Church Farm Brewery at The Tame Hare
A hoppingly good 4-course Warwickshire craft beer and food pairing in Leamington Spa.
Forget wine, it’s time to match your food with beer.
One of Leamington Spa’s young independent restaurants invited Warwickshire’s Church Farm Brewery in for the evening to pair their locally-brewed craft beers with some seasonal British dishes. We knew we were in for a treat.
The Tame Hare in Warwick Street, Leamington Spa has been garnering quite a reputation since it opened in 2016. The Times’ Giles Coren even popped in for a review last year.”Nice boy, nice family, nice town, nice restaurant” and a “brilliant” list of wines for well under £30 was his verdict. A former chef at Mallory Court Hotel and The Cross at Kenilworth, Jonny and his sous chef Simon specialise in fresh, seasonal fine dining, an excellent value 3-course lunch (£23), Evening Menu, Tasting Menu and Sunday lunch.
People want quality beer, and hundreds of breweries like Church Farm Brewery in Budbrooke, near Warwick, are giving it to them. Jo’s husband Andrew first started brewing beers in his “man-shed”. When his local boozer, The Cape of Good Hope, tried it they thought it was so good they placed an order. The rest is history. “Instead of milking cows 365 days a year, we are now making beer,” said Jo. In 2012 they won a British Farm Award for Diversity and were featured on BBC 1’s Country-file after John Craven popped over for a visit. They have so far created seven cask and craft beers.
Everyone was greeted by the charming front of house gent, Harley, and the lovely Jo from Church Farm Brewery with a Pilsner served chilled in a wine glass to shake perceptions up a bit. As you can see from my half-empty glass it went down a little too quickly… There were around 12 of us dining on one long table so it was a cosy, relaxed and friendly affair. Jo was joined by son Harry – who Harry’s Heifer, their most popular quaffable ale is named after. She gave a quick talk about the beers and placed them on the table for diners to try with each course. So, we got to know our table neighbours while tasting a selection.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Chef Jonny came over from the kitchen to introduce each course, some of which had been cooked with beer. It was a set 4-course menu and did not disappoint. The starter was a tower of Ham Hock pressure-boiled in Harry’s Heifer, pineapple and hazelnuts.
Next up was blow-torched Plaice and braised Chicory with IPA sauce. There was also much praise from our new friends for the sauce.
Lamb faggots, braised for 8-hours, on pearl barley with charred sweetcorn came next.
Jonny did also go to a great deal of trouble of creating two special vegetarian alternatives for yours truly (thank you!!). My starter was a delicate goat’s cheese tart with the finest melt-in-the-mouth pastry. The main veggie dish was a cauliflower risotto, bhaji with peanuts – which even had the meat-eaters drooling! The flavours and the crunchy nuts were awesome.
Finally, pudding; apricot on a sourdough cream with raspberry sorbet was slightly unusual. I’d never had sourdough cream before. It smelt amazing and was just beautiful.
We really enjoyed the evening and if you’re up for another one of The Tame Hare’s food/drink pairings keep an eye out on their social feeds. They recently teamed up with Shipston-on-Stour-based Cotswolds Distillery for a collaboration dinner. Both The Tame Hare and Church Farm Brewery will be at Warwick Food Festival on Sun May 27. If you’re interested in how it all works Church Farm Brewery also run brewery tours and will be at a few beer festivals over the summer (check out their FB and Twitter pages).
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Foodies, craft beer lovers, sociable types and those in search of culinary adventure.
Not for: People wanting a choice – the menu is set, although they can cater for different dietary requirements. If you’re looking for a quiet or romantic meal this is probably not for you – it’s all about meeting new people and being open to new experiences.
The damage: £45