Friday, 30 May 2008

Gordon Ramsay brews

It's a major event when beer makes it onto TV in Britain. Unless it's lager being swilled by tattooed hooligans. So I was intrigued when Gordon Ramsay announced on his f word programme this week that he was going to brew his own beer.

First he had to decide what would go best with the meal it was meant to accompany. There he was, in a pub with a beer and food matching expert and a row of bottles. I was pathetically excited when I spotted Cooper's Sparkling Ale amongst them. Maybe this wasn't going to be as crap as I feared. I was soon disinvested of my illusions.

After the first sip of the first beer he said: "I want something something that doesn't have a strong aftertaste. You can't eat with a bitter taste in your mouth." Timothy Taylor's Landlord he virtually spat out. Anchor Steam - "Initially it's nice, creamy, light. But then there's an aftertaste". He liked Meantime IPA more, but complained of the aftertaste. When he drank Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, it looked like he'd been poisoned. He nearly vomited. Finally he found one he liked. Even before he'd given his opinion, I'd said to Andrew: "I bet he likes this one. It's the worst beer he's tried." Sure enough, he loved the Innis & Gunn barrel-aged bollocks "brewed in Scotland" as he said. Is it brewed in Scotland? Aren't they a bit coy about where the brewing takes place? "This one has no aftertaste." he said triumphantly "It's perfect."

It sounded very much like what the purveyors of macro-swill say "Our beer has no nasty aftertaste." When what they mean is "Our beer has no beer flavour." Call me old-fashioned, but I thought the whole point of quality drinks was to have an aftertaste. That's one way of judging the quality of a wine, the length of the aftertaste.

He decided then and there that he wanted to brew a beer like Innis & Gunn. Or did he? The speed and ease with which he arranged to have someone from the "brewery" come and help him brew in his back garden is suspicious [I now realise the brewer in question wasn't from Innis & Gunn, but the owner of the brewing kit]. Had he already decided he wanted to make a barrel-aged beer before the tasting?

To be fair, he did brew it properly and used whole hops. He had a Bourbon barrel on hand, too. But what signal is it sending out when a renowned chef effectively says that a bitter aftertaste in beer is a fault and disqualifies it from accompanying a meal?


To see who everyone was involved in the project, look at Tandleman's post.

9 comments:

Nigel said...

I've noticed that wine has an aftertaste. That mustn't be suitable with food, either.

Brendan said...

Sounds like your typical product tie-in. Merchandising baby!

impymalting said...

Wow-- he was spitting out these classic ales and stouts? That's pretty damning of his palate.

I always thought the aftertaste of the beer was primary element in food matching-- that interplay.

Ron Pattinson said...

It was weird. He pulled a horrible face after drinking Landlord. The Brooklyn he spat out and ran to the sink. I guess that's one vote against extreme beers.

Just sad. I think it was supposed to be positive about beer. Wasn't how I interpreted it.

Didn't anyone else see the programme? Does that say something about my viewing habits, that I seem to be the only one that has?

Andy Holmes said...

I missed it too, and the beery episode of Market Kitchen with our fellow blogger Melissa.

As far as the brewer on standby goes, are you sure that wasn't just clever editing?

Anyway I'm happy that GR has no taste for beer he's annoyingly good at everything else!

Boak said...

Tandleman saw it too

I'm still surprised by the attitude of chefs and generally "the food world" to beer. You'd have thought that a good palate = ability to be excited by anything of quality, including beer. Which leads me to conclude that most in the food world are just pretending.

Matthew Fort seems to be an honourable exception. I'd like to have a pint with him.

Sid Boggle said...

A Michelin-starred chef with a dead tongue. A nice idea, but it sounds like a typical reality-TV stunt, like that survival bloke living in 4-star hotels...

-- Boggle

Ron Pattinson said...

Having read about who the brewer was on Tandleman's blog, I guess they'd already ready arranged for him to come along with his kit. Which means I suppose he could have decided what he liked at the tasting.

zythophile said...

It would be interesting to know what Garrett Oliover, brewer at Brooklyn and the author of The Brewmaster's Table, thought about his beer being dissed by a chef ...