Iceni – Men of Norfolk 6.2% ABV

30 01 2011

Men of Norfolk is a strong (6.2%) dark beer from the Iceni brewery in Norfolk.

The Iceni Brewery is situated on the edge of Thetford Forest and takes its name from the Iceni tribe who were ruled by Queen Boudicca (yes, the famous one in the chariot) and occupied most of Norfolk and Suffolk around 61 AD. They have been producing beers since 1995 and even have their own hop garden on site…

I first came across the Iceni Brewery selling bottled beers in a food hall at the nearby Elveden Estate and picked up a couple of bottles for my uncle and I to  have later that day – Roisin Dubh if my memory serves correctly.

Well those couple of bottles went down well and since then I have tried pretty much all of the beers that Iceni have produced.

I have seen Men of Norfolk listed as a couple of different styles over the years, a few pubs have put it down as a porter and I have often seen it listed as a mild… I am going to stick with my original assertion that this is a strong dark ale and will try to steer clear of pigeon holing it unduly.

The pint pours to a rich black colour with a fairly thin cream coloured head that lasts well through out drinking – you could be mistaken for assuming it to be a stout based on looks alone.

The aroma is definitely there but isn’t too pronounced with roasted malts, raisins, chocolate and liquorice coming through clearly, there is also a slightly sour/bitter note almost like a bitter coffee that comes through in the background.

The main flavours are roasted malts chocolate, some sweet dark fruit – raisins, sultanas etc,  caramel and there is a nice cocoa bitterness in the finish The sweetness from the fruits and the slight bit of bitterness from the cocoa work well to balance out the rich roasted malt.

The carbonation is a little light and gives  a very soft mouthfeel that might not appeal to everyone but overall this is a small complaint to have.

I really enjoyed Men of Norfolk, the flavours work well together and have enough punch to carry the strength of the beer so you don’t just end up with that sour alcohol note that can plague some strong ales. 

 A very good beer from a small local brewer 4.5 / 5

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12 Worst Foods Ever

15 12 2010

I happened to stumble upon a supposed news item the other day showing what the site in question deemed to be the 12 most unhealthy foods known to man – click here to view

I agree with a couple of their entries but some of them  just didn’t illicit a suitable level of disgust from me.

So here is my very own list; I haven’t limited myself to foods that are merely unhealthy I have also included a few that are just downright vile:

 Pork Scratchings – Well what is there to say about pork scratchings?  This nasty pub snack consists of pork rind and fat deep-fried until it is hard and then seasoned with salt, if you are really unlucky you will find the elusive soft scratching that is literally pure deep-fried pig fat mmm.

This is the sort of awful crap that needs to go the same way as the dinosaurs, there are plenty of other snacks that you can enjoy with your pint that don’t come with a free heart attack.

 

KFC Double Down – When I first heard that KFC had launched something called the Double Down I simply had to find out what it might be.

It transpires that it is a delightful fried chicken sandwich that instead of a bun has 2 fried chicken breasts between which nestles cheese, Colonel sauce (I don’t even want to know) and bacon.

Now forgive me if I am wrong but where I come from chicken breasts are normally found inside a sandwich, not masquerading as the bread.

Luckily they don’t offer this particular delicacy here in the UK but that didn’t stop me finding someone who had been brave enough to give one a go – click here to check  out a video review from Scott Roberts enjoying the mighty Double Down in all its greasy glory.

Cheese Burger in a Can – I have been camping more times than I can remember, whilst camping I have eaten many meals that I would normally turn my nose up at back in civilisation. Be it US military MRE, British Forces Ration Packs or ready prepared meals from a camping store they all have pretty much one thing in common: they are shite.

I have sat shivering in the cold and wet eating my last remaining Biscuits Brown and wished that they were pretty much anything else at all. The one thing that I never wished for was this:

Cheeseburger in a can… Once I get past my initial reaction, which is pretty much to vomit in advance of eating it there by cutting out the middle man, I start to wonder what sort of sick twisted maniac invented such a thing.

Well it turns out we have Swiss company  Katadyn to thank blame for visiting this evil upon the world.

The idea is that you pop the unopened can into boiling water for a couple of minutes and hey presto you have a tasty hamburger to munch on whilst the bears move in for the kill.

As much as the overall idea  offends my stomach I find myself more concerned by the fact that it will stay fresh for over a year without refrigeration – just wtf is it made out of?

