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

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

 

Slow Cooked Steak in a Port and Mushroom Sauce with Gnocchi

It has been a while since I did any sort of cooking/recipe type posts on here, but as this seemed to go down well with my Facebook chums, and I’d bothered to scribble down what I’d done for some of them  thought I may as well share it here too.
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Also it’s worth mentioning here, that as it was never intended for publication, the photographs featured are hardly describable as informative…apologies for that.
Anyway here goes, the ingredients are approximate but not far off, serves about three people or two if you like a good munch, but just double up to feed a bigger group, it’s a really hearty cockle-warmer.
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Ingedients:

500g lean steak (this would work even better with something fattier like shin beef but we were trying to be healthy)
1 carton of passata (sieved tomatoes)
2 medium onions cut into chunky wedges
3 cloves garlic (peeled but not chopped)
Tspn Italian herbs (or fresh) & to taste.
2 bay leaves
2 heaped tspn plain flour
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper (about a tspn each)
Glass of port or red wine (or more to taste)
Beef stock cube with about 400ml boiling water.
Handful of mushrooms quartered
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Mix the flour salt and pepper in a bowl, throw in the steak and toss in the seasoned flour to coat the meat and until all the dryness has gone.
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In a wok/large frying pan/skillet, throw in a splash of olive oil, when hot add the onions and garlic, frying on a medium heat for 1 minute.
Add the steak and cook until all the meat is sealed and starting to brown.
Pour in the passata and beef stock, stirring well to get all that lovely meaty coating off the bottom of the pan.
Finally mix in the port, herbs and bay leaves, stirring further whilst bringing to a simmer.
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Then, transfer to a covered casserole pot and cook on a med to low oven at about 150-160 for approximately 3 hours. Keep checking to make sure the sauce is thickening but not drying out.
At that point I added the mushrooms and a touch more seasoning to my personal taste and put it  back in the oven (lid on still) for a further hour.
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Note: You can add the mushrooms at the beginning if you wish, but I prefer them to retain a bit of firmness which is lost if slow cooked in my opinion. Also, I am sure this would be even better if a slow cooker was used and it cooked all day, so is perfect to put in before work and have a lovely home cooked meal to look forward to.
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I served this fresh with gnocchi (supermarket bought), it only takes about 3 to four minutes to cook. Once the gnocchi is cooked through, add at the last 5 minute before serving mark and stir in to coat with that indulgent velvety sauce. It could be served with pasta or creamy mash for a similar effect though.
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Tip: If it is getting too thick whilst cooking, add a bit more stock or port (not Stockport) & lower the heat slightly, remember though, that sauce needs to be thick and velvety to coat the gnocchi and just be generally lush..
220px-Rochefort-beersFor a beer to pair with recommendation, I thought back to a Mark Dredge FABPOW post from several years ago, where he went for Rochefort 8 to go with Spaghetti Bolognese. Although a very different sauce of course I am sure these would still compliment each other really well, or maybe go even heavier with perhaps a Chimay Blue (Grande Réserve) which is often available in supermarkets or even better, Rochefort 10…enjoy
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Tryanuary Support your brewers, breweries, beer retailers, pubs and bars by sampling something new this January, follow #Tryanuary on Twitter for updates.

Beer Belly?

I’ve always been a bit of a porker really, well that’s not strictly true actually, lets just say I have “struggled” with my weight in one way or another, and generally speaking have ended up being at the wrong side of the scale most of the time.

P1030581As a child, one of my earliest memories on the subject harks back to the days of family teas at my Nan’s house. These were traditional affairs I suspect replicated in many of your own minds when thinking of childhood, cold meat sandwiches of SPAM, or tinned ham if we had company. Tinned pink salmon complete with crunchy bones soaked in vinegar. Malt loaf, Caramel Wafers, Chocolate Teacakes, pink and white Coconut Mallows, Snowballs and the obligatory Battenberg Cake. The finale always being the centrepiece Birds Trifle complete with “Dream-Topping”, or on the odd occasion a choice of Angel Delight or Instant Whip..

