BREWDOG’S NEW VENTURE – DOGTAP ELLON

Ordinarily when I sit down to write a restaurant review, the first part of the process is a wee intro to the brand; a little ‘get to know you’ time, but today’s post comes from a brand that really need no introduction. Aberdeen born craft beer giant Brewdog is now one of the biggest success stories to come out of the North East since…well, I dunno, Butteries? The self sealing envelope..? Short of the queen of pop and funky hair-doos Annie Lennox, Brewdog basically takes the crown when it comes to most famous exports from around these parts.

Not only now a national treasure with over FIFTY venues in the UK alone, Brewdog is now also storming the globe with four breweries worldwide and a trail of bars from Barcelona to Tokyo. Pretty impressive stuff right?

Now known and visited just as much for their tasty food offerings as their incredible selection of tempting and rebellious craft beers, I’ve come to expect the need to be rolled home in a wheelbarrow after a foodie trip to Brewdog. On the menus you’ll find classic pub grub type offerings to pair perfectly with a nice cold beer, the likes of burgers and pizza’s, but always piled high and with a kick-ass Brewdog twist. With an extensive veggie and vegan offering, I’m never stuck for choice which is awesome. Classic ‘beer’ paired food tends to be pretty meat heavy so it’s always a boost to have so much variety in meat-free options; and for anyone that’s tasted their beyond legendary buffalo seitan wings before, you’ll agree with me when I say who the hell needs meat anyway!

Pint of Lost Lager at Brewdog Dogtap Ellen

Just a short half hour bus strip from the city centre, I was excited for a change of scenery, because let’s face it, going anywhere outwith a five mile radius of your own home is like a trip to the bloody Spanish Med at this point.

Approaching the building, the sheer aesthetic of the place blows you away before even setting foot in the building. Seriously impressive hand painted murals by artist Craig Fisher cover the walls from top to bottom in an array of neon colours, with depictions of fantastical sea creatures, it’s quite the sight to behold.

Given the current restrictions, we arrived early to be able to enjoy a few beers outside ahead of our meal, because let’s face it, it would have been a bloody travesty not to enjoy a pint or two when it’s as fresh as it gets from the on site brewery. With plenty of outdoor seating all complete with outdoor heaters, we were still able to enjoy a few beers despite the chilliness of the day. There are firepit tables for those extra chilly nights and even an ‘igloo’ type dome with seating and blankets for those who really can’t brave the elements.

Last week when I was invited to a preview day at the new and massively improved Dogtap venue in Ellon, I jumped at the chance to go check it out. Never having actually visited either the original or Overworks brewery location, I was full of anticipation to see how the newly revamped site with fresh eyes.

The beer…

In need of something crisp and refreshing after our journey, I started started with a pint of crowd-pleaser and favourite of mine, Lost Lager (4.7%). Citrusy and bright, this is one of my favourite thirst quenchers from Brewdog. Not wanting to venture in to anything too heavy with a full lunch still to take on, I finished with a Hazy Jane (5%) before heading indoors. This punchy IPA delivers zesty, fruity notes and a delicious tart aftertaste.

Interior view of Brewdog Dogtap bar in Ellon

Now with rumbling bellies and let’s be honest, feeling a little bit boozy (don’t drink beer for breakfast kids), we headed indoors to finally sample some scran. You can’t help but be struck by the stunning design of the bar and restaurant. With all of the classic industrial features found in Brewdog bars, blended with the cosiness of built in fire pits and warm lighting, and even a giant shark suspended from the ceiling, you instantly recognise the typical Brewdog quirk, but this venue really has a ‘next generation’ feel about it.

the food…

Featuring a few of the classics that we all know and love, you’ll also find a bunch of new and exclusive offerings at Dogtap, such as a full sourdough pizza menu and a selection of oak fired chicken that would tempt even the most stringent vegetarian, there’s something for all the family here – even a ‘Hoppy Meal’ option for the little ones.

With a burger craving hitting hard, I opted for the Temple of Seitan burger.

