Showing posts with label England. Show all posts
Showing posts with label England. Show all posts

Monday, January 10, 2022

Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout

There is a brewery in northern England that produces some great beer, sends it down the road in horse-drawn carts and around the world in more modern shipping conveyances.  Samuel Smith's Brewery lays claim to being the oldest in Yorkshire, established in 1758.

They brew a number of beers using natural ingredients, sometimes even organic.  The Samuel Smith's fermentation process happens in large containers which they call stone Yorkshire Squares, made from solid blocks of slate.  The same yeast strain has been used since the 1800s. 

The grist - malted barley - is mixed with heated well water from the original well on the property.  This happens in copper mash tuns, then sent on to antique boiling coppers where English hop varieties like Fuggles and Goldings are added for bitterness and aroma.  Next up, the copper hop backs, where the spent hops are removed from the wort.

Samuel Smith's uses handmade oak casks for all its ale. The casks are made and repaired at the Old Brewery by their cooper, who is employed full-time.

All this care and attention come to fruition in Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout.  Brewed using organic chocolate malt and organic cocoa, it blends the best of both worlds - stout and chocolate.  Alcohol is a session-sized 5% abv.

I had the brew over the holidays, a great time for anything chocolate.  The chocolatey sweetness mixes beautifully with the bitterness of the beer.  It is not too heavy, so it makes a great after-dinner stout.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Martini Time: Boodles Gin

Boodles is a British, London Dry gin that has been around since 1845. The company was named after Boodles gentlemen's club, run by one Edward Boodles. This is the gin that was reputedly served there and is believed to have been a favorite of Winston Churchill, although other gins also make that claim. Who wouldn't? This "proper British gin" is now made at the Greenall's distillery

The Boodles crest offers "labour and patience" as two of the gin's ingredients. The company claims Boodles is a "clean spirit distilled from British wheat and then infused with a number of traditional herbs and spices, including nutmeg, sage, and rosemary." The PR department says Boodles is known for its "distinctive floral nose and lingering juniper flavor, with a clean finish," and that sounds fairly accurate. Nine botanicals make up Boodles -  it's just fun to say - and contribute to its aroma and taste. Juniper, coriander seed, angelica root and seed, cassia bark, caraway seed, nutmeg, rosemary and sage are all blended together to make Boodles. They claim they are the only gin to contain nutmeg, rosemary and sage in its recipe.

There are some piney notes on the nose, from the juniper, and a floral element, but both are quiet. The gin tastes very elegant and smooth, at 45.2% abv. No citrus botanicals are used, unlike other London dry gins. They figure you’ll put a slice of lemon or lime in your cocktail, so there's no need. Boodles also makes a Mulberry gin, which I gather is like a sloe gin, except made with mulberries.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Plymouth Gin

Plymouth Gin comes from the seaport town of Plymouth, England, and there is only one distillery there making it. It has changed hands a few times since its birth in the 18th century, but the recipe has remained a prize of British history.  I was invited to an interesting evening in Los Angeles in which the atmosphere of their Refectory Cocktail Bar was created at a pop-up at the Lost Property bar on Vine Street in Hollywood.  Master Distiller Sean Harrison and International Brand Ambassador Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge were on hand to give the joint an even more British flair.  The fleet of bartenders were creating and pouring all 32 drinks from the Refectory Bar menu, and I sampled a few of the more definitive ones.

Plymouth Gin is slightly less dry than the London style and has a more herbal quality to it along with a juniper flavor. I'm not an expert on gin, but on this evening I didn’t have to be. I just had to like it. Easy.

Gin is actually Dutch, not British. In fact, British soldiers discovered the spirit while in Holland and brought it back home with them. If you are ever going to use the phrase "for medicinal purposes" as an excuse to drink, it had better be with gin. British sailors used gin mixed with lime juice to prevent scurvy while on long sea voyages. Gin and bitters help settle an upset tummy. Quinine fights malaria, so have a gin and tonic.

The "Marguerite" is made from Plymouth Gin, French dry vermouth and orange bitters.  It is stirred chilled and served straight up in a gimlet glass. The lemon spray leaves a vigorous citrus aroma and the drink shows off its herbs to the fullest. Light and smooth, it's a great "anytime" cocktail.

The "Pink Gin" comes three different ways. The Modern Long is mixed in a tall glass with soda, on the rocks.  The Gin Pahit apparently originated in Britain's colonial days in India, with more Angostura Bitters. I ordered the Classic, which is like a very dry martini, served in the same type of glass. Citrus spray again makes a refreshing nose and it’s quite a bit more dry than the dirty martini I favor.

The "Gin Pennant" adds Plymouth Sloe Gin to orange and lemon juice, syrup, soda and a dash of apricot liqueur to the Plymouth Gin base.  It's built in a very unusual glass and served on the rocks. It's a sweet and easy cocktail with a straw. You get a nose full of mint when you go for the sip. It reminds me of the sweet drinks I would concoct in my college days, only far, far better.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011


Wine News

The British royal family has certainly consumed enough sparkling wine - now they plan to make their own.  TheTelegraph reports that the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip, is closely involved in a project to plant new vines of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier in a section of Windsor Great Park.  The intention is to produce a royal sparkling wine.

The English wine industry is looking at this development as a huge boon.  According to the article, English wine had a banner year in 2010 with more than four million bottles of wine produced in England.

Master of Wine and viticultural consultant Stephen Skelton is also involved in the project, according to the Telegraph.  He planted the first vines at Chapel Downs in 1976.  Chapel Downs is now Britain's biggest wine producer.

Vineyards require three years to produce wine grapes, so there will be a wait for the royal vintages to start rolling out.  The Telegraph observes that many hope it will be a royal sparkling wine which is hoisted in toasts at the next royal wedding.

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