Beavertown

Our letter to Beavertown

Today we made one of the most significant decisions in our retail careers in deciding to stop selling Beavertown, a brewery that contributes an enormous share of our revenue, after hearing the news of its sale to Heineken. We will sell through the stock we already have but going forward we will no longer retail Beavertown. We are, frankly, absolutely gutted about this but we feel strongly that we need to be true to our principles and our support of independent beer. Here's our letter to Beavertown in full.

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It's no exaggeration to say we are hugely disappointed by this morning's news. I imagine many of you will be feeling the same way.

Hop Burns & Black is built on the ethos of supporting the independent beer scene - it's at the very core of our reason for being. 

We appreciate breweries are businesses like any other and often need help to grow and realise their ambitions, but we hoped Beavertown were cut from a different jib to those who just follow the money. Beavertown has been hugely instrumental in developing the UK craft beer scene and to sell to Heineken (no matter what the share) feels, quite frankly, like a slap in the face.

Heineken - like AB InBev - does not have the health of the UK independent beer scene at heart. Dressing up this move as good for the consumer is just spin - in reality this is simply helping Big Beer chip away at the UK independent beer scene. As independent retailers whose business is also at risk from Big Beer's targeting of the industry, we cannot support this.

We have had a long and close relationship with Beavertown - your beers make up more than 8% of our annual beer turnover (second only to Cloudwater), so this is not a decision we have taken lightly. However, as with Brixton after it sold to Heineken, we are prepared to say goodbye. We're sad that we've had to take this decision but nothing is more important to us than our principles.

We will sell through the Beavertown beers we currently have in stock but will not be placing any more orders. 

We want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your fantastic support over the years - Beavertown people are good people and we will very much miss working with you. 

Jen & Glenn @ HB&B

UPDATE: We have also sent a similar email to the Fourpure team following the announcement of their 100% sale to Lion/Kirin. While this news was not at all unexpected, it's still a sad day as we have worked closely with the Fourpure team over the years, sharing many great nights, hangovers and even a collab brew. Our stance remains the same, however - we are here for independent beer.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Indian-Spiced Fried Chicken Goujons with Raita and Beavertown X De La Senne Brattish Anglo-Belge Pale Ale

If I could only pick one beer to pair with food for the rest of time, I’d probably go with Brattish – a recent collaboration between Beavertown and Belgium’s De La Senne (and unfortunately for my purposes, only a limited-edition brew).

Billed as an “Anglo-Belge Pale Ale”, this summery beer is all fruity esters on the nose, thanks to its Belgian ale yeast strain. On the palate, it’s still fresh and delicately sweet, but the lingering snap of bitterness makes Brattish exceptionally balanced and versatile. You could serve innumerable dishes with a beer as food-friendly as this one, but I opted for fried chicken goujons. In my opinion, they’re one of the most miraculous things you can cook at home – partly because they’re really just an adultified version of the chicken nuggets you loved so much as a kid, and partly because they’re really, truly not difficult to make.

If you’re the type who quails at the idea of frying anything, know that these are shallow- rather than deep-fried, and cook for just a few minutes: crispy, crunchy, tender, flavourful fried chicken can be yours in no time at all.

To add another dimension, the chicken fillets are also marinated in an Indian-spiced yoghurt mixture, similar to what you’d use if you were making chicken tikka. Serve cooling raita on the side, plus an additional dollop of hot sauce or chutney, if you’d prefer.

Indian-Spiced Fried Chicken Goujons with Raita
Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main

For the chicken goujons:
½ cup (130g) Greek yoghurt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, minced
1 green chilli, minced
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
11 oz (320g) mini chicken breast fillets
½ cup (70g) flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup (70g) panko
2 cups (500ml) vegetable oil

For the raita:
¾ cup (200g) Greek yoghurt
1 small handful mint leaves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
½ teaspoon coriander
1 small clove garlic, crushed

1. Begin marinating the chicken several hours before you plan to cook. In a medium- sized bowl, add the yoghurt, garlic, ginger, chilli, spices and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Stir well to mix. Add the chicken fillets and mix with a spoon or your hands to ensure they’re well coated. Cover and leave to marinate for at least two hours, or up to overnight.

