Arbor Ales Beer Dinner Review

Arbor Ales Beer Dinner Review

Written by Oliver Coningham on 12 March 2016 in Event Review

The first vegan beer dinner at The Adam and Eve in Bristol featured unfined beer pioneers Moor Beer and a guest appearance (in the kitchen) from the highly revered Mighty Food Fight. It was a resounding success with positive feedback received for every aspect of the evening. In many ways a hard act to follow, but if anyone was up to the challenge it would be Bristol's Arbor Ales.

All their bottles and kegs are vegan-friendly, plus their dark beers on cask are also suitable. Just be aware of their milk and oyster stouts that will not be suitable in any format. Available throughout the city, a couple of their core beers (Why Kick A Moo Cow and Beech Blonde) can also be found in M&S stores in the local area. These are now being replaced with two beers brewed exclusively for M&S; a tweaked version of an existing IPA, along with a new American Pale Ale. Their robust smoked Porter, Smokescreen, is already firmly placed as my current cask beer of the year after enjoying a truly outstanding pint at No.1 Harbourside.

Arbor Ales Beer List

The line-up of beers available for the beer pairing dinner can only be described as typical of Arbor's diverse output. The beers ranged from Summit IPA, a single-hopped American IPA with huge dank or skunk-like notes and a slight vegetal quality to The Devil Made Me Brew It; a dry-hopped Stout, not to be confused with a Black IPA!

Arbor Ales Vegan Beer and Food Pairing Menu

A quick glance at the food menu was enough to whet the appetite and excite the taste buds. There's no bland, boring or beige vegan food to be seen here. Move along... Instead there was an array of interesting and innovative dishes, two of which created by Diana Lynn from Food Friends. The Moroccan Potato & Raisin Pastry sounded sublime! The beer pairings were equally as compelling with Argy Bargy, their black Barleywine, being a standout selection.

The first dish of the evening was Sweetcorn Chowder served in signature mugs, much used in Small Bar, paired with The Ego Has Landed. The soft citrus notes of this American Pale Ale perfectly complemented the sweet and earthy character of the dish. 

Tempura Vegetables with Cashew Chili Dip

The arrival of the platter of Tempura Vegetables with Cashew Chili Dip initiated a collective gasp of delight from the group. Beautifully presented pieces of butternut squash, sweet potato, beetroot and artichoke hearts in a light tempura batter. The use of texture in this dish was magnificent. Monsoon Saison was an inspired pairing; brewed with cardamom and coriander it acted as an extra ingredient. Being served on keg also suited the nature of this beer with stronger carbonation and brighter flavours. 

Coconut and Cashew Risotto

It was refreshing to see the Coconut & Cashew Risotto on the menu; the first of two dishes produced by Diana Lynn from Food Friends. Risottos are often not warmly received by many vegans. Perhaps for too long they have been the standard vegan option available at many restaurants, pubs and functions. This dish, however, was a far cry from those bland mushroom risottos. Short grain brown rice combined beautifully with creamy coconut milk and spring vegetables. Textures were key to this dish with crunchy cashews and perfectly cooked, al-dente vegetables providing interest for the palate.

Taking the enjoyment further was the pairing with Summit IPA. Arbor's generously single-hopped India Pale Ale. Dank, skunky flavours abound, this beer was exceptional. When paired with the risotto, subtle vegetal notes were teased out of the beer and blended with the dish magnificently,

Moroccoan Potato and Raisin Pastry with Caraway Seed Yoghurt

Moroccoan Potato and Raisin Pastry with Caraway Seed Yoghurt

Another sharing platter appeared for the penultimate dish, this time presented on a wooden board scattered with fresh herbs. Pastries filled with Moroccan spiced potatoes and raisins were drizzled with caraway infused yoghurt. Deep earthy flavours and aromatic, warming spices were the standout elements here. The beer pairing was with The Devil Made Me Brew It, a stout dry-hopped with Citra, Mosaic, Bravo and Simcoe. Unusually, this is not to be confused with a Black IPA, there was no denying this is a stout. The fruity, citrusy hops played a supporting role to the starring roasted malt flavours. 

This pairing was another success with the earthy flavours working together, while hints of fruit, especially citrus, added another level of flavour to the dish. Moroccan food is often flavoured with dried fruits such as dates or apricots which this pairing helped to recreate.

Banoffee Pie

Dessert came served in small glasses which elegantly displayed the different layers of the Raw Banoffee Pie. This was the second creation by Diana Lynn and was the ideal end to a sublime vegan beer pairing meal. Fresh banana sat above a creamy topping. Beneath was more luxurious and silky toffee with dates and vanilla. This was the most anticipated pairing with Argy Bargy, a black Barleywine, brewed in collaboration with Steel City Brewing and Hopcraft Brewing. Dark fruits, toffee, liquorice and dark chocolate were all present. We were encouraged to pour some of the Barleywine over the dessert, which as it made its way to the crunchy base, was nothing short of amazing.

Throughout the evening, Bruce Gray (Managing Director of parent company Big Beer Co) would introduce each course and describe the thought process behind the selection of each dish and beer. Henry, Head Brewer from Arbor Ales, would then outline each of the beers, from the original conception through to the malts and hops used. Both interactive and personal, with Henry moving from table to table, it was a unique opportunity to learn more about beer and vegan food pairing.

Unfortunately The Adam and Eve will close their doors from Sunday 3rd April 2016. Ongoing and unexpected costs needed to keep both the building and equipment functioning has sadly led to them losing money on a weekly basis. This isn't to be seen as a full stop, more of a comma until suitable new premises are found. Their current head chef Lisa will be heading to Small Bar to take on a role there, so expect the vegan offering to increase in the future. In a culture where beer and meat or beer and cheese dominate, The Adam and Eve have been an innovative and refreshing change.


Drink less. Drink better.