After Freshers’ Week came to a close, the thought of opening yet another bottle of beer was perhaps the last thing many of us wanted. However, now that term has truly begun, it is the time for us to move from quantity to quality, and it is in this spirit that I dove into Luvians Bottle Shop the other day to escape from the twin dangers of ruinous lager and the rain.
Inside, there was a sight to behold. Not only did I see the familiar shelves of wines and whisky but tucked to my left were row upon row of exciting new craft beers. Casting the Biere Continentales to my side, I could not help but stare at the array of awesome-looking brews from around the world. From Belgian to Brewdog and Kastell to Kriek, their newly stocked selection has something for all tastes.
I managed to restrain myself from finishing the last of my meagre funds before the bringer of plenty (the Student Loan Company) graced me with its favour, and so this time, held back from buying the lot. But my year’s ambition opened up before me – to try beers from each brewery that Luvians stock, and to attempt to pair three of their different styles with three different dishes, including the occasional seasonal switches. First up, begging to be brought home, were the offerings of The Kernel Brewery.
The Kernel Brewery is a relatively small operation based in Druid Street, London, but their beers have an arresting flavour. Unlike the majority of commercial brewers, they bottle condition their beers, which in their words means, they are “bottled alive, to give them time to grow.” I’m personally yet to be convinced of the benefits of bottle conditioning, though some beers undoubtedly do gain in character from the practice, such as the Geuze. Perhaps my opinion on this will change over time, but as yet, I do like my beers to arrive as a finished product.
My first two selections were pale ales, generally a very versatile beer for food matching. Their pale ales are distinguished by hop variety, an eminently sensible decision, especially for those wishing to flavour-match. Motueka, (5.6% ABV) named for its New Zealand hop (similar to a Saaz), had a really crisp, citrusy grapefruit flavour but not an awful lot of lasting bitterness. However, it cuts really nicely through spices and worked well as a contrast with a simple vegetable biryani, served with a khadi (spiced yogurt sauce).
Moving across the Asian subcontinent, I decided to combine my next beer with a Chinese food pairing of ginger & sesame seed chicken. The beer, Amarillo Cascade (5.8% ABV), has a slightly more potent flavour with intense floral aromas, complimenting the ginger freshness really well. I’d probably compare it to Brewdog’s Punk IPA, but not quite as powerfully hopped.
To finish off, I chose their Imperial Brown Stout, which has as you might expect a higher strength at 10.1% ABV. This would be perfectly happy on its own with a more savoury flavour than a lot of stouts, and a kind of biscuity note to it. However, I decided to flip my more usual matching of sour fruit beers with rich chocolate, to match this rich beer with chocolate pudding with really tart cherry flavours, which seemed to go down well.
Next time, I’m looking forward to trying some from Flying Dog, an American craft brewery from Denver, and I promise less waffle (unless that’s the match…) and more beer!