Archive for July, 2011

Blind Beer Tasting

Myself and two friends (Clive and Jason, also locals at The Thatchers) are members of The Meantime College Beer Club. We get sent two 750ml bottles of Meantime Breweries latest experimental or rare beers each month. We use the arrival of each beer as an excuse to host a dinner party and share our favourite beers as well as the monthly Meantime offering. This month it was Jason and Jayne’s turn. As we walked in the front door we were greeted with the lovely smell of fresh curry spices and handed a glass of Troubadour Magma, a stunning Belgian IPA. A rich hazy copper colour with a thick white head, plenty of spice and aromatic hops on the nose. It was terrifically smooth with a very fine carbonation, a malt sweetness and a big bitter hop finish. This really was a fantastic beer which we felt was sure to set the tone for the evening…

Next up, whilst sat in the garden trying to pretend it was summer, Jason had a blind beer tasting lined up for us. Asked to score out of 5, Clive and myself gave the first beer a disappointing 1, a lager with strong DMS flavours, an undesirable characteristic in any beer, flavours of cooked cabbage and sweetcorn. We felt guilty for slating the first beer secretly hoping it was a red herring. Next up another lager (well I guess we were having curry…), reminiscent of a continental stubby, crisper and more bitter and certainly better than the first, we offered an improved score of 2. Worried we were insulting Jason we agreed to like the third offering whatever the taste. It was deeper in colour, a light brown, with no head, and little carbonation, it wasn’t looking good. In fact this was the worst so far, thin and watery with an unpleasant aftertaste. Whilst I’m too young to remember, Clive announced it reminded him of the infamous Watney’s Red Barrel, it was impossible to hide our distaste, another low scoring 1, although in hindsight I think a zero is more applicable for this despicable offering. Still worried we had overstepped the mark and insulted our host we were pleased when a wry smile appeared on Jason’s face and he proudly announced Aldi lager at 54p a can the winner of our blind tasting. In second place Tesco lager at 51p a can and trailing in third Sainsbury’s A Little Less Bitter at 25p a can (and only 2.1% ABV)!

Thankfully the food was up next, a monumental spread of starters Poppadums, Salmon Fishcakes, Corn Patties, Lamb Shish Kebabs, with delishious dips & chutneys, then a Chicken Biryani followed by Homemade Kulfi Ice Cream with a delicious Sauternes. A cracking evening, the best curry I have eaten in a long while, and the Meantime beer? That’s another blog…

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Charity Beer vs Wine & Food Matching Evening

Hardknott Dave's Blog

Hardknott Dave's Blog: Saturday Kitchen 'Attack'

It all started with a tweet or 1500… Disillusioned with the lack of beer appearing on one of the nations favourite cookery programmes, a ‘renegade’ group of twitter powered beer geeks rushed the #saturdaykitchen twitterfeed. The aim was to suggest great beers that could match the various recipes alongside the array of wines that the show had picked.  It’s not that wine and food don’t go together, I enjoy a glass of wine with a meal, but there are many beers, lots of UK beers, that work equally well with food, and sometimes even better.  Beer, our national drink,  isn’t showcased in the media, in the public eye, anywhere near as well as wine and we all hoped it was time for a change. If you would like a gentle introduction to the idea of Beer & Food matching you could do much worse than reading Mark Dredge’s great little blog on ‘The Six Types of Beer & Food Pairing‘.

Sadly our efforts were largely ignored by the Saturday Kitchen team.  Perhaps we came across a touch intimidating, perhaps they thought we’d go away, perhaps they’re waiting for the next series…  Thankfully Tim Atkin, general wine buff and one of the Saturday Kitchen team, didn’t ignore us.  His tweet said simply ‘Nope. Wine works better with food’ and started a huge twitter debate.  Eventually I plucked up the courage to ask Tim along to a tasting and he accepted the challenge.  Once the challenge was set Tim asked if we could make the evening a charity event and things have snowballed from there.  Beer writers Melissa Cole & Adrian Tierney-Jones have agreed to come along and pick the beers. Adnams, Slurpbeer & Slurpwine all agreed to help wherever they could.

The date has been set: Friday October 28th.  We will be offering a 5 course menu (still to be decided) and our experts will be matching a beer & a wine with each course. We’ll vote ‘Ready, Steady, Cook‘ style and the winner gets to choose which Charity the money goes to.  The evening will be non-profit making for the Thatchers Arms.  Tickets will be £35 per head and we aim to get as much sponsored as possible.  The more we get sponsored the more money goes to charity.  We would also like to have a small auction, so if you think you can help in any way then please, PLEASE get in touch.

