To use an avian metaphor, rising like a pair of Phoenix first Truman’s in 2010 and two weeks ago the Eagle Pub in Ladbroke Grove reopened it’s doors.
I am a fan of Truman’s beers as mentioned in a previous blog so I was delighted to be invited to the launch of their first Tank Lager RAW.
The launch was in the Eagle pub, a few minutes from Ladbroke Grove tube last night.The Eagle which had previously been a Truman’s pub back in the days of the original brewery is bright and welcoming. Impressive shining Truman’s tanks are perched like nests above the central bar. The decor is warm and slightly quirky with a mix of furniture and fittings including some Truman lanterns and iconic eagle statues on the bar. As we were led upstairs I noticed some rather fine wallpaper and fabrics from the company I have my day job with….
You would have absolutely no idea the Eagle has been open just two weeks. Hippo Inns who own the Eagle have done a fantastic job at establishing this pub totally in keeping with the area which is one of their policies. The staff were extremely friendly and efficient, each beer I had was expertly served often in traditional jugs. Apparently one of the first training exercises they were taken on was a day trip to Truman’s Brewery to see exactly how it all works – nice work if you can get it!
A range of Truman’s beers were on offer in addition to RAW. Pacing myself I stuck to halves – a long journey home and work in the morning sadly curtails midweek drinking somewhat but this didn’t stop me from trying three beers.
The Zephyr Australian Pale is one of Truman’s core beers and a favourite of mine. Packed with Australian hops and so called after the gentle trade winds from Australia that used to accompany exporters on their journeys.
Truman’s like their beers to be sold as fresh as possible and distribute mostly within the M25. They brew a succession of seasonal beers which they aim to get into pubs in 7-10 days. The current seasonal offering is Gypsy Queen, a wonderful Oatmeal Pale Ale.
In keeping with Truman’s tradition of giving a nod to their East London heritage Gypsy Queen is named after an Iron Steam Boat built close to the present day site of the brewery during the nineteenth Century.
Gypsy Queen is dry hopped so gives an instant hop hit followed by a backbone of malt. The addition of oatmeal gives Gipsy Queen a smooth fuller mouthfeel – wonderful so grab it while you can!
To accompany Truman’s beers we were lucky enough to try a selection of the Pub’s Bavarian inspired menu which includes dishes such as Chicken Schnitzel served with fried duck egg and a huge Crispy Knuckle of Pork served with Fried Potato dumplings.
The menu is the creation Head chef Stan Perry (ex Soho House).
Stan told us beer and food pairing is something they are looking into and that he’s a great believer in using beer in cooking.
We started with sharing plates from the starters selection of Pickled Herring, Salmon Tartare, a lovely earthy Venison Carpaccio and a simply heavenly twice baked Gruyere Soufflé.
As RAW is a Lager I opted for Ale Battered Cod, Chips, Tatar and Mushy peas for my main. To say the portion was generous doesn’t do it justice! After the wonderful starters I felt as though I could barely scratch the surface but the chunky cod wrapped in crispy light beer batter was perfection. The RAW sliced through the richness and was just the right depth of flavour so as not to overpower the dish.
I should also give a mention to the amazing puddings served last; Bitter Chocolate Fondant with cherry, Rhubarb Panna Cotta with Shortbread, amazing Banoffee pancakes and Mulled Pear and Apple Crumble, needless to say I could manage just a mouthful of each but they were all delicious.
RAW is Truman’s first tank beer and is Truman’s say and I quote ‘completely untouched by light, added gas or any other processes – it is unpasteurised and unfiltered which means it tastes as if the beer were poured ‘raw’ straight from the tanks in the brewery’ .
My verdict…RAW is a wonderful refreshing Lager with plenty of body. Sadly a much maligned beer style, a good lager whether it’s a crisp Pilsner or a smooth rounded Helles is a joy which too many people risk missing out on.
With Lager there’s nowhere to hide Jasper from Truman’s said, and RAW is as clean and pure as it gets! Well done Truman’s, I look forward to your next tank beer!
Until my mid Twenties I had an on-off relationship with football. As a child I supported Liverpool. When I hit my teens however I discarded the beautiful game, Kevin Keegan and Emlyn Hughes in favour of The Jam, Two Tone, cigarettes and boys, – preferably those resembling Terry Hall or Paul Weller.
In the early nineties a friend took me along to the old Den to see Millwall play Leicester City. Apart from spotting Danny Baker behind me on the terrace Millwall left little impression on me. I should add I have since developed an aversion Leicester City FC, the reasons for which will become clear….
