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News Round-Up

proxyI don’t often do this, but there’s been a spate of noteworthy events in our region of late, so here goes:

  • Leeds’s Friends of Ham has won the 2013 Yorkshire Life Pub of The Year – well done, guys. Neighbourhood Restaurant Winner – Eric’s  – also serves Magic Rock’s beer, and The Reliance has won the Dining Pub of the Year, so it’s win-win for beer all round, there. The full list of winners is here. Congrats to all.
  • Staying with Friends of Ham, Summer Wine Brewery are hosting a Beer & Food matching night with Bundobust, the new Indian Food/Beer collaboration between Prashad and The Sparrow. It’s on the 21st of October and there’s a few tickets left. Jump over to the FOH website for more. Bundobust will open their flagship restaurant in Leeds shortly, and needless to say you’ll be able to read about it here.
  • Long-time TGS favourites Revolutions Brewing Co are taking over The Brewery Tap on Halloween. They’ve also collaborated with Five Towns Brewery on a ‘Double A-Side’ beer – an IPA called Super Creep and a black version called Scary Monsters which are kicking around Yorkshire now, so keep an eye out.
  • Kirkstall Brewery have finally opened the doors to their new brewery tap, The Bridge Inn (just on the bridge opposite the brewery, Kirkstall). I’ve yet to drop in (the shame), but you can read Simon Jenkin’s review here.
  • Black Sheep have joined the ranks of Thwaites, Brains and Greene King and installed a new, smaller brewery to experiment upon and brew specials and one-off beers. I’m sure they won’t be the last in our region, either…anyway, you can read more  – and get details of the initial brews – here.

IndyMan Beer Con 2012

And so; It arrives. IndyMan; the most eagerly-anticipated beer festival of the year. Well, if you’re from the North, anyway. The hour came where you could finally put away those drool-inducing PDF’s of beer lists, let the hype from the breweries involved finally get to you, and get involved. After all, the essence of the entire festival seemed to be to get involved.

Was it good? Of course it was. It was better than that; it was...really good. There was a strong whiff of teamwork and community coming from the organisers since day one, an insistence that this was actually your festival, that we  – the movement of craft beer – have been building up towards. This is our revolution. This, it was felt, was something that has been missing from Beer Festivals of late.

However, that’s another story for another time.

The location was excellent; Victoria Baths is a lovely, crumbling old Queen of a building full of nooks and crannies that are interesting enough before you’ve even thought about sticking food and beer in there. I don’t think I’ve ever spent time before drinking a drop of beer at a festival tip-toeing around with my drinking buddies,  marvelling at the bright Autumn sun illuminating the stained glass windows and speaking in hushed tones lest the jade-tiled walls amplify up our disbelieving gasps at the sheer grandeur of it all. Yes; let’s have more festivals in interesting places, please.

Onto the pick of the day’s beer; Brodie’s Stepney Green Steam was first up; less a California Common than a silky, elegant Pale Ale with a strong leaning towards Kiwi Fruit and Gooseberry. A long, dry finish made sure that you were thinking of another before you got halfway through your first. After reading ATJ’s recent piece on Wild Beer Company I couldn’t resist sampling Modus Operandi; a real statement of a first brew. An old ale in a modern jacket, it was strong, smooth and awash with mild vanilla, cherry-skin and an undertow of nutty, almond-cake notes. My tasting notes read ‘Old Peculier on steroids‘ – if you’re a fan of the titular Yorkshire Strong ale and want to try something that progresses those flavours, but adds a feral note, then Modus Operandi is the one for you. Wonderful.

Lovibonds are a brewery that, as a Yorkshireman, I’d never tried before, but I wasn’t going to miss out on trying. Henley Gold proved to be all that I’d read; a superbly balanced, clear-as-a-bell Wheat beer, with every knob dialled down to ‘smooth’; creamy malt, estery Banana notes and a refreshingly sweet, graceful finish. It would have been easy to drink this all afternoon, but decorum would simply not allow.

Onwards to Rooster’s Dry-Hopped Yankee; a firm favourite re-imagined with a sprinkle of Hops in the cask and  – wow –  what a difference it made. All those notes you’ve come to expect from Yankee are there alright; digestive-biscuit malt and a dry finish; but overlaid with a superbly fresh, peppery-herbal-then-fruitbowl aroma. This kind of experimentation – producing one-off, tweaked beers – was happening all over the festival, and was one of the things that piqued my interest from the start.

