My Christmas Day Menu

OK, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. Sorry about that. Life and stuff have just kind of happened. I have been doing interesting things, honest. Things that you might care about, truly. I just haven’t written about them. OK, apology over with, let’s move on. A few weeks back, Leigh from The Good Stuff : Good Beer. Good Food. Good People invited a few gluttonous reprobates to post their Christmas Day menus together with beers pairings for each course. The only caveat was to ensure the beers suggested are readily available. Now I was really keen to bring into the menu some of my beers of the year. Those beers that have set benchmarks for particular styles or have meant something very special to me. So, all the beers below are available, but you won’t be able to rock up to your local supermarket and snaffle them off the shelves. You’ll need to go online and visit some of  these sites: Beer MerchantsBeer Ritz, Summer Wine Brewery, The Bottle Shop

1. Starter: Potted Shrimp, Dressed Crab & Oak Smoked Salmon


I like to keep celebratory feasts simple and I buy the crab already dressed (£4 for 2 at Sainsbury’s).  I have prepared dressed crab before but I’d be lying if I said it was worth the effort. I’d rather claw back the time and any shred of dignity and fork out £2 for someone else to do it. Potted shrimp, on the other hand, is very simple.

  • 90g brown shrimp
  • 150g butter
  • Cayenne pepper, nutmeg, pepper and salt

Melt butter, add spices to taste, divide prawns into two ramekins (if you buy  puds you’ll have a stack of these). Pour half of melted spiced butter into each. Allow to cool, and then refrigerate. Buy the best salmon you can. It’s Christmas. Serve all of the above with toasted bread (baguette, 5 cereal, sour dough, knock yourself out).

The beers


Where to start with this angel of mercy. If you haven’t tried Table Beer yet, please seek it out. Where Redemption Brewing Company Trinity set the benchmark last year, Table Beer has, in efffect, taken the recipe and made it at The Kernel. As with all Kernel beers the hops change based on availability. Version 1 (3%) had more festive tangerines (Columbus?) whereas Version 2 (3.2%) has more mandarin and orange barley crush. An absolute winner with the crab.


Oakham Green Devil is another banger that is now a permanent fixture in my beer fridge. At 6% there’s more alcohol and hop bitterness than Table Beer. The Citra here starts floral then opens into pineapple and mango sweetness and follows up with a greengage/lime tang as the bitterness draws out the finish. The beer is too dominant for the crab but works beautifully with the spiced potted shrimp.


Tiny Rebel Baby’s Got a Temper  is a double IPA aged on oak chips. I was hoping that this would win hands down with the smoked salmon, but found that the vanilla from the chips was too much for the dry hops (Citra and Columbus). The beer reminds me of the white rabbit sweets, and because of the balance, I’d pair with a pudding in future.

Hmmm… so what to have with the Smoked Salmon?


OK, cheating a bit here, as BAD SCCANS is rare as hen’s teeth, but it’s Christmas. And it’s my birthday beer. It’s my baby.

I chose the Galaxy dry hopped to go alongside the oak smoked (whisky barrel) salmon. Now BAD SCCANS is a big old mofo (10.5%) but the maltbill works with the alcohol and the vanillins from the barrel. The Galaxy adds a dash of papaya and mango to the mix. And then there’s the whisky influence. I have long been a fan of whisky and smoked salmon – the salinity and smoke of the cure is enhanced and amplified by the barley and rich unctuousness derived from years in the barrel. A whisky BA Double SCCANS was the obvious choice (to me).

2. Main: Belly pork (Ribbe), Morcilla, Devils on Horseback, brussel sprouts with walnuts and Parmesan, caramalised apple, gherkin and Dijon mustard

The Norwegian Christmas meal Ribbe (belly pork) is traditionally served with boiled potatoes, two types of sausage, cabbage and pickles. Over the last 10 years, I have been tweaking this meal, bringing in components from different cuisines and am now happy with it. And there are no potatoes. On a day of feasting I don’t want carbs to get in the way of me consuming vast quantities of meat and cheese. Laters potatoes. My general rule of thumb for cracking crackling is score the skin, rub in salt and pepper, and leave in fridge, uncovered for at least 24 hrs (skin side up). This recipe is for a piece around 2kg on the bone.

  • Set oven to 220 degrees celsius, fan assisted
  • place pork on a greased oven proof dish in middle of oven, skin side up, for 30 minutes
  • turn oven down to 170 and cook for a further 60 minutes
  • remove from oven for 30 minutes, uncovered
  • place back in middle of oven, under a high grill and bring the crackling up


  • Medjool dates + Stilton + smoked streaky bacon = Devils on Horseback
  • When the pork is out of the oven, roast the devils for 2o minutes until bacon starts to crisp. Turn after 15 mins if you wish.
  • Morcilla is Spanish black pudding and is best under the grill. Place up high turning every 3-4 mins. Giving it about 15 mins in all.
  • Do the sprouts in the last 10 mins, tossing with walnuts and good quality Parmesan at the end.


The beers

There are a whole host of big flavours on the plate and  I wanted to find a darker beer that wasn’t too heavy to work with the main course. Traditionally in Norway you’ll have Bayerøl or Juleøl, both dark lagers, Dunkels if you will, with the Juleøl traditionally being stronger and spiced.


So how did they work with the ribbe?

By The Horns Prince Albert is a 5.5% Munich Dunkel. I’ll have to admit, I had the strongest hopes for this beer with the main course as it’s in effect a Bayerøl. Unfortunately the bottle I had was Brett infected, so it became impossible to judge how it would’ve of worked as the horse blanket/funk dominated the beer. But, and it is a big but, Brett beers can work with pork & black pudding. The funk cuts straight through the fat but the beer is a little too thin and unbalanced by the Brett for a successful match.

