Today, the discerning beer drinking audience is demanding so much more

Alcohol file pic (http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture)
Alcohol file pic (http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture)

Today is National Beer Day and tomorrow is Father’s Day.

The cynic in me would say this is a marketing ploy and not serendipity.

Ten years ago there were only a couple of real ale breweries in Northern Ireland but at the last count there are currently twenty three.

They’ve won many awards and like most food and drink producers, they don’t rest on the laurels of their success. Making beer is like cooking and unless you keep on top of trends, you’ll be left behind. It’s not enough to brew beer and lager and sit back. Nowadays a young, discerning beer drinking audience is demanding more. Sour beers are when the beer is made intentionally sour or acidic. Historically these were made by the introduction of wild yeast or bacteria as opposed to the sterile environment beers are now produced in. Hillstown Ale in Ahoghill do a blueberry sour beer that’s great to drink on its own or is equally delicious matched with pork or game dishes. Another trend is Nitro Stout where the usual carbon dioxide gas is replaced with nitrogen giving the beer a smooth creamy finish.

Matching dishes with beers rather than the usual wine is bang on trend at the moment. My first recipe uses beer in brine for beef and also as an ingredient in accompanying crispy onions. Beef and onions is a classic combination and the beer adds a bitter sweet element to the beef and makes for a crispy batter for the onion rings. Unless the dad in your life is a committed vegetarian, this would go down very well and adding a glass of local beer on the side would be the icing on the cake.

Beer doesn’t have to be confined to savoury dishes. Lacada Brewery in Portrush do some lovely Belgian style fruit beers including one made from raspberries called Three Rubies.

My other recipe is for raspberry ale doughnuts using this ale in the mix.

It doesn’t overwhelm the flavour of the fried dough but adds a lightness and subtle raspberry taste to the finished product. Eringrove preserves in Fermanagh make great jams and their raspberry variety would be perfect piped into the hot doughnuts with a vanilla pastry cream.

Beef and beer and raspberry beer doughnuts –the perfect Father’s Day treat.