Siren Craft Brew

Fundamentals #21 – Siren Craft Brew Old Fashioned Barleywine

Bourbon truly is a wonderful thing. The legal guidelines a spirit must follow in order to be classed as bourbon are also incredibly strict – as should be the case in the creation of such a venerable beverage. It must be produced within the United States from a grain bill that consists of at least 51% corn. It must be aged in first use, charred oak barrels and it must be distilled to no higher than 80% alcohol, entering the barrel itself at no more than 62.5% alcohol.

As with all whisky – whiskey to our Irish and American friends – the finished product must be at least 40% alcohol by volume. However unlike other whiskies, which must be aged for at least three years and a day to earn that title, bourbon does not need to be aged for any specific length of time to earn its name. Some bourbons on the market can spend as little as three months in barrel, although anything which calls itself “straight” bourbon will have been aged for at least two years.

Like whiskey, bourbon also has a lot in common with beer. Before being distilled, the base liquid is brewed, and malted grains such as wheat, rye and barley augment the remainder of the recipe. This shared ancestry may be why, in part, why many beers fare incredibly well if they are aged in ex-bourbon casks. Enter Old Fashioned, a barleywine from the wizards at Berkshire’s Siren Craft Brewery, which aims to emulate the classic, bourbon-based cocktail.

Sweet notes of vanilla and toasted coconut are immediately apparent on the nose, as the viscous liquid snakes its way into your glass – a wide brimmed brandy-style snifter or a Teku being ideal for this particular style of beer. To taste the beer is very sweet, with flavours of barley sugar and more vanilla present from the outset. This ever-present sweetness is balanced by deep, warming notes of alcohol, with the essence of the bourbon notes imbued into this beer by the barrels it inhabited for 12 months, softening and rounding out the finished product.

If I had to ask one thing of this homage to the Old Fashioned, it would be a whisper more of the promised orange peel. Some extra citrus would really lift this beer to the next level. Despite this, it’s still a stellar effort from the Berkshire brewery. This is a beer to enjoy now, before the days begin to get longer and warmer at the end of the month. Or simply hang on to it until it starts to get colder again, and see what a bit of age might do to this beer.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis as UK editor of Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Treat yourself to a bottle of Siren Old Fashioned in store or online while stocks last.

#HBBAdvent Beer 3: Siren Rum Coffee Broken Dream Stout (Finchamstead)

Siren says: The next iteration of our barrel aged coffee project is another special version of Broken Dream Breakfast Stout. We've aged green beans sourced by Tamp Culture and aged them in rum barrels for around six months. The barrel aged coffee has then replaced the usual Sumatran we use in the beer. 

We say: Siren Craft Brew has been brewing quality beer since 2012 and right now we reckon this Berkshire brewery is at the top of their game. This year has seen so many amazing beers coming out of the Siren stable, several of which we've included in our All Killer No Filler subscription boxes, so we knew we had to include a cracker in this Christmas box.

Think decadent flavours, subtle rum and, OK, probably a wee bit too much coffee for a Sunday night (sorry about that). Cheers Siren!

HB&B Sub Club - our July and August boxes revealed

Our All Killer No Filler HB&B Sub Club boxes just keep getting better. Check out the most recent boxes below and then get yourself over to the shop to join the club...

July

 

August

The Beer Lover’s Table: Prawn and Mango Curry and Siren Hop Candy DIPA

Double IPAs may be one of my favourite styles (if you’re tuned into the zeitgeist, odds are they’re one of yours, too). But when a friend recently asked if I’d ever featured one in this column, the answer was no.

That’s not totally surprising. DIPAs are big, bold, and boozy, and they don’t always play well with others. Even richly flavoured dishes can taste wan and insipid in their wake.

But the question lingered in my mind, and grew into a challenge of sorts. What does pair naturally with a double IPA? People sometimes turn to barbecue or grilled meats, but I wanted something with sweetness and body, something that could mirror the pungency and tropicality of the hops. Something potent.

Then, I thought of this curry.

When I broke it down into its component parts, I realised this curry matched the classic DIPA profile blow-for- blow. It supplies richness and sweetness in the form of a coconut milk base. The tropical fruit aromas that characterise so many DIPAs? No surprise that they work well with actual tropical fruit — mango, in this case. And the full-on hop pungency is matched by what I think of as the curry’s pivotal ingredient: asafoetida.

