Monthly Archives: February 2015

Beer Geography 101

The guys over at BrewDog have come up with this retro infographic on the geography of beer styles. If you’re getting into craft beer and starting to learn a bit more about its origins then click below to enlarge. It’s a great little introduction to some of the main styles and where they come from.

Infographic Beer Geography

 

Introducing our Denver Steak

We’ve been intending to put this style of steak on the specials for a little while now. It really is one of our favourite ways to cook steak.

The Denver cut comes from the lower part of the blade joint from the shoulder of the cow.

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Normally when we cook a steak we butcher the piece of meat into steaks first, then grill them from raw to the desired level. However, with this we wanted to try something a bit different. We take the prepared joint whole (around the 2 minute mark of the video) and smoke it for several hours until rare. This starts the process of breaking down the fats and proteins in the piece of meat, and infusing it with a lovely subtle smokey flavour. Once cooked to rare, the piece is then cut into steaks and rested.

When serving, the rested steak is rapidly chargrilled to create all those beautiful Maillard reactions that give a beautiful brown crusty finish, while maintaining the lovely tender texture and flavour within. (We’ll post more on the magic of Maillard at some point soon.) The result is a truly great tasting steak, and well worth the effort from the chefs. It’s on our specials board tonight and will also be available for lunch and dinner on Mothers’ Day.

Denver steak

 

Kicking off Launceston’s festival season

We had a great time at yesterday’s Launceston Family Food Fun Day – our first festival of the year. The feedback’s been excellent so we wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who helped out. We even coped with it being alcohol-free!

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As well as our own build-a-burger and decorate a gingerbread man stall, we had loads of support from street food vendors and local stall holders. The Kernowforno guys were a massive hit at last year’s Launceston Food and Drink Festival so it was great to have them back and showing customers how to make fantastic woodfired pizzas.

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Inkie’s Smokehouse were a fun sight when they arrived with their horsebox and a lit smoker on the back of their pickup. Their dirty dogs – hot dogs with pulled pork on top – were a big hit.

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Kids were enthralled by Big Pot Kitchen’s, er, big pot. It was the largest many of them had ever seen and it was lovely hearing them guessing what was in it (potatoes if you were wondering) and trying to peer over the top. The potatoes were excellent accompanied by Big Pot Kitchen’s signature Brittany sausages.

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In the restaurant we’re always getting asked about our gluten free options. Fontanella Cafe in Launceston’s Market House Arcade were giving away gluten and dairy free cupcakes to sample while Westgate Street’s No 8 Cafe had kids decorating their own cupcakes and designing smoothies. Trewithen DairyProper PancakesGrumpiesOver Priestacott Farm and Deli Farm Charcuterie all deserve your attention if you’ve yet to check them out.

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No family fun day would be complete without extra kids’ entertainment. Launceston Lions came along with their cute teddy stall,  Encore Kids painted lots of faces and Rachael Collard brought her Minion to join in with McQueen’s Theatre School’s flashmob performance of Happy and plenty of foodie songs.

0103People really seemed to enjoy chatting about ingredients and cooking techniques which is exactly what we were aiming for. If you had fun checking out Inkie’s smoker and our barbecue then look out for Lanson Grill Fest coming up on May 2. There will be beer at this one!

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We’ve been shortlisted for the What’s On Cornwall Awards!

Scandinavian burger (made from a mix of beef and pork, seasoned with caraway seeds) with winter red slaw, dill mayonnaise, mild cheddar and chips

We’re immensely proud to have been shortlisted for ‘Best Burger Joint’ in the What’s On Cornwall Awards just three months after opening.

Our burgers are a key part of our American menu and it’s fantastic to know that you love them enough to take time out of your day to nominate us for an award.

All our beef and chicken comes from Philip Warren Butchers and our pork is raised on Bodmin Moor on the Penpont Brewery farm. They provide us with the most amazing local produce to turn into hamburgers, pulled pork burgers and shredded chicken burgers and it’s awesome that you feel they’re worth nominating.

Of course it’s not just the burgers themselves which go into making a great burger joint. We want you to have a great all round experience so our craft beers, real ales, ciders, wines and spirits are chosen to pair perfectly with our dishes.

If you love what we’re doing at Firebrand please take two minutes to support us by voting. Thank you!

Shredded BBQ chicken burger with bacon and guacamole

Flat Iron Steak

What is it?

The flat iron has been a mainstay on our menu since we opened last year. Originally known as butlers’ steak in the UK (it was the piece kept back by the butler while the more fashionable steaks were served to the household), this steak is from the shoulder of the cow. Cut with the grain and possessing beautiful marbling, it’s a flavour packed cut, which when properly grilled and rested becomes as tender as the traditional rear steak cuts, but with tons more flavour due to the working joint it comes from.

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Lanson Grill Fest

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Launceston BBQ Fest and Competition

An ambition of ours for a while now has been to hold a BBQ and grill festival in Launceston. The image of loads of smoking BBQs in the town square, along with the fantastic smells, some live music and a craft beer bar appeals greatly.

