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.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, is published by Dog’n’Bone Books in March 2019. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

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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.

Fundamentals #35: Hammerton Crunch Peanut Butter Milk Stout

Welcome back, to what is now the award-winning Fundamentals column. The judges at this year’s North American Guild of Beer Writers Awards saw fit to grant us a bronze medal in the Best Beer Review category. Specifically, for my piece on North Transmission, in which I attempted to compare New England IPA to post punk. All in all, it seems that was a successful analogy. Many thanks to the NAGBW for bestowing us with such an honour. Or should that be honor?

Today we’re tackling another emergent beer style that, like NEIPA, generates a serious amount of hyperbole – the Pastry Stout. It’s hard to identify exactly where or when exactly this trend emerged. Surely a stern finger should be wagged in the direction of the UK’s Buxton and Sweden’s Omnipollo, who released the collaborative Yellow Belly in 2014. In the wake of the popularity of this peanut butter and biscuit imperial stout, there have been countless breweries chucking ingredients such as cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate and more into the fermenter. Omnipollo is, in fact, a serial offender within the pastry stout category.

Perhaps though, the net of blame for the emergence of this style could be cast way back to the early 90s, when a young Goose Island released its Bourbon County stout. Now, of course, this liquid is now peddled by the evil, corporate world of Big Beer™ and as such should only be handled in full HazMat gear, while disposing of it carefully. Or, if you don’t have any protective clothing, you can dispose of it by sending to my address, below.

All jokes aside, stout, like many dark beers, struggles to find popularity when it’s out of season, and sells in far smaller quantities than its pale, hoppy brethren. The great thing about these modern pastry stouts is they’ve helped darker beers get a new wave of beer drinkers excited about these styles. Getting more folk into dark beers can only be a good thing.

When it comes to North London’s Hammerton Brewery, I’m a huge fan of the dry, slightly saline Pentonville Oyster Stout. Crunch is essentially the antithesis of this. By using lactose sugars and peanut, this beer tastes a little like a Reese’s cup, only one that’s been blended into a surprisingly drinkable dark beer. And what’s most surprising is that I don’t hate it. In fact, I quite like it, as despite its sweetness it retains that most important of qualities: drinkability.

Essentially, Crunch is pudding in a can. And one that’s worth skipping dessert for.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis as UK editor of Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a Loka Polly Hallertau Blanc IPA in-store or online.

Natural Wine Killers - our natural wine subscription box

Like many of you, we’ve become obsessed with natural wine over the past few years.

It’s no surprise natural wines appeal to craft beer lovers - they're wines made with minimal intervention, chemicals or additives, and truly reflect their terroir and their makers’ often irreverent personalities. We love to see our beer-buying customers cross over to the wonderful world of natural wines.

That's why we're proud to announce Natural Wine Killers, our new natural wine subscription box, a carefully curated selection of three wines per month - all natural, all amazing. We select the wines that have wowed us most, showcasing a wide range of styles from around the world from some of the most exciting winemakers on the planet.

As with our renowned All Killer No Filler beer subscription box, each Natural Wine Killers box comes with detailed tasting notes and background on each of the wines and winemakers, as well as suggested food pairings and recipes from our expert wine and food writers.

If you’re a long time wine buff or a lover of tasty beverages looking to expand your mind, this is the box for you. Head here to find out more. The first box will go out in early November.

Fundamentals #34 — Loka Polly Hallertau Blanc IPA

I’ve been writing for Hop Burns & Black for more than three years now, but I think this is the first time I’ve written for Jen, Glenn and the team from inside Hop Burns & Black. I know, how meta. What’s perhaps most interesting about sitting in the shop on a Friday afternoon and watching people coming in, taking with them big bags stuffed with cans for the weekend, is how much things have changed in the beer world in such a short space of time.

The cans themselves, for starters, have become an enormous deal. Three years ago the shelves would have been almost exclusively lined with bottles. Now, thanks to canning becoming more accessible, around two-thirds of the beer on the shelves is now packaged in aluminium. It’s not just the packaging that’s changed either. The beer has too. Not just in terms of style – although the New England IPA has become something of a ubiquitous feature of the modern independent bottle shop – but the brands prominent on those shelves has also transformed over time.

