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Perfect Pairings for your Christmas Dinner

Sit a-while and listen to our tales of drinks pairing perfection, and learn how you too could eat and drink your way to merriment this Christmas.

Festive meals can be a bit stressful to plan. Cooking for a large group of folk when you’re not used to doing it seems like a big task, and after you add in all the special side dishes and deserts, cheese boards and post-dinner boardgame snacks, it’s beginning to look a lot like a nightmare. The last thing you want is to have to think about what drinks to pair with what on top of all that.

Or, maybe you’re a grateful guest, looking for the ideal selection of booze to bring with you. 

“Just bring something to drink!” you were told. But what??

Relax. It’s not that deep. Let us do the choosing for you, so that all you have to do is memorise a few deets from below and pour with confidence. An instant home sommelier and general all-round Christmas winner.

The Door-Opener, Festive-Greeter and Merriment-Beginner

Nothing feels better than opening the door with a glass of something fizzy and fancy for your newly-arriving guests. It’s about the only time we feel anything close to how we imagine it feels to be Nigella Lawson.

If you’re looking for something a little different (and a little more budget-friendly) then I heartily recommend choosing Little Pomona — First Waltz.

Yes, it’s a cider, but we promise you’ve never tried a cider like this one before. It’s a wild-fermented pét-nat (naturally fizzy, basically) cider, made with Ellis Bitter, Dabinett, cryo-conditioned Egremont Russet apples and perry pears and aged in bourbon barrels, giving it a beautiful aromatic lightness and peachy complexity. It is a joy. Serve in champagne flutes cool, but not too cold.

Starters: Here We Go

If you’re not having smoked salmon or prawn cocktail or a delicious veggie option made with asparagus — what on earth are you having? It is the law to be eating one of the above as your starter for Christmas dinner, and to put your paper cracker hat on before you eat it. 

With seafood or a light vegetable starter, we’d normally recommend a dry white wine to lift and brighten like a squeeze of lemon juice, and to cut through any lingering creaminess in your chosen sauces (be they hollandaise, marie rose or mayo — no judgements). 

We all agree that Mikaël Bouges — French Clara is Corto’s white wine of the year. A fresh, natural, minerally Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, it’s got a super-delightful aroma of bright berries; raspberries, maybe? Cranberries? Could be.

The Main Event

Whether you’re having turkey or goose, nut roast or wild mushroom wellington, beef, pork or salt-baked cod, we’re gonna be honest — it’s impossible to really pair a drink perfectly with a meal that has so many different elements.

What we suggest is choosing a star flavour from your meal and picking a drink to suit it.

Pair the best bits of Christmas dinner (roast potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce) with Judith Beck – Ink, an Austrian red with surprising subtle acidity and spicy tannins. It’s light body means it goes down easy, and won’t lay heavily on white meat, poultry and veg.

Are you having pudding? We’ll have pudding if you’re having pudding.

Everybody say “Ooh!” because the Christmas pud is being carried to the table, alight, regal, majestic.

We’d choose De Dolle Brouwerij — Stille Nacht for its festive spice and moreish sweetness to pair here. Belgian beer is often a perfect match for food, and Stille Nacht, while on the sweet side, has enough prickly, estery spice to sharpen it up.

Cheese, biscuits, Quality Street, Scrabble

Honestly you need some barleywine in that glass you’ve got there. Pass it over.

Rivington — Barley Wine 2021 is a beautiful accompaniment to an evening of snacks, cheese, sofa naps and board games. Forget Port (sorry Port.)

This is the very same barley wine as we’ve been enjoying pouring on tap the past week or so, presented in a beaut 750ml wax-dipped bottle, and we wholeheartledly love it.

Buy the Pack

Grab everything on this list in a super-convenient pack!

1 x Little Pomona — First Waltz
1 x Mikaël Bouges — French Clara
1 x Judith Beck — Ink
1 x De Dolle Brouwerij — Stille Nacht
1 x Rivington — Barley Wine 2021

All for £66 — a £16 saving on our regular take-out prices. WOW.

Something Special

If you’re looking for something really special to celebrate with around the table, we are taking pre-orders for Marie Courtin — Efflorescence, a truly special biodynamic champagne.

Naturally grown, made with as little intervention as possible, no sulphites added. A gorgeous representation of what natural champagne can really be.  It is £60 per bottle, and we think it’s worth every penny. Let us know if you want some and we’ll get it ordered for you.

