Craft Beer Rising…

We like beer, funnily enough, and we were delighted to be invited to the ‘Craft Beer Rising’ festival last month at The Truman Brewery in London for a spot of “researching”‘. Largely inhabited by microbreweries up and down the country, we were lucky enough to try some of the best craft beers the UK has to offer.

Following a slight hitch with the Greater Anglia rail services (ahem)… we were soon charging our way round the various stalls with our glasses in tow.

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The enthusiasm of some of the breweries being represented was utterly infectious and it was great to see some familiar faces with the likes of Camden Hells, Redwell and Brewdog all gathering deserved attention.

On the train home, we contemplated a couple of our favourite new finds:

FIREBRAND BREWING CO:
This Cornwall brewery is still relatively small and slightly mysterious – by that we mean, their website is under construction which, sadly in this day and age, translates as ‘mysterious’. But their beer is truly exceptional. Specifically, the ‘Double Rye PA’ is a singular and unforgettable flavour. Sweet, rich, malty and dark red, it goes down an absolute treat. It was served through a ‘Randalizer’ which is, simply put, a vessel which contains a dense quantity of hops. On the way through the Randalizer, the beer picks up extracted oils from the hops giving and creates an extra boost of flavour when it finally arrive in the glass.

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ILKLEY BREWERY:
An award winning brewery from Yorkshire, they know how to impress. Their Siberia Rhubard Saison – yes, it is as good as it sounds – is co created by noted critic, author and all around expert of everything beer, Melissa Cole. It’s a toasted malty flavour with fruity, yeasty and floral notes. Everything about it is utterly charming and coming in at a good 5.9% abv, it’s a warming tipple too. One of the most refreshing drops we’ve tasted in a while and well worth tracking down if we don’t get it in before!

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The February Food Festival…

When the Baron of Beef hung up his chef’s whites there was great sadness for all at The Sir Garnet. Time to take stock of the past year and a half, and look towards the future.
The first issue which we needed to address was that the kitchen and some of the rooms above were still incomplete in terms of the refurbishment we had fought so hard to finish by the time we opened in July 2012. The time had come to crack on again..

However, before we start banging about again we thought it would be the perfect time of year to have a little bit of fun and invite back some of our friends to take over the kitchen in a series of pop-ups. The Garnet February Food Festival was born.

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Those who made it to the first day where HARBERCUE had taken over the kitchen will no doubt have relished the buzz and chaos (as well as the food!) as much as we did. Bookings were overwhelming and the cheeky team of chef’s didn’t get out of the kitchen until way after midnight. Harbercue offer a delicious array of smoked barbecued goods and home-made sauces and sides. Their last day is on Saturday before they return to their current base camp at the Ten Bells.

Click here for the menu

The Unthank Supper Club also returned to us for Thursdays and Fridays after a year away. Delicious smells started arriving down the staircase from the oven almost the minute they arrived. As well as a divine all day bar menu featuring items such as; Spicy pork sanger with sweet chilli sauce and lettuce, veggie pie, sticky short ribs and mackerel salads… they have put together a Valentine feast which made it’s debut this week and will continue next week so do book in if you are in town. Yusuf’s chorizo sausage rolls are also, without a doubt, a bar snack that takes some beating!

USC Menus 2014-1

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On Wednesdays the Purple Plum team have taken to the kitchen with a range of Thai curries and on Sundays the Lazy Sunday brunch girls have provided an array of English, Spanish and Vegetarian brunches…

The February Food Festival is now half way through and we have had so much fun that it’s definitely something we’ll make a yearly event of from now on.

Our kitchen will be closed from the last week of February for two weeks while we take on the renovation work. Watch this space for the re-launch of our menus as we are all terribly excited here at the moment in the midst of tastings and if you are a local food producer please do get in touch.

We would like to thank The Baron of Beef for all of the memories and all of us wish him the very best for the future.

 

Lil’ ole Stokey Brown…

‘Have you got any Nukey Brown?’

No, unfortunately we don’t but it’s a question we are asked fairly frequently these days. For the uninitiated, Newcastle ‘Nukey’ Brown is  a traditional brown ale and a proud staple of many a local pub. Although it is by all accounts a fine tipple, it has dipped in popularity over the years. Not that it’s alone. Brown Ales in general have all but fallen to the wayside in favour of easy drinking, zestier pale ales with mass appeal. At least, this was the case until quite recently.

