Thursday 22 October 2009

Things Go Bump in the Beer @ Borough

With Hallow'een fast approaching we've got the country's spookiest brewery flitting into town on October 24.

Huddled in the shadow of Pendle Hill, where Britain's most notorious witches were from, Lancashire brewery Moorhouse's takes its inspiration from its sinister local history to brew up some award-winning beers and is bringing them to lovebeer@borough this weekend.

As well as giving tastings of its Champion Beer of Britain, Black Cat Mild, Moorhouse’s will also be showcasing Blonde Witch, Premier Bitter and Pride of Pendle, the brewery will also be showcasing some of it seasonal brews like Broomstick Bitter and Black Witch.

The sessions are at 1pm and 3.30pm on Saturday October 24 and tickets are just £15 from the Rake or Utobeer stall - really good fancy dress gets you in free!*

Moorhouse’s is capitalising on its long-standing success by investing £3.6m in a new brewhouse, which is scheduled for completion in February 2011.
If you'd like to know more about the Pendle Witch Trials then click here.

lovebeer@borough is based above the multi award-winning Rake, in the world-famous Borough Market, and offers a range of tasting experiences for corporate clients as well as an intimate space for brand launches or meetings. The aim of the business is to offer people the chance to learn more about great quality artisan beer, whether they are novices or already interested in what goes in their glass. For further information or images please email Melissa Cole on, call 07798 568400 or visit the Facebook Group.

The award-winning Rake, above which lovebeer@borough is based, will also be showcasing Moorhouse’s beers on handpull and in bottle, for more information on this visit the Rake’s Facebook group.

*at the organisers’ discretion.

*this post is for my beer tasting business in Borough Market*

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Beery Belly Pork, Mash & Greens

Having played my first game of indoor cricket of the season (okay with the bat, rubbish with the ball, we lost) I needed some comfort food of the highest order.

So a beautiful side of belly pork bought from Borough Market (sorry Glenn, will pay you back when I see  you!), was in order and it just had to go with mash, so I could play with my new potato ricer! (Pathetic I know, but himself's pressie of a kitchen gadget made me 10 times happier than a bunch of flowers ever could!).

Anyway, on with the show - although this is a low slow cook dish, the beery aspect is key in keeping the pork belly moist and it does require some occasional attention.

You'll need equipment-wise:
Deep roasting tray
Potato ricer or masher (really recommend the former though, makes waaaay better mash)
Wok/large frying pan
Gravy boat

Food-wise for four:
4kg piece of pork belly - rib bones on & get your butcher to score the skin
Two 500ml bottles of full-bodied ale
One onion
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
Garlic bulb
Bouquet garni of thyme, bay leaf & parsley
4 large floury potatoes
Two big bags of spinach
1/2 a lemon
A pat of butter

  1. Pre-heat your oven to its highest heat, once it's ready put the kettle on, whilst the kettle is boiling roughly chop your onion, carrots & celery and add to roasting tray with garlic & bouquet garni & one of the bottles of beer (reserving just enough for a sneaky swig!), and add some water too
  2. Get pork out of fridge, place on trivet in sink and pour boiling water all over the top, you should see the scoring opening up
  3. Pat skin dry and rub with a generous amount of salt, place the trivet on the roasting tray above the veg & beer mix and put in the bottom of your super-hot oven for about 25 minutes or until the skin is evenly golden
  4. Make sure you keep an eye on the pork during this time to ensure the tray doesn't go dry and the skin doesn't burn, if the tray is looking dry then add more beer from the second bottle (if you haven't drunk it by now!)
  5. When the skin is evenly golden turn the oven down to 150 fan, 175 conventional or gas mark 4, make sure there is plenty of liquid in the bottom, top up with remaining beer or water and leave it to slowly cook for at least three hours, checking on the liquid levels from time to time
  6. Your pork is done when you can clearly see that all the fat under the skin has rendered through the meat
  7. At this point take it out of the oven, wrap the base of the belly pork in foil leaving the gorgeous crunchy crackling exposed and leave to rest for half an hour in a warm place
  8. Remove trivet, carefully drain off the excess fat into a clean screwtop jar (reserve for roasting potatoes another time) and place roasting tray on a medium hob, scrape away all that yummy, sticky goodness, squeeze the flavour out of your veg, pop the garlic from its bulb, and then sieve into a saucepan to reduce (how much is up to you, I like thicker gravy but if you like thinner then reduce less!)
  9. After half an hour, peel, chop and boil your spuds
  10. When they are done either mash or rice with butter & milk to taste (my tastes run to obscene amounts of butter, try it!) and season well, keep warm with a good knob of butter melting over it
  11. Warm your dinner plates & gravy boat in the residual heat of the oven
  12. Wash your spinach and then pop it in a medium heat wok/frying pan and leave to wilt down with a generous knob of butter and a good hit of pepper (I sometimes like using chilli flakes in there as well for a bit of a change) and some salt
  13. As the spinach is wilting it's time to carve & this couldn't be easier - simply cut the ribs off the bottom (wrapping them in foil and hiding them from everyone else - I'll explain why in a minute) and simply cut generous slices of pork, making sure everyone's got their share of crackling
  14. Finish your wilted spinach with a squeeze of lemon and plate it up with your potatoes and pork - be generous with the gravy and have a bottle of beer already poured to enjoy with it - I find that a really rich strong ale is perfect, I had a Breconshire Brewery Rambler's Ruin & and a Fuller's 1845 with mine, but do experiment with other beers, I'm pretty sure a decent quality pilsner would do the trick too if you wanted to lighten the experience a little

(Hoarding the ribs explained: the thing about being the chef is that you often get to snaffle choice bits to yourself, whether it's the really juicy 'eyes' of meat on the base of a roasted chicken or the flavour-infused ribs from the bottom of the belly pork. Gnawing on these you'll unearth a really intense beery/aromatic flavour that you can share if you wish but, come on, you've done all the hard work, don't you deserve a reward?!)

