Bitter batter: beer expert Ross Turner heads to the coast for some traditional fish and chips
PUBLISHED: 12:47 22 July 2014 | UPDATED: 12:47 22 July 2014
Summer is here - so it seemed only right to head to Felixstowe on the coast and the White Horse pub on Church Road.
Owners Sarah Goodwin and James Couch are extremely busy people with other business interests, so they employ a dedicated, hard working team of individuals to run the pub.
Sarah grew up a stone’s throw from the White Horse and always had fond memories of the place, so when the opportunity to own it arose early last year she and James jumped at it. They’ve updated the pub to give it a newly decorated restaurant and a lovely garden where an an old stable block has been converted for private functions.
I was introduced to Sarah and James around 18 months ago when I helped with a beer festival. And it was on a beer festival weekend that I chose to try the White Horse’s classic British dish, fish and chips with mushy peas, cooked and prepared by head chef Shaun Thurlow. Shaun arrived at the pub with James and Sarah, but learned his profession at the Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds and the Marlborough Hotel, which used to be on Henley Road in Ipswich.
Several styles of beer work well with fish and chips and I like to mix it up according to my mood. Certain Czech pilsners, with their perfect carbonation, and Belgium witbiers are refreshing on a hot sunny day. Their fresh, fruity flavours work well and both styles are perfect in cleansing the palate. I would also sup a craft pale ale, which has a more punchy citrus note and pine aroma from a combination of the many American hops. But there’s another beer from one of the breweries in the south of Suffolk that offers what’s required and is slightly different from the others.
Mauldons Brewery, based in Sudbury, has been brewing beer since 1795 and there have been many changes in that time. Steve and Alison Simms, owners since March 2000 focus entirely on creating and producing great cask and bottled ales. The brewery now has just has one pub in the heart of Sudbury called the Brewery Tap, where you can try all their beers.
Mauldons brews seven regular beers in cask and five in bottle, a great range which can be found in many pubs and shops across Suffolk and beyond.
They’re famous for brewing Black Adder Stout, which regularly scoops awards so I’m keen to tell you about Silver Adder, a 4.2% abv (alcohol by volume) light bitter made with English hops and East Anglian malted barley.
It’s characterised by a clean golden appearance with a thinning white head, grassy and floral aromas from the hops and caramel from the malt.
For elegance I usually serve my beer in a goblet or other stemmed glass, but on this occasion, as we’re eating good old fish and chips, it had to be a pint tulip.
To the food. After breaking through the beer batter with the side of the fork you find beautiful thick, white, flaky cod. The batter was delightfully crunchy and, just like all great fish and chip recipes, the batter is Shaun’s secret, although I know he used beer, some sparkling water and turmeric. Suffice to say it was delicious.
At first the beer gives you a sweetness from the malt, but the bitterness comes in right on cue, cutting through the batter and contrasting with the fish – a little orange zest and a crisp dry finish that cleanses the palate.
The chips – hand cut and cooked twice – were the perfect sized portion. The ale’s caramel aroma from the malt came through slightly in the first sip and gave it sweetness, contrasting with the little bit of salt I added to the chips. The mushy peas were possibly the best I have ever eaten and the crisp refreshing beer was a perfect match, cleansing the palate and refreshing you for more.
A wonderful day in the sun and one that brought back many great memories of fish and chips on the Suffolk Coast. Cheers!