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St. George’s Day: A Focus on English Craft Ale

With it being St. George’s Day soon we want to talk about British craft ale. St. George’s Day falls next week on the 23rd April and it’s a day to embrace all things England. In reality St. George’s Day is celebrated in some form in numerous countries and cities around the world, but in England, it often passes by without us noticing.

You may be asking yourself why St. George deserves the title of patron saint of England. Well, legend has it that St. George slayed a dragon on flat-topped Dragon Hill in Uffington, Berkshire, and it is said that no grass grows where the dragon’s blood trickled down! Sound’s far-fetched right? But who really cares? It’s another opportunity to kick back with a nice beer and celebrate all things English.

The English craft ale scene has grown by leaps and bounds over centuries and particularly in the lifetime of more recent generations. In 1982 you’d be able to pick up a pint for just 72p! These days you’re lucky to get much change out of a fiver especially if you’re sampling the beers in the South. But what kind of beers would you have expected for such low prices? In the twentieth century, local brewers commanded the pubs within their areas, you’d be unlikely to try brews from miles away unless you travelled there.

In the early parts, it wasn’t uncommon to be faced with very dark beers such as stouts, porters and milds— these were not for the faint-hearted and often hit ABV counts of up to 7%. In history the terms ‘stout’ and ‘porter’ are often intertwined particularly with the restrictions enforced by two world wars which weakened beers. But who were they made for? The working English man— porters originated from the London area and were sunk mainly by their namesakes; the river and street porters of the capital.

As we’ve crept into the twenty-first century the brewing scene in our green and pleasant land has changed greatly; this is largely due to the influx of quirky microbrewers nationwide. But as a nation, we’ve realised that we can be better with a little help from our European friends. Brewer’s these days often choose to include hops from countries such as Slovenia to mimic traditional European styles like Kolsch and Pilsner in order to create well balanced and hearty beers— but we must not forget that these beers are still English. They’re brewed on English soil, with English water making them national gems to be proud of.

Wanting to celebrate St. George’s Day in style? Check out some types of beers below that thrive with a little English charm and the might of a dragon:

Bitter

English bitters developed in the nineteenth century as a by-product of the pale ale. With an ordinary bitter look out for an assortment of distinct aromas of spicy, peppery and grassy hop flavouring to powerful sharpness with a tangy, fruity and nutty malt feel. The bitter extends its charm through variations as; best bitters and strong bitters— spot these by their dominating fruity flavourings with a crucial sharp element.

Stout and Porter

In recent years this old time beer has been reinvented to eliminate its ‘old man’s drink’ associations. Though not as strong as it used to be the beers still retain their appeal as they adopt the same tropes. A pint of Stout

or Porter will typically offer a dark and roasted malt character with undertones of coffee, raisin and liquorice. But it’s not a stout without the undercurrents of a hefty hoppy bitterness.

Pale Ale or IPA

IPA’s were first brewed for their preservative qualities which made them perfect for long overseas journeys. Today pale ales are known for their distinctive golden colouring and interesting infusions of flavours. For a true IPA look out craft ales with 4% strength and above who adopt juicy malt, citrus fruit and peppery undertones alongside their bitter punch.

Golden Ale

Relatively new in the world of beer the golden ale first came to the forefront in the 1980s— its aim was to capture young drinkers from foreign lager companies. Golden ales are particularly eye-catching due to the spectrum of colours they appear as; from straw coloured to amber to yellow. These particular brews derive from pale malts with additions from citrus fruits and hints of vanilla and are known to be thirst quenching on a summer’s day.

Lager

Lager used to be left mostly to foreign producers but now English breweries are expanding the choice available to the consumer. There are now a range of craft breweries that exclusively offer lager making this the time for English brewing. As with the beer styles mentioned, new age brewing loves to interfere with traditional methods offering room for new hybrid beers such as; dark lager, dry hopped lager and other concoctions to sample.