Asafoetida is a spice with a serious aroma. Straight up, it’s pongy — even malodorous. But use a scant amount (I opted for 1/4 teaspoon, but you could use as little as 1/8), and you’ll find your curry transformed.

For the perfect pairing, you’ll need a DIPA that’s sweet and tropical, but with some bitterness and structure to it. That’s why I went with Siren’s Hop Candy, which is brewed with Simcoe hops — known for their earthy, even onion-y flavours — as well as spritzy lime zest. It’s funky, a touch hazy, fruit-forward, and even has a whiff of West Coast- style resinous stickiness.

In short, it’s a beautiful beer. And I’m happy to see it find a dinner partner at last.

South Indian-Inspired Prawn and Mango Curry
Serves 4

Curry paste:
5-6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 bird's eye chillies, stemmed
1 large piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
Pinch sea salt
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of fresh coriander

Curry:
2-3 tbs olive oil or ghee
1 onion, peeled and cut into slivers
20 curry leaves, divided
1 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp asafoetida
2-3 tbs tomato puree
1 400ml can coconut milk
100ml water
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 mango, peeled and cut into matchsticks, divided
16 king prawns

To serve:
Steamed basmati rice
Fresh coriander, roughly chopped

First, prepare the curry paste. Combine the garlic, chillies, ginger, salt, lime, and coriander in a food processer and blitz on high speed, pausing to wipe the bowl down, until the mixture has a paste-like consistency. Set aside.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil or ghee until hot. Add the onion, and saute for 5-6 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the prepared paste and fry for 2- 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 10 curry leaves and fry for 1 minute. Add the turmeric, coriander, and asafoetida, and fry for 30 seconds before adding the tomato puree. Cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring frequently. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Next, add the coconut milk and water to the mixture and stir to combine. Add half of the mango slivers (these pieces will virtually dissolve in the curry, which adds a wonderful sweetness). Lower the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer and gradually reduce for 15-20 minutes.

Next, taste the curry and adjust the seasoning if necessary. The sauce should be thickened and slightly darkened in colour.

Shortly before you’re ready to serve, add the remaining curry leaves, mango pieces, and the prawns (depending on the size of your pan, you may need to cook the prawns in two batches). Scoot the prawns into the simmering curry until they are covered by as much of the liquid as possible. Allow to cook for 1-1½ minutes until they have turned pink on one side; flip and allow to cook for 1-1½ minutes more.

(Side note: I prefer to use whole prawns, but you can also use the peeled and deveined variety. If you do opt for the latter, note that the cooking times will be ever quicker, so keep a close eye on them.)

As soon as the prawns are cooked through, remove the curry from the heat and serve immediately alongside steamed basmati rice. Garnish with the coriander.

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 pick up some Siren Hop Candy DIPA while stocks last in store or at our online shop

#HBBAdvent Beer 5: Siren Craft Brew/Garage Project Blacklight Banana Imperial Stout (Finchamstead/New Zealand)

Siren/Garage Project says: For this year’s Rainbow Project collaboration with Garage Project we drew the colour indigo. After much research on both sides the idea that excited us all most was that of the Blacklight Banana. Ripe bananas uniquely glow bright indigo under UV lights, one possible reason for this being that it identifies them as a food source for animals that see in the UV range, like bats. Molasses, caramelised bananas, banana purée and bourbon barrel aged coffee beans elevate this beer to something special.

We say: We always look forward to Rainbow Day, where the collaborative efforts of the seven participating UK breweries and their international counterparts are released. The 2016 project had special interest to us as it featured seven (or six, as it transpired this year) New Zealand breweries, including Garage Project, probably the most hyped Kiwi brewery never to make it to UK shelves. Jos and his team are doing exceptional things in the Aro Valley, as we discovered during an infamous 22-beer tasting session when we were back in January, and we can't wait until they decide to export over here. In the meantime, this lush impy stout, brewed with Siren, helps to ease the pain of Garage Project's absence. And who said you can't drink a 9.2% stout on a Monday? You've earned this. - 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 Blacklight Banana in store or via our online shop.