Tuesday, 22 September 2009

What You Need to Know About Beer Bellies...

Well firstly you need to know they're not caused by beer alone, which this article actually does tell you despite the amount of times it uses the term beer bellies!!

It's not exactly rocket science, eating too much, drinking too much and exercising too little makes you fat, not beer on it's own. But still over half of women, believe a bottle of beer to have a higher calorie content than a double gin and tonic, a can of cola or even a large glass of wine, which all in fact contain more calories per 100ml than beer. Although beer can have fewer calories than other alcoholic drink choices, the fact is women simply see it as fattening.

So why not eat less, exercise more and then raise a glass of beer to a smaller waistline!!

Posted via web from The Lighter Side of Beer

Monday, 21 September 2009

A match made.....by accident

I am a huge fan of beer and food matching, I've never really understood why so many people don't think that beer is a great accompaniment to food and more often than not, an easier match than wine.
That said regular beer and food matching takes a level of organisational capability way beyond my domestic (slut) capabilities and usual food matching in my house involves eating whatever's on the plate matched with whatever's in the fridge, often with some disastrous results. But sometimes, just sometimes, and purely by accident you land on something that really works* and for me it was a Grolsch Weizen matched with a Salmon and Prawn Bake, mmmmmmmm.
Grolsch Weizen is a super beer but it's one of those great beers that I often forget about so it's always a pleasant surprise when I rediscover it ( I say rediscover I had a case in the car for someone else and I figured they wouldn't miss one would they?)
This is a classic wheat beer in my opinion, it has a gorgeous spicy aroma with coriander overtones and the merest hint of orange peel. On pouring you get a huge white foamy head and it tastes of melon, muted lemon-lime and banana with a bitter finish and malty aftertaste, a great balance of sweet and sour that makes it very drinkable and very refreshing for a wheat beer.
And with no more thought than having them both in the house at the same time this is a match that worked really, really well. The seafood and cheese sauce matched perfectly with the sweet malt in the beer and the high carbonation was great at really cleansing the palate to make every mouthful of fish pie taste as fresh and flavoursome as the first.
Why not give it a try!
And for the foodies out there I've attached the fish pie recipe too....................

*it's not just me, it happened here too

Drunken convictions fall by 75%......................

New figures released today show that the number of those convicted of or receiving a police caution for drunkenness has slumped by more 75% in the last 30 years.
So what looks like a good news story on alcohol, drunken convictions down by 75%.........sounds like good news right? Ermmm, actually no if the Daily Mail is to be believed.
Apparently nothing to do with changing habits in alcohol use and longer opening hours leading to more relaxed drinking....nope, it's all because the police have gone soft and letting drunken yobs (apart from in Newcastle obviously) maraud the streets without out so much as a slap on the wrist.

There's no pleasing some people!!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Beer, not so bad after all........

Today's News of the World (that I obviously read over someone's shoulder, not my own copy.....) reveals the full scale of the Nation's 'binge drinking epidemic'
Apparently 23% of 18-24 year olds have felt ashamed of their appearance when drunk and almost half (48%) have vomited when drunk. No real surprises here - apart from learning that young Geordie's are the most responsible drinkers, who would've thunk - and the NOTW art department are obviously in cahoots with the BBC, because how did they choose to illustrate it? With shots of teens downing double vodka redbulls and copious Jaegerbombs, of course not, they used pint glasses, once again beer is seen as the demon drink.
In fact only 8% of 18 - 24 year old women claim beer as their drink of choice, maybe if more did, opting for a lower ABV choice, there wouldn't be such an epidemic!!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Stop the press, brewer uses CO2................

It seems that CAMRA have seen fit to ban Freedom Brewery from the Burton Beer Festival because they *shock horror* use CO2 and not compressed air......what a load of nonsense!!
I'm not a CAMRA member but I do think generally they can do some good work promoting beer and pubs. But this kind of small minded behaviour that only serves to perpetuate the myth that beer is the sole preserve of bearded, sandal wearing men called Trevor makes my blood boil!!!
Freedom are, I believe, the only micro brewery in the UK that brew just lager and have a couple of cracking organic lagers. I've seen them a number of times at shows this year, their beers are great and locally produced and it's madness that CAMRA would choose not to support a local brewer like this.

