Silo, Brighton – A Zero Wasteland

Every day, we’re told to stop producing so much waste.

Weekly, we roll out our landfill wheelie bins under cover of darkness so no one will know just how full they really are. Daily, people in offices snatch rubbish from your hands and force it in to the recycling bin while cursing your existence. Hourly, a polar bear commits suicide because you keep buying plastic wrapped leeks instead of the PERFECTLY ADEQUATE LOOSE ONES.

Most of us grown ups grew up in a time of excessive, repeated and unjustified waste. It was pre-recession and we didn’t really care about stuffing plastic bags down a dolphin’s throat because we could just demand that the Government buy more dolphins. But times have changed and the world, thankfully, is more willing to embrace a ‘less is more’ and ‘ignorance isn’t bliss’ attitude when it comes to waste.

Which leads me to the centre of the shrubbery maze that is this blog’s introduction…

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Becky and I were nearing the end of our blogger’s jaunt to Brighton (did you read about it in my last post?), and had spent much of Saturday dodging the rain while exploring the Laines. Read Miscriant’s write up of our shopping and coffee pit stop here.
But there was one venue we were determined to reach – Silothe UK’s first zero waste restaurant.

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo markets itself as a restaurant, bakery and coffee house, but its biggest selling point is its commitment to zero waste on site. They mill their own flour for bread, make their own beer, compost all leftovers, flush the toilets with their own grey water waste, trade directly with farmers and producers, and use re-useable delivery containers.
The website mission statement reads: “At Silo, we chose to provide quality through purity, adopting a more primitive diet with techiques both modern and ancient. We choose food sources that respect the natural order, allowing ingredients to be themselves without unnecessary processing. By creating everything on site from its wholest form, we can capture real food, and real food tastes better.”
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

For a full round up of the vast amount of work that goes into Silo, take a look at their blog.

We ventured down an unassuming side street off the North Laines, and soon we stumbled across the looming warehouse doors of Silo.
Inside the foyer was a table resplendent with freshly baked goods and treats, and Becky and I drooled quietly in a corner for a few minutes before realising we should probably try to obtain a table and stop scaring the children.

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

During the day, they do not take bookings except for tables of six plus, but the charming hostess assured we would not have more than a 10min wait.
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

The restaurant interior echoed the aforementioned meeting of ‘modern and ancient’: tables made from old scaffold boards, box chairs to match, exposed lightbulbs, white-washed brick walls, giant blackboards baring the specials. All the cutlery and crockery is either recycled or upcycled. The kitchen is exposed to the diners, as is the bar and service area. 

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo reviewSilo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo reviewSilo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

Nothing is hidden away here, you can see the beer storied in giant plastic tubs, the jam jars that serve as glasses, even the compost machine is a star attraction by the entrance. But this stripped-down chic is paired with modern technological savvy.

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo reviewSilo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

The daily menu is projected on to the walls, and menus are presented to diners on iPads. An extravagance? Well…for a restaurant where the menu must change regularly according to season and stock, imagine the cost of printing and reprinting paper menus? For the cost of three or four mini-iPads, they’ve probably saved a packet in printing costs.

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

Earlier than expected, we were seated – space being tight, couples have to share a spacious table of four with others, but this was not a problem for us and in keeping with the restaurant’s ethos; be fussy about having a private table, then you have to reduce your covers, and one must assume that fewer covers means fewer meals and fewer meals means more waste.

It is a noisy, bustling place, for this is no place for staff to laze languidly over your customers while the bread turns mouldy. A water jug and two jars landed on our table within seconds of our being seated, as did our iPad menu, and the staff were attentive and in sparkling form.
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

Becky opted for a soft drink, while I could not resist a taste of the Moonface IPA, by Old Tree Brewery (operating from Silo’s basement). It arrived, true to form, in a jam jar and was a punchy little number.

