Bensoir! It's me, Benjamin. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You may have read stuff I've written elsewhere, but here on my own blog as Ben Viveur I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others, so pretty much anything goes.

BV is about enjoying real food and drink in the real world. I showcase recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. And as a critic I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended. Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Pimm's Lagerita

It was back to school for me this week as I attended a 'How to Judge Beer' day course with fellow British Guild of Beer Writers members at the Institute of Brewing and Distilling.

Now, I know what you're thinking: 'But Ben, you're an expert on all things beer. You don't need to be told how to taste the difference between a Lemon Saison and an Imperial Chocolate Stout. You're fucking amazing, you are.'

Phenolic! Diacetyl! Taste those off-flavours!
Well, quite, but we all have gaps in our knowledge and this course happily focused on a few key things that I've never formally studied, particularly around the detection of off-flavours in beer.

It's not just about telling the difference between good beer, and beer that has gone off either. There are several differents kinds of off-flavours arising from myriad different causes, not all of them are considered universally unpleasant, and some are even tolerated by brewers and drinkers, to the point that they're not necessarily considered off-flavours at all, but a de facto characteristic of the beer!

Plenty of drink for thought, and another set of things to consider next time I'm on a judging panel.

Ever wondered what the differences are between Fosters and Carling? One is that Carling does not discourage the development of DiMethyl Sulphide (with sweetcorn/cooked vegetable notes) but Fosters does.

I learned a lot!

Another example involves the two big global brands of Mexican lager - Sol and Corona. Both normally sold in clear glass bottles, which is likely to result in 'light struck' beer, characterised by a skunky aroma (as in the stinky-arsed mammal, not a 20 bag of Jamaican).

In the case of Corona, the light struck flavour is accepted as the way the beer is supposed to taste, and drinkers rarely get to sample 'healthy' Corona.

Sol, on the other hand, is brewed with specially treated hops which make the beer immune to light, but at the expense of hop aroma.

Either Sol or Corona would be fine for this recipe, however. There's so much else going that you're never going to notice any damage the sun may have done to the beer!

The Pimm's Lagerita

Lageritas have been around for a couple of Summers now - this is a particularly refreshing take on the frozen beer cocktail

My latest liquid creation!
Ingredients - per serving: 

Pimms, a double shot (neat, not pre-mixed!)
Tequila, a single shot
Mexian pale lager - Sol, Corona or similar, chilled
Crushed ice, lots
A lime, quartered


Fill a pint glass about two thirds of the way up with slushy crushed ice, and pour in the Tequila then the Pimms.

Squeeze in a little lime juice, then chuck in a couple of chunks of lime.

Fill to the top with lager, give it about 30 seconds to crackle away as the ice and liquid attempt to challenge one anothers temperatures, and you're ready to go.

Obviously, this is perfect for a Summer afternoon or a preprandial to a Mexican meal - basically it'll do any time you'd normally drink either Pimms or a Margarita.

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