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On a rainy Monday afternoon we were welcomed with a lot of kindness and passion by Phil, Michael and Lucy at the Two Cocks Brewery in Newbury.

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Lucy is in charge and Michael and Phil started farming about 5 years ago following a relocation to the countryside, swapping busy city life in London for the peace and quiet of Newbury. Their farm production, eggs, meat, pies and other delicious products, are mostly exclusive to premium suppliers and restaurants in Wiltshire and Berkshire.

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Farming alone proved not to be enough for the ambitious duo and they started the brewery, with the first brew of their Two Cocks Ale in 2011. The inspiration fro the brewery came from staring at the beautiful wild hops found on the property.  As a natural cycle they are using the pure water from a borehole sunk deep into the Berkshire chalk, which we had the opportunity to try and compare to the Thames water, and what a difference that is. Production is sustainable as all the leftover grains are used to feed the cattle on the farm.

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After we arrived we had a very nice tasting of the various grains with different toasted intensity as well as the different kind of hops and water they use. We were shown the vat room and some of the more technical processes including the fermentations and filtration.

To conclude, we had an amazing tasting of the all range where everyone had their favourite but all were keen to say that all the ales were top quality and could satisfy our thirst at any time. To pair it a very nice touch was to be able to try some home-made pork rillette soufflé produced from the Berkshire black pigs of the farm, very yummy.

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And as the sky was getting clearer we had the opportunity to follow Michael and Phil through their farm and through the fields going to play around their very unusual breed of sheep, cows and parks.

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A very enjoyable and relaxed afternoon, with authentic passionate people which we are proud to promote at L’Ortolan with at the moment their flagship, the Two Cocks, ‘Viscount’ Golden Ale. Do have a look at the Two Cocks website for more information

If you are wondering why all the names of the 8 Ales are related to military grades, you will have know that the farm is located on the site of a civil war roundhead encampment of the first battle of Newbury that took place on 20th October 1643, and is also a couple miles away from the Highclere Castle famous as seen on the Downtown Abbey Series.

Guillaume Kaczmar
Head Sommelier


Come and sample a selection of Two Cocks beers paired with a special menu at L’Ortolan

Two Cocks Dinner with Beer Pairings

Thursday 5th February

Six course dinner paired with beers from Two Cocks Brewery.

£65 per person (£60 for wine club subscribers)

Must be pre-booked, 50% deposit on booking.

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Even after dedicating the last 15 years to exploring flavors and food and drink combinations L’Ortolan Sommelier Stephen Nisbett was surprised at the accidental pairing he made whilst hosting a dinner party:

“Last week, I had some friends round for dinner.  I stocked up on ingredients for chocolate brownie cake, planned to make my own chips, and finally purchased some steak and some bottles of McEwans Champion beer to help wash it down.

However, half way through my dinner party, it became clear to me that the combination of steak and beer wasn’t really working.  The strong dark Scottish beer was being drunk painfully slowly – particularly as I had expected everyone to have a couple of bottles!

The McEwans Champion was quite fruity and earthy but really dry and clean on finish, but something about the flavors just didn’t fit with my steak and chips.

As I dished up the gooey chocolate dessert I resigned myself to having made a disappointing pairing for the meal.  Expecting the beer to clash with the brownie, I begrudgingly took a mouthful to quench my thirst – and was amazed by the resulting taste.

Whilst I had intended the McEwans Champion to go with the steak, as I continued to taste the beer I realized that the fruity, spicy and earthy notes of the beer went perfectly with the shared characters in the good chocolate I’d used to make my pudding.

I’m always delighted to discover unexpected pairings – and in this instance, my dinner guests were too!”

Stephen and his team are always on hand at L’Ortolan to make pairing suggestions for your meal.  Or why not try our Take Wine Home service – ask the restaurant for more details.

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