So if you’re looking to celebrate St. George’s Day with a little English pride why not give a nod to the English brewing scene? Whether you’re old school and like to stick to brews with heritage or slightly more new age and strive for beers with a little something extra then we’ve got the thing for you. Look out for our Forever England crate which can offer you a brew with the fire of a dragon and a little taste of England.

 

The London Marathon or the London Brewery Tour?

When you think about it a brewery tour sounds a lot more fun than running a marathon. But whether you run, walk or cheer from the sidelines— be a part of the London Marathon this year! With over 40,000 people running in the 26.2 mile race now is the time to embrace this sporting event. Here at Best of British Beer, we know how hard it is to complete such a challenging feat. I’d never be able to finish anywhere near the record time of 02:05:38, you’d most likely find me skulking off after the first mile in search of a cold beer— it’s definitely a spectator’s sport for me.

So if you’ve accepted that you’re no Paula Radcliffe then maybe there are other ways to track the race. We’re huge advocates of the London brewing scene so why not as you’re watching sample the delights of the capital’s ales with the exceptional craft breweries surrounding the finish line? You could call it ‘the alternate marathon’ except in this case the winner would be the last one standing… but please, make sure you find yourself walking over the finishing line instead of stumbling!





    1. Redchurch Beer



Address: 275 Poyser Street, London, E2 9RF.

To kick-start the marathon why not try out the tap room at Redchurch? Bound to be bursting with energy fuelled by live music, food and a range of experimental urban farmhouse beers. This brewery has become the central beer hub of the area and is bound to be a winner.

    1. Howling Hops



Address: Queens Yard, White Post Lane, Hackney Wick, London, E9 5EN.

Needing a trip for another rainy day? Take time out to head over to Howling Hops. Their in-house ‘tank bar’ (the first of its kind) is a haven for beer lovers around; with ten servings tanks pouring a range of unique brews.

    1. Wild Card Brewery



Address: Unit 7, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, Walthamstow, E17 9HQ.

Spoilt for choice in the deck of London breweries? Don’t miss Wild Card who open their doors to the public on weekends so you can enjoy beer straight from the source. Not only does the brewery offer their own selection of quirky brews but you’ll find them alongside a selection from other microbrewers; making them a great contributor and supporter of the British brewing scene.

    1. Orbit Beers



Address: Arches 225 & 228, Fielding Street, Walworth, London, SE17 3HD

Hit the mid-way point in your very own marathon with this distinctive and endearing brewery! Situated under a double railway arch in South London this brewery is not one to be missed. They’ve just opened their very own tap bar which is destined to be booming with business in the coming months.

    1. Gipsy Hill Brewing



Address: Unit 5, 160 Hamilton Road, London, SE27 9SF

As a brewer that makes no-nonsense and full flavoured beer, this pop-up taproom is an excellent starter for the final stretch of the trip. Feeling peckish and needing to soak up the alcohol? This bar is infamous for its delicious hog roast and varied Portuguese street food— not one to be skipped!

    1. Brixton Brewery



Address: Arch 547, Brixton Station Road, London SW9 8PF

Looking for a full day out? Why not take a brewery tour? Found just a stone’s through from the resurgent market district in the colourful neighbourhood of Brixton; this brewery is hidden away under railway arches making it a gem of new heritage. If you’re looking for full-flavoured and gutsy beers then you won’t be disappointed!

    1. Hiver Beers



Address: 56 Stanworth St, London SE1 3NY

Wanting to walk away from a brewery with a real buzz about British beer? Then Hiver is the place to be— they really do put the bee in beer. Hiver source raw honey from independent British beekeepers to create the perfect honey brew. Their taproom is located by Maltby street food market and you can even combine a tasting here with an introduction to urban beekeeping!

    1. Sambrooks Brewery



Address: Yelverton Road, London, SW11 3QG

Finish your alternate marathon with a brewery tour overlooking the Brewhouse at Sambrooks’s taproom! If you’re lucky and arrive on ‘free pint Friday’ then you won’t leave much out of pocket. Sambrooks turned an old photography studio into their very own piece of London’s craft beer revolution— so why not end your race in a place that strives for their own slice of excellence?




