an egg and whisk until uniform. Brush the top of the puff pastry log with the egg wash, and sprinkle over the cumin seeds evenly.

7. Using a sharp, serrated knife, delicately slice the puff pastry log into approximately 1”- thick pieces (you will likely want to trim and discard the ends). Carefully transfer the slices to the baking sheet and arrange, leaving a 1” gap. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pastries have puffed up, are deep golden, and the puff pastry in the centre of each slice no longer looks raw. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes. You may need to bake your puff pastry pinwheels in two batches if they don’t all fit on one baking sheet.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

The Beer Lover's Table: Orbit Nico Köln-Style Lager and Spiced Chinese Dumplings

Chinese dumplings and lager: they go together like milk and cookies. Preferably a lager that’s effervescent, not too boozy, with a finishing bite of bitterness: just the thing to cut through the dumplings’ oiliness, and to counterbalance all that salt. And while your local Chinese restaurant’s go-to might be Tsingtao, you can do one better with something carefully crafted and made a little closer to home. Orbit Nico, for instance, which washes down these dumplings like a dream.

Technically, this beer might not be the best illustration of lager’s Chinese food affinity. Described by the brewery as a “Köln-style lager” – it can’t call itself a Kölsch, thanks to the style’s geographical indication – this funny hybrid of a brew straddles the lager-ale divide. While it undergoes a period of cold storage that typifies lager production, it’s made with top-fermenting ale yeast.

Stylistic quibbles aside: what you need to know is that lager-like Orbit Nico is mighty drinkable, with a nice twang of lemon, a touch of grassiness, and a pleasingly dry finish. Time to get cooking.

I know what you’re thinking: homemade dumplings? Nah, that’s what takeaway’s for. But bear with me here: making these is no more complicated than turning out a batch of said cookies. The filling, a fragrant mixture of lamb, pork, soy sauce, ginger, and a generous amount of spices, takes only minutes to prep. And thanks to the totally legit option of pre-made dumpling skins – you might also find these sold at Asian grocery stores as “wonton wrappers” or “gyoza wrappers” – a few quick folds and you’ve got the perfect little meat parcel ready to go.

Pro-tip: you’ve made a whole batch, chuck ’em in the freezer and have dumplings and lager whenever you want them – no delivery fee required.

Spiced Chinese Dumplings
Yields 56 dumplings

250g minced lamb
250g minced pork
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 bunches garlic chives or spring onions, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp Shaoxing Rice Wine
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
4 tsp soy sauce
5 tsp sesame oil
1 56-piece packet dumpling wrappers
To serve: additional soy sauce, Chinkiang black vinegar, Sriracha

To a large bowl, add the lamb and pork followed by the ginger, garlic chives, eggs, salt, sugar, rice wine, spices, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated and the mixture is uniform. It should be fragrant and quite wet.

Before you fold your dumplings, prepare a small bowl of water and a clean cutting board or other work surface (and don’t forget to keep a good amount of kitchen roll nearby). Lay your first dumpling skin flat on the work surface and fill with roughly 1 ½–2 teaspoons of filling. It’s better to err on the side of less filling, as over-filling your dumplings may cause them to leak when cooking.

Wet your finger in the bowl of water and run around the circumference of the dumpling wrapper to moisten. Fold your dumpling in half so it’s a half-moon shape and lightly seal the seam. Now, beginning from one end, pinch and fold over so you make a small pleat. Continue until the entire edge of the dumpling is pleated, which ensures that it is well sealed (and looks pretty, besides). Continue until all your dumplings have been made.

While you could boil or steam your dumplings, my favourite cooking method is a combination of pan frying and steaming, which makes for juicy insides and a nicely crisp, browned bottom. In a small, non-stick frying pan (the non-stick part is important here!) add approximately 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and a wee splash of vegetable oil. Heat until oil mixture is hot. Add dumplings (8 is a good number for one portion) and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until bottoms have browned.

Now, pour in just enough water to come roughly halfway up the sides of the dumplings. Cover and cook for approximately five minutes, until dumplings have swelled and are tender. Remove the lid and, if water remains, swirl the pan gently until it evaporates. I like to leave the dumplings in the pan with the residual oil for an extra minute or two here, so their bottoms get crisped up again.

