Rub ya’self up – Returning to Rub, Birmingham

Rub ya’self up – Returning to Rub, Birmingham

It has been a while since I have been this active on the blog let alone been in touch with my good friends at Rub Smokehouse, Birmingham, but I must say they have caught my eye of late on social media. They have recently launched a super saver menu to rival the mainstream fast food chains in terms of their value and quality while also going viral yet again with what I believe was the worlds biggest chicken nugget. Nugzilla is real.

I have made no secret that I have always been a proponent of Rub’s unapologetic spirit and the fact that the heart of the business seems to be very much worn on their sleeves. The jovial nature of their attitude towards food bleeds into their model of spreading their message on social media with things like this but ultimately they still have good food at their core. While Nugzilla and the challenge options in that sort of wheel house don’t necessarily appeal to me personally, it gets bums on seats and gives them a platform to show off the sorts of things I ate on Friday. I literally got into cooking traditional BBQ because of Rub Smokehouse and watching Brian Mujati’s YouTube channel so these guys have really imprinted on my development as writer and a cook, so it was a pleasure to be hosted by them again on Friday evening (06/07/18).

Upon arrival I was greeted by the smell of the art of meat alchemy and a really accommodating member of staff, (apologies for not remembering your name) seated at my table and was given 5 minutes to mull over the menu. I decided I wanted to go out like William Wallace and get Hung Drawn and Quartered, which as pictured below, is a platter of smokehouse treats and American inspired sides. To start at the top we have baby back ribs, pulled pork, Brisket, BBQ chicken with white Alabama BBQ sauce and Buffalo wings that’s are served with sides of onion rings, corn on the cob, corn dogs, fries and red slaw. Quite the list right? this can all be yours for £36 to feed two people or £68 for four, which when you break it down is actually very reasonable per person for the amount of food you actually get presented with while also seeing what their food is all about across the board.

It’s also worth noting I upgraded the fries to the ‘poutine’ option (gravy and cheese) which were really a really nice touch and not something you see very often on a British menu.

As ever for me my experience eating this was consistent and thoroughly enjoyable. I am a self confessed burgerholic but when it comes to a place like Rub I need some smoke rings and wings in my life. The brisket was moist while still retaining a healthy bark on the outside that ran into a vibrant pink smoke ring, the chicken and the buffalo wings were a flavoursome punch that packed the odd bit of crackling spice and the pulled pork was an equal partner in the dish as sometimes PP can get lost amongst the bold flavours of a smoked variety dish but it stood up well and in being served dry, retained it’s ‘porkyness’ rather than it just being about the sauce it was in.

One thing I have always struggled to get right on a wood fired smoker is the humble rib. A relatively cheap cut of meat that can be make or break for a cook if they don’t treat it with enough care. It has taken me a long time to be able to get up to a standard where I am even remotely happy with my own rib cooks (I can’t begin to tell you how many racks of ribs I have eaten while simultaneously pissed off about shoulda, woulda, coulda elements on the days grilling) but Rub are really consistent. Every time I have eaten their ribs I get the same effect. I get enough stability where I can pick them up without complete disintegration, enough give that I can pull the bone clean out of the rack or in this case just pull through it with a fork like I’m eating a cake, which in itself has always really impressed me. Something I learned very early on is that you can tell the quality of a smokehouse by how their ribs behave and Rubs ribs were very well behaved little guys.

It really does showcase the size of the dish when I haven’t even touched on the sides yet by this point of the post, however I don’t want to take any shine away from them. I have maybe had corndogs twice in my life as again very much like the poutine, they aren’t really something that has broken into the British culinary lexicon that often. A good example of the American carnival ‘anything on a stick’ attitude, the corn dog offers it’s participants a frankfurter that is deep fried in batter to create a breaded meat rocket on a wooden stick. Rub’s take on the corn dog is fluffy and almost decadent in it’s own way while also offering you some real variance away from the rest of the dish without being odd. It is certainly at home here but just allows you to go somewhere else for a quick minute… which is nice.

Poutine was very pleasant and the gravy just helps you continue on when you start to hit a wall in the third quarter of the platter. Trust the process as Joel Embiid says or in this case just trust the poutine. Onion rings were probably up there with my top 5 onions rings as they were full and fluffy unlike some the scraggly shit I have been served elsewhere in the past. Slaw was refreshing against the heavy nature of the meat and the corn was… yellow. Because I haven’t eaten it yet… because the meal beat me and I essentially brought home an entire further meals worth like I always do when I go to Rub.

