Sour

Fundamentals #50 – Pressure Drop A Million Filaments Sour Fruited IPA

As I type, it is June 12th. Outside, the rain is endless in its relentlessness. I have switched the heating on. This time last year we were basking in weeks of seemingly unstoppable summer heat. It would appear that we may be waiting a while for a season of similar magnitude.

However, while it may be dreich outside, my glass is filled to the brim with the all the radiance of what, supposedly, should be our warmest season: A Million Filaments, a sour IPA infused with blackberry, blackcurrant and lactose (it says milk sugar on the label but for the purposes of this review I shall call it by its true name) from Pressure Drop.

The sour, fruited IPA – often infused with lactose to balance acidity with sweetness – is the flavour of the month among the breweries who spend a lot of time on the internet. The style’s progenitor is arguably Hudson Valley Brewery, named after the valley in which its hometown of Beacon, in upper New York state, resides. Hudson Valley has taken the milkshake IPA concept pioneered by Pennsylvania’s Tired Hands, and twisted it in its own image, by adding fruit and the souring bacteria lactobacillus.

Despite these myriad layers, the sour IPA is not a beer of complexity. Instead it is a beer of joyfulness and gluggability – as is blissfully evident when you pour a can of A Million Filaments into a glass. Much like this review, it positively radiates with purpleness. It may be cold and miserable outside but I feel like I’m receiving warmth from the colour of this beer alone.

On tasting, there’s quite a lot of flavour to tie together, initially it’s soft and pillowy, not unlike a New England-style IPA. The fruit comes next, waves of sweet blackberry and tart blackcurrant, neatly tied together with a hit of sugary sweetness from the lactose – sorry, milk sugar – which make it taste like eating a cake. Finally, your palate is met with a short, sharp, prick of acidity, instantly dispelling the sweetness and priming you for another sip. It’s a weird trip, but somehow it just works.

Honestly, being relatively new to the style I wasn’t sure I would actually like it. But if you put your biases in your pocket and just accept this style of beer for what it is – a shit ton of fun – then, like me, you’ll find it highly enjoyable too.

Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Pick up a can of Pressure Drop’s A MIllion Filaments online or in-store. and be first to read Matt’s columns when you sign up to our All Killer No Filler beer subscription box - along with Claire Bullen’s recipe and pairings, plus in-depth tasting notes, they’re included in every box…

Fundamentals #49 — The Kernel Foeder Beer Centennial Hallertau Tradition

There are few things more mesmerising within a brewery than a room full of foeders (or ‘foudres’, if the brewery decides to use the French spelling instead of the Dutch). There’s real magic inside these oaken vessels, often standing several metres tall.

And that’s because there is real magic inside them: millions of wild yeasts and bacteria that nurture and mature a beer over several months or years, before it is eventually blended and packaged into something delicious for us to enjoy. Beers such as the impressive Rodenbach Grand Cru, or the equally majestic New Belgium La Folie.

In fact, if you ever get to visit either of these breweries you will understand exactly what I mean about the magic of foeders. They present very different experiences: Rodenbach’s is one of order and utility. As beautiful as the foeders here are, they exist to serve a function – that of maturing a beer to a precise consistency. At New Belgium the scene is the opposite, with foeders of various sizes, shapes, even colours. It is random and myriad. The ‘Foudre Forest’ as they call it, in Fort Collins, Colorado, is one of the true wonders of the brewing world.

It’s possible that you may have had a foeder-aged beer from a British brewery too. Perhaps from Burning Sky, the Wild Beer Co, or the subject of today’s review, London’s The Kernel. The foeder-matured beers from The Kernel you may have previously experienced would have had more in common with beers like Rodenbach or La Folie – beers with tartness, acidity and tannins; complex, structured and delicious. And while this new Foeder Beer from The Kernel is also delicious (of course it is, it’s The Kernel), it is neither tart nor particularly acidic to taste.

