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Beer and cheese, call it the Ultimate Ploughman’s, if you must

FOODIE destinations, it’s true to say, feed off each other. It’s no coincidence that these days Burton Road, West Didsbury is awash with bars and eateries, offering a global span of cuisines. Yet when two of its standout operations come together it’s to celebrate the home-grown delights of matching beer and cheese. And not just any old beer and cheese.

Call it the Ultimate Ploughman’s, if you must, this collaboration between multi-award-winning Volta bar and from across the road, The Epicurean, one of Manchester’s top bottle stores. 

Guest of honour at their latest Meet The Brewery’ night, upstairs at the bar, was the Wild Beer Company

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Sleeping Lemons beer with Ricotta

Their advantage over the other cutting edge brewers who have made the journey? Their Somerset base is Westcombe Dairy, whose artisan, unpasteurised cheeses rank among the finest (the 12 month aged Cheddar we taste with the final beer has been World No.1 five years running).

Wild Beer itself, founded just five years ago, has a legion of fans, many of whom helped them raise £2 million to build a new brewing facility – twice their crowdfunding target. Not that the relocation three miles from the farm is going to alter their ethos – alternative fermentations, foraging, terroir, wild yeasts, Belgian-influenced sour beer styles, barrel-ageing and matching their beers to food. Oh, and they have to taste brilliant, naturally. And we mean naturally

All this is in evidence throughout a fascinating evening that attracted a packed house.

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A full house at Volta

An evening that was a feast for the senses

Drawn by the Wild Beer legend but also by Volta’s own reputation, built on regional and national awards, the lucky punters got to taste four of those beers accompanied by four cheeses… after a hoppy palate freshener of their appropriately named Fresh pale ale.

All the cheeses came out of Westcombe bar Rachel’s Cheese (from down the road three miles in a different direction): Sleeping Lemons and RicottaEvolver and Duckett’s CaerphillyRedwood and Rachel’s CheeseNinkasi and Westcombe 12 Month Aged Cheddar.

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Evolver IPA with Caerphilly

Wild Beer’s George Tudor-Williams was on hand to guide the gathering through these pairings and was lavish in his praise of the Volta set-up: “Bars like these have helped promote the craft beer movement immensely and Volta has been in the forefront in promoting beer with food. Others are now catching up, but there’s a long way to go. Beer and cheese is the perfect pairing, as you’ve seen tonight, and the audience definitely responded to some amazing tastes.” 

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Sparkling Ninkazi with award winning Cheddar

We couldn’t agree more; whether it was the Sleeping Lemons, a sour beer made using Moroccan-style preserved lemons, and the sweetness of the Ricotta or Evolver, a Brettanomyces (wild yeast) fermented IPA matching the creamy, mushroomy tang of the Caerphilly; the Redwood, a barrel-aged blend from foraged berries, tackling the spicy earthiness of the Rachel’s washed-rind goat or the way the slightly sparkling saison-style Ninkazi, fermented with apple and champagne yeasts, celebrated the greatness of the Cheddar.

An evening that was a feast for the senses. Well done, once again, Volta.

Volta, 167 Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2LN. 0161 448 8887. The Epicurean across the road stocks a range of Wild Beer in cans.