Beer52

She and Hem | Beer52 Review | LifestyleShe and Hem | Beer52 Review | Lifestyle

One of the many areas in which Bristol excels, alongside balloon fiestas, harbour festivals and street art, is craft beer. New establishments are popping up everywhere, showcasing the weirdest, wackiest and, most importantly, tastiest brews from near and far. Some have been critical of this upswing, but it is 100% fine by me. You can be a fan of traditional pubs and these new fangled craft beer hang outs. I know this, because I am one, and many others are too! Furthermore, as a budding connoisseur of all things hop, and a keen fan of having all my food and drink arrive on my doormat, when I saw that Beer52 were looking for people to review their beer delivery service, I was more than happy to volunteer. The opportunity to have 8 different craft beers delivered to my front door was too good to pass up, and having previously given a beer subscription as a Christmas present (Beer52 offer this service here) I was really keen to try it out for myself!

I was flipping excited when they arrived, so much so that I spent several hours days researching and meticulously planning and pairing the beers with the perfect food accompaniments to really make the most of the review experience. I roped my OH in to help with the cooking by promising to share of all the beers, and having prepped a little 4 course menu to spread over the day, here is how we got on.

She and Hem | Beer52 Review | Lifestyle

After some extensive background work looking through all the beers, researching the styles and earnestly discussing food pairings, we chose the beer with a pig on the label. Because, pig. Setting aside the excellent, porcine themed label design, this is “Cerdos Voladores” from the Barcelona Craft Beer brewery, a zesty, fruity IPA of a style very much at the vanguard of the craft beer movement. As a fan of the city, I was keen to keep in the spirit of our Catalan chums and pair this with something typically Spanish. Hence, gambas et ajillo! That’s garlic prawns to me and Google Translate. From my admittedly limited knowledge of beer and food pairings, I know that your typical IPA is said to best be accompanied by a spicy dish, and so we went for this chilli infused creation. I can confirm that the taste makers don’t lie – the punchy, lemon-y flavours of the beer took the edge off the heat, whilst enhancing the sweetness of the dish. A light and refreshing lunch, especially when paired with a simple salad.

She and Hem | Beer52 Review | LifestyleShe and Hem | Beer52 Review | Lifestyle

From such big flavours, there was really only one direction to go; bigger. The second beer we chose (and not just for the equally excellent label art) was “Ascendancy” from the Panda Frog Project, an experimental offshoot brewery of North Tyneside’s Mordue. As a girl normally into her chocolate stouts, and one known to get a bit giddy at just the thought of a second round, I was a bit nervous about this higher ABV beast of a beer! Especially one described as a “Belgian Double IPA Weizen Hybrid”, I had no idea what to expect! After being assured by the OH that it would be a good ‘un, we dove on in, pairing this big flavoured brew with an equally big flavoured Teriyaki Chicken stir fry (with home made teriyaki sauce and garlic paste of course). I can confirm that the floral, tropical kick of the DIPA side of the beer was present and correct, a lovely thirst quencher after the spicy, marinaded chicken, and an appealing accompaniment to fresh crunchy peppers, bean sprouts, pak choi and red peppers. The “weizen” element (a traditionally German style of hazy wheat beer, brew fans) gave the beer more body than I was expecting, and helped to soften the impact of that big tropical tartness. Unusual, but highly recommended.

She and Hem | Beer52 Review | LifestyleShe and Hem | Beer52 Review | Lifestyle

And now we’re back in my comfort zone. For afters, we naturally opted for my go to sweet food of choice, the prince of puddings, the don of desserts, the sultan of sweets, the chocolate brownie. Paired, most appropriately, with the delicious coffee-infused Toasted Porter from Iceland’s Einstok brewery, a brewery from which I’ve tried and enjoyed beer from before when visiting Iceland. It was a satisfying and waist expandingly indulgent way to end a satisfying and waist expandingly indulgent day. As keen coffee fans (who, us?), we even added a little local flavour to the brownie, sticking some of Extract Coffee RoastersKiangoi in the batter. The porter was smooth and rich, and unlike a lot of similar beers, neither too heavy nor overpowering. As we head into winter, I can imagine settling down in front of a Christmas box set or two with a bottle of this, idly sipping over the course of a few hours.

She and Hem | Beer52 Review | LifestyleShe and Hem | Beer52 Review | Lifestyle

Oh sorry, you didn’t think we were done did you? All that eating really made us work up an appetite, so a little more research later, and we found that you simply can’t enjoy an Oatmeal Stout without a good chunk of aged cheddar. So naturally, we followed this advice and opted for a simple, paired down snack of cheese and beer, using the Belhaven Brewery’s Scottish Oat Stout. The oatcakes, crackers, apple, pickles and chutneys just forced themselves on us, ok? Again, the tastemakers are on it with this – the velvet-y, silky texture of the stout was a nice base for the strong cheese. As a person not normally into such cheese, I was surprised and impressed! This was another delicious beer from the darker end of the scale, perfect for warming one’s cockles by the fire candle on a cold night.

