Making sense of Gose

Friday, August 26, 2016
It's happened again.

Over ten years ago it happened with imperial stout - at first too heavy, too rich, too full. Then slowly, over the course of a year or so it started to make sense, the smoothness, the depth, the generousness of flavour and body you get in a well-made strong stout. Something clicked.

Then on a trip to Belgium in the first month of 2012 it happened again, as I struggled to get my head around lambic, and in particular gueuze, this sharp, acidic, bracing sourness that seemed so far removed from what I thought of when I thought of beer - particularly when compared to the sweet and spicy nature of so many Belgian beers.

But then, again, there was that distinct clicking noise and lambic shifted in to focus. It's lemon sorbet, it's riesling, it's sharp acidity and background funk and excitement in a way that few other beer styles achieve. Then, once again, I was hooked.

It's been a while since I've had one of these moments of clarity when it comes to beer, but it happened very recently and very suddenly with Gose. The saltiness of it was off-putting - alkaline, minerally and thinly saline like watered down eye drops.

I couldn't ever see myself enjoying it, but I persevered, and slowly like the moment the salty umami twang of a dirty martini becomes something you crave rather than endure - Gose started to make sense.

The subtle background sourness, the subdued, furry peach skin fruit notes, the almost isotonic quality of that subtle salt sprinkle, but mostly, that refreshment. Like nothing else in the beer world, Gose manages to hit every part of your mouth with flavour but be so subtle about it, with such an unbeliavably quenching quality that makes it thoroughly sessionable.

It's delicious, I'm totally hooked, and I never saw it coming.

Spicy pork soft tacos with chilli and tomato salsa, guacamole... the works!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Soft tacos are much smaller than tortillas, about the size of a side plate, and have a slightly firmer texture. They're not something you get a lot of in the UK though Londoners may be a little more familiar as there are a number of great street-food vendors doing interesting Tacos (I also had some good ones in Wahaca recently) at the likes of Street Feast, KERB and Model Market etc.

The two or three bite size of Tacos makes them great group eating, just load up the table with meat, salsa, guacamole, beans, soured cream - whatever you fancy really - and let people help themselves.

The recipe here is for a winning combination of smokey, spicy chipotle marinaded cubes of pork, soft and savoury fried beans and a fresh, vibrant salsa of cherry tomatoes, red onion, garlic, fresh chillies, coriander and lime juice.This time around I made some deliciously mushy 'refried'  beans (a mistranslation of 'refrito' which actually just means fried, not refried) but lightly fried black beans with a bit of garlic and chill work well too and look a bit fancier.

The whole point of tacos is to try different combinations though so if I was cooking for a dinner party I'd have two or three types - perhaps flour dusted, pan fired pieces of white fish, some smoked chicken, spicy pork, slow-braised beef shin... the options are endless really.

As a side note, I picked up my Tacos and Chipotle paste from M&S who have some really interesting Mexican stuff in as part of their summer range. Well worth a look.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

For the pork:

500g pork, 1 cm dice (I used pork fillet but other cuts will work)
1 Tbsp olive oil (or other oil)
2 Tsp Chipotle chilli paste
2 Tsp cumin seeds
Juice half a lime
1 Tsp hot smoked paprika
1 Tsp paprika 
1 Tsp light brown sugar
1 Tsp dried chilli flakes
1 Tsp seasalt
1 Tsp freshly ground black pepper 

For the tomato salsa:

1 pack cherry tomatoes (approx 400g) 
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 Clove garlic, crushed to a paste
1-2 hot red chillies
Handful fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

For the refried beans:

1 tin pinto beans, drained
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 Tsp pork lard (or bacon fat)
1/2 Tsp ground cumin
1 Clove garlic, crushed to a paste

To serve:

Soft tacos (allow 2-3 per person)
Guacamole (make your own or buy good ready made, chunky guacamole, I got mine from M&S)
Sour cream


Start by mixing all  of the pork marinade ingredients together, combining well, before adding the pork and stirring well until all thre meat is coated. As the cubes are small you don't need to marinade overnight (though it won't hurt), a few hours or even 30 mins will work just fine.

