#HBBAdvent Beer 10: Wild Beer Sleeping Limes (Somerset)

Wild Beer says: Limes + Sea Salt + Lager. Clean and crisp with refreshing tangy limes and a Moorish briny finish, this is our perfect summer beer. It originally took inspiration from Sleeping Lemons and the beautiful preserved lemons we use, but the idea developed into a cleaner beer, taking the Corona and lime wedge and stepping it up a notch. Brewing a beer around the taste of lime naturally led us to using this beautiful citrus fruit, utilising both the fresh pulp and the zest. A clean and crisp base was achieved by using a lager yeast with the lime building an addictive tang to the pallet and a gose inspired flurry of salt adding to the finish.

We say: Sleeping Limes was one of the beers of our summer, too - on its own, icy-cold, straight from the fridge, or as a top-up for Jen’s legendary Michelada mash-ups… Now that it’s well into autumn/winter, we’re so glad to see Wild Beer continuing this cracking brew. As well as a welcome dose of Vitamin C (maybe), it’s a hotline for your tastebuds, direct to those gloriously sweltering days of summer ‘18….

#HBBAdvent Beer 9: Canopy Amaretti Imperial Stout (London)

Canopy says: Some journeys are longer than others and our Amaretti Imperial Stout is there for the big ones, those hard fought slogs through the mud and dirt. This is a beer to be savoured and to reminisce over in front of a roaring log fire. Warm your toes and your heart; that’s well deserved. Rich and luscious, with hints of vanilla and almond biscuit.

We say: Canopy got its own canning line this year and its crisp Champion Kolsch and crushable Brockwell IPA are mainstays on our shelves, while its limited releases have truly come into their own. The Amaretti Imperial Stout represents the perfect bev to enjoy as the weather turns wintry. With its delectable creaminess and not too sweet amaretto, it fulfills the hankering we all get for dark beers around the advent season - Caleb, HB&B sales assistant, Peckham

#HBBAdvent Beer 8: Cloudwater Brewed All Season DIPA (UK)

Cloudwater says: Double IPA is a style close to our hearts and one we've worked hard to continually refine. This beer is the result of two years' experience in developing recipes that are deliciously drinkable at a higher ABV, delivering clean and precise flavours. Thick body and sweetness provide the platform to showcase huge tropical and citrus hop flavours.
Aroma & Flavour: Big mango and stone fruit flavours, with a light, sweet malt presentation
Body: Full-bodied, smooth and juicy
Aftertaste: Lingering fruit juice sweetness, no bitterness

We say: When it comes to Team Cloudwater, we have so much love to give. These guys have supported us as much as we’ve supported them over the past few years, we’re both madly passionate about independence and well, we sell a hell of a lot of their beer. This Brewed All Season DIPA is one of their best brews of the year and we’re delighted to include it in our little 2018 beer capsule.

Natural Wine Killers: 2Naturkinder Bacchus Pet Nat 2017

Wine text books are littered with French terms which somehow have avoided translation, forming an internationally understood vocabulary among wine geeks. From household names like brut or demi-sec to my personal favourite, millerandage (Google it). None of these are quite as en vogue as pétillant naturel.

Pétillant in French simply means lightly sparkling. At some point in recent history, pétillant naturel received a Sam Cam-style truncation to make it more media-friendly, morphing into Pet Nat. It’s a term which is especially popular in the natural wine hotbed that is the Loire, but has spread much further afield (this one coming from the undervalued German wine region of Franken).

Truth be told, there is nothing modern about the Pet Nat. Winemakers though the ages have discovered, sometimes to their dismay, that if you leave a bit of residual sugar in the bottle, the wine may start refermenting and go fizzy. The first sparkling wines were of course made this way. Long before Dom Perignon got hold of a pupitre, the winemakers of Limoux, down in the Pyrenees, were making methode ancestrale – a sparkling wine where sugar is left in the bottle to referment, and create a lightly fizzy, cloudy wine.

