It’s not so very long ago that anyone asking for a beer in a restaurant would have received a cool response. Wine was the accompaniment to fine food. Michelin starred chef, Galton Blackiston, has finally put the nail in the coffin of that myth.
He has gone further than offering beer in his renowned Morston Hall and No 1 Cromer restaurants. Working with local farmers, maltsters and brewers, Galton has now created two beers of his own: No1 Norfolk Lager and No1 Norfolk Ale. Their flavours showcase what is probably the world’s best malt – produced in North Norfolk.
“I loved the idea of crafting my own ale and lager to match with our food,” Galton explains. “In a region so rich in local produce, food takes centre stage and chefs take a lot of plaudits. The county’s beer and brewers also deserve attention. So do those along the supply chain. That’s why I’ve spent time with the barley growers and the maltsters at Crisp Maltings, as well as with the brewers.”
Enlisting Norfolk Brewhouse (of Moongazer Ale fame)
The celebrated chef enlisted the support of micro-brewery Norfolk Brewhouse, which is known nationally for its award-winning craft lagers. Conveniently, it is located just a few miles from Morston Hall.
David and Rachel Holliday, who co-founded the brewery, were only too pleased to help, especially when they realised that Norfolk malt was a prerequisite of any recipe. David says:
“Norfolk-grown, Norfolk-malted Maris Otter barley is sought after across the world by craft brewers longing to replicate British-style beers. So, with fields of Maris Otter barley on our doorstep and Crisp’s traditional floor maltings so close by, it was clear what ingredients we’d be using in Galton’s brews.
“He really is passionate about the local malt – to the extent that he’s used it not only in his signature beers, but also as a key ingredient in an ice-cream he has created!”
Teaming Up with Crisp Maltings
Galton chose to blend two of Crisp’s iconic malts for his brews: floor-malted Maris Otter for the depth of flavour it delivers – and Clear Choice, loved by craft brewers for the crisp, clean character it gives to beers. The Harrison farming family grow both barley varieties in Morston and Stifkey, right on Galton’s doorstep. Crisp Maltings, based in nearby Gt Ryburgh, then steeps, germinates, kilns and crushes the grain ready for brewing.
Crisp’s Rob Moody says, “We were delighted to be part of the project, offering support and advice on the malts – and their impact on flavour, colour, body and mouthfeel of the beers. We’re also very grateful to Galton for recognising the importance of malt, and raising its profile. It’s something everyone has heard about, but few people could tell you what it is!”
According to both Rob and David, Galton’s attention to detail in developing recipes for the beers was legendary. “I guess that should have come as no surprise given his Michelin stars!” says David. He adds that the recipe development was supported by Norfolk Brewhouse head brewer Bruce Ash – one of just a handful of beer sommeliers in the region.
They ended up choosing a single hop, the French Strisselsplat for No.1 Lager and a combination of seven hops including the American Mosaic and Azzacca and British Cascade for No.1 Ale.
Beer and Food Matching
“The pairing of seafoods served at No1 Cromer with beers seemed to involve an unusually large number of beer tastings,” David jokes. “The result is beer profiles which match them perfectly – but also work brilliantly with other foods.”
Both beers have also been made so that they are gluten free.
Celebration of the Region’s Best
Galton says his beers have been crafted to celebrate Norfolk’s excellent growers and maltsters – as well as the stupendous ingredients they supply to the beer and food industry.
Not content with leaving great ingredients solely in the province of drinks, Galton experimented in his kitchens with Maris Otter and Clear Choice malt – and came up with No1 Norfolk Malted Ice Cream. “The rich malt flavours and soft sweetness from the natural sugars work stupendously,” says Galton.
Where to Try the Beer
No1 Norfolk Ale, No1 Norfolk Lager and No1 Ice Cream were launched at No1 Cromer and Morston Hall on Sunday – and will now feature alongside the most exquisite food produced by the Michelin star chef.
“It’s worth visiting Morston Hall and No1 Cromer for Galton’s new beer alone,” says Rob Moody of Crips Maltings. “But you would never drink it alone given the absolutely stunning food to match it!”
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