Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Christmas Leftovers

Christmas Day is my favourite day of the year and Christmas dinner is my favourite meal of the year. My best food-day of the year is Boxing Day, when the piles of leftovers (which we were sickened to look at the day before) become glorious mountains of unlimited joy.

King is the Christmas Leftover Sandwich (I capitilise it because it deserves it). It needs bread, thick slices of turkey, stuffing, a sausage wrapped in bacon, a potato if you have any left and then something sweet and lubricating like a good chutney. That is food perfection. So far I’ve had five of these.

The leftover hash comes second on the hierarchy in my opinion: squishing all the uneaten veg together and then frying it until it’s crispy on the outside. What a delight.

This year I made main and dessert from leftovers.

Christmas Risotto (aka Turkey, Stilton and Cranberry Risotto)

There is always always always turkey and stilton in the fridge in the days after Christmas. This is a good thing. The addition of cranberries is for a festive sweetness which perfectly eases through the richness of the cheese and rice.

This serves 2

  • Chicken or vegetable stock – 1 pint, maybe a little more
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Arborio rice – 150-175g, more if you’re ravishingly hungry
  • White wine – a splosh if you have it, it isn’t essential
  • Turkey – cooked and chopped/torn into small pieces
  • Stilton, or any blue cheese – 100g, or so
  • Dried cranberries – a handful, chopped
  • Peas – a handful per person
  • Butter and olive oil – a knob and a drizzle
  • Sage and/or rosemary leaves, finely chopped (no woody stalk)
  • Sea salt and black pepper
In a deep pan, sweat the onion and garlic in butter and oil until soft, then add the sage and/or rosemary leaves and stir through for a minute. Add the rice and coat in the sweet buttery-oil juices.

In another pan you will want your stock slowly warming. Add the turkey to the stock. When the rice starts to snap, crackle and pop add the wine. If you are not adding wine then go straight to the stock, adding a ladle-full at a time and being careful to keep the turkey from falling onto the rice (we add that later, you see). Keep adding the stock, bit by bit, as the rice sucks it all up. After 10 minutes add the peas and cranberries. Add more stock until the rice is cooked (it should be soft but still have an ever-so-slight nutty ‘bite’ in the middle).

Add the cheese (and some more butter, if you like) and the turkey from the stock and cover the pan, leaving it to rest for a minute or two, in this time the cheese will melt and ooze its wonderfulness throughout. Adjust the seasoning and serve in a deep bowl with more blue cheese crumbled over the top.

I would serve Innis & Gunn Triple Matured with this, like I did with Christmas dinner, as the creaminess in the dish would work well with the buttery oak in the bottle, while the sweet bites of cranberry would compliment the beer’s sweetness. If you want something different then try Cains Fine Raisin Beer for a strong malty backbone with a kick of sweetness, or maybe a bottle of Old Crafty Hen which is oaky, rich, vinous with dried fruit sweetness and a hoppy, palate-cleansing swipe to finish.

Main course done, on to dessert and…

Christmas Pudding Ice-Cream

There’s always pudding left and there’s always cream in the fridge, plus I always keep a few cans of condensed milk ready for whenever I want to make ice cream. This is a joyfully fun recipe and the perfect way to use up any leftover pudding.

An ice-cream maker is one of the best kitchen appliances there is, it goes from nought-to-frozen in just 30 minutes, and those minutes are spent huddled around the mixing bowl, mesmerised by the unending twirls of joy and the gradual thickening of the cream. As the churn finishes, it takes all the willpower in the world not to plunge a spoon straight in and finish off the whole lot, especially as it has that just-beginning-to-soften texture that is simply irresistible. If you haven’t got an ice-cream machine then go and get one in the sales.

This makes about a litre but can easily be increased with more cream and condensed milk.
  • Leftover Christmas pud
  • A pint of double cream
  • A can of condensed milk
  • A splash of brandy (50ml, or so)

This recipe is so easy. Mix the cream and condensed milk, add a slash of brandy and drop in chunks of Christmas Pud and then churn in an ice-cream machine. Done.

Do you want a beer with this?! If you do then you’ll need something big and strong, rich and full of flavour. An Imperial Stout would work, preferably a barrel aged one. Brakspear’s Triple is another possibility or maybe a bottle of Guinness Foreign Extra. Dare I suggest that you’d be better off enjoying the ice-cream and then opening a beer? Some dishes just don’t need a beer to go with them.

And that’s how I dealt with the Christmas Day leftovers this year.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Christmas Beer: The Results

The BrewDog Coffee Imperial Stout was one of the very best beers I’ve had this year. Seriously good. Thick and luscious, rich and strong and big on the roasted coffee bitterness. It was the perfect start to the day, and just so happened to work perfectly with milk chocolate pennies.

As billed, the Bad Pixie came next as was the perfect follow-on from the big stout – light, zingy, refreshing. Next was a bottle of Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic. Electric red with a sharply sour nose of citrus, lemons, leather, cleaning chemicals and just a welcome whiff of cherry. The flavour was just the same, all big and sharp but tongue-smacking and drinkable – perfect for getting the tastebuds going. Curious Brew’s Brut landed just before the starter and it was fantastic: light and delicate, as quaffable as they come; a real treat of a beer.

The headline act - the star with top billing and the best action scene - was Innis & Gunn’s Triple Matured, and it was the perfect partner to the turkey. I was delighted with how well this pairing went. The buttery richness of the oak, the big fruitiness, the slight sharpness, an earthy, spicy quality all combined stunningly well. The food enhanced the beer; the beer enhanced the food. That’s what a good match-up should do.

I finished the afternoon opening more presents, so I decided to open a little package of my own from the beer cupboard: Fuller’s Brewer’s Reserve. Bottle number 11255. A deep russet brown with thick head. Big buttery nose with boozy oranges and sweet candy. Loads of toffee and bready malt inside, then oak comes and adds a woody sweetness. The whisky warms throughout, surrounded by plenty of fruit and a hint of cherry brandy. There’s hops at the end too, more fruits and more orange. Gorgeous and I think it’s going to get better and better over the years.

There was more in the evening, but to tell you the truth I don’t remember exactly what. I know there was a can (shock! A can?!) of Mild in there and I’m pretty sure I met with my old friend Sam Smith… It was a good day.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Beer for Christmas

If ever there was a day when it’s acceptable to open a beer with breakfast and drink through until bedtime, then it’s Christmas Day. A day of infinite giving, kindness and fun. A day of presents, laughter and too much food. A day to indulge in a lot of great beers.

