A taste of Victoriana

A 140-year-old bottle of beer brewed for an arctic expedition is to be auctioned after being found in garage. _83393291_bottlecollageThe beer – Allsopp’s Arctic Ale – was brewed in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, for an expedition led by Sir George Nares in 1875. The unopened bottle was discovered in a box in a garage in Gobowen, Shropshire, but auctioneers said it was a mystery as to how it got there.

The bottle is expected to fetch up to £600 but reached £3300. Auctioneers Trevanion and Dean, in Whitchurch, described it as “very special” and how right they were.

Aaron Dean, a partner at the auctioneers, said: “The beer was brewed for an expedition to the north pole which, unfortunately, didn’t get there.

“It was made to a certain recipe, so it lasted, and it was slightly medicinal.

“It went all the way to Portsmouth and it was loaded on to the ship as cargo, to go out with the HMS Alert and HMS Discovery.

“Unfortunately, the expedition didn’t quite make it to the north pole, so it came all the way back again.”

Mulled Wine for Xmas

mulledwine_84959_16x9From Jamie Oliver!Peel large sections of peel from your clementines, lemon and lime using a speed peeler. Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Throw in your halved vanilla pod and stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.

Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you’ve got a beautiful thick syrup. The reason I’m doing this first is to create a wonderful flavour base by really getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine. It’s important to do make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you’ll burn off the alcohol.

When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it’s warm and delicious, ladle it into glasses and serve.

My only tip is to half the sugar…

Mulled Wine for Xmas

mulledwine_84959_16x9From Jamie Oliver!

Peel large sections of peel from your clementines, lemon and lime using a speed peeler. Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Throw in your halved vanilla pod and stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar. 

Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you’ve got a beautiful thick syrup. The reason I’m doing this first is to create a wonderful flavour base by really getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine. It’s important to do make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you’ll burn off the alcohol.

When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it’s warm and delicious, ladle it into glasses and serve.

My only tip is to half the sugar….

Youngs and Porter

Back in November I wrote a small posting here about Porter, a Victorian type of stout.

Now being in favour of that wonderful black stuff Guinness as a top tipple I was pleasantly surprised last night when I came across ‘Young’s London Porter’.

Oooh! A taste of the past I thought and I guess it was really as it was In 1831 Charles Allen Young and his partner Anthony Fothergill Bainbridge bought the Ram Brewery from the Trittons, and it is this association that still has Young’s pubs all over the country!.

Charles Young & Bainbridge bought a porter brewery but by 1864 production had come to include the first pints of what was to become known as Young’s Bitter.

Sadly Charles died in 1855 which left his son (also Charles) Charles  to enter the partnership. Herbert took over in 1873. However in 1883 the there was scandal and a sudden dissolution of the Young and Bainbridge partnership. It appears Herbert Bainbridge had run off with Charles Young’s wife…Good grief!!

So Charles carried on the business as a solo enterprise as Young & Co and when he died in 1890 his wish was fulfilled and the formation of a private limited company and that is Young & Co.’s Brewery Limited which still exists today and produces a good pint of Porter.

It’s a difficult one to describe, Porter is like a cross between a weak real ale and a Guinness. It has the lightness of an ale but the taste of a good stout…check it out if you get a chance at the Robin Hood Pub, Sutton.

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A pint of Porter Please!

Porter was a very popular drink in the Victorian Era, its name comes from its popularity with the porters of the grand metropolis, those that acted as human beasts of burden

Generally brewed with dark malts, it came to be known as Stout and of course the king of Stouts is Guinness, a fine pint if you get a chance to sample one.

However London porters were strong beers by today standards. 6.6% ABV wasn’t unknown although Guinness or Double Stout Porter as it was known as today is 4.20% ABV.

London porter was matured in large vats which would often hold several hundred barrels for between six and eighteen months before being devolved into smaller casks.

It was discovered:

that it was unnecessary to age all porter. A small quantity of highly aged beer (18 months or more) mixed with fresh or “mild” porter produced a flavour similar to that of aged beer. It was a cheaper method of producing porter, as it required less beer to be stored for long periods. The normal blend was around two parts young beer to one part old.

