PG next to White Shield lorryTime is almost up for Worthington’s famous White Shield bottled beer as it’s becoming increasing hard to find beer sellers who still have some in stock. There was a time when almost every pub in the land stocked White Shield bottle-conditioned India Pale Ale made at the Worthington Brewery (now owned by Coors) in Burton upon Trent.

During the 1990s, all brewing of White Shield was transferred off-site to King and Barnes brewery in Horsham, it then became extremely difficult to get hold of. Rumours of its demise were scotched when Worthington’s relaunched White Shield in 2002, bringing its brewing back to Burton.

Loved by home brewers, White Shield is one of the few bottled beers to contain natural yeast sediment. Drink the treacle-toffee flavoured beer to within ½ an inch of the bottom and you’re left with a cloudy liquid containing a small amount of live yeast cells.

bottled beer group

If you want to use these to ferment your own homebrewed beer (they add a slight White Shield flavour) you must first increase the number of yeast cells in what’s known as a ‘starter’. Pour the remaining White Shield into some watered down malt extract and place in your airing cupboard for a couple of days.

Now you’ve supplied the yeast with some warmth and fresh food they’ll multiply into a frothy mass capable of turning your freshly boiled malt extract and hops into beer.

Dave Line’s recipe for Worthington White Shield (Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy 1998 – still available on the used books section of from £1.81) makes a beer exactly like its namesake but it does assume you’re an experienced homebrewer.

brewing bucketRather than starting from first principles and extracting your malt extract from whole grain, why not use ready extracted malt that comes in a 1.3kg tin, as I did. This cuts about 2 hours from the beer making process and produces a dark-red treacle tasting beer capable of winning competitions (entering the Tunbridge Wells Winemakers' Circle beer competition with this in 1998 won me first and second (!) place).

If you want to save some yeast for your own homebrew, Worthington White Shield is the one to use if you can get hold of it. But there are some other yeasts found at the bottom of other bottled conditioned beers that can be used as a substitute: Shepherd Neame 1698 500ml £1.70 Tesco; Fuller’s 1845 Bottled Conditioned Ale 500ml £2 Sainsbury’s; Driftwood Spars Bottle Conditioned Real Ale 500ml £2.85 direct from the Cornish brewer’s website.

This article also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on

Mont Tauch labelThe last mention of a £3 bottle of wine was in 2008 when I reviewed the French red Mont Tauch Corbieres available at Somerfield for a bargain £3.19 a bottle. Sadly both the wine and the supermarket chain have disappeared (Somerfield got bought out by the Co-op not long after) but the tasty cheap bottle of wine is still here – and it’s getting easier to find.

Villa Maria roseRosés drunk straight from the fridge provide a refreshing drink, but you may not be tasting them at their best. Two rosés that taste best at room temperature came to light while investigating the inside of several wine bottles for this column.

chocolate cakeLet’s drink to flavanoids, and eat to them too. Flavonoids are found in many food and drinks but there are particularly high levels in grapes; apples; green and black tea, soybeans and cocoa. Classed as antioxidants, flavonoids have many health benefits including reducing blood cholesterol levels and easing menopausal symptoms. They can also enhance the memory’s ability to remember and think clearly.

cinnamon sticksIf you want to have a go at making a flavanoid-rich chocolate, walnut and cinnamon sponge cake, then try this Gary Rhodes recipe I’ve adapted. After lining a 10-inch cake tin and setting your oven to 180 degrees, get out the food processor and put in:

• 6oz butter (no margarine please!)
• 8oz soft brown sugar
• 3 eggs
• 6oz plain flour
• 1 tsp baking powder (I tend to fling in the equivalent 1:2 ratio of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar instead)
• 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 4oz cocoa (Oxfam Finest Cocoa from Africa gives it a rich-chocolate taste)
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• 1oz walnuts
• ½ pint of Mackeson’s sweet stout (it must be sweet stout, not a traditional bitter stout like Guinness).

Blend until smooth and scrape it all out into your baking tin. Cook for an hour. When cool fill with apple jam and serve with a dollop of cream.
If, by any chance, you don’t eat this fast enough and it starts to go stale, don’t despair. Warm a thick slice up in the microwave and pour on some Bird's custard – guaranteed to moisten up any slightly past-it cake.

If you want something to wash it down with, try drinking up the rest of the can of stout or pour yourself a glass of Chianti.

Villa Maria Riesling winePG Wine Reviews

Organic Italian Pinot Grigio 2018
£5.99 Aldi
A refreshing and balanced wine that should be staple in any fridge this summer. The thing is though that it comes in a dumpy-shaped bottle that doesn’t fit on the fridge door shelf but it can fit in if laid flat on a main shelf.

Carnivor Californian Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
£10 Ocado
The colour of elderberry juice, this thick purple red tastes of caramel covered raspberries with a liquorice topping.

Asia de Cuba Cosmopolitan German Riesling 2017
£12.99 Virgin Wines
Despite the Cuban references this wine is actually made with German grapes but does taste best with Asian-style spicy foods. The floral, peach and apple flavours can cope with spice and chili.

De Martino Chilean Cinsault 2018
£14.99 Virgin Wines
A light-bodied red that resembles an oomphy Pinot Noir but is another grape variety altogether – Cinsault. More often used in blends this red makes cherry and Marmite tasting wines.

This article also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on