Next make the refried beans by browning the red onion in the pork lad before adding the garlic, cumin and beans and cooking over a medium heat until the beans start to become very soft. Feel free to give them a mash and add a few drips of water to help them become a soft paste. Season well with pepper and add salt as necessary (tinned beans are in brine so taste before adding salt). Once add a consistency you like, cover with a lid and set aside on a very low heat just to keep warm.

Next make your tomato salsa by chopping everything as outlined above and combining together. Save the lime juice until last and squeeze in qaurter by quarter. Depending on your tastes and the acidity of the lime you may need half a lime, three quarters, or the whole lot. Keep tasting and adding is you see fit.

Now make sure your tacos arent stuck together before wrapping them up together in a tinfoil parcel and putting in the oven at 180*C to warm through.

While they're warming fry your pork over a very high heat for about 10 minutes until nicely charred and slightly sticky. Check the seasoning and add more if necessary.

To serve

Forget about the washing up for now and load everything into seperate bowls and layout in the centre of the table along with guacamole, sour cream and plenty of spoons. You may also want a little bowl of chopped coriander, lime wedges and sliced chillies or jalapenos for those who want to add a little extra spice to their tacos.

I also roasted some sweetcorn and sweet potato wedges, which had been dusted with sweet smoked paprika and salt and pepper, to serve alongside the tacos, but honestly a big bowl of nachos would work just as well.

In terms of beer it's hard to reccomend anything other than a simple, well made lager, perhaps something such as Coniston Brewing Co Thurstein Pilsner, BrewDog This.Is.Lager, or Tiny Rebel Bo'Ho  - although if you're feeling a little braver then Magic Rock Brewing Co's excellent Salty Kiss (a Gooseberry infused, salty Gose) is pretty on-the-money too.

Interview on Share Radio: Why we need to seperate independent craft breweries

Friday, August 12, 2016

As part of my day job working as the press guy for SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, I was asked to talk on Share Radio (a national DAB station focussing on business news) about the new initiative we launched at the Great British Beer Festival this week.

You can read more at but essentially it is about promoting genuinely independent craft brewers in the UK who are: Under 200,000hl (current upper limit), free of any larger brewing interest, abiding by SIBA's manual of Good Brewing Practice.

As with anything this big I'm sure there'll be plenty of people for and against this, but I personally think it is a huge step in the right direction. I'm sharing this interview as whilst I am of course speaking on behalf of SIBA in it (and this blog is absolutely my own views and not those of SIBA) what I say is also what I personally think.

It's important that beer from relatively small independent craft breweries are highlighted as such and that beers produced by, or now owned by, global brewers should not be passed off as independent products.

As I repeat a few times in the interview, it's not about shaming the better beers being produced by big brewers, it's about provenance, honesty and transparity in the beer world and ensuring if a drinker believes they are buying a craft beer from a genuine independent brewery, then that is exactly what they get.

p.s. I also did an interview with Matt Curtis of Total Ales during the trade session of GBBF so keep an eye out for his thoughts - interested to hear what he thinks.

Slow-Cooked Beef Short-Rib Beer Bourguignon

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

This is a plum of a dish. Simple and relatively foolproof, yet hugely flavoursome and if presented a little better than I did, quite impressive on the plate.

The star of the dish is beef short rib. A great hunking, marbled piece of brisket-like meat strapped to gravy-friendly beef bones that add a great smack of umami to the finish dish - something boosted even further by the tomato puree and chestnut mushrooms in the recipe.

I got my short-ribs from Waitrose, but before you wince at the thought of Waitrose meat prices, four large short ribs cost me around a tenner and will feed four people. Great value and probably even cheaper from your local butcher.

On a rainy summer night of the sort we've become accustomed to recently I like to have this with a big pile of buttered savoy cabbage and a few chunks of good baguette, but come colder months I'd be reaching for the velvety mashed potatoes.

