by Melissa Cole Beer writer, sommALEier & Certified Cicerone®
Mad as a March HareWith Spanish-style rabbit recipe
I’ve always loved the phrase ‘mad as a March hare’. It is so quintessentially British, as is the fact that we call male hares ‘jack’ and female hares ‘jill’.
Getting back to the phrase, however, it is referring to the giddy behaviour of the rabbit’s longer-eared cousin, and was based on the observance of the animal’s mating habits, where they are frequently seen having a boxing match.
However, contrary to popular belief, it is not the behaviour of two ‘jacks’ engaged in some sort of macho Marquis of Queensbury rules affair to win the favour of a fair ‘jill’, it is actually ‘jill’ telling ‘jack’ to sling his hook (another wonderfully British phrase) and stop bothering her, she’s not interested.
And much as I’d like to have some fun with feminism at this point, I am actually looking out my window, at a white blanket of snow, and looking forward to spring, so let’s talk about mad beers to get stuck into as the weather brightens shall we?
When it comes to slightly bonkers, then you can’t look much further than Amsterdam brewery, Two Chefs. Started, as you may guess, by two cooks who wanted out of the kitchen, there is often a culinary spin on the brewery’s beers and definitely some brigade attitude, not to mention the most bonkers brewery ambassador out there, in the shape of Ralphie.
Anyway, my pick for this column would be the Funky Falcon, a Belgian-style pale ale with a hint of lemongrass. Dry, zesty, spicy and seriously refreshing, when that sun cracks through, it’s going to be a perfect, rocky headed pour.
Next I’m going to move to a beer that can make people mad, in the angry sense of the word, Brooklyn Sorachi Saison. Now, I’m relatively ambivalent about Sorachi Ace as a hop and I’m beginning to wonder whether it, like fresh coriander (or cilantro as it’s called in the US), is a genetic predisposition.
Where most people get dill, lemongrass, coconut, tea and coriander/cilantro, I have a tendency to get lemon furniture polish... but it doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate a well-made beer when I find one and this is one.
All of the positive notes above are overlaid on a bone-dry, peppery saison base with just the right level of gentle bitterness to balance the lot.
And, finally, as we started with British weirdness, we should end the same way, with one of the most unpronounceable names in the game, Siren Pompelmocello, which is what I would drink with this month’s recipe.
A lactose grapefruit IPA, it’s one of the few IPAs that, I think, has done the addition of grapefruit well and not made it taste like cheap hotel breakfast juice. Zingy, zippy and citrus it is balanced and rounded in the mouth feel by that hint of lactose, without tasting like a boiled sweet.
Spanish-style rabbit with honey beer - serves two
This was one of the earliest recipes I can remember making for my other half, it seemed so daunting at the time because I knew from childhood how very tough over-cooked rabbit is (not you mum, yours was great!).
The first tip I would give you is to try and buy wild rabbit, the farmed stuff has very little flavour and there’s not enough information about high-welfare sources for me to be comfortable recommending it.
The second is, get the butcher to gut and portion the rabbit for you, for two reasons, firstly it’s a skill and secondly the guts of a rabbit are pretty... fragrant shall we say, so if you can get someone else to do it for you then all the better!
I like to serve this on a bed of wilted spinach and sautéed potatoes but you could always go even more authentic and make patatas bravas.