Tryanuary Brewday – TRYPA -w/ Cheshire Brewhouse & Howard Town Brewery


Tryanuary. An idea. To help breweries, pubs, bars, bottle shops. To encourage people to try something new. An antidote to that other – puritanical – nonsense. You know, Dry Wotsitsface……. I mean, January is miserable enough without denying yourself one of life’s pleasures, right?

So where did this idea start?


(“Don’t Mess With Me”)

Here. In Congleton. And in Glossop. And in Manchester. On Twitter. And all in a twitter exchange involving three of the people here today. Shane from Cheshire Brewhouse, Stuart from Howard Town Brewery and last, but by no means least, Andy Heggs, the man, the legend, that makes this all happen.

So it is that early one January morning, that we’re in an industrial unit on the edge of Congleton. To brew a beer inspired by Tryanuary with the people who birthed this movement. And it IS a movement.


So. Take over a 1/3rd ton of Malted Barley, a whole MASS of fragrant UK hops, a lot of water and yeast. And make a beer. Job done!


Well… It takes skill. Attention to detail. Knowhow and passion. Which is what the likes of Shane & Stuart display every day they go to work. These are two of the many brewers in this region that don’t get a fraction of the headlines that others get. Yet they produce some astonishingly good beer. Beer that flies under the radar of most. And that’s their loss. It truly is.

So, Shane, Stuart, Andy, Carl from Crisp Maltings and YT. 300kg of Pale Malt, 50kg of Munich Malt, and 25kg of Wheat Malt went into this mash tun and all but filled it. And filled the air with that most appetizing of smells. It’s kind of like an early morning bakery, porridge too.

The aim of this beer was for an English hopped IPA with an eventual abv of 6.4%. Fruity and bitter. But anyone who starts thinking “brown and twiggy” should take my advise and…..

Get. In. The. Sea.

These hops are massively, fruitily, fragrant.


5kgs of Admiral. One of the greatest of English hops. Massively aromatic and fruity.

5kgs of Experimental hop CF159. SO fresh and fruity.

I could go on with the rest of the hop charge, but I won’t.

This is to be a big beer. Loaded with vibrant fruity citrus flavours. And a big malt backbone to support those lively hops.

Mashing in done and transfer to the copper for the boil completed, it was time for laughter, fun and great tales. And with the likes of Shane, Stuart and Carl, there was no lack. These are good beer people who both know their onions (and their malts & hops etc…) and can spin entertaining yarns. I laughed so much I nearly bought a round…..

60 minutes before the end of boil, in went a big old lump of those fruity Admiral hops for bitterness with Admiral, EKG and CF159 in for flavour later on, CF159 & Admiral being added later as aroma hops.


This is an obviously condensed account of what happened. You have to be a home brewer or an utter beer nerd to want to know (what my dear old Mum would have called) the ins and outs of a cat’s arse of the details of a brew day.

What you NEED to know is that January is sponsored by TRYANUARY. And this beer is both inspired by and to celebrate this movement

It will be big. It will be fruity. It will be hoppy. It has been made (let’s be honest here…) by two brewers who are amongst the best out there. And, with the big sugar extraction from the Crisp malt, it has ended up at 6.6% abv.

And the beer is called TRYPA (see what we did there?)


You ALSO need to know that it is out there in the wild RIGHT NOW! And that Shane, Stuart, Andy, Carl and YT will be at The Junction in Castleford on 30th of this month. Where this beer will be served from a wooden cask.

I can’t wait.

It’s Tryanuary. So……

Try a new beer.

Try a new brewery.

Try a new Bar or Pub.

Shop in an Independent Bottle Beer Shop.

Because if we don’t use them, we could lose them. January is a hard month in all aspects of the beer business.

I’m doing my bit…..

(This post was first published on the Tryanuaty webside on 30/01/2016. Read that here

In Defence of a Hashtag

Last July, I had a schoolboyish whinge. You can read that HERE (but you REALLY need to have nothing better to do!). The whine was about the use of the word “facile” by the blogging powerhouses that are Boak & Bailey. I got that. Facile was probably spot on to be fair, in so far as their experience is far broader than mine. I quote

“Of course beer is a business like any other – Richard Burhouse says it is ‘naive that people think breweries wouldn’t want to protect their brands’ – but for consumers who have bought into the admittedly facile mantra that ‘beer people are good people’, and an ideal of community co-operation between ‘little guys’, it is rather saddening.”

