Throxheards Old Unobtainable

“Scrooge was ready to settle in for Christmas Eve. Newly imported naughty parchments, a ceramic pot of Mrs Arbuthnott’s Self-Enhancement Embrocation and a case of Throxheards Old Unobtainable. So why the Dickens was there a ghost at the end of his bed?”

It’s early December 2011, and I’m hosting The Session, something I should really get around to doing again. My Theme? Well, Christmas of course, it was December after all.

A post is published from Simon (Scoop) Johnson… “Scrooged: or A Cautionary Tale Of How Beer Got Fecked”. It made me laugh so much, it’s still possibly my favourite blog post ever, and it’s always something I go back to read and share as Christmas approaches.

Click the link and read it for yourself, tell me you are not smiling by the third paragraph.

Scrooged: or A Cautionary Tale Of How Beer Got Fecked

 “Throxheards Old Unobtainable”. 

Ever since that day, and long before I’d even dreamed of opening Otter’s Tears, I’d often had thoughts of making that beer a reality. So, around a year or so ago, I pitched the idea to my good friend Andy Parker of Elusive Brewing, we talked about it and then, as things do, it got lost in busy lives. Then a few months ago, it came up again in conversation and this time we set a brew date in the diary: Sunday 6th August 2017.

My original idea has always been to brew a small batch high strength beer, something like an Imperial Stout, Old Ale or Barley Wine. An annual release, bottles only, something that would age well and be brewed in very low numbers. Something sought out, but often not attained. Basically in line with my interpretation of the beer name.

After a week or so, Andy messaged me and said, “Phil, just had a thought regarding Throxheards. How about we launch it at Indyman? I’ve such fond memories of him dressed as a clown there, such great times. It just feels right to have it on at IMBC”. I have to admit, this threw me completely. But then I thought, yeah, it does feel right. It was then it started to snowball.. #nopunintended

 AP “We’d really need to nail it for IMBC though. That said, we’d have some great brewers to call upon for advice”

He wasn’t wrong…. Before I knew it we had Stuart Ross of Magic Rock, Dominic Driscoll of Thornbridge, James Farran of Summer Wine and Colin Stronge of Buxton, all friends of Simon, all keen to be involved in some way, all having very fond memories of him and wanting to bring this to life as a lasting legacy to a great guy. Between them a recipe was finalised, an old school Barley Wine, with various tweaks and flavour profiles being proposed. Sadly though, due to late notice, none of the four collaborators could make it physically to the brew day itself. Look out for a post on the brew day soon. But fear not, as that’s not the end of the story..

“He threw the parchments on the fire, fetched up a bottle of Throxheards Vintage Christmas Special from the cellar and threw open the front door. Maybe he should make a steaming bowl of Smoking Bishop and offer it to the waifs in the street?”

Throxheards Vintage Christmas Special, that gives us another opportunity. With a good proportion of the first batch going into a keg, we lose 3-4 cases of an already limited bottle release. So if all goes to plan, the thought is to brew another version or at least an enhanced edition for Christmas, potentially opening this up for further collaborative involvement, plus of course more bottles.

There are lots more plans afoot too, details to be confirmed and announced soon, but for now, this is where we are today:

  • Throxheards Old Unobtainable is at present working its magic down at Elusive under the watchful eye of Andy Parker, tasting great I’m told
  • One keg is destined for Indyman, exactly when to be confirmed
  • Approximately 3 cases of bottles, news on how to get one of those soon
  • All profits going to Rebecca Johnson’s nominated charity “British Heart Foundation” in Scoops memory via #RIPScoop

For now, a massive thanks to Andy for helping me make this happen; to Colin, Stuart, James and Dominic for embracing the idea and giving their input on the recipe; to the guys at Indyman; and those who helped me brew it: Chris, Rach and Jane.

Has anyone got a recipe for Mrs Arbuthnott’s Self-Enhancement Embrocation?