Locals of Limoux claim to have been making sparkling wines this way since the 1500s, so like many natural wines, Pet Nat really is taking it back to the old school. Which brings us to 2NaturKinder’s Bacchus Pet Nat 2017. It’s made by Melanie Drese and Michael Völker, two Germans who developed a passion for natural wines in London (sounds familiar) and moved back home to create a revolution in Michael’s parents’ winery. The winery is now certified organic, and the wines are made with minimal intervention – nothing is added or taken away.

This Pet Nat is made by leaving about 15g/l residual sugar in the wine, sealing it to re-ferment and retain the fizz, then roughly disgorging so most of the dead yeasts are removed, but finishing cloudy. According to Mel and Mike, this vintage is a bit more colourful than previous, but benefits from a more intense perlage (no more French wine terms, I promise).

It has a hazy lemon colour and looks and smells a bit like a natural lemonade, with aromas of saucisson, ginger and gooseberry (Bacchus is an aromatic grape, not commonly used in sparkling wines). It’s gently frothy, and has a long, Bramley apple finish. And at only 11% ABV, it goes down dangerously easily.

Claire Bullen’s food pairing: Pair with lemon orzo with prawns and fresh herbs or scallop, grapefruit, and avocado ceviche

Paul Medder is a freelance wine educator and works for one of the UK's leading wine distributors. He occasionally tweets @PaulMedder. This wine featured in our November Natural Wine Killers box. To bet on board, head here.

#HBBAdvent Beer 7: North Brewing Co Kurious Oranj IPA

North says: This juicy IPA is absolutely bursting with flavours of fresh citrus. A generous helping of oats ensures this beer is soft and full-bodied, whilst the addition of Mandarina Bavaria hops give it a raw zesty finish.

We say: The North team are some of our absolute favourite people in the business but not only that, they’re making some of the best beers in the business too (and winning ALL the awards). We had to include one of their specials in this little capsule of 2018. Kurious Oranj has all the sweetness, juiciness and pithiness of fresh mandarin, and couldn’t we all use a bit of Vitamin C at this time of year?

#HBBAdvent Beer 6: Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai IPA (US)

Cigar City says: All that remains of [the traditional Basque game] Jai Alai in the Tampa Bay area is this India Pale Ale that we brew in tribute to the merry game. The India Pale Ale style of beer has its roots in the ales sent from England to thirsty British troops in India during the 18th century. Pair Jai Alai India Pale Ale with beef empanadas, devilled crabs, and other spicy dishes. 

We say: When we get to Thursday, we start getting a hankering for hops. Jai Alai is a venerable icon in the world of IPA - big notes of citrus and resin, the way they used to make ‘em before the haze craze took hold… The weekend starts here. Almost.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Venison Steaks with Sweet Potato Puree and Gipsy Hill x People Like Us Bramble Sour

Venison is deep and rich and dark, more animal tasting than beef, ferric as blood. It is a lean meat and is thus best cooked quickly, just long enough to brown its outside while leaving its interior rare and tender. Little wonder it’s often matched with barrel-aged chocolate stouts or Belgian quadrupels; its uncommon intensity helps it stand up to the heavyweights.

This time, though - rather than pairing two powerhouses - I wanted to find a beer that could help temper some of venison’s richness. Enter People Like Us, a collaboration between Gipsy Hill and the eponymous People Like Us, a Danish brewery run by people from marginalised groups. This bramble sour was brewed with raspberry, blackberry, and lingonberry purees, and pours a beguiling shade of magenta.

It’s no accident that venison is commonly served with blackberries, drizzled in a redcurrant sauce or otherwise paired with berries; this is a meat that benefits from contrasting brightness and an added spark of acidity. Here, this beer isn’t just a pairing: it serves as an element of the dish that’s been outsourced to the glass, a stand-in for a reduction or glaze. The addition of fried sage leaves and vibrant sweet potato puree (infused with sage-scented brown butter) makes this a simple, wintry showstopper.