But what beers?!

This year I’ll be drinking some of the beers that I’ve loved in 2008. I’ll have them spread out over the day, leading me up to dinner and then taking me into the night. I want different types of beers at different times. Something special to start the day, something gluggable and quenching while I cook, something light before I eat to get my taste buds tingling, something rich and dark while I settle down after dinner. And sharing is good – don’t be a beer scrooge because you’ll only regret it in the end. Plus, you’ll be able to drink twice the variety, should you want to.

Last year’s Christmas went like this… Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout for breakfast, Fuller’s Discovery pre-dinner and with the starter, Kwak with the turkey and McEwan’s Champion with the pudding. I can’t remember what saw me through the rest of the day.

This year will go something like this…

To start, and to take the blunt edges off of Christmas Eve’s hangover (it’s inevitable) I’m starting with breakfast. Beer Geek’s Breakfast by Mikkeller, BrewDog’s Riptide or their Coffee Imperial Stout. I’m bypassing the coffee and have a dark, strong beer instead. Plus, beer is food.

Something lighter will need to follow or I’ll be sozzled by dinner time. It’ll be another BrewDog I think. I’ve still got some of their prototype beers around and the Bad Pixie will be perfect. Light, biscuity grain finished with a tang of juniper and lemon – an elegant G&T finish to a beer.

I’ll probably be in the kitchen when I start and finish this and it’ll be followed by another light beer, something to have on the side as I baste the bird or chop the veggies. Maybe a lambic to give me a smack of bittersweetness: there’s nothing like a lambic to limber up your taste buds.

I’ll be approaching the table when the next bottle is cracked open. I’m starting the meal with a glass of Curious Brew’s Brut. A champagne-style beer brewed a short drive from my house in Kent. It’s a gorgeous beer, all creamy and light, and it leads perfectly into the turkey.

The main course is the big choice. The one which I’ve had to think hardest about. It’s a tough one as there’s so much flavour on the plate: meat, crispy potatoes, sweetly-earthy veg, salty pig-stuff, herby stuffing, a rich gravy. The beer has to be strong enough to stand up to it all, but not so strong that it overwhelms. You need dark fruits, but not too dark and bitter, and certainly not chocolatey. Some sharpness is very welcome to ease through the richness of it all. My choice will be Innis & Gunn’s Triple Matured. It’s full of flavour, there’s buttery oak and tangy autumn fruits (perfect partners to turkey), there’s also something vegetal about it and even a hint of spice. It’s a deep copper colour and at 7.7% ABV it stands tall. The mouthfeel is smooth, the finish long and the fruit will cut the richness nicely. I think it’ll be a great pairing. Plus it’s a limited edition beer, so something special for the feast.

Last year I had a beer with the Christmas pudding, but to be honest I was so full from the food that it was all a bit of a struggle. This year I’ll save the next beer for afterwards, and this’ll be a good one. I’ve got a few bottles of Fuller’s Brewer’s Reserve in the cupboard so that’s on the ‘maybe’ list along with a few vintages or an imperial stout. I want something that I can sip, something big and strong and interesting. Something to perfectly finish off my favourite meal of the year.

Then I’ll need to start chilling the beers for the evening… I’ve got plenty lined up, but have no idea what’ll actually get drunk. It’s inevitable that a big BrewDog IPA will be in there, a Chaos Theory or a Hardcore. And I doubt I’ll last the day without at least one American beer. Maybe santa will even bring me some more, to make my choice even wider and more exciting!

I love Christmas.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Harder, Faster, Bigger, Better… Double my IPA!

Our tastes change and develop. And because taste is subjective, everyone is different. My favourite cheese used to be a mature cheddar, now I want the mouldiest, stinkiest, creamiest blue I can find. A few years ago a sprinkle of curry powder was too much, now I want whole chillis, freshly ground spices and I want my mouth to tingle. I started drinking my coffee with ½ a heap of granules plus two of sugar, now it’s no sugar and three times the coffee. Booze too: Malibu and coke is now bourbon and ice; beer was lager; white wine was mixed with lemonade; Guinness started with a dash of blackcurrant to soften the roast bitterness…

But what is common about all these?!

The more we have them, the more we want them as we ‘acquire’ the taste. These acquired tastes are for those things which are unnatural to our palettes: spicy foods, dark chocolate, salty oysters. To begin we have sweet chilli sauce, milk or white chocolate, fish fingers…

But tastes change.

I got into beer by drinking lager-pop. I’d have bitter shandies. I eased into Guinness, with a shot of blackcurrant cordial. I started on ales by having smoother, sweeter dark beers, and for the last few years it has been these dark beers that I have regularly leaned towards. I love them for their richness, the sweetness, the flavour of the grain, the taste of autumn fruit, dried fruit, caramel, chocolate or coffee. I preferred them for their relative lack of hop bitterness. And I was always searching for bigger and stronger beers, winter warmer’s, barley wines, Belgian triple’s, anything black and imperial. I was a malt monster.

But my taste is changing.

It seems there are two growing divisions in the beer world. These aren’t divisions away from each other, rather two interweaving and developing trends. Both are towards the extremes of flavour; one is for IPAs and the other for stouts. These new imperial or double IPAs are mega-hopped and massively bitter; the imperial stouts are thick, strong beasts, often aged in some-kind-of barrel to impart bourbon/oak characteristics. You just have to look on Beer Advocate at the best rated beers in the world right now to see this, and the trend seems to be growing. It started in America as they brought older styles to modern drinking.

We all know the history of IPA, which was shipped from England to India with added strength and hops to stop it going off on the boat trip. While (imperial) stouts have a similar-ish background, being brewed in London in the 18th century and transported to Russian Czars. For this reason it had to be extra-strong and well-hopped to survive the distance and the extreme cold. The styles have been around ever since, but it’s only in the last years that they have become the phenomenas that they are. Any why? Because tastes change.

In beer, the change has come as drinkers want ‘more’. More booze, more grain, more hops, more character, more flavour, more extremes, more history, more age, more more more. It’s the IPAs which have really piqued my interest of late. IPAs never really did it for me. That was until I tried BrewDog’s Punk IPA (available in Tesco’s – a perfect modern IPA) and their Chaos Theory (simply amazing and currently available on their website, but hurry!). After these the malt monster in me transformed into a hop-headed thrill-seeker.

