Fundamentals #7 – Omnipollo/Dugges Anagram Blueberry Cheesecake Stout

I’m sure you’re already well aware of what make up the core ingredients within a beer: water, malt, yeast and hops. As part of Fundamentals the aim is to explore those and other, perhaps less thought of ingredients, such as the oak of a barrel, the addition of fruit juice or zest, or even harnessing wild bacteria for natural fermentation. In beer, for me at least, a fundamental can be any one of those things and more.

However, I’m curious. Can the design that sits on a bottle or can itself be considered as one of the fundamentals of beer? Of course it can. In fact I would argue that the way a beer presents itself on the shelf is as crucial as the malt bill or hop additions.

Sweden’s Omnipollo has made a point of striving for uniqueness in the beer aisle on every bottle it produces. It should come as no surprise that Karl Grandin, Omnipollo’s co-founder, is an illustrator and graphic designer who also helped to set up the Cheap Monday fashion brand. In fact when the Omnipollo and Cheap Monday brands are placed side by side, the similarities between the two are immediately obvious.

Although the brewery is officially based in Stockholm, Omnipollo is a nomadic brewery, much like Denmark’s Mikkeller, and brews in various locations, including at the UK’s Buxton Brewery.

Omnipollo has garnered a reputation for producing some pretty outrageous beers. Its Yellow Belly peanut butter stout – a collaboration with the aforementioned Buxton – is a great example of this. Anagram is another collaboration, this time with Dugges Brewery, fellow Swedes based near the city of Gothenburg.

Anagram is an imperial stout that weighs in at a hefty 12% ABV and tastes exactly as it says on the bottle: of rich, sweet and sticky blueberry cheesecake. It’s heavy going but every sip is laced with fun and the Omnipollo team are masters of making beers that make your palate laugh with joy.

I’ll be honest here, the reason I won’t tell you what makes it taste of blueberry cheesecake is that you probably don’t want to know. Just take my advice and maybe stick to salads or do some light exercise before you drink one.

As bonkers as the taste of this beer is though, it’s Grandin’s designs that lure you in. The label on this bottle tells you nothing of the beers style, it’s just a clever mesh of both Omnipollo’s and Dugges branding, artfully screen-printed in “millennial pink”. The design is so striking that it ends up piquing that curiosity reflex in your brain before you’ve even turned the bottle around to find out what the beer tastes like.

The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. Water, barley, wheat, oats, sugars, yeast, bacteria and even adjuncts such as fruit or maize are all fundamental parts of what make up our favourite beers. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a bottle of Omnipollo/Dugges Anagram in store or online now.

Fundamentals #6 – Brasserie de la Senne Bruxellensis

Fundamentals 6 Bruxellensis 1.jpg

It’s very difficult for me to hide my enthusiasm for the beers of Brussels’ Brasserie de la Senne, so I’m not going to. De la Senne crafts some of my favourite beers being brewed anywhere in the world. The combination of drinkability and modern flavours, while still remaining not just resolutely Belgian but resolutely Brussels really resonates with me. It’s no wonder that the Belgian capital is also one of my favourite cities in the world.

Brasserie de la Senne takes its name from the Senne (sometimes spelled Zenne) river that flows along the border between Brussels and Flanders and into the city itself. Along with the eye-catching, 1930’s cinema inspired branding that depicts the city itself, this really adds to the brewery’s sense of place, which de la Senne in turn channels through the beers it produces.

Translated from the original Latin, the term Brettanomyces simply means “British yeast". There are many strains of Brettanomyces, or Brett, and each of them imbues a beer with its individual characteristics when it ferments sugar into alcohol. The one similar characteristic between all strains of Brett is that it will devour every drop of fermentable sugar within a beer. As a result beers that it’s present in tend to have an incredibly dry finish, making them very drinkable regardless of the alcohol content.

Brettanomyces Bruxellensis (or Brett Brux for short) is the strain of Brett that occurs naturally in the environment around Brussels and the Zenne valley. It’s not part of the natural atmospheric makeup of yeast and bacteria that causes spontaneous fermentation in lambic and gueuze, however. Instead it makes its home on the skins of fruit and within the grain of oak barrels and foudres. It’s in the latter that is slowly works its magic.

Brett Brux produces flavours and aromas that carry descriptors such as “barnyard” and “horse blanket” as well as a character that could be described as sour, leathery or earthy. It’s an essential ingredient in the production of lambic, gueuze, Flanders red, Oud Bruin and Trappist ales such as Orval.

Orval is probably the best starting point when trying to pin down the flavour of de la Senne Bruxellensis. Is has similar dry, woody, earthy characteristics to what made Orval so popular in the first place. In contrast to that, this beer has a bright, spritzy minerality that is so unmistakably de la Senne.

Bruxellensis is aged in the bottle for four months before release, so the Brett characteristics are already strongly prevalent when the beer is fresh. However, a little careful aging will bring those Bretty flavours to the fore. I prefer it fresh, but as with Orval it’s worth picking up a few to experiment and see how old you prefer yours.

The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. Water, barley, wheat, oats, sugars, yeast, bacteria and even adjuncts such as fruit or maize are all fundamental parts of what make up our favourite beers. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a bottle of Brasserie de la Senne Bruxellensis in store or online now.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Jerk Pulled Jackfruit Buns and Northern Monk, Fieldwork & Lonely Planet Travel Notes IPA

Jackfruit is one of the food world’s cleverest sleights of hand. Raw, the fruit’s yellow lobes are hidden within a huge, spiky expanse; like a durian but larger and without the controversial pungency, jackfruit has a delicious, tropical sweetness.

But when it’s cooked down with onions, spices, and other savoury ingredients, jackfruit offers up an entirely different realm of culinary possibility. Famously, its cooked texture is so peculiarly reminiscent of pulled pork that it’s hard to believe you’re not eating meat, apart from a whisper of fruity sweetness. I especially like it with a Jamaican jerk-style preparation, here adapted from Bobby Flay. Hand to heart: even die-hard carnivores will likely find it irresistible.

It’s both the satisfying richness of this recipe, as well as that touch of tropicality, that helps it pair so well with the limited-edition Travel Notes IPA. Brewed as a collaboration between Leeds’s Northern Monk, Berkeley’s Fieldwork and Lonely Planet, this is an IPA with a globetrotting pedigree. Ingredients hail from five continents, from European-sourced malt to hops from North America and Oceania, from African mango to South American açai berries. The latter two additions lend the beer a subtle blush hue and a bit of sweetness; it’s fruit-forward and soft on the palate, but by no means shy and retiring.

To tie it all together, I topped the jerk-marinated jackfruit with a crisp and crunchy mango slaw that brings an extra dash of exotic fruit flavours, as well as some textural contrast. Vegan barbecue fare? This summer, you’ve got a reason to give it a go.

