Ferment Magazine: Review of The Foragers at Verulam Arms, St Albans

I recently started writing for a really great little craft beer magazine called Ferment. The latest issue is out now and available to read for free here: Ferment Autumn Issue

The article I wrote is about The Foragers in St Albans, a pub that, as the name suggests, is committed to foraged food and seasonality and who recently dipped their toe into the world of brewing with some pretty impressive results.

The article is below to read but I'd really recommend you click the link above and checkout the digital version of the magazine as there's lots of other good stuff in there, including a great little item on beer cocktails which I particularly enjoyed.



If you go down to the woods today

The Foragers at The Verulam Arms, St Albans

Foraged food is something which lots of restaurants nod towards - perhaps a wild mushroom risotto on the specials board, or farmer’s market blackberries given pride of place in a dessert – but which very few grab with both hands.

One place which certainly can’t be accused of half-heartedness though when it comes to using wild, foraged ingredients is the aptly named ‘The Foragers’ at The Verulam Arms in St Albans.

This inconspicuous little back street pub concocts a range of dishes which feature foraged ingredients from the plentiful Hertfordshire woodlands and fields, just a few miles from the pub itself.

In a current special of Salt cod brandade with a parmesan and lovage crust it’s the foraged lovage herb that provides much of the seasoning to the dish - with a flavour said to be a cross between parsley and celery it’s a foraged herb that deserves more attention from chefs.

Seasonal, locally shot game dishes such as rabbit and venison are a focus of the menu, often accompanied by foraged berry sauces or wild seeds and herbs, but vegetarians are well catered for too, with the Wild leaf & feta pastry parcel being a particular highlight. Served with butterbean houmous and herb salad with a wild marjoram and hogweed seed dressing, its foraged food credentials are bested only by the quality of execution.

Wild cocktails such as the tongue-in-cheek ‘Silvanian Negroni’ are also worth sampling. In place of the usual Campari, The Foragers use their wild cherry and forest liqueur, Mars Silvanus. To add to the forest floor feeling of the drink the usual garnish of orange is replaced with twist of lemon and a sprig of Douglas Fir foliage, which gives aromatics of pine, spiced orange and grapefruit to this complex yet strangely authentic tasting Negroni.

Beer lovers will also be impressed. As well as a well-chosen and constantly developing range of craft beers in bottles and on draught they also produce their own syrups designed to be added to the German weisse beers on tap. Before beer-purists start lifting up their arms be aware that this is actually very common in Germany, and the authentic tasting woodruff syrup which they produce on site is a traditional addition to Berliner Weisse, where the almost almond-like savoury-sweetness of the woodruff compliments the sourness of the beer.

The next step in The Foragers development into a beer lovers mecca was inevitable really – to start brewing their own. And what better time to launch their beer than at a recent Oktoberfest event.

The simply named ‘Festweisse’ was brewed in the traditionally cloudy and fruity hefeweizen style but seemed a touch darker than I was expecting, just short of a dunkel in fact. The flavour was spot on though, and a fantastic achievement for a first try.

In the aroma you get the classic banana and clove alongside a just a sniff of alcohol (it's a not to be sniffed at 5.4%). The flavour is soft, smooth and full with a nice light spice, more clove and fruit character. The hops – which were, of course grown in The Foragers’ beer garden - very much take a back seat, but there is a pleasingly tannic tea quality in the finish which gives enough dryness to make it very refreshing. Some spritzy carbonation from kegging might add to its effectiveness but the cask serve does let the subtleties come through that might otherwise be lost.

The food and drink quality at The Foragers has rightly earned it a sterling reputation, but with the addition of house-brewed beers, they’ve really taking things up a notch, making this a must-visit pub for any foodie-beer-lovers worth their hogweed salt.



19 comments:

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  13. The Foragers pub is a popular pub in London and they are known for their wide variety of food and drinks. They have an online course that teaches people how to make fermented food like kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles.

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  14. Ferment Magazine, review, The Foragers, Verulam Arms, St Albans

    In this edition of Ferment Magazine, we delve into the culinary delights offered by The Foragers at Verulam Arms in St Albans. Known for their innovative and sustainable approach to food and drink, The Foragers have established themselves as a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts.

    Our review aims to provide readers with an in-depth analysis of the dining experience at The Foragers. From the moment you step foot into this charming establishment, you are greeted with a warm and inviting atmosphere that sets the tone for a memorable evening.

    The menu at The Foragers is a testament to their commitment to using locally sourced ingredients and showcasing the best of what nature has to offer. Each dish is carefully crafted with an emphasis on seasonality and sustainability. Whether you're a fan of traditional pub classics or seeking adventurous flavors, The Foragers has something to satisfy every palate.

    Our team had the pleasure of sampling some of their standout dishes during our visit. From the delectable wild mushroom risotto infused with truffle oil to the succulent venison burger topped with homemade chutney, each plate was a work of art that delighted both visually and gastronomically.

    But it's not just about the food at The Foragers - their drinks menu is equally impressive. With an extensive selection of craft beers, ciders, and spirits sourced from local breweries and distilleries, there's no shortage of libations to complement your meal.

    Overall, our experience at The Foragers was nothing short of exceptional. Their dedication to quality ingredients, inventive culinary techniques, and commitment to sustainability truly shines through in every aspect of their operation. Whether you're a resident or visitor in St Albans looking for an unforgettable dining experience, we highly recommend paying a visit to The Foragers at Verulam Arms.

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