James Godman of the Cambridge Brewing Company knows his ales. Often found showing groups of beer lovers around the tiny in-house brewery at The Cambridge Brew House, enthusiastically imparting brewing knowledge and debating beer styles, ingredients and provenance, James always has time to talk over the perfect half-pint of home brew. After a very busy brewery open evening at The Cambridge Brew House a couple of weeks ago, we caught up with James about what he's producing and drinking over the summer months...
1. Brewing your own
"If you're planning to indulge in a spot of home brewing this summer bear in mind that the increasing temperatures make it harder to control the fermentation," James advises. But don't give up too easily; James told us that ingenious home brewers have been known to come up with clever ways to solve this problem, ranging from simple wet towels to converted refrigerators! His top tips: "a forgiving yeast strain is definitely the way to go over the summer, and darker beers will help cover up any imperfections."
2. A pint at the pub
If brewing your own sounds too much like hard work, James suggests looking out for a light and refreshing beer at your local to keep you going through the summer months. James recommended his current favourite summer beers, including a dry and fruit Australian hopped Lion's Share (4.4%) and a big, bold and tasty Festival (4.9%). Both can be enjoyed at the Cambridge Brew House on King Street. The summer is full of beer festivals, too, so don't forget to get out in the sunshine and check out what new and local brewers have on offer.
3. Drinking at home
Sunny afternoons in the garden call for super reliable, thirst quenching beers. James advises giving modern American classics a try, such as the widely available Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, or sampling some traditional German wheat beers. We spotted some interesting varieties at The Free Press's inaugural beer festival a couple of weeks ago which proved to be tasty, refreshing and great for washing down our Steak and Honour chilli cheese burgers!
4. Pimp your pint!
My all-time favourite tip from James involves pimping your own beer - his words, not mine! - to create a rather impressive, unique summer's drink: "Freezer chill a coffee cafetiere and fill with your favourite beer. Add some mango, lychee, extra hops, chocolate, pepper... let your imagination run wild. Leave for three minutes or so. Press, pour and enjoy!"
5. Make a beer roast chicken
This one's mine. I couldn't resist adding a final foodie tip to James' words of wisdom, so hold me solely responsible for any culinary mishaps / wasted booze as a result! I'm sure you've all heard about Beer Can chicken, a simple way to add moisture to a roast chicken dinner using minimal fuss and ingredients. With a barrel of home-brewed beer to hand, I experimented with my own version of beery roast chicken. Here's what I came up with:
Summer Roast Chicken with Beer
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
One medium whole chicken
4 cloves of garlic
Lemon, halved and juiced, retain skins
Handful of shallots
Handful French parsley
1 pint of ale
2 tbsp honey
1. Marinate the chicken, skin scored and face down, in the ale, a generous squeeze of lemon juice, 2 tbsp honey and 4 crushed cloves of garlic for at least one hour.
2. When ready to cook, heat the oven to 180 degrees C and rub the chicken with a little olive oil and sea salt, stuff the two lemon halves in cavity with a handful of French parsley and the peeled shallots.
3. Pour a little of the beer marinade into the base of a roasting tin and cook the chicken, covered with foil, for about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the size of the chicken.
4. Remove the foil to crisp the skin for a further 30(ish) minutes, regularly basting with juices to avoid burning/sticking in the roasting tin. When juices run clear and skin shiny golden brown and slightly crispy, remove from the oven and rest for 20 minutes before serving. Top with the sweet, sticky caramelised shallots and drizzle with the beery juices. Serve with sautéed potatoes and summer vegetables or salads.