This is great for us drinkers too. As many brewers choose to either eschew independence in the quest for expansion, or choose to stock national supermarket chains, losing their listings with folks like HB&B in the process, so do new brewers emerge. This in turn creates a new opportunity for these young breweries to carve out a small portion of the beer market for themselves. It’s craft beer’s very own circle of life.

And it’s because of this I’ve found myself in possession of an IPA from Loka Polly – my first. I’m aware the North Wales-based brewery has been making waves among beer’s most ardent fans for a few months now, but with more than 2,000 breweries in the UK it can be challenging to keep up.

The beer in question is a fresh can of Hallertau Blanc IPA. Weighing in at 6.6% ABV, the beer pours as slick and hazy as you’d expect from a modern NEIPA. What’s interesting about this beer for me is how the typical NEIPA cocktail of Citra, Mosaic and friends has been eschewed for the German Hallertau Blanc variety – a modern breed of a the classic Hallertau Mittlefrüh noble variety, which is typically used in lager brewing.

Although the Hallertau Blanc hop maintains a herbaceous snap, it’s supplemented by a distinctively juicy note reminiscent of white peach – perfect for a modern, girthy IPA such as this one. And believe me when I say this beer is girthy. If you’re a fan of beer that’s as chewy as it is delicious, then this one’s for you. Thankfully, that heft is balanced by a dry finish, and that subtle, fresh, green note implemented thanks to the parentage of this beer’s particular hop variety. From this, I can certainly see why Loka Polly has generated so much fuss among beer’s in-crowd this year.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis as UK editor of Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a Loka Polly Hallertau Blanc IPA in-store or online.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Pumpkin & Feta Puff Pastry Pinwheels and Crooked Stave Colorado Wild Sage Brett Saison

There is no shame in frozen puff pastry. Like croissants (like many baked goods, in fact), the store-bought stuff is so reliable, of such high quality, that attempting to make it from scratch has almost zero comparative advantages.

I came to puff pastry late, which is ludicrous because there are few simpler ways to make sweet or savoury pastries that look (and taste) professional. Seriously: serve a tray of fruit tarts or I-just-whipped-up-these- perfectly-flaky-palmiers and your friends will be in awe of your culinary skills.

Because we’re on the cusp of autumn, I opted to make simple, puff pastry pinwheels filled with pumpkin. For those who are wary of all things pumpkin spice, don’t fear: here, pureed pumpkin is cooked down with garlic and paprika and coriander, and topped with crumbled feta and mint before being rolled into the pastry. The result – decidedly savoury, and extremely moreish – should appease even the most hardened pumpkin skeptics.

Pumpkin and sage is a classic autumnal pairing, and I decided to evoke it here by serving these puff pastry pinwheels with Crooked Stave’s Colorado Wild Sage Brett Saison. Brewed with lemongrass and white sage, this lightly tart, piquant beer is refreshing enough for end-of-summer drinking, though the sage – a classic cold-weather herb – evokes a pleasing seasonal shift.

Together, this pairing couldn’t be more simpatico, whether you serve it as a boozy weekend brunch, as an appetiser, or simply as an anytime snack.

Pumpkin and Feta Puff Pastry Pinwheels
Makes approximately 14-16 pastries

For the puff pastry pinwheels:
1 sheet (375g/13oz) frozen puff pastry
200g (7oz) feta
2 tablespoons dried mint
1 egg
1 tablespoon cumin seeds

For the spiced pumpkin filling:
1 425g (15oz) can pureed pumpkin (substitute pureed sweet potato)
Large pinch flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon garlic powder

1. Several hours before you plan to bake, remove the puff pastry from the freezer and leave out at room temperature until completely thawed, approximately 3-4 hours.

2. Meanwhile, while the puff pastry is thawing, prepare the spiced pumpkin filling. Add all ingredients to a saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently so it does not stick and burn, for approximately 20 minutes, or until the mixture is significantly reduced, thickened, and slightly darkened in colour. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl; cover and chill for approximately 45 minutes, or until cool.

3. Finely crumble the feta into a small bowl. Add the dried mint and mix through. Set aside.

4. Once the pastry is completely thawed, place on a sheet of parchment paper. Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry out gently until it measures approximately 9” x 15”. Using a spatula, spread the pumpkin filling in an even layer across the pastry, leaving a small margin at the edges. Sprinkle the feta and mint mixture evenly on top.