The Kernel India Brown is a 5.6% hopped brown ale. Classic juicy Kernel nose and rich mouthfeel but my initial concern was that the coffee notes from the dark malt may overshadow the pork. But then the beer opens.  The grains journey from coffee to chocolate and it’s this change that really nail the match with the belly pork and the Morcilla. The chocolate vibe is stunning with the devils. Hmm, chocolate, bacon and dates. Nom Nom. The hop finish seems a little out of place until you crunch through the gherkin, and the sour pickle and IBUs make sweet love. Well not really, but you get my drift.

Beavertown Smog Rocket is a 5.4% smoked porter. Had this beauty had a lighter smoke, it would’ve won hands down. It was phenomenal with the devils (stilton and smoke – yeah). It was also sublime and very grown up with the Morcilla. But it stole too much from the pork. That said there were elements from each beer that sang with the food. I just think there’s more ‘research’ needed to find the perfect match. Either that or I need to make a light smoked beer at around 4.5% with a rich mouthfeel and a hint of chocolate.

Ribbe is not for beer and beer alone though. You need Aquavit. Proper, across the equator twice, Linie Aquavit. And that means the caraway goodness that is Throndhjems Aquavit. Skål!


3. Pudding: Chocolate brioche bread and butter pudding with marmalade, ginger and cinnamon and vanilla ice cream

Puddingpud2 Another very simple dish.

  • Oven at 160 degrees c fan assisted
  • Butter the dish
  • Slice open the buns, slather with the marmalade
  • Cover with custard
  • Sprinkle with spaces
  • Bake for 25-30 mins
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream

The beer

Only ever gonna be one choice here. Looking for a big bad coffee and vanilla and chocolate stout, and barrel aged to boot? Kopi Kat Clynelish all the way. And remarkably (truly remarkably) still available here. Get yourself a coffee-chocolate-orange-vanilla-fest and marvel.


4. Cheese: Stilton with honeyed walnuts, Sainte-Maure goats and Le Vache de Chalais


This feast is actually what I ate yesterday, and to say I’m still feeling full is somewhat of an understatement. The small selection of cheeses on this board is entirely down to  our inability to fit any more food in (we ate the Époisses today).

If I’d had a vintage cheddar on the board, I’d a grabbed a Fullers Vintage Ale which is my go to beer for hard cheese.

The only cheese that didn’t pair up was the Vache de Chalais. The one I bought was very young and chalky, and really too light for the beers served alongside. A decent Saison or Blonde would’ve work beautifully but more as part of a lunch than an end of year blow out.

The Sainte-Maure paired well with the BAD SCCANS Galaxy but that’s not a great surprise, Double IPAs with less assertive hop presence and bigger caramel backbones have an affinity with the Caprylic acid found in goats cheese, lamb and apricots (tagine anyone?).

The Stilton, as mentioned in the main course, loves a bit of a smoke, and worked really well with the Smog Rocket.

It also worked very well with a 15 year old Ron Zacapa. Not beer, but a great drink and our guests wanted rum. What you gonna do?

Posted in Beer, Drink, Food, Recipes | 7 Comments

Live Open It! Leeds 25/02/12

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Benjamin Franklin


Are you ready for another Open It! weekend on 24-26/02/2012? Time to either raid the deep dark corners of the beer cupboard or grab those beauties that take pride of place. Their time has come.

In case you’re new to Open It!, it’s a weekend of drinking prized beers, sharing them with friends and hopefully spreading some beer love, dreamt up by those beery rascals, Andy Mogg & Mark Dredge.

er, I think that maybe a bit past its best ...


What started out as a plan to get together and open some big bad beers with some of the beery faces of Leeds soon became a full blown event. A big thanks to Dean from Mr Foley’s Cask and Ale HouseMatt from North Bar , and Marc from Create for offering their venues and working with me to pull this all together. Good work lads!

So, what’s the plan Stan? An evening event where people get together, open some rarities and pair them with good food at a venue that understands how great beer and food can be together. After the meal, more quality beer at the two finest drinking establishments in Leeds. First on to Mr Foley’s and then on to North Bar.

Who’s up for it?

19:00 – food and beer pairing meal

People will be able to bring their own beers along and a menu has been created to offer the best potential food pairings from the styles of beers likely to feature e.g. barley wines, old lambics/Brett, Imperial IPAs, Imperial Stouts, old ales and quads, and barrel aged oddities from the four corners of the globe.

The gluttons attending will be:


ZakAveryCptCheerfulrealalereviewsmisterfrostyTkiley1 & me

£25 for a six course tasting menu with a separate area reserved for us from 18:30. There will be a £3.50 corkage per bottle. So far the majority of bottles people are bringing are 66cls and 75cls, and as people are sharing, it will be no more than around £7 corkage per person.

21:00 – 23:30 – Mr Foley’s

Those that cannot make the meal should join us at Mr Foley’s for more Open It shenanigans and beery adventures. Rather than a corkage fee, we’re going Old Skool and you need to just share a little bit of your beer with Dean. Dean’s also lined up Saison Dupont, Faithless Xi (Black Ageless) and Ska Modus Hoperandi for our delectation.