Jerk Pulled Jackfruit Buns with Mango Slaw
Serves 2

For the jerk pulled jackfruit:
2 spring onions, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
1 tbs fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tbs dark soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 small scotch bonnet pepper, stemmed and seeded
2 tbs olive oil 1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tbs tomato paste
200g fresh jackfruit, de-seeded
200ml vegetable stock

Blend the spring onions, garlic, ginger, thyme, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, spices, salt, pepper, lime juice and scotch bonnet in a food processor for 1-2 minutes, pausing to scrape down the bowl occasionally, until you have a rather thick and homogenous paste. Set aside.

To a large saucepan, add the olive oil and heat on medium-high until hot. Add the onion and stir frequently for 5-6 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add the tomato paste and stir for 1 minute more. Add the reserved paste, your fresh jackfruit, and the vegetable stock, heating the mixture on high until it begins to boil. Turn down to medium-low heat and cover. Allow to simmer for 45 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture isn’t sticking, or until the jackfruit has almost completely broken down into fibrous pieces (you can nudge any larger pieces apart with your spoon). The liquid should be thickened; cook for a few minutes longer with the lid removed if it is still quite watery in consistency. Season with extra sea salt to taste.

While the jackfruit cooks, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Cover a large baking sheet with nonstick foil. Once your jackfruit has finished on the stove, spoon it onto the foil- covered baking sheet and spread out into a thin layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating and stirring halfway through, until the mixture has darkened and started to crisp at the edges. Texturally, it should have the same caramelised stickiness of pulled pork.

For the mango slaw:
Adapted from Feasting at Home

1/4 red cabbage, thinly sliced
100g mango, sliced into matchsticks
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
20g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
Zest and juice of one orange
1/2 tbs olive oil

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Allow flavours to mingle for 10-15 minutes before serving. Note that this recipe makes more than required for two servings; it also works well as a nicely crunchy side salad.

To serve:
2 large white baps
Extra handful fresh coriander

Spoon a heaping amount of the jackfruit onto each bap. Top with as much slaw as you can reasonably fit, as well as an extra handful of coriander for a bit of brightness.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up a a can of Travel Notes in store or at our online shop

Fundamentals #5 - Burning Sky Gaston Belgian-Style Pale Ale

When I started this column I figured it would be pretty easy to pick out an ingredient to write about in each beer I reviewed. Most modern beers I drink tend to focus on showcasing a single ingredient, be it the yeast in a Saison, hops in an IPA or malt in a Stout or Porter. Then along comes Burning Sky’s Gaston, the Sussex brewery’s take on a modern, Belgian-style pale ale. If you’re a fan of Brasserie de la Senne’s Taras Boulba, then trust me when I say that this is a beer for you.

I often hear people talk about how balance is the most important characteristic in any beer when judging its quality. For the most part I agree with this statement and the balance of malt, hop, yeast and water in Gaston is the kind of balance I seek in the beer I drink. The hops and the yeast are, in particular, vying for my attention in this beer. Both are flavourful to the point of being intense but at the same time show an elegant restraint, a characteristic that’s present in all of Burning Sky’s beers and puts them among some of the best in the country.

In the end, I couldn’t decide which to focus on, so instead I asked Burning Sky’s founder and head brewer Mark Tranter why the blend of hop and yeast in this beer works so well.

“The yeast and hops are equally powerful in this beer and the interaction between the two is really interesting,” Tranter says. “At a time when everyone’s getting their knickers in a twist over NEIPAs and Vermont yeast, we like to show our continued love for Belgian styles and hybrids.”

He continues, “The fruity, slightly sweet and phenolic Ardennes yeast, is a perfect platform for many types of pales, through to witbiers. For Gaston we chose to marry it with a blend of old and new world hops with a slight spicing in the kettle to accentuate the yeasts characteristics. For the dry hop, we chose varieties that would compliment and enhance the yeasts character; Saaz for an earthy/grassy note, Centennial for a more punchy lemon pith and finally Amarillo for a soft fruit like character. Drinkability is, as with all our beers, key - drinking a beer should be a joy, not an endurance test.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself. The soft fruity characteristics of the yeast work so well with a blend of earthy, spicy European and bright, citrus forward North American hops. The only bad news is that its only available during the Spring and Summer months, so enjoy it now while you can.

The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. Water, barley, wheat, oats, sugars, yeast, bacteria and even adjuncts such as fruit or maize are all fundamental parts of what make up our favourite beers. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a bottle of Burning Sky Gaston in store or online now.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Thai Prawns and Pressure Drop’s Wu Gang Chops the Tree

Pairing food with beer is one thing. But cooking with it is something else entirely.

At risk of sounding close-minded, I find that the addition of beer rarely elevates a dish. Apart from a few classics - your Belgian carbonnade, your beef and Guinness stew - beer can be a tough ingredient to wrangle. In most cases, if you want to avoid unpalatable bitterness or peculiar off-flavours, it’s safest to leave it in the glass.

But this Thai prawn dish is an exception - particularly when it’s made with Pressure Drop’s Wu Gang Chops the Tree.

A hefeweisse made with foraged herbs, Wu Gang is a uniquely agreeable brew that Pressure Drop describes as "our most versatile food pairing beer." On the one hand, it’s effervescent, light of body, and low in bitterness, making it perfectly quenching. On the other, its heady aroma combines the banana and clove esters you’d expect from a German-style wheat beer with a compelling herbaceousness that’s all its own. It’s friendly, versatile, as adept at pairing with lamb chops and roast chicken as it is a piquant curry. Me, I especially like it in this Thai-inspired prawn dish.

Simple, refreshing and done in 20 minutes, this is the kind of food to serve in high summer. It nails that classic Thai combo of heat, sweetness, acidity, and salt; serve atop steamed rice to bulk it out, and throw a few slices of avocado on the side to add a bit of richness (this beer tempers fat beautifully). Whatever you do, be sure to keep a few extra bottles of Wu Gang to one side - at just 3.8% percent, it’s as sessionable as they come.

Thai Prawns with Coriander, Lime, and Beer
Serves 2

3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 bird’s eye chillies, roughly chopped
1 tbs palm sugar
1 1/2 tbs fish sauce
Stems from a 30g bunch of coriander
Zest and juice of 2 limes
3/4 tsp flaky sea salt, like Maldon
2 tbs olive oil, divided
2 echalion shallots, thinly sliced
150ml Pressure Drop Wu Gang Chops the Tree
250g deveined, shell-on king prawns

To serve:
½ avocado, thinly sliced
Steamed white rice 1 lime, cut into wedges
Coriander leaves

In the bowl of a food processor, add the garlic, chillies, palm sugar, fish sauce, the stems from your bunch of coriander, the zest and juice of 2 limes, and the sea salt. Blitz for roughly one minute, or until the paste is well combined (note: it will have a relatively thin consistency).

Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Spoon shallots into a bowl and set aside.

Add 1 tbs of olive oil to the frying pan and heat on high heat. Add the prawns and sear on one side for 45 seconds before removing from the heat and adding to another waiting bowl. Prawns are very susceptible to overcooking, so don’t be tempted to cook longer or sear on both sides; instead, they will finish cooking at the very end.

