Captain Lawrence Brewing Company - Captain's Reserve Imperial India Pale Ale

Thursday, August 30, 2012
As you might imagine, I brought back quite a haul of beer from #NewYork. The combination of more availability, cheaper prices and very generous customs allowances was a triple threat that made my suitcase very, very heavy for the way home.

I brought back a range of styles from Barley Wines to Ameican Porters, but it's the pale, hoppy beers that were quickly crammed into my fridge in order to preserve that fresh hop character, with this, Captain Lawrence Captain's Reserve Imperial IPA (8% abv not stated in the bottle), being the first to make it into a glass - and what a beer to start with.

This pours a perfect liquid gold with a pure white head. The aroma is unbelievably fresh - Clean, floral and fruity with a citrus fruit bowl of pith sitting alongside pure fresh pine.

The flavour is just so clean and fresh the bitterness goes almost unnoticed on the first taste as a wash of citrus, sweet grapefruit and resinous pine fly past atop a magic carpet of perfectly crisp pale malt. It's a masterclass.

In fact aroma bursts out so readily that as you swallow the hop aromatics rush up through your nasal passage and the effect is so dramatic that it actually made me sneeze. A happy first!

There's a great depth of hop flavour too thanks to the range of 5 hops used, and the bitterness which is subtle at first builds up after a few sips to become full and drying in the finish. That said, it certainly doesn't have a punishing bitterness like some American IPA's, and is clean (there's that word again), balanced and moreished.

I could drink this stuff all day. What a beer.


I bought the majority of my beers from Good Beer in the East Village, a fantastic bottle shop come beer cafe.


Bacon & eggs! Or how to make real spaghetti carbonara without cream

Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Spaghetti alla carbonara is the epitome of Italian cooking's beauty through simplicity. When made correctly it is completely satifsying and delicious yet surprisingly quick and simple, containing only a few ingredients and taking about ten minutes to cook.

Unfortunately the amount of variations out there (us Brits are particularly guilty of this) which overload the recipe with piles of butter and cream to make a thick cauliflower cheese style sauce is criminal.

Real carbonara doesn't contain cream. There I said it, out of the way nice and early. The creaminess of the sauce (and it will be creamy if you get it right) comes from the combination of very lightly cooked egg, melting cheese and a little starchy pasta water. Trust me, once you've tried it the authentic way you'll never go back.

Before I start, I realise that the strict Roman version doesn't use garlic but I've tried it both ways and I prefer it with. Also, make sure you use fresh free range eggs, proper pancetta, and either Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romana cheese (I prefer the former). There's only a few ingredients in this so they have to be the right ones I'm afraid.

Ingredients (the below is for 1 person, just scale up to suit)

  • Ring sized bundle of spaghetti
  • Small handful of Pancetta lardons (approx 50g)
  • 1 free range egg
  • Handful of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggianno (or Pecorino Romano)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled then smashed with the back of a knife.
  • Olive oil
  • Black pepper

  1. Put the pasta on to boil in a large pan of salty water.
  2. Meanwhile gently fry the Pancetta on a medium heat with a glug of olive oil in a large, high sided frying pan until crisp. The fat should have rendered out of the bacon a little but aim for crispy, not crunchy.
  3. Turn the frying pan down to low and add the garlic, cook gently for a few minutes until lightly brown then remove and discard (it's just there to flavour the oil).
  4. In a bowl lightly beat the egg (or eggs) and add the cheese along with a very generous mill of black pepper.
  5. When the pasta is al dente drain it briefly over a bowl (so you can reserve some of the starchy cooking water) then add it to the frying pan and stir well to coat it in the bacony oil.
  6. Remove the frying pan from the heat and then pour your egg and cheese in with the hot pasta and toss and stir with a wooden spoon or tongs until the cheese has melted and the egg has lightly cooked to create a creamy sauce (I usually do this for approximately 1 minute). If its looking too dry add a splash of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce.
  7. Serve immediately in warm pasta bowls with extra grated cheese and black pepper as preferred.
Beer match

Believe it or not I don't drink beer with every meal and after a Bank Holiday weekend which was anything but beer free I ate this meal on it's own.