To serve, prepare a small dish of one part soy sauce to one part Chinkiang black vinegar for dumpling dunking. And don’t forget the Sriracha!

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Cloudwater IPA Citra and Lamb Chops with Wild Garlic

For anyone who follows the British craft beer scene, Cloudwater needs no introduction. The Manchester-based brewery’s releases are as coveted as H&M’s designer capsule collections, and snapped up almost as quickly. Cloudwater even markets their beers like fashion, with the arty, one-off labels to match.

Hence their new ‘Spring/Summer’ release: the practically perfect IPA Citra, which pours the colour of a ripe peach. Juicy, resinous, brightly sweet but girded with bitterness, it’s a beautiful expression of all that this most tropical of hops can do.

If you’re drinking a fresh, zingy beer like this one, you'd better be serving it with some seasonal grub, too. Happy spring: it’s time to put lamb back on the menu. Even better, we’re now in that several-week window each year when wild garlic is in season, and trust me, this is one harvest you do not want to sleep on. Like an extra-piquant version of spring onions, wild garlic – aka ramps – adds an alliumy oomph to this chimichurri.

Lamb is one of those foods that works well with a number of different beer styles: stouts and porters if you want to bring out its roastiness, Belgian dubbels to highlight its sweetness, easy-drinking ambers as all-rounders. But an IPA like Cloudwater’s really shines here. Its hoppiness helps cut through the fatty richness of the chops, and its sweetness and full body can really stand up to the meat’s depth of flavour (not to mention the intense pungency of that wild garlic).

A quick note: lamb loin chops aren’t the same as the tomahawk-shaped rib chops that so many of us are familiar with, but they’re just as tender – and more generously proportioned, besides. This quick-cooking cut is circumferenced by a beautiful band of fat (which you’d be misguided to remove) and bisected by a little T-bone. In fact, think of these chops as the lamb equivalent of a T-bone steak, except, well, miniature. If you’re eating these as a main with a few sides, allow at least two per person; if you’re greedy like me, go for three.

Lamb Loin Chops with Wild Garlic Chimichurri
Serves 2-ish

For the wild garlic chimichurri:
1 bunch (approx. 50g) wild garlic leaves
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Zest of one lemon Juice of ½ lemon
Approx. 1 tsp flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp caster sugar

For the lamb:
4 lamb loin chops
Flaky sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Olive oil

First, make the chimichurri: add all ingredients to a food processor and whizz up until the mixture is well blended and looks pesto-esque (you may need to wipe down the sides and give it a few goes to get all the leafy bits incorporated). Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Set aside.

About an hour before you want to cook your lamb, remove your chops from the fridge. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides, and allow to come to room temperature.

Add 1-2 tbs olive oil to a cast-iron (or other heavy-bottomed) frying pan, and heat until very hot. Add the four loins and allow to cook for four minutes without moving or flipping, or until the lamb has developed a nice brown crust. Flip and cook for 3-4 minutes more, depending on how well done you like your lamb. Remove from the heat and leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

When serving, top your lamb with generous glops of the chimichurri (you will likely have some left over). Garnish with a wild garlic leaf or two. Finally, make sure that everyone else in the vicinity has also eaten the dish; your garlic breath will be bordering on the flammable afterwards.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Rose Panna Cotta and Boon Framboise

When it comes to beer pairings, desserts don’t always get a whole lot of love (apart from a token nod to chocolate stout paired with, you guessed it, anything chocolate).

Instead, we gravitate towards beer’s savoury pairing potential, from burgers and pies to cheese and roast meats. That’s not wrong, of course, but think of it this way: swapping out your Moscato allows you yet another opportunity to enjoy beer at the dinner table.

I’ve always found rose to be a captivating flavour, and, clichés acknowledged, it seems a particularly appropriate choice for February. So, I turned to this panna cotta recipe. (“Panna cotta” is Italian for “cooked cream” – if you haven’t tried it before, think of crème brûlée, minus the brûlée). The rose here, balanced by vanilla and cream, is delicate, not at all soapy. And cardamom adds an additional dimension, evoking Middle Eastern desserts.