Instead, this beer is fermented – as opposed to matured – within a foeder. This means that it’s in the vessel for a much shorter period of time, not giving it the opportunity to pick up a great deal of character from the oak or organisms that call it home. But that’s not the intention here. This beer showcases flavours of both hop (lemon zest from Centennial and a distinguished herbaceous snap from Hallertau Tradition) and The Kernel’s house culture of yeast, mixed with Belgian yeasts.

The beer gives you a rich, estery character, making it taste very Belgian in style - think Zinnebir from Brasserie de la Senne as an example. The oak fermentation, however, adds a softness, or roundness, to the complexity of this flavour. I wouldn’t worry too much about that, however, this is a beer for chilling down and drinking outside, as we look forward to some warm summer days. I already know this is a beer I’ll be filling my fridge with in preparation for just that.

Matthew Curtis is a freelance writer, photographer and author of our award-winning Fundamentals column. He's written for publications including BEER, Ferment, Good Beer Hunting and Original Gravity. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis. Demand for The Kernel Foeder Beer has been huge - we have a small amount left at time of publication, so be quick. Be first to read Matt’s columns when you sign up to our All Killer No Filler beer subscription box - along with Claire Bullen’s recipe and pairings, plus in-depth tasting notes, they’re included in every box..

Fundamentals #46 – Cloudwater x The Veil Barry From Finance DIPA

Prepare yourself: the transatlantic collaborations are coming. And we’ve got Cloudwater to thank for this. Its recent Friends & Family & Beer festival brought a heap of excellent brewers together, many of them from the USA, some of whom were visiting the UK for the first time. And when brewers are in town, they collaborate. The beneficiary of this beer-y bomb cyclone? That’s you!

The resulting volume of collabs flowing in the wake of the festival can be a little overwhelming, however. Dare you try and catch them all? Don’t worry, no one’s judging you if you just want to chill out and enjoy a cold one and leave the hype well alone. Well, almost no one.

When it comes to collaborations, Cloudwater and Richmond, Virginia’s The Veil have previous. They teamed up a couple of years back to produce the devastatingly tropical triple IPA, Chubbles, which sent beer fans into raptures. They followed this up last year with yet another intensely named TIPA, creatively named Paul from Cloudwater. Cans of the latter even featured a caricature of Cloudwater founder Paul Jones, replete with beaming grin and ginger beard.

Now this dynamic duo has teamed up again to produce a beer you’ll be positively Jonesing for, the equally imaginatively named Barry from Finance. I’m not sure who Barry is, but evidently he’s a fan of fruit juice, as that is what this beer can be described as in the simplest of terms. Barry features gratuitous additions of pineapple and passion fruit, alongside orange zest for a citrus kick.

Make no mistake, this hazy yellow beer is thick as. Evidently, it’s loaded with as much fruit as your breakfast smoothie, and then some. But while it does have a lush mouthfeel, buoyed by waves of tropical fruit flavour (and not much else – not that this matters), its girthiness is met by tart, citrus flavours. Where one moment it’s full and rich, the next it’s zippy and zesty.

If you like the juice levels in your juice-grenades loaded to the max, then this is a beer for you. The person judging you for missing out on it? Well, that’s me.

Matthew Curtis is a freelance writer, photographer and author of our award-winning Fundamentals column. He's written for publications including BEER, Ferment, Good Beer Hunting and Original Gravity. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis. Pick up a can of Barry From Finance ASAP...

#HBBAdvent Beer 21: Omnipollo Pleroma Raspberry Creme Brulee Sour

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Omnipollo says: Raspberry creme brulee sour ale brewed with lactose sugar with raspberries and vanilla added.