However if I was drinking a beer with this then I would probably go for a nice crisp Saison. Something not overly herby but with a nice bit of bitterness, even a touch of sourness, to counteract the richness of the dish and cut through that creamy sauce.

A good crisp Pilsner would work well too.





Central Manhattan Beer Bars: Rattle n' Hum and The Ginger Man, #NewYork

Sunday, August 26, 2012
It must get annoying for these two bars, constantly being referred to in the same breath, but the fact is they are two of the most well known Manhattan beer bars and just happen to be a stones throw from each other.

We actually visited The Ginger Man first out of the two but the reason it is second is because we didn't really like the place, received awful service and left pretty swiftly.

Rattle n' Hum on the other hand, we loved. We even returned after going for Thai in Hell's Kitchen so we could have another hour or so propping up the bar, hence why it's getting top billing. I'll get on to why Gingerman left a bitter taste in my mouth (and not in a good way) later on.

Rattle n' Hum is an Irish bar at it's heart and despite the awesome lineup of draft beers there's absolutely nothing pretentious about the place, with most people there for the atmosphere or chicken wings rather than the beers. It's a proper, old school, spit n sawdust, baseball on the TV type bar, and I loved that about it.

But here's the thing, the beer lineup is incredible too. I drank pretty much exclusively tasters whilst there because there was just so much good stuff to try. Here's what I had:

Avery IPA - so classic us ipa, with a floral finish that's bitter but not intense. It's a cleverly subtle beer this one. A lightness of touch. Deserves a second visit but no time! Avery white - very drinkable, like it but not making a big impression. Could drink a lot of it though. Green Port Hoppy Stout - definitely not a black ipa. More like a dry stout but with a more bitter finish. Lovely. Weyerbacher Double Simcoe - ok yes a bit of catpiss in the aromas but the taste is great. Sweet, fruity full on. Like it

Founders Cerise Ale - Aroma is light cherry and old pot purri. Flavour isn't overly sweet and it has a fresh cherry juice finish which reminds me of the Turkish cherry juice I used to love having on holiday as a kid. Smuttynose Wheat Wine - Crazy. Tastes like booze soaked vanilla fudge. It's great but a 4oz is enough. Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA - This stuff does well as an export for a reason, wow thats a lot of hop flavour! So fresh and clean with a lovely depth of flavour. Great. Troegs Pale Ale - Yes it's a quaffer, but it's not great. Tastes like a summer ale (American style, bitter, but drinkable). It's just 'ok'.

My memory / notes start to take a turn for the worst on the third set of tasters after dinner, as you might imagine. Laughing Dog Dog Father Bourbon Barrel aged - this is a great big thick imperial stout. Really full and luscious, with a great bourbon flavour. It's really pronounced but not overpowering. One of my favourites of the night. Founders Red Rye - Red fruit. Grain. Biscuit. Spicy bread. Bitter orange spice finish, really lovely. Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye (cask) - ahh warm n flat! Bugger camra! Urthel Hop It - hoppy Belgian Golden Ale. Good, but exactly as I expected. Reminded me of La Chouffe IPA.

In the interests of fairness. Here's what I drank at The Gingerman and what I thought:

Dogfish 90min - powerful but much sweeter than I expected. Very full bodied. Great divide 18th Anniversary wood aged - mental, nice well hopped underlying beer but with a great whiskey flavour in the finish. Green Flash/Founders Linchpin - delicious and very drinkable Pale Ale. Smuttynose Robust Porter - unctuous, smokey, very thick and full for a porter. Great.

Ok, so the problem with the The Gingerman. We entered and walked towards the bar before being told "no please take a seat and we'll come over to you". 15 minutes later we had finally ordered our drinks, about 35 minutes later we actually got a drink. Rather than mess around again we decided to move on and as such asked for the bill. We left enough to cover the round we had and a dollar to spare because we didn't have any more change. Like I said, the service had been awful and we only had one round.

The waitress pretty much ran over when she saw the money (the quickest she moved the whole time we were there) and then said "Were you not happy with the service? You left me a dollar."

I get that there is a tipping culture (we tipped well throughout the trip) but this is as good as begging.