Around the same time I also started going to Selhurst Park to watch Crystal Palace and by the time I met my husband in 1995 I was a confirmed Eagle.
On the plus side my husband introduced me to real ale – I had previously been drinking Guinness or mass produced fizz masquerading as beer. But where there’s a yang there is often a yin and in this case he is a lifelong West Ham fan…
This has at times been tricky. In 2004 six weeks after our wedding in a cruel twist of fate, we travelled to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff where Palace met West Ham in the Championship play-off final. Palace won with a late goal and I will never forget meeting my husband after the game. Me in my Palace colours and him draped in his West Ham flag looking extremely down in the mouth.
I tried to be sympathetic. I had been at Wembley a few years before in 1996 when Steve Claridge had popped up in extra time and done the same to us for Leicester City. Now you see where my hostility towards Leicester City comes from – unlike the rest of the country I wasn’t elated when they won the Premiership last season. I still hold a grudge which I know I should get over of but I just can’t!
Now combining football with drinking may not sound like a good idea if you believe sections of the popular press but plenty of supporters indulge in a social pint before a game without dire consequences. Let’s face it a majority of us know our limits plus having paid to see a game we aren’t likely to render ourselves incapable of remembering the ninety minutes although sometimes we would rather forget.
Reflecting beer’s current renaissance football fans demand decent beer. I have previously blogged about the award winning Supporters Club bar at Leighton Orient. Palace have an annual beer festival and this season West Ham fans have been offered a selection of real ales at their new home in the London Stadium.
Grasping an excellent opportunity the Truman Brewery based half a mile from the London Stadium have a match day membership scheme for hammers called TruRib. For a small membership fee of £10 TruRib members can go to Truman’s bar at their Eyrie Brewery before matches. My husband has signed up which is great as members can take a guest along.
Now that explains the Tru but the Rib part of the name..? Moving from his patch outside West Ham’s previous home, the Boleyn Stadium to Truman’s yard is Rib Man
Rib Man alias Mark Gevaux is a West Ham supporting ex-butcher who serves baby- back rib meat in rolls with sauces he has created which aren’t for the faint hearted. With names such as Holy Fuck and Christ on a Bike you get the idea.
I read an article about Rib Man in the Observer Magazine last March and the opportunity to stuff my face with this amazing food whilst drinking Truman’s beer was just too good to pass up. So despite West Ham beating Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park the previous week, for the love of good beer and food last Saturday I deserted South London for the day and headed East to West Ham territory on match day and the Truman Brewery to get my hands on a beer and a Rib Man rib meat roll.
We arrived at Truman’s yard just after 1pm. It was just getting busy with people sitting under a gazebo watching the Spurs game. We headed for the bar first. There were three beers straight from the cask and three on keg , their Lager, Roller IPA and Pale Ale. Cider and soft drinks were also available.
We started with Truman’s cask Pale Ale Lazarus 4.2% ABV. I’ve had this beer in the past and know it’s excellent. A refreshing easy drinking session Pale with a malt finish.
The smell in the yard from Rib Man’s stand was enticing so tentatively eyeing up the sauces we ordered our rolls, Husband opting for a small and me a medium. When offered sauce, hoping for clemency we asked rather pathetically if a mild one was available? Smokey BBQ Sauce was suggested so we took our chances.
I love my food and every so often I find something that knocks my socks off. Normally something simple like when a Spanish friend introduced me to Padron Peppers cooked in olive oil and sea salt or my recent conversion to Shish Kebabs after years of overlooking them. Don’t ask me why I had always overlooked this skewered delicacy but on my way home from Wembley after watching Palace beat Watford to go through to the FA Cup Final in my euphoria I fancied a take away. I tried a lamb Shish from my local kebab shop – Eureka! I am now addicted!
The religious references in Rib Man’s sauce names are wholly appropriate as his rib meat roll really was a heavenly experience! You know when you are eating something so good that you just don’t want it to come to an end? Well this is how I felt whilst greedily devouring the rib meat roll. The meat was beautifully tender and moist. The BBQ sauce which seeped through to the bread roll turning it a luscious shade of amber had just the right amount of kick to enhance the whole experience-Oh why didn’t I order a large?!?
The Lazarus was perfect for washing down this divine creation.
Next from the now busier but well organised bar I ordered Fire Starter. Also a cask with a 4.2% ABV which as it says on the pump clip is a hoppy red ale. An instant hit of hops leading to rich, sweet notes with a finish of burnt toffee. I really liked Fire Starter and it made a great liquid pudding after the rib meat.
