Manchester

The Beer Lover’s Table: Skirt Steak with Avocado Herb Salsa & Toasted Pistachios and Cloudwater Aromas & Flavours IPA

Despite certain connotations with roaring fires and fishbowls of Malbec, steak has always struck me as a summertime food. Picture: blazing-hot barbecues in lush back gardens, slabs of meat sputtering over the coals, savoury smoke curling into the humid evening.

Even if, like me, you’re making do with a cast-iron frying pan on the hob, steak – especially the quicker-cooking cuts – becomes a simple summertime main: just serve yours with a tomato salad or grilled sweet corn. Or, as I’ve done here – inspired by a recent column in the Los Angeles Times – dressed with a bright, zippy salsa.

This salsa – a distant cousin of chimichurri, by way of Mexico – epitomises summer lushness and its varied shades of green. There is vivid parsley and coriander and mint, ombré spring onions and creamy nuggets of avocado, plus lime juice and dusky pistachios. All contrast beautifully with the red at the heart of the steak, both on the plate and on the palate. Rarely has red meat felt lighter, fresher and better suited to mid-summer.

Red meat always needs a beer of some heft to go with it: lager is refreshing but lacks the requisite body, and pales and session IPAs aren’t quite punchy enough. Instead, your best option is to go with a bold and juicy IPA – like Cloudwater’s Aromas & Flavours, one of the latest in the brewery’s series of double dry-hopped IPAs made with hand-selected hops straight from Yakima, Washington.

Hopped with Citra, as well as Centennial and Chinook, this 6.5% IPA is luscious up front, with a peach-and-nectarine sweetness that eventually lapses into a subtle, resinous bitterness. That bitterness is key in counterbalancing the steak, in cutting through it like a blade, though the ample fruit aromatics are also well matched by the citrus and herbaceousness of the salsa. Overall, the two are perfectly harmonious, and together make a fine candidate for a late dinner out on the porch.

Skirt Steak with Avocado Herb Salsa and Toasted Pistachios
Adapted from the LA Times
Serves 2

For the steak:
2 skirt steaks, approximately 250g each
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Freshly ground black pepper
100g (3 ½ oz) pistachio kernels
2–3 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the salsa:
3–4 garlic cloves
Pinch coarse sea salt
120ml lime juice (from approximately 4-5 limes)
1 bird’s eye chilli, minced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced (dark and light-green parts only)
1 small handful coriander, finely chopped
1 small handful mint, finely chopped
1 small handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 ripe, medium avocado, finely diced
120ml extra virgin olive oil
Pinch caster sugar
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Remove the steaks from the fridge, and season generously with flaky sea salt and black pepper on all sides. Leave to come to room temperature as you do the rest of your prep.

2. Add the pistachios to a small frying pan, and place over medium-high heat. Toast, tossing frequently, for approximately 5–6 minutes, or until the pistachios are golden-brown and fragrant. Remove from the heat. Once cool enough to handle, roughly chop and set aside.

3. Make the salsa. Mince the garlic cloves, then add a pinch of sea salt. Using the flat side of your knife, crush and scrape the garlic against the cutting board. Alternate between chopping and crushing the garlic until you have a paste. Transfer to a medium bowl.

4. Add the lime juice, chilli and spring onions to the bowl with the garlic and leave for five minutes. Add the chopped herbs and the diced avocado, and pour over the olive oil. Stir to mix and add a pinch of sugar. Season to taste, generously, with the salt (begin with 1 teaspoon and increase from there) and the pepper. Set aside.

5. Place a heavy-bottomed frying pan (preferably cast-iron) over high heat and add the vegetable oil. Once very hot, add the steaks. Cook approximately 2 minutes per side for rare/medium-rare (skirt steak is best cooked quickly and not overdone); the steak should be well charred on the outside but still juicy and pink within. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil; allow the steaks to rest for five minutes before carving, with a sharp knife, against the grain.

6. To serve, scatter slices of the steak across two plates. Dollop the salsa over the plates, and finish with the chopped pistachios. 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.

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

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

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

Fundamentals #25 — Cloudwater DIPA V3 2018 & V3.1

Time can be good for IPAs. I’m not talking about cellaring your freshest beers and letting them fade away like a forgotten 90’s pop star - this is not how you make good barleywine. I’m talking about what a brewery can learn once it has had time to experiment and glean a little maturity. With experience and a combination of technological and creative know-how comes great beer. With the re-release of its V3 Double IPA and coincidental launch of an up-to-date V3.1, Manchester’s Cloudwater has done just that.

