Wheat Beer

Fundamentals #32 — Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Wheat Beer Mix

You’ve probably been reminded by your parents a few times this summer that it’s been the hottest since ‘76. And yes Mum, it has been quite a summer. Not only because of the seemingly unyielding heatwave, but due to an astonishing England World Cup run along with what I like to call “the redemption of Gareth Southgate”, it’s been a very pleasant season indeed. Perfect beer drinking weather, in fact.

So, as fate would dictate, the moment a can of shandy lands on my desk to review, it starts tipping it down with rain. Typical. Well, technically the beer isn’t quite a shandy, but
a radler.

Coming from the German word for cyclist, the radler is typically a German-style wheat beer blended with fruit juice as opposed to lemonade. In the case of this effort from Frankfurt’s Schöfferhofer, this beverage is a 50/50 blend of its classic Hefeweizen with grapefruit juice. And it’s delicious.

It feels a little silly reviewing this beer, considering some of the other absolute corkers we’ve had on over the past few months. But it’s no less deserving of the same praise, purely because it so effortlessly fills a low-ABV gap when so many similar efforts often leave me feeling a little hollow. It’s the perfect beer for when you don’t need a beer, but you absolutely want a beer. Whether you’re basking in the hot sun or fancy swapping out your mimosa for something beer related over brunch, the radler is there for you.

In Germany the radler is celebrated for its isotonic properties (hence the name being derived from the word for cyclist), so it found its place in my life after a particularly strenuous run (OK, I won’t lie, they’re all strenuous). The one advantage of the rain bringing some cooler temperatures was the chance to enjoy some light exercise without fear of sweating out my own pelvis. And what better restorative than to crush a beverage such as this to celebrate crushing a few kms — straight from the can of course.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis as UK editor of Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a can of The Schoff in store or online any time of the year.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Baked Saffron Rice and Chicken (Tachin) with Whiplash Clap Hands American Wheat

There are some dishes it’s worth turning on your oven for, even in the height of summer. Tachin is one of them. I first tried, and loved, tachin - a Persian dish of baked saffron rice, layered with stewed chicken—several years ago. Recently, a recipe in Bon Appétit encouraged me to try making it myself.

Tachin really is a showstopper of a dish. Made sunny-yellow with copious quantities of saffron, featuring braised chicken and tart barberries, it’s baked until its outside turn crisp and burnished (that crunchy layer of rice, known as tahdig, is completely irresistible). It does require effort, but the feat of having pulled it off makes it all worthwhile.

Whiplash has been brewing remarkable beers for a while now, and Clap Hands, the Irish brewery’s American wheat beer, is no exception. Lively and bright, with the big, fluffy head that you’d expect from the style, Clap Hands is also abundantly hopped with Mosaic, El Dorado, and Lemondrop. That lends it a bold apricot character, plus a touch of tropical sweetness. It pairs seamlessly with the hearty and rich tachin, and complements its saffron perfume beautifully.

Baked Saffron Rice and Chicken (Tachin)
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Serves 6-8

For the chicken:
450g bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon fine sea salt

For the saffron rice:
525g basmati rice
Fine sea salt
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons hot water
3 egg yolks
230g Greek yoghurt, plus additional for serving
120ml vegetable oil, plus additional for greasing
2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
3-4 tablespoons dried barberries (substitute with finely chopped dried sour cherries) 

1. First, cook the chicken. In a large saucepan with a lid, add the whole chicken pieces, plus the onion, garlic, spices, and sea salt. Cover with cold water. Transfer the saucepan to the stove and place over high heat. Once boiling, cover and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for approximately 40 minutes, or until the chicken is beginning to fall apart.

2. When the chicken is fully cooked, transfer the pieces to a cutting board and leave until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, pour out all but half a cup of liquid from the saucepan (save the stock for another use in lieu of discarding). Remove the skin from the chicken and shred the meat, using your hands or a fork. Transfer the shredded meat back to the pot with the liquid, and stir to combine. Place over low heat and cook until the mixture is soft and stew-like but not watery, stirring occasionally to prevent it burning. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Add to a sieve and rinse under lukewarm, running water for 2-3 minutes, or until the starch has washed away and the water is clear. Fill a large, lidded saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add generous amounts of salt: you want it to be as salty as the sea. Add the rice and cook for approximately 6 minutes, or until it is tender but not fully cooked, and still has a bit of bite in the middle. Drain the rice. Rinse with cold water, and drain again.

