WINE & FOOD KILLERS: L’Austral Jolie Brise Blanc 2017 and Strawberries & Meringue with Pistachio Gelato, Olive Oil & Sichuan Pepper

This dessert had two inspirations. One was Instagram – specifically, a photo taken at Paris restaurant Cheval d’Or, which showed a scattering of strawberries on a stoneware plate, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with ground Sichuan pepper. It sounds outlandish, but it actually makes sense that Sichuan pepper works with the fruit; strawberries and black pepper are a tried-and-true combination, and Sichuan peppercorns, both tinglingly electric and fruity in flavour, add just that little extra kick.

The other inspiration was my all-time favourite, desert-island dessert, which I had at London’s P Franco a few years back. It was just a pistachio ice cream, but somehow better than every other pistachio ice cream that has ever came before it. It was also drizzled in fine olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.

As you have likely gleaned by now, I prefer my desserts with a savoury edge – enough to counterbalance the sweetness and prevent them from being cloying. This dish, with its olive oil and pepper, plus meringue and strawberry and gelato, is the ideal blend of both.

You could very well pair this dessert with a wine with some residual sweetness – in fact, that might be the more popular choice. Me, I quite like this bone-dry pet nat alongside. It has that classic Chenin Blanc nose – mingled notes of pear and apple, honey and lemon – which conjures whispers of sweetness, though on the palate it’s all fizz and zesty acidity. I think this dessert is just savoury enough to support it. Like the pleasingly tart strawberries, this bubbly adds its own refreshing, contrasting piquancy.

Strawberries and Meringue with Pistachio Gelato, Olive Oil & Sichuan Pepper Meringue
Adapted from Delicious
Serves 2

For the meringue:
½ lemon
Three large eggs, room temperature
175g (6oz) caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla-bean paste (or vanilla extract)

For the dessert:
½ tub pistachio gelato (available at specialist retailers and good supermarkets)
200g (7oz) strawberries of various sizes (large ones hulled and halved)
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (the best quality you can get)
½ teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper (or black pepper)

1. First, make the meringue. Preheat your oven to 120° Celsius. Ensure your large mixing bowl and electric whisk are completely clean (any traces of grease or fat will prevent the meringue from properly forming). Wipe both the bowl and beaters with a lemon half; the acid helps the meringue form and stabilise.

2. Crack the eggs and separate the whites and the yolks (discard the yolks, or save for another project). Add the whites to the bowl, ensuring there are no traces of yolk or shell. Beat on high speed, using your electric whisk, until the whites form soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat well in between. Beat for a total of 5-6 minutes, or until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla bean paste and beat until just incorporated.

3. Dollop the meringue on a large baking sheet, lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Using a spatula, spread the meringue into a thin, even layer; it should be no more than half an inch thick.

4. Bake the meringue for approximately 1 ¼ hours, or until it is completely set and no longer tacky, but has not darkened in colour. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the tray completely. Once cool, break into jagged, misshapen pieces (you will likely have extra meringue left over; store it in an airtight container and enjoy as a bonus dessert).

5. Arrange the strawberries between two plates or bowls. Add several small scoops of gelato to each serving. Drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle the berries with the Sichuan pepper. Add several meringue pieces per plate. Serve immediately.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beer hound, wine buff 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 out now and available in all good book stores (and at HB&B). Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

Why independence matters

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We were privileged to host Cloudwater at the shop this week as part of the brewery’s Indie Retailer Roadshow, stopping in at fabulous beer retailers across the UK as part of a nationwide tour. As well as serving great beers, we also served up impassioned debate with a panel discussion on Why Independence Matters, inviting Gipsy Hill co-founder and passionate indie campaigner Sam McMeekin to participate as well. While it's going to get a whole lot tougher for independent beer businesses, be they breweries like Cloudwater and Gipsy Hill or retailers such as ourselves, it's a challenge we're ready for, a fight we won't back down from and a cause that we'll continue to shout about from the rooftops.

In the nearly five years since we opened our doors, we’ve seen some of our favourite, best selling breweries give in to Big Beer: Camden sold to AB inBev in 2015, Brixton and Beavertown both sold a share to Heineken in 2017 and 2018, and Fourpure sold to Lion/Kirin in 2018, followed by Magic Rock earlier this year.

When Camden sold back in 2015, we had a “suck it and see” approach - we were still a very young business and Camden was one of our best-selling breweries, and the first of the breweries we stocked to sell out on our watch. We decided we would wait until either a) the quality of the beer dropped, b) staff got a raw deal or c) the beer became available at supermarkets for half the price. 

As the weeks went on though, we started rethinking this approach. We started to notice visits from both ABI and Heineken teams (failing terribly to stay undercover) looking at how we do things, taking notes and taking this intel back to their corporate lairs. Their aim was to copy what indies like us do well in order to capture our market share - and ultimately put us out of business. 

Big Beer has been extraordinarily effective in infiltrating the craft scene. ABI bought UK retailer Beerhawk in 2016 and just last week, made two more important moves, purchasing BeerBods, a popular online retailer, as well as the warehouse lease of failed wholesaler the Bottle Shop, as well as appointing its former CEO as head of sales, in an effort to boost its Beerhawk trade arm. These are huge in-roads into both UK beer retail and wholesale, and tilts the playing field even further. Of course, now that ABI also owns Ratebeer, it has access to even better data to understand how to target customers too.

What does independence mean to us as a retailer?

At HB&B, our business is built on independence and supporting independent producers. As an independent, we have the luxury of choosing the people and businesses we want to work with (and those we don’t). The more independent breweries we can work with, the more exciting the beer world is, both for us and our customers. Working with these breweries means we have constant variety on our shelves, and the continual excitement of trying new beers and styles. Indie brewers have the freedom to do something because it's fun and new, rather than the top priority being to deliver value to shareholders. 

Importantly, independent breweries provide a sense of community. Many of us got into this industry for similar reasons - because we love the beer scene and the warm sense of community it offers, where we can mingle with the people who make the beers we love and the people who love drinking them. 

Local independent breweries are especially important to the success of independent bottle shops. These breweries are a hugely important part of what makes the beer community - and the wider community - great. Drinkers enjoy being able to support local by choosing their beers at the bar or to take home from their local bottle shop (four out of five of our best-selling beers over the past 12 months are from SE London breweries) and their beers often offer a great gateway into the wonderful world of craft beer. We don’t want to risk losing these local breweries that have become the hub of their communities because they can't keep up. The infiltration of Big Beer into the craft scene means that smaller breweries will find it harder to compete and may fall by the wayside. 

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Why is Big Beer bad?

Big Beer makes concerted efforts to obtain advantage through wielding its enormous power: infiltrating distribution and retail to skew these channels in favour of their brands, tying up taps and shelf space for ‘faux’ craft and shutting out independently brewed beer; utilising huge marketing budgets and legal teams to lobby for legislation in its favour and to woo media and influencers to try to change public opinion; using enormous economies of scale to drive down the price of craft beer, creating an unfair playing field and making it even harder for small independent brewers to compete.

Big Beer likes to operate in stealth mode - hijacking the goodwill accumulated by independent brewers and retailers and passing off beers as faux-craft or being deliberately ambiguous about ownership to the average drinker (Beerhawk, for example, certainly doesn’t promote its ABI connection on its website).

