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Posted by on in Cask Marque Blog

Article reproduced courtesy of'It comes in pints' http://icipints.wordpress.com/

ICIP is feeling a little bit intimidated.

Sitting on our table alone are a beer sommelier, an owner of a successful gastropub, an editor of an industry magazine and a brewer. And they are all women.

“A group of us got together to try to regain our voice in the beer world,” says our MC for the afternoon, Annabel Smith, co-founder of Dea Latis. “We recognised that there were a lot of women working in the beer industry who didn’t have a united voice. That’s why we set up Dea Latis.”

It is clear that much has changed in the five years since Dea Latis was founded. As Annabel rattles through the list of of achievements made by women in the industry, many of these trailblazers sitting in the room with us, ICIP feels a massive swell of pride and empowerment.

Women hold the current positions of Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, Beer Sommelier of the Year, Brewer of the Year, BII Licensee of the Year and Director of Supply Chain at one of the biggest breweries in the UK. And that’s not all.

“We have two women in the room who brewed a beer for International Women’s Day. We had the first female beer inspector at Cask Marque. Broadcaster Marverine Cole founded Beer Beauty, bringing beer to the media. Jane Peyton and Melissa Cole are published authors of beer books,” Annabel continues. “Nearly 25% of CAMRA membership are women now. Considering that’s a membership of 160,000 members – that’s a huge number of women interested in and engaging with beer. We know from the latest Cask Report which was launched last September that there are 1.3m female regular cask ale drinkers in the UK. And yet it’s less than 100 years since we got the vote. I think to have done what we’ve done in the last 5 years – we’ve come a long, long way.”

Our heads are spinning with this seemingly unstoppable march of progress. But Annabel knows what we really turned up for.

“I can see you starting to think ‘“when will we get to the beer?’”

_0003975With a membership of over 200, Dea Latis runs regular events up and down the country to encourage women to discover and enjoy beer, and their beer and food matching events seem to be the most popular: “we found that one of the best ways to reach out to women is to match beer and foods; it completely changes the characteristics of the beer. We’ve done beer and chocolate, beer and breakfast, beer and cheese… perhaps most controversially we’ve done beer on its own!” says Annabel. “Beer works with chocolate in a way that wine can’t,” agrees her fellow Dea Latis founder, Ros Shiel.

We’re about to find out if they’re right as we are poured glasses of our first beer, Blue Moon, and handed out segments of Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

Blue Moon is a Belgian-style witbier originally hailing from Colorado in the States and now part of the MillerCoors leviathan. It’s not a beer that ICIP would usually pick off the pumps, but we’re prepared to be swayed.

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We get – predictably – orange notes on the nose, and the beer is sweet and incredibly mild for its 5.4% ABV. “The conception that all beer is bitter is blown out of the water with this beer,” Annabel notes. “While we obviously went for the pairing of the orange flavour in this and the chocolate, the light carbonation is also important. When you eat chocolate, it coats your tongue with a little layer of fat. The carbonation scrubs that away and cuts through it.”

We actually found that the beer mingled with the chocolate as we chewed and spread it all around our mouths even more, spreading the mellow orangey flavours. While it was tasty, we likened the match to the Chocolate Orange you got at Christmas and happily ate, but you probably wouldn’t have bought one yourself.

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Beer number two is a different animal (sorry) – Tiger, brewed by Everards Brewery from Lancashire and clocking in at 4.2%. “It’s a bit darker than the Blue Moon and has a real burnished, gold colour to it. This is what I’d call a very ‘traditional’ beer, and it’s got a very good balance between bitterness and sweetness,” says Annabel. “Rather than overpower it, we’ve paired it with Green and Blacks Butterscotch Milk Chocolate.”

This offers something very different to our orange experience. The beer is rich and malty, and the toffee sweetness from this really compliments the butterscotch.

Annabel points out that the bitter cocoa pairs with the hops in beer, while the sugar in chocolate pairs with the sweetness of the malted barley. It might seem obvious, but we it hadn’t really struck us before. “There’s also a similar mouthfeel between the two, so they really complement each other,” she says.

