Ole Slewfoot Friend of The Devil and Clams in Dill
Those that have spent any amount of time with me (poor bastards) will know a couple of things; one, that I’m a geek about beer-label design (who isn’t?) and American Music. If I had my own bar, it would be richly soundtracked 80% of the time by the likes of Neil Young, Ryan Adams, American Music Club and My Morning Jacket, amongst many, many other. I’m not sure where this love of Americana comes from – possibly the fact that I spent many of my childhood years with my head buried in DC and Marvel Comics.
Obviously, the danger of buying beer purely on design and image is that you get curveballs thrown at you more often than not; bland, generic or simply dull beers packaged well. Imagine my joy, then, when I came across Norwich – based Ole Slewfoot’s wares; paper-wrapped bottles evocative of rustic, hearty ales contained within, and a reference to a Grateful Dead song (intentional or not, I’m not sure) in one package. And, more importantly, excellent beer. Hog Heaven.
Friend of The Devil (7.7%abv) is labelled simply as a ‘Continental Style Ale’; and was pretty much how I thought it would be based on that; a light, golden ale with plenty of life – it danced around in the glass, the lively spritz lifting fresh Coriander notes up and onto the dining table. That herbal note is strong, but not overwhelming – further consideration reveals some Thyme in there, and a green note in the bitter, grassy end of it. That finish matures into a slightly oily (in a good way) Pine note that lingers.
It doesn’t really fit into a style; it’s like a Bier De Garde/Wheat/Belgian Gold/Gold Hybrid – in a good way. I love beers like this, beers that confound pigeon-holing and lead you to admit, with a contended sigh, that ‘it’s just good beer’. Fans of Pretty Things’s rough-hewn, hearty beers should check this out.
We’d bought some still-clicking Clams from Kirkgate Market that morning, and served them up simply steamed in a little of the beer , a crushed Garlic clove, plenty of chopped, fresh Dill and a splash of cream and black pepper to finish. Enjoyed with crusty bread and Friend of The Devil, it was one of those heady, hearty meals that deserves knives and forks to be put to one side in favour of fingers, plenty of lip-smacking and mopping.