Manchester Beer Week 2016 – It’s a Wrap

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So. That was the week that was. People came from all over the country. Manchester partied. Manchester rained. Manchester didn’t care.

This is Manchester after all.

And here is the man who pulled it off…. Looking like Ralf Hutter….

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Yes. Connor Murphy is a Kraftwerk robot body double.

The great and the good turned up for the opening bash at Manchester’s iconic pub, The Marble Arch. I turned up too.

Was a nice touch for the Arch to put beers from several Manchester breweries on the bar for the opening do too, including the collaboration Festival beer Manchester Fold.

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The t-shirt got an outing. THE t-shirt.

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The band were superb.

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And the pub looked as stunning as ever.

For a drinker who’d done weird shifts all week – and fell asleep on the way to the event – it was the perfect way to end the week. That and the Runaway Keg tap takeover at the Crown & Kettle later that evening.

With my work patterns, there were way too many events that I couldn’t go to. Especially when I hadn’t finished planning my own event at The Brink 2 days later!

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Frightening isn’t quite the word I’d use. But it was damned close. My name was Thumper and there was a brightly headlit truck heading right towards me!

But with a little bit of Salfordian waffle and 5 fabulous beers from Pictish, Runaway, Brewsmith, Thirst Class & Serious Brew Co, we pulled it off, with no little skill from Kate & Sarah behind the bar. Thanks to Gareth for hosting us.

It was almost a sell-out and it was especially pleasing that each of the beers received some excellent comments that the brewers were there to hear first hand. Once the presenting bit was over, I got to enjoy it too. Way too much.

And it gave me an idea…… For ISBF.

I tried to get to the Heritage Brew night at the Smithfield, but work intervened. Went in the next night – all those beers had gone. Those Monday night drinkers must have been like hungry vampires in a blood bank!

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On the Wednesday, we had (what was for me) the unmissable “The Power of Yeast” event at Brew Dog on Peter Street.

Whilst I am no amateur brewer (I simply detest the phrase “home brewer”) and have no intention of being one, I was fascinated about this clever experiment. 4 local brewers. Each with the same malt & hop bill, just 4 different yeasts. A bit more science based than the Pete Brown music and beer experiment from Manchester Science Week.

Rob from Lallemand (yeast company) spoke eloquently and informatively about yeast strains and variants and the flavour effect that these can each have on beer. This was backed up by 4 different beers.

A “control beer” with a neutral yeast from Torrside – a clean and refreshing Pale Ale.

A Belgian yeast variant from Tickety Brew – typically spicy

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A refreshing and punchy Saison from Runaway and then a spicy, banana tinged Wit from Thirst Class. All superb and all demonstrating the different flavours that can be imparted by those enzymes that turn the sugars into the stuff that makes you fall over. Or makes you pull strange faces….

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And that – with a fleeting visit to the events at Black Jack & Runaway on Saturday was it for me – both relaxed and excellent as always (by the time I got to Runaway it was rammed! But still – strangely – with a really chilled out feel. Nila’s Burmese food was fabulous BTW…)

Using social media as oversight, all the events seemed to go really well judging by comments. Even Manchester’s customary weather failed to dampen the party spirit. If anything, people got off the tables and did a rain dance!

I was pleased to be there near the start of this process with Connor back last September. I was pleased to have watched the event grow in scope as his plans came to fruition. I was honoured to be asked to contribute in my own small way.

But be under no illusions. The boy had vision. The boy had energy (and boy how he needed it!). And he pulled it off with Mancunian wit and style.

I take my proverbial off to him.

Beer People Are Good People – There Are Exceptions

A while back now, I posited my truth about the people I’ve met through beer. To a contradictictory reaction of simultaneous praise and mockery.

I freely accept that it is not a universal truth. But it is MY truth.

And I invited others to tell theirs and had one or two rewarding conversations as a result. Conversation and debate is the lifeblood of blogging and all opinions are welcome.

But there are marks that are not to be overstepped. Abuse should not be tolerated.

