Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: Beer
Showing posts with label Beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Beer. Show all posts

Monday, 12 June 2017

Can Conditioning - What's the Point?

As canning continues its near meteoric rise as the medium of choice for small pack dispense for many small independent modern breweries in the UK, it is no surprise that developments and targeted improvements to the process are continually being worked upon.

Currently, the majority of canned beer is done through packaging a force carbonated product rather than one that naturally carbonates through residual yeast continuing to ferment the beer, creating CO2 as it does so, as is often seen in bottled beer. We are however now starting to see breweries using can conditioning instead - Moor Brewery in Bristol are one of the pioneers of the process in the UK and are the first to be granted real ale status by CAMRA for their cans.

Having briefly met Paddy of Windsor & Eton Brewery, and Kieran of their offshoot project, Uprising Craft Brewing, at a breakfast organised by The Can Makers at SIBA Beer X earlier in the year, we were invited to taste their test run of can conditioned Treason - West Coast IPA prior to them being launched fully to compare against the filtered, force carbonated version. Here's what we made of them...


Appearance: Due to the residual yeast present in the can conditioned version, it requires a slightly more careful pour than the filtered beer. For research purposes, we were sure to give the same care to the filtered version. The naturally carbonated can gave a firmer head to the beer, more like you'd see on a well poured pint in a pub, compared to the filtered which looked "gassier" with larger bubbles. The clarity of both beers was the same with a little bit of chill haze present in both.

Aroma: Much punchier in the can conditioned version. The residual yeast helps to clear up any dissolved oxygen in the beer, in theory enabling the beer to remain as intended for longer. We did detect a slight oxygenation to the filtered beer, although it's worth pointing out that had we not had the can conditioned for contrast, we probably wouldn't have picked up on it as the hop character was still present... just a lot more overtly fruity for the can conditioned version.

Flavour: Again, we preferred the can conditioned version, although there was nothing wrong with the filtered! The can conditioned had a fresher quality to it with a more vibrant hop character, and we felt that the force carbed version had a somewhat more cloying sweetness to it, perhaps due to the filtration process removing some of the hop flavour which provides a balancing bitterness. It's also worth noting that due to the continuation of fermentation, the ABV of the can conditioned beer comes in slightly higher than it's force carbed counterpart (6.0% compared to 5.8%).

Overall: An interesting experiment! We did think that the can conditioned version triumphed on all counts, however, for smaller operations lacking the space and time to invest in can conditioning, this is by no means a death knell for force carbonated beer in cans (provided the beer is well looked after throughout the brewing and canning process), as both cans were tasty and of good quality. Treason, winner of a Gold IBC award in 2015 and the 2016 Indie Beer Can festival, is currently available in Wetherspoons outlets, and it's good to see that Uprising are keen to go about things in a non-macro way and strive to improve the quality of their product.

Canning in general can be a great way for beer producers to dip their toe into smallpack, particularly with companies offering mobile canning becoming more prevalent, making canning more affordable without the need to invest in infrastructure and equipment. Although across the board the quality of canned beer has been variable, it's definitely continually improving, with breweries progressively honing their technique. Cans are also better for the environment when compared to bottles, being cheaper to transport and more easily recyclable, and also take away the chance of a beer becoming lightstruck. Whilst we didn't intend to write this post to look at the potential advantages of cans over bottles, suffice to say we believe the can is here to stay!

Cheers,

Jim and Laura

Monday, 17 April 2017

Beavertown & To Øl: Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

The collaboration between Beavertown and To Øl was sure to produce something special. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde were born of the same base malt and mashing process, then both sent in their uniquely separate ways. The beers were both primary fermented with a fabled Scottish yeast strain that made it's way to Belgium and back to N17, where it was thrown into these worts. We managed to get our hands on these due to a fortuitously timed trip to Cotteridge Wines last April, and have been holding on to them for a special occasion. The end to a bank holiday which we worked the whole way through seemed suitable enough! On to the beers...



Jekyll


An 8.1% Muscat barrel aged bretted gooseberry Belgian pale. The beer itself sings with layers of elegant sourness, reminiscent of greengages initially then on to gooseberries, coupled with a hit of lactobacillus which builds beautiful acids across the palate. While the tartness is crisp, the tannic oak adds a delightfully savoury note, and the sweetness of the original wine softens with an apple scrumpy cider character, which goes hand in hand with the distinctive brett stone fruit funk. It leaves you with the same dancing feeling across the roof of your mouth like you've just eaten tangfastics (if thats a suitable tasting note without incurring potential lawsuits), with a zesty sherbet bite provided through the high carbonation and a lasting lip-puckering finish.

Hyde


This is a different beast entirely, an imperial stout boosted with a hit of roasted malts, beechwood smoked malts and heaps of brown sugar to help amplify the ABV to an impressive 13.7%. The beer is left to mature in Speyside whisky barrels, before being seasoned with sea salt. A bold boozy kick flies out of the glass instantly, with a waft of warm smoke and a savoury salination (Laura thought it smelt a bit like a really nice gravy?!). The same characteristics ripple across the palate, along with a rich oaky character. While the carbonation is near non existent, the sticky sweetness of molasses bolstered wort is still surprisingly light and a little delicate. The finish is warm and boozy with a twang of characteristic Belgian yeast, but this doesn't linger for more than a few seconds, with quite a short mouthfeel considering the smoked malt character.


