Hoegaarden Witbier 4.9%

9 06 2011

It has been a while since my last beer review but rest assured I haven’t been resting on my laurels sipping water, far from it, in fact I have been quaffing a ridiculous number of beers covering the whole spectrum; the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

So without further ado I give you today’s offering:

Hoegaarden may not be the most adventurous or hard to find of the beers I have/will reviewed but it a far cry from most of the mass-produced tat you are likely to find being pumped out down your local and as such is well deserving of my time.

Hoegaarden is a Belgian Witbier  that has been around in one guise or another for a damn long time…it has been brewed in the village of Hoegaarden since 1445  to be precise.

The modern incarnation of this venerable beer came about in 1965 when Belgian milkman Pierre Celis recreated the traditional recipe in his hayloft following the closure of the last commercial brewery in Hoegaarden some ten years previous.

Now what a recipe it is;  water, yeast, wheat, hops, coriander and dried Curaçao orange peel.  Not quite what you get in your dull old Heineken!

Now as the sharp-eyed amongst you might have spotted from the picture this is a slightly cloudy pale beer with a good-sized white head that lasts reasonably well with plenty of lacing.

The aroma of the beer is great there are hints of citrus, freshly mown grass, a slight hint of yeastiness rather like freshly  baked bread  and a hunt of spice… a good start.

On drinking the beer there is a big burst of flavour right up front, cloves, coriander and citrus pretty much explode into your taste buds with a background fruitiness not dissimilar to banana and a slight touch of pepper.

This really is a great tasting beer and as much as there are a lot of seemingly strong flavours they are balance out well and there isn’t anything that ever threatens to overwhelm.

In short a really, really good beer.

4.5

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Whitebait

12 12 2010

As a child I remember being horrified by the sight of my uncle sitting there munching his way through a veritable mountain of Whitebait. It just seemed to be such carnage in order to put dinner on someones plate.

Now things have changed a little bit; I quite simply can’t get enough of them, particualrly as a light meal in a beer garden with a refreshing pint.

For those of you who are wondering what exactly Whitebait are they are immature sprats, normally Herring in the UK, the whole fish is floured or lightly battered and deep fried. Because the fish are so young and tender the entire fish can be eaten as is without needing the bones or head to be removed.

I think the best way to enjoy Whitebait is really piping hot with a good sprinkling of lemon juice and plenty of bread and butter – delicious

When you are flouring the Whitebait you can add in some light seasoning such as salt and pepper or through in some cayenne pepper and chilli powder in order to have deviled Whitebait.

There is no real special trick to cooking Whitebait and in my opinion the simplest method is the best –

Dredge the Whitebait in the seasoned white flour

Shake off the excess flour and fry in hot vegetable oil until the fish are a light golden colour – around 2 or 3 minutes

Serve immediately





Homemade Rogan Josh

28 10 2010

The other night was curry night at home; I knew straight off the bat that I was going to make my chana masala, onion bhajis, bombay potatoesflat breads and the lemon pickle that Jamie Oliver made recently in 30 minute meals.

What I didn’t work out quite so quickly was what I was going to make as a meat dish.

I hadn’t been going to make a meat dish and had been going to do a nice vegetable dish instead but my brothers were adamant that they needed meat.

Now my tastes run towards the far hotter and spicier end of the scale and I normally make myself a vindaloo or a phal, I knew that these wouldn’t be welcomed with open arms so decided to make my take on Rogan Josh instead.

Traditionally Rogan Josh would use lamb but it is equally good with beef or chicken as well.

Ingredients (4-6servings):

1kg of diced lamb (beef or chicken also work well)

400g tinned tomatoes/tomato concasse

3 large onions

5 cloves of garlic

3″ piece of ginger

7 green cardamom pods

1 medium-sized chilli (you can add more if you want)

a bunch of fresh coriander

3tsp dried coriander leaf

3tsp garam masala

1 1/2tsp coriander seeds

1 1/2tsp cumin seeds

1tsp paprika

1tsp turmeric

1tsp black mustard seeds

1/2tsp ground nutmeg

1/2tsp mace

1/2tsp asafoetida

 Method:

  • mix the dried coriander with the meat and a small drizzle of olive oil, set aside and leave until it is needed.
  • chop the onions into a fine dice and sweat in a saucepan for 30 mins
  • peel and chop the garlic and ginger finely, and continue to soften for a further 20 mins
  • add the cardamoms, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and cumin seeds to a dry pan and heat until the seeds start to pop, add these to the saucepan along with the paprika, turmeric, garam masala, nutmeg, mace and asafoetida making sure to stir everything together well.
  • empty the meat and coriander mixture into a pan and brown off.
  • add the meat to the main saucepan and use some stock or water to deglaze the frying pan, add the juices etc to the saucepan.
  • stir in the chopped tomatoes/tomato concasse and the chopped fresh coriander and chopped chillis. Leave to simmer for at least 90 minutes.

Serve with basmati rice and your choice of accompaniments.





Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted 4.7% Blond Beer

11 10 2010

I wasn’t planning on having a drink last night, but on hobbling (knee injury dont ask) into my local office licence I noticed that he had some new stock in.

Two particular bottles caught my eye; Marstons Old Empire (review to follow shortly) and Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted.

I have never had the oppurtunity to try Bitter and Twisted in it’s bottled form until now and couldn’t say no!

Bitter and Twisted is probably Harviestoun’s best known beer and with good reason it has won a list of awards literally as long as your arm for both it’s bottled and draught variants including World’s Best Ale at the World Beer Awards in 2007.

Not that their other beers are slackers, they also boast a World’s Best Pilsner amongst their ranks from 2008.

There is a lovely zingy citrus nose to Bitter and Twisted along with some slightly spicy and floral hints in the background.

B&T pours to a lovely pale golden colour with a thin white head that leaves a fair amount of lacing on the glass.

You reallynotice the hops in bitter and twisted which is good considering they have gone to the effort of using 3 separate varieties; challenger, styrian golding and Hersbrücker, luckily though at no point does the hopping seem overwhelming, either in terms of bitterness or taste.

There is a nice balance of caramel sweetness from the malt and a grapefruit/citrus sharpness that comes through strongly along with that pleasing spicy note that you can pick up in the aroma.

I usually only see blond beers as something to enjoy in the summer months, ideally in a sunny beer garden however I found Bitter and Twisted to be a blond that I could just as easilly enjoy on frosty autumn evening by the bonfire.

It might not be the world’s best ale but it is certainly up there.

4.85/5








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