Thursday, 17 April 2008

Beer Geek's Breakfast

Well, this beer geek's breakfast was judging the Sainsbury's Beer Competition yesterday and the final 15 were a jolly impressive round-up of good to great beers - full list below.

My personal favourite of the bunch was Holden's Golden Glow - do you know why? Because it is a just a really good, easy drinking, well balanced beer - and you just don't get enough of those these days.

It is a British ale, just 4.4%, and it's made with Maris Otter and Fuggles - and all those simple things somehow combined to make beery nectar of the highest order.

What really struck me about this beer was it did everything just right - the mouthfeel was silky without being sickly, the biscuit of the malt wasn't too sweet and the hops were just bitter enough to make me want to take another sip, and another, and another!

So well done Holden's - for me you were head and shoulders above everyone else in the craft of balanced brewing.

I also had a good chat with the beer buyer - and Sainsbury's seems pretty committed to stocking good beer and supporting the brewers who make it, which is nice to see.

I'm not advocating abandoning local beer purveyors if you use them, but if you are going to shop in a supermarket for your beer then choose one that gives brewers a fair deal.

Anyway, on to the reason for the title of this post. Having finished in Holborn I had to head to Borough to do some work on my new joint venture and I got caught, as so often happens, having a couple in the Rake.

Whereupon I met Phil Lowry from Cave Direct , who may need to redeem himself after saying something along the lines of 'you look nothing like your facebook picture' and then following it up later with the comment 'it's a sexy picture'!!!! My fragile ego has naturally been shattered by these comments...

Anyway, he's currently still, just about, making the Christmas card list because he introduced me to the Beer Geek's Breakfast, a coffee stout from Mikkeller.

These former home-brew enthusiasts were voted fifth best Danish brewer in 2006 and on the strength of this beer I can see why.

Although I will honestly say it's a little sweet for my taste, coffee lovers will adore it - it's made with a pretty complex mix of malts, hops, molasses and coffee - pale, oat, smoked, caramunich, brown, pale chocolate and chocolate, roasted barley, flaked oats, Palisade, Centennial and Cascade.

And I love their unashamed assertion that you should actually drink this to start the day: "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, many say, and if you are a beer geek there is no better way to start the day than with a powerful, complex morning stout. The unique mix of oats and coffee gives this beer large body and power, while the coffee, at the same time, creates a nice balance."

Couldn't have said it better myself!

Sainsbury's Beer Competition Winners
Williams Bros Brewing Co Good Times
Holden's Brewery Ltd Golden Glow
Hampshire Brewery Pendragon
Highgate Brewery Ltd Highgate Old Ale
St Peter's Brewery St Peter's Amarillo Ale
Sharps Brewery Honey Spice Wheat Beer
Okell & Son Ltd Dr Okells IPA
Copper Dragon Scotts 1816
Frederic Robinson Ltd Ginger Tom
Redrat Craft Brewery Crazy Dog Stout
Bath Ales Barnstormer
Ridgeway Brewing Beer of the Gods
Greene King Greene King Sun Dance
Arundel Brewery Prizefighter
Williams Bros Brewing Co Harvest Son
Cairngorm Brewery Company Trade Winds

Friday, 4 April 2008

I'm Now a Hairy Biker 'Chick'

It's a rare thing that I meet people so totally genuine and lovely that they get an honourable mention on the blog but Dave Myers and Si King, also known as the Hairy Bikers, you've utterly stolen my heart!

I met the lads when I was filming a slot for Market Kitchen about Belgian beers and, due to the nature of TV things, I spent a lot of time hanging about waiting to appear but Si & Dave (along with Matt Tebbutt, Tom Parker-Bowles, Patrick Gwynn Jones and the whole of the crew) made time simply fly by.

The Bikers' bonhomie, passion for food and incredible love for Belgian beer permeated the whole studio and made the whole experience an absolute hoot.

For those of you who haven't experienced these guys' unique brand of food programming you've missed a real treat but can make up for it by catching them on UKTV Food (Sky channel 259) with a repeat of their tour of India from Monday April 14.

And I can honestly say to those of you who have seen and loved them, I promise you, what you see is most definitely what you get - isn't that fantastic?

This post promotes a television appearance I made.