You know that “shit, I really need a beer” feeling? Happens a lot, right? And so you reach into the fridge, or pop over the road to the local mini, overpriced and useless supermarket or corner shop, and you find … mega brand continental or tasteless over fizzed British stuff. Misery.
I’ve really enjoyed the rise of American style craft beer over the last five years – both the actual Yank stuff, but also the increasing number of small batch breweries knocking out malty amber ales, citrusy hoppy numbers, and everything round, about and in between. So much more enjoyable to drink than the lighter beers I grew up on, and a refreshing alternative to our traditional, flatter British bitters.
By the very fact most of the ‘craft’ breweries are small, access to these beers remains relatively limited. Whilst I love being able to walk in to a good off licence, and walk out with a bottle or two of Beavertown, Pressure Drop, Five Points or Brixton Brewery, the reality is I have to go out of my way (and possibly luck out) to do that. In terms of convenience, the best I’ve got is sneaking a few bottles of Brooklyn lager into our Ocado order (not a complaint – I just forget to do it most of the time).
SO, I was interested when Beer 52 got in touch to tell me about their grand plan to make craft beers convenient and accessible … and after a little trial, I’m happy to recommend them to you.
Here’s the idea: you send them money, they deliver 8 beers you’ve quite probably never had to your home, place or work or wherever.
You can do that once, or on a monthly basis. Each month is based on a new theme (mine, topically, Scottish independent breweries) and the beers sent out are gathered globally; which means there’ll be plenty you’ll never have tried.
For me, the good points are: mail order convenience; the fact they’re curating a list and providing variation (the ‘Ferment’ publication sent out with the box suggests they’re really thinking about this, not just putting beers ina box); and the money is right £24 works out as £3 a bottle, including postage.
Here’s the really good news, though: There’s a £10 off offer for Rocket and Squash readers.
Which means 8 good beers delivered to your door or desk for £14. Bargain.
To be totally transparent, if you tuck in to this, I get a (very) little bit of cash. Which means whilst you’re saving ten pounds, you’re also effectively buying me a beer at the same time. EVERYONE IS A WINNER.
Click here and type in the code: rs2
Go forth, buy beer for yourself, your lovers, your family, your colleagues … and tell others to do the same.
In the meantime, because just occasionally you can do more than simply drink beer, here’s a recipe for beer brined pork shoulder steaks (as always, you get this bit for free).
Pork shoulder steaks are awesome: flavourful and juicy on account of the fact the shoulder is marbled with intramuscular fat. The downside is that, because this is cut from a hard working muscle, this ain’t the most tender thing if you don’t treat it right; you’ve got to give it a little tickle to loosen up if you want to do anything other than slow cook it (which I do).
Paprika and pineapple marinades work amazingly – their enzymes breaking down the muscle fibres of the meat, so that you can grill or fry the pork as if it were a rib-eye beef steak.
An alternative is to brine the meat. This has two effects: the salt in the brine breaks down muscle fibres, helping to tenderize the meat; and the brine helps the meat to absorb and retain flavour. This is the plan in this recipe, and you’ll be delighted to know it works very nicely indeed.
It’s is a fairly low level (9%) brine, but does the trick nicely on a 3cm thick steak. You need to use a caramelly, malty beer rather than an overly bitter hoppy job. An amber or red ale would be ideal. It’s important you use a good beer and one with these characteristics, otherwise your meal could just taste like stale beer. I used the Alchemy IPA from my Beer 52 box.
Beer 52 brined pork shoulder steaks
For 22 pork shoulder steaks approx. 220-250g each & 3cm thick 1 330ml bottle of malty craft beer 18g Malden or other natural sea salt (not table salt) 10g light brown sugar 4 twigs thyme 5 peppercorns 3 bay leaves 1 teaspoon fennel seeds 1 teaspoon of dill or celery seeds (optional) 3 strips of orange peel
Pour 200ml of the beer into a saucepan. Put the bottle in the fridge to chill and drink once you’re done …
Add the salt and sugar to the saucepan. Warm and stir so that the salt and sugar completely dissolve and the liquid is clear. Turn the heat off. Add the remaining aromatics and allow the brine to cool.
Find a Tupperware tub or non-reactive dish that snugly fits the two pork steaks. Place them in there and, once completely cooled, pour the brine over the steaks. Ensure all the meat is covered. Put a lid on / cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for 8-12 hours.
Once brined, remove the steaks from the brine. Rinse, pat dry, then put on a plate and leave uncovered in the fridge to dry out for an hour or two, the last half an hour of that outside the fridge.
When ready to eat, put an appropriately sized, heavy based frying pan or griddle on a medium-high heat. All it to warm up for a minute, add sunflower or vegetable oil and heat for 30 seconds longer (if using a griddle, oil the meat, not the pan).
Lay the pork in the pan and cook for 2 1/2 minutes on one side. Flip it and cook for the same amount of time on the other. Then add a bit of butter to the pan and cook for 1 minute longer on each side in the frothing butter. Finally, holding the steaks in a pair of tongs, cook the edges of the steak for 20 seconds per contact point, turning the steaks about four times.
Put the steaks flat again, turn the heat off, grab a plate and put the steaks on there to rest for 4 minutes – during which times the centre will continue to cook, and the juices will equalise (i.e. it’s really important).
I ate this with a celeriac and apple remoulade-type-thing (match stick the celeriac and apple, put in lemon juice to prevent discolouring. Salt. Black pepper. Whole grain mustard. And a little bit of Greek yoghurt. Land cress on the side.