So here's your tip. Get yourself over to Rattle n' Hum!



Tipsy Parson, a contender for the best Brunch in #NewYork

Friday, August 24, 2012
After feeling like we night never eat again thanks to 5 Napkin Burger, we were surprisingly peckish by the time we dragged ourselves out of bed on our only Sunday morning in NYC.

Tipsy Parson was a tip off from fellow Leeds blogger Nick, aka The Beer Prole, and it turned out to be a cracking little place.

Greeted by friendly staff we grabbed a table in the window and looked over the impressive brunch menu whilst sipping very good coffee and proper, freshly squeezed orange juice.

Colette went for the Lemon Cornmeal Pancakes and I opted for the BBQ pulled pork with fried eggs and Corn Spoonbread. The pancakes were great, but just so damned stodgy. That's not a criticism of Tipsy Parson, we just both find American Pancakes so bulky. I suppose if you are starving they're a good bet, but I'm yet to be totally convinced.

The star dish, despite it being at the back of the photo, was the pulled pork. It was the best pulled pork I've ever eaten, coated in a light, natural tasting BBQ dressing and topped with perfectly fried eggs, plus... the best thing on the plate, spoonbread.

I'd never heard of it too, but it's basically a sweet cornbread-come-souffle that is super light, hugely flavoursome and worked amazingly well with the savoury accompaniments of eggs and pulled pork. We both agreed the combination was a pretty damned near perfect brunch dish.

Tipsy Parson also do a great looking lunch and dinner menu and serve a handful of interesting craft beers. I wish we'd had time to go back.


Tipsy Parson, Chelsea / Meat Packing District, New York


5 Napkin Burger, Hell's Kitchen #NewYork

Thursday, August 23, 2012
When talking about the best burgers in New York there really isn't one place that can be crowned the definitive winner - it's all down to personal preference. One which is repeatedly mentioned though is 5 Napkin Burger - and quite rightly so, the burgers are epic.

When we arrived there was a bit of a queue for a table but thanks to those flashy paddle thingies we didn't have to stand around (take note Meat Liquor etc...), we sat at the bar with a drink, which is a much more civilised way to handle things if you ask me.

Within 15-20 minutes we were sat at our table outside, watching the world go buy with a beer and onion rings. I think the fact we were happy to sit out in the heat rather than inside under air-con jumped us up the queue somewhat.

They have a few craft beers on tap and I ordered from their 'Joker Line', which is basically a mystery guest line, but they will tell you what it is if pressed - and it turned out I was drinking Victory Summer Ale. Wahoo another Summer Ale! But it was a good one, and went perfectly with the super crispy onion rings and sunshine we were enjoying outside.

I went for the 5 Napkin Original burger, which looking back, does sound a bit whacky on paper: 10oz fresh ground chuck steak pattie, gruyere cheese, caramelised onions and rosemary aioli. Colette opted for the much more classically flavoured cheddar and bacon, and do you know what? I wish I had too.

The 'original' was just far, far too rich and sweet for me and the flavours completely overpowered the quality of the meat, which was excellent. The cheddar and bacon though was pretty much burger perfection. Tender, juicy, blushing pink meat, complemented by salty bacon and some melted medium strength cheddar. Awesome in the true sense of the word.
Just after the burgers arrived I ordered another beer from their excellent bottle and can menu: 21st Amendment Back in Black, a punchy black IPA with a great balance between citrusy hops and smokey, dry dark malt flavour. After it warmed up a touch the resinous pine and ever so slightly chocolatey malt flavours, which seem at odds to begin with, slowly creep into the middle ground - like pre teens during the second hour of a school disco.

As you can see from the photos it went from day to night whilst we sat there, though the mercury barely dropped, and by the end of the meal we were pretty much done in by jet lag, beef and beer.
A perfect way to end our first night in New York.





Brass Monkey, Meatpacking District #NewYork

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
For the first 4 nights of our New York trip we stayed in Manhattan, or more specifically the Meatpacking District near to Chelsea Market. It's a nice area with a neighbourhood feel to it, studded equally by designer labels and half industrially decayed buildings (some on purpose I'm sure), which reminded us a lot of the Shoreditch area of London.