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RedWillow Brewery, Bar and Grill #Twissupdate #MaccToBasics

Basic CMYKAs with previous events, one of the highlights of any Twissup is the brewery visit. It’s a chance to chill out, have wander around the brewery, ask stupid questions, point, poke and sniff things.

RedWillow are welcoming us all again, giving old and new a sneak preview of the new huge brewhouse, which is rapidly progressing to being operational (ish).

We have a few treats for you here, including the unofficial mini-launch of Faithless XLV, a New Zealand Hopped Brett IPA, which sounds WONDERFUL! Hopefully Faithless 44 Dry Hopped Pilsner and we think either Directionless or Wreckless (tbc).

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I am also reliably informed that Toby is bringing along his BBQ, which was described as being “like a spaceship”! The man himself will be manning the flight deck and burning things for your delight (maybe Smokeless would have been a good idea), no other men (or women) of course will be allowed to touch or even look even slightly lovingly at the BBQ, as it is like being unfaithful, please bear this in mind as you approach..

IPL badgeOlly Clarke from Freedom Brewery will be with us and is hoping to bring along a few samples of their new IPL, plus a few other bits to hand out as samples, (assuming he is still able to speak and has control of his limbs at this point). Don’t hang about though as neither will last long..

Down at RedWillow Bar later in the day, a suitably well stuffed beer menu will await you. Including fresh on for the day, two of my all time favourite beers, Roosters gorgeous “Baby Faced Assassin” and Salopian’s delightful “Kashmir”, plus Mikkeller’s “Crooked Moon DIPA” which sounds dangerously good.

mikkeller-crookedRedWillow Bar will also have “Fearless” T-shirts for sale on the bar, priced at £15 each, but sadly will not serving food as it is just too busy to make this practical on a day like this, however if you have the munchies, do have snacks, plus there are plenty of takeaways nearby.

I’ve written this in a bit of a rush, so hope I haven’t missed anything (shout up if I have). A full run down of the route and timings will be up later at around 6pm.

Please share, tell your friends, come along and enjoy what is normal a fantastic day of beer!

CHEERS!

 

Marbles, Pies and Treacle – Twissupdate #MaccToBasics

treacle tap logo

News just in and confirmed from the “Treacle” of a Marble Brewery Tap takeover for Twissup. As you can see from the list below, they are bringing a mixture of classics and specials to kick off the day.

As per last years Runaway event, I expect it will be an informal Q & A session, with a few goodies to give away (T-Shirts, glassware etc) to the fortunate few and lots of supping.

Beer list as below:

450Cask:
Marble Pint
Marble La Petite Toulousaine
Marble Lagonda

Keg:
Marble Dobber
Marble Earl Grey IPA
Marble Bohéme (new Czech-style Lager)

Great North Pies, Supreme Champions of 2015 The British Pie Awardhave created the amazing (exclusive) breakfast pie again for the day, featuring such delights as bacon, black pudding, Hob Nob biscuits (yes, that’s right) served as usual with beans. For vegetarians there is a Cheese & Onion Pie option which is an absolute delight, coming from a dedicated carnivore that is fine praise indeed.

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It is all getting scarily close, hope to see some faces old and new at the Treacle Tap tucking in. Our starting venue, kicking off at 11am. See you there!

Cheers

 

Macc To Basics

For the oh so many people that have been asking me about this, I can at last confirm that this years Macclesfield #Twissup is go!

P1020544As you can probably guess from the lack of updates, since we decided to kill the “Macc To The Future” idea through lack of interest (it seemed a great idea when we were drunk), things have been a little quiet..

I stand and solely take the blame for this, as for many reasons which are now thankfully all gone, I’d lost my drive to drive the event as much as I had in previous years. But thankfully due in truth to the support from you guys, and in particular I’d say Matt at the Treacle too for pushing me on, we going ahead as planned on Saturday 22nd August 2015.

