Monthly Archives: May 2015

North Cornwall’s #1 Craft Beer Bar

Industrial craft beer bar keg tap

If you’re a regular at Firebrand Bar & Restaurant you’ll know we serve an ever-changing range of craft beers and ciders from across Cornwall, Britain and the globe.

Cornish Gold – a 4.5% cider from Cornish Orchards – and Dortmunder Union Vier – a 4% lager from Dortmunder Union-Brauerei – are always on keg in addition to six other keg lines and four casks which ensure real ale isn’t neglected. Alongside some of the best seasonal beers from Penpont Brewery and Firebrand Brewing Co, you’ll find brews from the likes of BrewDog, Cornish Crown, Magic Rock Brewing, Holsworthy Ales, Brooklyn Brewery, Dark Star Brewing Co and more.

Our bar stocks around 30 bottles too, covering styles ranging from German smoke beers to fruit beers, Belgian beers, wheat beers and American craft lagers.

Craft beer and cider bottles

We run a beer of the week promotion, serving one of our cask or keg beers for just £2.50 per pint – allowing you to sample something new at a really affordable price. If you’re just getting started with craft beer then it’s an excellent place to begin. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice if you’re unsure what to drink. Our manager, Alex Morgan, is always happy to give out tasters and offer suggestions based on other beers you’ve enjoyed at Firebrand or elsewhere.

Here are a few to get you going:

Firebrand Brewing Co Graffiti IPA craft beer cask

Brewery: Firebrand Brewing Co
Beer: Graffiti IPA
ABV: 5%
Type: India Pale Ale

Graffiti IPA is Firebrand Brewing Co’s flagship beer and one of two which form the core range. A session IPA, it’s easy to drink and full of hoppy flavour with fruity and floral notes. Brewed with a backbone of Maris Otter Pale Malt and hopped with Summit, Centennial and Amarillo, Graffiti is then dry hopped with Amarillo for extra character. An essential for any Cornish beer blog.

Penpont Brewery Cornish Arvor pump clipBrewery: Penpont Brewery
Beer: Cornish Arvor
ABV: 4%
Type: Bitter

Cornish Arvor is golden red and beautifully refreshing. Although it has distinctive hop notes it’s not overly floral, making it a great beer to start with if you’re familiar with traditional English ales but prefer something light and quaffable.

Camden Town Brewery Gentleman's Wit craft beer bottle

Brewery: Camden Town Brewery
Beer: Gentleman’s Wit
ABV: 4.3%
Type: Belgian-style white beer

Always available in a bottle at Firebrand Bar, the London brewery has taken a classic Belgian white beer and spiked it with lemon and bergamot, giving it a smooth, full body and a spicy finish. If you enjoy Earl Grey tea and delight in something a bit different then this is a must-try.

Brooklyn Brewing Co Brooklyn Lager

Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery
Beer: Brooklyn Lager
ABV: 5.2%
Type: American lager

Another staple of our bottled beer selection, and sometimes available on keg, Brooklyn Lager is among the best known American craft lagers. It has a malty centre, supported by fine bitterness and floral hops.

Mongozo Premium Pilsener pilsner vegan Fairtrade Soil Association beer organic

Brewery: Mongozo
Beer: Premium Pilsener
ABV: 5%
Type: Pilsner

If you’re vegan then you’re probably distinctly unimpressed with the fact that most alcohol is off limits. Mongozo’s vegan pilsner is also certified Fairtrade, organic and gluten-free. It has a mild, slightly bitter hoppy flavour and is easy to drink.

 

We also stock a great range of spirits, cocktails, milkshakes, soft drinks and coffee. What’s your favourite?

National BBQ Week: An excuse to experiment

It’s National BBQ Week (as well as being half-term) and that means that families up and down the land are getting into the idea of cooking outdoors.

This is great, but it can also be a recipe for disaster. Charcoal on the outside/raw in the middle sausages are more likely to see a trip to the doctor than win a place on Masterchef. And why does a BBQ have to involve nothing more than sausages and burgers anyway?

The concept of BBQ means different things to different people. In the UK it’s traditionally used to mean direct grilling over hot coals. But in the USA, BBQ is something very different. There it means slow cooking or smoking over indirect heat with the meat being coated with a marinade or dry rub before or during cooking.

At our Launceston restaurant, we use both types of cooking. Our burgers and most of our steaks are cooked on a grill to give a seared exterior and a succulent inside. But we also use a smoker to prepare our pulled pork and brisket. Both cuts of meat demand long, slow cooking to break down the collagen and create really tasty meat. We also use the smoker for the first stage of our Denver steaks.

Our smoker in the restaurant is an electric version produced by Bradley. It uses wood chips to impart smokiness but the control given by electricity means that we can leave it running safely overnight to give our meat the 12-18 hours it needs.

So what can be achieved at home for a realistic budget? The gold standard in charcoal fired BBQs is the Big Green Egg. This ceramic monster is based on a Japanese style and holds heat magnificently. But they don’t come cheap. Even the ‘medium’ version will set you back over £700 and the top of the line extra large is well over £3500.

