My Year of Beer (+ free bonus cake recipe)

Text: The Lady Pie Maker

October marks the first anniversary of the foundation of the Thirstyboys’ Ladies Auxiliary, which means I have  been heading down the stairs to Hashigo Zake most Tuesday evenings for the past 12 months. As such, the Thirsties asked me to reflect on my first year of beer.

While I happily sipped shandies made by my uncle when I was 10, the taste of beer never appealed as I moved into my teens, student years and beyond. Kegs, yard glasses, six packs, pints and halves were all foreign concepts. I grew to look down on beer, and beer drinkers to boot. Tui naturally had a lot to answer for. I thought beer was beer, and I didn’t like it or the culture that surrounded it –  that was until I was lured into Hashigo’s basement one evening by a Thirsty Boy. While I stubbornly clung to my chardonnay at first, eventually I began to brave each week’s new release – a sip here and there, and eventually a half of my very own.

A Singaporean Jungle Beer jolted me to my senses. How surprisingly delicious. I could like beer. I had found my beer, except that it was a one off special keg, so within an hour of being found I was lost again.  A few weeks later a porter by the Garage Project, famously described by the Draughtsman as like ‘drinking a whole f&#%$ Christmas cake’, made me realise I well and truly preferred the dark side to the light.  2013 became the year of the great imperial porter.

On a succession of amiable Tuesday’s, when the topic of conversation is always and often only about beer, I have learned the following:

Beer is not just beer. Beer comes in an amazing array of styles and flavours, and is made from all sorts of weird things from chillies to avocado leaves and weasel poo. Who would have thought?

civet-cat-coffee

Weasel poo, or more correctly civet cat poo featuring highly desirable excreted coffee beans.

Despite expanding my drinking horizons considerably, I still don’t like drinking across the spectrum (unlike Malice). I like imperial porters on the whole, and the occasional Saison – which is just a nice word to say as well as tasting a little like chardonnay.

'The Luggage Porter'. Post war tin toy.

‘The Luggage Porter’. Post war tin toy.

On a cautionary note, however, three imperial porters in a row is simply one porter too many. It can only lead to trouble. I am yet to find my sessionable beer.

Beer doesn’t only go with rugby and racing. Beer goes with poetry and great conversation, and best of all – with cheese.

Cover of Rod Derrett’s classic 1965 record, Rugby, racing and beer.

Cover of Rod Derrett’s classic 1965 record, Rugby, racing and beer.

Craft brewers are an inventive, irreverent and interesting breed, culturally engaged and culturally playful. I like it.

blanket man

Wellington in a Pint winners, 2012.

Beer bars no longer have sticky floors, and are pretty convivial places just to be. Some even have flowers.

Mikkeller's Bar in Copenhagen - a fist-banging free space designed by Femme Regionales

Mikkeller’s Bar sans punters – a fist-banging free space designed by Femme Regionales

Beer and style can go together (see Beervana 2013).

Beervana 063

Stephen dressed for a Sherlock adventure at Beervana 2013.

Wine might have legs, but beer has Belgian lace.

Beer makes a mighty fine baking ingredient.

The MightyThirsty Cake, otherwise known as a porter chocolate cake best served with porter syrup and 'clouds' of cream.

The MightyThirsty Cake, otherwise known as a porter chocolate cake best served with porter syrup and ‘clouds’ of cream.

In thanks to my year of beer, here is the recipe for the truly magnificent MIGHTYTHIRSTY CAKE

FRUITY BIT

100 grams each of raisons and dried pitted dates and prunes

250 mls porter beer (I used Three Boys – get a 500ml bottle as you’ll need more later)

2 Tbl brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

CAKEY BIT

6 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

175 grams caster sugar

200 gram ground almonds

30 grams cocoa, sifted in theory

1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice

1 tsp baking powder

YUMMY PORTER SYRUP

250 ml Porter beer

160 grams brown sugar

1 cinnamon stick

HOW TO MAKE

FRUITY BIT: Chop fruit, pop in a medium sauce pan with other fruity ingrediants. Bring the porter to boil, and simmer for 10 mins, stirring every now and again. Cool for 5 mins and then wizz in a blender. Cool some more.

CAKEY BIT: Whisk eggs, vanilla and sugar in a big bowl and add wizzed fruity mixture. Combine almonds, cocoa, 5 spice, baking powder, and then add to egg/fruit mixture.

Pour into a 22cm spring form tin that has been lined with baking paper. Bake for 40 mins, or until skewer comes out clean, at 170 degrees. Cool in the tin. Pop on a plate.

SYRUPY BIT: Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil, and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Simmer vigorously for about 10 mins or until reduced and thick and syrupy (this took me more than 10 mins).

HOW TO EAT: Dust the MightyThirsty Cake with icing sugar, and serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream and a generous splash of syrup. Serves 10 to 12 in theory.

BEER MATCH: Sam from Hashigo Zake, after conducting a professional tasting, recommends pairing your MightyThirsty Cake with a glass of Left Coast Voodoo Stout.

A CAKE YOU EAT WHEN: feeling mighty.

A glass of Voodoo – the perfect MightyThirsty Cake match.

WITH GRATEFUL THANKS TO DISH MAGAZINE FOR SHARING SUCH A MARVELLOUS RECIPE!

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