MaltJerry does River Cottage

I’m hardly going to write “MaltJerry does Pig in a Day”, even if “Pig in a Day” was the name of the course I took part in at River Cottage HQ. Might boost the views, though… Surprisingly, it took the whole day before anyone mentioned David Cameron, that’s how foodie we participants were.

The River Cottage HQ cookery course “Pig in a Day” was a birthday present from my wife. Eight others were on the course for reasons unconnected to the anniversary of my birth. Four were on a stag do. Either lost, or the most Waitrose stag do ever.

River Cottage HQ for the Pig in a Day course.

First, catch your pork. River Cottage HQ Pig in a Day course

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MaltJerry is back!

Just a quick post to say “I’m back!”.

To a chorus of: “We didn’t notice you were gone”, the MaltJerry blog returns after a hiatus of several months. It was not abandoned, merely “suspended” by my web host, following unforeseen, but perhaps predictable technical difficulties.

Xmas dinner 2015 med

Christmas dinner 2015 chez MaltJerry

Apologies to everyone hoping for or expecting a write-up. I have received some great beers in the post in recent months, sampled some fantastic brews and drams, been to some brilliant events, eaten (and dare I say, cooked) some delicious meals, and changed in the way I think about “owning” whisky.

I wanted to come back with an all-new approach and look, but realised that would just delay things even more.


Many thanks to for sorting this whole thing out.
Above and beyond the call of duty by many a mile.

Flying Dog Double Dog. Wrong time, right beer

A double American IPA on a Monday night? Surely not! A double IPA, at 11.5% ABV is no after-work quaffer. But, I would argue, on a tired, quiet Monday evening, it is just right. There is, possibly, no better time.

The double IPA that prompted this post is from a classic American craft brewery: Flying Dog. I took it at the end of a double-dog day with an inhumanely early start and travel. The stuff that had to be dealt with after could only be managed by wrestling it. So, when meeting up with a colleague not seen in a while, to wind down with just a couple of beers, it seemed a good (if odd) night for a Double Dog.

Flying Dog Double Dog Double IPA, surely

A glass of the wrong stuff? Double Dog on keg and in bottle.

A double or imperial IPA is not something I would normally countenance on an evening so early in the week. Or many other evenings. I think of a DIPA (or IIPA) as a special occasion, culmination beer. An after-dinner snifter, a port-and-Stilton finisher, with your Christmas cracker crown finally removed. However, there is a reason why a Monday is better. Continue reading

The Knowledge: Is a little learning about beer a dangerous thing?

Did you know beer makes cows less farty? It’s true! Rod Jones of Meantime Brewing told me. OK, it’s nearly true. Actually, it’s feeding cattle on spent malt grains that reduces the cow’s methane emission by 40%. Helps make the world just that little bit less greenhouse-y.

Meantime Brewing The Knowledge beer appreciation courses

Part of The Knowledge Master Class course

I learned this amazing flatulence fact at the launch of Meantime Brewing’s new beer appreciation courses called The Knowledge. Rod Jones, Meantime’s beer taster supreme, is our host and is here to tell us all about The Knowledge.

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Beer in a Can: Future Days or Soon Over (Babaluma)?

Excuse me for confusing beer and Krautrock, but the beer world is embracing the can to an extent not seen since the heyday of the German rock band Can. There was a time when at least the perception of any right-drinking beer lover was that the can was an indicator of an inferior product. Filtered and pasteurised, tainted by the metal.

In the 70s, cult favourites Can, progenitors of so-called Krautrock, whose album titles I borrowed for my headline, seemed to me and my little brother, the height of freaky rock. We were a little too young to know, perhaps. We were also a little too young for beer. Not too young, however, to notice that beer culture, like music culture was changing. Beer in a can, on the other hand, was normal.

Can albums and FourPure beer can stack with MaltJerry

MaltJerry stands in front of a Fourpure Brewery stack of Pils cans and underneath the sleeve pics for two classic Can albums

From our viewpoint, now, in the actual future, the 70s look retro hip. Everybody drank their beer from dimpled pint glasses and my dad had a hipster moustache. Even in bleak, three-day week Britain, brewers thought cans were so good they put seven pints in them and called it a party. Bottles seemed as old hat as flat caps. Are times changing?

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Duvel Tripel Hop 2015: a Beer for an Equinox and a Solar Eclipse

March 20: The EquiCox. The time of the year when everyone on the planet has the same amount of daylight until the next TV show involving Professor Brian Cox. It is also the eve of the Vernal Equinox* and coincidentally, the first total solar eclipse of 2015. It is no coincidence that this is the day chosen for the UK launch of Duvel Tripel Hop 2015, a special, limited edition beer.

