Wild Beer

#HBBAdvent Beer 10: Wild Beer Sleeping Limes (Somerset)

Wild Beer says: Limes + Sea Salt + Lager. Clean and crisp with refreshing tangy limes and a Moorish briny finish, this is our perfect summer beer. It originally took inspiration from Sleeping Lemons and the beautiful preserved lemons we use, but the idea developed into a cleaner beer, taking the Corona and lime wedge and stepping it up a notch. Brewing a beer around the taste of lime naturally led us to using this beautiful citrus fruit, utilising both the fresh pulp and the zest. A clean and crisp base was achieved by using a lager yeast with the lime building an addictive tang to the pallet and a gose inspired flurry of salt adding to the finish.

We say: Sleeping Limes was one of the beers of our summer, too - on its own, icy-cold, straight from the fridge, or as a top-up for Jen’s legendary Michelada mash-ups… Now that it’s well into autumn/winter, we’re so glad to see Wild Beer continuing this cracking brew. As well as a welcome dose of Vitamin C (maybe), it’s a hotline for your tastebuds, direct to those gloriously sweltering days of summer ‘18….

#HBBAdvent Beer 17: Wild Beer Rooting Around - Autumn (Somerset)

Wild Beer says: Rooting Around - Autumn seeks to harness the flavour of Autumn with the use of a fig tree. Toasty, roasted and nutty malt flavours perfectly capture the darker nights and crisp chill in the air. Fig fruits work perfectly with this malty backbone however toasted fig leaves are the star ingredient here. They impart a lightly toasted coconut character which marries with the fig fruits and contrasts the tannic bite of the fig wood.

We say: If you, by some odd chance, happen to have Tom Waits’ Hard Ground poetry book, this is the time to get it out. The combination of poems of dismay and Michael O’Brian’s desolate photographs pair well with this easy-drinking brown ale. Having arrived home completely drenched by the December rain, the bleak portraits of often overlooked Americans put my situation in perspective. The message in the poems about the hard ground many struggling Americans have to journey, like this beer, doesn’t have to be shocking to be delightful.

Although it almost seems absurd to draw an analogy between a beer and the dreary photographs and poems in Hard Ground, the brown ale style can easily be overlooked. In a time where the craze for hop-bombs and chocolate-pie-stouts appears neverending, there is often no place for a light brown ale like this. Nevertheless, we have selected you a fitting autumn edition brown ale with figs, and it’s a damn tasty one as well. - Joris

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.

#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.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Spicy Cheeseburgers and Wild Beer Co Epic Saison

It’s barbecue season, baby – and if you know what’s what, you’ll be making burgers faster than you can slam them into your face. It’s what summer’s all about.

A well-executed burger needs to achieve a few things. It needs juiciness, with a tender, pink middle. It needs a bun that doesn’t disintegrate in the wake of that juiciness. It needs ooze – cheese and, in this case, caramelised onions. It needs a bit of greenery and freshness.

But most importantly, it needs balance: of salt, of umami, of sweetness, of acid. Cheese addresses the first concern, beef the second; caramelised onions are beautifully sweet, and as for the acid? Skip the pickles and reach for the hot sauce.

In this case, I’ve opted for not one, but two different forms of chilli (this is a Hop Burns and Black column, after all). The first is sambal oelek: a chunky, Southeast Asian-hailing garlic and chilli sauce. It’s complex, tangy, and has a whiff of the fermented about it, thanks to the prawn paste that usually features. The second chilli sauce is trusty old Sriracha, which hasn’t let me down yet. Together, they add vinegar and heat, acid and funk – and play a big role in making this burger utterly moreish.

Many people would instinctively reach towards a pale ale or IPA when serving cheeseburgers, and they’re not wrong: hops are as effective at cutting through fat as pickles and onions are. But in this case, we’re making spicy burgers – and unless you’re one of those die-hard chilli heads who wants to up the ante, stay away from hops, which tend to emphasise heat.

