Calls Landing (a stew and oyster bar in Leeds) gave local beer makers from Ilkley Brewery an evening to see whether their stout could rival Guinness as an accompaniment to oysters. MJ Fortis is a hearty stout, but with delicate flavours of liquorice and smokey mocha. Looking at the way the oyster shell scale tipped it was clear to see that it was a winner with punters at Calls Landing, which is bad news for Guinness!
My friend Mij and I had a fantastic evening. We learned to open and devour oysters in style, and perhaps partook of more than our fair share! I’d had bad oyster experiences in the past, but these were fresh and delicious and put my qualms straight to bed.
We had a chat with one of Ilkley Brewery’s owners. The passion he has for his work is evident, and what a job to have, creating and making thousands of pints of your favourite drink! The brewery is still young at only 3 years of age, and was set up purely by a love of beer and learning about the process of making it on just a 3 day course. Starting small, the brewery expanded quickly, and has ambitions of becoming the best in Britain. And why not?! The brewery makes a good selection of beers of various strengths. They describe a ‘session beer’, such as the Mary Jane, which at only 3.5% is a great choice for sitting and drinking in a pub for hours without getting too wobbly!
Interestingly, pairing beer with food is a strong angle the owners are taking, and they have been working with chef Stephanie Moon to develop dishes using their beers. (Keep an eye out for the BBC’s Great British Menu, which will feature them.) It’s a valid point – Britain is a place of brewers, not wine makers so why do we focus on only wine for cooking and sloshing down with our food?! I may look at some classic recipes and try replacing wine with beer, but may need some guidance on which to use not being well versed in beer varieties… Watch this space!
More info on Ilkley Brewery can be found at: http://www.ilkleybrewery.co.uk/index.php