We are a few years down the line since my first visit and it is good to see Rub still pumping in it’s original vein. The spirit has not died and neither has the quality of the food. They embrace challenges and change and even enforce some of their own by trying to ‘break the internet’ and some may criticise that or think it to be at the behest of the quality of their actual product, but it isn’t. Which has always really impressed me. We are in the age of social media where even your local butcher is putting something rogue on their A boards in the hope you will tweet it and it will drive more business (or in some cases on Mumsnet or Reddit and you get chased out of business..), Rub has embraced that and built a reputation around big, bold, brash statements and an experience that anybody with an ounce of adventure in them wants to be a part of. It’s always been a interesting ride watching how they develop and long may it continue. Birmingham loves you so just keep doing you, as it’s still working.

 

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Wing King – Chicken Alchemy

Wing King – Chicken Alchemy

At the time of writing it is 5/7/18 and we are on the cusp of UK BBQ week 2018, arguably the most wonderful time of the year, regardless of what the friends of buddy Christ will tell you.

buddy christ wings

A time where the UK BBQ community is encouraged to come together and cook a daily theme to show the diversity and adaptability of cooking over coal and wood, showcasing the true art of what we do and why we love it. In the spirit of this jovial holiday of wood fired unity I wanted to share my method of smoking a tray of perfect chicken wings. This sounds easy, but if you really want something done… one must do it right.

I am incredibly proud of my wings to the point where it’s currently my go to cook on my newest barrel smoker. I like the fact you can get a really powerful smoke without having to go overnight or light the pit at 5am, while being able to serve something that can make people leave your house in firm belief that you know your shit. So below I have broken down the steps to creating the perfect wing tray. You can do these in the oven if you don’t own a smoker but for best results cook low and slow over wood.

What you need

  • 12 Whole chicken wings
  • Hot paprika
  • Smoked black pepper
  • Brown sugar
  • Thyme (can sub for mixed herbs)
  • Oregano (Can sub for mixed herbs)
  • Cayenne
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Your favourite BBQ sauce

Prep

Go to your local butcher and ask for the volume of wings you need by all means and upscale the recipe as required but this will be to make 1 tray (12 whole, 22 when jointed/ split). Cut the tips from the wings if bought whole as they add literally nothing, then take your knife and find the joint on the inner bend of the wing. Cut through it to get an even split of drumstick and dual bone wings. repeat and place them in a bowl that will go into your fridge.

Smokers – Start you pit and get it up to 225 C. I use either cherry or apple wood for this cook.

Rub

I already have this premixed usually but for one single batch take 2 tbsp. paprika, 2 tbsp. smoked black pepper and 1 of brown sugar, 1 tbsp. thyme and oregano (or mixed herbs), 1 tspn cayenne, large pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon and sea salt to taste. Rub the wings through the spice mix until evenly covered and fridge them for a minimum of 2 hours.

The cook

Place on a tray that enables fat to escape and smoke to get in from below and cook for around 1.5 hours or until they read 160 on a probe thermometer (don’t touch the bone when taking a reading as it can screw the reading up). Remove from the smoker and DIP the wings in your chosen BBQ sauce, this will give you a much more glazed feel than brushing and enables a good even spread across the wings. Then put them back in the smoker or oven for another 20 minutes so the heat can help the sauce bond to the wings and render down the glaze a little.

Remove and serve outside with a beer.

 

Generally it’s an easy cook when you look at it like that but it’s the finer details that matter just like any cook you do with indirect heat. Enjoy with your family or just smash a plate on your own an save that shit for the gram. Either way people will want to get involved.

 

 

POMPOUS, PRETENTIOUS NONESENSE – My review of your reaction to the Beavertown developments.

POMPOUS, PRETENTIOUS NONESENSE – My review of your reaction to the Beavertown developments.

I haven’t written anything for a while but, like Spiderman, I know when I need to get involved. So to start I would like to begin with a disclaimer. I truly enjoy the cavalcade of variance and creative beauty to be found within the craft beer scene. From the incredible liquid we are capable of producing as an industry and a community to the artistic prowess shown off in the packaging and marketing material. That said, I am beginning to dislike the poisonous attitude of some craft beer drinkers.

The majority of craft beer drinkers sneer at the mention of CAMRA and their £25 fee to pretend to be an expert and criticise peoples beer openly while flashing their purple CAMRA polo shirt, however when you stand back and look that is exactly where this scene is going. Instead of all enjoying beer and discussing your likes/ dislikes amongst your friends, we have begun to spit bile across the vast chasm of the internet and split into a segregated group of near insufferable pricks intent on demanding everyone stay ‘small’ to say they make ‘true’ craft beer and throwing shade at everyone outside of the minority group to a point where it can only be described as militant.