Instead, reach for the saison – Wild Beer Co’s Epic Saison, to be specific. This is one of the most food-friendly beers I’ve yet encountered: dry, effervescent, with the tiniest hint of tang, it’s a golden-hued, refreshing, yeasty wonder. Sorachi Ace hops are distinct – and do their work to temper greasy food – without hijacking the thing. And at 5%, it can stand up to a burger but is still rather sessionable; an important consideration in high barbecue season. Now: don’t you have some burgers to go make?

Spicy Cheeseburgers
Serves 4

For the beer-braised onions:
2 red onions, finely sliced
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
Sea salt
½ tsp sugar
Wild Beer Co. Epic Saison

For the burgers:
500g 15% beef mince
1 ½ tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
4 thick slices taleggio, rind removed
Rocket
4 sesame-seed brioche buns
Sambal oelek, to taste
Sriracha, to taste

First, crack on with the beer-braised onions: these need about half an hour to caramelise, so you’ll want to get that out of the way first. In a small skillet, melt the butter along with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sprinkle over the sea salt, which will help them caramelise faster.

The trick to making caramelised onions – aside from patience – is to cook them over low heat, stirring frequently. You don’t want the onions to brown quickly from the hot pan; rather, you want the browning to come from the very slow caramelisation of natural sugars within the onions. Cook for close to half an hour, or until the onions have changed colour and have a sticky, jam-like consistency. Then, pour over a splash of beer – enough to moisten the onions and have them floating in a bit of liquid – and cook, stirring frequently, over high heat until the liquid has been mostly evaporated. The onions should look almost stewed. Add sugar to balance out any residual bitterness, remove from the heat, and set aside.

In a large bowl, add the beef, mustard, salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. With your hands, mix until all ingredients are well incorporated (the mixture should be fragrant with Dijon). Separate and gently flatten into four patties. Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat until hot and add the patties. For medium-rare, cook for two to two-and- a-half minutes per side; after the first side has cooked and you’ve flipped the burgers, top with taleggio while in the skillet so the cheese gets good and melty.

While the burgers are cooking, slice and toast your brioche buns, cut sides down, in a dry skillet until lightly browned.

To assemble, add a good layer of rocket to the bottom half of your bun. Top with the cheese-covered burger patty. On top of the cheese, add a generous layer of the caramelised onions before finishing off with both chilli sauces, until it’s spiced to your preference. Demolish.

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 Wild Beer Co Epic Saison at our online shop?

Hop Burns & Bottle Share: Tim Anderson

Every two months (ish), we invite our favourite beery people to join us for a glorious thing we call Hop Burns & Bottle Share. As well as our guests bringing along the beers they've been saving up to drink in the company of other brew enthusiasts, we ask a celebrated beer-ophile to select a handful of the beers that have changed their lives or thrilled their tastebuds.

Last night it was the turn of Tim Anderson, founder of Nanban, winner of Masterchef UK and passionate lover of beer. Tim's reverence for beer is well known - he was working behind the bar at the Euston Tap when Masterchef propelled him to fame and has since gone on to collaborate with his favourite breweries to concoct a range of fantastic (in all senses of the word) beers, several of which we tasted last night.

Tim began the night, unusually, with a 9% imperial stout, North Coast's Old Rasputin, the beer that kickstarted Tim's beery journey. From there we explored some of Tim's collaborations, starting with the brand new Market Saison, a delectably light hibiscus and green tea saison brewed with Tim's SW9 neighbours, Brixton Brewery.

Revealing his love of design and comics, Tim told us the story of his cartoon creation Sally Squirrel, initially Girl Reporter in an earlier collab, now Teen Detective in his collaboration with Weird Beard, a chokeberry miso walnut and sake yeast porter.

Next up, the iconic Pressure Drop Nanban Kanpai, a wheat IPA with yuzu, orange and grapefruit, and a staple beer at Tim's Brixton restaurant, before Tim wheeled out the big guns with Yadokai.

Yadokai is a four-way collaboration between Tim, Wild Beer, the Hanging Bat and Blackfriars Restaurant in Edinburgh - a sake-inspired yuzu, sea buckthorn and seaweed ale, it's not for the faint hearted. It's fair to say we weren't great fans of this when it first came out last year; however this year's batch went through a period of pediococcus infection in the bottle and has come out the other side triumphant and tasting better than ever. Compared to white port or a delicate sherry, this has to be tasted to be believed. To do so, you'll need to get to Nanban in Brixton - Tim recommends it as a digestif at the end of your meal. 