Add your shallots back to the frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Pour in the Wu Gang. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until the beer has begun to reduce. Add the prepared paste into the beer and mix, cooking for an additional 1-2 minutes, until additionally reduced.

Remove the frying pan from the heat and add the shrimp, tossing lightly until just cooked through. Season to taste with an extra sprinkling of sea salt.

Serve with steamed rice and a few slices of avocado. Slice the third lime into wedges and squeeze a bit more juice over each serving. Top with the coriander leaves.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up a bottle or three of Pressure Drop's Wu Gang Chops The Tree in store or at our online shop

Introducing the HB&B Can Station at Serious Pig

Beer in cans is great. So great, in fact, that we're opening a new shop in the heart of Peckham next month dedicated solely to the joy of the can.

The HB&B Can Station at Serious Pig is a Saturday-only beer emporium in association with our pals, the craft meat specialists at Serious Pig

Why? Our favourite breweries are now canning their beers, so we thought, why not devote an entire shop to cans? They’re easier to transport, they protect beer from one of its major enemies (light) and goddamnit, these days cans look bloody awesome. Plus you can fit a whole lot more of them in a fridge...

The HB&B Can Station is located at Serious Pig’s lovely railway arch under the tracks by Peckham Rye Station. The focus is firmly on takeaway, with a humongous variety of canned beer, but you'll also be able to stay for a drink on site along with a choice of food from Serious Pig’s award winning range.

Each week we’ll pick the very best and freshest cans from our 350+ strong craft beer selection and haul them over to the Can Station. Expect to find breweries such as Beavertown, Cloudwater, Magic Rock, Northern Monk, Verdant, Mikkeller, Evil Twin, Lervig, To Ol, Yeastie Boys and many more. If it’s good and in a can, it’s there.

The HB&B Can Station at Serious Pig launches Saturday 10 June and will be open from 12-6pm each Saturday over the summer at Arch 221, 42 Blenheim Grove, Peckham Rye, London SE15 4QL. See you there.

Fundamentals #4 – Tempest Mexicake Imperial Stout

When I think of chillis and Hop Burns & Black, my mind is immediately transported back to the first ever Chilli Karaoke event that HB&B supremos Jen and Glenn organised. The event, which took place at the short-lived Beerkat on Holloway Road, involved singing half a song, eating a Scotch Bonnet pepper and then attempting to sing the remainder of your chosen tune.

For some reason I decided to be the event’s first ever competitor. I had picked Yazoo’s 80’s synthpop belter Don’t Go as my track of choice and as I began to channel my inner Alison Moyet it was all going swimmingly - that is, until, I ate (and subsequently spat out) the pepper. The remaining minute or so, which felt like a great deal longer, was spent attempting to sing while fighting back a near uncontrollable urge to vomit up the contents of my stomach. It was a lot of fun and should Jen and Glenn decide to hold the event again I strongly encourage you to take part.

This week’s beer has nothing to do with Scotch Bonnets but it is from current Scottish Brewer of the Year Tempest Brewing Co. Mexicake is an adjunct-laden imperial stout that features cinnamon, vanilla beans, cocoa along with a large addition of Ancho, Mulato and Chipotle chillies. With Hop Burns & Black being slingers of excellent hot sauce as well as beer, it’s the latter that has piqued my interest.

As its name would suggest, Mexicake is a Mexican inspired imperial stout and it’s that which has influenced that impressive bill of adjuncts. I caught up with Tempest’s Head Brewer Douglas Rowe to find out what the addition of three different varieties of chilli adds to this beer.

“The combination of these flavours along with the heat compliments the other flavours in the beer nicely and helps balance the sweetness in the beer,” Rowe says. “Achieving the correct balance is the key to making a good beer, no matter which style.

“We dose the chili at different stages throughout the process to achieve various levels of heat and flavour. We also make up a fairly spicy chilli extract, which we can then dose in later in the process depending on how the beer is shaping up!”

However, don’t expect Mexicake to blow your head off. Instead, expect a mellow wave of heat that is balanced by the sweetness of the vanilla and cinnamon along with a wave of what tastes to me like black treacle from the ton of malted barley used in each brew of this beer.

What’s most impressive about Mexicake is just how well all these flavours work together, creating a very balanced beer that drinks easy, especially when you consider its hefty ABV of 11%. It’s a winner for me and on this evidence it’s not at all surprising why Tempest has won the lofty title of Scottish Brewer of the Year.

The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. Water, barley, wheat, oats, sugars, yeast, bacteria and even adjuncts such as fruit or maize are all fundamental parts of what make up our favourite beers. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a bottle of the amazing Tempest Mexicake in store or online now.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Whole Roasted Salmon and Elusive Brewing/Hop Burns & Black Bright Future Blood Orange Blossom Saison

It’s a tip I learned from a friend of mine a few years ago, and one I still prize: when having a large group over for dinner, roast salmon. The whole salmon.

More than a main course, whole roasted salmon is a centrepiece, gigantic and silvered. It’s also a participatory spectacle: people dig in, seek out belly fat or tender cheeks, flip the fish over in unison after one side has been picked clean. It’s a gleeful mess. There’s something primal and communal and bonding in the shared eating of such a fish.

Salmon can be seasoned in a million different ways, but because summer is approaching, Provençal flavours feel especially appropriate. In this preparation, the fish is roasted on a bed of fennel and onion that’s doused in glugs of vermouth. Tarragon perfumes it with its anise scent, and several additions of orange - zest, slices, even orange-infused olive oil - recall sunnier climes.

Speaking of orange: it’s also one of the reasons this salmon works so well with Bright Future, which Hop Burns & Black brewed in collaboration with Elusive Brewing. This blood orange blossom saison also makes use of orange juice and zest, as well as orange blossom honey. It’s yeasty, citrusy, and fantastically quenching.

It’s also ephemeral. Make the most of this limited-edition beauty then, and invite a big group over for dinner. Preferably friends who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

Whole Roasted Salmon with Orange, Fennel, and Provençal Herbs
Serves 8-10

1 3-kilo salmon
3 fennel bulbs, sliced
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 tbs Maldon sea salt, plus more to season
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
8 tbs olive oil, divided
4 tbs white vermouth (I used Cinzano Bianco)
25g flat-leaf parsley, divided
25g tarragon, divided
25g dill, divided
2 oranges
Orange-infused olive oil (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees C. Line your largest roasting pan with heavy-duty foil. Add the sliced onion and fennel, and sprinkle over with the sea salt and black pepper. Pour over 4 tbs of the olive oil and the white vermouth.

Take half of your parsley, tarragon, and dill, and chop finely. Zest your oranges (preferably with a Microplane grater, so you don’t remove any of the bitter pith), and mix with the chopped herbs.

