#HBBAdvent Beer 20: Unity x Duration x Boxcar The Ground Up Farmhouse IPA (Southampton)

Unity says: Hops meet funk in this lightly soured IPA liberally hopped with Styrian Wolf and Dragon.

We say: Unity has constantly impressed us this year, and when we saw the team had collaborated with two of our favourite bunches of brewery folk - Boxcar and Duration, good friends as well as frequent visitors to HB&B Towers - we knew we had to get this beer in our advent box. The Ground Up is a fantastic saison - biscuity, lightly citrus with a balanced dose of funk too. Nice one guys, we ❤ you.

#HBBAdvent Beer 19: Signature Brew x Mogwai Beer Satan (London)

Signature Brew says: Taken at face value, Mogwai Beer Satan is a limited-edition 5.2% ABV New England pale ale brewed in collaboration with Mogwai and East London brewery, Signature Brew. Scratch beneath the surface, however, and you'll uncover the brewery's first concept beer, built around the properties of Mogwai's seminal track Mogwai Fear Satan. At a towering 16 minutes long the track sounds vast and complex, but strip it away and you'll find just two chords at its heart. To mirror this, the beer employs simple ingredients which blend to make a flavour bigger than the sum of their parts… with a fittingly long finish. This tropical, hazy IPA is low in bitterness and carries huge, hoppy flavours and aromas of mango, pineapple and white grape. In addition, a small amount of chillies added late in the brewing process brings a subtle heat that gently builds as the song crescendos.

We say: It’s been a big year for Signature Brew, they’ve opened their new taproom in Hackney, continued to collaborate across the music business and put out more hits than a 90s boyband. They also kindly hosted us as we brought Chilli Karaoke north of the river for a night of capsicum-induced pain and performance. Fittingly,, the beer we’ve chosen also highlights all of our passions at HB&B.

Mogwai Beer Satan (a collaboration with Scottish post-rock legends Mogwai) is a NEIPA with chilli, kicking off with juicy tropical vibes before slowly turning up the volume as the heat takes hold - Nathan. HB&B Deptford manager

The Beer Lover’s Table: Shredded Cuban-Style Pork Shoulder And Brick Brewery X 1251 Jerk Stout

Most beers aren’t explicitly created with food in mind, but this Jerk Stout — a collaboration between Brick Brewery and Chef James Cochran’s new restaurant, 1251 — is an exception.

Designed to pair with 1251’s famed jerk-spiced fried chicken, the beer was brewed with Cochran’s secret spice mix (plus malt that Cochran hand-smoked himself over applewood chips). The result is richly sweet, dark as engine oil, whiffy with smoke, and laced with a chilli heat that accumulates at the back of the throat.

While it was indeed excellent alongside the fried chicken, I wanted to explore further pairing possibilities. Serendipitously, I recently found myself flipping through Melissa Clark’s 2017 cookbook, Dinner in an Instant, and spotted a recipe for Cuban-style pork that looked like an ideal candidate. Clark’s recipe was designed for an electric pressure cooker — I’ve recently joined the legions of Instant Pot evangelicals; seriously, it’s a life-changing piece of gadgetry — but you could just as easily leave the pork simmering in a slow cooker during the day.

Marinated in grapefruit and lime juice, seasoned with fresh oregano and copious amounts of garlic, the pork stews until it falls to pieces. Once shredded, it cooks down further in its juices. The result is pork at its most decadent, ideal scooped into tortillas or served atop rice.

As I hoped, it’s also exceptional alongside the Jerk Stout, and manages to draw out the beer’s roasty character, sweetness, and smokiness. When the weather is frightful, when you only want to hunker down and hide away, this is the kind of meal you could happily hibernate with.

Shredded Cuban-Style Pork Shoulder
Adapted from Melissa Clark
Serves 6

For the pork shoulder:
8 garlic cloves, peeled
Juice of 1 ruby grapefruit
Zest and juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons kosher or fine sea salt
1 2-kilo (4.4-pound) boneless pork shoulder
2 fresh bay leaves
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil

To serve
Large handful coriander
2-3 limes
Rice or tortillas

1. Roughly one hour before you plan to cook the pork shoulder, make the marinade. Add the garlic, grapefruit juice, lime zest and juice, olive oil, brown sugar, oregano, cumin and salt to a food processor, and blend on high until uniform.