Spot on. (Click the hyperlink for the – admittedly ENORMOUS – whole post)

The above was a reference to the phrase “Beer People Are Good People” and the ensuing hashtag, which (and I’m not a boastful kind of fella – ask around) I kind of put out there. And I continue to do so. Unashamedly.

It is – I suppose – my truth.

It’s been sad to note that there has been quite a lot of carping and piss taking in certain circles recently about that there hashtag. I shouldn’t take it personally I suppose, because it almost certainly isn’t aimed at me. But, like a big kid, I do.

It stings a little.

I suppose this is a bit like the title of a certain Manic Street Preachers album* – but, different people have different stories to tell. That is the essence of blogging I suppose. That, and opinion.

Now. I’ve never claimed to be smartest of cookies. I certainly never went to university (“never took a paper or a learning degree”) and envy those who are much better with words than I. I’m not deep. I’m fairly thin skinned too, which is one of the reasons why I pop 5mg of Amlopodine each and every day. That and being overweight.

But, you know, over the last 3 1/2 years or so, I’ve made a lot of friends in this beer world. These are – to me – good people. I don’t come across snarkiness or bitching. What I see is co-operation. People helping each other and working together.

Did you think that I REALLY put on two beer festivals on my own? It took the help of a huge number of people with goodwill, love and kindness. A whole lot of people giving up time and money to put on a show. It’s things and people like this that help me. There are some bloody good people knocking around Manchester and the North. I love them. I truly do. And that isn’t just words.

I get too emotional. I’ve always said that when this stops being fun, I’ll quit. So I’ll stop here.

#BeerPeopleAreGoodPeople Especially where I come from and in the beery milieu that I frequent.

This is MY truth. If yours is different, there’s a comments section.

This is the thin skinned one signing out.

(*”This Is My Truth. Tell Me Yours” was a quote by the great Labour politician Aneurin Bevan. Appropriated by The Manics for the title of their 5th studio album. We need more people like Bevan.)


Home Beers – Jan 2016 – Pt 2

The aim with these “Home Beers” posts was to keep them to roughly 1 per month. But I couldn’t wait to share this stunning batch. Forgive my eagerness?



IPA (Mt Hood/Ahtenum)Squawk Brewing Co (Manchester) – 5% abv – IPA – 330ml – Heaton Hops (Heaton Chapel)

Crisp clean deep and golden. Lasting light foamy white head with lashings of tropical stuff on the nose, mango, peach and lychee? Really juicy….

Oh this is a juicy belter of a beer! Good deep body, nicely balanced malty backbone with this fruitiness say on top. Mango, apricot? A bit of peach and a lovely bite of bitterness in the swallow, lovely and spicy.

An earthiness to this hopping too, really dry with a lovely spicy hop aftertaste following the fruity, peppery finish.

Typically Squawk. All kinds of yum!


AmberjackNeptune Brewery (Maghull) – 4.5% abv – Amber Ale – 330ml – Direct from the brewer

This Beer pours a lovely copper colour with a white light head giving off a big citrus aroma, orange juice and zest – like driving along the Costa del Azahar through the citrus groves. Really juicy and fragrant.

Light to medium bodied, this slides down all too easily. Wholemeal bready malt with a touch of spicy dryness (Rye?) overlaid with that orange/peachy fruitiness makes this a beautiful sessionable beer. Really refreshing.

Low on bitterness, this is a really easy drinking beer that belies its strength and feels really light and juicy. The finish is fruity and leads to a dry slightly resinous hoppy aftertaste.

A lovely beer from this new Liverpool brewery…


Fire DamageTorrside Brewing (New Mills) – 4.9% abv – Stout – 500ml – Harvey Leonards (Glossop)

Black. Generally a good start with a Stout in my book. Nice light tan head too. And a big roasty aroma with a peaty smokiness reminiscent of my favourite peaty single malt – Lagavulin. Win. Win.

Medium bodied. That peaty smoke is quite upfront, but gradually recedes leaving behind a really nice deep malty chocolate flavour. A bit like dark chocolate Hob Nobs.