4. Crumble the saffron threads between your fingers and add to a ramekin or small bowl. Add the hot water and stir. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 205° C.

5. In a large bowl, add the egg yolks, Greek yoghurt, vegetable oil and the saffron mixture, and whisk until smooth and uniform. Taste the drained rice; if it could use some seasoning, add between ½-1 teaspoon of sea salt to the yoghurt mixture, and whisk through. Add the rice to the yoghurt mixture and, using a spatula, fold until evenly coated. Be gentle, as you want the rice grains to remain whole.

6. Grease a large bowl, baking tray, or cake dish - preferably Pyrex, as that lets you see the colour of the rice as it cooks - lightly with vegetable oil. Add half the rice and gently compact into a flat layer. Add the stewed chicken in a single layer, leaving a small margin around the edge, and then top with the remaining rice, patting flat into a compact layer.

7. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for between 1 hour-1 hour and 15 mins; your cooking time will vary depending on the shape of the bowl or tray you use. Begin to check after 1 hour; the tachin is ready when the rice around the edges and bottom is deep golden- brown.

8. Once the tachin is fully cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool for five minutes. Meanwhile, make the barberry topping. Add the butter to a small frying pan and place over medium-high heat; once it melts, add the berries, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

9. To serve, remove the foil and place a large serving plate on the top of the tachin. Using oven mitts, carefully flip so the tachin is inverted onto the serving plate. Top with the barberries and butter. Slice and serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, if preferred.

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 Whiplash Clap Hands American Wheat in store or online.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Thai Prawns and Pressure Drop’s Wu Gang Chops the Tree

Pairing food with beer is one thing. But cooking with it is something else entirely.

At risk of sounding close-minded, I find that the addition of beer rarely elevates a dish. Apart from a few classics - your Belgian carbonnade, your beef and Guinness stew - beer can be a tough ingredient to wrangle. In most cases, if you want to avoid unpalatable bitterness or peculiar off-flavours, it’s safest to leave it in the glass.

But this Thai prawn dish is an exception - particularly when it’s made with Pressure Drop’s Wu Gang Chops the Tree.

A hefeweisse made with foraged herbs, Wu Gang is a uniquely agreeable brew that Pressure Drop describes as "our most versatile food pairing beer." On the one hand, it’s effervescent, light of body, and low in bitterness, making it perfectly quenching. On the other, its heady aroma combines the banana and clove esters you’d expect from a German-style wheat beer with a compelling herbaceousness that’s all its own. It’s friendly, versatile, as adept at pairing with lamb chops and roast chicken as it is a piquant curry. Me, I especially like it in this Thai-inspired prawn dish.

Simple, refreshing and done in 20 minutes, this is the kind of food to serve in high summer. It nails that classic Thai combo of heat, sweetness, acidity, and salt; serve atop steamed rice to bulk it out, and throw a few slices of avocado on the side to add a bit of richness (this beer tempers fat beautifully). Whatever you do, be sure to keep a few extra bottles of Wu Gang to one side - at just 3.8% percent, it’s as sessionable as they come.

Thai Prawns with Coriander, Lime, and Beer
Serves 2

3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 bird’s eye chillies, roughly chopped
1 tbs palm sugar
1 1/2 tbs fish sauce
Stems from a 30g bunch of coriander
Zest and juice of 2 limes
3/4 tsp flaky sea salt, like Maldon
2 tbs olive oil, divided
2 echalion shallots, thinly sliced
150ml Pressure Drop Wu Gang Chops the Tree
250g deveined, shell-on king prawns

To serve:
½ avocado, thinly sliced
Steamed white rice 1 lime, cut into wedges
Coriander leaves

In the bowl of a food processor, add the garlic, chillies, palm sugar, fish sauce, the stems from your bunch of coriander, the zest and juice of 2 limes, and the sea salt. Blitz for roughly one minute, or until the paste is well combined (note: it will have a relatively thin consistency).

Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Spoon shallots into a bowl and set aside.

Add 1 tbs of olive oil to the frying pan and heat on high heat. Add the prawns and sear on one side for 45 seconds before removing from the heat and adding to another waiting bowl. Prawns are very susceptible to overcooking, so don’t be tempted to cook longer or sear on both sides; instead, they will finish cooking at the very end.

Add your shallots back to the frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Pour in the Wu Gang. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until the beer has begun to reduce. Add the prepared paste into the beer and mix, cooking for an additional 1-2 minutes, until additionally reduced.

