My favourite local produce...
Tweetand2veg is now 4 months old! hurrah! Over those last four months I have had many opportunities to sample some delicious local food and drink, and products like these make me feel so lucky to live where I do! Here are some of my very favourites…
A long-standing favourite for many people in Bath and, increasingly, a lot of the UK, Bath Ales never disappoints! The experience always begins well with a lovely pub; The Salamander, The Hop Pole or The Swan to name a few, food is always delicious, and the pubs are always full of a wonderful welcoming atmosphere without feeling pretentious - you always feel as though the staff behind the bar know their products! My personal favourite is Bounders Cider, just the right amount of sweetness, with an authentic cidery taste - since moving to the South West I have drunk rather a lot of different ciders, but I will always look forward to afternoons full of sunshine and Bounders! Bath Ales often has a seasonal special on offer, and at the moment the spotlight fall on Summer’s Hare, a really light ale, delicious in the sunny weather! Visiting friends are always impressed with the quality of drinks from Bath Ales, and my Dad is always pleased to receive a case of Gem!
Field Bar Wines
I recently discovered Field Bar Wines at the LoveFood Festival in Bath, tried their absolutely delicious sparkling elderflower wine, and instantly regretted not buying any at the time! Weeks later, and I was ecstatic to find their stall at the Taste of the West Festival in Milsom Place, Bath. The stallholder was so knowledgeable about his products, and so passionate - I walked away with a bag full of wine, feeling very pleased with myself! Field Bar Wines are based in Gloucestershire and only make their wines from locally grown fruit, my two favourites are the Elderflower Sparkling Wine, and the Elderberry Rose (best served at room temp!) - absolutely delicious throughout the summer months - it’s always 6 o’clock somewhere, right?!
Bath Pig Chorizo
I love pigs, I love Bath, and I really love chorizo - Bath Pig Chorizo is my absolute favourite local food - and is fast becoming that of many friends and relatives too! Bath Pig Chorizo comes in three delicious flavours - Original, Garlic, and Hot and all can be eaten raw as a snack or cooked to create a beautiful meal - I use it in stews and jumbalaya - amazing! I recommend this brilliant pork product to everyone - and look at how happy their piggies are!
Beer 242 - Bath Ales Wild Hare (5%)
Back to hospital today for the joyous news that I’ll be in sling for up to six weeks. News like this had me reaching for the bottle. Hopefully it will be something tasty and, coming from Bath Ales, I have a feeling I’m in luck. Established in 1995 by former employees of Smiles Brewery in Bristol, Bath Ales have carved a niche for themselves by brewing consistently quaffable beers.
Their brewery uses an efficient steam-driven plant. Heat exchangers take the warmth naturally created by the fermentation process and use it to heat the water. The finished grain is then given to local farmers as livestock feed, while the finished hops and yeast are converted into fertiliser. Expansion in 2007 saw them set up a bottling line allowing even more people to enjoy their beers.
They use simple typography and smart artwork, featuring a dashing hare, and currently brew eight beers, which are sold in both the cask and the bottle. Their beers include Gem, a bittersweet amber ale and seasonal favourites such as Festivity, a winter porter. It not all UK produced however, their organic pilsner lager, Natural Blonde is brewed at Budelse Brouwerij in Budel, Netherlands.
The brewery has a number of tied pubs in the Bath and Bristol area too. It’s been a while since I had one of theirs beers and it’s of course a first for the blog. Now let’s see if I can open this one handed…
Hazy and golden in colour with a thin, bubbly white head, it lets off a really fruity pong. Lemon rind and grassy hops are there in abundance. The aroma has been dipped in a caramel, providing that sweet, fragrant edge
Piney hops rush forward in the taste stakes, opening up to reveal the grapefruit citrus goodness within. Bready malts mix it up as well providing a real biscuit bite. With a drying finish that leaves you with a lemon zesty taste and mellow bitterness, this is a sunshine infused beer. Lovely stuff.
Let’s hope there are plenty more winners like this over the coming weeks to aid my recovery.