Serve with oysters, smoked salmon blinis or in the bath.

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POURING AT CORTO ALL HALLOWEEN WEEKEND: Rivington x Chainhouse Evil Dead Trilogy Tap Takeover

This weekend, we’ll be pouring Rivington and Chainhouse’s collab Evil Dead Trilogy beers as part of their national tap takeover. And we can’t wait!

From 4pm on Friday 29th October 2021, Rivington Brew Co. and Chainhouse Brew Co. will be well and truly taking over our taps with their full Evil Dead Trilogy range. The Evil Dead Trilogy beers are:

THE EVIL DEAD: Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Sour – 5%

EVIL DEAD II: DIPA – 10%

ARMY OF DARKNESS: Imperial Stout – 10%

Each beer will be available all weekend, INCLUDING at our Halloween Pizza Party with Marley’s authentic Neapolitan pizza. Oh yes. Wood fired pizza and brand new beers. You can’t get better than that.

Corto x Marley’s Halloween Pizza Party

That’s right – we’re having a pizza party and you’re invited.

Just what is it about pizza that makes us feel all halloweeny? Maybe its all the fresh slices oozing mozzarella on our screens during the teen horror movies of the 90s we grew up with. Maybe we just love an excuse to throw a rager with an old-school house party vibe. Whatever it is, we can’t wait.

Rock up on Saturday 30th October 2021 from 3pm for a pizza the action!

Rivington Evil Dead Trilogy Take-Out Cans

Over the weekend you will also be able to take home your own cans of The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness in a special edition pack complete with its own limited ed. glass.

Glassware! You know you want it.

Grab all three beers and the glass for £20. What an absolute bargain.

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Fly In Your Dreams – Pouring at Corto this Sunday 17 October

The brand new beer from Duration Brewing in Norfolk is Fly In Your Dreams, a hedgerow Saison brewed with mugwort and blackberries. It was brewed in collaboration with Dark Times Apothecary, and it’s got a lot of really cool meanings behind the ingredients and the artwork.

Continue reading Fly In Your Dreams – Pouring at Corto this Sunday 17 October
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Soft, Low and No – Non-Alcoholic Drinks to get Excited About

Not everybody wants to drink alcohol. Not everybody can. Sometimes you just want a delicious beverage without the booze. Nobody should judge!

We’ve put together a list of soft, low alcohol and no alcohol drinks for Corto that quench thirsts and tickle tastebuds so efficiently you’ll never even notice the negligible ABV.

Continue reading Soft, Low and No – Non-Alcoholic Drinks to get Excited About
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Corto May Bank Holiday Opening Times — come and visit!

This bank holiday we’re open on Friday and Saturday for take-out beer, wine and cider. So come and visit us for some delicious bevs and a bit of a chat!

May Bank Holiday Opening Times

Friday 30 April – 11am — 7pm

Saturday 1 May – 11am — 2pm

Sunday 2 May – CLOSED

Bank Holiday Monday – CLOSED

We are closing early on Saturday 1 May and closed on Sunday 2 May and Bank Holiday Monday because we’re going camping. No excuses here! The building work is going great, we’re on schedule (more on that next week!) and we’re excited to get decorating. We’ve decided that before we open the bar we need a proper break. We haven’t stopped for months, especially Katie, who alongside Corto works as a writer and an editor.

Camping is gonna be boss. We’ll send you some pics.

New In Stock

While we’re here, have a look at some of the freshies we’ve got in stock!

Belching Beaver x Deftones – Phantom Bride

Deftones-branded beer. A gimmick? Yeah, but so what. It’s DEFTONES-BRANDED BEER.

A lip-smacking west coast IPA clear, crisp and precise like Abe’s drumming and bitter-as-you-like. Swiftly drinkable and totally delicious.

Yeastie Boys and North End Brewery

We’re big fans of Yeastie Boys. Does that surprise you?

They may have a core range in supermarkets but their beers are always on point. Also, their ethos is banging — they are good people, making good beer, working hard to do good things.

We were invited to a tasting they ran alongside fellow New Zealand brewery North End a couple of months back and we just loved their story and the brilliant mixed ferm beers they’d created.

So, of course, we nabbed a few for our shelves.