I was quite skinny back then (shock horror), and I can still remember my grandparents poking me in the ribs and saying “you need to eat that, get some beef on your bones” etc. Especially as back then I hated butter (or margarine), and coming from a Northern family, this was a complete no-no. Butter is a “must eat” food item. (Just ask a certain Yorkshire TV Chef, or watch about any ten random seconds, of ANY of his bloody programmes…) Basically, I was always encouraged to pile on the weight to become, “healthy”.

Until of course I did, THEN, “I was too fat…”

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Disclaimer* (Not really me by the way)

Fast forward a few years (a very lot), and a health check at my local Doctors Surgery. The practice Nurse asked if I minded having a student in the room with my while I was examined, I said it was fine and we continued. Stripped to the waist (me, not her), she turned me to the student, plunged her own very pudgy finger (pot and kettle I thought) knuckle deep into one of my pecs/moobs (delete as applicable), and said to him “do you know what causes these?”

Before I had chance to blurt out “they, are the results of strenuous physical exercise” in protest, she turned her glare to meet my own and said, “BEER!!”

Now if I’m honest with myself, at the time I believed she was right and have always thought that beer has had a major part to play in my rotundness, especially in recent years. This thought ably assisted by continuously having beer being named and shamed by every “health expert” under the sun, in some study we’ve paid for in grants over many years. The most recent of course that breweries should have to start putting calorific content values on everything they produce for sale.

Which brings me to Chubvember…

To most people this will mean nothing, but also perhaps seem quite familiar.. During November, a small group of mainly beery friends and I took part in this as a bit of a weight loss self motivational drive. Mostly via a private Facebook group although there may have been the odd Twitter breakout. Nothing serious, just a bit of fun with the Chubvember name being a tongue in cheek dig at the various none drinking/eating/smoking months that seem to have jumped on the Mo-vember bandwagon. There were no rules, no targets, nothing was banned, but I personally chose to at least try and reduce my alcohol intake.

In the beginning I did this for two reasons, the obvious one being that I was too heavy, I felt it draining me, my clothes were starting to strain and I wanted a change for me. The second, the alcohol part, was more that I felt I needed a break, it wasn’t as important any more, things were becoming stale. At least that was, in the beginning, before I sort of wanted to prove a personal point.

After the first few days, of no beer (or alcohol), I think I shocked myself as to how easy I found it to lay off the booze. It definitely took my wife and close friends by surprise too I think, all of whom were very supportive, baring in mind I don’t think I’d taken more than perhaps one day off in the previous year unless by illness. On top of the booze I cut out all or most of the bad things for me (you know the sort, all the tasty enjoyable things you really like) and tried to eat really healthily. I always cook as much fresh food as I can and eat lots of vegetables, but now I was making Hairy Dieters dishes and such, cutting out fats, plus upping my walking much to the dogs delight. I used an app to track progress and was pretty much always under my daily intake targets, genuinely determined to make a go of it.

Predictably I shed around 3lbs in as many days, smiling to myself as I got off the scales that day, all my self-sacrifice was worth it. Then, it stopped….

Some times after a couple of days I lost half a pound or so, other times I had done particularly well on the food, drink and exercise front and had somehow managed to put weight on, it was bizarre. The food and walking alone should really have seen some results I thought considering my size, but no beer too, the source of all the evil if facts are to be believed? I had gone from drinking out every Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, not to excess but a decent amount, plus a few bottles at home every other day of the week and was massively disappointed by the results I was seeing.

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*Artists impression of the results

Despite this though I continued and went through the full month, taking around twenty or so days off. I lost around 7lbs in that time, which is still good, normally at about 1lb per week, a steady decline which I am sure is best all round (no pun intended).

I’ve also managed to stick with it up to now too, albeit not so strictly. Chubvember long forgotten and now well into the season of goodwill and Christmas beer (Fatcember) it will be tougher still, but for now at least I feel I can carry on and shed a few more pounds and I’m now another couple of pounds lighter. I feel healthier, my bones don’t creak so much and my dodgy knees are definitely benefitting from more use, carrying less bulk.

The other upside of course is that I’m finding I like a break in taking the odd day off having bevvy, it isn’t really a struggle and the next beer tastes SO much better.

To summarise, what does all this prove, nothing. There’s no science to any of this and I’m certainly not going to try and tell you all that drinking alcohol every day is fine and harmless because of course it isn’t in some circumstances. Neither am I saying that drinking beer won’t make you put on weight, it might, especially when done to excess.