If you are not lucky enough to have a West Ham Fan in your life do not despair, Rib Man is at Brick Lane on Sundays.
Truman’s is a name synonymous with brewing. Originally established in Brick Lane in 1666, sadly the brewery closed in 1989. But in 2010 it was re-established by a pair of beer enthusiasts. Going from strength to strength in 2013 not only was the Eyrie opened in Hackney Wick but they also recovered the original Truman’s yeast from the National Collection of Yeast Cultures where it had been stored since the 1958.
Heritage is important to the guys at Truman’s hence their desire to forge a direct link with the past by using the original yeast. They are passionate about East London and there’s a lot to like about the area. The Olympic Park and Stratford shopping centre have transformed this corner of London. Hackney Wick is a vibrant district with a good feel. The architecture is a mix of new builds, old warehouses and eye catching graffiti. And for us beer lovers it’s an oasis with breweries such as Five Points, Hackney Brewery and Pressure Drop.
As well as Truman’s there are tap rooms at Crate Brewery and Howling Hops. So having waved my husband off on his way to West Ham versus Sunderland, I did the short walk along the River Lea to pop my head into Crate and Howling Hops Tank Bar.
I last visited these two tap rooms on a lovely sunny August day last year when Queens Yard where both are located was packed with people enjoying the weather and the beer. Despite being a mild October day there were less people around however this Saturday. The last few stragglers were leaving for the West Ham game as I arrived.
Crate Brewery’s bar and Pizzeria sits on the River Lea. The bar staff were friendly and helpful offering tasters of beer. I had a half of the Crate Amber Ale 4.5% on cask. The Amber has a good mouth feel with dry almost tea-like astringent qualities- lovely!
There is a monthly menu of beers including guest bottles ranging from Lambics to Darks as well as cider and wine.
The aroma from the amazing looking stone baked pizzas served straight from the oven was too much! I would have ordered one if I hadn’t gorged myself on Rib Man’s wares . Currently on the pizza menu amongst traditionals such as Margherita or Prosciutto and Rocket are Sage with Truffle and Kashmiri Dahl.
Finally I popped into the Howling Hops Tank Bar. Ten different beers are served from tanks behind a long bar such as their American Brown, West Coast IPA and Pils. The Tank Bar has long benched tables which stretch the length of the room and like Crate there is a turn table which although wasn’t in use I can imagine you would have a good night here. I saw posters advertising a cheese and beer event from the previous night which looked good.
Howling Hops offer wonderful looking food from Billy Smokes Barbecue such as Beer Sausage Sandwiches – hot-smoked beef and pork sausages containing Howling Hops Beer or as an alternative to all this meat how about a smoked Pepper and Avocado Sandwich with (not mega hot) House Hot Sauce.
West Ham beat Sunderland 1 – 0 with a late goal so I guess Hackney and Stratford were happy places Saturday evening. As for Palace…? We lost 3-1 to, yes you’ve guessed it… Leicester!
In my last blog I talked about hitting a scary landmark birthday. The trauma of reaching this age was made not just bearable but a joy by all the wonderful and thoughtful gifts I received – I am a very lucky hop flower!
So as well as being treated to a Korean cooking course (If you don’t know what I am talking about, please see my last blog) last weekend I was taken for a trip on the Real Ale Train or to use it’s nickname the RAT in Hampshire for a few real ales whilst being transported through time and the Hampshire countryside.
The RAT’s location is the restored steam locomotives on the Mid Hants Railway known as the Watercress Line after the local cargo it used to take to London. There are four stations on the ten mile line, each taking you down memory lane with a vintage style of old railway posters, signage and furniture. Such is the charm of this picturesque line that it has featured in films and TV including my favourite Midsomer Murders plus Countryfile and a Richmond Sausage ad to name just a few.
RATs are held on most but not all Saturday nights from February through to the beginning of December and feature different breweries either local or from neighbouring counties. Last Saturday night it was the turn of Triple FFF , Hammerpot and Downton – no TV connection…
Triple FFF Brewery who being in Alton couldn’t be more local to the RAT have been brewing since 1997. They offer a comprehensive range of core beers and seasonals with interesting names such as Pressed Rat and Warthog, Comfortably Numb and Dazed and Confused.
Based near the Sussex hamlet of the same name is the Hammerpot Brewery. Set up in 2005 Hammerpot have brewed award winning beers and take great pride in their local heritage.
Over the Wiltshire Border, the Downton Brewery use some interesting ingredients in their beers such as fresh apples, Coriander and locally grown pumpkins.