Keeping things in Yorkshire, Ilkley’s Green Goddess surprised; purely for not being what I expected. What I expected was a crisp, clean Pale Ale that showcased the green hops that went into it; but a dose of Belgian yeast saw off any real hop aroma and replaced it with those wonderful woody, estery notes that we all know and love. A very good Pale Ale/Belgian Pale hybrid – don’t get me wrong – but not what I expected at all.

Summer Wine’s Aoraki Red IPA didn’t disappoint in the assertiveness stakes; a full-bodied, sweet IPA with a wonderfully full, herbal/ pine-needle nose and a long, long, long bitterness that eased before bringing a touch more sweetness to the palate – I’d like to have some more of this at home to ponder over. Kernel’s Topaz re-wrote the sweet IPA rulebook by providing masses of Orange-pith and Lychee aroma with a relatively easy-going 6% abv; and served colder due to the keg dispense, ended up being ruinously drinkable.

Despite all these big-hitters, my beer of the weekend was a humble little 3.6% abv brew called London Sour from those guys  and girls at Brodies. Uber-pale, light as a feather and lip-puckeringly sour, this is the little Berliner-Weisse that could, for sure. Supremely thirst-quenching, packing all the lemon-pith and bone-dry finish of fresh Tarte Au Citron and blending it with the high dryness of the freshest G&T you could imagine, this beer is more fun than a basket of lemons and twice as sharp. I had three; and I could have drunk more. Bravo, Brodies. You’re welcome in the North anytime.

IndyMan managed to pack great beer (Cask, Keg, Bottle), tasty food that is borne out of the same independent spirit and thirst for flavor over profit that the breweries possess, and pride at the city’s civic buildings into one great weekend. The traders, cider-makers, tea-makers, pork-pullers (oo-er!), coffee-grinders, hot-dog conjurers,  speakers and tasting-session hosters, brewers and staff of the likes of Common, Port Street Beer House and The Grove should be very, very proud of. The atmosphere was great; friendly,  reverent without being preachy, and inclusive. Community, indeed.

UPDATE –  There’s another great roundup and some lovely pictures here. 

Pumpkin Pie & Mikkeller Jackie Brown

To carry on with the Halloween season-theme, I thought I’d join the ranks of bloggers at making a Pumpkin Pie this weekend. I’d never made one before – and it is slightly more involved, baking-wise –  but if you’re into Autumnal flavour (spices, richness, cosy comfort food) then it’s one to attempt. The Streusel-crumb topping is something I saw whilst researching the recipe, and I’m glad I added it – the sweet, candied crunch it provides really rounds the Pumpkin filling off nicely.

Firstly, you need to roast your Pumpkin. Get any size you want – but a decent one. If you can only get small ones, get a couple – after all, it’s better to have too much than not enough. Half the Pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and stringy insides, then roast, face down, on a baking tray in an oven at about 180c. When soft (depends entirely on the size – about 30-50 minutes, I’d say), remove, drain the excess water you’ll get, then scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Mash it up and leave to cool.

Now you need to make your sweet pastry. Sift 140g of Plain Flour and 1/4 tsp of Baking Powder together in a bowl. Add (and you can put as much or as little as you want here, but I recommend a heavy couple of pinches) of Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Ginger – all powdered, of course. Add a little Salt, and 50g of Caster Sugar. Finally, add 50g of diced, cold unsalted Butter. Rub it together with your fingertips and soon you’ll have breadcrumbs. Make a well in the middle, add one beaten Egg, and mix until it becomes a stiff Dough.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface and line a greased baking tin with it. Crimp up the edges, then cover with cling film and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to harden.

Now to finish off the filling. To the Pumpkin mash, add one whole tin (200ml – ish) of Condensed Milk, a dash of Vanilla Essence, more Cinnamon and Ginger, a pinch of Salt, 1tbsp of Demerara Sugar, and mix up. When the mixture is cool (it should be by now anyway) add two beaten Eggs. 

All you need to then is pour the mixture (you’ll hopefully have more than you need) into the pastry case. Bake at 220c for 15 minutes.