My. Kind. Of. Beer. That deep dark malty chocolate thing just rolls on and on coating my mouth in a lightly peated choccy biccy flavour.

At that strength, this is something that (on cask) I could repeat. A few times…..

Nice shop / bar too. Report soon.


IPA (Winter Range) – Cloudwater Brew Co (Manchester) – 8% abv – er… IPA – 330ml – Heaton Hops (Heaton Chapel)

Now. I don’t normally embrace the murky. But when it smells like THIS I don’t give a toss. It’s a mango bomb! Oh my, just pureed mango. Give me the pulp. Yum.

Hazy gold, lasting white head. You get the rest?

Yes. Yes. YES! Bring unto me all of your mango and peachy hops! This is a beergasm and no mistake! Um Bongo with beautifully soft carbonation. Full bodied and just such a fruity b*****d! (And I’m sober BTW!)

Big beer. Paradoxically, tastes bigger than the DIPA did when I had it on launch day at the brewery. But that matters not a jot. From the first to last mouthful, it’s just fruity and nicely spicy/bitter with the hop load. And yum. Big yum!

Warming too. That huge fruitiness never lets up and leads to a big resinous hop finish.

Just yes. And an early candidate for bottled beer of the year.


Summat ElseFive Towns Brewery (Wakefield) – 7.2% abv – Pale Ale – 750ml – Direct from the brewer.

The moment that the lever bottle top was flipped, I was assaulted with sharp and tangy tart aromas of lemon and grapefruit. Like a citrus tsunami crashing against my nostrils from this pale golden beer.

Woah! This is a big beast. There is a big sweet biscuit malty base to this, a bit like a flapjack drizzled with maple syrup. This is then overlaid with a huge fruitiness full of mango and grapefruit tartness. Lightly carbonated, this adds to the impression of a really smooth beer.

It’s described as a Strong Pale Ale. And you don’t forget that with each chewy fruity mouthful with a little apricot in there too at the finish leading to a moderate bitterness. Find of his strong Pale Ales is Mr Bastow. I can see why. This is a brute.

The fruity bitter finish leads to a substantial resinous hop aftertaste that rounds this beer off superbly. This is up there with the best English IPAs for me.

This, really is “Summat Else”. And another early candidate for bottle of the year.

Five Towns are a bit of a Yorkshire secret that Yorkshire folk like to keep to themselves (I was reprimanded by one Yorkshire drinker for recommending their beers last week) With beers like this, the secret should be well and truly OUT.


Govinda (Chevallier Edition) – Cheshire Brewhouse (Congleton) – 6.8% abv – IPA – 500ml – Heaton Hops

A beer that I adore. In all its previous incarnations. Original, Brandy cask aged, White Wine barrel aged and now this. With an old and rare strain of malt, regrown and snaffled by Shane Swindells.

How I wanted this beer SO badly.

So. Deep amber coloured with a good soft white head and a huge fruity aroma full of…. caramelised banana…. I was warned that this malt was…. different.

Oh dear. This feels like it should help me sleep…. A full-bodied beer to say the least, this IPA is a different kind of fruity. Agreed in 3 different wooden casks, then blended back to produce this. And this is one special beer.

There’s banana, vines full of raisins, hints of pear and apple all on top of a deep chewy fruit cake malt. Yes, there’s sweetness in here, this is a potent malt. But there is also a tingling smooth bitterness in every mouthful, balancing that malt.

There is a warming feeling too that this beer brings from the barrel ageing. Definite brandy and that fruit cake feels like it has been soaking in rich deep winey flavours.

The finish is long and warming, with plenty of deep grassy hopping in here, smooching in with the warmth.

This is only beer made with Chevallier malt in 2015. And Shane is proud of his baby.

He should be. This is a very special beer. Bottle of the year candidate.

And I have a spare or two that I’m going to age for a year.

I feel lucky.


A truly superb batch of beers. I couldn’t hold on in case they all went and you couldn’t buy any. I owed you that much!

Back soon.


Manchester Beer & Cider Festival 2016 : My “Dance Card”


Welcome to the beer festival that shows that CAMRA “do” UK Keg! Yes, I KNOW that the Campaign has had numerous kegged beers over the years! BUT…..These are beers brewed in the UK, mostly not designed to be dispensed from a cask. That is BIG news. To be celebrated.

