Well, our beer tasting from the 23rd February was a great success, and I have been asked lots now for the recipes, beer lists and the produce we used. I thought the easiest way to let you all know would be a blog post with everything in.
We used the following producers for the tasters:
Brays Cottage : onion marmalade pork pies
Pye Baker : Binham Blue cheese and squash quiches
Peter’s Yard : sourdough crispbreads
Beers of Europe : The bottled beer selection
Smoked Trout Pate
250g hot smoked trout
250g cream cheese
250g butter (unsalted)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Blitz all the ingredients with a blender until you have a smooth consistency, season with freshly ground black pepper. You can serve as is, or even line a terrine dish with slices of cold smoked salmon and then fill with the trout pate, chill and then slice as a fancy pants starter. The pate also freezes really well.
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
600g mushrooms – mixed, I used a portabello and button. Use a varied selection to bring out the best flavours. Sliced
3 springs of fresh thyme – leaves only
Juice of 1/2 lemon
250g cream cheese
Grate of nutmeg
Melt the butter in a large frying pan, hen add the onion and garlic, allow to soften but not colour. Add in the mushrooms and allow to cook down. Add the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Towards the end of cooking turn the heat up a little to evaporate off the mushroom liquid, you want a little left, but you don’t want them swimming in it. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Blitz the whole lot with the cheese, lemon juice and nutmeg, check seasoning. Chill for a few hours before serving.
These would work well with cheese – so we matched them with the Pye Baker blue cheese quiches, and also white chocolate. We had some white chocolate buttons which worked rather well.
We tried these beers with a herb pork terrine.
750g minced pork – you’ll want minced belly ideally, something with lots of fat
250g pork liver
4 cloves garlic
150mls red wine
Good handful of chopped parsley, and 4 springs of thyme (just leaves)
10 slices smoky streaky bacon
Salt & pepper to season
Coarsely mince all the ingredients except the egg, wine and bacon into a large bowl. Mix in the egg and wine by hand, ensuring a good even mix. Run the back of a knife over each bacon slice as you ‘stretch’ it. Line a terrine dish with the bacon. Fill the terrine with the pate mix, and top with any remaining bacon.
Cover the terrine with foil and place into a deep roasting tin of boiling water (bain-marie) cook at 180 degrees (fan assisted) for 60 mins. Take the foil off and cook for up to another 30 mins until cooked through and turning brown. Allow to cool and keep in fridge for at least 24 hours for the flavours to develop.
This recipe was adapted from the Pate de Campagne recipe by Marc Frederic in Le Charcutier Anglais
To accompany these we had Brays Cottage onion marmalade pork pies and some dark chocolate truffles.
Dark Chocolate Truffles
250ml double cream
150g vanilla sugar
180g cacao – I chop this with a sharp knife rather than grating, it’s quicker and less messy
Cocoa powder, for dusting
I use Willies Cacao for this recipe. So heat the sugar and cream together until just before boiling and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the cacao. Mix thoroughly until the mixture has a gloss to it. Chill it in the fridge until firm. Once set, spoon teaspoon sized balls from the mix, and drop into a bowl of cocoa powder. Put the truffles back in the fridge until ready to eat. I sometimes pipe the mix into long thin sausages then chop up and drop into the cocoa as this can look more professional.
I know there are endless requests at the moment for your money for charidee, but here’s something that I’m proud to say I am a part of. A very brave group of women from Norwich came together a couple of years ago with an aim to raise money for charity. That first year was for Race for Life. One of our group enjoyed running so much, she’s taken to doing daft things like running half marathons. Next year she’s running the London Marathon. Barefoot. Yes, that’s right, with no shoes on.
So, the rest of us thought the least we could do was this. Please take a look and support us by buying a copy. Thank you.
For a long while now, there has been a trend to dismiss the stuffy old fashioned beer lover as a ‘bearded’ type who wears socks and sandals, wears a faded, stained and stretched ‘what’s the matter lager boy?’ t-shirt over a straining belly who bores on about the scourge of keg beer. I kind of feel it’s a bit mean on bearded chaps. I’m not suggesting I’m about to start sporting one myself, that’s pushing it a little far. However, I know lots of young(ish) cool(ish) fellas who sport various kinds of facial accoutrement. And lovely old comforting grandpa types, silver foxes, and full-on Brian Blessed wannabes. The’re good people. They’re not odd. Well, I’m sure some of them are, but it’s nothing to do with the beard.
