What’s the quintessential and essential British beer and food experience? That’s the question I’ve been trying to answer. It has to be pub-based, so lager in a curry house can’t count. It has to be nationwide, so not a regional specialty such as cheese cobs (rolls) and Mild in the Midlands or stew and Stout in Ireland. It could be fish and chips, but I think these should come from the chip shop and be eaten from the paper bag (though a bottle of local Pale Ale on the beach can work). A ploughman’s lunch is old-fashioned now, with people more likely to get a Scotch egg or local cheeseboard. Really the only thing that definitely and definitively works is a Sunday lunch— a roast dinner—with a pint of cask ale.
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Almost every good pub will serve a roast on a Sunday—and only on a Sunday (the name is literal: it’s only available on Sundays and often only from 12-3pm). You’ll get a choice of meats (chicken, beef, pork, and lamb, or a veggie alternative), roast potatoes, a few different vegetables, thick gravy, and probably stuffing or a Yorkshire pudding. It’s a common thing for Brits to eat every week and if they don’t cook it for themselves, then the pub is where they’ll go to get it. And when they’re at the pub, a pint of cask ale is the best option, ideally a malty Bitter with smooth, toasty grain and a dry, quenching bitterness.
FIVE PUB BEER AND FOOD PAIRINGS
PIE AND MASH WITH PORTER: A round, rich Porter is a great match for a pie. You need all that malt to stand up to the slow-cooked meat and gravy.
FISH AND CHIPS WITH PALE ALE: I know I said that fish and chips should be eaten on the beach, but a lot of pubs cook this classic. A bright and zesty Pale Ale with some fragrant hops and a dry bitterness cuts through the richness of the fried fish.
CHICKEN TIKKA WITH GOLDEN ALE: Curry has become a popular pub menu item and chicken tikka is one of Britain’s national dishes. An easy-going, softly sweet Golden Ale is ideal.
CHEESEBURGER AND IPA: Every pub has a burger now and you want the big fruity IPA hops to add freshness and some toasty malts for sweetness. scotch EGG with best bitter: This common pub snack comes served with chutney or mustard on the side. I always want a good Bitter with it—the earthy hops and chewy malts match the egg and meat really well.