As the trip was booked well in advance we each got a voucher for a free beer as it seemed did most of the other passengers as immediately upon boarding most people headed for the carriage where the real ale was served. Rather handily this was the next carriage from us so although we were initially hemmed in by keen and thirsty real ale drinkers, the queue actually moved quickly. In fact throughout the evening I waited just seconds to be served such was the efficiency and dexterity of the bar staff – I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t fancy pouring pints on a moving train!
Being seasoned pros at this drinking business we had lined our stomachs with an early dinner at the White Hart in nearby Holybourne where we were staying the night. Hot food is available on the train however plus there is a separate bar serving wine and a selection of bottled beers including some from local breweries which also has a selection of crisps and chocolate bars should you get the munchies.
So to the beers, I kicked off with the 3.9% ABV Quadhop from Downton. A refreshing pale bitter with a nice dry finish.
I then moved on to Hammerpot’s Shooting Star Bitter 3.8 ABV which had great citrus notes but also a touch of spice.
New beers were added during the evening one of these being Triple FFF’s award winning Moondance. At 4.2% a lovely hoppy pale. Loads of floral notes from cascade hops and very drinkable!
I finished the trip with Hammerpot’s Bottle Wreck Porter, 4.7% ABV. Bottle Wreck has also won numerous awards including Champion Beer of Britain, Porters category, at the 2012 CAMRA National Winter Ales Festival. It has warming rich notes of burnt coffee but being a porter was not overly heavy.
Also available on the real ale bar at various points during the evening were Hammerpot’s Red Hunter, Downton’s Honey Blond and their Pumpkin Ale plus Cirrus Minor Cider from Mr Whitehead’s Cider Company.
We arrived back at Alton at around 10.30pm and did the mile walk back to the White Hart where we continued our evening.
Obviously if you are into good beer and/or steam trains you will love the RAT but if like two of our group you aren’t into either the RAT is still a wonderful night out. The atmosphere was lively and friendly and who doesn’t love the sound of a steam train letting off steam?
If I have inspired you to take a journey on the RAT be aware this popular event sells out well in advance so have a look at the website for booking details. The RAT is timed to get back to Alton Station in time for the 10.44pm to London Waterloo but there are later trains.
If you fancy making a weekend of it I would recommend a stay at the White Hart. We walked the mile to Alton Station but cabs are available. The White Hart menu is fantastic. Pre RAT I had a cheese and bacon burger with delicious chips washed down with a half of Manx Brewery O’Kells Bitter – yes half I didn’t want to peak too soon after all! The traditional fried breakfast I had Sunday morning set me up for the day. Clean rooms, great staff in a village pub serving a good selection of beers surrounded by countryside walks – what a great place to complete the weekend!
The RAT is a fun evening out. As mentioned the staff were excellent and the beer selection excelled my expectations. Think I’d better book for 2017!
Some lovely friends wanted to buy me a birthday gift but I struggled for ideas as having reached such a ripe old age there’s little that I need. I decided instead that good memories are the perfect present and asked for vouchers for the School of Wok cookery school in London.
I love cookery courses. I enjoy cooking but moreover I am always on the lookout for new and interesting beer and food pairing ideas. I have previously done an Indian cookery class in Delhi and a Basque class in San Sebastian.
A little bit closer to home near Charing Cross Station, along the road from the excellent Harp pub, School of Wok had caught my eye as they offered Korean Cookery classes.
I should explain the opportunity to visit Seoul arose a few years ago as my brother was lecturing there at a university summer school. He had a free week before he came home and an apartment on the campus so I bought an inflatable mattress and booked a flight.
Seoul is a huge city with a fascinating mix of modern, traditional and residential architecture fringed by mountains and temples. The people are friendly and the food is amazing.
On my first morning in Seoul we went to a restaurant and had Mung bean pancakes which were heavenly. That was it – I was hooked on Korean food!
Whilst in Seoul we spent many evenings in a tiny local bar which appeared to be run singlehandedly by a woman who didn’t speak English so we quickly learnt how to ask for two beers in Korean. I can ask for beer in four languages other than English but otherwise hello, goodbye and thank you are pretty much the extent of my bilingual talents – shame on me!
We were drawn to this particular bar as it had the great feel of a local. We were always greeted with a huge smile. It was common to be given a bowl of peanuts in Seoul bars but here the lovely woman went one step further and gave us bowls of cherry tomatoes and whitebait as well. Locals were served huge platters of cooked food produced from behind the tiny bar –this woman was an amazing host!