Meanwhile, prep your salmon. Pat the inside and outside dry with paper towel. Ensure it’s been fully scaled (if there are any remaining scales, scrape the back of your knife against the grain of the scales to remove). On an angle, make five long, 2cm-deep slits in the salmon’s side with a sharp knife. In each slit, add extra sea salt to season, as well as your chopped herb and orange zest mixture. Sprinkle sea salt across the salmon’s skin and flip, repeating the same steps on the other side of the salmon.

Season the salmon’s cavity generously with sea salt. Slice the two oranges that you zested and place the slices with the cavity, as well as the remaining herbs. Pour the remaining 4 tbs of olive oil over the salmon.

Add your salmon to your very hot oven and cook for 15 minutes - salmon is a fatty fish and will smoke, so make sure your kitchen is well ventilated. If your salmon drapes over the edges of your roasting pan and threatens to touch the edges of your oven, cover those exposed bits in foil to prevent scorching.

After 15 minutes have passed, lower the heat to 180 degrees C and cook the salmon for approximately 20 more minutes, covering loosely with foil if it begins to look too dark. After 20 minutes, remove the salmon carefully from the oven. Use Jamie Oliver’s method and check to see if it’s cooked through: stick a small knife in the thickest part of the salmon, behind its head. Leave for several seconds before removing the knife and feeling for heat; if it’s warm, the salmon is cooked. If not, return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes of cooking time.

Once the salmon is cooked through, remove from the oven and serve alongside the roasted fennel and onion; you can serve it with spinach and lentils on the side if you wish. Drizzle with orange-infused olive oil.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up some of our succulent collab while stocks last in store or at our online shop

Fundamentals #3 – Marble Brewery Lost Your Marbles Red Wine B.A. Forest Fruits Imperial Stout

It really feels like Manchester’s Marble Brewery has reasserted itself as one of the nation's most relevant breweries over the past few months. Not that there should ever have been any doubt.

Under the watchful eye of head brewer James Kemp and his team, Marble has refined its core range, introduced a breathtaking new range of hop forward beers under its “Metal Series” label and released a series of complex and accomplished barrel aged beers. There was a small blip when they decided to discontinue the transcendent Dobber, one of the most important beers in my personal drinking history, but that’s OK because I’m heading to Manchester to brew it with Marble as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations later this year.

Lost Your Marbles has been released as two iterations – one barrel aged with Brettanomyces and this one, which has been aged in Pinot Noir barrels along with an addition of cherries, blackberries, blackcurrants, raspberries and redcurrants. It’s a collaboration between returning Marble brewer Joe Ince (who until recently was brewing at Magic Rock) and Dan Whitehead de Bechevel, who has recently left Marble to start his own brewery: the imaginatively named Dan’s Brewery.”

The fundamental that fascinates me in this particular beer is not the fruit but the barrels itself. None other than winemaker Andrew Nielsen of Le Grappin sourced the French Pinot Noir barrels that this beer was aged in. You might not have heard Nielsen’s name before but it's one you should learn because he has provided several other breweries, including Redchurch, Wild Beer Co and Burning Sky with wine barrels of their own. [ED: As well as making awesome wine of his own!]

I contacted Marble’s Joe Ince to ask why he selected these barrels in particular for ageing this beer. “I wanted the barrels to help mellow the stock beer, allow for longer term ageing without adding too much tannin, something I'm very wary of with wood,” he says. “I was also hoping they would add a little funk and help the fruit really come through, which I think they did. Although not a wine drinker I quite like Pinot Noir as it always presents with cherry and raspberry to me.”

The resulting beer is velveteen in texture, with a lusciously smooth carbonation. Ince has certainly achieved the low tannin and high fruit flavour content he desired. The rich chocolate malts are met by the tartness of black cherries and raspberries, producing a flavour not unlike black forest gateau, which also happens to have been the brewers' end goal with this beer.

It definitely benefits from being allowed to warm in the glass a little first and I reckon that a few months longer in the bottle wouldn’t do it any harm either – especially if you want those funky, tart flavours to come to the fore. Don’t hang about though - only 1200 bottles have been produced and based on this tasting they won’t be about for long.

The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. Water, barley, wheat, oats, sugars, yeast, bacteria and even adjuncts such as fruit or maize are all fundamental parts of what make up our favourite beers. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. And pick up a bottle of Marble's exceptional Lost Your Marbles Red Wine BA Forest Fruits in store or online now.

HB&B Sub Club - our April box revealed

Here's what was in our first ever HB&B Sub Club box that went out last month. We're just as excited about this month's box - we've found some mind-blowingly awesome beers to fill it with yet again...

We'll be releasing a limited number of new memberships this week. These will go on sale on Friday 5th April at 9am. Head here and get your finger on the button. More info on the boxes can be found at our FAQs page, or simply drop us a line.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Steak with Grapefruit Sauce and Beavertown’s Bloody Ell

There’s a lot of mythology around steak. Perhaps that’s why many home cooks leave it to the professionals, who tend to harp on about wood varieties and have very strict rules about the number of times steak should be flipped. Their fervour may be admirable, but I’m here to tell you: cooking a good, even great, steak at home is dead easy.

Well, mostly. It helps if you get your meat from a quality source - skip the grocery store and head to your local butcher for this one. If you can get a steak that’s dry-aged, which deepens its flavour and increases its tenderness, all the better. It also helps to know your preferred cut. Mine is ribeye, which is marbled with fat and, consequently, irresistible.

Once you’ve got all that sorted, you need only a few tools to reach perfection: generous amounts of sea salt and black pepper, a hot frying pan, tongs, and a kitchen timer. The latter is important; ribeye takes only a couple of minutes to cook per side, so it’s best not to let it linger.

As a lover of blood oranges and a regular IPA drinker, I always look forward to Beavertown’s springtime Bloody Ell release. But for pairing purposes, this beer offers a bit of a conundrum. While Bloody Ell is made in the midst of blood orange season, those ruby beauties have all but disappeared from shelves by the time it’s available.

Luckily, grapefruit makes a fair substitute. Here, the ribeye is accompanied by a sunset-hued sauce bright with grapefruit juice but balanced with savoury shallots. I call this dish not-quite salad because the steak is still the centrepiece, but springtime greenery in the form of sorrel is also a worthy addition. If you’ve never had it, sorrel is worth seeking out: when bitten, it bursts with lemony sharpness. Top it all off with toasted Marcona almonds and frizzled shallots that crackle between the teeth, and you’ve got a steak the pros would approve of.

Steak Not-Quite Salad with Sorrel, Grapefruit Sauce, and Frizzled Shallots
Serves 2

Frizzled shallots:
3 large echalion shallots
¼ tsp salt, plus additional for seasoning
1.5 tbs all-purpose flour
250ml vegetable oil

Peel and slice the shallots finely. Add to a bowl with the salt and flour and toss to coat. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over high heat until very hot, about 5 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when you throw in a single piece and it starts sizzling rapidly. Add in half the shallots and cook, stirring with a slotted spoon or pair of tongs until well browned and crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the oil quickly and drain on a paper towel-lined plate, sprinkling over with a little more salt. Repeat with the second batch of shallots. Set aside.