Reprobates include:


Ol_Fozmisterjkbriggatebeer, and possibly MagicRockRich

23:30 – 02:00 – North Bar

Then it’s off to North Bar where Matt has promised some aged treasures for those still standing. There may also be some of these stunners on the line up: 12 month old Great Divide Belgian Yeti, StoneRuination, Magic Rock 8 ball, and maybe some Sierra Nevada Red Rye.

Those that wish to bring some rarities along are welcome to do so.

The plot thickens …

The Menu

  1. Potted duck, toasted rye bread, rhubarb and vanilla compote
  2. Smoked haddock fritter, tarragon mayonnaise, watercress
  3. Crispy pork belly, black pudding, celeriac and mustard salad
  4. Chargrilled skirt steak, celeriac puree, shallot and red wine butter, crispy mushroom
  5. Chargrilled bananas in rum with toasted marshmallows and white chocolate ice cream
  6. Cheese board: Smoked Ribblesdale (goat), Old Yorke (ewe), Wold Blimey (blue), Coverdale (hard), Inglewhite, Blackstick Blue, Stinking Bishop (washed rind)

The Beer & food pairings

# Food Beer  Name
1 Duck Cantillon St Lamvinus (75cl) Gav (@misterfrosty)
1 Duck Goose Island Lolita (66cl) Ben (@CptCheerful)
1 Duck Goose Island Madame Rose (66cl) Ben (@CptCheerful)
1 Duck Upright Brewing Sole Composition Barrel-Aged Seven Blend (75cl) Zak (@ZakAvery)
2 Fishcake Brooklyn Local 1 (65cl) Paul (@Tuffs86)
2 Fishcake Kinn Vestkyst IPA (75cl) Dean (@mrfoleys)
2 Fishcake Marble Saison Special 2011(75cl) Jane (@i96jms)
2 Fishcake Mikkeller Three Floyds Ruggoop (66cl) Dan (@danielvane)
3 Pork ? Tyler (Tkiley1)
3 Pork De Molen Bloed, Zweet & Tranen (75cl) Me (@rickfurzer)
3 Pork Fraoch 20 (75cl) Zak (@ZakAvery)
3 Pork Mikkeller Stella 1 (150cl) Gav (@misterfrosty)
4 Steak ? Fletch (@realalereviews)
4 Steak Bush Prestige 2008 (65cl or 75cl) Andy (@tabamatu)
4 Steak Crooked Line Cockeyed Cooper Barley Wine (75cl) Paul (@Tuffs86)
4 Steak Mikkeller Monks Elixir Me (@rickfurzer)
5 Pudding Goose Island Bourbon County Vanilla Stout (75cl) Jane (@i96jms)
5 Pudding Marble Decadence (75cl) Dan (@danielvane)
5 Pudding Summer Wine Brewery Kopi Kat Andy (@swbandy)
5 Pudding The Bruery Autumn Maple (75cl) Andy (@swbandy)
6 Cheese ? Fletch (@realalereviews)
6 Cheese ? Tyler (Tkiley1)
6 Cheese Firestone Walker 14th Anniversary (65cl or 75cl) Andy (@tabamatu)
6 Cheese Langunitas Hop Stoopid IIPA (65cl) Dean (@mrfoleys)
Posted in Beer, Drink, Food, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments

Golden Pints 2011

I’d like to think of this as a fashionably late entry into the crawl of Golden Pint entries. You could say I needed to squeeze every last drop out of 2011 til I made my decision. So on with the show ….

1. Best UK Draught (Cask or Keg) Beer:

Redemption Trinity

There have been so many excellent draught beers this year but for me the real stand out was Redemption’s Trinity. An overload to your olfactory bulb with a hop smack to boot. A breath taking 3% beer with aromatic US hops. Redemption, I salute you.

2. Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer (link below to Zak Avery’s quality blog on it):

Baby-Faced Assassin

Fruit salad in a glass. Apricots, peaches, apples and pears together with citrus fruits and mango. The most beautiful beer of the year bar none. Stunned. Made by Tom (@cheeseboiger) and Oliver Fozzard who are now running Roosters Brewery. Superb work lads! I was extremely lucky to get my hands on one of these (thanks Ghostie) and, though this was a one-off, it’s gone straight in at no.1.

3. Best Overseas Draught Beer (link below for info):

Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel

On draught at The Cask Pub and Kitchen. 20 mile round trip on my bike and got me a 2 pint take out. A subtle yet complex 10% coffee stout – all oxymoronic and delicious. I’ve been reminded how good this beer is by it’s availability in bottles at the Hamar Vinmonopolet – the only place to buy booze for me this Christmas. Consequently I’ve also discovered that it’s great with home-made marzipan (67% ground almonds & 33% icing sugar with egg yolks to bind). Mikkeller – good work fella!

4. Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer:

Black Tokyo* Horizon

OK, strictly speaking this wasn’t bottled overseas. But this is non-linear dynamics at it’s finest. I have tried all three progenitors of this beer and the bastard offspring takes the best of all three. So good I had a pint (it was a game of two halves). Works beautifully with cured reindeer or elk – just in case you hang about in Scandinavia or know someone who does. To all who made this beer – thank you, it is superb.

5. Best Overall Beer:

Big Brick

This beer encapsulates all that is great about beer. It tastes magnificent, citrus hops and big spicy rye with hints of licorice and eucalyptus as it ages. Is superb with food (try it with salmon tartar) and is a collaborative brew between the beautiful people of the London and SE brew scene made at The Kernel. So, Sid, Matt, Karen, Mark, Angelo, Emma, Phil, Andy, Stig, Simon and Evin, Toby, Chrigl (and Nate?) – I would like to thank you all for making this beer. Thank you – you are all brilliant.

