Monday, 2 July 2012

An Innis & Gunn food matching experience

I feel like I've been the unsuspecting victim of a brilliant guerilla marketing plan recently.  It started with my parents waxing on about some great beer that was brewed in Edinburgh.  You know the Scots, we love a bit of self promotion.  Then we went to a supper club in Leeds (@dineleeds) where they matched Yotam Ottolenghi with a range of these beers flavoured by different aging casks.  THEN my wedding planner upped sticks to join the company as well!  Well, what else could we do but jump on the I&G band wagon?

Innis & Gunn is a range of beers aged in oak barrels.  Starting as an accidental by-product of an attempt to flavour whisky with beer, the range has expanded to I&G blonde (American oak with a real vanilla flavour), I&G rum cask, rum finish, Irish cask and many more. 
(from left) Innis & Gunn original, rum finish, blonde, and more rum (it's my favourite)
After the @dineleeds experience, I was quite intruiged to try some food and beer matching of my own.  Picking a wine to go with food is usually not too tricky (given I'm not too fussy if I like the wine) but beer presented more of a challenge.  The flavour is stronger and it's more of an acquired taste to match it to food.

Having done a bit of research, my best bet appeared to be trying to compliment the sweet and smoky flavour of the beer with some smoky food with enough punch to stand up to the complex taste of the beer.  To give us the best chance of success we went for a range - original, blonde, and rum finish.  One of them had to be a good accompaniment.

Bearing all this in mind, I took inspiration from one of my favourite spices - smoked paprika - and made crevettes with chorizo, white wine and parsley, courgette ribbons and crusty bread.  Sweet, succulent prawns with rich, spicy chorizo is one of my favourite combinations, and it was a great match to the I&G original.  It had the feel of a real continental treat.  Next time I'll probably have the blonde as a well chilled aperitif, while the rum cask was a great dessert (and went very well with some dark chocolate).  The rum cask is definitely my favourite, although at 7.4% is bloody lethal!

It was a great experiment and one I'll be repeating.  I'm also particularly excited as Innis & Gunn have a pop up restaurant and bar at 32 Potterrow in Edinburgh until the end of August.  I will be going for a bit of respite after the crazy wedding planning.  Anyone going up for the festival should definitely try and stop by.
Crevettes with chorizo and white wine (next time I might try cooking it with the Innis & Gunn for an extra flavour punch)
Joe, playing with his food. Nice prawny friends.
And a gratuitous shot of Joe looking like a giant next to a baby army car - just because.

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