Staffordshires Food and Drink Scene.

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September beers with Candid Beer

Mark and Jess Bamping opened the doors to Candid Beer in Stafford’s Woodings Yard on Good Friday 2019 after years of dreaming, planning and hard work. You can find out…

Mark and Jess Bamping opened the doors to Candid Beer in Stafford’s Woodings Yard on Good Friday 2019 after years of dreaming, planning and hard work. You can find out what Candid’s all about in our interview with Mark in the Autumn 2019 issue of Sauce Magazine, but for here are his top beer recommendations for September…

I recently discovered Lab Culture Brewery in Redditch, and instantly loved the ethos and story that underpins their fantastic beers. ‘Waste with Taste’ is probably one of the more unusual beer descriptors out there, but ultimately that’s what makes Lab Culture a truly unique brewery.

Based on a vertical farm, Lab Culture Brewery uses the excess heat created by the farm to heat and power the brewery. So their green credentials are well up there with some of the better known brewers with an environmentally conscious approach to the brewing process, such as Adnams and, more locally, Freedom. We currently have three of Lab Culture’s beers in stock at Candid Beer, and customer feedback has been really positive. Given their innovative and scientific approach to brewing, many of their beers are named after scientists, with a beer-y twist.

Lab Culture Brewery

Gregor Mendale | Pale Ale | 4.2%

This is the first beer that Lab Culture produced and forms part of their core range. It’s an American style pale ale with a hazy appearance and boasts a super smooth mouthfeel. Although the can doesn’t include details of the hop varieties used, it’s safe to assume it features a typical New World hop bill producing notes of citrus fruits, pineapple, and a hint of pine.

Alefred Nobel | Session Rye IPA | 3.6%

Rye beers are not to everyone’s taste, nor are they everyone’s ‘go to’ style. However, I’d encourage everyone to give rye beers a chance, and particularly this cracker from Lab Culture. It has the characteristic nutty and spicy undertones expected in this style of beer, and this is nicely balanced with fresh grapefruit and pine flavours. As a lower strength beer, it’s the sort of drink you could enjoy over and over.

Speciality Brew No. 002 | Lime & Basil Saison | 4%

As the name suggests, this particular beer falls outside Lab Culture’s core range. Personally, I’m a sucker for a saison – a refreshing Belgian-style farmhouse ale. Typically, saisons are characterised by their high carbonation, dry spicy finish and bready sweetness. This saison certainly features those qualities, and the addition of the lime and basil gives this beer an additional tartness and sweetness that is really refreshing. 

Candid Beer
Units 4 & 5, Woodings Yard, Bailey Street, Stafford, ST17 4BG
candidbeer.co.uk

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July beers with Brews of the World

Chris McCormack, co-owner of Brews of the World bottle shop and bar in Burton-on-Trent, is back with some tasty recommendations for July. If you’re stuck for ideas for something new…

Chris McCormack, co-owner of Brews of the World bottle shop and bar in Burton-on-Trent, is back with some tasty recommendations for July. If you’re stuck for ideas for something new to try after a day out on the road or with that last-minute barbecue, head to see Chris and Robin on Station Street and look out for these…

Brouwerij De Brabandere Kwaremont Belgian Pale, 6.6%

Kwaremont Pale Ale

Belgium, where the Tour de France began this year, is regarded by many as the spiritual home of both beer and cycling, especially in Flanders where the two often go hand-in-hand.  And there can be no more appropriate beverage to enjoy while watching la grande boucle this July than the cycling beer par excellence, Kwaremont pale ale.

Deep blond, malty, sweet and refreshing after a long, hot day in the saddle, this beer is perfect for the cycling aficionado in your life. Named after the Oude Kwaremont, the famous cobbled road near Oudenaarde (also known as the ‘calf biter’), its ABV at 6.6% matches the average gradient of this hill which has featured in so many classic bike races in that country over the years.

Ideal food pairings: cheese (if you can find them, Belgian goats’ cheeses such as Chevrin or Cabriolait are perfect) or paté on crackers, casseroles.


Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Wheat Beer Mix, 2.5% 

Schoefferhofer Grapefruit WeissenProbably the most refreshing drink you will enjoy this summer. Schöfferhofer Grapefruit is a half-and-half blend of their wheat beer with a grapefruit-based juice drink. Combining the classic flavours of banana, cloves and spices that you expect from a Bavarian Weiss with the tart, citrusy sweetness of grapefruit, it is incredibly light and gently sparkling.