Whilst the first stage of baking is happening, make the Streusel topping by putting 2 tbsp of Plain Flour in a bowl, and adding 4tbsp of Demerara Sugar, 1tsp of Cinnamon, a chunk of cold, unlsalted butter (about 5g) and rubbing together to make a crumb like you did with the pastry. Add 60g each of chopped Walnuts and Pecans and mix in – there you go.

Take the pie out, add the topping, and bake at 180g for another 30-35 minutes or so. It’s done when you put a skewer into the centre of the pie and it comes out clean.

Well, there you go. It’s a decent couple of hours all together in the kitchen; but hey  – crack open a beer, put some music on and you’re laughing. Beer-wise, I didn’t drink any whilst this was being ‘tested’ whilst warm – but yesterday I had a slice with an old bottle of Mikkeller’s Jackie Brown (6%abv) and it was lush – the coffee-focused finish of the beer just took some of the sweetness away from the Pie in a really balanced way. I’d certainly recommend going for lighter, but dryer, darker beers rather than heavy, sweet ones – the Pie is sweet, spicy and creamy and you don’t want to over-do that. SummerWine’s Barista, Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Brunch, Kernel’s Porter, Hardknott’s Aether Blaec and Dark Star Espresso are all beers which immediately spring to mind.

And of course – you can also give this a go with Sweet Potato if you have no Pumpkins!

SummerWine Diablo IPA with Baked Feta

To carry on with the Summer Wine Brewery theme, Diablo (6%) takes some beating in the taste stakes. Diablo is aptly named; it’s a real devil in a glass – one of those beers that –  despite its relative aggressiveness -remains easy to drink. Hazy orange in colour, it starts with a grapefruit-led hop profile, with some sweet, honeyed notes underneath. The body is surprisingly light, with some grainy, biscuity malt popping in before the main attraction arrives; a massive, drying hop finish of bitter lemon and orange pith. As I said, this is an unapologetically bold IPA, but remains wonderfully balanced. In a bottle you can take your time over it; on Cask there’s more fruitiness coming through  – and it’s slightly less dry. It’s also just been released on Keg, too, so keep an eye out.

If you’ve never had Baked Feta before, then do try it. It’s a wonderful match for beers such as fruity IPA’s because Feta itself is intrinsically a little bland – baking it with herbs just softens it up, makes it creamier – a dish more about texture than flavour. The saltiness of the cheese balances out the beer and vice versa. Simply make a little tin-foil basket for your feta to sit in, drizzle with Olive Oil and Mint (you can put any herb you like on it really – Mint is just traditionally Greek and I love it. Chilli is good, too) and bake in the oven on a high heat until the top browns slightly. Share with crusty bread to smear the warm cheese onto, and a simple Greek salad of Tomatoes and Cucumber. A wonderful little starter or sharing dish.

BBQ Chicken Stuffed-Crust Pizza with Summer Wine’s Rouge Hop

Well, they’ve finally done it. Summer Wine Brewery have poured their lush beers into bottles. Those of you who know James and Andy personally (and that’s probably most of you; they do like to get around!) know how much of a trial this has been for them. As brewers – and people – they don’t like to compromise in any way, and their bottling regime reflects that. They’ve done it all themselves, and are selling it themselves via their spankingly shiny new online shop. Kudos is certainly deserved; these bottles are in excellent condition; just like they’ve put the empty vessel under the tap and poured.

So, without further ado, let’s get onto what I did when I got Rouge-Hop (5%abv) into the kitchen. Rouge regularly battles Diablo for the title of my favourite SWB beer. It’s a pleasure – big, sweet and hoppy. For those that haven’t tried it, it’s a deep mahogany-red hued beer, with a tan head and an aroma of Lychee, tropical fruit and sweet biscuity malt. That firm maltiness carries through the to first gulp, but the beer then ratchets up the bitterness, making the finish grassy, green and ever-so-slightly dry, with just a hint of coffee lingering. It’s a surprisingly assertive end to what you think is going to be a sugar-fest, but that just balances everything out. And of course, when I think of Red, hoppy ales – just as Amber Lager – I think of Pizza.

Making your own Pizza is a doddle, and stuffing the crust with cheese is a piece of cake too (well, dough).