Overall - a very cleverly crafted duo with little to suggest that they were borne of the same base beer. The Jekyll just pipped it for us, being so inherently drinkable, but both were excellent and a great showcase of what two goliaths of the industry can produce.

Cheers!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Sheffield Beer Week 2017 - A Round-Up

Sheffield Beer Week is over for another year and we've flung ourselves in absolutely head first this time! Here's a quick overview of the events we attended...

MONDAY
A relatively quiet start to the week for us as we joined in a twitter hour with @catsontap. We've long been fans of beercats Rosie and Milly, and our Tosin is a regular on their page too! We kicked off with something pretty special brought back from our trip to Brussels last year - Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic Bio. Face-puckering, fruity and a glorious treat to kick off the week. We also imbibed Cloudwater's Seguin Biere Brut, reminiscent more of a wine than a beer and utterly delicious.


TUESDAY
Every week, Sentinel Brew Co host a film night, wittily titled Brew-vie Tuesdays. We've not made it down to this before but in conjunction with Sheffield Beer Week they decided to show "Beertickers: Beyond the Ale". Filmed in 2008 in and around Sheffield, it was so entertaining for us to look back at the beer scene as it was around the time we both first properly got into real ale, with many a familiar face amongst the footage! Great pizzas and popcorn, too.

WEDNESDAY
A Lervig tap takeover at the Rutland Arms kicked off our evening, with the highlight being Sippin' Into Darkness, a chocolate martini imperial stout at 12%. Bold, boozy and tasted like a Double Decker chocolate bar fondue.

We then headed up to Brewdog for the Mad Hatter meet the brewer event and bumped into the team from Weird Beard. Plenty of beery chat and a lot of laughs were had.


THURSDAY
An even bigger night for us on the Thursday. First off we hit up the Beer Engine's North vs South beer and food pairing, featuring four beers each from London based Fourpure and Fierce from Aberdeen. The food at the Beer Engine is some of the best in Sheffield as far as we're concerned, and a new guest chef brought in to create the pairing menus for this event elevated the offering to an even higher level. The highlight for us was Fierce's Tropical Tart, a beautifully light and tangy passionfruit sour, served with spicy prawns and crab laksa.


A short walk back to Sentinel for a tap takeover hosted by Yellowbelly Brewery where we sampled their collaboration with bloggers Wayne and Janice from IrishBeerSnob, Juice Wayne - a Rock Shandy IPA, inspired by an Irish soft drink and bursting with oranges and lemons. It took Laura until Sunday to realise that Juice rhymes with Bruce...

Finally we headed up to the launch of Abbeydale Brewery's new Brewers Emporium range at the newly refurbished Devonshire Cat, which was buzzing with a vibrant atmosphere and presented a great range of progressive beers to choose from.

FRIDAY
We started the day with a Beer Writers Breakfast hosted by the The Can Makers, giving us an insight into a truly up and coming portion of the market and with tasty pastries from Sheffield based Percy & Lily's. It was the first day of the Beer Now conference, ending with a trip to Beer Alive festival. It was the third time we've attended the festival and it's been scaled down pretty drastically this year. It's a shame that this resulted in a rather lacklustre beer selection - the lack of involvement from brewers directly, which was a great feature of last year's festival, was missed.

SATURDAY
A full on and inspiring day at the Beer Now conference, kicking off with Bob Pease of the Brewer's Association, who gave us useful insights into the American beer scene. Our favourite part of the day was undoubtedly the Live Beer Blogging featuring beers from Abbeydale, Ilkley, Lost Industry, Sentinel, Sharps, Thornbridge and Twisted Barrel - a frenzied hour of tweeting, chatting, learning and drinking.


A raucous coach journey later and we were treated to BBQ and beers at Thornbridge Brewery, a brilliant evening where we also discovered that table football is never going to be our forte!

SUNDAY
The Beer Now conference was wrapped up, with inspirational talks from Richard of Ferment magazine, Jules of Hop Hideout and of course Sheffield Beer Week fame, and Andy from the excellent Elusive Brewing.

FINALLY, we trekked up to the Greystones for a special edition of Karma Citra, pairing a selection of Tiny Rebel beers with some super spicy Caribbean food. Always a brilliant event and a fun and laid back end to a very hectic week.


To finish, it's worth mentioning that our festivities during the week didn't even scratch the surface in terms of the amount of events running. We really were spoilt for choice, and have been left feeling very lucky to live in a city with such a thriving, varied and exciting beer scene. A mighty round of applause to Jules Gray for co-ordinating everything... we're already looking forward to finding out what Sheffield Beer Week 2018 will bring! But first, a lie in and a green smoothie are most definitely in order.

Cheers!

Jim & Laura

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Peat Reek: Octomore 6.3 vs xeRRex

I love smoke. I love peat.


I love Bruichladdich and I love Yeastie Boys.

By extension, it seems only reasonable that one of the only beers I buy every time I see it should pair rather nicely against a whisky I have long lusted after, but only recently plucked up the courage to buy. 

So I give you Yeastie Boys xeRRex - a 100% peated malt 10% Imperial IPA, and Bruichladdich Octomore 6.3 Islay Barley, bottled at 64% with a phenol count of 258ppm (to put this into context, Laphroaig 10 is about 40ppm). Both barley grists were malted by the malt magicians Bairds in Inverness.