At just 2.5% ABV it is perfect for a leisurely brunch, a barbecue or just relaxing in the garden on those all too rare hot, sunny days. It can also be incorporated into beer cocktails – anyone for a grapefruit beer bellini? Check out the Schöfferhofer website for further inspiration.

Ideal food pairings: barbecued food, smoked salmon, apple tarts or turnovers.


Tynt Meadow English Trappist Ale, 7.4%

There are only fourteen official Trappist breweries – where the brewing process is entirely undertaken by monks or nuns, within the confines of an abbey – worldwide, and now we have one on the doorstep in neighbouring Leicestershire.

The monks of Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, near Coalville, found that there was no money any more in dairy farming, so they sold their herd and took up brewing instead. Their new offering is in demand and the Abbey, where the monks also make pottery and honey, only produces enough of it to cover their expenses and charitable commitments in accordance with the Trappist ethos.

Tynt Meadow is a strong, dark brown ale, similar to a Belgian Dubbel in appearance and taste, yet unmistakably English. Aromas of liquorice, dark chocolate and rich fruit lead to notes of vine fruit, soft brown sugar, pepper and figs. Finally, smooth, warming alcohol leaves a warm and dry finish on the palate. 

Ideal food pairings: strong cheese, fruit cake, dark chocolate desserts.

Brews of the World
159 Station Street, Burton-on-Trent, DE14 1BN
facebook.com/BOTWBurton/

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June beers with Brews of the World

Chris McCormack and Robin Ludlow opened Brews of the World on Station Street in Burton-on-Trent almost two years ago now. You can find out more about their backstory and the…

Chris McCormack and Robin Ludlow opened Brews of the World on Station Street in Burton-on-Trent almost two years ago now. You can find out more about their backstory and the variety of beers they stock in the latest edition of Sauce magazine.

Here are Chris and Robin’s top picks for June drinking, all available now at Brews of the World.

Rauchbier Weizen, Aecht Schlenkerla, 5.2%

One of the legendary Rauchbier (‘smoked beer’) range from Schlenkerla, who are based in the town of Bamberg in Franconia. Allegedly named after a former brewer whose gangling gait may (or may not) have been due to over-consumption of his own products, Schlenkerla Weizen is brewed with unsmoked wheat malt, barley malt which has been smoked over beech woodchips and top-fermenting yeast (as opposed to lagers which are brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast).

Unfiltered and naturally hazy, this fine beer has spicy notes of cloves and banana – as expected from a Bavarian-style wheat beer – coupled with warm, smoky notes reminiscent of smoked cheese or bacon. At 5.2% ABV, it’s ideal if this is your first foray into German Rauchbier.

Ideal food pairings: seafood, chicken and pork, barbecue food.

Organic Chocolate Stout, Samuel Smith Old Brewery
, 5%

Samuel Smith's Chocolate Stout

Many so-called ‘chocolate’ beers don’t contain any actual cocoa, but make a spurious claim to the name through their use of chocolate malt – barley roasted to a dark colour which can offer similar flavour notes. Always read the label.

Having said that, there are a growing number of chocolate beers that live up to their billing. The cream of the crop is arguably Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout from Tadcaster in North Yorkshire – often referred to in brewing circles as ‘The Burton of the North’ due to the local water (‘liquor’ in brewing parlance) being similar in composition with regards to mineral content, making for great pale ales.

It clearly makes for decent dark beers too, judging by this smooth, rich, chocolatey offering with organic cocoa, sugar, hops and barley. It’s syrupy and sweet with a deep chocolatey finish.

Ideal food pairings: ice cream, cake, anything sweet.  Some of our customers mix this in a glass with Sam Smith’s Organic Cherry Beer (also available from us); and claim it tastes like Black Forest Gateau…

Duchesse de Bourgogne Flemish Red AleDuchesse de Bourgogne Flemish Red Ale, Brouwerij Verhaeghe,
 6.2%

This red ale from Flanders – the Dutch (or Flemish) speaking north of Belgium – is a throwback to an older style of brewing which was once much more widespread and shares its roots with other ales, including British porters. A blend of two ales brewed with Lactobacillus bacteria and wild yeasts such as Brettanomyces, Duchesse de Bourgogne is then aged in oak casks.

Known as the Burgundy of Belgium and named after Mary of Burgundy, who lived between 1457 and 1482 and is depicted on the label, this Belgian classic cannot fail to remind you of balsamic vinegar; you’ll also get cherries, tart sourness and berry sweetness.

Ideal food pairings: white chocolate, caramel, strawberries and blue cheese.

