By Wendy Pike
This blog post feature first appeared in a slightly different form (again, written by me) on Brentwood Brewery’s website in early December 2015.
Mince pies and mulled wine. Turkey and Christmas Pud. Both are excellent but obvious festive food pairings. One partnership you might not necessarily put together is beer and Brussels Sprouts but that could be about to change … Apparently the perfect beer to accompany Christmas Brussels is Brentwood Brewery’s Lumberjack 5.2% ABV. This erstwhile unknown phenomenon has just been discovered on Twitter and it’s official.
“As accolades go, this is a pretty big one. We are honoured that Lumberjack is hailed as the best beer to enjoy with Brussels. The brewery has been working on lots of beer and food matching suggestions with Beer for That but this latest pairing idea is very exciting.
“What could be more traditional or British than the Brussel Sprout at Christmas? I love them. I always eat one at this time of year,” said Roland Kannor, Brentwood Brewing Company MD.
Asking the ultra topical question on a Twitter Q & A session with Great British Chefs was food blogger and writer Jeanne Horak-Druiff of CookSister.com:
‘So tell me what is the beer that best matches the dreaded Christmas Brussels Sprouts?’
OK, perhaps the question smacks of a large side order of tongue-in-cheek, but a serious answer is provided by GreatBritishChefs.com courtesy of Laurence Creamer of There’s A Beer for That (BeerForThat.com).
‘Counter the brilliant Brussels bitterness with sweetness of Brentwood Brewing Company’s Lumberjack, a beautiful bitter,’ comes the reply.
Who knew? Love them or hate them, those little green brassicas have been transformed into fancy dishes by top chefs and on occasion, even coated in chocolate, to make them more appealing and palatable, when all along, a glass of award-winning Brentwood Lumberjack is just the thing to make sprouts taste their best.
“Lumberjack’s full body can cope with the strong flavour of the sprout, while the beer’s sweetness will contrast and balance the bitterness from the vegetable,” says Laurence Creamer of There’s A Beer for That which is backed by Britain’s Beer Alliance.
With a reputation as a ‘Marmite’ vegetable, universally out of favour in the recent past, sprouts have had a bad press. The butt of endless jokes at Christmas (Pharhhhp!), the much maligned sprout may not be as trendy as curly kale or broccoli but it is currently enjoying something of a popularity revival. If not on your dinner plate then at least in spirit. BBC One’s Christmas TV promotion featuring Sprout Boy puts a positive PR spin on Brussels and is sure to warm the cockles of your heart? He is ‘a sprout with love to give’. The animation suggests repeatedly ‘Nobody ever liked the sprout’. But luckily for Sprout Boy there is a happy-ever-after. At Christmas he’s allowed to join the dinner party rather than being served up as dinner.
Another perennial joke, particularly with BBC Radio 2 listeners, may have more relevance for chefs and cooks across the land this Christmas. What time do you put the sprouts on? When it comes to plating up, timing is crucial and this year’s Christmas Brussels may need slightly longer cooking than normal. Farmers in East Anglia report the mild Autumn has led to a bumper crop with sprouts up to a whopping third larger than usual. On the upside, you’ll need fewer to fill the plate which also means less peeling.
With sprouts about 33% bigger, it is perhaps the brewery’s Christmas wish that the optimum beer/sprout ratio could mean increased demand for Lumberjack – purely to balance flavours, of course.
If you need further Brussels Sprouts inspiration, Great British Chefs have a great Christmas recipe by James Mackenzie: http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/greens-walnut-butter-recipe
Obviously, if you need beery inspiration, please visit Brentwood Brewery.
Whilst the brewery fully endorses this freshly discovered Brussels and Lumberjack partnership, their plea is simple. Do consume Brussels Sprouts responsibly. Large family gatherings, confined spaces, Brussels, Lumberjack … enough said. Boxing Day walk in the fresh air anyone?
Lumberjack 5.2% ABV
A strong, slightly sweet, full-bodied bitter traditionally brewed using English Fuggles and EKG hops. Has a round, hoppy finish.
Available in bottles and polypins.
Gold – SIBA East Region Best Strong Ale 2009
Silver – SIBA East Region Best Bottled Strong Ale 2013
Brassica Oleracea Gemmifera: are rich in many vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C, K, A and B as well as copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. With anti-oxidants, protein and dietary fibre they have many health benefits to offer.
The UK consumes more sprouts than any other country in Europe. A third of annual UK sprout consumption is thought to take place during the Christmas period.
Something else to note … Brussels Sprouts (often mis-spelled as Brussel sprouts) get their name from the capital city of Belgium due to their popularity and huge crop volumes grown in the country around the sixteenth century. Thought to have originated in the Middle East, the Romans were credited with cultivating the forerunners to contemporary Brussels.