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Something for the Weekend – Theakston’s Old Peculier

Right folks, we’ve hit December. A great excuse for this week’s beer – Theakston’s Old Peculier. Although I’ve got to say, I don’t need a time of year to drink this. I absolutely love it when I walk into a pub and see this beer on the handpulls, it’s like all my Christmases have come at once. When I’m doing food and beer events, this is one of the beers that converts more non-beer drinkers (the fools!) to the beauty of ale more than any others.

It’s a lip smacking, juicy concoction of stewed fruit, cherries, sultanas, and raisins coming in at a powerful 5.6%. If you had to compare this beer to another drink, you would say it’s the port, the vintage wine of the beer world.

I met up with Simon Theakston a few weeks ago and asked the question: why do so many great beers come from Yorkshire? His response was a masterclass in geography, history, politics and culture. I’ll share it with you someday, there isn’t room here because my notes run into dozens of pages. His passion for creating a great sustainable beer is boundless and his knowledge is humbling. The thing that stood out was Theakstons determination to create a beer which was better than anything else out there.

Well, I think they got it about right with Old Peculier. The name pays tribute to the unique ecclesiastical status of Masham, a little market town in North Yorkshire as a ‘Court of the Peculier’ and is also reference to the strong characteristic of the beer. For many years it was affectionately referred to as Yorkshire’s ‘Lunatic’s Broth’.

If you haven’t been to Masham, go. Seriously, go and visit, it’s so unbelievably beautiful and picturesque. But please pronounce it ‘Mass-Ham’ otherwise you’ll be identified as a tourist.

So, as I’m supping my glass of OP, what food should I have with it? It’s one of the few beers I’ve come across which complements Stilton: it doesn’t emphasize the coppery, metallic element in the cheese, it just brings out the sharp saltiness in a brilliant way. Main course? Rib eye steak, cooked rare to medium with a béarnaise sauce. It’s also versatile with good solid puddings like fruitcrumbles, stewed rhubarb and chocolate fondant.