Chef Galton Blackiston (centre) at Crisp Maltings, with Crisp’s Rob Moody (left) and David Holliday, of Norfolk Brewhouse
Michelin-starred chef Galton Blackiston is taking issue with those who would insist that wine is the accompaniment of choice for fine food.
But he has gone further than simply 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: No 1 Norfolk Lager and No 1 Norfolk Ale. Their flavours showcase malt produced in North Norfolk.
Galton said: “I loved the idea of crafting my own ale and lager to match with our food. 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.”
The celebrated chef enlisted the support of microbrewery 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 said: “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!”
Galton chose to blend two of Crisp Maltings’ 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 Great Ryburgh, then steeps, germinates, kilns and crushes the grain ready for brewing.
Crisp’s Rob Moody said: “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. David said: “I guess that should have come as no surprise, given his Michelin stars!” 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 American Mosaic and Azzacca, and British Cascade for No 1 Ale.
“The pairing of seafoods served at No 1 Cromer with beers seemed to involve an unusually large number of beer tastings,” David joked. “The result is beer profiles which match them perfectl, but also work brilliantly with other foods.” Both beers are gluten free.
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 No 1 Norfolk Malted Ice Cream. “The rich malt flavours and soft sweetness from the natural sugars work stupendously,” he said.
No 1 Norfolk Ale, No 1 Norfolk Lager and No 1 Ice Cream were launched at No 1 Cromer and Morston Hall on Sunday and will now feature alongside the chef’s food.
“It’s worth visiting Morston Hall and No 1 Cromer for Galton’s new beer alone,” said Rob Moody. “But you would never drink it alone, given the absolutely stunning food to match it!”