Rats, Rye & A Huddersfield Legend – A Brewday To Remember – 18/03/2016

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Just to recap, I am a cheeky git. That kind of explains how – when I heard that two of my favourite Yorkshire breweries were collaboRATing on a new beer – I wind up inviting myself along to what is (quite possibly) my favourite pub. Anywhere.

That pub is The Rat & Ratchet in Huddersfield. And underneath that pub, lies one of THE most hop forward breweries in the UK. Rat Brewery. And just to ensure that hops would be to the fore, the other brewer was my good friend Malcolm Bastow of Five Towns Brewery in Wakefield.

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I took a day off from work. I also had to curb my enthusiasm for the beers at The Smithfield the previous evening, because getting to Huddersfield by train isn’t conducive to a lie in. Trust me.

The beer was to be a Rye IPA. I like Rye beers, but have never brewed with it, so had no idea what to expect of the mash. Or how much digging would be required. But, being by Rat & Five Towns, it was going to be hoppy.

I’d never met Robin before. Robin is the brewer at Rat and brews beers that I instinctively reach for when I see them on a bar. One of my biggest regrets at the first #ISBF was that we didn’t have any Rat beer. Remedied at #ISBF2015. When pale, the beers are hoppy, when dark they are gorgeously roasty. Good beer.

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I made one solitary note on this brewday. It was “Shagging a bag of rye malt”. I had to use it. Didn’t I Robin?

So. 200kg of malt. Including 50kg of rye malt. A LOT of aromatic hops (my hands never smelled so good!). Time to play….

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The mash looked like a Tarka Dhal. Just like a normal Dhal, but a little ‘otter…..

This took a lot of stirring. This was where I became acquainted with the absorbent properties of rye malt.

Near 200kg in a 5bbl plant is a lot of malt. And this beer should certainly have a good backbone to support all of these hops…

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All 14kg (Inc dry hopping) of them! Breaking them up was an aromatic joy!

800g of Admiral went in for Bittering with Cascade, Sorachi & Nelson Sauvin in later additions for flavour and aroma and Citra / Mosaic at flameout. (With a huge amount of Cascade & Citra being dry hopped)

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Transfer to the copper being complete, time for a dig. And WHAT a dig.

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The rye retained an awful lot of liquor, so this felt more like 300kg. It took a lot of digging. But this is where know nothing numpties like me step in. I enjoy digging out, perversely.

It also means that I got the pleasure of adding the hops and steam cleaning my face…. But the smell was worth the scalding….

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At each addition, the smells were beautiful, culminating in the final – flameout – addition of Citra and Mosaic. Holy. Mother. Of…… Stunning. Simply glorious aromas. More than worth the dig.

Welcome to “Rat Out”. A 5.8% Rye IPA. I can’t wait to try it at the East West Beer Festival in May!

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(Supervising Rats)

With that final hop addition, Robin let myself and Malcolm flee the nest and let us had upstairs into the pub. Refreshment was required, this was hot work.

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It would have been rude NOT to sample all 3! And, given that I started with a pint of King Rat (IPA at 5.6%) and a Rat Against The Machine (7% big hoppy IPA), that 4% White Rat more than held its own. A superb tasty session beer.

This was an excellent fun brew day. With stories swapped and chuckling a plenty. I’m very grateful that I was allowed into the Rat lair by Robin. But, after all that, there was  a further, ulterior motive for coming by train.

A Huddersfield Legend.

So Robin, Malcolm & I went for a walk.

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The Star Inn is a tremendous pub in its own right. Featuring, on any given day, a plethora of excellent ales. But, twice a year, it hosts a beer festival.

People I respect, like the Arch Nemesis and Des, have regaled me with tales of this beer festival. Some of my Yorkshire pals have tried to get me over for a couple of years now. So it felt like a privilege to walk in. And I was excited.

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Another of the reasons that I had to come was THIS beer. From the moment that Malcolm told me he was going to brew an IPA with Seville oranges, I knew I had to have it on draught.

