Thursday, August 28, 2008

Summer Beer Fete @ North, Leeds

...And so the summer season of beer festivals rolls on. It's too distracting, I tell ya...anyway, perennial TGS fave North laid on a beer festival specifically aimed at lighter 'summer' beers and mighty fine it was, too.

I started the session with Anglo-Dutch's Yorkshire Wit. I'm usually impressed by AD's brews, and this was no exception - massively citrussy (Grapefruit mainly) and supremely thirst-quenching, sold as chilled as it was. A little spice on the palate, I really could have drunk a lot more of this - but then my head was turned by Outlaw's Amarillo. I'm really keen on single-hop beers, particularly ones from the Outlaw/Roosters stable. The Amarillo was, as you'd expect, clean and grassy, with subtle, sweet malts coming through on the palate.

I'm sure I had read Jon waxing lyrical about Harviestoun's Schiehallion before, so that came my next. And a pleasant surprise it was, too - A yeasty aroma, with some great orange/lemon notes, and a biscuity, full-bodied taste. Lagered ales are a strange beast, but this really did hit the spot and it's the one beer of the festival I will actively seek out again.

Beers from Mordue, Salamander and Kelham Island were available, along with the usual range of North regulars - Sierra Nevada, Roosters, Outlaw and Mort Subite to name a few.

See you at the Winter Beer Festival!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bacon & Cheese Croquetas with Naylor's Pinnacle Blonde

I love tapas, I really do. Although little morsels of goodness can range from easy to time-consuming to make, you very rarely get any result other than delicious. This week, we gave Croquetas a go.
I used bacon and smoked cheese to fill mine, but you can use fish, shellfish (crab is really good) or chicken. In fact, you can pretty much use any filling you like. I knocked up another couple of side-dishes using what was in the fridge at the time, and I'll share those with you too. All the measures for the ingredients are rough - I just use handfuls here and there, to be honest. Go with what you think. Sorry!
Ps - you can use mashed potato to fill these with - I just prefer the denser bechamel filling.

Bacon and Cheese Croquetas

You will need:
About 100g smoked cheese - I used Swaledales' Smoked
4 rashers of smoked bacon, streaky.
A panful of Bechamel sauce (probably about 400g)
Some fresh breadcrumbs (white bread)
Parsley, crushed black pepper to season.
1 beaten egg.
Oil to fry in.

Ok - easy recipe - but you need to do it in stages.
1. Make the bechamel as you would normally do - add plain flour to melted butter to make a roux, then add milk. You want to keep it thick; not runny. Add the cheese, combine, then season the mix with the herbs and pepper. Leave to cool - at least an hour.
2. Slice the bacon into small chunks and fry off in a little oil. Add these to your mix.

There you go - the filling is done. But it must be left to cool because you can't handle it hot. The bechamel will thicken, and turn into a kind of dough. That's why it needs to be thick!
In the meantime, you can beat the egg in a bowl and blitz your stale bread into breadcrumbs.

3. When cool, use your hands to grap a chunk of the mixture, shape into balls or a sausage shape. Dip in the egg, then roll in the crumbs. Set on a plate and repeat until finished. I had about 12.
4. Place the croquetas in the fridge and leave to set - the longer the better. I left them for an hour.
5. When ready to eat, heat your oil and deep fry until golden. Leave to drain and serve!

Now, I used up some fridge-food to make some little sides for this. We made a salad of Avocado, fresh Plum tomatoes and Jalepeno chillies. Also, we sauteed some slices of Chorizo in olive oil and garlic, adding a sliced Onion to bulk it up. Once the onions had softened, a splash of Balsamic vinegar went in.
Secondly, we sauteed some Prawns and Mussels in olive oil, a touch of butter,loads more Garlic and a splash of lemon juice. This made the second side-dish.

And to drink - Naylor's Pinnacle Blonde. In my opinion, their best beer, this bottle-conditioned gem has a underlying sweet caramel and toffee aroma, but surprises on the palate with some firm fruit qualities - think peach, if that makes sense. The little wheat that it has in it really smoothes the body out, making this a perfect match for the bold flavours of the meal.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Go Team GB!

Ok, I confess. I’m a sports nerd. I love nothing more than to pair a pint with a good sporting event on the screen; preferably footy (my love of Leeds United has been more than adequately logged here).
Recently, I’ve been watching the Olympics as default – getting behind Team GB as they rack up what can only be described as an impressive medal haul. I’m loving it. Really.

But one thing really made me smile today . Enjoying a pint of Castle Rock Mole (and a very nice pint at that...) at lunch in Foley’s I read in...lets just say a popular, red-top tabloid – that “...Despite winning Yngling Gold, sailor Pippa Wilson has found time to make bread for the British Team down in Quingdao so they can enjoy Jam Sandwiches”.

