WINE and cheese are the most common after-dinner pairing for us Brits.
But a New York native and a former Royal Navy sailor are hoping to turn that on its head by opening a speciality beer and cheese bar in Southsea.
Ali and Paul Lees are bringing a slice of the Big Apple to Southsea by creating a cosy microbrewery bar in Osborne Road.
They have spent the past five months gutting out a former Greek restaurant and filling it with antiques and furniture inspired by the Manhattan style.
Ali, 39, who hails from New York, said: ‘This is our community as well and we wanted to bring something we are passionate about.
‘We believe in the vibe of Southsea.
‘It’s an interesting and new concept to be a speciality beer bar. We only serve beer and cider, no wine and spirits.
‘This is not a pub and it’s not a restaurant.
‘People are finding the flavour goes well when you pair beer and cheese.’
The name of the establishment is The Wave Maiden, which is inspired by a story of Norse Mythology where the nine daughters of Aegir, the god of the sea, help their father brew beer for other immortals.
Ali and Paul said it was ‘a labour of love’ as they refurbished the building.
‘We built it by hand,’ Ali said.
‘It was a cathartic process tearing it down and putting it back up again.
‘We feel like we are the first people in a long time to give it a little TLC.’
‘It’s very New York style. The way I imagined is it could be transported to the Lower East Side and it would fit in.’
The couple are hoping to open a community room on the first floor for beer tastings and other local community events.
Paul, 49, who spent 25 years in the Royal Navy, said the British seem to have become obsessed with clear, filtered beers.
But cloudy unrefined beers have so much more flavour, he said.
Some of the beers are served in cans if people wish.
‘It’s like its own little barrel because the can is impervious to light,’ he said.
‘Some people want it in the can. There’s a lot of people who like to look at the artwork on the can.’