THERE’S one episode of the TV comedy series Red Dwarf that I especially enjoy, and one scene in particular captures the essence of a beery problem.
Lister, played by Craig Charles, believes the woman he loves is now with someone else; a man he sums up in the most unflattering terms – as a wine drinker: “Why do women always leave me? Why do they dump me for men who wear turtleneck sweaters and smoke a pipe? He spends half his life in antique fairs looking for bargains and drinking wine. It’s never beer is it? It’s always wine!”
Exactly. Why IS it always wine?
It hits the nail on the head – or ‘taps the cask’ of the problem, to put it in beer terms. Wine is seen as posh, and it is usually the drink of choice with food.
But the multi-course nature of Christmas dinner gives the perfect opportunity to test-drive beer and food matching. With the rise of sophisticated craft ale, you’ll be the cutting edge of cool rather than uncouth.
The Journal has recruited Mark Dredge, British Guild of Beer Writers beer and food writer of the year 2011, to persuade you to consider the alternative to wine on Sunday and have a bit of fun with our national drink.
“It’s seen as a snobby thing,” says Mark. “If I open a good bottle of wine it’s £10. If I’m opening a £10 bottle of beer, people ask what’s wrong with you.
“You can have sour, bitter, sweet; full-bodied, thin-bodied. There’s so much going on, and there are more flavours that carry over to food.”
Mark outlines some principles: a light fruity beer is like a fruity white wine. A heavy red can be replaced with something strong and dark. And flavours can complement, or contrast, such as a bitter beer to cut through a rich or fatty food.