Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: November 2015

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Introducing... our new logo!

Mashtun and Meow has now been running for just over two years, and we have been blown away how much it's genuinely changed our lives. Next year, we've got some pretty exciting things in the pipeline (all will be revealed in the New Year!) and so we thought it was time we made things a bit more official.

With this in mind, we opened out a little invitation to our readers and friends, to see if anyone would like to design us a logo. We were inundated with offers and we are really so grateful to everyone. Our super talented buddy Paul sent through an idea the very next day, and it was completely "purrfect"... here's presenting the finished article!

We can't wait for it to appear on all our future projects, watch this space!

Massive thank you to Paul, and a giant head rub from the Beercat x

Monday, 9 November 2015

Beer and food pairing: Weird Beard Defacer and Pad Thai

It's no secret that we love going out to eat and drink, but sometimes it's just as nice to stay in and spend some time really thinking about and taking care over a meal. We often share a bottle of beer over tea, so decided that for some of the special brews lurking in our cellar we'd try to create some food which would complement them perfectly and recreate the dining out experience at home.

For our first foray into beer and food pairing, we chose Weird Beard's Defacer. Brewed using the distinctive Sorachi Ace hop (which just so happens to be Laura's favourite), this is a triple IPA weighing in at a mighty 11.1% and is also Weird Beard's 200th brew. Seeing as the ABV is akin to a bottle of wine, we thought it would be the perfect guinea pig for our experiment.

Sorachi Ace is well known for having prominent lemon and coconut notes alongside an interesting dill-y characteristic. We guessed that these qualities would pair perfectly alongside Thai food, so we decided to make a Pad Thai using king prawns marinated in coconut milk, turkey and Thai basil. We added baby sweetcorn and sugar snap peas (plus a healthy dose of fresh chilli), then a good squeeze of lime juice and a drizzle of barrel aged soy sauce (which just FYI is from Oisoi, a wonderful new addition to Sheffield's food shops) over the top and we were good to go.

The beer itself was phenomenal - a huge tropical aroma burst from the bottle immediately upon opening, and the expected Sorachi punch was dominant. Piney, bold and bitter, it worked brilliantly alongside the spicy food, with the zesty lime juice cutting through for balance and complementing the citrus notes in the beer.

Conclusion: WAY better than a Sauvignon Blanc.



Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Brewpubs in the Toon!

Earlier this autumn, we embarked on an 800-mile round trip of the north. First stop on this little tour was Newcastle - a city we've only visited once before about three years ago, with the sole purpose of going to a gig, so we'd not had the chance the check out the beer scene. With some exciting new breweries popping up around there (we're talking about you, Northern Alchemy), and having heard very good things about their craft beer pubs, we thought it would be a worthy destination for the first night of our beery holiday. Correct we were to think so.

Despite wandering into Newcastle city centre from Gateshead with no idea where we were really going, we managed to stumble straight into the Hop & Cleaver. From outside, it looked a little bit like a fairly standard BBQ joint, but a promising door step lured us in and it was instantly obvious that despite making a big thing about doing top notch smoked food (and rightfully so, more on that in a moment), they make an even bigger thing about their beer. A very friendly barman directed us through the many rooms of the cavernous building to have a look at their on-site brewery - small, but perfectly maintained. We opted for a couple of their brews - the Kiwi pale ale, and the Melon Head. The Kiwi pale ale was nice, if a little forgettable, but the Melon Head was outstanding - vibrant melon flavour coupled with a well-rounded hop character: a really unusual, imaginative brew.

Despite being very tempted by the Hop & Cleaver menu, rather than a full meal, we decided to have snacks and starters in each place we visited to make the most of our trip. We eventually plumped for the rib tips, which were the perfect combination of spicy and smoky. They came smothered in homemade BBQ sauce, and more sauces were available on the table too to suit a range of tastes. This was just one example of the attention to detail which was apparent in every single aspect of the way the Hop & Cleaver operates - even down to the door handles made from knife sharpening steels. Well themed yet understated, this would definitely be somewhere we'd regularly frequent if we were more local. We washed our rib tips down with the always excellent Beavertown Gamma Ray before moving on.

We headed just a short distance round the corner to the Bridge Tavern - another brewpub - on the recommendation of not only our Hartlepool-hailing brewer pal and colleague Dave but also the Hop & Cleaver staff (always nice to see local businesses supporting each other in this way). Both of the beers we chose first were ace. Jim went for Wylam Jakehead IPA, which had a massive body at 6.3% and felt almost like a barley wine. Laura chose Mango and Passionfruit Pale, a collaboration from Squawk and Track breweries, which was outrageously fruity and definitely did what it said on the tin! Beer snacks this time were a slightly odd combination of pickled eggs and oysters - Laura's first taste of both! The oysters were battered in the house TavernAle beer and served in their shell, which had been filled with a sharp and creamy tartare sauce. They were awesome. To finish, we picked a beast of a brew - Five Times Madder Tom, a collaboration between Moor, Arbor, Harbour, Beavertown and Hanging Bat - busy brewday that must have been! An 8% DIPA, this was chock full of lovely malty and resinous notes. Really complex with a pleasantly dry finish. Top marks!


