No red, red wine for red-red stew on Saturday Kitchen?

My Saturday morning is predictable: toast, Marmite, jasmine tea for MaltCim, check the beginning of Saturday Kitchen on BBC1 to see who’s on. These days, this includes who’s hosting (instead of James Martin), and who’s doing the wine choices.

Saturday Kitchen: Host Matt Tebbutt with guest chefs Zoe Adjonyoh and Theo Randall and wine expert Sam Caporn

BBC Saturday Kitchen: Host Matt Tebbutt with guest chefs Zoe Adjonyoh and Theo Randall and wine expert Sam Caporn

Who am I kidding about the wine? As my regular reader will know, I get cross about the wine bit, because well, beer. Except, today, After introducing the guest chefs, 1 min and 14 seconds in…

Matt Tebbutt (guest host): And Sam, there’s a bit of a theme going on. Bit of a red theme. You going red wine?

Sam Caporn (wine expert): Er, red ale.

Matt: Really? Controversial…

Me: What?! (Pauses live TV, checks outside for colour of grass in this parallel universe. rewinds.) She just said “ale”!

Me: [Tweets]

BrewDog 5AM Saint red ale on Saturday Kitchen

Beer on Saturday Kitchen? Sam Caporn, chooses a red ale to go with red-red stew

Beer and food blogger almost chokes in front of Saturday Kitchen

Yes, I wrote “parallel universe” because beer never happens on Saturday Kitchen. I’ve talked to famous beer writers about this. People who have books out and who (sometimes) appear on TV. They told me Saturday Kitchen just flat refused them. “No interest, darling.”

This is the first time, to my knowledge that a specific beer has been recommended as a match to a dish on Saturday Kitchen. I tire of the typical wine expert’s apology: “This fantastic [asparagus/egg/chili/chocolate/etc.] dish by [insert guest chef’s name] can be a bit tricky to find a wine match for…” and then they choose a wine anyway, even after hovering the camera temptingly over the beer shelves at Waitrose.

At last, for cook Zoe Adjonyoh’s update of a traditional Ghanaian red-red stew, it was acknowledged that beer was the best choice. And not just any generic beer.

(10 min in)
Matt: Sam, is this a difficult one to match?

Sam: Well, because of the spice as you just said, you’re really looking for refreshment. White wine would work, but red… the tannins would clash with the chili. So for ultimate refreshment, for me, I went for American [style] red ale… It’s BrewDog 5AM Saint.

Matt: So, no red, red wine. [Laughter]

Sam: … Look at the colour, it’s so deep and rich…

And in fairness…

Matt: It’s lovely, I love this beer.

Why BrewDog 5AM Saint with red-red stew

So what makes beer, and specifically 5AM Saint American-style red ale a good match/pairing for red-red? Although we often hear about “matching” a wine to a dish, there’s more to it than that. And as Sam Caporn alludes to, some wines just don’t match and might even clash with the flavours in the food. There are other ways food and drink can go together. It’s about pairing.

The watchwords should be: Complement, Contrast, Cut, as explained by John Keeling, director of brewing at Fuller’s, at a recent beer and food evening at my “local”.

I think the 5AM Saint provides an element of Cut and some Complement. BrewDog describe it as “Bitter Sweet Chaos. Malty. Fruity. Bite”. Ignoring “chaos”, but hey, awesome, guys, this is the essence of why this works with a chili-hot stew.

The citrus fruitiness of the hops cut “bite” through any heaviness in the stew, like a similarly fruity, citrussy white wine would, but which often are overpowered by other flavours in the food. The malt, the “red” heart of this of the red ale, comes from slightly toasted malts that give a caramel/toffee apple accent. This gives a touch of sweetness, which goes very well with chili heat. Is that cut or complement, or both? It also makes for a more powerful flavour which stands up to the spicy stew.

Here is the lowdown from BrewDog’s own notes on their website:

What was it like for you?