2. Prepare the raita. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix well to combine. Set aside.

3. When the chicken is done marinating, remove from the fridge. Prepare your batter assembly line. Fill one bowl with flour and the remaining ½ teaspoon of sea salt, whisking to combine. Fill the second bowl with the beaten eggs and the third bowl with the panko crumbs, and set out a large plate at the end. Remove one fillet from the yoghurt, shaking off any excess marinade, and dip into the flour. Toss and flip to evenly coat, and shake off any excess. Quickly dredge the fillet in the egg mixture, coating on both sides, and let any excess egg drip off. Finally, place it in the bowl with the panko crumbs and toss until well coated. Place the battered fillet on the plate and repeat with the rest.

4. When all the fillets are battered, add the vegetable oil to a large frying pan, preferably cast iron, and place over high heat. Heat for 5-7 minutes, or until the oil temperature reaches 180°C/350°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Carefully add half of the chicken fillets; they should sizzle rapidly. Cook, rotating and flipping the pieces with tongs frequently, for 3-5 minutes, or until the chicken is crisp and deep golden-brown. You can check that the chicken is cooked through by removing one fillet and slicing into it; the meat inside should be opaque, tender, and flaky.

5. When the chicken is cooked through, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Repeat with the second batch.

6. Serve the chicken while it’s still warm, alongside the raita and additional hot sauce or chutney, if you prefer.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and pick up a can of Brattish while you can, in store or online.

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

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

We say: LIQUID BOUNTY BAR.

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

Fundamentals #11: Wild Beer Co. Rooting Around Summer BA Wild Ale

I sincerely hope you made it down to the Beavertown Extravaganza this past weekend. From where I was standing it not only felt like a special event in its own right, but a little like the UK beer scene was levelling up. It was far from a new concept in terms of a modern beer festival but both its size and the depth and breadth of the breweries pouring beer made it feel like the stakes really have been raised.

At the back of the venue my colleagues from Good Beer Hunting and I hosted a series of panel discussions over both days of the festival. One of my personal highlights was hosting Mark Tranter of Burning Sky, Averie Swanson of Jester King and bona fide cider legend Tom Oliver for a discussion about terroir in modern brewing and cider making.

Terroir is a tricky subject to get your head around when you’re talking about beer. The French word, literally meaning “of the earth” when translated, is used in winemaking to describe the sense of place imbued into vines and then grapes, giving wine a unique sense of character derived from where its grown and made. As many winemakers produce their grapes and make their wine in the same place, then aligning it with the concept of terroir is simple enough. However if a brewer is importing hops from the US, using malt from all over the UK and Europe and buying yeast from a lab in Denmark then how is beer able to share the same concept?

The answer is in beer that uses ingredients from the local environment that might be a little less obvious. That could be the wild yeasts and bacteria that inhabit the air itself, or between the grains of an oak barrel. It could be foraged ingredients taken from the land around the brewery.

In Rooting Around Summer, a tartly effervescent barrel aged sour beer from Somerset’s The Wild Beer Company, all are used to imbue a this beer with its own sense of terroir.

There’s a floral honeysuckle meets lavender note on the nose along with a faint scent of freshly zested lemon. To taste there’s a battery acid shock of lemon juice acidity, with a touch of crushed grain, leading to a bright and dry finish. If you love your sours then you will be all over this beer, if you don’t then don’t let the shock of tart flavours put you off as your palate should calibrate itself after a few sips.

Beer might not have its own terroir in the winemaking sense – however a beer like this and many others are certainly taking advantage of natural flora to add a touch of local flavour, which is fundamental to how these beers come into being.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total Ales, Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a bottle of Rooting Around Summer in store or online while stocks last.

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

New stuff in store: 12 November

WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE. We'd argue there has never been a better selection of beer in the shop. Possibly even the country. Fighting talk? Check out our new arrivals for yourselves (on top of all the awesomeness already on the shelves)...