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

I opted for the fish – catchbox cod, seaweed mash, steamed alexanders and sea vegetables. As we waited, one of the chefs brought us our complimentary fresh baked sourdough bread and homemade butter, explained the ingredients and wished us a great meal.

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
We didn’t go for starters, though I wish we had. The bread was beautiful, and when our mains arrived, we were in a flurry of flavours.
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

My fish was perfectly cooked, nestled in a delicate slightly tart sauce and accompanied by silky vegetables with just enough bite. I had never before tried sea alexanders (a forager’s delight), but it is a cross between asparagus and a fragrant chard…I think…never mind, it was delicious.

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo reviewSilo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

My dish was probably one of the more pious offerings on the menu, as I saw plates of braised venison, caramelised artichokes and brown rice risotto being devoured by other diners.

The mains ranged from £8 to £12, and there was also the promise of sea buckthorn and elderberry fool or treacle sponge with goats milk custard and cacao for dessert. Sadly, we could not partake of the sweet treats.
Our time at Silo was all too short, as we had  train to catch, but I will be sure to return to try a full three course experience.
Silo’s concept may strike some as ‘gimmick’ restaurant, but I have no doubt, based on my experiences, that the quality of its offering will see it stand the test of time. The mission statement was true to its word, as Becky and I ate very well and felt pretty damn good for it.
Venture in to the zero wasteland, tiny darlings, and feast.
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

SILO

Upper Gardener Street, North Laine, Brighton

Open Mon to Weds 9am to 5pm, Thurs to Sat 9am to 8.30pm, Sunday 11am to 5pm.
Email contact@silobrighton.com Tel: 01273 674259
Find them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter

Blogging in Brighton – Oki-Nami & The Black Lion

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami

A mini-break, you say? To Brighton, you say? A chance to have some girly fun with fellow blogger Miscriant and try some new places, you say?

IN-teresting!

So it was that I decided to stop talking to myself and a get a train to the fair seaside town with my dear friend Becky for a night and day sampling Brighton’s delights. Miscriant will no doubt be blogging of our exploits herself, so please do visit her splendid blog and compare notes. Hers will probably less drunk then mine.

We decided on a blogging break at the last minute – Becky’s husband was abroad for work, I had some holiday to use up and I think the beau was dead or something that weekend – so we threw caution to the wind and snapped up some tasty deals on hotels and train tickets. I scoured Twitter for recommendations of where to visit, and we were blown away by the responses (thanks Visit Brighton for spreading the word).

We departed Canterbury on Friday, each dragging suitcases containing far too many outfits for a one night trip, and arrived in Brighton around three hours later.

A nice bottle of train wine helped our journey.

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Train wine #Brighton #traintrip

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Becky had recommended The Queen’s Hotel right on the seafront, and I found a twin room for £84 for the two of us. When we arrived, we couldn’t believe the size of the room we’d been given – king sized bed and a generous single with views of the promenade and the sea*, and a lovely bathroom.

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Then Becky found another door….which revealed another double bedroom. We had a frigging corner suite!

I didn’t have the chance to try the spa, but Becky had visited before and recommends it. The only downside of our giant room was that it faced the street and on a Friday night, when things get festive late into the evening, it was pretty noisy. Fortunately, I’d drunk my weight in gin so passed out comfortably on our return, so it’s down to how heavy a sleeper – or drinker – you are.

I insisted on a power nap, and then Becky and I preened for our night out.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, Miscriant

We had been sent several recommendations for places to visit on Twitter, and by locals, so started with The Black Lion just round the corner from the hotel – a lovely, beautiful pub with a lively atmosphere, fine ale and gin selection, and the promise of late night ska music; we would return later.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, the black lion

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, the black lion brightonThe Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, the black lion brighton

Then it was on to The Mesmerist to laze in a booth and test our cameras – Becky with a G&T, my with a pint of Dark Star Hophead (I cannot resist Dark Star beer. It’s in my blood).

