New England

The Beer Lover’s Table: Falafel Pita Sandwiches & Abbeydale Brewery Huckster NEIPA

7.FalafelAndNEIPA.jpg

Late last year, while sheltering from a Philadelphia snowstorm, I ate the best falafel of my life. Incongruous, but true.

The setting was Goldie — a restaurant which is owned by the Michelin-starred chef Michael Solomonov, but which itself is humble and small, easy enough to walk by without noticing. At Goldie, the falafel were only $7 and came tucked inside a still-warm pita, complete with all the fixings. They weren’t the dried hockey pucks that lurk in so many sorry wraps — instead, these falafel were light, airy, vividly green on the inside and shatteringly crisp of skin. I’ve never been to Tel Aviv, but I bet even there, Goldie’s falafel could compete.

The good news is that trekking to Philadelphia (or Tel Aviv) isn’t necessary for procuring good falafel. I wasn’t initially convinced, but J. Kenji López-Alt’s recipe on Serious Eats, which I adapted here, changed my mind. Bright with fresh herbs, his falafel achieve that just-so consistency (unlike many recipes, he skips adding flour or any other binding agents, which prevents them from becoming claggy and dense).

While the falafel I ate at Goldie were washed down with one of the restaurant’s equally irresistible tehina shakes, I’ve opted to pair mine with Abbeydale Brewery’s Huckster New England IPA. The Sheffield-based brewery has attracted a good deal of hype for this hazy, aromatic IPA. And deservedly so: it’s sweet, lightly creamy in the mouth, redolent of stone fruit and has an appealing snap of bitterness in the finish.

The bright, fresh herbs in this dish — basil, parsley, mint, coriander — are lovely alongside this peach of a beer. Up the ante with an extra dose of herbaceousness, courtesy a green tahini sauce and a salad of equal parts diced tomato, cucumber and aromatic nectarine. Altogether, you have a pairing tailor-made for the abundance and sun of late summer.

Falafel Pita Sandwiches
Adapted from Serious Eats and Epicurious
Serves 4

For the falafel:
1 cup (250g) dried chickpeas
2 cups (approximately 55g) cilantro, mint, and parsley leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
3 spring onions, white and light green parts only
830ml vegetable oil (or other neutral frying oil)

For the green tahini sauce
Large handful parsley
½ cup (125ml) high-quality, pourable tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
1 large pinch flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
½ cup (125ml) ice water

For the salad
1 large, just-ripe tomato
1 ripe nectarine
1 small cucumber
Large pinch flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons sumac

To serve
4 pitas
Large handful basil leaves

1. The night before you plan to cook the falafel, add the chickpeas to a large bowl and fill all the way to the top with water. Leave to soak overnight.

2. The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Spread out across several paper towels and place more paper towels on top. Gently roll the chickpeas and pat to thoroughly dry.

3. As the chickpeas dry, make the green tahini sauce. Add the parsley, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt, and blend on low to combine. Turn the motor to high and pour in the ice water in a slow but steady stream. Blend for an additional minute; the sauce should be uniformly green and just thin enough to be pourable. Transfer to a bowl and clean out your food processor.

4. Next, make the falafel. To the cleaned food processor, add the chickpeas alongside the fresh herbs, garlic, salt, spices, and spring onions. Blend on low for 2-3 minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides with a spatula if necessary. The falafel mixture is ready when the ingredients are very finely minced, and when a small spoonful just holds together in a ball. If the falafel mixture isn’t sticking together, blend for an additional 20 seconds at a time until it has the right consistency. Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill for 20-30 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, start preparing the salad. Core the tomato and finely dice. Halve the nectarine, remove the pit and finely dice. Peel and seed the cucumber and finely dice. Add all three ingredients to a sieve. Top with the sea salt and pepper and toss lightly. Leave to drain over a bowl.

6. Once the falafel mixture has chilled, remove from the fridge. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop a golf-ball-sized mound and gently compact it (you can do this while the mixture is still in the spoon, to help shape it). Gently transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining mixture; you should have approximately 18 falafel balls.

7. When you’re ready to fry the falafel, fill a cast-iron skillet with the vegetable oil; it should come to approximately ¾-inch up the pan (if not, add additional). Place over high heat. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with paper towels and place a wire rack on top.

8. Check the temperature of the oil with a deep-fat frying thermometer. Once it reaches 165° Celsius, carefully add half the falafel with a fork, ensuring they’re evenly spaced out; the oil will start bubbling rapidly, so take care. Cook for approximately 3-3 ½ minutes, using tongs to flip and rotate the falafel, until they’re evenly golden-brown on the outside, but the crust is still thin enough to be crisp. Transfer to the cooling rack. Check the temperature of the oil; once it is at the right temperature, repeat with the second batch of falafel. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool before cleaning.

9. While the falafel cooks, lightly toast the pita in a toaster or using your oven’s broiler (grill) setting. Lightly press the salad mixture with the back of a spoon to squeeze out any excess liquid, transfer to a bowl, add the sumac and mix to combine. 10. When ready to serve, slice off the top ¼ of each pita and gently separate the bread layers so the pita forms a pocket. Line each pita with basil leaves and add 4 falafel and several tablespoons of the salad mixture. Drizzle over the green tahini sauce and serve immediately.

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.

3.FalafelAndNEIPA.jpg

Fundamentals #23 — Black Iris Let The Juice Loose NEIPA

People say you can have too much of a good thing. That less is, in fact, more. Undoubtedly, there are many walks of life where this is true. Say for example if you spend less time working on that Excel spreadsheet or playing badminton, then you can spend more time down the pub, enjoying great beer. Or perhaps in the construction of a great pilsner, where the subtlety of pale malt playfully mingles with the nuance of noble hops, leading to a finished product that is perhaps greater than the sum of its parts.

Life would be boring if all we did was drink pilsner though, and badminton is a really fun way to get some exercise. When it comes to IPA, or at least IPA as we known it in the context of modern beer, you can’t have too much of a good thing. For IPA, more is more. That’s why it’s been the driving force of modern beer ever since folks like San Francisco’s Liberty Brewing decided to brew a rambunctiously bitter beer called Liberty Ale way back in 1975.

IPA is the carte blanche that brewers have used to define themselves, and in turn the industry they operate in, since the year dot. It can be bitter, it can be juicy, it can be sweet, it can be savoury, it can be dank as all hell. It can even be dark, (unless you are a Cascadian Dark Ale purist, hello to you). We can safely say that IPA as we know it now is fundamental to how we experience and enjoy beer in the modern age.

Let the Juice Loose is a New England style IPA from Nottingham’s Black Iris Brewery. Looking at how many of us enjoy our IPA in the modern beer age, this is a fantastic expression. Pouring distinctly hazy to the point of being (quite satisfyingly) turbid, your senses will almost immediately be piqued with aromas of mango, papaya and kumquat. Let the Juice Loose continues to purvey its tropical dance party of flavour when it hits your palate, with those fruit notes leading to a finish which is part dry, and part lingering stone fruit, as a hint of yeast esters give you the nod it’s time for another sip.

The hazy, juicy, New England IPA won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a fantastic gateway to those new to the style that may have previously been put off by lots of bitterness. Personally, I find that when this style is done well, it’s the kind of beer I want to drink all of the time. Except for those times I want a pilsner. Because sometimes less is more and sometimes more is more. Just like brewing, in fact.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis as UK editor of Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up one of the last cans of Let The Juice Loose while you still can, in store or online.

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.