What think I am trying to say though is this, beer alone is not the main culprit as some sources would have you believe, or at least I can safely say at least not for me. It is all a matter of balance. Make your own choices, for you, when YOU want to and only then will YOU be happy with the results and be able to feel whatever sacrifices you made were worth it.

So with that, you can stick “Drynuary”, or whatever the next daft title that some bloody doom-monger comes up with to justify yet another form of enforced abstinence where the sun don’t shine!

Cheers and a Merry Bleedin’ Christmas to you all!

UPDATE: My good friend Claire Knight ( @krider2010 ) who manages to combine being a keen foodie and lover of great beer, with a hard fitness regime to competition level was compelled to write a very complimentary and informative post over on her own fitness and nutrition blog Deskbound Girevik. It’s called “Moderation Is Key” and can be found following the previous link. Please give it a read, comment and give Claire a follow too 🙂

Thanks Claire!

 

“The East Indiaman Story” a guest post by David Shipman for #BackInMacc

IMG_20140728_163229327If I look back on the stories I have, or could have, told over the last two years or so, I’d probably have to start all of them along the lines of “It started over a beer”.  This is no exception.  It’s a story in its own right, but really its just a chapter in a longer story that isn’t yet complete.  But it is becoming a significant chapter.  Enough though of the self-serving prelude.  Let’s get this tale on to the Friday night in the first half of 2014 where this actually begins.

It started over a beer.  A beer in a brewery as it happens, but that isn’t entirely relevant.  A beer in a brewery one Friday night, where I was enjoying the rare pleasure of chatting with Phil Hardy.  I should point out that the pleasure is rare because we don’t cross paths often enough, not because Phil is only occasionally a pleasure to chat with.  I’m digressing.  You may need to get used to it.

Roll back the clock further to June 2013 and I was otherwise engaged when what started innocently as the now [surely] infamous “Macc Twissup” took place.  The simple concept of a bunch of tweeters and bloggers  meeting for drinks in a given town, and enjoying a few establishments of note, was taken to a new level.  The effort Phil, and those who supported him, put in to creating a day with treat after treat for the faithful was by all reports a massively well-received and successful event.  Don’t trust me on that – I wasn’t there – but seek out the reports of others who were…

Back to that Friday night in 2014 and Phil was beginning to tell me all about his plans for the  sequel.  By this stage in the tale I must have been onto about my third pint, and I expect anyone reading this is too, either that or they’ve given up already.  But we’ve only just begun, and so had he.  Rather than it just having been a one-off twissup, the plan was to make this a regular event.  Annual perhaps.  And why not?  Unfortunately by this stage the timing was such that the start of June was out, and the rest of that month, plus July and August, were pretty well sewn up with a glut of rather notable events.  September presented a chance to sneak something in though, and so that was the plan.

The date wasn’t the only change on the cards though.  Even despite the added extras Phil managed to coordinate last year, the idea of “just” having another twissup wasn’t enough, and to be fair wasn’t going to make this anything more unique than other events happening round and about, other twissups locally and further afield.  So Phil told me of his plans for “Back in Macc”.

At that early stage it was still a concept.  But a great concept.  Especially, it seemed, for me.  A showcase for new and upcoming breweries.  Talented homebrewers.  New startups.  Fresh shining brewing stars.  And, what, sorry?  Me?  You want to include me?  Well flattery gets you everywhere.  But why me?  Maybe some background is in order.

"I've brewed for a few years now" - The evidence

“I’ve brewed for years now” – The evidence

I’ve brewed for a few years now.  Not as often as I’d like, but as often as I can.  I’ve made some beers I like.  I’ve made quite a few more that other people like far more than me, but I’m a perfectionist.  I can fault most of them in one way or another, even those I like.  But the feedback has always been good and pretty positive in almost every case.  Obviously there have been some disasters, that is all part of the development process, but the number of beers to be rapidly recycled through the waste water services of Severn Trent are actually minimal.  Only one full batch has ever gone that way so far, along with a few iffy bottles.  More recently, opportunities have arisen which have allowed me to play at brewing on a wider stage.  I’ve been incredibly blessed by contacts in the brewing world through my small involvement in a certain Beer Bash in an equally alliterative Midlands city.