We were intending to hold a Pitmaster event (check out IBQN’s website for more on competition BBQing) however, time restraints being what they are, we’re going to test the waters this year with a Ready Steady Q event, to run alongside a wide range of BBQ food stalls, grilling and smoking demos, a full bar featuring a wide range of real ales, craft beers, local ciders and cocktails and some cracking live music through the day from various local blues and Americana musicians.

So for now, just save the date:

May 2nd 2015

More info coming soon.

Would you risk prison for craft beer?

Can you imagine living in a country with roughly the same population as the UK but just two major breweries? Home brewing is illegal in Thailand and those embracing craft beer face the threat of fines and imprisonment. Sick of the bland, mass-produced lager officially on offer, more and more Thais are deciding it’s a risk worth taking.

Pancake Day preparations

When we posted this picture of Eddie’s Pancake Day preparations on our Facebook page you all went a bit crazy for it. We’re drooling too. These pancakes with salted caramel, popcorn and Gerrys Originals honeycomb ice cream are not to be missed. Why is Shrove Tuesday only once a year?

Pancakes with salted caramel, popcorn and honeycomb ice creamPancake Day

Beer Culture: The Movie

If our introduction to craft beer left you keen to learn more then check out this film on Beer Culture in Colorado. It features an insight into the lives of the guys at Oskar BluesNew Belgium, Avery, Tommyknocker and Upslope among others.

Beer Culture was released in 2011 and the fast-growing craft scene has moved on a lot since then, but it remains a great documentary casting light on what drives brewers to put in 80-hour weeks for little financial gain.

Define your craft

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If you’re new to the world of small batch beer you may have been left a little confused by our liberal use of terms like ‘real ale’ and ‘craft beer’. Just to confuse you a little more before we offer any kind of explanation – it’s possible for a drink to be a real ale, a craft beer, both, or neither.

Real ale is a description made popular by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra). The organisation – and the term itself – is still struggling to shake off its rather unfair old man image. If that’s a stereotype you subscribe to it’s time to free yourself from it. It’s making you miss out on a lot of great beer.

You can read Camra’s in-depth explanation of real ale here, but put simply it means you’re drinking a living product. Yeast causes beer to ferment. When making real ale, yeast is left in the cask so the beer undergoes a secondary fermentation and the flavour continues to evolve until you drink it. Other beer is pasteurised and effectively killed before it is put in a keg or bottle, giving it a longer shelf life. Real ale also comes in bottles, termed ‘bottle conditioned’. They are recognisable by the cloudy dregs at the bottom and need to be poured with care. It’s possible to get a beer as a real ale on cask in a pub but find the same beer is pasteurised when it’s bottled, meaning it loses its real ale status.

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Coming up with a definition for craft beer is far less straightforward. Google it and you’ll get more than 500,000 results. It’s debatable when the modern craft brewing scene even kicked off but in 1979 homebrewing became legal in the USA, causing a surge in small-scale production. President Carter had signed a bill the year before allowing each household to produce up to 200 gallons of beer and 200 gallons of wine, meaning anyone could turn their hand to brewing without risking prosecution.

The Brewers Association defines American craft beer by its size, ownership and ingredients. In order to be craft, a brewery can produce up to six million barrels each year. Less than 25% of a craft brewery can be owned by a brewer which is not itself a craft brewer. So if brewing giant SABMiller buys up 24% of your brewery you’re still craft; 26% and you’re not. Finally, a majority of the brewery’s total alcohol volume must come from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients – a rule designed to push out those using rice or corn in order to lower costs.

If six million barrels seems a lot, it is. Penpont Brewery and Firebrand Brewing Co only produced around 2,500 put together last year and most US craft breweries also come nowhere near this. The reason it’s so high is simple: The ceiling has been raised to ensure one of the founder members stays within the definition. The limit used to be two million barrels, but the Boston Beer Company – owner of Samuel Adams – is growing at such a rate that it became a case of changing craft beer to suit the company. If this sounds a little controversial, it is. But why penalise success if a brewery is doing everything right while staying true to its founding ethos? If Boston goes over six million barrels the limit is likely to be put up again, meaning a better definition may be that ‘a craft brewery may produce no more barrels per year than the Boston Beer Company’.

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In 2013, UK craft brewing juggernaut BrewDog proposed its own European definition with the aim of protecting and informing customers about what they’re drinking, but there remains no official categorisation or rule for who can or can’t label their beer ‘craft’.

Perhaps the struggle for a definition is so difficult because one vital part of craft brewing is so hard to nail down? It’s about a mentality which is shared by everyone who quits their job and throws their savings at their crazy dream to set up their own brewery with the simple aim of making good beer which they want to drink themselves. If the beer in your glass was made by someone who shares the same mentality as the guys in this video it’s safe to say it’s craft.

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