Archive for category Pub/Restaurant

Elysian and AB-InBev. Brewers not Nazis

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The betrayed are out in force on twitter. “Goodbye Elysian” “Last time I EVER drink Elysian Beer”

“Traitors!”  “Sell outs!”

It was as if the founder of Greenpeace had just joined ACME petrol-chemicals Inc. and personally dumped toxic, radioactive waste directly on a whale’s head while laughing maniacally!

I realise that the craft beer is more than just great beer, carefully brewed by bearded artisans in railway arches and barns behind a pub. It has become a political movement that reflects the campaigns against the 1%, a liquid counterpart to ‘farm to fork’ and locavore groups.

The best breweries not only make the best beer, but often become successful. They need to expand and become …… Big! Big is not a word that fits well with an industry that started as home-brewers selling their liquid gold as a nano or micro brewery. The reality is that as Sierra Nevada and New Belgium are available around the world and Boston Beer Company required the Brewers Association to change their definition of ‘Craft Beer’  to maintain their good-for-marketing label. The other side of this success coin is that those that are a manageable mid-size, and enjoy cult status as well as high desirability have and will become targets for takeover. This is not new or exclusive to the brewing industry. T’was ever thus.

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The accusation that owners Dick Cantwell and David Buhler have ‘sold out’ is tough. If you had built a business from scratch, worked evenings and weekends, cleaned out lauter tuns and fermentation tanks in the dead of night, drove from store to bar to sell your beer when no one was particularly interested, you might be tempted too. They can now keep on brewing, inventing great beers in their own brewery and know that their retirement and family are covered financially until the day they ‘call time’ on this mortal plane. Isn’t that the point of working hard all our lives?

You may be disgusted by their actions, and I am very disappointed, having visited Seattle many times and visited their bar and looked forward to every release that made it to the bar I managed in Vancouver. I do however, understand them.

Craft beer has evolved into quasi political movement, but not everyone is on-board with that!

So, boycott the beer if you must. (You’ll be missing out on some great brews!). Tell people of your disappointment. There is no point spouting hatred to the level that social media seems to propagate.

They are brewers not Nazis.

 

 

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Judge a beer by the colour of its glass?

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On returning to live back in the UK, one of the treats in store for me was to have a few bottles of some of the beers that I had loved in the era before the ‘Craft Beer Revolution’. These are beers that some young hipsters in East London might turn their nose up at these days, but in my view are as tasty and drinkable as any put out at £3.60 a bottle in a stall in Borough Market! They might be seen as old-fashioned, traditional or just plain boring, but these are the ones that I grew up with, and offered flavour and a certain ‘made with love and care’ feel at a time when there was not the plethora of crafty options that the modern drinker has at their disposal.

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As I found myself in a large supermarket, looking at shelves of bottles, lined up like soldiers waiting for inspection, I noticed that a regular tipple of mine (one I had in cask at my local in Twickenham more often than in bottle) was now in a clear bottle. 20 years ago, you would be hard pushed to find many beers in anything other than the traditional and trusty brown bottle.

Even Heineken and Carlsberg knew their beer tasted better from brown glass.

Then the marketing people took over.

‘The public want to see the colour of the beer’ they say.

‘Green is the colour of a premium European lager’ they chorus.

‘Great packaging will help you sell more’ they promise.

So what do I have against clear and green glass?

I hate the odour of a skunk.

Those readers outside of my former home of Canada or the USA may be unfamiliar with the incredibly musky, ammonia punch of squashed skunk on a road, but the smell is not nice. British readers might imagine a tomcats spray of musk and urine, and then let it fester a while with some sulphur to get some idea.

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This is a similar smelling chemical that is released (in thankfully smaller doses than an attack from an angry skunk) when ultra-violet light is allowed to react with  iso-alpha-acids present in hops creating a compound called 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol (MBT for short!)

The result for the less scientific among us is known variously as ‘lightstruck’, ‘sunstruck’ or just simply ‘skunked’. I have seen the term ‘catty’ used as well, but it all means one thing: The beer in your hand may well be off as was my bottle from Badger beers (Hall and Woodhouse). A good pint of bitter in the pub is transformed in clear bottle to a stinky smelling and tasting beer that has sat in clear glass under the glare of sunlight or the UV strip lights in a store. Green and clear glass let UV light in and brown glass (the darker the better)  largely keeps it out. It’s that simple.

So here is an appeal to brewers, marketing managers and drinkers alike:

Say NO to clear and green glass, show us some respect and do your best to ensure the beer that passes my lips is as close as humanly possible to the one that the brewer intends me to drink.

 

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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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The Noble Pig Brewhouse – Kamloops

The Noble Pig Brewhouse was mentioned to me by my father-in-law a while back, and I made a point to get there next time we were up at their house for a visit. Kamloops might not seem like an obvious place for a brewpub, so the Wranglerette and I entered with an open mind! We were joined by the youngest member of my beer-loving brood, my 17 month old daughter, and I wondered if they might let her in. We were pleasantly surprised to be shown to a booth that had a great view of the rest of the pub, given a booster seat and some crayons for my daughter! As a parent as well as beer lover/writer, I am always grateful when independent establishments can cater for a (well-behaved) family.

The atmosphere was welcoming and had a traditional ‘pubby’ feel about it. Although there were the usual screens showing a range of sports, there were not invasive or ‘in your face’  if you were there to chat and not watch the game. There is a restaurant side as well as the the bar,  which had attractive dark wooden floorboards throughout. A large bar with numerous taps stretched out in front of us and the excellent waitress gave us our beer and food menu. She happily answered my questions about the brewmaster (David Beardsell) and a few of the beers,  so I decided to go for the ESB and the Wranglerette had the Porter. We were both really impressed with our beers and agreed that they were well made, had the right level of carbonation and most importantly were delicious! There were a number of options including a peppered Belgian ale as well as the marvellously named ‘Fascist Pig Pilsner’. Our food came next and my ‘Cubano Sandwich’ of pulled pork,  slow roasted beef, honey ham, beer caramelised onions and ale cheddar really hit the spot! My daughter Maisy had a kids menu mac and cheese with pancetta – she was lucky daddy didn’t steal it all as I had a taste and it was superb! There are usually seven pub-brewed beers on tap and if you can’t decide what to have, then just go for the paddle of tasters.

I will definitely be going here again and highly recommend you all to do the same!

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