Given the amount of pressure that beer industry faces I would've thought working together to get more drinkers appreciating beer, any beer, is a much better strategy than this elitist behaviour that only serves to do the beer category more harm than good!!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Bearded Brewers.......

Found this post of a channel 4 news piece, featuring Pete Brown  (who will meet me for lunch one day he promises) and the ever so stereo-typical suggestion that beer is only brewed and enjoyed by pot bellied, bearded men.

So just to break down that stereotype - here's the main reason I tried Thornbridge Jaipur IPA - and take it from me the beer is just as delicious as the lovely Kelly who brews it and not a pot belly in sight.


Posted via email from The Lighter Side of Beer

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Frothy Moth, flutter off

On one of my few trips outside the house this flu ridden week I picked up 2 new beers from my local Victoria Wine, Frothy Moth 4% from Thwaites and Purity Ubu..

I don't usually try any local products, I'm too lazy and a slave to commercialism but meeting some new beer fans on Twitter this week made me curious about any local brews that I may have missed on my doorstep. Admittedly Victoria Wine probably isn't the best place to start but I thought I'd give it a go and asked some advice of what local beers they stocked.

First to try was Frothy Moth, a relatively new brew from Daniel Thwaites of Lancashire (I was confused when they gave me this as well, I'm no geography expert but I'm pretty sure Leamington Spa is not in Lancashire but decided to go with it anyway).

There was very little info I could find out about it before I tried it, Thwaites don't even mention it on their own site but did find one piece in the MA that made me pretty certain this is a beer aimed at the ladies.

 "We are confident that the combination of a quirky name like Frothy Moth, and lighter style ale will encourage customers who may not currently be drinking ale to give it a try".

Everything about it suggests they are trying to woo women with this beer but not appear patronizing while they do it - so a Moth and not a Butterfly (cause ladies love flutterbys right) - and a use of language on the label that wouldn't be out of place in a Mills & Boon - "light and delicate, just like it's wings" and whilst the typography is quite stylish (my photo doesn't do it justice) it just feels like it's trying a little to hard.

And so to the beer itself - it promises to be light and refreshing, and indeed it is, so light it's almost tasteless. It pours quite flat with a very light head that disappears almost instantly. You can get a hint of the fruity overtones they promise, some mixed fruits and a hint of honey but the mouth feel is very thin and the flavours disappear as quickly as the head did.

So after a week off the beer and disappointing first start - let's hope the Ubu is more promising.

Friday, 11 September 2009

It's Friday again......

The weekend is upon us and sod's law the swine flu has kicked back in with a vengeance so the dancing shoes are confined to the wardrobe and I'm regretting the haste at which I stripped the bed sheets.

I did muster the energy for a trip to the off license but one bottle of Thwaites Frothy Moth later (review to follow) and my bed is calling - just as soon as I can find a sleeping bag.

But hopefully everyone is having a better weekend than me and making the most of the unexpected balmy weather. Feels like it's a little too early to put the Pimms away so a Summer Breeze should be just the job, have one for me!!


A beer a day......

Unashamedly stolen from last nights Mock the Week
If, when you have have the flu vaccine the doctor injects you with a little bit of the flu virus, surely having a beer a day is stopping me being an alcoholic.

Works for me

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Beer, one of life's simple pleasures.......

I work for a big corporate brewer* and lots of time and money has been invested in teaching me to appreciate beer. I've been lucky enough to learn under the very gentlemanly Rupert Ponsonby and Alex Barlow but not everyone gets this chance and I wonder how many women are put of trying beer because they think they don't know enough about it.
I didn't always like beer - I learnt over time (and happily have always had jobs that let me do that). I started when I worked for Bass Retail drinking Tennants Pilsner and then migrated onto pints of Carling Premier & Blackcurrant - I was obviously much younger and had less class. I like a pilsner best these days, Zatec is my favourite but Bitburger and Menebrea are close followers but I'm broad church and enjoy an ale or a porter just as much - it's all about choice.
Tasting beer should be easy and it should be enjoyable and whilst I don't want to trivialise beer tasting I don't think it should be seen as a dark art - I really don't believe in getting women to try the most bitter, chewy ales and then watching them struggle to drink it, then tell them why they are wrong!!
So you can find some great lessons on how to taste beer here and here  but the way I do it is this..........
1. Pick a beer that looks interesting - this is often the difficult bit. Supermarket beer aisles are, mainly, ugly and look like dirty warehouses and have very little information about different beers so you might have to work a bit harder to find something that looks worth a try. Try online sites like Beers of Europe or BEERMerchants , they are both very good and have heaps of choice. By interesting I go for the one that
catches my eye with the nicest label - I'm simple like that, and I want it to look nice in the kitchen.