There’s a bit of forward thinking needed with the sauce. Make it a day before for really good depth of flavour. Take one tin of chopped tomatoes, and simmer gently in a pan with a good dollop of Olive Oil, a shallot, and four (yes, four) big cloves of garlic. Using a hand-blender, pulse it a few times to turn it smooth, and then season with a little Salt, a good spoonful of Brown Sugar,  Black Pepper, Chopped Oregano and Basil, and lashings of Chipotle Tabasco Sauce. If you’ve not discovered this yet, you’re in for a treat; that trademark sharp/sweet tabasco bite is rounded off with a deep, woody smokiness. It’s perfect for sauces like this. I don’t often name brands, but I’ll make the exception here. Simmer for a little longer on a low heat with a squirt of Pureed Tomato, and leave.

As for the dough, all you need to do is take 200g of Strong Plain Flour, a teaspoon of easy-blend yeast, about 8fl oz of lukewarm water, and a pinch of salt and sugar. Simply mix the dry ingredients and add the water slowly until a dough is formed. Knead and then rest the dough, covering it with a teatowel. After a couple of hours, it will have risen, so ‘knock it back’ and knead it lightly again. Leave to rest for another 30 minutes. After that, the dough is done – you just need to get however much you need and roll out.

When ready to go, lightly fry your sliced chicken breast and seal them up – they’ll cook again in the oven.

Pre-heat the oven to 220c, and roll out your dough onto a greased baking tray, the edges flowing over the side. Lay a ring of Mozzarella cheese around the edges and then fold back. Be as rough as you like; you ain’t gonna win any awards for daintyness with this pizza.

Spread your sauce on the base, lay your chicken on top and top that lot off with more Mozzarella and another cheese of your choice. Blue cheese works well, as does more smoked cheeses; but in this case I just used strong cheddar. It just gives a bit of ‘something else’ to the topping.

Bake until golden, and leave to cool before slicing up and sharing with someone and a cool bottle of Rouge-Hop. If you find that the Mozzarella starts to get a little ‘watery’ on top, just switch to grill for five minutes or so and bake the top a little more. Enjoy!

Check out Summer Wine’s Blog on the Blogroll to get your mitts on some of their beers. 

SWB Nettle & Ginger Saison: An Open Plea

Dear James and Andy: 

I hope this post finds you well. After reading up on your London exploits, I’m sure it finds you very well. Anyway, I just thought I’d drop you a little note to let you (and the attractive, well-informed and discerning readership of TGS) what I thought of your new Saison. After all, that’s what it’s about, right?

When I heard (a while ago, actually – what have you been doing?) that you were thinking of Saison, I smiled and nodded. I like. I like a lot. As it goes, I’m not incredibly well-versed in Saison; along with Lambic, it’s a style that I really do need to wise up on, although as a lover of sourness and funk, it’s right up my strasse. Since then – purely incidentally – there’s been a little mini-explosion in SaisonLand. Zak wrote an excellent little post about it a few weeks ago, as it happens. Then you’ve got the Pretty Things invasion, and some wonderful little GBBF-drunk Saison hybrids such as De Molen Hout & Hop and Mikeller’s Drinkin’ in The Sun; turns out in the last few weeks I’ve drunk loads of this kind of beer. I was worried. Would yours, long-awaited and drooled-over, be any good?

As it turns out, (thank Christ) it is, but I got a strange reaction that I swear has never happened before so up-front. My first reaction was not ‘wow, that’s a great beer’ like usual, it was ‘How do I get this home?’ Because as soon as I sipped it, I thought about food. Seriously. Your Nettle & Ginger Saison got the foodie in me going; that big sherbert-lemon heart, that warming, rounded gingerness and ever-so-slight yeasty funk conjured up Steamed fish, Ginger, Chilli, Lemongrass; Sumac; all kinds of Eastern flavours. It would all fit together better than The Chuckle Brothers. I know you two, you must have thought that yourself, right?

Or am I reading too much into it? It is sweet, sweet enough for Pale Ale fans to seriously give this a go – much like the Mikeller efforts, with the funky/bretty wildness not being too overpowering, I reckon this would easily fit into the seriously well-herbed, well-flavoured Blonde ale category too. And that’s a good thing; because the thing that stops a popular style being plundered too much is quality; the ‘fakes’ get bottomed out quickly. Your Ginger and Nettle is simply an addition to the canon, rather than a definitive take. I wouldn’t expect anything less. I couldn’t drink tonnes of it, but I suspect that really isn’t the point.

