On Tuesday, Channel 4 broadcast the ‘series premiere’ of the UK edition of The Taste, an erstwhile cooking show where budding chefs attempt to flash their culinary wares via the medium of a single spoonful. We watched it; it was alright. The saintly Nigella beamed away, as per national treasure status, bookended by two swarthily colourful chefs I felt sure I should have heard of, but hadn’t. The highlight was the professional chef who attempted to fit an entire meal on the wobbling spoon, causing it to go everywhere and him be summoned before the panel for a dressing down, table littered with pan-fried Dover sole and mushy peas (or whatever it was).
Anyway, many critics stuck their oar in, viewing figures were apparently awful (the Daily Mail blustered only 1.8m, an audience share of just 7%; but I’m not linking to them). C4 will persevere though, cooking shows are becoming ubiquitous, and they’ve obviously invested a lot in this Masterchef meets the Voice format. Still, it got me wondering, would something similar work for beer? Maybe if viewers don’t switch on to the Taste, would a shakeup of the format towards our national drink pull in the viewers? And, how would the programme work?
Tuesday, Channel 4, 9pm
C4’s groundbreaking culinary challenge returns, recharged for a brand new series – and this time, the judges are thirsty. The Sip switches focus from food to beer; twenty contestants attempt to wow the panel with a single taste of the beer they have produced; there is literally nowhere to hide. From all walks of life, amateur homebrewers to professional microbrewers, who has what it takes to create that perfect statement in a glass?
On the judging panel – John Keeling, Brewing Director at Fuller, Smith and Turner; Evin O’Riordain, founder of the Kernel Brewery; and James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog. At stake, four places to join each for a life-changing beer-making experience. But can the judges be impressed by a lone sip? Who will produce a drink worthy of the competition, and be invited by one of our brewing experts to pull on one of the twelve pairs of Purofort wellies?
Tune in and watch as one homebrewer overloads his pale ale with too much Simcoe, causing John to upturn his tasting glass and opt out. But guess which of the other judges then picks that brewer for his team? Discover which beer Evin describes as “an indeterminate point on a ceaseless expedition across varietals”. And did the entrant who produced a sour beer really mean it? Can anybody tell anymore?
The Sip is here to demonstrate just how difficult it really is to produce the beer we Brits love so much – particularly when brewed under the toughest conditions imaginable. Who has what it takes, in this ultimate of blind tastings?
[note, for production reasons there is a six-week lag between brewing and tasting segments. Some sequences have been shortened]