The bitterness in these beer is high, but that’s what makes them so awesome. They have a supreme drinkability which makes you want to go back for more and more. In the mouth you get the sweet caramel grain then the hops flood in and ambush your palate, making the saliva glands gush, as the tropical fruits, citrus and pine flavours come through. It’s intoxicating what a few extra hops can do to you. For me, they work because the beer develops in layers: massive malt (it has to be massive to attain the extra higher ABVs) followed by the wave of juicy hops. The reason the ‘best beers’ are the ‘best beers’ is because they are so well balanced. It’s easy to go extreme on a beer, but it’s surely much harder to make it good. The same applies to food. Look at the top chefs in the world and their food – it challenges what we think we know about eating and food combinations, but it works because of the chef’s skill and supreme palate make it work.

I find it fascinating how our taste buds change, especially with stronger flavours. Blue cheese, slippery-salty oysters and coffee are foods which take some getting used to. The same applies to stronger, bigger beers. And the limits are always being pushed. Sam Adams’ Utopia is brewed at around 27% (it’s a beer!). Your ‘standard’ imperial stout now comes in at around 10% and if it isn’t aged in a bourbon barrel for extra complexity then why bother? And where a mass-produced lager may have 5-20 IBUs (International Bitterness Units – the scale of measuring a beer’s bitterness) and English bitter 20-40 IBUs, there are some double IPAs which measure in at 120 IBUs and beyond! That’s enough to make your taste buds explode!!

Barrel-aged stouts are incredibly exciting and complex and they are brilliant to sit down with on a cold night, swirl around a snifter and sip for while. It’s sophisticated, it’s smooth, rich in flavour, it’ll make you think about the world, think about the barrel it came from, the history that it has. But a double IPA is like a rollercoaster ride with ups and downs and twists and turns. It’s fresh, fun, intoxicating and exciting. It makes you want more and more as your taste for it develops. Who knows where it’ll go from here!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Fish Finger Sandwich

I love sandwiches, they are maybe my favourite food group. And this is perhaps the best sandwich in the world. Although I do love peanut butter and jam, or a hot sausage sandwich, Christmas dinner leftover sandwich, ice cream sandwich…

Did you know that over 1 million fish fingers are eaten daily in Britain? And over 100 packs are sold in the UK each minute? In a poll in 1993, Captain Bird’s Eye came second in a list of the most recognised captains. Captain Cook was first. I don’t know which captain I would name first, but I know which one is my favourite, for without him we wouldn’t have fish fingers, potato waffles and chicken dippers, plus some other captain would’ve found the rest of the world eventually anyway.

Whether it is day or night, if I am happy or sad, alone or with friends, drunk or sober – these are when I want a fish finger sandwich. It is just the simplest thing to make, but the combination in textures between the fluffy bread, crunchy golden crumb and soft, hot fish is unbeatable.

A fish finger sandwich technically only needs bread and the fingers (at least 4 per 2 slices of bread) to qualify it as such. The bread can, of course, be brown or white, freshly baked or shop bought. The fish finger can be any brand you like, and you could even make your own but this feels completely frivilous. At university, my housemate and I used to marvel at the supermarket value options because each finger cost just 2p, although the actual ‘fish’ content is a little hazy and the texture a little cardboardy, so look towards the big name brands – don’t spare any expense here! The choice of condiment is yours too: Red, brown, spicy, sweet, creamy, anything you like. And the addition of some ‘green stuff’ is discretionary (adding cucumber would be a crime, but some crisp iceberg lettuce is fine). And a slice of plastic cheese is often very welcome.

My perfect fish finger sandwich goes a little something like this…

· 2 thick slices of white bread
· 4 fish fingers, at least
· Butter, for the bread
· Ketchup, mayonnaise and sweet chilli sauce, a little of each
· Optional extras, depending on how I/you feel – crisp iceberg lettuce and a slice of cheese (burger cheese of course)

Grill the fish fingers until crispy and golden and the sweet juices begin to leak through the crumbed shell. Butter the bread and spread with as much of whatever condiment-combo you want. When the fingers are cooked, and still piping hot, place them lovingly on the bread, but be careful not to burn your fingers in greedy anticipation. Lay the other slice of bread on top, and press it together. This press is almost essential and I would state (without scientific backing) that it makes everything taste better – incidentally, this 'pressing rule' applies to any and all sandwiches. Cut in half and eat immediately, so that the butter melts and mixes with the sauce, driping out naughtily.

Should you want dessert, I suggest a Twix or 3 or 4 Jaffa Cakes.

With food that is eaten with the fingers, you need beer from the bottle. Your favourite bottled variety is best, something light and crisp. There really is no ‘ideal’ beer to go with a fish finger sandwich and to be honest it may be a little unnecessary drinking booze with a child-like dinner, but I would expressly suggest Anchor’s Liberty Ale or their Steam Beer. Or look towards some British beers, Meantime’s Pilsner is a winner, as is Whitstable Bay’s Pilsner or BrewDog's Physics. A glass of orange squash might be the most appropriate drink.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Crunchy Nut Cornflake Ice Cream

I haven’t written a recipe for ages, but I had to put this one up… It’s ludicrously tasty.

I was finishing breakfast one morning, slurping the leftover milk from a bowl of Crunchy Nut cereal, when a bolt of brilliance hit me. What if I could combine breakfast with dessert in the form of ice cream?! The answer was right in front of me.

I use a lot of milk on my cereal and generally I let it go soggy before I eat it. This is strange, I know. I can’t tell you why I do it or when it started, I just prefer my cereal soft. I like Crunchy Nut soggy, although one or two crunchy bits is nice. The biggest upside to this is that the milk, which splashes around in the bowl, sucks up all that nutty sweetness for me to enjoy at the end. And there – HAZZAH – was the idea.

Making custard for ice cream is fraught with difficulty so I bypass that stage and use a can of condensed milk. It’s thick, rich, creamy and has the perfect amount of sugar for ice cream. I’ve used condensed milk in all of my ice creams so far, and provided you balance the sweetness with cream it’s the perfect base.

The best thing about this ice cream is that every time I eat it it makes me smile. And that’s a good thing.

· Can of Condensed Milk (light is fine)
· 750ml single cream
· 250ml milk
· A box of Crunchy Nut, or Honey Nut Cornflakes (you won’t need all of them)

Pour the milk into a large bowl and add most of the cream, reserving about 100ml (no need to be exact). Pour in the cornflakes until they fill the bowl up to the surface of the liquid, stir them around. Cover and refrigerate for an hours or so.

