Entertaining with Red Stripe Beer:
Without a doubt, Red Stripe is one of the most iconic brands to come out of Jamaica. This beverage is world renowned and all across our beloved island many bars display Red Stripe paraphernalia with pride.
Many of us enjoy an ice-cold Red Stripe on a sweltering day, and it is always in the mix when we entertain. Tonight I am partnering with Red Stripe at the Food Awards to show how beer can be paired with food in the same manner as wine.
Jamaica is as much beer country as it is rum country. Wine is slowly gaining a great deal of popularity and my fellow Thursday Food columnist Chris Reckord has been amazing in educating us each week with his wine tales. I am also a member of the 1876 wine club, so the sophisticated grape libation is a big part of my lifestyle. Given my background, working with Red Stripe was a major challenge I gleefully took on.
The truth is, beer is a vent popular everyday beverage, and with the recession in earnest you can also turn to beer for affordable entertaining. Beer is democratic in its middle-of-the-road affordability. I recently came across a blog where an anonymous respondent to a particular piece, a laid-off stockbroker, wrote that beer is the new champagne and a grin came to my face.
In Europe, the great beer cultures of Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, the UK and Ireland have always had a tradition of serving beer and food. In Africa and Asia, beer is a well-liked beverage; in fact, the history of beer is as ancient as wine. The UK witnessed the emergence of the gastro pub in the 90s. Gastro pubs serve gourmet food with beer and there are many beer gardens throughout the European continent, where you can have a lovely meal outdoors with your preferred Pilsner, lager or stout. In fact, there was a time when the gastro pub was more than an equal match to the grand Michelin-starred restaurants. Our Red Stripe is a premium brand which is so refreshing well chilled, but outside of the barbecue, how often do we use it in food? Kim Lee, marketing and communications manager of Diageo Ltd. and Safia Cooper, Red Stripe’s brand manager, approached me to create an original menu with foods to both pair with Red Stripe and Red Stripe Light as well as featuring in the ingredients, and boy oh boy, what an adventure it has been. Although I have always enjoyed an occasional beer, these last few weeks have given me a newfound respect for our local brew.
The first thing I did was to taste Red Stripe and Red Stripe Light, not as the average consumer, but as a recipe developer to get a flavour profile on my palate. This is of the utmost importance when matching any beverage with food. I also imagined an elegant dinner party where I would replace my normal wine selections with Red Stripe for a fun and cheaper alternative. Red Stripe is a lager. It can also be described as a pale golden ale, liquid gold. Our local beer is a medium-bodied beverage with moderate hops which gives us both a bit of fruit and slight malt on the tongue. It also has a slight bitter tang which cleanses the palate.
I became excited because with the above discoveries to work with, I realised I could go from appetisers to dessert. The flavour of fruit I picked up in my personal beer-tasting was a bit of lime, which I am sure comes from the hops. This gave me inspiration to marinate my olives in orange juice. The fruitiness also worked well with good old classic sharp Cheddar cheese, which is popular in Jamaica. I added one of my favourite local condiments, Busha Browne’s Banana Chutney, my personal ode to the great British pub traditional lunch, the Ploughman’s. The bitterness allowed me to create a rich cumin-scented main dish since the astringency would enliven the palate.
There was also a hint of caramel and butterscotch present which would pair perfectly with my chili-glazed chicken wings and grilled sausages, a riff on German Bratwursts since the concentration of flavour was in the smoky caramelised bits. I was also pleased that unlike wine, where sweeter wines go better with dessert, beer gives a refreshing counterbalance to the sweetness. I hope my Red Stripe beer and food experiment gives you the inspiration to try some new things in the kitchen and an alternative option when you next entertain as we head into the summer months.