A weekly beer + food column to support the launch of CAMRA’s new podcast, Pubs. Pints. People. You can tune in each week on Apple Podcast or Spotify or simply visit https://audioboom.com/channels/5020734

By Sue Nowak, Food Editor

You get two recipes for the price of one this week and they have a strange sort of tenuous connection. My Beer Cook Book was published 20 years ago and it often saddens me to see that beers I cooked with then are no more; worse still, neither are the breweries that crafted them.

So I was overjoyed to discover that the Manns Brown Ale I used then to make Brewer’s Soup (my take on French onion) is not only still available but a quid a bottle in Morrisons and immediately despatched my husband to get some. First brewed at Mann’s Whitechapel Brewery, London, in 1902, brown ale was then a popular style that rather went out of fashion. This dark ale has stood the test of time and certainly drinks higher than its ABV which isn’t difficult as it’s only 2.8%! It has passed through a few breweries but is now produced by Marston’s.

Dessert is Boozy Bread & Butter Pudding and for that recipe I’ve soaked the dried fruit in Hobgoblin, a strong (5.2 % ABV) ruby, malty beer with hints of spice and chocolate. It comes in a delightful bottle with witches on broomsticks etched on the glass and is brewed by Wychwood in Oxfordshire – now part of Marston PLC. Well, I told you the connection was tenuous…

Brewer’s Soup

3 large onions, peeled and chopped; 2 garlic cloves, crushed; unsalted butter for frying; 1 dstspn plain flour; half pint (500ml) Manns Brown Ale; salt and pepper; parsley sprigs.

Sweat onions and garlic very gently in butter for around 20 minutes in a heavy, covered pan until soft; then cook uncovered for a few more minutes until the onion is caramelised and browning. Add flour and cook out, stirring, for a few minutes; slowly stir in around half the Manns then bring to simmering point, cover and cook for five minutes. Add enough cold water to make a thickish soup, cover and simmer gently for around 10 minutes. Season to taste, sprinkle with few parsley sprigs and serve with chunks of French stick.

Boozy Bread & Butter Pudding

150g mixed dried fruit; 200ml Hobgoblin (or any dark, spicy beer); 6 or 7 thin slices buttered brown bread, crusts removed; soft brown sugar; 450 ml milk; 2 medium eggs, whisked; grating of fresh nutmeg.

Soak dried fruit overnight in Hobgoblin until it has ‘drunk’ most of the beer; drain, retaining unabsorbed ale. Preheat oven to 190C, gas mark 5. Grease a deep, oblong baking dish; cut bread in triangles and layer, butter side up, sprinkling each layer with the soaked fruit and a little sugar, finishing with a layer of bread. Warm the milk without boiling then slowly whisk in the eggs; add a grating of nutmeg, pour over the bread until almost covered, then leave to stand for 20 minutes. Finally, pour over the retained beer. Bake in the centre of the oven for about half an hour until risen and crisp on top. Serve with custard.

Susan Nowak

Susan Nowak, pictures by Fran Nowak

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