Probably the most famous beer bar within walking distance of where we stayed is The Blind Tiger Alehouse in the West Village, but on our first day in New York the sun was beating down and we wanted to sit outside with a drink and make the most of the weather. Luckily Brass Monkey is right around the corner and thanks to a little* prior research I knew it was a decent craft beer bar which had a rooftop terrace - perfect.

As my reference to Shoreditch before may have alluded, the Meatpacking District can feel a little try hard, but Brass Monkey is a down to earth boozer if ever there was one. From the outside it looks like a small corner pub, but inside it has two expansive air conditioned floors (each with a bar) and a good sized rooftop terrace where table service is efficient and friendly.

You aren't going to get that über rare Imperial Smoked Black IPA you read about in Brass Monkey, but you will get a choice of some quality American Craft beer from some of the big hitters, and plenty of seasonals. I didn't drink a bad beer in here and there was always at least a few pump handles that tickled my fancy.

The seasonal 'Summer Ales' were everywhere during our stay in New York and I tried a few decent ones while sat in the sunshine at Brass Monkey, my favourite of which was actually from Sam Adams - A zesty, pithy, refreshing ale with a great bitterly hoppy finish, it was a perfect Summer beer which I later found out to be a wheat ale (but perfectly clear) brewed with lemon zest.

We came back more than once and I drank the likes of Lagunitas IPA and Goose Island, all of which tasted much, much hoppier served freshly on draft as apposed to the bottles that make their way over here.

If it's sunny and you fancy a beer in the Meatpacking District, this is the place to go.


*Colette would argue my "research" was exhaustive to the point of obsessive, but I hate wasting my time in shit bars and restaurants.


Let's start at the end... #NewYork

Thursday, August 16, 2012
So it's the last day of my New York trip and I'm soaking up the last few hours of free hotel wifi and cloud spotted sunshine before heading back to Blighty.

It's been a fantastic trip, I'd come back in a heartbeat, particularly to Brooklyn, where we've spent the last two days of our holiday but which I felt instantly at home in. There's just something about the slightly downtrodden look of the place that I can relate to, it's feels lived in, uncontrived and all the more appealing for it. As nice as our hotel in the Meatpacking district was, I always felt a bit of an imposter sipping my sixpoint next to the trust funding yuppies ordering round after round of Mojitos by the pool.

My final port of call was to Brooklyn Brewery this afternoon, and wow what a place it is. Vast in its expanse compared to UK craft breweries, yet located smack bang in the heart off Brooklyn. I'll be writing about it soon, along with a handful of the other places I visited.

Warning, extreme beer porn to follow....


Competition time! Win a five course tasting menu for two

Wednesday, August 08, 2012
I was contacted recently by the organisers of a pop up restaurant event that is happening in Leeds. I get emails like this all the time but this is the first time I'm writing about one, as for once, this one sounds genuinely exiting and definitely something I would go to.

Unfortunately I'm in New York (I know, poor me) when the event is happening so the organisers are offering my readers the chance to win a 5 course tasting menu for two at the event, Chateau Marmot.

All you need to pay for are your drinks. Here's a bit more about the event from the organisers:

On August the 17, 18 or 19th new pop-up restaurant Chateau Marmot is offering Leodensians a “mind blowing gastronomic experience” with the help of chef Miles Dupree, taking a break from his job rattling the pans at London’s renowned Ottolenghi.

Fresh from a celebrated sell-out run in York, for two nights and a Sunday lunch the Chateau will pop up in a secret venue in the centre of Leeds to serve up a five course tasting menu featuring creative, locally sourced, Modern British food with an international twist and new cooking techniques courtesy of Dupree: “I want to share some exciting takes on classic dishes as well as interesting new techniques and flavour pairings with people in Yorkshire this summer. Our forager in Harrogate is out raiding the hedgerows and our organic farmers in North Yorkshire are selecting their best meat and veggies for us as we speak. It’s going to be fun!”

Back to me:

The wild food and foraged stuff sounds really interesting and I'm assured there will be some beer and wine matching during the event too.