I remember when I went to the London launch of Cloudwater beers back in 2015, but I don’t remember the pales and IPAs I drank that day. Instead I remember a tasty bergamot hopfenweisse along with some soft and luxurious low-strength beers served from cask. But as pleasant as these beers were at the time, they were not to be a marker of this breweries bright future. Its foray into intensely hopped beers, inspired by the brightest starlets of the American scene such as The Veil, Treehouse and Trillium, would eventually fulfil that role.

Cloudwater’s evolving DIPA series would catapult the brewery into the light fantastic, seeing it claim accolades on both sides of the pond. And yet, none of the 13 beers in this range would showcase potent hop characteristics in the same way as the trend-breaking beers that would follow. Sure, it proved to be a worthy experiment. It helped the brewery figure out what its equipment was capable of, and what its fans wanted more of. But these beers are now a world away from the weekly-released DDH treats we’ve come to expect. So when I see folks pine for these one-off experiments, I find myself asking why that is.

This fresh release of V3 is an interesting experience, but for me this beer doesn’t represent where this brewery is at in 2018. It has that characteristic softness that is so strongly representative of what a Cloudwater beer is to me, along with flavours of ripe melon and a little honey. However the back end of V3 is one of cloying sweetness and some hot alcohol—not the bright burst of hop intensity I’ve come to expect.

V3.1 contains three times the dry hop addition as the revivified edition of V3. You could call it triple dry hopped with its 24 grams per litre to the meagre 8 grams in the older recipe. But this is the kind of beer we have now become accustomed to from Cloudwater. It’s not TDH, its perfectly normal. The newer recipe is far hazier than the previous one, but the aroma and flavour is also dramatically more intense. While its appearance is cloudy, soft, tropical notes of papaya and lychee provide the brightness, with the intensity turned up to its maximum.

This is the kind of beer I want from Cloudwater, a beer that demonstrates maturity and nuance in the same beat as it does vibrancy and intensity. I hope those nostalgic for the older version got what they wanted out of this release, but as far as I’m concerned I hope Cloudwater keep learning, keep evolving, and keep developing these righteously juicy beers.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis as UK editor of Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up both V3 cans while you still, erm, can, in store or online.

The Beer Lover's Table: Persimmon, Prosciutto & Burrata Toast with Track Brewing Sonoma Pale Ale

We tend to think of citrus - palm-sized clementines, sweet tangerines, piquant blood oranges - as winter's bounty. But too often we overlook the persimmon. Similar in size and hue to an orange, persimmons are honeyed and decadent, jammy with sugar when at their peak stage of ripeness. The ancient Greeks thought of them as the food of the gods,
and little wonder why.

I came up with this recipe when seeking a use for almost-but-not-quite-ripe persimmons (when fully ready, they redden, turn heavy with juice, and look almost bruised). I used hachiya persimmons, which are tall and heart-shaped, where fuyu persimmons are squatter and more tomato-like; hachiyas also happen to be astringently tannic when unripe. To guarantee their sweetness, I sliced the fruit thinly and fried it lightly in butter, until the former caramelised and the latter browned.

Though this dish feints towards warmer weather, with its caprese-esque pairing of basil and burrata, the brown-butter fried persimmon, Prosciutto and brown sugar-candied walnuts confirm its wintry origins. I love it for its ease, for its quick dose of February sun, and for the fact that it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Just as this toast is an anytime dish, so Track's Sonoma Pale Ale is an anytime beer. At just 3.8% ABV, it's sessionable and refreshing, though its hop bill makes for an herbaceous, grassy complexity, with a bit of citrus on the nose. It's one guaranteed food-friendly beer, and pairs seamlessly here.

Persimmon, Prosciutto & Burrata Toast
Serves 2

100g walnuts, roughly chopped
50g unsalted butter, divided
30g light brown sugar
1 almost-ripe hachiya persimmon
1 small lobe of burrata
2 large slices good sourdough bread
4 slices Prosciutto di Parma
Basil, to garnish
Freshly ground black pepper, to garnish

First, make your candied walnuts. Heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat and add the walnuts, 20g of butter, and the sugar all at once. Stir constantly with a spatula; the sugar and butter will soon melt. Cook for five minutes, stirring continuously, until the nuts have turned golden, the mixture has darkened,and it smells like toasty toffee. Take off the heat and pour the nuts onto a pan lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly in a single layer so they don't harden into big clumps. (Note: You'll likely have some leftover walnuts, which is a very good thing - they are an excellent snack.)