“Could I have a pint of Alcazar please?”

“A pint?”

OK. It WAS 7.8%. But I’d earned this pleasure. And a pleasure it was. Big and deeply juicy oranges complemented by massive hopping. Yum. Just yum.

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It’s a lovely old pub is The Star. And it attracts drinkers from all over the North and beyond for these legendary festivals.

It was an utter pleasure (as always) to chat with Charlie (aka The Ale Ambler – a member of Yorkshire’s mighty “A Swift One” blogging collective) a man who has probably forgotten more about beer than I’ll ever know.

It was also a delight (as usual) to chat with those lovely ladies from Mallinsons (Elaine & Tara) and indulge in a bit of plotting. Of which all shall be revealed at the appropriate time….

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As well as the chatting, there were some stunning beers, from Mallinsons (Maverick), Wild Weather (a cracking Single hopped Sorachi Pale) and Neptune (the luscious Abyss Oatmeal Stout), there was also some gorgeous grub too….

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The Thai Green Curry Chicken was superb. But after that, it time for some sad goodbyes. I hated leaving. I really wanted to stay.

This beer festival is the best pub Festival I’ve been to. By a distance. It helps that it is hosted in a simply gorgeous pub, the likes of which Manchester lacks.

Next time, I’m booking a hotel for the night.

Thank you to Robin, Paul Spencer (Ossett head brewer – for extending the invite), to Malcolm – of course (the beer will feature at the cracking East West Festival) and everyone at The Star.

A great brewday. An iconic pub. And a legendary beer festival. A day I won’t forget.

I love Huddersfield.

The Road To Wigan Beer Bus – 26/03/2016

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Twice a year – around Easter and in October – for a period of 11 days, Allgates Brewery sources beers from some of the finest Micro Breweries in the UK (many of them new) and loads their estate of 7 pubs in the Wigan area with some fabulous guest beers.

And on the first Saturday of the “Festival”, for the last 3 years or so, they have laid on a bus, to take the foolish and the hardy, even the foolhardy, around all 7 pubs. A “Carry On Crawling” if you will! (Cue memes of Sid James & Kenneth Williams)

And – for myself & the Arch Nemesis – it is unmissable. No matter what else is going on. Like all of the Manchester Brewtaps that were on yesterday.

With the arguable exception of The Anvil (the Allgates “tap” in Wigan town centre), these are all thriving community pubs, each different from the others. All of them warm and welcoming.

Starting off with a swift beer in the aforementioned Anvil, we jumped on the bus and headed for the first stop in our own little “Carry On”. The Crooke Hall Inn.

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(view of canal basin nr The Crooke Hall Inn)

I won’t bore you with detailed descriptions of beers. For one thing, I made no notes. The pubs speak for themselves, indeed, The Crooke Hall Inn is one of my all time favourite pubs and I regularly enjoy Sunday lunch there with my family.

Despite it being a near 45 minute drive from BM Towers.

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(view of Leeds – Liverpool Canal from rear of Crooke Hall Inn)

It was in The Crooke that I had my favourite beer of the day “Beerhouse Pale” by Hopjacker Brewery of Dronfield, a really super sharp hoppy Pale Ale.

We then travelled on the bus between the 6 other pubs. To The Union Arms in Tyldesley, then The Jolly Nailor in Atherton, The White Lion in Leighton, Hare & Hounds in Hindley and finally to The Victoria in Haigh.

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(Rear bar at The Union Arms, Tyldesley)

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(A proper Dominoes table for crying out loud! Union Arms)

Now then, here’s the thing. Allgates spend a lot of time and effort sourcing these beers for this festival. But even outside of the festival, they stock some excellent guest beers alongside their own beers, at prices to make a Mancunian beer drinker weep.

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(Crooke Hall Inn)

20160326_153952(Main Rm. Jolly Nailor, Atherton)

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(Bar, Crooke Hall Inn)

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(Vault at Victoria, Haigh – I got beat, BTW)

These are all proper local pubs that should be on any discerning beer drinkers lists. I know that getting out of that “Manchester bubble” is a frightening thought for many, but it really is worth it. Especially when you’ve got a bus laid on to take you around them all!