Creamy and delicately flavoured puddings can be tricky to pair with beer; avoiding anything overly bitter or sour here is key. In this case, Boon Framboise was just the thing. Frank Boon was one of the first to revive raspberry lambics back in the 1970s, and I’m glad he did. This beer is so redolent of freshly picked berries that sniffing it is like stumbling into a bramble patch (the label promises more than 300 grams of berries per litre). It’s just tart enough to cut through the creaminess of the dessert without unbalancing it – and raspberry and rose are a dream together.

Panna cotta sounds fancy, and therefore difficult to make. Luckily, it really isn’t. The active prep time for this dessert is about 15 minutes; the hardest part might be waiting the five-odd hours for it to chill and set. In other words, this should be your new dinner party or special occasion go-to.

[Just don’t knock over an entire bottle of red food colouring in your white kitchen while you’re making your panna cotta. The dye will splatter all over your appliances and floor and will somehow get inside of your washing machine (?!) and your flatmates will think you’ve committed a murder. The recipe is much harder if you do that.]

 

Rose Water Panna Cotta
Adapted from a recipe by Nigel Slater

600ml double cream
100ml whole milk
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract
3 sheets gelatin 10 tbs icing sugar
3-4 drops red food colouring (optional)
4 tsp rose water (more to taste)
300ml Greek yoghurt
Dried rose petals and nibbed pistachios for garnish (optional)

Simmer the first four ingredients in a small saucepan for 5-6 minutes, or until the mixture begins to steam and get pleasingly frothy around the edges. In the meantime, soak the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat and add in the sugar, stirring until fully incorporated. Add the food colouring, if you want your panna cotta to look as rosy as it tastes. Next, add the rose water and gelatin leaves (they should be slippery and soft at this point) and stir to dissolve. Lastly, gently stir in the Greek yoghurt until the mixture is uniform. Taste at this point to see if the rose water is strong enough for your liking; add a few drops more if you want yours especially floral.

Pour the mixture through a sieve and into a jug. From the jug, pour into six prepared dessert cups or glasses. Cover each tightly with cling film and chill for at least five hours prior to serving. Garnish with the dried rose petals and pistachios for a bit of extra colour.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Citrusy Sea Bass Ceviche and London Beer Lab Wheat Beer

There are two different schools of thought when it comes to the New Year. One argues that January is the perfect time to flex your willpower (and, you know, your muscles. At the gym. Every day. For a month.). The other shivers under its heavy quilt and casts a glance at the brooding sky and thinks, “Give up all booze and fun stuff now? Yeah, nope.” (You don’t have to ask which side us beer folk fall on).

For those temporarily ascetic dieter types, there’s some good news: even in January, a bowl of ceviche is, well, pretty guiltless. How can you go wrong with what amounts to fresh fish, fruit and vegetables?

But for everyone else, ceviche is so much more than just diet-friendly fare. Best when crafted as a fine balance of chili, salt, and citrus, this Peruvian dish shimmers with brightness and heat. It’s beautifully vibrant – a tropical postcard from sunnier times. In this particular recipe, lime juice is used to “cook” flaky seabass in less than ten minutes, while the merest dash of orange blossom water – an addition I’m still patting myself on the back for – lends a just-perceptible floral note.

Ceviche needs a sparring partner that can roll with its citric spike while calling up summery vibes of its own, and London Beer Lab’s Wheat Beer is just the companion required. Balanced and blossoming with bright esters, it’s a South London-made brew with a continental turn of phrase; it plays nicely with the bird’s eye chili and melds seamlessly with the fruit. If you’re seeking an extra punch of sour, I reckon a fruit gose – Omnipollo Bianca comes to mind – or a nice, lactic Berliner weisse could also sort you out very nicely. Disciplined January types: you weren’t going to serve your ceviche without beer, were you?

Citrusy Sea Bass Ceviche
Loosely inspired by a recipe by Martin Morales; serves two as a light meal or appetiser

1 small sweet potato
1 avocado
½ red onion
1 ruby grapefruit
Juice of two limes
½ tsp orange blossom water
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1 bird’s eye chili, very finely minced
2 fillets sea bass
Sea salt
Fresh coriander

Begin the prep work with your sweet potato. Peel and finely dice the sweet potato into even, small cubes. Add to a small pot of lightly salted boiling water and cook for 10 minutes – you want the sweet potatoes to be fork-tender but you don’t want them to break down into mush. Drain and set aside, allowing the sweet potatoes to cool to room temperature.