We say: The last Friday before Christmas is your traditional party night, and Team Omnipollo are the perfect pair to bring to the bash. Henok Fentie and Karl Grandin continue to innovate and blur the boundaries of what beer is and can be. This fun little number brings prickling raspberry tartness and a rich and sweet mouthfeel from the lactose, the perfect party guest. Beer everything! - Nathan, HB&B Deptford manager

#HBBAdvent Beer 13: Buxton x Lervig Trolltunga Gooseberry Sour IPA

Buxton says: Trolltunga is a jutting rock in Norway, hanging 700 metres over lake Ringedalsvatnet. Only the wary tread the path to the very edge. This beer was brewed to celebrate friendship and a love of wild places. A collaboration with Lervig Aktebryggeri. (Stavanger, Norway)

We say: Like the place that inspired it, Trolltunga is spectacular (and with the bonus of not having to trek in snow shoes to enjoy it)! A collaboration of two breweries with the technical skill and subtlety to make this beautiful Gooseberry Sour IPA work in every way. Pouring golden haze with a lacy whitehead the full and juicy mouthfeel gives way to a slap round the face of tart gooseberry and lemon sherbet cleaned up with a dry finish. One of HB&Bs favourites from the beginning and now in a 440ml can, so even more of it to love and crush. - Nathan, HB&B Deptford Manager

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 7: Brick Brewery Watermelon & Lime Sour (Peckham)

Brick says: This Florida Weisse style beer takes inspiration from the hot climate of its namesake - think palm-tree dotted linen shirts and Panama Hats. Soured in the kettle, 14kg of lime zest and juice added in the whirlpool and then conditioned on 50kg of fresh watermelon pulp. It's tropical tart and super refreshing.

We say: It's been awesome to see Brick - our friends and neighbours - grow and grow over the past few years. Now brewing from a superb new facility in Deptford (making even more room for the taproom and experimental brewhouse under the arches at Peckham Rye Station), their beers are both tasting and looking better than ever.

This tasty little treat is a reminder of summer days - the right levels of citrus and salt making it a joy to drink. It's all sold out now, but here's hoping they'll brew it again. We're looking forward to their festive sour - along with a New England Pale - that launches this weekend for their 4th birthday. Congrats guys! - Jen

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: Summery Cured Salmon with Marble x Holy Crab LanGOSEtine Langoustine & Pineapple Gose

I like a beer that isn’t afraid of being controversial - and Marble’s LanGOSEtine is definitely polarising. For beer drinkers unused to sour beers, goses - which are distinctly tart, as well as saline - are an acquired taste. The fact that this particular gose is brewed with pineapple and langoustines makes it all the more eyebrow-raising.

But don’t be put off by its quirks. Zesty, bright, and fresh, Langosetine is summertime drinking perfection - especially considering the langoustines add subtle, briny depth rather than fishiness. (Consider, too, that oyster stouts have been made since the 1800s, so there’s a precedent for seafood-laced brews.)

Though this is the kind of easygoing beer that could get on with all kinds of dishes, seafood is a natural pick - and cured salmon works beautifully.

Making your own cured salmon is an exceptionally gratifying thing, especially given how simple the process really is (and how impressive the end results). All you need to procure is kosher salt (I used Diamond Crystal), sugar, herbs, spices, and citrus zest, plus the best cut of salmon you can get your hands on - it’s worth paying for sashimi-grade fish, as you’ll want it as fresh as can be.

Time does the rest. After 24 hours, the fish will have shed moisture and darkened to a burnt terracotta hue. Eight more hours of air-drying in the fridge, and it’s ready to be sliced.

Though this salmon is prepared similarly to a classic Swedish gravadlax, I made a few tweaks to the recipe to make it especially summery. Pineapple plays very well with basil, so I used it in place of the more traditional dill. To add a bit of tropicality, I used lemon and orange zest, as well as lime and pomelo. Served atop malty rye bread and with a swipe of tangy crème fraîche, it’s the perfect meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Summery Cured Salmon
Serves 4-6

For the salmon:
140g Diamond Crystal kosher salt
100g light brown sugar
1 tsp red peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
Zest of 1 lime
Zest of 1 honey pomelo
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
1 large bunch basil, roughly chopped
500g boneless, skin-on salmon fillet, sushi-grade

To serve:
Rye bread
Crème fraîche
Freshly grated black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon

Line a small-to- medium baking tray with foil. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the first four ingredients together, whisking to combine. In a small bowl, add the zests of the four citrus fruits (I recommend using a Microplane grater, to ensure you don’t take off any bitter pith when zesting).

