We speak to Serious Pig co-founder George Rice and uncover how some of the nation’s best beer snacks came to be…
They say that all the best ideas start down the pub, and the Serious Pig story is no exception. The conversation that led to the seriously tasty snacks began over a pint or two in the beer garden at The Junction Tavern in NW5 over 10 years ago.
As the evening wore on, Serious Pig’s founders George Rice and Johnny Bradshaw found themselves looking for the perfect snack to accompany their pint of ale and glass of red; something that would complement their drinks while providing proper sustenance to power the boys through to their late dinner.
Raiding the bar of crisps, nuts and scratchings, with nothing quite hitting the spot, this was their lightbulb moment. The concept of what they referred to as a “Posh Peperami” sparked into their minds, a tasty, meaty snack that would only be made with top quality British charcuterie.
This would be real food – satisfying, full of flavour and better for you than any existing pub snack. The very next day, Serious Pig was born.
The Rolex of Snacking Salami
With the eureka moment in place, George and Johnny has a clear vision in mind for Serious Pig’s first product. But why salami?
George explains: “If you look at other products that exist, you can always buy the same product in a range of prices and quality; a watch might cost £10 all the way to a Rolex which costs £10,000, but it’s still a watch.
“What I found was that there’s not many products that this isn’t the case for, but salami was. You can only buy it at the bottom end, unless you go to a French farm market.
“It felt like, straight away, there’s a gap in the market for a really good version of that product.”
Reinventing the Wheel (of Cheese)
Today, the Serious Pig team in Peckham are creating a whole range of premium snacks, designed to be the perfect accompaniment to your beverage of choice. Following on the from the success of Snacking Salami, Serious Pig has put their high-quality spin on a wide range of bar snacks like pork scratchings, nuts and more.
Along the way though, there’s been a few delicious inventions like SnackingHam – a lean sliced salami that’s perfect for sharing – but none are quite as game-changing as Crunchy Snacking Cheese.
Crunchy Snacking Cheese is made from 100% cheese; specifically, a mature Italian hard cheese that’s packed full of flavour and oven baked for a seriously big crunch. The exact production process is a closely guarded secret, but the principle is simple.
Serious Pig use a whole 40kg wheel of virgin Quattrocento cheese which is crumbled into small moulds and then baked in a specially developed oven. Rather than melting as you’d expect it to, the outcome is little crunchy pieces of insanely delicious and tangy cheese ready to snack on straight from the packet.
Quattrocento means ‘four hundred’ in Italian. Each wheel of Quattrocentro cheese is made using 400 litres of fresh milk, before being matured for around 11 months to achieve its strong fruity flavour. It’s produced without any preservatives or additives and unlike many other cheeses, it’s made with microbial rennet which means it’s fine for vegetarians. It’s even lactose free due to the length of time the cheese is matured.
Join the Club
Now, with an incredible range of snacks in their arsenal, Serious Pig is looking to build a community of like-minded snack enthusiasts, counting on word-of-mouth and the quality of their products to fuel their next steps.
“We had this incredible crowdfunding raise this time last year, where we attracted 1500 investors,” George tells us. “It’s about building a community. We’ve got 4500 Club Seriously members, 1500 of them are shareholders in the business, and we really want to continue to grow with the community.
“I think that the community for us is about talking to our members, about things that we like and we think that they might like as well, and introducing them to things they may not have heard of, other small businesses with similar beliefs and objectives.
“Word-of-mouth is our currency. Anybody can put adverts out but what works more than anything else is word of mouth, building that community where people can, hopefully, share with their friends that they’ve discovered Serious Pig.”
You can join their snack-loving community at seriouspig.london/clubseriously
A brief history of cheese!
Traces of cheese have been found on 7,200-year-old pottery from Neolithic villages along Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. Before this discovery, the earliest cheese could be traced back was the Bronze Age. The discovered cheese is as around the same age as some Polish cheese residue that was discovered a few years ago, and many thousands of years older than the cheese found in Egypt earlier in the summer. Before this, the earliest signs of the treat could be traced to no earlier than the Bronze age, meaning this could be a sign of the earliest trace of cheese-making in the whole of the Mediterranean.
As a good source of nutrients for children, milk is theorised by scientists to have been an important part of children’s diets back in early farming populations, when infant mortality was high. However, research suggests that adults of the time likely couldn’t digest lactose. Cheese-making of the era may have seen efforts to use fermentation to decrease the amount of lactose in milk so adults could also nutritionally benefit from dairy, suggests the Smithsonian publication.
Beer & Snacking Cheese Pairings
Serious Pig snacks and beer are a match made in heaven, so George gives us his top tips on pairing Snacking Cheese with our Beers of the Month.
He says: “Anything that’s zesty, that just cuts through really well. Something that’s zingy, and citrussy.”
With that in mind, why not try your Snacking Cheese with…
Overtone – Mass Consumption
This session IPA from Glasgow has the right balance of light citrus character to cut through the powerful flavour of the cheese.
McColl’s Brewery – Petite
This Belgian-inspired blonde has just enough citrus and grapefruit zing to match up to the mature Italian Quattrocento.
Burning Sky – Arise
Peach, pine and a restrained bitterness in Burning Sky’s pale ale will work wonders with that punch from the cheese.
Words: Kevin O’Donnell