We're so grateful to Tim for taking the time out to come and hang with us for the night, share his stories and his wonderful beers. Cheers sir! You can get Tim's selection (no Yadokai, sorry) at our online shop or in store while stocks last.

Here's what our guests brought to the party. The next event is scheduled for September and will feature one of Bristol's most exciting new brewers... Details announced soon.

Hop Burns & Bottle Share shares:

  • Fantome Forest Ghost (Padraig)
  • Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon Imperial Stout (Kai)
  • Against The Grain Little Did We Know Sage Smoked Saison (Kat)
  • Westbrook Mexican Cake (Jamie)
  • Darkk Star Imperial Stout (Jez)
  • Brussels Beer Project Smells Like Hop Spirit (Emma)
  • Struisse Reserva Bourbon Barrel Aged Rye Quad (Emma)
  • Brewdog Born to Die 18.06.2016 (Benjamin)
  • Double Ass homebrew (Kiran & Phil)
  • Chilli Stout homebrew (Kiran & Phil)
  • Mikkeller Brodie's Big Mofo Stout (Kai)
  • Wylam All Gone South (Malee)
  • Siren BA Life is A Peach (Malee)
  • Siren Hillbilly Wine (Malee)
  • Brussels Beer Project Brusseleir Zwet IPA (Jez)
  • Yo-Ho Tokyo Black (Robert)
  • Hitachino Dai Dai (Robert)
  • Hitachino Espresso Stout (Robert)
  • Coedo Shikkoku (Peter)
  • Coedo Beniaka (Peter)

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?

Getting Away With It with Matthew Curtis

Quick and dirty blog post to share some of the images from another terrific night at ours with the mighty Matt Curtis of Total Ales/Good Beer Hunting fame. Six terrific beers accompanied by six fantastic tracks from the wonderful world of 80s electronica. Such a good time - look out for the next one coming soon...

1 Fruh Kolsch with Electronic - Getting Away With It
2 Yeastie Boys Digital IPA with Misex - Computer Games
3 De Molen Hel et Verdoemenis Imperial Stout with Spandau Ballet - To Cut A Long Story Short
4 Mad Hatter Tzatziki Sour with OMD - Messages
5 Kernel Biere De Saison with Yazoo - Don't Go
6. Wild Beer/Beavertown Blubus Maximus with New Order - Blue Monday (12" Version)

Golden Pints 2015

The annual Golden Pints awards are the UK beer blogging community's version of the Oscars and are gaining steam every year. We've been lucky enough to win eight Golden Pints awards so far this year (thanks Beer O'Clock Show, Brew GeekeryAndy Parker, Beer Is The Answer, Jonny Garrett, Kat Sewell, Beer Revere and Yeastie Boys UK), so thought we should do our own in return.

We don't get out much (which is why, for example, we haven't named a favourite pub below) so a lot of our opinions have, by necessity, come from our daily life running a beer shop. And for us, great beer is about the whole experience of drinking it - where, when, who with, what's going on around us - not just the technical expertise used to brew it. That's why we've adjusted the category names slightly, replacing 'Best' with 'Favourite' - they reflect our own personal and highly subjective journey through an awesome year of beer.

Likewise, we've steered clear of naming a Best Blogger or Tweeter - so many of the UK's greatest bloggers and tweeters are customers, and in some cases, they even write for us, so we wouldn't want to play favourites... You all know who you are. xx
 

Favourite UK Cask Beer

Jen: Moor B Moor Porter at the Crown & Anchor in Brixton. Enjoyed alongside a well-matched dessert and in the company of the two Justins from Moor - the pleasure, the privilege was ours.

Glenn: Arbor Beech Blonde at the Old Nun's Head during one of our more riotous Hop Burns & Boogie excursions. We love pretty much everything these Bristol superstars do.

Favourite UK Keg Beer

Jen: Magic Rock/Stillwater Pina Collision Pineapple Sour Saison. This juicy delight was the beery soundtrack to our summer, enjoyed with many a BBQ. Miraculously we even had enough left over to sell to customers.
Honourable mention: Cloudwater's magnificent DIPA.