And it has moved from the (“a little bit awkward to get to”) Velodrome – an iconic modern venue – to somewhere infinitely more “Central”. And more historically iconic. A Mancunian architectural masterpiece. And THAT should also be celebrated.

That out of the way, I’m a lucky sod. I get to see the beer list. And it is a big list. And – instantly removing anything from Marstons – there is something for everyone. Even me.

So. Being a “tactical drinker” at beer festivals, I compile a plan of attack – a “dance card” if you will, that panders to my Northern sensitivities. Others may list beers from that there London. Not I. With one exception (noted and explained below) mine are from no further South than Crewe and no further North than Malton.

A narrow focus.

But I care precisely how much?

Here we go, in strength order. Like I said, “tactical drinking”….. And, just in case you’re interested in trying any of these yourself, I’ve included the bar on which to find them. Because I’m nice like that!

No 2 Stout – Stringers Beer – Stout – 4% abv – Bar 3

A beer that I absolutely adored in bottle from the very first sip about 3 years ago. And I have NEVER had in on cask. I have often gazed at the pump clip on the wall at Port Street and whimpered. Envious.

Bitter and roasted. As black as Donald Trump’s evil heart. I will be distraught if I don’t get to try this. My #1 priority.

Admiral Porter – Brewsmith Beer – Porter – 4% abv – Bar 1

Why? Because it’s Brewsmith. And James Smith (see what he did there?) has yet to put out anything less than excellence.

And the Admiral hop gives the lie to those who whinge that UK hops are crap. It’s an aromatic beauty of a thing.

Sorachi Ace – Mallinsons Brewery – (Single Hopped) Pale Ale – 4.2% abv – Bar 2

Why? Stupid question. It’s Mallinsons. And it’s a single-hopped Pale Ale.

And – in the words of Carly Simon – “Nobody does it better”. I’ll be having a pint.

At least one….

Talisman IPA – Pictish Brewing – Pale Ale – 4.2% abv – Pictish Brewery Bar

A brewery that is in need of better PR. They should be HUGE. Possibly the most underrated brewery in Greater Manchester. Brewers of simply outstanding single-hopped Pale Ales.


Mr Scruff Pale – Squawk Brewing – Session IPA – 4.6% abv – Bar 3

Oliver Turton has been quietly brewing some of the best beers in Manchester for the last two years. That’s enough reason to do this.

And I love the Centennial hop.

Lupy Lager – Offbeat Brewery – Lager – 4.7% abv – Bar 2

A cask conditioned lager from one of my very favourite breweries? And it’s a one-off? Damn those CAMRA oiks! I’ll be having words with Miss Kelsall about that…..

Again, unmissable….

Orange and Rosemary Belgian Pale – Bad Seed Brewery – Belgian Pale – 5% abv – Bar 1

Rosemary in beer can be herbal Marmite to some. But I love it. And Bad Seed would be just the brewery to pull this off.

Looking forward to trying this HUGELY.

Bitter Chocolate Stout – Runaway Brewery – Stout – 5% abv – Runaway Bar

A new beer to me from the best and most consistent new brewery in Manchester. Mark Welsby makes good beer. For those with no love of keg, prepare to be converted.

Mancunian Evil Keg Filth of the highest order. And you can quote me on that!

Marmite Stout – Ticketybrew / Quantum BrewingStout – ? abv – Bar 3

Two breweries unafraid to try something different. Or unusual. This beer can be safely said to tick BOTH of those boxes.

This sounds inspired. It’s certainly interesting!

Pale Rye (Name TBC) – Track / Matt Dutton – Pale Ale – ? abv – Bar 3

OK. Track are banging out some tremendous beers with arguably the strongest core range of any Manchester brewery. I’ve been saying for AGES that Sonoma is a Manchester classic.

Factor in a collab with the best home brewer in the UK, Matt Dutton, this is going to be special! I have sampled several of Matt’s beers and he – should he choose to go commercial – is a star in the making. This beer rates as priority #2. Unmissable.

AllDay Coffee IPA – Allgates/Manchester Beer Week – Coffee IPA – 5.1% abv – Bar 1

A Coffee IPA brewed especially for the festival by the most drinkable of breweries and Connor Murphy wearing his MBW head. Read the blog piece and it sounds AMAZING!

