Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Aussie Rules

Well, I apologise for the gaps in posts - I've been mad busy and should actually be doing some work now, but seeing as it's about 7.30pm I've opted for grabbing a cold one instead!

The lovely Karl at Pierhead sent me some Boag's St George today and, I have to say, it's not a bad lager at all!

A little Tasmanian devil of a beer it's got a nice balance of sweet and bitter and made with local Tasmanian malt; unfortunately I don't know what the hops are but I hazard they might be Pride of Ringwood, they've got that character.

It's a real palette teaser. I've been so intent on working, up until now obviously, that I hadn't realised I was in the least bit hungry, yet this has sparked my mouth into life.

Unfortunately I'm also aware that, despite normally being a bit of an amateur cook, I've got sweet FA in the house with which to rustle up anything decent and my recent undertaking to lose more weight before venturing in front of the TV cameras again is sitting heavy on my conscience, so take out doesn't seem like an option - bugger!

So, another out of the ordinary lager - always a good find in my book because, to be honest, when I'm working and having a cheeky beer I don't want something too exciting because I'll only get distracted!

Try it with a beef rendang - it'll rock... where did I put that pizza menu?!

Monday, 8 October 2007

Feeling the Wood

Wood aged beer, it might not sound too revolutionary given Britain's history of cask conditioned beer.

But a recent event I attended raised a lot of interesting issues and innovations surrounding this subject, and it's a production method I believe will shape a whole new beer category in the UK over the years to come.

Now, interestingly, we are quite far behind the Americans in this - as they already have whole wood-aged beer festivals - but given their existing and thriving wine and bourbon industrythey have a few more old oak containers kicking around not doing much, apart from waiting for some enterprising spark to pick them up and age other booze in them. One of the reasons being that you can only use bourbon barrels once apparently.

But availability of old casks aside, what's really interesting is the difference you can impart into the same beer by the use of different barrels that have had spirit or fortified wine products in them.

This was demonstrated at this seminar, which was kindly hosted by Thornbridge Brewery at the beautiful Thornbridge Hall, not only by Fuller's but by the hosts themselves.

We had a taste of their St Peter's Imperial Russian Stout which had been finished in three different whisky barrels from Speyside (8.8%), the Highland (9.4%) and Islay (10.2%) - I'll avoid naming the whisky brands for now, as I think it's a potentially touchy subject, but suffice to say they were enormous in ABV and flavour, particularly the Islay one, which a bit too TCP for my tastes but the other two were absolutely superb!

Unfortunately I'm being a bit of a tease because Fuller's is having issues with Customs about this issue and Thornbridge may only release a limited number of their aged St Peter's - but if you can get your hands on some then for goodness sake do.