Next, use a paring knife to remove the top of the persimmon. Slice the fruit thinly, into roughly quarter-inch slices. Heat the remaining 30g of butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. As soon as the butter has melted, add the persimmon slices in a single layer. Cook approximately 2-3 minutes per side. When finished, they should be softened, lightly caramelised, and the butter should have turned nut-brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Slice two thick pieces of sourdough, and toast until golden. Top each piece with a generous glop of burrata, spreading it to the edges. Sprinkle the candied walnuts across both pieces, and top with the persimmon slices. Arrange the prosciutto around the fruit, and drizzle extra brown butter from the pan across both slices. Finish with a few bright basil leaves and a twist or two of black 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 Track Sonoma in store or online. This Saturday 24 Feb, come meet the Track team in store from 2-4pm.

#HBBAdvent Beer 8: Marble Earl Grey IPA (Manchester)

Marble says: Brouwerij Emmelisse’s Kees Bubberman joined us originally to make this mouth watering India Pale Ale. With timed additions of Earl Grey during fermentation, heavy infused hopping and traditional cask maturing. the result is a citrus fruit aroma , smooth sleek texture, hop notes are brilliantly complemented by bergamot and a light tannic finish.

We say: The best place to drink this is at Manchester's Marble Arch pub, probably the best pub on earth. But if you can't make it to the Arch, this perfectly balanced beer is good anywhere, any place. We were privileged to work with JK and his team this year brewing our collab DIPA Murk du Soleil as part of their 20th anniversary series. Happy birthday for last week, guys. Cheers for the beers. - Glenn

Fundamentals #13 – Cloudwater x Dry & Bitter Mobile Speaker DIPA

Collaborations are vitally important to the success of the modern beer industry. Thousands of new breweries have emerged over the past decade and I believe that the relationships they develop and the skills that they learn from these encounters are fundamentally important to the success of these businesses.

I say that as someone who might be experiencing a little bit of “collab fatigue”, which I’m sure you may have felt too. Keeping up with the constant tide of new releases can, at times, be exhausting.

For many breweries, these collaborations are about more than simply making a beer together and learning from that shared experience. There are other important factors – and I mean really important stuff such as hanging out and partying together – which also need to be considered. Mobile Speaker from Manchester’s Cloudwater and Denmark’s Dry & Bitter is that sense of camaraderie condensed into liquid form.

“Collaborations are a chance to get together with people we like and whose beer we admire,” Dry & Bitter’s Søren Parker Wagner says. “The idea is often to do something that we, as brewers, really want to do and get to learn from each others way of working. This way we both get something professionally out of it while we get to hang with friends that we really like.”

“Our collaborations give us a chance to showcase the closeness we love with friends in the industry,” adds Cloudwater’s Paul Jones. “Most of the time we keep a face of professionalism and focus here at Cloudwater, when behind the scenes we have a great deal of fun and occasionally party pretty hard too.”

Mobile Speaker celebrates a little in-joke between Jones and Wagner. Both enjoy carrying a mobile Bluetooth speaker with them as they cruise from pub to bar on a night out. From personal experience I can tell you that Jones has the ability to effortlessly switch from Kenny G to Run the Jewels without so much as flinching, adding to the already-lively atmosphere as he does so.

And what of the beer itself? Well, Mobile Speaker is the kind of fuzzy yet electrically hoppy New England style DIPA that Cloudwater has built much of its reputation on. Expect intense aromas of mango that metamorphose into spikey, bright flavours of pineapple and pink grapefruit on the palate. Bitterness fans will be pleased to note that there’s plenty of that here too. This DIPA still has the ability to tell you that it’s a beer when you taste it, even though it looks like a glass of fruit juice.

In true Hop Burns & Black style, I also had to ask which of Paul and Søren’s favourite jams are currently getting airtime on their respective mobile speakers.

Søren: “Favourite jam to put on these days would probably be Super Rich Kids by Frank Ocean. Hip Hop for sure!”

Paul: “Totally depends on the crowd. It has to be something most folk within earshot will dig – with a number of the Cloudwater crew that’d often be Disclosure’s Caracal album, or Stormzy’s Shut Up. 80s classics rouse most people into song, Fetty Wap’s My Way and Trap Queen is never far down the recently played list - but neither is Avril Lavigne’s I’m With You either!”

