Some things are good in pairs, and go together, oh, so well. Think of Laurel & Hardy, Morecambe & Wise, cheese and crackers, bacon & eggs, tea & biscuits, Sonny and Ch... OK, OK, most of them! The finest ones, though, especially for us Brits, must be the pairing of Curry & a Pint. A marriage made in Heaven. The only fly in the ointment, usually, is location. Not geographically, I am not saying Devon's curries are any better, or worse than, say, those in Cheshire, No the point I am making is whether to choose between a pub curry, which gives you the beer variety, hopefully real ales, but, most times, only offers a choice of one or two curries, or an Asian restaurant, with it's many, and varied, dishes but much more meagre drinks. In my experiences, most curry houses offer, almost entirely, bottled or keg lagers, with the occasional British keg bitter thrown in for good measure.For those who like a good selection of both the East-West wares, I would recommend a Thursday night visit to your local Wetherspoon's. Not only is the drinks selection as varied as you can usually find on the High Street, they also offer up to seven different curries, plus starters and dips, ranging from the mild Chicken Korma, all the way up to The Flaming Dragon, which is 5 pepper strength on their scoring. I, over the years, have tasted them all. Anyone who likes a hot 'un, you will not be disappointed by The Flaming Dragon, which, like all their curries, is served with a free drink. Not a bad offering for around £6-50 (local prices may differ.) and the offer to trade-up to a large portion for a small increase is available. I know these meals are, in the main, “ding” meals, (after I complimented the “chef” through my local JDW's assistant manager a couple of years ago, I was told how busy the microwave operator had been all night, and this was certainly not a surprise !), but, to be honest, they are still tasty, and good value for money. On our last Thursday Curry Club visit, T'other 'arf opted for the Chicken Balti, a rather flavoursome curry, which packed a punch, with a pint of Exe Valley “Sheppard's Crook”, a full and malty Premium Bitter brewed with a hint of fruit in the main taste &, a nice dry, bittersweet finish. I, meanwhile, chose the Beef Madras. I found the meat slightly on the tough side, but still enjoyed it thoroughly, along with my chosen drink, Grainstore Brewing Company's “Ten Fifty”. I was, originally, told that this was a\ Scottish brewer, but I have since found out that they hail a little closer to home, Oakham in Rutland. This 5% Premium Bitter, is said to be the closest brew to the “old” Ruddle's” County, and they are not far wrong. With a rich malt flavour, and a satisfying, but not overpowering, sweetness leading to the bitterness from the well balanced hops, I found this a fine partner to my meal. I am not suggesting that you should ditch your chosen Curry House in favour of JDW's, as I am well aware that most of these establishments, culinary speaking, are far more superior, but for VFM and choice, on a Thursday, you could do far worse.`
Battle of the Bottles. #1
Recently, I suggested I may start a little extra addition to my blog, namely, The Battle of the Bottles. With such a range of beers now available in the local Supermarkets and similar outlets, I thought I would, where possible, try to pair two like-for-like brews together, for a head to head taste off. I will, as always, try to give a fair assessment of my chosen “competitors”, which, even with T'other 'Arf's input, will be an independent, and personal review.
First up, are:-
The Ilkley Brewery's “Joshua Jane” (3.7%) v The York Brewery “Yorkshire Terrier” (4.2%).
Both billed as Yorkshire Bitters, and both brewed within the White Rose County. On pouring, the first thing we noticed was the difference in colour. Joshua Jane was a rich amber coloured beer, whilst Yorkshire Terrier was a hint lighter, and the head did not stay around as long. Initial aroma of Joshua Jane was of a slight toffeeness, and a hint of grass, whereas York Brewery's beer had a sweet and fruity nose, this was also noticeable in the initial taste. The bottle notes suggested at “a modest salt” taste to the Ilkley beer, which I did not pick up. There was slight sweetness leading to a hint of caramel, and a lovely zesty dry bitterness throughout, and the finish was reasonably long, dry and bitter. I thought it a little over carbonated, but not too much as to distract from the overall balance. The Terrier, on the other hand, is more dominated from the citrus and, well, slight berry fruitiness,with an almost biscuit aftertaste, which leads to a clean, and bright, bitter finish.There is just a little more complexity to this brew, but with an underlying stability. I thought both beers were very good, both displayed similar traits in the bitterness and dryness of the finish, but the fruit and hops driving the Yorkshire Terrier just tipped the balance for me. Joshua Jane is still a “reight good beer”, and would knock many a challenger into a cocked hat, but in this little contest, the more rounded, richer tasting Yorkshire Terrier just growled a little louder.
Cheers and keep it “Real”