Tuesday evening saw the press night at newly opened beer and food hotspot,Wahleeah. With a stylish green and copper interior, evoking old-school New York subway carriages, Wahleeah stocks fifty of the world’s best craft beers (all handpicked by our very own Philip Harding) and there is something on the menu to suit everyone’s palate.
Dave Ahern, the chef behind the innovative menu at Wahleeah wanted to create dishes that all utilise beer as an ingredient in some way. In collaboration with Harding, a matching beer was chosen for each dish to not only enhance the overall taste of the food, but to also highlight qualities of each beer. Ahern gave us a cooking demonstration, showing how simply a beautiful beer can add richness and flavour to your food.
Food and wine pairing has been done for years, but the philosophy of Ahern is, that although enjoyable to share a bottle of wine over dinner with friends, the beauty of matching a beer to your food, is that for the same price per glass you are getting so much more craftsmanship.
All the beers at Wahleeah are made by terrific craft breweries that pride themselves on using the finest ingredients as well as taking the time to ensure each beer has been developed with care and love. Craft beers are not about high turnover and pace, which can sometimes be a downfall of buying anything mass-produced.
As a beer sommelier with fifteen years of experience in the drinks industry, Harding talked the crowd through how to understand beer and what to look for when trying to match it with food. Understanding beer is not about verbosity and sprouting quips like “with notes of dark chocolate, ripening apricots and a whisper of regret” – it’s about understanding how to maximise the enjoyment of your drink. By learning key factors about certain styles of beer, the audience was well-equipped by the end of the night to understand how to approach beer and food matching, and why it’s such a wonderful way to eat and drink.
Ahern’s menu not only reflects the great range of beers available at Wahleeah, but showcases a variety of house-made produce. Wahleeah produces a variety of ingredients including its own cheeses, as well as its own flour for bread. A tremendous amount of skill and passion is reflected in Ahern’s fare and it is wonderful to see the realisation of his vision for a venue that takes beer and food pairing to the next level.
Crowd favourites from the menu included the Wahleeah take on a caesar salad: chargrilled baby gem, Berkswell cheese, crutons and IPA caesar dressing. This plate was matched with the gorgeous Founders Pale Ale. The musky zing of the beer and the rich dressing worked a treat. Chicken Meatballs with Mushroom Mash and Beer Gravy was a super way to taste Blegian beer, St Stefanus, at work within a dish, brought to life even more with every sip you drank. The Oxtail and Onions in stout with horseradish toast was also a popular course. Beauitfully soft flakes of flesh paired with the full-bodied Black Cab from Fullers would make anyone fall in love with just how well food and beer can go together.
Don’t fear if you’re a newbie at the food and beer game. The staff at Wahleeah are more than happy to talk and taste you through the beers. So our suggestion is, grab some mates and make a night of it as there is no other place in London with this many amazing craft beers in the one place.
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