Am I the only man waving the flag for St George? Call me patriotic but he was one helluva guy. You can read more about the lad’s exploits with Roman Armies, crusades and dragons here. Luckily a few people in the media picked up on the event, The Telegraph and Gizmodo, but more importantly 24 beer crusaders came down to taste and learn about some brilliantly patriotic brews.
We kicked off the evening with a blind tasting, something local, golden, refreshing and fruity. A nice sessionable ale to get the cogs whirring and the taste buds tingling. Brewed just around the corner by Sambrooks, their Wandle Ale (named after the River Wandle which joins The Thames at Battersea) worked excellently as a warm-up beer, served with a nice warm scotch egg. Yum.
English beer number two was a beautiful Grisette Saison by our friends Partizan Brewery. This was aged in burgundy barrels providing a wine grape like flavour and acidity, pleasant oaky flavours along with the dry estery, farmhouse flavours of a well made saison. The teeny tiny bubbles prickled your palate and provided a pleasant refreshing tonic for your tongue. This went down very well, especially with some of those in the audience more au fait with wine than beer. The delicate saison requires something equally refined as a food pairing. The smoked salmon bellini worked well, playing nicely with the light oaky character from the barell aged beer. I was sure to announce that the saison style and the technique of barrel aging beer are both set to shine over the coming months and years. Look out for these, as well as sour beers popping up on the beer menu’s around town.
Meantime Brewery in Greenwhich is one of the largest, most modern breweries in London (with a fantastic brewery tour) and it also makes some great beer. My favourite is the Yakima Red. This beer is less common than some of the other beers in their range, but it has great big bold fruity, nutty, caramel flavours. If you are looking for a beer which blances flavour, with drinkability but still has the refreshment you’d want from something a little lighter then this is a great choice.
Typically audacious flavours from The Kernel Pale Ale were next on my menu. Inspired by big US beers, the Citra, Centennial and Cascade hop combination is a great example of what an English brewery can do using some punchy US hops. I am rarely disappointed by these guys and their beers are always packed full of flavour and tropical aromas which is why I love to use them at my tastings. I can only apologise for any false advertising when it comes to this pairing. I’d never seen the vegetable kebab interpreted as ‘salad on a cocktail stick’ before. This failed to deliver the smoky and sweet flavours I had envisioned that a roasted vegetable kebab might bring to offset the citrus bitterness of the pale ale.
By the time of the fifth beer of the evening, the night had really got into its stride and so it was time to wheel out some of the big boys. The Fullers London Porter is an undisputed English beer champion having collected numerous awards over the years. It is currently rated number 4 in RateBeer.com’s top English beers. The beer teases you with a variety of chcolately, smokey and coffee flavours whilst remaining quaffable and not overly intoxicating. There were plenty of nodding heads appreciating the combination with a juicy char grilled burger patty.
We rounded the evening off with Sam Smith’s Oatmeal Stout (rated number 8 in RateBeer.com’s top English beers). The sweetness of this stout comes from the small addition of oats into the brew. This style is seeing a resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to Sam Smith’s who brought the style back from obscurity in the 1980’s having not been brewed since pre World War One! I particularly liked how this beer was smooth and velvety (due to the oats) but even more complex in flavour than the Porter.
I tried to bring some of the outstanding examples of a range of styles produced by some of the best English Breweries around. I think all in all there was something for everyone. If you attended the event, which one was your favourite? Would anyone volunteer a suggestion for any different beers to be included?
I’m thrilled that this month I’m holding a beer and chocolate tasting with my friend Connor Friesen from Co&Co Chocolates. This is on Saturday 31st May and I’d love to see some of you again at this event! https://beerandchocolatetasting.eventbrite.co.uk/?discount=Chocolate