“This week dragged past me so slowly, the days fell on their knees.
Maybe I’ll take something to help me, hope someone takes after me.
I guess there’s always some change in the weather,
This time I know we could get it together
If I did casually mention tonight, that would be crazy tonight”
(“Stay” – David Bowie)
(Video courtesy of VampireBowie on YouTube)
Adrian. Belew. Can. Play. Guitar. Wow! Apparently filmed in Bremen in 1978, this is simply a young Adrian Belew showing off his guitar chops. And how! A simply awesome performance of one of the best songs on – for me – Bowie’s most bold and awesome album. See? I rarely use the A word and simply HAD to use it twice there!
“It’s not the side-effects of the cocaine….”
“I’m thinking that it must be mash….” OK. Those aren’t really the lyrics. I did alter them slightly.
It was early in April, when I accompanied the joint owner of Allgates Brewery, David Mayhall over the hill into Yorkshire to collect beer for their impending Road To Wigan Beer festival. One of the breweries we visited was Five Towns in Outwood, Wakefield. Malcolm & Beverley Bastow were fine hosts and Malcolm & David had a fine chat in the well-appointed cellar bar that they’ve built in their house (needless to say, EVERY drinker should have one!). Malcolm and David eventually started mooting a collaboration.
Naturally, I stuck my nose in and offered my services as a shovel monkey!
Two of my, no, my two favourite breweries, collaborating. I had to watch / take part, didn’t I? Sod it, I wheedled my way in anyhow!
Neither brewery is a stranger to collaborations with Allgates collaborating with the excellent Northern Monk outfit (now in Leeds) and, if I recall rightly (and I do!), Allgates made a rather nice Oatmeal Stout (read here) with the blooging – or even, ‘blogging’! – trinity of Tandleman, Tyson The Beerhound and YT. Having been re-brewed, that turned out rather well! Five Towns have collborated with some of my favourite Yorkshire Breweries like Revolutions and North Riding to produce superb beers like Scary Monsters/Super Creeps & the rather superb (and still the best bottled beer I’ve had this year) 300! So, there’s some great collab form in with these two.
So two weeks ago today, I found myself on a bloody early train to Wigan, where said collab was to take place. Malcolm, unfortunately was delayed on that fiendish M62 from Wakefield, so I did the decent thing. I drank a load of Jonathan’s (Allgates’ Head Brewer) lovely…tea. He makes a damn fine brew of that as well!
In the meantime, Jonathan set to with the malt bill, which was rather large, the vast majority being Maris Otter Pale with a little Crystal for colouring and torrified wheat for head retention. Whilst J was filling the hopper with Malted Barley, I busied myself drinking tea and asking stupid questions! This was a big sticky mash in as both Jonathan & Malcolm wanted a fairly meaty IPA of between 5.5% & 6% abv….I was already licking my lips, before hopping was even discussed!
After a short while, Malcolm arrived and the sensible discussions started. Hops. Decision arrived at was Palisade & Warrior for bittering with Cascade & Nelson Sauvin in equal amounts for flavour/aroma in the late addition. Oh but I tried to get some Amarillo in there, I fought like a Trojan and suffered the same ultimate fate, defeat!……Damn that tasty California for requiring all the stock the next day!
(A little light sparging!)
The wort being transferred to the kettle/copper, it was time to draw some off for colour and take a hydrometer reading to give an idea of the finishing ABV figure. Jonathan did his wizardry with a calculator and the figure of (approximately) 5.6% abv was arrived at, to satisfaction from both sides.
(Post Transfer to FV- gives an idea of the colour)
I had a sneaky taste of the wort following transfer and whilst it had the sweetness you would expect, pre-fermentation, the bitterness from the Palisade and Warrior had already started to be felt. A promising start!
In between stages, the busy David popped in and out between meetings and suchlike (busy man!) and discussions were had about distribution of the beer. Malcolm was to take 8 x 9 gallon firkins of the finished beer. Of those, 2 may be bottled. Of those, I may try to get 1 or 2……. The thing with the beers that Malcolm makes is…..they’re so bloody consistently excellent, that they rarely leave Yorkshire. He has regular clients who take his beers, so he knew – without even making a call – who would take his six. testament to the excellence of his beers and the following they have over ‘the hill’.
The remaining 12 or so firkins will remain with Allgates who will have no trouble looking for customers, I think I managed to sell one for them on the day, but was gently informed by the lovely Julie & Cheryl that commission was only payable in smiles and tea! My career change is on hold then…..
The Nelson Sauvin and Cascade having been added late in the boil and the wort having been transferred to the FV for yeast addition, it was time for ME to shine! Digging out the mash tun time!
(Jonathan & Malcolm giving the “Shovel Monkey” a break!)
(Well. I had to take the occasional break to take photos, didn’t I?)
Now Malcolm had spotted some Sorachi Ace in the Allgates hop store and offered a swap for some Mosaic. The result being….1. Sorachi Ace heading to Wakefield in Malcolm’s van. 2. Some Mosaic heading to Allgates. 3. One intrigued and excited drinker, wondering what Malcolm was going to do with that most tricky (but beautiful) of hops!
Did I mention that the Mosaic was going to be used to dry hop this beer? Sad to say, I just drooled as I typed that bit!
Then we started to discuss names. As discerning Northern drinkers may be aware, Allgates like to name their beers after local pits – let’s face it, there are HUNDREDS to choose from in the Wigan area. As discerning Yorkshire drinkers may be aware, the Bastows have some form for naming beers after songs by one of their favourite artists. Mr Bowie himself. Being a bit of a lover of all things Bowie myself, I was chuffed to bits when both Malcolm & David agreed to call it Station To Station IPA. My favourite Bowie album and quite possibly, my favourite album of all time.
So, there it is. A rather pretty pump clip if I may say so! Of course, it’s merely a pretty thing, if the beer doesn’t back it up. But if initial tastings are right (and Jonathan & David have excellent palates!), it’s going to be an absolute cracker!!! For me, it couldn’t be anything else, what with my two favourite brewers being on board.
Looking forward to getting my hands on 1 or 2 (cases?) of this when it’s bottled, but I intend to have one or two pints on cask (well, OK, maybe more….) when it’s released into the wild. Which should be VERY soon.
Keep an eye out, it should be more than worth it!
Huge thanks to David, Jonathan and Malcolm for humouring a brewing incompetent like me and allowing me to shovel and carry! Oh…wait….
And, a little thank you to Julie & Cheryl for their humour and patience. Firstly, I hope you finished the biscuits? Secondly, for Cheryl….Fugglina…There, I did it! (She knows what it means!!!)
So, for me, another brief one!
On that note…’til next time….
Slainte chuig na fir agus go maire na mna go deo!* (Cheers to Jo for that!)
NB: Did I mention that Malcolm was going to be brewing the mighty 300 DIPA again? I think I may have volunteered to be a shovel monkey again, but in Wakefield this time!