Archive for category Wheat Beer

Beer for English Devolution

 A beer for every region!

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Talk of English devolution got me thinking. At first beer was, unusually nothing to do with any of thoughts, but memories of history lessons about Anglo-Saxon England and the original divisions of England emerged, before those pesky conquering Normans came along with their Dukes and Doomsday Books. I checked a few blogs and websites on devolution and came up with a modern version that might work today, dividing England up into modern day provinces that represented some historical roots but allowed for modern populations etc. etc…..’but what the hell does this tangent have to do with beer?’ I hear those of you still reading ask.

Well, in states and provinces in other countries, there are state flowers, provincial birds and trees, so if England were to divide up into provinces why not have a representative beer style? Ok so there are probably lots of reasons but this is just a bit of fun!

Capital Idea: London.

There are a couple of nominations for the beer choice of the capital, including IPA, as London was where the forerunner to the modern style was initially developed and exported to India. I felt that the home of IPA in its heyday was not in London but further north, and the real beer of London has to be the one that took its name from those that carried the goods around the city in the 18th and 19th centuries. The ticket porters (tickets were the metal badges that they wore as a licence to work) were the lifeblood of the worlds most important trading centre 200 years ago, and the beer that slaked their thirst was named after them. This classic was also known as ‘entire butt’ due to the brewing process used by the breweries that were, in effect, mass-producing this beer for the new industrial working classes in London, but it is better known as Porter. This beer lubricated a city and has become synonymous with it. The new wave of craft breweries in London are embracing the style and it has now been given new life and a prominence it deserves.

Beer of London: Porter

porters

Three London porters. A river porter, ticket porter and fellowship porter

 

The Mysterious East: East Anglia & Home Counties.

This may be a bit of fusion of two areas but my main thought here is that it contains the two counties most associated with traditional hop growing: Kent and Sussex. The hop is the ingredient that seems to be most revered by modern brewers, and we are now understanding them in the same way sommeliers understand grape varietals, with soil, terroir and climate all adding to their various flavours and aromas. The style that has showcased the English hop so well over the past 250 years has been Bitter and pale ale. Hoppy pale ale emerged with the development of IPA in the 18th century, and was in contrast to the relatively low-hopped ales that were also sold at the time. These hoppy pale ales were colloquially know as ‘bitter’ by those that drank them and the name stuck. Today bitter can be found around the world in its various guises and New World interpretations, but the home of the hop in Britain lies within this region and I think Bitter should be their official beer!

Beer of East Anglia & Home Counties: Bitter

Kent Oast Houses with hop-poles

Kent Oast Houses with hop-poles

 

The Borderlands: Mercia

Mercia translates as border country in Anglo-Saxon, and referred to the kingdom that sat uncomfortably for many years next to Wales, until King Offa defined a more permanent boundary with his dyke. Nowadays this area roughly translates as the much more prosaically named ‘Midlands’, but as a history enthusiast, I like Mercia a lot more! This was a tough one to decide as the industrial heartland in the ‘Black Country’ consumed many millions of barrels of Mild over the years, so that was my first candidate.

The second beer on the list is Burton Ale. Burton-upon-Trent was and the major centre of brewing for the British Empire for many years and this eponymous ale was drunk around the world before falling into obscurity. The town lies in the heart of Mercia, and any beer that represents this region must have an association with this old brewing powerhouse. Today its shadow falls upon many a Winter Warmer and Barley Wine, as Burton ale found itself being re-labelled and developed into these more familiar beers. Although Burton brewed and exported this beer, it was a major producer of porter and stout for export too, but the beer that really put it on the map was IPA. At the height of the British expansion into India through the East India Company as well as through Empire, Burton was the largest producer of what went on to be called IPA, running London into second place and Edinburgh third. This style has now captured the imagination of many a craft brewer around the world and been re-invented and interpreted many times over. The famous Burton water and brewing prowess made this style its own.

Beer of Mercia: IPA

Burton Union Brewing System at Bass in 19th C

Burton Union Brewing System at Bass in the 19th Century

 

The Summerlands: Wessex

Wessex expanded its borders regularly of the second half of the first millennium, but its heart lies where the West Country meets the South. I tried to think what encapsulates this beautiful part of England, and I kept coming back to summer holidays, beaches, sailing, camping, hiking and sunnier weather that the rest of the UK! The only traditional beer I could place here is the now extinct west country white ale. This was an historic English beer made with wheat flour, little or no hops and wild fermentation. Maybe it was a more wheaty lambic, although some recipes include egg whites, so I’m not going to guess what it tasted like! I did think wheat beer, as a descendant of this curiosity, had a shout but really it’s a bit of a stretch.