However as with all fads porter had it’s day and it sadly being marketed as “mild”. Many breweries discontinued their porter towards the end of the Victorian Era, although one or two stouts were still being brewed.

I am a stout drinker and a good pint Guinness is great. Guinness now sells  1.8 billion pints annually, is brewed in almost 50 countries and available in over 100 not bad for that Double Stout Porter.

 

Christmas Drinks – Mulled Wine and Negus recipes!

Mulled wine is a most traditional drink and has been around for a long, long time in various guises around Europe. The word “mulled” simply means heated and spiced. Any liquid can be mulled, cider for instance is another favourite of mine, but mulled wine is provably the best known.

It was without a doubt a Victorian delight so much so that a Negus, was served to children although probably without the full alcoholic content. In fact Negus is mentioned Negus  in Jane Eyre, Wuthering HeightsMansfield ParkA Christmas CarolDavid Copperfield, Dombey and SonThe Pickwick PapersBleak House and other popular novels of the Era.

Negus:
Ingredients: To every pint of port wine, allow 1 quart of boiling water, ¼ lb of sugar, 1 lemon and grated nutmeg to taste.

Method: Put the wine into a jug, rub some lumps of sugar (equal to ¼ lb) on the lemon rind until all the yellow part of the skin is absorbed, then squeeze the juice and strain it. Add the sugar and lemon-juice to the port wine with the grated nutmeg; pour over it the boiling water, cover the jug, and, when the beverage has cooled a little, it will be fit for use. Mrs Beeton Book of Household Management 1861

You can buy mulled wine, pre-mulled but I would definitely advise against this as it is fairly disgusting, loses its essence has a tendency to be sweet and sickly and tends to be an affront to humanity!

Mulled Wine:
Boil a pint of wine with nutmeg, cloves, and sugar, serve it with slices of toasted bread  or, beat up the yolks of four eggs with a little cold wine, and mix them carefully with the hot wine, pour it backwards and forwards till it looks fine, heat it again over the fife till it is tolerably thick, pour it backwards and forwards, and serve with toasted bread as above.

Or, Boil some spice in a little water till the flavour is extracted, and then add a pint of port wine; with some sugar and nutmeg.

Enjoy!

Tea – The backbone of any British Gentleman

How could we survive without tea, the tea break or maybe high tea?

Coffee…ugh!! Much as I have tried to appreciate its distinctive flavour over the years I just can’t. I am a tea drinker through and through, from leaf to bag…my preference is fresh leaf, in particular Fortnum and Masons ‘Fountain’ Blend:

‘Northern India’s contrasting styles of tea – dark, malty Assam and the lighter Darjeeling – are not usually combined, but in the spirit of the innovative traditions of Fortnum’s Fountain restaurant, they have been united here to great effect. Light, yet stimulating, this is ideal after lunch as a post-prandial refresher’.

Taste and Strength
Light and bright, an unusual combination 

When to Drink
Best in the afternoon 

Origin
Assam and Darjeeling, India 

Brewing Information
Use boiling water and brew for 3-5 minutes depending on taste. Serve with milk or brew lighter and drink without milk. 

Storage advice
Airtight container, preferably a tea caddy

and for later the cold dark winter nights I would certainly recommned ‘Spice Imperial’ by Whittard of Chelsea.

Producer: 
Whittard of Chelsea, 184 Kings Road, London, England

Tea Type: 
Black – a blend of oriental teas with spice and orange

Tea Packing: 
Loose tea

Net Weight: 
125g

Remark: 
Flavoured Tea

Collection Number: 
1760

Both of these are from old well established Tea Houses, these are my favourites along with many other great blends and Fortnum and Masons is well worth a visit for the decor alone.

However Tea was first referenced in a London newspaper, The ‘Mercurius Politicus’ in an advert from September 1658.

The ‘China Drink’ as it was described was called ‘Tcha’ by the Chinese which soon became Tea but it was the marriage of Charles II to Portuguese princess and lover of tea Catherine of Braganza. She made the drink a very fashionable beverage first at court, and then among the wealthy classes as a whole. It was then that the East India Company began to import tea into Britain, its first order for 100lbs of China from Java being placed in 1664.

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