Beer on Saturday Kitchen again, yet room to grouse

You wait forever for BBC to wake up and smell the hops on Saturday Kitchen, but just a few weeks after choosing BrewDog’s 5AM Saint red ale to break their beer/food pairing duck, along comes another beer/food pairing. I wrote about it here.

Olly Smith selects Harviestoun Schiehallion Pilsner beer on Saturday Kitchen

Olly Smith shows his beer credentials on Saturday Kitchen. (Screen grab from BBC iPlayer)

Matt Tebbutt is again the host (coincidence?), Tom Kitchin is the guest chef, and the drinks expert is “Jolly” Olly Smith. Tom is preparing, somewhat controversially, a pan-fried grouse breast with watercress mayo and black pudding. It’s for brunch. What would Olly pick? Continue reading

No red, red wine for red-red stew on Saturday Kitchen?

My Saturday morning is predictable: toast, Marmite, jasmine tea for MaltCim, check the beginning of Saturday Kitchen on BBC1 to see who’s on. These days, this includes who’s hosting (instead of James Martin), and who’s doing the wine choices.

Saturday Kitchen: Host Matt Tebbutt with guest chefs Zoe Adjonyoh and Theo Randall and wine expert Sam Caporn

BBC Saturday Kitchen: Host Matt Tebbutt with guest chefs Zoe Adjonyoh and Theo Randall and wine expert Sam Caporn

Who am I kidding about the wine? As my regular reader will know, I get cross about the wine bit, because well, beer. Except, today, After introducing the guest chefs, 1 min and 14 seconds in…

Matt Tebbutt (guest host): And Sam, there’s a bit of a theme going on. Bit of a red theme. You going red wine?

Sam Caporn (wine expert): Er, red ale.

Matt: Really? Controversial…

Me: What?! (Pauses live TV, checks outside for colour of grass in this parallel universe. rewinds.) She just said “ale”! Continue reading

So what DID happen in Sweden? Beerbliotek Brewery in Alternative Fact shock.

Gothenburg, Sweden. 19 Feb. 2017. Woke up to the media aftermath of the latest Trump outburst: the astonishing claim that implied there had been a terror attack in Sweden the night before. It is not for this blog to go into detail about that utter nonsense, but I can admit to indulging in at least one Alternative Fact in Sweden, on the Saturday, while visiting Swedish craft brewery Beerbliotek’s tap room.

Beerbliotek Brewery Taproom Artwork Gothenburg, Sweden

Artwork decorating one of Gothenburg’s finest breweries

The American woman next to me in the tap room was desperate to avoid talk of That Man. “I’m sick of being asked about it”, she protested to her Swedish friends. Understandably. It was as if to assure us “I didn’t vote for him!”. I suspect there is no let-up for her, following Sunday morning’s “revelation”.

This was not how I was going to begin this blog post. As I wrote my notes in the understated “tap room” adjacent to the brewery itself, I was thinking Lincoln City’s shock win in the FA Cup would have the required ring of unbelievability . The beer I was drinking on THAT Saturday was called Alternative Fact. Continue reading

Warpigs: Mikkeller’s brewpub in Copenhagen with “authentic” Texas BBQ

“Generals gathered in their masses”. Goes the opening line of the Black Sabbath metal classic War Pigs. “Just like witches at black masses”, Continues Ozzy, with not a thought towards ever winning a Nobel Prize for literature. Chemistry, on the other hand…*

And not as generals, but like IT professionals at an afterwork on a Friday, we gathered at Warpigs brewpub, Copenhagen for an evening of “Authentic Texas BBQ” and American-style craft beer. We hadn’t been since it opened in the summer of 2015, so a planned extra day in Copenhagen meant the opportunity to pay a second visit. Would we still like it?

Outside shot of Warpigs brewpub Copenhagen

Mikkeller’s showcase brewpub Warpigs

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The Woking Food and Drink Festival: MaltJerry guests

“Hey Sophie, why don’t you come along to the Woking Food and Drink Festival,” they said. “I would, but I don’t live anywhere near Woking,” said Sophie. “But I know a man who does…”*

Which is how I ended up writing a guest post for Sophie Atherton. Why a blog post, for somebody else’s blog? Well, Sophie is an award-winning beer journalist who writes regularly for the Daily Telegraph and other nationals. She has food cred too, as the first accredited woman beer sommelier in the UK. Her blog is called A FemAle View on Beer. I am indeed honoured.

