Sunday, 3 April 2011

Beer, Wine, Beer.

Yesterday I was invited to attend a brewing session with my friend's stepfather. I arrived around 11am and the whole process took around 4 hours to produce roughly 40 pints of Mild. It is such a meticulous method I simply can't begin to explain what we did, or should I say what Mark (Nick's stepfather) did, as Nick and I mainly stood around and got in the way. I'm a long way off from making my own beer as I don't have the time, space and certainly not the knowhow, but watching the process has made me think about all the intricate flavours behind the marvelous drink.

After the brewing session the master brewer gave us a master class in beer tasting and dusted off a rather special aged beer. The Thomas Hardy's Ale is probably more complex than any wine I've ever drank. Apparently it holds it's head up their with the Belgian beers, but you can buy that anymore or at least they have stopped making it. Try bidding on ebay if you fancy a swig.

Tesco Finest American Double is an amazingly hoppy beer with lots of passionfruit aroma, really worth a purchase for £2. You will only need to buy one as it's 9.2%. Brewdog is an provoking Scottish brewery which has some unorthodox branding, especially their Punk IPA

The Traditional Porter is alright, if you like that kind of the thing. It's basically a stout. Not much condition (carbonation or fizz), lots of chocolate, coffee, licorice and hint of cheap coke. But the aftertaste is too much like bile for my liking.

Thomas Hardy's Ale -
Brewdog's American Double IPA -
Traditional Porter -

After our beery day Nick and I went into Topsham on the hunt for something warm and scoffy to soak up the booze. We didn't find what we were looking for, but what we did find was pretty good, unfortunately it came in the form of liquid again. But check this place out.

The Pebblebed Wine Cellar is a really brave idea, basically some guy converted his garage into a wine bar. The bar is owned by the vineyard and the wine is produced on the bank of the Exe, just a couple of miles away. At the moment the cellar is only open two nights a week so it is worth contacting them to see if it's open.

Nick and I share a guilty pleasure, which is sparking Rosé, so we got a couple of glasses to wash down our local westcountry cheese board. Both the wine and the cheese were excellent, but the fresh Italian olive oil which came with the cheese & bread was something else. I rarely have fresh olive oil as it's so expensive, I'm now making a pledge to buy more bottles of the grassy green grease. There were a few other cold platters on the menu, for example local smoked trout & chicken, not the biggest selection of food, but it's not a restaurant, it's a wine cellar.

Sparkling wine - £10 per bottle (Take Out)/ £15 (Drink In)
Cheese Board & other platers £5 (serves two people)

Afterwards we went The Bridge, which is currently my favorite pub. The list of beers are printed on a piece of A4 (a selection of about 7 or 8) and it is served through a doorway, the bar doesn't exist. Again, like the wine bar, they serve minimal food, just a Chunk pork pie with mustard and coleslaw for £3 and that's it. It must be a Topsham thing, no eating, just drinking. I've eaten the pie before and it's OK for soaking up booze, but that's about it. Instead Nick and I opted for a pickled egg and massive bag of salted Burts crisps. Actually, it's a good combo and works rather well.

It won't be too long before I head back and do all of that again. Devon is great, particularly when the sun is shining.

1 comment:

  1. Picked egg = consistently awful.

    Burts crisps = inconsistently great.

    Together = consistently great & inconsistently awful.