But if travelling to London and faltering through brewery tour after brewery tour isn’t your cup of tea— or perhaps you’d rather take in the London Marathon from the comfort of your very own living room then we’ve got the thing for you. Here at Best of British Beer, we pride ourselves on providing you with your very own British beer experience. So why not complete your alternate marathon from home? Land yourself one of our handcrafted London Craft Beer Cases containing a selection of bottles from the breweries above and you’re sure to be a medal winner— after all, it’s the taking part that counts!

Same great beer, less gluten

How is beer made?

Traditionally, beer is made with malt, hops, yeast and water. From this mix, it is the malt that contains gluten, which is found in cereal grains like barley and wheat. In small quantities, the gluten from these cereal grains can trigger an autoimmune response in people who suffer from Celiac Disease- an autoimmune disease which means the body cannot tolerate even small quantities of gluten.

Gluten-free standards vary from country to country- In Britain only food and drink containing 20ppm (parts per million) or less can be labelled as gluten free.

It’s hard to imagine that the term ‘gluten- free’ barely existed 10 years ago, yet the increasing number of gluten-free products are testament to how many people are diagnosed with Celiac disease each year.

To address the increasing number of diagnoses in the UK, a growing number of breweries have now started to cater for those people who are intolerant of their usual beers, and the range of beer available just keeps on growing, which is great news since no-one wants to stop drinking beer! (maybe that’s just us?).



So how is gluten- free beer made?

The face of beer is changing, so how do brewers replace what is essentially a mix of mostly gluten?

Because gluten is in the malt, the malt gets replaced by cereals such as millet, rice, sorghum, buckwheat and corn, all of which are said to not trigger any autoimmune responses. Alternatively, some brewers brew with barley or rye and reduce the level of gluten to below 20ppm meaning that their usual varieties of beer can be slightly altered.

For this reason, some beers are labelled as ‘gluten-reduced’ rather than ‘gluten free’, which gives people the option to choose which beer they feel their body can handle.

So, when you are on the search for gluten-free beers, remember that there are 2 types- 'Gluten- free' (below 20ppm) and beer labelled ‘Gluten reduced’ which is essentially a manipulated version of the beer. Either way, the breweries are working hard so that taste isn’t compromised!


Graduation Gift Etiquette

A level results day is Thursday 17th August 2017, and university graduations continue in to the coming months! For some that means finding the perfect gift for the students in our lives. For upcoming graduates the last few years will have flown by, for some perhaps in a haze of late nights and early morning lectures, yet the next few weeks will be nail bitingly slow awaiting results of assignments and final exams. The pressure will be immense! Pass the beer!

It is traditional to give a gift after graduation, a tradition which seems to have originated in America, starting with the graduation of high school students-signalling the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Traditionally in the states money or cars are given away to graduates, and like with other American traditions like proms and baby showers, the tradition to give graduation gifts seems to have migrated over to the UK. Whilst a brand-new car would be an amazing gift to give we can reason that other people may be a tad more budget sensitive than that!

So what does the former student really want as a gift?

It would be impossible to know what every graduate wants as a gift to celebrate the end of their time at college or university, however,  we provide a range of personalised alcohol and other beery gifts to suit every type of graduate. Unfortunately, we don’t sell personalised car’s, but never say never! However, what better way to say ‘We’re proud!’ or ‘Well done’ than a personalised bottle of champagne or beer as a graduation gift?

Personalised alcohol is becoming more popular since households seem to spend their disposable income on luxury items and household gadgets to open cupboards and make the tea (Imagine that?).  For family and friends, it can create what is known as the ‘gaga gift’ syndrome, which can be translated in to ‘what the heck am I mean to buy them this time??’.

A personalised gift is a thoughtful gift, and a  lovely  sentimental way to say that you are thinking about someone. So to help you out,  we’ve put together our top products to help you say ‘congratulations!’

1- Personalised Champagne 



A bottle of fizz will surely go down well after graduation. These bottles can be personalised with either a photo or some text.

 
2- Personalised beer or cider



You can select to personalise cider, golden ale, pale ale or bitter or a mix!