 Balut A whole fertilised chicken or duck egg allowed to reach between 17 and 21 days of incubation before being boiled and the whole disgusting mess being eaten, foetus and all.

I’m not sure there is much more that I or anybody else need to say about that…

Deep Fried Mars Bar – Ah Scotland, was there ever a nation so easy to pick on when it comes to dodgy food?

 To be fair to 99% of Scottish produce is outstanding but that is all pushed aside by that final 1%.

 In this case I am focusing in on Scotland’s most famous culinary disaster; The Deep Fried Mars Bar and trust me it deserves the capitals. This gastronomic turd gets bad press all the time but it really does take some beating in the crap food stakes.

Not only is it the idea that is shocking it is the food itself; first we take a Mars Bar, hardly the healthiest starting point. We chill the Mars to stop it melting and then coat it in the sort of thick fattening batter normally reserved for frying fish or sausages then of course we fry it.

Sadly the next step is to eat the bloody thing, followed promptly by throwing up a hot sugary mess all over the pavement.

I once ate a deep-fried mars bar for a dare; at first it was almost nice, there was a bit of a crunch followed by gooey sweet chocolate. Unfortunately the next stage of the eating process was reality kicking in. There realy is no overcoming the greasy taste of the batter and that mixed with the cloying sweetness of the chocolate actually makes you start to gag. I’m not proud of the fact that rather than finish this horrific morsel I pinned one of my mates down and made them eat it,I think he still has nightmares about it til this day.

Having sampled this most heinous of crimes against food I have no conclusion but to seriously worry about the sanity of our cousins north of the border….

 Deep Fried Haggis – I’m not squeamish when it comes to food and actually like most offal but there is something about deep-fried haggis that just turns my stomach.

I know that just plain old haggis is enough to have some people reaching for a bucket as it is but to deep fry it, has the World gone mad?

For anyone that was ever wondering what a sheep’s stomach stuffed with oats,onion and “Sheep’s Pluck”(heart, liver and lungs) looks like when deep-fried then prepare to vomit:

 Poutine – I was first introduced to this Canadian staple by a friend about a year ago. granted it isn’t as unhealthy as some of the foods that grace this list but to my mind it is one of the most revolting.

 For those of you lucky enough to have never encountered Poutine before it is French fries coated with gravy and topped off with cheese curds and just when you thought that couldn’t be made any more delicious the fries are supposed to be cooked in lard -mmm.

Poutine is not completely horrible for the first couple of bites whilst it is still very hot but as soon as it starts to cool it just becomes one big congealing mess of brown muck and you can’t help but face the stark reality that you are effectively signing your own death warrant.

 Snickers Pie – 1 packet puff pastry, 140g mascarpone, 110g soft cheese, 50g caster sugar, 3 eggs, 5 Snickers bars and milk.

 Does sound to you like the recipe for something ok for a child? Probably not. However bearded dwarf and celebrity chef  Antony Worrall-Thompson says that it is fine and he should know as he wrote it.

Last time I happened to look around a lot of children seemed to be quite fat and appear to my untrained eye to be getting ever fatter, I’m not trying to be unkind I am just pointing out the obvious. Now I might be wrong but I’m not totally convinced that a celebrity chef advocating this sort of “treat” is really going to go a long way towards changing this trend anytime soon…

This sugar and fat laden delight is so void of nutritional value that the Food Commision condemned it as being “one of the most unhealthy recipes ever published”. Each slice weighs in at a heavyweight 1,250 calories, 22 teaspoons of sugar and 11 teaspoons of fat.

I look forward to serving it at a children’s tea party in the near future, I fully anticipate that the children will be hyperactive due to the ridiculous sugar content and yet unable to move due to being completely spherical.

 Quadruple C Burger – I came across the Quadruple C Burger on one of my many wasted afternoons trawling the internet, it certainly made an impression on me and I’m sorry to say it wasn’t a good one.

One of the signature menu items at Dangerous Dan’s Diner in Toronto, the Quad C is one of a new generation of fat burgers whose aim is to  stare the health food movement in the eye and stick two fingers up in its face. Now I am all for people having freedom of choice and that includes the right to eat yourself into an early grave but this burger almost makes me want to call up the food police.

The more enquiring minds out there in cyberspace might be wondering what the four Cs stand for so here we have it, drum-roll please:

“The Colossal Colon Clogger Combo.” 

