Monday, 29 June 2015

Drinking Beer in Cathar Country with the Grand Bison

The Restaurant A La Patate Qui Fume in Montségur is a family run restaurant in the Ariège-Pyrénées region of France and serves top quality homemade food using ingredients sourced from local farmers and markets. My own choice for lunch was a confit duck burger.

The beer and wine is also locally sourced and I enjoyed a very refreshing CroMignonne Biere Blanche - unpasteurised, unfiltered, full of citrus and floral flavours and excellent served cold.  

You will notice from the picture that the CroMignonne was served in a Britte Grande Biere de Bretagne glass with a very attractive Puffin logo. I was very taken with the design, and the owner let me take one away with me. 

CroMignonne is one of 4 regular beers from the Grand Bison brewery, only 4 miles away in the town of Lavelanet. The name and label designs are inspired by the Great Bison, one of the largest and most famous paintings in the caves at Niaux. Later in the week I also tried the Flambeuse - an amber beer, or Biere Ambree. It had a dry liquorice bitterness to it that refreshed not dominated the palate and is a beer to take time over and savour. 

Do make a point of visiting A La Patate Qui Fume if you're ever in the area. It makes an ideal stop if you’re searching for the Holy Grail at The Château de Montségur.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Bateman's Valiant

I'm a regular visitor to the Hospital Arms in Colchester. It's an Adnams pub that always has a good range of guest beers on offer. On this occasion I was lucky enough to enjoy a pint of Bateman's Valiant (4.2 abv), a beer from this Lincolnshire family brewer's Heritage range. It is only available in June and is part of the celebration of Bateman's 140th anniversary (Valiant was first brewed in 1993).

Light amber in the glass with a thin white head, it is flat but fruity in a zesty kind of way with a clean bitter finish from the Styrian and Challenger hops. Bateman's recommend pairing Valiant with a strong Lincolnshire cheese, but I enjoyed mine with a new take on a traditional bar snack - black pudding flavour pork scratchings. 

Already a fan of the deep fried pork rind (sorry but it's the combination of crunchy skin and slightly soft nuggets of fat kept in balance by the liberal addition of salt that gets me) I was blown away by a bag of these beauties from Openshaws. Through the judicious use of 'black pudding seasoning' they have managed to imbue the crispy morsels with a more meaty flavour, and they're something I will be looking out for again.

I will also be looking out for more of Bateman's Heritage beers throughout the rest of 2015 as they seem to be releasing one a month throughout the year, each brewed according to the season. To see what you've missed so far, and to see what's coming up, take a look at their range here

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Crouch Vale Brewery's Essex Boys

I find myself in the garden of Dedham’s Sun Inn contemplating one of Crouch Vale Brewery’s regular beers - Essex Boys. For a beer with 3.8% abv it certainly packs a punch on the palate. Full of malt with a prominent hoppy bitterness that gets you at the back of the throat, this is not a subtle pint. However, Essex boys are not renowned for their subtlety so in that respect this beer lives up to its name. 

The village of Dedham, on whose High Street the Sun sits roughly half way along, is about as far away from that stereotype as you can get. Dedham is in the North-East of the county on the River Stour and the border of Essex and Suffolk. Although it can be popular with Tourists at the weekend, it’s serving very well as a refreshment stop on my circular walk in the Dedham Vale

But back to the subject of beer, of which this particular example has been going down very nicely while I've been writing this. Based in South Woodham Ferrers, this award-winning brewery is apparently the longest established in Essex. It produces a number of regular beers, of which the most well known is Brewers Gold – a previous Supreme Champion Beer of Britain and no stranger to my taste buds.

Suitably refreshed I carry on my walk over the top of the Vale towards the 14th century St Mary’s Church in Lawford, and home.