I thought I didn’t like beer, but it turns out I just wasn’t drinking the right stuff. We were invited to spend an afternoon at Wild Beer Co at Jessop House to try out a few dishes from their tapas style menu along with some beer pairings; and well it opened my eyes quite a bit to the wonderful world of craft beers. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert (even though I took enough notes to become one), but I certainly learnt a lot – and even enjoyed my beers too!
Wild Beer brewery is based on Lower Westcombe Farm in Shepton Mallet and Jessop House is their first bar (another one is coming very soon to Bristol). They have an ever-changing array of beers, both from their own brewery and in the form of guest ales, and they don’t stop at beer alone. They have fantastic wines, cocktails, spirits and a food menu to boot.
Their small plates menu is great for sharing, and three dishes come at the reasonable cost of £15. We ordered three each and put everything in the middle to enjoy together. But before our food came out, we cleansed our palates with the Sleeping Lemons beer. This is made from preserved lemons, hence the name, and is a sour wheat beer, aged in oak barrels. It has a very salty and citrusy taste, making it really refreshing – and perfect for summer. This was one of my favourites.
Palates cleansed, the food arrived, and so did a beer taster for nearly every dish. We looked rather greedy as it took up two whole tables, but somehow we managed to nibble and sup our way through the lot!
Let me tell you our highlights. The Sticky Yakitori Strips were favourites for us both. Sticky strips of chicken, beef and pork belly all served with a wasabi mayo. This dish was paired with another top beer: The Contortionist by Magic Rock Brewing. This is one of their guest ales and works perfectly with the yakitori as it’s sour and bitter so cuts through the sweet and sticky glaze on the meat. This is a beer for those who like white wine or scrumpy – so that’s me!
From the food, our other favourite was the Canadian Poutine, which for those who haven’t heard of this dish before, is made up of fries, cheese curds and gravy and this one was made even better with the addition of crispy chicken skin. This was paired with Madness, which is exactly as the name suggests. This is an IPA (Indian Pale Ale) which means it’s very hoppy (too much so for me).
I couldn’t complete the highlights without talking about dessert, because it really was something special. We had a taste of the Wild Beeramisu – a take on tiramisu; this was served with Millionaire which is a chocolate and salted caramel milk stout. Yep just take a minute to think about that, it was pretty special. The dessert has elements of the beer running throughout, for example the sponge fingers are soaked in the stout itself, the cocoa nibs on top are one of the main flavours in the beer and the Beeramisu is served on a reduction of - you guessed it - Millionaire.
What else needs a mention? Well definitely Matthew who shared his incredible passion for craft beers with us. He talked us through his reasoning for the various pairings he’d made for us and really made it into a fabulous experience.
Also, I’d like to mention the fact that this business has great ethics. Being based on a dairy farm, you’ll see numerous cheeses made on the farm used throughout the menu. They also source some of their produce from the best suppliers around, the one I’ll draw attention to is The Sandwich Box where they get all their bread from. I may have mentioned The Sandwich Box one or two hundred times before. They’re ace!
What an afternoon. It was so lovely to talk over good food (which we shared for a change), try plenty of new flavours (in beer-form) and learn something new too. We’ll be back, with my dad in tow!