Copyright Bob Arnott 2011

For more info on the making of the beer, please see Sid Boggle’s blog and Bob’s excellent blog on drinking it.

6. Best Pumpclip or Label:

Hitachino Nest

Going controversial here and not choosing Magic Rock. Love their artwork, but Hitachino’s Nest is the bomb. Label, neck collar and cap. Stunning. There’s no one in the world whose opinion on design I trust more than Timo Arnall’s and he reckons they rule. Here’s one of Timo’s snaps.

Next year’s is in the bag. Daniel Vane’s KopiKat label is gonna take some beating. Except perhaps by other beer labels Dan designs.

7. Best UK Brewery:

Summer Wine Brewery

A stunning array of beers. Check. No compromise on quality or sparing of expense. Check. A leading edge commitment to craft beer (sole European Host Brewery for International #IPADay). Check. And Kevin. Superb work James and Andy – here’s to a cracking 2012!

James and Andy also invited me to make beer with them. Invited me to make beer with them. Make beer. Beer. I helped make some beer. It’s called KopiKat. And it’s coming. KopiKat is coming. Yeah.

8. Best Overseas Brewery:

De Struise Brouwers

I hadn’t tried any De Struise before 2011. But thanks to Andy’s wallet-busting stock at The Bottle Shop, Tom and Mes’ generosity sharing some Struise Black Damnation VI – Messy at The Craft Beer Co and the availability of Pannepot at the resurgent Beers of Europe I managed to get my grubby paws on some of the finest quads and imperial stouts from these sturdy brewers of Belgium. For me they offer all that is great from traditional Belgium brewing but they are also innovative & collaborative in their approach to making great beer with a bold stance towards the future.

9. Pub/Bar of the Year:

A joint first for joint of the year. Both of these venues did something better in 2011 than any other had tried before them.

1st = The Craft Beer Co

The Craft Beer Co. opened a beautiful beer venue, with a truly awesome array of shiny taps (37 – 21 keg, 16 cask) and huge fridges stacked with an almost pornographic selection of bottles. In a great location with knowledgeable people and led by Tom Cadden with the aid of Mario (really top blokes). Congratulations – stunning first 6 months!

Copyright The Craft Beer Co. 2011

1st = The Dean Swift

The Dean Swift is welcoming, has a killer selection of beers, proper food and a desire to be better. It’s success can be attributed to the hard work of Max Chater, Momo, Alex, Johnny, Vanessa and the rest of the team. But it was the organising of events and the focus on food, in a way other venues can only dream of, that really separated The Dean Swift from other pubs in 2011.

Max has now moved on to pastures new, and it is now in the capable hands of Josh (ex Draft House) who has 18 years in the industry, so here’s to a blinding 2012.

10. Beer Festival of the Year:

I was a bit shit in 2011 and didn’t attend any beer festivals.

11. Supermarket of the Year:

I don’t really buy from Supermarkets. Though they have all improved none really stock the range of beers I want to drink. Pretty much what @fletchthemonkey said on his Real Ale Reviews

12. Independent Retailer of the Year:

Beer Ritz

I bought more from Utobeer and Mr Lawrence’s in 2011 (as I live in SE London) but, even as a Londoner, Beer Ritz’s impact is national. How many bloggers work in Beer Ritz? Anyone any good? Anyone work(ed) there made any good beer? Have you noticed how many bloggers live in or around Leeds? If I were a hippy I’d say Beer Ritz radiates beer love and it’s impact beyond selling great beer is in spreading great big beery love to one and all. Zak – thank you for your hard work this year, I will buy more off you in 2012. Ghostie et al. keep spreading the love.

13. Online Retailer of the Year

Beers of Europe

Am I the only one who’s noticed that Beers of Europe upped their game this year? Admittedly you had to be pretty damn quick to snaffle up some of their goodies but Jason et al offered a veritable smorgasbord of Nøgne Ø, Mikkeller and De Struise beers at insanely low prices.

14. Best Beer Book or Magazine:

The Flavour Thesaurus

It’s not a beer book or a beer magazine and it was published in 2010. It was also my choice last year. But I lost my original copy and had to buy another in 2011. For me it is the most important book for understanding complimentary and contrasting flavours and opening your ideas of what may pair well together. If you’re interested in pairing beer with food you must buy this. Now.

15. Best Beer Blog or Website:

Ghost Drinker

For Ghostie it’s all about the joy of beer. I found that over the year I read more interesting posts about how a beer smells & tastes on Ghosties blog than on any other. Other’s blog on the the politics of taxation, smoking ban, dispense and CAMRA, and there’s something refreshing on staying away from the mire and just focusing on drinking the stuff. Nice one Ghostie.

16. Best Beer Twitterer:

Scoop all the way. Simon H. Johnson . Inspired nonsense and logical tangents taken in the most amusing directions. All whilst consuming vast quantities of beer. Really entertaining – thanks Simon.

Simon's weekly Orval delivery

17. Best Online Brewery Presence:

No winner here.

The most obvious use of online media by a brewery is by BrewDog. But their presence this year has been a fucking shocker. I’m not talking about their campaigns aimed at steering teenagers towards BrewDog over Stella as I’ve long since chosen to ignore that noise, what I’m talking about here is fessing up when you’ve got problems with quality control and your eCommerce business. Their apology over their online deliveries is therefore most welcome. Thanks. Now to sort out the bad batches…

18. Food and Beer Pairing of the Year:

Only one? Damn. Ok – I’m gonna cheat here and say the IPA Day feast. I know it’s more than one pairing (and one course didn’t work). But my list – so my rules. If I had to choose one of these. Stone Ruination IPA and Tandoori Chicken.

