Friday, 26 August 2011

Brainwave Charity Beer Tasting 2011

As soon as I plugged this event last year, the tickets sold out (not due to my publicity, I hasten to add). A great time was had by all and a significant amount of money raised for the charity.

I am therefore please to advertise the 2011 event as follows :

The children’s charity, Brainwave, is arranging another exclusive beer tasting at the Farmers’ Club on 19 October, where guests can find out a little more about the complex world of beer, where the flavours come from and a little on the history of beer.

So not only can you have an entertaining and different evening and help a charity too.

The event is being held at the Farmers' Club in Central London at 3 Whitehall Court, London SW1A 2EL; nearest tube: Embankment.

The tasting is being hosted by Christine Cryne, who chaired CAMRA’s 2011 Champion Beer of Britain and is a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers. (Christine also happens to be the charity's Chief Executive).

Tickets are £35, including a buffet. The doors open from 6.30 pm with the tasting starting at 7pm. The event is being supported by Wells & Youngs beers.

Tickets are available from Megan Owen:; 07872 548 450

Learn more about this charity at

Follow them on Twitter @brainwavecentre

Also take a look also at their YouTube channel at

I guess this is more of a general interest beer event rather than a tasting for the hard-core beer-geek.

If you belong to the latter crowd, why not just bung them the price of a pint here.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Wychwood Ginger Beard

During GBBF week, I arrived home to find a small parcel sent by the kind people at Marston's. It included a bottle of their latest beer, Wychwood Ginger Beard, a bar of chocolate and a pack of stilton with apricots, all boxed in a wicker basket. A nice gift and perfect choices to match with the beer.

Unfortunately, as soon as the pack was opened the chocolate was gone. I am a bit of a chocoholic and had enjoyed the 100g M&S Dark Peruvian Chocolate before I could even get the cap off the bottle of beer.

(Memo to PR teams, if you send me chocolate with beer, send extra chocolate).

Feeling a bit guilty about this, I thought I should try to do the cheese more justice. It was a shame that the cheese had been spoiled slightly by the warm weather (and the fact that I didn't open the pack until overnight after a long GBBF session) so I dug out Sue Nowak's Beer Cook Book to chase down a suitable recipe. Portered Stilton leapt from the index, a slant on Potted Stilton where leftover cheese is traditionally mixed with leftover port to spice up an apres-repas (is that a word ?)

Here's a precis of the recipe :

8oz mature blue stilton
1oz tiny chestnut mushrooms, sliced thinly
1oz walnuts, chopped
2oz butter (unsalted)
2 tablespoons of porter

Roughly grate stilton into a bowl, add the walnuts. Saute the mushrooms with half the butter, add to the bowl. Slowly add the beer and stir until softened. Pack firmly in a heavy pot, seal with the remaining melted butter and refrigerate.

OK, so I used stilton with apricots instead of blue; chopped the cheese and used normal mushrooms; used pecans instead of walnuts, marg instead of butter and vitally Wychwood Ginger Beard instead of Porter - but it was still a culinary victory for someone like me who doesn't pick up a pan from one month to the next.

Having only used a little of the beer in the recipe, I was able to serve the rest of the bottle at the table in small glasses to accompany the cheese dish.

The beer, as you might guess, is infused with fiery root ginger which perfectly complimented the cheesy paste. The spicy finish livening up the creamy, fruity and earthy flavours of the apricot stilton and the mushroom. The theatre of presenting the beer to accompany the dish gave me much kudos among our guests.

The beer itself is a 4.2% amber coloured, ginger'd beer rather than an alcoholic soft drink. It is clean tasting, fresh and refreshing. It is packed with ginger taste. This is not a subtle beer; if you love ginger, you'll love it.

I can't say that this would ever be my favourite beer but it has brought me back to the kitchen and given me enthusiasm to do more cooking with beer, so that's no bad thing.

It has not given me any desire to grow a ginger beard !

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Call Yourself a Beer Blogger ?

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then is's a duck. But if it doesn't keep its blog up to date with regular postings, then it's not a blogging duck.

One blog post in nearly two months is inexcusable. Admittedly, I was otherwise engaged for about three of those weeks doing a prison art project (of which you will hear a lot more from me - even if it does not include beer) but the lack of up-to-date content here recently really is a poor show.

My notebook of ideas is full, my camera is loaded, plenty of people have sent me beer and books to write about and I have lot's of diary dates to share. Now, I just need to get my finger out and try to remember the password into the blog (if you are reading this, it's clear that my memory was good).

If I took one message away from the Beer Bloggers Conference about good blogging, it was that it is vital to have a regular stream of postings. People won't visit your blog if there's nothing new to read, though it's encouraging how many of you have dropped by regularly in the last month to read and re-read about Barnard's travels.

Well, here goes. I can't guarantee that the musings here in future will inform, educate, entertain, expose, campaign, stimulate, champion, story-tell, describe or evangelise, but I am going to try my hardest to make sure there is something new to read.

Stay tuned !