Brown Ale is making a comeback along with its close cousin, the equally brilliant Mild Ale. More and more breweries and micro breweries are producing new Brown Ales, making them a common sight in real ale pubs once again.  Just in case you aren’t familiar with the style, here’s a basic description from www.beeradvocate.com:

‘Spawned from the Mild Ale, Brown Ales tend to be maltier and sweeter on the palate, with a fuller body. Colour can range from reddish brown to dark brown. Some versions will lean towards fruity esters, while others tend to be drier with nutty characters. All seem to have a low hop aroma and bitterness.’

Sound good? Well not wanting to fall behind on the world’s rekindled love of Brown Ale, we’ve begun to stock something very special…

‘Stokey Brown’ comes from (have you guessed yet?) Stoke Newington’s ‘Pressure Drop’ brewery. It’s a very young and humble operation but one that produces some very interesting beer.

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Stokey Brown is one of their best – a perfect balance of sweet malted flavour and hoppy bitterness. We stock it by the bottle and while it may be more expensive than some alternatives, if you’re a fan of artisan products with something slightly different to offer then you’re going to love this. And coming in at 5.1%, it’s got that kick that gives a beer such as this an extra level of flavour that cannot go unmissed.

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Next time you pop by craving rich yet dangerously drinkable Brown Ale, then why not give the Stokey Brown a try? It’s not Nukey Brown but, I can assure you, you will not be disappointed.

Read more about Pressure Drop brewery here.

 

A Visit to Lacons Brewery… (by Benjamin Harding)

On Monday 21st October, the Sir Garnet team visited Lacons Brewery in Great Yarmouth. Two things you should know is 1.) It was the first time I visited this coastal town and 2.) I completely misinterpreted the meaning of ‘Pleasure Beach’. Those things in mind, I was quietly excited about the trip. However, when it came to the day, some bad omens materialised. These came in the form of a hand scalded with molten coffee – think the ending of Mean Streets but less dramatically satisfying – and a swollen, grey sky. Although, all considered, we were in fairly good spirits and ready to get on with things.Image

Convoying through the main street, it quickly became apparent that this was a once beautiful and vibrant place let down by a drought of industry and some unfortunate endorsements from Jim Davidson – if you’re going to have a spokesperson for your town, I think we can all agree that he’s a poor choice. In the drizzle, the amusement arcades looked like bad jokes, all flashing lights and empty interiors. I wondered how a rebooted brewery like Lacons would fit in.

Entering the courtyard, you could see all the time and care that has been invested at rejuvenating the Lacons name. It was slick, but subtle and aesthetically in keeping with the heritage of the brand. Apart from the intense smell of malt – to be expected but the scent did evoke an early memory of spilling hot Horlicks over my Dad’s freshly washed work shirts – it was a promising first impression. Head brewer Will Wood then escorted us onto the brewery floor. It didn’t help that Wood shares his initials with Breaking Bad’s protagonist but the place looked shockingly similar to Walter White’s lab. While there was nothing nearly as sinister as crystal meth production happening, it was every bit as scientific, precise and impressive.

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Plying us with free beer – consisting mostly of seasonal special ‘Destiny’ which I can thoroughly recommend – he made us feel welcome and patiently walked us through the process of creating his beer recipes. He handed us bags of American grown citra hops and explained where the bitterness and sweetness was derived, emphasised why he conditions the beer in units rather than casks and other excellent nuggets of information. Granted, two pints deep at eleven in the morning, it was quite easy to be positively swayed but Wood clearly knows his stuff.Image(Citra hops)

To round the trip off, we had a quick peruse through a mini museum. It displayed retro branded bottles, original brewing equipment, timeline posters and an assortment of period rarities. Again, what it highlighted was the love and enthusiasm that has gone into revitalising the Lacons brand. The beer is right; the branding is right and most importantly the people are right. As gushing and romantic as it sounds, the re-opening of Lacons brewery feels like a beacon of hope in Great Yarmouth and a possible kick-starter for an industry in a place where it seemed long departed.

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The visitors centre for Lacons is open every Wednesday and Thursday. To learn more about Lacons visit the site here.

*We proudly serve Lacons ales every day from the tilts at the bar*

The Sir Garnet garden…

As we head in to Autumn, it’s nice to look back over the incredible Summer we’ve had. Weddings, christenings (our one year anniversary!) laughter, tears… and there is a little place on our balcony above the pub which has looked over it all.

Underneath the web-cam, with a beautiful view of Gentlemans Walk sits our herb garden…

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It was naturally the idea of The Baron of Beef, as my interests in gardening are fairly limited. The idea of fresh herbs for his creations, which he could simply just nip upstairs to collect, was understandably appealing.

However, after one cracked window pane from doors slamming due to over-enthusiastic bar staff on watering duties… I was convinced it might just be better to buy them from the market stalls. Difficult to appreciate the splendour when faced with shattered glass and a miserable looking grow bag.

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I’m pleased to admit I was being a horrible bore. The miserable grow bags now burst at the seams with fresh life and colour;  different varieties of tomatoes (cherry, marzano, tomatillos) and chillies (scotch bonnets and razzmatazz). The smell of the abundant rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, margoram is just incredible and there is something very pecaeful about peeping through a rosemary bush to the hustle and bustle of market life below.

So next time you are in Norwich and walking along Gentleman’s Walk, do give our tomato plants a wave… they’ll be watching you!

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A fine city of fine ale…

We’ve been so excited about joining the ‘City of Ale’ festival for the first time this year but not without a degree of apprehension also. Ales are a full time commitment and our cellar and the logistics of getting barrels to and from it (there’s a market stall over the hatch as of 8.30am each morning) has meant we’ve had to get in to a strong routine over the past year.

On Wednesday morning it actually seemed like I might never get out of the cellar. Every time the hatch closed, another delivery turned up and back down again I went with bleary eyes.

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The ‘City of Ale’ festival was set up by a passionate group of individuals to promote Norwich, nationally and internationally, as the UK City of Ale. It now runs as a ten day festival around May/June and the buzz is fantastic. With so many great pubs and breweries at our disposal in Norwich we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.
(Our page on the ‘City of Ale’ website)

For me it was also great to see life breathed back in to St. Gregory’s church on Pottergate for the opening party. Despite the haphazard Summer and doom mongering about the economy, it really felt like Norwich was not only ploughing on… it couldn’t care less.

The return of Lacons brewery has also added a touch of ‘stuff the recession’ in to proceedings. We sold out in the first two days they were all lined up. It’s been also lovely to read and learn about the history of Lacons on their web-site.

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As the last few days of the festival finish i’d like to say a special thankyou to everyone for getting involved, to the organisers… and also to the guy from CAMRA Gt.Yarmouth who popped that man in his place last week about the taste of one of the offerings!

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It’s all up in the air…

Curious goings on when wandering through the market to the pub the other morning. A girl was struggling with a big mass of long black balloons, trying to shove it through the entrance of the Undercroft (under the war memorial).

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It’s all up in the Air is a concept by visual artist Rhona Byrne. ‘It acts as both site-specific outdoor sculpture and a travelling host to happenings, events and social encounters.’

From Friday 10th – Saturday 26th May these intriguing clouds of black matter will be inhabiting that space like a strange think tank. There will be a series of related talks and workshops also happening whilst it’s in situ.

So how do you feel when you walk in?

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Supposedly these balloons represent an emblem of misery and pessimism. I am guessing a sort of brain, confused and over-whelmed. But the patterned slices of triangle carpet, whilst chaotic, seemed to offer a sort optimism. Partnered together, there is definitely something very special about sitting under one of these sculptures. It gives a moment to let imaginations run, yet also a moment to gather thoughts.

It’s like entering the door to a little part of your brain….(whilst another part of it is still outside in the bustling market)

… definitely worth popping in to!

http://www.nnfestival.org.uk/festival/visual_arts/its-all-up-in-the-air

A ghost or two at the Garnet…

It was this rather inconspicuous stool sitting in the corner of the farthest away attic room that cemented our suspicions… we have a ghost (or more than one).

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Concern had first been raised by Nick, who had gone upstairs three times to shut and bolt the french door as a curtain at the bottom of the stairwell had been billowing at such a volume that it was constantly distracting him. On the third time of noticing the curtain again, he went upstairs assuming the door was open… to discover all doors and windows bolted shut.

“there just wasn’t a draft from anywhere. It made no rational sense why the curtain kept flapping…”

Then came continuing calls from Jonty (a good friend who has installed a web cam on our roof to look over the market) to say the web cam was off… again. The plug for this is at the very top of the building also (and you must understand, it’s in an attic… we don’t use it regularly) and kept being taken out. The more I kept asking everyone working at the pub the more bafflement, it seemed nobody even knew where the plug and camera was…let alone would go up to turn it off.