I am a beer blogger. But I adore music just as much – if not more. I am also overtly political in that I am an avowed Socialist. The s is capitalised deliberately.

The “debate” about “In” or “Out” regarding the EU referendum in the media has been toxic and offensive. This appears to have shifted onto Social Media too, the nearer we get to polling day.

I have recently had reason to “unfriend” two “Beer People” on Facebook due to comments that I found – in order – ignorant/offensive and just downright offensive. I have met neither person physically, but felt that I had shared interests. Not being politically aligned is no reason to not get on – life has too many shades. It’s not all monochrome.

But I do draw lines.

My hashtag remains a truism to me. It is my truth. The people I have actually met on my ongoing beer adventure have been warm, welcoming and generous – both emotionally and with their time, products and effort. Brewers, drinkers, landlords and landladies. All good people.

My love of – and belief in – those people hasn’t altered one iota. Irrespective of their politics.

Beer People are still Good People. But there are exceptions.

Home Beers – June 2016 – Pt 1

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RampartBrass Castle Brewery (Malton) / Ossett Brewery (er…. Ossett) – 7% abv – IPA – 330ml can – Bottle (Heaton Moor)

This beer was the standout at Manchester Beer and Cider Festival this year for me, big and juicy. I was surprised to see it in cans though on a recent visit to Bottle. I had to have it.

Deep copper coloured, the light white head  emitting a deep fruity aroma full of caramelised pineapple and bitter orange. Juices duly flowing, it was time for a mouthful……

Oh yes. No change. Just as magnificent in canned format as it was in cask.

Really full bodied with plenty of cakey chewy malt, this is soaked in sticky fruit! Orange marmalade, juicy pineapple, even a little hint of drunken raisins. Really juicy and packing a big fruity hoppy punch as an IPA this strength should.

Nice full bitterness in the finish of this leading to a full on piney resinous hit in the aftertaste.

It would have been easy for this beer to fall down compared to the superb cask at Manchester Central. But not a bit of it. This is just as superb in can. Lush.

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CannonballMagic Rock Brewing (Huddersfield) – 7.4% abv – IPA – 330ml (can) – Bottle (Heaton Moor)

A beer that I’ve had issues with. One where I’ve never understood some of the fluffing that has gone online about it, having tried it in both keg & bottle form.
The can – having seen it in the corner of my eye – was an impulse buy. A last chance if you will. It has been decent, but decent wasn’t what I was led to expect

Hazy gold from the get go. This light white head just sings an aria to hops. Fruity as hell on the nose like a mashed up cocktail. Kiwi, passion fruit, mango and a little grapefruit – for next a bit more citrus!

 Big and juicy. With all of the above jostling and tumbling for room on the taste buds. Slight sweetness to the chewy cheesecakey malt, but more than offset by the hopload. Juicy with a really lovely balancing bitterness – lacking in some so called IPAs.

That juiciness lasts from gun to tape and gives way at the last to a sticky resinous pine which piggybacks that bitter finish.

A joy. Right up there.

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Single Hop Pale Ale (Centennial)North Riding Brewery (East Ayton, Scarborough) – 4.5% abv – Pale Ale – 500ml – Bottle (Heaton Moor)

Beautiful golden beer with a light white head and a hooter full of lemony citrus.

Yet again, Stuart Neilson nails it. First impressions are medium of body, with a nice biscuity malt base. Then the hops. Lots of hops.

Lemony sharp, with juicy mango and lots of it. Really fruity and juicy. That lemon is quite bracing but in no way detracts from the fact that this is one refreshing beer!

This is one lovely beer. Fruity, dry of finish and with moderate bitterness and a nice hoppy aftertaste. Levels of yum!

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Dane’IshCheshire Brewhouse (Congleton) – 5.0% abv – Lager – 330ml – Heaton Hops (Heaton Chapel)
Lightly Hazy and golden, this unfined and unfiltered beer has a light foamy white head on it, giving off a slightly fruity aroma with a little peppery spice making my nose wrinkle.
This is a small batch lager to convert the macro boys away from their bland fizzy shite.
Smoothly carbonated, the initial flavours are of forest fruits on a light crusty bread malt base with a light sweetness for those fruity hops to play with. This is a superbly balanced beer, light, spicy and refreshing but with a little spicy kick in the finish.
Finally. Someone has nailed a really good English lager. Nice slightly hoppy and peppery aftertaste too. Shane Swindells should take a bow. This is just as good in bottle as it is in Keg (regularly) at The Brink.
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US IPA (Citra, Summit, Equinox) – North Riding BreweryIPA – 5.5% abv – 500ml – Bottle (Heaton Moor)
Over the last 12 months – leaving aside The Independent Salford Beer Festival (shameless plug for fresh looking website!) – there are two things that I am really proud of. Thjose are finally nagging people enough to get beers from North Riding Brewery of Scarborough and Five Towns of Wakefield into Manchester area bars
Finally, you lot over THIS side of the hill have the chance to see if I’ve been talking utter bollocks about them. And I haven’t, have I?
I’ve had some grief from over in Yorkshire, but it has been worth it. I finally get to try two of my personal heroes beers in my own back yard – on cask, And I’m thrilled.
But what about THIS particular beer?

Oh yes. A proper beast is this. Big, deep golden beer with a lasting soft white head and an immensely fruity aroma full of orange, mango and a little peach.

Juicy, juicy, juicy. In Chris Hall’s parlance, a banger and no mistake. This is full of mango, with orange and peach and not a little gooseberry too in this wee devil. So, so, so juicy.

Big and bold and fruity this. The swallow is nicely bitter as any decent IPA should be. That bitterness being just short of bracing. Perfectly judged.

The finish is juicy and bitter with a big grassy resinous aftertaste. And it’s a joy to drink.

That boy Neilson can brew you know.

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Your BetrayalMarble Brewery (Manchester) – 5% abv – American Pilsner – 330ml – Epicurean (West Didsbury)
At the end of the brewday for Manchester Fold (with Lees & Cloudwater), myself and Connor found ourselves having a couple of beers when we saw a tweet from Marble. “New beer! Free half in 57 Thomas Street!”….
Well…….of course we did!
That was this beer, but in keg. Delicious on draught, now for the bottle….
This recent release from Marble pours a glittering gold with a light white head with an amazing tropical hop aroma. Kiwi, passion fruit, mango. All kinds of yum!
Having had this fresh in release day on Keg, I kind of knew what to expect. BOOM! ALL KINDS OF TROPICAL!
Fruit. So much fruit. Dancing a hula around my mouth. Mango, lychee, passion fruit and a touch of kiwi swaying their grass skirts around my mouth before being lassoed back in line by a bracing and abrupt resinous hop dryness.
If James Kemp and his team day this is a Pilsner, who am I to gainsay? It works. Brilliantly. I, personally, would call this an ultra Pale Ale. And it works on that turf too. You will get few Session IPAs that rock like this!
Dry and sticky resinous aftertaste, don’t ever leave me!
There you have them. 6 utter crackers. If you see them – or their hop variants (in the case of North Riding), do yourself a flavour. Buy them. And say it was my fault!
See you soon at MANCHESTER BEER WEEK!!!!
As I said above, about my pride at finally seeing North Riding & Five Towns in Manchester. When I heard a big Five Towns pale (7%) was on draught at The Smithfield, I was scared that I’d miss it. So an unscheduled trip was in order – even though Atilla’s family were over…….
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Oh I had to have two pints – minimum! Then, I noted there was a smooth operator by Hawkshead on keg. Tonka Imperial Porter. Now then, since the #CraftBeerHour that I hosted for ISBF last year, I have a rep for ludicrous Black & Tans.
So. BIG 7% Five Towns (“One At T’End”) meet BIG Tonka Imperial Porter.
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It was ******* STUNNING! I had a few. And it was neither big, nor clever.
But it was DAMN tasty!
Slainte!