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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July 4th Beer Dinner Dominated by a Couple of Bastards

The Fourth of July is supposed to commemorate a revolution started with a tea party in Boston. I was rather glad that Meantime Brewing decided instead to have a beer dinner in Greenwich. Billed as “American Revolutionary Beer and Food” for 4th of July, we got fireworks in five courses and 11 beers.

Thankfully, the days since an American beer dinner would have been thought of as a culinary endurance test are, like the Boston Tea Party, history. At least when the feast is put together by Meantime Old Brewery chef Jose Lopez and beer expert Glenn Payne. Bastards? No! now that would be inglorious of me. My title comes from the names of two of the beers chosen to accompany two of the courses.

This was a masterclass in beer and food pairing, using different styles of beer to both complement and contrast the courses and to cleanse and titillate the palate. From a light and delicate aperitif to sour and fruity with cheese via, perfumed and bitter, robust and malty with the main event, and various ports of call in between.

Meantime Brewing's 4th of July Beer Dinner: The menu

Meantime Brewing’s 4th of July Beer Dinner: The menu

Take a look at the menu, then follow the link for pictures with tasting notes for each beer and food pair.

Introduction by Glenn Payne, and aperitifs
Glenn isn’t just any old beer connoisseur. He’s been promoting the wonders of American craft beer since the mid-90s. And he’s not even American. Nor is the host, Meantime head brewer, Alastair Hook. Glenn and Alistair spoke, we drank:
Sly Fox Helles, Meantime Yakima Red, Anchor Summer (wheat)

Soup course
New England clam chowder and Cornish white fish
Meantime Cali-Belgique

First “Bastard” course
Meatloaf with prunes, San Francisco sourdough toast and cucumber pickles
Stone Oak-aged Arrogant Bastard

Main “Bastard” course
Smoked baby back ribs marinated in Meantime Wheat beer, with grilled lobster, spicy coleslaw and hand-cut chips
Founders Dirty Bastard, Flying Dog Wilde Man

Blueberry cobbler with stawberry ice cream
Alaskan Brewing Company Smoked Porter

Cheesboard with beer chutney
Cheddar, goats cheese, and Stilton
Ommegang Rare Vos Pale Ale, Brooklyn Black Ops, Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red

Now visit the Maltjerry flickr photo set Beer and food fireworks on the 4th of July to find out how it all went. Be sure to click on each photo for a description.

When you’ve digested…

Meantime hold beer dinners regularly. The next is on Thursday 29 August, at The Old Brewery, and features modern British cooking, with oysters, salt beef, and turbot.
Contact through

Keep an eye on Meantime Brewing News and Events for dinners and other events.
The White Horse on Parson’s Green, London SW6 is having a beer dinner hosted by the very wonderful Thornbridge Brewery.

Many thanks to Meantime for inviting MaltCim and me to dinner!

Swift Half: IPA is Dead Edition 2. An Old-world Challenger

 BrewDog IPA is Dead II: Challenger 6.7%

A perfectly normal summer Sunday afternoon, 22  July as England take a 2-0 lead in the Ashes. And what more appropriate hop variety could you wish for at today than good-old English Challenger?
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

In Edition 1 of IPA is Dead, BrewDog threw in Bramling X as the old-world type. This time, they’ve gone for a more traditional variety used widely in British beers (Fuller’s ESB and London Pride), but not often as a single-hop varietal (that I know of). I liked the BrewDog take in Edition 2 a year (and more) ago. How would age wither it?

The beer smells good. Perhaps a touch of oxidation, but the hops smell fresh: bright, orange oil aromas. Sweet malt, as I have come to expect from these IPA is Dead beers, but a good, balancing bitterness that lingers to the finish. A bit of the old-English marmalade about it – so familiar to me from Fullers beers.

The aged BrewDog has lost a touch of vibrancy, maybe, but still a damn fine beer and lovely use of hops. Would be great with the lamb steaks we’re having for dinner: the deep fruit oil to go with the sweetness of the meat. But having survived 14 months in my beer cupboard this ain’t gonna last another 14 minutes.

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

Next up: IPA is Dead II. HBC: Can it Save the Aussies?
Previously: IPA is Dead II. Motueka and IPA is Dead II: Galaxy
The original IPA is Dead tasting at The Euston Tap, February 2011


Swift Half: IPA is Dead Edition 2. A Galaxy not too far away

BrewDog IPA is Dead II: Galaxy 6.7%

Home, Sunday 10 July 2013 after a pork shoulder steak with sage and IKEA dark lager sauce.

The second bottle of the IPA is Dead II bottlings a year after release of the second edition of BrewDog’s single-hop IPA showcase. Not just a year later but a few months on top of that.

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

I remember this beer fresh at Camden’s BrewDog bar, with its Austrailian mega-hop variety Galaxy being intensely resinous. Now it seems mellowed but still has a piney, polishy taste and aroma.

Some aged IPA is Dead bottles have an enhanced (it seems to me) sweetness, but the malt here is not as sweet, cheescake-base as some of the other non-fresh IPAs. The malt digested by the remaining yeast has given the beer more strength – in more ways than one.

There’s a slight vegetal aftertaste, but in fairness it’s not dominant and there’s still enough hop-oil freshness to carry the day. And that would be a day of an orange oil massage as the sun sets over the mirror-smooth sea on the beach of a secluded bay in New South Wales.

Loading the barbie with some pork medallion kebabs simply grilled with a touch of oregano. They would be fab (beaut?) with this. [That’s enough Aussie sterotyping. Self-Ed.]

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

Next up: IPA is Dead II. An old-world Challenger
Previously: IPA is Dead II. Motueka: A new batch is hatched
The original IPA is Dead tasting at The Euston Tap, February 2011

Swift Half: IPA is Dead Edition 2 Motueka: a new batch is hatched

BrewDog IPA is Dead II: Motueka 6.7%.

Sunday night, the evening before setting off on a new Swedish mission. Tasting the IPA is Dead II bottlings a year after release of the second edition of BrewDog’s single-hop IPA showcase. How would 12 months and more have changed them?

Motueka is a new New Zealand hop variety I didn’t know about before. I pour in preparation for the Sunday roast. The beer looks a lively bright orange-gold, perhaps brighter than I remember on tasting it in BrewDog Camden in March 2012. Still fresh, the fruity aromas from the Motueka hops have an intensity like tinned fruit salad.

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

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

On draught a year ago, I thought of the Motueka hop as the more refined brother of Sorachi Ace, which was one of the chosen hops for the original IPA is Dead quartet. No weird, resiny, plastic/ PlayDoh on the nose, and although it does have that mouldy orange so characteristic of Sorachi Ace, here they notes and not dominating.

It surprises me how chewy the IPA is Dead beers feel. With the Motueka, you could imagine you were drinking the syrup from that fruit salad tin I could smell. And then there is a nice blast of bitterness right down the throat. My breath comes up smelling of lychees.

Our roast chicken isn’t quite your standard: spatchcocked and has a dry rub of thyme and cumin, coraiander and fennel spice. A pretty good pairing for the Motueka, but if the rub had been more Chinese than North African: anise, Sichuan and rose pepper, it would have been a more complementary match.

It’s a relief to know that the first bottle has more than survived its year under wraps. The only damage is a little loss of vibrancy in all areas except colour. The other bottles will have to wait a little longer before I see if they fared as well.

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

Next up: IPA is Dead II. a Galaxy not too far away
The original IPA is Dead tasting at The Euston Tap, February 2011

Food & Drink presenters admit: “We are talking meringues”

It takes just two seconds, but 20 minutes and 15 seconds into Episode 4 of BBC2’s Food & Drink, there’s a shocking revelation.

Food and Drink talking meringues

Michel Roux Jr. admits “We are talking meringues”

OK, so I have deliberately mistaken a vernacular ellipsis for an admission of air-headedness, but there’s history with BBC food and beer, and I’m not talking (about) Simon Schama. BBC TV food magazine programmes don’t talk about beer. Or very rarely.

And it appears this episode of Food & Drink is to be one of those exceptional occasions, when after four minutes, Kate Goodman, the programme’s “drinks expert” reveals her recommendations of what to go with the gourmet shepherd’s pie dinner Michelin-starred Michel Roux Jr has prepared.

As in previous episodes, she has three beverages to suggest: always a wine and a soft drink, and something else, this time (gasp) a beer! This is what we have been waiting for. The blanket wine dominance of Saturday Kitchen is, if not forgotten, then at least (partially) forgiven. What would her choice of beer be?

The wine she picked sounds like a good match for the robust and “hearty” lamb dish and the chilli-spiced stir-fried cabbage M. Roux has chosen as his accompanying vegetable. A Cairanne red from Côtes du Rhone Villages.

Tell us about the beer!
My second choice is a full-bodied bitter” says Kate. (Great! Which one?)
All we are told is this beer has: “Freshness that will work really well with the spicy cabbage, and at the same time a rich fruitiness that will cope with the wholesome meatiness of the pie.
(Is that it? It would appear so!)

The close-up reveals only a corner of the bottle’s label, showing the beer is 4.7% ABV. The text reveals “Traditional real ale” and “Golden and floral”.

Then later, during the tasting with the food, Kate describes the Côtes du Rhone: “Loads of Grenache grapes…” “Juicy fruit (blackcurrant)…” and “A little bit of white pepper“.

So what have I got?” asks Michel Roux.
The lovely spicy, peppery ale.” chimes Kate.
(Yes, but what is it? I shout.)
It’s Hearty” we hear, “So it’s good for the shepherd’s pie.
Equally it will bring out the flavours of the cabbage and the chilli because it’s got that spicy, peppery character.”
(Yes, it’s a spicy, peppery ale, you said that!)

It’s a damn good match,” Michel Jr admits. (Wow!) “I do like my beer, but I like my wine more!
(Howls of laughter. Subtext: Of course he does – how could anyone like beer more than wine?)

And that’s all we get to know. The message appears to be: any old beer will do.

OK, let’s take another look

Now, let’s be generous for a minute. The pattern of the drinks recommendations on Food & Drink seems to be different from Saturday Kitchen’s blatant supermarket adverts. Kate offers more general tips – a region rather than a specific label or bottle is intended to give the viewer room for purchasing manoeuvre; we don’t all live near a Waitrose or Majestic.

But is a general beer style, equivalent to a wine district? Garrett Oliver’s The Brewmaster’s Table, the de facto food and beer matching reference, suggests: “bitter, British brown ale, porter, Irish stout, [and] dunkel” as matches for shepherd’s pie. So Kate is at least in agreement with the master. How can we complain?

And yet it seems rather a cop-out. To many with scant knowledge of beer, there appear to be three beer styles in the UK: bitter, lager and stout (read Guinness). Kate Goodman’s wine choice is not merely Côtes du Rhone, but from a sub-region of a small part of one French wine style. Is it not then the job of the drinks expert, to narrow the focus and point out differences in the macro-style bitter?

Would it hurt too much to say she chose an English best bitter above 4.5% ABV, and why? Perhaps mention the colour (copper, amber, golden), Whether the hops give it a floral or citrus aroma (or any aroma). “Full-bodied bitter” doesn’t give people much to go on, and with the slight aspersions cast during dinner banter, it gives the impression (to me) that it doesn’t much matter.

I am being harsh for comic effect, in my opening, to suggest a Michelin-starred chef and his cohort are ciphers on the level of talking meringues, but beer lovers have again left feeling second-class. The hope that “drink” in Food & Drink would open the stage to beers of all descriptions remains unfulfilled.

Oh, and Saturday Kitchen is so not forgiven.

The bit where the Michel and Kate from Food & Drink “admit” they are “talking meringues

The Brewmaster’s Table Kindle edition on Amazon

My beer suggestion: Bath Ales Gem. A 4.5% amber-coloured, best bitter.
Available at Waitrose, too.


Meantime Brewing and a new/old London Porter for Burns Night via Bamberg

If pale and extremely hoppy beers have been the belles of the beer ball for last couple of years, perhaps 2013 is the year that malt strikes back. If so, Meantime Brewing have started us off in the right direction with a collaboration beer: a Weyermann Porter. The nature of such limited editions is, by the time you read this, it will all be gone. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Greenwich Union pub tell you so I can tell you what it was like and how good it was with food.

Collaborating breweries, limited edition bottlings and one-off beers are quite the thing these days, on the craft beer scene. But this is one of the more unusual ones with Greenwich’s finest (only?) brewery collaborating with the German speciality maltsters Weyermann to make a London porter with all-German malts, brewed in Germany.


OK, so before the EU gets on my back perhaps “London-style” porter. But yes, Meantime brewer Rod Jones packed his Lederhosen, last Autumn, went to Germany, and to the Bavarian city of Bamberg, to boot. Now things start to make a bit of sense; Bamberg is famous for its Rauchbiers, “smoked beers”, and porter – the second-most mythologised and misunderstood beer style (all porter used to be a bit smoky. Maybe…)

What followed him back from Bavaria, after several months of maturation, (the beer, that is. Rod Jones? same as ever) was a dark, velvety beer with a nod to chocolatey sweetness and a whiff of bonfire smoke. A beer of 8.5% ABV, too. Not that you could tell.

