Beer with Me

Due to the arrival of a new family member I have been slightly less active on the wine tasting side. Instead it’s been almost a year of exploring the world of low and non alcoholic beer. With the odd glass of wine thrown in of course. This post might not be relevant to many of you, but for those Mums-to-be, breastfeeding mamas, or pub/bar owners that would like some information on what’s available, hopefully this will help.

One of the (many) frustrations of pregnancy is the lack of appealing drink options when you’re out and about. It shouldn’t come as a suprise that many pregnant women still want to be social. Taking the opportunity to make the most of our final months of being able to leave the house without our minis in need of feeding, screaming because they’re in need of a nap, or changing the never-ending conveyor-belt of dirty nappies.

When we do make it out we’re often greeted with the uninspired option of  Becks Blue. Which I’m not even going to comment on taste-wise. Mostly due to the lack of anything positive to say. Or there’s a range of soft drinks. Which although tasty, are often full of sugar. Sugar being one of the main things Mums-to-be are advised to be careful with, due to the risk of gestational diabetes. And let’s be honest, there’s only so many lime and sodas or lemonades one can drink…

Here are the top 5 low and non alcoholic beers I have tasted:

5. Rothaus Non Alcoholic Tannenzapfle

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The Rothaus is a cheeky little delight with toasty, sweet malt, light carbonation and a soft creamy texture. It’s a little simple in terms of flavour with a touch of caramel, orange, nutty notes and a slight bitter finish.

Available at The Beer Boutique, Wandsworth Town for around £2.00.

 

 

4. Jenever Fun Pilsner20170413_181846

Sometimes alcohol free beers can have a touch too much sweetness. The Jenever Fun is crisp and dry with coriander, green vegetal and leafy notes. It’s balanced with a lingering length and would pair perfectly with a spicy Thai noodle salad.

Available from The Beer Boutique, Wandsworth Town for around £1.80, or online from the Drydrinker £14.99 for 12.

 

3. Mikkeller Drink’In the Sun

Drink'In The Sun Alcohol Free Pale Ale, Mikkeller, Denmark (0.3%, 330ml)Built for summer drinking the Mikkeller Drink’In the Sun is light, vibrant and crisp with a touch of peach, orange, lemon and sweet passionfruit.

Available from the Wine Society for £2.25, or the Beer Boutique in Wandsworth Town.

 

 

2.  Mikkeller Drink’In Barely Berliner

20170425_183147This beer is for those that prefer a touch of tart in their tipple. The Drink’In Barely Berliner is a sour style with a refreshing bite.

The aroma does have a slight apple cider vinegar note about it (which I quite like). Creamy in the mouth with fine fizz, lemon, sour apple, ginger, orange and a touch of sweet barley make this beer interesting and super tasty. For those of you that enjoy natural wines, this is your beer-world equivalent.

Available at The Beer Boutique in Wandsworth Town for around £2.25.

  1. Paulaner Hefeweissbier alkoholfrei

Image result for paulaner alcohol freeThe Germans certainly know how to make delicious beer! Now this hits the spot every time. Creamy in texture with refreshing lemon and orange notes. I love most wheat beers and this has been a welcomed tipple that is a treat to gulp back on a warm summer evening.

Available from £1.85 at Beer Merchants (online) or at We Brought Beer (Balham).

 

Coming from a hospitality background I can understand that many licence holders may not stock these options due to a perceived lack of demand. My advice here is advertise your selection. Often the non or low alcohol options sit withering away in the fridge as they don’t get a mention in the drinks menu. Pop those bad boys on the shelf and tell people about them. As the public are so used to not having a good non-alcoholic beer range available, we need the prompt.

I used to be of the opinion ‘non-alcoholic beer…what’s the point?’ But now I totally understand. And with the growing number of people choosing not to drink alcohol, sober drivers, people on medication, the too-hungover-to-face-another-pint crowd, or those wanting to avoid those sneaky calories in alcoholic and sugary drinks, having a couple of delicious low or non alcoholic beers is greatly appreciated.

Friday Evening with Cocoa Runners

Yep it was another tough one. My Friday evening was spent with the amazing Cocoa Runners who introduced the West London Wine School team to an amazing range of artisan chocolates.

I love chocolate, and I thought I was onto some good blocks which regularly include Green and Blacks and Lindt. Little did I know that I had been missing out on some delights that knock these better known brands right out of the park.

What makes the Cocoa Runners range different to your average bar of chocolate, are quite a few things. Firstly, they source many of their bars directly from small producers who are solely focused on quality. These producers invest a lot of time and also money on production, to enhance the flavours and aromas from their quality cocoa beans. Some even have cameras in the jungle where their beans are growing, so they can provide guidance to the local workers throughout the production.