Venison Steaks with Sweet Potato Puree and Fried Sage Leaves
Serves 2

For the venison steaks
2 venison steaks, approximately 225g (1/2 pound) each
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the sweet potato puree
1 small sweet potato, approximately 300g (2/3 pound)
2 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Brown butter from sage leaves (see below)

For the fried sage leaves
20 sage leaves
125g (1 stick) unsalted butter

1. Roughly 45 minutes before you plan to cook, remove the venison steaks from the fridge and pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Leave at room temperature so they won’t be fridge-cold when it comes time to cook them.

2. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to the boil. Peel the sweet potato and finely dice. Add to the boiling water, along with the garlic cloves, and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for roughly 12 minutes, or until the sweet potato is very soft but not yet falling apart. Drain and transfer the sweet potato and garlic to a food processor.

3. While the sweet potato is cooking, make the brown butter-fried sage leaves. Melt the butter in a medium frying pan, and add the sage leaves in a single layer. Cook for 4-5 minutes, swirling the pan frequently, until the butter has turned a deep brown, smells nutty, and the sage leaves are fried. Remove from the heat immediately, and leave to cool for a few minutes.

4. Transfer the sage leaves to a plate, and pour the sage-infused butter into a liquid cup measure (or other vessel with a pouring spout).

5. Season the sweet potato mixture with pepper and nutmeg before blending on high. As the food processor’s motor runs, pour in the brown butter in a steady stream. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

6. Place a large frying pan over high heat. Once very hot, add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the venison steaks and cook on the first side for approximately 1 ½ minutes, or until well browned. Flip and cook on the reverse for approximately 1 minute more (you can cook for slightly longer if you like, but venison is best served rare). Using tongs, sear off the sides of the steaks. Transfer to a cutting board and leave to rest for approximately 5 minutes.

7. Divide the sweet potato puree between two plates. Slice the venison steaks and place on top of the puree. Garnish with the fried sage leaves, and serve.

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#HBBAdvent Beer 5: Yeastie Boys Hot Space Extra Pale Ale (UK)

Yeastie Boys says: A medley of tropical and autumnal stonefruit, in both flavour and aroma, bursts from the very pale and delicate malt base of Hot Space. It all comes together to create an Extra Pale Ale that’s even more sessionable than Session IPA. 

We say: It’s nice to see Yeastie Boys’ UK specials back on our shelves. This beer only just scraped into the advent box due to a cock up with couriers - in fact, Yeastie founder Stu even had to bundle his home stash into a cab to get it over in time for our first night of advent packing, but it was well worth the effort. Checking in at just 3.2%, this is a triumph by YB’s new head brewer JK (with whom we brewed our famous Murk du Soleil DIPA last year during his tenure at Marble). It’s light but oh so tasty, and at such a low ABV you can have no qualms about cramming it down your throat on a school night.

Festive online rewards!

It seems like a good time to remind you all about the wonders of our HB&B Good Times Online Rewards scheme. Because not only do we have one of the UK’s finest selections of all things good, we also have the most generous online rewards programme out there and we don’t shout nearly enough about it.

Right now, until 11.59pm on Wednesday 12th December, all new customers who create an online account with us will get 100 rewards points just for that simple act. That’s a £5 discount code to use whenever you like.

But if you’re not a new customer, fear not - your rewards last all year long. For a start, you’ll get 100 bonus rewards points just for referring a new customer to us (all they need to do is spend £30+ and set up an online account). You can then choose to spend or save your points that you accrue while you shop with us - if you resist the temptation to spend them, you could receive a discount code of up to £150!

Want to find out more? Head to our online shop and click the little Earn Rewards tab to see what rewards you can earn and how to spend them.

#HBBAdvent Beer 4: Burnt Mill Pintle Pale Ale (Suffolk)

Burnt Mill says: Pale ale brewed with wheat, oats and flaked barley in the grist to smooth out the body. Whirlpooled and dry hopped with Australian Cascade and Citra. Its restrained bitterness and dry finish help maintain Pintle's all day crushability.

We say: We all loved Pintle straight out of the gate but the more the team at impressive young Suffolk brewery Burnt Mill brew it, the better it keeps on getting. Supremely full flavoured, easy-drinking with bags of character, this is surely one of the great modern British pale ales.