Of course this dish is a beery riff on that classic french brasserie dish of boeuf bourguignon, but make sure you opt for a beer that lends itself to the long slow cooking and balanced flavours. Something malty, with a hint of sweetness and little in the way of hops is best. I like a baby-barleywine like Fullers 1845 or Scotch Ale such as Oskar Blues Old Chub, but anything browny-red, sweet and malty will work.

For me, porters and stouts have no place in this dish as it will come out more steak and ale pie than Bourguignon. But hey, if you're cooking, use what you like!

Ingredients (serves 4

4 large beef short-ribs
500ml beer (approx, see above for style)
1 large onion, chopped
3 clovers garlic, finely chopped
3 teaspoons tomato puree
500g chestnut mushrooms, small left whole larger cut in half
750ml beef stock (approx)
Tablespoon plain flour
2 bay leaves
Large sprig of thyme
Salt and pepper
Olive oil


Start by coating the bottom of a heavy (ideally cast iron) casserole dish with olive oil, adding a large knob of butter and heating on medium-high until the butter foams but doesnt brown. Once the butter foams immediately add two of the short-ribs and brown well on all sides, making sure the butter doesn't go too dark. Remove the short-ribs to a plate and repeat with the final two. Once browned, remove to the plate with the first two.

Next add the chopped onion and cook on a slightly lower heat until they start to caramelise (5 mins), then add the tomato puree and mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes, before sprinkling in the flour and stirring until well coated. Next add the beer, stock, garlic, herbs, and short ribs along with any resting juices - before seasoning well with salt and pepper.

The meat should be just covered by liquid so feel free to add a little extra stock or water if necessary.

Place in a pre-heated oven at 160*C and cook for three and a half to four hours. I usually check after about two hours and if it's looking dry I add a touch more water or stock. On top of that initial cooking time I like to give it a final half an hour with the lid off to thicken up the sauce, with the added benefit being the mushrooms and beef will taste even better if they've had an edge being licked by dry heat.

If after this final half an hour the sauce is still a little thin for your tastes then remove the meat to a warm plate and reduce the sauce a little on the hob (but don't over thicken the sauce, this isn't steak and kidney pudding). Season to taste after you've done your reducing to avoid the risk of over-seasoning the sauce.

To serve 

The big, bulky, slightly gelatinous beef ribs are rich and filling so I like to serve them simply with buttered, peppered savoy cabbage and a bowl of sliced baguette for mopping up the sauce at the end, but if your guests are extra hungry then creamy mash is a winner too.

In terms of beer matching keep things simple and opt for a glass of the same beer you used during cooking - you can't really go wrong.

A delicious, simple, umami-bomb that I guarantee you'll make over and over again.

(Oh, and apologies for the rubbish picture, it tastes better than it looks!)


You may have noticed I've had a bit of a break from blogging recently, in fact, my last post was the very end of last year. Not really as a result of any grand decision or great falling out of love with the medium, just for that most uninteresting reason - lack of time, or should I say perceived lack of it.

Those of you who know me well will know I now work for SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, a fantastic job all told and something I'm hugely enjoying. With that comes welcome and whole-hearted comitment though and as such, I've been rather busy.

I hope to be posting on here more regularly, particularly as I've given the page a little spruce up and a more modern, minimal design.


Beer Braised, Glazed Ham: Not just for Christmas

Tuesday, December 29, 2015
This is a recipe I created a few years ago, but which has become a firm favourite amongst beer lovers and loathers alike within my friends and family.

It's something I tend to make at Christmas but actually the ham is great all year round and much more cost effective than buying tiny slithers from the supermarket.

Start with an unsmoked, uncooked ham (I usually opt for something around 2kg) and place it fat side down in a large pan. Next add enough beer to almost cover the ham (two or three 500ml bottles should do it), followed by the peel of half an orange, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, a halved onion, a small handful of whole peppercorns and 2 bay leaves.

