Sunday, November 29, 2009

Arcadia, Headingley - Redux

Market Town Tavern's Arcadia in Headingley underwent an expansion in the last couple of months, taking over the unit next door to it. As the best place to drink in Headingley by a country mile, this was welcome news. It's also heartening to see quality being rewarded - pubs may be closing all the time but when things like this happen you realise that some decent pubs, owned by companies with attention to detail and respect for the trade, are doing ok. Plus, it may be controversial but I'm all for a dead-wood clearing exercise.
Anyway, onto the pub. We chose yesterday lunchtime to pay a visit and see what was going on. The usual friendly, relaxed atmosphere and staff remain, as do the tin beer posters and assorted other breweriana (including a gorgeous plate for Goose Island's Matilda that I simply have to have) that adorn the walls. The extension means that both the ground floor and upper mezzanine area have more or less doubled in size, and it's a tasteful job.
Feeling peckish, we noticed that the food menu had been slightly scaled back, and also in price - which was a nice surprise. Given that I rate the Hamburger as one of my top five beer foods, I decided to give the guys a chance to impress with a Blue Cheeseburger. Excellent it was too, a big, rough, meatball-esque burger and a great cheese that started off buttery and then hit you with that sharpness that you need in a blue cheese. A chewy bun, and slices of tomato rounded it off well. My partner's felafels were also given the thumbs up - as were my other friend's Bean Chili.
From a range that included Saltaire's Winter Warmer, TT Landlord and Copper Dragon's Golden Pippin, I gave Vale Breweries' Vale Pale a go; a very much no-nonsense Pale with a decent floral aroma. A nice alternative to Landlord, I thought. Their Wychert Ale had much more depth, with a fruity nose, a tight, creamy head and a treacle/bonfire toffee vibe in the body which aptly fitted the freezing temperatures outside.
We left happy in the knowledge that Arcadia remains improved, and putting the rest of the Drinking - Pits in Headingley to shame.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Midweek: Cheddar Ales' Goat's Leap

...I've been wanting to try some of Cheddar's range for a while now, buoyed by hearty recommendations from the likes of Boak & Bailey and others over the last year or so. So when Foley's started stocking, I was quietly happy.

Not only that, but Goat's Leap turned out to be what I hoped it would - outstanding. True to style, it's a big IPA with a sweet, toffee-centric body, but with a light yet astringent 'Green' hop attack going on in the nose, along with a pleasantly long and refreshing bitter finish. At 5.5% it's one to maybe keep your head around, but I could happily drink a lot of this. Kudos to both Foley's and Cheddar. Top marks for pump-clip design, too.

I must have been on a Hop mission during last week's session, because I also managed to finally try a beer made with Motueka hops. I confess to a bit of a blind spot - as both a homebrewer and beer nerd - when it comes to NZ hops. Mallinson's Motueka is a single varietal beer, and they've kept the malts to a simple Pale option in order to let the hops shine through. And shine through they do - a smooth pint with a citrussy, distinctly Lemony edge. I was expecting something more floral and maybe even earthy based on what I'd read, but the aroma and finish were pure zest. Very nice indeed. Learning through beer sure is refreshing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Roosters 2010 Roster

Here's a sneaky peek at what to expect from long-time TGS favourite Roosters (and thier experimental arm, Outlaw) in the first half of 2010.

Very drinkable, copper coloured session bitter. Nice body. Crystal malt and Northdown hops create a balance palate with a nutty finish. Easy drinking.

A lovely pale beer made with a blend of Lager and Simpson’s malts. The addition of Tetnang hops makes this the perfect modern lager. If you had just won Gold in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics this would be your choice at the bar. Pale as the snow, glides down easy, a lager style drink. A winner for sure!
MARCH 2010:
A signature Rooster’s pale ale enhanced with dried shamrock makes this the ideal beer for celebrating St Patrick’s Day. Not wanting to compete with the incredible range of stouts out there we are offering this fantastic alternative to celebrate the day. Golden in colour, moderately bitter and an excellent session ale.
APRIL 2010:
A quintessentially British ale to celebrate St George’s day in style. All the ingredients, from the malt, to the water, to the yeast, have been carefully selected to create a showcase for quality local produce. This a Great British Pale Ale not to be missed.
MAY 2010
Ideal summer session beer. Pale coloured beer made with some malted wheat and Chinook hops from the Yakima Valley in Washington State. Grapefruity bitterness. Light and dry and easy to drink.
JUNE 2010
Made with Golden Promise malt, Cascade hops and Elderflowers. Well balanced moderate bitterness, big aromas, long length of flavour.

Nice to see a few variations; Elderflower and darker beers coming through from the kings of Pale Ale. I can honestly say I've never even heard of a beer brewed with Shamrock!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ilkley Brewery in SIBA Success

Congrats to Ilkley Brewery, whose Mary Jane Golden Ale won Gold in last weeks' SIBA Northern Beer Competition. They'll now go through to the finals, which is a tremendous achievement for a company only 6 months old.

You can find Ilkley's beers at Foleys in Leeds, Bar't'at in Ilkley, The Corn Dolly in Bradford and, recently, the famed Fat Cat in Sheffield amongst others. We'll be running a little piece on Ilkley and their history in the new year. In the meantime, check out their wares. Solid, tasty session beers all round.

You can see the full list of Northern winners here.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Orkney's Dark Island

Just enough time for a quick midweek post before getting onto some Champion's League action. Last night I had the pleasure of a couple of pints of Orkney's Dark Island at The Victoria, Leeds (Who were playing Fleet Foxes and Neil Young all night- an excellent choice).

Smooth, with a tan head, Dark Island was just what was called for as the rain lashed against the pub windows. There's a slight smokiness in the body, along with some raisin notes and a briny, salty edge on the way out. Very moreish, and well balanced for its strength. Do try.

I've read that Orkney are expanding their brewing site. Given that I've yet to try one of their beers that wasn't top-notch, that's' music to my ears, for one. Bring it on.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

For The Veggies....

It's not often at all that I cook something entirely without meat; just call me old-fashioned. But I put this together last night literally using what I had in the fridge and cupboards, and it was awesome, full of flavour and warming on a Halloween night. A tasty happy accident, indeed.

Smoked Cheese & Herb Risotto (Serves 2)

Not much of a recipe, more of a method - simply throw about half a packet of risotto rice (Arborio) into a pan with a large knob of butter - very large. Melt the butter over a low heat and coat all the grains. Meanwhile, make up a pint of chicken or vegetable stock with a stock cube. When all the grains are coated are turning slightly translucent, add the stock slowly, stirring all the time. Leave the heat low, and keep adding stock when the rice soaks it up. When the rice has taken on a much stock as you like, stop adding it.

At this point, you basically season the rice. I added: A grind of black pepper, a large pinch of dried rosemary and a larger still pinch of dried sage.. I also tore up a few spinach leaves and chucked those in. Finally I added about 50gms of Smoked Cheddar, a grate of Parmesan and another small knob of butter to emulsify the whole thing. When the cheese has totally melted, serve.

I was hankering after something Belgian to go with all those herbs, and luckily had a bottle of Brugse Zot to hand. It's an ok beer, but sings a little better when served with food. Brugse Zot has quite a high level of carbonation, which cleanses the palate after the intense, thick risotto, and this also makes it a lighter choice. There's a ever-so-slight citrus on the finish, and the usual Bretty wet-grassiness on the nose. The Rosemary and Sage manage to be picked out by the beer.

Anyway, a simple - and very quick - recipe for darker nights. Give it a whirl.