DSC_0039This is especially apparent with our third match, which is a massive hit on our table. We are poured glasses of ink-black Thwaites’ Tavern Porter (4.7%), and asked to shout out what aromas we notice. A variety of replies from around the room include coffee, liquorice and cinder toffee.

“You notice when you taste it you get an almost drying feeling in your mouth,” says Annabel, and it certainly ends with a bitter, almost astringent hoppiness. “When we talked to the brewer she was adamant that she wanted to counteract that drying feeling with something very sweet.”

My god, was that feeling counteracted! We are passed around those old-fashioned chocolate cupcakes that you used to get as a kid before the Hummingbird Bakery-style boom – the flat-topped ones with a thick, hard layer of icing on top. ICIP is developing diabetes just looking at it.

“This should be a perfect example of the contrast between a dry bitter beer and an intensely sweet dessert,” says Annabel. “When we go out for a meal, especially to Italian restaurants, you get very sweet desserts, like tiramisu, and invariably you have coffee to go with it. The bitterness of an intense espresso balances out the sweetness of the sugary dessert. We’re trying to demonstrate the same principle here.”

The smokiness and richness of the porter mingled with the icing as it began to warm and melt in the mouth, bringing the sweetness down to an acceptable level. This match also benefited from the soft, crumbly texture of the cupcake, as some were struggling with the concept of matching a beverage to hard, brittle chunks of chocolate.

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The next beer is a little bit special, and comes in a gorgeous wooden presentation box. “This is Shepherd Neame Generation Ale,” Annabel tells us. “Only 3,000 bottles of this beer were produced and it went through a 12-month aging process. It was brewed to commemorate five generations of Shepherd Neame as an independent family brewery, containing five classic malts and five hop varieties.” We can tell that what we’re swirling around our glass is a very special beer indeed. Coming at a 9%, the beer is brewed in the UK’s last remaining wooden mash tuns.

We get honey, dried fruit and nutty notes on the nose – and several people liken the aroma to Christmas cake. This carries through to the flavour, which has hints of molasses, cherries and other rich fruits. “It reminds me of my mum’s Christmas cake when she used to inject it with brandy,” agrees Annabel. “You get the warmth of the alcohol coming through.”

“The brewer wanted to match that dried fruit, so we’ve got Green and Black’s dark chocolate with Hazelnut & Currant.”

As we begin munching, the genius of this match soon becomes apparent. Despite the high ABV, the beer hasn’t too much of a lingering, alcoholic burn, and is quite soft in character. This gentle booziness mingles with the raisins, accentuating that Christmas cake or pudding association, but at the same time it really brings out the bitterness of the dark chocolate. We are in festive booze choccy heaven.

“Gosh, that’s made everyone go quiet!” Annabel laughs. Making the most of our momentary silence, she hits us with the bombshell that this amazing, limited edition, 9% beer in its beautiful presentation box, costs just £17.50. “I’m never going to be able to experience the most expensive bottle of wine in the world. I will never be able to afford a £20,000 bottle of wine. But I do know that in my lifetime I will be able to sample the best beers because it is so affordable,” Annabel says. ICIP already has their phone out and is trying to buy out the other 2,999 bottles.

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Our penultimate match throws us a bit of a curveball. It’s another strong and special beer, this time brewed by ICIP’s pals up in Southwold, Adnams. Solebay was first brewed in 2009 to celebrate 350 years of the historic brewery, and was inspired by strong Belgian styles. It comes in with a 10% ABV, and pours hazy and golden.

We get orange and ginger on the nose, and also some estery notes like banana and pear drops. There is a distinct sweetness to this beer, thanks of the addition of Demerara and Muscovado sugars. They also add a few sprigs of lavender, so there’s a floral note.

“There’s a lot going on in this beer,” says Annabel. “It’s sweet, because there’s a lot of residual sugar, and it has some citrus notes, so this was the first brewer to say they wanted to pair it with a white chocolate.”

We’re not sure about this. While ICIP has an entire cupboard dedicated to chocolate (really), we are big on the dark stuff, and haven’t really touched its pale cousin since we ate white choccy buttons as toddlers.

We were wrong. We were so wrong.