And so to the booze...

Yeastie Boys - xeRRex 10%, 30-50ppm, 50 IBU

Initially the nose is predominantly peat, as to be expected, with a subtle grassy hop aroma, not a hint of the 10% alcohol with a residual maltiness.

On the palate, there's a slight malt sweetness carried by a bold and decisive bitterness from NZ Willamette that really backs up the malt character. The sweetness is almost reminiscent of a sherry cask but the overwhelming character is unmistakably peat, with a light phenolic character. It reminds me of the wash you can taste pre-distillation on whisky distillery tours (more specifically Laphroaig), albeit more refined. 

I'm well aware this is an opinion-divider of a beer, but for me it drinks delightfully, easily carrying whopping flavours that continue to grow and develop, with a light carbonation, that allows the bold peated character to grow. Somehow there is a subtle saltiness, perhaps the addition of calcium sulphite used to highlight the hop crispness has left a slight minerality - either way it suits the beer amazingly. As the beer warms up there is a little bit more to the alcohol mouthfeel that just adds to the already warming glow. There is no restraint with this beer, obnoxiously peated with a well matched bitterness that reigns in the big smoky flavours. Yum.

Bruichladdich - Octomore 6.3 Islay Barley, 64%, 258ppm

Colour - Light copper

Aroma - Wonderfully bold peat emanates from the glass instantly. A light sweetness follows, with a touch of vanilla and punch of alcohol. Allowing the whisky to open up releases an accompanying layer of oak.

Palate - Sweet initially on the tip of the tongue, then not half a second later tidal waves of peat smoke encompass and fill the mouth. This is then softened by a touch of slight roasted apple and soft vanilla sweetness from the American Bourbon casks. Slowly the peat creeps back for a long finish. 
Conclusion - A great tide of peat smoke swells in and out and around the head like the tidal movements of Loch Indaal. The layers of peat character at every stage of drinking this beautiful dram are exquisite. Not only does it hold all the levels of smoke you could possibly want but it's contained beautifully in a well rounded and surprisingly balanced whisky.


In reality this is not a versus write up and not really a comparison between the two. Just a little muse on my love affair with overly correctly peated alcohol, showcasing the most highly peated versions of each producer's craft. Bruichladdich have the ability and technique to push the boundaries on whisky, and can be considered as one of the pioneers in barrel finishing. Yeastie Boys, led by Stu McKinlay, have a similar ability to push the boundaries for beer, and have produced one of the most divisive brews in modern beer but stand by it with pride.

Slainte,

Jim

Friday, 6 January 2017

Imperial Raspberry Stout: Thornbridge meets Yamazaki

Beer and whisky... in case you hadn't noticed, two of our favourite things. We just so happened to have one of each in the cupboard which we thought would work well in a joint tasting... Thornbridge Brewery's Imperial Raspberry Stout, brewed in collaboration with St Eriks, and a sample of the SMWS 119.14 Raspberry Imperial Stout.

We started with the beer and were instantly hit by the deep, rich raspberry aroma. The flavour bursts with raspberry coulis, slightly tart but balanced by bitter dark chocolate and hints of sweet bonfire toffee, all backed up with a smooth and roasted malty backbone. The finish is surprisingly short for such a robust stout (the ABV weighs in at 10%) but this makes it all the more drinkable. A total delight.


Onto the whisky - a single barrel Yamazaki bottled at 53.9%. Classically Japanese, light and distinctly yet delicately tannic on the nose, but with a fruity twist. Spicy and earthy with deeper woodiness on the palate, all alongside sweet raspberries. With time in the glass it opens up and becomes a little more rounded with a softer character that allows for more of the sherry to come through from the bota corta cask. Overall though, not particularly balanced for an 11 year old whisky, but no worse for this - it's a real experience to drink and excites the palate with every sip.

Obviously we couldn't resist mixing a bit of each together to create a boilermaker and it was a TRIUMPH. 

Cheers,

J&L

Friday, 23 December 2016

Golden Pints 2016

We've had some amazing beery experiences during 2016 - from our own collaboration with Bad Seed Brewery, to brewery-led trips to Colorado, Bristol and Brussels, a rising standard across our hometown, Sheffield, and some excellent beer consumed simply at home. It's also been the first full year we've spent working in the brewing trade, and it is truly the most friendly, rewarding and exciting industry to be a part of. Here are some of our highlights...

Best UK Cask

Winner: Torrside - Candlewick. Sometimes, all you need is something classic, and this stout from Torrside is just exemplary of the style. Everything we've tried from these guys has been Very Good or better, and they're lovely chaps to boot. Looking forward to seeing more from them in 2017.

Best UK Keg

Winner: Buxton - Red Raspberry Rye (double raspberry edition). Drank at Port Street Beer House, this was a magnificent end to a day out at Indy Man.

Best UK Bottle/Can

Winner: Buxton - Axe Edge. Complex, juicy and consistently brilliant.
Honourable mention: Chorlton - Amarillo Sour. Another go-to and a staple in our fridge.

Best Overseas Draft

Winner: Crooked Stave - Silly Cybies. A barrel aged raspberry sour, bursting with fruity flavour, exploding across the palate, and a body that leaves your mouth literally watering in need of more. Simply beautiful. Gutted that this doesn't seem to be one of the Crooked Stave releases that makes it across the pond.
Honourable mention: Lervig - Sippin' into Darkness. The top beer of IndyMan, described to us as "liquid Double Decker", and we can't say it better ourselves. LUSCIOUS.