Another deception is the illusion of choice. You might walk into a Heineken-owned pub and think you have an array of choice from many independent craft breweries on a tap list, but in fact you're likely to be buying from the same huge beer corporation - one which, as Sam explained, is actively shutting out independent breweries by preventing its pubs from making too much profit from non-Heineken lines.

And it’s doing all this on the shoulders of those who created the scene. Paul from Cloudwater compares Big Beer to Kenny G (and at our event made us listen to some too, the scoundrel). Kenny G made a fortune from hijacking the jazz scene with his ersatz jazz - using the hard graft of the creators who built the scene to feather his own nest without paying his dues. Big Beer is Kenny G. 

We want to see the profits from all of the hard graft done by the UK’s craft breweries staying in the community, helping local businesses to thrive. We don’t want to see the funds disappear offshore to huge multinational conglomerates that do not have the health of the local beer scene at heart, whose key objective is to create ever larger dividends for their shareholders and to shut out competitors at any cost. 

It’s clear that independent beer businesses need to get more strategic and work together to have a chance of survival. We need to support the independent eco-system where we can, giving our support to our fellow independent businesses.

For us as a retailer, this choice is a bit more straightforward - we can choose not to stock businesses owned by Big Beer and thus avoid putting money directly into Big Beer’s pockets. For breweries, it’s a bit harder - they have difficult choices to make, particularly with distribution. As Gipsy Hill’s Sam McMeekin pointed out, lack of alternatives and market penetration (as well as the appeal of end-to-end cold-chain distro) means that sometimes there may be no choice but to work with a distributor owned by Big Beer if a brewery wants to survive and thrive. A longer term goal would be to establish distribution through a cooperative independent means - something we hope can become a reality in the not-too-distant future.

“As long as the beer doesn’t change, I don’t care”

We heard this a lot on social media after Beavertown sold to Heineken in 2018. It’s easy, in our little craft bubble, to forget that not everyone shares our staunch view on independence. 

SIBA UK research found that just 2% of people believe craft beer can be made by a multinational global brewer. But Brewers Association research in the US shows that in fact flavour, freshness and aroma are the most important drivers for choosing a beer - provenance doesn’t really come into it. So it seems while there is an expectation that craft beer will be independent, when it comes down to it, for many it’s just not that important a priority. How do we make people care about who’s making their beer?

We believe greater awareness is the first step - helping drinkers realise what’s at risk if we lose our independents and, importantly, reinforcing all the good things that the independent beer scene contributes.

I (Jen) remember when I first came to the UK in 2000 - the beer scene was nothing like what it is today. With the reins of the industry held by just a handful of companies, choice at the taps was limited, and by god was it dreary. After a few years’ break from the UK (enjoying the healthy craft beer scene in New Zealand), I returned in 2012 to find a vibrant, exciting land of beer choices - driven entirely by these new start-up breweries who were able to forge their own paths, take risk and provide drinkers with fun and excitement, community and choice.

We don’t want to go back to those grim old days where all the power resides in the hands of a few. Variety is the spice of life, and never more so than in the beer world. Independents have made the scene we love what it is, and they need to be able to continue to keep doing so. That’s why we need your support.

PS - Big thanks to Chris Coulson @cwiss for taking some great photos of the night. Find more of his amazing work on Instagram.

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The Beer Lover’s Table: Peanut Noodles With Fried Halloumi and Polly’s Brew Co Simcoe Mosaic IPA

Getting a takeaway is usually better in theory than in practice. There is the excitement of ordering too much food and planning a carefree night in front of Netflix; there is the anticipation of waiting for your flat’s buzzer to trill. But then: those spring rolls or onion bhajis, which sounded so enticing on Deliveroo, arrive over-steamed and limp in their plastic, or woefully under-seasoned, or swimming in grease. They just don’t quite hit the spot.

Perhaps that’s why the “takeout-style” genre of cooking has been so appealing to me – lately, I’ve craved quick-and-ready comfort with a hint of forbidden pleasure. Food is still best when it doesn’t have a commute, when you can scoop it from the frying pan straight into your bowl. And so I’ve found myself making these simple, satisfying, irresistible peanut noodles of late.

On the one hand, they’re infinitely riffable: I use cubes of fried halloumi here as the protein, though you could just as easily go with chicken (or tempeh, if you’re a vegan – don’t forget to swap the fish sauce for soy sauce in that case). On the other hand, this simple peanut sauce hits all the right points – salt and chilli heat, acid and sweetness. It’s worth holding onto and to make every time a dipping sauce is required.

There are numerous beers that would work brilliantly with this dish – you could make a strong case for pilsner, or lobby for saison. But in this case, I love the way Polly’s Brew Co.’s Simcoe Mosaic IPA flatters its flavour profile.

Polly’s Brew Co – formerly known as Loka Polly – has only been around since last year, but it’s already turning out some of the most delicious hoppy styles I’ve had in recent months. This IPA is no different: luscious, pillowy and potent, its savoury edge picks up the dish’s umami funk, its balanced bitterness cuts through the richness of the sauce, and its sweetness offers the equivalent of a few slices of finishing mango.

Overall, the two are the ideal makings of your next Netflix binge session. Sure, cooking at home means you’ve got a few extra dishes to do, and a bit of chopping. But the end results make the process worthwhile.

Peanut Noodles with Fried Halloumi
Adapted from Half-Baked Harvest
Serves 4-5

For the peanut sauce:
150g smooth peanut butter
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ tablespoon sambal oelek
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons hot water

For the noodles:
250g (9oz) halloumi, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 large carrot, grated
100g (3 ½oz) spring onions, finely chopped, white and green parts separated
250g (9oz) bean sprouts
400g (14oz) pad Thai-style rice noodles
Large handful roasted, unsalted peanuts
Large handful Thai basil
Large handful coriander

1. First, make the peanut sauce. Add all ingredients, barring the hot water, into a medium- sized bowl, and whisk until combined. Slowly drizzle in the hot water, whisking constantly, until the sauce is pourable but still relatively thick. Set aside.

2. Fry the halloumi. Place a large, non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. When hot, add the halloumi cubes. Cook for 5–6 minutes, turning frequently, or until golden-brown all over. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out the frying pan.

3. Add the remaining tablespoons of both oils to the pan and place over high heat. Add the grated carrot, spring onions (white parts only), and the bean sprouts. Cook, tossing frequently, for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant, hot, but still crisp. Turn off the heat and set aside.

4. Meanwhile, boil a large pot of salted water. Add the rice noodles and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain.

5. Add the cooked vegetables, the halloumi, and the peanut sauce to the drained noodles, and, using tongs, toss until evenly combined and coated. Divide between pasta bowls and finish with the peanuts, Thai basil, coriander and the reserved spring onion greens. Serve immediately.

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 out now and available in all good book stores (and at HB &B). Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

Fundamentals #51 - 8 Wired iStout Affogato Imperial Stout

I remember the good old days, when beers were beers. I’m talking about 2012 of course, and trying iStout – the revered imperial stout from New Zealand’s 8 Wired – in a quaint Shoreditch bar that is now part of a large chain owned by a well-known Scottish multinational brewery. This was an imperial stout of stature. One that roared with malty molasses and rambunctiously bitter hops. It may have been very expensive at the time, but shared among friends it was a real treat.