We are handed around Montezuma’s Peeling Amorous, which marries white chocolate with lemon and sour cherry. The bitter and sour fruits easily balance the very sweet and creamy chocolate.

“White chocolate has a higher fat content than milk and dark chocolate,” says Annabel. “But there is such a high carbonation in this beer that it cuts through the fattiness.” As well as taking the edge of the sweetness, stopping it from being too sickly, the citrus notes in the beer match the lemon in the chocolate. It is mind-blowingly good, and a complete surprise.

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Just when we thought our day couldn’t get any better, someone puts a bottle of Liefmans Kriek in front of us. Now we’re just being spoiled.

“If any beer could demonstrate how versatile beer can be, this is the one,” says Annabel. Some of the tasters in the room are about to get acquainted with their first lambic. “It is fermented using wild yeast which gives it a slightly sour flavour. They use whole cherries – the stalks, the stones, the skins and the flesh. So you might get a slightly marzipan flavour which comes from the cherry stones – sweetness balanced with the sourness.”

Chocolate and cherry can’t fail. We know that already. But Dea Latis has pulled the rug out from under our feet by passing around some Thornton’s dark chocolate… with chilli.

The addition of the chilli is certainly subtle. At first, several ladies on our table think they’ve been given the wrong chocolate. But it’s a few seconds after you’ve eaten it that you get a gentle heat at the back of your throat.

“If you think about it, a lot of people put dark chocolate in meat chillies to take the edge off the heat and add a richness of flavour,” says Annabel. “We already know this flavour combination of the cherry and chocolate never fails – like Black Forest gâteau on the tongue. Let’s mix it up a bit with the addition of the chillies.”

This is a beautiful match. It turns into cherry truffle in your mouth, with a gentle heat lingering on your tongue. The tingle of the chilli plays off the sour fizz of the lambic and brings your palate alive.

Once our hosts have finally prized the beer and chocolate from our vice-like grip, we take a vote on our favourite match. The Liefmans Kriek and dark chilli chocolate is the runaway winner, although apparently the Adnams Solebay and white chocolate surprise entry comes a close second.

Having spent a whole afternoon being plied with deliciousness in some pretty inspiring company, we’re feeling hugely positive about women’s ever-growing role in the beer world._0004003

“There is a way to convert women to drinking beer, and it is for other women to talk to them about it,” says Jane Peyton, beer sommelier and beer writer. “Let them know that it’s a drink for everyone, and give them a really flavoursome beer – not that pale, insipid, blank, watery thing that the industry seems to think women want. It’s the complete opposite. It’s about giving them permission to try it – I know that sounds patronising, but it’s true.”

“What we find is that although brewers are waking up to the fact that a lot of women are drinking beer, and are doing their own women-oriented marketing, as an overall generic campaign we act as an adjunct to that – we want to add to it, not replace it,” says Ros.

“Out of all alcoholic drinks beer is the most female, ironically, even though it is marketed at men,” adds Jane. “Women invented beer. Yeast is female. The female part of the hop plant is used in brewing. Historically women were the brewers. All the deities of beer are female… so it is actually a drink for everybody.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!”

Thanks to Dea Latis for some of the photos used above.

Want more? Check out interviews with Annabel Smith and Jane Peyton, as well as our coverage of the most recent Dea Latis breakfast.

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Posted by on in Cask Marque Blog

 

Annabel Smith, Cask Marque Training Manager & Beer Sommelier talks about her appearance on 'This Morning' to talk about matching stouts and food for St Patrick's Day.

Live Beer Tasting on ITV’s This Morning

The day before…

The call came through on a Tuesday afternoon, just less than a week before the event. Could I go on ITV’s This Morning programme to talk about stout on St Patrick’s day?

Of course I can, I said confidently to the researcher. I was told to keep a lid on it until the feature was definitely confirmed, but to get myself organised with some different stouts, and be prepared to be in London for 8am the following Monday.

Putting my thinking cap on, and knowing the beers were going to be sampled by females (Holly Willoughby and Christine Bleakley) I wanted to choose four unusual yet accessible stouts. So the first of numerous frantic phones call to the brewers.

