Here's what was in our first ever HB&B Sub Club box that went out last month. We're just as excited about this month's box - we've found some mind-blowingly awesome beers to fill it with yet again...
We'll be releasing a limited number of new memberships this week. These will go on sale on Friday 5th April at 9am. Head here and get your finger on the button. More info on the boxes can be found at our FAQs page, or simply drop us a line.
Welcome to the first instalment of Fundamentals – a bi-weekly deep dive into the story of the ingredients behind our favourite beers. Writing about why we like a particular beer is fun, but here we’re taking an opportunity to go beyond that and hopefully learn something new about our favourite tasty beverages.
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 and I’m looking forward to discovering more about them and how they contribute towards what we actually taste.
Our first beer in this series is from Redchurch Brewery’s all-new Urban Farmhouse project and the talented brewer behind it, James Rylance. James first revealed the plans to transform the Bethnal Green brewery’s original facility into a sour production brewery when we spoke on the Good Beer Hunting podcast late last year. That project is now beginning to bear fruit and On Skins: Plums in the perfect example of the innovative beers that Rylance and his team will be producing.
The plums used in this tart and spritely sour beer were sourced from the National Orchard Collection in Brogdale, Kent. Rylance picked the heritage variety used in this beer from a choice of more than 700 due to the higher acidity and tannins, giving the beer more flavour post fermentation. Before adding them to the beer, Rylance macerated the plums entirely by foot, just as a winemaker would do in France.
“The techniques of foot maceration I learnt from my time making wine in Burgundy with Andrew Nielsen of Le Grappin,” Rylance says. “After pressing the fruit we put the skins, flesh, stones, stems, the whole lot into the fermenter and let the must begin to ferment.”
The beer was then soured with the Urban Farmhouse’s house strain of Lactobacillus – a lactic acid producing bacteria, which introduces a lemon juice tinged acidity to the beer. It was then aged for four months before finally being released.
On Skins: Plums pours a sparkling shade of mauve with the relatively high acidity killing the beer's head pretty quickly. The first sip is intensely acidic, but as the palate adjusts to this the tannic, stone fruit notes from the plums come to the fore.
There’s something comforting about this beer for me, a reminder of picking still warm, sweet plums straight from the tree in the late summer months. It’s a beer I’d go back to often. And if this is a sign of things to come from Redchurch in the future, then we’ve a great deal to look forward to.
You can read more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Make sure you get the chance to try Redchurch's On Skins: Plums while strictly limited stocks last. You can find it in store at HB&B or head online to get it delivered to your door.
Redchurch says: Big bold and surprising This is our interpretation of the classic pale ale. You’ll sense fresh fruit flavours with a rich caramel smoothness and a lasting bitterness on the finish. Brewed using the very best Maris Otter pale malt and an adventurous blend of American and New Zealand sourced hops.
We say: Bethnal Pale is a wonderful well rounded London pale ale with soft fruity notes. A true pleasure to return to again and again. Sometimes the best beer is right under your nose. - 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). Find Redchurch Bethnal Pale Ale in store or via our online shop.
Dark beer has had me vexed recently. Or rather, the lack of dark beer I’ve seen on tap in my favourite bars has. I’m not just talking about stouts either. I’m witnessing a complete lack of stouts, dunkelweizens, doppelbocks, brown ales and extra special bitters. The pale and the hoppy seem to be dominating beer menus wherever I go.
Not that this is a huge problem, I like pale and hoppy beer an awful lot but I like a wide breadth of choice even more. What’s perplexing is that right now brewers are knocking out more variations of styles than ever before, so why is there this lack of stouts? Well it’s simple, we’re just not drinking enough of them and pubs don’t like to stock beer that doesn't sell quickly. So I implore you, the drinker, to rediscover great dark beer this winter.
One of my very favourite stouts is being brewed right here in London by Bethnal Green’s Redchurch Brewery. Of course you might know Redchurch better for their superb Great Eastern IPA or perhaps Paradise Pale Ale. You might even know them for their innovative sour beers. Truth is their stouts, such as their flagship Hoxton Stout, blow these beers out of the water.
Hoxton Stout walks the line between being rich and satisfying to being uncomplicated and refreshing. This is what makes it a great stout. You can sit and sip at this beer, dwelling on the dark chocolate and heavily roasted coffee notes before marvelling at the blast of Simcoe hops in the finish. Or you can simply knock back a pint and let it chase the winter out of your system. We desperately need to see more stouts of this quality pouring in our pubs, so we’d better drink as much as possible in order to convince our landlords that it’s worth it.