We’ve always been lucky to have a small shipment of 8 Wired beers arrive in the UK every so often, all the way from Warkworth, an hour or so’s drive north of Auckland. That’s a very long way for beer to travel. 8 Wired’s hoppy IPAs, such as Hopwired, don’t fare too badly considering the 11,426 mile trip, but its sours and big stouts are not as troubled by this hardship, and so they continue to shine, endearing this brewery to many of us in the process.

I have always admired Kiwi brewers – they live in a country that grows some of the most sensational hop varieties in the world. Adding to this, cities like Auckland and Wellington have embraced them, the latter being one of my favourite beer locales in the world.

However, it’s a challenging market, mostly due to the fact that it’s quite small. At less than 5 million people, New Zealand’s entire population is almost half the size of London alone, so exporting makes sense, despite the distance. In this respect we’re fortunate to see some excellent Kiwi beer in the UK.

I’m equally fortunate today to be reviewing an updated version of 8 Wired’s iStout, this Affogato version with coffee, vanilla and milk sugar lactose. Now, I’m not a huge pastry stout fan – there are some very good examples of the style out there, but they aren’t typically for me. However, after one short sip (immediately leading to a second, deeper gulp), I was relieved to see that this version of iStout has maintained the same rambunctiousness as its predecessor.

Yes, there’s a little caramel sweetness, but this is almost instantly swept aside by an intense hit of espresso – and I’m talking Italian dark roast here, not your delicate third wave gear. This beer has no time for subtlety or nuance, this is an imperial stout just like imperial stouts used to be, albeit one that briefly lulls you into a false sense of security before coming at your palate like a wrecking ball. In a really, really good way.

Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Pick up a can of 8 Wired iStout Affogato online or in-store while stocks last, and be first to read Matt’s columns when you sign up to our All Killer No Filler beer subscription box - along with Claire Bullen’s recipe and pairings, plus in-depth tasting notes, they’re included in every box…

Wine & Food Killers: Tomato Tarts with Tarragon Pesto and Goat Cheese with Patrick Sullivan Jumpin’ Juice Sunset

If you had synesthesia and tasted your wines as colours, Sauvignon Blanc would be inescapably green. Though the varietal picks up vibrancy and passion fruit characteristics in warmer climates, at its heart it retains a cool herbaceousness. It can be green like gooseberries and limes, like budding blossoms, like puckeringly pre-ripe fruit.

Patrick Sullivan’s Jumpin’ Juice Sunset isn’t green, though it is made from 80% Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Instead, true to name, it’s the beguiling pinky-orange of late summer evenings (Sunset is also made with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon). But it is still unmistakably lush and fecund and almost dewy, likely distinct from any other rosé you’ve ever tried. It smells exactly like your hands after you’ve harvested tomatoes from their vines, and it tastes like a green bell pepper that’s just been washed in cold tap water, plus a zing of sweet, red fruit. Somehow, in the glass, it’s as crunchy as a cucumber.

For a wine this full of just-sprouted life, I wanted a dish that felt similarly fresh and well suited to endless summer days. Sunset’s tomato-vine aroma conjured images of tomato tarts for me – preferably ones that also featured leafy herbs, and perhaps a squeeze of citrus.

And so this recipe came to be. As is appropriate for garden parties and picnics, it takes roughly 20 minutes to prep, and cooks just as quickly. Frozen puff pastry is its secret, and a shameless one; be sure to pick the ripest tomatoes you can, and you’re most of the way there. I finish the sliced tomatoes with big round scoops of goat cheese (roll rather than crumble it, to make moreish dollops that resist full-on melting in the oven), plus a tarragon- and lime-based pesto, which mimics the wine’s brightness. In short, these tarts are worth turning on your oven for, even in the height of summer – and they’re just the right accompaniment to this extraordinary bottle.

Tomato Tarts with Tarragon Pesto and Goat Cheese
Serves 2 as a main and 4 as a starter

For the tarragon pesto:
50g fresh tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 pinch sugar
Flaky sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the tarts:
375g ready-rolled puff pastry (defrosted if frozen)
4 medium tomatoes (preferably heirloom varieties)
125g soft goat cheese
Flaky sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons honey
Small handful basil leaves, torn

1. First, make the tarragon pesto. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend well. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 210° Celsius. Lightly flour your counter and unroll the puff pastry. Delicately cut the sheet in half, into two rough squares. Using a butter knife, score a 1-inch margin around the edges of each, being careful not to slice all the way through the pastry. Lightly pierce the middle portion of each piece of dough all over with a fork, which will prevent it from rising (don’t pierce the outside edges, as you want those to rise). Carefully transfer both squares of pastry to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, ensuring they don’t touch; separate across two baking sheets if they don’t fit.

3. Spoon the pesto onto each square, spreading across an even layer within the scored margins. Thinly slice the tomatoes using a serrated knife, and arrange in an overlapping manner within the square. Season with flaky sea salt and black pepper to taste.

4. Using a small spoon, scoop the goat cheese into spheres, and place evenly on top of the tomatoes (rolling the cheese into larger pieces ensures the dollops won’t melt too much in the oven, and will brown appealingly on top). Drizzle the olive oil and honey over the tomatoes, avoiding the edges, if possible.

5. Bake the tarts for approximately 15–20 minutes, rotating tray(s) halfway through. The tarts are done when their edges are fully puffed up and golden-brown on top, when the tomatoes look cooked, and when the cheese is just starting to brown on top. Leave to cool for several minutes. Before serving, garnish with the torn basil leaves.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table, is out now and available via our online shop and hopefully at your favourite booksellers. Pick up a bottle of Patrick Sullivan Jumpin’ Juice Sunset here, and to sign up for our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box, head here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Natural Wine Killers: Kindeli Tinto 2018 (New Zealand)

New Zealand as a country certainly knows its way around a high-quality beverage. That’s particularly true in and around Nelson, located at the northern tip of the South Island, where many of the country’s grapes and hops are grown. It’s no accident that that’s also where winemaker Alex Craighead has staked his claim.

Alongside his partner Josefina Venturino, Craighead founded two labels – DON Wines and Kindeli Wines – in Martinborough in 2014. Now based in Nelson’s Moutere Valley, most of the fruit used in his Kindeli range is organically and locally grown on parcels of land that he either owns or leases. Craighead has also partnered with Wellington brewery Garage Project on its beer-wine hybrids.

Craighead uses only indigenous yeasts, and every bottle is unfined and unfiltered, and made without added sulphur. Since its founding, Kindeli has become a darling of the international natty-wine scene: its distinctive (and occasionally controversial) labels, complete with topless foxes, are a fixture on Instagram, and industry figures like Marissa Ross are often seen chugging straight from their bottles. (In a recent piece in Bon Appétit, she describes Kindeli’s wines as “incredible blends from New Zealand [that] were the most staggeringly aromatic and cohesive wines I had all year.”)

Kindeli’s Tinto is the kind of red that’s ideal in the summer months, and that could even do with a bit of chill on it, particularly on hot days. Tinto is made primarily with Pinot Noir grapes, and displays classic, moderate-climate characteristics of red cherry and forest floor and a touch of mushroom. Give it a swirl and a few moments in the glass to encourage its fruit to open up. The wine also features a small quantity of Syrah grapes (as well as an even smaller quantity of Pinot Gris). Their thick skins add some tannic structure and a plummy hue to the wine, plus an extra degree of richness.

Tinto is also made using carbonic maceration, during which whole clusters of grapes are allowed to ferment in a sealed, anaerobic environment before being crushed. The technique is particularly associated with the Beaujolais region, and gives the resulting wine a slight candied, juicy-fruit fragrance and character. Altogether, you’ve got a bottle that’s tremendously drinkable but worth thinking about, too.

Claire’s food pairing: Slow-roasted salmon with fresh herbs and lemon, or barbecued quail with a hoisin-based marinade

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table, is out now and available via our online shop and hopefully at your favourite booksellers. Pick up a bottle of KIndeli Tinto here, and to sign up for our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box, head here.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Coffee Kisses And Põhjala Cocobänger Imperial Stout With Coffee And Coconut

If you’re familiar with coffee kisses, then you probably associate them with Mary Berry, or afternoon tea. Large, tawny cookies, sandwiched together by a simple coffee buttercream, coffee kisses feel vaguely matronly and old-fashioned to me, partly because my grandmother was an accomplished baker, and her coffee kisses have since inspired their own family lore. As far as I know, her recipe hasn’t changed since the 1960s. It exists, in her handwriting on a worn piece of paper, faded almost – but not quite – beyond readability.

Coffee kisses may not be avant-garde, but they’re still an excellent (and quick) recipe when you’re craving something sweet, with a bit of jitter. I’ve made a few gentle tweaks to the recipe to help them feel more contemporary. A teaspoon of ground cardamom, which works so well with coffee, makes a worthy addition to the dough, and I’ve also added a bit of cocoa powder and vanilla extract to the buttercream. The recipe yields 16 individual cookies, or eight total sandwich cookies: a reasonable amount, the right size for a casual, semi-spontaneous baking session.

This isn’t the kind of pairing I would normally do at this time of year, but given that I haven’t quite felt able to completely retire my winter coat for the season just yet, an imperial, barrel-aged stout still appeals. Estonia’s Põhjala Brewery is a master of the style and Cocobänger – a 12.5% imperial stout brewed with coconut and Costa Rican coffee – is emblematic of what this brewery does so well.

It’s sweet upfront, tongue-curlingly rich, but with just enough pleasing roastiness and bitterness from the coffee to keep things balanced, despite the significant weight of the alcohol. The coconut suggests itself subtly: it’s gently toasted and fragrant rather than cloying, almost the way new oak might taste in a wine.

Overall, this is a beer of spectacular richness and structure and depth, and the coffee kisses’ sweet crunch adds one more layer to appreciate.

Coffee Kisses
Makes 8 large sandwich cookies

For the cookies:
170g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
100g sugar
100g (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled
1 medium egg
2 teaspoons instant coffee (dissolved in 1 teaspoon hot water)

For the icing:
55g unsalted butter, softened
85g icing sugar, plus additional for dusting
2-3 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso (dissolved in 1 teaspoon hot water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 170° Celsius. Add the flour, cardamom, and sugar to a large bowl, and whisk to combine. Finely cube the chilled butter and add to the flour mixture. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.

2. Add the instant coffee granules to a ramekin or small bowl, and dissolve in 1 teaspoon hot water. In a separate bowl, crack the egg and whisk until frothy. Add the coffee concentrate to the egg and whisk to combine. Pour into the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon, mix until the dough has just come together.

3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a well- floured surface and flour your hands well. Gently roll into roughly walnut-sized balls (the dough will be somewhat sticky) and place roughly 1.5 inches apart on the baking sheet.

4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed up, golden, and lightly crackled on top. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes on the tray before transferring to a cooling rack.

5. While the cookies are cooling, make the icing. In a large bowl, add the softened butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder. Beat until smooth. Drizzle in the coffee and the vanilla, and beat until uniform.

6. Once the cookies are completely cooled, dollop a generous amount of frosting on the base of one cookie and, using another cookie, create a sandwich. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Dust with additional icing sugar, if preferred, 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 out now and available in all good book stores (and at HB &B). Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

Fundamentals #49 — The Kernel Foeder Beer Centennial Hallertau Tradition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wine & Food Killers: Popcorn Prawns with Lemon Dipping Sauce and Cantina Furlani Antico 2017

If champagne and fried chicken is an iconic high-low pairing, then it follows that pet nat and popcorn prawns should be, too. Both are crisp and buoyant – albeit in different ways – and, in this case, both zesty and lemon-scented. Both can be gulped without much hesitation; both demolished far quicker than intended. And if you’ve been blessed with a patio or a terrace or a back garden, then both also make brilliant summertime fare.

Cantina Furlani’s exceptional Antico Frizzante is made exclusively from the Nosiola grape, which is native to Italy’s Alpine Trentino region, in the country’s far north – is the kind of wine I’d like to drink on a weekly basis during the warmer months of the year.

It’s bright with acid, amply citrusy, and rounded out with a subtle pear-and-apple richness. That acid, and those perky bubbles (following a spontaneous primary fermentation, the wine ferments again in bottle thanks to the addition of frozen, unsweetened grape juice), make this a perfect foil to anything fried.

Its aromatics also make it a fitting choice alongside a wide range of seafood dishes – you could equally go with ceviche or grilled fish or octopus salad or fried squid – but I particularly like the way this wine flatters the prawns’ natural sweetness.

To complete the dish, the crispy little nuggets of prawn are served alongside a dipping sauce that's tangy with Greek yoghurt and laced with the merest shimmer of cayenne pepper. Lemon zest and lemon juice add their own acidity, and further link with the wine's own zesty personality. Altogether, this pairing is both complementary and contrasting: alike in flavour, though the Antico's carbonation and bite help counteract the fat. (Sure, you might then eat far more prawns than first intended, but who's counting?)

Popcorn Prawns with Lemon Dipping Sauce
Serves 2

For the dipping sauce:
120g Greek yoghurt
120g mayonnaise
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the prawns:
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus additional
1 teaspoon black pepper
70g all-purpose flour
65g corn flour
2 eggs
3 tablespoons whole milk
330g peeled, deveined prawns
700ml vegetable oil (plus additional, if necessary)

1. First, prepare the dipping sauce. In a small bowl, add all five ingredients and stir or whisk until well combined. Set aside.

2. In a ramekin or small bowl, add the garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, sea salt and black pepper, and mix together. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, add the flour and corn flour, and whisk until combined. In a second medium bowl, add the eggs and milk, and whisk until combined.

4. Add the prawns to a large bowl and sprinkle over the spice mixture and ¼ of the flour mixture. Toss until evenly coated.

5. To batter the prawns, transfer each to the bowl with the egg yolk mixture and, using a fork, flip until lightly coated. Let any excess drip off before transferring to the remaining flour mixture. Toss until well coated, and transfer gently to a parchment-paper lined plate or tray. Repeat with the remaining prawns.

6. Meanwhile, add the vegetable oil to a large, cast-iron skillet (it should come up about 2 inches; add extra if needed). Place over high heat and heat until 180° Celsius. If you don’t have a deep-fat frying thermometer, add a tiny bit of flour; if it immediately begins to sizzle rapidly, it should be hot enough.

7. Line a large plate with paper towels and place next to the stove. To fry, add your first addition of prawns, ensuring they’re not overcrowded (you’ll need to cook yours in multiple batches); be careful, as the hot oil could splatter. Cook for approximately 2-4 minutes, flipping and rotating the prawns regularly, until the exterior is deep golden-brown and crisp. Transfer to the paper-towel lined plate and repeat. You may need to adjust the heat to maintain a constant temperature.

8. Sprinkle the prawns with additional salt to taste, and serve immediately, alongside the dipping sauce.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table, is out now and available via our online shop and hopefully at your favourite booksellers. Pick up a bottle of Cantina Furlani here, and to sign up for our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box, head here.

Fundamentals 48 - Brew By Numbers 85 Triple IPA Mosaic El Dorado Calypso

I’ve taken to enjoying a lot of wine recently. I’ve even gone as far as to sign up to HB&B’s Natural Wine Killers subscription club. It wasn’t long before my shelves started to groan under the weight of several bottles of exciting natural wine. A good problem to have, I admit, but I had to face facts – it was time to start opening these bottles.

For a long time, a bottle of wine to me has symbolised sharing and camaraderie. Whether it’s over dinner or simple conversation, a 750ml bottle is there to be poured and passed around, until it’s time to open the next one. The same is true of beer and cider. There’s a certain joy in sharing a big bottle from the likes of Burning Sky, or Oliver’s Cider and Perry, with friends.

However, a 440ml can doesn’t always send the same sharing message – although when you’re dealing with a 10% beer, it should. This particular beer, 85 – the latest triple IPA from London’s Brew By Numbers – despite its lofty strength, tastes like the kind of beer you want to covet rather than rationing out. Its aroma groans under the weight of intensely tropical yet slightly savoury Mosaic hops. But rather than buoying this sensation with the oft-used Citra, this beer diverts to Calypso and El Dorado, adding passion fruit, mango and guava undertones into the heady mix.

I found myself halfway through the can without realising, such was its drinkability; the gentle warmth of alcohol being the only sensation that indicated the beer’s strength. There’s a stickiness to this beer, not unlike a barleywine that’s been blended with a juicy double IPA. And this is what makes it so satisfying, it’s at once voluminous and potent before reverting back to being dry and drinkable. Soon, I realised the other half of the can had disappeared too.

Then I really felt its strength. I crushed this like so many IPAs before it, but at 10% the triple IPA would have been better shared. So be careful to take it easy with this one and share it with friends, because the delicious beer inside definitely doesn’t want you to.

Matthew Curtis is a freelance writer, photographer and author of our award-winning Fundamentals column. He's written for publications including BEER, Ferment, Good Beer Hunting and Original Gravity. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis. We have just a handful of BBNO 85 Triple IPA cans left, pick one up while you can…

Natural Wine Killers: Bellotti Semplicemente Vino Rosso 2016 (Italy)

Piedmont is probably the most consistently premium wine region in Italy. Spread over rolling hills between Turin and Genoa, it is one of the few regions in Italy where most wines are produced following traditional DOC or DOCG rules and there are no regional IGT wines. Regions like Barolo and Barbaresco are famous for their robust, long-lived wines, which are aged for several years in barrel, requiring time to mellow. Although Barolo and Barbaresco producers may produce more accessible red wines, they tend to be polished, often with plenty of sweet oak. These are serious wines, often with serious prices.

Stefano Bellotti’s Cascina degli Ulivi stands out like a beacon, seeking to produce honest wines, made naturally and entwined in a philosophy of self-sufficient farming. Sadly, Bellotti passed away from cancer last September, aged just 59. He leaves an important legacy though, both with his wonderful wines and the manner in which they were produced.

Bellotti was a pioneer of the “Triple A” movement. Meaning Agricoltori (Farm workers), Artigiani (Artisans) and Artisti (Artists), the certification is an indication of true terroir wines, produced in harmony with nature. Bellotti was an early adopter of organic principles, way back in 1981, and converted to biodynamics in 1984.

There is a memorable scene in Jonathan Nossiter’s 2014 film Natural Resistance where Bellotti demonstrates the difference between the health of his biodynamically cultivated soils and a neighbour’s, where conventional herbicides and pesticides are used. The difference is striking: Bellotti compares it to life vs death.

The Semplicemente Rosso speaks very much of life. Sealed with a crown cap, it demonstrates humility. It is not pretending to be anything it is not. A blend of Barbera and Dolcetto, it is fermented and aged in large oak vats for 11 months. There are no added sulphites, and the wine is not fined or filtered. It is raw and edgy, packed with intense black cherry and cherry kernel aromas. The palate is punchy, with fresh acidity and grippy tannins. There is some volatile acidity in there, but not at the expense of the cherries. In short, it is delicious.

Now the weather is getting warmer, lightly chill this wine to emphasise its freshness. Pour yourself a glass and toast to Signor Bellotti.

Claire Bullen’s food pairing: Duck ragu pappardelle or French-style sausage and lentil casserole

Paul Medder is a freelance wine educator and wine expert. He occasionally tweets @PaulMedder. To sign up for our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box, head here.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Wild Garlic Pierogi with Caramelised Onions and Left Handed Giant x Whiplash There, There Rye IPA

Wild garlic is one of my favourite signifiers of spring. Prized and elusive, the glossy leaves burst forth at the start of the season in great verdant patches before disappearing for another 11 months. When they arrive, I tend to do the same things with them, year after year: cheese scones, pesto or chimichurri. This year, I craved a change.

Enter the humble pierogi – one of my favourite comfort-food dishes. If you’ve never had pierogi, think of them as ravioli by way of Poland, filled with (in this case) cheesy mashed potato in lieu of ricotta. They’re stuffed, sealed, boiled, and then fried with onions until their skins are bronzed and crisp and their insides piping hot.

They are basically a perfect food. Making them by hand is certainly a weekend project, but it’s an incredibly satisfying one (and, if you opt to freeze them, you have an emergency hangover cure on hand). I like King Arthur Flour’s classic recipe, though I’ve opted to add wild garlic to my pierogi, which are then served with caramelised onions and dollops of sour cream.

Wild garlic tends to work well alongside pale ales and IPAs – particularly those brewed with Citra and Simcoe hops, which often have a savoury, allium character. This Rye IPA, a collaboration between Left Handed Giant and Whiplash, fits the bill, and offers just enough sweetness to match the caramelised onions.

Together, the two are a perfect choice for that transitional stretch between seasons, when the weather changes moment to moment: still warming and hearty, but bright with new possibility.

Wild Garlic Pierogi with Caramelised Onions
Serves 3-4
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

For the dough:
240g all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
115g sour cream
60g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, very soft

For the filling:
225g potatoes
115g sharp white cheddar, grated
Small handful wild garlic, chiffonaded
Fine sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

To serve:
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
45g (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
1 large onion, finely sliced
Fine sea salt
Small handful wild garlic, finely sliced
Sour cream

1. First, prepare your pierogi dough. Add the flour and sea salt to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the egg and mix roughly, using a fork, until the dough is shaggy. Add the sour cream and butter and mix, using the fork, until the dough just comes together.

2. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface (do not use any flour on the surface or your hands, as it will make the dough tough). Knead and fold gently, using your fingertips, for approximately 5 minutes. The dough will start out very sticky – resist the urge to add more flour – but should become just springy enough to stick together in a ball and pull cleanly off the counter. Wrap in plastic clingfilm and chill for a minimum of 1-2 hours, or until firmer.

3. Meanwhile, make the filling. Peel and roughly chop the potatoes. Add to a pot, cover with cold water, and place over high heat. Bring the water to a boil and salt it well. Cook the potatoes until fork-tender, approximately 10-15 minutes.

4. Once the potatoes are tender, drain. Mash using a potato ricer or a fork. While the potatoes are still hot, add the grated cheddar and stir through until melted and evenly incorporated. Add the wild garlic and stir to combine; season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside until cool.

5. To make the pierogi, remove the firmed-up dough from the fridge. Cut in half; place one half on the counter and cover and chill the other half as you work. Roll out the dough until approximately 1/8-inch (3mm) thick. If it is still sticky, use the merest sprinkle of flour on the rolling pin and counter. Using a 3-inch (7.5cm) cutter, cut the dough into circles. Re-roll any remaining dough scraps.

6. To fill the pierogi, spoon roughly 2 teaspoons of potato mixture on each dough circle, leaving a margin at the edges (be sure not to overfill, or they will burst when cooking). Fold over the other side and pinch the edges closed. Seal the edges by pressing lightly with the tines of a fork. Once the pierogi are made, repeat with the second dough half and the remaining filling.

7. If you wish to cook the pierogi at a later date, line a container with wax paper and sprinkle lightly with flour to prevent them from sticking. Store overnight in the fridge or freeze for up to a month.

8. When ready to serve, begin by caramelising the onions. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of butter and olive oil to a large frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions, and immediately turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook for approximately 45 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onions have caramelised. If they are cooking too quickly, turn the heat down to low.

9. Once the onions have caramelised, transfer to a bowl and remove the frying pan from the heat (don’t clean it out). Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a gentle boil. Add roughly 10 pierogi at a time and cook until they float to the surface (cooking time will vary depending on if they are fresh or frozen).

10. Meanwhile, add the remaining butter and olive oil to the frying pan and place over medium high-heat. Once the pierogi have cooked, transfer using a slotted spoon to the frying pan. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the pierogi are crisp and golden on both sides. Return the caramelised onions to the pan, add the wild garlic, and cook until just wilted. Serve the pierogi alongside dollops of sour cream.

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 out now and available in all good book stores (and at HB &B). Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

Fundamentals #47 — Buxton X J. Wakefield Coral Castle Coconut Infused Imperial Stout

I haven’t forgiven Florida’s J. Wakefield Brewery for its use of what I feel was sexist branding on many of its labels, especially when its Gourdita pumpkin beer still does. So why am I reviewing Coral Castle, a coconut-infused imperial stout brewed in collaboration with Buxton, you may ask?

Perhaps it’s because I believe in second chances and the ability to move one’s position once presented with new information. And the brewery did apologise. Also, perhaps, there’s significance in that this US brewery has forged several deep friendships here in the UK, expressed through collabs with the likes of Cloudwater and Mondo, as well as Buxton. There’s a great deal you can learn through collaboration, and also if you’re not acting right, your friends should be the first to set you straight.

J. Wakefield isn’t off the hook for me yet, but Buxton deserves all the plaudits for its beers, and this one is outstanding. The condition I find myself in when drinking this beer, however, is a long way from that.

I was just in Denver for this year’s Craft Brewers Conference. While the days at CBC are filled with seminars and panel talks and looking at the canning lines whirring away in demo mode on the trade show floor, the evenings, well, they’re about studying the host city’s beer culture. It may not surprise to hear you that Denver has this in spades. And so I wake up the morning after the night before a little worse for wear, and the fear sets in. Have I missed my deadline? Is it today? Oh shit.

Thankfully I had the beer with me in my suitcase, with the intention of drinking it at a sensible time. But time, I thought, was out. So I did what any self-respecting beer writer would do, and poured the can out into one of the plastic cups in my motel room, and began making my tasting notes.

I wouldn’t normally recommend drinking an 8.5% ABV stout at 10.30am on a hangover. But with my palate morning-sharp (ish) and my other senses dulled by the previous night’s indulgence, this beer proved to be the perfect hair of the dog. It was rich, roasty and delicious, the ever-so-carefully adorned coconut adding just the right dose of playful flavour, almost vanilla and bourbon barrel-like in character.

After tasting, I grabbed my laptop to start typing up my notes, sending Hop Burns & Black’s Jen a panicked message that the copy would be with her shortly. “It doesn’t need to be in until Monday, Matt,” came the reply. Ah.

The lessons to take away from this experience are: to always write your deadlines down, that delicious beers do indeed taste delicious at any time of the day, coconut works beautifully in imperial stouts, and to never let those guilty of potentially marginalising behaviour off the hook, ever. Happy beer-drinking, everyone.

Matthew Curtis is a freelance writer, photographer and author of our award-winning Fundamentals column. He's written for publications including BEER, Ferment, Good Beer Hunting and Original Gravity. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis. We have a mere handful of Coral Castle cans left, pick one up while you can…

Wine & Food Killers: Grilled Pork Banh Mi Sandwiches and Testalonga Baby Bandito Stay Brave 2018

Sometimes one craving begets a fiercer, more trenchant second craving. For instance: earlier this month, I ordered a banh mi from a Vietnamese deli up the road. The sandwich was delicious, but too small, and so for the rest of the week all I could think about was a second banh mi – one filling enough to sate me.

The best banh mi I ever had were in Southern California; there, the sandwiches (which arose out of a fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisines) were made with oven-fresh baguettes at all hours, always light and hot and crisp. It is hard to live up to the ideal I hold in my head, but this interpretation is close enough to do the job. Made with both grilled pork and pâté (head cheese is a common fixture of traditional banh mi), it features quick-pickled carrots and daikons, slices of cucumber and jalapeño, and fresh coriander. Each bite is at once meaty and spicy, crunchy and zesty, chewy and tender.

Founded in Swartland, South Africa in 2008, Testalonga is one of the country’s most ambitious and boundary-pushing wineries. Its Baby Bandito line (whose recognisable labels have become a fixture on natural wine shop shelves) is a good place to start, and Stay Brave – 100% Chenin Blanc, macerated for 11 days and aged in oak foudres – is a pleasing introduction to skin-contact, or orange, wine.

Orange might not quite be the operative word here, however. This wine is closer to a tawny amber, and its zingy flavour profile veers between flowers and peaches and citrus and spice. It punches well above its 10.5% ABV; it’s not merely crushable. I like what the banh mi does to the wine. Because its pickles are so piquant and acidic, and the fish sauce in the marinade and the daikon impart a nose-crinkling pungency, they mollify the wine’s sharper edges. It becomes a little less tongue-prickling, and its own mellow sweetness becomes more pronounced. Chenin Blanc is a grape that is often described as tasting like honey, and the marinade – made with a good drizzle of honey – draws out that winsome side of its personality.

Grilled Pork Banh Mi Sandwiches
Serves 4

For the pork and marinade:
600g pork tenderloin
3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 spring onions (white and light green parts only), roughly chopped
2 stalks lemongrass (thick outer layers removed), roughly chopped
Small handful coriander, stems included
Juice and zest of 1 lime
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 ½ tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (preferably white)

For the pickled vegetables:
1 large carrot, peeled 1 equivalent-sized daikon, peeled
180ml rice vinegar
80ml warm water
¾ tablespoon fine sea salt
1 ½ tablespoons sugar

For the sandwiches:
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 mini baguettes
Mayonnaise
Pork pâté (optional, but recommended)
½ cucumber, thinly sliced
2 jalapeños, thinly sliced (deseeded, if preferred)
Large handful coriander

1. Prep the pork several hours before you plan to eat. Using a very sharp knife, slice the tenderloin into thin (approximately ¼-inch-thick) sheets (if your tenderloin is very long, halve it length-wise first). Place in a large, non-reactive bowl.

2. Add all of the remaining marinade ingredients to a food processor or blender. Blend on high for several minutes, until mostly uniform. Pour the marinade over the pork, and flip the pieces to ensure they are all evenly covered. Cover and chill for 2–4 hours.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the pickled vegetables. Using a box grater (or food processor), grate the carrot and daikon and add to a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, add the remaining pickling ingredients and whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour over the grated vegetables and stir to mix. Cover and chill.

4. Once the pork has finished marinating, remove it from the fridge. Place a large, non-stick frying pan over high heat, and add the vegetable oil. Once very hot, add the pork – allowing excess marinade to drip off each piece – in a single layer (you will likely need to cook the pork in 2 or 3 batches). Cook for approximately 3-4 minutes, turning frequently, until the pieces are golden-brown and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining pork.

5. Shortly before serving, halve the baguettes with a bread knife and place cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under the grill and toast on high heat for 2-3 minutes, or until just turning golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a minute or two.

6. To construct the sandwiches, divide the halved baguettes between four plates. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over the top half of each baguette, and a layer of pâté (if using) on the bottom half. Cover the pâté with a single layer of cucumber slices and a few jalapeño pieces. Divide the pork between all four sandwiches and place the slices on top of the cucumbers.

7. Remove the pickled vegetables from the fridge. Top the pork with a thin layer of the vegetables (drain extra liquid before using) and finish with the coriander. Put the baguette halves together and eat the sandwiches while still warm

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table, is out now and available via our online shop and hopefully at your favourite booksellers. Pick up a bottle of Testalonga Baby Bandito Stay Brave here, and to sign up for our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box, head here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Natural Wine Killers: Gut Oggau Winifred Rosé 2017 (Austria)

Who is Winifred? What’s her story? She’s not giving much away, staring at us as she does, rather blankly. Not exactly happy, but not sad either. Her firmly parted hair suggests a certain amount of seriousness. Perhaps more serious than you might expect for a rosé.

It’s fair to say the juice within this Instagram-friendly bottle is also more serious than you might expect for a rosé. Quite deep and dense in colour, it’s almost a light red. If Winifred were drawn in colour, she might remind me of Michelle of the Resistance from ‘Allo ‘Allo.

All this may seem a little pretentious. However, Gut Oggau is not aiming for modesty (“a glass of Winifred could change your life” reads the back label). She is one of a series of labels picturing a fictitious family. Winifred is one of the children, younger and full of energy (unlike her stepmother Josephine, who found the love of her life, Timotheus, at an older age). Altogether, they make up a kind of vinous Guess Who?

Gut Oggau is a relatively new project, started by Eduard and Stephanie Tscheppe in 2007. Eduard came from a traditional winemaking family in Styria, while Stephanie’s parents run a Michelin- starred restaurant. They purchased an abandoned 17th century winery in Burgenland, restoring its old screw press, and converting the vineyards to biodynamic, now with Demeter certification.

Burgenland is in southern Austria, close to the banks of the lake Neusiedler See, near the border with Hungary. As it is the warmest wine region in Austria, red wines are much more significant, though the Tscheppes do also make whites. Winifred is a field blend of roughly 60% Zweigelt and 40% Blaufränkisch – both black grape varieties which can produce strikingly coloured, fruit driven red wines, but only medium in body and tannin. In other words, grape varieties that are well suited to making rosé.

The grapes come from low-yielding old vines, giving them extra concentration. They are pressed and then aged in large, old barrels for eight months (uncommon for a rosé). After this maturation, the wine is bottled without fining, filtering or the addition of sulphur, giving it a cloudy appearance.

In the glass, Winifred’s personality comes through strongly. Aromatic and packed with red cherries, but also quite smoky and meaty (think biltong). The palate is equally vibrant, with sour cherry and cranberry – this is one to appeal to lovers of lambic and kriek beers. Served lightly chilled, it’s a wonderful accompaniment to warmer April afternoons.

Paul Medder is a freelance wine educator and works for one of the UK's leading wine distributors. He occasionally tweets @PaulMedder. To sign up for our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box, head here.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Oven-Cooked Chicken & Orzo and Saison Dupont

Like the rest of the internet, I lost my damn mind when Nigella Lawson posted a photo of perfectly golden roast chicken nestled in soupy, carrot-flecked orzo on Instagram at the end of February.

To be clear, there is nothing radical about chicken cooked with orzo – the Greeks have been doing it for aeons. While the image was initially ended as a casual, off-the-cuff home-cooking shot, Lawson received so many requests for the recipe that she posted it just a few days later (combined, the two posts have netted upwards of 72,000 likes).

Viral recipes are a curious phenomenon (and one that Alison Roman appears to have mastered, between those cookies and that chickpea stew) - particularly, particularly because the dishes that capture popular attention are often paradoxically simple and nostalgia-infused. I can’t quite explain why, amongst the hundreds of food images I scroll past each day, Nigella’s chicken lodged in my brain, but lodge it did. There is something to its buoyantly bronzed breast, and the two-in-one ur-comfort of oven-baked pasta and roast chicken.

I have made several tweaks to Nigella’s recipe (swapping leeks for onion, adding feta and pine nuts, and using stock in place of water), but it’s not an exaggeration to say that hers is the best chicken dish I’ve had all year. It is genius, the way that the pasta soaks up the bird’s broth and oils, its very essence. Make it for dinner parties. Make it for special occasions. Make it when you feel sad. Make it when you’re happy. Just make it.

In the way that this dish is an instant soul- and crowd-pleasing classic, so is Saison Dupont. This is an unimpeachable beer: it is so perfectly poised, with its light sweetness, finishing bitterness, fluffy head and restrained esters. Saisons are a classically food- friendly style, but I find they do particularly well with chicken dishes. Here, the two are seamless, and both ludicrously joyful.

“This is a simple recipe that brings profound pleasure,” Lawson says. Right she is, and that’s even truer with this beer alongside.

Oven-Cooked Chicken and Orzo
Serves 6
Adapted from
Nigella Lawson

1 small chicken (approximately 1.4kg/3lbs)
2-3 tablespoons fine sea salt, divided, plus additional
2 large carrots
1 large onion
1 head garlic
4 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon crushed chillis
2 lemons
600ml (2 ½ cups) chicken stock (plus additional, if needed)
250g (9oz) orzo
100g (3 ½oz) toasted pine nuts
200g (7oz) feta
Small handful parsley, torn

1. Roughly 1 hour before you plan to cook, remove the chicken from the fridge. Season inside and out with 1.5-2 tablespoons of sea salt (depending on your salt tolerance). Set aside and leave on the counter to warm slightly. (Note: you can also season the chicken several hours in advance, or even the night before, for additional flavour and tenderness. The further in advance you season it, the less salt you should use.)

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F) – you’ll need a large Dutch oven for this dish, preferably cast-iron or enamel. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Roughly chop the carrots and onion. Separate the garlic cloves and peel, but leave whole. Roughly chop the oregano.

3. Place the Dutch oven on the hob (stove) over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot but not smoking, add the carrots, onion, and garlic, and season with the additional tablespoon of salt (you can halve this if you’re watching your salt intake or prefer less salted food), plus lots of freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3–5 minutes, or until slightly softened and the onions and garlic have lost their raw aroma. Add the oregano and crushed chillis, and cook for an additional minute, or until fragrant. Remove from the heat and transfer the vegetables to a plate.