Centennial – Torrside Brewing – Porter – 5.4% abv – Bar 3

I have been lucky enough to try beers brewed at home by each of the Torrside triumvirate. It was therefore no surprise at all when they hit the ground running when they launched late last year.

My heart lies in darkness. Torrside make great beers. A marriage made in….

Nouvelle Saison: Beetroot and Horseradish –Alphabet Brew Co – Saison – 6% abv – KeyKeg Bar

I wouldn’t miss this flavour mix for all the tea in….. Intriguing to say the least!

Sorachi Grey – Five Oh Brew Co – IPA – 6.5% abv – Bar 1

If Jamie Hancock puts his beer in cask, it is both a rare event (wonder where he did it first?) and unmissable.

This man brews good beer.

Victoria Export Stout – Bexar County Brewery – Stout – 6.7% abv – Bar 1

My sole selection from south of Crewe. Why? Because I think that I have had 3 beers that this man has brewed. All excellent and two of those (a collab with HDM and his Pecan Coffee Mild) were among the best beers I’ve had in years!

And it’s pronounce BEAR. “The X is silent. The Beer speaks for itself” Indeed….

And finally……

Rampart – Ossett/Brass Castle Collab – IPA – 7% abv – Bar 2

“Heavily hopped West Coast style IPA. Tangy bitterness & intense grapefruit, floral & tropical fruit flavours.” – Case rested!

Well. That’s that. As Rabbie Burns allegedly said “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley”, so (like last year) I’m bound to miss one of these. But it won’t be for the want of trying!

It’s Tryanuary. Get ticking!



And for those who want to plan ahead, here is the link to the full UK beer list!




Mourne Mountains Brewing – Tryanuary Brew


In a bit of a Hot Chocolate rewrite – “It started with a tweet……” which led to a meeting with the organisers of two of the most significant beery events coming out of Manchester in 2016.

Tryanuary and Manchester Beer Week.

I was there, in the Knott Bar, listening to plans and ideas. I was overwhelmed with beer information (It was 1 month prior to The Independent Salford Beer Festival – I was OVERLOADED!). Then the question…

“So. Who fancies coming to brew a beer at Mourne Mountains Brewery?”


A moment’s hesitation from Connor meant that I found myself, on a blustery and rainy November morning (EARLY) flying Sleazyjet to the airport formerly known as Aldergrove, just outside of Belfast.

I was excited.


Anybody with a passing knowledge of Northern Ireland’s “beer scene” will know that it has been/is dominated by Guinness and Tennants. Nitrogenated “Stout”, “Red Ale” & Lager. In short, Grim.

But shortly after being picked up from Aldergrove by Tom Ray – Head Brewer of Mourne Mountains, I started to think that there might be a stirring. A releasing of that dread grip if you will….


We were here to brew. Well, shovel and stir etc….. And I have to say, that this is one of the most impressively set up Micros that I’ve seen! Huge space. Spanking new 10Bbl kit. A mill for the barley……


Located in Warrenpoint, on the banks of the Carlingford Lough and right on the border with the Republic, this town feels almost as close to Dublin as it does to Belfast. A beautiful small town with a thriving working port (always a thing that pulls at my heartstrings).

This brew was to be an IPA. At the perfect strength of 5.5%. Neither too big, not too small. Just right.


Connaire McGreevy, the founder and owner of Mourne Mountains, is a successful businessman and a keen beer lover and had the idea for having a brewery that brewed something, well…..better that the output of the all dominating giants. Not fancying full-time brewing himself, he took to that great friend to brewers and drinkers alike. Twitter.

And Tom answered the call. A brewer at Ridleys and the excellent Crouch Vale in Essex previously, he and his family had settled in Northern Ireland for some time when the tweet was seen and he fancied getting back into hands-on brewing. And making something different. What was obvious in our numerous chats was his passion for great beer.

With a 10:20 mash in that involved VERY little input from neither Andy nor myself, this was the first brewery that I have seen that crushes their own malt! I was fascinated (childishly so) by the crusher. The crushed malt (or grist) being pumped above the Mash Tun and mixed with hot liquor on its way into the vessel……


350kg of Malt (Pale, Wheat, Caramalt & Crystal). 10Bbl kit. Shedloads of aroma hops (Cascade & Chinook). And skill. That should be all that you need to know!


