Meat to please you
Charcuterie to make the mouth water
Sunday 29 November 2020
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There are probably worse ways to spend Lockdown 2: Electric Avenue than sitting in your comfiest slubs drinking excellent beer and eating tasty snacks. Think of it like a small bright spot in a darkened sky of publess boredom. So when a company like Meatbox comes along and says hey, our meaty snacks are chosen specifically to match and complement the beer you’re drinking, that’s a break in the clouds isn’t it?
Pairing food and beer is something beer fans have been doing for years — from the chewy pretzel and the cut-glass stein of Festbier to sauce-sticky Korean fried chicken and a crisp bottle of Hite. There are a ton of great cookbooks out there dedicated to creating perfect beer-inspired snacks for the discerning drinker, and the popularity of pairing beer with food is growing and growing. But what if you just don’t have the energy, what with all the doom, to cook a few courses of beer-specific dishes? Perhaps pre-made snacks might be the best way to go, for the moment.
Our Meatbox contact Troy Kniveman says the way forward is postable snacks you can send to your mates to enjoy together.
“Meatbox was created by people who wanted to celebrate some of the best cured meats and charcuterie made in Britain at the moment,” he explains. “We want people to enjoy high quality, delicious snacks and at the moment, the easiest way is in the post.”
So while you’re trapped indoors with your #beerstash, these postable meat treats can lift your spirits and your boozy night in.
“A lot of people have been sending boxes to their friends and family,” says Troy. “It’s a great way to show someone you’re thinking of them who might not appreciate flowers.” It’s a good idea. Say it with salami.
It’s also a pretty good way to change up your Zoom calls this lockdown. Instead of crafting quizzes, why not send a couple of boxes to your pals and do some beer and food matching instead? If you’ve never tried to pair beer and food before, this is a great place to start. The spices in these cured meats and snacks are bold, and that makes it easier to pick out the flavours and aromas in your beers that’ll match well with them. And don’t play it safe. Yes, a lovely English Bitter will go with just about everything, but the further you stray from your comfort zone, the more exciting things get. Why not set up a competitive element? With marks for inventiveness as well as the success of each pairing? Get those brain juices pumping. Winner gets another box-o-meat. Just a thought.
For a bit of inspiration, here are some of our beer and meat pairing suggestions. Get creative too — we threw some of the Snackingham ham in a macaroni cheese and it worked amazingly. And the Moons Green Helfire Sticks go incredibly well with Chilli Heatwave Doritos… so much so that we reckon you could chop them up, add them to some mozzarella cheese and bake them on top, like superhot nachos. Are our minds melting due to lockdown? Perhaps. But the deliciousness is undeniable.
Proper Pork Crackling — BBQ Flavour
A good crunch with a warm black pepper spice, sprinkled with sweet smoky paprika giving it a bit of a fireside vibe. While our immediate instincts were to jump to the golden notes of a Marzen, everyone knows pork scratchings have a lifelong partner in the zingy, late-afternoon glow of an English IPA. For something a little different, try a Belgian pale like Taras Bulba by Brasserie de la Senne to balance bitterness with spice, or a Black IPA like Black Iris Brewery’s or Black Betty by Beavertown.
Moons Green Hellfire Beer Sticks
These salami sticks are like fancy Pepperamis, filling the mouth with welcome, spiky spice. Although the name denotes the level of chilli spice reserved for hazing challenges and YouTube videos, they’re actually not too spicy at all, just a great level of tingly hum, that wavers over warming flavours of sun dried cayenne and sweet, salty pork. We washed these down happily with the dark roasty notes of Beak Brewery’s Pencil India Porter, and were very happy with the pairing indeed. The chilli spice would also be great with dark chocolate notes, so if you’re looking for some extra inventiveness points, seek out a Stout with great bitter chocolate potential — like Runaway Brewery’s gorgeous effort.
Gloucester Biltong — Naga Chilli Flavour
Chewy, umami strips of meatbark that nip you with spice as they soften in your mouth. They’re also gluten free, so a great snack option if you’re coeliac. There’s a garlic version too, but we’re tasting the naga chilli version, because we love it muy caliente. Can’t shake the feeling that this would go great with a lovely smoky Rauchbier, or a smoked porter. Maybe something like Ardbeg’s The Shortie smoked porter, or Fallen Brewing Co.’s Blackhouse. What you want here isn’t to match up the flavours so they sink into each other, but challenge them, so that you can enjoy both the snack and the beer on different levels. Think of this sort of flavour pairing like the mustard you spread on your ham, rather than butter you melt into your mash.
Serious Pig — Snackingham Air Dried Ham
Like serrano ham with a bit of chew, or a chunk of salty pig jerky, the ham in this snackpacket is a welcome respite from the big and beefy flavours of the Gloucester Biltong. Ideal as a snack with a beautiful pilsner, it would also taste great with something a little orangey — maybe a juicy West Coast IPA like Dripping Pitch by Duration. Yes, we think so very much. Other flavours that pair with pork are spices like clove and coriander, so why not crack open one of those lovely witbiers you’ve been saving for when you were in the mood? Don’t lean back on Blue Moon either, we’ve seen some great witbiers made by UK breweries like Duration and Unity in recent years. Ask your local bottle shop for a hand looking for something perfect, or give it the old typey-typey in the Beer52 search bar.
Deli Farm Charcuterie —Fennel and Anise Salami
Classy, right? A true mainland Europe flavour combo that can’t help but pair excellently with a lovely little Grisette or a Saison. You want that funky flourish to lift the salty salami into its rightfully elevated place. The dryness of these beer styles also help to cut through the fattiness of the meat, and brings freshness and a thirst-quenching brightness. Fyne Ales have made a beautiful Grisette in the past called Beer/Life Balance, but there are plenty of breweries out there trying their hand at farmhouse beers. We’d also recommend keeping an eye out for Wide Street Brewery, who create all their beers with wild yeasts, and would therefore be a beautiful combo with aged dried salamis like this one. If your palate isn’t really into getting down in funky town, grab a tight, refreshing Amber or IPA made with more spicy hop varieties like Challenger, Chinook or Perle, and enjoy the way the aromas sync up.
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