After they’ve soaked, drain the liquid from the soggy cornflakes, squeezing as much creamy juice out as possible. Mix the condensed milk, the remainder of the cream and the soaking juice together. Give it a taste. It’s good right?! If you want more cornflake flavour then add a splash of milk to the orange cornflake pulp and blitz it to a thick paste, then add some to the mix (this adds more ‘texture’ to the final thing - a little nutty bite). Now just churn in an ice cream maker until thick. When it’s done sprinkle in a handful of crushed cornflakes, if you like.

Eat as much as you can after dinner, freeze the rest and enjoy it again in the morning.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The BrewDog Prototypes

The prototype BrewDog beers have arrived! It’s so exciting receiving beer in the post – it’s my first time – it’s like a whole new way of me ordering a drink. These are particularly exciting for the following reasons: 1) They are a limited brew of prototypes; 2) They are no longer on sale on the website; 3) They are BrewDog’s, and that carries with it a certain weight of expectation. The task is to drink them and then suggest/vote which one I’d like to see them sell in 2009. Brilliant.

The bottles come naked without labels and the only way to tell them apart is by the differently coloured bottle tops. Here’s what I thought of the three beers:

Bad Pixie 4.7%
Wheat beer brewed with juniper berries and lemon peel. It pours pale and clear, without the usual wheat haze. There is some citrus zing in the nose, a bit like gin and tonic. The malt is gorgeous, creamy and bready. Then there are hints of the juniper and lemon at the end with more gin-like qualities. There is hardly any fizz which makes it glide down and it tastes perfectly clean and crisp. It’s missing the usual qualities of a wheat beer, although that’s not a bad thing as it’s still bloody good.

Zeit Geist 5.1%
Black lager. Pours a deep, dark ruby black with a tan foam. Big burnt smoky aromas with coffee and dark chocolate. It’s all roasted grain in the mouth with plenty of coffee bitterness and an underlying chocolaty sweetness too. It’s well balanced and smooth with just enough hops to even it out at the end. Superb dark lager.

Chaos Theory 7.1%
'Deep copper IPA with insane hops' is the blurb on the internet, and it delivers just that. It’s the colour of toffee with a good head lacing down throughout. The nose is an intoxicating blend of tropical fruit, citrus, flowers, a hint of booze and some malt. There’s loads of caramel in the beginning then a massive wave of tangy hops sweep over and keep on going and going and going. There’s fruit in there with pineapple and grapefruit and the creamy rich malt stays throughout. It’s a powerful beer, one that makes me want more and more. The hops are big, but so is the malt and it’s all balanced out magically. It’s intoxicating and insane, in lots of ways.

Having tasted them all my favourite is the Chaos Theory. It’s a brilliant beer. The only issue is whether they would add another hop-heavy pale ale to their set. I’d kind of like the Zeit Geist to win because it’d be good to see a British black lager (although maybe they could make a black IPA?!), but drinking it I wanted a bit more from it, perhaps something fruity like sweet/sour cherry? And the Bad Pixie wheat beer is an almost perfect summer thirst quencher.

It’s a tough one. Whatever they choose they’ve got three crackers.

Sunday, 16 November 2008


BrewDog. Where the most exciting beers coming out of the UK right now are being made right now.

They’ve got a superb lager, two pale ales (one of them an imperial monster), an amber beer and a stout (a big boy’s stout at 8%) - check out their choice here. They also have their Paradox selection, which is imperial stout aged in whisky casks. Barrel aging is the ‘in-thing’ in brewing right now, the BrewDog difference is that they’ve used a variety of casks through the different ‘editions’ of their Paradox brew, with each barrel imparting its own unique characteristics through the aging. This is a great selection on its own, especially for somewhere which only started making beers in April 2007. But they don’t stop there… They move upwards and outwards, way beyond anything any other brewer is doing in the UK right now. And here is where they get awesome.

Tokyo is a 12% imperial stout brewed with jasmine and cranberries and aged in oak. Just reading about that one makes me dizzy with excitement.

Speedball is a cheeky new one, a very different kind of strong ale brewed with guarana, Californian poppy, kola nut and Scottish heather honey. I don’t even know how this one works, it’s mind boggling!

And another, which is coming soon: Zephyr. When I first read about this one I literally screamed because my brain couldn’t cope with that much excitement. It’s an imperial IPA, aged in an old (1965 old) whisky casks with fresh strawberries added. I just want one now!

They are also selling three prototype beers (three of each for a bargain £12.99 delivered – I ordered mine yesterday, get yours here) which in their own words are ‘to see if any of them are good enough to make their way into the BrewDog 2009 line up’. The selection is between a black lager, a wheat beer brewed with juniper berries and lemon peel, and a heavily-hopped IPA.

The newest venture involves us, their beer drinking fans. They are going to make a beer democratically chosen by online voters. Each Saturday, starting yesterday, for the next five weeks, they give the ongoing choices in the development of a beer. So we choose exactly what happens along the way.

This week there was the choice between what style it should be (including a black IPA which is a new one to me!), next comes the malt and target alcohol level, then hops, followed by the ‘specialty process’ (the stage where the beer potentially becomes something insanely interesting) and finally the name and packaging.

What a unique and brilliant idea?! I’ll be voting each week and I’ll certainly be buying whatever the finished result is, even if it’s just to see what the beer drinkers’ choice can do. And check out the video blogs, they are funny guys - it’s clear to see where all the personality of their beer comes from.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Medway Beer Festival 2008

It was my local beer festival this weekend. Usually for a festival visit I go with my beer-loving friends, but this time I took my beer-hating girlfriend, promising her the time of her life. I don’t think she was impressed. Nevertheless, I had a good night.

There was a West Country theme, with a selection of around 80 beers and ciders, plus a colourful choice of foreign bottles. I knew going in that I would have to act quickly on account of my girlfriends low boredom threshold (I bought along a Heat magazine to keep her amused). From the moment we first sat down and she was chatted up by an aged lothario with beer-induced confidence, I knew I really would have to guzzle the beers quick time.

I started low and worked my way up through the strengths - the usual plan of attack. I was building to a rum-cask-aged cider, but annoyingly, it finished just as I was about to order. This is bad form on my part. One of the golden rules of beer festivals is: if they have something you want, then order it while there’s still some left.

