We can probably all agree that we’ve had a great summer of sun this year. So just before the weather turns to autumn get your picnic baskets at the ready and heed this one from Mrs Beeton, the grande dame of traditional cooking. In 1861 she wrote Beeton’s Book of Household Management and it sold over 60,000 copies. It has remained in print ever since. Her recipes include everything from bread soup and minced mutton to curried fowl and empress pudding. But it’s perhaps her recommendations for what to include in a picnic hamper that are most interesting. Take a deep breath: a joint of cold roast beef, a joint of cold boiled beef, 2 ribs of lamb, 2 shoulders of lamb, 4 roast fowls, 2 roast ducks, 1 ham, 1 tongue, 2 veal and ham pies, 2 pigeon pies, 6 medium lobsters, 1 piece of collard calf’s head, 18 lettuces, 6 baskets of salad, 6 cucumbers. And that’s just the savoury food, the sweet list is twice as long and is enough to make the hardiest of dentists shudder.
You’ll be glad to hear that Mrs Beeton has given as much thought to the drinks that should accompany a picnic as she has the food. At the top of her beverage list is 3 dozen quart bottles of ale. So, while we’re not suggesting you replicate the food offering of her Victorian feast, we agree that a Little Valley beer is perfect for a picnic. Here we pick 3 picnic essentials:
Tod’s Blonde should always be included in your hamper. It’s crisp and clean with a malty backbone and has the dexterity to complement all those picnic classics like pork pies, salad, scotch eggs, sausages (cocktail or otherwise) cheese and ham sandwiches and that picnic staple charcuterie.
Our wheat beer is equally adept at bringing out the best in your picnic favourites. This refreshing, citrusy and spritzy ale is like summer in a glass and its light character make it an ideal accompaniment to lighter food. Citrus notes mean it complements chicken, prawns, salmon and most seafood brilliantly. It’s also a great partner to egg based dishes so the obligatory picnic quiche will find a firm friend in Hebden’s Wheat. Humus is also well partnered by our Hebden’s, where the beers soft sweetness will balance acidity and saltiness.
Withens Pale is also a worthy addition to a summertime picnic. It’s a superb accompaniment to lots of different cheese, and what’s a picnic without cheese! Then there’s its citrus notes that complements chicken and fish really well. Withens is also with great darker meats, possessing a firm backbone that will stand up to the more robust flavours in the food, but with a prickly effervescence that will cut through texture and flavour.
So the next time some picnic alfresco eating is on your agenda make sure you pop some Little Valley in your hamper – complete picnic pleasure.