For anybody who is confused by what I am saying I implore you to take a minute and think about the following statement:

What is craft beer?

….

….

….

Right, so hopefully now you have a rough statement in mind. I’m sure phrases like ‘small’ ‘small batch’ ‘Independent’ and ‘under a certain amount of barrels’ came to mind. I have no problem in telling you that I believe all of those to be complete bollocks. In the 1970’s when Bass was in the ascendancy and seen as the big bad of the time, the traditional cask ale brewers were known as craft. Now you all look at them as old hat and I have even heard the ‘cask can’t be craft’ argument far too many times to count, which again is bollocks. See Tiny Rebel’s range for details… So if those kind of brews were craft back then… what is craft now? I’ll tell you exactly what it is in my opinion:

Craft beer is not a bubble, trend or phase. Craft beer is a modern beer made to push the boundaries more than brewers were comfortable doing prior to now. Craft beer is exciting, craft beer is progress and craft beer represents the next generation of brewing at any given time.

Bringing me to my point. Stop being ridiculous about Beavertown agreeing to have investment from Heineken.

The key frustration with this is reading comments about them not being independent or selling out, when in actuality they are enjoying the opportunity to grow and bring their beer to more people, while also representing a tidal change in the industry where mega brewers such as Heineken see the value in a beer range such as Beavertown’s. Up until now they have been a much loved brewery because they make some incredible beers and will still do that even after Heinekens involvement. Boycotting them when you like the liquid that comes out of their cans and kegs only leaves you looking like a spanner. I couldn’t give a little shiny cat shit who brews a beer if it is of great quality and represents that progress and creativity we have come to love from our beer in 2018… If you can tell me one time Beavertown has made a beer that was generic and made just to sell volume alone, I will eat my own kneecaps. Their creativity and ability to brew a beer that makes a real impact on you still exists.

My main message is that if you are one of the people that loved their beer prior to this deal, be it smog rocket (my favourite), Gamma Ray, Neck Oil or Lupuloid… next time you see one just pick it up and buy it, then what I want you to do is sit down and take a few sips. If you still enjoy the beer you loved 3/4 weeks ago, enjoy that moment of perspective and please continue to enjoy them…

However, when drinking the beer, if all you can taste is a sense of betrayal and a feeling of anger, denial… or even disgust… You need to have a day off. There are 13 people stuck in a cave in Thailand with rising water levels, 2 people in hospital from another bloody nerve agent issue down south AND some woman just climbed up the statue of liberty to denounce the president of the United Sates Of America and the first thing you want to do is complain on Facebook about a brewery investment and ask for a refund to a beer festival.

and I close with this:

Beavertown have made some incredible beers in their short time on this earth as a brewery. I will continue to support, drink and talk about them for as long as the good beer continues to pour from their cans and kegs. I want to let Logan and his entire team know that the negative noise is always the loudest but they do have plenty of normal people still willing to appreciate what they do. Growth is good for everybody in a very challenging market place and if ‘small’ independent brewers are important to you that’s FINE… but if you had the opportunity to exponentially grow the business you have built, your baby, your reason for getting up in the morning… and didn’t just because of what other people might think, you are living your life wrong.

 

Big up B-Town.

Image result for beavertown

 

 

 

 

 

Brew Shack Hot Chicken

Brew Shack Hot Chicken

Anybody who likes cooking and also likes their fair share of comedy has probably already seen ‘Something’s Burning’ with Bert Kreischer. Bert is a stand up comedian best know as ‘The Machine’ and a famous accessory to theft for the Russian mafia. Seriously, google it. He is a hilarious comic and if you aren’t aware of the show mentioned above it is a YouTube based platform for Bert to welcome a variety of famous faces into his (studio) kitchen to cook with largely hilarious results.

I love Bert. He loves life and his brand of party hard comedy is something that doesn’t usually rear it’s head in the UK due to our generally vanilla attitude to brash, vibrant personas. I just feel like people such as him see the joy in things and make everything fun, I mean the path he chose in life is to literally spread joy. So much so that I would watch 20 minutes of him just making toast talking to Brian Callen or Bill Burr let alone something like Nashville Hot Chicken, which is what the latest episode gave us featuring his wife and musician Wheeler Walker Jr. It’s a really easy watch and I fully recommend it, check it out below.

 

 

If you are in the UK and have never been to the USA I’m guessing like me, you have never heard of Nashville Hot Chicken. After watching the above episode I started googling and did a bit of research and I found it to be right up my street, as it is essentially fried chicken with a seriously spicy kick. So naturally I made my own version but I have never been a fan of deep frying at home so decided it best to do a breaded version to save the mess and hassle. Thanks for the inspiration Bert.

