Posted tagged ‘Proper Job’

St Austell Proper Job, Moor Revival, Cotswold Spring Old Sodbury Mild and Butcombe Bitter among awards at 2013 Great British Beer Festival

August 14, 2013

St Austell – Proper Job Moor’s RevivalCotswold Spring’s Old Sodbury Mild and Butcombe Bitter were among the winners at the 2013 Great British Beer Festival at Olympia in London.

They didn’t win the top prize of Best Beer in Britain, which went to Yorkshire brewery Elland’s 1872 Porter, but there were wins in the bottled and cask beer categories.

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When Foodies South West made Cornish pasties for the first time – with help from Paul Hollywood

January 14, 2013

To mark the opening of entries to the World Pasty Championships, a tale about my own first foray into the world of Cornish pasty-making.
You may have seen the picture below on the Foodies Facebook page as I was rather proud of them as a first effort.
Their genesis involved no blood, a lot of sweat and toil, almost some tears – and a lot of swearing.
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You see, I decided to make the Cornish pasties on the best day possible to do experimental cooking…Christmas Eve!

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10 Westcountry beers you should try

January 8, 2011

Having shown my utter contempt for New Year detox plans earlier this week, I continue to poo in the fridge of frugal and righteous living. Here are 10 beers from the South West I have tried since I started this blog, and before, that you should try if you have not already. I’ve tried to include the whole South West, so hopefully there might be some you are not familiar with that will tickle your taste buds. It obviously isn’t an exhaustive list and I have no doubt you all know great local beers I should be tasting. So the more comments left here the better!

Fossil Fuel (4.1% Purbeck Brewery)

To use the hackneyed cliché, this is a Marmite beer that will polarise drinkers. It isn’t an easy sup if you like your beer session-y and light, with its strong whisky barrell tastes. But I liked it all the more for that when I tried it at the Castle Inn in Lulworth Cove, not a million miles from the brewery at Studland in Dorset.

Cornish Stinger (4.5% Woodswild)

Another interesting taste, this Cornish “beer” is made from nettles, which makes it a light refreshing summer
drink enjoyed well-chilled with a barbecue. I first tried it lounging in the summer sunshine at the Rock Oyster Festival and it was glorious.

An Howl (5.6% Penpont Brewery)

Another great summer drink, An Howl is from the small Penpont Brewery on Bodmin Moor, one of my favourites. An Howl is Kernewek for “the sun” and it is a powerful golden beer ideal for supping as the An Howl slips beyond the horizon! Plus 10p from each bottle goes to the Cornwall Rural Community Council.

Devon Pride (3.8% South Hams Brewery)

Devon Pride

Whenever I go to watch Plymouth Albion play rugby at home, one of the highlights (sometimes the only one) is the South Hams Brewery concession to the right of the main stand. Here I can get a pint of Devon pride and drink while watching them los…sorry win. A top little session beer.

Milk Stout (4.5% Bristol Beer Factory)

A close call between this and the brewery’s No. 7 ale for the list, this burnt almost coffee-flavoured beer is a great heavy filler for a cold winter evening, full of flavour and warmth. You can see Andrew from the brewery
talking about its beers here.

Otter Amber (4.0% Otter Brewery)

One of East Devon’s finest in my opinion, not  greatly widely available to my knowledge (at least on this side of Devon) and was lucky to have a pint at the Passage House Inn in Topsham with friends last May, as we ate dinner and watched the sun set over the Exe marshes. Glorious surrounding for a glorious amber beer.

Proper Job (4.5% St Austell Brewery)

In my opinion the best beer in the St Austell Brewery range, although it is also probably the most expensive. Nowhere near as fruity as the more widespread Tribute, which some find too overpowering, it is a very drinkable premium ale and the one I drink in a pub if it is on.

Doom Bar (4.3% Sharp’s Brewery)

Yeah ok it’s an obvious and widely available beer, hardly underground, but I like it – brewed at Sharp’s Brewery in Rock, North Cornwall. A good honest pint you can drink several pints of in a sitting. Should you be so inclined of course.

Dark Side (4.0% Bath Ales)

Another great burned and chocolate stout from a Bristol brewer. I had a great pint of this while nailing half a dozen oysters at Source Food Hall and Cafe and it was great, thick and satisfying and a contrast to the slippery salty oysters. Can’t say fairer than that.

Jail Ale (4.8% Dartmoor Brewery)

My dad got several bottles of this at Christmas time as part of a spanking great hamper of treats I got for my parents. It’s brewed in the middle of Dartmoor within a stone’s throw of the famous prison in Princetown and is one of the local reliables that can always be relied upon to be a good drop.

PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY

Competition: Win tickets to the Celtic Beer Festival at St Austell Brewery in Cornwall

November 22, 2010

Like beer? Can you get to St Austell on Saturday morning? Then you might be interested in this latest Foodies South West competition.

I have two tickets to the excellent Celtic Beer Festival, being held in the bowels of the St Austell Brewery this coming Saturday, November 27, from 11am to 11pm. There are scores of beers to choose from, not just from Cornwall but from all countries of the world with a tenuous Celtic link. There is also the secret weapon, Grandma’s Weapons Grade Ginger Beer. Not to be trifled with.

Details here, if you squint.

You’ll still have to queue I’m afraid, but get to the front of the queue (which gets very long after 12 noon) and your names will be on the guest list, so it is ideal for a couple of you going with a group of friends. All money goes to charity so drink deep and do some good!

What is more, chart-bothering shanty minstrels Fishermen’s Friends are among the bands playing.

So how do you enter? Simple. You are all, I assume, on Facebook, so all you have to do is “like” the Foodies South West page and write the name of one of St Austell Brewery’s family of beers on the wall. Deadlien is Thursday afternoon at 2pm, after which I will pick one lucky winner and sent them a message to tell them they have won.

So it is dead simple. Get on Facebook to be in with a chance of winning. Good luck!

Foodies South West live at Dartmouth Food Festival 2010

November 22, 2010

Of all the journalistic assignments I have undertaken, this was never likely to rank among the most onerous.

One blustery autumn evening I found myself in the visitor centre at the St Austell Brewery, being invited to drink not one but seven different beers, entirely for free. There was one catch – staying compos mentis enough to write down what we thought of each beer.

Under the watchful and expert eye of St Austell’s head brewer, Roger Ryman, we were to sup, sip, slurp and sink an array of beers and put them in order of preference, while writing individual tasting notes, as a master of wine might do for a fine vintage.

The purpose? To help the brewer pick a session beer to go into pubs and bars in 2011 – permanently. The brewery has previously done internal tastings but they wanted a more impartial audience.

There were no badges on the pumps, just numbers. We were not even told how many of the seven were St Austell’s own brews – all we were told was that they were all from the South West and they were all session ales of between 3.5 and 4 per cent alcohol, to make it as fair a test as possible. We were to judge the beers on colour, aroma, taste and body. And we were warned about going down the row from one to seven, because of the way drinkers like beer (first one ok, second better, three, four and five brilliant, but slightly sick of beer by six and seven).

Dutifully we went forth and drank. After warming up with a half of Tribute we started the game proper. All the drinks came in the form of halves of ale – we were, after all, not there to fall over. Mr Ryman, striding around purposefully and trying not to look at what people had written, kept a close eye on proceedings. Among my fellow drinkers were an assortment of publicans, pub regulars and others with a love of beer – including Camra officials.

What became immediately apparent was despite their geographical and strength similarity there was a huge variety of tastes and smells on display, ranging from the sulphuric to the fruity to the hoppy.

At the same time as we were tasting, we were all trying to work out what each of the beers was. “That one tastes like Doom Bar”, or “that’s Tinners, isn’t it?” were among the conversation questions going around the tables in the bar at the visitors’ centre. The question was, would trying to guess the ale be likely to lead you to fall back on previously held feelings towards the beer?

After a couple of hours and a much-needed nutritional pasty, matters came to a head. Each of us had filled in our score cards and our last act, before Mr Ryman revealed all, was to go and get a pint of what we thought was the best beer. The results were pretty clear. Number two was the overall winner, with numbers three and six closely following.

Finally, to a hushed silence, Mr Ryman revealed all. Luckily for St Austell, it went well for the brewery. Beer number two was their experimental brew, the real reason we were there – to see how the drinking public took to it. Something in the manner of a Tribute it was a fruity explosion of a beer, with an amazing aroma of grapefruit, of all things.

Number three was also a St Austell beer – the Tun50 beer they produced earlier this year for the Western Morning News’ 150th anniversary campaign. It was a sell-out then and proved popular again on the night.

Number six, well that wasn’t a St Austell Beer. That was Otter Ale from East Devon, proving popular West of the Tamar and drawing appreciative murmurs from the assembled Cornishmen.

And how did people do in identifying the beers? Well I did OK, I managed to recognise Tun50 and Sharp’s Doom Bar (number five). But I didn’t recognise Otter or Skinner’s Betty Stoggs (number seven), which I was annoyed at. And I had to apologise, sort of, to Mr Ryman, because I put St Austell’s popular Tinners ale plumb last of the seven to my taste. Others did better, recognising a fair number of the beers. It was easy to spot the real barflies!

Overall, it was fascinating to go behind the scenes and take part in the test – and it was of use to the brewery as well. All we can do now is wait for the final product to hit the pumps…

*This story is Copyright Western Morning News.

