and now for something different…& Union Beer

Apr 11, 15 and now for something different…& Union Beer

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While it is true that I’m the Winesleuth, I have started to branch out a bit into the world of craft beers. I like beer but it’s never been something that I took a more than perfunctory look at. However, with the proliferation of craft and artisan beers, I’m giving them a go. Recently, I was introduced to a rather unique brand, & Union. The brand was founded in 2007 in South Africa and quickly became the biggest craft beer in S. Africa. In 2010, they launched in the UK and now have 10 different styles of beer. The labels are clean and simple – as are the names, Unflt Lager, Beast of the Deep, Steph Weiss, Bern Stein, Brewers Union, Sundae and Handwerk. & Union outsource their beer making to family owned breweries in Bavaria and Belgium. The first brewery they contracted was 500 year old and is run by the 6th generation of brewers.  Like flying winemakers, & Union also contract brewmasters to create unique recipes for each of their brews. The range consists of 10 different styles, from a lager to the newest IPA. All of their beers are unfiltered, unpasteurized and as they adhere to German purity laws, they are naturally vegan (if you’re into that sort of thing). They only use 4 ingredients and take 6 – 10 weeks to brew their beers which is unusual when compared to mass produced beers (2 weeks). Their latest release is called Friday. It’s an unfiltered IPA that is their version of the American-style IPA, deep copper in colour, with a peachy palate and a hoppy dryness on the finish. They recommend it with spicy foods like Cajun, BBQ, Indian curries and Szechuan food. I was also able to try the rest of the range and I have to say, they were very tasty, unusually light and not bloat-y or gassy. I really liked these beers. Their range is available at Wholefoods and specialty stockists. They are also the only beer on tap...

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Beer (!) and food matched at Quilon, London

Beer and pizza. That was about the extent of my beer and food matching horizons. That is until I attended a “Girls Night” beer and food matching dinner put on by Rupert Ponsonby, of R&R Teamwork, at the White Horse in Parsons Green. The aim of the evening was to show that beer was more then just lager and could be just as good a partner with food as wine. We had a very interesting and delicious variety of ales and beers from all over the world. Much as when wine is matched correctly with food, beer could surprisingly perform the same function, a tasty food and drink combination. We (me and my flatmate Giordana) had enjoyed the beer and food matching evening so much that Rupert suggested we try the 5-course beer matching meal at Quilon where Rupert had worked with Executive Chef Sriram Vishwanathan Aylur to pair each dish with Sriram’s expertly paired dishes. I have to admit, as much as I think that wine is the perfect accompaniment to food, with Indian food, beer always seems to be the best beverage. I dragged Giordi along with me, according to her, Italians prefer beer to wine when dining. I don’t know about that…but anyway, we showed up for Sunday lunch one early Spring day at Quilon. The chef of Quilon, Sriram Aylur is a big fan of beer and food matching and has paired his south-west Indian coastal cuisine with a variety of beers and ales from all over the world. Coastal cuisine, I’m thinking lots of fish and the menu did consist mostly of fish and seafood. Starters were poppadoms, love them, paired with an Alsatian grand cru lager, the Kasteel Cru rose made from champagne yeasts with added elderflower juice. Nice bubbles, it was quite soft and refined, hard to believe we were drinking lager. A soft, pale, red colour, full of flavour, delicious and was tasty with the coconut chutney and poppadoms. Next we moved onto an American wheat...

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The Scots have an alcohol problem

Here’s an old Scottish joke to start off today. “Alcohol is your trouble” said the sheriff to the drunk. “Alcohol alone is responsible for your present predicament.” The drunk looked pleased as he said, “Yer lairdship’s maist kind. A’body else says it’s ma ain fault!” Substitute Scottish government for sheriff and you can see how the Scots have come up with these new proposals to tackle alcohol abuse. Here are their latest efforts: 1. Create a separate checkout line at the supermarket. A sort of walk of shame, if you will. If anything this would just aggravate me but I’d still get in line. People who drink til they puke in the streets are probably pretty oblivious to the whole “walk of shame” thing. All that proposal does is inconvenience shoppers. 2. A ban on sales to under 21’s in shops. But only in shops. If you want to nip down to the pub or go to a bar or restaurant and you’re under 21 then that’s ok. Does this make any sense at all? I’ve seen plenty of drunken teenagers hanging out of pubs on a Friday nite here in London, I don’t think it’s any different up North. 3. The last proposal is a 35 pence per unit tax on alcohol. It’s the same old tax and spend. I wonder what that money is earmarked for? Raising taxes doesn’t seem to work, all it does is penalize responsible drinkers and add money to the government coffers. What they should do is ensure that supermarket beers, ciders and alcopops are reasonably priced. If you can walk into a supermarket and buy beer for 20p a can, there is something wrong with the pricing policy. Lumping wine into this category is just plain wrong in my view. How many kids get drunk on a Cotes du Rhone or Bordeaux? Cider and beer are cheaper and (from the binge drinkers point of view) taste better and get you drunk faster. Rather then coming up with...

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