FOOD: A burger and a Dirty Blond
PUBLISHED: 12:08 12 August 2014 | UPDATED: 12:08 12 August 2014
Beer sommelier Ross Turner is at The Dennington Queen's Head chowing down on a gourmet burger and a Hellhound ale
As it’s still summer, I wanted to continue the alfresco eating theme, with simple, easy-to-cook food and great beer to go with it. This month I travelled along tourist route A1120, which takes you from Stowupland (A14) to Yoxford (A12) passing through the picturesque villages of Earl Soham, Baddingham and Peasenhall.
I stopped along the way at Dennington and visited the much talked about and highly rated Queen’s Head. Here, owner and occasional chef Jon Reeves has run this gem of a pub and restaurant for the past eight years.
Originally from Kent, Jon brought his knowledge and experience of running a gastro pub to Suffolk. He’s a friendly, charming landlord who champions all things Suffolk, including local breweries and food. The pub is a beautiful, well kept, timber frame Suffolk long house, with a large pond to the rear and gardens that offer pleasant views and peace and quiet. Inside, the property has a wealth of charm, as you would expect.
I first came here for a meal about three years ago and remembered the home baked breads on offer, which I’m pleased to say Jon still offers. Throughout the summer he’s providing a more relaxed service, so he was keen to showcase a less formal menu. We decided that the delicious gourmet burger served in a homemade bun would be the one to pair with Hellhound brewery’s Dirty Blond.
Hellhound in Hadleigh was established in 2009. It was his wife’s Suffolk roots that led owner and head brewer Jack Carroll to the county. Jack was a sports journalist for the Telegraph and had always been a fan of real ale, dreaming of one day turning a successful home brew into a commercial business.
All his experimenting with home brew has put him at a distinct advantage – he’s keen to tackle recipes others would rather not. For instance the wheat beer is good, singing all the right notes of something you might find in Europe. My personal favourite, Twisted Sister is a low abv (alcohol by volume) with notes of Belgian beers I’ve tried, made special because Jack uses Champagne yeast to brew this surprise in a bottle. But it’s the Dirty Blond that works best with the burger.
Jon is happy to share the burger recipe so you can try it at home, although I enjoyed it more at the relaxed and comfy Queen’s Head.
The name Dirty Blond is about using Suffolk malted barley to put a local twist on a Belgian blond beer recipe. Not sure where the dirty part comes from, but many beers have quirky names now and the Hellhound range is no exception.
The beer has a pale golden colour and the aroma combinations are bready notes along with pear drops and orange, somewhat different to most pale ales which can be full-on citrus, spice and pine.
The 3.9% abv (alcohol by volume) is rather kind because this beer packs bags of flavour and you could mistake it for being mid-4s. I tried the burger cooked medium to well done with all the juiciness one expects and the right proportion of herbs and seasoning.
The herbs of the beer world are hops, typically added at the beginning of the boil for bitterness and at the end of the boil for aroma. The hops in the Dirty Blond nicely complemented the oregano in the burger. The carbonation cut through the meatiness, combining with the bitterness from the hops, which in turn refreshed and cleansed the palate.
It was really enjoyable to marry these two as most of us love entertaining with summer barbecues in the garden. So push the boundaries, folks, and try this. You will not be disappointed.
Hellhound Beers are available throughout August at the Dennington Queen’s Head, so why not experience the warm, friendly welcome?