The Inexorable Rising Of A Yeast Driven Brewery – Tickety Brew MTB 25/06/2015 – The Prairie Schooner in Urmston

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(Ruthlessly appropriated from Website!)

My relationship with the beers of Tickety Brew didn’t exactly get off to a flying start. The first beer that I tried was Dubbel. I am no connoisseur of Belgian beer, (some would argue of any beer at all!) so the Belgian yeast thing….didn’t gel with me. A bold move, in the age of ever-increasing IBUs and hop rates, but – initially, I just didn’t get it.

I tried the Pale, more my kind of thing. And the yeast thing, didn’t seem to bother me so…..

I loved the idea of a couple making a bold move into brewing. And doing something different. Then there was the branding. Simply astonishingly distinctive.

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You will never mistake a Tickety Brew beer for anything else on a shelf! They nailed it from the off.

There were two moments that sealed their place in my heart.

The first was the ludicrous attack by Halewood International, who – conglomerate that they are – sought to bully a small independent Micro. All over a catchphrase. “Tickety Boo”. For some reason, they thought that people might be confused into buying a tasty beer made with Belgian Yeast, when they actually wanted sweetened alcoholic pap. TB was seriously under threat. A new young brewery, trying to make their way in the world.

Twitter was pissed off. And Twitter does pissed off REALLY well.

Halewood saw sense. Hoorah for Twitter and Hoorah for Tickety Brew!

The next moment was directly beer related.

In 2014, Stockport Beer Festival created a Bar Nouveau, with all new local beers. One of them was Black IPA, by Tickety Brew. It blew me away. It was my favourite beer of the festival. And there were some BLOODY GOOD BEERS there too.

I met Duncan Barton (Owner/Head Brewer) over a beer or 91 at a recent Home Brew Off at Brew Dog. It’s not difficult to dazzle me with technical knowledge of brewing. But he did. And his passion for beer shone through. So, when I heard a rumour about an MTB with the aforementioned Mr Barton. I hopped on the bus (see what I did there Mr H?). And the train.

Two hours later (and NO diversions), I arrived here

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I had never visited the Prairie Schooner. Urmston hasn’t drawn me for over 30 years. But this looked VERY promising. Busy. Good beers on tap. A Meet The Brewer. And a chat with some good friends. Nice outside drinking area too out front!

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I was expecting a little Micro Pub. What I got was a charming distinctly two roomed bar with functional tables and bar stools to the front, with a really cosy space at the rear with some comfy chairs. Really charming place.

There were 5 beers on cask, served on gravity dispense from Slaters; (a rare outing up North for Kent’s) Caveman – with an excellent refreshing Citra Pale Ale and 3 from Stalyvegas’ own…

Following a good beery chat with Jeff, Dec and (Urmston’s own) Mr Heggs, Mr Barton stepped forward. With a pint of the Wit (luckily, he actually lives just around the corner!) And he was a natural. Talking about their formation in 2013 and how it enabled Keri & himself to spend more time with their young family, their decision to go with the Belgian yeast and be Yeast led rather than hop focussed and their gradual expansion to the point where they export their beers to Italy.

A question was asked as to how they trial their beers and experiment, I loved the self-effacing way in which Duncan discussed how they make their experimental “Tickety Few” range by what feels right. No small-scale test brews, just getting on with it. And how several of those beers have ascended to the regular or core range, like Jasmine Green Tea, Coffee & Star Anise Porter & Rose Wheat Beer.

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Q : “Why a railway arch in Stalybridge”? A : Cheaper than Manchester….

This just felt really relaxed and informal. The customers interacting with the brewer, rather than bowing down and worshipping.

Duncan praised his assistant brewer Paul Walker, whilst simultaneously feeling wistful that Paul would be the one to brew a new beer “Manchester Tart”, (loads of raspberries, vanilla……). There were a few murmured “Can’t wait for that”…..

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That is one of the things that has impressed me consistently with the beers that the brewery have put out this last 12 months. A sense of evolution, not revolution. Not following anyone else, but ploughing their own creative furrow. For those that know (and now those that didn’t!), TB have a regular outlet for their beers at the Crown & Kettle in Manchester. I think that I can say without fear, that over the last 9 months or so, each beer from their brewery that I have had on cask, just seems to get better and better. Consistently excellent and constantly improving.

To a stage where they are up there in my favourite 3 breweries (and there is a lot of competition for that in Manchester alone!)