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(White Lion, Leigh town centre)

And if this is starting to sound like an advertorial (like you would see on certain Manchester based websites), it isn’t. The only payment that I receive from Allgates for this, is that they continue to put on this bus.

And give me the 2 best days out. Every year.

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(Hare & Hounds, Ladies Lane, Hindley)

On the beer front, my personal highlights all gave me food for thought for The Independent Salford Beer Festival (I’ll be sending “invites” in a little over a month), the highlights were….

Blonde from Neepsend Brewery; Hopjacker (see above); 568 from Deva Craft and No 3 Porter from Nine Standards of Settle.

None of which am I likely to get within that Manchester bubble.

For the more intrepid of travellers, most of these pubs can be each reached via a single journey, some on the same. (Anvil & Hare & Hounds – close to train stations – others via the bus) They do reward the journey.

The Festival is on until next Sunday. Each pub will (likely) have 3 or 4 of the beers on for that period – I’m keeping my eyes out for the Bexar County/Alphabet collab “Does A Bexar Shit In The Woods” a treacle & black pepper Porter. Bexar (pronounced “Bear”) can do no wrong in my eyes – apart from being in Peterborough!

I hope that I’ve given you enough here to understand why I went on this bus. You see, Manchester was brimming with excellent brewtaps over this weekend. Several people who fancied this stayed in Manchester to enjoy those. And I blame them not.

But they DID miss out.

1 bus.

7 classic local pubs.

A plethora of excellent new beers

Even more laughssid-james-paint-by-number-kit-256-p

(pic : numberedart.com)

Even Sid James couldn’t have made me laugh more!

And, whatever else is going on, as long as this bus runs, myself and the Arch Nemesis will be on it. Unmissable for us.

The Festival continues until 3rd April.

So. In October, you know what to do…..

Back soon

Objectivity – Missing In Action?

*On 20th January 1982, I had an epiphany. It was in the Peverel Of The Peak on Chepstow Street in Manchester. One of Manchester’s most venerable pubs and one which plays an enormous part – for many reasons in my Beer “journey”.

The epiphanic beer was Wilson’s Bitter. I had, in my hand, a pint of (gulp) Carlsberg Lager. One taste of the Wilson’s made me put down a near full pint and order a Bitter. I never looked back.

Many would bracket that beer – should it still exist – as “boring brown beer”. A term that is as lazy as it is deserving of ridicule. But it isn’t trendy to call out those who use it. What bollocks!

But that’s the thing with this new orthodoxy. English hops (and the beers that they mostly contribute to) get mocked, while experimentation gets applauded. But here’s a thing….

Last weekend, I say on a judging panel for Stockport CAMRA to help to choose home brewers beers to produce at a local Brewery for drinking at the Stockport Beer Festival in May. The initial judging panel that I was on featured a number of beers where people were attempting strange and wonderful things with hops and other adjuncts. But the best beer, kept it simple. And – shock & horror – used Fuggles & EKG hops.

Prejudice is a bitch, ain’t it?

Next up – the way beer looks.

I’m 50 years old – I know, I know, I look older OK! But unlike some of my age group, I like most beer styles. (I’m yet to truly appreciate Sours, but hey….) And I understand that drinking is about using all of the appropriate senses, sight, smell, touch (feel) and taste.

But, to me – unlike many “fanboys” & “fangirls” it would seem – deeply hazy beer is NOT an attractive thing.

Let’s go back nearly 9 months.

A Brewery (who shall remain unnamed, as this is not their fault) released a beer. It was a “wheat type” Beer. It was cloudy and hazy. I GET that these beers (generally) are likely to be so. But – and here’s the rub – they are uniquely (to me) visually unappealing.

So when people start to coo “Ooh…. That looks delicious… ” My hackles start to rise.

“No it doesn’t! It looks like a syphilitic piss sample!!!!!”

