Friday 30 March 2012

Beer mixology

Oh how blind we were...

North has led the way in the UK in terms of drinks and drinking, one of the first bars (ie. not a pub) in Leeds and one of the first European style bars in the UK, THE first for so very many of the beers that are now becoming much more readily available in the UK.

But for a time we were blinkered, a rather short time which ended around three years ago, but still a good couple of years in to my tenure in management. Somehow we lost a bit of experimentation and broadmindedness that we began with. We turned our noses up at the very mention of cocktails for a time and people may have been occasionally rebuffed if they asked for something that wasn't 'purest beer' or indeed purist beer.

I'll not dwell on it but while it was still ace and loved by many, the place wasn't firing on all cylinders. I've always loved all sorts of drinks but the discovery of good beer had lead me down a pretty brilliant road towards being enough of an evangelist to run North bar. When I got on top of things, with no little help from some of the brilliant staff who've worked there for the five years I've been boss, cocktails started making a comeback, the spirits selection then of course had to improve and now it has become Extremely Good.

Of course this also reflects the confidence of the British cocktail bar industry and a hell of a lot of new and interesting stuff referred to by the moniker 'mixology'.

First of all I really don't like that word, I will have without doubt denigrated it in a drunken tirade, and,  with extreme vigour. It doesn't seem to work as a word and sounds a bit wanky. It does however have an entry in the dictionary.

Mixology is the art or skill of preparing mixed drinks and a mixologist is a person who studies mixology.

So what the hell eh? You only live once.

Mixing drinks is extremely straightforward and in that respect is no different to cooking AND it gets you pissed. We've been rolling out beer cocktails at North for some time now, we kind of expected more resistance and debate but, somewhat disappointingly, everyone just took them to their hearts without question and no-one called us wankers (not a cue). Just shows what a bit of open-mindedness can achieve really.

If you learn more about food & drinks you learn more about flavours, you also achieve extreme joy in the consumption. You learn about the flavours. The different compounds and delightful sensations. Your mind broadens.

You win.

So now I'm a beer mixologist, along with whatever other dubious accolades I hold (I just listed them to my wife)  and indeed the very first Polak/Brit/Knaresborian on the Beermixology site. My first post is the most successful beer cocktail from our current range, Ladies and Gentlemen the Brooklyn Baltic.

Enjoy x

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Charts - Belgian

I'll post some of my thoughts about Belgian beer appreciation and the UK shortly, thinking about it a lot of course as North's 'Lowlands' festival starts this Thursday.

1. Orval
2. De La Senne - Zinnebir
3. De Struise - Pannepot
4.Westveletern Extra 8
5. 3 Fonteinen - Any Gueuze
6. Chimay Rouge
7. De Dolle - Stout
8. Rocheforte 8
9. Achel Blonde
10. Gouden Caralous

Saturday 10 March 2012

Reprise / Homebrew

So if you don't already know I drunk a bunch of beers over Christmas that I won in a label design competition, they were all home-brews, all brewed by Mr Andy Smith of Redemption brewery (one of my brewers to watch out for in 2012) and pretty much they were all excellent.

I failed in my mission to drink a beer a day by missing the one on the 24th of December. For me the whole thing was to see if a little side blog with built in parameters (a post a day) would be interesting to people, would make me a slightly better writer and would allow me to try a couple of different things that I could use in NBBB. It was difficult to write every day especially among the combination of the Christmas rush at work and the inevitable merry making that goes with it, and I won't be likely to do it again, unless I win another case of 24 different beers of course! 

I got to the last beer yesterday. It was a wassail - a celebratory brew, which was a blend of most of the other beers I'd drunk over the 23 days previously. It was a combination of sourness, porter type flavours, spice, fruit and a multitude of sweeter flavours. It was very good and half a bottle made me feel rather... enhanced. 

I think the point of this whole endeavour for me is that Andy as a professional brewer is churning out some brilliant home brews, some which could be easily bottled and sold on a larger scale if someone could back it up with a bit of cash. That aside the brews were very experimental and well, on paper I was expecting some to be rough, but they were pretty much all delightful. Experimentalism is the key to home brewing for me, I've always found that smaller breweries tend to make more interesting beers and in expansion many breweries can lose some character. 

So the good news for home brewers is that providing you follow some simple rules and don't piss about with the basics you can brew some outstandingly bonkers and delicious beers to share with your mates, enter in competitions or bring to thirsty bar managers to elicit some form of opinion. It's a noble art!

For those who are interested, here's the completed blog... Cheers!