The three TB beers on the bar were Pale (the darkest Pale Ale I think I’ve ever seen), NZ Pale (a MUCH paler offering) and their Wit. Each really refreshing with that slight spicyness from the yeast probably more prominent in the Pale.

I’ve spoken with Keri on a number of occasions now. Bit of an unsung heroine…… And I’ve managed to chat with Duncan a couple of times now too, they’re good people. They work well as a team up in Stalybridge. And churn out some – quite simply – outstandingly good beer.

I have a feeling that they may be putting in an appearance at a certain beer festival in late October….. 😉

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This was an excellent and intimate event. Informative and friendly and relaxed. In keeping with the venue, a classy little place with a personal touch. And excellent beer. And a nice knowledgable crowd of people. Can you see where I’m going with this?

Yup. Beer People Are Good People.

On that note….

Slainte!

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Big thanks to Alison & Andy for the pictures – my camera being crap!

Sheffield 06/06/2015 – A Day Trip

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Don’t you just LOVE the word “micturate”?

Some things just fall into your lap.

At the excellent EastWestFest recently – and whilst applying some serious hammer  to the Five Towns’ May Day DIPA, myself, The Arch Nemesis and the mighty Deeekos had (apparently?) agreed to a pub crawl to a) Celebrate an excellent little festival of Northern beer, and b) Act as a counterpoint to the one I took Malcolm & pals on in Mancunia.

So, last Saturday, I battled my way through the throngs of young ladies headed to Parklife festival and off on to an absolutely PACKED train (thankful for reservations!) to Sheffield.

Now then. To me, this felt mightily weird. I am ordinarily the one who organises the pub crawls, but, on this occasion, my liver was in the hands of another. So it was with some trepidation that I fell out of the train (along with what felt like half of Berlin) and stumbled into the doors of this….

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The Sheffield Tap (Sheffield Train Station)

WOW. Seriously WOW. I presume that Malcolm and Charlie suggested this as an easy meeting point. And it was. But WOW. This is the most beautiful drinking venue I’ve entered since the ground level bar at Prague’s Opera House.

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I lost count of the rooms. As you can gather from the WOW count, I was stunned. So many people had told me how lovely this place is, but they didn’t do it justice. The beer was utterly incidental to the experience.  But the beer WAS excellent too. I went for a quick pint of Tapped Brew Co (Brewed on the premises?)  which, at 5.2% was rich, with a residual treacle sweetness more than balanced by that excellent bitterness that is present in the best stouts.

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So. You get the idea. This place is unmissable. And, given a few hours to drink in its charms, would be worth the train fair on its own. But, this was a crawl. And I WAS guaranteed to be back later….

Charlie (a.k.a. @AleAmbler) was the man with my liver in his hands (not literally – that would be a bit messy) and our guided tour of Sheffield’s finest started via a Tram to Fitzalan Square, then a replacement bus service Y7 to Shalesmoor and the first of several stunning traditional pubs….The journey was more than worth it….

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The Wellington Inn (Henry Street, off A61 Penistone Road)

A really unprepossessing exterior hides the charms of this pub SO well. And BTW, the image at the top comes from here.

This multi-roomed gem is my idea of a traditional pub. A place with a heart and bucket loads of soul. It was also, until recently, the home of a brewery whose beers I had never sampled, The Little Ale Cart Brewery. The friendly bloke behind the bar also told me that Steel City used to brew here too. The place was just so quirky, I loved it.

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I had to try Little Ale Cart. And with three to choose from, I opted for Brewer’s Meddley. A little 4% pale number. What a lovely pale ale! Pale gold, really citrussy with a nice hoppy kick. A corker. And a brewery added to my #ISBF2015 list.

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(The place was full of cute knick knacks – Except Thatcher. Not cute.)

With chatting to Bob, Scott, Malcolm & Charlie, I just gave up on tasting notes and let the day flow on its natural course. So forgive their lack! It was just great to shoot the breeze with these top folk from the losing side in the Roses War….*ducks flying stick of rhubarb*

As I’ve said, this is my kind of pub and well worth the trip alone. The older I get (or the more into this blogging crap that I get) I just CRAVE pubs with soul. This has it. And great beer. Go.

The next few pubs were all in walking distance from The Wellington….

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(Indeed)

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And first, a world famous classic.

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The Fat Cat (Alma Street, Kelham Island)

Located in the industrial area of Kelham Island that appears to be undergoing substantial redevelopment (the area NOT the pub!) this took about 5 minutes walk from The Wellington, This early 19th century pub, is small, but (as the saying goes) perfectly formed with the bar to the right upon entry and a larger room to the left, loads of lovely warm dark wooden tones in here. This just felt like it was loved.