  • Magic Rock cans. They're here, at the time of writing. Whether they'll still be here by the end of the day... We're expecting more soon but in the meantime, stocks are ridiculously small so get your skates on and slide on down to ours. Limit of one can per type (Salty Kiss, High Wire Grapefruit, Cannonball) per customer, first come, first served.
  • Beavertown Heavy Water returns! Stocks of this 9% sour cherry and sea salt imperial stout are also sadly limited so be quick. If you miss out on this, keep an eye out for when we put the Beavertown/Other Half Brewing collab, Duel of the Fates IPA, on flagon-fill...
  • New Siren klaxon! (Is that a tautology?) Two super Siren seasonals return this week - the 2015 Caribbean Chocolate Cake, a "tropical stout with cacao nibs, cypress wood and lactose", and Ryesing Tides, a rye IPA bursting with tropical fruits and berries. If your mouth isn't watering right now, then you're dead inside.
  • Our first Christmas beer hits the shelves and it's a corker - Weird Beard's Black Christmas is a cranberry Christmas stout, subtly roasty, slightly tart and with some gorgeous coconut and vanilla notes from the Sorachi Ace hops. We bought up the last four cases of this from the brewery so that you can share the love (or reward yourself).
  • More Christmas beers due in on Friday from Brewdog (Hoppy Christmas) and Mikkeller (Hoppy Lovin' Xmas). Good to see some creative thinking going on with those beer names.
  • Two new cans from one of our all-time favourite breweries, Moor! Smokey Horyzon is another rye seasonal making its return right now, and we know it's going to taste amazing in Moor's exceptionally-produced can-conditioned cans. Dark Alliance, a hoppy 4.7% coffee stout originally brewed with those other Bristol superstars, Arbor, also makes its debut in cans. NB: someone at Moor really likes Star Wars.
  • Want milk stouts? We've got two of the best - Wild Beer Millionaire salted caramel milk stout and Wiper & True Milkshake.
  • Fourpure Southern Latitude joins its Northern cousin on the can shelves. Compare and contrast its juicy summery sunshine with the rich wintry rye of its Scandavian-inspired counterpart, Northern Latitude.
  • London Beer Lab's Simcoe & Rye IPA comes in to replace its much-loved Mosaic IPA. A change of hops is as good as a holiday - you're going to like this one. A lot.
  • We welcome London Brewing Company to HB&B for the first time. Their gloriously Art Deco cans of Upright Session IPA taste as good as they look.
  • Last but not least, Pressure Drop's Freimann's Dunkelweisse, a lovely smoky wheat beer, returns at the perfect time for pairing up with autumnal dishes. It's a great foodie beer, this. Great with cheese too - right, Ned Palmer?

Such a goddamn line-up. Who's your daddy?

No More Heroes: drinking beer for mental health

Last night we got the chance to celebrate the craft beer world's underrated heroes with a fantastic event at ours hosted by beer writer Matthew Curtis of Total Ales.  

This event came about when both Matt and HB&B were approached by an agency offering us cash or a donation to a charity of our choice to tell them all we knew about craft beer. As it transpired, the agency was working for a multinational brewing corporation, so naturally we both said no - but we didn't want a charity to miss out on getting some much-needed funds, so No More Heroes: A Tutored Tasting of Beer's Great Unloved was born.

With 100% of the ticket sales going to the wonderful mental health charity Mind UK, as well as donations sourced via our JustGiving page, we've managed to raise more than £400 for Mind (much more than what the agency would have handed over!).

If you couldn't make it last night, here's the beer list you missed - wonderful beers matched with some of our favourite punk and post-punk tunes, and even some suggested spicy food matches to try out at home... Keep an eye out on Matt's blog too, where we're sure he'll do an even better round-up soon.

Augustiner Lagerbier Hell, 5.2%
Music Match: The Stranglers – No More Heroes
Spicy Food Match: Chicken Jalfrezi
To be fair, this isn't an unsung hero in our shop any more. We've turned so many people on to the joy of this classic Munich lager that it's always in our Top 10 best-selling beers. It's the lager or people who think they don't like lager. Clean, crisp, bready perfection, and a perfect partner for curry. Here's what Matt wrote about it for us in September.

Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro, 6&
Music Match: Modern English – I Melt With You
Spicy Food Match: Beef Chilli Con Carne
Possibly the best-loved beer of the night, judging by the number of takeaways sold afterwards. A beautiful milk stout that's so smooth and creamy as to be almost 'melty', says Matt - which is why he chose Modern English's killer tune to go alongside. A great match with chilli too - we'd drink it with AND throw it in the pot too.

Beavertown 8 Ball Rye IPA, 6.2%
Music Match: Magazine – Shot By Both Sides
Spicy Food Match: Pepperoni & Jalapeño Pizza
Matt says, "The fact that Gamma Ray and, to a lesser extent, Neck Oil, steals all of 8 Ball's limelight is criminal." Shot by both sides, you might say... "It might not have the in-your-face hop punch of its more popular cousin but it’s a wonderful beer all the same." We couldn't agree more. A Beavertown gem that deserves to be duly celebrated.

Boon Kriek Mariage Parfait, 8%
Music Match: The Runaways – Cherry Bomb
Spicy Food Match: Dark Chocolate with Chilli
A glorious sour from Belgium's much underrated Boon brewery (pronounced Burn apparently - who knew?). Here's Matt's marvellous account of discovering Belgian lambics and geuzes (and his visit to Boon) for Good Beer Hunting, Naturally we paired this with The Runaways. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-CHERRY BOMB!

