I was recently invited to one of my favourite bars in Leeds, Friends of Ham, to try an evening of British beer and charcuterie with charcuterie supplier Cannon and Cannon. I couldn’t safely say I’d had British charcuterie before last night, but I’m now definitely a convert! I’m not a huge beer drinker either, but some of the beers were a pleasant surprise for me and did pair really well with the meats.
The first pairing was with Woodside lamb – meat taken from the leg of the lamb and cured with rosemary and honey. This was one of the more unusual meats, I’d never (knowingly) tried cured lamb before. It had a sweet, rich flavour and the fat section of the cut melted away in the mouth. It was served with Bibble pale ale, which had tropical and citrus undertones that really complemented the meat.
Next up was the Lamb merguez – now, I was excited for this because I’m a big fan of merguez cooking sausage and had no idea know you could get it as a cured version! Well, you can, and it’s delicious! A big hit of intense lamb flavour, with paprika and zesty, zesty lemon. This was paired with Hickey The Rake, another pale ale which was described as ‘zingy lemon’ but tasted more honey-ish to me. Either way it really brought out the citrus in the merguez, a great pairing.
After this we were on to the more “zany” beers, a Sauvage Blanc. At 9.2% this was a very strong beer but one of my favourites, it was made with Saison yeast and aged in Sauvignon Blanc barrels. I can only describe the taste a bit like if wine, cider and beer had a baby. A delicious, alcoholic baby. This was paired with a fennel salami from the Isle of Wight, and a lightly smoked pancetta. Out of the two, the salami had more character for me and the aniseed taste really worked alongside this strange beer.
Next up was the Biltong and this had to be my favourite meat of the evening. Named “dirty biltong”, it had an intense savouriness akin to Bisto gravy or a Bovril stock cube, incredibly moreish and perfectly paired with the brandy barrel aged double IPA “Double Axe”.
Finally, we enjoyed some fine smoked belly pork from Wales with Kernel Imperial Brown Stout. I’m really not a fan of stout so only tried a few sips of this but it was remarkably chocolatey, very dessert-like, and complemented the smoky and savoury belly pork really well.
Chatting to Michaela from Cannon and Cannon after the event, she explained British Charcuterie was really taking off as it’s a much more level playing field than on the continent, where rules and regulations, DOP’s and laws come in to play much more heavily than they do here.
So if you have chance to try any British Charcuterie you really must – all of these meats were amazing in their own ways and would be equally exceptional alongside wines and/or cheeses if beer isn’t your thing.