2. Using a very sharp knife, remove the rind from the pork, if attached, and save to make chicharrones (or discard). Cut the pork shoulder into four pieces. Add to a large bowl and top with the marinade. Cover and chill for one hour.

3. After one hour, remove the pork from the fridge. Add the vegetable oil to a large frying pan, and place over high heat. Once hot, remove two pork pieces from the marinade, and allow any excess to drip off. Add to the frying pan and brown on all sides before transferring to your pressure cooker or slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining two pork pieces; do not discard the marinade. (Note that, if you are using an Instant Pot, you can also brown your pork in the pressure cooker on Sauté mode.)

4. Add the reserved marinade to your pork pieces, as well as the two bay leaves. If using a pressure cooker, seal and cook on high pressure for 80 minutes; afterwards, allow the cooker to depressurise naturally. If using a slow cooker, cook on low heat for roughly 7 hours, stopping to flip the pork pieces halfway through, or until the pork can be easily shredded.

5. When cooking is done, transfer the pork pieces to a cutting board. Using two forks, shred the meat, and discard any gristly or fatty bits, as well as the bay leaves. If using a pressure cooker, return the shredded pork to the cooking liquid. Cook on Sauté mode for approximately 15 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the excess liquid has mostly evaporated. If using a slow cooker, return the shredded pork to the cooking liquid and cook on low for 1 hour more. If there is still excess liquid after cooking, strain off and discard.

6. Season the shredded pork to taste. Serve alongside rice or tortillas, plus coriander and lime wedges.

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.

Fundamentals #40: A Cautionary Christmas Tale (Ft. The Kernel Barrel Aged London 1840 Export Stout)

If you’ve ever trapped your finger in a car door. you’ll perhaps empathise with this tale of struggle and woe. It begins in East London, at Signature Brew’s new taproom, at the start of December. Was that a hint of Christmas in the air I detected? No. It was the smell of heat and spice emanating from the victims of HB&B’s latest round of Chilli Karaoke.

The premise of Chilli Karaoke is simple, yet effective. You choose a song, you sing the first few lines before being rudely interrupted by the host, at which point a Scotch Bonnet pepper is consumed and you try to finish your song. Meanwhile, your struggle provides quality entertainment for the gathered crowd. Having once taken part myself, I can honestly say this is the modern equivalent of the gladiators fighting in front of the baying masses at the Colosseum. Only with catchier tunes.

After another hilarious night, hosted by HB&B’s very own Lewis Blomfield (who, it also turns out, is a very good character comedian), our chariot (a Toyota Prius) winged us home from the Colosseum, my beers to review tucked safely under one arm.

This is where a good argument could be made for cans over bottles, as they tend not to shatter. As I turned to exit the car (parked on a slight incline), the door began to close – but I did not move the middle finger on my left hand before the door decided to shut itself. There was blood, there was profanity (told you it was just like Ancient Rome), but worse was that the shock of trapping my finger caused me to throw everything I was carrying in my other hand up in the air. I didn’t see the can and bottle hit the ground, but I sure heard them.

The shattering of glass against tarmac drowned out the dull thud of a can hitting the same surface. I watched as this precious imperial stout, which had spent months maturing in red wine and Cognac casks, trickled down my North London street, only to be washed away by the rain.

And that would’ve been the end of this review. But thankfully, like all good Christmas tales, this has a happy ending. The next morning, I went for a walk and passing a rival bottle shop, I stopped in to see if they had stock of the same beer. To my delight, they did. Popping the bottle safely into my pocket, I rushed it home, chilled it down for just under an hour, and then – very carefully – opened it.

And what did I find? Perhaps one of the most exquisite imperial stouts I’ve tried all year: Unctuous molasses and roasted barley flavours, interspersed with a tangy bouquet of juicy red wine and mouth puckering tannins. The merest hint of Cognac adding a little boozy flourish to the end of each sip. I’d say it’s so good that its fit for Caesar himself. And perfect for some extended Christmas Day drinking. Well, it is The Kernel.

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

#HBBAdvent Beer 16: Lervig Konrad's Stout (Norway)

Lervig says: We’ve been producing this stout since 2010. We wanted to make a straightforward Imperial Stout with a Scandinavian touch to it, so we used a lot of dark malts and just the right water chemistry to give the beer a very soft mouth feel with coffee and Liquorice notes.

We say: Lervig Aktiebryggeri, from Stavanger in Norway, is brewing some of the greatest dark beers in Europe right now, whether they’re adjunct-rich pastry stouts, barrel-aged chocolate martini stouts or this bittersweet imperial stout. The malt base carries coffee, liquorice, dried fruit and berries perfect for in a cold dark sunday with a pre-Christmas cheese board (or if you're still craving pastry, a warm mince pie!). - Nathan, HB&B Deptford Manager

#HBBAdvent Beer 14: Pressure Drop Breaking Out Of My Tomb Brut IPA (London)

Pressure Drop says: We used Mosaic, Citra and Ekuanot hops in both these IPAs. They can be tasted together and compared or enjoyed on their own. The Brut IPA is about paring back the beer to intensify the flavours of the hops. The beer is bone dry, crisp and light, but with an intense hoppy flavour.

We say: We were stoked to be asked to launch this beer, along with its sibling, Show Of Hands NEIPA, at the shop last month - Pressure Drop’s first ever beer in cans. We wanted a Brut IPA to include in our advent - given this dry, spritzy style has been the hottest trend of 2018 - and Jen fell in love with this beer on opening it, so the decision was made. Cheers guys.

#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

Fundamentals #39 — The Bruery Or Xata Blonde Ale

What does a traditional Spanish sweet milk beverage, über-cool Californian craft beer, and a classic Belgian-style blond ale have in common? Turns out the answer is found at the bottom of a can of beer from Anaheim’s The Bruery.

But first let’s find out what Horchata is. Because despite being a scholar of all the tasty things you can drink, I can’t honestly say I’ve ever tried it. According to that ever-reliable source, Wikipedia, Horchata is a name given to “various plant milk beverages of similar taste and appearance”, reportedly originating from the Mediterranean city of Valencia. It is commonly made with rice or tiger nuts, and is often flavoured with cinnamon or vanilla. I hear it is also rather delicious when you mix it with rum (but honestly, what isn’t?)

Horchata is immensely popular in Latin America and by juxtaposition, Southern California. According to The Bruery it also pairs very favourably with Mexican cuisine and it should come as no surprise that I reckon their beer-based interpretation would also do a pretty great job of this.

The Bruery is perhaps best known for its big, tannic, barrel aged beers – in particular, its stouts – along with its wild fermented sours. In that respect, this beer, presented in a 16oz can as opposed to a 750ml bottle, already feels like something of a departure for them. The base beer that makes up Or Xata is a strong blonde ale, weighing in at 7.2%. It features additions of rice, cinnamon, fresh vanilla and lactose in an attempt to mimic the creamy sweetness of Horchata.

My fear that this would be a sickly, sweet mess were soon abated. The beer pours a surprisingly bright shade of yellow, with a thin head dissipating in seconds. Yes there’s a little cinnamon in there, and a hint of vanilla, but never overwhelmingly so. What I also found were spicy, yeast-driven flavours that reminded me more of a classic Belgian blonde ale than anything else. The finish was also dry, leaving me with a surprisingly drinkable and, most importantly, highly enjoyable beer. An ideal pairing for your Boxing Day turkey tacos.

Matthew Curtis is a freelance beer writer, photographer and author of our award-winning Fundamentals column. He's written for numerous publications including BEER, Ferment, Good Beer Hunting and Original Gravity. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis. Pick up a can of The Bruery Or Xata in store or online while stocks last.

#HBBAdvent Beer 11: Five Points JUPA Pale Ale (London)

Five Points says: Hopped with Simcoe in the boil and dry-hopped with Citra and Mosaic, JUPA has bold, juicy citrus flavours and a tropical fruit character bursting with pineapple, mango and papaya. It was brewed with a touch of wheat and oats for a silky malt backbone, allowing the West Coast hops to shine. JUPA’s low bitterness differentiates it from our Pale Ale and XPA and makes it a real thirst-quencher that’s juicy and totally crushable.

We say: In an era when every new brewery tap opening seems to be located a draughty railway arch, it makes a refreshing change to drink in a warm, cosy pub - which is why we love what Five Points has done with the acquisition of Hackney’s Pembury Tavern. It was in this friendly neighbourhood pub that we first encountered this beer when we travelled up for the launch a few weeks ago. Soft and fruity, JUPA is devastatingly easy to drink, so we tossed a pint or two down our neck and grabbed a can for the road before heading off to see Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever at KOKO in Camden. A great night was had by all, which is why we’re happy to relive those memories with the inclusion of this lovely weeknight 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 9: Canopy Amaretti Imperial Stout (London)

Canopy says: Some journeys are longer than others and our Amaretti Imperial Stout is there for the big ones, those hard fought slogs through the mud and dirt. This is a beer to be savoured and to reminisce over in front of a roaring log fire. Warm your toes and your heart; that’s well deserved. Rich and luscious, with hints of vanilla and almond biscuit.

We say: Canopy got its own canning line this year and its crisp Champion Kolsch and crushable Brockwell IPA are mainstays on our shelves, while its limited releases have truly come into their own. The Amaretti Imperial Stout represents the perfect bev to enjoy as the weather turns wintry. With its delectable creaminess and not too sweet amaretto, it fulfills the hankering we all get for dark beers around the advent season - Caleb, HB&B sales assistant, Peckham

#HBBAdvent Beer 8: Cloudwater Brewed All Season DIPA (UK)

Cloudwater says: Double IPA is a style close to our hearts and one we've worked hard to continually refine. This beer is the result of two years' experience in developing recipes that are deliciously drinkable at a higher ABV, delivering clean and precise flavours. Thick body and sweetness provide the platform to showcase huge tropical and citrus hop flavours.
Aroma & Flavour: Big mango and stone fruit flavours, with a light, sweet malt presentation
Body: Full-bodied, smooth and juicy
Aftertaste: Lingering fruit juice sweetness, no bitterness

We say: When it comes to Team Cloudwater, we have so much love to give. These guys have supported us as much as we’ve supported them over the past few years, we’re both madly passionate about independence and well, we sell a hell of a lot of their beer. This Brewed All Season DIPA is one of their best brews of the year and we’re delighted to include it in our little 2018 beer capsule.

Natural Wine Killers: 2Naturkinder Bacchus Pet Nat 2017

Wine text books are littered with French terms which somehow have avoided translation, forming an internationally understood vocabulary among wine geeks. From household names like brut or demi-sec to my personal favourite, millerandage (Google it). None of these are quite as en vogue as pétillant naturel.

Pétillant in French simply means lightly sparkling. At some point in recent history, pétillant naturel received a Sam Cam-style truncation to make it more media-friendly, morphing into Pet Nat. It’s a term which is especially popular in the natural wine hotbed that is the Loire, but has spread much further afield (this one coming from the undervalued German wine region of Franken).

Truth be told, there is nothing modern about the Pet Nat. Winemakers though the ages have discovered, sometimes to their dismay, that if you leave a bit of residual sugar in the bottle, the wine may start refermenting and go fizzy. The first sparkling wines were of course made this way. Long before Dom Perignon got hold of a pupitre, the winemakers of Limoux, down in the Pyrenees, were making methode ancestrale – a sparkling wine where sugar is left in the bottle to referment, and create a lightly fizzy, cloudy wine.

Locals of Limoux claim to have been making sparkling wines this way since the 1500s, so like many natural wines, Pet Nat really is taking it back to the old school. Which brings us to 2NaturKinder’s Bacchus Pet Nat 2017. It’s made by Melanie Drese and Michael Völker, two Germans who developed a passion for natural wines in London (sounds familiar) and moved back home to create a revolution in Michael’s parents’ winery. The winery is now certified organic, and the wines are made with minimal intervention – nothing is added or taken away.

This Pet Nat is made by leaving about 15g/l residual sugar in the wine, sealing it to re-ferment and retain the fizz, then roughly disgorging so most of the dead yeasts are removed, but finishing cloudy. According to Mel and Mike, this vintage is a bit more colourful than previous, but benefits from a more intense perlage (no more French wine terms, I promise).

It has a hazy lemon colour and looks and smells a bit like a natural lemonade, with aromas of saucisson, ginger and gooseberry (Bacchus is an aromatic grape, not commonly used in sparkling wines). It’s gently frothy, and has a long, Bramley apple finish. And at only 11% ABV, it goes down dangerously easily.

Claire Bullen’s food pairing: Pair with lemon orzo with prawns and fresh herbs or scallop, grapefruit, and avocado ceviche

Paul Medder is a freelance wine educator and works for one of the UK's leading wine distributors. He occasionally tweets @PaulMedder. This wine featured in our November Natural Wine Killers box. To bet on board, head here.