Grapefruit sauce:
330ml ruby red grapefruit juice, divided
100g caster sugar
1 large echalion shallot, minced
2 tbs sherry vinegar (preferably Valdespino)
125g butter, cubed
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

In a small saucepan, add 230ml grapefruit juice and the sugar. Heat over high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has reduced to a thick syrup that coats the back of the spoon, approximately 10-15 minutes.

In a second small saucepan, add the minced shallot, vinegar, and the remaining 100ml of grapefruit juice. Heat over high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reduces to about 3 tbs worth, approximately 10 minutes.

When the grapefruit, shallot, and vinegar mixture has sufficiently reduced, begin to add the butter. Whisking constantly, add one cube at a time, allowing each to almost completely melt before adding the next. When all the butter has been added and the sauce appears thick and lighter in colour, drizzle in your grapefruit syrup slowly, whisking constantly. Once all the syrup has been added, continue to whisk and season with freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt. Strain the sauce into a bowl through a sieve. Set aside.

Steak and to serve:
75g blanched Marcona almonds
2 ribeye steaks
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
25g butter
Large handful sorrel (if you can’t find sorrel, substitute rocket or watercress)

Allow the steak to come to room temperature. Season both sides generously with sea salt and black pepper. In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, toast the Marcona almonds until they’re golden-brown, approximately 7-10 minutes. Set aside.

Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan over high heat until hot. Add the butter and melt. Add the steaks. For medium rare (recommended), cook on the first side for 2 minutes and 30 seconds before flipping and cooking on the reverse for approximately 2 more minutes. Remove from the pan and allow the steaks to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

To serve, put down a generous dollop of grapefruit sauce on each place (and do a swirl with the back of a spoon if you’re feeling fancy). Divide the steak and the sorrel leaves between both plates. Top both steaks with the frizzled shallots and toasted almonds. Go to town.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up some Beavertown Bloody Ell while stocks last in store or at our online shop

Never Going to Give You Hops - HB&B meets Rick Astley

rickjen.jpg

In 1987, I, like most of the pop-loving world, played Rick Astley’s mega hits to death on my trusty Walkman. I like to think I’d bought the album but to be honest, it’s more likely I’d dubbed them off the radio because that’s just what we did back then. (Sorry to cost you those royalties, Rick.)

Anyway, they always say never to meet your heroes, but I’m 30 years older now and when the invitation came through - “Do you want to interview Rick Astley about beer?” - I figured I could handle it. After I’d stopped jumping around the room and screaming, I dug out my old 7” of Never Going To Give You Up, found a marker pen and headed off to behave like a grown-up at the Draft House Hammersmith where he was launching his new beer with Mikkeller, Astley’s Northern Hop.

Over a pint of said beer, I managed to grab a few minutes with him before his people rushed him off to soundcheck for his gig that night at the Royal Albert Hall, where Astley’s Northern Hop would be available for the first time for fans to buy.

 

How did this all come about? The story goes that there was a rumour going around that you lived in Copenhagen which made childhood fan Mikkel [Mikkeller founder Mikkel Borg Bjergsø] want to brew a beer with you...
"The truth of it, I’m not exactly sure, but Mikkel said he was a real fan of mine when he was young so he thought it would be a fun thing to do. I think I agreed because Mikkeller is Danish - if, say, a Belgian or German brewery had approached me, I might not have been so keen. But even though I don’t live there, I almost consider myself a percentage Danish these days. My wife’s Danish, I speak a little Danish, my daughter lives there, whenever anything comes up, I’m pro-Denmark.

So we got chatting and I was really honest with Mikkel. I said, 'Look, I know nothing about this, I’m not even heavily into craft beer', but he took that on board and that’s what’s made it such a fun thing. They didn’t expect me to jump around and say, 'We should do this or use these hops.' I said, 'Let’s just make something I like.'

I tried a whole lot of beers in the process. Some of the beers Mikkeller sent over I couldn’t actually drink! I think I’d be able to drink some of them now, knowing and understanding a lot more about the craft beer world, but if you’re used to going down the pub and having a pint of bitter, and then you’re presented with this red thing… "

On that note, did you ever think about doing a rick-roll with this beer - calling it a lager on the bottle and have it turn out to be some crazy Flemish red that tastes a bit like vinegar to the unwary palate?
"No! Some of the beers they sent the first time were so out there, I thought, 'I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do this. I just really want to be able to enjoy this beer at home and with my mates and family.' So they sent another batch and these ones were all very drinkable, so I narrowed them down to about half a dozen. I couldn’t tell you why I liked them or even describe them, but luckily Mikkel managed to work it out and we went from there." 

Were you ever tempted to call it Never Going to Give You Hops?
"Ha! The name was the hardest thing. I didn’t even know if I should put my name on it, to be honest. In the end, I’m kind of a professional Northerner to some degree - even though I’ve lived down here for 30 years, my accent hasn’t ever changed. So the name - Northern Hop - made sense to me. I wanted it to be something that if someone was to drink it in any part of the country, it didn’t feel elitist. I wanted them to say, 'Oh yeah, it’s a beer. It’s real beer, it’s a great beer.'" 

Have you got a taste for this brewing thing now? Will you make a beer again?
"We’ll have to wait and see. I didn’t do this because it’s a business venture, I just did it because it was a fun thing to do. I like it. It’s so different from what I normally do. And you know, I work with a bunch of geeks - musicians, tech guys, we’re all proper geeks. And this is just another bunch of geeks doing something else. It’s great." 

 

Rick is a thoroughly top bloke and refreshingly honest about his experience in the world of craft beer (this is a man who said he was never gonna tell a lie, after all). It was a genuine pleasure to meet him, and I'd think that even if I hadn't been a former tweenage fangirl.

It's tempting to write something like this off as a gimmick, but even though I may have initially been a little disappointed the beer wasn’t a giant rick-roll, I wholeheartedly admire the fact Rick stuck to his guns and made a beer he wanted to drink. It’s a lovely drop and I think he’s achieved his objective of making a beer that anyone can enjoy. Once again, Rick hasn’t let us down. - Jen

WIN: From tomorrow, we'll have Astley's Northern Hop available to buy in store and online. Everyone who buys a bottle will go in the draw to win a Mikkeller goodie bag containing a T-shirt, glass and a copy of the awesome brewing bible, Mikkeller's Book of Beer. We'll draw a winner on Monday 15 May.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Spring Orecchiette and Cloudwater Bergamot Sour

I look forward to asparagus season like a fan whose favourite band is about to drop a long-awaited new album. I will travel across the city in search of a single bunch of wild garlic. And sweet peas, shorn straight from their pods? For me, that’s an aroma that perfectly telegraphs spring.

After months of darkness and stodge, bright, fresh flavours feel revelatory — and that applies to beer, too. I can’t think of one more appropriate for springtime sipping than Cloudwater’s limited edition Bergamot Sour, which is made following the annual winter harvest of bergamots in Marrakech. The brewery adds the zest and juice of the fruits following fermentation, which preserves their delicate flavour.