Matthew Curtis is the UK editor of Good Beer Hunting and you can also find him on Twitter @totalcurtis. You can pick up Mobile Speaker DIPA in store or online while stocks last. Look out for our own new third anniversary collaboration with Cloudwater, HOP, which launches at our birthday party at the Brick Brewery taproom on Friday 24 November.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Summery Cured Salmon with Marble x Holy Crab LanGOSEtine Langoustine & Pineapple Gose

I like a beer that isn’t afraid of being controversial - and Marble’s LanGOSEtine is definitely polarising. For beer drinkers unused to sour beers, goses - which are distinctly tart, as well as saline - are an acquired taste. The fact that this particular gose is brewed with pineapple and langoustines makes it all the more eyebrow-raising.

But don’t be put off by its quirks. Zesty, bright, and fresh, Langosetine is summertime drinking perfection - especially considering the langoustines add subtle, briny depth rather than fishiness. (Consider, too, that oyster stouts have been made since the 1800s, so there’s a precedent for seafood-laced brews.)

Though this is the kind of easygoing beer that could get on with all kinds of dishes, seafood is a natural pick - and cured salmon works beautifully.

Making your own cured salmon is an exceptionally gratifying thing, especially given how simple the process really is (and how impressive the end results). All you need to procure is kosher salt (I used Diamond Crystal), sugar, herbs, spices, and citrus zest, plus the best cut of salmon you can get your hands on - it’s worth paying for sashimi-grade fish, as you’ll want it as fresh as can be.

Time does the rest. After 24 hours, the fish will have shed moisture and darkened to a burnt terracotta hue. Eight more hours of air-drying in the fridge, and it’s ready to be sliced.

Though this salmon is prepared similarly to a classic Swedish gravadlax, I made a few tweaks to the recipe to make it especially summery. Pineapple plays very well with basil, so I used it in place of the more traditional dill. To add a bit of tropicality, I used lemon and orange zest, as well as lime and pomelo. Served atop malty rye bread and with a swipe of tangy crème fraîche, it’s the perfect meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Summery Cured Salmon
Serves 4-6

For the salmon:
140g Diamond Crystal kosher salt
100g light brown sugar
1 tsp red peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
Zest of 1 lime
Zest of 1 honey pomelo
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
1 large bunch basil, roughly chopped
500g boneless, skin-on salmon fillet, sushi-grade

To serve:
Rye bread
Crème fraîche
Freshly grated black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon

Line a small-to- medium baking tray with foil. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the first four ingredients together, whisking to combine. In a small bowl, add the zests of the four citrus fruits (I recommend using a Microplane grater, to ensure you don’t take off any bitter pith when zesting).

Place half of the salt and sugar mix into the foil-lined baking sheet, patting until it's just slightly larger than the piece of salmon. Place 1/3 of the basil under where the salmon will lie.

Put the salmon skin-side down on the salt mix, and then sprinkle over the zest and remaining basil. Cover the fillet with the remaining half of the salt and sugar mix, or until the fish is fully covered. Add a second piece of foil on top and crimp the two pieces together so they're tightly sealed around the fish. Place in the refrigerator and cover the salmon with heavy objects to help press out any excess moisture (I used several beer bottles).

Leave the salmon to cure for a full 24 hours. After 24 hours, remove it from the parcel and dispose of the curing mixture. Rinse any excess mixture off the salmon and pat to dry.

Fit a rack over a baking sheet, and place the salmon on top of the rack and into the fridge. Leave to chill and air-dry for eight more hours. When finished, place the salmon in a sealed container and refrigerate. It should keep for 3-4 days.

To serve, toast your slices of rye bread and top each with a generous swipe of crème fraîche. Using a very sharp knife, first remove the skin from the salmon and then slice very thin slices on a bias. Top each slice of crème fraîche-covered toast with a generous heap of cured salmon slices. Finish off with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and some lemon zest.

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 a can of Marble LanGOSEtine in store or at our online shop

Fundamentals #8: Marble/Hop Burns & Black Murk du Soleil Double IPA

The current trend for brewers to produce hazy IPA, often called New England IPA after its origin point, has had me thinking about haze as a fundamental component of specific beer styles.

German hefeweizen, which literally translates to English as “yeast-wheat”, is an obvious example. In this style the German yeast produces phenolic flavours of banana and clove, which are an intentional component of the beer, hence it is often left hazy to maximize these flavours.