I chose Wadworth Beer Kitchen Espresso Stout first. This was a beer I had first tasted when down in Devizes and I drank it with a sticky toffee pudding, and thought it was sublime. A real showstopper of a beer, perfect with puddings, and I paired it with Tiramisu.

Secondly, Marston’s offered up their Oyster Stout, a gorgeous silky smooth beer which blows Guinness out of the water any day. Their head brewer offered me a selection of food matches, the first of course being oysters. Now call me a wuss, but if there is one food I can’t stomach, it’s oysters. I’ve tried, and tried again, but the words of AA Gill the food critic always return to haunt me as I tip my head back to swallow the slimy molluscs: “Like sea flavoured snot”. Therefore the choices of goat’s cheese or Christmas pudding seemed infinitely more appealing. We settled on a rich fruit cake.

What do all women love? Chocolate. So I had to ask Wells and Young’s for some of their Double Chocolate Stout, made with real dark chocolate and chocolate essence. I wanted something to contrast with this luxurious decadent beer so chose fresh strawberries to highlight the sweetness of the beer. Strangely, the courier who was meant to deliver the beer to me two days before the show informed me that there had been a ‘terrible accident in the back of the transit van and all the bottles had been smashed’. There was no sign of the aforementioned smashed bottles, case or wrapping, so take your own conclusions from what happened to the beer, all I’ll say is it illustrates how much people want this beer. I sent the other half off down to Tesco to buy up their stock.

Finally, I wanted a really powerful strong Imperial Stout – as far removed from Guinness as you could get. Who else to turn to but a brewer in my home county, Black Sheep. They produced an 8.5% Russian Imperial Stout which in my opinion is so special is should be served in goblets, and blessed before you take a mouthful. To match flavour with flavour I picked a strong dark chocolate to go with this.

With my beers all packed up in a suitcase, and the feature given the green light, I started on myself. What to wear on St Patrick’s day? A green dress of course! So I hit the shops with 24 hours to go and returned with a bright green dress with daisies on. My other half took one look at it, wrinkled his nose, and said I looked like a cleaner come dinner lady. It went back in the bag, and I packed my trusty blue frock and a pair of heels I have worn only once before, as they take me to over six foot two. Hell, it’s TV, I’ve got to ramp up the glamour.

Then I had a massive crisis of confidence, thinking the trusty dress might make me look dowdy, so I packed 5 other dresses, just in case. And three pairs of shoes. Oo, and 4 pairs of tights in case of severe ladderage. The suitcase was now straining at the seams.

12 hours to go: style hair with care (not the usual mega nuclear blast with the hairdryer); paint nails and try to remember not to rake wet nails through newly styled hair; check and re-check train ticket and alarm clock.

The day arrives…

At 5.30am I’m on the train whizzing to London. Funnily enough, the bit I was most excited about was the fact the studio had arranged to send a car to pick me up from Kings Cross. Good job really as trying to get a suitcase full of bottles plus half my wardrobe on the tube at 8am on a Monday morning was a task I didn’t relish. Ah, a chauffeur driven car, I day dreamed on the train. A stretch limo maybe, with a uniformed driver, whisking me importantly through the streets of London.

“Smith?” bellowed a chap in a polo shirt standing next to a Prius as I emerged from Kings Cross station. Between us we wrestled the suitcase into the boot (a roof rack might have been more appropriate) and we hurtled towards the City. Well, ‘crawled’ is a better description in the Monday morning traffic.

Then we turned down an alley way. And another. Through a building site. And there, through a tiny entrance I saw a small sign saying “This Morning”. It looked like the entrance to a particularly dodgy underground car park. The driver left me in the hands of security who pointed me towards the back of a warehouse. I walked through corridors of props towards a sinister looking lift. It’s a set up, I thought. This is my punishment for once commenting I thought the world’s biggest selling lager tasted like Alka Seltzer.