We had a number of tasters of the Mourne range throughout the brew. They were all excellent tasty beers, I was particularly taken with the “Big Rock” Wheat Beer and the East Coast IPA (the beer being brewed), both superb examples of the styles.

I’m not going to bore you with the standard “Brew Day”. One is much like another.

  • You make a BIG bowl of porridge.
  • You strain off the juice.
  • You boil it with hops for more flavor
  • You add more hops for taste and aroma.
  • You add yeast.
  • VOILA! Beer!!!


Simple eh?

Unless you make good beer in Northern Ireland.

Dominated by Guinness (in its many beery forms) and C&C Group (Owners of Magners Cider & Tennents Caledonian & ABInbev distributors)

This is not an easy battle to win. This is a fight against decades of ingrained – almost genetically passed down – drinking custom and culture.

But if the beer is good, it’s worth fighting for. And the beers that Tom brews at Mourne are worthy of that fight.



Having finished the brew and leaving it merrily fermenting away, we checked into our hotel (The Lough & Quay on Havelock Place – facing the quayside and Carlingford Lough), ate in the hotel with Tom & Conor (Assistant Brewer). Then we had a beer and a little Warrenpoint tour, courtesy of Conor.

That is when the dire state of the beer scene in much of Northern Ireland was starkly revealed.

In the hotel, they had a bar with some of the Mourne beers on draught. In NI, draught overwhelmingly means keg. They had Mist (Pilsner), Gold (a juicy light Golden Ale), Big Rock (Wheat Beer) and Red Trail (Red IPA). The Red Trail and the Pilsner would play to local perceptions with the predominance of Red Ales and Lagers, but the Gold seemed to be doing quite well too, which is a big ask in such a market.

I do love that Big Rock Wheat though!!!!


We went in a few other local pubs, guided by Conor – part MM Cheerleader, part local tour guide – and the dominance of those big companies’ brands was clear. Heverlee, Clonmel, Tennants, Guinness, Smithwcks were on taps everywhere.

The hope was in the bottle fridges. Mourne Mountains, bits of Brewdog, but little else. Conor was a consummate salesman getting people to have a taste of some of the Mourne beers, but this is a desert for good beer. And Tom, Connaire & Conor are making inroads by making good beer that in part appeals to local tastes, whilst simultaneously pushing the local beer envelope.

To be honest, I couldn’t get back to the hotel quick enough. For some more juicy Mourne Gold & Big Rock!

This is good Irish beer. Try some. It’s #Tryanuary after all!


And – if you fancy a change in scene, Warrenpoint is a nice pretty seaside town. I’ll be back for sure!



(What a view to wake up to!)

The next day, after a hearty breakfast in the Lough & Quay and some more tidying at the brewery, it was time to go home – through some more foul weather. But Tom had a further little treat in store…… In the total spirit of #Tryanuary, he was taking us somewhere new…

Brewbot Belfast is a bar located on the Ormeau Road, about 2-3 miles south of Belfast city centre. On walking in, it felt….like home. Except without cask of course……


The Brewbot is a beer making machine, controlled by an app. A home Pico Brewery if you like. And if you look very carefully at the above pic….you may just about see one …top right.

Or look here for a close up….


The kit is designed for the small scale, full -mash home-brew drinker/brewer. The bar is another kettle of piscine beauty. It felt like something was starting here. Like the WOW that Port Street Beer House must have provoked when it first opened.

A fine range of “C” beers from all over. Ireland, UK, Europe. Simply massive bottle range. Good food too.

We were given a little tour of the “top secret” build facility upstairs too. WOW! No pics allowed, but, if you have a couple of grand spare and fancy a pico brewery that looks like it has climbed out of a Scandinavian style mag….. then join the waiting list!

I had a quick chat with one of the bar managers. The highest praise that I could give, was that this place would fit in the NQ of Manchester and STILL provoke a WOW.


This was a brilliant weekend. Massive thanks to Connaire, Tom & Conor for putting us up, picking us up, putting us back, putting up with us and generally…. Showing us that there is some excellent beer in Northern Ireland. And THEY are making a lot of it!