I have to be honest and say the beer wasn’t outstanding but it was cool and refreshing which in the heat of Seoul in June did the job!
Since my Korean trip I have made the occasional trek to the South West London Suburb of New Malden which being home to a large Korean community has excellent and reasonably priced Korean restaurants. I have also dabbled at home but almost finished off my other half who has adverse reactions to spicy food. So I thought it was time I had a lesson from the experts.
School of Wok hold a range of classes in Oriental cookery but wanting specifically Korean I booked myself on their Korean BBQ and Kimchi three hour course. I was joined by seven other students, a mixture of ages and nationalities all keen to learn about Korean cookery. Our teacher for the night was the warm and friendly Yun Ko.
After a lesson on how to use a scary looking cleaver we chopped vegetables, ginger and garlic for the Bulgogi marinades. Bulgogi is a Korean speciality. Yun told us it literally means ‘meat on fire’ . When making the marinades however you can adjust the seasoning to your taste. We made one marinade for beef Bulgogi which had a base of Soy Sauce and another for Spicy Pork Belly Bulgogi which based on Korean Chilli paste was a more glutinous marinade.
Next we made little dumplings stuffed with minced pork. Although this looked fiddly as the idea is to manoeuvre the pork and chopped seasoning into cigarette paper-thin wrappers made from dough it was surprisingly easy
Finally Yun gave us a Kimchi making demonstration. Another Korean staple, Kimchi is all about fermentation – like beer! Yun mixed mooli (a type of radish) a mixture of spices and seasoning, raw oyster and shrimps with chopped cabbage. The addition of raw seafood may sound scary but it gives freshness to the Kimchi. In Korea communities gather to make huge quantities of Kimchi for the winter which improves as it ferments. Kimchi is an acquired taste but definitely worth trying.
Throughout the evening we were offered drinks although I delayed hitting the beer until all cleaver use was over. So with nothing scarier than a chop stick in sight I allowed myself a couple of bottles of Tsingtao.
The evening finished with us sitting together devouring the food we had prepared. The dumplings had amazingly stayed in one piece and were delicious. The delicate flavour was not overpowered by the Tsingtao and the carbonation sliced through the dumpling wrapper. I think the dumplings would pair very well with a flowery Blonde Ale such as Siren’s fragrant Love of Work. A sensible ABV of 3.6% with notes of Earl Grey Tea which would complement the dumplings beautifully.
We cooked the Bulgogi on table top BBQs. A great sociable way of eating which reminds me of Raclette – without the bread and cheese but you get my drift.
The beef Bulgogi marinade was the lighter of the two so we had this first. Not too spicy but flavoursome, this had notes of sesame oil and soya sauce. We had decided to add an extra touch of ginger to give it a bit more sweetness. With this I would suggest The Kent Gipsy’s Yuzu. A collab beer from Gipsy Hill Brewery and Kent Brewery containing gorgeous Sorachi Ace hops. Yuzu is a pale blond cloudy ale with an ABV of 5.2% and notes of coconut and lime leading to a dry palate-cleansing finish.
We then cooked the Spicy Pork Belly Bulgogi until it started to crisp a little. This was delicious, quite a bit hotter than the beef but not too high up the Scoville scale for me to handle. The Korean chilli paste gave this marinade a richer slightly creamier mouthfeel and taste. The Tsingtao cooled down the spice but given the choice I would pair the Spicy Pork Belly Bulgogi with a beer which has the ‘belly’ to stand up to it such as a good full bodied IPA . I had a can of Northern Monk’s Heathen with the pork belly leftovers from my doggy bag the following night which worked well. The Heathen has the hoppiness you’d expect from an IPA but not to the extent that it overpowered or distorted the Spicy Bulgogi. With an ABV of 7.2% Heathen is robust and has a good amount of sweetness to complement the caramelised pork belly. Pepper notes in the finish also complement this dish perfectly.
If you are looking for a Christmas gift for someone in your life who has everything or fancy broadening your cooking skills I would recommend School of Wok. And maybe pop into the Harp* for some beer pairing inspiration….
Sometimes the old adage ‘If it aint broke, don’t fix it’ doesn’t ring true and this I would say is the case for Cornish Brewery Skinner’s who in recent months have given their beers a funky new look.
I love Cornwall. I have visited many many times and always find it hard to leave this wonderful county. Well I say county but as an outsider my observation is that being ‘Cornish’ is in fact an approach to life – an ethos if you like. Economic factors and the wildness of the weather can make life in Cornwall tough. Many of the people I have met in Cornwall possess a pragmatic yet almost spiritual approach to life. This paired with the creativity which seems to ooze from every corner of Cornwall make it a spellbinding place.