Another beer that sprang to mind was Cooper’s Pale Ale, an Australian beer that was very popular in London seven or eight years ago. If you order a bottle of this beer, then more often than note the person serving you will gently roll the beer along the bar top to wake up the sediment in the bottom of the beer. This will also give it a hazy appearance when served.

Yet IPA has always been clear, or at least that’s what much of beer’s recent history tells to think. Craft beer has always been about finding a point of difference though, especially in a market with so many breweries. As such its not difficult to work out why exactly the hazy IPA craze sprang into being.

Manchester’s Marble, however - in particular its head brewer James Kemp - has always been vociferously supportive of clear or “bright” beer (and personally, so am I), but enter Hop Burns & Black and their new collaboration Murk du Soleil

Murk du Soleil is, as far as we know, Marble’s first intentionally hazy IPA – and a number of factors contribute towards that haze. Plenty of oats and wheat were added to the grist along with malted barley to add protein, which should give the beer a luxuriously thick body as well as aiding the suspension of particulate in the beer. According to Kemp this should also aid the perception of “juiciness” within the finished beer. No kettle finings were added during the boil either – usually a substance called Protofloc, made from seaweed, is added to pull particulate out of the beer during this stage of the brewing process.

Nelson Sauvin and Motueka hops from New Zealand – with HB&B’s Kiwi heritage, what were you expecting? - were added at the end of the boil. The same two hops were used in the dry hop at a ratio of 16 grams per litre, added over four different periods. If you were being technical you could call that a quadruple dry hop (and if you were being intentionally trendy you could print QDH on the can…).

The end result? A typically aroma-heavy example of the New England IPA style, with punchy notes of passion fruit, mango and melon dominating the nose. The texture is thick and pulpy and the finish is a little sweet and not too bitter.

Marble advises you to pour this beer carefully to avoid adding too much sediment to the beer. However, a true murk aficionado might appreciate giving the can a gentle roll on its side, Coopers-style, before pouring. The decision is all yours.

The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. Water, barley, wheat, oats, sugars, yeast, bacteria and even adjuncts such as fruit or maize are all fundamental parts of what make up our favourite beers. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a can of our amazing collab with Marble in store or online while stocks last.

#HBBAdvent Beer 24: Marble Built To Fall APA (Manchester)

Marble says: Built to Fall sings with ripe white flesh nectarines, floral-tropical notes and a hint of tangelo. Lovely resinous pine sap and ripe seville oranges lead out to to a thirst quenching and super zesty grapefruit finish.

We say: Marble just doesn't stop wowing us this year. Whether it was the Portent of Usher Imperial Stout that head brewer JK thrust into my hand as soon as I went through the doors at IndyMan, the world's best black IPA, Black Sunshine, or the oh-so-elegant Sister Agnes morello cherry-aged old ale we enjoyed the other night, every beer is a knockout. This beer seemed like the perfect fit for the night before Christmas gluttony - a perfectly executed American pale ale. Nice one JK and team - without giving away my Golden Pints pick (cough, spoiler), you're my brewery of the year. - Jen

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Pick up Marble Built To Fall in store or via our online shop.

Manchester, So Much To Answer For

We held one of our favourite events yet at the shop on Thursday night - the latest instalment in our No More Heroes series with beer writer Matthew Curtis of Total Ales. This time we were joined by Marble head brewer James Kemp, who made the journey down from Manchester to take part in a tasting session of six of his favourite beers and a live interview for a forthcoming podcast.

The beers were terrific, the craic was strong and the topics of discussion wide and varied, with Matt and the audience grilling James on everything from murky beers ("no") to sexist beer marketing ("no") and Dobber ("I thought you weren't going to mention Dobber").

You'll be able to hear the full podcast soon at Total Ales. In the meantime, here's a photographic taster of the night. Details of the next event coming soon.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Cloudwater IPA Citra and Lamb Chops with Wild Garlic

For anyone who follows the British craft beer scene, Cloudwater needs no introduction. The Manchester-based brewery’s releases are as coveted as H&M’s designer capsule collections, and snapped up almost as quickly. Cloudwater even markets their beers like fashion, with the arty, one-off labels to match.

Hence their new ‘Spring/Summer’ release: the practically perfect IPA Citra, which pours the colour of a ripe peach. Juicy, resinous, brightly sweet but girded with bitterness, it’s a beautiful expression of all that this most tropical of hops can do.

