Every now and again it’s nice to treat yourself. Whether planned or impromptu, a meal out at a fine dining restaurant with friends is an excuse to eat, drink and be indulgent. If you’re taking it up a notch there is always the tasting menu with wines.
The domain of date nights and gastronomic extravagance, a tasting menu coupled with vine grown companions enables you to really enjoy the full spectrum of the menu and the convergence of skills of both chef and somalier. But wait, did you know there are also somaliers for beers, ‘cicerones’ who help choose the best hop based friend for your starter, main, dessert or cheese? Last month Liberation Group and Bohemia’s Steve Smith combined their disciplines to help us test the concept.
There are some that no doubt feel a beer is best served alongside a late night food choice. The depth and variety of beer available mean that characteristics should be matched to all manner of food groups, not just pie or chips. Liberation Group’s Pat Dean introduced the evening to assembled attendees and outlined the group’s ambitious and rewarding journey over the last few years including the development of their Liberation 140 and Spirit of Liberation Eau de Vie. The invitees that attended for the evening event were already onside with a Liberation Ale in hand as we were led through to Bohemia’s upstairs dining room.
Far from seeming unusual, it seemed sociable and normal for the first drink to be a light ale. You might be thinking pints. That would be crazy. With each course came a tasting volume glass (more like a half) of the appropriate elixer to accompany the food. Our starter was a delicious halibut that Steve Smith had cooked with Liberation IPA Veloute. The veloute was delicious and the cockles, mussels, caper & parsley blended with the IPA’s subtle flavours in the same was as wine maketh a Moules marinières. The dish was accompanied by a Liberation Craft Blonde. Fish with beer. I know. It works. When you consider that a light ale is refreshing in the same way that white wine is served, it makes sense.
By the time the main course was served I was definitely on side already. Beef and beer are more regular bedfellows but add Bohemia magic to the eqution and the braised beef made with Mary Ann Best Bitter was to die for. The rich flavour was partnered with smoothe creamed potato & delicious vegetables. the latter a nod toward healthy eating within a decedent menu. The main was served with a Mary Ann Best Bitter. I’m not ordinarily a bitter drinker but it seemed fitting on this occasion and I thoroughly enjoyed it and could probably have had another.
I’ve had wine matching menus a few times. Not regularly, but enough to know that I like them but often feel almost beaten by the time dessert arrives. Not the case today. Our Bitter Chocolate Tart was accompanied by a unique Liberation 140 ice cream and cherries dowsed and treated to a little Liberation 140 of their own. bitter chocolate tart, at Bohemia. Need I say more?
We discussed the merits of the meal over a final course, a selection of British cheese served with a Liberation Ale. Beer and cheese are good friends. Don’t let the French’s wine and cheese mainstay put you off. Think ploughman’s, think German beer halls, think taste. The more polite of drinkers had several glasses left at the end of the meal. Not me.I made sure I got the full benefit of each of Liberation Group’s crafted delights. The pièce de résistance was the Spirit of Liberation eau de vie. The slender, clear bottle had been shining at us from aside its presentation box at the centre of the table all evening and our table mates were keen to both sample and discuss its inception with the experts who sat with us. I was just keen to taste it. It feels like cheating the accepted norms of life in some way to get away with having several beers and finishing the meals with a shot at one of the island’s best fine dining restaurant. No funny looks, no disapproval just a happy crowd, all of whom left the evening with Liberation Gift Tube. I’ve not opened mine yet. My Dad might get it for Christmas as it’s a perfect easy present win.
There is talk of the beer matching menu being available as an event again in the near future. There’s also the inclusion of locally produced Martinis, made with Spirit of Liberation heading our way soon. Look out for news of upcoming events in Gallery soon.