Move over salads and sorbets, Autumn is upon us now. It’s time to embrace the cosy spirit of the season with our autumn-inspired beer pairing menu. Whether you're planning a quiet night in or a gathering with friends, crack those culinary skills out and satisfy your taste buds with these perfect pairings. Grab your favourite Fresh Beer and let's dive in…
Starter: Stuffed Mushrooms
Fresh Beer Pairing: Ancestors Bitter or Dark Matter
4-6 medium-large portobello mushrooms
125g unsmoked bacon lardons
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp dried sage
50g medium cheddar, grated
Preheat your oven to 220°C (200°C fan/gas 7). Wipe the mushrooms to remove any dirt and remove the stalks. Place the mushrooms on a baking tray top-side down. Finely chop the stalks.
In a pan, fry the lardons for 8-10 minutes until they start to crisp up. Add the shallot, mushroom stalks, and garlic, then fry on a moderate heat for about 5 minutes until all the ingredients are cooked.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the breadcrumbs and sage, then stir to make an even mixture. Spoon this mixture into the hollows of the mushrooms and sprinkle with the grated cheese.
Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cheese has melted. Serve with crusty bread, a green salad, and your choice of Fresh Beer.
Main Course: Beef and Beer Pie
Fresh Beer Pairing: Dark Matter or Public House (use the same beer in the pie)
1 onion, chopped
1 small celery stick, chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
700g beef shin or stewing steak, cut into large chunks
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 beef stock cubes
2 sprigs thyme
540ml of your dark ale or beer of choice
For the pastry:
500g plain flour, plus a little extra
1 egg, beaten
Preheat your oven to 160°C (140°C fan/gas 3). Soften the onion and celery in the butter in a flameproof casserole dish with a lid. Stir in the flour until it disappears, then add the beef and Worcestershire sauce. Crumble in the stock cubes and add thyme. Pour over the beer, bring it to a simmer, then cover and cook in the oven for 2½ hours. Remove the lid and cook for another 30 minutes to thicken the sauce.
Increase the oven temperature to 200°C (180°C fan/gas 6). For the pastry, mix the flour, suet, and 1 tsp salt in a food processor until there are no suet lumps. Drizzle in 1 tbsp of water at a time while keeping the food processor running until the pastry starts to come together. Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface and bring it together with your hands.
Roll out half of the pastry and use it to line a 20-22cm pie dish. Spoon in all of the meat and pour over some of the sauce until the meat is just coated. Put the rest of the sauce into a saucepan. Roll out the remaining pastry to cover the pie. Trim the edge with a knife, then crimp or fork the edges to seal. Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Reheat the sauce and serve it with the pie along with some mash, greens, and, of course, your choice of Fresh Beer.
Dessert: Pear Crumble
Fresh Beer Pairing: Public House or Dark Matter
4 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and quartered lengthways
100g dark brown soft sugar
½ lemon, juiced
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the crumble topping:
250g plain flour
150g cold butter, cut into chunks
75g dark brown soft sugar
50g chopped hazelnuts
Custard, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan/gas 4). Lay the pears out in an ovenproof dish that fits them snugly, ensuring there are no large gaps between the pears. Scatter over the sugar and pour over the lemon juice and vanilla. Mix using your hands to coat the fruit well.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, suet, and 1 tsp salt. Rub in the butter using your fingertips until you get a coarse breadcrumb texture. Stir in the sugar and hazelnuts, then scatter this mixture over the pears, avoiding packing it down too tightly, so it remains crumbly when cooked. Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden and the pears are cooked through. Serve with custard and your choice of Fresh Beer.
There you have it, a belly rumble-inducing autumn beer pairing menu that will truly embrace the spirit of the season. Enjoy the warmth and flavours of autumn with these hearty dishes and perfectly matched beers. Cheers to Fresh Beer and the joys of unbuttoning those jeans (there’s always room for extra helpings!)