I guffawed and raised my pint. Bread's an effort on it's own without knowing you've got to go out and win an Olympic gold, for Christ's sake! Well done, Team GB, and keep up the British End, so to speak.
Jam Sarnies. Priceless.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mr Foley's Beer Festival

I dropped into Mr Foley's over the weekend to see how the Beer Festival was going. With a second bar rigged up in the back room, this gave us interested drinkers a chance to enjoy some different ales to the norm in decent surroundings (I really didn't miss the sports-hall vibe)!!

Despite missing the 'Meet the Brewer' event, Andy Whalley (York Brewery), was more than happy to spend an hour or with myself discussing many topics from the USA craft beer scene to how the beer industry are coping with the (temporary, we hope) hop shortage. And a very nice bloke he was too, showing the enthusiasm one would expect from one of the main men at York.

Dean, the manager of Foley's, explained that the festival was going very well, and hopefully we should see more of the same in the upcoming year. Ale sales are going strong too, as evidenced by the addition (at the expense of Lager taps) of yet more pumps dedicated to beer. And the beer itself? Well, of the many sampled over the weekend, Dean recommended Vale Breweries Black Swan - an excellent mild; full of big roasted-malt flavour and a dry hoppiness. Despite being perfectly happy to have stayed on this all evening, I jumped over to the Red Squirrell London Porter; another excellent example of the style - big red fruit and chocolate character with a sharp dryness coming through. Dark Side of the Moose was as excellent as ever, and Kelham's pale and fruity Golden Eagle made the 'Friday after-work pint' slot all its own.

The festival runs all week, so get yourself down there and try something different.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Animals, Dragons and Beer - A News Roundup

Mr Foley's Cask Ale House, York Breweries' first Leeds Pub, will hold The Noah's Ark Beer Festival from Friday 15th August until Thursday the 21st August, with over 40 beers, on 16 pumps, for 7 days.

One interesting event will be the Meet The Brewer (Sunday 17th, 2pm) with Andrew Whalley, director of Brewing for York Brewery and Chairman of SIBA North. There will also be 'The Great Pub Quiz' (Monday 18th, 7pm, Free entry and a Gallon of beer for the winning team), Live Acoustic Blues and Folk (Tuesday 19th, 7pm), Fancy Dress Night (Wednesday 20th, 7pm) where Foley's invite you to dress as your favourite animal - A free pint for every animal, and a gallon of beer prize for the best costume...And finally, A CAMRA Evening (Thursday 21st, 7pm) -£2 a pint for all CAMRA members and a free buffet!
Sure to be some decent beer on offer - although i'll be giving the fancy dress night a miss...
Mr Foley's Cask Ale House: 159 The Headrow,
Leeds LS1 5RG 0113 2429674

Also, Skipton's Copper Dragon Brewery are busy at work building a brand new £4 million brewery & headquarters on Snaygill Industrial Estate. It'll include an 11,000 square foot brewhouse and the refurbishment of their new 22,000 square foot visitor centre, bistro and offices.
Always nice to see an independent enjoying healthy growth.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I'm looking to overhaul the blog in the next couple of weeks and make it a bit more individual than the standard blogger templates - if anyone knows anyone who would like to do this for me, for nothing other than kudos and credit (or a beer if they are in the vicinity!) - drop me an e-mail at the address on the right there.
I know there are loads of 'Free Blog Templates' out there, but what can I say - I want something custom.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Midweek - Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA

This week's midweek tipple came in the form of Belhaven's Twisted Thistle. An IPA in the more traditional sense, it's got a great grassy, sharp nose and those Cascade and Challenger hops are the dominant flavours; dry and fruity. Not anywhere near as extreme as some of the other 'New' IPA's out there, I'd reccommend this for those who want to dip their toe into more hopped beers.

I also thought this would be a great beer to pair with food; although I didn't have anything cooking at the time. Off the top of my head, I think Twisted Thistle would sit really well with a Thai Green Curry, Lemon & Chilli -Spiced Chicken or Calamari.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Yorkshire Day - As Good A Reason As Any...


Yep, we deemed the first of August Yorkshire Day, and pubs across the city took that as an excellent reason to focus on local beers. Not that any of the pubs I visited ever really have an issue with stocking locals, but we Yorkshiremen (and women) are a proud bunch.

So, off the The Adelphi to start, with pints of TT's Landlord and Leeds Best in cracking condition. Then a quick amble down to The Palace, which is one of my favourite drinkers in Leeds. Rooster's perennial favourite Yankee was on offer, and despite the weather turning a little grey outside one sip of this refreshing, golden ale with its tropical fruit aromas made you feel truly summery. Beers from Little Valley, Daleside, Elland and Fernandes were proving popular too.
We followed that with Saltaire's Yorkshire Pale; a truly moreish pint; smooth, hoppy and packed with Citrussy notes. This was the third pint of Saltaire's beer I've had in two weeks - and I have to say I've been impressed with them all.

Yep, supping beer on a lazy afternoon. Gotta love Yorkshire Day.

The Palace, Kirkgate, Leeds LS2 7DJ
Tel; 01132445882