5. With the pastry still on the parchment paper, and beginning from one of the long sides, roll tightly into a log. Wrap the log tightly in the parchment paper and transfer to the fridge. Chill for 30-45 minutes, or until firm. While the pastry is chilling, preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).

6. Line a large baking sheet with another sheet of parchment paper. Remove the chilled pastry from the fridge and unwrap. In a small bowl, crack an egg and whisk until uniform. Brush the top of the puff pastry log with the egg wash, and sprinkle over the cumin seeds evenly.

7. Using a sharp, serrated knife, delicately slice the puff pastry log into approximately 1”- thick pieces (you will likely want to trim and discard the ends). Carefully transfer the slices to the baking sheet and arrange, leaving a 1” gap. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pastries have puffed up, are deep golden, and the puff pastry in the centre of each slice no longer looks raw. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes. You may need to bake your puff pastry pinwheels in two batches if they don’t all fit on one baking sheet.

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 #33 — Wylam Child in Time Cryo Hop IPA

One of the most remarkable feats I’ve witnessed in U.K. craft beer over the past couple years is the transformation of Newcastle’s Wylam Brewery from regional stalwart into one of the nation’s most respected modern breweries.

What’s perhaps most impressive about this is that Wylam has maintained its presence and reputation regionally throughout this transition. Take its Jakehead IPA as an example of this - a beer that’s perfect on cask or keg, and will appease traditionalists and fans of modern beer alike. And by making the former Palace of Arts in Newcastle’s Exhibition Park the home of its brewery and taproom, it has cemented itself as both one of the north-eastern city’s cultural, as well as culinary, institutions.

The Wylam beer I am reviewing today does not play on any of those traditional sensibilities, however. Child In Time is a modern IPA that is - like so many others - in the tradition of the New England style. As in: it’s hazy and juicy as all hell. What’s interesting about this beer in particular though, is its utilisation of cryo hops. The term “cryo” immediately makes me think of its references within science fiction, such as with characters like Futurama’s Philip J Fry or Sylvester Stallone pulling one of his best ever performances in the seminal classic, Demolition Man, as they find themselves unfrozen in an uncertain future. At a stretch it also makes me recall Sly’s good friend Arnold Schwarzenegger in his unfortunate turn as Mr. Freeze in 1997s Batman and Robin… but let’s not get crazy here.

Unlike these examples, however, there is nothing fictional about cryo hops. These are very real indeed, making use of the latest in hop processing technology to produce an intensely aromatic hop powder which, in turn, allows brewers to produce intensely flavoured and aromatic beers. Perfect for contemporary styles such as NEIPA.

Child In Time makes use of Centennial, Amarillo and Citra cryo hops - varieties that, for me at least, predominantly invoke notes of lemon zest, navel orange and pink grapefruit respectively. This is very much the case in this beer. It’s an intense melange of pithy, yet juicy citrus flavours, with just enough dryness and bitterness to keep your palate ticking over, so that it begins to demand your next sip shortly after your last. When I drink this style of beer I don’t want it to be claggy or cloying, which this beer is not. Instead it’s intense, yet clean, and very delicious.

I’m very glad Wylam decided to pursue these modern styles, and that they do it with such finesse.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis as UK editor of Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up one of the very last cans of Wylam’s hugely popular Child In Time in store or online.

The Beer Lover's Table - the book

BeerLoversTable.JPG

We have big news! We're delighted to finally reveal the forthcoming publication of our first book, The Beer Lover's Table: Seasonal Recipes & Modern Beer Pairings, written by our wonderful food writer Claire Bullen and HB&B co-founder Jen Ferguson.

This book has been more than three years in the making - Claire first started writing her monthly food and beer column, The Beer Lover's Table, for us back in 2015 and we instantly knew it had the potential to be an incredible book. Over the past year, we've been working together to make this happen - a labour of love fuelled by the world's best beers and Claire's truly exquisite recipes.

The Beer Lover's Table features 65 recipes and perfectly paired beer suggestions, along with insights into iconic beer styles, fantastic beer people and the wonderful craft beer scene, plus vibrant photography from our HB&B beer writer Matthew Curtis and others. It will be published by Dog n Bone in March 2019. We look forward to sharing more closer to publication.