This was the result:

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Would be rude to not leave you with the recipe I guess… Serves 2.

What you will need:

  • 4 boneless chicken thighs
  • 250g flour
  • 250g breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Paprika
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • Hot sauce (just choose your level… I’m not taking responsibility if you melt your face)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Pastry brush
  • 3 clean, shallow bowls

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 175C (Fan)
  2. Bowl 1 -Flour, Cayenne, Paprika and Salt/ pepper, Bowl 2 – beat the eggs, Bowl 3 – Breadcrumbs
  3. Roll the chicken thighs in the flour mixture, then dip in the egg and hit the breadcrumbs.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, turn over then bake again for another 30
  5. Remove from the oven and turn again, brush the now crispy chicken with hot sauce and place in the oven for a final 5 minutes
  6. Mix 3 parts hot sauce with 4 parts Mayonnaise.
  7. Serve. Devour. Enjoy.

BEER MATCH:

A fruity hop forward golden ale such as Kona Brewing Co’s Big Wave

kona-bigwave

 

The Crafty Colt – Craft beer on wheels

The Crafty Colt – Craft beer on wheels

No matter what you end up doing in life there comes a time when you may feel like you could do something else. Maybe it is something you have always wanted to do but never really known how, maybe it’s something more recent that you have developed a passion for that has steered your attention away from what your doing or lets be fair, maybe you just hate your current path and want to be happy.

Not many of us are brave enough to take that step and jump into the unknown as security and comfort feels way better than being outside of your comfort zone, not knowing when the next pay day will be or hoping for that big opportunity that takes your passion to the next level. This is true of most of us and no matter what our ideas are we will always have our detractors and doubters, however that shouldn’t stop us making the jump. Every single one of us within employment are working within something that started out as a similar idea, the money you earn every month is from the wider account of a company that was birthed through calculated personal risk, blind faith, dismissal of doubters, will power and I like to think a certain measure of passion. No matter where you are in life these thoughts come to us but few consider these will come to someone involved in professional sport.

It is so easy to sit in your seat at your local stadium and think everyone who picks up a ball will have an endless supply of financing and are above ambition outside of that arena, simply because you have their number and name on your back doesn’t mean they are removed from wanting different things. After all is said and done not everyone can go into punditry or after dinner speaking, some people have their own ideas and need to branch out outside of their usual lane to give them something to nurture for the future. Take Sam and Wayland’s Yard as an example here, a recently retired rugby professional now doubling down on his passion (literally. Second store now open in Birmingham!) and making a real go of it and killing it. I love the idea of supporting projects such as this one by using my blog to give them exposure and I caught wind of a new project swelling within Worcestershire from a player that is still on the books at Worcester Warriors.

Put aside his professional sporting prowess and Max Stelling is simply a 24 year old guy who has caught onto the unrelenting swathe of amazing craft beer being produced in the UK. This amazing beer revolution has touched a lot of our lives and there have been a few amazing businesses birthed as a result such as Bison Beer in Brighton, Honest brew and multiple new breweries being opened all the time. Today I would like to bring to your attention what Max is bringing to the table. The Crafty Colt.

crafty colt

To tell us a bit more about The Crafty Colt I caught up with Max to ask a few questions on what is was all about:

So Max what is the Crafty Colt?

The Crafty Colt is a mobile craft beer bar in a converted horse trailer. The difference between us and every other bar is two fold; 1. Our beer is better. We serve the very best of British craft beer from breweries such as Tiny rebel, Verdant, Deya, Cloudwater etc… 2. Our bar is unique… We have a 90 degree bar which gives a more open feel and improves our service!
 
You have picked a pretty good time to start. The craft scene is booming right now. It’s a big change from rugby at Worcester. Anything in particular that made you take plunge?
The craft beer boom is exactly why we started! I had wanted something other than rugby in my life for a long time and my interest in craft along with the business potential made it an easy decision! I may well carry on playing Rugby but its nice to have something else to do, especially when it involves beer!
 
So you must be really into your beer! When did you start really getting into craft beer?
I love beer and once you get involved its such an enjoyable journey. There are so many great breweries in the UK and so many varieties of beer… It’s great fun! My first experience of craft, or close to, was Sierra Nevada’s pale ale which most super markets do now. I bought a few from Tesco and from there did some research and ended up at Cotteridge Wines in Birmingham. They have an unbelievable selection as well as a tap room with some keg only specials… It was there and then that my obsession with craft began!
 
crafty colt2
Is it just keg beer you will be serving?
We currently have capacity for two beers on tap and up to eight more in our fridges. We tend to serve a session pale and an IPA on tap and everything from Sour to Stout in cans and bottles.
 
