#HBBAdvent Beer 24: Northern Monk Black Forest Strannik Imperial Stout (Leeds)

Northern Monk says: So nice, we literally double mashed twice. We're bringing another favourite from last year in the form of the delightfully decadent Black Forest Strannik. An Imperial Russian Stout with added cherries.

We say: We wanted something really special to finish off the advent calendar, and what better than this ridiculously sumptuous imperial stout. Rich, boozy and exploding with dark fruitiness, we couldn't think of a better beer to sit back with on Christmas Eve - so that's what we're going to do. Merry Christmas, everyone - thanks for coming along on our advent ride and for all your support in 2017. - All of us here at HB&B

#HBBAdvent Beer 23: Beavertown x Cigar City Paleo Pinhead Porter (North London)

Beavertown says: This rich and coconutty porter is a collab with our friends from CIgar City Brewing. Paleo Pinhead gives you a rich and creamy mouth feel with intense coconut aromas. Upfront sweetness gives way to gentle vanilla flavours balanced out by a roasty cacao finish.

We say: LIQUID BOUNTY BAR.

We sell more Beavertown than any other brewery, so there was no question that they wouldn't be a star of this year's Big Beery Advent Calendar. At just the right time, this delectable confection came along. We drank, we loved, we ordered large. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do. - Jen

#HBBAdvent Beer 22: Lervig Tasty Juice APA (Norway)

Lervig says: We did it, After we all travelled to Boston we came back inspired to finally jump on the juicy band wagon. Funny thing when we first saw one we gasped, and asked if the keg was okay... Then we realised this is the juice! The biggest issues for these beers are they have to be sold fast! Drank immediately. The freshness is what its all about. Unless you are working at a brewery you can see what a hoppy IPA tastes like straight out of the fermentation tank. Don't buy this beer unless you plan to drink it very soon! We canned it to help preserve its hoppy quality better...

We say: The brewers in Norway definitely know how to make a good beer, whether it is an imperial stout, sour or this great example of a DDH Citra IPA. If tasty is the word you use to describe this beer then you’re absolutely spot on. Oh, and the name kind of gives it away too… For me, this has been one of the most consistent juicy hop-bombs this year and my fridge has become well acquainted with it. - Joris

Our December All Killer No Filler box revealed

We've still got a couple of All Killer No Filler beer subscription boxes left for you to pick up before Christmas (or get it delivered in time for NYE). If you've been wavering, check out what's in this month's box to get you excited (SPOILER ALERT). What a way to end the year!

 

 

#HBBAdvent Beer 21: Two Roads Tanker Truck Sour Series - Plum Gose (US)

Two Roads says: Classic Gose sour/salty interplay with the unmistakable character of tart Italian plums (prunus cocomilia). Pinkish in color and decidedly refreshing.

We say: Plum Pudding last night, Plum Gose today - we be all about the plums. Tis the season... 

This is a well-seasoned gose (love that salt) that pours a beautiful purple. We've enjoyed all of the Two Roads releases we've had in this year, so this plummy number is a very worthy inclusion to the box. Consider it a tasty wee spritzer as we gear up for the home run to Christmas... - Jen

The Beer Lover’s Kitchen: Dark Chocolate Blueberry Truffles & Brick Brewery x Hop Burns & Black Black Blueberry & Vanilla Stout

As I write this, it's lightly snowing. For the first time in nearly five years, London has softened, stilled. There are many productive ways to spend such a rare, wintry Sunday; for my money, preparing chocolate truffles has to be one of the best.

Making ganache - the truffles’ base - is a sensory thing, almost overwhelmingly so. It’s good to do when everything else is cold and quiet, and the process can hold all of your focus - not because it’s especially difficult, but because it is enormously pleasurable.

You snap shards of chocolate and then watch them collapse into velvet darkness. Every spatula swirl sends up perfume. You mix the melted chocolate with warm cream and let the mixture gloss and chill until it's firm enough to work with (maybe you even squidge the bowl directly into a bit of slushy snow outside so it sets more quickly). Then you scoop out teaspoons of the set ganache and roll it into spheres, quickly, between your warming palms. To finish, you can dust your proto-truffles with cocoa powder, or dip them into a bath of melted chocolate to coat - or you can use both methods, as I did.

These truffles were inspired by Black: one of three fantastic collaboration beers made in honour of Hop Burns & Black’s third birthday. This one, brewed with Peckham's Brick Brewery, is a beautiful, inky stout. Additions of blueberry, vanilla, and lactose have all added to its dessert-like profile, though its roasty, bitter finish makes it moreish rather than cloying. To match it, the truffles are infused with blueberry jam, a dash of cinnamon and vanilla.

This recipe makes enough truffles so that you might make gifts of them and still have a plate left to yourself. I’d recommend ferrying it to the cosiest corner of your flat, cracking open a fresh can of Black and watching the snow come down.

Dark Chocolate Blueberry Truffles, Two Ways
Makes approximately 25 truffles

For the ganache:
150g blueberry jam (I used Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry Conserve)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
250g high-quality 70% dark chocolate (I used Lindt)
250ml double cream
50g light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

For the truffles:
150g high-quality 70% dark chocolate
50g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

First, place the blueberry jam in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until it is warm and mostly liquid. Add the cinnamon and stir well to combine. Remove from heat and let cool for 30 seconds; blend, using an immersion blender or a regular blender, to break down any whole berries in the jam. Set aside.

In a saucepan, add the double cream and the light brown sugar and warm over medium-high heat. Stir well to combine and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Boil for approximately one minute, stirring frequently so it doesn't scorch on the bottom. Remove from heat and let stand for one minute. Add the vanilla bean paste and stir to combine.

In a large, heatproof bowl, break up the dark chocolate into small pieces. Pour over the double cream and the liquefied blueberry jam (note: you may need to return the jam to the stove on low heat for a minute so that it's pourable, as it will quickly solidify). Stir well until the chocolate is all melted. Whisk to remove any lumps. Cover and chill for at least two hours, or until the ganache has set.

Once the ganache is firm enough to work with, start to roll your truffles. With a teaspoon, scoop out a small amount of ganache and delicately and quickly roll between your palms until it forms an even sphere. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and repeat. You'll want to do this as quickly as possible so the ganache doesn't soften too much; it may start melting in your hands, in which case you should pause to wash and dry them well. 

Once the ganache balls have all been rolled, cover loosely with cling-film and chill again
for another 30 minutes to help set.

Now, you’re ready to finish preparing your truffles. To make the truffles that are coated in a dark chocolate shell, you'll need a thermometer to ensure the melted chocolate is properly tempered (otherwise, it will turn blotchy or chalky as it cools). First, prepare a double boiler: heat a saucepan of water until simmering and place a second bowl on top of the pan (it should fit neatly, so there are no gaps, but its bottom should not touch the water). 

Add two-thirds of your chocolate and stir constantly until it's completely melted. Remove the bowl from the pot of water. Add the rest of the chocolate and stir until melted. Check the melted chocolate from time to time with a thermometer; you want to let it cool until it reaches 31-32 degrees C (88-90 degrees F)—mine took approximately 10 minutes to drop to the right temperature. Once it is at temperature, add one ganache ball and toss quickly with a fork until evenly coated in chocolate; remove to a plate lined with parchment paper. Repeat until roughly half of your truffles have been coated with chocolate (if the temperature of the melted chocolate drops too much, you may need to quickly reheat it).

Leave your truffles to set for 10-15 minutes. 

To make the truffles that are coated in cocoa powder, put the cocoa powder and cinnamon in a small bowl. With a fork, add one ganache ball at a time, tossing lightly, until evenly coated in the cocoa powder mixture. Set aside, shaking off any excess, and repeat until all have been coated. If you want to use one method over the other, simply double the quantity of the chocolate or the cocoa powder and cinnamon, respectively.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and pick up a can or two of Brick x HB&B Black while you still can.

#HBBAdvent Beer 20: Wiper & True Plum Pudding Porter (Bristol)

Wiper & True says: Rich, dark malts brewed with the addition of dried fruits, cinnamon and lemon zest. Caramelised sugar and winter fruit flavours combine to a toasted finish

We say: We could rave about this beer because it's LUSH. But instead we'll simply direct you to Matt Curtis's Fundamentals review for this very site, as he says it best. Cheers!

#HBBAdvent Beer 19: Kew Snowdrop Winter Ale (West London)

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Kew says: The 2017 version of our winter ale, Snowdrop, is a brand new recipe. Brewed with sweet, dark crystal and chocolate malts, it has a smooth, satisfying mouthfeel thanks to the addition of some malted oats, and a hint of festive ‘spice’ from some crystal rye malt. No 'seasonal' gimmicks in this one, it's just a lovely winter beer to keep you warm in the coldest months of the year.

We say: Kew founder Dave celebrates the best of British ingredients in his beers, which have helped open many drinkers' eyes to the underrated joy of English hops. In this case, however, it's the malt that comes to the fore in a beautiful beer that reminds us of our favourite cask milds. Super smooth and creamy, this is a true Tuesday night treat. - Glenn

#HBBAdvent Beer 18: Elusive Brewing Overdrive APA Lap 5 (Wokingham)

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Elusive says: American Pale Ale hopped with Simcoe then dry-hopped with Amarillo.

We say: Elusive founder Andy Parker's fame preceded him - by the time we first met, in the very early days of the shop, we already knew of his prowess as probably the finest home brewer out there, and definitely the nicest guy in beer.

Since then, we've loved watching Andy realise his dream of owning a brewery and go from strength to strength. He's continued to produce incredible beers - we've been fortunate to brew three collabs with him ourselves (you#ll find some of our most recent collab, Down in Mexigose, on the shelf and we're delighted that our smoked chilli porter Aztec Challenge will be making a return sometime soon). In the meantime, enjoy this cheeky little American Pale Ale on a Monday night. - Jen

 

#HBBAdvent Beer 17: Wild Beer Rooting Around - Autumn (Somerset)

Wild Beer says: Rooting Around - Autumn seeks to harness the flavour of Autumn with the use of a fig tree. Toasty, roasted and nutty malt flavours perfectly capture the darker nights and crisp chill in the air. Fig fruits work perfectly with this malty backbone however toasted fig leaves are the star ingredient here. They impart a lightly toasted coconut character which marries with the fig fruits and contrasts the tannic bite of the fig wood.

We say: If you, by some odd chance, happen to have Tom Waits’ Hard Ground poetry book, this is the time to get it out. The combination of poems of dismay and Michael O’Brian’s desolate photographs pair well with this easy-drinking brown ale. Having arrived home completely drenched by the December rain, the bleak portraits of often overlooked Americans put my situation in perspective. The message in the poems about the hard ground many struggling Americans have to journey, like this beer, doesn’t have to be shocking to be delightful.

Although it almost seems absurd to draw an analogy between a beer and the dreary photographs and poems in Hard Ground, the brown ale style can easily be overlooked. In a time where the craze for hop-bombs and chocolate-pie-stouts appears neverending, there is often no place for a light brown ale like this. Nevertheless, we have selected you a fitting autumn edition brown ale with figs, and it’s a damn tasty one as well. - Joris

#HBBAdvent Beer 16: Howling Hops IPA NZ Special (East London)

Howling Hops says: Packed with Riwaka, Motueka and Kohatu hops from New Zealand.

We say: Webster's dictionary describes New Zealand as: "The jewel in the Australasian crown." This is the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa of IPAs (Google her, she's qual), the kind of beer you'd like to drink when you're out clubbing with the new Kiwi Prime Minister.

In a dystopian world over-run by New England haze, one beer stands up and says "To hell with you, 2017 - I am fresh, and I am bitter." A sentiment that gains increasing momentum as 2017 nears its end. - Lewis

#HBBAdvent Beer 15: 8 Wired Saison Sauvin (New Zealand)

8 Wired says: This is a very modern, you might say new world, interpretation of this style. Based on the tradition we have used a Farmhouse yeast, which provides a plethora of funky, earthy, very "Belgian" flavours. From there we have upped the ante a fair bit by doubling the amount of malt, and thereby the alcohol, and loaded the kettle with punchy Nelson Sauvin hops.

