Matching food with wine has been a popular event with foodies for longer than I can remember. And why not, finding and matching the right balance of flavours to complement your meal, makes perfect sense. There is another pairing with food which is not by any means new either, and that is to do a similar thing with beer.
Dancing Man Brewery in Southampton recently held an event called Wholly Cow, specifically matching their own craft beers over 4 courses of beef in some form or another.
We arrived at The Wool House, which is now where the entire production of all Dancing Man Brewery’s beers takes place, after they outgrew their original location at the Platform Tavern. There was a live band playing some appropriate bluegrass style music, the sort you would typically find in the Southern States of America. Aiden, who is the Head Brewer for Dancing Man, introduced the evening and how they decided to pair which cuts of beef with which Dancing Man brew.
Our first course was a Brewery-Made Bresaola which they hang in the cellar along with the beer. The bresaola came with a beautifully creamy homemade Truffled Ricotta and some micro parsley. The ricotta benefited from the slight saltiness that came from the bresaola, and the parsley not only helped the plating of the dish, but also gave a delicate fresh taste. It all worked so well together, it was a shame it was such a small portion, more of an amuse bouche than an actual course, but flavour wise a great start.
To accompany this, the beer paired with the bresaola was their Big Casino. Golden in colour, highly hopped citrus flavours dominate this gutsy 5.7% IPA. This beer got its name after one of the gambling card games that Billy the Kid would play with Pat Garrett, before Garrett killed Billy in 1881.
Our next craft ale we got to try was called Pole Axed. This cheeky little 6.7% IPA, compared to Big Casino, had a far richer malty flavour on the palate, still with citrus though, but this time coming through via the aroma of tropical fruits.
This was paired with an Ox Cheek Risotto, Horseradish and Seared Bone Marrow. The malt flavour went well with the richness of the ox cheek and the seared bone marrow provided a smoky butteriness.
This time the Wholly Cow evening served up a Braised Short Rib Beef “Lollipop”, with a Watercress Purée and a Roasted Malt Mash was served. A beautifully tender piece of beef was served Desperate Dan style, with a rib sticking out of the meat to give the idea of a lollipop. The roasted malt mash was something I had never had before. It was dark brown in colour, extracted from the roasted malts used in the brewing process. This gave a very slightly bitter flavour, but it worked well with the potato. It really needed a lot more of the Watercress Purée, to give some form of relief, but apart from that it was a very tasty plate of food.
The Ox Cheek was paired with their Last Waltz Black IPA at 5.3%. This opaque beer’s liquorish and roasted malt suited the powerful beefy flavours within the dish.
For the final course we were served a Barkham Blue, made by Two Hoots Cheese on the Hampshire/Berkshire border. Barkham Blue is a beautifully rich creamy cheese, but without the strong flavours traditionally associated with certain blue cheeses. The Apricot & Malt Jam gave acidity and the Charcoal Biscuits giving texture. Paired with Little Casino Double IPA at 7.5%, it had strong orangey hops that complemented the Apricot Jam; and the almost bready smell of the beer tied in nicely with the earthy Charcoal Biscuits.
It was a very enjoyable evening, and I must say the beers were extremely well matched with the food. Well done to Aiden and the kitchen team who all did an outstanding job putting the Wholly Cow evening together.
The Dancing Man, Town Quay, Southampton SO14 2AR