19: In 2012 I’d Most Like To:

i. Learn how to brew. I’d like to learn by brewing beer with the good and great of the brewing world. If they’ll have me.
ii. Organise more food and beer (and other drink) events. Devising menus that showcase how symbiotic beer and food can be.
iii. Spend more time on my blog – it’s a bit shit and embarrassing.

20. Open Category:

AWOL beer personality

Max Chater – get yourself back in the game dude.

I also thought it would be useful to collate a list of other Golden Pints nominations. If you read this and I’m missing yours – please let me know:

Big Ade’s Ale&stuff

Alcoholic Chap’s Adventures of an Alcofrolic Chap

Arn’s Blood, Stout and Tears

Zak Avery’s Are You Tasting the Pith

The BeerCast

The Beer Nut

David Bishop’s broadfordbrewer

Boak and Bailey’s

Sid Boggle’s The Boggle Awards 2011

Danny Brown’s added in the comments section of Beer Reviews Andy’s

Mark Charlwood’s Beer. Birra. Bier.

Chris’s Beer and Life Matching

Rob Derbyshire HopZine

Mark Dredge’s Pencil and Spoon

Pivní Filosof Pivní Filosof – Beer Philosopher (yes I know Filosof is not his last name – don’t go there)

Barl Fire’s …With The Grain …

Mark Fletcher’s Real Ale Reviews

Tom Fozzard’s aka @Cheeseboiger

Craig Garvie’s Make Mine a Half

Ghostie’s Ghost Drinker’s

Matt Gorecki’s New Briggate Beer Blog

Phil Hardy’s Beersay

Billy Hall’s The Folding Reality

Kieran Haslett-Moore’s Beers from the Motherland‘s

Michael Ironside’s Diary of a Hop Head

Gregg Irwin’s A Beer on The Downs

Simon Johnson’s Reluctant Scoper

Gareth Jones’ Beeradvice

James Kemp’s @kempicus

Tyler Kiley’s Its Just Beer Dont Argue Just Enjoy!

Steve Lamond’s Beers I’ve Known

Leigh Linley’s The Good Stuff

Louise @BeerTalk Beer Talk

David Lozman’s Taste Sensations

Andy Mogg’s Beer Reviews

Neil’s Eating isn’t Cheating

Nick Mitchell’s The Beer Prole

Andy Parker’s Musing’s of an elusive beer geek

Jeff Pickthall’s it’s just the beer talking

@pintsandpubs Pints and Pubs

@rhodeshannah ‘s the beer monkey

Glyn Roberts’ Rabid About Beer

Alex Routledge’s Beer Twaddle

Sam’s and Stu’s yeastieboys’s posterous

Adam Shafi’s Walking and Crawling

Rob Sterowski’s I might have a glass of beer

Matt Stokes’ Beerandfoodandstuff


@ToonBeerChris Another Drinking Blog

Paul Tuffnel’s It’ll Beer Alright

Tulleehoo’s Tulleehoo Beer Blog

Ed Wray’s Ed’s Beer Site

Posted in Beer, Drink | Tagged , , , , | 35 Comments

London Beercycle Club – inaugural jaunt, Saturday 17/12/11 from 10am

There seems to be a correlation between drinking good beer and cycling. OK, I know they are both massively popular pastimes but there’s something that twins these two passions and binds them together. Maybe it’s the love of nature and the simple joys of life. It might also be that they are both fantastically accessible. There’s also no denying that if you gonna drink a lot of beer, a decent amount of exercise it a good plan.

I’ve been threatening to organise this for a while and have eventually got round to doing it. This will be the first of (I hope) many beercycle adventures.

A bit mental, considering the time of the year and all that but why shouldn’t we go on a bit of a burn around The Smoke on bicycles visiting some top drawer boozers and drinking establishments?

So the plan will be to kick-off at S and M cafe in Spitalfields from 10am heading to:

1. Tap East
2. William IV
3. Jolly Butchers
4. Southampton Arms
5. BrewDog Camden
6. Cask Pub and Kitchen
7. The Rake

Who’s in?

Posted in Beer, Drink | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


Copyright Rick Furzer 2011

Sweet,spicy, sticky ribs. Another piece of evidence that shows the glory of the pig.

Until last week I’d never attempted spare ribs. Don’t know why. Maybe it’s the fascination I’ve always had for the bit that sits on top. The magnificent cut that is belly pork. But Aina had a fever, and that fever could only be cured by ribs. After a brief trawl of the internet I realised that most recipes used some spices (Chinese five spice), tomato puree/ketchup, vinegar, honey and soy sauce. There were other ingredients bandied about but this was not about finding a recipe. It was about de-constructing the dish and re-building it for us, based on what we liked, what might work, and what was in the cupboard.

I have now made this dish three times. A tad excessive for a week you might think but that’s how I roll. It’s quite nice.

I. Ingredients


1. Pork ribs (all about the same size) – 2kg
2. Tomato ketchup – 200g
3. Light soy sauce (e.g. Kikkoman) – 50ml
4. Dark soy sauce – 50ml
5. Chinkian black vinegar – 50ml
6. Runny honey (e.g. Eucalyptus) – 150ml
7. Marmite (XO or normal) – 2 heaped table spoons
8. Sichuan pepper (ground) – 2 heaped table spoons
9. Chilli powder – 1 heaped table spoon
10. Roasted chilli and garlic powder- 3 heaped table spoons
11. Ginger (grated fine) – 50-75g (a big thumb)
12. Garlic (finely chopped) – 4 fat cloves
13. Sesame oil – 1 table spoon
14. Freshly ground black pepper

II. Other stuff

1. A big dish to prepare the marinade and to marinade the ribs (not metal)
2. Paint brush (new)
3. Spice grinder/pestle and mortar
3. Oil (ground nut/vegetable/sunflower)
4. Oven tray (with deep enough sides to catch the juice from the ribs during initial roasting).

