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Fundamentals #49 — The Kernel Foeder Beer Centennial Hallertau Tradition

There are few things more mesmerising within a brewery than a room full of foeders (or ‘foudres’, if the brewery decides to use the French spelling instead of the Dutch). There’s real magic inside these oaken vessels, often standing several metres tall.

And that’s because there is real magic inside them: millions of wild yeasts and bacteria that nurture and mature a beer over several months or years, before it is eventually blended and packaged into something delicious for us to enjoy. Beers such as the impressive Rodenbach Grand Cru, or the equally majestic New Belgium La Folie.

In fact, if you ever get to visit either of these breweries you will understand exactly what I mean about the magic of foeders. They present very different experiences: Rodenbach’s is one of order and utility. As beautiful as the foeders here are, they exist to serve a function – that of maturing a beer to a precise consistency. At New Belgium the scene is the opposite, with foeders of various sizes, shapes, even colours. It is random and myriad. The ‘Foudre Forest’ as they call it, in Fort Collins, Colorado, is one of the true wonders of the brewing world.

It’s possible that you may have had a foeder-aged beer from a British brewery too. Perhaps from Burning Sky, the Wild Beer Co, or the subject of today’s review, London’s The Kernel. The foeder-matured beers from The Kernel you may have previously experienced would have had more in common with beers like Rodenbach or La Folie – beers with tartness, acidity and tannins; complex, structured and delicious. And while this new Foeder Beer from The Kernel is also delicious (of course it is, it’s The Kernel), it is neither tart nor particularly acidic to taste.

Instead, this beer is fermented – as opposed to matured – within a foeder. This means that it’s in the vessel for a much shorter period of time, not giving it the opportunity to pick up a great deal of character from the oak or organisms that call it home. But that’s not the intention here. This beer showcases flavours of both hop (lemon zest from Centennial and a distinguished herbaceous snap from Hallertau Tradition) and The Kernel’s house culture of yeast, mixed with Belgian yeasts.

The beer gives you a rich, estery character, making it taste very Belgian in style - think Zinnebir from Brasserie de la Senne as an example. The oak fermentation, however, adds a softness, or roundness, to the complexity of this flavour. I wouldn’t worry too much about that, however, this is a beer for chilling down and drinking outside, as we look forward to some warm summer days. I already know this is a beer I’ll be filling my fridge with in preparation for just that.

Matthew Curtis is a freelance writer, photographer and author of our award-winning Fundamentals column. He's written for publications including BEER, Ferment, Good Beer Hunting and Original Gravity. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis. Demand for The Kernel Foeder Beer has been huge - we have a small amount left at time of publication, so be quick. 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..

Fundamentals 48 - Brew By Numbers 85 Triple IPA Mosaic El Dorado Calypso

I’ve taken to enjoying a lot of wine recently. I’ve even gone as far as to sign up to HB&B’s Natural Wine Killers subscription club. It wasn’t long before my shelves started to groan under the weight of several bottles of exciting natural wine. A good problem to have, I admit, but I had to face facts – it was time to start opening these bottles.

For a long time, a bottle of wine to me has symbolised sharing and camaraderie. Whether it’s over dinner or simple conversation, a 750ml bottle is there to be poured and passed around, until it’s time to open the next one. The same is true of beer and cider. There’s a certain joy in sharing a big bottle from the likes of Burning Sky, or Oliver’s Cider and Perry, with friends.

However, a 440ml can doesn’t always send the same sharing message – although when you’re dealing with a 10% beer, it should. This particular beer, 85 – the latest triple IPA from London’s Brew By Numbers – despite its lofty strength, tastes like the kind of beer you want to covet rather than rationing out. Its aroma groans under the weight of intensely tropical yet slightly savoury Mosaic hops. But rather than buoying this sensation with the oft-used Citra, this beer diverts to Calypso and El Dorado, adding passion fruit, mango and guava undertones into the heady mix.

I found myself halfway through the can without realising, such was its drinkability; the gentle warmth of alcohol being the only sensation that indicated the beer’s strength. There’s a stickiness to this beer, not unlike a barleywine that’s been blended with a juicy double IPA. And this is what makes it so satisfying, it’s at once voluminous and potent before reverting back to being dry and drinkable. Soon, I realised the other half of the can had disappeared too.

Then I really felt its strength. I crushed this like so many IPAs before it, but at 10% the triple IPA would have been better shared. So be careful to take it easy with this one and share it with friends, because the delicious beer inside definitely doesn’t want you to.