Never had bergamots before? You may be more familiar with these hybrid lemon- oranges than you’d think: they’re a key component in Earl Grey tea, for starters. As Cloudwater writes, ‘Bergamots have imparted their unique, fresh, fragrant, and floral flavours’ to this beer. Nose it, and you’ll detect something that’s reminiscent of lemon, but more: more complex, subtler and definitely reminiscent of blossoming things.

To accompany this beer and its refreshing zing, make this springtime pasta. Brilliant green asparagus, peas, and wild garlic are a verdant seasonal trifecta, while goat curd and lemon zest add richness and tang. But it’s the hazelnuts toasted in brown butter - and the smallest dash of lavender - that really make this pasta memorable. If you’re lucky enough to have a sunny balcony or back garden, this recipe is an ideal candidate for al fresco eating.

Spring Orecchiette with Asparagus, Peas, Goat Curd and Brown Butter
Serves 4-6

125g unsalted butter, divided
100g blanched hazelnuts
½ tsp dried lavender
250g asparagus, woody ends removed and sliced in 5cm pieces
200g peas (preferably fresh)
1 small bunch wild garlic
500g orecchiette
Sea salt
125g goat curd
Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly ground black pepper
Zest of one lemon

Add 100g of the butter to a small frying pan over medium-high heat. When the butter has just melted, add in the hazelnuts. Cook for approximately three minutes, or until the hazelnuts are toasted; the butter will foam up as it begins to brown. Watch carefully, as it can go from browned to burned very quickly. When it has darkened and smells nutty and toasty, remove from the heat, pouring the mixture into a bowl to help it cool. Add the lavender and stir. Set bowl aside.

Prepare a large saucepan with gently boiling, well-salted water. Add the orecchiette and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until al dente.

As the pasta cooks, heat the remaining 25g butter over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Add the asparagus and peas and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until bright green and just tender. Roughly tear the wild garlic leaves and add to the frying pan with the vegetables, stirring until they begin to wilt, approximately 30 seconds. Remove frying pan from the heat.

When the pasta is cooked, drain, reserving approximately 100ml of the cooking water. Add the drained pasta back to the saucepan and tip in the asparagus, peas, and wild garlic mix, tossing to combine. Drain the lavender brown butter from the hazelnuts — keep those in the bowl, for the minute - and into the saucepan, and add 50ml of the pasta liquid and half of the goat curd. Stir until a light sauce forms, adding small amounts of additional cooking water if necessary to help the sauce bind.

Divide the pasta among the plates, topping with dollops of the remaining goat curd, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, freshly grated lemon zest, the toasted hazelnuts and a good sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up some Cloudwater Bergamot Sour while stocks last in store or at our online shop

Fundamentals #2 – The Kernel India Double Porter Citra Ella

When it comes to darker beers such as stout or porter, it would be obvious to focus on the ingredient that almost always provides them with most of their flavour: malt. This India Double Porter from South London’s The Kernel is no exception. Its malt profile of bitter dark chocolate and stone fruit laden roasted coffee is most certainly the most prominent element of this particular beer.

However, this is The Kernel we’re talking about here and in a typical break from the traditions that inspired this beer, it has been hopped with two pungent new world hop varieties. North American Citra hops add layers of grapefruit aroma and an oily, almost resinous mouth feel. This bombastic hop has a story of its own to tell one day but today we’re going to focus on the other hop named on this beers label, the Australian Ella variety.

Ella’s development began as early as 2001 (it takes a minimum of 3-5 years before a hop variety is ready for commercial cultivation) and after positive results it was fast-tracked for production trials in 2007. Ella was made commercially available to brewers in 2011 when it was released under the name “Stella”. It should come as no surprise that after legal pressure from AB-InBev - the largest brewing company in the world and brewers of the popular Stella Artois - that Hop Products Australia, who developed this hop, were forced to change its name in 2012. Henceforth it became simply known as Ella. 

Ella was developed by crossing the Australian Galaxy variety, known for its juicy, tropical fruit character, with Spalt – one of the four original European noble hops along with Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, Tettnang and Saaz. Noble hops are known for their “green” herbaceous character and they provide a spicy finish, not unlike white pepper.

Ella has a floral quality not dissimilar to something like lavender while also maintaining that edge of spice inherited from its noble parentage. The effect is that is rounds out the more boisterous qualities from the Citra, adding an almost parma violet note to the mix.

This is a big porter with a ton of flavour, yet it retains its drinkability in a way that’s unmistakably Kernel.

The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. Water, barley, wheat, oats, sugars, yeast, bacteria and even adjuncts such as fruit or maize are all fundamental parts of what make up our favourite beers.

To learn more about the joys of hops, make sure you get a ticket to our upcoming event Fundamentals Live #1: Hops on April 27th. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total Ales, Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. And pick up a bottle of the Kernel India Double Porter in store or online now.

Introducing... the HB&B Sub Club

So we're finally launching our beer subscription service. Introducing the HB&B Sub Club.

We've wanted to do this for a while now, but as always, we're inherently cautious and knew when we launched a subscription box, we wanted it to be the best little subscription box in Texas. So we researched, and we talked to you, our wonderful customers, and we've come up with something we're pretty - OK, very - excited about.

We had so much fun putting together our HB&B Christmas Advent Calendar Boxes in 2015 and 2016. Our ultimate aim with these was: "Let's ensure everyone who gets this box gets a thrill every time they unwrap each day's beer." It's the same motivation that gets us excited every Monday morning when we put in the weekly orders for the shop - what beers are we excited about that we know other beer lovers will be excited about? ("All killer no filler" would be the mission statement for our business, if we were organised enough to have a mission statement.)

This obsession has underpinned the launch of the HB&B Sub Club and our All Killer No Filler box. Every single beer we choose is something we are ridiculously excited about. You're not going to see any beers that a) we can't sell, b) are close to date, c) you could find in the supermarket or offie down the road, d) don't make your heart sing. Each and every beer is new/fuss-worthy/rare/just plain awesome - each and every one we've tried, tasted and loved, and we've enjoyed worked directly with our favourite breweries and distributors to ensure they've set aside their very best beers for this very purpose.

We know this isn't the cheapest beer subscription box in town - far from it. But we like to think it's reassuringly expensive. 10-12 of the best beers out there, hand-picked by us, AND you'll save a minimum of 10-20%, depending on which level of subscription you choose (usually more because we're not very good at sticking to budget and OMG OMG OMG, so many good beers)

To those about to rock, we salute you. HB&B Sub Club membership is capped to ensure all of our subscribers can get their hands on the same mind-blowing beers, and we're kept numbers especially tight while we're in the beta phase (while we get to grips with our insanely complex subscription software - don't ask). But your support won't be forgotten - early adopters can expect a very special treat in the weeks to come...

In summary: we've curated an absolutely sensational subscription box and we know you're going to love it. Join us.