 
3- Personalised wine

Choose from a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to personalise. A great drink for college leavers or university graduates.

 
4- 4 pack Craft Beer


For the beer loving graduates. A craft box with 4 specially selected craft beers.

 

5- Thirst Aid box

One of our best sellers! 6 bottles of beer in an easy to carry case. Perfect for post graduation parties.

 

So if any of these products look like the perfect one- simply head over to our site for more information!

Cheers!

Easy to carry beery summer-essentials. Because not everyone has a wheelbarrow!

The season of open-air concerts, camping, BBQ’s and festivals is upon us. Plans to spend long weekends in a field soaking up the atmosphere and sunshine (If you’re lucky), listening to music and watching live bands or socialising at BBQ’s with friends means you will already be thinking about what you need to take along with you.

Best of British checklist

    • Tent

 

    • Clean clothes

 

    • Food essentials

 

    • BEER!



At Best of British Beer we know how difficult it is to carry essential items from the car to a field, and since most people don’t have a wheel barrow on hand, we’ve put together our summer essentials line up- easy to carry products and a great variety to choose from that will suit everyone’s tastes.

Pailofales



A retro inspired ice bucket and 5 craft beers, with a couple of bags of popcorn to satisfy when the nibbles take hold. Perfect for summer days and BBQ’s and super easy to carry!

 

 

 

 

Is there a DR in the house? Then pass me the Thirst Aid box!

6 Bottles of craft beer in a handy carry case that creates a great talking point between friends. Comprising of 2 pale ales, 2 golden beers and 2 best bitters – all perfect for quenching your thirst in the summer heat.

 

 

 

The Thirst Aid box was so popular we just had to make a Rustic Cider Crate!



 

6 bottles of quality British pressed cider in a mix of dry, medium or sweet – and if you prefer one or the other just tell us and we can vary the contents! Another great carry case that can be carried about with ease.

 

 

No half measures here- the Best of British Yard of Ale 8 cans of craft beer in a straight tube that could fit perfectly under your arm whilst you carry your bags! An alternative to a great beery classic as craft beer cans are becoming increasingly popular this season.

 

 

 

Lager has always been a boozy favourite, and whilst there is currently a great range of Best of British lager, this is one of our favourites for the summer season.

The Craft Lager case comprises 500 and 330ml bottles of top-quality and hard to find lager and Pilsner from various British breweries. Definitely one to satisfy all preferences. Our sturdy branded cardboard boxes make this easy to carry with no fear of dropping.

 

And finally- the Best of British Beer Festival Box is a festival of craft delights and a really great way to try some unusual beers from those hard to find breweries. 18 bottles and a pub quiz will keep you entertained through the evening when the music has stopped and the beer is still flowing!

 

 

 

So whatever your preference this summer- we have you covered.

Best of British Tip- Check your tent for holes before your weekend away!

Cheers!

BBQ Beer-Can Chicken- No BBQ required!

Summer has landed and although the sun seems to have disappeared behind a few clouds we are never one to grumble at the oh- so- British weather so we decided to make a summer BBQ favourite this weekend- Beer-Can chicken.

On inspection, we sadly discovered that the BBQ gas wouldn’t have gone the distance so the chicken, and the beer can both ended up in the oven instead. This is a great alternative to the BBQ since the weather can never be 100% guaranteed meaning you don’t need to change meal plans at the last minute.

If you’ve never made, or even heard of Beer-Can (or Beer-Butt) chicken then this is how it is done…

What you’ll need

    • One chicken- small, medium or large depending on family size (we went with small)

 

    • One can of beer- size dependent on size of chicken. For this we used Allendale Vienna- a light a fruity pale ale.  