“temple of seitan fillet, crispy kale, sun-blushed tomato chutney & hummus served on a vegan beetroot brioche bun”. (Ve. £9.50)

Pimping my burger with extra cheese and completing it with a side of crisp salty fries and an order of blue cheese dip (the burger may be vegan but I am definitely not!), this was just what the doctor ordered. Forever baffled (but grateful) for how realistic the crispy coated ‘chicken’ fillet is, it’s always a go-to for me. With sweetness from the vibrant beetroot brioche and tangy chutney, and delicious crunch from the kale which magically kept it’s crispness to the last bite, this tasty burger delivered everything that I hoped it would. IT’s a 10/10 from me!

Predictably, Grant went for the Beyond Meat Burger, and why wouldn’t he, because those things are frickin’ delicious.

“beyond meat patty, vegan chipotle slaw, vegan gouda cheese, roasted red peppers, baby gem & pickles served on a vegan beetroot brioche bun” (Ve. £9.50)

Obviously stealing a bite to check it out for myself, this burger also hit a 10 on the tasty scale. How in the blue f**k Beyond Meat create these burgers to be so, well, meaty is beyond me – they’re just that damn good. With crunchy home made slaw and a slice of melty, oozy vegan gouda, and some nice acidic pickles, this provided classically served cheeseburger goodness that you just need sometimes.

Also sampled by our group were the Spicy Meaty sourdough pizza (‘nduja, pepperoni, chilli flakes, fresh red chillies, smashed napoli tomatoes, Scottish mozzarella – £11.50) and the Whole Oak Fired Chicken, (details not yet available online) for which you’re going to have to take our meat-eating pals word for on this, but the reviews were that it was pretty flippin’ tasty. Judging by the look and smell of that pizza though, you can bet your ass I’ll be ordering one from the veggie selection on my next visit, just look at that crisp crust and bubbling mozzarella…

It’s not often that you can make a day trip/family day out of a trip to the pub, but given that Dogtap is so much more than just your average a pub, that’s exactly what you can do here. The awesome building which is entirely carbon negative, features a separate beer school room, a games area with cool old school arcade games on the upper floor and a viewing platform into the packaging side of the brewery so that you can see the freshest cans of Punk IPA flying along the conveyor belt right before your eyes.

There’s even a sizeable beer museum for you hardcore craft beer nuts to get a wee bit of the Brewdog story firsthand.

Whether you’re in it for the beer, the food, or the element of being a tourist in your own city for the day, I wholeheartedly recommend a trip to Dogtap to check it out for yourself. I can’t wait for my next visit already. Dogtap in now open to the public, and you’ll find all of the awesome regular food deals such as 2-4-1 veggie/vegan Mondays too!

Have you been to visit Dogtap yet? Leave me a comment to let me know what you thought!

Until next time,

B x

*We were invited to this preview day with no obligation to post, so as always all views are my own.

RHUBARB, PEAR & GINGER JAM

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb. It seems like the stuff is everywhere you look right now – one of the wonderful things about this time of year. Is it just me or is it one of the most underrated veg (yup – not a fruit!) out there when it comes to comfort food. Think crumbles, pies, cakes, anything that you want to smother with custard (or ice cream if you’re a weird custard hater like me) on a rainy afternoon. Even those delicious rhubarb and custard sweets that I had a mild obsession with as a child, it’s one of those nostalgic flavours, and let’s face it, it’s just bloody tasty stuff.

Homemade rhubarb pear and ginger jam in a jar. Bowl off granola topped with yogurt and cereal.

Recently I drank a bottle of the most delicious Rhubarb and Ginger gin liqueur – YES I DRANK THE WHOLE BOTTLE DON’T JUDGE ME. In fact if you must know, I drank it for breakfast the weekend on my birthday, turning thirty-three is hard ok?!

Anyway… it got me to thinking about this huge rhubarb patch in our garden which I’m ashamed to say has gone neglected for the last few years since we’ve lived here – shocking I know! I suppose it’s one of those things where I’ve always had good intentions of harvesting a batch and whipping up all manner of delicious desserts, but never quite got round to it and next thing you know it’s always become overrun with snails and eventually withered away. Whoops!