Brews of the World
159 Station Street, Burton-on-Trent, DE14 1BN
facebook.com/BOTWBurton/

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May beers with Otter’s Tears

Phil Hardy, owner of Otter’s Tears in Burslem, is back with his final instalment of Spring beer recommendations… This month it’s all about the hops! Much as I love a…

Phil Hardy, owner of Otter’s Tears in Burslem, is back with his final instalment of Spring beer recommendations…

This month it’s all about the hops! Much as I love a good rich malty dark beer, especially at the end of the day, as the weather warms you just can’t beat reaching for a cold, juicy IPA – and boy do we have some beauties in the shop at the moment.

With that firmly in mind, I’m kicking off with an old favourite of mine that has returned revitalised after a short period of absence: Ageless IPA from Macclesfield brewers RedWillow. “A blast from the past, our old school IPA takes no prisoners, hopped right through the boil and dry hopped to death. Upfront it is all tropical fruit and aroma, then it finishes with a long and assertive bitterness.”

I’ve known Toby and Caroline at RedWillow for many years and consequently have drank a lot of their beer. Ageless has always been a favourite, but there’s something about this release that is setting it apart – it’s just so drinkable. So drinkable in fact that I bought myself a full case to take home and it’s my current go-to fridge filler. That is definitely a first for me, because as you can imagine I’m rarely short of choices for a beer.

WxY4 Southern Hemisphere IPA is the result of a meeting of minds between Geordie brewers Wylam and New Zealand based Yeastie Boys, possibly the best name for a brewery EVER. “The tetrad edition of the OG juice bomb. Brewed annually with our favourite NZ beer boys Yeastie Boys. This year’s sacred hop offering delivers fresh Nelson Sauvin, Galaxy, Moutere and Motueka.”

Last year’s release WxY3 was one of my beers of the year, so I’m super excited to be able to get lots of this in to lubricate you through the next few weeks. Expect it to be big, dank and juicy, with grape-like flavours and hints of pepper: overall super refreshment!

The grand finale this month is a bit of a beast in more ways than one, a 10% Imperial IPA with beautifully ferocious can art to match. Illicium Imperial Milkshake IPA is from Manchester’s masters of lactose, Wander Beyond Brewing. “Part of our Milkshake range. We upped the hops, lactose, oats and vanilla to deliver a smooth, fruity and sweet dessert style IPA. Well hopped with Mosaic and Citra. This juice smoothie is as enticing as an illicium – the luring light of an angler fish.”

Wander Beyond have produced some incredible beers in the last year or so and whilst not all of them have used lactose in the brewing process, the imperial stouts and massively fruited imperial IPAs like this one have firmly cemented them as favourites in the current craft beer scene. Crazy sweet, thick and juicy, it’s basically hoppy custard!

Check out find Phil’s March and April beer picks, or head straight to Otter’s Tears to browse the vast selection on offer and get some personalised recommendations.

Otter’s Tears
24 Queen Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 3EG
www.otterstears.beer

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April beers with Otter’s Tears

We welcome back Phil Hardy, owner of Otter’s Tears in Burslem, for more beer recommendations this month… Following on from last month’s instalment, I thought I’d focus on breweries that…

We welcome back Phil Hardy, owner of Otter’s Tears in Burslem, for more beer recommendations this month…

Following on from last month’s instalment, I thought I’d focus on breweries that have meant a lot to me over the years – people who have become firm friends as well as brewing the beers I love and can trust to deliver.

Torrside brew in New Mills up in the High Peak. It’s a democratic set-up between 3 experienced home-brewers – Chris, Nick, and Peter – with support from their long-suffering partners, one of whom is the talented artist who designs the labels for each beer. The guys started out with the mindset of wanting to brew what they loved to drink, and this is reflected in their smoked beers, imperial strength monsters, and well-balanced hop-bombs. With that in mind, I’ve sneaked in two beers for one here.

Torrside Sto Lat GrodziskieZenkai Pale Ale, 3.7%
Part of a two-way collaboration with Bramhall’s Made Of Stone. A simple, crisp malt base allows Mosaic and Chinook hops to come shining through in the aroma. With plenty of grapefruit and mango flavours, Zenkai is a delicious session pale ale perfect for the changing season.

Sto Lat Grodziskie,  2.8%
Grodziskie is a traditional Polish beer style brewed using 100% oak-smoked wheat, and Sto Lat stays as true to the style as possible. Ultra-pale with plenty of fizz, it owes its refreshing bitterness to Polish hops. The smoke comes through particularly well in such a low ABV beer, with an end result lying somewhere in the unexplored hinterland between champagne and smoked ham! Head Brewer Chris thinks this beer perfectly represents Torrside; I think it will also appeal to the flavour loving readers of Sauce.