 

    • A few herbs- Paprika, thyme, coriander (whatever your preference). We used paprika and olive oil to rub the chicken, and popped some fresh coriander leaves in the beer can prior to it ending up at the business end of the chicken

 

    • A baking tray

 

    • Oven or BBQ



The chicken should fit neatly on top of your beer can with some room at the top for it to breath


 
Method

    • Pre heat the oven to gas mark 180

 

    • Rub chicken with olive oil and herbs of choice (we went with paprika)

 

    • Add herbs to beer can- you could use thyme, or lemongrass but we went with coriander as the Allendale beer we used was a light, fruity beer and felt this was a great accompaniment

 

    • Sit the chicken on top of the beer can (you need the can to go as far in as possible to allow the beer to permeate the chicken, but not too far in that the beer doesn't have room to breathe)

 

    • Cook chicken according to weight- instructions are usually found on the chicken- This one said 45 mins per kg plus 25 mins and was 1.25kg so it went in for 1.5 hours


A Paprika rub was used to coat the chicken prior to it going in to the oven

 

Whilst the chicken was in the oven, we set about our usual Sunday chores- lawn mowing, washing etc and after 30 mins checked on the chicken to find it had fallen over in the oven with the beer now covering the bottom of pan.

Oh dear.

Plan B- The chicken will now be fully roasted in the beer, which actually turned out to be a great alternative since we used the chicken juices and beer to make a great boozy gravy to accompany our meal!

 

 

And after adding some lovely herby potatoes and garden pea’s our beer-butt chicken was ready to be served with our impromptu and delicious boozy gravy! Alternatively you could enjoy an Al fresco meal in place of the BBQ and serve with a garden salad and fresh bread and butter.


 

 

Could we taste the beer?

Definitely. The chicken was very moist, with a hint of fruit, coriander and definite subtle undertones of beer. The gravy gave a real beery boost to the meal which we will definitely consider making again in place of the beer-but chicken which (hopefully) might stand up-right on a BBQ!

Next week- Honey and Beer glazed pork.

Cheers!

Lynne

There's nothing 'little' about Little Ox Brewery

Setting up a brewery is always going to be a tricky job – choosing recipes, designing imagery, finding premises etc. It can also be a lengthy process, growing steadily from home brewing to your first proper kit. I’ve known some brewers take at least a couple of years to get established, so the achievement of Ian Hemingway is pretty astonishing.

I met Ian at his Little Ox brewery nestling near the beautiful Oxfordshire town of Woodstock and the magnificent Blenheim Palace. The plain industrial unit with no signage doesn’t give a hint on the outside of the magic that happens on the inside. In just nine months though Ian has created a perfectly formed brewery complete with beer shop and bottling line.


The imagery on his three main bottle lines is eye catching with a striking ox’s head standing out front and centre. I particularly like the look of Odd Bod as it reminds me of Kenneth Williams and Fenella Fielding in the classic movie Carry on Screaming. The beers are excellent too, my personal favourite is Wipeout, a bold pale ale full of US hops with loads of flavour for a lowish ABV. We’re also looking forward to trying his new summer beer Goldilox, a 3.9% refresher.

Ian keeps the entire brewing and bottling inhouse, so he has 100% control of the entire process from start to finish. All the brewery equipment has come to Ian via Allendale in Northumberland, another one of our brewery partners. With a background in plumbing, Ian was more than useful when it came to setting up and commissioning everything, he now has to turn his hand to assembling the bigger bottling line he recently purchased.

 

 

We’re delighted to feature Little Ox’s Wipeout in our Beer for a Year selection in July, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I do!

Cheers!

Will



 

Our business runs smoothly because APC's does too.

We’ve been working with The APC for over a year now, sending up to 900 parcels a day at our peak times of Father’s Day and Christmas.

One of the biggest worries for any online retailer is ensuring that their products are delivered quickly and efficiently. When the majority of your parcels are sent as gifts, the need for a reliable courier is even greater.

Before we set up Best of British Beer in 2011, we hadn’t stopped to think how the courier business worked and how parcels were moved from one end of the country to the other in less than 24 hours. Six years on and 100,000 parcels later, we thought we’d grasped the basics, that was until we were invited down to the APC hub in Cannock to see how our beer is transported.