I like to use a strong, bittersweet, malty ale such as Black Sheep Riggerwelter, Theakston's Old Peculiar, or my personal favourite Fuller's 1845. A stout also works well, but don't be tempted to go for anything pale and hoppy as the bitter flavours become unpleasant in the finished ham - trust me, I've tried it.

Bring to the boil before covering with a lid and reducing the heat and simmering for two hours.

Once cooked remove the ham from the cooking liquor and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes in a colander. Once cool enough to handle remove the skin from the ham along with all but a thin layer of fat. (Feel free to keep the hammy beer broth to use as the stock basis of a future pig's cheek stew, otherwise discard).

Score the fat in a wide criss-cross pattern and smother with a combination of 3 tablespoons fine cut marmalade and 1 of mustard, I personally go for Dijon though feel free to use english or mild mustards depending on your personal preference*.

Next bake fat side up in the oven on a tin foil lined baking tray for about half an hour at 200*C, or until golden brown and glazed.

What I like about this combination is the orange bittersweetness of the marmalade really marries well with the subtle beer flavour that permeates the ham during that long low braise.

Serve the ham hot with a jacket potato and some sour cream, or leave to go cold and have it for up to a week with cheeses and chutney's. Perfect with a bottle of Fuller's Vintage ale or any other thick, rich barley wine.

*If making the ham for christmas then also add a whole clove bud to each cross as I did in the photo above. This really increases the christmas aroma and flavour of the ham.

Briefly on Brettanomyces

Thursday, October 01, 2015
Brettanomyces yeast, or ‘Brett’ if you’re getting your beer-geek on, is a totally ridiculous thing to add to beer. It undoes half of the hard work the brewer did in getting the beer to this point unscathed. It knocks the citrus out of a hoppy beer, it roughs up the edges of a sparklingly clear pale ale, it creates a slightly sour, dusty base note that scratches at the back of your throat as you dive in lips first through a dauntingly rocky white head of froth expanding from the glass.

In general, it totally fucks a beer up beyond recognition - and boy do I love it.

There’s just something about brett that adds a complexity to beer, even an extra level of dry refreshment – thanks perhaps to some of the remaining sugars in the beer being gobbled up by the hungry invader – that makes it equally recognisable and addictive.

It’s a little bit wild, rough even, but used right it can be beautifully balanced too. It takes beer in a new direction, makes Orval one of the greatest beers in the world, and elevates the Straffe Hendrik Tripel ‘Wild’ to the next level. Dusty in a good way, horseblanket if you’re feeling fancy, dry in a salted cracker sense, bitter like dried herbs.

Delicious in more ways than you can put your finger on.

Food and drink matching: It’s about flavour, not format

Friday, September 04, 2015

A surprisingly interesting piece on the modern wine menu (bear with me) on has spurred me into action after a long, blog-less summer hibernation.

The piece, entitled ‘Writing the Modern Wine Menu’, talks about the difficulty in selecting a rounded list of wines for a restaurant, given the breadth of choice available from around the world. The writer ponders over restaurateurs’ struggling with whether they can, or should choose wines from lesser known regions or grape varieties and also whether the wine list should challenge, excite, or please - assuming the three are mutually exclusive.

One paragraph which leapt out at me in particular, for fairly obvious reasons, was
“Food at the most fascinating restaurants has gotten bolder, with ambitious chefs more fearless in adopting flavors and techniques from around the world. That sometimes results in dishes that are less-obviously wine-friendly, but beverage directors are pushing for creative solutions, reaching deep into an arsenal of picks that go far beyond Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon to wine’s outer orbits of sherry and fortified wines, as well as beer and spirits.” (My emphasis).

The idea that there is no one-size-fits-all drink to pair with food is something I’ve been pushing for a long time. Beer is still earning its place at the high-end dinner table, but as chefs become ever more inventive in their flavour combinations they will be forced to look beyond the realms of wine, to beer, cider or even spirits - try a peaty Lagavulin with Roquefort or unpasteurised stilton (edit: Thanks to the @DasKegster for pointing out that for legal reasons unpasteurised 'stilton' is called stichelton).