Glenn: Wild Beer Tom Yum Gose. Andrew from Wild Beer was kind enough to meet with us before we opened the shop, taking us through the brewery with a full range tasting afterwards. We love the way they blur the boundaries and this crazy concoction was one of the favourites of our summer.

Favourite UK Bottled Beer

Jen: Mad Hatter Tzatziki Sour. Yoghurt, mint and cucumber just shouldn't work in a beer. But they do, and it's amazing. And I hate cucumber!
Honourable mention: Siren's Bones Of A Sailor Part III.

Glenn: My bottled beer of the year is an English bitter - a possibly unexpected result. Moor Ready Made 2, brewed with Birrifico Dada, is rich, caramel, malty, hoppy perfection. A beautifully balanced beer.
Honourable mention: Wild Beer Squashed Grape.

Favourite UK Canned Beer

Jen: Moor Return of the Empire English IPA. When we heard Moor were launching in cans, we knew Justin 1's fastidiousness would ensure they launched with the best cans the UK had ever seen. This IPA is a showcase for the new UK Jester hop and it's glorious. Moor's Hoppiness IPA usually gets all the love (and deservedly so), but my heart belongs to the Empire.

Glenn: Could have been any of the Vocation range so went for the one in the middle, Pride & Joy APA. Yet to have a bad beer from these guys - every can we've had in has been exceptional. Have my eye on a 750ml bottle of Naughty & Nice chocolate stout for Christmas Day too.

Favourite Overseas Draught

Jen: Yeastie Boys PKB Remix Dark Matta - one of the only two kegs in the UK, launched at the Beer O'Clock Show's live podcast in November. (Disclaimer: we invested in the Yeasties' crowdfunding campaign earlier this year, but this isn't the only reason this beer won. Though we do want a good return on our investment, right?) 
Honourable mention: Renaissance Fresh Hop Black The RIPA. We put this on at our NZ Fresh Hopped celebration event and people haven't stopped talking about it since. Tastes great in the bottle too.

Glenn: Unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell Tankovna at Duck & Rice in Soho. Almost as fresh as drinking it at the brewery door. The perfect accompaniment for a plate so loaded with sichuan peppers and chilli that it made the back of my head sweat. 
Honourable mention: Tuatara Sauvinova. Lush.

Favourite Overseas Bottled Beer

Jen: Alvinne/Stillwater Wild West, enjoyed at Nuetnigenough during our 36-hour beerathon in Brussels back in February. The staff at this restaurant really know their shit, and recommended us the most incredible beers to go with our food. Go there! 
Honourable mention: Tuatara Conehead, an "air-hopped" IPA (i.e. made with fresh hops that they flew over from Nelson to Wellington) from New Zealand. Dank and resinous, this blows the mind of everyone I push it on. Makes me feel a bit like Timothy Leary.

Glenn: Bruery Rueuze. Everything I look for in a gueuze - funky, fruity, tart, thirst-quenching... Exquisite. Next time I won't drink it at 3am.
Honourable mention: New Belgium Lips of Faith Le Terroir 2015. Cheers Matt Curtis.

Favourite Overseas Canned Beer

Jen: Westbrook Gose. Salty sour goodness has never tasted so good. Could drink this by the bucketload and would, given half a chance.

Glenn: Founders Centennial IPA. For all the reasons Matt Curtis details here.

Favourite Collaboration Brew

Jen: Hawkshead/Crooked Stave Key Lime Tau was the hands-down stand-out at this year's Rainbow Day. I ran across town to beat the crowds at Beavertown and had to cram as much sampling as possible into two hours before heading back to work, which sadly meant a lot of pouring away of great beers. Drinking this - a kettle-soured, lactose-infused golden ale brewed with fresh lime zest and lemongrass - in the blazing sunshine with good people was pretty much beer heaven.

Glenn: Moor/Birrificio Dada Ready Made 2, as detailed above.

Favourite Overall Beer

Jen: Mad Hatter Tzatziki Sour.

Glenn: Wild Beer Tom Yum Gose.