Rod Jones was at pains to point out what the beer didn’t taste of. As well as the absence of alcohol burn, there was an absence of the bitter, roasted and coffee flavours often associated with very dark beers. This, he explained, was down to the art of the maltster, and I would say, the craft of the brewer to showcase the malts: a blend of pale ale malt, two types of caramelised malt, chocolate wheat malt, with the final 5% of the mix coming from Bamberg’s famous beechwood-smoked malt.

Maltjerry bids for an entry into Pseud’s Corner
There were nibbles – substantial ones, sitting tantalisingly on the table as Rod told of standing in the freezing cold as they tasted the newly-matured porter last November, the only one present in Lederhosen, realising he’d been hoodwinked by his hosts. I felt somewhat sheepish, too, as I tucked into the food, but I had to see if this was beer made for food. Food that was getting cold. If that was rude, it was in the cause of research.

Toasted sourdough bread with hummus, deep-fried white fish goujons, thick-cut chips, samples of charcuterie, and…

“I thought it went particularly well with the pork meatloaf en croute”, I said cringing somewhat as I spoke the words.

“Oh, the slices of jumbo sausage roll, you mean?” responded my table companion. Luckily, the Greenwich Union bar was too dimly lit to reveal my blushes. I was right though, it was a very good pairing. Not a usual one for porter, but the smoke gives it an edge and the sweetness balanced by restrained hopping with East Kent Goldings goes with the herby richness of the sausagemeat.

It was no surprise that the rich malt and restrained smokiness of the beer also fitted the charcuterie very well. The light carbonation lifting the fat. Which it also did on the goujons. Porter and seafood is an old combination. This fish wasn’t as overwhelmed as with some porters. The less harshly-roasted dark malts at play, perhaps.

What was surprising was the combination with hummus and sourdough toast. I suspect the slightly burnt edges were picking up the dark malts and smoke again.

Although we can never know what the old-style porters that were all the rage in 19th-century London really tasted like, I doubt they had the refinement of this modern version. They just didn’t have the technical control of today’s maltsters.

Of course, the march of hops will continue in 2013, but this particular malt-forward collaboraton shows another way. I hope more brewers follow.

Meantime Brewing Company: about the Weyermann Porter

The Greenwich Union pub You might be lucky and find some Weyermann Porter, if not there’s Saison de Nuit and of course, the “standard” but also lovely London Porter.

The history of Weyermann speciality malts

17th Dec. Maltjerry’s Advent Calendar: An English beer from a different kitchen

17th December: Wadworth, Beer Kitchen Wheat Beer. 5% ABV
From: Witlshire, England. Type: Belgian-style wheat beer, bottle. Source: Wadworth online

2012 has been a year where beer and food has made a breakthrough in the UK. Mainstream media has caught on. I’ve written about Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain on Channel 4 and Dan Saladino’s Food Programme report on BBC Radio 4. If beer is ever to take back its rightful place in the hearts and minds of the British public as an epicurean beverage, it will be through food.

It is also a sign that a “mainstream”, regional brewer in the UK wants to be in on the act. Wadworth’s Beer Kitchen beers are brewed specifically for drinking with food with a range of beer styles to go with a range of foods. This is just the kind of thing a US craft brewery might do. It’s so much more that trying to force the brewery’s standard range on normal pub grub.


I baked some salmon with some citric white wine (unwise) and a beurre blanc sauce made from the baking juices and fresh basil. Wheat beers often go well with fish; this, finding itself somewhere between the citrussy tang and refreshing light body in the Belgian vit style and the spiciness of a Bavarian Kristall would have been matched better without the wine and basil, but that’s the cook’s fault.

Wadworth’s Beer Kitchen Wheat Beer does seem like an English take on the wheat theme, or not so much a “take” as adding its own genes to the pool. I love what Wadworth’s are doing with this, and the other beers in the range; really adding credibility to the beer-and-food image. The only thing I’d change in the beer would be to have a bigger bottle.

Wadworth’s Beer Kitchen range of beers
My post on Dan Saladino’s Food Programme on beer “Strange Brew”
My Post on Jamie Oliver’s Great Britan programme on beer