We should all be eating less meat and better meat
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From Fecamp in Normandy to the Burnley Miners Social

On the 5th December I had the privilege of attending the Guild of Beer Writers’ Awards dinner. As ever it was a fierce affair and we were swept along on a wave of different beers, each one seemingly stronger than the last. The large number of entries for each of the seven awards meant a great deal of reading for the judges, and in the end The Michael Jackson Award for the beer writer of the year went to Will Hawkes. There’s something very engaging about the Guild of Beer Writers and their brave on-going fight against the foolish, snobbish and ignorant misconception that the public is not interested in beer.
Unfortunately among commissioning editors this is a widely held position and so none of the serious papers has a regular beer column. Meanwhile, the beer writers just keep slugging away. I was guest of the Daniel Thwaites brewery that has been refreshing the good folk of Blackburn for a couple of hundred years. Thwaites have set up a microbrewery called “Crafty Dan’s” which allows the brewers to indulge their wilder flights of fancy. Three of these moody bottled beers - Triple C; 13 Guns; and Big Ben – were to form the backbone of our pre-dinner drinks. They were all strong. The 13 Guns is an American I.P.A. Triple C is crammed with hops – Chinook, Citra, and Cascade. While Big Ben was a strong and smooth brown ale. But Big Ben was simply the starting point for the strangest and most interesting keg beer Thwaites make in Crafty Dan’s – “Bene & Hops”.
This is a locally inspired beer in the quirkiest way. Should you land the job of head of sales for the liqueur Bénédictine D.O.M, as you settle down behind your desk and riffle through the paperwork you will find that your key account is the Burnley Miners’ Social. This club sells more Bénédictine than any other bar in the world. It’s a strange state of affairs that stems from the First World War when the East Lancashire Regiment was stationed in Fécamp, Normandy home of the monks and their distillery. By the time the soldiers got home they had acquired a taste for the local elixir and the Regimental drink was Benedictine. In pride of place on many bars in East Lancs you’ll spot a Thermos flask of hot water and people drinking “Bene and Hot”. So the idea of boosting a beer with the pungent and distinctive herbal notes of Bénédictine is not so outrageous after all. It’s a flavour combination that works. As it says on every bottle “Deo Optimo Maxima”.

Daniel Thwaites, Penny Street, Blackburn, Lancashire BB1 6HL

www.thwaites.com

www.beerguild.co.uk

Charles Campion - Sunday 8th December 2013

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