But it should flow both ways, and whilst beer is my go-to for pairing with food thanks to its variety, other drinks have their place at the table too. Pairing should be fluid not restrictive.

As restaurants play with flavours we should do the same with our drink pairings and look across the full drinks spectrum . The dry, zesty French muscadet I drank last night with a seafood risotto finished with butter, lemon zest and parsley was a perfect combination which relies on two simple methods – cutting the richness of the buttery risotto with acidity and highlighting the zesty flavour of the muscadet with a flourish of lemon zest.

But beer allows us to bring in flavours not found in the wine world, such as the resinous piney bitterness of a hoppy American IPA, the malty, savoury sweetness of a rich imperial stout or the salty tartness of a Belgian Gose (though a nice Fino sherry comes pretty close). Oh, and it has to be beer with cheese – wine doesn’t even come close I’m afraid.

My point is it’s all about flavour, not format. Thinking about what a drink is really about, it’s flavour, aroma and textural  profile, and how that works with or plays with the food.

One way a restaurant mentioned in the article does this is to have a description-only wine list - so those who normally order the Pinot Grigio might be tempted into unknowingly ordering a steely dry Riesling they otherwise wouldn’t have taken a second glance at.

I wonder what would happen if a beer was slipped under the radar using the same method. Would a wine buff turn their nose up at being served a foaming glass of saison having read dry, crisp and complex on the menu and assumed a snappy white wine was on its way?

I think we’re a little way off being able to answer that with a resolute ‘no’, but it’s a nice thing to be striding towards.

Note: The photo at the top is, coincidentally, from Imbibe Live which had an excellent beer and food matching seminar lead by the Brewers Association's Head Chef. 

The science of tasting beer

Monday, June 22, 2015
Flavour is a wonderful thing, yet an enormously complex concept to get your head around.

We all know that aroma plays a huge part in flavour, but actually it is the combination of all of our senses; sight, smell, taste, touch (mouthfeel) and even sound that make up the ‘flavour’ we perceive - try eating a crunchy tortilla chip with earplugs in and it won’t be the same experience.

Years ago we used to think that different parts of our tongue were responsible for detecting the different elements of taste – sweet at the front of the tongue, bitter at the back, sour and salt down the sides – but it has since been proven this phenomenon is more to do with how our brain processes the flood of information than it is the anatomy of the tongue.

Whilst different parts of the tongue might have tastebuds that are very slightly better at detecting sweet, salt, sour, bitter or umami, every one of them is perfectly up to the task of tasting anything, so forget that colour-coded tongue flavour map you drew in school.

But as I mentioned, flavour is about so much more than the tongue. As any lover of craft beer knows, aroma plays a huge part in our enjoyment of beer, and the aroma you detect through your nostrils (known as orthonasal olfaction) affects the way you taste the beer.

Except it’s not that simple. As well as the aroma we get through our nostrils there’s something else going on too - retronasal olfaction. This is the chemical reaction which occurs where your nose and mouth meet. Essentially this is the aroma that is created and detected inside your mouth as you drink a beer, and it plays a huge role in how you perceive flavour. In fact the combination of these two ways in which we smell contributes up to 80% of the information we perceive as flavour. Our tongue can only detect those basic five tastes, but your nose can identify thousands of different aromas.

So if our sense of smell plays such a huge role in how we perceive the flavour of a beer, what can we do to maximise the drinking experience? Well first of all, you need to use the right glass.

If the beer is the music, then the glass is the speaker – it plays a huge role in your enjoyment of the beer by changing the way in which the volatile compounds (the particles our nose detects as aroma) are directed and presented.

