By Jo Cooksey
An Irishman and a Norwegian Went Into A Bar
It sounds like the beginning of a joke but it really happened. Irishman Will Evans of Cave Direct North , Manchester’s leading supplier of craft and speciality beers to the Northern drinks trade invited Liam of Lervig Brewery in Norway to come to bring his wares to Manchester. He then persuaded the guys at The Patron to devise and cook a menu that would perfectly pair to Lervig’s beers.
Lervig is an independent brewery based in Stavanger and Liam explained the very different way the drinks industry is allowed to operate in Norway compared to the UK. Like here, the supermarkets and grocery stores sell beer and cider but only up to 4.7% strength. Anything over that, including spirits, wines, stronger strength beers etc. have to be bought at a Vinmonopolet shop. These are state owned and quite restricted in number and in opening hours. In fact, licensing hours as a whole are pretty constrained in Norway. Phew! Thank goodness we live in England. Lervig export all over the world and run collaborations with other brewers, such as Wild Beer in Bristol and Cloudwater right here in Manchester. Their own portfolio runs to around 25 brews, ranging from light, fruity beers to dark, chocolatey stouts.
We sat down to eat and the first pairing was Lervig Tasty Juice IPA with Goat’s Cheese Honey Souse. Tasty Juice is double hopped, which gives an extra fruity sharpness to the beer. It has tropical fruits and citrus notes; pineapple, mango and grapefruit being quite prominent. Just perfect with the rich creamy cheese, which had been wrapped in golden, crispy filo. The chef used each beer in its paired dish and in this case, it was in the vibrant honey and lovage dressing that covered the roasted tomatoes accompanying the cheese parcel. Tasty Juice is easy drinking, refreshing and it’s flavour belies the fact it is 6%. Really good for a Summer session.
The next pairing was my favourite. I have always had a liking for stout, the sweeter stuff rather than the bitter Guinness types. I blame my Mother for following the advice of the 1960’s NHS and drinking the odd Mackeson’s for its iron content while pregnant with me. Lervig’s stout offering was called Maple Stout and it was an astounding 12%. I haven’t drunk a beer that strong before but as Liam pointed out it is only like drinking a 12% bottle of wine and as such should be sipped and savoured rather than chugged. We did as instructed and it was absolutely lush. Chocolatey, malty, caramely and creamy. In fact, the brewing process is finished with maple syrup, vanilla and lactose, the sugar found in dairy products. Ok, you couldn’t have a session on this but I had visions of partaking of a small glass sat in front of a roaring fire with the wind howling outside. Beer makes me quite lyrical. Chef had paired it with Beef Short Rib with a Rich Stout Gravy and Smoked Swede. Oh my lord, it was absolutely superb and I was quite ready to lick the gravy off the plate.
After the dark, heaviness of the stout and the beef rib, it was back to something lighter and fruitier, Hip Hop Drop. Described as a tart and hoppy IPA, made with a massive amount of hops to give it zing. At the beginning it is quite lemony on the palate but at the back it is very sour and to be honest I wasn’t a fan, although other people in our party were. As the saying goes, what does for one doesn’t do for everyone. This had been matched with a beautifully light Fillet of Mackerel with Pomegranate & Hip Hop Drop Salsa. I totally adore mackerel and the sourness of the beer in the salsa made the perfect counterpoint to the oiliness of the fish. I might not have been a fan of drinking the beer but eating it was another thing altogether.
I feel I should add at this point, I wasn’t eating full plates of these dishes. Even my capacious appetite couldn’t handle that. We were, in fact, sharing plates with the other writers at our table. Ok, so now I don’t feel so bad about telling you of our fourth course, which was truly gorgeous. Pork chop with a Jerusalem artichoke and apple puree. The chop had been marinated in Perler For Svin, (which translates as pearls before swine), a 6.3% low bitterness IPA and it was utterly delicious, especially when paired with the puree. This and the short rib were comfort food heaven for me.
Try For Yourselves
“That’s all well and good,’ I hear you cry, “but how can we get our hands on these beery/foodie treats?” Easy! Just go along to The Patron. They are serving several Lervig brews, including Tasty Juice and the food menu is chock a block with tasty treats, including the heavenly short rib and the creamy filo wrapped cheese. The staff will be more than happy to make pairing recommendations for you. On a personal note, I would much rather go to a beer and food pairing than one with wine. I don’t mind wine but I’m much more of a beer girl and Lervig is good beer.
We were guests of Cave Direct North but as always, the review and opinions are our own and unbiased.