Thanks for Tom too for diverting to Brewbot. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Thanks to Andy for the trip. Even if the flights were things of terror!

And to you for reading.

This is #Tryanuary.

Try a new beer.

Try a new Brewery.

Or a new pub or bar. Or Micro pub.

In this month of all months, pubs/bars/breweries need your support.

They’ve got mine for sure.

(A version of this post was first posted on the Tryanuary website on 09/01/2015)

Home Beers – Jan 2016 : Pt 1

Happy New Year everyone! And Happy #Tryanuary!

I, for one, have absolutely NO intention of giving in to the detox mania that is hauling thousands in to a month of misery.

Be Happy. Happiness is seriously underrated.

Anyway, in the spirit of Tryanuary, I’ve been a bit busy. You’ll start seeing (and in some instances, tasting) the results shortly. Furthermore, in the same spirit, here are six recommendations for (hopefully) something new for you to try this month. Some will be limited, so better be quick!


It’s Rather Hoppy DarlingCheshire Brewhouse (Congleton) – 4.2% abv – Session IPA – 330ml – Direct from the brewer. 

As Pale as a spring morning, golden and bright with a light white head pushing out a huge citrus and tropical aroma like a fruit salad chewy sweet, pineapple, kiwi, mango. Just so juicy on the nose!

Oh dear, oh dear is this GOOD! This thing is wearing a grass skirt and dancing a hula! Mango, passion fruit, kiwi dancing all around the mouth with a light digestive biscuit base. Just. So. Fruity.

The swallow is followed by a bracing bitterness and leaving a big hoppy resinous aftertaste. This is the first Beergasm of 2016 and no mistake!


Citra PaleTickety Brew (Stalyvegas) – 4.2% abv – Pale Ale – 330ml – Heaton Hops

Very pale golden colour, lively from the bottle shop was decanted, but nice white lacy head nonetheless with a big aroma booming out full of apricot, grapefruit and a squeeze of lemon.

Got my saliva glands going…..

Oh baby…. This is one pithy little beast.

Medium bodied, this beer hits you with tart astringent fruit, grapefruit and lemon to the fore here. The carbonation having softened after the decant, this is really smooth, fruity, but ultra dry.

Really dry. A tongue curler!

That Belgian yeast aids that dryness with a little peppery spice and helps to accentuate the dry slightly resinous hoppy finish.

Another special beer from Stalyvegas.

And only 60. I’m lucky. Grab one if you can.


APABrewsmith Beers (Ramsbottom) – 5.0% abv – Pale Ale – 500ml – Direct from the brewer.

Brewsmith are in the early days of their bottled beers being in the wild. But, so far, so excellent. Everything top notch so far. But how will this stack against the Bitter, Oatmeal Stout & Gyle 50?

Mid golden in colour, a light thin white head emitting a lovely fragrance of tropical fruits, with peach, passion fruit and a hint of mango hitting the nose.

In the mouth? Light carbonation and a medium body. Really smooth on the tongue with lashings of mango and peach assailing the tongue, swiftly followed by a resinous hit of hop bitterness.

The second mouthful confirms the impressions of the first, but the hopping tastes and feels even more resinous and grassy following that tropical dance.

This is another superb beer from a brewery that have produced a range of bottles that just get more impressive as they go on.

Moderate strength Pale Ales and Stout? I wouldn’t look an awful lot further.


  MadagascarGreat Heck Brewing (Great Heck – N Yorkshire) – 5.4% abv – Vanilla Wheat Stout – 330ml – Drink (Hebden Bridge)

A deep and dark brown, almost black, beer, with a warm ruby glow, a light mocha coloured head giving an aroma reminiscent of vanilla toffee ice cream, with a little molasses or rum note. Appetising.

Oh yes. Really smooth, medium to full bodied beer this is. Really beautifully chocolaty in the mouth with a sweet cocoa malt allied to a slightly more bitter chocolate. A little sweet vanilla intrudes as you run it around the mouth. Such an easy drinking beer this.

The second and subsequent mouthfuls reveal a little rum hint following the sweet chocolate taking you towards a dry chocolate and herbal hop finish.