 
(If I’d have presented such a sample to my doctor, I’d be concerned.)

A beer may smell and taste absolutely lovely – as this beer did indeed. I sampled it in bottle. It was a delight. And I said so at the time.

Fast forward to another beer. Another picture. Another hugely opaque beer.

More social media cooing…… “Ooh…. Looks fabulous….. Must have….. ” That kind of thing….

It looked like carrot juice.

In the empire of the senses, sometimes, not all should be trusted.

Yes. I like my beer to be transparent. I’m kind of old fashioned like that. But I don’t pre judge a beer on what I see. I wait until I taste it.

*And the reason that I know that particular date? I recently stumbled across a website dedicated to the Bristol “Punk Jazz” band, Pigbag, which contained a list of their concerts and noted the date for their rescheduled Manchester gig at Rafters.

It was a memorable night in more ways than one.

MTB with Weird Beard @ Heaton Hops – 14/03/2016

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I kind of gave up on Meet The Brewer (MTB) events a few years back. They got to feel a bit like doing a “Brewery Tour”. I’ve been around a few Micro Breweries and to be honest, they start to blur into one. Once you’ve seen four or five, it gets to be ‘variations on a theme’. A bit samey.

It’s the personalities that make both worth doing. And Gregg Irwin – chief Spreadsheet Ninja, brewer, co-owner of Weird Beard Brew Co – is definitely one of those.

And (let’s get this out of the way NOW shall we?) I rather like the beers that these fellas brew down in West London. I always have. For all of my Northern Beer Fascism, I’ve had a soft spot for these beers since I was introduced to them by The Ale Man, YAY years ago.

Yes. Damian O’Shea. The same. Now thriving in his “Award Winning” bar. Heaton Hops. A bar that has wormed its way into my cold cold heart. By being astonishingly good. It’s simple really!

And I had an agenda….(maybe) more later….

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We had six beers to get through. 4 of them – given my curmudgeonly Northern tendencies – that I had never tried before.

Like I said, Gregg is certainly no wallflower. And there were a few choice epithets sprinkled throughout the evening, to be sure – given his visceral feelings about Mild, we’re unlikely to meet halfway on some. These made the evening all the more entertaining. I certainly shed a laughter tear or five!

Rather amazingly (or not – to some – given the “craft beer” boom) Weird Beard export their tasty wares to 21 countries, 10 of them on a regular basis. They’re even making inroad in that most vin sozzled of countries. France. Apparently, a real growing market for good beer.

So. Where were we? Ah….

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So Damian had persuaded Mr Beard himself to come and chinwag with us. And this was very much a two-way street. There was at least one vegan in the cosy audience, so we had a bit of to and fro on the usage of isinglass as an aid to clarity. We had Gregg’s story as to how Saison 14 (one of the beers tonight) acquired its name – a reference to a score it obtained in a Home Brewing contest – cue withering glare at YT (recent Home Brewing judge….)

The beers started to flow….and Gregg chatted briefly about the birth of each and how the hop bill and other parts of the recipes have changed – sometimes by design, sometimes due to availability of ingredients – over time. Things like how the body that they get into beers like “Little Things That Kill”. How the beers get named – mostly from songs “LTTK” (A track by Bush), “Fade To Black” (Metallica).

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Personally, I can’t wait to taste “Relight My Fire”…..

It is – to me – sad that WB only cask approximately 15% of their output. The joy I used to find in my occasional pint of Decadence Stout – one of the best I’ve ever had – was a rare thing. A truly lovely beer. I think that it is safe to say, that cask wouldn’t be Gregg’s preferred method of dispense. Putting it mildly…..(I just had to get “Mild” in one more time….)