We say: Not a lot of people know this (OK, quite a few people know this), but we were not only one of the first places in the country to stock the New Zealand Beer Collective beers, we also launched the Collective itself with a riotous night at the shop back in February 2015. One day we'll recover all of the memories...

Anyway, all "we liked them before they were cool" skiting aside, New Zealand beer still plays an important part in the life of HB&B three years on, and this beautiful saison from 8 Wired has been a firm favourite from the first day we tried it that fateful February. Happy Friday! - Jen

#HBBAdvent Beer 14: Magic Rock x Modern Times Timequake Session IPA (Huddersfield)

Magic Rock says: A collaboration with San Diego brew wizards Modern Times, Andrew and Luke joined up with us a few weeks back to create a super sessionable modern style IPA. With this recipe we went heavy on the Rye malt to add body/flavour allied to low bitterness and a high finishing gravity to balance things out. As you might expect this was joined by some very generous hop dosing both in whirlpool and dry hop, using lots of good hops (none of the bad ones) to create this super crushable 4.5% session IPA with a deep hop flavour and spicy finish.

We say: Timequake is the session IPA all other session IPAs aspire to be. So much flavour for 4.5%. A Thursday beer to get you excited for the weekend. - Jen

Fundamentals #16 – Anspach & Hobday The Pfeffernüsse Saison (A Christmas Gift for You)

Hello, this is Matthew Curtis.

It is so difficult at this time to say words that would express my feelings about the beer to which you have just consumed. A beer that has been in the planning for many, many months First, let me thank all the people who worked so hard with Anspach & Hobday in the production of this beverage and in their endeavour and desire to bring something new and different to the beer of Christmas. And to the brewing industry which is so much a part of our lives.

Of course, the biggest thanks goes to you, for giving me the opportunity to relate my feelings of Christmas through the beer that I love. This intensely spiced Pfeffernüsse Saison features notes of cloves, cinnamon, biscuit and brown sugar, with the saison yeast leading way to an intensely dry finish. May you enjoy it now, or in several years time as it slowly ages towards perfection.

At this moment, I am very proud of all the brewers and on behalf of all of them, Anspach & Hobday, Hop Burns & Black and myself. May we wish you the very merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Years. And thank you so very much for letting us spend this Christmas with you.

(With no disrespect to the artists involved to the recording of the wonderful A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector and friends. Except for Spector himself, who turned out to be a murdering bastard. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, you filthy animals.)

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis as UK editor of Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up this very special festive brew in store or online.

Rock The Mash Tun Ep #1: Paul Jones from Cloudwater Brew Co

Photo credit: @cwiss

Photo credit: @cwiss

Hop Burns & Black presents Rock the Mash Tun; conversations about beer and music and everything in between.

This episode features Paul Jones, co-founder of Cloudwater Brew Co. Over the course of the show (recorded in front of a live beer shop audience), we drink some of Paul's all-time favourite beers, listen to tracks that reflect Paul's beery journey, and hear fascinating insights from the chap heading up one of the most exciting breweries on the planet.

#HBBAdvent Beer 13: Gipsy Hill Superfan Dry-Hopped Bohemian Pilsner (SE London)

Gipsy Hill says: Superfan is a Bohemian style Pilsner. Lagered for seven weeks and gently hopped, it's a floral, delicate Pilsner.

We say: We're the humble lager's biggest fan - in a world of pastry stouts and bosh-worthy hazy juice bombs, sometimes there's no greater pleasure than the joy of a crisp, clean lager. One of our litmus tests for a decent brewery is one that can get a lager right - there ain't no hiding with this style. 

Of course, Gipsy Hill's credentials were never in doubt, but it's always nice to get confirmation. Crisp, clean and a great little mid-week cleanser. - Jen

#HBBAdvent Beer 12: Brasserie de la Senne Taras Boulba (Belgium)

Brasserie de la Senne says: Light blonde with 4.5% alc., generously hopped with the finest aromatic hops, giving it a very refreshing character and a scent reminiscent of citrus.

We say: Beer nerds assemble! This is the discerning beer nerd's beer of choice. Essentially a Belgian table beer (yes, even at 4.5%), this is ridiculously refreshing with a decent citrus bite and just a hint of that Bruxellensis funk.