Renaissance Stone Cutter Scotch Ale, 7%
Music Match: Th’ Dudes, Bliss
Spicy Food Match: Steak & Cheese pie or a Pig & Hay scotch egg smothered in hot sauce
Renaissance is a terrific brewery from Marlborough, New Zealand, who don't tend to get the attention they deserve over here, overshadowed as they are by their more out-there NZ Beer Collective colleagues such as Yeastie Boys. However they're making some amazing brews, such as their fresh hop monsters Grandmaster Fresh Hop MPA and Black the RIPA. Stone Cutter is their flagship beer, a Scotch Ale that gets better and better with age. Matt recommends drinking it with that bastion of Kiwi cuisine, a steak and cheese pie. And we got to introduce London drinkers to the NZ beer-swilling student anthem that is Th' Dudes' Bliss!

New Belgium Le Terroir 2015
Music Match: Plastic Bertrand – Ca Plane Pour Moi
Spicy Food Match: Chicken Tinga Tacos
Going out with a bang, our final beer of the night had been muled back from the US by Matt himself. The latest in the Lips of Faith series, Le Terroir 2015 is a delectable sour dry-hopped with Galaxy hops from New Belgium, a brewery we've been dying to try for the longest time. Here's Matt's account of visiting New Belgium. We paired it with Belgian's finest musical export, Plastic Bertrand, mais oui!

New stuff in store, 9 October

Every week (ish) we write this post, yet we never fail to get indescribably excited by the things we list within. This week is no exception. Hold on to your hats...

  • Beavertown heralds the return of their annual pumpkin beer, Stingy Jack. It's stingy by name but also by nature - we've got extremely limited stocks of this, so it's a one-can limit, alas. One can! We know. Sorry about that.
  • Five Points London Smoke is back on the shelf - we love this beer. It's a great food match or just enjoy its smoky goodness on its own. We've also restocked on Five Points Pale cans - get in quick.
  • Two newbies are in from Weird Beard - their Tsujigiri Yuzu IPA was such a hit on flagon-fill that we've brought it back in bottles, as well as the new India Brown Ale, No More Bright Ideas.
  • We're delighted to have two new lines from Buxton (though before you get your hopes up, sadly they're not the elusive Yellow Belly Sundae or the Rainbow collab with Arizona Wilderness...) No complaints with what we have managed to get our hands on though - the always-amazing Axe Edge English IPA and Wyoming Sheep Ranch DIPA. Boom!
  • Two more new Wiper & True beers extend the range on shelf to no fewer than six brews from this excellent Bristol brewery. Amber Ale: In The Pines is a richly malty red with a distinct piney finish; Family Tree is an IPA that's rating off the scale, bringing together the earthiness of Nugget hops with the pine burst that is Simcoe and Mosaic, a mix of both.
  • Two new ones from the brewery we fall more in love with every week, Arbor. Choose from the easy-drinking American amber ale Red Henry or flagon-fill favourite Beech Blonde, in addition to the other Arbors already on shelf - Oz Bomb, Why Kick A Moo Cow and Yakima Baby.
  • And we've saved the best for last - the best flagon-fill line-up we've seen in ages. Seriously, go check it out. Wylam Jakehead IPA is back. We've got a new Burning Sky - Saison Provision Reserve aged on gooseberries. Tuatara Sauvinova has been flying off the shelves in 330ml bottle - don't miss it in large-format. And we've still got two Yeastie Boys kegs in the cellar - the brewery we love so much we bought (shares in) the company. Fill yer boots!

Autumnal beers

While we've been blessed with a brief respite of Indian summer (and the sun is shining gloriously as we type this), it can't be denied that autumn is well and truly upon us. The barbecue is about to be packed away, the slow cooker has been dusted off from its summer slumber and - perhaps best of all - it's time to indulge in the delights of autumnal beers. 

We've had a great time reacquainting ourselves with the glorious nutty, malty beers that are often overlooked in this world of hop-forward IPAs and wacky sours, as well as discovering the best of the new-season offerings. We (well, Glenn) have also spent a bit of time in the kitchen, cooking up a storm and matching these beers to a host of hearty dishes that signal the move to the cooler months.

Here are a few of the autumnal beer and food matches we've enjoyed the most.

AleSmith Anvil ESB with Spiced Duck & Date Tagine

We feel a bit guilty plugging this beer as there's only one left in store (in our Bin Ends Box) but we loved it so much that it felt wrong to leave it out. Anvil ESB is an American brewery's take on an English style with English hops, but don't let that put you off. Big caramel and nutty flavours make this beer the perfect match for food, so we put it with a Moroccan-style duck and it knocked our socks off. You can find the recipe here, we got the duck from our friends at Flock & Herd and the dates, spices and preserved lemon from Khan's Bargain Store, Rye Lane's very own shop of dreams.

 

Beavertown Stingy Jack with Jamie Oliver's pumpkin chickpea curry

Beavertown's 2015 pumpkin ale is possibly the best pumpkin beer we've ever had. Smooth as you like, gentle spices that conjure up the most festive of autumn flavours... It's a pure delight to drink and conveniently arrived on the same day that Glenn decided to use up the pumpkin sitting in our vege bin in a subtly spiced curry. It's not rocket science to match pumpkin with pumpkin, but this worked a treat. We can only imagine what it would be like with a roast and caramelised vegetables.

 

Howling Hops Running Beer

This is such a delicious beer - probably our favourite from the Howling Hops range right now, and believe us when we say it has stiff competition. A brown ale hopped with Citra, Chinook and Centennial, there's something wonderfully light and delicate about it. We didn't drink it with food, instead simply enjoying it with friends on the tables outside the shop one recent evening, but this is such a food-friendly style, you could just about match it with anything and it would work.

 

Flying Dog Dogtoberfest Marzen with Nigel Slater's slow-cooked sausages

We drank this malty, German-style lager with a improvised variation on Nigel Slater's slow-cooked sausage recipe and it was the bomb. German-style beer + German-style food = no-brainer Oktoberfest goodness. This would also go brilliantly with some subtle, nutty hard cheese.

 

Brewdog Candy Kaiser with Steve's roast pork

The heavy toffee notes in this seasonal altbier from Brewdog make for a terrific pairing with pork. We tried to recreate the amazing roast pork our friend Steve made when he stayed with us recently - a top-quality joint from Flock & Herd with a heap of fennel and caramelised onions, and spiced apple sauce on the side. Ours wasn't quite up to his standards, but Steve is the roast king and we bow down to his greatness. Regardless, Candy Kaiser made for a fine match.

Matthew Curtis's No More Heroes III: Beavertown 8 Ball Rye IPA

I don’t usually pay much attention to the A-boards that sit on pavements outside pubs. Those that ceaselessly try to out pun each other with increasingly inane ‘banter’. Recently though, one managed to catch my attention – it simply said ‘GAMMA RAY BACK IN STOCK.’

I thought this was quite remarkable for a number of reasons. Firstly, that this quite ordinary pub was stocking what I believe to be one of the best beers being brewed in the country right now. It makes sense but it was surprising considering a few months ago they assumed that Doom Bar was haute couture. Secondly, because it demonstrated in real terms just how much craft beer is permeating into the mainstream, and that’s a wonderful thing.

I love Beavertown, I love how they’ve grown and adapted and evolved but I don’t want them to become known for one or two beers. There is so much more to these hard working, North London stalwarts that just glorious Gamma Ray.

Take 8 Ball, for example, their rye IPA. This beer is one of Beavertown founder Logan Plant’s original homebrew recipes. It oozes with chewy, caramel malts, snaps with bitter, pine resin and grapefruit hop nuances and bites with a snap of white pepper as it begs you to take another sip. This may sound like a great deal but in actual fact these wonderful flavours bind to form one cohesive whole.

The fact that Gamma Ray and, to a lesser extent, Neck Oil, steals all of 8 Ball's limelight is criminal. It might not have the in-your-face hop punch of its more popular cousin but it’s a wonderful beer all the same and its name deserves to be scrawled on pub A-boards as much as any other beer might.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis.

New stuff in store: 9 July

This week's blog post is brought to you by the letter B, which stands for BAGNUMS and BLUBUS.

What the heck are bagnums? They're 1.5-litre bags of wonderful wine from Burgundy of course, made by our friends at Le Grappin. Perfect for festivals, parties, BBQs or smuggling into hot and sunny sporting events. Although you didn't hear that from us.

And yes, we've got the hugely anticipated Wild Beer and Beavertown collab Blubus Maximus. The sequel to last year's raspberry ripper Rubus Maximus, Blubus is a riotous creation of spelt, buckwheat, bay leaves, wild yeast and "a **** ton of blueberries". This WILL sell out - be quick.