Northern Monk Seismic Shift DDH IPAI’ve followed Northern Monk from long before their first brew. Back even before current head brewer Brian’s mammoth, year-long training journey with some of the world’s finest brewers across multiple continents, we have a long history and friendship. The Northern Monk Patrons Project is an initiative set up to foster collaboration, creativity and community between artists, athletes and creatives across the North. This is their latest release, which features peel-able label art from amazing street-style artist Tank Petrol.

Seismic Shift Double Dry Hopped Double IPA, 8.5%
Simcoe hops feature prominently in this beer, bringing passionfruit, grapefruit and dank pine to the forefront. It carries tangerine notes of Amarillo, the tropical flavours of Citra and Mosaic and finally a touch of floral, citrus Loral. A high percentage of flaked oats in the grist, plus a touch of wheat, ensure a soft mouthfeel. Fermentation with their IPA yeast of choice leaves an accentuating sweetness with generous peach and apricot esters.

Durham Brewery DiabolusOur final beer is from Durham Brewery and is a bit of a beast. Durham have been at this brewing malarkey for a long time, so they know a thing or two about good beer. I was first introduced to them around 2010 and was immediately hooked by their mastery of tradition and willingness to embrace innovation. I helped launch their White Stout, a beer with the qualities and flavours you’d expect to find in something black as pitch, whilst being pale and transparent. I also built a Twitter-led international Imperial Stout tasting session around their beautiful Temptation Russian Imperial Stout, which leads perfectly onto the third beer: Diabolus, a variation on that brew.

Diabolus Rum Cask Aged Imperial Stout, 11.5%
In a very limited edition of just 600 bottles, this batch of Diabolus – like all the others – is a variation on the theme of Temptation. Durham have matured the beer in oak rum casks, resulting in a deep dark colour with flavours to match. Aromas of rum and black treacle with hints of oak precede a body that’s creamy and full, with strong liquorice flavours. Sharp, fresh morello cherry and damson notes cutting through this rich umami body, and the finish is long and lingering.

You can pick up April’s picks at Otter’s Tears this month, and find Phil’s March beer recommendations here.

Otter’s Tears
24 Queen Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 3EG
www.otterstears.beer

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March beers with Otter’s Tears

Otter’s Tears is an independent beacon calling out to beer lovers on Burslem’s high street. The bottle shop is owned and run by Phil Hardy, who opened it in 2015…

Otter’s Tears is an independent beacon calling out to beer lovers on Burslem’s high street.

The bottle shop is owned and run by Phil Hardy, who opened it in 2015 with the goal of supplying customers with great quality, interesting beers from across the UK and the Continent. You can read the full story of Phil’s love affair with craft beer in the Spring 2019 edition of Sauce, out next week.

Beer connoisseur Phil kindly put together these tasting notes on his top picks for what you should be drinking this March. Find these beers at Otter’s Tears while stocks last, and look out for more recommendations from some of Phil’s favourite breweries in April and May.

Elusive Brewing x Weird Beard
Lord Nelson 2019, 6.8%

I met Andy Parker, owner and head brewer at Elusive, around 2010. He was in IT back then, a beer blogger and keen home-brewer. Knowing my love of saison style beer, he sent me a bottle of this to try long before he ever brewed it commercially at Weird Beard and now at his own brewery in Finchampstead. It blew me away then and still does today. Lord Nelson is a single-hopped saison designed to showcase the wonderfully aromatic Nelson Sauvin hop from New Zealand. Expect a pale and hazy beer with aromas and flavours of Sauvignon Blanc grapes and gooseberries from the hop, with bubblegum notes brought into the mix by the saison yeast.

Siren Craft Brew x Track Brewing
Strawberry Praline, 7.4%

Literally over the road from Elusive you can find Siren, joined for this brew by Manchester’s Track Brewing. The first thing that hits you as you take a sip is a tang of sharp strawberry purée, quickly enveloped by dark chocolate and roasted hazelnuts. This is a robust but smooth and creamy stout, subtly sweet with a hint of strawberry syrup. It slips down like a chocolate and strawberry milkshake topped with toasted nuts. A full-flavoured treat!