Matthew Curtis is a freelance writer, photographer and author of our award-winning Fundamentals column. He's written for publications including BEER, Ferment, Good Beer Hunting and Original Gravity. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis. We have just a handful of BBNO 85 Triple IPA cans left, pick one up while you can…

Fundamentals #40: A Cautionary Christmas Tale (Ft. The Kernel Barrel Aged London 1840 Export Stout)

If you’ve ever trapped your finger in a car door. you’ll perhaps empathise with this tale of struggle and woe. It begins in East London, at Signature Brew’s new taproom, at the start of December. Was that a hint of Christmas in the air I detected? No. It was the smell of heat and spice emanating from the victims of HB&B’s latest round of Chilli Karaoke.

The premise of Chilli Karaoke is simple, yet effective. You choose a song, you sing the first few lines before being rudely interrupted by the host, at which point a Scotch Bonnet pepper is consumed and you try to finish your song. Meanwhile, your struggle provides quality entertainment for the gathered crowd. Having once taken part myself, I can honestly say this is the modern equivalent of the gladiators fighting in front of the baying masses at the Colosseum. Only with catchier tunes.

After another hilarious night, hosted by HB&B’s very own Lewis Blomfield (who, it also turns out, is a very good character comedian), our chariot (a Toyota Prius) winged us home from the Colosseum, my beers to review tucked safely under one arm.

This is where a good argument could be made for cans over bottles, as they tend not to shatter. As I turned to exit the car (parked on a slight incline), the door began to close – but I did not move the middle finger on my left hand before the door decided to shut itself. There was blood, there was profanity (told you it was just like Ancient Rome), but worse was that the shock of trapping my finger caused me to throw everything I was carrying in my other hand up in the air. I didn’t see the can and bottle hit the ground, but I sure heard them.

The shattering of glass against tarmac drowned out the dull thud of a can hitting the same surface. I watched as this precious imperial stout, which had spent months maturing in red wine and Cognac casks, trickled down my North London street, only to be washed away by the rain.

And that would’ve been the end of this review. But thankfully, like all good Christmas tales, this has a happy ending. The next morning, I went for a walk and passing a rival bottle shop, I stopped in to see if they had stock of the same beer. To my delight, they did. Popping the bottle safely into my pocket, I rushed it home, chilled it down for just under an hour, and then – very carefully – opened it.

And what did I find? Perhaps one of the most exquisite imperial stouts I’ve tried all year: Unctuous molasses and roasted barley flavours, interspersed with a tangy bouquet of juicy red wine and mouth puckering tannins. The merest hint of Cognac adding a little boozy flourish to the end of each sip. I’d say it’s so good that its fit for Caesar himself. And perfect for some extended Christmas Day drinking. Well, it is The Kernel.

Matthew Curtis is a freelance writer, photographer and author of our award-winning Fundamentals column. He's written for numerous publications including BEER, Ferment, Good Beer Hunting and Original Gravity. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis.

Fundamentals #22 – Brick Brewery Kerala Stout

I love a good curry. The way the blend of spices mingle with the char of meat cooked in a Tandoori oven makes it one of my all time favourite dishes. These same ingredients in a beer? Not so much. At least that’s what I thought until I tried Kerala Stout, from Peckham’s Brick Brewery.

Brick has always been one of those London breweries that has so often flown under my radar. This might be something to do with me being a staunch North Londoner, seldom coming out of my quiet slice of urban suburbia, especially to venture south of the river (except to see my good pals at Hop Burns & Black of course). More’s the pity though, as South London has so much to offer. Not least pubs like Stormbird, The Old Nun’s Head and not forgetting Brick Brewery’s own taproom under the arches at Peckham Rye station. As a beer enthusiast you deserve giving yourself a chance to break habit once in a while, so do yourself a favour and head south once in a while.

Back to Kerala Stout then, which infuses a typically dry, dark and roasted stout with a mélange of spices and flavourings. These include cumin, cardamom, curry leaves, chillies and cinnamon. That level of spicing may sound a little overwhelming – but just like in a great curry the brewers at Brick have found a way to get these spices working together in harmony.

These flavours were a little muted when I first sipped at the beer, having just pulled the can from the fridge. Once the beer had been given a few minutes in the glass to warm, however, it really opened up. Notes of cumin and cardamom come to the fore, mingling with the cinnamon and sweetness from the darker malts to find balance, even adding a touch of what tastes like toasted coconut to the palate. At the finish is a gloriously satisfying touch of chilli burn – just the right amount so as not to overwhelm the beer.