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To my utter delight, Jimmy from Nasi Lemak had set up a mini “street kitchen” outside the bar, so we had some truly excellent grub appearing – at intervals – on the tables (Sweet Potato fries with spicy sauce went superbly with the Choc Mint Stout – “A World Without Dave”)

It would be easy to waffle on about the beer. Safe to say that it was uniformly superb. But, briefly, from “Little Things That Kill” (Light refreshing and hoppy), “A World Without Dave” (Choc, Mint, Lush and creamy), “Fade To Black” (Smooth, Citrussy, a little Coconut – the sole cask), Saison 14 (my personal favourite – surpisingly – Cream Soda smooth, Apricot & Tangerine)

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The final two beers were hastily consumed – as myself and my mentor “Pal” had to scarper sharpish for a train. They were “Sorachi Faceplant” a BIG (8.1%) IPA that was so juicy and dangerously drinkable and “Sadako” Imperial Stout, luscious, creamy, smooth and done absolutely no justice to by being wolfed down. Unlike the spicy chicken that Jimmy wheeled out….

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(Pic : Courtesy of @Deeekos)

This was an excellent evening. There are very few things that would encourage me to travel from Bolton over 20 miles on a school night. But Damian O’Shea, Heaton Hops & Gregg Irwin managed it.

Even if I WAS the butt of a few Irwin jokes…….

And no. With nights like this, Meet The Brewer events DON’T need “Reinventing”.

They just need good beer, good people (brewers, bloggers, beer & food lovers) and intelligent conversation. Oh. And a liberal sprinkling of beery expletives…

A joy of an evening.

 

Brinkmanship

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Last year – in about September – I was contacted by a fella about a new little micro pub he was going to be opening “soon”. Seemed like a decent bloke. Even offered to sponsor a cask at #ISBF2015 too. I gladly accepted and offered an advert in the programme.

Then disaster struck. There was to be no opening “soon”. Huge building issues. He didn’t want the advert, but still sponsored a beer.

His name was (is!) Gareth. The bar was to be called “The Brink”. I was gutted for him, but had a sneaking suspicion that this was a bloke not to be deterred by mere rotten floors, or the discovery of undetected nasties in the fabric of the building.

He was just going to make sure that everything was right. That was the unspoken feeling I got.

I met him briefly at St Sebastian’s (ALL of my “meetings” were brief during the Festival!) and my initial thoughts were reinforced.

This bloke would overcome.

Slow forward to mid March. And I’m stood outside a building site. To the words “Come in Jim, mind the stairs”….

The day before he opens!

We chatted. I took no photos inside. I daren’t. For fear of tripping over something!

I like Gareth’s style.

I could see that there has been an enormous amount of love and thought and care that has gone into this place. Even as a building site, I could see past the tins of paint and ladders and wiring and see that this looks classy.

A simply lovely bar space with 5 cask handpulls and 4 Craft keg fonts.

All to dispense beers sourced exclusively from Greater Manchester breweries! The man is singing a sweet sweet song.

Gareth cares passionately about sourcing locally. He loves the beers made around this great city, as do I. We both believe that there are few places making better beer than Manchester, a city with a simply BOOMING beer scene.

I repeat. All of the cask. All of the keg. All of the bottles. All will be sourced from with 25 miles radius of the bar.

Localism in action. Let’s have some applause eh?

The opening beers tonight will include the mighty (and FAR too underrated) Brewsmith IPA on cask. There will be Runaway and Black Jack on keg. There are some stunning local bottles too.

He tells me that he is going to open at 7pm. And even amongst the carnage on that floor last night, I don’t doubt him for a single moment.

The bar is on Bridge Street, just opposite Gaslamp.

Go and say hello. Make the man smile. After his (and his local team’s) HERCULEAN efforts, he deserves that.

I’m in Huddersfield today. I hope he’s still open when I get back. Because I would hate to miss his special night.

Just go.

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Slight update!

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Following some last minute hitches, the official opening was put back until today at 4pm. Gareth decided to do a “soft launch”, quietly, among friends and colleagues in the build to give it a test.

As I’m a cheeky git, I finagled my way in, past security, into the “sex dungeon” (ask Gareth!)

And it is looking pretty superb if you were asking….. An incredible transformation from the previous evening.

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Beers? Highlights for me were Brewsmith IPA and Runaway’s amazing American Brown. But beers from Black Jack, Brightside, Deeply Vale & Phoenix for starters, with more goodies waiting.

