What could be better on a cold winter Friday evening, than a fiercely competitive, delicious 5 courseseafood feast with matching beer and wine?
A couple of weeks ago I received a very interesting invitation to ‘Battle of theBooze’ hosted by Luvians’ Archie & Christina, at Tailend Restaurant in St Andrews.
I am a very competitive person, so when I saw the word ‘competition’ on the invitation, I knew this event was not to be missed.
The rules were simple: chef’s prepared 5 dishes matched with beer chosen by Archie and wine chosen by Christina. Guests were to decide which pairing works better for each dish and the winner (beer or wine) was to be announced at the end of the evening.
So eat, drink, decide and score – not as simple as it would appear…
The evening started with a reception, carefully prepared canapes set us up for a very exciting seafood feast. We were ushered to our tables, each marked with a team name on a boxing glove, we took our seats, and it was time to get ready to rumble!
Each dish was introduced by a very interesting talk from our hosts, with an explanation to why they decided to pair the particular dish with the specific drink.
First course was Scallops with Apple Three Ways, paired with Burning Sky Saison l’automne(season of autumn) and Greco di Tufo DOCG “Cutizzi” 2014 – Feudi di San Gregorio
Beer: Saison L’autimne as name suggest is a seasonal beer. The Autumn hedgerows have been laden with rosehips and blended a large portion in to give a subtle perfume & enticing colour to the beer. Beer had a matt yellowy colour with a light to moderate yeasty and fruity aroma. Very light, fresh and fruity beer that worked very well with lighter style of scallops.
Wine: Greco di Tufo DOCG “Cutizzi” 2014 – Feudi di San Gregorio is a warm and elegant wine. Straw yellow colour with a sense of plum and pear. You could really taste acidity and pronounced minerality in the wine that gives final, long and satisfying taste.
For this course I thought wine worked better, however I really enjoyed the beer as well.
Second course: Salmon Sashimi W’ Wasabi Mayo & Pickled Cucumber paired with and Berliner Pilsner and Iona Mr P Pinot Noir
Wine: Iona Mr P Pinot Noir is a light and elegant wine. Very easy to drink with a fresh cherry and red berry flavours. The wine has a lovely texture and focused sweet cherry fruit dominates with spicy undertones.
Christina explained that she wanted to pair fish with fruity, intense and vibrant wine to enrich the flavour of the dish.
Beer: Berliner Pilsner is a very refreshing beer with malty sweet aroma with some floral hoppy scents and some hints of citrus and pine.
Archie had chosen this particular beer to clean the palate, contrast and cut through the flavour, wash your mouth after every taste. What beer was meant to do is let your every mouthful to taste like the first one.
I personally think the beer worked better when I tasted sashimi with cucumber element of the dish. When I tried the dish without the cucumber element, wine worked really well and certainly enriched the flavours, but in my opinion beer was the winner for this course.
Third dish: Hake with artichoke & spiced lentils paired with Sancerre, Domaine Franck Millet, Loire Valley, France and Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale
Artichokes have very earthy flavours so they tend to be difficult to pair.
Wine: Christina decided to go for a simple classic wine, which was a wonderful accompaniment for the fish. A fresh, delicate style of wine with elegant aromas stayed very long on the palate.
Beer: Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale suited very well hearty style of food. Nut Brown Ale had a rich amber-brown colour and nutty flavour. Very rustic, yet smooth and a little creamy on the tongue. I really liked the traditional feel of this beer, starting from old fashioned label to brewing methods, which have not changed for decades.
This time I opted for wine, however I enjoyed the beer on its own.
Fourth course was Tailend’s famous ‘ Humble Haddock’ paired Domaine des Baumard Cremant de Loire Carte Corail Rose, France and Happy Chappy: New Wave Pale Ale
Wine: Domaine des Baumard is made with the same method as champagne and it’s a very fine, pale pink wine packed up with fruity flavours including hints of strawberry and cream. This beautifully crafted wine has a vibrant, mousse texture.
Beer: Made with the crisp citrus hops from the USA and fresh tropical hops of New Zealand. Citrus leads the palate (though with low intensity), gentle nectarine & honey follow.
Both wine and beer have been chosen to cut through the flavour of battered fish, my personal favourite was the beer.
Last course: Mulled Wine Poached Pears with Cinnamon Ice Cream paired with the Wild Beer Gazillionaire and Bertani Recioto della Valpolicella Valpantena
Wine: Grapes were dried for 3 months on the traditional “arele “the hurdles in bamboo cane which gives the wine intense ruby red colour. You can really taste plums and cherries as well as spicy notes of cocoa beans and vanilla.
It was very smooth wine, rich and sweet, but not cloying. For me, it was the perfect match for fruit and cream cakes as well as desserts.
Beer: Archie decided to take a risk and choose something different.
Gazillionaire was inspired by a beautiful Swedish bun the brewers had in Edinburgh. It reminded them of a family recipe with cardamom and vanilla and they thought it was a great idea for a beer.
I really liked the light vanilla aroma and sweet taste with a touch if lemon and cardamon but wine wassimply the perfect combination with poached pear.
Winner – Christina and her choices of wine.
To be honest, nobody knew who is going to win until the last course. In life, there are two kinds of people: beer drinkers and wine drinkers and I thought I was in the second group, but my choices proved me that I can enjoy my meal drinking beer as well.
My choices were 2 for beer and 2 for wine, which shows that beer as well as wine could be equally good as a pairing for your meal.
I really enjoyed the event. It was a great night of fun, discussions, great food and not to mention quality wines and beers. We were all very engaged and excited about the results of this competition. I would recommend keep an eye on their future events (be quick, they sell out fast) and take your friends and family. You will have a great time and learn that in many ways, beer can be more versatile than wine.
ST ANDREWS – 130 MARKET STREET, KY16 9PD
T: 01334 474 070
Luvians Bottle Shop
66 Market St, St Andrews KY16 9NU