Did you know that Estrella is one of the few beers that’s brewed with rice as well as barley? And not just any rice, pearl rice…

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Bottoms up…

This is just one of the nuggets I picked up when The Halfway House, Earlsfield, invited us to one of their intimate Estrella Damm beer pairing evenings. The food: British tapas (of course). Michael, the chef, had put together a banquet, slowly revealed to us throughout the night, and even came down for a quick chat – a rare appearance as this place is packed at feeding time.

The inspiration for the dishes, he told us, were Young’s classics tailored to Estrella’s refreshing (I’m told that’s down to the rice) character. Dishes designed to complement your lager, now this is bespoke dining down to a fine art. Even the beer batter in our course of mini fish and chips used, you guessed it, Estrella lager, with a hint of soda to keep it lively.

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Estrella battered fish n chips, now you’re talking

But before any food hit the table the Estrella bar was the first port of call. The competition: who could pull the best Estrella pint using the Crema Pour technique. We all took turns, and I have to say the pressure’s on when instructions involve a five-second demonstration involving 45-degree angles, tap equations and the illusive “head”. Maths was never my forte. Needless to say I did not win (a fabulous meal at Pizarro in Bermondsey) even with a few years of bar experience under my belt, I blame Douglas… fair play to a man who distracts you by telling you your nails are a “great colour!”.

It turned out that Douglas-the-distracter led the night – the beer and wine connoisseur who revealed there was more to a beer than a beverage to wash your pie down with. Who knew?

And the scotch eggs arrived. How would the Young’s classic beer snack hold up alongside the Spanish beer more akin to chorizo and a bit of flamenco on the side? Pulled pork and black pudding scotch egg or chicken and thyme coupled with English mustard piccalilli – need I say more? A corker.

Scotch eggs with English mustard piccalilli

Scotch eggs with English mustard piccalilli

Tip your (empty) glass upside down. Did you know that at the bottom of most pint glasses there’s a shape etched into the glass? This is the key ingredient that maintains the nucleation (it keeps your bubbles going) and so the flavour. Fact two of the day. Look out for Estrella’s star.

Each course brought with it a new challenge. These Estrella guys like to keep you on your toes. By the time the pan roast duck, deep fried squid with romesco sauce and British charcuterie boards with Granny Smith chutney had been devoured, chaos had ensued and we were drinking out of wine glasses.

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Tentacles ahoy…

Yes, beer out of a wine glass. As heathen as it may sound there was method to our madness. As much as the Estrella gang like to sing the praises of their lager, they also like to play.

As you can imagine the smell, and more importantly the taste, of the beer is a product of its environment – once poured into a wine glass the large surface area produced a bitter taste and pungent aroma. Once happily sat back in a tall and elegant half pint Estrella glass, the beer was glad to be back on home turf, losing its sharp edge and settling into a subtle flavour.

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Pan roast duck breast with cannellini, lollo biondi salad and blackberry vinaigrette

I have to admit, I usually sup on a lager to cool down on a hot summer’s day, and a beer garden and some rays are usually involved – here we sipped, stared, shook, swirled, sampled and shared our Estrella. If you like your British pubs, and you want to conjure that summer’s day sensation (with something fresh out of Barcelona) that we British cling on to long into the autumn, shivering under outdoor heaters, then ditch the October chill in favour of Estrella’s tapas evenings with Young’s pubs.

Where else would you get access to the beer tap and endless courses fit for a king?   

Word on the street is that The Britannia, Kensington, is the next to host the event on Wednesday 1 October and The Wheyside, out in Guildford, Surrey, is close behind on Thursday 2 October. For more information on Estrella Damm Tapas Nights with Young’s pubs go to: www.youngs.co.uk

Thanks go to our host for the evening…

Halfway House | 521 Garrat House, Earlsfield, London SW18 4SR

Tapas evenings serve from 15 to 25 guests.

Don’t miss the Halfway House’s chocolate brookie sandwich

Visit Halfway House’s sister pub…

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One Comment
 
  1. Genna Burchell October 1, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Hi, thanks so much for coming along to the Estrella Damm tasting evening and for such a fantastic write up, I’m glad that you enjoyed it! I just wanted to point out that Estrella Damm does actually use malted barley in the brewing process, it just also used Pearl Rice which gives it that unique Mediterranean flavour and refreshing palate. Thanks Genna

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