The Meal Skipper
Beer: Pressure Drop Wallbanger (4.7%)
Snack: Cruga Original Pork Crackling
Thing with pork scratchings is they are a bit like crab sticks, or pornography: satisfying, undoubtedly, but you don’t want to think too much about how they got made. The other thing is, for a bag of peeled and salted skin‘n’fat strips, they can feel quite filling. Pair with Pressure Drop’s Belgian wit – a fragrant, aromatic wheat beer that errs on the side of pleasantly light – and you’ve got a careful balance between the hefty pork scratchings and the delicate beer. Which means you can eat two bags without feeling too guilty about it.
The Mouth Party
Beer: Weird Beard Mariana Trench (5.3%)
Snack: Snyder’s Jalapeño Pretzel Pieces
Weird Beard’s Mariana Trench is a delight of an American pale ale: fruity, blossomy, spring fresh, and the perfect foil to musky-spicy jalapeño bites. If you close your eyes, you’re right where you want to be – in a sunny park, laying on the grass, Frisbees grazing close over you, a smoky BBQ sizzling just beyond reach. Then you open your eyes and you’re in the same two-cold-water-taps-in-the-gents-bathroom pub you’re always in, with a big wet pointer doing a piss on your brogues. Never dream.
Beer: Partizan Brewing Saison Lemon & Thyme (3.8%)
Snack: Mature Cheddar & Red Onion Kettle Chips
With the subtle notes of lemon and thyme in the beer and the balanced cheese and onion flavour of the posh crisps, what you’ve essentially got here is all the flavour elements of an £18 roast at a fancy out-of-town gastropub in an easy-to-drink, eat-with-your-hands form. You know the kind: they give you "root vegetable mash" and have unwieldy, homemade Yorkshires. They insist on getting apricots in the mix there, somehow. Your mum hasn’t got a clue how to eat whatever they have done with the parsnips. The waiter gives you a disdainful look when you ask for extra gravy yet you still panic and give him a £40 tip. That kind of place.
The Sexy Uncle
Beer: Brixton Brewery Windrush Stout (5.0%)
Snack: Tyrrell’s Poshcorn Sweet And Salty
This Brixton Windrush stout is one of the best we’ve ever tasted: thick but not heavy, unctuous, tobacco-y, studded through with liquorice flavours – like your dad’s cooler, tanned brother, fresh from Lanzarote in a pastel shirt with a box of duty-free Toblerone for the kiddies. Paired with the sweet and salty popcorn, it’s a revelation: the silky stout flavour is studded through with the sweet-salty tang, elevating both flavours. This combination is so good it’s basically not worth having one without the other ever again. So good it ruined popcorn for us.
The Classic Reborn
Beer: Orbit Beers Nico (4.8%)
Snack: Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds
If you want an upgrade from the usual "Foster's and peanuts until you soil yourself" of a Friday night, try this reinterpretation: a crisp Orbit kölsch (a light, crisp, lager-like beer traditionally from Cologne) and smoky, salty almonds. Yes: technically, you are gentrifying your own beer and snack selection, taking a standard bread-and-potatoes working-class classic and making a £6.50 hipster-friendly version, but… actually, no, written myself into a corner there. Gentrification tastes good. Consume without guilt.
Thanks to the fine dudes at Clapton Craft for giving Joel all that beer