What kind of help are we looking for? As you can see we have the wine & beer supply all wrapped up, but we are still looking for the menu to be sponsored.  We would also like another wine guru to give Tim a hand, we don’t want him to have an excuse if he loses! It would also be fantastic to get a celebrity chef along. It’s not that we don’t have a fantastic kitchen team, but hopefully the draw of a celeb will help us fill this event and get as much money for charity as we can, and some cheap labour always comes in handy too :)

If you want to come along then please book, places are limited, and trust me this is not an event to miss! If you would like an idea of what’s in store you can read about our last Beer vs Wine and Food matching evening on my blog, or from Adnams or Pete Brown’s point of view.

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Is Twitter powered by beer?

Apparently money makes the world go round, but is the same true for twitter? In my opinion, no. I believe it’s beer that keeps twitter, well, tweeting… As a publican I can see many similarities between the community spirit good pubs have always harboured and the new style online community spirit that twitter seems to nurture.

Since joining Twitter I have experienced many acts of generosity from all manner of people in the beer community. Shortly after signing up for the first #Beerswap @seaneclark offered to send Adnams beers to participants in return for a few honest tweets and perhaps the odd blog, I for one was extremely grateful for the wave of goodies that arrived in the post over the following months! Then during my search for a Danish beer for #wcbeersweep I drew a blank trying to locate a Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel and Andrew @brisbeerfactory kindly sent one from his personal stash for me to try. Molson Coors have proved time and time again that they believe twitter and beer are bedfellows with their more than generous sponsorship of #twissup & blogging events. Recently @kristym809 came up trumps for me with a Beer & Food matching dinner invite at the recent Beer Bloggers Conference sponsored by said brewing giant. It was  a fantastic evening with some stunning beers & food and a room full of beer lovers introduced through twitter but their friendships cemented in the real world with beer, in particular Pilsner Urquell & Sharps Turbo Yeast Utter Abhorrence from Beyond the Ninth Level of Hades III. You can read about the amazing evening and the long winded beer on @taleofale ‘s blog.

The power of twitter fueled by beer was also clearly demonstrated when one beery conversation at GBBF followed by a few tweets from the tenacious @edstudentbrewer & the self proclaimed pig fat addict @rolyhamroll turned the first

Pork Scratching Poker tournament in to a reality (yes it actually happened and you can read all about it on the defunct Publican.com website) kindly sponsored by pig frying experts Midland Snacks.

Other notable personal twitter triumphs would be  numerous mentions in press articles & books written by @atjbeer and @pieandapint and securing @petebrownbeer to match beer with books at our most recent Beer Festival. The same festival saw one of the most amazing feats of Twitter power when one firkin of Kernel Brewery Pale Ale sadly missed the pallet and was stranded at Brodies Brewery in East London.  This particular beer had been put in cask especially for us and I was gutted that it might not arrive. One short tweet and @thehappybat piped up happy to swing by Brodies with Rambo, their camper van, on route out of London to our Beer Festival. A good job it was too, what a stunning Amarillo Pale Ale which matched very nicely with Pete Brown’s Three Sheets to the Wind!

However, if anybody was still in doubt, today @hardknottdave led an ambitious twitter campaign in response to the lack of British beer (well any beer) on Saturday Kitchen. Over 1500 tweets flooded the #saturdaykitchen timeline with suggestions for #beer and food matches for each of the recipes. All manner of beer journalists, bloggers, brewers and drinkers took part. There was a real community spirit, a solidarity from the beer industry keen to show that beer has just as much to offer at the dining table as wine. At present the Saturday Kitchen team aren’t commenting on the hijacking of their twitter stream. I’m sure they are taking the peaceful protest seriously, but only time will tell if we manage to get equal coverage for Beer as Wine.

Other blogs on the mornings events by @beerbeauty & @Pub_Champion can be found here and here …

My beer and food suggestions can be found below:
Vodka prawns with samphire
- Any American Pale Ale Magic Rock High Wire, Bristol Beer Factory Independance or Darkstar APA take your pick!

Crispy chicken breast with braised chicory and fennel salad
- Crouch Vale Amarillo

Roast daurade (gilt-head bream) with Parma ham and rosemary butter sauce
- Otlley O-Garden

Pork tenderloin with pease pudding and baby carrots
- Adnams Gunhill

Crab spring rolls with crab cakes and watercress
- St Austell Clouded Yellow

@macusbrig‘s amazing beard
- A traditional beer recently ressurected to celebrate it’s sad demise in the 1980′s Trumans Runner

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