My first half (it’s half pints all the way) was a rushed choice, getting to the bar before I knew what I was going to order. I went for Skinner’s Cornish Knocker (4.5%), which was a fairly decent quaffing ale. Next was Exe Valley’s Devon Glory (4.7%), which had a gorgeous nose of biscuits but had a slightly sharp and unexpected taste. RCH’s East Street Cream followed, which was a well-balanced, enjoyable beer. Another RCH came next, Firebox (6%), which was dangerously drinkable. Then a big leap up to the fruit-based stall and Broadoak’s Perry (7.5%) which was the most memorable drink of the night as it smelt like farm waste but tasted like sweets – weird but great. Finally, on the way out, I had enough money to grab a final half of O’Hanlan’s Port Stout, which was disappointing, and I didn’t think it was as good as the bottled version.

A good festival. I didn’t have anything which blew me away this time, but I tried lots of beers I’ve never had before and I got introduced to many breweries that I’ve not heard of before. And in the end I don’t think my girlfriend had that bad a time, apart from the lecherous old bloke and the smells of stale beer and stale men. I think we got somewhere, plus she’s taking me out to some pubs today and then for dinner later!

Friday, 7 November 2008

The Session #21. What is your favourite beer and why?

This is my first entry into the monthly beer blogging event known as The Session, and it’s a bloomin’ tough one, posted by Matt at A World of Brews. It’s the question I’m most frequently asked when I say I write about beer, and it’s the question I most frequently shy away from answering.

I don’t like to answer the ‘favourite beer’ question for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s so difficult to say just one out of all the beers I’ve tasted. Secondly, I don’t want to appear snobbish or geeky, reeling off a list of obscure brews from around the world, and conversely, I don’t want to sound ‘uneducated’ or boring by choosing something that everyone has heard of. Thirdly, I see the question as something that I will always be searching for; I don’t think there will ever come a time when I think to myself, “Okay, that’s it, I’ve found my favourite”, because then what? In all honesty I think that my favourite beer is one that I haven’t tasted yet, but that’s shying away from a proper answer.

I think that my ‘favourite’ beer should be the one I would always turn to - a desert island choice. Something for any occasion, on any day, for when I’m in any kind of mood. It’s the beer that I seek solace in and celebrate with. It’s something familiar and comforting while at the same time exciting and new with each mouthful. It’s like being in love, I guess you could say.

So my favourite, or at least the one that I’ll choose today, is a pint of Fuller’s London Pride. It’s not a rare beer, it’s not the best beer that I have ever tasted, and there is nothing particularly unique or special about it. The only provision; it has to been impeccably kept.

I can trace my love back to a particular moment in a backstreet boozer in West London. I walked in and was upset that they only had Pride available, but I ordered it anyway. It was, you could say, an epiphany. I had had Pride many times before, but this one was different. The beer was a glass full of perfection. It was fresh, fruity and crisp; cool yet comforting. I’ll never forget the overwhelming flavours of fresh bread and blackcurrant, with a gorgeous malt middle and smooth, clean finish. I expect I drank it in a few glorious gulps, only surfacing for air to cry out how good the beer is before quaffing some more. Since then, whenever I’ve had a decent pint of London Pride, I still get that excited feeling, the one which fills me with content.

It’s a good topic, and it’s always fascinating to hear what other beer lovers say. Maybe I shouldn’t shy away from answering the dreaded ‘favourite beer’ question anymore. Maybe I should Proudly embrace it.

Thursday, 6 November 2008


A beer in one hand and a sparkler in the other. Fireworks whistling and crashing into the cold sky and gasps of ooh and ahh. A roaring fire behind and burgers frying on the grill to the side. What fun it is to celebrate the failed attempts of some old fella to blow up the houses of parliament.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

World Series Beer: Game 5 (The End)

It’s all over. Philadelphia Phillies are the 2008 Baseball World Champions. I was rooting for the Rays; I can’t resist the underdog. The Rays were the worst team in baseball for all but one of their previous ten seasons (this is only the eleventh season that they have been a franchise). Then this year they finished at number two, in the only season when they have won more games than they’ve lost. What a fairytale turnaround. But the Phillies hold a losing record of their own: they are the only team in professional sports to have lost over 10,000 games in their history. Manchester United and the Phillies were formed within five years of each and I did some primitive adding-up to compare the records, for some perspective: Manchester United have only played around 5,000 professional games in their history.

Anyway, we’re not here to talk about rounders or football; we’re here for the beer!

Game 5 (the culmination). Beer 6. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (5.6%) Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (website)

This was one of the beers which I managed to get from the supermarket (that and the Anchor Steam) and it’s probably the best example there is of American craft brewing and its growing popularity: this Pale Ale is now available in the major supermarkets and is growing in number in pubs.

Pale ale was an aging style of beer, lost in the sea of big-name lager, but then Sierra Nevada started to brew it in the 1970s and the craft brewing scene was up and running. If it wasn’t for Sierra Nevada and Anchor then who knows what the American beer scene would be like now, and who knows how the British beer scene would be, for a lot of American influence is starting to make its way into the beers over here – ‘extremes’ of style, the renewal of old styles, attention-grabbing labels, barrel aging, etc. The boundaries of what beer is, and what it can be, are slowly being stretched in exciting ways. This won’t be for everyone, that’s for sure, and there’ll be ‘purists’ who’ll ardently stick to their pint of best bitter or premium lager, but there’s a whole world of beer out there and I personally think it’s a great time to be a beer drinker, wherever you are in the beer world.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale pours a golden-orange colour with custard-yellow head. It’s brewed with pale and caramel malt, and this is clear from the bread and cake aromas, with a hint of vanilla. I also got some caramelised oranges, plenty of juicy fruit, citrus zest and berries. The creamy caramel malt comes first, then the Cascade hops add an almost dry grapefruit finish, with some tannic berries in there somewhere. The well-hopped finish just keeps on and on above the sweetness of the malt and that’s the main flavour difference between this Pale Ale and a lager – the dominance of the hops and the depth of the malt. It’s a bloody good beer, crammed with richness and flavour, and the stand-out beer of its kind.

