London Beer Lab

The Beer Lover’s Table: Citrusy Sea Bass Ceviche and London Beer Lab Wheat Beer

There are two different schools of thought when it comes to the New Year. One argues that January is the perfect time to flex your willpower (and, you know, your muscles. At the gym. Every day. For a month.). The other shivers under its heavy quilt and casts a glance at the brooding sky and thinks, “Give up all booze and fun stuff now? Yeah, nope.” (You don’t have to ask which side us beer folk fall on).

For those temporarily ascetic dieter types, there’s some good news: even in January, a bowl of ceviche is, well, pretty guiltless. How can you go wrong with what amounts to fresh fish, fruit and vegetables?

But for everyone else, ceviche is so much more than just diet-friendly fare. Best when crafted as a fine balance of chili, salt, and citrus, this Peruvian dish shimmers with brightness and heat. It’s beautifully vibrant – a tropical postcard from sunnier times. In this particular recipe, lime juice is used to “cook” flaky seabass in less than ten minutes, while the merest dash of orange blossom water – an addition I’m still patting myself on the back for – lends a just-perceptible floral note.

Ceviche needs a sparring partner that can roll with its citric spike while calling up summery vibes of its own, and London Beer Lab’s Wheat Beer is just the companion required. Balanced and blossoming with bright esters, it’s a South London-made brew with a continental turn of phrase; it plays nicely with the bird’s eye chili and melds seamlessly with the fruit. If you’re seeking an extra punch of sour, I reckon a fruit gose – Omnipollo Bianca comes to mind – or a nice, lactic Berliner weisse could also sort you out very nicely. Disciplined January types: you weren’t going to serve your ceviche without beer, were you?

Citrusy Sea Bass Ceviche
Loosely inspired by a recipe by Martin Morales; serves two as a light meal or appetiser

1 small sweet potato
1 avocado
½ red onion
1 ruby grapefruit
Juice of two limes
½ tsp orange blossom water
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1 bird’s eye chili, very finely minced
2 fillets sea bass
Sea salt
Fresh coriander

Begin the prep work with your sweet potato. Peel and finely dice the sweet potato into even, small cubes. Add to a small pot of lightly salted boiling water and cook for 10 minutes – you want the sweet potatoes to be fork-tender but you don’t want them to break down into mush. Drain and set aside, allowing the sweet potatoes to cool to room temperature.

On to the red onion. Peel and halve the onion and set aside one half. Slice the other half into very fine half-moons. Add to a bowl filled with ice water and allow to sit for 10 minutes (this will remove some of the onion’s intensity). Drain and dry the onion pieces on kitchen roll, and chill until the ceviche is ready to assemble.

Next, with your very sharpest knife, supreme your red grapefruit (if you haven’t supremed citrus before, here is a very good step-by-step guide). Set aside. Halve your avocado and remove the pit; crosshatch with your knife so the avocado is cut into small cubes. Scoop these out and set aside.

Now, make the marinade for your fish. In a small bowl, combine the finely minced garlic, bird’s eye chili (keep the seeds in, unless you’re really afraid of spice), lime juice, and orange blossom water, with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt to taste (roughly ½ tsp). Set aside for at least 10 minutes, allowing the flavours to happily intermingle.

Prep your fish. Run your hands over both fillets, checking for any lingering bones. Slice the fish into thin slices – roughly ½ cm – leaving behind the skin. Add the fish to a bowl and top with ½ tsp salt, stirring gently to mix. Let sit for two minutes before pouring over your lime juice mix. This is the key moment: it is the lime that “cooks” your raw fish, and the balance of salt, chili, and citrus that makes it a ceviche. Stir gently to combine and allow to sit for 10 minutes. You should notice that, by the end, your fish is turning white and opaque.

To assemble: remove your fish from the marinade and arrange between two plates, before adding the avocado, grapefruit, sweet potato, and onion (arranging prettily, if you’re looking to impress). Spoon over the lime juice mixture. Garnish with some torn fresh coriander, and one final wee sprinkle of sea salt.

