An artisanally crafted blog curated by Cooking Lager for discerning readers of beer bloggery

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Beer Gastronomy

Beer is in decline, fewer and fewer people drink it, and when they do they drink less. The stats speak for themselves. Despite tabloid headlines in regard to binge drinking, beer is in a sad decline. Now one good thing about this is that the large multinational brewers who have built giant brewery plants need to maintain a volume of sales to match their volume of production, ensuring a healthy river of cooking lager flows through the aisles of supermarkets sold for mere shillings. On the one hand we can celebrate and gain from these trading difficulties by picking up a bargain, but on the other more dangerous note, if capacity is reduced then the market will stabilise at a price unacceptable to the lovers of cheap grog. We must maintain demand by necking as much of it as we can.

Learning from the beer community I realise that the working class image of beer must be challenged. Factory workers no longer replace calories with copious pints of ale to clear their throats, as all the factories are in China. With a declining working class and expanding middle class, beer must appeal to the pretentious middle classes and their bizarre and easily influenced values. How do we do this? Beer and food matching, that’s how.

The rise of the gastro pub has taught us a great many things. It has taught us you can rip people off with any old toss if you use a flowery form of language. Gravy becomes “jus”, mushy peas becomes “puree du petis pois” and next thing you know you are stinging mug punters £20 a pop for fish and chips, that they go to the bar and order themselves and pay upfront for. By combining the worst aspects of pubs with the worst aspects of restaurants, you have a winner. Top dollar grub, no waiter service, in a pub themed restaurant. Kerching.

So, which cooking lagers and which foods go together like Morecambe and Wise, like Posh and Becks, like Simon and Garfunkel? Today I would like to take this opportunity to explore the majesty of Double Shish Kebab with salad; chillis’s and hot chilli sauce and a can of Carling. Carling is the lager most think of when thinking “cooking lager”, it has been on these shores long enough to forget it is a British version of a Canadian beer. It has survived fashion and fads by marketing itself with a close relationship to association football, see the Carling cup, and remains one of the most popular cooking lagers in Britain today.

In many ways this is the father of cooking lager. The daddy. Carling transformed British brewing, for a more detailed view see this. Though don’t pay £6 for a copy, I got mine in the Mencap shop for 50p. No longer Carling Black Label, Carling can regularly be found in the bargain bin at supermarkets with a price of around 40p a can. An unmissable opportunity to taste an iconic British cooking lager that is tin after tin of lagery delight. A 4% dishwater, a bit more chemical tasting than other cooking lagers, with a distinctly unnatural foam and head retention. Barley and wheat, 1.8 units a can. All British Barley appealing to the tattooed and patriotic Eng ger land faithful. Complete Flavour and Refreshment it says, though thankfully only the latter is true. Serve ice cold. Goes down a treat.

When the lady squeeze suggests visiting her mother, wave your briefcase at her and say, “I’ve brought work home with me darling, there is nothing I would like more than to visit your delightful mother, despite her pathological hatred of me, for I find her simply charming, but I must crack on”. It matters not that there is nothing in the case but a copy of Nuts magazine, she’ll never look. With the lady squeeze at her mothers, one can eat something other than salad or pasta or that bizarre and wrong dish, pasta salad (who on earth invented the monstrosity of pasta salad? Cold pasta with gook on it is not a salad, it’s not even food). Real mans food is as we all know, a big plate of meat. As we open the box of delights that is double shish we discover a medley of delicious marinated lamb cubes drizzled copiously with the fiery delight of hot chilli sauce. The salad offers the assurance that your meal could even be nutritious and with both the pita and chilli’s we have all the major food groups in one mouth watering parcel. A bite into the double shish, and the diner discovers an explosion of flavour unmatched in the world of haute cuisine. Your mouth is alive with delight, flavour, and a fiery burning sensation. A swig of Carling and the fire is quelled. The crisp cold Carling sending your taste buds, tongue and throat into spasms of rapture. This is what God meant when he invented food. God did not mean a light tuna salad drizzled with olive oil, he meant meat, fire and lager. Bite after bite, swig after swig, you hit a chilli and your eyes water, sweat pours off you, your pleasure mounts upon pleasure and you wonder, why can’t all food be double shish and a Carling? The bottom of the Carling glass says it all "Spot On". Never was a greater truth written in all of human history. Can it get better? It can.

With the lady squeeze out of the house, one can put on the telly whatever one likes. No soaps, no romantic comedy drama’s with Hugh poxy Grant. Slip The Fast and the Furious in the DVD player and switch on. Open another Carling and mop the sweat off your brow. Sit back, relaxed. You are in man heaven. At least for the next couple of hours. Have a can of Glade peach spray handy, because when the delicate flower returns she will ask “What is that smell? You’ve not been eating kebabs and farting have you? Open a window for Christ’s sake”.


meher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Woolpack Dave said...

Shish Kebab? That's a bit posh. Donners are cheaper and and packed full of delicious reconstituted mechanically recovered mutton, what more could you want?

Cooking Lager said...

Thats beer and food matching, Dave, posh. Going a bit upmarket to get the middle class punters off the Merlot and onto the cooking lager.

Velky Al said...

Ah the simple pleasures of my university years, several Caffrey's in an Oirish bar on Broad Street followed by a doner chicken mix in a freshly made naan, without the salad stuff. You can't beat a good British education!

Wurst-Internet troll, bully, CEO APRK said...

Man, you are truly a god send! Do you know Avery??? Here's his latest video:

He's well into brine shrimp on toast and drinking from an over-sized wine glass.

Cooking Lager said...

I do not know Avery, but prior to my current lady friend civilising me, I used to drink pretty much everything from an old dimpled 70's style pint pot. Tea, coke, wine, juice, vimto. Now I use the correct receptacle and own tea cups that match both the plates and the general decor of the kitchen and dining room. I also change my underwear daily.

Wurst-Internet troll, bully, CEO APRK said...

I am so proud, I cannot put it into words. With you on the scene, I will no longer be the scapegoat for tirades against my person. My character and good name have been defamed to no end. I fear Rudy in the likes of Jason from Friday the 13th.