I don’t like beer. But I do like good food, great views and new experiences. And I rather like my husband, who LOVES craft beer. So here we are, attending the Purity beer evening at the RSC, riding the lift to the third-floor Rooftop Restaurant for a flight of beer and a whopping five courses of expertly matched food.
Purity beer evening at the RSC Rooftop Restaurant
Based on a farm in Warwickshire, Purity Brewing Co has been making a range of craft beers since 2005. Customers include many Stratford-upon-Avon bars, restaurants, pubs and even the RSC – theatregoers sup thousands of pints of Purity each year.
A team of experts from the brewing company, including ambassador Ali Brown and head brewer Flo Vialan, whose signature appears on every Purity product, greet guests to the Purity beer evening at the RSC on a balmy Friday evening in July. Things begin with a refreshing pilsner and cool conversation on the restaurant balcony.
We take our seats – I choose my favourite table in the RSC’s Rooftop Restaurant: table two, which sits by the doors of the balcony in the thin end of the wedge that looks out across the River Avon; the Big Wheel and the Tramway bridge in one direction, Holy Trinity Church in the other.
After a short talk from the Purity team about the history, processes and ethos of this local brewery, it’s time to eat.
Food at the Purity beer evening at the RSC Rooftop Restaurant
There are a couple of changes to the menu, influenced by the heatwave, and instead of an ale and mushroom broth we’re treated to an ice-cold (and very welcome) red pepper and tomato gazpacho, which is matched with Lawless lager.
While the gazpacho, served as an amuse bouche in a Hendrick’s teacup, is delicious, the star of this course is the Lawless. It’s light. It’s fresh. It’s golden and not too bitter. And, according to the experts, it’s brewed using a magic blend of hops and malt, along with yeast and local mineral-rich water.
I like it. No. I don’t like it. I LOVE it. It will end up tied for the top spot in my list of favourite Purity brews from the evening. Turns out, I don’t dislike beer; I dislike some beers.
Next up is a starter of crab and chilli orzo, served cold with a little salad and a glass of Purity’s Pure Gold. It’s golden and bitter and not to my taste, but the diners love it. As does Flo, who confesses this is the favourite of his beer babies – the one he first transformed when he joined what was a fledgling company back in 2006.
The intermediate course of honey roast quail and pearl barley risotto is accompanied by Pure UBU –an amber ale whose sweeter notes sit well with the game. This is another beer I like, perhaps because of the sweeter/less bitter taste and citrus hops. Do I sound like I know what I’m talking about yet?!
Mad Goose – a pale ale with a zesty, fresh and bitter finish – cuts through the fat of the roast pork belly, which is soft and delicious. Even the burnt-apple puree and roasted fennel have been carefully selected to match the ale.
To finish, as the waistband begins to tighten, is a milk chocolate tart. It’s served with passionfruit curd and raspberries and matched with a glass of Maravilla Sour. It’s a Belgian-style raspberry sour, brewed as a limited edition in 2017. The aroma reminds me of those chocolate-coated, freeze-dried raspberries I used to devour from M&S. If you’ve guessed anything about my taste by now, you’ll know that this fruity, sweet beer joins Lawless at the top of my list of favourites.
The Stratfordblog verdict on the Purity beer evening at the RSC Rooftop Restaurant
I booked this beer evening as a treat for my husband, who I’ve already established I like very much, but I loved the experience just as much as he did. Learning about the complexities of the brewing process, gaining an understanding of what I do and don’t like, and hearing from the team at Purity – where passion and enthusiasm are clearly job requirements – was as refreshing as that first taste of Lawless.
I’m looking forward to heading down to Great Alne one Saturday soon (a 10-mile/20-minute drive from central Stratford-upon-Avon) to join a guided tour. Purity also runs private weeknight tours.
More matching dinners at the Rooftop Restaurant
The RSC’s Rooftop Restaurant in Stratford-upon-Avon hosts a number of matching dinners throughout the year.
These include a Reyka Vodka event in August, a Piper-Heidsieck Champagne evening in September, October’s evening with Cotswold Gin, and a night with Glenfiddich single malt Scotch whisky in November.
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Information correct at date of publication