ProQ 1
The most well known name in BBQ is Weber. They produce a wide range of direct grill models as well as the Smoky Mountain smoker version. For a slightly cheaper option, look to ProQ whose Frontier model is the one I use at home. It has a wide double grill (so you can cook two tiers of food), a water bath to control the temperature and a pretty decent thermometer so you can see when you need to add more charcoal or adjust the air vents. You can also use it as a regular old direct grill type BBQ if you want.

ProQ 2
But although a specialist model makes it easier to smoke meat, you can use most types of direct grill BBQ as a smoker. All you need is a bit of distance between the coals and the food being smoked and a lid to cover it. If you can keep the coals to one side, put a water bath the other and the food being smoked above the water bath then you should be good to go. Read up here or search around for advice on how to do it.

And once you start smoking then the possibilities are huge. You can still smoke sausages (although they will end up a bit grey and unattractive), but why not be a bit more adventurous?

Baby back ribs are an easy one. Just remember to slather them with BBQ sauce or marinade during cooking to keep them moist.

Baby back ribs 1
Beef short ribs take a bit longer, but this lesser known cut deserves more eating.

Beef short rib 1
Smoked chicken is delicious. It doesn’t need any rub or marinade (although of course you can) but make sure it is properly cooked all the way through before eating.

Smoked chicken 1
How about a smoked steak? Some of the cheaper steak cuts – like hanger – are delicious when smoked to medium rare. You could also smoke some of the prime steaks such as sirloin before finishing them in a pan or converting the BBQ to direct grilling to sear them off.

Steak 1
A whole brisket is a bigger challenge. This could do with a dry rub before cooking and then about five hours in the smoker if you plan on slicing it or eight to ten hours if you fancy pulled brisket.

The daddy of them all is a whole pork shoulder joint. Weighing in at 5kg or so, a ‘Boston Butt’ is a bone-in joint which needs at least 12 hours of smoking and a good dry rub to achieve perfection. The meat can then be ‘pulled’ – shredded with a couple of forks or your fingers and then mixed up with BBQ sauce or a mother sauce (a type of meaty gravy).

These guys have come up with what they think is the perfect smoker model. I look forward to seeing it come on the market, but suspect it won’t be that cheap.

But even the best BBQ won’t produce good food if the raw ingredients are poor or the technique is flawed. For the former, ignore the supermarket meat counter as much as possible and look to your local specialist butcher. Here in Launceston we are lucky to have Philip Warren who supplies almost all the meat we use at Firebrand. (Our pork comes from our own rare breed pigs reared at Penpont Brewery.) Buying from there – or another specialist butcher – will mean better quality meat, better prepared on site and for a similar price to the supermarket. And if you go to Warren’s Pennygillam store then you can see what a Big Green Egg looks like up close as they have one by the entrance.

When it comes to technique, experience and experimentation is key. Try different things and always remember that BBQ is an art, not a science.

For more ideas and inspiration, come to Firebrand Bar & Restaurant in Launceston, Cornwall and see what we’ve got on our menu!

The piggyback burger: So good it’s had a cake made after it

Cake 1

The guys at Philip Warren Butchers certainly know how to treat their colleagues. Not only did they book a big meal at Firebrand Bar & Restaurant for butcher Leon Fowler’s birthday, they made him this totally awesome piggyback burger cake in honour of his favourite dish.

Cake 2

The piggyback is a 7oz cheeseburger made from quality Warren’s beef. It’s then loaded with 18-hour smoked pulled pork from the Penpont Brewery pigs, bacon, slaw and pickles and served with chips or sweet potato fries. It started off as a special but proved so popular that we put it on the main menu and it continues to be one of our best sellers.

Not all burgers

Local produce and knowledgeable staff keep this family coming back for more

White family

What did the White Family do before Firebrand opened and it became their second home? “Cook!” shouts Gemma Fisher, prompting laughs from her fiance Alistair White and his parents, Evelyn and Michael.

Running a restaurant gives us the chance to meet all sorts of awesome people. Some regulars love what we do and eat with us so much that they become part of the Firebrand family. The Whites totally get what Firebrand is all about and really enjoy trying the latest specials from head chef Eddie Thomson and newest beers selected by manager Alex Morgan and owner Joe Thomson.

“We went to the Beer Cellar and Launceston Beer Festival and they introduced us to Joe’s principles and ethos,” recalls Michael. “We knew Firebrand was going to be a success. It’s relaxed and it’s individual – a quality proposition at a reasonable price. Joe’s ethos is shared by the staff, they’re all allowed to be individual and all take pride in what they do. It’s nice to be part of it and there’s a strong local angle with local beers, locally sourced food and local staff.”

All our meat comes from Philip Warren or our own Penpont Brewery farm on the edge of Bodmin Moor, meaning food miles are minimal while the quality and freshness are outstanding. “We love the whole proposition of regionally produced food and quality,” says Michael. “And of course the wines are exceptional, as are the Penpont and Firebrand beers. We’re big fans.”

