3 brilliant and unusual Sussex beers to gift this Xmas

Are you ready yet?

It’s only a matter of weeks until the big (festive) day.

And – let’s face it – some people can be pretty hard to buy for. (You know who I’m talking about…)

But – fortunately – food and drink are always well-received. For some people in particular, beer never fails.

This Christmas, if you’re going to buy beer as a present, don’t just go for the usual.

Here in Sussex, we’re home to some of the most passionate, ridiculously skilled, pioneering artisans in the UK.

In other words – Sussex beer is an absolute TREAT.

So give something that’s beautifully made, out of the ordinary, and downright delicious this Xmas…

What do we recommend?

1. Dark Star Espresso Beer

Not a gimmick – or like anything you’ve tasted before. This aromatic, surprisingly-not-sweet, espresso beer is the not-your-average-brew you’ve been searching for.

Brewed by Dark Star Brewery (beer aficionado friends started this company in the Evening Star pub in Brighton in the mid nineties!), this beer is expertly crafted with roasted barley malt, challenger hops, and infused with freshly ground aribica beans.

You’ll be getting a rich, black beer with a delicious complementary coffee aroma. And, as the bronze winner of the Campaign for Real Ale Champion Beer of Britain (London and South East Area), you know you’re getting something good.

So why is this such a great gift?

There’s nothing quite like it! Think beautiful, award-winning craft beer stepped up a level with quality, fresh coffee beans for a not-your-everyday brew.

Ideas for enjoyment?

Enjoy with pork, aged semi-hard cheeses or vanilla ice-cream… This dark, heady and aromatic beer is certainly versatile!

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2. Creme Brûlée  Beer

An alcoholic dessert in a glass, with all the frothy darkness of beer and sweet caramel goodness of creme brûlée …

Brewed with unfermentable lactose sugar, fresh vanilla beans and plenty of roasted malts to provide a sweet, smooth caramel concoction.

Whether your giftee is a sweet tooth, an adventurous soul, or simply appreciates a good craft beer, this creme brûlée brew will satisfy.

Why does it make such a great gift?

You won’t find this anywhere else! And, after all, the perfect gift is a blend of practical (a good beer to kick back with) and frivolous (creme brûlée!). This beer ticks both those boxes…

Ideas for enjoyment?

Use as a float for vanilla bean ice cream, or pair with flambeed bananas and smooth custard…

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3. Dark Star Revelation

This wonderful, hoppy APA provides a quality – yet less ‘out there’ – brew to complement the more unusual beers. With citrus-y notes and a brilliant golden hue, Revelation is an all-round pleaser.

A blend of Warrior, Cascade, Columbus, Crystal and Chinook hops by the sack full, this brew is then dry hopped during conditioning using the Dark Star ‘Hoptimizer’ (industrial sized hookah) to imbue a unique taste.

Why does it make such a great gift?

It won’t fail to delight. Tasty, refreshing and relaxing – just the thing to unwind with over the holiday season. But, unusual enough that you won’t find it in conventional shops!

Idea for enjoyment?

Pair with meat, medium bodied cheese or a tart, fruity dessert.

BEERSZ

Want to search more Sussex craft beers? Check out our entire Sussex range HERE.

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3 brilliant and unusual Sussex beers to gift this Xmas

Perfect Sussex Charmer Rarebit

Welsh_rarebit

Since Hove Museum has closed it’s cafe doors, we have been on the lookout for a replacement proper Welsh Rarebit.   A good Rarebit is not necessarily just posh cheese on toast.  It’s a melting combination of whipped cheese, butter and flour with the lightly nutty aftertaste of a dash of beer and served with a crisp, spicy rocket salad.  Sometimes served with an additional egg, but that’s just overkill in our book.

I’ll say traditionally a good Rarebit has been made with a salty, mature cheddar, but of course, the dish itself was (is!) a Welsh tradition appropriated by the rest of the UK and Cheshire or Caerphilly cheese is often used.  Both Cheshire and Caerphilly cheeses have a slightly citrussy tangy taste, so for us, we prefer something a little more oozy and mildly buttery.

We are very lucky to have THE perfect Rarebit cheese from a local cheesemaker, Rob, from Bookham Harrison over in leafy Funtington, near Chichester meandering at the foot of the South Downs.  Sussex Charmer is a punchy hard cheese which is the lovechild of Cheddar and Parmesan (and certified vegetarian) with the gutsiness of a good Parmesan and the creaminess of cheddar.

How to make a perfect Sussex Rarebit

Important note here…the bread is very important.  A good thick slab of a wholemeal sourdough is delicious and robust enough to withstand a rich sauce without becoming soggy .  But that said, if you prefer white, then just cut it from a good fresh loaf and don’t stint on the thickness of the slice.

Serves 4 | Prep 10 minutes | Cook 10 minutes

Ingredients

225g Sussex Charmer cheese
25g salted butter
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (if you’re vegetarian, we had a go at making vegan Worcester sauce – recipe here)
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
4 free range egg yolks
A good sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons of golden beer – try Long Man Long Blonde or Dark Star Hophead
4 thick slices of bread

Method

Mix the mustard with the beer in the bottom of a small pan to make a paste, then add the butter and about 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce – you can always add more later if you like. Heat gently until the butter has melted.

Mix in the cheese and stir carefully until it has just melted but be careful not to let it boil or burn.  Once you have a sauce, season if required, then allow to cool until just slightly warm, being careful the mixture doesn’t cool to be come solid.

Pre-heat the grill to medium-high, and toast the bread on one side and just lightly toast the other. Beat the yolks into the warm cheese until smooth, and then spoon on to the toast and cook until bubbling and golden.

Serve immediately with a spicy leaf salad and some tiny cherry tomatoes to balance the rich flavours.

 


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Perfect Sussex Charmer Rarebit