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://shows.acast.com/5ed0cbc8e3ae160820cc9477/
THIS week’s cookery column is a Tribute to the man who invented it along with Proper Job and other iconic St Austell beers: Roger Ryman, brewing director and head brewer who died a week ago, aged only 52, from cancer. Roger joined the brewery in 1999; his first brew there was Daylight Robbery, produced as a special to celebrate the total eclipse of the sun. It was so popular that it was re-launched as Tribute and became a best seller not only throughout Cornwall but the UK and beyond. Apart from being a brilliant, innovative brewer with a fount of ale knowledge, he was also the instigator of the brewery’s annual Celtic Festival held in the wonderful catacomb of cellars below the brewery and hosting brewers and their beers from Celtic regions – St Austell itself in Cornwall, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Brittany. I generally attended the launch party the night before festival weekend when we could taste the beers (nearly 200 beers and ciders) alongside a spectacular ploughman’s of beer bread, regional cheeses and pickles; it was, quite simply, one of the highlights of my year. Roger’s brewing alchemy was recognised at the highest level – he was twice named Brewer of the Year, once by the British Guild of Beer Writers and once by the All Party Parliamentary Beer Club. And his beers are great to cook with; my first column for this series was beer batter made with Proper Job; my prized bottle of St Austell’s one-off Tamar Kriek (cherry beer echoing the sour reds of Flanders) made a guest appearance in my lamb dish, and today I’m making soup with Tribute, a 4.2% classic pale ale with “zesty orange and grapefruit flavours balanced with biscuit malt”; bottle-conditioned Hicks, a 6% tawny ale with malty, butterscotch notes named after Walter Hicks who founded the brewery 170 years ago, adds the only yeast in my soda bread to accompany. So here, in memory of a really cool dude, is…
Cucumber soup with Tribute
One medium or half a large skin-on cucumber (approx 250g), cubed; half a small onion, cubed; half the white part of a leek, cubed; one medium potato, peeled and cubed; 30g unsalted butter; around half a pint each of Tribute and chicken (or vegetable) stock; seasoning; parsley garnish (optional).
Sweat all the vegetables gently in the butter until softened in a medium sized pan with a lid. Add the beer and stock, bring to simmering point, cover and allow to simmer until the vegetables are tender, around 20 minutes Allow to cool then puree with an electric hand blender or vegetable masher. Reheat, adding a little water or milk, if the soup seems too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper; maybe garnish with a few parsley sprigs.
Soda bread with Hicks
(Soda bread is a quickly made Irish bread using bicarbonate of soda instead of yeast as the rising agent; but since I included the bottle’s sediment, technically speaking my bread contains a trace of yeast. It certainly rose brilliantly!)
Half a pound each (250g) of wholemeal bread flour containing seed and grains (I used Allinsons) and strong white bread flour; 2 tsps salt; 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda; quarter pint 280 (ml) each of beer and milk, mixed.
Pre-heat oven to 220C. Mix together dry ingredients in largish bowl. Stir in beer and milk a little at a time to form a dough (you may need to add 2-3 tablespoons of water). Knead briefly – just long enough to bring it all together but don’t overwork the dough. Form into a ball. Place on a greased baking tray then glaze with a little beer before using a sharp knife to cut a cross about halfway down into the dough. Bake in the top half of the oven for 30 minutes, reducing the heat to 200C and covering the top of the bread with a piece of foil for last 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
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