Yeastie Boys x North End — West Moon

An old ale made with the old British brewing technique of boiling the grist for a long period of time to leech all that flavourful malty strength from it and bring it to a deep colour. When we say this beer was boiled for a long time, we mean looooong. They stayed up all night, watching the wort turn from straw-pale to deep copper as it caramelised in the kettle. 

Then, the wort was inoculated with a strain of wild yeast cultured with love and care (honestly, head brewer Kieran Haslatt-Moore couldn’t have been more excited about this when he was chatting about making the beer) from a 1977 bottle of Bass Jubilee Ale.

West Moon was put to bed in 500L oak puncheons to referment with the wild yeast for 6 months.

What’s happened in that time is magical. A beautifully tangy, deeply earthy and leathery beer reaches your tastebuds and chucks fun little flavours in every direction. Fruit! Toffee! Toast! 

But it gets better with age. That’s the idea. Kieran told us that West Moon was brewed to be laid down in cellar and aged, and to be brought out and enjoyed on a special occasion — just as old ales were in the past. Old ales were a present on a birthday, a gift to mark the birth of a baby or given to celebrate a promotion, and then enjoyed years later on the baby’s 18th birthday, or years later whenever drinking delicious beer with loved ones was the order of the day.

On the label is a painting of a photo of Kieran as a baby with his dad, a special image for him and an homage to his deep belief that beer should be enjoyed with the people you love.

We’ve got a bottle for ourselves stashed away for a special occasion way in the future. One we’ve not even decided on yet. But also, drinking together with people you love is a special occasion in itself — which is why we’ve already had one. Drink the beer. You only live once.

North End Brewing — Saison de Terroir

Another beauty from North End, we were absolutely thrilled to be able to grab a case of this deliciously delicate farmhouse sour beer.

They say: “We have helped add a big dose of ‘terroir’ into this beer by taking our Saison and re-fermenting it in barrels with a blend of wild yeasts from Waikanae. The result is tangy, lightly tart and extremely fruity.”

On top of these we’ve got a load of super special bottles stashed away for our opening weekend (which we’ll announce the dates of in NEXT WEEK’S NEWSLETTER. Subscribe now if you don’t already so you don’t miss out.) 

Did somebody say… Rose de Gambrinus?

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Get to Know Strata Brewing Co. — Ace Craft Beer From Whitworth, Lancs

Strata - Thalweg

If you’re familiar with Strata Brewing Co. already, you’ll know that Andy Morrison started brewing his delicious beers in Bolton as part of Rammy Craft Brewery. Since then, he’s gone solo, starting up cuckoo brewery Strata Brewing Co. and moved into Mighty Medicine’s 10bl brewery in Whitworth, Lancashire.

It’s been a while since we caught up with Andy, so we decided to hop on Zoom and ask him how his day was going. 

Strata Brewing Co - Thalweg at Corto, Clitheroe

Hi Andy! It’s been a long time since either of us came to visit you on a brew day. What’s been going on in Strata world since your move from Bolton?

“Since Bolton I got speaking to a friend with a bar in Rochdale called The Medicine Tap. He’s got a 10bl brewery just outside of Rochdale in a town called Whitworth, and he asked me if I’d like to lease it as a cuckoo brewery.”

“It’s quite a traditional cask-style brewery, with these big tall tanks. They’re massive actually. A lot of people think you need shiny, conical tanks to make trendy beer, but I’ve been having a lot of fun brewing beer that’s become fashionable in the ways they were originally made — using Boddies yeast in an open-top fermenter, finding workarounds to make what I want with the equipment that I have.”

“I’m given free reign in the brewery which is really cool, and so I’m enjoying finding ways to use it differently. Tweaks, not bodges. A friend called it “stoner engineering”— those quick fixes and overrides to overcome challenges in the brew. The brewer who was here before me used to do the same thing, and he was old-school. To keep the seal for one of the fermenters in place he’d used a split hosepipe as a sort-of guard. Worked a treat.”

It’s great to see you picking up momentum again. How have you been since lockdown 1?

“Last January was big; I got through to the Indy Man Beer Con Thirsty Games final, I had some wicked collabs organised, some beer festivals books that I was really excited about, and then obviously it all just fell away.”

“Everything being cancelled last year was a bit gutting because I’d felt so good about 2020 at the start of the year. But, it’s happened, and I just hope it all picks up again once everyone’s vaccinated and stuff.”