What has made it trickier this time around is that there has been so much going on behind the scenes. Toby at RedWillow building a new brewery, Chris closing and reopening a new, larger and much improved Brewtique, and Bronwyn and Tim with their network of fine establishments. So we decided to take it back to basics (#MaccToBasics) and just go with a great social drinking theme. No big beer launches (unless of course anyone fancies it), just a great range of beer and food, a good crowd of friendly people having a beery bimble around the usual haunts.

IMG_6367So far we have the return of the amazing Great North (breakfast) Pie Co at The Treacle Tap as our starting point at 11AM. Where we will also have the pleasure of an informal Meet The Brewer session with Marble and I’m sure a fine selection of their beers tbc.

Toby is again opening up RedWillow brewery for us to try a few beers and take a look around the new brewery building so that you can see it as a work in progress.

Chris at The Wharf is escaping on holiday, but again is happy to welcome us and put on some “cellar specials” as well as the normal top range. He is also hoping that folk will take an excursion up to the new shop which now has beer on tap including a dedicated sour line. It’s probably not feasible for us all to go “en-masse”, but we should have plenty of time to visit as they are open all day till late.

Image 1Finishing off the day as last year in RedWillow Bar, which I am sure will have enough to keep you all happy on the cask, keg and gin front among other things. Molly and the team will I’m sure pull out the stops to make the days beer board as amazing as last year.

IMG_0273Full details to be confirmed for all venues as soon as I have them on the likely beer lists, venue timing itineraries, food etc. “So keep em peeled”. Hope to see you all soon.

Cheers

Mug Shots #coffee

Steve LeightonIt’s a slight departure from beer talk today, looking at coffee, more specifically at Stephen Leighton‘s weekly video blog “In My Mug” for his Staffordshire based coffee company Has Bean.

It is fair to say that I am a bit of a coffee geek, and I do think that there are lots of similarities to be found in picking out the aroma, flavours, mouthfeel and sometimes bitterness of a decent fresh brewed coffee as there are in beer, they sort of go hand in hand. Which sort of explains one of Steve’s other online activities with a weekly podcast with roasting pal Roland, SARBP (Steve and Rolands Beer Podcast).

Two reasons for this today, one is revenge! 😉 “Well, not really”. Purely a bit of fun (I hope), which came into my head after Steve invaded my dreams last night. He turned up at my house in a white van driven by a tall, bald, moustachioed chap. He handed me five white 100g bags of mystery coffee, he wouldn’t tell me what it was or how much it was going to cost, but I handed him a £100 note and he disappeared. Damn that coffee must have been special!

The other thought that spurred me on to post this was after watching this weeks In My Mug, which has become a bit of a Monday morning ritual for me when time allows. To explain, the show forms part of a subscription service offered by Hasbean, the coffee turns up on Saturday morning and the weekly show airs on the following Monday, talking coffee news, focussing on the delivered coffee’s origin country, farm, various tastings using different brewing methods and the infamous “map bit”. There are lots more to it than that, but you get the idea.

This week (episode 347), looked different somehow, at first I thought it was just a lack of the seemingly obligatory Sunderland outfit, but no, a new video camera upgrade it seems was the reason. But it got me wondering though as to what these shows looked like in their infancy as I only started to subscribe in the latter 200’s, so I started to do a little digging into the YouTube and Vimeo archives…

The results are really interesting, yes it’s funny watching Steve, younger obviously, but nervously pulling the first few shows together, especially when you see the confident flamboyant presenter he has become today. But seeing the show developing over time as that confidence grew along with the Has Bean company is where things really come into focus. Showing what a great idea, blogging and a good social media presence can really do for a business. Ideas come, and either stay and improve, or are discarded. Simple graphics and themes developing over time into a highly polished professional “tour de coffee”. It really is a remarkable transformation.

So, go grind some beans, brew up some “tasty and delicious drinks”, and take twenty minutes to reminisce, chuckle and most importantly see how it’s done.

Episode One…

Episode 7 (so many changes already)

Episode 100

Episode 156 – purely because I liked the opening sequence.

Episode 200 – Another milestone, more format changes and shiny new furniture

Episode 299 – with a great “Map Bit”

Steve will probably kill me for this (I hate reading my really old blog posts), and I expect a bottle of Camp Coffee with chicory in the post next Saturday instead of my usual delicious coffee beans. But if nothing else, please check Has Bean out, I’ve learned so much following this journey and drank some absolutely fabulous coffee, you should try some.

Here’s to episode 400, CHEERS!

 

Edinburgh jaunt

We recently visited Edinburgh for a couple of days and after taking lots of recommendations from folk (thanks @davomanic and @ckdsaddlers), managed to hit quite a few new places both on the beer and coffee, food and beer front. (We found a few bloody awful places too, but we won’t dwell on those) No in-depth reviews of any here really, a few words at most, plus photographs taken hastily, often blurry, using my iPhone of some of the most interesting.

First on my hit list was The Hanging Bat and indeed it was to there we headed immediately after dumping our belongings at the nearby Premier Inn on Lauriston Place, which I have to add was ideally placed to put a lot of places we hoped to try within easy walking distance. The Hanging Bat didn’t disappoint in any way, a lovely looking venue with the aroma of smoke mixing with brewhouse niffs. The beer list was tip-top and I was really happy to find a few new Scottish breweries making the beer list, Pilot and Fallen both hitting the spot several times over the weekend.

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Food was trickier as Mrs H (the wife) doesn’t really like smoked food, which here does not compute, I had the ribs with Vimto glaze which was absolutely beautiful, but left my fingers with a lingering smell of smouldering oak. This is fine until about 3am when you wake up gnawing at your knuckles dreaming about beer post beer munchies..

I was also really impressed by Blackfriars, tucked away a stones throw away from Brewdog and easy to miss unless you know what it is and where it is. Split in two on the ground floor with a restaurant one side and bar the other, but linked at cellar level sharing a kitchen and restrooms. The decor is bright and modern and had a cracking little beer list ably served by cheery knowledge staff.

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The bar, in case you hadn’t guessed…IMG_2869

I have no idea what this was, other than it was sour, murky and very drinkable.
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Stephen….(seagull)

Moving away from beer, Caffiene Drip was very much a Mrs H find and I have to admit on first impressions I was sceptical as we headed in for our first breakfast visit. However all that changed as we went down into the cellar serving and café area which had a really cool “in the know” kind of feel, with rows of small tables set in coffee sack clad walls. The menu was very coffee-deli like, but set at such a high standard.

IMG_2889 IMG_2888I went for the three egg and enormous toast, “pick your own” breakfast, with three superbly seasoned eggs (obviously), toast made from bread to die for and paired it with tasty bacon and local sausage. Such a great feed and extremely filling which is  good thing, but sadly I couldn’t face any of the delicious looking cakes, granola and pastries also available. Of course fresh coffee washed it all down well with the long black my cup of choice.

We spent far more time in Brewdog on Cowgate than I expected and no doubt than was healthy. Despite being small and a little tired compared to some of the new establishments, the beer list was excellent, no doubt aided by the Ballast Point tap takeover we had just missed. It was great to try some of those.

IMG_2873 IMG_2872 IMG_2875One slight disappointment being that nobody had a clue what was in the AB’ bottles in the fridges, consequently I didn’t but any, however the “Mills & Hills” collaboration between Fyne and De Molen plus the Ballast Point “Victory At Sea” amply made up for that loss, both being absolutely beautiful.

I had hoped to write a bit more at this point, but a WordPress “no save” disaster put paid to that as now I am running out of time and about to go for a few days away with the good lady wife. I’ll leave you with a few more pics though and wish you all the best until next time.

 

CHEERS!

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SPIT/FIRE

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Castello Coffee

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A gardening trapèze artistiering genius

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As sampled at Hanging Bat

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As sampled at Hanging Bat

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OX184

 

Pulled Pork Quesadillas!

IMG_2811That’s right, pulled pork quesadillas!

Whoa there vegetarian types! Don’t dash off just yet, we can get around this pig related dilemma, stick with it. Although clearly this dish has meat in it, you can replace it, or just leave it out as you wish.

This recipe isn’t rocket science, but I had it yesterday and just thought “wow, this would be great beer food”, and some folks “may” not have tried quesadillas.

So, clearly my creation requires pulled pork right, but I’m not going to go all in-depth on how to make that or we’d be here all day. But what I will say is that for this recipe it needs to be pretty dry so if yours isn’t, maybe drain it off, or cook it down so it has no real sauce to speak of for this recipe.

In brief, for my pulled pork, I used a large leg joint of “pork” (obviously), although generally shoulder is better.

There’s no magic spicy rub mix required here as I wanted to go a bit less smokey barbecue and more with the apple thing. I just sealed the meat by frying it off with a spray of oil in a deep sided roasting pan to sear all sides, paying extra attention to the skin side to help get all that flavoursome fat rendering down right away. Remove the meat and set aside.

Peel, core and roughly chop two decent sized apples and one large onion, fry them off a little too in the same pan. Place the pork on top. Add a decent bottle of apple cider, a sprinkle of dried sage, thyme, rosemary, salt, ground black pepper, a heaped desert spoon of dark brown sugar and a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Tightly cover with foil and slow cook for about 4-5 hours.

Remove the pork from the pan and try to take off as much fat as possible, then shred the meat roughly and mix in with the remaining sauce back in the roasting pan mashing the apple and onion mix as you do to thicken. Add a good splash of Calvados or Bourbon to taste. Cover again with foil and return to the oven for a few more hours if possible, basically cook on until there is as much sauce left as you personally prefer. Easy!

If like me though, when you choose that joint of pork, your eyes are much bigger than your belly (a tough act in itself), inevitably you will have loads of delicious meat left over which is where this recipe comes in.

Making these is really easy, the key is to chop everything finely so that the filling binds and those flavours really blend together. It’s really all very slapdash too, so don’t take my measurements as gospel, add or remove things to taste, use leftovers, increase or decrease ingredients as your fridge/larder dictates, it’s all good…

Right, to work. Take a large mixing bowl. Into that, finely chop a handful of spring onions, four or five mushrooms, a fresh chilli or to taste (I used half a Scotch Bonnet which was really zingy, it was just enough) and a roughly chopped fistful of coriander, (I actually used the frozen pre-chopped stuff this time and it worked really well). Grab a heap of the leftover pork and chop/mince with a chefs knife to basically make it less stringy, throw that in too. Season with a little black pepper. Finally, grate in a good hunk of mature cheddar or similar, basically you want a good cheese to additions ratio.. I know, I’m just TOO precise..

Mix all the ingredients together gently, use a spoon and not your fingers, take it steady or else it just all goes into a massive gooey clump!

Take three large tortilla wraps and lay them on a work surface, spread the mixture evenly between them all to take the dry mixture to about 1 cm from the edge. Lay another wrap over the top of each and give them a firm press down.

IMG_2809Pile them on a plate and tightly cover with clingfilm and stick them in the fridge till you are ready to cook. (You can always cook immediately of course)

Using a dry frying pan on a medium heat, cook the quesadillas for about one and a half to two minutes each side, turning as required.

IMG_2807You are aiming for a piping hot melted centre and a nice crispy outer, so try to get the cheese melted a little before the first turn. I suppose you could oven cook or worse, microwave, but I’d definitely recommend sticking with the dry pan option for best results.

IMG_2810IMG_2811Slice like pizza into bite size portions and serve on a warm plate with sour cream and guacamole. It is DELICIOUS!

Beer wise, I’d go with something like a crisp Kölsch, or perhaps a really light hoppy IPA, you could even go mad and sort of mix the two with one of those new fangled India Pale Lagers.

Hope you enjoy whatever you choose.

Cheers