Another lovely beer bought from an excellent shop/bar, Drink in Hebden Bridge which fell victim to the recent devastating floods that hit that beautiful old town.

Hope they’re cleaned up and sorted soon. Am sure to visit Hebden Bridge for a few beers shortly. This’ll be my first stop.


NowtFive Towns Brewery (Wakefield) – 6.7% abv – Stout – 750ml – Direct from the brewer.

This beer pours as black as Hades cellar, had a lacy coffee coloured head and gave off am aroma full of dark bitter chocolate, licorice and the merest hint of smokiness. In short, seductive.

Yes. Yes. YES! I feel like Meg Ryan in the cafe table scene! Oh shit but this is bloody stunning!!!

Full bodied and unctuous, this is creamy smooth. Hitting the bullseye with an initial bitter chocolate hit, this is quickly embraced by some seriously spicy licorice, just oozing out.

That licorice is augmented by that light smoky touch. What shocks slightly (although it REALLY shouldn’t!) is such a hoppy bitterness that follows it. And stays. Then the smokiness returns lingering through to a slightly sweet, yet dry smoky and bitter hoppy finish.

I yield to none in my love of Malcolm Bastow’s Pale Ales, but this is right up there with his best pales.

And THAT is (as The Velvelettes sang) really saying something.



XS Imperial StoutSaltaire Brewery (Shipley, W Yorkshire) – 8.9% abv –Imperial Stout – 330ml – Bought from the brewery shop

I’ve held onto this for over 9 months since I bought this Hell black beer, with the slightest of fiery red tinge at the edges with a thin beige head and an aroma oozing out with vine fruits, old leather and a little sweet licorice.  Mmmmmm…..

Now then. It’s no surprise that I’m find of Imperial Stouts, but this is sooooo good! Rich, smooth, loaded with vine fruit that tastes like it’s soused with dark rum. Bitter espresso in here, with chocolate and a languorous smoky trace. This is just love…!

Ooohhhhh, but this is so good. Those dark fruit flavours laden with sweet raisin just tingle, or maybe that’s the late hopping with Bramling Cross, but I’m just sinking in this here chair and luxuriating….

Yeah. Nice beer……  #Understatement

My #12BeersOfXmas 2015 – Day 12 : La Petite Toulousaine – Marble Brewery


So. Day 12. And horrendously, fashionably, late. And?

I thought I’d come back to Manchester. To this city’s Marquee Brewery. People can say – and vote for – whoever they like, but for me, that brewery is Marble. Tried and tested. Time and again, over years, not months.

So. What have I got? A lightly hazy golden beer, with a thin white head and an enormous aroma full of mango and grapefruit. Hugely tart and full of drooling promise. But can it walk that talk?

In the words of Salt’N’Pepa “Ooh, baby baby….” In other words, “Oh yes!”

Massively fruity, with grapefruit, lemon tartness and tropical mango, I’m reaching for the grass skirt and garlands of flowers for around my neck. It sure ain’t a pretty look, believe me!

At 4.7% abv, this is medium bodied with a really smooth carbonation, that fruit party eventually fades slightly and dances away, leaving a pleasing bitter finish and a sticky resinous aftertaste.

I want more. Always a sign of a good beer. And Marble do that.

Same time next year?

My #12BeersOfXmas 2015 – Day 12 : La Petite Toulousaine


So. Day 12. And horrendously, fashionably, late. And?

I thought I’d come back to Manchester. To this city’s Marquee Brewery. People can say – and vote for – whoever they like, but for me, that brewery is Marble. Tried and tested. Time and again, over years, not months.

So. What have I got? A lightly hazy golden beer, with a thin white head and an enormous aroma full of mango and grapefruit. Hugely tart and full of drooling promise. But can it walk that talk?

In the words of Salt’N’Pepa “Ooh, baby baby….” In other words, “Oh yes!”

Massively fruity, with grapefruit, lemon tartness and tropical mango, I’m reaching for the grass skirt and garlands of flowers for around my neck. It sure ain’t a pretty look, believe me!

At 4.7% abv, this is medium bodied with a really smooth carbonation, that fruit party eventually fades slightly and dances away, leaving a pleasing bitter finish and a sticky resinous aftertaste.

I want more. Always a sign of a good beer. And Marble do that.

Same time next year?