Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: August 2014

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Whisky Review #2: Talisker 10 Year

I have had this whisky sat in the cupboard for a while, and for no particular reason, as it isn't expensive and it is a lovely dram.

I think really it is because it is a combination of both of these things: for one I didn't want to finish it as it was pretty darn tasty, and because it was relatively cheap meant I would often select something else from the cupboard.

Talisker 10 has a nose that just has smokiness bandied around willy nilly, like a smouldering peat throwing monkey is being contained within the glass. There are also hints of fruitiness, as though the monkey has been washed in an apple shampoo (obviously in a way that PETA would approve).
Festival paper cup dram
As it opens up, the monkey is released back into the wild leaving a more subtle peated fuminess, accompanied by sweet orchard notes and the lovely smells of the coastal seaweed.

The palate stays ashen: intense without being too overpowering. This time there is a light seasoning of peppery heat and a seaweedy saltiness, all carried along by a great barley chew.

The finish lingers with a gentle, sweet smokiness - like lying in a barley field having a little puff on a pipe.

For me, despite the peatiness it is still open for those less inclined to the sometimes astringent medicinal nature of other well peated whiskies. Priced at around £35 from Master of Malt it is a bargain.



Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Karma Citra: Beer and Desserts

Relatively new to the growing Sheffield craft beer scene, Karma Citra are a group of beer enthusiasts who have recently started hosting an array of interesting events. This one was no exception - beer and pudding. Who can resist that?!

Held in the laid-back setting of Brewdog, we were greeted by "I hope you're hungry" - always a good sign when you're about to embark on a four-course meal of pudding!

We started on the "light option" - Buxton Far Skyline Berliner Weisse served with a lemon mousse. Unusually strong for this style of beer at 4.9%, initially I found the Buxton a little too sour for my taste - not something I'd usually go for. However after gobbling down some of the tart yet sweet lemon mousse (and getting a fair amount all over my face), the sourness softened and the fruity, hoppy characteristics of the beer came to the fore, making it deliciously palatable. The sweet and sour combination was ultimately a winner, and we scored it 9/10 - the bar had been set!

Second up was Weihenstephaner Hefeweisse, paired with a banana and peanut butter cheesecake. Hailing from the oldest brewery in the world, the Hefeweisse was tasty, if a little on the thin side - although the clean feeling it left on the palate was welcomed. However, again the dessert accompaniment really brought the beer to life and enhanced the banana-y flavour present in the style, and the two together worked really well. Score: 8/10.

We all needed a little bit of a rest after this, before the third offering was brought out - Magic Rock's collaboration with Norwegian brewery Lervig Aktiebryggeri - Farmhouse IPA, served with a carrot cupcake, with cream cheese icing. The beer was all classic IPA on the nose, with a great hoppy flavour and just a hint of citrussy spice. The spiciness of the carrot cake complemented this well and little hints of orange in there went nicely with the hoppy nature of the beer. A solid 7/10.

And then came the piece de resistance, and what a finale it was! Brewdog Cocoa Psycho brownie (Meghan's recipe can be found here) and a Sam Smith's Chocolate Stout float, with vanilla ice cream, a generous helping of squirty cream and chocolate sprinkles. The Cocoa Psycho gave a wonderfully sumptuous coffee and chocolate flavour and was just everything you could ever want from a brownie - the beer float was almost delicate in comparison! This whole lot came with a jug of cream on the side "to make it less heavy". That's my kind of pud. Full marks all round from the table-10/10!
From now on, I demand that all my drinks come as a float and that all my Sundays be decadent.
All gone!


Monday, 11 August 2014

Old and Rare Whisky at the Broadfield

With the heady wafts of five fine whiskies in front of us, we arrived again for another tasting in the upstairs room of the Broadfield. The evening was a warm one, due to both the weather and the extreme popularity of the soon to be international tasting events run by Ed Daly (@whiskycurator). As well as the excellent whisky on offer, there was also a selection of exquisite food planned by chef Rob, to complement and contrast with our drams.

We opened with a spectacular whisky from Bowmore: the 16 year (1989 release). This bottling is a limited release that due to its excellence has sold out from most places, but can still be purchased for almost double its original price from auction sites. The whisky hums lightly of the sea, coupled with a smoked lime sherbet. Even more of the salty, iodine flavours came out on the taste, which paired perfectly with the sweetness from the bourbon cask. The whisky is bottled at 51.8% but doesn't have the heat expected from cask strength. It is a whisky that does everything you would expect from a Bowmore, but on a level not often seen.

Seared king scallops with candied leek, served on a bed of truffle polenta were served alongside: the food managed to find a careful balance of sweetness in the leek and sea-saltiness in the scallop to enhance the flavours of the whisky.

Yamazaki Mizanara is a truly rare whisky, and one that has not yet been released in the UK, but had been acquired for the evening by our host. This whisky is aged in a Mizanara cask, a kind of Japanese oak not often used as it is a slow growing tree and very temperamental in casks (it expands and contracts erratically and leakage is often inevitable), which makes it the most expensive bottle of the evening (around £250 a bottle). It has the smell of lingering minty incense and apricots, that continues to grow on the palate to a flavour unlike anything else we've ever tried, with flavours of malted fruits and a sweet woodiness of tobacco. The finish is of a light fruitiness and subtle smoke.