I shamelessly pinched the piccy of the pig from these people because they look like they take good care of their animals and allow them to run (or wallow) free, so if you can't get to a decent butcher then maybe order from here

Tuesday 13 October 2009

British Lager Week @ the White Horse

Hola everyone,
British lager week, in association with Lagers of the British Isles, has kicked off at the White Horse and there's a meet the brewer event happening on Thursday, where I'll be joined by representatives from WEST, Cotswold, Hepworth's and Freedom.

It's FREE and starts at 7.30pm.

The rest of the week's itinerary looks like this:

Wednesday October 14 – Coach House British Beer & Food evening
Experience a set three-course menu in the Coach House that comes with British lagers matched to each dish for a set price

Thursday October 15 – Consumer Meet the Brewer session, the Coach House, 7.30pm
Tasting session introduced by leading beer writer Melissa Cole including a brief introduction to tasting beer and a chance to meet the brewers.

Friday October 16 – Consumer samplings by WH staff
The WH staff will offer samples to consumers in the pubn to try then buy!

Saturday October 17 – British lager & BBQ day
LOBI beer recommendations with the White Horse’s famous BBQ dishes.

Sunday October 18 – Sunday Roast & LOBI lagers
Two great British institutions collide in a cornucopia of flavour.

*I am working with this group in a professional capacity*

Enough is Enough

I am the first to admit that the media in this country can leave a lot to be desired at times - if you read some of our papers on a regular basis it's a miracle you ever leave the house - however there a couple of things that I've always been proud that our country has always believed in, that are sacrosanct, and reporting the workings of our Parliament has always been one of them.

However, the Guardian has been gagged from reporting something that is tabled to take place in the House later this week, which is absolutely appalling and I'm pretty confident that the court will find illegal as well.

The slow erosion of civil rights in this country is becoming a subject of increasing concern to me, not the fact that we have legislation designed to protect us, more that we have bodies determined to abuse it  - by trying to prevent peaceful demonstrations for example.

I'm going to be registering my disgust about this gagging with my MP (I know I now sound 70 but there you go, I am outraged of Roehampton right now!), and if you have strong feelings about this may I suggest you do the same.

I have reproduced the majority of the story below or you can read the whole thing here.

The Guardian has been prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.

Today's published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.

The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.

The Guardian has vowed urgently to go to court to overturn the gag on its reporting. The editor, Alan Rusbridger, said: "The media laws in this country increasingly place newspapers in a Kafkaesque world in which we cannot tell the public anything about information which is being suppressed, nor the proceedings which suppress it. It is doubly menacing when those restraints include the reporting of parliament itself."

Wednesday 7 October 2009


Following the huge success of the last meet the brewer session with America’s Odell’s brewery we thought we’d continue our transatlantic theme by offering consumers the chance to meet the US’s only Abbey brewer and experience some award-winning beers from Sonoma County.

This Saturday lovebeer@borough has Brian Hunt from Moonlight showcasing his beers, and we will also be introducing some beers from Moonlight’s neighbouring brewery Bear Republic – including Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal Winner Racer 5 IPA.

Brian will be bringing with him some incredibly rare beers, the likes of which you will be hard pushed to find outside his California heartland. Just some of the beers on offer will be Reality Czeck-Style Pils, Twist of Fate Bitter Ale, Bombay by Boat IPA and Death & Taxes Black Beer.

Secondly, Brian & I will be showcasing some beers from Sonoma County's Bear Republic – who sadly haven’t been able to make the hop over the pond to join us - including GABF gold medal winner Racer 5 IPA, a speeding bullet of flavour that will run over your senses and worth the price of admission alone.

Having just come back from judging at the Great American Beer Festival I can confirm that the US is at the cutting edge of the brewing scene right now and these are two fine exponents of American brewing ingenuity.

Moonlight’s unique Abbey connection may hark back to the Belgian tradition of brewing as a way for monks to make money to support the community but its beers are all-American without doubt; and Bear Republic’s brews deserve their award-winning status for balancing character & drinkability so delicately.

Entrance price is £15 as usual BUT this time we're holding the sessions at 1pm and 3.30pm.

Available from Utobeer on Borough Market or the Rake (14 Winchester Walk, Borough Market, London, SE1 9AG) or via or calling 020 7378 9461.

*This post is for the beer tasting business I am a co-owner of*

Monday 5 October 2009

Crystal Ball Gazing

For the past year I've been predicting that, when the new cask ale figures come out for 08/09, that there would be a positive growth shown - and I'm delighted to say this is indeed the case!

The Cask Ale Report, authored by that top bloke Pete Brown, has clearly shown that cask is in the ascendency, and you can read a bit more here.

What really interested me, at first glance, was this graph - which backs up CAMRA's research earlier this year that more women are drinking cask ale...

Sorry to make this brief but I'm up to my eyeballs in it right now and will write something more extensive later... along with a bit on Left Hand complete with pics from before my camera died in the US!