Dave in his more familiar guise as "Grand Master of the Bash"

Dave in his more familiar guise as “Grand Master of the Bash”

As a result I got the opportunity to visit Blackjack in Manchester in the autumn of 2013 to re-brew what I think was a moderately successful American Pale Ale recipe that I home-brewed earlier that year.  And so came about the first commercial collaboration brew I can lay claim to.  This was followed in December by a second brewery collaboration that brings me full circle back to where I was standing talking to Phil.  Or rather listening to him being much less long-winded than I am currently.

bjb-web-593x363So, I needed a beer (well, it was a long-winded conversation after all!) but more importantly I needed to brew one, not just drink it.  In time for a September event.  Homebrewing probably wasn’t enough, it felt like it really needed to be commercially available at the time.  I can’t for the life of me remember right now if Rob, from Blackjack, was standing with me at the time or if I pitched the idea to him later, but somehow an agreement was reached that I’d return to Manchester to brew, and this wasn’t just a collaboration that boosted the ego of a two-bit home brewer, but a genuine cuckoo brew.

The idea gained momentum, in my mind at least.  What to brew?  Dust off the APA again?  No, it needed to be something new.  What about another homebrew I’ve been pleased with?  Hmm, nothing is jumping out at me. I’ll tell you what.  Let’s take the same concept of the last beer I brewed at home, the one that got infected and was an unmitigated disaster.  One that I therefore have so far not managed to get any reliable track record for (for the purposes of discussion I count having done it once successfully as having a reliable track record).  Let’s take that concept, go back to the basics of what I want to come up with, and rock up at the brewery one morning without a complete plan how it is actually going to be achieved.

IMAG0083What of the concept then?  I wanted an IPA that had plenty of character but managed to achieve it with all-English hops.  A robust body with a strong hop presence.  Not lip-curlingly bitter; I wanted the hops to be all about the finish rather than punching you in the face before you start.  As I walked into Blackjack on the brewday I had a few thoughts on what malts and hops might work, and an idea of the sort of strength to aim for, but that was it.  The plan evolved – malts had to be decided on before we could get down to mashing-in, obviously, but the hopping could, and did, follow after.  Just-in-time brewing I guess!  So, the grist developed quickly, with a good dose of pale malt supplemented by something darker to get towards the deeper copper colour I was looking for, and to impart some extra flavours; this was achieved by a fairly small amount of dark crystal malt, balanced by wheat and cara malts to provide extra body.

I already had two hops in mind – First Gold and Admiral – which both feature high in the list for intensity amongst the English varieties.  Keeping an open mind though a rustle through the hop store brought Summit to my attention.  There was an appealing fruity aroma which fitted perfectly and so the decision was made to use a combination of all three.  A bit of Admiral at the start of the boil to get the desired bittering, and a goodly quantity of all three combined late on – half 5 minutes before the end of the boil and half 10 minutes later.  The hop selection seemed to be well vindicated judging by the sample taken during the transfer to the fermenter with a good fruity aroma and flavour showing through.  And that’s how I had to leave it.  It’s slightly strange leaving your beer in someone else’s care like that but needs must.  The next time I was going to see it, it would be handed to me across a bar!

It was about three weeks later that the moment finally arrived.  The beer had been at the Craven Arms in Birmingham for a week or so, but I managed to time walking in with the freshly collected pump-clip down to perfection, as I was handed a sample glass that had quite literally just been drawn through.  Time for the first taste!  It was a pleasingly robust colour, and the solid body I had intended to achieve was all there.  Enough bitterness to enjoy without being overwhelmed, and yes, as planned a nice fruit finish, a little subdued but very definite.

Since then I’ve followed East Indiaman to a number of other pubs and festivals, and it has been an interesting experience to learn how different cellaring techniques and timings have affected a single batch of one beer.  It has given me good appreciation of what care and attention the beer most benefits from, at least while young.  It will be interesting to see how some of the casks which will have had the benefit of much longer conditioning in the brewery fare as well.  And to see how the kegs compare.

c57c9518db1e2b00c6b01940013c9149So, when this batch has all gone, what next?  Well there’s some discussion been had about brewing a further batch, and while I want to make some tweaks I am generally quite happy with where this recipe has ended up.  In the meantime another rather exciting offer has landed that could see a turn to something slightly more continental, making best use of facilities geared up to kegging.  Beer number two is definitely on the cards for Otherton in the coming months!

