Collabs

Fundamentals #24 — Pressure Drop x Lost & Grounded How We Roll Belgian Chocolate Stout

Every few months I try to slow down a little and take stock of where the beer industry is right now, and how far it’s come in the past few years. Its booming evolution still shows no sign of slowing down. And just thinking about this point alone can be exhausting - especially when, like me, you’re embroiled in the whirlwind that is Beer Twitter™. However, when you put your phone down, and open a bottle of beer from one of the UK’s finest small breweries, suddenly that whirlwind stops spinning and the beer world seems to slow down - for a while at least.

Over the past year or two, I’ve noticed how far the overall quality of British beer has improved, especially from breweries which emerged within the last few years. Modern breweries are learning to invest in process, equipment, sensory training and quality control to ensure the beer in your glass is tasting better than ever before. At more than 2,000, the UK now has more breweries than anywhere else in the world bar our friends in the United States, who boast more than 6,000.

Numbers alone don’t make up a great beer culture though. In order for the UK to continue to stand up and be counted as one of the world’s most important brewing nations, quality needs to keep improving, which from what I can see is happening all around us.

Two breweries leading the charge in this respect are Bristol’s Lost and Grounded and North London’s Pressure Drop. The former launched in summer 2016, boasting an impressive German-made brewhouse that allowed the brewery exacting control over the beers it produces, be it a modern IPA or German-inspired Pilsner. The latter started its journey in Hackney in 2012, eventually expanding to its current Tottenham home in 2017. Each makes excellent beers in their own right, so you know that any collaboration between them will likely tickle your fancy.

How We Roll - a Belgian Chocolate Stout - certainly tickled mine. The beer’s relative Belgian-ness is very understated, only really evident via its voracious carbonation and exceedingly dry finish, both of which seemingly serve to enhance both the beer's chocolate flavour and its overall drinkability. This beer also skillfully avoids being too astringent, dialling the roasted quality of the stout back to let the milk chocolate flavour really shine.

How We Roll is one of those beers that comes along once in a while that I expect to be good, but is so good that it almost takes me by surprise. It shouldn’t though - instead, like many beers, it should stand up as an example of how high the quality of many brewers’ output in the UK has become. Here’s to enjoying many more beers like this one.

Good things come in threes

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With our third birthday on the horizon at the end of next month (three! Can you believe it?), we thought we'd better do something rather special.

We got into this business not only because of our love of beer (and hot sauce, and vinyl), but because we love people who love beer. It's an unending privilege to work in the craft beer industry, which is one of the most inclusive and supportive industries we've ever known. That's why we love collaborations - hanging out with great people, making magic happen.

So we're properly stoked to announce the HB&B Hoppy Trinity - three anniversary collabs with three of our favourite breweries, Cloudwater, Fourpure and Brick Brewery.

HOP - HB&B x Cloudwater DDH NZ Pale: When it comes to the best hoppy beers in the UK, even the world, Manchester masters Cloudwater are top of our list. HOP is a double dry hopped pale ale rammed to the gunnels with the most succulent New Zealand hops in a nod to our Kiwi roots and a salute to one of our favourite breweries of all time.

BURNS - HB&B x Fourpure Mango & Habanero Red Ale: Ain't no party like a Fourpure party - we've enjoyed many good times with these Bermondsey legends and sold a stack of their terrific beers since the day we opened. For this beer, inspiration came from our chilli wall - specifically the amazing Burning Desire Burning Indulgence Mango & Habanero Hot Sauce. Stand by for a Juicy Banger with a kick.

BLACK - HB&B x Brick Brewery Blueberry & Vanilla Stout: Our Peckham neighbour Brick has always held a special place in our heart. We propped up the bar on the first day founder Ian Stewart threw open the doors to his tap room under the arches of Peckham Rye Station and have sunk many pints at the brewery since, so it was about time we made a beer together. One of our favourite dark beers of 2017 is Brick's Melange Imperial Stout - so we reckon this is going to knock your socks off.

In addition, we're also creating a new hot sauce, DESPACIO, with Peckham street food legends Slow Richie's. All three beers - plus the sauce - will be available at our third birthday party, to be held at the Brick Brewery Taproom in Blenheim Grove on Friday 24th November (come on down), as well as in-store, online and in a quality bar or bottle shop near you.

Enormous, enormous thanks to all the breweries involved - what a way to mark three awesome years. We can't wait to celebrate with you all.

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The Beer Lover’s Table: Whole Roasted Salmon and Elusive Brewing/Hop Burns & Black Bright Future Blood Orange Blossom Saison

It’s a tip I learned from a friend of mine a few years ago, and one I still prize: when having a large group over for dinner, roast salmon. The whole salmon.

More than a main course, whole roasted salmon is a centrepiece, gigantic and silvered. It’s also a participatory spectacle: people dig in, seek out belly fat or tender cheeks, flip the fish over in unison after one side has been picked clean. It’s a gleeful mess. There’s something primal and communal and bonding in the shared eating of such a fish.

Salmon can be seasoned in a million different ways, but because summer is approaching, Provençal flavours feel especially appropriate. In this preparation, the fish is roasted on a bed of fennel and onion that’s doused in glugs of vermouth. Tarragon perfumes it with its anise scent, and several additions of orange - zest, slices, even orange-infused olive oil - recall sunnier climes.

Speaking of orange: it’s also one of the reasons this salmon works so well with Bright Future, which Hop Burns & Black brewed in collaboration with Elusive Brewing. This blood orange blossom saison also makes use of orange juice and zest, as well as orange blossom honey. It’s yeasty, citrusy, and fantastically quenching.

