I’ve never been a great enthusiast for the concept of beer and food matching, but when offered the chance to try a Spanish beer especially brewed to complement Spanish ham I couldn’t resist the opportunity.
The beer in question is La Virgen Jamonera, distributed in the UK by Basco Fine Foods. It came in an elegant brown 330ml bottle and was accompanied by a pack of dry-cured Serrano ham. It’s a bottle-conditioned beer, so I allowed it to settle for three days before sampling. Pouring it carefully, I managed to keep most of the sediment in the bottle, resulting in only a slight haze.
The beer is mid-brown in colour, with little noticeable aroma. It had moderate carbonation and only a small head, although it retained this down the glass. The flavour is malty and rounded with only a subdued hop character.
It’s a pleasant, mellow beer that, to be honest, doesn’t really stand out as being hugely distinctive, although having said that, its restrained character makes it a better match for ham than something more overpowering.
I’m not really sure of the correct vocabulary to describe ham, but it was certainly very tasty, coming in wafer-thin individual slices separated by thin plastic sheets.
The company also supply Cerveza Er Boqueron, a saltwater beer specially brewed to complement anchovies, another traditional Spanish delicacy.