“And so that’s three fantastic beers on Saturday Kitchen this week.” Said TV cook James Martin, Presenter of BBC’s popular Saturday morning food programme, in a parallel universe. In the real world, he didn’t say “fantastic beers” he said “fantastic wines”.
But it could yet come to pass, thanks to a campaign by Dave Bailey of craft brewery Hardknott. Dave was provoked into action about the perceived attitude to beer in traditional media, especially the BBC. It wasn’t just that Saturday Kitchen pointedly refuses to mention beer, or talk even to beer writers about it, it was the way they promote wine exclusively, recommending named brands from named UK supermarkets. And with fellow beer writers, including me, doing little more than moaning, Dave decided to do something about it. Using shorter sentences.
HardKnottDave Bailey himself
And so, after writing to Ofcom, he started a Twitter campaign. As @HardknottDave, he encouraged his Twitter followers to tweet their beer suggestions and enthusiasm during Saturday’s programme, shown on 3 July. By including the hashtag #SaturdayKitchen, other Twitter users could follow the conversation without having to specifically subscribe to receiving tweets from the people who wrote them.
Pretty soon, beer-loving twitterers in the UK were enthusiastically filling the conversation to such an extent that one unsuspecting “normal” #SaturdayKitchen follower was moved to welcome the beer community’s “Flash Mob” contribution. Wine writer Tim Atkin became embroiled in the lively encounter, resulting in a beer vs. wine evening being arranged at The Thatchers Arms pub, with Telegraph beer columnist Adrian Tierney-Jones in the hop-and-malt corner.
Not that it’s really about beer versus
wine, as Dave Bailey agrees, but the big-hearted, complex beers being brewed by newer breweries in Britain, such as HardKnott and their like, are even more deserving of a place on the table. The reason many writers blogs about HardKnott Dark Matter, Kernel Black IPA, etc. is because we love them. And many of us love them with food, from proper vanilla ice cream to asparagus and Serrano ham, and we think more people would as well.
Already the campaign is beginning to produce results. Will Hawkes blogs about Dave Bailey’s campaign in today’s Independent. Olly Smith, whom I chastised for recommending on Saturday Kitchen that Champagne would be a suitable match for fish and chips, wrote an encouraging beer piece in his wine column for the Daily Mail. “Craft brewing has injected a new lease of life into beer the world over,” he wrote, “and there’s never been a better time for wine lovers to get involved“.
A selection of HardKnott Brewery beers
Maybe, as a consequence of these pieces and Dave Bailey’s campaign, more mainstream media will pick up on the possibilities of craft beer. Perhaps then the BBC will change what is looking like a biased policy. The supermarkets are already stocking more exciting brews, and so some good choices can be made for last week’s recipes that would conform to the Saturday Kitchen supermarkets “rule”. For example, Waitrose has Thornbridge Jaipur IPA (Crab spring rolls with crab cakes and watercress
), and Thornbridge Kipling (Roast daurade with Parma ham and rosemary butter sauce
There is a sea change happening in the beer world, with some calling it a craft beer revolution. Food matching is an ideal conspirator. It’s already started and now it’s time for the revolution to be televised.
With apologies to the late Gil Scott Heron