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, the mesmerist brighton

The bar claimed to be inspired by ‘gin lanes, burlesque and steampunk’ – which translates as leather sofas, dark wood, weird paintings and suits of armour. Drinks were reasonable and the vibe was good.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, the mesmerist brighton

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, the mesmerist brighton

Then we had to find food. This was tricky. We’d found a couple of recommendations but they were way out of our walking range, and one did not take reservations and was full by the time we arrived.

We wandered through the Laines, stomachs growling and shoes started to pinch, when we discovered this little gem: Oki-Nami.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

People probably know about this place. All of Brighton probably knows about this place. It’s co-owned by Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) for crying outloud. But we didn’t know. We figured we’d get some Japanese food and crack on.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

The host, and owner, greeted us and gave us a great table by the window. Becky and I chose from the Oki set menu – three courses for £22.95.

We ordered a pair of cocktails, and when we tasted them we knew we were on to a good thing. Absolutely spot on – sharp and bursting with flavour, perfect for the meal.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

The starters arrived. My sushi selection was well presented and on the money – I’ve tasted more exciting sushi in my life, but it was still tasty.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

But Becky’s Nikku Gyoza, which I stole, were incredible. Melt in the mouth goodness, best Gyoza I’ve ever tasted.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

For our mains, we both went for the teriyaki dishes – salmon for me, chicken for Becky. Again, the food was delicious – sweet and spicy marinade, yielding fish, braised vegetables and sticky rice.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brightonThe Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

We couldn’t resist dessert and ordered the flourless chocolate orange cake with plum liquor infused ice cream. Jut gorgeous, and light enough not to feel too sinful.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

As we nibbled, we noticed several people had slipped past the restaurant’s front door and had disappeared up a curious flight of stairs at the back of the building. Indeed, the restaurant’s centre piece was an impressive spiral staircase. The owner told us that people were heading to their cocktail bar.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

We needed no further encouragement. Filled with good food, we climbed the spiral staircase to sample more drinks.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brightonThe Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

We really felt like we’d hit the jackpot with this bar/restaurant. It was clearly popular with locals, and the cocktails promised untold levels of debauchery. I can’t resist a good espresso Martini (and after a meal it’s basically a digestifs, so it’s stupid NOT to have one), and these did not disappoint. I managed two while Becky stuck to her concoction. As I said in my previous post, I’m a fast drinker.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

We just had time to dash back to The Black Lion to listen to their ska DJ before retiring to the hotel bar for a final few gins, and then bed at 1am.

Okay it was 2am. I think.

My next post will cover Saturday and our adventures in a zero wasteland…

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, miscriant, black lion brighton

*These views were lovely, but as we were on the 1st floor and Brighton is a popular place, the curtains remained closed for much of the stay so that no passers-by would see my nakedness as I strutted about, pretending I was King of all hotel rooms.

Quitting Diet Coke & The Terrible Thirst

Me: You know what’s great about giving up diet coke?

Ben: What?

Me: NOTHING!! Nothing is good about giving up diet coke, it’s pointless and stupid and pointless! Seriously, I have not noticed any difference!! No headaches, no increased energy, no improved hydration! I’m losing weight only because I’m dieting in the week AND THAT’S ANOTHER THING! I’m not eating carbs, I’m not drinking during the week, I’m limiting sugar and I ALSO can’t drink diet coke! It’s double balls and bollocks!!!!

Ben: (pauses while he finishes his toast) Your skin looks better.

Me: I…! What?

Ben: Your skin is very bright. You’ve drinking more water, and you have less blemishes.

Me: …Really?

Ben: Yes.

Me: Oh. Oh. Well. Wait, are you saying I had blemishes before?

(Ben puts his head in his hands)


It’s fair to say that I have a problem. Yes, yes, we all enjoy my many ramblings about the drinking of gin and the drinking of beer and why drinking is great and why you should all be drinking all of the time. But this isn’t about THAT. This post is entirely alcohol free. Like a Becks Blue. Or a really well behaved child.

My one and true addiction is diet coke. An addiction I recently kicked. And I’m feeling reeeaallly pissy about it.

That’ll do, Diet Coke. That’ll do.

I could no more avoid the lure of a ‘healthy January’ than you lot could. (Don’t pretend you did spend the majority of this month juicing cucumbers in an effort to remove those festive pounds and that hump of residual alcohol). For the most part, I was perfectly happy with my plan: no carbs or alcohol during the week, limited sugar, and buckets of water. And I joined the gym a couple of days ago (I know – ME), and am now constantly sore and in Lycra. So far, I’ve lost 5lbs in 3 weeks (without exercise) and have only another 7lbs to go before I hit my ‘woooo MAMA’ weight.

YET. I made a decision on 12th January to cut out Diet Coke once an for all.

Yep. Courtesy of Jezebel.com

I used to drink Diet Coke the same way normal people drink tea or coffee, or water: all the time, every day, morning noon and night. Before the Diet Coke ban, I would quaff two to three 500ml bottles of ice cold DC at work – one at around 9am – and would drink another couple of glasses at home, and swig from my big fridge bottle every so often before bed. At the weekends, I’d probably get through two to three litres. I would also open little bottles while shopping because I couldn’t wait until I got home to quench my thirst.

I’m not sure when the addiction started (though I’m pretty sure Dad was hooked on the stuff), but I drink it because I genuinely love the taste. No other brand of diet cola has ever come close (don’t get me started on Pepsi). I love the refreshing tangy fizz, I love how it makes hangovers go away, I love pouring myself a tall frosty glass while I do the house work on Saturday mornings. And given that I have to watch nearly everything I eat, a tasty one calorie beverage is a welcome friend in dark times.

Thank you Buzzfeed

But aside from the taste, part of me kept drinking the brown stuff just to annoy the never ending stream of c***s who delighted in lecturing me about the horrors of all diet sodas.

Oh I NEVER tired of strangers confronting me in shops, crying ‘oh you shouldn’t drink that stuff, love, full of chemicals it is!” Nine times out of ten, their breath was thick with the stench of fags. I NEVER got a stress headache from being told ‘oh, we don’t have soft drinks’ by conference organizers while they flooded boardrooms with industrial strength coffee. Once, a broken-toothed man lying on the pavement outside Oddbins, and swigging some sort of thick blue liquid from a plastic jar, clocked my bottle of DC and shook his head pityingly.

When did Diet Coke become a drink so demonized that meth heads could pass judgement on it? Coffee & tea are so mainstream that no one bats an eyelid when Glenda from Purchasing staggers to the office peculator for her fifth cup before 11am. Yet when it comes to Diet Coke, all you get are lectures on how aspartame will strip out your insides and bring back Nazi Germany.

So why give it up, and grant the evil hordes their victory dance? Eh. There’s no denying DC is full of nasty additives and chemicals. It has just one calorie, but it more than makes up for that in pure unadulterated evil.

So. Here’s how it’s been going…

No withdrawal symptoms

The crippling headaches I had been promised by various websites, magazines and witch doctors did not arrive. On my first day of quitting, I did feel a bit more sluggish but simply compensated with an extra cup of tea (I only have 2 or 3 a day in total, no sugar), and lots of extra water. But I was otherwise fine, and have done ever since. I’m guessing the caffeine wasn’t affecting me as much as I thought.

…Except for some minor stomach cramps

Fizzy chemical-laden drinks have clearly taken their toll on my innards, as I noticed some mild  stomach aches and a dash of nausea when I had my morning cup of tea in the first week. My body’s new wake-up call of boiling plant stew and cow juice in place of fizzy acid was not appreciated. It didn’t last long, but it did make me wonder….what damage have I been doing to my stomach for it to react so?

I am thirsty all the time – and always have been

I’ve miss the taste of Diet Coke. Badly. I associate the taste with the quenching of my thirst, and I hate other liquids for not stepping up to the mark. Which brought me to the more worrying revelation…

I have a terrible thirst. I’ve never noticed just how much liquid I drink and how fast I drink it. I’ve been guzzling diet coke like there was no tomorrow, as it was my main source of fluid, but any drink I have to hand is gulped down rapidly: water, tea, and our good friend alcohol. It’s part of the reason I drink pints when I’m out – it’s a long drink and I see it as value for money. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought a round and then watched friends delicately sip their mixers for 30mins, while I slump gasping on the table, begging for it to be someone’s round soon.

I had to drink all of this wine to compensate for the loss of Diet Coke. HAD to.

Honestly, this was something I only ever really worried about with booze, but now I see that I have probably been under-drinking on all counts, and have needed to up my water intake for some time. I’ve also reduced my salt consumption accordingly*

Hangovers from hell

Oh this was not fun. My first morning after a night on the booze, I woke with a pounding headache. I’d had four pints and quite a bit of water, which normally leaves me trouble free. But the pain in my head persisted until around lunchtime. Maybe it’s the bitterness talking, but I was convinced a Diet Coke would have sorted that bad boy right out.

The next instance was worse. After a night at a friend’s house, where we drank all the wine in Ashford, I woke up feeling like death and barely made it through our fry up. On the walk home, I begged Ben to get me some sparkling water – anything to replicate the DC taste – and spent the next couple of hours under the duvet, hugging the water bottle, whispering ‘it’s not the same, I’ll never love you like I loved it’.

My skin and my body – HELLO

It was half way into week two when I launched into my opening rant with the beau. And unfortunately, he was right. The lack of cola and the increase in water has made a difference. My skin is looking brighter than normal, and blemishes vanish much quicker than usual. I also feel…I don’t know, a bit cleaner? I think this is down to me having a lot more water during the day, and it is the one thing keeping me on track.

Has DC really been the cause of those pesky little blemishes cropping up on my chin? Has my shocking lack of water been pushing me slowly towards the grave and ugliness? Will I survive this coming weekend, where Miscriant and I will attempt to break Brighton?

Let’s see how this bad boy plays out.

Have you quit Diet Coke? How did you find it? What have been the best and worst parts of your struggle? Tell me about it, please, or I’ll get bored and lonely.

*My sister will enjoy reading this statement as she has, for years, claimed I have way too much salt in my food. This is based on one occasion TWELVE YEARS GO when she visited me when I was ill and tried a bit of food from a plate that I had abandoned and actually screamed about the salt in it. I had left that food because I had accidentally spilled salt on it and I found it inedible, but she would not be told. Since then, I have been a salt addict in her eyes. She still doesn’t believe me, she thinks I’m sprinkling salt on this blog right now, even as I type.

Lessons in Libations at Le Mouton Rouge

Me: Darling, there’s a beer tasting at Le Mouton Rougethis Saturday.
Beau: Beer?
Me: Yes. Shall we go?
Beau: Beer. I mean, yes
…..The conversation sounded longer in my head.

Copyright The Demon Gin, Canterbury, Le Mouton Rouge, Canterbury wine, Canterbury whiskey, beer tasting, canterbury off licence, best wine merchant

Little will dissuade me from visiting Le Mouton RougeWine Merchants in St Dunstans of an evening, and an email promising an evening of sampling various locals ales and chatting to brewers for a mere £15 was almost too much to handle (I had lie down on my fainting couch for a bit until I realized we don’t have a fainting couch and decided to climb off the kitchen counter).
There has always been a wine merchants in the same spot in St Dunstans since the 1800s, but two years ago, independent retailers and liquor experts Jamie and Marion took over the site, and the Mouton Rouge was born.
Copyright The Demon Gin, Canterbury, Le Mouton Rouge, Canterbury wine, Canterbury whiskey, beer tasting, canterbury off licence, best wine merchant

It is a fine figure of an establishment with a grand selection of wine, beer, whiskey, gin, brandy, tequila, and many other liquid delicacies. Should you need a beautiful bottle of red, a Scotch with a story, or if you just want to stare at the humidor of Cubans*, there is no better place in town.

Copyright The Demon Gin, Canterbury, Le Mouton Rouge, Canterbury wine, Canterbury whiskey, beer tasting, canterbury off licence, best wine merchant
Copyright The Demon Gin, Canterbury, Le Mouton Rouge, Canterbury wine, Canterbury whiskey, beer tasting, canterbury off licence, best wine merchant

Jamie and Marion are also exceptional retailers – they are extremely laid-back and friendly with not a hint of wine snobbery about them, but they know more about alcohol than anyone I’ve met in my travels. They put a lot of effort into their stock, and know the story behind every distiller, brewery and producer. And honestly, isn’t it nice when buying booze for a dinner party or a friend to hand over a bottle that’s been lovingly picked and is bursting with flavour, instead of just flinging a bottle of Black Tower at their face while shouting ‘it’s wet, isn’t it?!!’ 

Copyright The Demon Gin, Canterbury, Le Mouton Rouge, Canterbury wine, Canterbury whiskey, beer tasting, canterbury off licence, best wine merchant

Copyright The Demon Gin, Canterbury, Le Mouton Rouge, Canterbury wine, Canterbury whiskey, beer tasting, canterbury off licence, best wine merchant

Copyright The Demon Gin, Canterbury, Le Mouton Rouge, Canterbury wine, Canterbury whiskey, beer tasting, canterbury off licence, best wine merchant

Copyright The Demon Gin, Canterbury, Le Mouton Rouge, Canterbury wine, Canterbury whiskey, beer tasting, canterbury off licence, best wine merchant

Copyright The Demon Gin, Canterbury, Le Mouton Rouge, Canterbury wine, Canterbury whiskey, beer tasting, canterbury off licence, best wine merchant
Copyright The Demon Gin, Canterbury, Le Mouton Rouge, Canterbury wine, Canterbury whiskey, beer tasting, canterbury off licence, best wine merchant
Mouton Rouge will also serve you well if you’re hunting for an extra special gift. For example, one day, while I was stocking up on precious Wansum Pilsner (for tis most good), Jamie called me over to the counter and dug out a rather grand looking box from the recesses of the shop. He opened it to reveal an excruciatingly elegant bottles of cognac. Barely labelled, prone on a bed of satin, all curves and honey hues, she was the fabled Hennessy Paradis, a very rare blend of more than 100 eaux-de-vie, some of which (as Marion later explained) were distilled before the phylloxera epidemic destroyed most of France’s vineyards in the late 1800s.

Sadly, I could only look and not sip. The cost of the botttle? £800 minimum. And it was gone within three hours. I’d show you a picture, but it’s so rare that it repels photography.

But don’t let such talk of super brandy frighten you from stopping by for your Friday night bottle of red – the shop’s selection is wide, well priced and quality is assured, and they have a regular offer of four bottles of ale for £10 on selected brands, including Kent favourites Wantsum, Canterbury Ales, Gadds and Old Dairy.

Copyright The Demon Gin, Canterbury, Le Mouton Rouge, Canterbury wine, Canterbury whiskey, beer tasting, canterbury off licence, best wine merchant
Copyright The Demon Gin, Canterbury, Le Mouton Rouge, Canterbury wine, Canterbury whiskey, beer tasting, canterbury off licence, best wine merchant

But back to the beer tasting!

We huddled in the warmth of the shop on a Saturday night, surrounded by small group of beer fanatics, drinkers, brewers and (as I later found out) Ingress fanatics*. We were to try upwards of 11 different ales from around Kent, most of which were seasonal, and including four from co-hosts and Deal microbewers, Time and Tide.
We were given a sheet of tasting notes for each beer, and Ben and I were careful to make our own notes too (until we got to chatty and tipsy to remember what we were doing).

Copyright The Demon Gin, Canterbury, Le Mouton Rouge, Canterbury wine, Canterbury whiskey, beer tasting, canterbury off licence, best wine merchant

Highlights were as follows:
We started out with Gadds Big Cracker 7.5% (a strong starter!) I’ve never been a big fan of Gadds as I’m more of light girly pale ale drinker, but Ben adores their bitters. This one, though, wasn’t half bad at all and not as hoppy ass their other brews. Ben promptly wrote on the sheet: “Big flavours, Sinead liked it #gaddsshocker.
Next came the Wantsum Figgy Pudding 4.5%, which was much more my cup of ale. Quaffable and as  delicious as any Wantsum offering, it was a chestnut-y number with appropriately festive dark fruit flavours.
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All for Silas, all for Silas…

Then there was the Canterbury Brewery’s Christmas Pudding…I feel I need to tell you a wee story about this. You may not like it but dammit I’m not shouldering the burden alone any longer.

The beau and I used to be big fans of The Foundry Brew Pub in Canterbury, the bar and craft brewery behind the Canterbury Brewers range of ales. It was a great space with nice people and a delicious range of beers brewed on site. Then, about a year ago, it dipped in quality. The beer prices went up yet the brews become grim. One night the beau left nearly an entire pint of beer untouched (at exactly the same time in a small village in South America, the Antichrist was born). We could no longer endure it and left the pub forever. (I stress this is entirely down to personal taste and that many people love The Foundry, so do go along for a visit to test it yourself).
So when the Christmas Pudding ale came round, we weren’t surprised that it paled in comparison to the other brews. It was thin, and watery, and nothing special.

Then we started chatting to the Time and Tide’s head brewer about his brewing techniques, and suddenly uncovered a shocking secret: he was once master brewer at The Foundry…and he left around a year ago.

THE PIECES OF THE PUZZLE HAVE FINALLY FALLEN INTO PLACE!!!!!

Clearly the man brought his brewing secrets with him to his new home, for the Time and Tide beers were splendid on all counts. The Calista IPA 6.1% was bursting with aroma and tropical fruit flavours (in a good way), and the two trappist-inspired beers were very impressive – the mighty Tripel 9% was a very Belgian number resplendent with apricot tones (Ben simple wrote on the notes ‘MASSIVE’), while the darker Dubbel 7.1% had more chocolate and liquorice flavours. 
But it was the Smugglers Stout 5.2% that was a revelation for me. I like stout but I usually avoid it as it’s often too heavy to quaff without feeling like you’ve had an entire meal in a pint glass. Yet this number was light without being watery, rich with dark roasted malts and the right balance of burnt toffee flavour. I bought four bottles there and then.
We continued down the tasting list, and quaffed a great deal of The Host’s Ale 4.7%, the seasonal offering by The Canterbury Ales. This is an excellent Kent brewery, possibly my second favourite and their long crafted festive ale was full of spiced fruit, ginger and star anise.
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As the evening skipped along, Jamie topped up our glasses and all the guests talked long into the night about beer, bars and other frivolous things. The beau listened intently as the various brewers described how they jacked in miserable corporate jobs and started their own microbrewery and found true happiness. By the end of the night, Ben had a pretty solid business plan for how his band Green Diesel could run their own pub and brewery, and all live together for ever and ever. At this stage, my tasting notes had turned into scrawled instructions for making sock puppets.
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Jamie (in the scarf) doing his thing

Eventually we decided to let Jamie & Marion sleep, and we peeled off around 10.30pm to meet some friends in the pub. For the rest of the night, the beau and I kept turning to each other to say ‘what a really great evening’.

And it was. It was.
Plus we got chicken later. I like chicken.

*Cuban cigars. Not…not people.