The food accompaniment in this case was potted rabbit, hazelnut tuille and woodland pesto made from nettles, garlic, sorrel and lovage. A great earthiness from the pesto intensifies with the flavours of the Japanese oak. The rabbit itself is bold and rich and the hazelnut tuille provided the perfect level of sweetness.

The next dram was a Fettercairn 24 year. The smell was of a Victorian retiring room during tea service: wafts of old leather, fruit scones and a small sherry. A little further into the smell came the tickly heat of black pepper and walnut. On the taste was the same retiring room, this time late evening with a large glass of sherry and a toffee pudding, plus a lovely spice creeping in on the finish.

Pan fried pigeon breast with a summer berry kebab and a strawberry balsamic jus was the pairing here. Pigeon is one of my favourite pieces of poultry and this was a fine example of how good game can be.

The oldest whisky of the evening came second to last in the form of Glenfarclas 30, which has an incredibly rounded nose of sweet toffee with treacle that gives way to citrus punch. The sherry finish is exquisitely sticky and rounded across the mouth but steps up a notch with delightful spiced dried fruit. Whilst this whisky was awesome, its age means for me that there is a little loss of a certain characteristic - the flavours all marry together so well that we both found it almost bland.

This was served with an ideal accompaniment: venison tortellini with sautéed wild mushrooms. The richness of this dish worked really well with the hearty nature of the whisky.

The final dram of the night was undoubtedly the most special. We were initially taken by surprise by the colour - blush pink! This turned out to be Bruichladdich 10 year "Duplex" - a private cask bottling, with 244 bottles produced. Finished in very rare Petrus wine casks and personally bottled by Jim McEwan, this is certainly a whisky with a story to tell. A robust wine-y nose gives way to a rounded flavour of red fruits and delicate sweetness. At 62.3%, this is a whisky which fills the head rather than the stomach with warmth. It is a marvellous dram that tickles all the palate with a rounded depth from the fine red wine finish.

This was served with a goat's cheese semifreddo, apricot puree and summer berry candy: a delightful pud and a wonderfully sweet way to draw the evening to a close.

This was a splendid end to the tasting series, with some of the finest whiskies we've sampled throughout the tastings and easily some of the best food pairings.

The next round of tastings are already planned, and we're sure to be booking on to a few!


Monday, 4 August 2014

Homage 2 Fromage

Totally unable to resist anything that's name includes an excellent cheese-based pun, we were delighted to be invited along to Homage 2 Fromage last week. A monthly club dedicated to all things cheese, Homage 2 Fromage started three years ago in Leeds and has since expanded to our humble home town.

Hosted in guest venues, this month's setting was the lovely Tamper Coffee. Vickie and Nick, the founders of Homage 2 Fromage and self-proclaimed cheese enthusiasts, welcomed us to the venue and explained the rules - cheese is called at 7pm, before which time you may approach the cheese, appreciate the aesthetic quality and aroma of the cheese, but under no circumstances must the cheese be in any way fondled or sampled! Once the tasting kicks off, it's all in, help yourself - there's an array of breads, crackers, chutneys and pickles to accompany the cheeses and discussion is much encouraged.

There's no lofty pomposity here - just a group of individuals having a bloody good time eating cheese. Nick described the feel of the event perfectly - "If cheese and wine is the opera, we're more rock and roll".

Each event has a theme, and this month we were treated to award-winning cheeses from the Great Yorkshire Show. A total of seven cheeses were available, which were tasted blind before being revealed to the group. On offer were:
Cheeses 1-3
1. Mary Quicke's Traditional Vintage Cheddar - a lovely soft and creamy, full-flavoured cheddar.
2. Olde York - a gentle, crumbly, soft white cheese. Laura's favourite of the evening.
3. Capricorn Goats Cheese - a deliciously delicate cheese, that wasn't too overpoweringly farmyard-y in flavour. Aptly described by Nick as a "gateway to goat".
4. Monks Folly - clean and almost lactic in flavour, this was a classic mould-ripened cheese.
5. Dewlay Crumbly Lancashire - fresh and a little tangy, very moreish! Went down well with a Yorkshire crowd - high praise indeed.
6. Bluemin White - a blue and white hybrid! Not too strong and really creamy, this cheese is kept close to blue-veined cheeses, meaning the mould transfers to just the outside. This worked perfectly with ginger and rhubarb chutney.
7. Colston Bassett - a great example of a blue-veined cheese - the flavour you'd expect but not too harsh or stinky. A real crowd-pleaser and Jim's top cheese of the night.
Cheeses 4-7
We were particularly impressed by the fact that all the accoutrements involved were sourced from local producers - the bread was all from Seven Hills Bakery, with chutneys from Hedgerow and Just Preserves.
All-in-all, this was a great evening - full of humour, and possibly the most sociable event we've been to all year! It was also sold out, with Tamper packed to the beams - who knew that Sheffield was home to so many people who are passionate about cheese?! It curd-n't have been feta better*.
The aftermath!
Events are held on a monthly basis, and membership is also available for £10 per year, which includes discounted tickets to events and offers on cheese at an array of local retailers. Head on over to Homage 2 Fromage's website for more details!


*Apologies for the atrocious pun - impossible to resist sneaking one in!