Place half of the salt and sugar mix into the foil-lined baking sheet, patting until it's just slightly larger than the piece of salmon. Place 1/3 of the basil under where the salmon will lie.

Put the salmon skin-side down on the salt mix, and then sprinkle over the zest and remaining basil. Cover the fillet with the remaining half of the salt and sugar mix, or until the fish is fully covered. Add a second piece of foil on top and crimp the two pieces together so they're tightly sealed around the fish. Place in the refrigerator and cover the salmon with heavy objects to help press out any excess moisture (I used several beer bottles).

Leave the salmon to cure for a full 24 hours. After 24 hours, remove it from the parcel and dispose of the curing mixture. Rinse any excess mixture off the salmon and pat to dry.

Fit a rack over a baking sheet, and place the salmon on top of the rack and into the fridge. Leave to chill and air-dry for eight more hours. When finished, place the salmon in a sealed container and refrigerate. It should keep for 3-4 days.

To serve, toast your slices of rye bread and top each with a generous swipe of crème fraîche. Using a very sharp knife, first remove the skin from the salmon and then slice very thin slices on a bias. Top each slice of crème fraîche-covered toast with a generous heap of cured salmon slices. Finish off with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and some lemon zest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's what you missed out on...

Paul's selection

Bottle shares (in no particular order)

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

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

Fundamentals #1 – Redchurch Urban Farmhouse On Skins: Plums

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#HBBAdvent Beer 21: Tiny Rebel Frambuzi Raspberry Sour Framboise (Wales) / Wild Beer Sleeping Lemons Gose (Somerset)

Tiny Rebel says: Our first ever sour beer! We have a soft spot for sours, and we love the rich, tangy flavours of Framboise. Packed to the brim with the plumpest, juiciest little raspberries we could get our hands on. We've fired them into this kettle soured little vigilante like a drive-by in the fruit aisle. Splat, splat, splat!

Wild Beer says: Gose, is a traditional German-style sour wheat beer, usually brewed with coriander and salt. Once nearly extinct, this very refreshing style is making a comeback and we thought it would provide the perfect backbone to this wonderfully complex summer beer. A fabulous citrus accompaniment to fish dishes, or it could act as a sour lemon pickle to Moroccan food.

We say: Who says sours are just for summer? No one, that's who. Both of these beers went absolutely gangbusters at ours over the summer months, so we were delighted to see them pop up on the autumn beer lists too. And what better way to thumb your nose at the official first day of winter than by popping the lid on a fruity summery beverage? Cheers! - Jen

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Tiny Rebel Frambuzi is now sold out,  alas, but you can get your hands on Wild Beer Sleeping Lemons' big brother, Sleeping Lemons Export, in store or via our online shop.

No More Heroes XXII – Brouwerij Alvinne Wild West

At some point over the last few years the use of the word “sour” in beer circles has shifted from being an adjective to a noun. From gose to gueuze, sours are more popular than ever, with more and more breweries trying their hand at producing them deliberately than ever before. We’re even seeing new breweries opening that are dedicated to producing nothing but sour and bretted beers, such as Crooked Stave in the US.

But to use the word “sour” as a catch-all term for any beer that’s a little bit funky feels a little bit lazy, to me at least. Many of the world’s best sour beers such as lambic, gueuze, gose and Berliner weisse have a name that not only begins to describe the beer but also conveys a sense of place. I also feel that it’s lazy to borrow these terms that indicate a beer's provenance. If a brewer is making a spontaneously fermented, oak aged beer in California do they have the right to call his or her beer a lambic? Legally yes, but does that mean they should? I don’t believe so. The brewing industry needs to find a better way of describing the myriad genres of sour beer now in existence.