This beer is great on its own but perhaps unsurprisingly, it really comes alive when paired with a similarly spiced dish. This is definitely a beer worth heading to South London for – don’t forget to pick up a curry while you’re there.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis as UK editor of Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up some Brick Kerala Stout while you still can in store or online.

#HBBAdvent Beer 13: Gipsy Hill Superfan Dry-Hopped Bohemian Pilsner (SE London)

Gipsy Hill says: Superfan is a Bohemian style Pilsner. Lagered for seven weeks and gently hopped, it's a floral, delicate Pilsner.

We say: We're the humble lager's biggest fan - in a world of pastry stouts and bosh-worthy hazy juice bombs, sometimes there's no greater pleasure than the joy of a crisp, clean lager. One of our litmus tests for a decent brewery is one that can get a lager right - there ain't no hiding with this style. 

Of course, Gipsy Hill's credentials were never in doubt, but it's always nice to get confirmation. Crisp, clean and a great little mid-week cleanser. - Jen

#HBBAdvent Beer 11: Brew By Numbers Witbier Cranberry (SE London)

Brew By Numbers says: A tart, bright and fruity witbier brewed with cranberry, supported by some orange zest. Fuchsia pink in colour, with a floral, zesty aroma and sharp, juicy cranberry flavour.

We say: Brew By Numbers has been anticipating my taste obsessions these past few months. First came the Table Saison Ginger, followed by the Chocolate & Orange Stout and now this Cranberry Wit. It’s sherberty and spritzy, rich with red fruitiness and has a nice tart tang from the added orange zest.

With Christmas Day only two weeks away, it’s a beer to get you in the yuletide spirit. Just pour it into something pretty and say goodbye to that UTI. Plus, OMG babe, it’s pink. #basicbeertch - Cat

Fundamentals #10 – Brew By Numbers/Hop Burns & Black 55|05 Double IPA Citra & Ella

This week has been all about London Beer City and the crazy amount of events book-ended by the London Craft Beer Festival and the Great British Beer Festival. As ever when there’s a glut of beer events pace is the trick but with so much good beer flowing this gets tougher every year.

At the heart of this year's London Beer City schedule is the Battle of the Beer Shops. The event will see a series of collaborations between a selection of London’s specialist beer retailers and some of the city’s craft breweries. At the time of writing this piece it takes place tonight, so keep an eye on your favourite social media channel to keep up with the fallout.

For their beer, the folks at HB&B have teamed up with the ever-verdant Brew by Numbers and, as they also did recently with Marble Brewery, have produced a Double IPA.

Brew by Numbers has grown increasingly deft with the production of hazy and hoppy beers over the past few months and this effort fuses US Citra and Aussie Ella hops with lemon zest to produce a citrus and tropical fruit blast wave of flavour. These fruit notes are paired with a typically soft and pillowy mouthfeel that has become the hallmark of Brew By Numbers’ beers.

I was surprised, however, to learn that the yeast that fermented out this beer was the humble Safale US-05. This fundamental is at the heart of many a great beer but with the recent trend in yeasts that produce rich, stone fruit flavours in hazy IPAs I wasn’t expecting Brew by Numbers to tell me that this was the yeast at play in this beer.

US-05 provides an exceptionally clean fermentation, meaning that it produces very low amounts of esters, which are responsible for the peach and apricot notes in a lot of modern “New England” style IPAs.

Brewers rely on clean fermenting yeasts like US-05 to let hop notes shine through, which in a beer such as this Double IPA is essential. Clean yeasts such as US-05 are often unsung heroes when it comes to beers like 55|05, so be sure to tip your glass in affection to this workhorse of a yeast strain when you enjoy this beer.

The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up some of our amazing 55|05 collab in store or online while stocks last.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Caramelised White Chocolate Mousse and Partizan’s Imperial White Russian Stout

Most people’s bucket lists comprise the exotic destinations they want to visit before they die. Mine, on the other hand, lists all the recipes I want to cook while I’ve still got the chance.

I mention this only because caramelised white chocolate has been on the top of that list for a long time. The concept is simple enough: place white chocolate on a baking sheet, bake it at a low temperature, remove it from the oven, and stir at frequent intervals until it’s gone the colour of toasted almonds or deep, burnished toffee. After caramelising, the chocolate is blended with cream; the result is like dulce de leche or salted butter caramel, plus a whisper of cocoa. Needless to say, it’s pretty phenomenal—and, as I’ve discovered, well worth the effort of preparing from scratch.