For now, here we are (nearly) Back in Macc and this first batch of East Indiaman gets one of only three outings in keg.  I’ll get what is almost certainly my first sample in that format, and I’m naturally hoping it works out.  I’m pretty sure I’ll get some direct feedback regardless!  So come along to what promises to be a marvelous event, say hi, have a taste, and be gentle!  See you there!!

Birmingham Beer Bash 2 – Smiley, Happy, People

IMG_9807This weekend saw the second Birmingham Beer Bash come and go at The Bond Co in Digbeth, “Buuurminum”. The sun shone, it was bloody hot (generally) and as per last year, everyone seemed to be having a damn good time.

In another repeat of last year, I looked at the beer list and was muchos excited by what I saw. I made mental “I MUST have that” notes and pretty much ignored them, shambling randomly this way and that, going wherever whim took me next and choosing off the cuff. Hence, I missed out on some of those “must sample” items, but made up for it by trying stuff that perhaps if I’d have been fickle, I may well have ignored or mistakenly avoided.

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The beers themselves were well-kept and set up in a logical way, making it easy to navigate your way around the lists if that was your preference. However, I think its fair to say that the blistering heat played a part in causing issues with both cask and keg, some were tricky to pour with foaming white ice cream cone heads aplenty, you also had to sup them pretty quickly on all counts as if not, they warmed to soup like levels in the glass rapidly. All out of anyones control of course and at the mercy of the Great British weather. Had the fest been indoor and air-conditioned, you’d bet your life it would have poured down all day and been blowing a gale..

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I’m glad to say I didn’t have a bad beer all day, some were better than others of course, but the standard was high throughout. I sampled old favourites from established breweries alongside newer creations, what pleased me most though were some of the beers from the new kids on the block, more rising stars meaning even more choice in the months/years to come.

I made no notes on any of them and to be honest I don’t regret that at all, focussing all my attention on enjoying them taking priority. Thumbing back through the programme, these, in no particular order seem memorable now a few days on. Harbour – Belgian Pale, Hopcraft – Oceanic, Quantum – Stockport Sour, Elusive/Weird Beard – Lord Nelson, Weird Beard – Sadako, OffBeat/Blackjack – Jumping Juniper Rye, Brewfist/De Molen – Beautiful and Strange, Beerd – Razor IPA, Cheshire Brewhouse – Sorachi Ace, Axiom – New Dawn and of course the return of Wild Beer & Co’s Schnoodlepip. All great beers for different reasons and for different times during my two days. No doubt I have forgotten some that were later additions or perhaps your favourites, if so no offence meant, and no matter as on the whole all were enjoyed, so a cheery hats-off to all involved.

IMG_9786The food on offer was top-notch, and seemed to work well. Queues were minimal apart from the wood-fired pizzas on offer from Peel & Stone, which by nature wasn’t an immediate serve option, but managed really well with an “order and come back in ten” approach. For me at least, the pizzas stole the foodie show, and I could have ordered over and over.

IMG_9789So why, “Smiley, Happy, People”?

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Not sure why John is so smiley, his glass is empty!

It may just be the current Commonwealth Games “friendly games” slogan creeping unconsciously into my psyche, it could be the weather and the venue’s outside space using this to advantage, I also know pretty much all of the organising team quite well, which may be making me slightly biased. The reason really isn’t important and most definitely is not a slant on any other festivals either. It seemed though that I was constantly flitting from one friendly conversation to the next, I had some fun, informative, helpful, interesting, hilarious and no doubt bloody daft chats, met old friends and new and I just come away from ‘the bash” feeling really happy. A feeling that sort of radiated around the whole event from start to finish.

Can we do it all again next weekend….please?

Cheers

P.S Some dates for your diary

OffBeat Firsty Friday Festival – 1st – 3rd Aug 2014

Leeds International Beer Fest – 4th – 7th September 2014

Back in Macc – Sept 13th 2014

IndyMan 3 – 9th -12th October 2014