We love Brasserie de la Senne for its fresh take on Belgian beer styles - as our beer writer Matthew Curtis says, "The combination of drinkability and modern flavours, while still remaining not just resolutely Belgian but resolutely Brussels really resonates with me." Bosh! - Jen

#HBBAdvent Beer 11: Brew By Numbers Witbier Cranberry (SE London)

Brew By Numbers says: A tart, bright and fruity witbier brewed with cranberry, supported by some orange zest. Fuchsia pink in colour, with a floral, zesty aroma and sharp, juicy cranberry flavour.

We say: Brew By Numbers has been anticipating my taste obsessions these past few months. First came the Table Saison Ginger, followed by the Chocolate & Orange Stout and now this Cranberry Wit. It’s sherberty and spritzy, rich with red fruitiness and has a nice tart tang from the added orange zest.

With Christmas Day only two weeks away, it’s a beer to get you in the yuletide spirit. Just pour it into something pretty and say goodbye to that UTI. Plus, OMG babe, it’s pink. #basicbeertch - Cat

#HBBAdvent Beer 10: Kernel Dry Stout (SE London)

The Kernel says: Nothing. The Kernel lets the beer do the talking.

We say: The following extract is taken from a short story inspired by the namesake and the wonderful, complex flavours of The Kernel Dry Stout Galaxy. I’ll stop drinking it when they stop brewing it.

The sound of a car backfiring woke him from a rough sleep. How long had he been out for? It didn’t matter now, Marcus and the others would be gone and there would be no way of tracking them. Getting out of the chair his joints made crackles like burning kindling. He looked around the room and tried to discern where they had left him. It was a rundown box apartment with several foldouts and no communicator, a work hostel no doubt. This meant he was either in one of the palisades or the bad part of the Garment district. The mixed smells of burning leather and coal fire made him bet on the latter. From the counter by the door his radio sounded, strange that Marcus hadn’t taken it along with his gun.

‘4.3 what is your location? 4.3 state location, you’re off grid. 4.3?’

‘I’m here.’

‘And where is here 4.3?’

‘Sal?’

‘4.3 confirm badge number and then give me your location.’

‘Piss off Sal.’

‘Fuck happened?

‘They got me as I came out of the station, Marcus and four others, one of them was the runner.’

‘Where are you at now? What did they get?’

‘Some box in the Garment district. They’re all gone, took my gun and they found my tracer. They’re gone, that’s it.’

‘Not it 4.3. Got one.’

‘Who!? How did you find them?’

‘No ID yet. And we didn’t. Two of them tried to stick up a taxi rank on 357th street, went for credits and two ships. One gets out and then the old girl behind the desk decides to reach for her purse. Lands two in the chest before she got clipped in the arm. Get over to the rank and then down to district hospital to get what you can from the woman, maybe she can do your job for you some more.’

‘Anything else Sal?’

‘Yeah 4.3, try to buy some Listerine syrup. You sound like your tongue’s growing mushrooms.’

‘Love you too Sal.’

Will Marcus and the others escape? Will there ever be a more sessionable and well balanced stout brewed? I doubt it. - Lewis

#HBBAdvent Beer 9: Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock (Germany)

Ayinger says: A beer that has a dominant malty taste. This beer’s origins in a monk’s recipe are reflected in its heartiness. The Pope of Beers, Conrad Seidl, describes it as: “Almost black with a very slight red tone, a sensational, festive foam and truly extraordinary fragrance that at first summons up visions of greaves lard. The first taste is of mild fullness with an accompanying coffee tone, which becomes more dominant with the aftertaste. There is very little of the sweetness that is frequently to be tasted with doppelbock beer.” The Ayinger Celebrator has been ranked among the best beers of the world by the Chicago Testing Institute several times and has won numerous medals.

We say: Ratebeer users score this beer as the best of its style in the world and you know what? They're bloody well right. Our food writer Claire Bullen describes this beer as "a brooding, opaque, deliriously malty German style"; we'd simply describe it as sublime.

If you can bear to wait to drink it, Claire recommends pairing it with roast grouse (get her mouth-wateringly delicious recipe here). If not, we don't blame you. We're not sure you could find a more perfect beverage for this chilly Saturday. - Jen