Best Overseas Bottled 

Winner: Brussels Beer Project - Delta. A delicately balanced light beer reminiscent of an APA but with a quintessential Belgian twang of fruity esters, heightened by a classically American dry hop hit.
Honourable mention: Yeastie Boys - Xerrex. Because obnoxious in beer sometimes is needed.

Best Collaboration Brew 

Winner: Buxton/Lervig - Trolltunga. We've both thoroughly enjoyed this on keg and in bottle, on numerous occasions. Astoundingly refreshing and delightfully tart. Love the artwork, too.

Best Branding 

Winner: Mad Hatter - colourful, distinctive, just on the cute side of "a bit weird". Inspired!

Best UK Brewery 

Winner: Hawkshead. In our eyes, they've done no wrong this year. Their cask output is consistent and maintains their appeal to a more traditional local market, but in keg and bottle they've pushed the boundaries of what beer can be. Chuckleberry Sour and Tonka have made a welcome return, and new beers such as their Tiramisu stout have been some of the best we've drank all year. Bravo!
Honourable mention: Buxton. Similarly to Hawkshead, they manage to nail traditional styles at the same time as coming up with innovative and delicious beers. Pipped into second place simply as we haven't seen as many new releases from them this year as we'd have liked.

Best Overseas Brewery

Winner: This was a toughie, but we've gone for To Øl, largely for their range of dry hopped sours. Always interesting, often challenging, and largely delicious.
Honourable mentions: Omnipollo, New Belgium, Cantillon.

Pub/Bar of the year

Winner: Small Bar, Bristol. One of those places that you'd quite happily never leave.

Best Taproom

This is an additional award we wanted to add in here simply because we've had so many incredible experiences this year. January witnessed a two week long trip to Colorado, and the taproom game over there was just ridiculously good. From the mammoth machines of Odell, Oskar Blues and New Belgium (bigger read here), to cosy barrel rooms at Funkwerks and Great Divide, delightfully "pubby" afternoons spent at Equinox and Left Hand and being generally spoilt at Crooked Stave (more on that here), it's been very difficult to choose a favourite. Shits all over anything we have in this country (although we know there are many people coming close and we appreciate those efforts... plus we haven't been to Wylam yet and we have HIGH HOPES).
Winner: Black Bottle Brewery, Fort Collins - for it's warmth, friendliness, zaniness, complete openness to every single member of society, and stonkingly massive range of some of the tastiest beers we've ever drank. Also bottomless nachos. Utter perfection. (You can read more here if you feel so inclined).
Honourable mention: Brussels Beer Project, Brussels - proof that you don't have to do anything fancy to have a great space. We wrote more on this too.


Best Beer Event

Winner: Rainbow Project launch at Magic Rock Tap. We volunteered on the bar here and were made treated like one (well, two) of the team. Great beer, good vibes, top day all round.
Honourable mention: Karkli-Fest. A day in beautiful settings with Karkli's head honcho Kumar and his family, who are quite frankly some of the loveliest and most welcoming people we've ever met. Food, drink and company were all exceptional and it was one of those days where you come home feeling so lucky to be a part of this industry.


Online Bottle Retailer

N/A for us, as we are lucky enough to have three brilliant bottle shops within walking distance from our house (shout outs to Hop Hideout, Beer Central and Turners!)

Best Beer Snack

Winner: Karkli - crunchy, twirly, sticks of spicy joy.
Honourable mention: Smofo - a Sheffield based company making the best pork scratchings IN THE WORLD.

Twitter Personality of the Year

Winner: @ThaBearded1 aka Carl of Twisted Barrel. Hilarious, informative, beard nearly as good as Jim's and not bad in real life either ;) bonus point for having a cute bunny.

Cheers, all... here's to 2017!

Jim & Laura

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Brewtown Tours

We were recently invited on a little adventure round York on one of the very first ever trips run by Brewtown Tours - an all new brewery tour experience run by ale enthusiast Mark Stredwick.


We met up at the York Tap to start the tour, which is the perfect convenient location for both locals and those travelling in (and means you can grab a pre-tour beer should you feel so inclined!). A picturesque 40 minute drive out through the suburbs to the east of York, whilst discussing our first, last, and favourite beers, took us to our first destination of the day, Half Moon Brewery. Located in an old blacksmith's forge, Mark quite appropriately described Half Moon as a micro-micro... a small yet perfectly formed 5 barrel plant run by Tony and Jackie Rogers.


The beers produced by this tiny brewery are big hits with local country pubs and are starting to gain headway in the venues of the cities nearby. An entertaining introduction to the brewing process was provided by Tony, followed by a mini food and beer pairing showcasing other local producers led by sensory consultant Jo Menneer. We both thoroughly enjoyed the F'Hops Sake golden ale (3.9%) paired with Mounfield's "hogg roast" herby pork sausage! As we boarded back onto the comfy Brewtown minibus, we were all given a goodie bag containing a bottle of Half Moon beer along with a block of St Helen's farm goat's cheese and Guppy's chocolate from the pairing, which was a really lovely touch.