The lift popped open and I was thrown into the world of high energy, buzzing television. Well, no not really. It was another corridor, and a lovely young man called Ollie greeted me and told me to get changed straight away. In a cupboard. I struggled into the blue dress, handed the suitcase full of beers over to Ollie, and was escorted into make up. The other two chairs in the room were occupied by two of the most staggeringly beautiful women I have ever seen (shiny blonde hair, skin positively glowing from a diet of lettuce and mangoes, you know the score). Throw a towel over my head now and be done with it, I thought. These girls must be models, presenters, real stars. No, there were there for a feature on facials. We all had an animated discussion about botox, and I nodded and laughed and took part even though it was clear from the lines on my forehead that a botox needle had never been near my face.

Next the rehearsals. In front of the cameras in the studio, a couple of researchers ran through my segment with me, then asked if we could do some shots to use as trailers throughout the programme. I had to stand behind the ‘counter’ and pour a bottle of stout into a glass whilst smiling into the camera. All good to go until the camera man said “Can you bend your knees love, you’re a bit too big to get you all in shot”. The humiliation.

And off to the Green Room. Two hours to wait until my slot so I got chatting to the people who came and went. Martyn Lewis – money saving expert! I’ve no money anyway so he wasn’t that much of an expert to me. Stephen Mulholland – Catchphrase host! (Didn’t speak to anyone so I felt like making up sign language to communicate with him). Kian Egan – winner of I’m a Celebrity and all round boyband member (sigh, so lovely. But very small compared to me in my heels). Oh, and Neil Morrisey passed in the corridor. “Oi, Morrisey”, I felt like yelling after him, “I failed your pub’s Cask Marque assessment five years ago, remember me?” Maybe not such a good idea.

The call came to go on air. At which point – and this is really really odd for me – I started to get the shakes. What if I knocked all the glasses over? What if words wouldn’t come out of my mouth? What if I fell over – or worse, knocked the pregnant Holly Willoughby to the ground?

Camera roll: funny how when you do a feature on beer, the whole studio turns out. Kian, Holly and Christine crowded round the beers, started talking about Guinness and I stared very hard into the middle distance whilst I tried to control the wobbly legs which were threatening to topple me.

So on with the beer tasting – and it went so fast! I managed to get the name of the brewer, the beer and where it was produced into each segment and then it was on to the next, then the next and before I knew it, Holly had a big plate of Chocolate Stout Cake in her hand and was asking me how to make it. Erm, not sure, never made a cake in my life but I waffled about how the addition of stout created a lovely chocolate-y flavour (if in doubt, blag it). I also had to talk through Macaroni Cheese made with Guinness which undoubtedly is the worst beer and food combination they could possibly have come up with, but brave Holly sampled it. I think the look on her face said it all, and we quickly moved onto the Stout Ice Cream, which was a hit.

Cue the music for a break. Holly kissed me. Christine kissed me. Kian kissed me (well, I forced one on him actually) and Ollie the researcher bundled me back into the cupboard to get changed back into my normal Annabel clothes.

Feeling slightly deflated I headed back to Kings Cross for the train back North. I bought a sandwich in Marks and Spencers and caught a chap looking at me. I smiled my best ‘personality’ smile thinking he might have recognised me from the programme. But no, he was just a weirdo.

Back to normality and my lovely life with Cask Marque.

The day is over.

To watch Annabel on ITV http://www.itv.com/thismorning/food/stout-drink-masterclass

Annabel Smith March 2014

Posted by on in Cask Marque Blog

In an evening designed to span political divisions, Dea Latis, the industry’s beer and women forum,  this week hosted the first-ever beer tasting designed for women MPs at the House of Commons.

A lively crowd of over 50 women (and some brave men) were guests of Charlotte Leslie MP, Meg Hillier MP and Jenny Willot MP who sponsored the event. The group were tasted six beers from around the country with food selected to match each beer style, ably guided by Cask Marque's beer sommelier Annabel Smith.

In her introductory speech, Charlotte Leslie suggested that women had the power to re-shape UK drinking habits and that it would be driven by “food and family” – demonstrated earlier by the arrival of Jenny Willott with her two small children to the event.

