BeerRitz Welcome

Welcome to our "social media hub". From here you can reach all of the different bits of the BeerRitz empire.

For all mail order, you can use our online shop You can also follow the mail order service on Twitter here, and you can like the Facebook page so updates will appear in your timeline. You can email the mail order service using this form, or you can call us on 01423 359371 (9.30am-4.30pm, Monday-Friday)

Our shop, BeerRitz, in Headingley, Leeds, is open from midday to 9pm, 7 days a week. You can follow the Leeds shop on Twitter here, and you can find the shop's Facebook page here. Their phone number is 0113 275 3464, or you can email them here.

The blog below is a general summary of what is arriving on a weekly basis. The things we mention below will appear online fairly quickly, then get to the Leeds shop the following week, usually on the Thursday.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Beer and Food - Aparagus and Belgian Tripels

Much to our delight, the first English asparagus is now in the shops. Bigger, fresher and more flavoursome than any imported asparagus, this is something of a turning point in the food calendar. Winter is behind us, and summer is on its way. Sure, there might be a lot of rain to put up with until summer really hits, but it's coming.

Asparagus is a pretty versatile vegetable - you can steam it, fry it, bake it in a quiche or make soup from it. It's quite a grown-up pleasure, as it has a characteristic herbal bitterness to it, but bitterness is something that a mature palate can appreciate. Of course, bitterness is also to be found in beer, provided by the flowers of the hop plant. If you can see where we're going with this, it won't come as a surprise to hear that asparagus and beer are a great match. But which beer?

The best match that we've found is with the abbey and Trappist tripels of Belgium, those strong, pale beers with a herbal hop edge. Top of the tree in terms of matching with asparagus is Westmalle Tripel - there is something herbal in the beer that matches perfectly the flavour of the asparagus, and in fact if you watch the video below, you'll see a great way to cook it, and a few beers to try with it. As Zak shows in the video, there are plenty of other beers that will match griddled asparagus: tripels from Maredsous, St Bernardus, St Feuillien, and La Trappe. Or if you want to have a look at the range, click on one of the two spellings the word: tripel or triple.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Purple Moose Brewery, Porthmadog, Wales

We operate a few beer swaps with other retailers in the north of England. Recently we had the opportunity to get a few beers in from the Purple Moose Brewery, Porthmadog, Wales. It's a brewery that Zak visited last year, when he was writing a round-up of the Welsh brewing scene, and he was impressed by the beers then, but until now, we didn't have the connection to get any. But now we've put that right.

Purple Moose is the brainchild of Lawrence Washington, who wanted to set up a small craft brewery with a distinct identity, and brew the beers that he liked. At the time, one of the beers that was a massive influence on him was Harviestoun's Bitter & Twisted, a pale beer with a notably dry, grapefruity edge. By coincidence, at the time he was looking to found the brewery on it's current site, Harviestoun's old brewplant came up for sale. Lawrence bought it, and on an unusual kerbside location on a backstreet in Porthmadog, Purple Moose was born.

As you might expect from the above, Purple Moose's beers are modern, clean and fresh, with an emphasis on hop character, and are definitely in the "session ale" category. We're only carying a couple of cases of these at the shop in Headingley, so if you'd like a taste of Porthmadog's finest, we suggest you get yourself down here a bit sharpish.

Monday, 19 April 2010

"The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease"

A bit of a confession to make this week - we'd previously made a total pig's ear of pricing the whole range of Dogfish Head beers held at our Leeds store. While he may be a dab hand at talking about beer, Zak certainly took his eye off the ball for a moment there, pricing them according to a previous import list, when they were much more expensive. After being flogged with a cat o' nine tails improvised from an inflatable vinyl Desperados bottle, Zak admitted his mistake and repriced the whole range.

Actually, we're being kind. It wasn't until a regular customer pointed out that the whole Dogfish Head range was priced differently on the website that Zak took a look, despite being told about it by staff at the shop. Anyway, the beers are now all repriced, and might even be termed affordable. Certainly for great beers from one of the pioneers at the 'extreme' end of the American craft beer movement, they seem well priced to us. Have a look at the reviews for the 60 Minute IPA and 90 Minute IPA, and you'll see that these are very well-regarded beers - classics, even.

