8 Wired

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…

The Beer Lover's Table: Duck, Blood Orange & Radicchio Salad and 8 Wired Saison Sauvin

Duck salad has long been one of my go-to speedy dinners. Typically, I pair pan-fried duck breast with spinach, caramelised onions, and cherry tomatoes, but it’s an almost infinitely customisable recipe. In this cold-weather iteration, for instance, I opted instead to use vibrant purple radicchio, blood orange segments, balsamic-roasted shallots, and
lemony sorrel (the latter an early signifier of spring). 

What you get is a salad of enormous punch and vigour. The radicchio brings a bass note of bitterness, the blood oranges a dose of acid, the shallots a burnt caramel sweetness and then, of course, the centrepiece duck, crispy of skin and richly gamey. This is no wan, wilting plate of greens, and so it makes sense to pair it with 8 Wired's Saison Sauvin.

This New Zealand saison is a regular in my rotation. Made with, as its name suggests, Nelson Sauvin hops, it's floral and estery on the nose, vinous on the palate and leaves a railing, pithy bitterness in its wake. It’s everything I want from a dinnertime beer: complex enough that you’re tempted to pause after every sip to parse out its tasting notes, but also utterly drinkable. It stands up ably to the salad’s bold flavours, and tastes slightly sweeter besides it.

Just one note of warning: as some industry experts might say, this beer has the potential to be a foamy hello-er, so you may want to open it over the sink and have a glass at the ready!

End-of- Winter Duck, Blood Orange and Radicchio Salad
Serves two

For the salad:
2 duck breasts
Flaky sea salt and black pepper, to taste
4 round shallots
1 Tbs balsamic glaze
100g walnuts
1 head of radicchio
20g sorrel leaves (you can substitute watercress or spinach if preferred)
2 blood oranges

For the dressing:
2 tsp minced ginger
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs blood orange juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2.5 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. First, prep your duck breasts: dry off using paper towels. With a very sharp knife, lightly score the skin in a crosshatch (without slicing into the meat below); this will help the fat under the skin render out during cooking. Season both sides, generously, with sea salt and black pepper, and set aside, allowing to come to
room temperature if fridge-cold.

Slice your shallots in half, length-wise, and peel. Place cut-sides up on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until softened, fragrant, and starting to caramelise.

Meanwhile, in a small, dry frying pan, toast the walnuts over medium-high heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until darkened and fragrant. Set aside and allow to cool. Roughly chop.

Next, prepare the radicchio and blood oranges. Remove any wilty outer leaves from the radicchio, core it, and then roughly chop it into large pieces. Then, supreme your blood oranges: cut off the ends and then slice off the peel and all of the white pith in long strips. Next, carefully slice out each segment, leaving behind any of the tough membrane. If
you're not familiar with the technique, this is a good visual demonstration.

Now, it's time to prepare the duck. Heat a medium, heavy-bottomed frying pan over high heat until hot. Add the duck breasts skin-side down and cook for approximately 6 minutes; you don't need to add any oil as the fat will render out. As the fat renders, keep a small bowl and a spoon at hand, and spoon out the excess (you can save this for later—it's brilliant on roast potatoes). Check how the skin is doing; once it's deep golden and crisp, flip the breasts over, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Remove to a cutting board and let rest for 5-10 minutes. 

As the duck rests, prepare the dressing: add the ginger, vinegar, blood orange juice, mustard, and olive oil to a small bowl and whisk. Season to taste with salt and pepper and whisk again.

To serve, slice the duck thinly. On your plates, arrange the radicchio and sorrel. Top with the blood orange segments and walnuts; roughly separate the shallots and scatter across the salad. Arrange your duck slices over the top, and then pour over the dressing. Season to taste with a bit more salt and pepper.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and pick up a bottle of 8 Wired Saison Sauvin in store or online.

#HBBAdvent Beer 15: 8 Wired Saison Sauvin (New Zealand)

8 Wired says: This is a very modern, you might say new world, interpretation of this style. Based on the tradition we have used a Farmhouse yeast, which provides a plethora of funky, earthy, very "Belgian" flavours. From there we have upped the ante a fair bit by doubling the amount of malt, and thereby the alcohol, and loaded the kettle with punchy Nelson Sauvin hops.

We say: Not a lot of people know this (OK, quite a few people know this), but we were not only one of the first places in the country to stock the New Zealand Beer Collective beers, we also launched the Collective itself with a riotous night at the shop back in February 2015. One day we'll recover all of the memories...

Anyway, all "we liked them before they were cool" skiting aside, New Zealand beer still plays an important part in the life of HB&B three years on, and this beautiful saison from 8 Wired has been a firm favourite from the first day we tried it that fateful February. Happy Friday! - Jen

#HBBAdvent Beer 22: 8 Wired Hippy Berliner (New Zealand)

8 Wired says: A refreshing, light, hoppy, sour and very fruity tasting ale inspired by traditional Berliner Weisse ales. Naturally soured by live cultures and dry hopped with American and New Zealand hops. Probably the closest thing I have tasted to fruit juice, that didn't contain any fruit at all! - It's a trip! Peace out.

We say: 8 Wired is hands down one of our very favourite breweries, let alone one of our favourite New Zealand breweries. Brewer Soren Eriksson knows how to make a beer, and he's especially adept with sours. (Check out his Wild Feijoa Sour for a master class in the art.) Hippy Berliner is a supremely drinkable sour for any time of day or year. We hope you love it as much as we do. - Glenn

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Pick up a bottle or five of 8 Wired Hippy Berliner in store or via our online shop.

New Zealand beers - we've got 'em...

