BEER LAUNCHED TO CELEBRATE 40TH

In 1966 the Cotswolds was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a special landscape to be protected for future generations.

A new brew, Cotswold Lion beer has been produced to mark the 40th Anniversary of the AONB, by Hook Norton Brewery in Oxfordshire in partnership with the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

Managing director James Clarke said: "We were pleased to be asked as we are one of only two family -owned breweries left in the Cotswolds."

The food writer for the Oxford Times, Helen Peacocke has kindly created a lamb dish using Cotswold Lion Beer.

Lamb, apricot and Cotswold Lion beer casserole

(Serves 4)

Because Cotswold Lion beer has such a light refreshing fruity flavour I decided to try using it in the kitchen to flavour a casserole. Naturally I chose lamb as the main ingredient, adding a handful or organic apricots for extra flavour. The resulting dish was surprisingly good, particularly as I served it with the first of the runner beans and new potatoes and we drank Cotswold Lion beer with our meal rather than wine.

You will need:

Four lamb chump chops

4 oz (100g) dried apricots

One medium onion - chopped small

One clove garlic - chopped fine

Several sprigs parsley thyme & marjoram, chopped

One tsp vegetable stock bouillon powder

Half bottle Cotswold Lion beer

One tspn flour and flour to dust

Olive oil to fry meat

Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season

Method:

* Turn the oven to 150C/300F or gas mark 2.

* Toss the chops in a little seasoned flour and fry in olive oil until both sides are beginning to brown.

* Remove the chops from the pan and place in casserole dish while you fry the onion and garlic in the same oil.

* When onion and garlic are soft and beginning to brown stir in a dessert spoon of flour and cook until that begins to brown just a little.

* Stir half a bottle of Cotswold Lion beer into the mix and about a wine glass full of water - the beer remaining in the bottle can be enjoyed by the cook while the casserole is cooking!

* Add the chopped herbs, apricots the vegetable bouillon and seasoning and pour over the chops.

* Place a lid on the casserole and cook for about an hour, taste, adjust seasoning and serve.

Note: If made the day before it is needed and stored in the refrigerator, the herbs and beer will influse even more flavour.

Helen Peacocke - food writer Oxford Times

Click here to order the beer direct from Hook Norton Brewery