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So the final straw was when I noticed one of the little bar stools we had downstairs had gone missing. I’d assumed it may have found itself to one of the upper dining rooms but none of us could fathom its whereabouts.

Finally, after being informed the webcam was off AGAIN I trotted up to the top of the very building to switch it back on… and there it was. Solitarily sitting by the window, like someone had been sitting on it gazing dreamily at the market below or Guildhall opposite.

Should we be scared? Maybe but then again we all like the weird and wonderful so hopefully we can all muddle along!

Vietnam… and the Baron of Beef

We’ve been really excited about Nick returning to the kitchen after his vacation and hearing his tales from a far-a-way land…particularly as February and it’s grim weather hasn’t exactly inspired us in most aspects.

So here’s a little blog post from ‘the Baron of Beef’ for a change…

“In a departure from my weekly seventy-five-hour-dose of blood sweat and tears in the Baron Of Beef kitchen, February felt like the ideal time to escape and perspire in a new location: Vietnam.

Having lived in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, some time ago, I still have friends in country, albeit in Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon. An opportunity to see old friends, and explore a new city and its food, in a country I love, was too good to pass up.

Vietnamese food delicately balances sugar, garlic, heat from chilli and pepper, salty fish sauces and citrus acids with three main pungent herbs: sweet basil, Asian mint and coriander. This triumvirate of clean, refreshing flavours, coupled with noodles or rice, and often rich, cloudy broths, will marry with just about any meat. Seafood, poultry, beef; quite literally from frogs to dogs. And although meat is prized, vegetables are equally celebrated. Veggies are often drenched in garlic infused oil, while salads of green leaves and the aforementioned herbs are used to fill spring rolls, stirred into noodle dishes or left as a generous side to be dunked into spicy soups and dips.

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One particular avenue of Viet cooking that captured my imagination is “kho”, which means cooked in a clay pot. It often features chicken, beef, pork or flaky white fish which is slowly cooked with sugar, chilli, garlic, lemongrass and ginger. This is the closest to British stew that Vina cooking gets and is insanely rich and moreish.

All this conspicuous consumption left me both sated and inspired. As the weather improves, you can expect to see some Viet flavours in my spring and summer specials.”

(Daily specials will be announced via @Baron_of_Beef twitter and on our web-site http://www.thesirgarnet.co.uk/eat )

The Unthank Supper Club Pop Up!

After over six months of only having one day off… the Baron of Beef felt the time was well overdue to book a holiday. Two weeks with no burgers! What were we to do?!

Thankfully we hit upon a quirky little idea. Rather than try and get someone in to replace him during this time would there be anyone who may fancy taking his little kitchen on and creating a very little exclusive pop-up? Something completely different from what we’ve been doing…. but hopefully with the same passion and commitment to sourcing locally.

Immediately the Unthank Supper Club sprang to mind. This husband and wife team were regular visitors to the pub and we were so excited by the sound of their dinner parties…. could we have one big one at our place?!

So we approached them on twitter and set about a meeting. For me, it’s quite a personal thing to involve new people in to our crazy little pub… you have to hope they have the same enthusiasm, and can also deal with the little “quirks” of this higgeldy piggeldy building!

Yusuf is a professional chef, Clarissa is a designer (and fellow faux-fur coat lover) and events organiser and their infectious bubbly-ness cemented the excitement that this was going to be something very special indeed…

Two days ago they moved in for the two week run. So far so good and tonight sees the start of their impressive three course Valentine menu…

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So last night, after so much chaos last week, my partner and me took ourselves to the Sir Garnet for dinner and lashings of red wine. The Unthank Supper Club have already made their mark with big sparkly letters marking the dining room upstairs, and some quirky candelabras to create a theatrical ambience.

After force feeding my partner bone marrow (he is a former vegetarian) to start served with Metfield Bakery sourdough toast, we moved on to a main course of beef two ways…

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It is truly no exaggeration on my part that this was one of the most delicious main courses I have had. So succulent! I was so proud to see it served here, as ridiculous as that may sound!

After dinner Yusuf came out and talked us through the courses and where the ingredients were sourced from. His passion for cooking is infectious and Clarissa has the kind of raucous laugh you want at a dinner party!

So if you are in Norwich over the next couple of weeks, please do book in and see them…. it’s a real treat and they won’t be here for long!

http://unthanksupperclub.blogspot.co.uk/

twitter: unthanksupper

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