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Thanks Beer52 for expanding my beery horizons and for giving me a good excuse to get creative in the kitchen! If you fancy having a little tasting session yourself and want a cheeky discount code, just pop SHEANDHEM10 into the ‘got a special code’ box on the Beer52 website for £10 off of your order. Also, if you would like any of the recipes for the food items in this post, please get in touch!

Vx

Hem and Away: Seattle Day #8

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RECAP: I (Jo) am currently* on vacation in Seattle! I thought it might be fun to try and keep a little holiday diary of sorts, a travelog if you will. Need a refresher? You can read about Day 1 here Day 2 here Days 3/4/5 here and Day 6 here and Day 7 here! So sit back and grab a cup of coffee, She and Hem is going Stateside.

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Day 8 contained a mini adventure , as we decided to walk from our base in Queen Anne all the way to the neighborhood of Fremont. What better way to kick off an incredible walk? With an incredible breakfast, of course! This particular restaurant had been recommended in guide books, on twitter and by friends and just happened to be on the way. You might say that the 5 Spot Cafe had a reputation to uphold!

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The 5 Spot has ever changing themes, the current one being San Franscisco, and the cafe (and its menu) is fully decked out to reflect this. There’s even a replica Golden Gate Bridge! It’s all completely brilliant, as is the extensive menu! We both went for the lightweight lumberjack, which was a red flannel hash with poached eggs & fancy toast! Toast aficionado’s will appreciate knowing that the fancy toast appeared to be some sort of sour dough. I can confirm it was not only fancy, but also delicious. It was also a bargain at $5.75 and the never ending cups of coffee fueled us for the rest of the day. Reputation: upheld.

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With that, it was off to the wonderful land of Fremont for us! Often referred to as ‘The People’s Republic of Fremont’, it’s all rather quirky and fun! We had found a suggested walking tour of Fremont in one of our guide books and decided to give it a shot! The first site of interest, Rapunzel, came just as we crossed the bridge into Fremont. Poor old Rapunzel is locked up in one of the towers and is the work of local resident, Rodman Miller.

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Next up was ‘waiting for the interurban’, a sculpture created in 1979 by Richard Beyer as a way to commemorate the now defunct light rail interurban that use to run into downtown Seattle. The sculpture is often dressed up, in fact when we visited the would be passengers were ready for a birthday party, and residents are encouraged to commit ‘art attacks’ to keep interest in the artwork alive.

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A short walk away, under the Aurora bridge, lives the Fremont Troll! He is GINORMOUS and appears to be devouring some poor sap’s Volkswagen Beetle, giving the impression that those driving above are running a serious risk! The Troll came into fruition after a competition to design something to improve the space under the bridge (which is also ginormous). This, the winning design, was entered by a team led by Steve Badness. Visitors are welcome to climb all over the troll but I kept my feet safely on the ground.

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Fremont considers itself to be the very center of the universe, so it makes complete sense that there should be a sign post to make this official. The sign is on a tiny little slab of concrete in the middle of a busy road, making the center of the universe quite a difficult place to visit. As you can see though, it’s pretty wonderful.

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Next on the tour was a rocket mounted to the side of a shop! OF COURSE! It was built using a 1950’s Cold War rocket fuselage and now sits loud and proud complete with the Fremont crest, which bares the motto ‘De Libertas Quirkas”, also known as Freedom to be Peculiar. Perfect.

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And what tour would be complete without a 15 foot high statue of Lenin? Not this one, that’s for sure. This controversial statue originally ended up in Seattle thanks to a local English teacher, Lewis Carpenter, who imported it when he discovered it was being sold for scrap. This was not a popular move with his neighbours who fiercely protested against the impulse buy. Unfortunately for Lewis, less than a year after signing a deal with the local Mayor that would allow him to have the statue, he was killed in a car accident in 1994. This left old Lenin flying solo in Carpenter’s back garden until he was moved to a corner of Fremont. It’s fair to say that the statue is not popular with the residents, who are very opinionated on the matter and will gladly come and talk to tourists about why they don’t approve of a gigantic Lenin towering over their neighbourhood.

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We then trundled on to the beautiful Gas Works park, where I got to release my inner steam-punk princess. This park is way cool, and as it’s in Fremont, a bit strange too. It’s built on a former gas works park (you don’t say!) and still contains many elements of the old plant, either as ruins or as regenerated pieces of the park. The former exhauster-compressor building is now a giant play area for children who can clamber all over the machinery! The park also gives you a beautiful view over to downtown Seattle and we spent a lovely afternoon sitting on the hill watching the sea planes taking off.

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I wore my yellow polka dot dress from Primark with my Topshop geek shoes and my Cath Kidston sail print bag!

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Not technically a part of the tour but after all that walking it was definitely time for a nice cold beer! Luckily for us the Fremont Brewing just happened to be on the walk back so we popped inside for one of their taster boards. James had already been in earlier in the week to try their ‘pizza ale’ and was waxing lyrical about their selection. I didn’t manage to try the pizza but I did have a delicious grapefruit and lavender beer that was so good I was half tempted to try and fit a growler in my suitcase.

That’s it for my Seattle travelog! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!

Jx

*OK so I’m actually home now but let’s just suspend our disbelief for a few minutes.