Favourite Branding

Jen: Brick Brewery. When you stand behind a counter and look at 300+ beers all day long, you quickly work out what works and doesn't work on a beer bottle. I love Brick's branding because of its beautiful simplicity. Its clean design is reminiscent of Penguin Books' classic design.
Honourable mention: Wiper & True and Beavertown's clever 'starry night' initiative for limited edition can runs.

Glenn: Naming no names, but a lot of cans from mobile canning units look terrible. Vocation's labels instantly attract attention and make you forget they're just stickers on a plain metal can. On closer inspection, the intricate designs, different on every can, tell their own stories. 

Favourite UK Brewery

Jen: Moor, but Vocation and Arbor are close contenders indeed. And you should never overlook the Kernel - every time a coconut. It's impossible for them to make a bad beer.

Glenn: Wild Beer, for all the reasons given above and more. They've always blown my mind.

Favourite Overseas Brewery

Jen: 8 Wired Brewing. Saison Sauvin and Tall Poppy were two of my standout beers of the year, and there's nothing like Superconductor when you need a wake-up call. (On a side note, it's weird how New Zealand-centric many of my choices have been for this exercise given how much I couldn't wait to leave the place. But there's no denying the colonies are making great beers. And we're looking forward to trying all of them in January.)

Glenn: New Belgium. I've never been there but read Matt Curtis's blog and tell me it's not one of the most fascinating beer destinations on the planet. We were lucky enough to enjoy a muled bottle of Lips of Faith Le Terroir 2015 that Matt muled back from Colorado at our No More Heroes event in November... no words.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 16: Wild Beer Millionaire Chocolate & Salted Caramel Milk Stout, 4.7% (Somerset)

Each night, 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.

Wild Beer says: "Sometimes a drink can make you feel so decadent it's like you're a millionaire; this beer wraps you in a velvety cocoon, dresses you in a smart suit and takes you out for a special night on the tiles. Sweet and salty collide in this rich, balanced and smooth dessert stout. Lactose, caramel and high quality Valrhona cocoa nibs provide a chocolate and caramel backbone alongside the roasty malts whilst the Cornish Sea Salts gives a savoury salty kick, raising this beautiful beer above the norm.

We say: This beer is notorious in HB&B lore for being the only beer we've opened on delivery and drunk before 11am. Our mouths had been salivating ever since we heard Wild Beer - one of our favourite UK breweries for their bold inventiveness - were making a chocolate and salted caramel milk stout. If there's a more delicious-sounding beer out there, we defy you to name it. It lives up to the description too. SUMPTUOUS. 

New stuff in store, 3 December

It's December, so it's officially approved to use the C-word. It's OK to mention Christmas too. Here's what's new and coming at you this week.

FESTIVE BEERS:

Joining Brewdog Hoppy Christmas IPA, Weird Beard Black Christmas Cranberry Stout, Struisse Tjeeses Reserva 2013 and Mikkeller Hoppy Lovin' Xmas in the festive line-up, we have:

  • Camden Beer 2015 - a malty bock lager aged in bourbon, tequila, rum and cognac barrels. Festivity in a bottle.
  • Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper - a Belgian strong dark ale aged in tequila barrels. That's the Christmas spirit!
  • Mikkeller Fra Til Via - a porter with Christmas spices. Handily includes a gift tag on the label for gift giving made easy.
  • Mikkeller Nelson Sauvignon. A 750ml sharer that's been fermented with champagne yeast, brettanomyces and enzymes, then aged in Chardonnay white wine casks. One to pop for the New Year's celebrations? Regardless, you need this in your life. 
  • Pressure Drop India Rubber Ball - the juicy banger to end all juicy bangers, crammed full of Citra hops and clementines. We are ridiculously in love with this beer and we're not afraid to shout it from the rooftops.