#HBBAdvent Beer 3: Lost & Grounded Keller Pils (Bristol)

Lost & Grounded says: Sometimes the simple things in life are the best. We take Pilsner malt from Germany and combine with three traditional hop varieties – Magnum, Perle and Hallertauer Mittelfruh – to produce a clean, unfiltered, Hop Bitter Lager Beer.

We say: LAGER IS LIFE! No seriously, it is, and these guys have worked out the meaning of life with Keller Pils, one of the best lagers being brewed in the UK right now. Inspired by the German greats, it holds its own against them too - clean, crisp, with exactly the right amount of bitterness. Also, it’s made by terrific people, so you know you’re drinking a labour of love. Mondays were made for this.

#HBBAdvent Beer 2: Hammerton Crunch Peanut Butter Milk Stout (London)

Hammerton says: After three months and 37 experiments, this stout has what we consider to be the perfect ratio of peanut butter, lactose and biscuit. A massive hit of roasted peanuts and biscuit on the nose, followed by a silky-smooth mouthfeel, and a sweet CRUNCH as it goes down.

We say: Hardcore yum factor! This cheeky little milk stout from Islington’s Hammerton Brewery is impossible to keep on the shelf - we’re constantly selling out because it’s just so damn delicious. It even managed to convert our cynical beer writer Matthew Curtis… It’s the perfect Sunday night sipper. Or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…

#HBBAdvent Beer 1: Verdant Even Sharks Need Water IPA (Cornwall)

Verdant says: We put together an A team of Simcoe, Citra and Galaxy with our super fruity house yeast strain to make a classic New England IPA – just a hint of bitterness, and a balance of sharper citrus fruits to stop the tropical aroma being too sweet.

We say: Our advent calendars always reflect our year in beer, so it seemed obvious that Verdant should kick off our 2018 box. It’s been an amazing year for these guys - a new London tap room, a Falmouth seafood tapas joint coming soon plus they’ve smashed their crowdfunding targets to boot. 2018 has also seen us get our hands on more Verdant beer than ever before, ridiculously fresh from the source, which you lot have eagerly snapped up.

This batch of Even Sharks is a pure juice bomb, big on tropical flavours and succulent hints of melon. A cracking start to Christmas!

Fundamentals 38 — Braybrooke Keller Lager

The greatest thing about beer trends is that if you bang on about one for long enough then chances are it’ll eventually come true. Like many of my beer-writing, peers I’ve been long stating that the time of the lager will soon dawn once more. Only this will not be another era of mass-produced, commodity Euro-lagers. These will be beers both rooted deeply in tradition and inspired by the cutting edge, from the nuanced and delicate to the boisterous and intense.

Keller Lager, from Brit newcomer Braybrooke, leans towards the more traditional aspects of the style, inspired by the Keller beers of Franconia, to the north of Bavaria, in Germany. And if you dig into the story of this brewery a little, that soon makes an awful lot of sense. Despite being based in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, the roots of this particular brewery can be found at Mahrs Bräu in Bamberg, Germany.

Originally founded in 1611, these days Mahrs Bräu is under the supervision of brewer Stephan Michel, who is also heavily involved in the production of beer at Braybrooke, holding the title of “resident brewing guru”. This means that Braybrooke gets to take advantage of Michel’s immense brewing knowledge as it attempts to bring the classic taste of Franconian lagers to UK drinkers. In fact, Braybrooke’s flagship Keller Lager is reportedly based directly on the recipe of Mahrs Bräu’s famous Ungespundet Naturtrüb, or aU (pronounced ‘ah-ooh’) for short - which, by coincidence, happens to be one of my favourite beers.

Does Braybrooke’s Keller Lager live up to its inspiration though? Absolutely. I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the most enjoyable beers I’ve tried from a new British brewery for some time. Something I love about Franconian-style lagers is the intricacy of the malt flavour, and how it supports the entire beer. In fact, it’s something I once described to fellow HB&B writer Claire Bullen in one of my more hyperbolic moments as a “crystalline lattice of pleasure”. And that’s kind of how I feel about this beer.

