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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):
I read with interest today the blog of Boak and Bailey, where a friend of theirs had been on holiday to Norfolk, and brought back some small brewery beers for them to try. Three of which were undrinkable, the fourth certainly poor. It saddened me to think that this is what is representing Norfolk beer outside of the county. While I admit, there are beers I have bought here that I would describe as ‘past their best’ to put it kindly – though I doubt there is a county that doesn’t have these kind of breweries – we also have some amazing beers and breweries.
I thought that perhaps I could highlight some of the best beers from the region, and see if they might change their minds about our ‘exploitative, gift-shop, tourist-trap beers.’ Whilst I myself have called Norfolk conservative in it’s brewing industry, times are changing. One of our most successful beers was our 5.8% – Jiggle Juice IPA, heaped with citra hops. Whilst that’s not particularly earth shattering these days, there was nothing like that a couple of years ago here in Norfolk when it was born.
The beers I’ve highlighted here, are in no particular order, or style, I’m as much as a fan of a really good bitter than I am imperial stout, but here are a few that might just make people thing twice about Norfolk being poor or resting on it’s tourist laurels when it comes to brewing.
Probably our biggest brewer in the region is Woodforde’s. Their Wherry (a previous champion beer of Britain) is a lovely pint of bitter. When you find a fresh barrel on in a pub, there are few better bitters. Their Sundew a great golden ale for sunshine drinking. However, their Nip is something else. An 8.5% beer served in a tradtional ‘nip’ size, these limited edition and numbered bottles contain a really special beer. If you like deep dried fruit flavours, with hints of liquorice and treacle, you’ll love this.
Another brewery I’d recommend trying would be Grain. Since opening in 2006, they’ve won numerous awards for their beers. Try Oak for a traditional English Bitter, the porter is delicious and has just won Norfolk beer of the year. Consistently good beers. Not all are bottle conditioned, some are cold filtered.
Humpty Dumpty are a must, another multi-award winning brewery. Their Porter is all dark malt deliciousness, and the Little Sharpie bitter a light and clean beer.
I was also surprised to see much condemnation of bottle conditioned ales, pointed at small breweries – not from Boak and Bailey themselves. Comments on their blog posts suggesting that micros bottle conditioned offerings are ‘muck’ I feel a quite a way off the mark – and missing the main reason why a lot of these breweries bottle condition their beers in the first place. It’s far easier to contract out the bottling of your beer, to get them cold filtered/pasteurised and such like. It’s less hassle and can sometimes be cheaper. However, a lot of these little breweries rely on CAMRA to help publicise them, they wont get that help if they’re not bottle conditioned, they’re not allowed to enter competitions or be on ale trails. Several of the ‘real ale’ shops here will simply just not stock your beer if it’s not bottle conditioned. Some of these breweries can be more nano than micro – and just too small for the contract bottlers to take on. When bottle conditioning is done right, it can be brilliant, while it takes practise to perfect it, I do feel it’s worth the persistence for these small local breweries. I wonder if the beers in the original blog post would have been just as poor if they had been filtered.
I’d like to know what you think are the best Norfolk beers around, which you’ve enjoyed and which you’d pass on next time… ?