Now it’s El Bulli beer!

By Melissa Cole, The Guardian, Thursday 15 July 2010

The news that Ferran Adrià of El Bulli restaurant fame has launched a beer to be served in restaurants will raise the eyebrows of those who think beer should be kept to the pub. But artisan beer is becoming big news in the UK – there are more breweries open than at any time since the first world war and limited edition brews are being sold for as much as £100 a bottle. Given that Adrià and his sommelier team collaborated with Spanish drinks brand Estrella Damm for two years to create Inedit, the £16 price tag seems pretty reasonable.

Inedit is made in the style of a Belgian wheat beer with orange peel and coriander, though it has a little twist (as you’d expect from Adrià) in the form of liquorice, which gives it an intriguing, almost ephemeral, air of aniseed sophistication. The low alcohol content of 4.8% ABV might be seen by some as a minus – most wines start at around 12.5% – but what it lacks in strength it makes up for in flavour. The elegant 750ml minimalist black bottle, with matching ice bucket to ensure it is served at the suggested 4-6C, gives it real table presence and will encourage diners to view Inedit as something to be savoured, rather than slugged back.

Its restaurant credentials will also help to dispel the common belief that beer is often too gassy to go with food, which generally applies only to mass-produced lager-style beers consumed alongside vast quantities of curry. Ales, which Inedit is, work beautifully, because they tend to have a lower CO2 content and more layers of flavour and can therefore be a transcendent food partner – despite what the wine snobs may say. Inedit also has the added advantage of giving diners and sommeliers an alcohol option for ingredients known to “fight” with wine – such as artichokes, oily fish and vinegar-based sauces – and so has an important role to play in filling the gaps wines just can’t fill in terms of food pairing.

Adrià and his team are not alone in championing beer at restaurants – the Michelin-starred Le Gavroche in London, Simpsons in Birmingham and Anthony’s in Leeds have all been making a strong case for beer for a good few years now – and the newly opened, and already acclaimed, Bar Boulud at London’s Mandarin Oriental has made great play of its artisan beer list due to its Michelin-starred owner Daniel Boulud’s passion for American craft brews.

Perhaps Inedit, and Adrià’s association, will be the tipping point for fine beer to take its rightful place at the table. Just don’t ask for it by the pint


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