Once it’s made, you can store a jar of your caramelised white chocolate and use it however you’d like (I’d recommend pouring it over ice cream, spreading it on toast, or using it to top Belgian-style waffles). You can also sub it in for regular chocolate in a range of recipes—including this mousse, which I like to serve alongside Partizan’s Imperial White Russian Stout.

I think there are two different kinds of (successful) food and beer pairings: those which pair perfectly complementary flavours, and those which feature contrasting flavours which, when combined, can delight and surprise.

For me, this pairing falls in the latter category. Normally, pairing a sweet and creamy dessert with a less sweet beer can be problematic. But in this case, the mousse draws out the beer’s coffee notes and heightens its bitterness. In this way, an intense, 9% ABV imperial stout becomes an unexpectedly refreshing foil, contrasting the richness and sugar with each moreish sip. The effect is something like an affogato: the first shock of bitterness and sweetness together, the beauty of the way they meld together into a finishing harmony.

Caramelised White Chocolate Mousse
Serves 4

For the caramelised white chocolate:
200g high-quality white chocolate (containing at least 30% cocoa solids)
150ml double cream
1 pinch Maldon sea salt

Preheat your oven to 120 degrees C. If you’re using fèves or other small pieces of white chocolate, pour them in a single layer onto a clean baking sheet or Pyrex tray. If you’re using a bar of chocolate, chop it roughly into small pieces using a serrated knife, and pour onto your prepared tray.

Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove from the oven and stir the chocolate with a dry spatula; the chocolate will be beginning to melt and clump. Spread it in as even a layer as possible, and cook again for 10 minutes, before removing from the oven and stirring with a clean spatula again.

Repeat these steps until the chocolate has baked for between 50-60 minutes total. By the end, it should smell nutty and caramelised, and its colour should be a deep toffee brown. Depending on the brand of chocolate you use, it may melt fully or may resemble drier crumbles; both work just fine, so don’t worry if the appearance is a little surprising.

Once the chocolate has finished baking, add it to a food processor, along with 150ml of double cream (ideally warmed to room temperature) and a generous pinch of Maldon sea salt. Blend for at least 3-4 minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula, or until the mixture is thick and entirely smooth with no clumps. When finished, it should look like dulce de leche and taste absolutely divine.

For the mousse:
Caramelised white chocolate
2 large egg yolks
2 tbs caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
450ml double cream, divided (70ml, 230ml and 150ml)

Place the prepared caramelised white chocolate in a large bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, add the egg yolks and the caster sugar, and whisk until the mixture is smooth and light yellow.

In a small saucepan, heat the vanilla and 70ml of double cream over medium-low heat until the mixture is simmering. Remove from the heat. Pour over the egg yolk and sugar mixture in a very slow but steady stream, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs.

When the egg mixture is fully incorporated, pour back into the saucepan and stir, over low heat, until it’s thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat. Place a fine-meshed sieve over the bowl of caramelised white chocolate, and pour the warm egg mixture over it. Stir until the mix is completely blended.

In a large bowl, add 230ml of double cream. Using an electric mixer, whisk until it has formed not-quite- stiff peaks. Fold half the whipped cream gently into the chocolate mixture until smooth; fold the remaining cream in until smooth.

Divide the mixture among four ramekins. Cover and chill for at least two hours, or until completely set.

When ready to serve, whisk the remaining 150ml of double cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Top each ramekin with a dollop of whipped cream for good measure.

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 Partizan's Imperial White Russian Stout while stocks last in store or at our online shop

Fundamentals #2 – The Kernel India Double Porter Citra Ella

When it comes to darker beers such as stout or porter, it would be obvious to focus on the ingredient that almost always provides them with most of their flavour: malt. This India Double Porter from South London’s The Kernel is no exception. Its malt profile of bitter dark chocolate and stone fruit laden roasted coffee is most certainly the most prominent element of this particular beer.

However, this is The Kernel we’re talking about here and in a typical break from the traditions that inspired this beer, it has been hopped with two pungent new world hop varieties. North American Citra hops add layers of grapefruit aroma and an oily, almost resinous mouth feel. This bombastic hop has a story of its own to tell one day but today we’re going to focus on the other hop named on this beers label, the Australian Ella variety.