Movember isn’t that far away, and there’ll be men aplenty proudly wearing facial hair for a good cause. So I ask, can we stop the beard bashing, and aim the prejudice elsewhere. I know there are a certain elements in the beer community we like to poke fun at, but I have to admit a certain fondness to a beard. Perhaps it’s the kind of beard that matters? With that in mind, leave you with this, shamelessly stolen from R. Jason Bennion. The trustworthiness of beards (click and zoom):
So, this evening we get the start of the greatest show on earth. It really doesn’t seem like seven years ago that we found out that the UK would be hosting the Olympic games. And while there has been a lot of cynicism with regards to the sponsors and LOCOG, I do genuinely believe that it’s something we can all get behind. The world is watching, and it’s our time to show off. Negativity isn’t going to change anything or stop it happening, so can’t beat them join them I guess.
This evening, I’ll be at home, watching the opening ceremony. So far we’ve had sneak previews of people in PJs jumping on trampoline beds, colourful dancers and what look like owls on bicycles. So far so eccentric. I’m glad to say however, I wont be drinking any ‘official’ beer of the games. I’ll be sticking by my usual ethics and going for something tasty, perhaps local, perhaps not. Probably British. I’ll be having a curry, it’s often wheeled out as the nations favourite meal, so what could be more British than a ruby and a pint? I don’t think my choice of beer will be with added steroids this evening thanks.
What will you be drinking this evening? Will you be watching, or determinedly ignoring all the fuss until after 9th September?
Thinking that this might be a bit controversial, hops are seen as good right? Always more hops, needs more hops, if only it had C-hops…. Is that always the case though? I was drinking some new (to me) beers on Friday night, one of which was a complete hop bomb. It wasn’t particularly high ABV, but was incredibly bitter, with a huge hop profile. I felt as though I had had my mouth scoured by a grapefruit flavoured brillo pad. Now I know there will be people who love this kind of beer, lap it up whilst shouting ‘More hops, never can have too many hops’.
I love hops, I adore the different scents you get, I like the citrus, the pine, the earthy flavours. That resinous mouth feel, the kick of bitterness to counteract the heady aromas. I may have been guilty of saying that you can’t have too many hops in the past, but these beers changed my views. It turns out you CAN have too many. This beer was almost sour – not in the vinegar sense – but in the just bitten a lemon sour. It wasn’t just me, those who I was with all tried it, and we all felt the same. It was too heavily hopped. There was no malt flavour to balance it out, and nothing from the yeast either. If there were notes in there at all from the yeast and malt, they had been steamrollered by the hop character.
I am reminded of a quote of Garrett Oliver in this blog from Tandleman equating over-hopping beer with over-salting food to the point of it being inedible. Well I found my over salty beer I am afraid. Now, is it just me? How many others have found beers hopped to the point that you’d rather not drink them? Or are you still firmly a believer in never having too many hops?
It really shouldn’t be the time of year for this kind of post, but as the rain is lashing the windows, a huge storm predicted and thunder rumbling about outside, sod it. I’m sat here with a bowl of soup. It’s not even chilled. Along with a big wedge of thickly buttered bread. Comfort food really.
I’m full of cold, and rather run down. I’m feeling the need for the kind of beer you can nurse in front of the fire, curled up on your favourite chair with a quilt on your knee. Comfort beer. I really am feeling like an old woman’s granny today.
So, what have I got in mind? Something dark, all about the rich roasted, vanilla, coffee and chocolate flavours. Not too bitter, but maybe a nice touch of fruity hop – something along the lines of candied peel in a fruit cake.
I tried Norwich Bear Coconut Pawter last week, a special beer produced for City of Ale which at first I thought might be a little too sweet. Described as a Bounty bar in a glass (I hate Bounty bars – mainly due to the texture than the flavour). But no, this was delicious. Helped as it was paired with dark chocolate truffles and blue cheese. A deeply satisfying hit of cocoa in there, coffee to balance and the coconut on the finish. Reminded me of the smell of Hawaiian Tropic… yearning for a holiday in the sun, can you tell?
Green Jack’s Lurcher Stout would be another contender, a little variable in the past, but has been good the last few times I’ve tried it. All lovely roastedness with hints of vanilla. A good satisfying pint.
One that isn’t about at this time of year is Adams Oyster Stout. A really great pint, in good condition I can not fault this at all. Inky black, smooth and creamy, enough coffee flavours to stop it becoming cloying.
I am sneakily hoping that by positing this we’ll get a heat wave and everyone will laugh and ask ‘what storm?’ So then, tell me, what’s your go-to comfort beer, and if we do suddenly hit 28 degree temperatures, what will be in your fridge?