Try it for yourself. Grab an aromatic, hoppy beer and pour it in equal measures into a straight sided tumbler and a large red wine glass. They will smell completely different, particularly as you drink, when the aroma compounds are disturbed and projected out. You’ll get a much more pronounced aroma from the wine glass than you will the straight sided tumbler, which is why certain styles of beer glass are better for different types of beer.

That doesn’t mean every beer will taste better in a balloon or tulip shaped glass though, as not all beers are at their best with the aroma turned up to eleven. Some beers, such as a well-hopped pilsner can actually taste better in a longer, thinner glass, not only because it shows off the wonderful colour of the beer, but also because it seems to slightly mute the aroma whilst accentuating the bitterness. Leading to the perception of a crisper, drier, more refreshing beer.

The way you pour a beer can affect the flavour too. Pulling a pint through a sparkler creates extra body and a larger, creamier head, pushing more of the volatile aroma compounds into the head of the beer, but it also knocks some of the condition out of the beer itself and ultimately changes the mouthfeel and flavour. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on personal preference, but what we can all agree on is it changes the way the beer tastes.

Flavour is your brain’s attempt at decoding a flood of information from your senses into something which we can understand and react to.

So next time you try a beer and don’t like it, just remember, it’s all in your head, and you’ve only yourself to blame.

This article first appeared in Ferment Magazine

Culinary Acrobatics: Test your palate with these unusual beer and food combinations

Monday, April 27, 2015
Beer and food matching relies almost entirely on two simple principles – complimenting flavours or contrasting flavours.

Which is a fancy way of saying you either choose a beer which shares some similar flavours with the dish, so perhaps a rich, dark Imperial Stout with a gooey chocolate brownie, or you go in the opposite direction and pick something which contrasts the flavours in order to highlight them. So perhaps a sharp cherry kriek beer - which would work amazingly well with that same chocolate brownie, but for entirely different reasons.

So that’s the starting point, the basics. But where’s the fun in sticking to the rules all the time? Some flavour combinations sound a little bit left-field but actually work very well. Here’s my attempt to challenge your taste buds into trying something new, with a food and beer combination that you might not have given a go before.

Blue cheese, mango chutney, Double IPA

A strong, full-flavoured blue cheese such as a well aged stilton with all of its salty, tangy, umami laden flavours, might not sound like the perfect partner to mango chutney, typically the lubricant for a poppadom, but the combination really works. The sweetness of the chutney brings out the rich fruitiness of the cheese in a way that has to be tried to be believed.

Add a third dimension to that combination, with the inclusion of a fruity, hoppy American style double IPA on the side, and you’ve got flavour fireworks. American style Double IPAs share a fruity, mango-laden sweetness with the chutney, but they also bring out the best in funky cheese, and are one of the few beer styles that can handle the level of flavour going on in this combo (which is great on a burger).

Beer suggestions: Magic Rock Brewing Co - Cannonball, Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA, Brewdog Hardcore IPA, Great Divide Brewing Co – Hercules Double IPA, Stone – Ruination IPA

Strawberries, Basil, Saison

Fresh, seasonal British strawberries are something extremely special. With a much more intense, perfumed flavour than those grown in other warmer parts of the world year-round, our home-grown strawberries are well worth the wait.

One unusual but astounding combination is strawberries with fresh torn basil. The strawberry juice seems to coax the sweetness out of the fresh basil, which in turn highlights the aromatics in British strawberries beautifully. Only the tiniest touch of sugar is needed – if at all – yet this still works perfectly as a refreshing summer dessert and isn’t in the least bit ‘savoury’.

Add a crisp, fragrant saison to the mix and you’ve got something which is the perfect end to a meal. The herbaceous quality of a good saison just works amazingly well with the strawberry and basil combination. Every ingredient seems to bring out something different, surprising and delicious in the others – which is the basis of any truly amazing food and beer combination.

Beer suggestions: Brasserie Dupont – Saison Dupont, Ilkley Brewery – Siberia, Brew By Numbers – Classic Saison, The Kernel – Saison, Brasserie Fantôme - Fantôme Saison.