This meaty mountain is the Quadruple C in all it’s colossal colon clogging cancer causing glory, either impressive or sickening depending on how you choose to look at it.

So what goes into making one of these bad boys: one 24 ounce beef patty, half a pound of bacon, half a pound of cheese and to complete the combo in gut busting style a large shake and a serving of an another Canadian entrant from this list; poutine.

Luckily this burger is only available in Canada so your resultant trip to the emergency room will at least be free.

 Bacon Explosion – The Bacon Explosion has to be one of the most disgusting food items I have come across in a long time; the sheer volume of meat is quite simply worrying and just the thought of it is making my digestive system recoil in horror even as I type.

 So what is a Bacon Explosion, well it turns out that it is not as the name suggests a pig packed full of dynamite, so here is a quick run down:

Multiple strips of bacon are lovingly woven into a fatty, greasy mesh, onto which ground sausage meat is dumped before more cooked and crumbled bacon is sprinkled on top and the whole thing is rolled up into a big cigar full of porky goodness.

As always I have saved the best until last this bacon behemoth comes in at over 5,000 calories and more than 500 grams of fat – delicious.

Pizza Hut Double roll

According to a friend who has tried it in Tokyo the main selling point of this insult to Italian cuisine was that it had pigs in a blanket baked into the crust on half of the pizza.

If that isn’t enough to tempt you into trying the Double roll then read on….

The other half has cheese rolls for a crust and is liberally topped with mini hamburgers, Italian sausage, ham, bacon, bacon bits, sliced tomato, mushroom, onion, peppers, garlic slices, basil, black pepper and of course marinara sauce.

As if that wasn’t enough culinary goodness for you I am reliably informed that the whole thing can be flavored with maple syrup and ketchup by request.

I don’t know what would make me puke first, the maple syrup and ketchup flavouring or the entire buffet cart they have stuffed into the crust and topped it with.

 Windows 7 whopper – The Windows 7 Whopper was the brainchild of Burger King Japan; it was sold to mark the launch of the newest version of the Windows operating system and featured – yes you guessed it, 7 whopper patties – 7!!! That makes the heart stopping excess of the Quad Stacker seem like a light snack.

 The Japanese have long been held up as being paradigms of healthy living and we in the west have been implored to be more like them in terms of diet; obviously the nutritionists didn’t see this particular meat monstrosity.

 Thankfully for the world at large this particularly terrifying crap stack was only available for a short space of time following the launch of Windows 7 but I get the feeling that there is more to come from our friends in the east.





Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

30 11 2010

There are a lot of chocolate stouts available on the market today and I mean a LOT. It is a popular style of beer that people just can’t seem to get enough of.

Because of the sheer range of chocolate stouts available it is quite an achievement to stand out from the crowd; Young’s Double Chocolate manages not just to stand out but to jump up and down whilst waving.

How do they manage such a feat? Well as odd as it might sound most chocolate stouts actually don’t contain any chocolate whatsoever, the name and indeed the taste actually comes from the dark malt that is used. Young’s however throw a small amount of chocolate into the mix and the difference to the taste is immediately apparent.

The main thing you notice from the aroma of the stout is unsurprisingly the chocolate, you also pick up the rich roasted malts and a slight hint of sweetness. If anything I think that the chocolate aroma is a little bit too strong for my liking, if you were blindfold you could be mistaken for think you were being given a cup of cocoa not a beer.

In terms of looks the stout pours very dark, almost black and has a thick rich look to it with a good sized beige head that lasts well throughout think Guinness but even thicker.

So we come to the main attraction, how it tastes.

Luckily the taste is far more balanced than the aroma, I had been concerned that this would just be sweet and like drinking a pint of chocolate, but that’s not the case at all. You get the taste of good dark chocolate coming through along with a dry nuttiness and a hint of coffee from the roasted malts.

In contrast to the rich sweetness of the stout you get a nice kick of hops that comes in midway through and lingers to the finish, there is also a slight aniseed / liquorice that helps to keep things balanced and a hint of alcohol dryness towards the end.

In terms of mouthfeel this is a very smooth creamy stout that is like drinking rich dark velvet, the body is edging towards the heavy end of the scale and it just feels wonderfully luxurious.

All in all I would have to say that Young’s Double Chocolate Stout is one of if not the best examples of chocolate stout that you will find,not only is it great for the slight novelty value of having actual chocolate added to it but it is a superb stout in and of itself.

4.85/5

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