First round of drinks pairings... July 20 2014, 0 Comments

In this first round of our drinks paring we asked Neil Sowerby, food and drink expert to match our range with sherries, ciders and traditional English cask ales.

Our Woodall’s products are delicious in their own right but further enhanced when accompanied by the right drink...

The ale brewery chosen seemed the match made in air-dried heaven since Timothy Taylor’s pale ale is used in the cure for our Royale Ham, but each tipple, in its own way, helped bring out distinctive flavours.

The sherries tried were contrasting types – the bone-dry, almost salty La Gitana manzanilla and the nutty, savoury, slightly sweet Jose de Soto amontillado.

The four ciders each offered differing qualities (and strengths!). At 6% Green Goblin, fermented in 100-year-old oak vats from traditional Somerset cider apples, packs a prickly, medium dry punch. The other three are vintage (ie from single apple harvests). Henney’s 2011 Still Cider is 6.5%, is made from local Herefordshire apples, then matured over a winter. It starts sweetish but finishes dry, almost sour (in a food-friendly way). Sparkling medium-dry with some depth, Sheppy’s Vintage Reserve 2013 (7.4%) displays its oak proudly. Aspall’s 2012 Imperial Cyder, from Suffolk, is golden, almost syrupy, with good acidity and lingering bitter-sweetness – oh, and 8.2% alcohol!

Timothy Taylor’s of Keighley is nationally renowned for its flagship brew, Landlord – hoppy with an increasingly bitter finish but well balanced with malt and citrus. I chose that, in draught and bottled form, and Ram Tam, the same ale given a burnt caramel twist with the addition of molasses. Plus the sweeter caramel of their Dark Mild and the occasional Havercake Ale, an amber, medium-bodied citrussy bitter.

Air-Dried Cumbrian Ham
The delicate sweet prosciutto-style flavour of this ham was well-matched with the ciders and their residual sweetness but also accommodated the tangy manzanilla. The Taylor’s bitters also went well, but that was the case across the range. 

Air-dried Black Combe Ham
The robust amontillado handled best the Black Combe, which turned the ciders slightly astringent. The Ram Tam, but not the Dark Mild, was also a good, savoury match for the persistent smokiness of the dry-cured ham. Perhaps it was the molasses. The Landlord, as throughout, was just right

Air-dried Royale Ham
With its traditional Suffolk cure (including 8 days in a liquid pickle of pale ale, molasses, vinegar, brown sugar and spices, followed by cold smoking and over six months of air-drying) it seemed appropriate to pour the county’s finest cider, created by Aspall’s from a 90-year-old recipe. The best balanced of the ciders was perfect with the most complex of the hams, as was Taylor’s Landlord. The bottled version, in particular, gained length in tandem with the Royale.

Air-dried Smoked Pancetta
The fat of the pancetta mellows the smokiness, so the ciders coped better and even the Dark Mild, generally overwhelmed. The amontillado’s nuttiness was a lovely match and was the less complex Taylor’s Ale, Havercake along with the Ram Tam and, inevitably, Landlord.

Cumberland Salami
For Neil this was the real challenge – a robustly spiced native salami based on traditional Cumberland sausage. The only cider that seemed to stand a chance was the heavyweight Sheppey’s but it turned bitter under the (absolutely delicious) spice onslaught. Landlord and, in particularly the Ram Tam pipped the amontillado. Bitterness and nuttiness both winning out.

Neil's full contact details can be found at www.neilsowerby.co.uk