On to the red onion. Peel and halve the onion and set aside one half. Slice the other half into very fine half-moons. Add to a bowl filled with ice water and allow to sit for 10 minutes (this will remove some of the onion’s intensity). Drain and dry the onion pieces on kitchen roll, and chill until the ceviche is ready to assemble.

Next, with your very sharpest knife, supreme your red grapefruit (if you haven’t supremed citrus before, here is a very good step-by-step guide). Set aside. Halve your avocado and remove the pit; crosshatch with your knife so the avocado is cut into small cubes. Scoop these out and set aside.

Now, make the marinade for your fish. In a small bowl, combine the finely minced garlic, bird’s eye chili (keep the seeds in, unless you’re really afraid of spice), lime juice, and orange blossom water, with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt to taste (roughly ½ tsp). Set aside for at least 10 minutes, allowing the flavours to happily intermingle.

Prep your fish. Run your hands over both fillets, checking for any lingering bones. Slice the fish into thin slices – roughly ½ cm – leaving behind the skin. Add the fish to a bowl and top with ½ tsp salt, stirring gently to mix. Let sit for two minutes before pouring over your lime juice mix. This is the key moment: it is the lime that “cooks” your raw fish, and the balance of salt, chili, and citrus that makes it a ceviche. Stir gently to combine and allow to sit for 10 minutes. You should notice that, by the end, your fish is turning white and opaque.

To assemble: remove your fish from the marinade and arrange between two plates, before adding the avocado, grapefruit, sweet potato, and onion (arranging prettily, if you’re looking to impress). Spoon over the lime juice mixture. Garnish with some torn fresh coriander, and one final wee sprinkle of sea salt.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Perfect Roast Duck and Savour Dubbel

This year, I threw convention to the wind. This year, I said “fuck it” to the status quo.

This year, I made duck for Thanksgiving.

Ask any American: this, simply, is not done. Duck on Turkey Day? Impossible. And while Thanksgiving might not mean a lot to the Brits in the audience, I can bet that most of you will be staring down a turkey at some point in the next week. And I can also bet that many of you aren’t thrilled at the idea.

There are a few reasons why duck is just irrefutably, objectively better than turkey. It’s cheaper, for one thing. It actually fits in your oven (even if you roast two at once, as I did on Thanksgiving). It’s faster to cook. And, for god’s sake, it’s 10 times more delicious. And it’s supremely beer-friendly.

Just wait. If you haven’t roasted a duck before, it might seem daunting – somehow more complicated than yer bog-standard roast chicken. But don’t worry: follow the recipe below and you should be well taken care of. If you want to give your duck a bit of extra zing beyond the salt and pepper, you can (read: should) also make a quick glaze. This one is a surprising blend of orange juice, soy, maple and black treacle, with a fiery squirt of sriracha sauce for good measure. It helps make this a proper, truly special occasion duck; one worthy of gracing your Christmas table.

That glaze also means this duck goes extra well with our pairing beer of choice: the delicious Dubbel made by Savour Beer. I hadn’t yet sampled the Windsor-based brewery’s line of “British saison beers” until Jen knowingly pointed me in their direction. This beer is plummy and strong, tickly with Belgian-y esters and beautifully burnished with flavours of extra-dark caramel. Black treacle, even. It’s absolutely drinkable on its own, perfectly seasonal, but with a duck on the side? Man. Who could want anything else for Christmas?

Perfect Roast Duck

Expert advice courtesy of Miranda Ballard of Muddy Boots

1 Gressingham duck, the plumper and fattier the better (at least 2.2-2.4 kilos)
3-4 tbs olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

First, prep your duck. Take it out of any packaging and let it come to room temperature, approximately an hour. Remove any small feather quills that may be left in its skin, and pat dry with kitchen roll (no need to rinse your duck: cold water risks leaving it flabby- skinned, and your oven’s heat is enough to make it safe).

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. In lieu of scoring your duck’s skin and fat, use a sharp knife to poke small holes in its skin, concentrating on the breast and areas around the thighs. These will let any rendered fat escape, leaving you with crisp skin (!). Season all over, inside and out, with salt and pepper, and massage a bit of olive oil into your duck while you’re at it.