Jim and Laura

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Autumn menu launch: Forum, Sheffield

The Forum in Sheffield, part of the newly renamed True North Brew Co, had tended to fade into the background a little alongside it's sister venues, with us more likely to choose to eat and drink at The Broadfield or The Old House. However, having received an invitation from manager Miles (formerly of the Broadfield) to try out their revamped Autumn menu, and having had a frankly awesome evening doing so, it's abundantly clear that we were being unfair to True North's flagship venue.

We arrived at 7pm and were greeted by Miles himself (who's traded in his Broadfield beard for a trendy city centre moustache, with great pizazz) and Forum's take on an Aperol spritz, adding prosecco and grapefruit bitters. This was a pleasantly refreshing and lightly bittered autumnal cocktail which got the evening off to a great start. Whilst we sipped on these, executive chef Andy Burns introduced the menu to us. It was quite a surprise (the good kind!) to discover that the menu is themed around a fusion of traditional British dishes and Korean fare, taking inspiration from the increasingly popular street food festivals which have sprung up all over the country in the past couple of years. Andy explained that he wanted to keep the "hand food" sort of style which has always worked so well at the Forum, whilst juxtaposing familiar menu items with something a bit more adventurous. The result is a modern, exciting menu which definitely offers something different to our local scene.

The first dishes presented to us were the spicy sriracha hummus with pitta chips, baby back ribs with a honey and sesame seed marinade, and a gorgeously tangy blue cheese rarebit fondue served with hearty slices of sourdough (all £3.95 or 3 for £10). Following this were two types of steamed buns - kimchi pork belly, and bulgogi beef (also in the same 3 for £10 deal). These were Laura's favourite offering of the night - both absolutely bursting with flavour, aromatic, wonderfully seasoned, and the soft steamed buns were a delight to eat. This sharing food style of starters worked really well and I'd say for a group of four that three dishes would be just right to nibble on before main courses.

Next up was the second cocktail of the evening - a soju daiquiri made with muddled sweet potato, lime and agave syrup. Now this sounded slightly odd, but was a revelation... tasting just like sherbet lemons!

 Onto the mains, where firstly we sampled the pork tomahawk steak (£9.95) - the meat was wonderfully cooked and beautifully succulent, with the soy and ginger glaze giving just the right balance of salty and sharp sweetness. This was served with skinny house fries and roasted vine tomatoes, which were both good accompaniments.

The food just kept on coming! The chicken and tofu skewers and Korean pork belly burrito (all £8.50) were both familiar enough to have all-round appeal, whilst offering a tasty twist too. We both really enjoyed mini versions of the classic beef burger - the meat is sourced from one of our favourite local suppliers, Mr Pickles, which demonstrates the Forum kitchen's commitment to quality. These were served on buttermilk buns from Seven Hills Bakery, another Sheffield gem. We also tried the cod pakora, which were a great idea, but a little underseasoned on this occasion. Lastly was the shaved bulgogi beef - thinner strips of the same flavoured meat as those spectacular steamed buns. Bulgogi is a new one on us - apparently it means "fire meat" - a very pleasing concept, I'm sure you will agree. It did not disappoint - tender to the point of falling apart in the mouth, with a rich and fruity flavour from the marinade and an almost caramelised characteristic from the traditional grilling techniques used to cook it.

Finally, we reached desserts. The two of us shared a Hotteok - a Korean style filled pancake with seeds, which was almost crumpetty (definitely a word), served with Yee Kwan coconut and chocolate ice cream. Despite being absolutely stuffed, we also couldn't resist trying the deep fried ice cream sandwich, which was like a classy seaside donut! There were also salted rolo brownies to try, which the rest of the table vouched for as delicious, but we really couldn't fit one in.

We ended the evening with our third and final cocktail, which was a inventive take on a whisky sour. Peaty, smoky Bowmore 12 and delicately punchy St Germain elderflower liqueur combined with lemon to produce the perfect palate cleanser. Although the Islay whisky wasn't to everyone's taste, the balance was just right and it didn't overpower. A good example of how the Forum's cocktail menu, like True North's other venues, combines classic recipes with exciting new elements, resulting in a range of drinks that is quite unique. A winner in our book!

Action shot!
We had a fantastic evening all round and it was great to catch up with Sheffield blogging friends old and new! Despite the absolute FEAST we were presented with, there's still plenty of dishes we'd love to try (crispy pigs ears with a blue cheese dipping sauce, HELLO... plus the brunch menu looks delicious), so we'll definitely be back. Big thanks to Miles, Andy and the rest of the Forum team!


Laura & Jim