Sophie Atherton, beer writer and beer sommelier, and host of A FemAle View on Beer blog

Sophie Atherton, whose A FemAle View on Beer I guest blogged for

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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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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

Is BrewDog IPA is Dead dead?

BrewDog is back with Edition 4 of IPA is Dead; a new batch of very much undead IPAs; the fourth year of this occasional series. Are they run out of hops yet? Is this it?

Four bottles, the same base 7.2% ABV IPA, a different hop variety in each, so we get to see what each brings to the party. Another take on Taste the Difference.

BrewDog IPA is Dead 4 2014

From Experimental to familiar Amarillo: IPA is Dead hops

Edition 4 consists of the unfamiliar (to me): Comet, Kohatu, Exp 366, and if you thought that was all sounding a little X-Files, the new four-pack is rounded off with a more familiar friend: Amarillo. Will any be as good as Edition 3’s gorgeous Goldings or as diabolical as Dana? (which tasted like an IPA that had actually died)? Let’s see…

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Swift Half: BrewDog/Oskar Blues Shipwreck Circus Barley Wine

From Radiohead to 20th century retro. Having recently reproduced their How to Disappear Completely low-alcohol, BrewDog’s latest is a beer in a style that, according to some, doesn’t exist at all.

BrewDog./Oskar Blues collaboration barley wine: Shipwrecker Circus

BrewDog/Oskar Blues collaboration barley wine: Shipwrecker Circus

A very nice piece of writing on the label about this collaboration with the can-friendly Coloradans, Oskar Blues. All the fun of the big top, but little to describe the beer. Could ringmaster James go one step further and do what he wants all craft breweries to do with their labelling? As well as being fun, inform the customer.

OK, perhaps space was limited, but beyond being told this is a “barley wine” and therefore should, like the circus, provide unexpected and limitless delights, what can I add?

We should look back to the 70s. The aromas of Shipwrecker Circus are redolent of an old-fashioned sweet shop: cola cubes and pineapple chunks. It is smooth and mouthcoating like a melted Curly Wurly. And with a kick like Norman Hunter, maybe that’s what they meant by “a nightmare for health and safety”.

Food pairing suggestion: These are big flavours with sweetness and bitterness that would go with strong cheese, but not any old 70s ploughman’s lunch, an Imperial one with proper mature farmhouse cheddar, aged Stilton and Roquefort.

Links
BrewDog shop

Swift Half: Chatoe Rogue, First Growth Dirtoir Black Lager

“GYO” says the label. Grow your own! “Dirtoir”: a back-formation from that dirty word “terroir”. Is this a 6.0% black lager? a Schwarzbier made with hops and barley grown chez Rogue? Or is it a black ale mistakenly cold fermented with German Oktoberfest yeast?

Rogue Ales Dirtoir Black Lager

The Rogue brewery drops “ale” and goes for a Schwarzbier black lager

Chatoe Rogue was an offshoot to the main branch of Rogue Ales from Newport, Oregon in the US Pacific north west. Now called Rogue Farms – a much better name, it brings the concept of grow-your-own to the brewery. Allowing them to brew from their own local ingredients. And then ship them half way around the world…

I’m listening to Eric Dolphy’s “Hat and Beard” – free jazz from the pioneering Out to Lunch album. Dark, disjointed, complex, zingy, lingering and satisfyingly grating. And so is the beer. There is also coffee and licquorice root, which I have yet to find in the music.

But if you do find yourself “out to lunch”, especially at a barbecue – perhaps even an Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue – and they are serving spiced grilled steaks, the char in the meat would be complemented in the dark flavours in the beer and the fresh sparkle of carbonation would allow you to distinguish all the deep, spicy flavours.

Links
Rogue Ales list of beers
Out to Lunch by Eric Dolphy on Amazon and Spotify
Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue: a musical tribute by Frank Zappa and The Mothers on YouTube.
YouMikkeler Jackie Brown