In this creative vein Skinner’s have collaborated with six artists to produce a new set of labels for their award winning core range. Skinner’s, a family run brewery just outside Truro town centre have been going since 1997. The new labels they have created are little works of art!
The artists include Stevie Gee who has designed for Fashion brand Vans, Rose Forshall whose work has featured in The Times and in one of my favourite shops Anthropology plus Nick Beringer who having designed the original Betty Stogs has given her a makeover – well of sorts. Nick has been involved in Skinner’s since it began so knows Betty well and rather than glam her up (perish the thought) this brazen woman has been given a new sparkle and is now shown holding court rather than the lone figure she once was.
So let me take you down the A303, past Stonehenge into Kernow and to a selection of Skinner’s wonderful beers, their swanky new labels and the stories and backdrop that inspired them.
First up the woman herself Betty Stogs. Cornwall is known for being the land of myth and legend and the story of Betty Stogs is one of a somewhat lazy woman whose baby was always grubby and had only Betty’s cat for company most of the time. One day the ‘Small People’ took the baby and cleaned it up before leaving it on some moss for Betty to find. Not before Betty’s husband had returned home however and he was pretty angry with her.
This story has a happy ending as Betty learnt from this episode and became a more attentive parent.
Described by Skinner’s as a ‘Brazen Cornish Ale’ this Betty Stogs however is in no way shabby. Amber with a lacy head and a 4% ABV she has a nose of caramel and malt. Once you start drinking Betty the malt notes continue accompanied by dry woody notes. I would love to sip Betty Stogs with a Cornish Pasty – of course. Either traditional or cheese and onion would work. Just beware of the seagulls and maybe the mythical ‘Small People’!
Fancy something lighter for a day on the beach? Try Skinner’s Lushingtons Sunshine Pale Ale.
Now in my experience the weather in Cornwall, even at the height of summer can be a bit hit and miss and I know having lost my car in the terrible Boscastle flood twelve years ago. But when the sun shines and it does, there is nowhere better to be than on a Cornish beach such as Crackington Haven or Trebarwith Strand with a Cornish Ice Cream.
Lushingtons Sunshine Pale Ale has a wonderful new label reminiscent of a Hawaiian shirt- you know the sort worn by some of us in the 80s and often seen at the GBBF.
The label sets the scene perfectly depicting blue sea surrounded by orange and red skies.
Lushingtons has an ABV of 4.2%. Grassy and hoppy on the nose, this beer does not have a heavy mouth feel so is a great session beer. With jammy notes and hints of lime it’s perfect with that Ice Cream or a Cream Tea.
Lushingtons Sunshine Pale Ale has a wonderful new label reminiscent of a Hawain shirt
Step things up a notch to an ABV of 4.8% with i, which Skinner’s describe as an ‘Untameable Pale Ale’. Very lively out of the bottle Porthleven has a citrus kick that hits the back of the mouth.
Skinner’s recommend Porthleven be paired with spicy food, kebabs or smoked meats – I love a brewery that include informed food pairing notes on their labels so kudos to Skinner’s for this. I would enjoy kicking back and watching surfers such as the one on the label in the Cornish sunset with a Porthleven and either fish and chips or some locally caught Mackerel-perfect! I guess the ‘untameable’ reference is a nod to the Atlantic. Famed for surfing but is certainly not a force man will ever tame no matter how well we surf.
All I would need to finish off the perfect day would be a visit to the Cobweb Inn, Boscastle for a few more beers and some live music. If you are in the area the Cobweb is one of the best pubs I have ever been to and worth spending at least one evening in. The evening may well turn into the following day but a full Cornish breakfast and a bracing stroll on the beach and you’ll be as right as rain.
Once recovered should you fancy picnicking on some sandwiches of locally caught crab I would suggest you grab a bottle of Cornish Knocker.
Skinners describe Knocker as a ‘Ground breaking Golden Ale’ which is a clever play on words. Named after fabled creatures that feature in Celtic mythology but are particularly prevalent in Cornish folklore, the Knockers were said to knock on the walls of mines. This knocking was believed by some to be a mischievous act designed to cause the wall to cave in (hence the ‘ground breaking reference). Others however believe it to be a benevolent warning to miners that they were in danger. I feel the need to explain this in case you have images from old fashioned seaside post cards in your head…
Cornish Knocker is Skinner’s Golden Ale with an ABV of 4.5%. Mango aromas lead to a crisp, fruity ale with a short snappy dry finish.