The whole family have their own favourite dishes which they return to again and again. Evelyn loves the pulled pork produced from our rare breed pigs fed on mash from the brewery, while Michael eyes up the specials, particularly the Cornish fish dishes. Alistair opts for the burgers which got us shortlisted for the title of Best Burger Joint in Cornwall and Gemma looks forward to her chocolate brownie dessert.

Before Firebrand opened its doors in November 2014, the family didn’t eat out nearly as regularly. Now they can walk into town and not worry about who’s going to have to drive home and miss out on the newest craft beers and cocktails.

“With the growing population it seemed a matter of time before something like Firebrand opened,” says Michael. “The beer festival proved there’s a latent demand for for good produce which hadn’t been satisfied until Firebrand, and the new bakery opened up to go with two excellent butchers. Hopefully it will hit critical mass and people will be coming into Launceston for good quality food.”

The Whites love Firebrand’s relaxed atmosphere and the welcome which greets them when they walk downstairs into the bar.

“You can settle down and enjoy the company knowing there’s a great choice of beers and wines and food,” says Michael. “You know it’s all going to be good so there’s no worry about what to choose. Visitors also enjoy it, it’s so easy and comfortable and the staff know what we like and are great at making recommendations.”

The family are also impressed with the regular events in the bar including chess, backgammon and Scrabble and like the fact they can just pop in for a drink – though the temptation proved too great and they ended up eating too!

“The staff know their produce and Alex behind the bar knows his products,” says Michael. “If we want to substitute something on the menu or order something slightly different it’s not the slightest problem and the staff are empowered to say so. We hope it goes from strength to strength.”

Fine dining at Firebrand

At Firebrand we love the food we produce – using high quality locally sourced ingredients to produce top notch American style cuisine. But even we sometimes want to do something a little bit different.

Last night saw our first (of many we hope) fine dining charity night. We wanted to showcase our ingredients in a different way – cooking a five course tasting menu and raising money for two really good causes – Launceston Friends of Children’s Hospice South West and Launceston Foodbank. Half of all the money from food and drink sales went to these charities and all our staff tips from the night were also donated.

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01-3Chef Eddie created a menu which really wowed our customers. They arrived to prosecco and a trio of canapés: a chicken and prune croquette, a ceviche of local scallop and cup of seafood chowder. For those unaware of ceviche, it’s a Mexican dish where the fish or shellfish is ‘cooked’ by marinating it in lime juice. We also added a bit of chilli and micro herbs.

Once seated, the first course was whipped goats cheese, salt baked beetroot, chives and croutons. This was followed by chermoula marinated mackerel, with a salad of red onion, preserved lemons and parsley. Chermoula is a North African spice mix often described as being like ‘Moroccan pesto’. It goes magnificently with locally caught mackerel. The preserved lemons in the salad were a two month labour of love for one of our chefs.

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The next course could not have been more Cornish. Local asparagus is about the best in the world and, although it is only available for a short season, we make the most of it when we can. We served it very simply – grilled and with an accompaniment of soft boiled quail eggs and hollandaise sauce.

04

If the asparagus was the best of Cornwall, the main course was distinctly American. The Denver steak is a cut we have been championing for some time. We smoke it in our house rub to rare before portioning and finishing on the grill. The finished article is medium rare with a fantastic smokiness. We paired it with pomme coq d’or potatoes – which are thin slices of potato pressed and cooked with chicken stock and butter. A deep fried oyster, watercress and a silky jus finished the dish.

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The dessert course was a reference to Chef Eddie’s childhood. He served a peanut butter parfait with honey cake, a ‘hedgehog’ sweet and salted caramel sauce.

Finally, with the coffee came a trio of petit fours: a custard panna cotta with rhubarb syrup; a coffee and walnut semolina cake and a chocolate truffle.

06

Thanks to all who came to our first fine dining event. We had some great feedback on the food and enjoyed making it and raising some money for two great causes. We’re already thinking about what we can do next time! You can keep up to date with all our events here.

Charity fine dining evening for two great Cornish charities

We’re committed to helping the local community in as many ways as we can so we’re inviting you to join us for a fine dining charity evening to benefit two great local causes. A five course dinner, plus canapés and petit fours, has been designed for your enjoyment by head chef Eddie Thomson:

Canapés & Prosecco

Whipped goats cheese, salt baked beetroot, chives, croutons

Chermoula marinated mackerel, red onion, preserved lemon, parsley

Roast Cornish asparagus, quails eggs, hollandaise

Smoked Denver steak, pomme coq d’or, oyster, watercress, jus

Peanut butter, honey, hazelnuts, coconut

Coffee and petit fours

Tickets are £40 which includes all food and a glass of Prosecco. 50% of all takings on the night (including drinks) will be split between the Launceston Friends of Children’s Hospice South West and Launceston Foodbank.

To secure your ticket, pop in to Firebrand Bar & Restaurant or call 01566 770722. You can find details of all our events here.

Charity fine dining evening

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