An evening made of more

Guinness brand ambassador Cian Hulm showed why the iconic black beverage goes so well with many different types of food

08 Feb 2019 / 10:17 H.

ARTHUR Guinness founded the Guinness brewery at St James Gate in Dublin in 1759.

However, it is Benjamin Disreali (who later became Britain’s prime minister in 1874) who is credited as the first person responsible for pairing the iconic ‘black’ beverage with food.

The story goes that Disreali was having oysters, and he washed those down with a Guinness. That’s when the long-time pairing of Guinness and seafood got its roots.

“Even back in 1837, they realised the flavours of Guinness go really well with so many different types of food,” said Guinness brand ambassador and expert Cian Hulm.

“We even have a restaurant dedicated to what happened in 1837.”

Located in the Guinness Storehouse, the 1837 Bar & Brasserie in Dublin is now considered a major tourist magnet.

Hulm, from Ireland, has worked for Guinness at St James Gate for eight years.

He will be in Malaysia until March to share his expertise in a series of in-outlet activations on the history and craftsmanship of Guinness.

In a media masterclass hosted by this Guinness expert at Makhan by Kitchen Mafia recently, guests got the chance to understand why Guinness is ‘Made of More’.

The curated three-course pairing menu of a Bombay slider and prawn appetizer, a rich main course of crusted rack of lamb, and a bittersweet chocolate ending was prepared by celebrity head chef Sherson Lian himself.

The pairing menu not only showcased the contrast of different local cuisines but also how well Asian food can be enjoyed with a pint of Guinness.

Guests were first offered a glass of Black Velvet made with equal parts of Guinness and champagne.

According to Hulm, the Black Velvet was born after Arthur Guinness was at a funeral that served champagne, and “didn’t think that was the right thing to do”, so he added some Guinness.

Hulm added that exploring different flavours with chef Lian, especially the local preference for spicy delights, was certainly an interesting experience.

“It’s very interesting to sit down [with chef Sherson], get some really spicy food, which my palate isn’t used to, and have some Guinness with it to see how those flavours reacted in the mouth,” he said, adding that contrast and complement of flavours are “key to the pairing”.

Starting the night off with a flavourful punch of spices, the salted egg prawn heads with a hint of spiciness stood out next to the tamarind grilled tiger prawns and crispy tandoor-spiced chicken thigh patty on the brioche bun slider.

Hulm said: “That was definitely a new one for me. The saltiness from the prawns go really well with the bitterness from the hops.

“We added some spice to it ... but seafood and prawns, in general, are usually more of a subtle flavour, a bit more light and they go really well with the smoothness and creaminess that Guinness stout is known for.

“Hops do give you bitterness but it can be perceived as giving it that little bit of saltiness instead, to the beer, and that’s why they worked really well together.”

Roasted barley is what gives the beverage its iconic ruby red colour and flavour. The barley is roasted to an exact 232°C, before being sent to Guinness breweries all over the world.

Hulm said: “If the barley is under 232°C, you’re not going to get enough flavours from it. If it goes over 232°C, the barley catches fire and we can’t use it.

“The roasting process is such a craft and art in itself that we have roasters who have been doing it for years and the skill passed down through generations.

“We’re so passionate about the quality that we roast our own barley on site in St James’ Gate in Dublin.”

Red meat and Guinness remain another classic combo that is both satisfying and refreshing.

The pistachio and herb crusted rack of lamb with coffee-infused lamb jus and braised morel mushrooms was served with sides of charred broccoli, honey roasted carrots, and buttery crushed potatoes.

In this pairing, Hulm said: “You’re getting the bitterness and the oils from the hops through the head, and then you’re getting all the coffee, chocolate, and caramel-rich flavours from the roasted barley we use ... which goes extremely well with the lamb.”

A favourite pairing for many, including Hulm, is Guinness with dessert.

“I have a sweet tooth, so Guinness and chocolate will always be my number one. I do a lot of cooking at home, and any time I’m chocolate brownies or cake I always add a little bit of Guinness.

“I’d put Guinness in my breakfast cereal if I could. I haven’t tried it yet but if I could, I would,” laughed Hulm.

The decadent slice of Belgian dark chocolate ganache with sea salt and nitrogen-charged smoked cream matched the bitterness and sugar, plus the touch of saltiness from the infused cream lent a lovely balance to the third course.

Hulm explained: “The chocolate dessert gives a lot of sweet flavours as well, so they complement each other because it’s sweet on sweet. But you need the salt with the cream to balance it out.

“That’s why we have the correct head height, why we do the two-part pour because, with Guinness, the head height gives you the bitterness, whereas the black liquid gives you the sweetness.

“What a lot of people don’t understand is that, if the head height is too big in Guinness, the beer could be too bitter.

“If the head height isn’t big enough, it’s not going to be bitter enough. It’s all about that balance of bitter and sweet.”

The salted egg prawn heads with a hint of spiciness stood out next to the tamarind grilled tiger prawns and crispy tandoor-spiced chicken thigh patty on the brioche bun slider. - Adib Rawi Yahya/ theSUN

The pistachio and herb crusted rack of lamb with coffee-infused lamb jus and braised morel mushrooms was served with sides of charred broccoli, honey roasted carrots, and buttery crushed potatoes. - Adib Rawi Yahya/ theSUN

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