The next stop a short drive later was The Hop Studio, the brewery of the three on today's itinerary that we were most familiar with. Famous for their hop forward pale beers, The Hop Studio are a staple on many a bar around Yorkshire since their inception in 2012. Clutching a glass of their Beerjolais, we toured the mezzanine level which has been recently converted into a bar, but houses the original malt store, auger and cold liquor tanks. The tour continued downstairs with a look at the wood clad brew system and fermentation room, where their process was described eloquently and passionately by founder Dave Shaw. On our return to the bar we tried our favourite beer of the day, a limited release of a beer simply called "Chocolat" - a white chocolate stout that sings of vanilla from the bourbon barrel it was aged in.


Finally, we pulled up at relative newcomers to the York brewery scene, Ainsty Ales, just as it was getting dark. Another beautiful location, situated in a barn overlooking both the farm and field, which will eventually be used to grow a small hop crop to be used in the brew house in a few years time. We were given a tour of the brand spanking brewhouse by head brewer Alan Hardie - previously of York Brewery - and were treated to some tastings of their core releases, of which the delighfully named golden ale Wankled Waggoner (try saying that after a few pints!) was the one we enjoyed the most. The tasting room there is not quite yet up and running, but it's sure to be a fantastic space in the near future - a quirky, rural bar with great potential.


Brewtown Tours currently offers two different routes around York (with at least a third in the pipeline) as well as a tour around Leeds. We had a relaxed yet informative day and thoroughly enjoyed our experience. It was great to get out into the suburbs and visit places that on a trip to York we would never usually think to travel to, but which were all well worth the journey... especially when being chauffeured in style!

Cheers,

Jim and Laura

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Passionfruit Meringue Pie

When Shannon of Tempest Brewing Co. first approached us about producing a week long beer and food pairing with a whole array of their delicious beers, our minds raced with ideas.

Having visited their tap and brewery in September 2015, we were extremely impressed by the range and quality of their beers and couldn't wait to get experimenting. 

You can see the variety of dishes we came up with here... and the passionfruit meringue pie we made worked so well with the delicious Mango Berlinner that we thought we'd better share the recipe for those of you fond of a sour beer! Sour beers work really well with something sweet to balance... in this case, passionfruit and mango are a match made in heaven. The sweetness of the meringue cuts through the gentle sourness of the beer, whilst the homemade curd zings along in tune with it.


Any citrus fruit will work here, so feel free to adjust the recipe accordingly depending on what you're pairing it with. Obviously lemons and limes produce more juice than a passionfruit, so you will need fewer.

Curd
Juice of 8 passionfruits, sieved to remove the pips
Juice and zest of 2 limes
4 egg yolks (keep the whites for the meringue)
170g golden caster sugar
1tsp corn flour.

Meringue
4 egg whites
250g golden caster sugar
1tsp cornflour

Topping
2 passionfruits

Method
First, preheat your oven to around 180°C.

Start by preparing the pastry. Now this is boring to both read and write about, and I'm sure you will have your own method (ours is buying shop bought [if it's good enough for Nigella, it's good enough for us]), so we'll leave you to it. But however you choose to do it, you will need a shortcrust pastry case around 25cm across, blind baked and ready to fill.

On to the good bit. CURD! Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl to a paste, making sure to get rid of any big sugar lumps. Into a measuring jug, sieve the passionfruits to remove the seeds leaving the juice behind, and squeeze the limes up to make the juice up to 200ml. Warm the fruit juice up in a pan, leave to cool slightly and then slowly add to the yolk/sugar combo, stirring continually to avoid cooking the eggs - nobody wants a scrambled curd. Once combined, add back to the pan with the corn flour and cook over a low heat, again stirring continually to avoid burning. The curd will thicken after around 4-6 minutes - at this point, remove it from the heat and pour the mixture into your pasty case. Allow this to cool, leaving an orange coloured velvet pool.

Meringue - this can either be easy as pie, or alternatively can get you working up a good sweat. Add all the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl to be hand mixed, and whisk until soft peaks form... in a mixer it should take around 3 minutes, by hand closer to 10 if you're lucky (and determined). As the peaks form, slowly mix in the sugar, trying to keep the air in the meringue, and mix to stiff peaks, then gently stir in the corn flower. Dollop the meringue atop the curd, starting at the edges and pile upwards to a peak in the centre, but ensuring you cover all the curd to protect it from the heat of the oven. Bake for around 20 minutes until lightly golden. Then remove, and rest for at least 30 minutes.

Leave to cool and top with the flesh and seeds of 2 passionfruits. Serve immediately.


Cheers,

Jim

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Food pairing with Tempest Brew Co - our week in pictures

Wow! What a week it's been, with a different Tempest Brew Co beer and food pairing suggestion coming out every day! We hope you've been following along and enjoying the combinations we've come up with. Just in case you missed any, here's a little round up...

MONDAY

Mexicake Imperial Stout (11%), paired with slow cooked beer brisket chilli. You can find the full recipe over on Tempest's blog here.


TUESDAY

Dios Mio! Jalapeno IPA (6.0%), paired with avocado veggie tacos.


WEDNESDAY

Starter: Double Shuck imperial oyster stout (11%), paired with haggis beignets and a Laphroaig whisky cream sauce.

Main course: Brave New World IPA (7%), paired with a celebration of Scottish seafood mac & cheese, which you can have a go at making yourself by following our recipe here.


