After visiting Birmingham’s Malmaison in February for their Tuscan wine & food event I was invited back to take part in FemAle 2012 – a beer & food matching event to show that great beer isn’t just for the male species and that beer can be a lower alcohol alternative to wine. Don’t forget it was us women that invented beer. Sorry about the quality of the photos. I only had my point & shoot and light levels weren’t great.
As this was a female only event Hubs wasn’t invited (though he was prepared to dress in drag to get in) so I took along my trusty friend Rach. She doesn’t really drink beer and I occasionally dabble with the hoppy stuff given I live near the home of brewing, Burton-on-Trent.
The evening was hosted by Beer Beauty Marverine Cole along with talks from Paul Corbett (MD of Charles Faram – hop merchants) and Paul Halsey (MD of Purity Brewing Company) who provided the beer and are based near Stratford upon Avon. The menu was devised by Malmaison’s Head Chef Brian Neath and Sous Chef Mark Walsh who delivered it on the night. Between each course we were encouraged to chat about the beers and discuss what we thought of them. It was clear by the end of the evening that we both liked very different beers.
Veltins Pilsner (4.8%)
Grilled vegetable ceviche bruschetta with saint-maur goat’s cheese crumble
This beer was served in champagne classes when we arrived and turned out to be one of Rach’s favourite beers of the night. It’s a very light beer that for me was too light in taste as I prefer drinks with a more defined flavour. The Veltins Pilsner was matched well with the bruschetta as it didn’t overpower the flavours of the cheese.
Pure Gold (4.3%)
Smoked salmon cannelloni with guacamole
For me this beer had a strong metallic, mushroomy aroma that tasted far milder than its scent. Only a couple of other people in the room agreed with what I could smell. When paired with the rich smoked salmon cannelloni the taste of the beer transformed to a delicate liquorice taste that perfectly cut through the salmon.
Pure UBU (4.5%)
UBU braised blade of beef with smoked pomme puree
One of the best food courses of the night. The beef just fell apart and the beer complimented the beef well due to its caramalised flavours. This Pure UBU reminds me of other beers I’ve tried and enjoyed.
Maisel’s Weisse (5.2%)
Roasted pork tenderloin stuffed with apricot & sage
One of the best beers of the night. The aroma of this cloudy German wheat beer was a heady mix of banana bread, cinnamon and apricots. I spent a good few minutes just smelling this amazing beer! While it had a sweet smell the smooth, fruity taste wasn’t too sweet that it would overpower the pork.
Bacchus Kriek (5.8%)
Dark chocolate delice, Bacchus glazed cherry
Sorry Sam Smith’s fruit beer I have a new love – Bacchus Kriek. Like the first beer this was served in a champagne glass. Bacchus Kriek is a beautiful, sweet, spicy beer with an almost cherry menthol like taste and tiny bubbles similar to the ones you get in a good champagne. If I didn’t know it was a beer I would have assumed I’d been served a champagne cocktail. It’s not a beer you could drink lots of due to its sweetness, but makes a sublime drink and a new favourite for both me and Rach. The beer went perfectly with the delicious delice. This course was so good Rach manage to sweet talk the waiter into giving her another slice to eat.
Sierra Nevada stout (5.8%)
Isle of Mull Cheddar
By this course I admit we were beginning to flag due to the richness of the previous course but the good women we are will never pass on a cheese course. I liked this beer as I can drink small amount of stout, but Rach found this beer too heavy and rich. I’d never think of drinking a stout with cheese, but the dominant flavours of both the cheese & beer worked together to mellow each other.
Once the event was done Rach & I decided to head down to the bar and have a good girly catch up and a night cap before heading back to our room. After asking the bemused barman if they sold various shots harking back to our student days (he said ‘no’) we then settled on a bottle of Maisel’s Weisse and two champagne glasses. The barmans face was classic and we had to assure him that yes we wanted champagne glasses as we were ladies and didn’t want to sip daintily from a pint glass. Drinking from a non-traditional glass certainly makes for a more refined beer drinking experience. However, I’m not sure my request for a champagne glass next time I’m down at the Burton Bridge Inn will go down as well!
Many thanks to Malmaison, Purity Brewing Company & Beer Beauty for inviting us to the event, giving us a bed for the night along with the well needed bacon cobs for me and waffles for Rach the morning after.
We were the guests of Malmaison who kindly paid for the event and room for the night. All words and opinions are our own.