We only accept bookings at Friends of Ham, Leeds for groups of 6 or more – please email through your enquiry to trotters@friendsofham.com

For bookings at Friends of Ham, Ilkley please call the bar on 01943 604344

Ham’s Tales – Wine Or Beer, The Grape Debate Rages On!

Our featured producer this week in the Ham & Friends Food Hall is Wild Beer Co. Why have we featured a Brewery when we are meant to be a wine bar, you ask? Well the reason is twofold! Our event next Wednesday (Cannons At The Ready, Its Friends vs Ham – tickets available here) is a straight-up shoot out between the wines of Ham & Friends and the craft beers of Friends Of Ham with both being paired with a selection of British charcuterie from Cannon & Cannon. We thought it apt to showcase some excellent beers from a great Brewery to show that we are in the spirit of competition. Secondly they quite simply make some fantastic beers and we are proud to stock them!

With a focus on barrel-ageing and alternative fermentations using unorthodox yeasts, there is more than a passing resemblance to winemaking in their various brews. As a result many of their beers have a natural affinity with food in much the way wine has done for millennia. The fact their Brewery shares space with Westcombe Dairy down in Somerset only adds to the beer & food pairing intrigue.

Probably the most germane Beer from their range to look at is Squashed Grape. This is a beer that has fully taken wine to its heart. This is a rustic sour saison that has been fermented with the skins of some local Pinot Noir grapes, fresh from the press. The grapes offer up wild yeasts, bacteria and tannins, as well as giving the beer its pinkish hue. After fermentation the beer was conditioned in large first-fill wine foudres (big oak barrels) which allow for a gentle oxidation and add a bit more tannin to finish off the beer’s dry finish.

Plenty of body, tart acidity and complex crisp fruity flavours. That could be a wine-tasting note, couldn’t it? Sounds to me like it could be a zingy Sauvignon Blanc from some cool-climate region like the Loire Valley in France. A Sancerre or Pouilly Fume perhaps. Well it describes Squashed Grape perfectly and to my mind the  food pairings for both would be similar. In both cases the crisp acidity would cut through a lovely fresh Goats Cheese like Chevre. The distinctive earthy flavours in the cheese would elevate the fruity notes in the wine and likewise the beer.

Many of the basic principles of food matching with wine apply directly to beer aswell. Matching acidic wines/beers with equally acidic foods. Matching full bodied wines/beers with richer fuller dishes and likewise lighter dishes with lighter wines/beers. It’s not just a Pint of lager and some salted peanuts anymore. Beer has learned a trick or two from wine, and all of us can benefit from that!

If you would like to learn a bit more about beer and wine pairing with food then sign up for the Cannon & Cannon event next Thursday. Places are limited so Book soon!

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