In the early 1990s Wessex based Hopback brewery brewed a type of pale ale that appealed to a new generation of drinker. It was paler than the bitters and pale ales at the time, had a light , easy drinking body and just enough hops to give it a crisp, refreshing finish. Lifelong lager drinkers were starting to convert and a new style (or sub-style) was born. The Summer ale or Golden ale is now a mainstay of many breweries and usually finds itself as a summer seasonal, although recently it has become a year-round offering due to its popularity. It chimes perfectly with the sunny disposition of this region, and a pint of golden summer ale is never far from a beer lover’s lips when holidaying or living in this provincial paradise.

Beer of Wessex: Golden Ale

Coastal Beer Garden in the West Country

Coastal Beer Garden in the West Country

 

The Northern Powerhouse: Northumbria

The North of England is a blend of industrial towns and cities, that helped build a nation, and stunning wild mountains, lakes and hills. It’s as diverse as this country gets, but whether sat in a country pub or Manchester restaurant, the atmosphere of an independent spirit with a warm welcome is never far away. The candidates for this region were easy to assemble. Bitter is a mainstay of many a Yorkshire brewery and I’m sure many dissenting voices would be happy to fight the South East for this one, but I had to make the call and Northumbria came off second. Theakston’s Old Peculiar is a classic North Country beer and this modern-ish version of an Old Ale is a must after a long hike in the hills, accompanying a beefy pie and mash in the pub. I felt that Old Ale is a bit obscure for a flagship brew so the winner had to be Brown Ale. The internationally famous Newcastle Brown Ale is drunk in many parts of the world and spawned many, some far superior, brown ales. One is from the other side of the region and Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale is a delicious version of the amber brown style of beer. Sometimes known as ‘Northern English Brown Ale’ by American pigeon-holing types, it is not to be confused with the sweeter dark brown ale, typified by Mann’s. This northern ale is a thirst-quenching pint that can have a nutty malt flavour, and just a hint of hops for balance only and I feel this is a beer the North can be proud of.

Beer of Northumbria: Brown Ale

Thirsty Coal Miners enjoy a well-deserved brew

Thirsty Coal Miners enjoy a well-deserved brew

 

I hope you have enjoyed this regional ramble and provincial pontification. Feel free to disagree and stake a claim for an official ale for your area. You never know, we may be going federal in a few years and as beer is the national drink, it can unite us as well divide us, but each Anglo-state may be searching for an identity all of its own, and what better than a local beer to do just that?

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A perfect beer cocktail for Summer – the Vancouver Vice

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A vice is something that we might enjoy despite it being bad for us, a bit naughty or immoral in some way!

Weiss Beer is a German wheat beer
(and pronounced almost like the English “vice”) that is delicious and refreshing.

I put the two together and developed this great summer cocktail. It sells now in Bitter Tasting Room in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, and if you want to impress some summer guests who need to be shown how versatile beer can be, then grab a cocktail shaker and make a few of these with your favourite German Hefe!

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The Vancouver Vice

1 oz (30 ml) Hendricks Gin (or your gin of choice, but Hendricks is best for the “Vice”)

1/2 oz (15ml) Pimms N0.1

1 1/4 oz (37ml) 2:1 Strawberry honey syrup

1/2 oz (15ml) Lemon juice

1/4 oz (7ml) Lime juice

1 bar spoon (5 ml) Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit Bitters

3-4 oz (90-120ml) Maisel’s Weisse wheat beer (or your favourite German Hefeweisse beer)

Garnish: Wheel of Lime or Lemon

(Metric conversions are approximate)

Method:

Combine all the ingredients (except beer) in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a stemmed 12oz (360 ml) glass half filled with ice. Top up with gently with beer. (If you pour it straight in too fast, it will foam over) . Now gently mix with a barspoon (or ‘pull through’ from the bottom to top) to combine the beer and garnish.

I know some of you are looking at strawberry honey syrup and wondering where to buy it, but it is home made and very quick and easy to make. It’s totally worth it as the fresh fruit flavour gives it a real kick.