So my week of American beer and baseball has come to an end. Next year I’ll plan it a bit better to get some more ‘unusual’ and uncommon beers in. For now it’s back to whatever is in the cupboard. Or the fridge. Or under the stairs.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

World Series Beer: Game 5 (The Beginning)

I say Game 5, but it is really only the part of Game 5 which happened before the rain finally made play impossible. Don’t you just hate rain? I can’t think of a single time when I’ve been happy to see it. Never mind, the suspension does bring some good news: ‘extra’ baseball and therefore extra beer. But I might need to pop back to the shops if it goes to Game 7.

Game 5. Beer. 5. Anchor Steam Beer (4.8%) Anchor Brewing Company. (website).

Now here’s a special beer from one of the pioneer craft breweries in the United States. In fact it’s probably the pioneer: a glorious trailblazer. Based in San Francisco, Anchor Steam is their trademark brew; it’s what they’re famous for. The bottles are sexy; a mix of old and new with a squat shape, perfectly formed for the hand, the label is immediately eye-catching with the Anchor prominent in the middle, and a neck brace of information to read between gulps. Their range is small compared to other breweries, but this is no bad thing, and they stick to tradition rather than innovation: their Porter is packed with chocolate, bitter roast grain and berries; the Liberty Ale is intoxicating with loads of malt and a smack of grapefruit and lychees; while the Old Foghorn is a big barley wine.

The Anchor Steam is an amber colour with a creamy yellow head. A big, clean aroma of bread, caramel and toasted grain wafts out. There is more of the bread and caramel in the mouth with plenty of malt depth and a peppery, citrus hop finish. There is almost something savoury about this beer with the perfect balance. It is rich and full of flavour; a classic and deservedly so.

Monday, 27 October 2008

World Series Beer: Game 4

Question: When you watch a game of baseball, what do you drink? Answer: Beer, of course.

Question: But what goes in your other hand, the spare one? Answer: Select from: A) a baseball glove, B) a large sponge finger, C) a cow bell if you are from Tampa, D) a white towel if you are a Phillies fan, E) a sign declaring your love for either, Evan Longoria or Ryan Howard, F) another beer, G) a hot dog.

Last night, being thousands of miles from the ball park (although there in spirit), I had option G.

It seemed completely inappropriate to go through the World Series without at least one hot dog. So I had three. Fluffy-chewy white rolls, meaty-thick sausages, sweet fried onions and a zig-zagging of mustard and ketchup; the image of fast food America. What could be better then beer, hot dogs and a game of baseball.

Game 4. Beer 4. Old Scratch Amber Ale (5.3%) Flying Dog Ales (website - you really should check this out).

The second Flying Dog beer this week, and another winner from the 2008 Great American Beer Festival earlier this month - silver in the Amber Lager category. Flying Dog are a pretty cool brewery from Colorado, with links to Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman, who is responsible for the iconic labels. Their range is awesome. Traditional brews (IPA, golden ale); a showcase of ‘old’ styles (porters, a biere de gardes and a barley wine); and some ‘extreme’ choices which challenge our conception of what ‘beer’ is, or can be (Double IPAs, and their Wild Dogs – 750ml bottled beasts). There may not be another brewery which so encapsulates the essence of the American craft beer scene right now.

The Old Scratch pours a deep amber with a creamy froth: it’s one good looking beer. The aroma is nutty-caramel-sweet with flowery hops. The malt comes with just-burnt caramel and toasted bread, then the crisp, but mild, hops cleanse the palate with dry citrus and grapefruit. It’s smooth, well balanced and easy drinking; a great example of an amber lager, which should be richer and gutsier in the malt department than its lighter amber-less friend. And I’ll tell you something, it’s bloody good with hot dogs. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that it’s the perfect beer to drink while eating a hot dog.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

World Series Beer: Game 3

The clocks went back last night and I’m feeling a little jet-lagged, either that or it’s the knock-on-effects of a baseball game which finished at 6.45am (5.45 if you take into account the time change, but as I hadn’t slept it was 6.45 to me).

I knew there was a chance of rain in Philly, so when I woke up from a short pre-game performance-enhancing power-nap to see a mist of rain sweeping over Citizens Bank Park I wasn’t surprised. But I stuck with it for an hour and a half of game build-up, which frequently snapped back to shots of a sodden ballpark. Eventually, at 2.30am, I decided to brush my teeth and get ready for bed. As soon as I got back in front of the TV, guess what – the water-proof tarps had been removed and the players were out on the field! Game on!

Game 3. Beer 3 (part 1): A&W Root Beer (non-alcoholic). (website)

I went shopping yesterday to look for more American beer so I can successfully complete this mission of mine (I managed to find enough bottles to get through) and while out I found some root beer, which I cracked open during the lengthy pre-game build-up. Root beer is one of those American things that I’ve heard so much about in popular culture, but have never actually tried for myself. But what is it?! It’s caffeine-free but heavy on the sugar and it’s made with high fructose corn syrup, fizzy water and some natural and artificial colours and flavours. That’s helpful.

It pours a deep red-brown but had no head; from cartoon images, I was expecting a frothy, creamy head to rise up out of the glass. The first thing that hits you is that it smells like antiseptic cream, not necessarily good for a drink as it just reminds you of falling over as a kid and the painful application of the healing cream. I didn’t really know what to expect from the taste, but it basically was like a glass of Dr. Pepper with a dash of coke and a slug of cough mixture poured in. Interesting.

Game 3. Beer 3 (part 2): Budweiser (5%) Anheuser-Busch. (website)

When the game finally began at 3am my time, I didn’t really feel like cracking open a beer, to be honest. Plus I’d just brushed my teeth and I had that minty tingle in my mouth. Luckily, though, earlier that day I had found a bottle of Bud sleeping in the back of the beer cupboard.

I took the crown of its shiny brown head and did something unique: I poured some of the beer into a glass. That’s right, I poured it out. This was for the sake of consistency, you see, because all the other beers I drink from a glass. It actually pours a very pale gold with a lime-cordial green hue. There was hardly any discernible aroma, apart from that of ‘beer’. The taste is clean and crisp (that must be the addition of rice?!), and I found it tasted surprisingly familiar despite rarely drinking it. I finished the few mouthfuls that I’d poured into the glass and drank the rest from the bottle, which was much more enjoyable. It’s hard to describe the flavours in a Bud; the malt is simple with a slight cereal hint, and the hops are so inoffensive that they barely register (even though they brew it using ten varieties of hops!). I did have a flash of excitement at one point when I thought I tasted a hint of apple. That was the highlight.