2. Taste it - if it tastes nice this is called a 'good beer'. When you find a good beer keep drinking it and maybe try it with some food.
3. If it doesn't taste nice this is called a 'bad beer'**. When you find a bad beer stop drinking it and repeat step 1.
The key thing is don't be put off if you go straight to point 3 - you may do this a few times before you find a beer you really like and that's the fun bit. There are over 3000 beer brands in the UK, you will find one you like and what a great time you can have getting there!!
*blatant corporate plug - I work for the BitterSweet Partnership which has been set up by Molson Coors to address the fact that the UK beer industry has traditionally ignored women and to get more women in the UK to enjoy beer! We’re working on everything from dispelling the same myths about calorie content, to addressing stereotypical and sexist advertising. This is my own blog though - not a corporate front and all views or my own but I am proud of what I do. There is a BitterSweet blog too though if you're interested in what we say there.
**this does not mean the beer is bad, just bad for you. Enjoying beer is one of life's simple pleasures and there's nothing to be gained from forcing yourself to drink something you don't like just because everyone else says it's good.

An afternoon of beer and puddings..............

Now I didn't get this figure on crisp breads alone, I had to really work at it, so when the devilishly handsome (I think that's how he described himself)Rupert Ponsonby invited me along to Brown's Hotel to spend an afternoon indulging in beer and pudding matching I was only too happy to get involved......my idea of heaven.

To me I can't imagine a better way to spend an afternoon but when I went bragging to my girlfriends I was surprised just how much the very idea was knocked back. The majority of my girlfriends fall into the 60% of women that don't drink beer* and while they might humour me and have the occasional pre dinner Kasteel Cru, taking away the wine at pudding time is apparently a step far to far. So could they be proved wrong? Well I was prepared to give a blooming good go (I'm selfless like that) with 7 scrummy puddings and 9 beers and finally I've got round to writing about it.

Lime and mango Eton Mess and Sol 

I approached this with some trepidation. I love Eton Mess, it’s my number 2 pudding, but I’m an Eton Mess purist and it goes with strawberries in my book but I could see Rup’s thinking – you have lime with Sol and lime goes with mango so it should work right? Well it nearly did but the mango was very sweet, too sweet and left me with a sticky mouth that the Sol was just too light to cut through.

Steamed orange pudding and Blue Moon 
Orange on orange was just a step too far, even for someone with my sweet tooth. The pudding was lovely, really light and airy but the extra hit or orange drowned the coriander spice in the Blue Moon which I think is it’s key attraction. But I was a lone voice – it was voted joint top on the night.

Poached pear in white wine and Grolsch Weizen
Am a huge fan of Grolsch Weizen and can easily see how the strong banana notes would make this a good pudding match. However am much less of a poached pear fan but despite that could see how it could work, but it didn’t quite hit the mark. The vanilla flavours in the pear were just to sweet for the beer and when we try adding some cream (well you have to at pudding time) it was a disaster and brought out a lot of bitterness in the beer.

Spotted Dick and custard and Schneider Aventinus
This was one of the one’s I was waiting for – the only beer on the menu that I hadn’t tried before and it was definitely worth the wait, in fact voted the overall joint winner. The Aventinus was gorgeous, big ripe banana and clove flavours that was perfect with the raisins and spice in the pudding. True winter comfort, felt like the old lemsip advert were the chair grows around you. Absolutely gorgeous and one you should try - although you may have to rename it to Spotted Richard if the 
PC brigade get their way!