Strawberry Honey Syrup (2:1)

1 cup (250 ml) of clear runny honey

1/2 cup (125 ml) of water

1 lb / 500 g Strawberries

Gently warm the water and honey until they combine into a syrup (this is a 2:1 honey syrup) – don’t let it boil though! If you have a juicer, cut the green stems from strawberries and juice all the strawberries and add to the honey syrup. Stir on a low heat until it has combined. (Any raw fruit in a syrup has to be heated just enough to pasteurise it, just don’t let it boil otherwise you lose that fresh flavour and get a jammy one) . You can optionally strain the syrup through a large sieve or strainer to remove any remaining strawberry bits, but it is not necessary. Allow to cool and chill

No juicer, no problem!

De-stalk the strawberries and slice and chop them. Add to the honey syrup over a very low heat (don’t allow to boil) and stir and allow the juices to seep into the syrup. Strain, allow to cool and chill.

Always keep the syrup in the fridge.

 

 

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Cascadian Wheat Ale – a beer is born

I’m calling it! I’ve had enough with ‘IPA’ being used as a byword for ‘lots of hops’. IPA has a great history that has genuinely developed over time to mean a range of beers that have a common theme. Pale malts, well bittered and dry hopped aromatics. Which malt? what hops? how much? – its kind of up to the brewer, but whether you are enjoying a Lighthouse Switchback IPA from BC, Canada, the East India Pale Ale from the Brooklyn Brewery in New York or the IPA from Meantime Brewing in London, we know what family we are in, and rightly so. Black IPA, White IPA, Belgian IPA, India Session Ale?….. oh come on! Get your own bloody names people – leave India out of it!

There have been a number of “White IPAs” on the market in the US and Canada, but when Vancouver Island Brewery released their rather delicious Flying Tanker White IPA, it struck me as a missed opportunity. We Cascadians are at the centre of craft brewing in North America, whether you are in Oregon, Washington or British Columbia, we have much in common, not least our hops and innovation. So why not take this opportunity to create our own names for a new generation of beer, rather than pilfering the 19th century. North American IPA, West Coast IPA, Cascadian IPA, Pacific North West IPA… fine,  they all mean something. They are our versions of the classic British IPA. They maintain an historic philosophy while interpreting the style with their own local inspiration. But White IPA?

Please brewers and beer marketers, stop mis-using IPA and forge a new identity. Cascadia is the home of hoppy brews and great hop varieties, so why not make some new beer styles our own! We have tried with Cascadian Dark Ale, lets seize Cascadian Wheat Ale before it is too late!

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Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Recommended)

Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat is sold by the brewery as a ‘Belgian Wit’  but this is no ordinary Hoegaarden imitation that some breweries, large and small churn out in the summer. This could be the fruitiest wheat beer on the market with the vibrant orange colour of the liquid echoed by the flavour. Sweet tangerine dominates the palate with juicy blueberry notes there as well. With a touch of sweet spice and a balancing note of bitterness, this beer is a great summer refresher.

Although simple, I really enjoyed this beer and would definitely have this again on a hot afternoon.

Best Served: 5-7°C

ABV: 4.9%

Serving Type: 355ml Bottle

 

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Estrella Damm Inedit

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Outstanding)

The Spanish term ‘Inedit’ which means ‘Never Been Done Before’ is the given name that graces the label of this delicious brew from Estrella Damm Brewery of Barcelona, Spain. A collaboration between the team at the critically acclaimed elBulli Restaurant and the Brewmasters at Estrella Damm, this beer claims to be the first crafted specifically to be served with food. A skillful blend of lager and wheat ale styles, it uses 100% natural ingredients with a combination of water, hops, wheat, and spices that has yielded a fantastically refreshing and drinkable beer.

The complex aroma with hints of coriander, clove, fennel, ginger, and sweet citrus reminds me of Mom’s fresh baked gingersnap cookies. It has a slightly misty appearance with a great mouthfeel, mild carbonation and a slight creaminess. The well balanced array of flavours flow over the palate, leaving a lingering finish that begs for more. This beer is excellent with oysters, grilled scallops, mixed greens, and balsamic dressings and glazes. It also has the right acidity to enjoy, as a foil, butter and cream sauces or mild cheeses. In fact this well designed beer is very approachable with many foods!

To enjoy at its best, serve in a 300ml (10 oz) white wine glass, fill to just over half way, and leave the bottle on ice after serving. An inexpensive, expert creation that would do Bacchus proud – Magnificent!