The malt, which is imported from Bamberg, provides a platform that is as delicate as it is bold, building pillars of biscuit and caramel on the palate which the peppery, herbal notes of noble hops seem to dance around like maypoles in spring...

Wait, I think that was another one of my moments. But in all seriousness, this is a very good lager. One that you’ll likely enjoy drinking without much thought as I did contemplating every delicious mouthful. I am already looking forward a great deal to the next time I get to enjoy this beer.

Find our beer writer Matthew Curtis on Twitter @totalcurtis.

Chilli Karaoke rode again last week, and it was rad. (And it's happening again, you should come,)

After a couple of years’ hiatus, we finally got our A in G to bring back Chilli Karaoke. It was absolutely bloody fantastic - big cheers to everyone who came along, to all those brave souls who took part and to our MC, our OG staff member Lewis Blomfield. Congratulations to our new Chilli Karaoke champion Lacey of #TigerBitesBao. She cooks, she sings, she scores.

If you missed out, fear not - it’s back again at Signature Brew Taproom in Haggerston on Friday 30th November. For now, here’s a taste.


Wine & Food Killers: Lemongrass Chicken with Sam Vinciullo Warner Glen Sauvignon Blanc 2017

If you’ve got Sauvignon Blanc fatigue, you’re not alone (blame the boatloads of Oyster Bay for making the grape feel cheap and lustreless). But don’t let that dissuade you from this particular bottle. Sam Vinciullo’s skin-contact Warner Glen Sauvignon Blanc is an electrifying reminder of just how good ol’ Sauvy B can be.

Made using organic, hand-harvested grapes in the Margaret River region – located in Western Australia, and one of the most geographically isolated wine regions in the world – it ticks most of the low-intervention boxes. It’s unfined and unfiltered (which gives it a hazy appearance), has no added sulphites and is fermented using wild yeast. That make it about as pure a distillation of the grape, and of Margaret River’s terroir, as is possible to find.

Even with the glass inches away from my nose, the wine’s complex and enticing aroma is apparent: you could almost dab it on your pulse points and call it a perfume. It offers pungent aromas, ripe and juicy gooseberry and passion fruit, plus a subtle herbaceousness (no wonder some describe Sauvignon Blanc as the IPA of wines). On the palate, it’s buoyant, with the slightest prickle of CO2, and brightly acidic.

When thinking up a pairing to go with this peach of a wine, I sought a complementary dish – something that could supply its own fruitiness and subtle funk. I opted for Vietnamese-inspired lemongrass chicken, which, like the wine, is boldly flavourful but still fresh. Additions of lemongrass, fresh herbs and lime juice mimic the wine’s brightness, while a pinch of earthy turmeric and glug of fish sauce match its pungency.

This is a great pairing both for sunnier days and when you can’t quite bear to let the memories of summer go just yet.

Lemongrass Chicken
Loosely adapted from Asian at Home
Serves 4

For the lemongrass chicken:
800g (1 ¾ lbs) boneless, skinless chicken thighs (approximately 8 thigh fillets)
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 long stalks lemongrass
4 cloves garlic
1 bird’s-eye chilli
1 echalion (banana) shallot
2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

To serve:
Steamed jasmine or basmati rice
Coriander leaves
Mint leaves
Lime wedges

1. First, prep the chicken. Chop into roughly 1-inch pieces. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, prep the aromatics. Remove and discard the hard bulb at the end of each lemongrass stalk. Remove and discard the tough outer layers until you get to the tender core. Mince finely, and transfer to a bowl.

3. Finely mince the garlic and chilli, and add to the lemongrass. Finely dice the shallot, and add to the same bowl.

4. Make the sauce. In a ramekin, add the fish sauce and brown sugar, and stir until uniform. Set aside.

5. Place a large frying pan or wok over high heat, and add the vegetable oil. Once very hot but not smoking, add the chicken pieces. Spread in a uniform layer and cook for approximately 2 minutes, or until starting to brown. Flip and cook for approximately 1-2 minutes on the reverse. Sprinkle over the turmeric, and toss to combine.

6. Once the chicken is just cooked through, add all the aromatics and cook, tossing frequently, for 3-4 minutes, or until they have lost their raw aroma.