Also:

  • Two new beers from the glorious Buxton Brewery that we're beyond excited about. Trolltunga Gooseberry Sour IPA is everything you want from an autumnal sour - delightfully tart - and The Living End Imperial Stout is probably the best bourbon-aged stout you'll drink all year.
  • Two new big 750ml sharers from Wild Beer. The Blend Winter 2015 Beyond Modus II is a limited edition special release based around their flagship Modus Operandi sour, blended with other barrel-aged beers from their library. Try it against the Summer Blend for an study in compare and contrast. Squashed Grapes is the beer that had Glenn blathering on for days after trying (and loving) it at Taste of London. It pretty much does what it says on the tin - it's like red and white grapes got funky. Exquisite.
  • Two new darks from our South Eastern friends Fourpure and Orbit - Fourpure's Morning Star Vanilla Porter is a luxurious chocolate number fermented with French oak chips and matured with whole Madagascan Vanilla beans. And Orbit's Seven Double Stout makes its return for 2015 - we'll be launching it at the shop on Friday, where you'll be able to try it against last year's Seven which we cunningly aged for the past year because we loved it so much.
  • And finally some returns. Magic Rock cans! Cannonball, High Wire Grapefruit, Salty Kiss - come get some. And the always popular Marble Manchester Bitter is back. Happy days.

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, 29 October

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We're always excited about new beers but some weeks, we look at the list and have to pinch ourselves because it's so good. This is one of these times. Every time a coconut. Read this and weep (with joy).

  • We're close to collecting the whole set of the 2015 Rainbow Project beers. The latest one from the amazingly inventive series of UK/US collaborations to hit the shelves is Violet Underground from Somerset's Wild Beer and California's Firestone Walker. This tart sour bomb is a blend of Wild Beer's Somerset Wild and Firestone's Cowbell and brings together yeast from Somerset cider orchards, Californian raspberries and French candied violet petals. We have it in 375ml bottles and look out for it when it hits the flagon-fill line-up.
  • Speaking of flagon-fill, we are beyond excited about putting on Magic Rock Cross Pollination Heather Honey IPA. The Twitterati went mental for this beer when it hit the taps at Indyman. Let's see what all the fuss is about. Keep watching the skies/flagon-fill page...
  • Speaking of people going mental at Indyman... Here's another star from that particular beer fest. Mad Hatter Tzatziki Sour. A Berliner Weisse with flavours of yoghurt, mint and cucumber. Has to be enjoyed to be believed!
  • Vocation cans all the way from sunny West Yorkshire. These both look incredible and rate off the charts. We've got the Heart & Soul session IPA and Life & Death IPA. 
  • Speaking of death... Brewdog Born To Die. It's back. Available from 6pm on Friday.
  • Other returns from beyond the grave include the uber-delicious Westbrook Gose and Evil Twin Molotov Lite - our best-selling 8.5% beer ever. We've also got more Evil Twin cans in the form of Bikini Beer, which provides a welcome contrast to the Molotov monster at just 2.7%.

That enough for you?

 

 

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!

New stuff in store: 16 April

Another motherlode of the good stuff. Drums, please:

  • Brand new to our shelves is the excellent One Mile End brewery, based beneath Mile End Road at the White Hart Brew Pub in Whitechapel. This brewery is getting kudos from all quarters and we know you're going to love these beautifully crafted beers: Salvation Pale Ale, Snakecharmer IPA and Hospital Porter.
  • Moor, Moor, Moor! SoHop, NorHop, BritHop... all your hops are belong to us. Grab all three of these spectacular ultra pale ales and vote for your favourite.
  • Ahead of our Anspach & Hobday brewer showcase on the 29th, we've stocked up on their new Pale Ale plus got a re-up of their excellent Table Porter. Expect more special treats on the night...
  • Firm flagon-fill favourites Gipsy Hill add another string to their sessionable, full flavoured bow with the Yuzu Japanese Pale Ale, a zesty number brewed with Kent Brewery.
  • We loved Siren's quarter-IPA, Half Mast, last year - this tasty 2.9%-er packs a flavoursome punch for such a low ABV beverage. Get it while it's cold!
  • Also on the session front, Weird Beard's Little Things That Kill is your ideal summer ale. Hopped and dry-hopped with Centennial and Nelson Sauvin (from Jen's hometown), with an addition of Cascade, we predict this will fly out the door if these sultry temperatures continue.
  • If, like us, you love the refreshing cidery tartness of Wild Beer's Somerset Wild and Ninkasi beers, then you'll adore Zintuki - a skilful blend of both. We put this to a taste test on Wednesday over lunch outside the shop in the sunshine and can confirm it's perfect summer drinking. Hey, it's a hard job, but someone has to do it...
  • Wiper & True's beautiful branding is an accurate indicator of the sophisticated contents inside in the bottles, the result of which is that we can never keep this Bristol brewery's beer on the shelf for long. Two new additions this week: Blossom Amber Ale and Southern Cross Pale Ale.
  • Lastly, Founders All Day IPA. Our best-selling US beer now in cans!