Lamb Rogan Josh, Porter

Indian curries that have a tomato based sauce such as Rogan Josh are rich, heavy, spicy and fragrant all at once, making them a difficult dish to pair. After trying various different pale ales, bitters, amber ales, IPAs and everything in between, it was porter that I found the surprising match for this dish.

There’s just something about a slightly smokey porter which works amazingly well with the tomatoes and spicing in the dish, but the savoury style of the beer also dovetails nicely with the slow cooked lamb too.

Whilst a lager or pale beer gets completely bowled over by a curry, leaving the beer tasting of little but carbonation and sweetness, a good porter has enough guts to stand up to the bold flavours whilst remaining refreshing and drinkable.

Beer suggestions: Anchor – Porter, Fuller’s – London Porter, The Kernel – Export India Porter, Beavertown – Smogrocket, Samuel Smith’s – Taddy Porter.

Brown Sugar, Brisket, Black Lager

Beef and brown sugar don’t on the face of it sound like happy bedfellows, but when giving that brisket a long slow barbecuing with lots of seasonings and sugar, then things start to sound a whole lot more appetising.

Start by rubbing a good sized brisket (unrolled is better) with lots of dark brown sugar, salt and black pepper. Leave this to marinade for a few hours, or overnight, before giving it a long slow roast in the oven. For an even better flavour use a smoker or a really low temp barbecue with a lid – an easy way to do this is to push the white coals to one side and add some oak chips to create smoke.

A black lager is a match made in heaven with BBQ brisket. Having the perfect balance of smoke, sweet dark malt and hop bitterness which manages to compliment and contrast with the sweet and savoury beef all at once. Astoundingly good.

Beer suggestions: Budweiser Budvar – Dark Lager, Krombacher – Dark, Primator – Premium Dark, Bernard – Dark, Full Sail Brewing Co – Session Black.

The above first featured in the new look Ferment magazine, which this month is particularly good, including a great piece from Matt over at Total Ales.

Turkish delights: The launch of Tabure in St Albans

Saturday, April 25, 2015
Tabure is a new modern Turkish restaurant on Spencer Street in St Albans that will officially open its doors to the public on the 27th April. I was invited, along with a number of other bloggers, to the press launch night and I can safely say this place is going to become a firm favourite.

The attention to detail was the thing that lifted the food above your average Turkish grill-house. With traditional recipes and techniques given a modern twist and executed with real care.

The sharing plates came thick and fast, with highlights including perfectly battered stuffed courgette flowers, deeply smokey roasted aubergine babganoush, juicy flame grilled lamb skewers, meaty vine leaf wrapped baked cod with tahini, and a Sac Tava – which is a simple yet delicious spiced lamb stew with sweet green peppers and tomato.

So what about the beer? Well, last week, I got one of my favourite types of emails, which roughly speaking said, “We’re opening a restaurant and we want to have some good beer, any advice?” - That restaurant was Tabure.

One of the reasons I started this blog was a frustration at the lack of respect for beer in restaurants that are otherwise doing everything right - Great food, great wine list, then one mass produced lager... It’s a frustration that is becoming more and more rare but it is still massively refreshing and promising to hear of a new restaurateur thinking about beer from day one.

After some suggestions the guys at Tabure chose to launch with four well chosen, good beers. Brewdog Punk IPA, Brooklyn Lager (one of my go-to food beers), Estrella Inedit (the wheat beer brewed with Ferran Adrià of elBulli) and Spanish (5.4% rather than 4.6%) Estrella Damm which they chose thanks to its association with tapas – something which Tabure nods towards.

They are also looking into sourcing some beers from local micro breweries and potentially adding some draught beer too. But for now I’m glad to see some quality, reliable choices have been made to launch with – good on ‘em.

The wine and cocktail menu is equally well thought out and there is a genuine attention to detail and a leaning towards quality over quantity.

I can see this place being very popular – and it wholeheartedly deserves it.

They haven't got a website yet so checkout their Facebook for more info: