Hoppy ever after

Round & About

beer

Danielle Bekker explains more about her journey to set up her award-winning local business Binary Botanical & how Woking has inspired her

I love beer but I have never enjoyed having beer with food and would typically switch to wine to have with dinner, which is far more alcoholic. So the original idea was to come up with beer that would go well with food and we have done everything to turn beer on its head. We infuse it with hop leaves (which are normally a waste product) and brew with a wine yeast to give a product which is aromatic, tangy like prosecco aromatic but not at all bitter. We have a 4% ABV version which is the low alcohol alternative to wine and the 0.5% which is the perfect adult drink when you aren’t drinking.

My real passion is the 0.5% ABV – it took a lot longer to get this recipe right . A lot of non-alcoholic beers are quite bitter and it took a lot of experimentation to develop something which was aromatic and flavourful but without the bitterness.

My favourite tipple at the moment is actually the binary 0.5.  I don’t drink very much and I love having an adult alternative to lime and soda.

In terms of inspiration there are quite a few – the range of delicious gins that are out there with the various botanical infusions  shows the range of flavours that can be achieved with different botanicals.   I think Seedlip have paved the way for elevating the non-alcoholic cocktail.

Because binary is so different biggest it is not aimed at the traditional beer consumer  – when people taste the liquid the invariably love it but it does confuse the brain – Is it a low alcohol sparkling wine? Is it a beer?.    Beer can be premium, drunk out of a wine glass with a meal by men and women.  It can make delicious low calorie cocktails.   Secondly – you have to get involved in so many different areas of the business  – from sourcing ingredients to packing boxes and trying to understand how to post a story on Instagram (I didn’t have an Instagram account before starting binary!)

Our highlights have been our listing in Harvey Nichols and Ocado – who both said they were excited to genuine new news and innovation in beer.  The second highlight would be being included in craft gin club as the cocktail mixer for their cocktail of the month – they took a big risk including us as their first ever beer and the feedback has been really positive.  And then lastly any time someone says – I don’t like beer and ends up loving binary is probably the biggest highlight of all.

On a more personal level, in my previous role in corporate I had to travel a lot so was away from home a lot so felt as though I missed out a lot on every day family life like hearing about the day at school.  So although I probably work harder now – I am home for dinner every day and see the kids off for school in the morning which is a real privilege.

My favourite part of Woking is probably Horsell Common (thanks to War of the Worlds –  nearly as famous as the Pizza express is now) – the perfect place to re-charge and go for a walk.  I think we are very lucky to live in a town which is so close to London but still has a great village feel about it.

It is so amazing to see how people want to support local businesses – the people we meet at Farmers Markets and festivals are all very passionate about supporting small, local businesses and events like Woking Food Festival go a long way to show casing local businesses in an affordable way.  I am always humbled by how many volunteers  give their time to the various events.   Locally, our aim is to convince more restaurants that innovation doesn’t just have to be in London.  With this in mind we are running a unique Cocktailcompetition for mixologists and bartenders to mark Dry January by creating a new low alcohol cocktail to demonstrate that no/low alcohol drinks can be exciting and delicious  and its only open to for people in the South East.

 

Q. What would be your dream for Binary Botanical?

My dream would be that we can exemplify a business which integrates its purpose and product into a single story.  By using a waste product (the hop leaf) as a core ingredient, not only are we are driving sustainability in the supply chain and revenue for local farmers we are also championing  the trend for moderation – drinking less or not drinking at all doesn’t mean a compromise on flavour.  We believe that the joyful wellbeing and sociability of beer can be enjoyed by many more people than it is today…. And we plan to convince people of this one sample cup at a time!

More info

To try these wonderful beverages or to find out more about the business head to the Binary Botanical website

Beer-fuelled Bard

Round & About

beer

Peter Anderson catches up with Stacey & Saul of Sh*tfaced Shakespeare which lands at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre on Tuesday, 12th November

A smash-hit, internationally acclaimed, award-winning, multi sell-out fringe phenomenon comes to Swindon this month presenting Shakespeare in a way none of us remember it from our schooldays. We all know about pre-show drinks, but what if it is a random member of the cast who spends the four hours before a show having the pre-show drinks? Welcome to Sh*t-faced Shakespeare and their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With a gin in one hand, a cup of wine in the other and a flagon of ale in the other… What could possibly go wrong?

I catch up with Stacey & Saul from the group to find out this combination of beer and the Bard, came about. “We had one of those sessions where we all put our heads together and came up with ideas on how we can make the improv different. This was the suggestion that someone came up with. I don’t remember whether we said yes or no to it at the time, but it was a little while later that in a radio interview someone mentioned that this was something, we had thought of doing. From then on, we had to it, and it seems to have been well received as we are still filling theatres after some years.”

Is there a chance the plot could change? “Oh yes, when you are one of the sober cast you have to be ready for just about anything, from Juliet deciding she is not going to commit suicide to characters appearing in the wrong play which adds to the spice and fun – for both us and the audience especially. There are rules that we use in improvisation and these can usually keep the play flowing. The important thing is that we are providing something enjoyable for the audience, there is no question of deliberately making one of the cast look stupid.”

You are quite a close-knit group of actors to be able to do improv, especially with the additional jeopardy of alcohol, but if you could have a famous actor join you for a show, who would you love? “Now, there’s a thought! I think the one actress who always seems good fun in the things she does is Helena Bonham-Carter, I am sure she would be up for it and extremely good fun whether she was drunk or sober.”

The Evening Standard said of this show “There is no doubt this is a hoot to watch”. To get your chance to see what could be subtitled for one actor A Midsummer Morning’s Hangover the show is on Tuesday 12th November at the Wyvern Theatre

Want to go?

Get your tickets here

Good Beer Guide

Round & About

beer

The latest edition of CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide has just been released and there are plenty of reasons to raise a glass in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

The local brewing and pub scene is booming in the area and as well as the hundreds of pubs worth visiting, there are also plenty of breweries springing up.

New ones it notes can be found at:

Brewery58, Wallingford – started in summer 2017 with a home brew kit, now produces Wallingford Bridge IPA, 3.9% www.brewery58.com

Elements Brewing Co, Upton, Burford – selection of craft beers, tap room  offering food to enjoy the brews www.elementsbrewery.co.uk

Wantage Brewery – microbrewery started at outbuildings at The King’s Arms, Wantage in spring 2019 www.kingsarmswantage.co.uk

Saviour Brewery, Hampstead Marshall – brewery in grounds of The White Hart pub, only available on the premises with special brews to match the season including Boozer 3.5%, Gold 5% and Tipple 4.2% www.saviourwhitehart.co.uk

Old Windsor Brewery, Windsor – craft brewery specialising in creating small batches of quality, full flavoured, craft beers notably The Duke’s Hart which boasts a dark rich colour and smooth texture 4.8% www.owbrewery.com

Bad Joke Brew Co, Amersham –  began brewed in spring 2018, produces five beers

The Bell Inn in Aldworth, pictured, has been named one of the best pubs in the UK and is through to the next stage of the competition, hoping to be one of four finalists in the search for CAMRA’s best pub of the year, which was revealed in February.

A former Pub of the Year winner, it is the only pub with a heritage interior in Berkshire. The large open garden and excellent beer attract walker and drinkers from far and wide.

The Good Beer Guide reviews more than 4,500 pubs nationwide to find the best outlets in the country.

CAMRA’s chief executive Tom Stainer said: “The Good Beer Guide has always had an important role in acting as a barometer of the beer and pub industry. We believe information gleaned from the Guide is absolutely vital in the drive to save our pubs from closure and campaign for policies that better support pubs, local brewers and their customers.”

Across the Southern Central area, the guide includes 69 from Oxfordshire, 54 from Berkshire and 54 from Buckinghamshire in addition to 65 breweries across the area.

New additions to the Good Beer Guide in Surrey include:

The Anchor, High Street, Ripley GU23 6AE – a Grade II listed pub, parts of the building date back to the 1500s (be sure to duck in places), The contemporary meets the historic

The Bulls Head, The Street, West Clandon GU4 7ST – 16th century village inn near Clandon Park. Many original features, oak beams, low ceilings and cosy log fire

The Drummond, Woodbrige Road, Guildford GU1 4RF – large open-plan with eclectic range of furniture, modern art and several chandeliers. Classic pub food and modern dishes.

The Grantley Arms, The Street, Wonersh, GU5 0PE – half-timbered village pub dating from late 16th or early 17th century, cheerful interior

The Half Moon, High Street, Ripley GU23 6AN – 18th century building with the feel of a café-cum-pub, stripped wood floor and bare brick walls contrast well with painted ones

The Rodboro Buildings, Bridge Street, Guildford GU1 4RY – Wetherspoons pub spread over three levels in a Grade II listed former industrial building

The Running Stream, Weybourne Road, Farnham GU9 9HE – old-fashioned locals pub, horseshoe shaped room surrounds central bar

The Sandrock, Sandrock Hill Road, Wrecclesham GU10 4NS – reopened after almost a year, refurbished and relaunched as a traditional pub with contemporary feel late last year

Thirsty?

Read about more local breweries, producers, foodies and restaurateurs across our readership patch

Reading beer & cider festival

Round & About

beer

We’re here for the beer and much, much more at Reading Beer & Cider Festival

It’s summer – well the sun’s out at least or trying its best – and one of the best ways to celebrate is at the ever-popular Reading Beer & Cider Festival.

Located in Christchurch Meadows, its fully accessible and home to one of the largest beer festivals in the country from 2nd to 5th May.

Visitors can enjoy more than 450 real ales as well as a large range of ciders, perries, foreign beers, UK wines and mead, many from local breweries – a full list can be found online and during the festival a live beer list will offer an up-to-the-minute update on what’s available.

In addition to the great range of drinks there are a variety of food vendors – some newcomers and some returning favourites with everything from Cornish pasties, curry and kebabs and a hog roast to German bratwurst and olives and chocolates and truffles for the sweeter toothed.

It’s not all about the beer though – ok, it is mainly all about the beer – but starting on Thursday and throughout the festival there’ll be a range of traditional pub games to enjoy. Long alley skittles, shuttleboard, table skittles and toad in the hole are on offer for £1 a go or enjoy six for £5.

The outdoor games area will be back with great prizes to be won and if you’re feeling lucky have a go at the tombola for the chance to win beer and pub-oriented prizes.

Ticket prices vary depending on day and session required. Sunday is the family day and you can buy a season ticket for access to all festival sessions over the four days.

Posted by Reading Beer and Cider Festival on Saturday, 12 January 2019

For more details, the list of beers and to buy tickets visit the Reading Beer Festival website