“So since lockdown I’ve been concentrating on canning and small-pack: things like bag-in-box have been quite popular with my regulars. But honestly, I’ve only done about 6 brews since the first lockdown. I’ve not been eligible for any government grants or financial help of ay sort, so it’s been quite tough just brewing when I needed to and keeping the business going on a shoestring.”

“It’s a little frustrating at the moment just brewing bits and pieces, you can’t really release a full representation of what you’re about. I just want to get back brewing!”

What are you most looking forward to brewing and releasing into the world?

“I’m looking forward to brewing the latest iteration of my Vietnamese Coffee Porter. It always goes down really well. Vietnamese coffee is just one of these things that I really like, and I don’t know why more people don’t brew with it! The chocolatey taste you get from the coffee beans is delicious.”

“I’m also hoping I can bring my hoppy pale Strike out in keg, I think it’ll work really, really well. It’s only 3.6% ABV but the Vienna malt in the base gives it much more body than you’d expect. I use Mosaic and Centennial for it which I love — it’s untrendy but I like it!”

What have you been enjoying brewing recently?

“It was Strata’s first birthday in August, so I got hold of some brand new Strata hops (we were named Strata first!) and made a single hop Strata pale. I really enjoyed that one, and I want to make it again.”

“Also, for the Independent Salford Beer Festival I brewed Tutoku, a 4.5% NZ Pale, which was hopped with a field blend of different New Zealand hops from an organic hop farm over there. I really enjoyed how this beer turned out and I love the idea of field blended hops. I wish more hop growers and companies did it. I used a blend of London ESB — a Fuller’s yeast — and Windsor yeasts to create these like, stone fruit esters and I was just really, really happy with it.”

“Thalweg is my Cascade pale, and in it I use Cascade and Idaho 7, which is actually related to Cascade, it’s like a modern version of it. I enjoy finding ways to brew modern, progressive beer but keeping to the aspects of old-school or more trad beers that made them so good. Thalweg is old-meets-new, a gateway beer, an easy drinker, and I think it’s translated really well to can.” 

And as luck would have it, we’ve got Thalweg in can on the Corto webshop right now! Go get it!

We love Andy’s beers and we can’t wait to open Corto so we can pour them by the pint! Wishing Strata Brewing Co. all the best of luck for 2021, and we hope they get all the attention they deserve 🙂

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Vault City x Corto Virtual Tap Takeover

On Friday 19th February 2021 (aka. next week) we’re having our very first virtual event!

Andy Gibson from Vault City will be hosting a virtual tap takeover and tasting sesh with us, and he’s told us he’ll be happy to answer any and all questions about the brewery, the beer and how they brew it!

We’ve put together a tasting selection of four ace Vault City sour beers to drink-along on the night, some of which haven’t even been launched yet.

For £27.50 you get:

  • 1x Raspberry & Violet 7.1%
  • 1x Strawberry, Peach & Custard 10.4%
  • 1x Plum Bakewell 7%
  • 1x OJ IPA 7.2%
  • A pass to the Zoom event
The Corto and Vault City virtual tap takeover bag contains: strawberry peach custard, raspberry violet, plum bakewell and OJ IPA

We can’t wait – in fact we’re super excited about this. The fact that we’re hosting such a nerdy beer event locally seems really, really cool to us.

We thought we’d start off our first tasting session with a bang. It had to be sour beer, and we’ve loved trying all of Vault City’s beers from right at the beginning when they were brewing out of a kitchen! Now they’ve got a shiny new brewery we’ve been super jazzed to see what they come up with next.

Anyway. Join us! We can’t wait!

UNFORTUNATELY WE CANNOT SHIP OUR BOOZE NATIONALLY. Our Vault City virtual tap takeover bag will only be available via our normal local delivery routes.

If you live a little outside of our “6 miles of Clitheroe” delivery radius, get in touch. We’ll do what we can to reach you.

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Cosy Boxes! Take Corto Home and have a Cosy Night In

Like every hospitality business in the country, we’ve been pulling the most interesting faces trying to figure out how best to get our delicious drinks to you this week.

We’ve made a few changes to how the shop looks, and we’ve also made a few additional changes to make it a bit easier for you to pick some ideal things to drink for your Big Cosy Weekends In.

We might be back in lockdown, but we can’t let that beat us. We’ve had a bit of a yell and a bit of a strop, and now we’re ready to get back to spreading positivity. LET’S DO THIS!

Continue reading Cosy Boxes! Take Corto Home and have a Cosy Night In