This bottle got me thinking. There’s so much good pale ale and lager being brewed in the USA right now (Samuel Adam’s Boston Lager. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, to name just two), and craft sales are on the up, but Budweiser is still the market leader. So is the branding more important than the taste for Bud, where the name has become synonymous with American beer (despite its European descent)? I read that Bud holds a 50% US market share, which is incredible, but what does this mean for the craft brewing section? How can they compete? I guess the answer is that they don’t compete. There are so many incredible craft beers being brewed that they have to be considered apart from the ‘King of Beers’: You don’t compare McDonald’s with Joe’s Bar and Grill, even if Joe’s burger is the juiciest you’ve ever tasted and his bar-brewed beer is the finest that’s caressed your lips.

Friday, 24 October 2008

World Series Beer: Game 2

Last night’s game started well for me with a thick slice of fresh bread topped with an unreasonably large amount of peanut butter and strawberry jam. Man it was good, but I tell you this, the World Series is going to make me fat: during the hours when I ordinarily should be sleeping, I am actually up drinking beer and eating lots of food to keep me awake. But, hell, I’ve got five months to work it off so I’ll enjoy it while I can.

Game 2. Beer 2. Summerfest (5%) by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (website)

I have never had a bad Sierra Nevada beer. And I’ve had a lot of them. Their Pale Ale is seen as the beer which kick started the American craft brewing scene and it’s popping up in pubs and bars in England now: it is paving the way for the rest to follow. The dominant characteristic of Sierra Nevada brews seems to be the hops, which sing of citrus. Even the porter, stout and wheat beer, along with their big boy Big Foot, all feature that hop presence.

The Summerfest (following on the festival theme from last night’s Dogtoberfest) is a golden, gleaming, bottom fermented pale ale. Lager-lovers wouldn’t believe you if you told them this was actually an ale. The aroma is the familiar citrus hops plus something a little soapy (although this might be subliminal as the beer is very ‘clean’ tasting). The flavour begins with a simple, cereal malt before tangy grapefruit and lime arrives from the hops. I wanted to get more out of this – more malt depth - but it never came. It’s a simple, but very good, lager-like beer. A classic summertime brew.

I’ve got a day off tonight as the teams travel from Florida to Pennsylvania. This gives me a chance to 1) catch up on some sleep, and 2) to go shopping for some more American beers, I just hope I can find some.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

World Series Beer: Game 1

I love baseball almost as much as I love beer. Enjoying them together is a sure-fire winner. This week sees the final games of the year, a best-of-seven series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies to determine the World Series Champions.

Yesterday morning, less than 24 hours before the first pitch of the series was thrown, I had an idea. This idea of mine was to drink a different American beer during each game of the World Series. It’s not the most amazing of ideas, granted, but it works just fine for me.

I checked the beer reserves in the garage and under the stairs and, sure enough, I had some American beers. Of course I had some. I have a real thing for beer brewed across the pond right now, loving their brash over-the-top-ness, the way they’re rejuvenating old styles and adding their own yankee twist, the sheer variety of beer being made, and just how good much of it is. It’s frankly quite exciting (there are those ardent oldies who dismiss the Americans off-hand, but I greet their brews with open arms and an open mouth).

The only trouble I can foresee for this little mission of mine is that I only have four bottles of American brewed beer in the house, and one of these I only want to open if there is a seventh, and deciding, game (to say it’s a ‘special’ beer is to place too high a value on it; I just want to save it for an ‘occasion’). There will come a scramble to find more beers over the weekend (if only this idea would have come to me a few weeks ago, I’d be fully prepared with a fridge well-stocked with state-side treats. Nevermind.).

Game 1. Beer 1. Dogtoberfest Märzen Ale (5.2%) by Flying Dog Ales (see their website here).

I had to start with this beer, it seemed fitting that the final acts of the ‘Hunt for October’ were watched with a special Oktoberfest beer in hand. Dogtoberfest won a Gold medal for best German-Style Märzen at the Great American Beer Festival just a few days ago, so I was expecting something pretty-damn good.

It pours a deep amber/flame colour with a whispy lace of foam. The nose is an ever-developing compendium of juicy fruits, berries and citrus, and a depth of roasted malt to begin, moving into sweeter candy and pastry-like malt. In the mouth there is burnt caramel to begin then this is swept away by the hops which grow and grow in stature, finishing well after the beer is swallowed. But unfortunately there is a watery-ness in the middle which makes it seem like it’s missing something important. If you’ll allow me a baseball metaphor, it’s like a ball which is hit deep for a home run: First there is the initial wallop of the bat against the ball, then the crowd freeze, not sure if it’s hit hard enough or not, then they slowly rise, getting louder and louder as the ball hits a fans glove for a home run, and the cheer continues until the batter has returned to his dugout.

It’s a pretty good beer. But not spectacular. However, it was much more enjoyable than the Backstreet Boys’ attempt at the national anthem.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Pumpkin Ale Soup

This week, while I was drinking a new bottle of beer, I read the bottle and saw, to my delight, a recipe printed on the label. The beer was Pumpkin Ale, brewed by Badger, and the recipe is for a Pumpkin Ale Soup.

First the beer. It’s a gorgeous autumn beer; flame coloured, smoky and spicy. It’s warming like a bonfire with a rich aroma which almost becomes whiskey-like, there’s some earthy spice, a roasted-fruit sweetness and there’s a hint of a wheat beer about it. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth and the taste is biscuity to begin then the earthy hops come trick or treatin’ with a vegetal sweetness. It’s a really good specialty seasonal.

So with the beer drunk in the week, I made the soup today. Now I love butternut squash soup (check out a brilliant recipe here) and pumpkin ain’t all that different. The beer bottle recipe is simple and precise, all squeezed into a few lines of small text. All that was asked here was to boil pumpkin and potato, then add it to onions, chili, garlic and curry powder, then pour in some stock, a glug of the beer and simmer before blitzing and serving. Easy as pumpkin pie.

I pretty much followed the directions, except I cut out the middle man and cooked the pumpkin straight in the stock, and I didn’t add potato because I got a big pumpkin. The result, unfortunately, were slightly disappointing. There was a bitterness which didn’t quite work and the soup was a lacking a sweetness. Perhaps I added too much stock, or perhaps I over-seasoned it, I don’t know. It was perfectly edible, don’t get me wrong, just not delicious. I tried adding cinnamon and honey as pumpkin-friendly flavours, but they couldn’t pull it together. I think butternut squash would be a better choice of veg as it’d add a rich, velvety thickness to the soup. One positive was that the beer itself worked very well with the soup; the warming, creamy-smooth beer and the hot spiced soup sparked off against each other nicely. I’ll probably try it again; I liked the beer so much I bought some extra for the cupboard.