III. A precursor

Before I lay out the recipe there a few pointers it might be worth mentioning.

I don’t really work with weights and measurements. I add ingredients and judge what else to add by taste, smell and sight. With the marinade for the ribs, you need to get the consistency gloopy so it will coat the ribs.


I rarely cook a dish the same way twice. I’ve used some roasted chilli and garlic flakes (that I’ve ground to a powder) that you should be able to find in a decent Asian supermarket. If not buy some chilli oil and dried fried garlic and use in its place (adjusting quantities to taste).

This dish is a bit of a labour of love. Give yourself a couple of hours to do it properly. It will feed 4.

IV. The recipe

1. Dry fry the Sichuan pepper corns over a medium heat until they start to release their oils (about 5 minutes). Remember to shake the pan around so you don’t burn the peppers contact point with the pan. Grind the pepper to a powder.

2. Peel and fine grate the ginger. Finely chop the peeled garlic.

3. Mix all of the marinade ingredients together. If it’s looking too thin, up the ketchup, honey and Marmite. Adjust the chilli to how hot you like it.

4. Add the ribs and coat completely in the marinade. Marinade for 30 mins.

5. Set oven to 200 degrees C (180 fan assisted). Put the tray in the oven to heat up a couple minutes before the end of the marinade.

6. Take the hot oven tray out add a little oil and lay all the ribs meat side up. Reserve the excess marinade. Put the ribs in the middle of the oven and roast for 25-30 mins (depending on how fat the ribs are).

7. Once the ribs have been roasted, drain all the juice from the ribs back into the marinade, stir thoroughly and then transfer to a large frying pan and simmer down to a thick gloop on the hob. This will take about 10 mins on a high heat. You’ll need to keep an eye on it and stir to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

8. Put the grill on high.

OK, it's not really a paint brush

9. Once the final marinade has reduced to about 1/3 you can start using it to paint the ribs. Make sure you get all three sides of each rib coated. You should still have half of the marinade left after this first coat of marinade.

10. Put the ribs right under the grill and grill for about 10 mins. Obviously watch them and make sure they don’t burn, but you want a nice chargrilled look.

11. After 10, flip them on their backs, paint with the marinade and grill for another 5-10 mins (depending on how much meat in on the underside).

12. For a final grill turn them meat side up, final paint and grill for 5 mins or until they look ready.

13. Rest for 15 mins, then eat.

going spare

Posted in Food, Recipes | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

International IPA day

IP, IP, oorAy

What an evening. A feast to celebrate all that is good about the resurgent beer style Indian Pale Ale. At Thursday night’s celebrations I helped devise a 7 course and 7 styles of IPA feast at The Dean Swift.

The Venue

It all started rather innocently. I responded to a tweet from Max Chater, General Manager of The Dean Swift, asking who’d be interested in getting together to organise an event for international IPA day. So, armed with my copy of Niki Segnit’s The Flavour Thesaurus, we met up, decided on the format and started to plan the shindig. Max, Momo Medi (Head Chef) and I tried a whole host of IPAs and drew up a barn-storming menu for the event.

Max was keen to bring together the great and the good from the British beer scene, conscious of the fact that most if not all of the specialist beer bars in the UK were organising their own events, calls were made, diaries checked and the attendance list started to take shape. Unfortunately, on the day, we went a man down. Pete Brown was incapacitated by some dodgy chicken wings scoffed at The GBBF. But sitting round the table Max had gathered brewery owners, brewers, beer importers and pub owners to enjoy the festivities. And me. Quality.

It's all in the preparation


Andy Baker – Summer Wine Brewery
James Farran – Summer Wine Brewery (see Raising the Bar for their blog on the event)
James Bendall – Sandstone Brewery
James Watt – BrewDog
Patrik Strandberg – Cask Sweden
Peter Millar – journalist, author, bon vivant (Beer Among Friends)
Phil Strongman – Pubs of Distinction Ltd.
Nate (tempted to make up a surname)- The Kernel Brewery
Toby Munn – The Kernel Brewery

What are you drinking scamp?

1st Course

Type: Black IPA
Food: Toulouse sausage scotch egg
Beer: The Kernel India Pale Ale Black (keg), BrewDog Abstrakt AB:06
Logic: I knew AB:06 was amazing with Toulouse sausage meat. Discovered it by accident but there’s a reason why the pairing works so well. Dark roasted malts with a strong pine profile from the hops lend themselves towards this meaty sausage with garlic herbs and wine. You need a big beer to overpower the wine and lots of alcohol to tame the garlic. As a Scotch egg is a mainstay on The Dean Swift’s menu, Max suggested and Momo perfected the dish.

Toulouse sausage scotch egg & black IPAs

After an initial tasting of the two beers, people got stuck into matching with the scotch egg. But this was no ordinary egg. Crisp on the outside, fantastically moist, garlic heavy, porcine goodness within and a perfect semi-set boiled egg at the centre. The Kernel Black IPA is a magnificent beer but a very different animal to the AB:06. In our preparation, Max, Momo and I had already identified the AB:06 as the winning combination. We knew the chocolate notes from The Kernel meant that it wasn’t the ideal pairing for this course. Also the garlic rides roughshod across the beer, kind of thinning it out. But with the AB:06 ….. “cracking”, “wonderful”, were the first discernible words from amongst the Om Nom Noms. Our plan was working. There was even a general consensus of an almost symbiotic relationship. The food was improved by the beer and vice versa. Apart they were both good but together they were great.

2nd Course
Type: Canned IPA
Food: Calamari with sweet chilli sauce, timbale of avocado and crayfish
Beer: BrewDog Punk IPA, Maui Big Swell
Logic: Canned IPA should be super fresh and be full of citrus, pine or exotic fruit goodness. Also seafood and avocado have a natural affinity with tropical fruit. We selected two light dishes as we wanted people to compare and contrast and to get the discussion flowing. By the way, they are not nano kegs, they are cans.

Tropical goodness

Both cans had been in the same fridge for the same length of time but the Punk was noticeably colder than the Big Swell. Tin-plated steel vs. aluminium or different thickness? There were some off cans of Punk several months ago but the Punk we drank yesterday obliterated that memory. Less bitter with fresher mango and papaya than I recall from previous ‘cannings’. The Big Swell has a massive malt backbone and the Northwestern hops offer a more vegetal, acerbic quality. Very different IPAs. We agreed that the two dishes went very well with the two beers, just couldn’t agree which match was better. Some preferred Big Swell with the calamari, the malt and sharp bitterness initially fighting against the sweet chilli and seafood then working together. Others found the astringency of the Maui cut through the creamyness of the avocado and the herbaceousness of both food and drink complemented each other. For me, Punk’s tropical fruit just worked better with the sticky chilli and light golden battered squid.

3rd Course
Type: Centennial IIPA resurrection
Food: Grilled goats cheese and roasted peppers
Beer: Kernel Centennial #100, Centennial 2010
Logic: US style IPAs are considered best young. As they get older the aromas from the hops start to fade and the cereal and caramel flavours from the grain become more prominent. Can a food pairing resuscitate an old IPA and tease out some of the lost character, and how would it compare with the fresh version? We thought this beer would end up being the cheese course as an old IIPA starts to head into barley wine territory (food and barley wine – a winter event in the making?) but when we worked through soft, blue, goats and hard cheeses it was pretty obvious to us that Centennial had a natural rapport with goats cheese. But is wasn’t quite right. In a moment (momont?) of pure genius, Momo darted back into the kitchen, added some dried herbs and grilled the cheese. Inspired.


The carbonation in the Centennial 2010 was a problem though … until Max decided to decant them. Good work fella.

The vegetarian option

The herb seasoned grilled goats cheese (chèvre blanc?) with it’s musky flavour came alive with the year old Centennial, and any sharpness from the hops was countered by the beautiful roasted peppers. Some people find young goats cheese to be quite citrussy which could also be why the pairing works. The #100 was a very good match too but the yearling edged it through greater depth and sweetness. A few people sited this as there favourite pairing of the night.

4th Course
Type: IPA and Spice?
Food: Tandoori chicken with cauliflower velouté
Beer: Stone Brewing Co. Ruination
Logic: I think IPAs work well with spicy food. Cuisines that have a predisposition for using chillies and a whole range of different spices (Indian, Thai, Chinese, Burmese, etc.) have a special kinship with the heady fruity, floral and citrus aromas found in US style IPAs. I make a lot of Tandoori chicken (I’ll post the recipe soon) and grabbed a thigh to chew on after ordering in some Ruination from My Brewery Tap. and instantly fell in love with the pairing. Max, Momo and I initially tried the Ruination with the chicken tikka and cauliflower velouté that’s on the Swift’s menu and, though the tikka didn’t have enough bark to deal with the IPA’s bite, the velouté was perfect. Luscious and comforting with a summery hit from the coriander. I brought in some marinated tandoori thighs which Momo duly roasted for us all to try the pairing. You know a match works when people start giggling because it’s so good. The dish was born.

The spice is right

The table first went silent. Then murmurs of approval, and a few sound-bites to warm your heart. “Probably the best tandoori I’ve ever had“, “wow, that is so moist”. There was high praise for the unusual but cunning pairing with the velouté. Highly spiced dishes can steam-roll less aggressive IPAs. Just to see what would happened we lined up some BrewDog Hardcore alongside the Ruination. Now I’m a big fan of Hardcore but none of us felt it clicked with the tandoori, maybe too much pine. I get hints of orange blossom in the Ruination and I suspect it’s this floral citrus note that lift the spices and disperses them to the four corners of your mouth.

5th Course
Type: Draught IPA: UK vs. US
Food: Lamb Mechoui
Beer: Summer Wine Brewery Kahuna, Stone Brewing Co. IPA, Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Great Divide Titan
Logic: No dark meats had been part of the feast so far and we felt lamb, with it’s natural compatibility with fruit and herbs, should be at the centre of this course. And with the vast array of cask and keg IPAs Max had sourced for the evening, we were excited to see what worked best. Initially we discussed a lamb tajine with apricots but settled on the Mechoui, a speciality of Momo’s.

UK vs. US

The quality of my photography is pretty ropey at the best of times but it now starts to head downhill. I’m sorry to say I have no clear photo of the Lamb or the trays and trays of beer that arrived for this course.

The Lamb Mechoui was herby (mint/thyme?), insanely tender and the best dish of the night for some. With the fat rendered down, the sinew of the meat fell apart if you so much looked at it funny. Served with green beans its sauce had a sharp astringency (vinegar or lemon? – need to check with Momo) that gave the dish an extra dimension. But it didn’t work with any of the IPAs on tap. The cask Summer Wine Kahuna is a beautiful beer, full of orange, lemon and pineapple, and reminded me of Magic Rock Cannonball. The Stone IPA hadn’t travelled well and had lost it’s exotic fruit and was just bitter and malty. The Torpedo lulls you in and then, boom, a hop bomb of bitterness (beer Talisker?). The Titan has a decent balance of pine and caramel but with the food match failing to deliver it was a battle of the IPAs, and the Kahuna edged it for me. We tried some Hardcore to see whether the big bruiser of UK IPAs would work any better with the lamb, but still to no avail. A suggestion of trying it with the AB:06 may have been the match we were looking for, but we’d drank all of that by then.

6th Course
Type: Dessert IPA
Food: Raspberry and limoncello jelly tartlet
Beer: Mikkeller Sorachi Ace
Logic: At a recent 19 Mikkeller single hop IPA tasting at The Kernel organised by Andrew from The Bottle Shop, the Sorachi Ace had been the stand-out beer of the evening. This was always going to be the beer paired with the pud. Everyone gets different flavours from Sorachi Ace and for me lemon and cheese dominate. A quick check of the existing menu and the tartlet jumped out. A couple of tweaks and another bout of giggling from the three of us.

What a tart

Pudding. After the previous course I was really looking forward to people’s views on this pairing. “It’s a bit like Marmite, you either love Sorachi Ace or hate it”. “I just get celery”, “I get mushrooms”. Things were getting interesting. There were several brewers around the table who had yet to be seduced by Sorachi’s insane flavour profile, its lemon cheese funkiness. The Mikkeller Sorachi has a fair malt profile which worked superbly with the pastry base of the tart. But it’s in the bitter sweet symphony of the raspberries and limoncello where the beer starts to amplify everything and turn it up to 11. A few more Sorachi Ace converts and a table of happy beer geeks.

7th Course: cheese
Type: Quadruple IPA, frozen four times
Food: Aged goats cheese, Vintage Gouda, Monastery Cheddar
Beer: Sink The Bismarck!
Logic: What’s a feast without a cheese course. At one of our ‘all in the name of research’ preparatory meetings I introduced cheese paired with whisky to Max and Momo, demonstrating how well Highland Park goes with a decent vintage cheddar (a future blog). James Watt very kindly brought down some Sink The Bismarck! for the evening so I bought three interesting hard cheeses and we were good to go.

Gouda, goat and Cheddar

A stock IPA?

Sink The Bismarck! is, quite simply, a stunning drink. I don’t care whether it is beer or not. What I do care about is the intensity and concentrated IPA-ness of it. It’s as if someone has been attempting to make an IPA pill for astronauts and it’s just a question of a bit more dehydration and some crystallisation to go (dodgy science but you know what I mean). Mental.

The Gouda was almost crystalline and very toffeed, like a Mimolette. A lovely cheese but struggled to find balance with the Bismarck. The goats cheese had the texture and depth of a cave-aged Gruyère but still with that musky, caprylic acid thing – which was deepened by the beer. A good match but not great. Now Monastery is the strongest Cheddar I have ever eaten and takes no prisoners. A quote from the evening, “that’s the best cheese I’ve ever had”. High praise. How did it fair with the IPA? It was better than Max, Momo and I could’ve hoped for. Monastery is one of those cheeses that makes your mouth itch, like the cheese is clawing away at your cheeks, trying to get out. The Bismarck has an almost saline like quality that makes your mouth water. This allowed the cheese to take over your entire palate and run riot.

James also brought some Black Tokyo* Horizon for us all to try. A dark, umami and chalky Imperial Russian Stout (aged in Glen Moray casks) that, for me, is greater than the sum of it’s parts. I have drunk it’s three progenitors and sure it’s big, brazen and in your face but, it’s a bit like Cantona in his pomp, you instantly know there’s a bit more going on beneath the surface.

Max signalling to James

It was great to sit round the table with so many talented and passionate individuals. Devising a menu to feed beery people on IPA Day was incredibly rewarding and something that I hope to do again and again. It also re-enforces the suitability of beer with food and the need to break the perception that wine is the only option with a meal.

Max and Momo did a magnificent job. It was a monumentally epic celebration of food and beer and the bar has now been truly raised.

Posted in Beer, Drink, Food | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

and so it begins …

I’ve threatened to do this for a while.

This site it pretty much dedicated to what I put in my stomach. That translates to my ramblings about what I like to eat and drink, where I buy stuff, recipes, together with a whole raft of pictures and tasting notes on my preferred meals and libations.

First of all I am not a chef. I prepare meals every day using good quality ingredients and am not afraid to use a whole range of simple kitchen ‘cheats’ to make my life easier. My grandmother was Burmese (Karen) so there’s occasionally a heavy Asian influence to what I cook. My wife’s Norwegian so there’s also a bit of Scandi influence. In fact looking at my families countries of residence (England, France, Spain, Canada, Thailand, Australia) you may get culinary diversions coming from any point of the compass.

Secondly, I like a drink. Not in an wake up and reach for the bottle kind of way. In a perfectly normal have a drink or two a couple of times during the week and one night of the weekend kind of way. Except that what I drink is not normal. Or to be more precise my obsession with sourcing good quality booze is definitely out of the ordinary. To paraphrase Withnail, I want to “drink the finest libations known to humanity”. And I’ve spent the last 15 years giving it a damn good shot.

Posted in Drink, Food | Tagged | Leave a comment