It’s also ephemeral. Make the most of this limited-edition beauty then, and invite a big group over for dinner. Preferably friends who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

Whole Roasted Salmon with Orange, Fennel, and Provençal Herbs
Serves 8-10

1 3-kilo salmon
3 fennel bulbs, sliced
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 tbs Maldon sea salt, plus more to season
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
8 tbs olive oil, divided
4 tbs white vermouth (I used Cinzano Bianco)
25g flat-leaf parsley, divided
25g tarragon, divided
25g dill, divided
2 oranges
Orange-infused olive oil (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees C. Line your largest roasting pan with heavy-duty foil. Add the sliced onion and fennel, and sprinkle over with the sea salt and black pepper. Pour over 4 tbs of the olive oil and the white vermouth.

Take half of your parsley, tarragon, and dill, and chop finely. Zest your oranges (preferably with a Microplane grater, so you don’t remove any of the bitter pith), and mix with the chopped herbs.

Meanwhile, prep your salmon. Pat the inside and outside dry with paper towel. Ensure it’s been fully scaled (if there are any remaining scales, scrape the back of your knife against the grain of the scales to remove). On an angle, make five long, 2cm-deep slits in the salmon’s side with a sharp knife. In each slit, add extra sea salt to season, as well as your chopped herb and orange zest mixture. Sprinkle sea salt across the salmon’s skin and flip, repeating the same steps on the other side of the salmon.

Season the salmon’s cavity generously with sea salt. Slice the two oranges that you zested and place the slices with the cavity, as well as the remaining herbs. Pour the remaining 4 tbs of olive oil over the salmon.

Add your salmon to your very hot oven and cook for 15 minutes - salmon is a fatty fish and will smoke, so make sure your kitchen is well ventilated. If your salmon drapes over the edges of your roasting pan and threatens to touch the edges of your oven, cover those exposed bits in foil to prevent scorching.

After 15 minutes have passed, lower the heat to 180 degrees C and cook the salmon for approximately 20 more minutes, covering loosely with foil if it begins to look too dark. After 20 minutes, remove the salmon carefully from the oven. Use Jamie Oliver’s method and check to see if it’s cooked through: stick a small knife in the thickest part of the salmon, behind its head. Leave for several seconds before removing the knife and feeling for heat; if it’s warm, the salmon is cooked. If not, return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes of cooking time.

Once the salmon is cooked through, remove from the oven and serve alongside the roasted fennel and onion; you can serve it with spinach and lentils on the side if you wish. Drizzle with orange-infused olive oil.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up some of our succulent collab while stocks last in store or at our online shop

No More Heroes XXXV – Thornbridge/Brooklyn/Oliver’s Serpent

This will be the last No More Heroes column I pen for Hop Burns & Black. We’ve been running this column since August 2015, which kicked off with the now defunct Fourpure Amber Ale. Our original aim was to champion beers we thought were underrated and eventually we started talking about music we loved and liked to drink along with these beers too.

That original aim went out the window pretty quickly, we just picked out beers we loved that we thought you would too – and we think we did a pretty good job of that. We even ran some pretty cool events, which included raising more than £500 for Mind – The Mental Health Charity last year.

But things change and we’re not the kind of folks to sit on our hands or rest on our laurels. We want to keep this column engaging and informative, so we’ve decided to change it up a bit. Our new column – Fundamentals - will launch in a couple of weeks' time. Its aim is to focus on a specific ingredient within a particular beer and find out what influence that has on the way you perceive its mouthfeel, flavour and aroma. I’ll also be rolling out a live version of this at the end of April, where I’ll be joined by my fellow Hop Burns & Black columnist and food sorceress Claire Bullen, so keep your eyes peeled for that one.

For now, we’ll leave you with one final, incredible beer with which we’ll toast this flaming ship as it bows gracefully over the waterfall of time. Serpent is a collaboration more than two years in the making that was born out of the minds of Thornbridge head brewer Rob Lovatt and Brooklyn Brewery’s inimitable brewmaster, Garrett Oliver.

Serpent began its life as a Belgian-style golden strong ale that was then blended with lees (leftover apple skins, yeast and byproducts from cider fermentation) donated by Herefordshire cider supremo Tom Oliver. The beer was then aged with the lees in Four Roses bourbon barrels for two years. After ageing it was artfully blended before being packaged in elegant, 750ml, Prosecco style bottles.

The resulting beer is a marvel: it can taste as simple or as complex as you wish, depending on what mood you’re in. It packs in layer upon layer of intricate flavours, recalling cider, wild yeast, vanilla, oak and bourbon. It can be enjoyed with little thought – but give it an inch of grey matter and it’ll take you several miles. It’s an incredible journey of a beer – and the time it’s had in the bottle since release, almost a year now, has merely improved it. Drink some now or hoard to drink whenever you feel it’s appropriate.

Music Pairing: The Stranglers – No More Heroes
We’d be doing this column a disservice if the last music pairing was anything other than this 1977 belter from one of the greatest bands to have ever existed, The Stranglers.

The beauty of The Stranglers is that, just like Serpent, their music can be as simple or complex as the way you feel. If you just want to enjoy the jangly punk riffs casted by Hugh Cornwell offset with the snarling bass of Jean-Jacques Burnel while banging your head, then off you go. However, delve deeper and you’ve got the complex, keyboard layers added by Dave Greenfield adding a prog-like depth to the track – one that even ardent punks love, but often refuse to associate with its long haired, bell-bottom sporting origins. It’s the perfect track to enjoy with a bottle of Serpent, whatever mood you’re in.

Find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. You can find the mighty Serpent at HB&B - get it in store or head online to get it delivered to your door.

Hop Burns & Bottle Share: Tim Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hop Burns & Bottle Share shares:

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