I would like, if I may, to ask you to have a think about something for a minute. You're sat in a decent restaurant about to get served your food and you order yourself and your friends a drink. A short time later the member of staff brings over three glasses and a bottle of beer……. Ummm what?
No really, why not a Pale Ale instead of a Pinot Grigio. If you're looking for a big bossy flavour to balance a Bourguignon, banish the Burgundy and break out the beer. That's what the folk at Sharp's are trying to persuade us to do and quite a convincing argument it is too. I can remember working behind a bar twenty years ago when our wine choice was red or white French Vin De Table. We have moved on such a long way since then, so who is to say that our perception of beer can't be similarly influenced.
We had a cracking evening at the Sharp's bar, set up for the festival at the back of the Pleasance courtyard, where they talked through some of their beers and demonstrated how well the flavours go with food.
The Pilsner is light and refreshing and less gassy than the big brand lagers we now unfortunately associate with this type of drink. This Cornish Pilsner is as far away from Carling as Cristal is away from Chaumet . Why not put it in a flute and serve it with aperitifs, it is certainly light enough.
The Orchard Cider is zingy and crisp with oodles of apple flavours, from the first smell to the sweet lingering aftertaste. Why look for fruit flavours in Chardonnays or Pinot Grigio, when apples have loads more flavour than grapes!
So it continues the Atlantic Pale Ale, the Wolf Rock IPA, the Doom Bar Amber Ale, all very different beers each with a character and flavour of its own. You get playful aromas, you get great hits of fruit, or malt or chocolate, but you also get subtle undertones that sometimes creep in just as the last drop is going down. Just like wine you'll find ones you love and ones you don't, but don't be afraid to try something new. Sharp's are hoping to reinvent the way we look at beer, they don't even mind if it isn't theirs you buy (although I'm sure they would prefer it to be!) they just want to educate far more people about how diverse and wonderful beer can be.
So head out to the local shop or market and go and look in the beer section, or find a brewers stall. Read the labels, speak to the staff, maybe taste a few samples if they are going and buy something you've never tried before, you never know you might enjoy it.
Sharp's pop up bar is open for the whole of the festival at the back of the Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33).