We've also got what was one of our favourite light beers last summer, Wild Beer's collab with Fyne Ales, Cool As A Cucumber. Beer and cucumber - together at last. Could there be anything more refreshing?

On a hyperlocal front, we've got Clarkshaws' lovely new Coldharbour Hell Yeah Lager and their brewery co-op mates London Beer Lab's Tip Top Citra Pale and Mosaic IPA.

From Moor, there's a glorious new hefeweizen, Claudia, and the Marmalade on Rye Imperial IPA from Scottish favourites Tempest, plus a new pale, Kiwi Lilt, and IPA, White Cloud, from Bristol's Wiper & True.

Finally on the cider and perry front, there are two new ones from Newton Court in Herefordshire: the Gasping Goose medium cider (which some of you may have enjoyed on flagon-fill, and the delightful Panting Partridge perry.

Oh, and we're now on to our second batch of our HBB1 Hopped & Burning Hot Sauce. Our fastest selling hot sauce ever!

New stuff in store: 30 April

We don't think our shelves have ever been under this much strain - we literally can't fit any more beer on them, much as we'd like to. Well over 300 different beers and 100+ hot sauces (plus all that wine and cider too) await you for your Bank Holiday enjoyment. Come get some.

  • The long awaited, much vaunted Cloudwater makes its debut. Choose from their beautifully packaged Session IPA or Bergamot Hopfen Weisse hefeweizen. Headed up by James Campbell, ex Marble, you know this new brewery is destined for great things.
  • Two new additions from Weird Beard make their appearance - Boring Brown Beer, an imperial best bitter which is anything but dull, and Out of Office, an outstanding American IPA brewed with Ethiopian coffee.
  • More Moor. Again. We're suckers for pretty much everything from this terrific Bristol brewery and have restocked up on the glorious Hoppiness IPA and classic Revival bitter, as well as brand new golden ale Radiance. Sing out if you can't see these on shelf as we're fighting for space right now - too many beers, not enough shelves...
  • The 500ml Mikkeller cans we brought in last week have been going nuts, so we got even more. It's an unholy trinity of American Dream pilsner, Peter Pale & Mary pale ale and now Green Gold IPA too. Can-tastically spoiled for choice.
  • Congratulations to our friends at One Mile End, who celebrated their 100th brew with a spectacular Blood Orange Wheat DIPA. Be quick to get your hands on a bottle.
  • Pressure Drop's delightful Wallbanger wit makes a return for spring-summer, as does Siren's White Tips witbier (which we also don't currently have room for on shelf sadly... Ask us and we'll get you one from the cellar.)
  • On the hot sauce front, we've just had a delivery of a crate of wonders from around the world - a bunch of legendary sauces from Half Moon Bay, including Bee Sting, a sriracha sauce to rival our best-selling favourite Huy Fong, the super-versatile Iguana range and Pirate's Blend simmer sauces, and Cajohn's epic boozy BBQ sauces. You know it makes sense.
  • Lastly, as we type, Beavertown Bloody Ell and new Skull King DIPA are due in very shortly... watch this space.

New stuff in store: 9 April

A quick round-up of all the AMAZINGNESS that's new on shelf this week. It's been a bumper week.

  • The stunning sours from Chorlton Brewing Co have been such a hit that we've extended the range - you definitely need to check these bad boys out.
  • Orbit's new seasonal, Peel (named after one of HB&B's heroes, the late great John), also hits the shelves - a delicious session blonde.
  • Siren's delectable peaches and cream IPA Life Is A Peach sold out in record time both times we had it on flagon-fill - don't miss it in 330ml bottles.
  • Three very special new releases arrive from Buxton Brewery - one we weren't allowed to name until it launched on Friday 10th, the mighty Two Ton DIPA,, plus two exceptional barrel-aged numbers, Very Far Skyline, a Berlinerweisse aged in chardonnay barrels, and BA Dragon Tips, brewed with maple syrup, chilli and "dry-baconed" with actual bacon.
  • Plus - hold on to your hats - we've got Burning Sky on flagon-fill AND bottle. Burning Sky was named one of the world's top five breweries by Ratebeer this year and is always incredibly popular at HB&B.
  • Be quick... Also on flagon-fill - Magic Rock, Tempest and Beavertown Gamma Ray and Bloody Ell (!!!). We're also now doing cider fills - first up, the delightfully dry Oliver's Gold Rush #3.
  • Oh, did we mention new bottled beers from superstar breweries Stone and Mikkeller?

It's a wonderful time to be alive, people.