Well not this year. Since I’ve spent about ninety-six hours watching cooking shows in the last month alone and and this colourful and easily foraged treat seems to pop up in every other dessert at the moment, I decided not to let it go to waste this time around, I decided to cook some bloody rhubarb!

Hand holding a bunch of fresh rhubarb picked from a garden

Just a bunch of GIGANTIC rhubarb freshly picked from the garden – all snails gently removed…

Make sure you fully remove the leafs as they are actually toxic, and will definitely not make for a yummy pie.

Rhubarb is at it’s peak in April and May, so if you still have any in the garden, get it while it’s still good!

Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves here – I am no Mary Berry, so my first attempt at rhubarb cookery had to be something simple, and you can’t go wrong with a good old fashioned jam…right? Read on for my ‘recipe’ – a term I use very loosely as let’s face it, I don’t actually have a clue what I’m talking about and I can’t be arsed to use proper measurements, so if you do feel like giving this a bash, I’d recommend tightly crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.

The Recipe…

Preparation time – 15 mins

Cooking time – 45 mins (ish!)

Ingredients

  • Three large rhubarb stalks ( I told you I don’t measure shit so don’t be asking for grams!)
  • Two small pears
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup water

Method

  • After removing the leaves, wash the stalks thoroughly and chop in to 2cm(ish) chunks. Now at this point if you were following a proper recipe, you’d coat in the sugar and leave for a couple of hours, but since we’re following the patented Becca Walker ‘can’t be arsed’ method, I didn’t bother pissing around with that, so it’s your call if you do or not. If not go ahead and chuck in to a pan!
  • Chop the pears in to large chunks (they’ll take break down much quicker than the rhubarb).
  • Add the sugar, lemon juice and ginger. I used the lazy stuff out of a jar – do you see a theme developing here? Heat until the sugar dissolves and is boiling gently. I should probably mention that you should be using about twice the amount of sugar, and that it should in fact be proper jam sugar which contains pectin (a thickening agent), however in an attempt to make this recipe ‘low sugar’, my logic determined that if I used half the sugar, added water and just cooked it for about three times as long it would turn out just fine. Probably.
  • Add the water and boil gently, stirring often for 30-40 minutes – or until thick and sticky!
  • Ladle in to a jar, allow to cool fully any enjoy!

Moroccan style bowl filled with granola topped with yogurt and homemade rhubarb jam

So there you have it, an idiots version of a half arsed rhubarb, pear and ginger jam, but if there’s one thing I do know it’s that this stuff tastes bloody fantastic! It’s great on pretty much anything, but my particular fave is to top any kind of granola (I used apple and cinnamon) with some natural yogurt and a nice big dollop of jam as a delicious and healthy breakfast.

Maybe I’ll learn to follow proper recipes one day, but until then I’ll just keep winging it, and I sincerely hope that they might work for some of you guys too!

Until next time,

B x

YOUR CHRISTMAS PARTY OUTFIT MADE EASY – WITH MUST HAVE DRESSES

When it comes to Christmas, there are a few things that can raise the stress levels a little; trailing the crammed shops to find the perfect gifts, the epic task of erecting and decorating the tree just so, and one that I personally find has me pulling my hair out each year – finding the perfect dress for your Christmas night out.

With fast fashion and internet shopping at an all time high, it’s no wonder we see more and more of our local shops and boutiques closing every day, and it’s even less surprising when you show up to the party and three other people have on the same sparkly number that you bagged online for £20 and felt super smug about it. Awkward.

We hear the phrase fast fashion being thrown about more and more these days, but what exactly does that mean? Generally we’re talking about poorly constructed runway knock offs that warrant one or two wears before being stashed in the back of the wardrobe, never to be seen again until the next charity shop clear out.

‘What’s wrong with that you might ask? These garments are cheap? Right?’ They keep you up to date with the latest trends and it’s no big deal when you decide you don’t like them anymore because you only paid £20 for that balloon sleeved sweater, right?’ Then it’s off to the charity shop you go!