7. Pour over the sauce and toss to combine. Turn heat to medium-high, and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring or tossing frequently, until the sauce has thickened into a glaze. Remove from the heat.

8. Divide steamed rice between bowls and top with the lemongrass chicken. Garnish with coriander and mint, as preferred, and serve with lime wedges on the side.

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 look out for our book together, The Beer Lover’s Table, launching in March 2019. These recipes accompany our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box - sign up to get yours here.

Fundamentals #37 — Northern Monk x Lervig Dark City Devil’s Delight Imperial Stout

As summer fades and the nights draw in I, like many of you I’m sure, begin to crave darker beers again. There’s something about the bite of a northerly breeze on your cheekbones and the crunch of dead leaves underfoot that makes me long for a bar to sit at, a log fire, and a pint laced with the myriad flavours that roasted barley can provide. Bitter chocolate, roasted coffee, sweet molasses… there are certain boxes that can only be ticked by a dark, rich stout.

Last year’s Dark City beer festival in Leeds - the brainchild of Northern Monk Brewery and Richard and Bryony Brownhill of Little Leeds Beer House - was a perfect celebration of these beers. So it’s fitting as we cascade towards the winter months that the event has returned and takes place at Northern Monk’s original brewery and taproom this weekend.

My experience of last year’s event was a highly enjoyable one. The Refectory, as Northern Monk’s taproom is known, is a wonderful space to hold an event such as this, taking place over two floors within the three-storey former linen mill, around a mile from Leeds city centre.

Being presented with the darker and typically stronger beers presents you with an interesting perspective when compared to other festivals of this ilk. Instead of rushing from bar to bar, eager to try as many small pours from as many breweries as possible, I found myself taking more time with each sip, appreciating the nuance of each beer as I ambled around the venue.

To mark this years event, Northern Monk has teamed up with Norway’s Lervig Aktiebryggeri to bring you Dark City Devil’s Delight Imperial Stout. And if that sounds like a mouthful then it’s with good reason. The unctuous beer weighs in at 9% ABV and features additions of crème du cacao, vanilla, oats, dextrose and lactose, all shoring up the already hefty blow dealt by the malted barley, hops and yeast.

Initial fears that this beer would be too sweet for my own palate (which typically prefers beers on the dry and bitter side of things) were soon put aside. Yes, there’s plenty of thick, sweet flavours that aren’t unlike chugging condensed milk straight from the tin, but these are balanced by a snap of dark chocolate and a faintly bitter hop twang, bringing balance to the intensity. My only complaint is perhaps the serving size. This is a big beer to be crammed inside a relatively large 440ml can, so I advise finding a pal to split it with. I can guarantee with certainty that they’ll appreciate the gesture.

Find our beer writer Matthew Curtis on Twitter @totalcurtis.

All Killer No Filler: our September and October boxes revealed

Here’s what All Killer No Filler subscribers received in their most recent boxes - beers from the likes of Duration Brewing, Verdant, Crooked Stave, Burning Sky, Cloudwater, Belching Beaver and more. Lucky buggers. Get on board for this month’s box here. Christmas is coming…

October:

September:

The Beer Lover’s Table: Chickpea & Sweet Potato Curry and Wiper & True Amber Citra & Rye

I clearly remember the first time I tried Wiper and True’s Amber Ale. It was at Darjeeling Express in Soho – then a newly opened restaurant getting good buzz, now an upcoming star of Netflix’s Chef Table series – and it was served alongside a selection of some of the best curries I’ve ever eaten.

To give credit where it’s due, fellow HB&B columnist Matt Curtis was the one who ordered the beer. At the time, I didn’t particularly gravitate towards amber ales. But after having a sip, I was struck by how adeptly this one worked with the heavily spiced, boldly flavoured dishes that we ate that afternoon.