THURSDAY

Starter: Long White Cloud (5.6%), paired with sea bass ceviche and  a pineapple and kiwi salsa.


Main course: Longer White Cloud (10.2%), paired with herb crusted rack of New Zealand lamb and creamy sweet potato dauphinoise.


FRIDAY

Mango Berlinner (4%), paired with a homemade passionfruit meringue pie.


We've had an amazing week and we're pretty gutted it's over! HOWEVER, we're also VERY excited to announce that you haven't heard the last from the Mashtun and Meow x Tempest dream team... we'll be co-hosting Craft Beer Hour on Tuesday 6th December! Please join us with a beer (and a snack!) from 9pm-10pm to chat about all things food-and-beer related.

Cheers!

Laura and Jim

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Food and Beer with Tempest Brewing Co - A Preview!


Something very exciting is coming up at Mashtun Towers. We are teaming up with our pals up at Tempest Brewing Co to bring you a series of foodie delights to match with a range of their excellent beers.

We've been big fans of the brewery for a good few years now, since the establishment of our lovely local beer shops Beer Central and Hop Hideout meant that their beers became suddenly available in Sheffield. We've been consistently impressed with the output from Tempest, with them nailing every style from juicy IPAs to luscious oyster stouts. In September last year, we were able to visitthe brewery in the Scottish Borders after frequenting The Cobbles, their charming tap room in Kelso, on our way to Edinburgh. The brewery itself is squashed into a relatively low ceilinged building designed for fabric production, somehow fitting the brew kit and bottling plant, and is a powerhouse of a space in an area which until recently hasn't been at the forefront of people's minds when you think of top quality, modern beer production.

More recently, we were able to chat with Shannon (a fellow kitty fan) from the brewery over a few drinks at Leeds International Beer Festival, with the Raspberry Radler and Dios Mio Jalapeno IPA being some of the top beers of the day for us. We soon got on to our other favourite topic aside from beer and cats - food - and so the idea to work with Tempest to create some culinary pairings to go with their amazing range of beers was born!

So without further ado, on to the beers. We don't want to give too much away just yet, but suffice to say we can't WAIT to start playing around and experimenting with flavour combinations. We've got quite a few ideas up our sleeves already - expect influences from New Zealand and Mexico, Scottish charm and a little hint of Yorkshire flair!




Watch out for further details coming soon across our, and Tempest's, social media channels!

Cheers,

L & J

Monday, 29 August 2016

BBQ and Brewers Night


North Union showcase at the BBQ Collective


Beer and food pairing events are more often than not top of our must-do list, and the BBQ Collective are definitely hosting some of the best in Sheffield. Each month, a different local brewery joins up with BBQ Collective head honchos Jeff and Mat to carefully and collaboratively consider and create a mouthwatering feast where the beer and food work perfectly together. Last month was the turn of one of the newest additions to Sheffield’s beer scene, North Union, based in a railway arch close to the Wicker in the city centre. Head brewer Iain Kenny presided over the proceedings with panache!


We kicked off the evening with a starter of rare beef tenderloin on homemade black pepper crispbread, with burrata and smoked tomato relish. The drink to accompany was a wonderful Oatmeal Stout at 4.8%, with a twist of being nitrogenated rather than being fused with Co2. The smaller NO2 bubbles meant the drink was smoother and creamier and slipped down an absolute treat. A very good example of the style.

The second course was a green chilli, smoked chicken and sweetcorn chowder served with a chicken skin cracker (we could have eaten a dish of these alone!). Alongside we were given a glass of North Union's core release, the Pale Ale, at 5.5% ABV. The crisp freshness of the beer paired really well and cut through the creamy chowder. Little hot link meatballs were a spicy, tasty treat in this one too!

A little surprise for the third course, as we were all ushered outside with a red cup each, into the sunshine where Iain was waiting with a party keg of his 7% imperial lager, “Shy Bairns Get Nowt”.  To go with the American house party feel, the food pairing was a corn dog, served with a dollop of homemade smoked ketchup and Alabama mustard sauce. Our first ever corn dogs and they were a veritable revelation. Crispy outer, doughy and indulgent corn bread inside, all wrapping up the BBQ Collective's signature spicy Texas hot link sausage. The beer was a little sweet for the tastes of some of the group, but we both loved it and we reckon it's damn near impossible to find any other beer with a more "Sheffield" name!


Smoked pork ribs with a tender delicious pull from the bone were up next, accompanied with Indonesian spices and noodles. While this combination might not be initially the most obvious, the outcome was incredible, and the fresh chilli heat from the noodles seemed to bring more flavour out in the sweet wood smoked meat. To pair, Craft Amber - a refreshing lager at 4.6% with a clean balanced palate and a light floral nose, which worked well to cleanse the palate in between bites and ensured that even though we were four courses in none of the flavours became too heavy.


The final course was shots! Dark chocolate and chilli ice cream with cherries, dark Guatemalan rum and the final beer of Dubbel at 6.5%. All rich and bold, the flavours of the three glasses complemented each other well, with rich malted roastiness from the beer echoing the chocolate notes in the ice cream, with a great boozy hit from the glass of rum. We'd have liked the ice cream to have been a little firmer (it was served almost as a milkshake) but this is a very minor criticism in what was frankly an ace meal all round.

