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

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

The quest for easy, slow-cooking meat with beer

I have embarked on something of a quest. Pulled-pork, barbecue brisket, slow roasts and all kinds of time-swallowing recipes for cooking meat have been grabbing my attention. While a lot of them have me drooling over the keyboard, most of the recipes I’ve seen appear to be quite demanding, and not just in time. I am determined to find an easier way without compromising on the taste.

Shoulder of pork slow cooked in beer

The quest for simple pulled pork

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Swift Half: IPA is Dead Edition 2. HBC (Can it save the Aussies?)

BrewDog IPA is Dead II: HBC 6.7%

11 Aug. Sunday afternoon, Ashes test in the balance, and here I am giving this new Australian hop sort a go. The batch number on the label says “071”, but this translates to the second round of IPA is Dead, BrewDog doing one hop variety per IPA.

The best-before date is gone by 5 months 13-03-2013. How would this humulus lupulus survive more than a year in the bottle? Fair dingo, or howler?

BrewDog IPA is Dead:2 single-hop IPA series second batch with Challenger, Motueka, Galaxy, and HBC hop varietals.

IPA is Dead, Batch 2: Challenger, Motueka, Galaxy, and HBC

The nose is fresh. At least, unoxidised (no wet paper/cardboard smells). There is some hop aroma of citrus, but it’s quite shy. Maybe a touch of autumn leaves.
Like the other beers in the batch, the beer feels quite big and chewy, and here, the travel-sweet juiciness of the hop shows up. There are crisp, summery and tangy flavours alongside a good balancing malt sweetness. It’s deeper, more rounded than the Punk IPA.

Memory tells me it is not as bitter as when fresh, and not astringent at all. Have I said that about all of the batch 2 a year on?

Orange-citrus has characterised the hops in Edition 2, but this is the orangiest. Would you forgive me for pairing this with griddled duck breasts? Too 70s? How about herby roasted lamb rack? Or just sitting in the garden listening to Test Match special hoping for a decent second innings lead.

From: Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Type: Single-hop varietal India Pale Ale, bottle. Source: BrewDog online.

Previously: IPA is Dead II: Motueka, IPA is Dead II: Galaxy, and IPA is Dead II Challenger
The original IPA is Dead tasting at The Euston Tap, February 2011

Wadworth’s Brewer’s Creation No. 7: Darkness made light

The crow stood in the middle of the scorched lawn, barely moving, wings held down as if in surrender to the heat. Its beak slightly agape, it cocked its head and gave me a resigned stare, as if to caw, “Today, of all days, I wore black…”

I ambled home, mentally preparing myself for the onslaught of the barbecue with thoughts of the mini-cask from Wadworth‘s chilled and waiting. The latest Brewer’s Creation, No. 7, in the monthly series of new beers from Wadworth. It is untapped, with the only clues as to its contents a long list of malts and three hop varieties.

mini-cask ale

A mini-cask of Wadworth’s new creation for July

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