*** The All Killer No Filler box launches 9am today, Friday 7th April. See you soon :) ***

Hop Burns & Bottle Share: The Sour Spectacular with Fourpure brewer Paul Spraget

One of our favourite events we hold is our series of bottle shares. Special guests have included Evin, Toby and Ben from the Kernel, Gregg Irwin of Weird Beard and Tim Anderson of Nanban and Masterchef fame. 

Last night's event was the first for 2017, inspired by Jen's accidental online purchase of a bottle of Cantillon St Lamvinus. Feeling guilt at depriving a non-beer-shop owner of this rarity, the idea for a Sour Spectacular was born, ostensibly to share out the St Lamvinus, but really to get good people together and drink great booze.

One of our all-time favourite sours is the Mad Hatter Tzatziki Sour, a beer as crazy as it sounds, and naturally we had to invite the creator of this madness to preside over proceedings. Paul Spraget now brews for Fourpure here in London, and there are loads of exciting things to come from that brewery (watch this space). But last night was devoted to a selection of Paul's favourite sours of all time. He gave us a guided tour through five sensational beers before we threw open the floor to the crowd who'd brought along their own beers.

Here's what you missed out on...

Paul's selection

Bottle shares (in no particular order)

  • WIld Beer Rubus Maximus (original 2-litre flagon, brewed January 2013!)
  • Wild Beer Tom Yum Gose
  • Cantillon St Lamvinus
  • Cantillon Gueuze
  • Bzart Krieklenlambiek 2012 Millesime
  • Tilquin Quetsch
  • Tilquin Gueuze
  • Cigar City Lactobacillus Raspberry Grove
  • Alvinne & Friends Sour'ire de Mortagne Oak Smoked Peach
  • Crate Raspberry Brett Sour
  • Kernel London Sour Raspberry
  • Rodenbach Caractere Rouge
  • Anspach & Hobday Pfeffernusse 
  • Cloudwater BA Clausenii Cherry Stout
  • Cloudwater Spiced Mocha Porter
  • MIA Ano Viejo Old Ale
  • Urban Family Brewing BA Voices Underground
  • Scorched Earth All Funked Up
  • Hanssens Oude Schaerbeekse Krieken
  • Alpine Brewing Co Pure Hoppiness DIPA
  • Green Flash Palate Wrecker DIPA
  • and probably more that we missed...

Thanks so much to everyone who came along and imbibed, and to huge thanks to Grandmaster Tash ( our very first customer way back in 2014) for the awesome shots.

Fundamentals #1 – Redchurch Urban Farmhouse On Skins: Plums

Welcome to the first instalment of Fundamentals – a bi-weekly deep dive into the story of the ingredients behind our favourite beers. Writing about why we like a particular beer is fun, but here we’re taking an opportunity to go beyond that and hopefully learn something new about our favourite tasty beverages.

The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. Water, barley, wheat, oats, sugars, yeast, bacteria and even adjuncts such as fruit or maize are all fundamental parts of what make up our favourite beers and I’m looking forward to discovering more about them and how they contribute towards what we actually taste.

Our first beer in this series is from Redchurch Brewery’s all-new Urban Farmhouse project and the talented brewer behind it, James Rylance. James first revealed the plans to transform the Bethnal Green brewery’s original facility into a sour production brewery when we spoke on the Good Beer Hunting podcast late last year. That project is now beginning to bear fruit and On Skins: Plums in the perfect example of the innovative beers that Rylance and his team will be producing.

The plums used in this tart and spritely sour beer were sourced from the National Orchard Collection in Brogdale, Kent. Rylance picked the heritage variety used in this beer from a choice of more than 700 due to the higher acidity and tannins, giving the beer more flavour post fermentation. Before adding them to the beer, Rylance macerated the plums entirely by foot, just as a winemaker would do in France.

“The techniques of foot maceration I learnt from my time making wine in Burgundy with Andrew Nielsen of Le Grappin,” Rylance says. “After pressing the fruit we put the skins, flesh, stones, stems, the whole lot into the fermenter and let the must begin to ferment.”

The beer was then soured with the Urban Farmhouse’s house strain of Lactobacillus – a lactic acid producing bacteria, which introduces a lemon juice tinged acidity to the beer. It was then aged for four months before finally being released.

On Skins: Plums pours a sparkling shade of mauve with the relatively high acidity killing the beer's head pretty quickly. The first sip is intensely acidic, but as the palate adjusts to this the tannic, stone fruit notes from the plums come to the fore.

There’s something comforting about this beer for me, a reminder of picking still warm, sweet plums straight from the tree in the late summer months. It’s a beer I’d go back to often. And if this is a sign of things to come from Redchurch in the future, then we’ve a great deal to look forward to.

You can read more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Make sure you get the chance to try Redchurch's On Skins: Plums while strictly limited stocks last. You can find it in store at HB&B or head online to get it delivered to your door.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Prawn and Mango Curry and Siren Hop Candy DIPA

Double IPAs may be one of my favourite styles (if you’re tuned into the zeitgeist, odds are they’re one of yours, too). But when a friend recently asked if I’d ever featured one in this column, the answer was no.

That’s not totally surprising. DIPAs are big, bold, and boozy, and they don’t always play well with others. Even richly flavoured dishes can taste wan and insipid in their wake.

But the question lingered in my mind, and grew into a challenge of sorts. What does pair naturally with a double IPA? People sometimes turn to barbecue or grilled meats, but I wanted something with sweetness and body, something that could mirror the pungency and tropicality of the hops. Something potent.

Then, I thought of this curry.

When I broke it down into its component parts, I realised this curry matched the classic DIPA profile blow-for- blow. It supplies richness and sweetness in the form of a coconut milk base. The tropical fruit aromas that characterise so many DIPAs? No surprise that they work well with actual tropical fruit — mango, in this case. And the full-on hop pungency is matched by what I think of as the curry’s pivotal ingredient: asafoetida.

Asafoetida is a spice with a serious aroma. Straight up, it’s pongy — even malodorous. But use a scant amount (I opted for 1/4 teaspoon, but you could use as little as 1/8), and you’ll find your curry transformed.

For the perfect pairing, you’ll need a DIPA that’s sweet and tropical, but with some bitterness and structure to it. That’s why I went with Siren’s Hop Candy, which is brewed with Simcoe hops — known for their earthy, even onion-y flavours — as well as spritzy lime zest. It’s funky, a touch hazy, fruit-forward, and even has a whiff of West Coast- style resinous stickiness.

In short, it’s a beautiful beer. And I’m happy to see it find a dinner partner at last.