There was one final surprise to come. Beer pong! Laura proved the victor and came home with a case of North Union Pale Ale and a red cup (of course) full of Jeff’s smoked tomatoes, which we had tons of fun experimenting with! We used them in a Korean influenced BBQ sauce, a slow cooked ox ragu, and a triple tomato bruschetta topping.

This was the third BBQ and Brewers Night we’ve attended, and it’s great to see that what could have potentially turned into a restrictive theme has just continued to grow, expand, and push the boundaries. Here’s to many more!

Cheers,

Jim & Laura

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Mojito: Lime Gose - A Collaboration Brew

It all started last Halloween (ooo spooky) at the most recent Brewdog Collab Fest. Our local bar, Sheffield, had teamed up with Bad Seed Brewery to create a white IPA with Sorachi and Equinox hops, cunningly named "I am the one who Equinox". We headed down to Brewdog to sample this along with the rest of the Collab Fest brews, and were quickly introduced to team Bad Seed - James and Chris - who'd popped along to check how their beer was going down (very well indeed, I seem to remember!). Surrounded by so many collaborations, ranging from the rather interesting (such as Bristol and Moor's Rye IPA) to the frankly ridiculous (Glasgow and Fallen Brewery's Big Raspberry Dog Chew, a 10% raspberry and salted caramel imperial milk stout, springs to mind, and delicious it was too), conversation inevitably turned to the ideas we've had for collaboration brews. A passion of ours (particularly Laura's) along with beer is cocktails, and the way in which individual flavour components can be added together to produce something altogether spectacular to bring out different elements of the sum of its parts. Couple this with Bad Seed's prowess in the sour beer arena, and Mojito: Lime Gose was born.
Yep it's a kettle!

And so, to a snowy(?!) day in late April and an early drive up to Bad Seed HQ just outside Malton. The brew day itself wasn't the most eventful, as with a beer that is to be soured most of the work is needed during fermentation and conditioning, but we got stuck in where we could. Firstly we mashed in, with a grist of pale malt and a decent portion of wheat (around 35%, if I recall correctly). Next we mashed in for a second time - a pot of coffee on this occasion - and helped to unload the van from Beertown Malton, the local beer festival which had taken place the previous weekend, which we definitely want to try to get to next year. And it was at this point we realised an ulterior motive to the collab: extra bodies! (Although Laura was pretty useless it has to be said...)

During the spare and transfer into the kettle, we headed out for a quick bite to eat... honourable mention at this point to Malton Relish for an excellent lunch, including literally the best brownie ever...


Now nicely energised, whilst the wort boiled away it was time to dig out the mashtun!


Once the boil was complete, to our wort base was added literally all the mint in Malton, to be followed a few days later with tubs and tubs of salted limes.


Whilst we waited for the heat exchanger to do it's thang and cool down the boiled wort to 44 degrees, we had a little sample of some of Bad Seed's excellent beers, both very much enjoying the Vic Secret Sour and Bretted Saison.


Lastly, before heading home it was time to add the magic... pitching the lactobacillus yoghurt culture.

It felt like a long wait until the beer was ready without being able to sample it! The first bar we were aware it had made its way on to was the Rook and Gaskill, just outside the city walls of York, one of our favourite day trip destinations, so we wasted no time in hopping on a train and going for a taste. And we were blown away by how well it has worked! Against a delicately salty gose background, the mint and lime work in perfect harmony with the style to produce a beer which is tart, refreshing, and lip smackingly delicious without overwhelming the taste buds.


Thank you so much to James and Chris for hosting us at your brewery, and for nurturing the beer so well!



Cheers,

Jim & Laura

Sunday, 15 May 2016

New Belgium Brewery

Neither of us have ever been keen cyclists, but after two trips to New Belgium during our time in Fort Collins we might just be tempted to dust off and re-oil our bikes (currently decaying in the cellar).

On our first trip to the brewery we met with Spokes Model and long serving employee Bryan Simpson in the tap room over a generous pour of their flagship amber ale Fat Tire (5.2%) and he ran us through some of the history of Fort Collins' biggest craft brewery. Established in 1991 after a cycling trip to (Old) Belgium frequenting many of the beer bars and Brasseries the country has to offer, husband and wife team Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan aimed to emulate some the beers on their garage brew kit. And so New Belgium was born.

The original brew kit

As we travelled through the state of the art facility, one of the largest craft breweries in America, we were struck by the sensitivity for tradition in the brewery as well as the want to push forward and produce modern American beer, all against an ideology of environmental care and sustainability. From the original brew kit from humble home brew origins, to the highly polished stainless steel four vessel brew system with steam recollection, to the traditional oak vats used to produce their sour beer next door, to the ultra-modern lab with stir-plates and Erlenmeyer flasks of beer samples. This approach of modern brewing technology coupled with traditional European techniques allows New Belgium to produce one of the biggest ranges of quality beers of any brewery we've been to.


As the tour continued we headed into the foudre forest, an absolutely beautiful room with more than 64 10,000l repurposed wine vats used in the making of slow sour beer, intermingled with a selection of whisky casks from Denver distillery Leopold Brothers, and a climbing wall. All the foudres are filled with one of two different base beers lovingly named Oscar and Felix, the first a black lager and the other being a golden ale. As we stood chatting surrounded by wood we were offered a glass of La Folie (GABF 2001 Gold Medal), an utterly delectable Flanders Red style sour beer with a blend that has been acidifying for anywhere between one year to as much as three. The tartness is reminiscent of apples and peaches, with a light yet lingering oaken texture toward the end. One of the best beers we've ever drunk, and in the most perfect of settings to try it... the heady aroma of the room is the sort you can conjure up just from thinking about it.