There’s no such thing as a free beer

April 28, 2010

It really is amazing, when you write a blog such as this, just how much free stuff people will send you. Seriously. Ask and ye shall receive unto yourself gifts most bountiful.

Except they are not gifts, they are payment in advance. The work you carry out for them is the writing – and they are hoping you are not a dodgy workman leaving them with shoddy foundations.

But enough half-baked 7am analogies, this blog is all about working off some debts that have been hanging around. Over the last few weeks I have been given several beers and ciders from Westcountry producers and nary a word has been written about them. My bad.

To start, a trio of beers from the St Austell Brewery. I supped each of the brewer’s three main tipples: Tribute, Proper Job and HSD.

Ale-met by sunlight, proud Titania...

Now I like Tribute. Quite a few of my friends and peers find it a bit too fruity (calm down), but I like it because of that, simply because it is a bit different to other real ales you imbibe in this part of the world. It’s a light, fruity beer, you know the one, probably, because you can buy it in loads of pubs down here and also in selected supermarkets and some of our fine independent shops. I even saw it in cans  the other day *shudder*. That notwithstanding it is a really good beer for a summer day in a pub garden.

The one I really like however is Proper Job. Hidden slightly in the shadow of Tribute’s popularity, it is the beer I will choose to have if I stumble upon (and into) a pub which has it on tap. It’s nowhere near as fruity as Tribute, but its a good hearty ale which again is excellent in a pub garden in the summer. If there is a summer of course, but it is equally good, as I have found, with a meal or drunk on its own at the bar of a night.

The only one of the St Austell trio that didn’t ring my bell was HSD or Hicks Special Draft. It’s “based on the original cask recipe”, but even so, I have to admit, it did very little for me as a beer. It just didn’t stand out.

Right, that’s one brewery down. The next to provide me with the means to get tipsy and chubby was Bristol Beer Factory. These guys sell to a number of pubs in the Bristol area and have their own beer boat in the city, which adds brownie points IMO. They are even available in Plymouth now at the Seco Lounge. Yes, I know it is a chain bar but it is a Westcountry-born one (I think).

I bumped into the guys from the Beer Factory at a food festival a few weeks back and picked up a couple of bottles, one of which was their Milk Stout and the other their Gold ale.

I was intrigued by the Milk Stout, because certainly in the South West I haven’t come across many microbreweries that make a full-on stout. And anyone who even locally challenges the faux-Irish cheeky chappie Guinness hegemony gets a gold star.

The Milk Stout is so-called because it has lactose sugars added during the brewing process. This, while not making it into a beer-flavoured white Russian, does add a lovely velvety smoothness as it slips down your throat. And it was a really nice drink as well, I do like a dark ale, a complete contrast with the St Austell ales but a great flavour nonetheless.

The Gold also is worth checking out if you can get hold of bottles (they do mail order if you are far away) – light and golden. I won’t mention a pub garden on a summer day, otherwise I’d be in repetition hell. But you get the idea.

Last but not least, get on some cider.

Cornish Rattler has been, in my own humble opinion, a bit of a teenagers drink in the past. Not in the “illicit consumption in parks, avoiding dog turds in the dark” sort of way. But with its cobra bar taps and the shades-wearing snake on its labels it was aimed at the young legal drinker getting tanked on a Saturday night market. Which is fair enough. But it has recently undergone a bit of a rebrand. The shades-wearing cobra has been relegated to the neck of the bottle in favour of a more upmarket label, with maker Healey’s looking to get in on the slightly older thirst quenching market.

I tried three different flavours – the straight cyder, berry cyder and the pear cyder.

The berry cyder was, well, slightly strange. I know there are other varieties of berry cider on the market, but I’d never tried them. I found it a bit weird. Not necessarily bad, just a bit weird.
The plus point was that the berry taste was not all-conquering. The taste of the cyder still came through, with a berry hint, if I may go a bit Loyd Grossman. But counting against it was the fact that, for my taste buds at least, it was too sweet.

The same went for the pear cyder. After marking them down for not calling it perry it again was a “bit” too sweet for me. But then I started to think about it and all other perry/pear cider I have had in the past has been artisan at beer and cider festivals. Perhaps I’m being a little over-purist to expect market-produced drinks to taste like that. Overall, I preferred it to the berry cider.

The best of the lot was actually the straight cider. Punching its way into the ring at 6% alcohol, it has been the downfall of several evenings out when I didn’t check its strength beforehand. But supped serenely it is actually a nice cider – cloudy, not too fizzy and it slipped down pretty nicely after a hard day at the writing coalface, as the sun set over Cornwall in the distance.

And I leave you with that mental image. Over and out.