Friday, 10 April 2015

Hop Shoots!

It's been a pretty cool spring so far, and the hops have been reluctant to show themselves too early as a result; the shoots are a week or so late in emerging from the ground. They are here now and, before they get sprayed, we have an opportunity to get into the gardens and pick bagfuls of them for the dinner table.


Hop shoots, you see, are a culinary delicacy, revered in the England of the past, and still vaguely remembered in Belgium and Italy. Picking them is thankless and back breaking and, in the absence of any automation, this makes them extremely expensive and consequently rare.

However, Ross Hukins of Haffenden Farm has invited us over next week to fill our boots, so long as we provide all the labour. I've never eaten Risotto di bruscandoli, or any other hop shoot dish, but I would certainly like to. And I like the idea of my favourite Kentish restaurants offering this very local, very seasonal, and very rare vegetable for one week a year, just to remind us all of where we live, if for no other reason.

So I'm off to Haffenden on Wednesday morning armed with suitable clothing, a sharp knife and some sacks to see what all the fuss is about. I'll even take a small stove, a pan, some butter, a bit of wild garlic and a bottle or two of beer to do a bit of Keith Floyd style in-the-field cooking. Hopefully I'll harvest vast quantities and spend Wednesday evening distributing them to the top Chefs in the area

If you live in East Kent and fancy joining me please drop me a line soonest - the more, the merrier.



Monday, 16 February 2015

Nuts

Brown ales are often described as having a nutty flavour, despite containing no nuts. Some are even called 'nut brown' ales. The nutty flavour referred to is derived from the use of roasted barley, chocolate malt (which contains no chocolate - confused?) and crystal malts in the recipe. No nuts used.



However, Kent is the agri-home to the Cobnut (a delicious sub-variety of the hazelnut) and it's long been my intention to attempt to get their flavour into a rich brown ale. Harvests in recent years haven't enabled me to get the amount of nuts I needed and last year the story looked the same until we were offered 75kg of 'fines' - a mixture of broken kernels and shells. We took them, and roasted them in the ovens at Thanet College (thanks Craig!) before milling them to a finer crush. Two thirds were mashed with the malt and final third chucked in the fermenter after 4 days. There's an awful lot that can go wrong with this brew but I checked it this morning and it's tasting great, spot on actually: a deep, rich malty base with a rather elegant Kentish Cobnut flavour riding on top.

It can still go wrong, but if it doesn't you'll find Gadds' Cobnut Brown Ale in the Montefiore Arms (and many other of the finest East Kent public houses) from late next week.

Cheers!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Taste of Kent Awards 2015

Awards get the competitive juices flowing and spur us on to greater achievements in pursuit of them, and that leads to a better pint down the pub, so I'm all for them personally.

Should you feel similarly inclined please vote in the Taste of Kent Awards. I'd direct you to the Best Kentish Beer award and suggest Gadds' Number 3 could be a contender, but that would be rather full of self interest, so I won't.

Seriously though, get on there and vote. Vote for your favourite butcher, your favourite restaurant and your favourite pub. Vote in every catagory, and vote well - it's fun, it helps create a quality-driven competitiveness and you'll get even better beer and food in the future because of it.

And do it now, because the deadline is in 2 days time!


Friday, 19 December 2014

Uberhop!


Launch: New Year's Eve
First pint: 7pm
Last pint: 2am
Tasting notes: here

Monday, 15 December 2014

Drinking responsibility

Look, I can't be held responsible for who drinks my beer. I chose who I sell it to, but it's up to them who they sell it to. The Walpole Bay Hotel is now on my black list for allowing a politician to use my name in a publicity photo.

GADDS' does NOT support UKIP


Friday, 21 November 2014

Conspiracy of the season

We all have our favourite things, and we don't like letting go of them; we like to have them around all the time, not just when they want to be around. Green Hop Ale falls into that particular sorting bin for me - it's gone, it'll be back next year, but in the meantime I'll miss it like I miss the summer. However...



This deliciously rich dark ale, hopped with a mixture of earthy, blackcurrenty Willamette and (for contrast) zesty Cascades is a gorgeous way to waste (and taste) away a couple or three of your recommended units and an hour or two of your allocated time on Earth, dreaming perhaps of a Kent hop garden in late August.

 It's the best reason I can think of to welcome cold, damp winter afternoons and evenings.

Available in all the best East Kent pubs, especially the Montefiore Arms, throughout the winter.