To be in with a chance of winning simply email me your favourite beer/wine and food match to

Please only enter if you're free on one of the dates mentioned and live near Leeds! I'll pick a winner at random and announce them FRIDAY MORNING (10th August). Once I select a winner I'll put you in touch with the organisers to sort out the arrangements of your free meal for two.

Good luck!

VINeataly, Leeds

Tuesday, August 07, 2012
I heard about VINeataly a while ago but despite it being a stones throw from where I live I'd never ventured in. It's partly due to the fact I've fallen out of love with The Hop next door (nothing but very similar pale ales on cask served through a far too tight sparkler) and as such I rarely venture over to Granary Wharf anymore.

But VINeataly is worth the special visit. Very traditionally Italian in its attitude and offerings, I liked the place a lot and was surprised to see a small but interesting selection of Italian craft beers on offer in small and large bottles alongside the obligatory Peroni on draft. They are pretty pricey it has to be said but worth a try.

We stayed for food and had their classic antipasto to start with, which at £5.99 per person seemed pricey until it arrived. Big piles of both cooked ham and prosciutto, very good tomato and basil bruschetta, good chunks of what I think were manchego and a ewe's milk cheese, mozzarella balls with spices and some of the best green olives I've tasted outside of Salvo's. It was a huge platter that would pretty much do two people for lunch.

The main's are reasonably priced (around £8-9). Obviously homemade with good ingredients, they were tasty enough, but I was disappointed to see them microwaving the 'baked' pasta dishes. If I'm honest I wouldn't order the main pasta dishes again for this very reason, as the pasta arrived over cooked and very soft. Why make your own pasta and then do this to it!?

The bottle of Baladin Open India Pale Ale I had (7.5% unlike the 7% it states on the menu) was a really nice, drinkable IPA. The aroma is really clean with soft citrus and a biscuity malt character in the background. In the flavour you get more of the same, as well as a light sweetness and a slightly funky yeast flavour hanging behind citrusy orange.

It has Medium-low bitterness (for an IPA) and an ABV that is totally hidden. File under 'dangerously drinkable'.

I also had a very good 'Boulevardier' cocktail served short martini style and made with bourbon, bitters, Campari and a few others bits and pieces I can't remember. The cocktails in general were a cut above the average.

All in all VINeataly is well worth a visit.


It's international #IPADay!

Thursday, August 02, 2012
#IPADay first happened last year (pubs, bars, and people all over the World get on the IPA and tweet about it using the hash tag #IPADay - very simple), and whilst there doesn't seem to be quite the furore this time around, there's still plenty happening around Leeds for IPA lovers to sink their teeth into.

Friends of Ham will have seven IPA's on draft plus around 18 bottles in the fridges. The draft beers are down as being:

  • Gadds Left Coast Conspiracy
  • The Kernel Centennial Columbus
  • De Molen Vuur and Vlam
  • Ilkley The Chief
  • Magic Rock Human Cannonball
  • Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest
  • Mikkeller Sort Gul*
That Mikkeller would certainly be a highlight for me but *it's still touch and go as to whether it will arrive in time. That said, the rest of the list looks quality throughout so plenty to be going at - Vuur & Vlam is a personal favourite so that's probably my pick of the bunch.

Oh and a little tip, get a taster tray of 3 or 6 third pints and they knock 10% off the price of the beers. It works great as you save money no matter what the cost of the beer.

This is where's I'll be drinking tonight.


If you're over in Bradford then The Sparrow is well worth a visit. Love that place.

Here's what they've got on:


  • The Kernel Summit IPA
  • Magic Rock Brewing Magic 8 Ball
  • BrewDog Everything In Its Right Place
  • Thornbridge Brewery Jaipur

  • Black Jack Aces High
  • The Sparrow / Saltaire Black Throat Black IPA
  • Quantum Brewing Co. Brambling Cross
Plus bottles such as Odell Brewing Co Myrcenary & Victory Brewing Company Hop Wallop, plus the usuals from Brooklyn Brewery, Sierra Nevada, Goose Island Beer Co., Flying Dog Brewery.


Any other bars doing anything for #IPADay?