4. Using a microplane, grate the two lemons, setting the zest aside. Halve and squeeze the juice into a separate bowl. Then, tuck the squeezed lemon halves into the chicken’s cavity, which will further perfume it as it cooks.

4. Return the pot to the hob and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Turn the heat to high; once very hot, add the chicken, breast-side down. Sear for 2–3 minutes, or until its breast skin turns crisp and golden-brown. Then, flip the chicken so it’s breast-side up.

5. Return the vegetables to the pot, being careful to place them around the chicken rather than on top of it. Pour in the chicken stock; it should come most of the way up the bird, but should not cover its breast (you may need additional broth, depending on the size and shape of your pot). Add the reserved lemon zest and lemon juice. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cover with the lid and transfer to your preheated oven.

6. Cook the chicken for approximately 1 hour–1 hour 15 minutes. Carefully remove the pot from the oven and take off the lid. Pour the orzo around the chicken, using a spoon to ensure the pasta is fully submerged; add a bit of additional broth if needed. Taste the broth and add a pinch of additional salt, if needed. Cover the pot and return to the oven for 30 minutes.

7. After 30 minutes, remove from the oven and take off the lid: the orzo should be fully cooked, and most of the broth absorbed. Using a spoon, gently stir the orzo without dislodging the chicken. Add the pine nuts to the orzo and stir through before topping with crumbled feta. Return the pot, this time without a lid, to the oven for 5 additional minutes, until the feta has softened and begun to melt. Remove from the oven.

8. Bring the chicken to the table in the pot, so everyone can see how beautiful it is, before heading back to the kitchen. To serve, gently transfer the chicken to a cutting board with a large spatula (its meat will be falling off the bone). Using two forks (or your hands, if immune to heat), roughly shred the chicken and return to the pot; discard the skin, bones and any gristle, as well as the lemon halves inside the chicken. Mix through, and garnish with the parsley before serving.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table, is out now, available through our online shop or through good booksellers and online retailers. Saison Dupont is a year-round staple at Hop Burns & Black - you definitely want to stock up on this regularly,

Fundamentals #45 — Unity x Deya 5º Of Separation Belgian Chocolate Stout

I’m going to assume if you’re reading this column that you’re pretty into beer already. If so then you’ve probably already heard of Cheltenham’s mighty DEYA. And if not, then what rock have you been hiding under?

DEYA’s flagship, Steady Rollin’ Man has become one of the most dependably consistent juicy pales on the market. It seldom disappoints. Plus it has that rare trait among foggy, yellow, hoppy beers: drinkability. Seldom do I see a keg tapped at one of my local haunts and witness all 30 litres last more than a couple of hours. Well done DEYA, you’ve created a modern classic and you should feel pretty damn smug about it.

However, you might not have heard of Southampton’s Unity Brewing Company. Like DEYA, it was founded in 2016. It brews well-hopped, opaque beers (albeit often with a Belgian inspired twist), packages them in delightfully labelled 440ml cans and has a popular, community-focused taproom. It has an ebullient, charming founder in the form of Jimmy Hatherley, something of a veteran of the London scene with stints at London Fields and Camden back in the day. He’s also a big fan of flannel shirts and math rock.

Unity also brews a killer, super smashable NEIPA called Collision. It hasn’t quite grabbed the beer-drinking public’s attention like Steady, but let me assure you it’s the kind of beer you should drink when you see it.

Imagine my delight, then, when I found out these two young stalwarts had produced a collaboration. Only, there’s no hop squash to be found here. The result of this union is a chocolate stout that draws heavily on Hatherley’s Belgian inspiration. This Pepsi-brown beer features additions of cacao nibs and black flame raisins adding further layers of complexity to the dark malts and Unity’s house strain of Belgian yeast.

However, it’s not the playful chocolate sweetness or the estery Belgique overtones that make this so satisfying. It’s the way these flavours build up steadily in unison before panning out into a dry, clean finish with just the right amount of focused hop bitterness. There’s no cloying aftertaste, there’s no volatility to the fermentation character, it’s just precise, satisfying flavour neatly wrapped up in a bow at the end. It’s a hallmark of Unity’s beers – they show off great complexity while still remaining balanced, and are always at the height of drinkability. Don’t let this Southampton brewery, or this beer, fly under your radar this year.

Matthew Curtis is a freelance writer, photographer and author of our award-winning Fundamentals column. He's written for publications including BEER, Ferment, Good Beer Hunting and Original Gravity. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis. Pick up a can of Unity x Deya 5º Of Separation Belgian Chocolate Stout while you can.

Wine & Food Killers: Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme Touraine Sauvignon 2017 and Salmon Crudo

If you ever need a wine to suit all manner of tastes and predilections, this amiable bottle is a born crowd-pleaser. Hailing from the Touraine appellation in the Loire Valley, Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme’s Sauvignon Blanc is farmed organically, fermented with indigenous yeasts, unfined and unfiltered.

That natty-wine cred is all well and good, but purity tests aside, this bottle is simply, lip-smackingly good.

It pours a flaxen gold, brilliant and electric. On the nose, it’s opulent with honey, lushly floral, with a touch of piquant lemon zest and something deeper and more animal: the faintest scent of wool and lanolin, perhaps. On the palate, it tastes sweetly of elderflower and apple, though there’s enough acidity to prevent it from becoming cloying. Here is a wine that feels like languid spring afternoons on the grass, like sunny kisses, like endless Sundays…

It’s best not to over-complicate a wine like this; if you’re eating alongside, go for something simple and quick and made with the best-quality ingredients you can find. I like this salmon crudo as a pairing: the wine has no trouble with the fish’s oiliness, while the dish’s lightly honeyed and citric dressing emphasises the Sauvignon Blanc’s best attributes. Add oregano for herbaceousness, shallots for sharpness, and pine nuts for crunch.

Feel free to riff, too, if you’re feeling creative – swap the salmon for trout or mackerel, use lime juice instead, try mint or tarragon. Crudo is a flexible format, and one that rewards experimentation.

Salmon Crudo
Serves 2

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (as high-quality as you can afford)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed ruby grapefruit juice
1 ½ teaspoons runny honey
Pinch fine sea salt

For the crudo:
1 medium-sized shallot
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 fillet skinless, sushi-grade salmon or trout
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Fresh oregano leaves, to garnish
Grapefruit zest, to garnish

1. First, prepare the dressing. Add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until uniform. Set aside.

2. Peel the shallot and slice into very thin rounds. Separate the layers and add to a small bowl. Squeeze over the lemon juice and leave the shallots to lightly pickle for 15–20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish.

3. Add the pine nuts to a small frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Toast, tossing frequently, for approximately 5 minutes, or until the pine nuts are golden-brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.

4. Using your sharpest knife, cut the salmon into very thin slices (be sure to slice against the grain, on a bias). Arrange between two plates, and top each with a light sprinkle of sea salt.

5. Top each slice of salmon with a shallot ring and an oregano leaf. Sprinkle over the pine nuts. Pour the dressing around the fish slices until it forms a very shallow layer on the plate. Grate over the grapefruit zest and serve immediately.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table, is out now and available via our online shop and hopefully at your favourite booksellers. Pick up a bottle of the glorious Bonhomme Touraine Sauvignon here, and to sign up for our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box, head here.