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.