Ella’s development began as early as 2001 (it takes a minimum of 3-5 years before a hop variety is ready for commercial cultivation) and after positive results it was fast-tracked for production trials in 2007. Ella was made commercially available to brewers in 2011 when it was released under the name “Stella”. It should come as no surprise that after legal pressure from AB-InBev - the largest brewing company in the world and brewers of the popular Stella Artois - that Hop Products Australia, who developed this hop, were forced to change its name in 2012. Henceforth it became simply known as Ella. 

Ella was developed by crossing the Australian Galaxy variety, known for its juicy, tropical fruit character, with Spalt – one of the four original European noble hops along with Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, Tettnang and Saaz. Noble hops are known for their “green” herbaceous character and they provide a spicy finish, not unlike white pepper.

Ella has a floral quality not dissimilar to something like lavender while also maintaining that edge of spice inherited from its noble parentage. The effect is that is rounds out the more boisterous qualities from the Citra, adding an almost parma violet note to the mix.

This is a big porter with a ton of flavour, yet it retains its drinkability in a way that’s unmistakably Kernel.

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.

To learn more about the joys of hops, make sure you get a ticket to our upcoming event Fundamentals Live #1: Hops on April 27th. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total Ales, Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. And pick up a bottle of the Kernel India Double Porter in store or online now.

#HBBAdvent Beer 19: Fourpure Juicebox (London)

Fourpure says: Pure tropical, fruity pleasure in a glass. Fresh orange zest and heaps of extremely aromatic hops give this beer bright, intense flavours of mango, papaya and bitter orange. A restrained yet present bitterness makes you want that next sip, and the next one, and the one after that. Hoppy, zesty, refreshing.

We say: I loved this can design so much that I selected it for a recent Mirror article I wrote on beautiful beer cans, but luckily this tastes as good as it looks. Heralding the current craze for beer that's almost more juice than beer, these fabulously fruity flavours provide a much needed dose of Vitamin C on this gloomy Monday. Probably. - 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). Find Fourpure Juicebox in store or via our online shop.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Bulgogi and Brew by Numbers Saison Citra

There’s a lot to be said for eschewing ‘festive’ traditions that bring no real joy — and if there’s a joyless food, it’s turkey. Miserly with its fat, yet excessive in bulk: why do we eat this thing, again? It’s the reason duck has been a staple at my past few Thanksgivings, and why I think bulgogi may be the perfect Christmas dinner.

Bulgogi (Korean marinated beef, for the uninitiated) might go better with kimchi than with cranberry sauce, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t holiday-appropriate. Its heady mix of garlic, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil and chilli excels in the fragrant-kitchen department, for starters. It marinates for hours, but cooks quickly. And — an important consideration, when you’re sharing food with those you love — it’s best served family-style, with plenty of accompaniments on the side. Fried eggs, spring onions, the aforementioned kimchi, and a fiery red sauce made with gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste): mix them all in and enjoy a Christmas dinner with actual kick.

These bulgogi bowls have sweetness, purring heat, acidic tang and fermented funk, all of which suggest that they might be difficult to pair with beer. But Brew by Numbers’ Saison Citra was an ideal fit. 01|01 is beautifully golden, boasts a juicy-fruit demeanor, and has a whiff of real pungency about it, courtesy of the Citra. Its own multi- dimensionality means it works with sweetness and with funk, while its sheer gulpability bats away heat. It’s a damn good beer for an extra special dinner.

Bulgogi Bowls
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Serves 4-5

For the bulgogi:
½ pear (Asian pear, preferably), peeled and grated
4 garlic cloves, grated
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbs ginger, grated
1 tbs demerera sugar
1 tbs toasted sesame oil
500g steak (you could use skirt, topside, or another cut that takes well to marinating and searing)

Add the pear, garlic, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, ginger, sugar, and sesame oil to a ziploc freezer bag. Meanwhile, slice the beef into very thin slices — about as thin as you can get — and add to the bag. Seal the bag and ensure the marinade and beef are well mixed. Place in the fridge and allow the meat to marinate for 6-8 hours.

For the sauce:
4 tbs gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
2 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs demerera sugar
2 tbs toasted sesame seeds
3 tbs water
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, grated

Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk until well blended.

For the rice:
500g sushi rice
660ml water

Rinse your rice in a sieve under cold water for several minutes, stirring gently with your fingers as you do, or until the water runs just about clear. Add the drained rice and the water to a saucepan and heat on high until the mix has come to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the rice to stand, with the lid on, for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the rice.

