This week we were lucky enough to experience a Summersdale first; indeed, possibly a world first! Our clever author Jane Peyton not only launched two books, Beer O’Clock and School of Booze, but brewed a beer just for the occasion! Jane brewed the eponymous ‘Beer O’Clock’ beer with the help of Sara Barton, of Brewster’s Brewery, using fresh green hops, and served up in the marvellous Fuller’s Mad Bishop & Bear pub at Paddington Station.

Book launch welcome sign

Of course, books are our passion at Summersdale, but we can’t deny that a little flame flickers for certain tipples, and at the idea of a beer and book launch we were out of quiet, cobbled Chichester and into the bustling metrop. before you could say ‘Beer, anyone?’ We don’t think it’s too shameful to admit we were first at the bar for a golden glass of Beer O’Clock.

Books and beer

We had a game go at trying to taste the flavours from the tasting notes – marmalade, citrus and floral with a biscuit backbone – with some Summersdaliens proving to have a more sophisticated palate than others. Meanwhile the pub had started to buzz with people and Jane (sporting the snazziest vintage gold waistcoat we’ve ever seen) was kept very busy mingling and signing copies of School of Booze and Beer O’Clock, that were available on site.

Jane Peyton with her beer and her books

Luckily we were surrounded by top tipplers, all equally enthusiastic about the wonders of booze and beer, so our outpourings of all the fascinating facts we’d recently learned from our books fell on receptive ears, and we even learnt a few new things ourselves – did you know that the first beer brewed in Britain was made using heather, and was actually a mild hallucinogen, or that gin and tonic was originally used as an anti-malaria medicine (so what’s your gran’s excuse)?

Although we know that for some, the dreaded ‘C’ word is absolutely banned until December, for others Christmas was very much on their minds and we heard of quite a few lucky uncles (infamously difficult to buy for) and mums that would be receiving signed copies of Beer O’Clock and School of Booze this year.

Both of these handsomely designed books are packed to bursting with wonderful nuggets of information about your favourite tipples – for the beer lover, the choice is obvious, but for those of you who are partial to a little bit of something on the rocks, a glass of fine wine or perhaps something a little more exotic (absinthe, anybody?) School of Booze makes a perfect drinking companion. For a limited time, there are signed copies of the book available through Jane’s website – the perfect opportunity to kick-start your (look away now, December purists) Christmas shopping. Were you at the launch? If so, what did you think of Beer O’Clock?

Happy boozing!

This past weekend we set aside a crisp, wintry day to complete our home-made Christmas gifts inspired by Eat, Drink and Be Merry.

The ingredients for our pot pourri (pine cones, cranberries, dried pomegranates and oranges, cinnamon sticks and assorted woodland prettiness) were almost ready to be packaged up. First we had to soak the woody bits in the essential oils we had bought – brandied apple, mulled wine and Christmas spice. The whole room was filled with smells of Yuletide festivity!

We arranged the ingredients on snowball-dotted cellophane, and added in some scented, glittery candles for good measure. We tied them with a bow, and that was it! They make perfect, personalised gifts, with the added bonus that you get to enjoy all the lovely smells for yourself while you make them and in the run-up to December 25th.

The rums also taste fantastic now, so we strained the fruit and spices and transferred the liqueur into their gift bottles. I think they’ll go down a treat, and would look lovely tied with a raffia bow.

We were then inspired by the book to make the best use possible of our leftover cranberries (the ones we hadn’t painted with nail varnish!) and make cranberry sauce. This was surprisingly easy and very tasty! We simply boiled the juice of a freshly squeezed clementine with 100 g of sugar and waited for it to turn into syrup, before adding the remaining cranberries. They soon began to burst, turning the mixture into a lovely, sweet, thick sauce, which we enjoyed over a delightful roast dinner! The sauce lasts for a good few days, so we have volunteered to make another batch next week for our families to enjoy on Christmas day.

Merry Christmas everyone!