Festive ales from Hogs Back Brewery

2nd November 2016

Finding a festively-themed beer on the bar is one of the first signs for pub customers that Christmas is well and truly on the way, says Surrey craft brewer Hogs Back Brewery.

This year, Hogs Back is offering two seasonal cask ales on draught:  Advent Ale and Mistletoe & Swine, both available from late November.

Hogs Back managing director Rupert Thompson says: “Offering a festive ale or two is a simple way for licensees to engage customers in the pub’s seasonal celebrations. A humorous pump clip and a pint with characteristically Christmassy flavours will appeal to both regular and occasional beer drinkers.”

Both Hogs Back’s seasonal ales fit the festive bill. At 4.4%, Advent Ale is a deep chestnut coloured ale with a refreshing fruity nose, a sweet liquorice and roasted malt flavour and rich dark chocolate aftertaste.

Mistletoe & Swine, at 5.2%, is a full-bodied, deep amber ale with subtle hints of sultana, peppery ginger, warm cinnamon and orange zest.  Made with a mulling recipe for a real Christmas taste and feel, it goes well with mince pie or a classic cheese board.

Behind the bar rather than on it, Hogs Back’s bottled ale A over T – Aromas over Tongham, named after the brewery’s location – is a 9% ABV barley wine with rich, complex flavours of sultanas, orange peel and plums, and is the perfect complement to a platter of mature cheeses. A over T was awarded a Gold medal in the 2016 International Beer Challenge.

When choosing their ales for the festive season, licensees would do well to select brewers that will be familiar to their customers, Thompson advises, “Drinkers going to the pub over the festive period differ from the year-round trade: many are occasional pubgoers, visiting for the office Christmas party or similar.

“These drinkers are unlikely to be too adventurous in their beer choice, so by stocking a festive ale from a brewer with a well-known name locally, such as Hogs Back, licensees can offer them reassurance, as well as appealing to the regulars who enjoy our flagship TEA year round and want to try something different at Christmas.”

He adds, “It’s definitely worth making space on the bar for at least one local ale, as the festive season brings in a number of customers visiting friends or family. For them, trying a beer from a local brewer is an enjoyable part of their trip.”

Seasonal beer and food matching

Growing numbers of drinkers enjoy matching their meals with beer rather than wine, and at Christmas, licensees have a great opportunity to showcase beer’s food pairing potential.

Thompson says, “Offering a glass or bottle of a different beer with each course of a Christmas meal allows customers to enjoy a more diverse range of tastes, more affordably, than they would with wine.  In addition, beer is a more traditional accompaniment to British food and has a particular affinity with many festive favourites.”

Thompson’s recommendations for matching Hogs Back beers to seasonal foods include:

·     TEA:  the malty flavour of this traditional ale makes it the perfect partner to a turkey dinner with all the trimmings;

·     Hogstar English Craft Lager: brewed with five different hops and a blend of botanicals and matured for a month, Hogstar has a depth of flavour and natural carbonation that work well with smoked salmon or other seasonal seafood dishes; 

·     Hazy Hog Cider – the bittersweet apples make a chilled Hazy Hog a great drink to serve with sausage rolls, creamy vol-au vents, pork pies and other buffet food;  

·     A over T: this award-winning barley wine has flavours of dried fruits, plums and orange peel that are shared by mince pies, Christmas cakes and puddings. It is also perfect with mature Stilton and Cheddars.

·     Montezuma’s Chocolate Lager – the hint of chocolate in this refreshing, well balanced lager makes it a wonderful match with a yule log or other rich dessert.  

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