If you’re drinking a fresh, zingy beer like this one, you'd better be serving it with some seasonal grub, too. Happy spring: it’s time to put lamb back on the menu. Even better, we’re now in that several-week window each year when wild garlic is in season, and trust me, this is one harvest you do not want to sleep on. Like an extra-piquant version of spring onions, wild garlic – aka ramps – adds an alliumy oomph to this chimichurri.

Lamb is one of those foods that works well with a number of different beer styles: stouts and porters if you want to bring out its roastiness, Belgian dubbels to highlight its sweetness, easy-drinking ambers as all-rounders. But an IPA like Cloudwater’s really shines here. Its hoppiness helps cut through the fatty richness of the chops, and its sweetness and full body can really stand up to the meat’s depth of flavour (not to mention the intense pungency of that wild garlic).

A quick note: lamb loin chops aren’t the same as the tomahawk-shaped rib chops that so many of us are familiar with, but they’re just as tender – and more generously proportioned, besides. This quick-cooking cut is circumferenced by a beautiful band of fat (which you’d be misguided to remove) and bisected by a little T-bone. In fact, think of these chops as the lamb equivalent of a T-bone steak, except, well, miniature. If you’re eating these as a main with a few sides, allow at least two per person; if you’re greedy like me, go for three.

Lamb Loin Chops with Wild Garlic Chimichurri
Serves 2-ish

For the wild garlic chimichurri:
1 bunch (approx. 50g) wild garlic leaves
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Zest of one lemon Juice of ½ lemon
Approx. 1 tsp flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp caster sugar

For the lamb:
4 lamb loin chops
Flaky sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Olive oil

First, make the chimichurri: add all ingredients to a food processor and whizz up until the mixture is well blended and looks pesto-esque (you may need to wipe down the sides and give it a few goes to get all the leafy bits incorporated). Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Set aside.

About an hour before you want to cook your lamb, remove your chops from the fridge. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides, and allow to come to room temperature.

Add 1-2 tbs olive oil to a cast-iron (or other heavy-bottomed) frying pan, and heat until very hot. Add the four loins and allow to cook for four minutes without moving or flipping, or until the lamb has developed a nice brown crust. Flip and cook for 3-4 minutes more, depending on how well done you like your lamb. Remove from the heat and leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

When serving, top your lamb with generous glops of the chimichurri (you will likely have some left over). Garnish with a wild garlic leaf or two. Finally, make sure that everyone else in the vicinity has also eaten the dish; your garlic breath will be bordering on the flammable afterwards.

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.

Matthew Curtis's No More Heroes IV – Chorlton Brewing Co. Farmhouse IPA

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When I think of Manchester, I first think of the fantastic music that the city has spawned. It’s responsible for seminal bands such as Joy Division, The Smiths and perhaps one of my all time favourites, The Chameleons. You might be thinking: “Who the hell are The Chameleons?” and rightly so – they never quite broke through to the mainstream but if you listen to tracks such as ‘Don’t Fall’, ‘In Shreds’ and ‘Tears’ you’ll struggle to understand why.

Much like the early 80s, the last 18 months has seen an explosion of innovative new breweries, such as Cloudwater and Track Brewing Co, emerge onto the Manchester scene. One of these breweries, perhaps one that hasn’t quite been getting the attention it deserves, is Chorlton Brewing Co – and quite interestingly it’s a brewery that is concentrating almost exclusively on sour beers.

They might not be to everyone’s taste but sour beers are rapidly gaining popularity, encouraging a whole new wave of palates to discover great beer. Chorlton produce a range of sour beers, from dry-hopped kettle sours such as its Yakima Sour, to the beer I have in front of me now, Farmhouse IPA.

This isn’t an IPA as you know it, in fact it’s a combination of two beers that have been blended together or ‘vatted’ to produce the finished product. In this case it’s a blend of an IPA that has been aged with the wild yeast Brettanomyces (Brett) and another that has been fermented with saison yeast.

Farmhouse IPA absolutely honks with the characteristic cedarwood and barnyard aromas that typifies a beer fermented with Brett. There’s also a hint of lemon juice on the nose. On the palate there’s a twisted combination of funk and resinous hops that somehow holds it together. The flavours are chaotic, but gloriously so.

It’s by no means a refined beer but then that’s not the point. Much like The Chameleons, it’s harder to get than what you’d consider mainstream but once you do get it, you simply can’t put it down.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Matt also took the photo above.