And top marks to Badger brewery for this; I think it’s the first time I’ve seen such a thing on a bottle of beer.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A 'New' Recipe Book

I am a bookworm, and one of my favourite things to do is walk around second hand book shops. Many of the books I own are secondhand - some of the copies are sharply new, while others are musty and yellowing with crumbling hard covers - but I buy them because each book carries its own story, and has its own history outside of the one printed on the page. There may be physical reminders of its previous life – smudges, tears, fingerprints, even a photo or receipt – or it may just carry the idea that someone, somewhere has looked over the words before me, but I find it all rather romantic and intriguing.

I never shop with a book in mind, but I am always interested in the old cookery books. Shopping this weekend, I found a book imaginatively called Cooking with Beer, written by Carole Fahy in 1972. The cover looks all of its 36 years and there are a scattering of pictures inside (one of lobster on a silver platter and another of a fondue, both classic 70s). This book is an odd one. As someone who likes to pair food with beer I am always interested in recipes actually containing the good stuff, so as soon as I found this book I picked it up and popped it under my arm. Later, sitting on the beach drinking a cool pint in the warm sun (perfection itself), I read through the book and, well, I never would’ve dreamt of so many recipes!

Firstly, the beer styles are separated into Pale Ale, Mild or Brown Ale, Stout and Sweet Stout, Old Ale and Lager. There are no mention of individual beers in the recipes, just whether one requires, for example, ½ pint of sweet stout, or 1 cup of lager. Many of the recipes are classics: carbonnade, stews and casseroles, a beer batter, beer bread and rarebits. None of these would be out of place in any cookery book, modern or old, and as timeless a drink as beer is, the recipes which feature it at their heart remain constant.

Then there are some more unusual recipes: melon in beer, the alliterate bass boiled in beer (apparently, ‘you will find white fish, shellfish or even oily fish – whichever is your favourite – more exciting when cooked in beer’), cassoulet, beer ratatouille, beer scrambled eggs, beer potatoes (potatoes deep fried in the beer batter), a lager salad dressing, and the intriguingly named cheese muff, beer puffs and English monkey.

But then there are the recipes which are, to put it politely, interesting: beer soup with milk (brown ale, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon lemon and salt), beer omelet, banana welsh rarebit, and then the dessert section which includes a cheesecake with beer and suggests in the intro to ‘try experimenting with a little light ale or lager poured over your own fruit salad mixture’ – lager and fruit?! Sounds like a cocktail to me!

It is quite some book I tell you, but a really interesting find and great to compare how current tastes have developed. I will try out some of the more unusual recipes - out of intrigue more than anything else – and report back. If this has whet your appetite for cooking with beer, then check out An Appetite for Ale by Will and Fiona Beckett, or jump over to Pencil&Spoon and check out some of my recipes and the beers I suggest to have with them. I’m off for an evening snack of party beer tomatoes (page 78 of the book) which directs as follows (I won’t give exact measurements, use your finer judgment): ‘Wash and thinly slice tomatoes. Arrange on a serving dish and pour over beer (a light ale). Sprinkle with parsley. Serve as a side salad.’


Monday, 13 October 2008

My Beery Weekend

I’ve had a long weekend of excess, spread across the south-east of England in London, Brighton and Whitstable. Lauren (my girlfriend and chauffeur) and I had some ‘us’ time, which generally means I walk around the shops with her and then she sits opposite me in the pub and pretends to be interested while I talk about beer.

The first London stop, post-tourist fun, was the Fox and Anchor in Clerkenwell. This is one of the best pubs I’ve been to in recent memory: large choice of perfectly kept beer served in shiny silver tankards (although these did affect the aroma of the brew and made it tinny); a quirky snaking shape which leads back into small booths; and a food menu which features pies and scotch eggs as bar snacks (I love bar snacks – they are, for me, one of the gauges of a good pub). I had a pint of Adnam’s Old Ale which really was a thing of beauty.

Next we visited the Gunmakers, the pub run by this blogger and a fellow member of the British Guild of Beer Writers. Customers were spilling out onto the street and inside was buzzing. My pint of Timmy Taylor’s Landlord was super. The food menu was stomach-rumble-inducing, but we had a dinner reservation to meet.

Dinner was at Comptoir Gascon, which is pretty much right slap-between the Fox and Anchor and the Gunmakers. It’s a French deli-come-bistro which was serving one of my utter favourite dishes sur le monde: cassoulet; thick and sticky with duck fat, creamy with the beans and full of juicy meat. Food to die for, literally.

London done, we moved on to Brighton and the pub of note was the Basketmakers Arms, a Fuller’s-tied house just off the hippie-chic-smoothie-lined streets. The beer couldn’t be better kept and their range featured almost all of the Fuller’s brews, plus two Gale’s beers (including HSB, which harks back fond memories of the pub quizzes at the Beehive Royal Holloway University) and an autumn seasonal called Red Fox (which was stunning and both red and foxy).

The sunny Sunday was spent by the sea in Whitstable. The main purpose was to walk off the excesses of Friday and Saturday, but I had ulterior motives as it is also home to one of my favourite pubs: the Whitstable Brewery Bar, which juts out onto the pebbled beach and serves the beer spanking fresh from the brewery (the oyster stout is magical).

The only downside to the weekend was missing X Factor (read: Cheryl Cole on X Factor).

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Pencil&Spoon - The Future

So Pencil&Spoon has been around for over a year now and I’ve decided to change a few things. From now on Pencil&Spoon will live its life as a ‘proper’ blog as opposed to a website. I don’t know enough about these computer thingies to keep up a website, so this is the future. The old stuff will remain because it’s taken a lot of finger-tip-tapping to get all that on there, and I’ll be honest, I’ve grown rather attached to it over the last year. Pencil&Spoon (the website, not the blog) is not changing and there’ll still be recipes, beer, tasting notes and food and beer pairing, just now there will be more of it in smaller, tasty chunks.

I also have another blog now (I’ve been busy and needed the P&S downtime to sort myself out a bit!), with the glorious address of www.markdredge.blogspot.com. It does have a pseudo of Fade Out Boy and this is me trying to become a screenwriter (I also talk a bit about beer over there).