Yes, we know they're priced differently on the website compared to the shop. The overheads are different - let's just leave it at that.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Mixed Case Selection: Highland Brewing Company

Once again we've asked our resident beer expert to select some beers and say a little bit about them. Over to you, Zak:

The brewery I've chosen for this mixed case is The Highland Brewing Company, based on Orkney. Not content just with being on Orkney, they are on the most northerly part of Orkney Mainland, at Swannay - have a look where they are on Google maps. That's an odd place for a brewery, no? You'd think there are some logistical problems with that, and you'd be right. But it's worked in Beer-Ritz's favour - no-one else is distributing these beers south of Inverness, which means pretty much the whole of the UK.

These beers aren't well known, but they should be. I poke fun at their tendency to use the phrase "world class ale" on their own labels, but I also think it's refreshing to see a brewery having complete faith in their beers, and showing a bit of chutzpah too. If it was an American craft brewery saying the same thing, we'd all trust their self-belief, so why not? Their beers (except the porter) all have a brilliant hop character, but they never sacrifice character for drinkability - these are classic British ales with a modern twist. I like them a lot, and I think you will too.

Their Orkney Porter is a delicious drop of strong, dark goodness. It's a sipping beer, and that's why they put it in small bottles - 275ml rather than the nip (one third of an imperial pint, or 189ml) I claim in the video. You could either drink it now, or squirrel it away for next winter - the extra 9 months in the bottle will see it soften and mature a little.

Anyway, here's the video. I hope it persuades you to try these little known beers - you can buy them by clicking here. If you need more information, please do have a look at the brewery's website and some reviews on notable beer blog Beer Reviews. Cheers!

STOP PRESS: It seems as though they might be getting the Guernsey brewplant after all. Lewis Hill (Rob's son) tells us in an email: "Forgot to mention before, we might actually be getting the Guernsey kit soon! Someone has persuaded someone else to convert the listed building into flats, which means we can retrieve the kit. Take it with a pinch of salt, naturally, but Dad tells me the kit is capable of a 100brl brew length - that's a pretty huge capacity!"

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Easter Beer

It seems odd that there isn't a huge tradition of Easter beers - I mean, we have beers for almost every other festival and season, so why not Easter?

I'm diabolically playing devils advocate of course, and somewhat disrespectfully, given the Christian nature of the festival (please note: other deities and pagan rituals are available). Of course there are still Easter beers, but we don't get to hear about them very much. The Belgians (and when it comes to beer, it's always the Belgians, isn't it?) still have a tradition of paasbier, although it's hard to say that this refers to any particular style. It fits in with the tradition of brewing festival beers that something special might be created, but does it fall into a defined style? Does it 'eck as like (as we say in Yorkshire).

Scandinavia has its paaskol, and Germany has its osterbier, but again, these don't refer to particular styles - they can be anything from pale lagerbiers to dark ales. What might go well at Easter in the UK? You may as well ask what goes well with chocolate eggs.

One of the great matches is Belgian kriek (cherry) beer. A lot of connoisseurs can be a bit snooty about the more commercial offerings from Lindemans, Mort Subite, St Louis and Timmermans, but the key here is the sweetness. To match a beer to a dessert, it needs to be a bit sweeter to work well. We can gaurantee that the blend of sweet cherry beer (it doesn't work so well with the unsweetened artisanal offerings) and chocolate is enough to convert any sceptic.

If you think that fruit beers are somehow a bit sissy (you're wrong, but we'll move on), then let's go to the other extreme - chocolate stout. Both these beers have the rich, smooth taste of chocolate, but only one is made with it. The Wells & Youngs beer actually has chocolate added to the brew kettle, the Brooklyn version is a heavy imperial stout, although has a rich, sweet drinkability to it. If pairing it with chocolate sounds like too much of a good thing, then serve it accompanying any creamy dessert - creme brulee is perfect. Or if you fancy something even more outlandish, put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in your beer for a grown-up version of a Coke float. Watch out though - the carbonation in the beer will make things get quite lively! You can see how it works in this video from Zak Avery, recorded a couple of years ago: