Beer and food pairing events are more often than not top of our must-do list, and the BBQ Collective are definitely hosting some of the best in Sheffield. Each month, a different local brewery joins up with BBQ Collective head honchos Jeff and Mat to carefully and collaboratively consider and create a mouthwatering feast where the beer and food work perfectly together. Last month was the turn of one of the newest additions to Sheffield’s beer scene, North Union, based in a railway arch close to the Wicker in the city centre. Head brewer Iain Kenny presided over the proceedings with panache!
We kicked off the evening with a starter of rare beef tenderloin on homemade black pepper crispbread, with burrata and smoked tomato relish. The drink to accompany was a wonderful Oatmeal Stout at 4.8%, with a twist of being nitrogenated rather than being fused with Co2. The smaller NO2 bubbles meant the drink was smoother and creamier and slipped down an absolute treat. A very good example of the style.
The second course was a green chilli, smoked chicken and sweetcorn chowder served with a chicken skin cracker (we could have eaten a dish of these alone!). Alongside we were given a glass of North Union's core release, the Pale Ale, at 5.5% ABV. The crisp freshness of the beer paired really well and cut through the creamy chowder. Little hot link meatballs were a spicy, tasty treat in this one too!
A little surprise for the third course, as we were all ushered outside with a red cup each, into the sunshine where Iain was waiting with a party keg of his 7% imperial lager, “Shy Bairns Get Nowt”. To go with the American house party feel, the food pairing was a corn dog, served with a dollop of homemade smoked ketchup and Alabama mustard sauce. Our first ever corn dogs and they were a veritable revelation. Crispy outer, doughy and indulgent corn bread inside, all wrapping up the BBQ Collective's signature spicy Texas hot link sausage. The beer was a little sweet for the tastes of some of the group, but we both loved it and we reckon it's damn near impossible to find any other beer with a more "Sheffield" name!
Smoked pork ribs with a tender delicious pull from the bone were up next, accompanied with Indonesian spices and noodles. While this combination might not be initially the most obvious, the outcome was incredible, and the fresh chilli heat from the noodles seemed to bring more flavour out in the sweet wood smoked meat. To pair, Craft Amber - a refreshing lager at 4.6% with a clean balanced palate and a light floral nose, which worked well to cleanse the palate in between bites and ensured that even though we were four courses in none of the flavours became too heavy.
The final course was shots! Dark chocolate and chilli ice cream with cherries, dark Guatemalan rum and the final beer of Dubbel at 6.5%. All rich and bold, the flavours of the three glasses complemented each other well, with rich malted roastiness from the beer echoing the chocolate notes in the ice cream, with a great boozy hit from the glass of rum. We'd have liked the ice cream to have been a little firmer (it was served almost as a milkshake) but this is a very minor criticism in what was frankly an ace meal all round.
There was one final surprise to come. Beer pong! Laura proved the victor and came home with a case of North Union Pale Ale and a red cup (of course) full of Jeff’s smoked tomatoes, which we had tons of fun experimenting with! We used them in a Korean influenced BBQ sauce, a slow cooked ox ragu, and a triple tomato bruschetta topping.
This was the third BBQ and Brewers Night we’ve attended, and it’s great to see that what could have potentially turned into a restrictive theme has just continued to grow, expand, and push the boundaries. Here’s to many more!
Jim & Laura
Jim & Laura