A culinary masterclass in food and beer pairing with award-winning chef Stephanie Moon
PUBLISHED: 15:41 08 September 2011 | UPDATED: 19:58 20 February 2013
Is it mild with mackerel and bitter with beef? Jo Haywood gets a culinary masterclass in food and beer pairing
Stephanie Moon is a star chef with an enviable reputation for beautifully balanced dishes that bring both style and flavour to the table. She can talk about the intricacies of fine dining until the maitred blows out the last candle in the restaurant. So, it comes as something of a surprise when she starts waxing lyrical about the joys of slapping HP sauce onto a fried corned beef sandwich.
Heaven, she enthuses. Complete and utter heaven.
But wait a minute. This is Stephanie Moon, consultant chef at Rudding Park, esteemed Yorkshire Life Food & Wine Awards judge, tutor at Leeds City College, champion of Yorkshire food through Deliciouslyorkshire and all-round good egg.
Corned beef and HP sauce? Shell be telling us next that she likes to wash it down with a pint of pale ale.
Its hardly fine dining, but it really works, she says, as jaws hit the floor around her with a deafening clatter. You wouldnt think that pale ale, fried corned beef and HP sauce was a winning dish, but its got to be tried to be believed. Its delicious.
You might now be wondering if Stephanie has lost her baking beans and is now officially one egg white short of a meringue. But rest assured, shes as sane as ever. Shes just taking a little detour down the less travelled road of beer and food pairing, working alongside Ilkley Brewery to create a route map for other intrepid culinary tourists.
Drinking beer with food is nothing new, she says. But were usually talking a plate of chips or a bag of pork scratching. What were trying to do is encourage people to widen their scope and think about beer with seafood or a chocolate pudding.
A rich, creamy stout, for instance, goes beautifully with chicken marinated in lemon and thyme, or lobster with salsa verde bursting with fresh herbs. And a strong bitter brings out the best in something quite robust such as salmon in a parmesan crust. Thats a really ballsy combination.
Pairing beer with food has been brewing in the hospitality industry for a while but is only just beginning to break through with the dining public. Staff at Rudding now recommend beers that work well with individual dishes and the Beer Academy in London has recently launched a beer sommelier course both clear signs of a new wave in fine dining.
We want to show people how easy it is to pair beer with food, says Stephanie. It can be gourmet, or it can be just playing in your own kitchen with a few of your favourite beers.
Choosing to drink beer with food isnt some sort of philistine decision. There is a real harmony between them that works on many levels. You just have to experiment, have fun, play and discover your own combinations.
Stephanie played in her own kitchen with beers from Ilkley Brewery to create a guide for taste explorers, knocking back three bottles of each beer to perfect the pairings.
I didnt drink them all in one night, she says, with a laugh (and not even a hint of a slur). And thats another good thing about pairing beer with food you dont get too tipsy.
A glass of wine can now be almost half a bottle in one hit. With beer, you get all the interest and flavour but stay sober enough to enjoy your pud.
The print version of this article appeared in the September 2011 issue of Yorkshire Life
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Ilkley Brewery and chef Stephanie Moon have joined forces to develop The Pint Chart a guide to pairing beer with food. Here are the highlights to stop your tastebuds getting in a tangle.
Try pale, crisp beers like Mary Jane with lemon and thyme marinated chicken, sausage roll, pan-fried king prawns, or barbecued lobster and herb salsa verde.
Strongly-hopped floral brews like Ilkley Pale go well with with honey and wholegrain mustard-glazed pork steak, hot corned beef sandwich with granary bread and HP sauce, lamb chops with redcurrant jelly.
Spicy chestnut ales with a strong bitter finish like Ilkley Best are particularly good matches for a hearty beef casserole or beef bourguignon, shepherds pie, or baked parmesan crusted salmon.
Richly aromatic, full-bodied beers like Ilkley Original work well with pork pie and apple, maple syrup pancakes, coronation chicken and egg and cress sandwiches.
Smooth, mellow and malty milds with a hint of liquorice, such as Ilkley Black, are the ideal accompaniment for sausage and mash in onion and beer gravy, or traditional desserts like sticky toffee or chocolate pudding.
Ilkley Brewery was founded in January 2009 by beer fans and business partners Chris Ives and Stewart Ross.
They installed an eight-barrel brew plant into premises in East Parade with a capacity of 4,600 pints a week and released their first beer, Olicana Gold (later to be renamed Ilkley Gold), in May 2009. The first pint was pulled at The Junction in Baildon, closely followed by The Wheatley Arms in Ben Rhydding and Bar tat in Ilkley.
Ilkley Best, Ilkley Original, Ilkley Black and Mary Jane were next on the brew list, with the Best being picked up by six Yorkshire Asda stores and Mary Jane being awarded a regional gold medal and a national bronze by the Society of Independent Brewers.
By spring 2010, Ilkley Brewery beers were on sale in 12 Asda stores, 14 Booths supermarkets and the House of Commons Strangers Bar.
Numerous beers and competition wins followed, meaning a move to bigger premises in January this year. A new 20-barrel plant at premises in Ashlands Road now makes it possible for Ilkley Brewery to produce 23,000 pints a week.
Yorkshire is a real hotspot for micro-breweries, said Stewart. Probably because, as a county, we love beer. But also because people are now more educated about what theyre drinking. They know their hops like wine enthusiasts know their grape varieties.