Red Mist Leisure works with brewer to create ‘real ale salad’

Hogs Back Real Ale Salad

Pub operator Red Mist Leisure has worked with Hogs Back Brewery to create a “Real Ale Salad”, inspired by beer.

It combines hop leaves and shoots from the Surrey brewery’s garden with watercress, Montgomery cheddar, pickled walnuts and pear quince, in a dressing based on Hogs Back’s flagship TEA ale.

The salad was successful trialled at Red Mist Leisure’s Stag on the River in Eashing near Guildford in Surrey. Its manager Laurie Bullett said: “Hops are such an unusual ingredient that every customer I spoke to wanted to try them, especially when I explained that they came from Hogs Back Brewery, which is so well known around here.”

The hops were picked from the Hogs Back Brewery garden, which was planted in 2014 on land next to the brewery.

The shoots were from early-growing Cascade hops, though shoots are now coming through on Fuggles and Farnham White Bine, a near-extinct hop variety which Hogs Back has brought back to its Surrey home. A traditional English delicacy in many hop-growing areas, the shoots were sometimes known as ‘poor man’s asparagus.’

Laurie added: “We were surprised at how popular the salad was with men, as it’s not usually a dish they order. A combination of the warmer weather, and the association with TEA, which so many of them enjoy drinking, was probably behind their choice.”

Rupert Thompson, owner of Hogs Back Brewery, said: “We’re grateful to Red Mist Leisure for creating and then trialling this delicious dish and delighted with diners’ response to it, which was clearly influenced by the local provenance of the shoots, something we know is important to many consumers.

“Very few brewers have their own hop garden and one of the benefits is that we can experiment with the shoots as well as add the harvested flowers to our beers.

“As this is all a new venture for us, we’re unsure how many shoots we’ll have but we hope to extend the trial with Red Mist Leisure for as long as we can supply them.”

Hogs Back Brewery was founded in 1992 in Tongham, Surrey, in the heart of the traditional Surrey hop-growing area, and bought by Rupert in 2012. Its flagship brand TEA, or Traditional English Ale, is the leading independent ale in Surrey and increasing in popularity throughout London and the south-east.

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