South Indian-Inspired Prawn and Mango Curry
Serves 4

Curry paste:
5-6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 bird's eye chillies, stemmed
1 large piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
Pinch sea salt
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of fresh coriander

Curry:
2-3 tbs olive oil or ghee
1 onion, peeled and cut into slivers
20 curry leaves, divided
1 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp asafoetida
2-3 tbs tomato puree
1 400ml can coconut milk
100ml water
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 mango, peeled and cut into matchsticks, divided
16 king prawns

To serve:
Steamed basmati rice
Fresh coriander, roughly chopped

First, prepare the curry paste. Combine the garlic, chillies, ginger, salt, lime, and coriander in a food processer and blitz on high speed, pausing to wipe the bowl down, until the mixture has a paste-like consistency. Set aside.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil or ghee until hot. Add the onion, and saute for 5-6 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the prepared paste and fry for 2- 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 10 curry leaves and fry for 1 minute. Add the turmeric, coriander, and asafoetida, and fry for 30 seconds before adding the tomato puree. Cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring frequently. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Next, add the coconut milk and water to the mixture and stir to combine. Add half of the mango slivers (these pieces will virtually dissolve in the curry, which adds a wonderful sweetness). Lower the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer and gradually reduce for 15-20 minutes.

Next, taste the curry and adjust the seasoning if necessary. The sauce should be thickened and slightly darkened in colour.

Shortly before you’re ready to serve, add the remaining curry leaves, mango pieces, and the prawns (depending on the size of your pan, you may need to cook the prawns in two batches). Scoot the prawns into the simmering curry until they are covered by as much of the liquid as possible. Allow to cook for 1-1½ minutes until they have turned pink on one side; flip and allow to cook for 1-1½ minutes more.

(Side note: I prefer to use whole prawns, but you can also use the peeled and deveined variety. If you do opt for the latter, note that the cooking times will be ever quicker, so keep a close eye on them.)

As soon as the prawns are cooked through, remove the curry from the heat and serve immediately alongside steamed basmati rice. Garnish with the coriander.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And pick up some Siren Hop Candy DIPA while stocks last in store or at our online shop

No More Heroes XXXV – Thornbridge/Brooklyn/Oliver’s Serpent

This will be the last No More Heroes column I pen for Hop Burns & Black. We’ve been running this column since August 2015, which kicked off with the now defunct Fourpure Amber Ale. Our original aim was to champion beers we thought were underrated and eventually we started talking about music we loved and liked to drink along with these beers too.

That original aim went out the window pretty quickly, we just picked out beers we loved that we thought you would too – and we think we did a pretty good job of that. We even ran some pretty cool events, which included raising more than £500 for Mind – The Mental Health Charity last year.

But things change and we’re not the kind of folks to sit on our hands or rest on our laurels. We want to keep this column engaging and informative, so we’ve decided to change it up a bit. Our new column – Fundamentals - will launch in a couple of weeks' time. Its aim is to focus on a specific ingredient within a particular beer and find out what influence that has on the way you perceive its mouthfeel, flavour and aroma. I’ll also be rolling out a live version of this at the end of April, where I’ll be joined by my fellow Hop Burns & Black columnist and food sorceress Claire Bullen, so keep your eyes peeled for that one.

For now, we’ll leave you with one final, incredible beer with which we’ll toast this flaming ship as it bows gracefully over the waterfall of time. Serpent is a collaboration more than two years in the making that was born out of the minds of Thornbridge head brewer Rob Lovatt and Brooklyn Brewery’s inimitable brewmaster, Garrett Oliver.

Serpent began its life as a Belgian-style golden strong ale that was then blended with lees (leftover apple skins, yeast and byproducts from cider fermentation) donated by Herefordshire cider supremo Tom Oliver. The beer was then aged with the lees in Four Roses bourbon barrels for two years. After ageing it was artfully blended before being packaged in elegant, 750ml, Prosecco style bottles.

The resulting beer is a marvel: it can taste as simple or as complex as you wish, depending on what mood you’re in. It packs in layer upon layer of intricate flavours, recalling cider, wild yeast, vanilla, oak and bourbon. It can be enjoyed with little thought – but give it an inch of grey matter and it’ll take you several miles. It’s an incredible journey of a beer – and the time it’s had in the bottle since release, almost a year now, has merely improved it. Drink some now or hoard to drink whenever you feel it’s appropriate.

Music Pairing: The Stranglers – No More Heroes
We’d be doing this column a disservice if the last music pairing was anything other than this 1977 belter from one of the greatest bands to have ever existed, The Stranglers.

The beauty of The Stranglers is that, just like Serpent, their music can be as simple or complex as the way you feel. If you just want to enjoy the jangly punk riffs casted by Hugh Cornwell offset with the snarling bass of Jean-Jacques Burnel while banging your head, then off you go. However, delve deeper and you’ve got the complex, keyboard layers added by Dave Greenfield adding a prog-like depth to the track – one that even ardent punks love, but often refuse to associate with its long haired, bell-bottom sporting origins. It’s the perfect track to enjoy with a bottle of Serpent, whatever mood you’re in.

Find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. You can find the mighty Serpent at HB&B - get it in store or head online to get it delivered to your door.

No More Heroes XXXIV – Hop Federation Coffee Stout

I’m writing this week’s penultimate episode of No More Heroes from New Zealand, so it’s apt that this week’s beer is of Kiwi origin. I say penultimate because we’ve decided to rest this column in favour of something fresh, new and “educational” that’ll be arriving on your in front of your faces in just a few weeks' time.

Coffee is becoming an increasingly prevalent adjunct in craft beer and not just in the more obvious coffee-infused dark beers like the one I’m reviewing today. It’s also ably used in pale ales, red ales and even dry-hopped sour beers. As an ingredient, coffee can be as versatile as malt or hops, with the ability to impart flavours on a spectrum that ranges from roasted and chocolate through to floral and even herbal.

But just like hops, coffee is an extremely volatile ingredient, with the flavours it imparts dissipating quickly. So unless you’re not particularly fond of coffee, don’t hang on to beers that use it, drink them quickly before that flavour disappears.

Hop Federation, which is based in Riwaka at the top of the South Island (also in New Zealand’s famous hop growing region), uses coffee in one of the most obvious senses in this stout. It adds a serious amount of roast and poke to the herbaceous, gooseberry-tinged notes provided by the hops. This combination of ingredients binds to form a robustly satisfying and moreish beer that drinks easy despite its weighty 7% ABV.

The good news is that, thanks to the folks at Hop Burns & Black shipping it over to the UK, you don’t have to travel to New Zealand like I did to enjoy it yourself. Just make sure you drink it fresh.

Music Pairing: The Fall – Totally Wired
As well as cramming in heaps of flavour (Christ, I’ve been here 5 minutes and I’m already using the lingo), the Hop Federation Coffee Stout packs in a serious amount of caffeine. These days I’m as a much a third-wave coffee junkie as I am a craft beer enthusiast and I’m confident in my ability to chain several strong coffees in the morning. In fact, it’s a necessity.

However after 500ml of this particular beer I was buzzing. In fact you could say I was totally wired, which is as good an excuse as any to bring out this absolute belter of a record from Mark. E. Smith and the gang. Just remember: You don’t have to be weird to be wired (although take it from me, it helps).

Find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. You can find the roasty, toasty glory that is the Hop Federation Coffee Stout and more from the Hop Federation range exclusive at HB&B - get it in store or head online to get it delivered to your door.