Line a large baking sheet with foil and fit a non-stick rack inside it. Place your duck breast-side up and throw it in the oven. Blast for 20 minutes at 200 degrees before turning the oven down to 170 C. Even after 20 minutes, your duck should be puffed up and spitting and smelling exciting.

Cook for half an hour at 170 C. Remove from the oven and flip the duck so it’s breast- side down (note: this is a good opportunity to *carefully* drain the rendered duck fat from the bottom of your baking sheet, which, by now, has probably accumulated in great quantities). Roast breast-side down for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and flip back to breast-side up. Roast for 20-30 minutes more, until fully golden and fragrant and wonderful. If making a glaze, follow additional directions below.

Festive Glaze

Adapted from The Hungry Mouse

2 tbs black treacle (or molasses)
2 tbs orange juice
2 tbs maple syrup
2 tbs dark soy sauce
1 tbs sriracha

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Let cook off for a minute or two and remove from the heat. The glaze should be sticky, and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the duck from the oven and bring the heat back up to 200 C. Drizzle the glaze over the duck and roast for five more minutes, until it’s perfectly tanned. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes, yadda yadda, or just go to town. Pour any unused glaze into a bowl and let guests sauce up their ducks at the table, if they so desire.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen.

Autumnal beers

While we've been blessed with a brief respite of Indian summer (and the sun is shining gloriously as we type this), it can't be denied that autumn is well and truly upon us. The barbecue is about to be packed away, the slow cooker has been dusted off from its summer slumber and - perhaps best of all - it's time to indulge in the delights of autumnal beers. 

We've had a great time reacquainting ourselves with the glorious nutty, malty beers that are often overlooked in this world of hop-forward IPAs and wacky sours, as well as discovering the best of the new-season offerings. We (well, Glenn) have also spent a bit of time in the kitchen, cooking up a storm and matching these beers to a host of hearty dishes that signal the move to the cooler months.

Here are a few of the autumnal beer and food matches we've enjoyed the most.

AleSmith Anvil ESB with Spiced Duck & Date Tagine

We feel a bit guilty plugging this beer as there's only one left in store (in our Bin Ends Box) but we loved it so much that it felt wrong to leave it out. Anvil ESB is an American brewery's take on an English style with English hops, but don't let that put you off. Big caramel and nutty flavours make this beer the perfect match for food, so we put it with a Moroccan-style duck and it knocked our socks off. You can find the recipe here, we got the duck from our friends at Flock & Herd and the dates, spices and preserved lemon from Khan's Bargain Store, Rye Lane's very own shop of dreams.

 

Beavertown Stingy Jack with Jamie Oliver's pumpkin chickpea curry

Beavertown's 2015 pumpkin ale is possibly the best pumpkin beer we've ever had. Smooth as you like, gentle spices that conjure up the most festive of autumn flavours... It's a pure delight to drink and conveniently arrived on the same day that Glenn decided to use up the pumpkin sitting in our vege bin in a subtly spiced curry. It's not rocket science to match pumpkin with pumpkin, but this worked a treat. We can only imagine what it would be like with a roast and caramelised vegetables.

 

Howling Hops Running Beer

This is such a delicious beer - probably our favourite from the Howling Hops range right now, and believe us when we say it has stiff competition. A brown ale hopped with Citra, Chinook and Centennial, there's something wonderfully light and delicate about it. We didn't drink it with food, instead simply enjoying it with friends on the tables outside the shop one recent evening, but this is such a food-friendly style, you could just about match it with anything and it would work.

 

Flying Dog Dogtoberfest Marzen with Nigel Slater's slow-cooked sausages

We drank this malty, German-style lager with a improvised variation on Nigel Slater's slow-cooked sausage recipe and it was the bomb. German-style beer + German-style food = no-brainer Oktoberfest goodness. This would also go brilliantly with some subtle, nutty hard cheese.

 

Brewdog Candy Kaiser with Steve's roast pork

The heavy toffee notes in this seasonal altbier from Brewdog make for a terrific pairing with pork. We tried to recreate the amazing roast pork our friend Steve made when he stayed with us recently - a top-quality joint from Flock & Herd with a heap of fennel and caramelised onions, and spiced apple sauce on the side. Ours wasn't quite up to his standards, but Steve is the roast king and we bow down to his greatness. Regardless, Candy Kaiser made for a fine match.