Cleaver & Keg say they provide ‘Meaty Morsels for the Modern Drinker’, and that is their product in a nutshell.
As we all know, a pint makes you want a snack. A savoury snack. There’s just something about having a wee drink that makes you want to nibble on something.
Not content with munching any old peanuts with their brews, the folk at Cleaver & Keg have spent some time studying beers and perfecting meat snacks that actually match beers. What they’ve come up with are four charcuteried cuts to go with different styles beer.
Founder Dan Searle sent me through a sample of their range (above). In reply to this, I set Dan a challenge. I would give him a list of twelve beers, and he was to match four of them to the snacks he’d sent.
Not only did Dan match them, but he gave me a detailed description of why they would match. This chap, passionate and enthusiastic, was clearly a master of his art. But would I agree with his choices?
Cleaver & Keg’s Strips O’ Beef v Pressure Drop Stokey Brown
The Strips of Beef have a touch of Worcestershire Sauce and a nice richness with a little pepperiness on the finish too. I think the Stokey Brown Ale will just smash it with these. All those roasted malts and I do love PD beers.
I don’t usually like brown ales, but there’s something deep, warm, mild and special about Stokey Brown that means it could become a favourite. The Strips O’Beef has a great peppery chew to it. The warm depth to it compliments the brown ale well. I’d call that a win.
Cleaver & Keg’s Hot Strips O’ Beef v Signature Brew Roadie IPA
The Hot Strips O Beef most certainly have a kick to them, one also that builds as you devour the whole pack – and so it needs something punchy to stand up to it in my opinion. I like anything that is screaming with American hops here and all those citrussy flavours. A good strong ABV always works a treat too.
Roadie is right up my street. American hops, crisp and moreish. The Hot Strips O’Beef do have a zing to them but they’re not so spicy that they wreck your tastebuds. Subtle. The dry citrus refreshing beer and the coriander & chilli in the beef do work well together. Very nice!
Cleaver & Keg’s Salami Cuts v Fourpure Shape Shifter West Coast IPA
Look out for the touch of fennel running through the Salami and its higher fat content generally. You are going to need a nice balance of hop to cut through the fennel and mouth feel from the fat but nothing over bearing to obliterate the delicate nature of the salami itself.
The Salami is bursting with flavour. It’s spicy with a punch. The IPA is fruity, bitter, malty and grassy. I can imagine nibbling on these while I sup a few cans of Shape Shifter. If Fourpure want to send me a dozen cans through then I’d be happy to put this theory to the test!
Cleaver & Keg’s Chorizo Cuts v Hammerton Life on Mars Red Ale
The Chorizo Cuts are intentionally a little moister than you would expect from say a Spanish chorizo because we felt this would be more suitable for the British beer drinker. They have quite a fiery ‘bite’ at the end that is not unlike an Nduja with a good balance of fruitiness and smoke from the paprika. I am thinking the Hammerton Red could provide enough malt to stand up to the paprika and knowing Hammerton beers as I do have enough hop going on to stand up to the ‘bite’.
Life on Mars is tart, malty, sweet and slightly spicy. The chorizo has the sweet smoky paprika taste which I love. This combo offers a sweet, spicy, fruity match. Zesty and munchable!
Cleaver & Keg’s site has a very interesting blog which includes more explanations as to why their snacks go so well with certain beers and suggests ideas for pairings. It’s a passion, a science and a fascinating way of life for Dan and the folks at Cleaver & Keg. Try it out and figure out your favourite pairings!