#HBBAdvent Beer 7: North Brewing Co Kurious Oranj IPA

North says: This juicy IPA is absolutely bursting with flavours of fresh citrus. A generous helping of oats ensures this beer is soft and full-bodied, whilst the addition of Mandarina Bavaria hops give it a raw zesty finish.

We say: The North team are some of our absolute favourite people in the business but not only that, they’re making some of the best beers in the business too (and winning ALL the awards). We had to include one of their specials in this little capsule of 2018. Kurious Oranj has all the sweetness, juiciness and pithiness of fresh mandarin, and couldn’t we all use a bit of Vitamin C at this time of year?

#HBBAdvent Beer 6: Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai IPA (US)

Cigar City says: All that remains of [the traditional Basque game] Jai Alai in the Tampa Bay area is this India Pale Ale that we brew in tribute to the merry game. The India Pale Ale style of beer has its roots in the ales sent from England to thirsty British troops in India during the 18th century. Pair Jai Alai India Pale Ale with beef empanadas, devilled crabs, and other spicy dishes. 

We say: When we get to Thursday, we start getting a hankering for hops. Jai Alai is a venerable icon in the world of IPA - big notes of citrus and resin, the way they used to make ‘em before the haze craze took hold… The weekend starts here. Almost.

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.

claire1.jpg

#HBBAdvent Beer 5: Yeastie Boys Hot Space Extra Pale Ale (UK)

Yeastie Boys says: A medley of tropical and autumnal stonefruit, in both flavour and aroma, bursts from the very pale and delicate malt base of Hot Space. It all comes together to create an Extra Pale Ale that’s even more sessionable than Session IPA. 

We say: It’s nice to see Yeastie Boys’ UK specials back on our shelves. This beer only just scraped into the advent box due to a cock up with couriers - in fact, Yeastie founder Stu even had to bundle his home stash into a cab to get it over in time for our first night of advent packing, but it was well worth the effort. Checking in at just 3.2%, this is a triumph by YB’s new head brewer JK (with whom we brewed our famous Murk du Soleil DIPA last year during his tenure at Marble). It’s light but oh so tasty, and at such a low ABV you can have no qualms about cramming it down your throat on a school night.

Festive online rewards!

It seems like a good time to remind you all about the wonders of our HB&B Good Times Online Rewards scheme. Because not only do we have one of the UK’s finest selections of all things good, we also have the most generous online rewards programme out there and we don’t shout nearly enough about it.

Right now, until 11.59pm on Wednesday 12th December, all new customers who create an online account with us will get 100 rewards points just for that simple act. That’s a £5 discount code to use whenever you like.

But if you’re not a new customer, fear not - your rewards last all year long. For a start, you’ll get 100 bonus rewards points just for referring a new customer to us (all they need to do is spend £30+ and set up an online account). You can then choose to spend or save your points that you accrue while you shop with us - if you resist the temptation to spend them, you could receive a discount code of up to £150!

Want to find out more? Head to our online shop and click the little Earn Rewards tab to see what rewards you can earn and how to spend them.

#HBBAdvent Beer 4: Burnt Mill Pintle Pale Ale (Suffolk)

Burnt Mill says: Pale ale brewed with wheat, oats and flaked barley in the grist to smooth out the body. Whirlpooled and dry hopped with Australian Cascade and Citra. Its restrained bitterness and dry finish help maintain Pintle's all day crushability.

We say: We all loved Pintle straight out of the gate but the more the team at impressive young Suffolk brewery Burnt Mill brew it, the better it keeps on getting. Supremely full flavoured, easy-drinking with bags of character, this is surely one of the great modern British pale ales.

#HBBAdvent Beer 3: Lost & Grounded Keller Pils (Bristol)

Lost & Grounded says: Sometimes the simple things in life are the best. We take Pilsner malt from Germany and combine with three traditional hop varieties – Magnum, Perle and Hallertauer Mittelfruh – to produce a clean, unfiltered, Hop Bitter Lager Beer.

We say: LAGER IS LIFE! No seriously, it is, and these guys have worked out the meaning of life with Keller Pils, one of the best lagers being brewed in the UK right now. Inspired by the German greats, it holds its own against them too - clean, crisp, with exactly the right amount of bitterness. Also, it’s made by terrific people, so you know you’re drinking a labour of love. Mondays were made for this.