A glass of IPA with your curry, sir? Or how about a Worthing

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Brewers large and small used the star-studded show to get the message across that beer and food make a perfect match. Even the centre's wine theatre,...

Brewers large and small used the star-studded show to get the message across that beer and food make a perfect match. Even the centre's wine theatre, normally reserved for guests to sip and slurp a fine claret or two, was taken over by Coors Brewers for a tutored tasting session. There, under the guidance of Coors' analytical services manager Lee Threapleton and Rupert Ponsonby of the Hop Growers Association, guests quaffed Grolsch, Guinness, Worthington White Shield, Korenwolf and Liefman Kriek while tucking into crisp bread, cheese, salad, Christ-mas pudding and chocolates. Ponsonby told guests: "It's all about the enjoyment of beer. There's a diversity of flavours, aromas and beer styles currently available on the British market and we are putting the message over that beer is beautiful and goes great with food." Threapleton took up the theme. "While wine lovers slurp and sip, you have to work a bit harder with beer to bring out its complexities and subtleties. We suggest you swallow rather than slurp." The Korenwolf wheat beer certainly proved a hit with attendees, who were told that it goes well with smoked salmon and green salads thanks to its sweetness. Whereas, the hoppy bitterness of Worthington's White Shield was recommended to compliment cheese, sausages and even the Christmas turkey. Guinness with Christmas pudding worked well for guests although many were not so sure about the Liefmans Krieik with their dark chocolate. Greene King, having just launched its own "Beer to dine for" campaign with celebrity chef Ed Baines, also tempted visitors to its stand with the challenge to find a brand from its range of beers to suit its food offering. Staff had to work hard to persuade many of the female visitors to try their beers, but the message was certainly getting through. Alison Bull, of Wellingbor-ough, Northamptonshire, quaffing away on Abbot Ale while enjoying a morsel of cheese, was quietly impressed. "I would never dream of having beer with food. We always have wine at home, but I'm certainly surprised how nice some of these beers taste while you're enjoying your food." Her husband Alan found Old Speckled Hen with a chunk of spicy sausage more to his liking. "I often drink beer before a meal and then get the wine out for the meal itself, but this may change my habits," he said. Another wine man visiting the Greene King stand was Rod Hastie of Grandborough, near Rugby, Warwickshire. Hastie commented: "I'm a member of a wine appreciation society, but I love my beer, too. I'm not averse to having a beer with my meal, but, when at home, it's normally what I've got in the fridge. I may start putting a bit more thought into it though, because it's clear that some styles of beer are better suited to certain types of food." Greene King has introduced larger bottles of Old Speckled Hen and IPA to promote the idea of sharing a bottle of beer with a meal while guidance notes are being printed on bottle labels suggesting food that may suit a certain brew. "Beer to dine for" logos and food-beer recommendations are also to be trialled on menus as part of a pilot scheme in certain managed, tenanted and free outlets. Communications manager Frances Brace said: "We believe most people will find the right style of beer to suit their own personal taste, whatever they are eating, and we welcome the fact that other brewers are also promoting the same idea. "The more that we can do industry-wide, then the better for all concerned." The golden rules for combining beer with food are actually the same as those for wine, according to Interbrew UK. The two archetypal types of dishes, fish (fresh and acidic) and meat (penetrating and mild), are complemented by different types of beer. Pilsner and white beer are best suited to fish dishes, while dark abbey beers go well with meat dishes. This roughly corresponds with the "rules" for white and red wines. Interbrew commissioned chef Richard Fox to devise a number of recipes, some incorporating beer and some to complement it. The recipe cards were made available at last year's Good Food Show and their success led Interbrew to do the same thing this year. The recipe cards are currently being adapted for pubs and will be rolled out next year. Earlier in the year, Interbrew staged a "Strictly Beer" event at Mayfair's Strictly Hush, where 100 key opinion formers sampled a selection of dishes that have been developed to complement four Interbrew brands ­ Hoegaarden, Leffe, Stella Artois and Staropramen. These included a selection of canapés, featuring some of Fox's recipes, including sausage and mash burger (best enjoyed with Stella Artois); Hoegaarden mussels; baked sausage, onion & potato cake (with Staropramen) and chocolate tart (with Leffe). Interbrew's innovations marketing manager Fiona Smith said: "We're saying that beer has an important role to play as an accompaniment to stylish, contemporary food ­ emphasising that wine is certainly not the only meal option. We believe that beer can satisfy all the taste combinations and social expectations of wine. "Our research shows that beer is equally relevant across a range of meal occasions and is particularly relevant before and after a meal." Scottish Courage did its bit by giving away copies of a special booklet containing articles that highlight just how well beer and food go together. It includes suggested recipes by chef Alastair Little, along with recommended drinks to accompany them. The company's innovations manager, Robert Kidd, admitted there is often a barrier to overcome when it comes to convincing people of the benefits of drinking different beers with various food. "It's hard work with the women in particular. Non-beer-drinking women tend to have this notion that it is all about swigging pints in a male-dominated smoky pub environment. "It's amazing how their opinion changes when you offer them a glass of Belgian cherry kriek beer like Morte Subite, which would be a perfect accompaniment for a light lunchtime meal," said Kidd. Also on the Scotco stand was Grimbergen beers from Belgium and Zipfer from Austria as well as Becks and Kronenbourg. Kidd added: "I am convinced there's a style to suit everyone.

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