So, please, please please. Bottle this. So I can do what I wanted to do standing at Dean’s bar; really bring out those flavours with some awesome eats. Make me happy.


Thanks, your ever-loving, beardy pal –

Leigh. ‘

IPA Day @ Mr Foleys: Details, Details, Details…

Well, you folks in Leeds are lucky if you love the old IPA’s. Foley’s Cask Ale House have just announced their lineup for the day (August 4th) and it’s a stormer. In Dean Pugh’s Words:

‘At Mr Foleys we will have some of the finest examples of the style from some of Britain’s best brewers. Our beers will include four keg IPAs; two from Brewdog and one each from local West Yorkshire breweries Summer Wine and Magic Rock. We will have six cask IPAs coming from Thornbridge, Buxton, Kirkstall, Roosters, Hardknott and Red Willow. If that’s not enough for you, we will have a dedicated IPA fridge serving you some of the best from America, as well as a some rarely- seen British brews.

‘Still not enough? We will have brewers or brewery representatives from every brewery mentioned above and each will be holding mini ‘meet the brewer’ segments to promote their beer to the assembled crowd. We will also have guest appearances from beer writers Zak Avery and Mark Fletcher, who will be talking you through the history of IPA, why they love the style and some of their favourite beers.

‘With all this beer we will be in need of food. Details are still being ironed out, but we are hoping to have some top quality Indian cuisine available as we feel it not only fits the history of the beer, but that beers big in bitterness and hop character are the perfect accompaniment for spicy dishes’.

So, there you go. I’ll be blogging a preview live from Foley’s during the daytime (probably in a post-GBBF state, but there you go) so if you’re still not sure about IPA, I’ll tell you where to look. Bring it on.

Announcing…International IPA Day!

Well, this fun project is certainly worthy of interrupting Burger Week for, albeit for one night only! August the 4th has been declared IPA Day by US Bloggers The Beer Wench and Ryan Ross. A celebration of all things Uber-Hoppy, all they ask is that you celebrate your IPA on the 4th, and share your fun with your community, whatever that may be.

 I’ll quote the rest directly from the horse’s mouth:

“Attention all craft beer evangelists, brewers, bloggers, and suds-savvy citizens! On Thursday, August 4th 2011, you are cordially invited to participate in the largest international craft beer celebration and virtual conversation the world has ever seen.

International #IPADay is a grassroots movement to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers, and brewers worldwide through social media. On Thursday August 4th, craft beer drinkers across the social sphere and across the globe will raise pints in a collective toast to one of craft beer’s most iconic styles: the India Pale Ale. This celebrated style represents the pinnacle of brewing innovation with its broad spectrum of diverse brands, subcategories, and regional flavor variations – making it the perfect style to galvanize craft beer’s social voice.

#IPADay is not the brainchild of a corporate marketing machine, nor is it meant to serve any particular beer brand. #IPADay is opportunity for breweries, bloggers, businesses and consumers to connect and share their love of craft beer. Getting involved is easy; the only requirements are an appreciation for great beer and the will to spread the word. Anyone can participate by enjoying IPA with friends, making some noise online with the #IPADay hashtag, and showing the world that craft beer is more than a trend!

Tips on How to Take Part:

1.      Organize an #IPADay event at your brewery, brewpub, restaurant, bar, home, or office (Ex:  An IPA dinner/cheese pairing/comparative or educational tasting/cask night/tap takeover…). Share your events on the official #IPADay forum at

2.      On August 4th, share your photos, videos, blog posts, tasting notes, recipes, and thoughts with the world. Be sure to include the #IPADay hashtag in your posts Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, RateBeer, Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, Untappd or any other social media site.

3.      See what other people are saying by searching “#IPADay” on Google,, et cetera…

4.      Track down your favorite IPA’s, ones you’ve been meaning to try, and ones you’ve never heard of; share them with friends and share your thoughts with the world.

5.      Have a good time and know that by sharing your experiences online, you’re strengthening the craft beer community at large.

What’s more, our very own SummerWine Brewery will be taking part for the UK as a ‘Host Brewery’, alongside such luminaries as Epic, Southern Tier and Great Divide, and many more from the US. James and Andy will be keeping us all informed on what antics will be planned, so stay tuned. Also, it’s GBBF that week, which is a perfect opportunity to hook up with fellow Beery types and spread the word.

So – if you like this sort of thing, August the 4th is the day for you.

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