TBH, I haven’t tried this combo myself, I wrote this because I love it that someone FINALLY chose a beer on Saturday Kitchen, but I recognise that this should work. Maybe you’ve tried it. I will give it a go. Let’s compare notes afterwards. Well done to Saturday Kitchen for going with a beer. Let’s have some more!


Watch this episode of Saturday Kitchen until 16 July:
Zoe Adjonyoh’s Red-red stew with spiced plantain:
…And book: Zoe’s  Ghana Kitchen from her website:
Sam Caporn’s website:
Get BrewDog 5AM Saint from Tesco or indeed, BrewDog’s own online store.

I have used a screen shot from the BBC iPlayer page for this programme on the BBC website.

2 thoughts on “No red, red wine for red-red stew on Saturday Kitchen?

  1. Fantastic!!!

    Wine was first discovered around 7000 BC whereas beer took a bit more time to be refined and thus wasn’t brewed until 5000-ish BC.
    I my world of chasing flavours and the love for food chemistry, i.e. the combination of different (sometime really different!) flavours, I’ve always found beer to be much more compatible – and complementary – to food than any wine out there, and I’ve tried a lot. The really expensive ones too…

    Wine is often served with a food that doesn’t affect the flavour of the wine, and I’ve been to wine & food events where the food has been flat out bland just not to interfere with the wine… Beer is a different thing imho and it works really well even with spicy food – and no, I’m not talking about lager here!

    You MaltJerry already know my love for BrewDog – “Hello, my name is Ingrid” and the almost magical properties it has combined with, and in, food.
    Food that I’ve until recently deemed problematic for beer suddenly got a boost by served with a pint of Ingrid!
    I actually set out to try Ingrid with 20 different dishes last year and although I never quite reached the 20-mark, it was a remarkable journey with some amazing discoveries! This is not a pitch for BrewDog to sell Ingrid as a seasonal beer. (but a pretty big hint it is… :p )

    Why wine, red in particular, always has been viewed as the superior, or “elite” drink, ahead of beer has always been a mystery to me. Most wines actually contains more additives than the energy drinks you find in your super market and if people knew what their plonk contained some would perhaps rethink their views on the red stuff. Beer on the other hand (if we’re talking about proper beer) is pretty much just made out of natural ingredients. Ok, there are breweries that push whatever they can just to make money, but in reality this isn’t beer – it’s barley water with added ethanol.

    So good on Saturday Kitchen for finally opening their eyes, and mouths, to admit the importance of beer in the kitchen, and a drink to boost the total meal on all fronts!
    I’ve been using BrewDog beer amongst many in my kitchen ever since they started brewing beer and there’s been Tokyo casserole, Cocoa Psycho crayfish and Ingrid Muscovy duck on our plates to mention a few. Obviously served with the corresponding beer as well 😉
    5AM Saint has yet to premier in my kitchen but now I will as soon as I can get my hands on a couple of bottles.

    MaltJerry will have to do the same, with a few different dishes, both in – and with – beer, and report back here so the rest if us can get top notch inspiration!

    Don’t get me wrong here because I still love red wine and a glass of Vega Sicilia Unico with a moose steak is heavenly – but beer just works better overall. Also if you stick to something around 3.6-4.2% ABV you don’t sedate your taste buds with the alcohol and thus the food and drink still tastes the same on the last bite as the first! Wine changes the taste after just a coupe of sips.

    p.s. One of the best beer & food memories I have is when MaltJerry once brought some amazing Aberdeen Angus shanks over here (to Sweden) and we cooked them slowly, braised in Guinness and homemade beef stock (I think it was?), for a bit more than three hours at 140°C. Some of the best meat I’ve ever had and it was made justice with beer! If that’s the last meal I have before I die, I will die happy 🙂

    • I remember that Guinness-braised beef (how could I forget?!). Never had it anywhere near as good as that evening.
      Thanks for the comment and hanks for supporting the cause 😉

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