Burnt Mill x Cloudwater
Lying Low IPA, 7.4%

Cloudwater, established in 2014, took the world beer scene by storm. With a definite slant towards hazy hop-forward styles they quickly reached number two on the world brewing stage according to Ratebeer. Burnt Mill are only a couple of years old, but are clearly going in the same direction – a definite one to watch. This collaborative India Pale Ale brewed at Burnt Mill’s Suffolk brewhouse is a proper juice-bomb. Soft sweetness gives way to pithy bitterness in perfect balance. Heavily hopped with a blend of Citra, Mosaic, Enigma and Idaho-7 for aromas of ripe peach and passionfruit. With tropical fruit flavours and aromas to match, this definitely deserves a space in your beer fridge.

Otter’s Tears
24 Queen Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 3EG
www.otterstears.beer

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Full of Christmas spirit

Bottle dispensary Doctor’s Orders only opened its doors in February 2018, but the passion and expertise of owner Ben (and a dash of adorable in the form of shop spaniel…

Bottle dispensary Doctor’s Orders only opened its doors in February 2018, but the passion and expertise of owner Ben (and a dash of adorable in the form of shop spaniel Billy) have seen it go from strength to strength since. Sauce caught up with Ben for our Autumn/Winter edition to gain some insight into trends in the spirit industry and glean some stellar ‘gift’ recommendations, from rum to whisky and gin.

Revel in rum

As the seasons change, so too does your palate. The colder months call to mind brown spirits, but rum has a foot in both camps. It’s at home in tropical summer cocktails, but works equally well as winter comes around as a sipper over ice.

Traditionally kept in the Caribbean or with specialist providers, rum is now more accessible to a public who are waking up to its great value proposition: You can get a 10 or 12 year old rum for the price of an 8 year old whisky. Spiced rum can be turned around in months rather than years and has a wide appeal; there are some on the sweeter side, some very complex examples, and none are taking themselves too seriously.

The wide range of island styles, distillation styles, ageing profiles, and interesting cask agents mean rum is no longer viewed as a dark, medicinal liquid that has to be mixed with coke. Foursquare are setting the standard, having won three gold medals and two trophies at this year’s International Spirit Challenge awards, including Supreme Champion for their 2005 release.

The wonder of whisky

Appreciation is growing for the very experimental whiskeys coming out of Ireland at the moment. Distillers are using a variety of different casks for ageing to enhance their flavour profiles and some of the emerging local porter cask ageings are fabulous. Whereas Scottish whisky has tended to be seen as a ‘male’ drink, especially the heavier peated examples, the new Irish whiskeys seem to appeal to both sexes. Experimentation and variety appear to be opening peoples’ minds and palates.

Meanwhile, Japanese whisky has been winning plenty of awards. Unconstrained by the same straitjacket of legislation and tradition as Scottish whiskies, we are seeing a level of innovation from Japanese distillers. They have unique flavour profiles, but we inevitably end up paying a premium for them here in the UK.

The ever popular gin

Pink and flavoured gins have been the drinks of the summer, easily overtaking the London Drys, but whether that popularity carries on into the colder months only time will tell. People have a sweet tooth, but a gin has to have prominent juniper flavours to be gin.

People are more interested now in pushing their palate and understanding why something is different. This means they are more open to experimenting and trying spirits neat, but the rebirth of gin and proliferation of tasting parties has also had an impact on manufacturers of mixers, with more premium brands coming through.

What was once seen as a throwaway is now an integral part of the drink and is carefully chosen based on whether you want it to complement or contrast with the spirit. Brands like Double Dutch are moving to develop more mixers for brown spirits.

Ben recommends…

£30-£40 price range

Garden Tiger (47% ABV): An interesting and complex gin, perfect for those who enjoy the London Dry style.

Teeling’s Small Batch (46% ABV): A fabulous everyday sipper made with a blend of malted and unmalted barley, aged in rum casks.

Doorly’s XO (40% ABV): A great example of a good, honest, unadulterated rum with none of the added sugar or flavourings you get in some other styles.

£40-£60 price range

Trevethan Chauffeur’s Reserve (57% ABV): An excellent example of a navy strength gin, perfect in a spirit-forward cocktail like a negroni or dry martini.

Redbreast Lustau Edition (46% ABV): A super Irish whiskey matured in oak before finishing in Oloroso Sherry casks from Bodegas Lustau for a year.

Foursquare 2005 (59% ABV): Simply aged in bourbon barrels in Barbados and bottled at cask strength, this is a stunning rum with plenty of flavour and nuance. One to warm the cockles.

Doctor’s Orders Bottle Dispensary
Unit 4a, Heart Of The Country Shopping Village, Lichfield, WS14 9QR
www.facebook.com/DoctorsOrdersLichfield 

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