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Grape vs Grain

A unique pairing of food and drink at one of Cornwall’s award-winning food festivals.


Words by Jamie Crocker


Rock-based Sharp’s Brewery has been a strong supporter of Cornish community events and festivals since its inception. The Sharp’s team are showing that 2024, the brewery’s 30th birthday year, will be no exception as they took to the stages and bars at the recent Porthleven Food Festival, to kick off their annual festival calendar.


This award-winning, three-day food festival is presented in partnership with acclaimed chef Jude Kereama, a great friend of, and collaborator with, Sharp’s Brewery.




 

On the Friday night Sharp’s beer sommelier Ed Hughes collaborated with Kattie Rosser, from Enotria & Co, for a special Grape Vs Grain night at Jude Kereama’s Kota Kai. On Saturday, Ed also took to the main stage in a three-way demo with Mick Smith of Porthminster Beach Café and Stephane Delourme of Stephane Delourme Gastronomic Adventures. 


Jude Kereama, Porthleven Food Festival Chef Patron, says: “As a community driven, free-to-attend three-day event we’re so thankful to all our sponsors, partners and supporters, including Sharp’s Brewery, who help make Porthleven Food Festival possible. Without their support we wouldn’t be able to bring together Cornwall’s foodie community to shine a light on brilliant culinary talent, local producers and suppliers and stimulate the local economy with the impact the festival now delivers.”


Arriving at the Grape Vs Grain evening we were curious to break with tradition and experience both wine and beer paired with food. The cured and blow-torched mackerel with pickled cucumber, sea vegetables, nasturtiums and a citrus dashi ponzu dressing was matched with Chalky’s Bite. This punchy ale came about when in 2006, Rick Stein challenged Sharp’s to create a Cornish beer with the character and quality to stand alongside the Belgian greats. Named in honour of Rick’s famous little four-legged friend, this exceptional beer has since claimed multiple international brewing awards. It’s conditioned on a bed of three hop varieties and fennel seeds for up to 30 days to create its distinctive aroma and flavour. I savoured from a stemmed glass, as recommended. 





Josper-grilled, hand-dived scallops accompanied by XO sauce and new season asparagus, were washed down with a glass of Offshore, a 4.8% Pilsner. This interesting tipple was inspired by the rugged north coast of Cornwall, where dedicated surfers chase the perfect waves when the wind turns offshore. The brewers at Sharps have balanced continental hops with Czech yeast to create a pilsner that is exceptionally clean and uniquely refreshing; as satisfying as catching that perfect wave. It certainly caught and brought out the full flavour of the scallops. 


Soy master braised lamb shoulder fritter, Josper-grilled lamb, mint salsa verde, wild garlic with peas was being offered with Doom Bar. Inspired by the treacherous sandbank of the same name that lies at the mouth of the Camel Estuary, this moreish amber ale is the brewery’s flagship. 


When it came to dessert, there was much intrigue as to which beer would suit the dark chocolate, miso caramel tart with sesame ice cream. We were served a 2011 Quadruple Ale, coming in at a feisty 10%, which offered a full bittersweet fruitiness and warming finish, perfectly complementing the richness of the chocolate and caramel. Leaving with full bellies and a new-found respect for the sacred grain, our palettes were well and truly educated.





As Nick, Sharp’s Brewery’s Brand Activation Manager, says: “It’s so rewarding for us to support this type of event, bringing our beers, our experiences and our skills, mixed with creative spirit, to each brilliant happening. Across Cornwall, there’s such a deep interest in our top-quality food and drink scene. Our events and festivals offer an ongoing opportunity for our industry partners, chefs and friends to come together, to share their skills and favourite recipes and techniques.”




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