There are probably some we've missed off - best to come in store and see for yourself. And don't forget to check our flagon-fill page for all the deliciousness coming up on draught too - only the best for you...

Behold! The joys of our Bin Ends Box

"People are strange," sung a dead poet once. 

Roger that. We've found that it doesn't matter how amazing the beer, if there's a last solitary bottle or can of it sitting on shelf, you lot won't take it. Freud would have a field day. Maybe. 

Anyway, you've probably noticed our Bin Ends Box, the crate of wonders that sits next to our counter. It's filled with a delectable selection of lonely little beers (and sometimes wines, ciders and hot sauces) that are the end of their line, the last of their kind, You, the people, cruelly shun them when they're the last bottle on the shelf but strangely love to snap them up when they're jumbled up in a box next to the counter.

If you haven't discovered the joys of our Bin Ends Box yet, now's the time. As we type, on offer are beautiful beers from Evil Twin Brewing, Siren, Wild Beer, Pressure Drop, Port Brewing and more, replaced daily as more good things come to an end. 

So go on - have a rummage. 

Celebrating the chocolate beers...

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With Easter (and our beer and chocolate pairing event) on the horizon, our thoughts have turned to chocolate. More specifically, chocolate beers.

We'll be revealing the amazing beers we've paired with the creations of chocolatier Isabelle Alaya from Melange Chocolate Shop after Wednesday's event. In the meantime, here are some of the more overtly chocolatey numbers currently gracing our shelves. NB: most of these are BIG beers. Handle with care,

Siren Bones of a Sailor III Imperial Porter (UK) 9.5% - A limited edition imperial porter with cacao, vanilla and raspberries aged in Pedro Ximenez barrels. Not sure there's much more we can add to this - it tastes as remarkable as it sounds.

Wild Beer Millionaire Salted Caramel & Chocolate Milk Stout (UK) 4.7% - When this beer first arrived in store a couple of months back we dropped everything, ripped open the case and downed a bottle at 10am. Shameful, yes, but we weren't disappointed. A beautifully balanced milk stout with a long chocolate finish (and by no means over-sweet), we could drink this all day. But we won't. We've got work to do.

Chocolate Marble (UK) 5.5% - This Manchester beer flies out the door when we're lucky enough to have it in (which we do right now, thanks to a tasty new shipment). Deeply chocolatey without being heavy, it features coffee and liquorice notes, and is sublimely drinkable.

Stone Stochasticity Project Master Of Disguise Imperial Golden Stout (US) 9.7% - The culmination of an April Fool's joke, the marketing materials for this beer read "Brewed with coffee beans, cocoa and coffee beans (not a typo)." This is a golden ale made with sheets of pure cocoa and one heck of a lot of coffee that drinks like a stout. (Or a frappé if you shut your eyes.)

De Molen Heaven & Hell Imperial Stout (Netherlands) 12% - A monster of an imperial stout full of chocolate, caramel, roasted, brown and pils malts and topped off with bitter hops, this is suitably big on roasty chocolate and molasses with woody vanilla and floral notes. No one does dark beers quite like De Molen. This one is so good it's sinful.

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout (US) 10% - Quite simply, chocolate in a bottle. A blend of six malts and many months of ageing gives this imperial stout its massively rich chocolate aroma and flavour. 

Harbour Chocolate & Vanilla Imperial Stout (UK) 8.7% - We first tried this at Craft Beer Rising, fell in love and sought it out in bottle. A Ronseal beer, this absolutely does what it says on the tin, rammed so full of cacao nibs and vanilla pods you'll never need to buy pudding again.