So many of you have tweeted or emailed us asking for a list of the NZ beers that came in this week. Now that the hangovers from the NZ Beer Collective 1st anniversary party have cleared (or we're still drunk - the jury is out), we can finally type out the list. ;)

8 Wired Brewing:

  • Sour Side of The Moon - barrel-aged sour dark ale
  • Wild Feijoa Sour - ale brewed with feijoas and aged in wine barrels
  • Batch 2.18 - Oak-aged imperial stout fermented in open vats with dates, jaggery and vanilla beans
  • Tropidelic - hop-packed NZPA now on flagon fill
  • Super Dank IPA - the clue's in the name. Coming soon on flagon-fill.

Yeastie Boys:

  • I AM - totally awesome extra pale ale
  • PKB Remix Dark Matta - Pot Kettle Black with added Earl Grey 
  • Rex Attitude - peat-smoked strong golden ale
  • xeRRex - imperial Rex Attitude
  • Her Majesty 2014 - DIPA
  • His Majesty 2014 - triple stout porter
  • Her Majesty 2015 - blood red ale
  • His Majesty 2015 - red oat ale

Tuatara:

  • Black Mojo Espresso - limited edition unfiltered espresso coffee stout with Mojo Coffee
  • Black Chocolate Stout - limited edition unfiltered chocolate stout with the Wellington Chocolate Factory

Renaissance:

  • Collision Course IPA - India Pale Lager jam-packed with Citra, Mosaic & Nelson Sauvin
  • Craftsman Oatmeal Chocolate Stout - creamy as, and coming soon on flagon-fill...

Golden Pints 2015

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

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

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

Favourite UK Cask Beer

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

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

Favourite UK Keg Beer

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

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

Favourite UK Bottled Beer

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

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

Favourite UK Canned Beer

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

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

Favourite Overseas Draught

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

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

Favourite Overseas Bottled Beer

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

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

Favourite Overseas Canned Beer

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

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

Favourite Collaboration Brew

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

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

Favourite Overall Beer

Jen: Mad Hatter Tzatziki Sour.

Glenn: Wild Beer Tom Yum Gose.

Favourite Branding

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

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

Favourite UK Brewery

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

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

Favourite Overseas Brewery

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

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

New stuff in store: 28 May

As the UK's (the world's?) only craft beer and hot sauce shop, we've been looking forward to the British release of Rogue's Sriracha Hot Stout for ages. Brewed with Huy Fong, the best sriracha sauce on the planet (aka Rooster Sauce), it's pretty epic - and it's in store now. Buy it on its on or bundle it with Huy Fong's iconic sauce for super sriracha value at a very special price.

Other beery goodness this week includes a massive shipment of New Zealand beers with newbies from 8 Wired and Renaissance Brewing, as well as restocks of all your favourites from Yeastie Boys, Tuatara and Three Boys in bottle and on flagon-fill too.

We also finally welcome Left Hand Brewing to our shelves - their Milk Stout Nitro has to be tasted to be believed.

Brewdog's 'terminally hoppy' Born To Die IPA is in - but won't last long. Plus we've also got shedloads of Beavertown cans in, including but not limited to the brand new Power of the Voodoo Triple IPA and re-ups on Bloody Ell and Neck Oil.

In hot sauce news, to celebrate our six-month anniversary, we've launched our very own hopped hot sauce. HBB1 Hopped & Burning Hot Sauce has been created with UK hot sauce queen Miranda Pellew of Chilli Pepper Pete in Brighton, and is based on the Middle Eastern sauce zhoug. Rich and tangy, it brings together coriander, parsley, cumin and lemon juice with jalapeno and Thai chillies, plus an infusion of Summit hops from Peckham’s own Brick Brewery. It's amazing with Middle Eastern cuisine, mind-blowing with all things BBQ and goes pretty well with a beer too. On sale from Friday!

And join us on Saturday afternoon when we officially launch Whitey's Bad Boy Jerk Sauce in store. Whitey himself will be in session too, with tastings for all, though without his jerk drum this time (keep your ears peeled for a proper jerk session going down in the forecourt before the summer is out).

The Kiwis are coming

HBB_STORE 108.jpg

When we first started planning the beast that would become Hop Burns & Black (in March 2013, would you believe it - good things take time), we knew that we wanted to be specialists in New Zealand craft beer. Our firm belief is that the Kiwi craft beer scene is one of the most exciting on the planet - and that's not just because we were born there....

When we opened at the end of November, our single biggest order was for a mega-shipment of New Zealand beers from the mighty Yeastie Boys, Tuatara and Renaissance. You thirsty folk pretty much drank us dry on most of our lines by the end of January, so it was a relief to hear there was more on the way.

In great news for British beer fans, Yeastie Boys, Tuatara and Renaissance have joined together, with Three Boys and 8 Wired, to form the New Zealand Craft Beer Collective with the goal to bring the best of NZ beer to the UK. A new distribution network means we'll be seeing more NZ beers in more places more often. This is ALL GOOD.

In the meantime, we've nabbed an unholy amount of the Collective's first shipment and you can find it on our shelves, in our fridges and on #flagonfill. We aren't exaggerating when we say that some of these beers will rank among the best you've ever tasted. 

We're holding a tap takeover celebration from 5pm on Thursday 19th Feb, with four great NZ beers on #flagonfill and loads of free tasters, and our shelves and fridges are bursting with Kiwi booze,  

But while we've nabbed as much as we possibly can, we still have very small amounts of some lines, so you really don't want to snooze on this. Come on down and check out what might just be the UK's largest retail range of NZ craft beer - 30+ different beers and counting. And every single one of them rocks.