The notion that IPAs and other hop-centric beers should be served with spicy dishes is a strangely enduring piece of pairing advice. Unless you want a mouth full of flames, you’re actually much better off going with something cooling and malt-driven, something with enough sweetness to counteract the heat. This beer, for instance, which the brewery describes as “a full-bodied and sweet amber ale finished off with spicy, peppery rye malts”. It tastes irresistibly like caramel and is rich in the mouth, almost tongue-coating. This iteration is also hopped exclusively with Citra, which adds the subtlest, anchoring bitterness, as well as a light fruitiness.

With that Darjeeling Express meal in mind, I decided to pair Wiper and True’s Amber with a chickpea and sweet potato curry. Hearty, complex and perfumed with autumnal spices like cardamom and cinnamon, this dish is made for crisp nights. Serve it alongside rice or a flatbread of your choosing (I went with flaky parathas) and top with a few verdant sprigs of coriander.

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry
Inspired by Serious Eats
Serves 4

For the spice mix
½ tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the curry
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 bird’s-eye chilli, roughly chopped
1 lemon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 small sweet potatoes (approximately 370g)
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup water
Fine sea salt

To serve
Basmati rice or flatbread
Fresh coriander

1. First, make the spice mix. Add all the ingredients to a ramekin or small bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.

2. To a food processor, add the ginger, garlic, chilli, the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of salt. Process until finely minced, or the mixture begins to form a paste. You can also do this using a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

3. To a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan, add the vegetable oil and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the mustard and cumin seeds. As soon as they start to pop, add the onions and stir to coat. Add a generous pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low – you don’t want the onions to scorch – and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the onions are very soft and beginning to caramelise.

4. While the onions are cooking, peel the sweet potatoes and dice into roughly ½-inch cubes. Set aside.

5. When the onions are soft and beginning to turn golden, turn the heat to high and add the ginger and garlic mixture. Cook for approximately 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the spice mix and cook for 30 seconds more, stirring constantly. Then, add the tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, the sweet potatoes, and 1 teaspoon of salt, stirring to evenly combine. Top with the water and stir to mix.

6. When the mixture begins to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are just fork-tender. Remove the lid and turn the heat to high. Cook for roughly five more minutes, stirring frequently, until any excess liquid has evaporated and the curry has thickened. Season to taste and squeeze over the remaining lemon half.

7. To serve, divide between plates and garnish with coriander. Serve alongside rice or flatbread.

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.

Fundamentals #36 — Magic Rock Saucery Session IPA

I am yet to be convinced that both gluten and alcohol-free beers are as good as the real thing. One of the main reasons behind this is that I think that there are plenty of other delicious alternatives to beer within these categories. Be it low-intervention cider, or natural wine, kombucha or craft soda, there’s plenty of choice out there. But I understand why gluten and alcohol-free beers need to exist – because people love beer.

And they are getting better, for the most part. It is perhaps unfair to me to split hairs within these styles, especially as my privilege allows me to enjoy both alcohol and gluten. I tend to struggle when someone tells me that a low alcohol or GF beer is “as good as the real thing” when quite clearly it isn’t. I prefer to see such products sold on their own merits, instead of being compared to something that they are not.

Which is why this beer – Saucery from Magic Rock – took me by complete surprise. I have, in fact, been enjoying this beer whenever I see it on tap for several months. It’s an excellent, light, yet hop forward session IPA. Bursting with notes of citrus, a gentle bitterness at the back of the palate and a dry finish that leaves you rasping for your next sip, or pint. It’s a great beer.

I had no idea that it was gluten free until I received this can to review.

Magic Rock has previous when it comes to making excellent gluten free beers. Its special edition gluten free IPA, Fantasma, proved so popular that it has since become part of its core range. This is excellent news, because despite my own misgivings about GF beers, the more choice out there the better, especially when it’s of this quality. I concede, however, that not everyone wants to drink 6.5% IPA all the time (although personally, I’d be happy to.) At a far lower 3.9% ABV, Saucery makes it accessible to a far larger demographic, and that can only be a good thing.

As I continue to sip at this particular can, I become more impressed with every satisfying gulp. If you’re looking for a tasty gluten free beer then this certainly is one. But if you are just looking for a tasty beer, this also is most definitely one. Saucery, indeed.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis as UK editor of Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a Magic Rock Saucery Session IPA in-store or online.