APC has 114 depots throughout Britain and each one covers a specific postcode area. Once every local delivery van has returned to base with their collections, the parcels are put into cages and loaded onto line haul trucks, which then drive to the hub. We prefer APC to other couriers as they minimise the use of conveyor belts and pallets, preferring to put all of our fragile parcels in these moveable cages; keeping our boxes safe and secure.

You cannot fail to be impressed by the sheer size of the operation at the hub, with the main warehouse covering the size of 3 football pitches and over 300 staff working across the site. The trucks start to arrive from the local depots around 9pm, with the Aberdeen and Plymouth lorries last in at 1am. A team of forklifts empty each truck in just 4 minutes and every cage is then emptied by hand, the parcels scanned and placed in a different cage, ready to be loaded onto the wagon and driven back to the depot. By 2am, every wagon has left and the operation starts to wind down and prepare for the following day.

With over 150,000 parcels processed through the APC network every day, it’s no wonder that the whole operation is so slick. We’re delighted to be working with the UK’s largest independent delivery network and we trust them to get our beers to our customers quickly and efficiently.

 

Pygmy goats, a new British beer and Hornes Brewery

To men of a certain age, boys’ toys can be things like fast cars, speed boats or race horses. For Ryan Hornes, it’s all about the beer and making his dream come true after 20 years in the construction industry. Literally 30 feet from his kitchen door he’s created a small, but perfectly formed brewery.

Ryan and his goats
 

Celebrating his 40th birthday this month, Ryan has built this fantastic business from what used to be his garage. He’s extended it upwards and outwards, built a cold store for conditioning and doubled his storage space for bottles and casks. Although technically still working on his own, Ryan is ‘helped’ by his 5 year old son and three pygmy goats; Herby, Dusty and Sooty who live in the field next to the brewery.



Success has come quickly for Ryan and his hard work has been recognised by Milton Keynes Chamber of Trade as a new Start Up Business and by The Labologists’ Society for the design of his bottles. As if creating your own award winning isn’t enough, instead of settling down with a bottle after a hard day’s brewing, Ryan can pop round the corner and he’s drinking his own beer in his village local, the beautiful Wheatsheaf Hotel.

Ryan has already built up a strong following for his beers in the Milton Keynes and greater Buckinghamshire area and his next challenge is to see his ales enjoyed by a wider audience. Best of British Beer is doing its bit to help by showcasing Ryan’s Featherstone Amber Ale in the June selection for our Beer For A Year members. Named after a local WWI fighter pilot, this is a perfect beer to enjoy in the summer sun – crystal clear, not too strong and perfectly balanced.

I’m sure you’ll enjoy Captain Gerald Featherstone Knight’s beer from Hornes Brewery and all the other selections in the Best of British Beer.

Happy 40th birthday Ryan!

Cheers!

Will

 

Try the Best of British



With the RBS 6 Nations rugby kicking off in early February it’s another sign that spring is in the air, but will it be the English rose, Welsh daffodil or Flower of Scotland that will be in bloom come 18th March?

This year’s tournament looks closer than ever with at least four teams having a genuine chance of silverware. Closer games means more excitement and more nail biting, but never fear, we’ve come up with the ideal solution. The Best of British Beer stress ball is the perfect drinking buddy to see you through the tightest of matches.

To keep you and your stress ball (and your mates) happy, we’ve put together a terrific selection of beers from all corners of Britain to enjoy while watching the action. There are 12 different breweries represented, 4 from each of the Home Countries and there’s a great mix of ales from mega hoppy IPAs through to dark stouts.  Throughout the duration of the tournament, we are offering a FREE stress ball with every 3 Nations case ordered. We only work with quality independent breweries, so not only are you guaranteed amazing beer, the chances are we’ll introduce you to some new producers too.

Like all Best of British Beer curated cases, the 3 Nations selection has been approved by our own independent tasting panel. This is a group of like-minded people who take their roles very seriously (maybe too seriously) it’s a simple mantra - if they don’t like the beer, we won’t send the beer out to you.

If you think you have what it takes to join our committed and happy band of tasters, just drop me a line will@bestofbritishbeer.co.uk and we’ll add you to our waiting list.

 

Cheers

 

 

Will