Brewer drafts in Gordon Ramsay to prove beer's the new wine
A BEER company based in the Capital has recruited Gordon Ramsay to try to help it promote its brew as the new wine.
The Innis & Gunn Brewing Company is to host a series of events in a bid to promote how well beer can be matched with food.
Talks are taking place with Ramsay, who featured the company in the last series of The F Word, to see how he could take part in the drive.
He is expected to host a "beer dinner" where he chooses beers and wines that are well suited together.
Mark Hix, the former chef-director of Caprice Holdings, owner of The Ivy and Le Caprice restaurants in London, is also being lined up to take part in events.
Dougal Sharp, managing director at Innis & Gunn, wants to see more of the top restaurants offer beer lists alongside wine lists.
He said: "Chefs have been quite keen to help promote this idea of beer with food because it offers their customers a new experience. Chefs are interested in flavour and the way that flavours combine so it is natural territory for these guys. There is huge potential for this and we should definitely expect beer lists. But a clear point to make is that we are not trying to replace wine. You could have wine with a starter and beer with a main course or the other way around.
"The beer industry is where the wine industry was 20 years ago, when it was the wine industry that said white wine with white meats and fish and red with other meats. It's exactly the same principle of matching the intensity of flavours. The beer industry has not kept pace but we're trying to do something about that now."
Innis & Gunn, which uses a base beer made at the Belhaven Brewery then matures it in oak casks, has already been growing rapidly since being launched six years ago.
In 2008 the company filled 10,000 barrels of beer but is expecting the figure to rise to up to 14,000 barrels this year after a "phenomenal" start to the year.
It has already built up strong sales in countries including Canada, the United States, Sweden and Finland, and is now hoping the drive to match food and beer will help its domestic sales to grow further.
Colin Valentine, Edinburgh-based director of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: "We have tried to push the idea of matching food with beer ourselves but hopefully having someone like Gordon Ramsay on board will help.
"There is definitely the potential there to grow the amount of people who match food and beer. You can even serve beer in a wine glass.
A lot of the Belgian brewers already have beer glasses that look very like wine glasses and that could be successful in restaurants here."
THE GOLDEN RULES OF FOOD AND DRINK
Dougal Sharp's top tips for matching beer with food
Don't have a pint: You don't have a pint of wine with dinner so don't have a pint of beer.
Serve it at the right temperature: If it says serve it chilled then serve it chilled.
Ensure that the intensity of flavour of the beer is similar to that of the food: If you were sitting having a really strong cheese you wouldn't match a really light flavoured whisky with that because all you would taste would be the cheese. It's the same with beer.
• Sweet and fruity beers go brilliantly with a tomato-based curry or spicy food like chilli.
• Stout and oysters is a classic combination. There's a creamy flavour to meat and there's a lot of salt in there – stout has a roasted salty flavour too.
• Bangers and mash have sweet caramelised flavours that would go well with a traditional Scottish beer that is sweet and malty.
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