Christmas Bottle Club
Ah the Christmas Novelty Beer, the desecrater of pump clips the land over. Every December hand pulls the land over are full of them, Rosey Nosey, Bah Hambug, et al, all with their ‘good humoured’ artwork and positively bland flavours. These festive beers are the life force of the December masses making their annual trip to the pub to swill four or five mediocre beers with work colleagues.
In a recent article in the Guardian Toni Skinner from Pig’s Ears Beer defined the Christmas brew. She believed it should have, “a high ABV for warmth, the sweet and smooth malty character and big flavours you’d expect from a period of utter excess, and most importantly a little sprinkle of festive kitsch.”
I agree with everything apart from the festive kitsch element. So, to prove that Christmas beers don’t have to rely on woeful design choices or pun-laden names, the Free Trade Inn Bottle Club met for a Christmas Special. With a week of panic buying still to go, our five intrepid drinkers, Chris, Billy, PJ, Mick and myself hunkered down to sample a smorgasbord of festive ales.
• Bath Festivity (5%)
W started off light with the Xmas Porter from Bath Ales. It’s an easy drinker with subtle notes of Christmas spice, toasted malt, vanilla and coffee. Very drinkable. Other breweries should take note. This is how to brew a standard Christmas Beer, Rosey Nosey is not.
• Mikkeller Fra Til 2011 (8%)
The Gift Tag label design gave the beer a unique look, sadly the contents of the bottle weren’t as imaginative. Mikkeller are viewed by many as one of the greats, but this beer was decidedly lacking. Initially tasting like Black Hole light, it’s heavily carbonated and tasted solely of spirit. Aged for 8 month in Bourbon casks it took on none of the nuanced flavours we’ve come to expect from the Danes. It resembled a cheap store bought whiskey ran through a soda stream. Very disappointing.
• Brewdog New World Russian Imperial Stout (8.4%)
Quite possibly the best bottle design I’ve ever seen in quite some time. Created by artist Johanna Basford, the style is reminiscent of Russian prison tattoos. Superb. The beer itself it the most un-Brewdog concoction I’ve ever tasted. Brewed for the American market, it’s a knockout stout, brimful of malts and coffee, eerily reminiscent of US brewers Left Hand. Mega creamy and massively drinkable. However, it was lacking the Brewdogness we have come to expect from their drinks. There was not a hint of their headline grabbing insanity,perhaps that is what makes it one of their most unique beers to date.
At this point, there was a break in proceedings for a palette cleanser in the form of the beautifully hopped Fyne Ales, Jarl. A deliciously bright and balanced beer; perfect to pave the way for boozy oblivion.
• Gouden Carolus (10.5%)
Lords-a-Leaping! This little beauty is pure Christmas in a glass. Rich, syrupy, Belgian goodness. Boozy and warming with boiled sweet flavours and a heady aroma of Dandelion and Burdock. Simply stunning.
• Mikkeller Santa’s Little Helper 2009 (10.9%)
Can the enigmatic Danish duo redeem themselves with this Chrsitmas wrapping paper designed 75cl. You bet your ass they can. Toffee, Molasses, Coffee and Spice come together beautifully in this stunning brew. Sweet but never sickly, this velvety number hides it’s huge strength better that Clark Kent ever could. A flavoursome beer that I would love to find under the Christmas tree. Mikkeller, all is forgiven.
• Samichlaus (14%)
Taking its name from Santa Claus in the Swiss-German dialect, this beer is a heavy hitter, make no mistake. Up until a few years ago the strongest beer commercially available, Samichlaus has the honour of being a beer that positively put me to bed about ten years ago. Revisiting it was certainly fun., its saccharine sweet with a huge alcohol aroma and taste. More reminiscent of a fortified wine than a beer and certainly more rough and ready that the balance of the previous Mikkeller. The perfect beer for Black Eye Friday.
• Thornbridge Coalition Ale (7%)
Unfortunately by this point our palettes were burned out by massive boozy flavours. This collaborative brew from Thornbridge and Darkstar is one that’s long been on my list. Notes of spice and cloves were there but I was pretty much spent. Must try again.
