Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: February 2016

Friday, 26 February 2016

Espresso Martinis

Much as we love our spirits unadulterated, we are also BIG fans of the odd cocktail or two. The espresso martini is one of our absolute favourites... rich, creamy and decadent. The absolute key to getting it right is using good quality ingredients - we go by the rule of never putting in a cocktail anything we wouldn't drink neat.

First of all, make the espresso. Instant coffee will in no way cut it, it needs to be the proper ground stuff.

Put a load of ice in a cocktail shaker. Add a double shot of vodka per person. We used Brittains vodka, made in Doncaster (always nice to keep things local!) and bought from one of our favourite independent shops, Mr Pickles. Next, a generous shot of coffee liqueur. Add a shot (or more, if you like it bitter) of espresso per portion and if you're feeling particularly swish, a little glug of chocolate syrup. The final ingredient is an egg white, very important for a lovely frothy top. Shake until you feel like your arms might fall off, then strain into martini glasses.


"Serious GOURMET shit"

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Black Bottle Brewery

"Just give me a minute, I need to glue the horn in this unicorn" came the opening gambit from Sean "Captain" Nook, founder of and brewer for Black Bottle Brewery (BBB), Fort Collins, Colorado. And so the scene was set for an absolute blast of an afternoon.

Like many of the breweries in Fort Collins, BBB have a tasting room which has become an absolute main stay of the community... In the hours we spent there, university students, young parents and retirees all came in to sample some of the 40 different draft beers in the midst of good music and chilled vibes. Almost all were warmly received as regulars by the bar staff. However, unlike most of the bars in town, BBB is clad with taxidermied squirrels posed in various throes of death/murder/partytime, along with a variety of other similarly interesting paraphernalia.

The 8 barrel brew kit sat in a basement below the avant-garde rodents is a veritable mishmash of gear, with a copper kettle next to an unmatched combi-mash-lautertun. The kit was previously owned by Shirts Brewing, Michigan, who themselves are expanding to export further afield. The space for the fermentation and conditioning is limited but the production works well for the capacity, as it's small enough to brew some ridiculous one offs as well as having the space to regularly brew the beers that are the mainstay of the business. Pushing further back through the basement, we reached the barrel store, holding a mix of barrel ageing and souring in various stages of development, definitely stuff to watch out for in the future.

Sean told us over a glass or two of Scuba Steve, a fantastically juicy classic US IPA (6.3%), that the brewery gained infamy for its range of beers that were 'dry-hopped' with cereal, "Cerealiously", to the point of being offered funding to open a brewery only making these beers... a result of the crave for craft beer always looking for something new or a gimmick. Whilst we're sure this would have produced tons of fun beer, the team decided to continue full steam ahead with their wider-ranging, all-encompassing plans for the FoCo brewery... very fortuitously for us it turned out, as we sat at the bar faced with an incredible selection of fonts. 22 of the beers brewed on site were available, along with another 20 guests.

We managed to make our way through most of the menu during the afternoon and a repeat visit later in the week, and can honestly say that every single beer was excellent, with our experience massively enhanced by friendly and knowledgeable staff headed up by Sean himself. Here's a quick look at a few of our highlights...
Tele-Porter, described simply as a Nutella porter, did exactly what it set out to do. So many beers trying to emulate a very specific flavour disappoint, but this was quite the exception. Featuring hazelnut and malted chocolate, this was a 5.1% glass of utter joy.
Carlos - a 7.5% American Brown - was served from a tap made of a dead squirrel (not kidding). Sweet and malty with a good hoppiness upfront, the flavour lived up to the novelty pour.
Bark Twice If You're In Milwaukee - now we have no idea what's behind this name, but it was a bloody delicious American style barley wine, weighing in at a mighty 10.4%. With a much more hop-forward character than it's English counterparts, this still retained a distinctive sweetness and a long-lasting finish.
Laura also had a Scuba Steve Mai Tai... the aforementioned IPA mixed with Ballast Point 3 Sheets barrel aged rum, Myers rum, grenadine, pineapple and orange juice. A tropical, ingenuitive delight.

With development on the horizon, such as a silo being installed just outside the brewery, and a liquor license for a second property, it's clear that any expansion will be sure to stay on Black Bottle's terms whilst always keeping ingenuity, the community, and a little bit of bonkers-ness at the very heart of their beer production.

Massive thanks to Sean and the team for making us Brits so welcome!



Sunday, 7 February 2016

Following our American dream... an introduction

We have just spent a week in one of the great brewing capitals of the US. Fort Collins, in the north of Colorado, is a true beer destination, with an ever increasing number of craft and micro breweries and a population which is truly passionate about their beer. Many of the breweries are brewpubs, with welcoming tap rooms to serve their range of beers. Having visited eight breweries and a multitude of bars around the city and beyond during our time in FoCo, we found the perfect environment to embrace everything great about the American craft beer scene.

We'll be posting about many of these incredible places over the coming weeks, but in the meantime here's a few photos by way of introduction to some of our favourites...

Downtown Fort Collins

House beers at Black Bottle Brewery

Choice City - a butchers and delicatessen... with 36 beers on tap

Flights at Fort Collins Brewery

New Belgium's enchanting foudre farm

CooperSmiths Brewpub

Barrel house at FunkWerks

The Mayor of Old Town has 100 beers available on tap

Majestic Odell's

The Tap n Handle... this became one of our regular haunts!

Equinox Brewery mid-snowstorm

Nice little brewkit at Zwei