Some great bottles too.

Like I said. Go. I’ll be there at 4 for sure!

Home Beers – March 2016 – Pt 1

Following a conversation whilst I was out in Liverpool, this blog may diversify. Still predominantly beer focused, but – given some of the excellent concerts I’ve been going to – maybe a bit more music.

I may even start to write less. Give you “all” a break, like. Not actually…stop though. This is sometimes my window onto breweries for #ISBF2016. But, musically, Mixcloud may be the way forward……

But, for now, more beer wibbles – starting with:

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AbyssNeptune Brewery (Maghull) – 5% abv – Oatmeal Stout – 330ml – Direct from the brewer.

On opening the bottle, I inhaled the fumes escaping from the bottleneck. I hate waste I do. Especially when it smells so goodly and dark. This pitch black beer just reeks of dark chocolate and roasty malt and rich toffee. Decadently so. Flaunting its pale coffee coloured head, positively taunting me….

Oh. My. Days. Is. This. Lush.

The first mouthful is barely a dip, but it coats my mouth in roasty bitter goodness. Deeply chocolatey with a light note of caramel sweetness and a little dash of licorice to get the tongue gossiping. Moderate carbonation making this feel very creamy and full in the mouth.

Second gob full rubber stamps the first impression that this is just a lovely Stout with a well judged bitterness adding to the dry finish rounded off by another, delayed, licorice hit along with a herbal hop tone.

You need this in your life. You do.

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We’re All Mad HereCheshire Brewhouse (Congleton) – American Pale Ale – 6% abv – 330ml – Heaton Hops (Heaton Chapel)

Deeply golden, almost amber coloured beer with good fluffy white collar and some deep fruity citrus tones in the aroma with a sticky orange uppermost to these bunged up sinuses!

In the mouth, this thing comes alive! This full bodied beastie is as fruity as good want it. Slightly sweet with a toffee malt background, this is all about the fruity hoppage which more than balances that malt base.

Marmalade oranges, peach a little lemony note too, this is simply a gorgeous Pale Ale, beautifully fruity, smooth drinking with a nice carbonation and a lovely bitterness to it.

The finish is sticky orange with an equally sticky resinous hop aftertaste and is just superb. In line with the rest of this beer.

For all the hoopla around some breweries in this country, when Shane Swindells gets all liberal and shit with his hop store, few do this business better.

You need to pay more attention to this Congleton brewery. You really do…

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More Grounds For DivorceFive Towns Brewery (Wakefield) – 8.2% abv – Belgian Tripel – 750ml – Direct from the brewer

A thing of Pale golden beauty is this beer. That might blonde head sitting atop of that chalice of gold with a luscious aroma with peach, fragrant honeyed fruits, a touch of spice, even the merest hint of that sweet of my childhood, Parma Violets! Like a trip down memory lane this….

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. That Orval yeast…..

I had this in its previous incarnation when it was 7.8%abv. We even had it in cask at #ISBF2014 AND this version last year. This is just sooooo lush!

Banana split toffee ice cream, drizzled with honey and topped off with slices of peach and mango…. Drooling yet? Fruity. So fruity. But with that yeasty peppery bite. It gets your saliva glands pumping, then slams the door shut with a spicy dryness..

So rich and smooth yet simultaneously light, the fruit plays in your mouth before the yeast muscles in like a parent at a teenagers party and turns the music off! But not quite, as the fruitiness lingers on, leading to a dry spicy yeast finish.

A simply cracking beer. Long may Barry keep bringing that great yeast over!

I got a bit of a kicking recently for my attempts at getting more of Malcolm’s beers over here. Seems like Yorkies want to keep him as their little secret.

Well, Bollocks to that!

Started to get some on draught over here, bottles to follow – including a lush sounding Seville Orange IPA……. And that makes me a happy bunny.