Duvel Tripel Hop 2015 Equinox

Duvel Tripel Hop 2015 Equinox, Eclipse and EquiCox


The Day of the EquiCox

The Day of the EquiCox. Professor Brian Cox eclipses the sun

You do wonder if a limited edition beer can ever really be launched. I wonder, anyway, because by the time a special, limited edition beer is written about, it will be just as special but even more limited. But hey, if you get invited to a launch, well, you’re not going to turn it down over a point of semantics, are you?

The Tripel Hop version of this classic, Belgian, golden ale Duvel, has made an annual appearance since 2007, which was two years after physicist Brian Cox first appeared on our TV screens and eight years after the last solar eclipse visible from the UK. I went to the Three Johns pub in Islington for launch night***. Continue reading

The rumour BrewDog’s IPA is Dead is dead, is dead

So, farewell then, IPA is Dead, they* said.
But you were not dead.
That rumour is scotched,
Like some other BrewDog beers.
(But not Alice Porter.)

Single hop varietals is the spice of life.
That was your catchphrase.
Still is.

– EJ Kribb (17.5% ABV)
With apologies to Private Eye (again).

IPA is Dead 2014 four-pack carrier

IPA is Dead 2014 box set

* “They” being MaltJerry, in all fairness. Continue reading

Finding a whisky good enough to celebrate 10 years

13th Dec. Maltjerry's Advent Calendar: Transported to a Swedish Summer forest.

Looking for a special whisky

Today, 8 Dec, is a special day. I celebrate it every year;  the anniversary of my brother-in-law donating a kidney to his sister, Cim, my wife. Part of the celebration is sending a bottle of whisky to Jonas. It’s a token of thanks and acknowledgement but cannot really express the depth of gratitude we both feel for how much of a difference that act of heroism has made to our lives. Going to Antarctica? Not even thinkable.

This year is ten years, and being a round number, I feel that this year’s whisky should be extra special in some way. On the 5th anniversary, I bought the Highland Park Hjärta, a limited edition whisky whose name (heart) spoke to the issue. Getting it to Jonas in the north of Sweden was a bit of an odyssey. How could I top that? Should I even try?

Another Highland Park might fit the bill, and there are some very fine, very expensive whiskies, some of which are even harder get hold of than the Hjärta. Perhaps one from the range named after Norse gods and warriors. I haven’t tasted many of them and it’s important to me that it’s something I know he (and I) will really like. Too risky? Continue reading

Saison: from Belgian Farmhouse to London Fields Eastside

At the risk – or perhaps hope – of achieving notoriety in Private Eye’s Neophiliacs column, I declare that saison is the new black IPA. I am not saying that to knock it or anyone who brews saison. I love the stuff. Which was why I was delighted to be invited to London Fields Brewery for the launch of the latest in their Bootlegger Series: Eastside Saison.

Eastside Saison signage London Fields Brewery

Eastside Saison. It’s from Lond Fields’ east side.

Over the past year or so, “saison” beers have exploded their presence like overprimed bottles of homebrew. Craft brewers have been cranking up their imaginations to produce a new variants of a beer style with its origins in the Belgian farmhouse of bygone eras. And why shouldn’t modern brewers be creative? When it comes to style, saison is the bebop of beer: based on a few sketchy ideas, the whole comes together with some firecracking improvisation.

Which is a roundabout way of saying there is nothing fixed about a saison: it is a moveable feast*. Nobody can be certain what those ancient farmhouse beers tasted like. Brewed in winter for slaking the thirsts of summer farm labourers, each farm brewing their own one-off batch. As craft as you like, it’s no wonder so many brewers want to try their hand.  I was very keen to taste the London Fields interpretation. Continue reading

A taste of Autumn: Catch 23, one crazier

From: Central Coast Brewing, USA, California, San Luis Obispo.
Style: Dark Rye IPA. 7.5% ABV, 77 IBU
Source: Ales By Mail
Tues 26 Aug. Kid brother flips a significant digit

Central Coast Brewing Catch 23

Don’t fear the end of summer. Autumn heralds dark rye ales.

I don’t know what Autumn is like in San Luis Obispo, California, but I’m guessing it’s warmer than a rainy August bank holiday in England. Or indeed a sunny one. No matter, because my latest choice from the Ales By Mail US Beer Club box reminds me of Autumn and imminent arrival of the richest, tastiest, best food of the year.

The natty can doesn’t let on what style Catch 23 is, it just says “”Excessively hopped high gravity ale. Rye & roasted malts”. I say, to start with, it’s ebony/black with a espresso crema head, once it’s calmed down. The aroma is all pecan pie: roasted nut and caramel with some piny/citrus hops trying to get through.

Trouble is, once you’ve tasted it, trying to define the aroma is tricky. The flavours in the mouth linger and dominate, diminishing my olfactory capability, captain. Not like that’s a bad thing. Roast and pine. Not burnt roast, but a just-turned chestnut and toffee apple. Sound like Autumn to you?

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