We’ve all heard of food and wine tastings, of course, but the good people at the Cameo Cinema clearly feel that beer really should be afforded the same privilege as its close cousin – and why not? Like many nations around the world, here in the UK, we consume a lot more amber than we do red or white. Beer often gets bad press, but did you know that it is fat free and has considerably fewer calories than wine? And that it has a lot less sugar than you might think? Hence this intimate meeting for forty lucky members of the Cameo Cinema in their delightful cafe bar (already our favourite drinking place in Edinburgh), where four vegetarian food courses are served, each matched with an appropriate beer.
First up, we’re offered a taste of San Miguel, matched with a tasty slice of Spanakopita (spinach pie), a filo pastry parcel filled with feta cheese, spinach and chopped onions. The twosome make a perfect match, the crisp, zesty lager cutting through the tangy taste of the filling. San Miguel is, of course, always perceived as the ultimate Spanish product – so it might surprise you to discover that it was first brewed (to a Spanish recipe) in the Philippines. These days, of course, it’s brewed in an even more exotic location: Northampton.
Next up we are served with a shot of London Pale Ale (I fondly remember this stuff being my dad’s drink of choice before lager was popularised in the 1960s). This is accompanied by a delightfully flaky vegan samosa filled with sweet and spicy mediterranean vegetables. Once again, the two items are an inspired match, the yeasty ale contrasting nicely with the samosa. Pale ale is also, we are told, an excellent partner for burgers and for Mexican food. You’ll hear no argument from me on that score.
The third nibble is a bowl of vegetable chilli, which has a rich, smoky flavour and a powerful kick to boot. This is paired with a wheat beer called Blue Moon, a malted America beer brewed Belgian-style. Here, the strong flavour of the cloudy beer is exactly what’s needed to cut through the strength of those chipotle chillies. Our hosts ask us if we think it’s a good combination and we answer in the affirmative.
I have a small twinge of anxiety as the fourth and final course is served. Out comes a glass of Black Ball stout, a Williams’ Brothers beer (a popular draught option at the Cameo), and this has been paired with a chocolate brownie. Now, I would never drink a stout on its own; I always find the flavour of roasted malt a bit too much, but I have to admit that, when taken in conjunction with a gooey sticky chunk of brownie, something rather magical happens – the two elements combine to provide a mouthful of what can only be described as sheer heaven. This turns out, against all the odds, to be my favourite pairing of the session.
Clearly the Cameo staff know what they’re doing – this event has been expertly put together. Those who would like to explore the subject a bit more should get themselves down to the Cameo bar with all speed – those who would prefer to learn more at a distance may care to investigate beerforthat.com – where all things beer and food-related are examined in more detail.