Climate, harvest times, bean selection, fermentation temperature, drying methods, roasting temperature, conching and grinding (love that phrase), and tempering all influence how the chocolate will feel, smell and taste. Who knew that chocolates had vintage variation? I was skeptical at first about just how different chocolates could actually be. But after sampling some that we fudgy, others more vegetal and herbal, smokey (through burning fires to dry out the beans) or floral, I am a complete convert.

After munching our way through copious amounts of chocolate I was buzzing! And hopping in an Uber for a speedy drive through the streets of London wasn’t the most pleasant experience. But I am still buzzed by this delicious chocolate world and how it has so many similarities with wine in terms of production, taste and variety.

Check out Cocoa Runners selection and story here: http://cocoarunners.com/ You can even take up a monthly subscription and get quality chocolate delivered to your door.

And keep your eyes peeled for our chocolate and wine pairing masterclasses at West London Wine School which will be live in the early Autumn.

Click on the pics below for more details.

Chateau de Beaucastel

Chateau de Beaucastel can be found in the north-east of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, where their 100 hectares of goblet trained vines stand in the sun-baked, galet covered soils. Evidence of the chateau dates back to 1549 and to this day has been family owned and operated.

Beaucastel farm organically, and have for many years, with a push towards biodynamics. They have never taken the easy option in terms of vine management, or winemaking processes. And their experience, strong values and hard work all shine through in the quality and beauty of their wines.

As we were taken through the winery, it was incredible to see the precision of processes, cleanliness of environment, and beauty of the space. If I was a grape, I would love for my conversion to juice and wine to take place there.

If you were thinking of visiting Beaucastel, you may be out of luck. They unfortunately aren’t open to the public and only take in a few pre-arranged visits each year. Basically they are too busy producing great wine. However you can experience their wines, which are available in the UK, at Berry Brothers or Seckford Wines. If quality smooth, sumptuous reds or textured and layered whites are your tipple, then sampling Beaucastel is essential.

Please click on the pictures below for more details:

Exploring Italy – Corvina

For week two of our discover Italy course we were off to the north-east of this wonderous country, mainly focusing our attentions on and around the region of Veneto.

Corvina is a red grape variety that makes up the majority of the blend in wines from Valpolicella and Bardolino. However the styles of wines it produces are vast and delicious. From light, crisp and refreshing reds, to dense, rich and deep styles, Corvina offers something for everyone.

Food pairings:

Bardolino and Valpolicella – as these wines have high acidity and are refreshingly light, they pair well with high acid dishes. So basically anything tomato based – how convenient for Italian wine!

  • Charcuterie
  • Pizza
  • Spaghetti alla puttanesca

Amarone – with its rich texture, soft acidity and dried fruit flavours, Amarone is super with strong cheeses, bitter chocolate dishes, or mains that echo the wines’ dried fruit flavours.

  • Stilton and vintage cheddar
  • Chocolate torte or fondant
  • Lamb shank tajine

On the white wine front, the north of Italy has a delicious range to get stuck into that doesn’t include Pinot Grigio.

Please click on the pictures below for tasting notes and stockists.

M&S Spring Wine Range

What I admire about M&S is that they don’t always play it safe. They have introduced some slightly more off-piste wines into their range this Spring, giving their customers the chance to try something new.

For Prosecco fans there’s a Brazilian Glera alternative – the Vinicola Salton ‘Riosecco’ for £9. Also from Brazil, if you like perfumed and floral wines, check out the Miolo ‘Araucaria’ Riesling-Pinot Grigio for £9.

The English wine range is strong and rather broad, with some delicious rose’s, perfect for summer sipping. As well as a superb Pinot Blanc by Stopham Estate and a classy light red from Maud Heath.

The USA range is fun and worth checking out, with some interesting blends at very fair prices from New York State.

Please click on the pics below for further information.

Exploring Italy – Dolcetto

Over the next four weeks we’ll be exploring Italy at work, so I thought I would let you in on some Italian wine treats that I recommend wine lovers get stuck into.

First up is Dolcetto. A beautiful red grape from the Monferrato Hills of north-west Italy.

Dolcetto is best suited to those that like red wines with reasonable acidity, a darker and savoury fruit profile and moderate tannins. This is not a rich, full, smooth wine. There’s noticeable crunchy fruit and savoury spice here, which lifts the wine.

Food pairings:

  • Aubergine bake with a herby tomato sauce
  • Spaghetti bolognese (obvious but has to be said)
  • Roast lamb with lots of wild herbs

Where you can find the G.D Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba:

 

 

Back in Blighty

It now seems like ages ago that I was stomping my way around a winery in Marlborough. They say the best way to fight the jet lag is to keep moving and busy. So with that in mind I hopped right back into work and presented at the West London Wine School Syrah grape debate last Tuesday evening. Hence the purple glow around my gums. Such an attractive look people, you must try it.