The final section of our tour through what is affectionately referred to as the Thunderdome - a frankly enormous bottling line and relatively smaller canning line which took in all around 4 minutes to stroll across. The continuous rattling of glass and clunk of machines highlights the scale of New Belgium's output (as if 64 oak vats of beer weren't enough to do that), capable of 700 bottles a minute with only a hand-full of people operating it. Slick.

We finished up in back in the tap room with a glass of La Terroir, created with the aforementioned Felix as the base then dry hopped to add a layer of complexity, that buoys all the other layers of sour freshness. Another contender for lifetime favourite beer for us both, and impossible to pick which we loved more between La Terroir and La Folie. We brought a bottle of each home just to re-test this theory but still just concluded that both were astounding.

Us with Bryan and Chris from the New Belgium team!

We spent a good couple more hours in the taproom, working our way through the New Belgium core range along with specials including their collaboration with Ben & Jerry's - a 6.3% salted caramel brownie brown ale which was SO up Laura's street (and she got to to try the ice cream the following day too). We massively enjoyed chatting to all of the staff we met, every single one of whom was bursting with enthusiasm for the company they all feel truly a part of (which indeed they are, the company being 100% employee owned). Bryan also told us a story of how Neil Fallon from one of our favourite bands, Clutch, had a go on Bryan's guitar while the band were involved in creating a collaboration beer. Bryan might just be the coolest man we've ever met.

We had such a brilliant day that for Laura's birthday we decided to return, where we joined on the general tour. This followed the same format as the first but was slightly less in-depth but still relaxed and informative. This one included a go on the brewery's helter skelter!

There have recently been a number of rumours regarding the future of New Belgium and the likelihood of it being bought out. We asked Bryan on our first trip who vehemently denied that this was a possibility. Our tour guide on the second visit was a little more vague, which could suggest that it has been mentioned throughout the company but is still by no means a certain. But as the brewery is an employee owned company, it would be hoped that their votes and opinions would be taken into consideration before making a decision with potentially a huge impact on their future.

With a second site in Asheville, North Carolina, having opened earlier this month, it will surely be the case that New Belgium's reputation as a progressive and far-reaching brewery can only increase. Although the brewery prioritises the American market and hopes to sell in every state as a priority over growing export, we are hopeful that before too long we will start to see their beer on our shores!

Cheers,

J&L

Thursday, 12 May 2016

DIPA Day

Double, or Imperial, IPAs are all the rage at the moment, with an array of big-hitting breweries all coming out with new releases recently. We had a few of the most highly regarded and eagerly anticipated brews lurking in the fridge, so decided to do a bit of a taste test. Here are our thoughts...

New Belgium - Rampant, 8.5%

Brought back direct from the brewery itself from our trip to the states,  Rampant roars with a chewy, resinous nature but hides its ABV well (probably a good thing as it's the lowest of our selection today...) - surprisingly easy to drink with a delicate floral blossom characteristic. The combination of Mosaic, Calypso, and Centennial hops provide masses of fruit and the malt backbone gives a sweetness which keeps the hop bitterness in check. A lasting bitter, piney finish rounds off what is a very well-balanced beer indeed.


Cloudwater - DIPA v3, 9%

We had this on keg on release day at the wonderful Small Bar in Bristol, where the main delicious concern was whether some wily devil had switched our beer for peach juice. In bottle, pleasingly, much the same is true... Fresh and oh so fruity, with a bite of bitterness that doesn't overpower the sheer peachiness of the brew. For this reason it's not in our opinion a massively true to style IPA (this isn't a criticism). The hops (Mosaic, Comet, Citra and Chinook) come together in such harmony that the effect isn't really a "hoppy" flavour, it's just JUICE, and like the Rampant before it the booziness is hidden by waves of flavour. By contrast the finish is a massive thwack of bitterness that keeps the tongue a-tingling for AN AGE. One of the most-hyped beers of the year so far and we reckon deservedly so. It's delicious.

Tempest - Longer White Cloud, 10.2%

Deliciously boozy and absolutely oozing with a rich toffee penny character. Alongside this are notes of apricot softness and something akin to honeydew melon. This was the only beer we've had in our possession for longer than a few weeks (having bought it just after Christmas) so it's worth considering that some of the freshness experienced in the rest of our selection may well have once been present here too... but we have to say, it's aged incredibly well over the past few months and become almost barley wine-ish in character.

Buxton - King Maker, 10.5%

Obviously, we chose to drink this whilst watching Game of Thrones, it felt only right! Surprisingly creamy in aroma with floral notes and a hint of pine. On the palate, a chewy, tacky sweetness is followed by an intense bitterness and a wonderfully robust mouthfeel. Ever present is a big hit of Sorachi Ace hops which, though delicious, don't really seem to meld particularly well with the rest of the beer but provide an interesting overarching character which reminded Laura a little of those fruity coconut mushroom-shaped sweets! An intriguing brew.


Human Cannonball, not pictured, is lurking in the wings for a Cannonball x3 tasting!

Cheers,

L&J