As well as collaborating with artist, Skinner’s worked with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage and came up with English Pale Ale (EPA)
EPA has floral notes from the cascade hops it contains. It also manages to combine notes of wood and malt. The result is a nice mix of sappy dryness and a soft woody finish. For me a perfect partner to a lump of Cornish farmhouse cheese.
Skinner’s worked with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and came up with EPA
So many great things come out of Cornwall and beer is certainly one of them. Skinner’s range with their witty and clever new labels does not disappoint and although widely available don’t wait for them to come to you. If you have a chance to visit GO WEST!
The Rio Olympics are here as is our summer so despite what sometimes feels like constant rain and cloud we should enjoy the sport with a beer or two.
Many months ago in (slightly) chillier January I was asked to name my favourite beer of 2015.
This was an impossible task for me as I could never pick one beer as a favourite. What beer I want to drink depends on factors such as what I am doing, where I am and if I am eating or simply out for a session.
So instead I choose a standout beer from 2015, something a little different…Elgood’s Coolship Fruit.
In my blog last summer when I judged at the SIBA South East Region beer festival in Tonbridge I eulogised about Elgood’s Coolship Fruit which I blind tasted. Coolship deservedly won Gold in the Keg Speciality beer category and Bronze in the Overall Keg Champion of the competition.
I was bowled over by Coolship’s refreshing qualities. A real summer beer if such a thing exists-seasonal beers, now there’s a whole different debate…
Now I am not normally a huge fan of fruit beers. I feel the myriad of flavours that are thrown up by different combinations of water, hops, malts and yeast are plentiful. There are of course exceptions and Coolship is one so I was inspired to find out a little bit about Elgood’s beers as a result of tasting this wonderful fruit beer for the first time.
Elgood’s who are based in Wansbeck, Cambridgeshire have been brewing since 1878 at the North Brink Brewery. As well as the brewery they have amazing gardens which can be visited on various dates during the year as part of the National Garden Scheme. They hold craft and plant fairs and Jazz events – I love a brewery that diversifies as I feel this makes the brewing industry more accessible to all of us including non beer drinkers who hopefully can be converted!
Elgood’s have a comprehensive range of beers including Bitters, Pale Ales, Scotch Ales and Milds as well as the two sours; Coolship Fruit and Coolship Blonde.
They also have their QE – Quintessentially English, Bottled Beer range. Launched in 2013 the QE range features a stout and two fruity wheat beers; Apple with Vanilla and Cherry.
So if you fancy something a bit fruity to sup with the Olympics here’s my take on Elgood’s fruit beers:
Coolship Fruit – ABV 5% A pink beer with a thin head and a nose of brambles. Coolship Fruit is a refreshing sour Lambic style beer. In order to achieve the tarty sourness Elgood’s use the traditional method used in Belgium to produce Lambics of fermenting the beer in open ‘boats’ or in Elgood’s case open cooling trays, known as coolship trays. Elgood’s have two coolship trays and I hope to see them one day as I think this is a fascinating brewing method. The beer is basically left in the trays to spontaneously ferment using wild yeasts from the atmosphere. This might sound scary but it’s an established method which produces fine sour beers to which fruit can be added. In the case of Coolship Fruit raspberries and blackberries are added. A fellow beer judge at Tonbridge last year remarked that Coolship would be wonderful on a summer’s evening and I couldn’t agree more. Paired with Fruit flan or dark chocolate this is a wonderful beer that I would happily dive into whatever the weather.
Not fruity but also a great sour beer is Elgood’s Coolship Blond. Slightly acidic and tart I found this beer simply danced on my tongue with notes of sherbet and a warming finish from the stronger ABV of 6.1%
If you don’t fancy a sour the fruit wheat beers in Elgood’s QE range are also excellent:
QE Cherry Wheat Beer 3.6% ABV – so very easy to drink! This beer which contains both cherries and raspberries is a lovely scarlet pink colour with a pink foamy head. Sumptuous cherry verging on almond notes in this rich beer would pair beautifully with game or if you have an exceptionally sweet tooth, try a drop with bakewell tart.
QE Apple and Vanilla Wheat Beer 4%. Not surprisingly if you like cider I think you will you will love this. A golden beer with a thin lacey cream head, QE Apple and Vanilla is sweet and has Rhubarb and custard notes but with a slightly bitter finish. I feel this beer benefits from chilling as this accentuates the vanilla notes and gives it a slightly drier taste.
