Friday, 13 July 2012


In anticipation of a visit from some friends from down south, I headed down the road to Stirchley Wines for some refreshments. 
With a strange sense of logic, I filled my basket with some of the latest offerings from the London 'craft beer' scene. 

With a desire to build familiarity and also to show that Birmingham is up to speed in the zeitgeisty world of craft beer, this is what I came back with...

8 Ball.

Brewery: Beavertown (London).
Style: Rye IPA.
ABV: 6.2%.
Notes: The use of rye gives the beer a very rich malty and fruity aroma along with some floral hop characteristics. These characters continue as you taste with a rich fruity backbone complemented by a long, bitter and floral finish from the hops.

Prince Albert.

Brewery: By The Horns Brewing Co. (London).
Style: Dunkel.
ABV: 5.5%.
Notes: A British interpretation of a German classic. Quite complex on the nose with notes of sour cherry, plum and spice backed up with earthy roasted malts. Equally complex on the palate, with more sweet and sour red fruit held up against the roasty malt body. An complex beer that is sure to divide opinions. 


Brewery: The Kernel (London).
Style: Single hop IPA (Galaxy).
ABV: 7.2%.
Notes: Recently, many brewers have been showcasing the wonderful flavours and aromas of a single hop variety. Kernel have been showing off the lush, fruity properties of new world hops for a while now and are experts at doing so. The aromas and flavours of peach, lychee and pineapple are brought to life in a beer with plenty of alcohol and body to match the heady aromatics.


Brewery: The Kernel.
Style: Single Hop IPA (Citra).
ABV: 7.3%.
Notes: Similar in body and ABV to the Galaxy IPA, the Citra hop is much more herbal and pungent in character which brings a zingy refreshing quality to the beer. A fine balance between these herbal characters and the lush new world hop fruitiness make for another great example of a single hop beer.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Sweet Potato, Chipotle and Chorizo Soup

Sweet Potato, Chipotle and Chorizo Soup.

Ordinarily at this time of year I would be urging you to stuff and deep fry a courgette flower. How about throwing together a broad bean, mint and goats cheese salad or even going out to forage for some elderflowers to make a pungent cordial? But, it's started to rain again, so until it clears up, make a brew and have a biscuit.
You could even have a go at this hearty and warming soup. The addition of smoky Chipotle chillies gives it some added depth. There are a few shops around brum stocking these Mexican delicacies such as Anderson & Hill or Lewis's of MoseleyAncho chillies would also work really well.


(Serves four)

1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled and sliced fairly thinly
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 chipotle chilli, finely chopped
150g chorizo, sliced
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp thyme (ideally fresh)
750 ml stock


First, season and roast your sliced sweet potato with a little vegetable oil. Remove from the oven when it's soft and the edges have begun to caramelise. 

Over a medium heat, fry the chorizo until there's a good coating of orange oil on the bottom of the pan. Add the onions, celery, carrot, garlic and chilli and fry for around 10 minutes until tender, add some more oil to the pan if required. 

Once the vegetables are soft, add a tablespoon of sherry vinegar and allow it to evaporate for a few minutes. Then, add the thyme and stock and simmer for around 10 minutes, season to taste. Blend the soup to a smooth consistency and serve.