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Unsurprisingly, given its fame, it was a wee bit busier than The Wellington. And, given its location about 50 yards from the Kelham Island Brewery (being the de facto Tap), it had one or two of their beers. I had the Miami Pale Ale which had all I needed, Fruity, bitter and sharp.

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(Gratuitous Beer Garden shot!)

To be fair, the food was excellent too, with a Pork & Chorizo burger nice and spicy and weighing in at £5 inc wedges and salad,

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I could spout an ocean of purple prose on this place, but it would fail to do it justice. Let’s just say that it desrves that reputation. A proper pub. And Charlie was playing a blinder.

Onward……

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To…..

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Kelham Island Tavern (Russell Street)

Just around the corner is this. Standing in proud isolation. Another famous Sheffield bastion of good beer. They just keep coming…. Two main rooms here in this 19th century pub, with a lovely tiled floor leading from the carved wooden bar (festooned with hand pumps) through to a lovely back room that led to the sun trap of a beer garden. And Sheffield was basking in the sun – as were we.

Another cracking pub, but the beer garden was the place to be here. With a superb pint of Red Mosaic, a hoppy red ale and a collab between Brass Castle and North Riding Brewery. Dry, tangy and resinous. And from Yorkshire. Which, for me, was the beery point. Yorkshire beers. (I told Atilla that this was a research trip for Salford!)

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(The East West Crew)

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Another lovely boozer. Sheffield was growing on me. Hugely.

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Shakespeares (Gibraltar Street)

Rescued from the grip of Punch Taverns and re-opened as a free house in 2011, this large and quirky pub leaves me with one major impression. A love of music. From the old Juke in the back, to the wall of vinyl covers. There is obviously a love of music. And beer. Lots of beers here. My kinda heaven….

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3 or 4 rooms to this place. Nice to see a dartboard in a city centre pub too. In use as well. Again, a beer garden (why doesn’t Manchester have more?) and its delights awaited. Accompanied by a pint of a creamy dark mild, Dark Masquerade from York’s Half Moon Brewery. Lovely beer that. Smooth, nice roasty flavours. Bit of smoky touch too.

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I don’t know if Charlie had selected the prime of Sheffield’s pubs, or if this was merely a representative selection. If the latter is the case, I’m seriously jealous.

From here, Charlie humoured me. I said early on that I really wanted to meet Sean at Beer Central, the specialist beer shop in Sheffield Market. So we hopped on to the 82 bus outside Shakespeares.

No pics here I’m afraid. But what a TINY shop! And such a fantastic beer selection packed into its diminutive confines!

Nice to chat with Sean – albeit briefly, as I was preoccupied with grabbing some beer booty!

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Quite WHAT I was doing grabbing a Black Jack beer in Sheffield is beyond me! Safe to say that Sean’s shop is WELL worth a visit. I could have stayed for ages….But, bidding a fond farewell, for now…..

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The Rutland Arms (Brown Street)

I’ve seen this exterior described as rustic. To me, it’s a gorgeous Edwardian facade. On a triangular plot, this is another beautiful pub. Lots of wood in evidence here, the single room is quite large and almost feels like two separate spaces.

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And another pub with a bloody beer garden! Come on Manchester, sort yourself out!

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Now then. This was a bit of a surprise. They had 3 beers by Blue Bee Brewery. Now I had only tried this brewery for the first time at EastWestFest and was hugely impressed. The pint of Reet Pale that I had here didn’t disappoint either. Nice and refreshing to a rapidly jading palate with a good hoppyness. As was the next pint, of Mosaic by Great Heck. Fruity, juicy and sharp.

By this time, my companions from the White Rose county had taken their leave.

Damned lightweights!

But, in all seriousness, WHAT an excellent day out. With fabulous company. In pubs with soul. And good people. Great beer and good people. Now ehere have I heard that before?

Thanks to Malcolm & Beverley, Bob & Anita, Scott & Toni, Jonti and most of all, the Ale Ambler himself, Charlie. These people have given me two of the finest beer related days that I’ve had in years. For which I’m really grateful.

I’m also grateful for these…..

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3 x 750mls, including my current Beer of the Year. Jealous?

Best not go into the Dark Arts by Magic Rock back at the Sheffield Tap eh? Nor the Squawk IPA at Piccadilly Tap. People. This shit ain’t big. Nor is it clever. But it’s fun.

As it always should be.

Beer People Are Good People. And people matter.

See you soon.