Elgood’s have won numerous awards for their beers in addition to the two Coolship won at the SIBA South East Region beer festival. Let’s hope Team GB can bring home a medal or two!
Formed in April 2015 the South Tonbridge Women’s Institute have proved an instant success with a membership in excess of 100 and a waiting list of another 50 keen would be members.
I agreed to give a talk at the November meeting on the joys of Beer and Food Pairing. The numbers where slightly daunting as my tasting events tend to average 25 to 30 people but with potentially three times this number of people to talk to its lucky I enjoy a challenge!
Now after setting a date next quandary, where on earth could we get our hands on a range of beers for so many people??
Tonbridge is in Kent – the garden of England which as well as being hop growing county has a healthy number of cracking breweries. Large concerns such as Shepherd Neame and a host of micro breweries so I was determined to find a local brewer to help. Up step Tonbridge Brewery who were happy to supply us with a range of three beers including their 2015 Green hop Capel Pale.
After lots of emails between branch President Becky, Dave from Tonbridge brewery and me we had arranged delivery and tapping of the beer at the hall. I should confess initially Dave had thought me capable of tapping the beer but I had to swallow my pride and ask for his help. Not handy with a mallet I had visions of it all going horribly wrong and me wearing rather than drinking the beer…
So the 10th November arrived and I set off to Tonbridge carrying jugs for dispensing the beer to our huge audience and a few empty plastic milk bottles just in case we had any left overs to give to members to take home.
I arrived to find Dave surrounded by curious WI members as he set up the beer for tapping. Between us we got the beer ready. Dave had brought enough Tonbridge Brewery glasses to go around along with bar towels and beers mats. These he said could be taken home by members – what a great memento!
Dave had also brought along a mini keg of a new beer Tonbridge Brewery had brewed called Winter Solace. This he explained had never been brewed before and they were keen to get feedback – an exclusive – how exciting!
During a brief introduction to the audience fearing I had my work cut out I asked how many of the audience regularly choose beer if having a drink and how many never choose it. I discovered to my delight that a lot of the women present did drink beer with very few saying they had never tried it. Maybe this would be a breeze after all!
We poured the first beer, Blond Ambition 4.2%. A great thirst quenching blond ale; this was a very popular choice with the WI members many of whom commented that it was refreshing and a great summer beer. I like that they didn’t allow the small fact that it is November to interfere with their enjoyment of Blond Ambition.
We served the Blond Ambition with mini popodoms explaining to the audience that pale ales are great with spicy food as they calm and refresh the palate.
Next we paired the Green Hop Capel Pale with cheddar.
Cheese as you may know can be hard to digest so pairing it with beer makes digestion easier – like a good chutney but more fun. But more than this the right beer with cheese is just a natural combination the gods have bestowed upon us. In bucolic times farmhouse products such as bread, cheese and beer were often made if not by the same person in close proximity and complement each other beautifully. Despite our sophisticated 21st lifestyle this natural order of things has not changed as far as I’m concerned.
Being a green hop beer Capel Pale had a fabulous fresh hop taste. Tonbridge Brewery use Pilgrim hops, an early hop which they source from Capel Farm. Weighing it at 4.5% I really liked Capel Pale. A nose of grassy, cedar notes with a resinous grassy taste.
The audience were divided with some preferring the Blond Ambition and some favouring the Capel Pale and appreciating the unique quality of green hop beers.
Our third beer of the night was Tonbridge’s Ebony Moon Porter 4.2% which we paired with fudge brownies – heaven!
Ebony moon is a lovely smooth Porter with fruit notes from Bramling Cross hops. This was received really well with members of the audience commenting that it had never occurred to them to pair cake with beer but yes they loved it!
Sadly time beat us in the end but after the meeting I invited the WI members to try the new Winter Solace, an offer that was keenly taken up by many.
Winter Solace is inviting red – brown Winter Ale. Containing Vienna and Chocolate malts with a smidging of Crystal Rye and a blend of spices provided by a mixture of cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg and Orange zest. These spices and the hops – Pilgrim and Bramling Cross, give an interesting blend of spice and fruit notes. The finish is one of warming spices and chocolate. A good winter beer which isn’t at all heavy.
I managed to take some of this home and found the longer it stayed in the glass the richer and smoother it becomes. This would be a fantastic supped from a brandy glass paired with a strong cheddar or stilton.
Huge thanks to the Tonbridge Brewery for all their help and for the souvenirs and thanks to the South Tonbridge WI for inviting me and being such a wonderful enthusiastic audience.