Serving:  750ml black glass bottle

ABV: 4.8%

Best Served: 4-8° C

-By Brewlord

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New Glarus Black Wheat

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg tankard.jpg (Outstanding)

New Glarus Brewing is to be found in Wisconsin in the U.S., and is owned by the Brewmaster Dan Carey, who has spent a lifetime perfecting his craft, and oversees a brewery that makes lots of limited release seasonal beers that keep their fans on their toes and interested with an ever-changing line-up.

Their version of the traditional German Dunkelweizen is simply called ‘Black Wheat’, but this beer is far from simple. The deep brown-black liquid, topped by a foamy caramel tan head is a delightfully complex beer, that exhibits lots of nuances, and  never dominate one another. Notes of light molasses. cocoa bean, caramel, nutmeg, banana and prune combine and balance well, to leave a bitter-sweet finish that contains a touch of orange peel.

Try this beer with a well flavoured Mexican chili, it’s light enough to refresh your palate, but has enough strength to stand up to, and compliment all those rich and spicy flavours.

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ABV: 5.7%

Best Served: 7°C

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Ayinger Ur-Weisse Dunkel Weizen

Ayinger Ur-weisseWrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Ayinger Ur-Weisse is a well made Dunkel Weizen from the region which is the home of German brewing: Bavaria. The colour is of rich amber and is accompanied by the classic foamy wheat beer head. Malt, wheat and citrus tickle the olfactory senses, and leads us to take a sip. This is gently refreshing, yet full of flavour; tastes of grapefruit and malted barley are at the fore followed by nice floral hoppy notes. The finish has a touch of spicy clove and more of the dry floral hops that we found on the mid-palate. This is a very enjoyable beer and could easily paired with a myriad of food, but I think it should be tried with a spicy and fragrant Thai curry. It could complement all those sweet, hot and floral flavours with ease, while cooling any overly aggressive spices without killing the flavour.

ABV: 5.8%

Best Served: 7°C

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Paulaner Hefe-Weizen

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Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Paulaner Hefe-Weisen is a cloudy Wheat Beer with a pale gold colour and a light puffy head. There are all the classic flavours present: Citrus, banana, with a touch of vanilla bean and clove. They are extremely well balanced, and mild enough not to compromise the refreshing quality of the beer, but are still strong enough to liven the palate and stop this being in any way bland. There is subtle crispness to the finish, and it could quench the worst summer thirst. If barbequed prawns served with a squeeze of lemon are on your menu, then this will fit the bill perfectly.

ABV 5.5%

Best Served: 7°C

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Erdinger Weissbier

Erdinger_Weissbier

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Recommended)

Erdinger Weissbier pours into the glass with an attractive straw colour with a large fluffy head and a slight yeast haze. This is a lighter and crisper style of weissbeer than some, and its flavours are subtle. A touch of banana and apple with a hint of a hop on the finish makes this an easy drinking beer. This may be mild-mannered but it is true to the style of a German ‘breakfast beer’ and that’s why I like it and almost gave it a 4 tankard rating, but I felt it needed a bit more to get that extra mark.. Alot of this could be drunk without too much trouble, and I would heartily recommend it as a pre-lunch drink or to go with poached white fish. For a more spicy brew, try the Erdinger Urweis which is a benchmark of the fuller bodied style of Hefe-weissen.

ABV: 5.3%

Best Served: 7°C

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Granville Island Brewing Raspberry Wheat Ale

gib-raspberry-wheat-ale

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Mediocre)

Granville Island Raspberry Wheat Ale is a hugely fruitful beer, and for me a bit out of balance. The genuinely fruity flavours of fresh raspberry are not too sweet, but a bit overpowering for the subtle wheat ale notes. This beer will definitely have its fans, and rightly so. It is made by a good brewery whose line up of seasonal releases are always worth trying. The power of the wheat and malt are far too subtle and need a touch of strength to counter the fruit. However, if you like extremely fruity beers try this with a summer pudding or as a foil to a dark chocolate pudding – it’ll be at its best.

ABV: 5%

Best Served: 6°C

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Granville Island Brewing Belgian Wit

GIB-belgian-witWrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Recommended)

This is an enjoyable, lightly flavoured summer wit beer. Gentle citrus notes are joined by hints of clove and nutmeg. Lightly hazy, rather than cloudy, it is not a blockbuster of the style, but gives you a nice refreshing beer on a hot day. Great with delicately flavoured seafood.

ABV: 5%

Best Served: 8°C

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