Raspberry crème brulée and Innis & Gunn, Bacchus Frambozen and Hix Oyster ale
I dived into this with undisguised joy – and wasn’t disappointed. The Innis & Gunn combination was just dreamy, the combination of the creamy brulee and the caramel beer was just stopped short of being to sweet with the tartness of the raspberries – why this didn’t win I’ll never know! The Bacchus was not such a winner, too sweetness and I think (well I know from many happy experiences) red fruit beers are a much better pairing with a chocolate pudding. The Oyster Ale was the weakest pairing, the beer was very cold which helped but the pudding was just too sweet and made the ale seem overly bitter.

Ginger Parkin and Worthington’s White Shield IPA
Sadly I had to catch a train at this point which was very disappointing as I had been really looking forward to it. I did recreate it at home (my ginger parkin is nothing on what Brown’s would prepare though). For those that stayed it seems this was a very marmite moment – but I loved it. Lots and lots of big flavours from the beer and the pud which for some could be overwhelming but a good match for me.

Pannacotta and caramelised oranges with Goose Island IPA
I was already at Watford Junction by the time this one came round and I’m hopeless at making pannacotta so I haven't yet tried this but you can see how it did here 
 and  here. My hunch is it wouldn't work, the caramelised orange would be just to sweet and leave this great beer seeming bitter.

So can we trade in the Chablis……
Some really great pairings that definitely show that beer should be on the menu at pudding time. Some not so strong but with a bit of tweaking – a chocolate brownie with the Bacchus would have been divine and fruity spiced Christmas pudding with the White Shield – and I would definitely have missed that train.

*blatant corporate plug - you can find more stats like this about women and their relationship with beer at 
BitterSweet Partnership


Raise a glass to these.......

Still no sign of the ginger beer delivery but I think I've found something I could love as much as beer. I would love a pair of these beautiful Jonathan Kelsey shoes - only 4 more sleeps till my birthday........fingers crossed.
And there are even more lovely shoes here too, it looks like the daughter may have to get an extra paper round.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Ginger Map........

So I've done a little digging and have come up with the following list for my ginger quest, for no other reason than they all contain ginger. Since the swine flu has me confined to the house I have ordered a delivery and hopefully should start my ginger journey at the weekend

Badger Blandford Fly 5.2%
Stirling Ginger Explosion 5.0%
Humpty Dumpty Lemon and Ginger 4.0%
Left Hand Ju Ju Ginger 4.0%
Williams Midnight Sun 5.1%
Sharps Chalkys Bite 4.5%
Tipple Ginger Pale Ale 3.8%

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from The Lighter Side of Beer

A Ginger Journey................

I like ginger, I really do, ginger biscuits, crystallized ginger, ginger cake and I love it in a stir-fry but never have I been able to stomach ginger beer - with or without alcohol.
But this week ginger seems to keep creeping into my conversations. Yesterday I had a long overdue catch up with an old friend about how well Crabbies is doing for Halewood in tough market times and a tweet this morning promises a an interesting review of Ginger and Chilli Beer and I'm working on some Cobra stuff this morning (just as soon as I post this - nobody tell!!) who of course do a Cobra Bite with Fresh Ginger. So I've decided that all of these thing's can't be a coincidence and fate wants me to learn to love ginger beer so I'm going to have a try.
Going to start with Fentimens Ginger Beer (it's early yet) - which must be good if Dave stocks it at the Woolpack and going to try and track down any beers with ginger in - any recommendations welcome!!
P.S. Sorry to disappoint if you were expecting jokes at the expense of gingers - you can always laugh at some ginger kids here or here

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Forgot all about the mulled beer.....