The good thing about the prevalence of sour beers however, is the increased availability of really tasty ones. Brouwerij Alvinne, out of Moen, Belgium produce some absolute corkers. In fact I was surprised when Hop Burns & Black took a generous delivery that they didn’t sell out immediately, because beer this good deserves the hype.

Wild West is as close to a core beer as Alvinne produces. It’s a subtle, nuanced tartness as opposed to a sharp and intense sour note. The low carbonation seems to allow the oak and vanilla notes imbued by the barrel to shine through, but there’s still enough carbonation to make it prickle on your tongue. When it comes to sours I prefer them straight up, as opposed to fruited variants, but the plum version of Wild West also deserves a shout out because it’s equally as superb as the “normal” version. If you like Belgian sours, then this beer will be in tune with your chakras.

Music Pairing - Run DMC, It’s Tricky
It’s tricky to get your head around sours when you first taste them. It’s even trickier for the beer industry as we attempt to define such a broad scope of flavours with a single term. What isn’t tricky is enjoying this banger from Run DMC. Ideally paired during a lively bottle share when you start bringing your lambic collection up from the cellar.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis. And you can get Alvinne Wild West delivered to your door via our online shop.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Three Beer Floats

It’s almost July, but you haven’t seen the sun for three weeks. The next bank holiday isn’t for two more months. And “apocalyptic” might be a generous way of describing our current political situation. But… have you considered putting ice cream in beer?

Sure, beer floats aren’t going to heal everything that ails you. But the simple magic of adding a cold scoop of ice cream to a frosty beer is one very reliable, gently decadent way of making your day a little brighter (and, if you can manage to find a window of sunshine and a patch of grass, all the better).

As an American, adding ice cream to something fizzy was never a weird thing for me. Root beer floats, baby! In my early twenties, I graduated towards frosty pint glasses of Southern Tier’s super-sweet Crème Brûlée Stout, which was almost a dessert in itself, and therefore even better when served a la mode. And while the classic sweet stout and vanilla ice cream pairing is always reliable – here, I’ve opted to use Wild Beer Co’s Millionaire, which is made with lactose, cacao nibs and caramel – there are more ways to play with the beer float format.

Try sours, for starters. For my other two floats, I’ve gone for Moa Cherry Sour, straight from New Zealand, and Mikkeller’s jolly can of Hallo Ich Bin Berliner Weisse Peach. These two work really well, as both are softly sour, and full of lots of bright fruit flavours. The Moa Cherry Sour is excellent when topped with chocolate ice cream (think German black forest cake), and for the Berliner Weisse, you can go full retro peach melba with the addition of raspberry sorbet. The former is decadent and desserty, while the latter is a sweet, refreshing fruit-bomb that would be perfect for a picnic.

A bit of further guidance if you’re looking to invent a beer float of your own: any beer that skews too hop-forward and bitter will likely clash with all of that sweet dairy, so approach with caution (although a super juicy pale ale just might work). Witbiers and hefeweizens also offer some pairing possibilities; if I were you, I’d look to the sorbet section. Beyond sorbets, if you’re dairy-free, coconut ice cream would be a dream with richer stouts or fruitier brews. I’d also avoid any sour beers that are on the funky, brett-y end of the spectrum.

And finally, if you’re a purist who thinks adding ice cream to beer is sacrilege: please withhold judgment until you try. If liquid, boozy ice cream doesn’t make you happy – or help you temporarily forget that Boris Johnson exists – then nothing will.

Three Beer Floats

Float 1
Wild Beer Co Millionaire
Vanilla ice cream

Float 2
Moa Cherry Sour
Chocolate ice cream

Float 3
Mikkeller Hallo Ich Bin Berliner Weisse Peach
Raspberry sorbet

For your respective float, first find a sizeable glass that can comfortably hold a good few scoops of ice cream or sorbet (you don’t want to be skimping, here). Add 2-3 scoops to the empty glass and top up with your beer – the mix should foam up quite aggressively. Let rest for a few minutes before topping up with more beer and crowning with an additional scoop or two. Grab a spoon and a straw and 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. And why not grab all those glorious beers at our online shop?