Awesome photo of a drunk man by Paul White
So there you go. Christmas Bottle Club 2011. Some excellent beers sampled and not a Christmas jumper, santa hat or turkey sandwich in sight. After trying a great Protoype coffee collaboration from Tyne Bank and Piccolo Coffee on Thursday, a full day of drinking in York (review to follow) and this epic bottle club, this piece of graffiti summed up this morning.
Merry Christmas everyone!
An Up And Down Weekend.
Well I had allsorts to do this morning but the tragic news of footballer Gary Speed’s death has knocked me into row Z. The man seemed impenetrable. A dazzler as a young winger, a class act. A rock solid ball winner and playmaker in many a premiership midfield as he matured. Moreover a family man, a role model, a shining example of maturity and integrity off the field.
Perhaps I’ll have a beer in his memory tonight. Perhaps I won’t. Maybe raising a pot of alcohol seems an unfitting tribute to an icon of my childhood. I dearly hope his young family can get through this terrible loss.
I did write a bit about beer this weekend though, and Monday morn was type up time.
After a conversation of the twitter variety from “ThirstyBoys” protagonist @greasylightbulb I took his advice. Immediatley I headed down to Thorndon New World and stood in the beer aisle for forty minutes. Once satisfied I had surveyed the shelves long enough I emerged with a bottle of Bath Ales, Golden Hare.
It would be a first. Many of the craft beers emerging out of the UK passed me by before I headed down here. What’s more, my attention certainly stayed with local pints and some of the great emerging craft breweries of the North, as well as a few firm old favourites. Asking for a pint of ‘BaRth’ ales in my local would be like asking for a ‘Babycham’ at a rugby club bar.
Without fear of reprisal, I cracked the top and sat down to a very cosmopolitan lunch of panfried Terakhi with some new potatoes and roasted tomatoes. The essential ingredient was missing though, a fish dish is not complete with out peas, and a liberal sprinkling was added out of nostalgia, if not for vitamins sake!
Golden Hare, is very clean. In numerous repects. Great clarity of design, the bottles are striking in their simplicity. Well crafted, and modern with a nod to the past.
On the nose their isn’t much just a subtle hint of citrus pith and an overall smell of muddy boots. Oxidation? On second thoughts it’s probably my senses realigning with subtle English hop aromas.
I’ve definitely become used to having NZ scents of tangerines and grapefruit pith wedged up my conk. Again on tasting, the beer is very clean with only a little prod of bitterness satisfying the tongue, way at the back. Cleansing, refreshing and very enjoyable with a light lunch. Golden Hare is certainly worth a try, all it misses is a day of sun and a cricket match on the box.
Postcard from Bath. Three in a series of. Bath Ales.
After a house inspection, shower and working out the Sky box, our thoughts turned again to food.
I had had one reply to my enquiries at #bath on twitter and that was from Bath Ales.
The Salamander was closest so we went there for an early evening meal.
The Salamander is in the heart of the city and manages to combine the feel of an old fashioned pub with modern, clean looking features. For fellow Derby folk, think The Greyhound. Bath Ales produce a wide range of real ales of varying strengths and hues to suite most tastes and occasions. I had a Brainstormer (or two) which is a very dark bitter which punches above it’s 4.7% weight.
When we went there (18.30) the pub was full with a mix of locals, young and old, and tourists.There is an upstairs restaurant but we decided to eat in the bar….
The menu is pub food plus. You can have gammon, egg and chips and burgers but I opted for mussels served in a Bath Ales cider and cream sauce. This was truly delicious; good but not overwhelming portion of mussels cooked a la point in a rich creamy sauce. Good to see the mussels served in a proper mussels pot too!
My partner opted for the breast of free range chicken with Puy lentils in a sherry vinegar and cream sauce. Again, a good portion with a generous helping of delicious sauce.
A very friendly pub, prompt but attentive service with a good range of ales and wines. The food is not the cheapest you will find but is very reasonably priced for freshly cooked food with quality ingredients. (The mussels were £9.50, the chicken £10.25.)
Definitely worth a visit.