Price Point of Difference

Article

Winston Churchill once said, “the price of greatness is responsibility”… well according to  this article, it’s £7.50. For an ‘eye watering’, £7.50, you can purchase your own little pool of greatness in the form of a pint of  Gotlands blueberry IPA from the Singer Tavern, a lovely and very happening establishment in the City. Quite frankly, my eyes would certainly be watering if I followed another lead in that article and paid £3.50 for a Foster’s.

Comparing a craft beer with a mass-produced beer is simply silly. Why? Because quite frankly, you pay for what you get, or sometimes you even have the privilege of paying for things you don’t get, such as flavour or craftsmanship. There’s a huge hint in the name craft beer as to what you’re paying for… You are paying for supremely superior ingredients, small-batch production and love. Yes, I said it. You are paying for the love. So many craft beer producers start up because they have a love for creating something truly unique and special. And you can taste it.

So many people who’d balk at the price of a craft beer have perhaps not actually tried one, because beer is beer. Well beers, unlike the American men in the Declaration of Independence, are not created equal. Nopey nope nope… And I hold this truth to be self-evident.

When you bring a pint of craft beer to your nose, instantly you are hit with a giddy aroma of hops or malt or some other tantalising beast. When you pick up a mainstream beer, you are hit with notes of cardboard and soggy bathroom rug. But hey, it only cost £3.00, so that’s ok… Who wants to pay extra for someone to sing lullabys to the hops as they rest their weary buds as the sun sets? Or pay extra for someone to carefully label and bottle things by hand, hands that have been protected in kid gloves mind you… Surely that claw machine imparts just as much care? And you certainly don’t want to pay for something that is bursting with flavour and complexity! Remember the acronym KISS! Keep it simple stupid. Yep, forgive me for getting notions of grandeur in my pretty little head.

In fact, the Blueberry IPA from Gotlands can’t even honourably accept the accolade of most expensive in London. Why at The Ritz, one can indulge on a bottle of Heineken (you know that beer in the green bottle) for a very reasonable £9.50. And then there’ll be the service charge. Still, very reasonable.

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Porter Stew

Article

30th September 2015

As we descend into chilly autumnal evenings, nothing is better than coming home to a big bowl of hearty beef stew. Porter is a wonderful ingredient to use in stews, as it adds a gorgeous depth of flavour that really marries in well with beef. It also adds a sweetness that isn’t overpowering and there is no better porter to use than Andwell Brewing Co; rich and dark with notes of vanilla and coffee it makes the gravy absolutely lipsmacking.

Stew cannot be rushed. You need at least three hours. But what a wonderful way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon. It also keeps well for 3 days in the fridge and freezes well.

FullSizeRender

Ingredients

olive oil

2 brown onions, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

250g mushrooms, sliced

4 carrots, diced

500g stewing beef, cut into chunks

bottle of Andwell Porter

300ml chicken stock

sprig rosemary, chopped

salt and pepper to season

Method

1. Splash some olive oil into a pan and add the onions and garlic. Sweat down for about 5 minutes and turn off the heat.

2. In a separate frying pan, sauté the carrots and mushrooms for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked through. Take off the heat and set aside.

3. Add the diced beef to the pot you cooked the onions in and add a splash of olive oil. Brown the meat to seal in the juices. When the meat is coloured add about 1/3 bottle of the Andwell Porter. Season well with salt and pepper.

4. Stir through and add 150ml of chicken stock to add more depth of flavour. Reduce the mixture by about half.

5. Add the vegetables you’ve set aside to the beef and another 1/3 of a bottle of the Porter and another 150ml of chicken stock. Sprinkle in the rosemary and stir thoroughly.

6. Preheat the oven 130°C.

7. Reduce again by about half and then place in the oven and cook for three or so hours. The meat needs to break down and become tender, so time is key here.

8. Serve with potato mash or dumplings.

 

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Bellerose and Duck

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Duck is something people rather adore when they dine out, but somehow it gets a little neglected in the domestic kitchen. For under £10, you can buy a champion Donald or Daffy that will easily feed four people.The key to delicious duck is rendering the fat. If roasting, this will ooze out and collect in the tray – you can scoop it into a bowl and refrigerate to use next time you want crispy duck-fat potatoes. If pan frying, the same thing will happen; the clear fat will seep out and you can collect it for later. It’s imperative to render the fat, otherwise you’ll be biting in to a flabby, soggy, yucky duck. Quack, quack, no.