So I know you did your first event last weekend, what’s next for you? Anything lined up?
We did, we were at Fews Marquees open weekend. It was a great experience and we met a lot of great contacts in the events world! We have a number of events lined up and more and more being booked all the while! We will be involved at some of the Johnny Arr testimonial events coming up…
 
Being mobile presents some interesting challenges and equally some really good opportunities, are you aiming at anybody specifically or can anybody sign you up for an event?
Being mobile is a challenge with beer, however, we think that the opportunity to travel nationwide and sell brilliant products is worth the challenge. Ultimately we want to give the public access to great British craft beer that they otherwise would not taste. Anybody can book us for both public and private events. 
 
Where can people find you?
Instagram; TheCraftyColt
Facebook; The Crafty Colt
Twitter; thecraftycolt
Alternatively you can call me any time on 07972306909.
 
Right man, Last thing – Give me you top 3 favourite beers and we like to be a bit different on here so can you match them to a film or a song that best describes the beer!?
My top 3 beers:
1. Deya – Steady Rolling Man – 5.2%
Good Will Hunting – Its a great Story, gets pretty deep and interesting in the middle and finishes strong!
2. Verdant – Pulp – 8%
Fences – You have no idea how strong this films message is…
3. Beavertown – Gamma Ray – 5.4%
The Other Guys – It doesnt matter how many times you watch it, it never gets old!
Show them some love online and get involved. If you have a party and want some amazing drinks on tap give the guys a shout, I wish The Crafty Colt all the success in the world and hope that 2018 is the start of something special!
…and for the record, strong choice on Fences. Cried …like, twice. Go watch it.

 

 

FLASH BACK FRIDAY: Bayeux Burger

FLASH BACK FRIDAY: Bayeux Burger

 

Happy Friday all – Being as the majority of my domestic readers will be snowed in, here is something for you to chew on and warm your cockles… a few years ago I wrote this recipe and to this day stands as my favourite burger design I have ever come up with. Go to your local co-op and get some bits in, give it a go this weekend and I’m sure it will cheer you right up. Serve with fat wedges of roasted sweet potato or just go mad with a pile of fries, just don’t forget the Dijon mustard.

Beer matches: A cold Camden Helles, a bold Belgian such as La Chouffe or a beast of an IPA like ‘Go to IPA’ by Stone.

 

To make four burgers….

Ingredients:

  • 350G ground beef
  • 2 95% pork Sausages, removed from skins
  • 1 teaspoon dried Tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon herb de provence
  • A jar of large sliced pickles
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 150g wedge of Pont l’eveque cheese (or Brie) sliced into thick pieces
  • 2 finely sliced red onions
  • 1 single measure of Calvados (or good brandy if you cant get it)
  • 4 brioche burger buns
  • 4 teaspoons of Aioli or just add minced garlic to your favourite mayonnaise
  • Olive oil for frying

Method:

  1. Add the beef and sausage meat to a bowl with the Tarragon, Herb de provence and season well with the salt and pepper. Mix well to form a patty mix with an even consistency.
  2. Split into four even balls of meat mix. Roll, pat and press them into four burgers. (Quick tip: Size them to the buns!) Cover with some cling film and leave them in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove them from the fridge and preheat a griddle pan on a medium heat, lightly oil both sides of the burgers and place onto the pan. Cook for 3 minutes.
  4. In a preheated frying pan on a medium heat, add a tablespoon of oil and the onions. Season well and stir regularly until translucent and soft. Should take roughly the same time as the one side of the burger.
  5. Turn the burgers in the griddle and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  6. Turn the heat up on the onions and add the Calvados. This will simmer down really quickly, lower the heat again and leave them ticking over on a low heat stirring regularly.
  7. Turn the burger once again and add at least two large slices of cheese across the top of the burger, cover if you can and add a touch of water to create some steam. Don’t cook for longer than another minute or so as the cheese wont take much melting. Rest the burgers in a warm place for a few minutes.
  8. On the bottom part of each bun, spread the aioli and place onto the bun, cross two of the pickle halves across the cheese and top with a spoonful of the onions.
  9. Cap with the other half of the bun and serve with herby roast potatoes or sweet potato fries for a treat.

There we have it… the Bayeux burger. An oral tapestry of contrasting flavours and my own little dedication to a great part of the world.

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