......that I said I was trialling earlier. Am still on the look out for a great mulled beer recipe ready for Christmas time. I tried the Blue Moon Version but anything you have to strain egg bits out of is never going to top anyone's top drinks list!!
But I have a cold so I figure lemon is in order so I just tried this
  • Combine 3 bottles Coors Light with 50g brown sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks (snapped in half) , 6 cardamom pods, 4 cloves, ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg and 2 slices of lemon in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring until liquid simmers. Turn off heat and leave to infuse for at least ten minutes – serve in mugs or handled glasses (serves four).
And you know what, it was actually really nice. Warmed up you can really taste the popcorn notes in Coors Light so you get a nice caramel sweetness that blends well with the spices.
If you've got any better send them my way.
nb. Picture not the actual finished version, I don't have a cupboard of luverly mulled beer glasses and perfectly sized cinnamon sticks but the chipped, blue, spotty Sainsbury's mug didn't take such a nice pic

Left over Meantime and Bolognese for tea

Thought I'd experiment again with the leftover Meantime Winter Time from this afternoon's cupcakes so chucked it into some Bolognese. Since the Day Nurse has now kicked in (did I mention the cold??), I can confirm it was yum.
- Heat pan with some olive oil and fry the pancetta, then adding the onion, sauté until the onion becomes transparent
- Add ground minced beef, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce, then fry until beef is lightly browned, and then add the lager and cooked until reduced by about half
- Then add rest of the ingredients, mash the tomatoes in the pan, and allow sauce/gravy to simmer on low heat for 45mins
- While gravy is simmering, start boiling water and cook the pasta according to instructions.
- When pasta is cooked, add into the ragu sauce and mix well. Serve immediately.
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1tbsp pancetta, cubed
- 1lb minced beef
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- Tin of tomatoes
- few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- some dried oregano
- some red chilli powder
- black pepper, to taste
- 3/4 bottle of dark ale
- Pasta of your choice (we used 'twisty' pasta cause it's Jorge's favourite)

Cupcake Anyone.............

Stuck in the house with a stinking cold and trying to cheer myself up with a bit of baking. Found this recipe for Rip Tide cupcakes which looks amazing and must make me feel better.

Sadly no Rip Tide in the house and no energy (see aforementioned cold reference) to go out and get some so improvised with Meantime WinterTime - surely the promise of coffee, chocolate and vanilla aromas has to work in a cake??? Certainly works for me ;o)

But sadly I have a cold (not sure if I mentioned it?) which has stripped me of my appetite, sense of smell and sense of taste so I have no idea if it worked or not.

Anyone fancy trying one and telling me if they're any good?

Posted via email from The Lighter Side of Beer

Rainforest Cafe raining on my parade........

Wednesday was my daughters 9th birthday and such a milestone can only possibly be marked, apparently, with a trip to London town (long gone it seems are the days of pinning the tail on a donkey to the sounds of Black Lace!!).

So off we set and had a very enjoyable day visiting the V&A1, Science Museum, Ripley's Believe it or not2 rounded off by tea at The Rainforest Cafe.

By this time my feet were hurting, tempers were getting a little frayed and I was more than ready for a well deserved pint so when the 'Safari Guide' came tripping over to take our order without even perusing the menu I asked him what draught lager they did, and would you believe it......none. Now this in itself was not a shocker but his response was.......

'Sorry, we're a family restaurant so we don't serve pints of lager, we don't want to encourage that sort of drinking'

Are you serious??? Just so we're clear, the Rainforest Cafe is not a teetotal establishment, you can choose from one of about 12 different wines all at an ABV of at least 12%, or you can pick from a range of spirit based cocktails ABV minimum 30% but a 5% lager.....no way, that would encourage drunken behaviour for sure!!

Now I get that they want to provide a nice family environment (and they do that well, the daughter said it was the 'coolest restaurant ever') but I tire of the view that beer = binge drinking and anti social behaviour when, if you're talking responsibility a pint of beer is a better choice than a large glass of wine!!

So hat's off to the Rainforest Cafe for giving the daughter a great birthday treat (they put candles in her pudding and sang Happy Birthday and everything) but it's time they, and a lot of others, changed their out dated view of draught beer and put it on the menu.

1. Think that the V&A is a stuffy old mausoleum full of obscure sculptures and old carpets and therefore no place for kids?? Well you’re right, but pop along to their reception desk and ask to use one of their interactive backpacks which are brilliant fun.

2. Believe it or not we shelled out nearly £50 to look at some fat and/or hairy, poorly made waxworks!! The mirror maze is fun but apart from that steer clear is my advice.