Lamb and Kriek Pie

I noticed that the Pembury Tavern in Hackney, East London (my favourite pub) was serving Lamb and Kriek Pie today. I didn’t try it, but I’ve been pondering other pie/beer combinations.

Obviously, there’s the classic steak and ale – I’ve found Hook Norton Old Hooky a great ale to use for this, as it’s on the malty side. I used ESB once and it was a touch too bitter.

But what beer to go with chicken in a pie filling? Something not too bitter, light in colour, perhaps citrusy… a German weissbier? Chicken and weissbier pie could work.

How about for the veggies (like Boak)? Lentil, carrot and onion cooked off in Koelsch might work. Or mushrooms in mild… as long as a completely black filling doesn’t make the pie look too unappetising.

Adnams and Sustainability

adnams1.gifAs part of their push to build a reputation as one of Britain’s greenest brewers, Suffolk brewery have stuck a nice little booklet (printed in vegetable ink, on recycled paper) into every issue of New Scientist this week. The booklet outlines, in some detail, everything they’re doing to reduce their environmental impact.

Brewing and beer (especially beer from abroad) is a guilty pleasure for people who worry about the environment. Most breweries waste a lot of energy to turn barley and water into beer. Adnams are ahead of the game in trying to reduce the wastage. For example, they say they reuse 90% of the steam produced by the process. They’ve also made their bottles lighter and, in so doing, reduced their “carbon footprint” significantly, because they’re easier to transport.

I’ve never been particularly excited by any of their beers — I suspect this is to do with the crappy pubs where I’ve tasted them! — but do applaud the huge commitment they’ve apparently made to this cause.

Update: I’m not the only one who’s interested in green breweries today…

Truman, Hanbury and Buxton in the East End

Truman, Hanbury and Buxton were one of the biggest breweries in London in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They moved to Burton in the 1970s, merged with Watney Mann not long after, and then closed altogether. East London — the area immediately around the old Black Eagle Brewery — is particularly rife with small reminders.

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More after the, er, “more” link…

Continue reading “Truman, Hanbury and Buxton in the East End”

92 Squadron

Did you know there was a Battle of Britain Locomotive Society? No, me neither. Can you work out from the name of the organisation what they actually do? No, me neither.

The important thing is that they inspired the Buntingford Brewery Company from Hertfordshire to create 92 Squadron, one of the most delicious beers I’ve had in ages. It looks like a brown bitter, but has a shedload of floral, citrusy American hops in it (Amarillo and Columbus) so tastes a bit like an IPA. Highly recommended.

The pump clip for the beer advertises the society, with a the weblink above. Nice idea.

Beer label design

Randy Mosher, a homebrewer and commercial designer, argues in his excellent book Radical Brewing that a badly designed label says to people: “I don’t respect my beer, so why should you?”

I think this is an interesting point. There are certain beers whose labels I like almost more than the beer. A bad label can lead to a good beer being ignored; and a great label can make you try a beer you’d probably otherwise not look at twice.

There are several different schools of label design. Here are just a few.

1. Primary colours, gilt – “modern but traditional”
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Fuller’s and Cain’s. This really works for me. Somehow suggests quality. Fuller’s carry this style of gold and enamel all the way through their brand. Cains – a great brewery, I’m beginning to think, from the two beers I’ve had – do it even better. All the better for being entirely ersatz!

2. Antique, brown paper – “found in a crate aboard a sunken Napoleonic frigate”

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Guinness, Burton Bridge Brewery and… er… us.

Another good style, and a good option for the skint brewery with no innate design ability. Immediately looks credible, restrained and, again, suggests tradition. The downside is, your beer can look like a jar of pickle from a church fayre.

3. Quaintly amateurish – “my son is a talented designer”

My least favourite school of beer label design, but often concealing great beer. I’m not going to name names here, but you know the kind of thing I mean: cheap illustrations, names ALL IN CAPS; probably in Times New Roman; possibly even clip art. OK, I will name one: Sierra Nevada. The beers are great. The bottles even look nice – they’re at the top end of “amateurish” – but they look a bit cheap. Like maybe they were coloured in with felt tip pens.

If you’re brewing your own beer and want some inspiration for your own labels, check out the Brew Your Own label design contest winners, and also Randy Mosher‘s own site.