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.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 3: London Beer Lab Tip Top Citra, 5% (South London)

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

London Beer Lab says: "Tip Top Citra is the product of an APA home brew competition at our home brew club. A young Kiwi saw off stiff competition with this malty homage to Citra. An easy drinking, smooth pale ale with citrusy and tropical fruit notes."

We say: This was one of the first beers we got in from London Beer Lab earlier this year and it was an instant hit with our customers. We’re so impressed with the output of this little south-of-the-river superstar - their Wheat and Black IPAs are also must-drink beers. They may have flown under your radar till now but we think they're definitely one to watch. Expect great things from them in the future.

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?

New stuff in store: 19 August

Too excited by the prospect of sampling these beauties to type much... Here's what's now in store or will be in by the weekend:

  • Alesmith IPA and Speedway Stout - go check the Ratebeer rating for Speedway Stout. Go on! See? The IPA flew out the door last time we had it too, so don't hang about.
  • Evil Twin/Beavertown XXX Imperial Mild Ale - Evil Twin x Beavertown + Westbrook (where it was brewed) = amazing.
  • London Beer Lab Black IPA - the samples we had of this knocked the socks off the fiercest beer critics who joined us at Sunday's beer and cheese night. Simply incredible. Another corker from the good folk at the Beer Lab.
  • Weird Beard Sorachi Face Plant and Duke of Dank - two newbies from West London's Weird Beard massive. An IPA and Red IPA respectively, with Duke of Dank being brewed with beer writer and HB&B blog contributor Matthew Curtis.
  • Odell IPA and St Lupillin - Odell makes its return to our shelves. Welcome back!
  • Firestone Walker - Easy Jack's back (do it again), along with Pivo Hoppy Pilsner
  • Summer Wine Brewery Mokko Milk Stout - this iconic dark from West Yorkshire's SWB joins the mad fruit explosion that is Mauna Kea. 
  • Tiny Rebel's Cwtch Red Ale, CAMRA's Champion Beer from last week's Great British Beer Festival. 
  • And finally, nine of New Zealand's finest beers from Moa Brewing Co which launch exclusively tomorrow at Hop Burns & Black. All will be revealed tomorrow, but we'd advise you to elbow your way to the front of the queue/sell your grandmother/do whatever you have to do to get your hands on the Sour Blanc...

Happy drinking! 

PS - we've also got our hands on some more Beavertown Yuzilla Phantom since you thirsty beasts drank us dry last week. 

New stuff in store: 24 July

Here's your obligatory new stuff round-up for this week. Loads of beery goodness as always, plus Batch 2 of our famous HBB1 Hopped & Burning Hot Sauce - our fastest selling sauce ever! In addition, you;'ll find a heap of new records in our bins too. Right, to the beer...

  • Two new entries on the local front: first, the much-vaunted Deserter IPA, the unholy issue of the shirkaholic gadabouts of Deserter, South East London's finest blog, and Late Knights Brewery. Read about its birth here and grab one in store while you can. Second up, Coldharbour Courage from London Beer Lab - a guarana and honey ale brewed with the good folk at Brixton Buzz to raise money for Brixton Soup Kitchen. An honourable mention this week to the Kernel too, whose IPA brewed with Equinox hops is simply outstanding. 
  • From sunny Scotland comes a new one from Brewdog - Elvis Juice, a citrus IPA that is jammed to the hilt full of grapefruit and blood orange. If you like your citrus in massive doses or are simply in need of some Vitamin C, this is the beer for you.
  • Roosters High Tea IPA is the product of the Roosters lot palling up with beer writer Melissa Cole - a jasmine green tea IPA that brings together Admiral, Cascade, Crystal and Galaxy hops, jasmine flowers and Taylors’ Green Tea with Jasmine. You'll find it on the can shelves.
  • We add another Wild Beer to the shelves - the always popular Somerset Wild - and start panicking about where to put all the new Wild Beers that start arriving next week, which include the return of Shnoodlepip, the new gose Sleeping Lemons and The Blend 2015.
  • Finally, the US section gets a new recruit in the form of the legendary Yankee farmhouse ale, Boulevard Tank 7.  One of our American friend Mitch's all time favourite beers. This one's for you, sir!

PS - keep checking what's coming up on flagon-fill - loads of NZ kegs waiting to go on plus some amazing local goodness too...

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!