In her address, Brigid Simmonds, the first female chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, reminded guests that 22% of people taking brewing qualifications were now women. Then Inge Plochaet, chief executive of AB InBev ,highlighted some research which showed only 12% of women in the UK drank beer and that this could be as high as other beer drinking nations such as the US and Belgium where rates are around 25%. She urged brewers to rethink their communication strategies to be more inclusive of female drinkers. Sara Barton, founder of Brewsters Brewery and current Guild of Beer Writers’ Brewer of the Year, ended speeches with her thoughts on how women brewers had brought innovation and diversity to UK brewing.

Speeches over and barring a short interruption while MPs dashed to vote, the room was filled with lots of chatter and appreciative noises for each of the beer and food combinations, which were:

Adnam’s Ghost Ship 4.5%
Southwold, Suffolk served with Mini Cones of Fish and Chips

Butcombe Adam Henson’s Rare Breed 4.2%
Wrington, Bristol served with Chicken Teriyaki bites with Coriander Yoghurt

Marstons Pedigree 4.5%
Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire served with Vegetable Samosas

Brains Bragging Rights 5%
Cardiff, South Wales served with Mini Welsh Rarebit with Green Peppercorns and Mustard

Jennings Snecklifter 5.1%
Cockermouth, Cumbria served with Baby Cumberland Sausage with Wholegrain Mustard Mayonnaise

Ilkley Holy Cow Cranberry Milk Stout 4.7%
Ilkley, West Yorkshire served with Mini Roast Beef in Yorkshire Pudding with Horseradish Cream

Dea Latis was founded in 2010 by a group of women working in the beer and pubs industries and now has c. 150 supporters including brewers, beer tasters, marketeers, licensees, writers and bloggers. The group meets several times a year to network, share ideas and enjoy good beer and food. For more info, visit www.dealatisuk.wordpress.com

Pictured are Charlotte Leslie MP (Bristol North West), Annabel Smith (Cask Marque) and Meg Hillier MP (Shoreditch)

Posted by on in Cask Marque Blog

A group of women in Leeds yesterday joined the growing number of female beer drinkers when the Leeds Brewery Tap hosted a pre-Easter beer and chocolate tasting.

The tasting was organised by Dea Latis - named after the Celtic goddess of beer - a nationwide group aiming to encourage more women to enjoy beer. They have staged beer and chocolate tastings in London and Brighton before, but last night’s event was the first to be held north of the capital.

Guests tasted six different beers, each with a different chocolate designed to bring out the taste in each. Expert guidance was provided by Annabel Smith, Dea Latis founder and one of the country’s few beer sommeliers.

Smith said, “Beer and chocolate are perfect partners. They are both a balance of sweetness and bitterness, so when consumed together, the tastes and textures complement each other.

“Our guests at yesterday’s tasting included experienced beer lovers, occasional beer drinkers and complete novices, but everyone learned something new and, more importantly, had a great evening tasting beer with chocolate. “

dealatis-beersThe matches sampled by guests were:

- Leeds Brewery’s Yorkshire Gold, 4% abv and Ye Old Sun Inn Venezuelan Chocolate

- Ossett Brewery’s Treacle Stout, 5% abv with Bon Bon’s Dark Chocolate Caramels

- Brains Boilermaker IPA, 6.5% abv with Dar Chocolate and Lemon Parfait

- Jacobsen Velvet Ale, 5.9% abv with Champagne Truffles  

- Ilkley Brewery’s ‘The Mayan’ Chocolate Chipotle Stout, 5.3% abv with Turkish Delight

- Molson Coors’ Blue Moon, 5.4% abv with Terry’s Chocolate Orange

A vote was taken by the group at the end of the evening to choose their favourite beer and chocolate match, and this was won by Ilkley Brewery’s ‘The Mayan’ matched with Turkish Delight. In a double coup, ‘The Mayan’ was brewed by Harriet Marks, the only beer of the evening to be brewed by a female.

Smith concluded, “This was one of our most successful events and it’s great to move Dea Latis north of London and start involving women in other parts of the country. We chose Leeds because it has such a wonderful, thriving brewing scene and the Brewery Tap was the perfect venue for us.”

For news of upcoming Dea Latis events during 2013, visit www.dealatis.org

For information:          Annabel Smith: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 07920 058500