Remove the frying pan from the heat and add the shrimp, tossing lightly until just cooked through. Season to taste with an extra sprinkling of sea salt.

Serve with steamed rice and a few slices of avocado. Slice the third lime into wedges and squeeze a bit more juice over each serving. Top with the coriander leaves.

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 bottle or three of Pressure Drop's Wu Gang Chops The Tree in store or at our online shop

#HBBAdvent Beer 20: Yeastie Boys White Noise White Ale (New Zealand)

Yeastie Boys says: A quaffable, cloudy white ale that is perfect for those afternoon sessions after a hard day's work or play. Pours a cloudy pale straw colour with a dense mousse-like white head. A perfumy coconut and vanilla note on the nose, with a little citrus and spice, and bready grains from the wheat. The mouthfeel is full for such a pale beer, but still very light and elegant. The beer finishes with a cleansing acidity, a faint spicy note and only the mildest touch of citrus from the virtually non-existent hops.

We say: For today's advent choice, we ummed and ahhed about including Rex Attitude, the peated ale that has seen more hate mail sent to the brewery than any other. However, we decided to play it safe and opt for this very drinkable white beer. Imagine you're smashing this on a hot Antipodean summer day. - 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). Yeastie Boys White Noise is available in store or via our online shop.

#HBBAdvent Beer 16: Pressure Drop Nanban Kanpai Wheat IPA

Pressure Drop says: This beer is brewed in collaboration with Masterchef winner Tim Anderson for his restaurant Nanban in Brixton. We’ve worked with Tim on a number of beers including a purple sweet potato beer and a cranberry wheat beer. Nanban Kanpai is primed with Yuzu, Grapefruit and Orange juice and provides a hugely fruity, tangy and refreshing citrus burst. It is always available at Nanban and goes well with all the delicious food there.

We say: We are unashamed fanboys/girls of Tim Anderson, despite never having seen Masterchef. His restaurant is, quite frankly, the nuts - you'll go a long way to find tastier ramen. But along with his chefing skills, Tim has always been a bona fide beer geek and this, combined with his quest for new and original flavours, is evident in all of his weird and wonderful collaborations, from Wild Beer Yadokai (yuzu, sea buckthorn and seaweed) to Weird Beard Sally Squirrel (sake, misu, chokeberry and walnut) to this. Nanban Kanpai brings together yuzu, orange and grapefruit to make a ridiculously refreshing drink. Kanpai, Tim! - 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). Find Pressure Drop Nanban Kanpai in store or via our online shop.

HB&B Top Three: Low ABV Beers

Great tasting, alcohol-free beers are - perhaps surprisingly - one of the most common requests at our shop. Luckily we have a great range of no-booze beers that really hit the spot, for all the refreshment and none of the headache. Here are three of the best.

Maisel’s Weisse Hefe-Weissbier Alkoholfrei
Regulars at HB&B might have seen this one lurking in the corner at the back - it’s a constant on our German shelves. Despite never exceeding 0.5% alc/vol, no compromises are made on flavour with this beer from Maisel’s, brewers of great wheat beers. Its rich spice and orange flavours and soft, sweet banana aromas make it a great Bavarian hefe-weisse beer. Click to purchase.

Brewdog Nanny State
The best-selling beer in the shop during #DryJanuary, Nanny State “gives the V's to Abv”. This beer is full to the brim with hops, giving citrusy, piney flavours balanced against a light and bitter body. This pale ale is one for the hop-heads. Click to purchase.

Square Root/Pressure Drop Smallbanger Wit Beer Shandy
Pressure Drop teamed up with London soda-makers Square Root to create this ridiculously tasty Wit Beer Shandy. It takes Pressure Drop’s already fantastic Lime & Ginger Wallbanger Wit and injects Square Root’s fresh soda. The result is so refreshing, we might just give up booze altogether... Click to purchase.

Bonus Beer! Schofferhofer Grapefruit
Coming in at the 2.5% ABV mark, this is obviously not an alcohol-free beer, but it’s so damn good that we thought you ought to know about it, and what’s 2.5% between friends? This incredibly sweet and refreshing brew is made by blending Schofferhoffer Hefeweizen with carbonated grapefruit juice. The perfect beer to accompany the last of the summer sun. Click to purchase.

As selected by HB&B Assistant Manager Catherine Lockhart

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.