Boon

Fundamentals #14 - Boon Oude Geuze (2014/2015)

You can work out how old your bottle of Boon Oude Geuze is thanks to the label affixed around its neck – it’s usually released three years after this date, which denotes the beer’s brewing season.

Around this time each year, when the temperature drops low enough, the lambic brewing season begins in Belgium’s Zenne Valley region, at the southwestern tip of Brussels. From then it will continue until temperatures once again rise above unacceptable levels for lambic brewing the following spring.

Brussels and the Zenne Valley are famous in the brewing world for the microflora the environment is home to. It harbours myriad strains of wild yeast perfect for spontaneous fermentation such as Brettanomyces Bruxellensis. The wort that lambic producers create is allowed to cool overnight in a long, shallow metal vessel known as a “koelschip”,
or “coolship” in English. As the wort cools, it’s inoculated by wild yeast before being transferred to oak barrels for fermentation.

Lambic attains its sourness not from the process of spontaneous fermentation, however. Brettanomyces gives lambic brewers the long and slow fermentation they desire, but the sourness will occur post-fermentation, taking place over a period of up to three years within its oak barrel. Moist, wort-filled barrels make an ideal home for bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Pediococcus, which often makes certain barrels or large oak vats known as foeders particularly prized by brewers. The heat of the summer months gives rise to all manner of undesirable bacteria however, which is why the lambic brewing season only extends from autumn to spring.

Lambic is becomingly increasingly sought after, especially brands such as Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen. This is with good reason too, as their products are superb. However I still delight in the fact that I can always pick up a bottle of Boon Oude Geuze with very little effort. The fact that it’s less hyped and produced in relatively larger quantities means that I don’t have to worry about this changing any time soon, either.

This year’s vintage reminded me of why I appreciate Boon’s lambic and geuze so much. It’s bright and complex – but not to the point of being hard to understand. Flavours of lemon juice and green apple are ever present from the point it pops in your mouth to the moment it zips down your throat.

By all means chase after the rarest and most sought after lambics you can possibly find. I’ll be here in the meantime, sipping at a Boon and not worrying too much about what should and shouldn’t be fussed over.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis as UK editor of Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a bottle of Boon Oude Geuze in store or online.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Rose Panna Cotta and Boon Framboise

When it comes to beer pairings, desserts don’t always get a whole lot of love (apart from a token nod to chocolate stout paired with, you guessed it, anything chocolate).

Instead, we gravitate towards beer’s savoury pairing potential, from burgers and pies to cheese and roast meats. That’s not wrong, of course, but think of it this way: swapping out your Moscato allows you yet another opportunity to enjoy beer at the dinner table.

I’ve always found rose to be a captivating flavour, and, clichés acknowledged, it seems a particularly appropriate choice for February. So, I turned to this panna cotta recipe. (“Panna cotta” is Italian for “cooked cream” – if you haven’t tried it before, think of crème brûlée, minus the brûlée). The rose here, balanced by vanilla and cream, is delicate, not at all soapy. And cardamom adds an additional dimension, evoking Middle Eastern desserts.

Creamy and delicately flavoured puddings can be tricky to pair with beer; avoiding anything overly bitter or sour here is key. In this case, Boon Framboise was just the thing. Frank Boon was one of the first to revive raspberry lambics back in the 1970s, and I’m glad he did. This beer is so redolent of freshly picked berries that sniffing it is like stumbling into a bramble patch (the label promises more than 300 grams of berries per litre). It’s just tart enough to cut through the creaminess of the dessert without unbalancing it – and raspberry and rose are a dream together.

Panna cotta sounds fancy, and therefore difficult to make. Luckily, it really isn’t. The active prep time for this dessert is about 15 minutes; the hardest part might be waiting the five-odd hours for it to chill and set. In other words, this should be your new dinner party or special occasion go-to.

[Just don’t knock over an entire bottle of red food colouring in your white kitchen while you’re making your panna cotta. The dye will splatter all over your appliances and floor and will somehow get inside of your washing machine (?!) and your flatmates will think you’ve committed a murder. The recipe is much harder if you do that.]

 

Rose Water Panna Cotta
Adapted from a recipe by Nigel Slater

600ml double cream
100ml whole milk
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract
3 sheets gelatin 10 tbs icing sugar
3-4 drops red food colouring (optional)
4 tsp rose water (more to taste)
300ml Greek yoghurt
Dried rose petals and nibbed pistachios for garnish (optional)

Simmer the first four ingredients in a small saucepan for 5-6 minutes, or until the mixture begins to steam and get pleasingly frothy around the edges. In the meantime, soak the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat and add in the sugar, stirring until fully incorporated. Add the food colouring, if you want your panna cotta to look as rosy as it tastes. Next, add the rose water and gelatin leaves (they should be slippery and soft at this point) and stir to dissolve. Lastly, gently stir in the Greek yoghurt until the mixture is uniform. Taste at this point to see if the rose water is strong enough for your liking; add a few drops more if you want yours especially floral.

Pour the mixture through a sieve and into a jug. From the jug, pour into six prepared dessert cups or glasses. Cover each tightly with cling film and chill for at least five hours prior to serving. Garnish with the dried rose petals and pistachios for a bit of extra colour.

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.

New stuff in store: 17 December

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So much incredible new goodness in store this week for Christmas that we've got no time to write it all up outside of a bullet-point list. Feast your eyes on the below, then come on in and treat your taste buds. (PS: make sure you take home the above can-tastic Star Wars trilogy if you're a fan.. Moor-sporting staff member not included with purchase.)

  • Brixton Megawatt Double IPA
  • Buxton Rain Shadow Russian Imperial Stout
  • Cloudwater Brown Ale
  • Moor TFA (Totally F***ing Awesome) Black IPA
  • Mikkeller Milk Stout and Nuclear Hop Assault Imperial IPA
  • Boon Oude Geuze Bone Dry Mikkeller Selection
  • Mad Hatter Brew Co Tzatziki Sour and Blueberry Pancake & Maple Syrup
  • Marble Chocolate
  • Vocation Divide & Conquer Black IPA
  • Summer Wine Sucker Punch Pale Ale
  • Plus the awesome new craft beer card game Hip Hops!
  • AND Beavertown's brand new Invasion of the Lupuloids IPA Series: Declaration 1 and 2 on flagonfill!

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!