To assemble:
2 tbs vegetable oil
Sea salt
Toasted sesame seeds
Spring onions
Kimchi
Fried eggs

Once the rice has been cooked and the sauce prepared, get ready to fry your beef. Add the vegetable oil to a large skillet and heat on high until very hot. Add the beef to the pan in a single layer (you will likely have to cook in several batches) and season lightly with sea salt. Cook for a minute or so until lightly browned. Flip, and toss the meat, continuing to cook over high heat, for 2-3 minutes more, or until nicely browned.

To assemble, divide the rice between the bowls. Top each with a generous helping of the bulgogi. To each bowl, you can add a healthy dollop of kimchi and top with a fried egg. Finish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and spring onions. Drizzle over with sauce — the more, the spicier.

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. And swing over to the shop or the online store to pick up Brew By Numbers Saison Citra while stocks last.

#HBBAdvent Beer 8: Brew By Numbers 21|03 Pale Ale Citra Amarillo Mosaic (Bermondsey)

Brew By Numbers says: 21|03 is vibrantly juicy, thanks to being hopped with Citra, Amarillo and Mosaic, but it’s more than its hop bill that sets this pale ale apart. It’s noticeably hazier than our previous two pales. Its natural fruit-juice-haze confirms its unapologetically single-minded flavour profile.

We say: Earlier this year, some of the folk from BBNo brought us a flagon of their new, not-yet-for-sale Pale Ale to try. That first brew was a juicy banger, but 21|03 has been our favourite iteration so far. This is how you do a tropical fruit beer. It’s murky, but get over it and enjoy. - Catherine

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 BBNo Pale Ale Citra Amarillo Mosaic in store or via our online shop.

#HBBAdvent Beer 6: Gosnells Hopped Mead (Peckham)

Gosnells says: Inspired by our our time working with friends at local breweries, Gosnells Hopped Mead pairs the citrus notes of our signature mead with a blend of floral aroma hops to create a bold new mead.

We say: Yes alright, calm down everyone. This isn't beer... but it is a fermented beverage made with hops, so we reckon it earns its place in the box. The Gosnells team have taken their original fermented honey mead and dry-hopped it with Amarillo and Mosaic, which lend lovely hoppy notes to the drink without bittering the sweetness. Gosnells' meadery is based just a few minutes from the shop and we've loved watching these guys go from strength to strength over the past few years and getting really inventive with their flavours. Just released is a festive six-pack which includes a citra-hopped mead with Cornish sea water and an elderflower mead - both of which are delightful. - 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). Find Gosnells Hopped Mead in store or via our online shop.

Matthew Curtis's No More Heroes XVII – Partizan Lemongrass Saison

Some beers are just made for food. Some are even made with ingredients you’d associate with cooking as opposed to brewing. Then there are some beers that go as far as using food itself as an ingredient.

Take the boys from Northern Monk, for example. They recently teamed up with The Real Junk Food Project to brew a saison that includes leftover pastries and pears as ingredients. It sounds bonkers, but this beer is actually using ingredients that otherwise would have gone to waste. I was fortunate enough to swing by the brewery when they were making it and can’t wait to finally get a taste.

Saison is a great style to use as a blank canvas for more unusual ingredients, perhaps because of the way the dry and tangy saison yeast strain provides something for these flavours to lean on. Bermondsey’s Partizan has used the saison as its own carte blanche to go mental. Alternative variants of its saisons include a lemon and thyme infused recipe that almost tastes more like a marinade than a beer, and one that attempts to mimic the flavours of the classic negroni cocktail.

The one I’m drinking today is flavoured with lemongrass and it’s arguably one of Partizan’s best beers. The incredibly light body balances the snap of saison yeast with delicate flavours of lemongrass, which are followed by a bone-dry finish. As you’d expect it’s exceptional with food, particularly fragrantly spiced Thai curries or Vietnamese noodle soups. It’s also surprisingly decent with roast chicken as it is with hot wings in buffalo sauce.

 

Music Pairing: A Flock of Seagulls – Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You)
Tonight at the shop we’re hosting the next installment of the live tasting that was inspired by these posts. Getting Away With It is our homage to some of our favourite 80s electronic tracks and a chance to enjoy some kickass beers in good company. If you’re quick you can probably still snap up a ticket.

Wishing, by the wonderful A Flock of Seagulls, made our shortlist but didn’t make it into our final six for the night. So what better way to celebrate this great track than to pair it with this eclectic saison from Partizan. I think you’ll find it works as well with this track as it does with a steaming bowl of chicken pho.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis. And you can get Partizan Lemongrass Saison delivered to your door via our online shop.