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GrailfritQuantum Brewing Co (Stockport) – 4.8% abv – Grapefruit Pale Ale – 330ml – Epicurean (W Didsbury)

This beer followed a conversation I had with Mr Krause. I asked about the chance of him making a beer with grapefruit. And supplying it to #ISBF2015. I have a feeling that he’d may have been thinking about just that.

The next thing I saw was a picture. Of simply LOADS of grapefruit.

Which you can smell. The moment you flip the lid. Simply leaping out of the bottle neck.

The beer is a beautiful burnished gold in colour and sports a light white collar from which that fruity bounty is emitted. Really juicy on the nose, without the tartness that you get from the fresh fruit.

Light to medium bodied, this is a really refreshing mouthful indeed. Plenty of grapefruit fruitiness, really smooth and juicy, with that dry tartness only making itself felt after the swallow, when it raises its tangy head.

This beer rewards patience and proper tasting, run it around the mouth and all shades of the fruitiness reveal themselves.

The finish is dry and slightly tart with the Mosaic hops giving a bit of fruity spice to the aftertaste.

Another cracker from the Stockport lab of Jay Krause. Long may he experiment….

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Brown AleCloudwater Brew Co (Manchester) – 4.8% abv – Brown Ale – 330ml – Epicurean (W Didsbury)

Boring. Brown. Beer. Who said that again? Just remind me. So I can tell them to GET IN THE ******G SEA!

The colour of this beer is spectacular. Reminds me of a good Cognac. And the smell….. Just so fruity hop. There’s all sorts of tropical shit going on here, but with a more savoury, almost nutty, note. Enticing to say the least!

Oh my. This is divine! Medium bodied and shortly carbonated, yes, the first thing that hits the senses I’d the tropical fruit. But what grabs me is the earthiness. Nutty and savoury, like a Rye loaf coated in walnuts. Floating in an ocean of bitter tropical fruitiness.

Quite a dry fruity finish to this and that earthiness raises it’s dirty head again before the end, with an almost rye-ish spikyness joining with the slightly resinous hoppy aftertaste.

A splendid beer indeed. From a brewery that just gets better and better.

And guess what. They don’t just make DIPAs you know!

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EquinoxBarearts Brewery (Todmorden) – 6% abv – Brown Ale – 330ml – Barearts Shop (Todmorden)

Beers like this remind me that being malty is no crime!

This really dark ruby beer has a mocha coloured head and a spicy aroma reminding me of rye, molasses and licorice.

Oh my! This is a beauty!!! Deep dark vine fruits on rye toast. There’s nothing like a good first impression! Quite full bodied, and darkly fruity with currants and raisins and a bit of cherry. A bit like a beery Dundee Cake….. Yummy!

Yes, there’s a certain sweetness, but not much. The overwhelming feeling is fruit and spice here. And richly cakey.

I love my cake! (Frank Kelly RIP)

In later swallows there is more than a building hint of licorice too to the finish and quite a grassy hoppiness in the aftertaste as well.

The Arch Nemesis had banged on to me about this elusive Todmorden brewery and with each beer I’ve drunk, I can see why.

I might have to have a word for #ISBF2016!

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Double IPARunaway Brewery (Manchester) – 7.2% abv – DIPA – 330ml – Heaton Hops (Heaton Chapel)

This copper coloured beer supports a generous fluffy white head that exudes tropicality. That aroma is full of mango, passion fruit even a bit of kiwi. Really juicy on the nose.

And just as juicy in the mouth too! Mango, grapefruit and lemony tartness with a box of apricot in here too. A proper sharp fruit salad of a beer is this. Big bodied as you would expect, with a substantial chewy juicy malt backbone to support that bowl of fruity hop muscle.

Quite a spiciness following the swallow too. This beer finishes very dry, leaving you wanting another mouthful. Then another…. Not that I want to wash away the delightful resinous aftertaste. Oh no.

I’ve been waiting to try this beer when sober, as I always seem to get it on keg when I’ve had a few (if you get my meaning). It doesn’t disappoint. Simply a stunning beer from a brewery of similar stature.

Nicely done Mr W…………….