It really couldn’t be more wrong. Now I’m not saying that the British highstreet doesn’t have a wonderful and well earned place in today’s fashion market, Topshop, Zara, H&M and beyond all provide incredible gateways for young designers and form the building blocks in their journey towards a more couture based career path, and lord knows even I call upon Primark in times of need, but when did that clothes that for a moment we loved SO much, become so… disposable? 

Why is it that In a world that’s evolving to be more environmentally conscious every day; carrying our hydro flasks to avoid plastic waste, refusing to leave the house without a canvas shopping bag stashed in the bottom of our handbags, that we find it completely acceptable to treat time consumingly stitched, beautiful pieces of clothing as single use items?

If you ask me, we need to start treating our clothes with a little more respect. Hands up if you have a dress hiding in the back of your wardrobe that you’ve worn once to some glam event then never worn again? I know I’ve got a few of those! Well you’re not alone.

Let me give you a few facts…

  • 80 billion pieces of new clothing are consumed each year. How many of those do you think are worn only a handful of times? Global clothing production has doubled over the last 15 years, with garments being worn much less and being discarded much faster. 
  • There are over 40 million garment workers in the world, and the sad reality is that many of them to not share the rights or protections that people in the West do, meaning that they are often not only grossly underpaid, but subjected to poor working conditions. When we buy from stores that mass produce these cheap tems, we are affecting individual people, 85% of whom are women, usually trying to support their families.
  • Clothing made from polyester can take over 200 years to break down, so when we throw last seasons out of trend items away, they don’t just disappear. 
  • And then there’s the environmental factors. The fashion industry’s consumption of resources – like water and oil – is expected to double by 2030. The carbon emissions produced by textile factories are phenomenally high. Pretty scary, right?

So what do we mean when we talk about sustainable fashion? It’s about more than just using recycled materials, or picking up something from your local charity shop now and then. It’s about social change, and adjusting our attitudes when it comes to how we shop. It’s about fighting for workers rights to ensure that they are treated and paid fairly, and it’s about reducing the impact on the planet as much as possible when producing clothing.

There are so many ways that you can shop sustainably these days too, and it doesn’t mean making massive changes, you can start small – like having a quick Google for sustainable fashion brands. You can find local clothes swaps happening in your area where you can swap your unwanted items for someone else’s unloved treasure. We can shop on ebay and Depop where you can find some absolute gems in mint condition, and instead of spending hundreds of pounds on that stunning evening dress that you’re going to wear once then bury in the clothing graveyard.  You can HIRE an amazing dress from somewhere like Must Have Dresses, and dazzle in a gorgeous new outfit, every time you have to glam up, for a fraction of the price. 

Must Have Dresses are a dress hire company who have been flourishing online for some time, and have now opened a premises at 131 Rosemount place. Owner Vish and her team at this fabulous store can take all of the stress out of finding that perfect glitzy outfit without spending a fortune, and more importantly without the waste when that new dress inevitably finds its place at the back of the wardrobe immediately after its debut. 

Must Have Dresses also stock gorgeous jewellery by Varna Breeze

You can visit the store, either by dropping by or by making an appointment, and the lovely ladies at the store will act as a personal shopper, helping you try on and find the perfect showstopper to make sure you are the belle of the ball – and the best bit is, all you need to do is drop it off after the event and they’ll even dry clean it for you too – result! 

Must Have dresses stock unique and independent companies and designers such as Forever Unique, Amanda Wakely, Nadine Merabi and To The Nines, who created the absolute knockout of a dress that I’m pictured wearing below. Literally the fanciest thing I’ve ever worn and I felt like a bloody princess (apart the manky hair and peely wally face…you can’t have it all, right?!).

With a stunning selection of handpicked dresses, there’s something for absolutely any occasion, from floor length sequins for rubbing shoulders with the beau monde at an awards do, to simple and chic two-pieces to attend an elegant wedding. I really can’t think of a single reason not to visit them this festive season.

Check them out at www.musthavedresses.com or on Instagram here.

Until next time,

B x