Duck is rather versatile and is popular in both classic French, and Chinese cuisine, so it lends itself to a variety of flavours. Our little duck was treated to a dry spice rub helped by my splurge at a Chinatown supermarket. The rub involved a mix of ginger, Szechuan peppers (the tingle is somewhat of a sensation on your tongue), dried chilli and salt.
Roast in the oven at 180 degrees until the skin is golden and the flesh cooked through (roughly 1 hour and a half, depending on the size of your duck).
Rustle up some veg of your choice; whatever you’ve got lying around, or whatever looks good and is in season – buying produce which is in season is paramount. Buy fresh and buy local wherever possible.
Matched with this quacking dish is the gorgeous Bellerose full-bodied blonde ale, dry hoped with American hops; its grapefruit zing and notes of lychee cut through the richness of the duck and work beautifully with the heat and spice.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wahleeah and Cooking with Beer by Mark Dredge

Article

We are delighted with this recent write up by Mark Dredge, beer writer and author of Cooking with Beer on his recent visit to Wahleeah where BBB consulted on the food and beer pairings.  This blog originally appeared on Mark Dredge’s blog pencilandspoon.com and has kindly been republished here with Mark’s permission.

Yesterday I had beer-cured bacon with bacon stout ketchup for breakfast. I’d started making it a week earlier, brining belly pork in smoked porter, brown sugar, maple syrup and salt. I took the pork out of the brine on Friday morning and left it to dry out in the fridge, then cut thick rashers and fried them, the sugars caramelising, the beer giving a toasty, smoky flavour, and the pork itself more porky in depth through the curing process. It was delicious.

That bacon was something like the 75th recipe I’d cooked incorporating beer this summer (and a very big clue to what my fourth book, out next spring, is going to be…). So when I heard about Wahleeah, a restaurant specialising in using beer as an ingredient, I planned to go as soon as I could, which was last night. And I discovered that Wahleeah is way more than just cooking with beer.

Take the salt and pepper, for example. The pepper on the tables contains 11 ingredients. The salt takes three days to produce and contains horseradish and a process that involves smoking water. Diners shouldn’t even need to use them, says chef Dave Ahern, but if he has to have salt and pepper on the tables then he wants the best he can get with an exact flavour, and it turns out the only way to get that flavour is to make them himself. This obsessive level of detail is in everything – Dave makes cheese, vinegar, condiments, and more, for the restaurant. Beer is just one small part of it.

But for me, the beer part is the reason I’m there. Having spent the summer cooking with beer, I know all the good and bad things about what happens when you add beer into a recipe and I want to see what Wahleeah has done.

Oxtail and onions cooked in Fuller’s Black Cab Stout is rich with beer, full-on meaty with the onions giving a nice sweetness. There’s delicious crab cauliflower cheese, perfect with the suggested pairing of Weihenstaphaner Hefeweizen. There’s also beer-cured salmon with house pickles, stuffed mushrooms with beer and soy, a beer chilli to go on tater tots.

Larger plates include mussels in witbier with the addition of deeply-savoury ham hock, where it pretty much demands the beer on the side to act like part of the recipe, giving a freshness to lift the richness. A huge rib-eye steak comes with a brilliant beer fondant potato and a stout sauce, where that table salt and pepper gives it a remarkable extra depth of flavour (and recalls one of my favourite ever beer matches: steak, parsnip fries, horseradish sauce and oatmeal stout). There’s also ricotta dumplings with beer butter, tuna meatloaf with bloody beer sauce, bream with beer-braised fennel.

Then desserts: chocolate stout brownie with banana beer ice cream is superb and perfect with a bottle of Liefman’s Kriek, there’s also Porter cheesecake and Oreo trifle.

It’s all big-flavoured but elegantly done; next-level pub food incorporating the pub’s most central drink, but it’s not all about the beer – these are just great dishes that happen to contain beer.

I love that Wahleeah is taking beer seriously – that’s the best thing about it for me. I love that the food is very good and I love how the beers used in the cooking enhance the dishes in their own subtle ways without ever overpowering – they are additional seasonings, they add depth which other ingredients can’t add, they give their richness, and they compliment the food. I also love how each dish comes with a beer suggestion – and that those matches are very well selected (done by Boutique Bar Brands). It makes the beer important and it encourages people to try new beers. And it has around 12 draft beers and 50 bottles, so there’s a lot of choice. These are all good things.

Wahleeah is the first restaurant in the world to focus so completely on beer cooking. This could be seen as a gimmick, a Cereal Café for beer nerds, but Wahleeah really is way more than just cooking with beer. Surprisingly more. You should go.

Follow Mark on;

@markdredge

pencilandspoon.com

 

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Nene Valley Brewery Tap Takeover

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Last night the The Three Johns played host to the Nene Valley Brewery Tap Takeover. Having been in operation for two and a half years, Nene Valley Brewery has already won a host of awards, including overall champion beer at the 2014 Peterborough Beer Festival.

With a diverse range of great craft beers to try, all with dynamic branding and fun names, the crowd was also wowed by the stunning beer and cheese combinations our beer sommelier, Philip Harding put together for the night.

Some of the standout pairings of the evening included a gorgeous, creamy Capricorn goats cheese paired with the Australian Pale Ale – notes of subtle floral and tropical fruits to cut through the creaminess – and a bold Stilton paired with the Bible Black Lavish Chocolate Porter. Blue and porter are simply a match made in heaven. The rich malt of the porter balances the zing of the cheese.

Wine is not cheese’s best friend, beer is, and the sooner you realise this, the happier you’ll be.

Dick Simpson of Nene Valley Brewery says a few words to the thirsty crowd

The Nene Valley Brewery team and the Boutique Bar Brands team

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Wahleeah

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Tuesday evening saw the press night at newly opened beer and food hotspot,Wahleeah. With a stylish green and copper interior, evoking old-school New York subway carriages, Wahleeah stocks fifty of the world’s best craft beers (all handpicked by our very own Philip Harding) and there is something on the menu to suit everyone’s palate.

DSC_0308

Dave Ahern, the chef behind the innovative menu at Wahleeah wanted to create dishes that all utilise beer as an ingredient in some way. In collaboration with Harding, a matching beer was chosen for each dish to not only enhance the overall taste of the food, but to also highlight qualities of each beer. Ahern gave us a cooking demonstration, showing how simply a beautiful beer can add richness and flavour to your food.

chef cooking

Food and wine pairing has been done for years, but the philosophy of Ahern is, that although enjoyable to share a bottle of wine over dinner with friends, the beauty of matching a beer to your food, is that for the same price per glass you are getting so much more craftsmanship.

man in hat drinks beer

All the beers at Wahleeah are made by terrific craft breweries that pride themselves on using the finest ingredients as well as taking the time to ensure each beer has been developed with care and love. Craft beers are not about high turnover and pace, which can sometimes be a downfall of buying anything mass-produced.

beer sommelier

As a beer sommelier with fifteen years of experience in the drinks industry, Harding talked the crowd through how to understand beer and what to look for when trying to match it with food.  Understanding beer is not about verbosity and sprouting quips like “with notes of dark chocolate, ripening apricots and a whisper of regret” – it’s about understanding how to maximise the enjoyment of your drink. By learning key factors about certain styles of beer, the audience was well-equipped by the end of the night to understand how to approach beer and food matching, and why it’s such a wonderful way to eat and drink.

people at a beer evening

Ahern’s menu not only reflects the great range of beers available at Wahleeah, but showcases a variety of house-made produce. Wahleeah produces a variety of ingredients including its own cheeses, as well as its own flour for bread. A tremendous amount of skill and passion is reflected in Ahern’s fare and it is wonderful to see the realisation of his vision for a venue that takes beer and food pairing to the next level.

chef

Crowd favourites from the menu included the Wahleeah take on a caesar salad: chargrilled baby gem, Berkswell cheese, crutons and IPA caesar dressing. This plate was matched with the gorgeous Founders Pale Ale. The musky zing of the beer and the rich dressing worked a treat. Chicken Meatballs with Mushroom Mash and Beer Gravy was a super way to taste Blegian beer, St Stefanus, at work within a dish, brought to life even more with every sip you drank. The Oxtail and Onions in stout with horseradish toast was also a popular course. Beauitfully soft flakes of flesh paired with the full-bodied Black Cab from Fullers would make anyone fall in love with just how well food and beer can go together. 

pic of chicken meatballs

Don’t fear if you’re a newbie at the food and beer game. The staff at Wahleeah are more than happy to talk and taste you through the beers. So our suggestion is, grab some mates and make a night of it as there is no other place in London with this many amazing craft beers in the one place.

BBB team of blokes

 

 

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