Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food

27/03/2010

An end in sight to the excuse for drinking pee!

Filed under: Beer and other booze — Tags: — Feòrag @ 11:02

I admit it, I like my beer, but I am a very fussy drunk. One of the sources of constant distress to me is the use of isinglass (derived from the swim bladder of a Russian sturgeon) to clarify nearly every British beer worth drinking. While there are many substances derived from seaweed and minerals that can clarify beer, isinglass has an interesting trick up its sleeve in that it can repeat the trick several times if the cask is moved. The others are just one-shots. The exact mechanism by which it does this isn’t well understood, making the development of an alternative somewhat tricky.

It leaves me with limited choices. I could stick to the bottle-conditioned beers from Black Isle and Cropton, and others, but that means drinking at home which I very rarely do. I could drink German and Belgian beer, which I do sometimes, but I doubt importing my beer is particularly kind to the environment and it’s not as good as British beer. Not even the Rauchbier. I could drink industrial fizzy keg pish, but I’m not that desperate for a pint. I could simply not drink alcohol, but I recently did that for a month and the state of non-alcoholic drinks in British pubs is deplorable – I ended up drinking water it was that bad. Or, like many people, I could accept that it’s one of the unavoidable things in life and quietly hope that CAMRA, the Vegetarian Society and the Vegan Society would get together and help fund a brewing science PhD or two.

This morning, my copy of What’s Brewing (CAMRA’s monthly newspaper) arrived, and the headline story is good news indeed. It’s not online, but Roger Protz, the author of the piece, has another version of the same story elsewhere: Marston’s Unveils Fast Cask.

Basically, Marston’s, a Burton-on-Trent based brewer, has been doing some research into methods of making cask beer “drop bright” more quickly and has come up with Fast Cask, something completely different: the yeast is removed at the end of the main (“primary”) fermentation and replaced with small balls of yeast for the secondary fermentation (this is the stage that takes place in a cask or bottle, and gives proper beer its fizz). Magic happens (the process is patent pending) and the beer clears really quickly while still being conditioned in the cask.

CAMRA’s Technical Advisory Group is looking at the process to confirm that the resulting product is still real ale, and seem likely to conclude that while it won’t make much difference to traditional pubs, it might make real ale more practical in a wider range of venues. Both articles mention the real advantage, though. One that would do a remarkable amount to promote the consumption of proper beer: the resulting product (unless it’s a honey beer of course) is suitable for vegans.

The first beers to use Fast Cask will be Marston’s Pedigree and Wychwood Hobgoblin – the latter being one of the regular beers in The Auld Hoose. Marston’s are suggesting that traditional venues will continue to receive the fishy version of their beer, but hopefully they’ll consider supplying the vegan version to those pubs who feel they have enough vegetarian and vegan customers to justify it.

Update: A friend has just drawn my attention to the Great Vegan Beer Festival in Nottingham in early June.

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08/12/2009

Chocolate beer waffles!

Filed under: Gadgets, Reading matter — Tags: , , , — Feòrag @ 21:41

This morning, I got a copy of Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The American brunch foods aren’t common in the UK – we have our own tradition of enormous breakfast later in the day – but I developed a fondness for them through the Sunday afternoon brunch at the late, lamented Country Life in Boston.

The recipe that caught my eye almost immediately was one for chocolate beer waffles. Three of my favourite things in one recipe! I have a waffle machine, and nearly all of the ingredients in stock, so I’ve been making them. I also made the chocolate drizzle – a rich sauce – from the same book to go with them.

The very first thing that impressed me about the waffles section was the list of problems you might have and how to fix them. It included the one that had been bugging me about my own waffle iron – waffles splitting horizontally – and the fix worked.

Anyway, I made the waffle mix with Black Isle Brewery‘s organic porter and Green and Black’s cocoa. I had to buy in almond milk, which is a wee bit expensive, and in future I’m pretty sure I can make it in the soya milk machine anyway. The sauce recipe included a variation involving liqueurs, so I made it with Wynand Fockink Bitterkoekjes. My friends and I have already exhausted all the jokes surrounding the distillery name on our many visits to their proeflokaal just off Amsterdam’s Dam square.

The waffles were lovely, but it was all a bit rich. I learned it’s really important to remember to spray the waffle iron every time, and that it’s not a good idea to forget you have a waffle in there. For this recipe alone, I recommend this book. I’ll check some of the others in due course.

The Post-Punk Kitchen website, home of Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

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