Bottle – A Great New Bar In The Heatons

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It was meant to be a quick visit for a couple of bottles. I stayed an hour and a half. That’s what can happen when you talk to Corin Bland about beer.

The Heatons were always going to be spoilt. It was just (quite literally) a matter of time – planning permissions, licensing issues etc – before this area just to the north of Stockport got a brace of new bars. First came Damian O’Shea and partner Charlotte’s new bar in Heaton Chapel, then, having waited for ages…..along comes another excellent offering, from another respected purveyor of the finest of beverages…

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For those who are wondering what the hell I’m prattling on about, Corin is the man behind High Peak Beer in Stockport’s indoor market, a shop that packs in way too much great beer for such a small spot. If you’ve ever been, you know what I’m talking about.

It was fairly quiet when I popped in, but the bar peaks (no pun intended) an awful lot of interest, because as I was asking Corin how it was going, a number of people – passing the bar – kept putting their faces to the window. Whilst I was sat enjoying an excellent half (well….2 actually!) of Founders All Day IPA, a couple came in, had a beer and left both with several bottles and more knowledge about beer than when they entered.

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The bar itself is – to say the least – small, yet it is indeed perfectly formed. Nice and bright, several tables with bar stools (and a couple of stools at the actual bar) and some, shall I say, interesting “artwork” that was very much up my street!

Corin (like me) also has a love of music – shall we say – of a certain vintage. That most certainly shows in the additional decor!

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Yes. That’s right. Specially created music themed beer mats! I want some. Please?

Now. Here’s the rub (for some), no cask ale. What there are, however, are seven keg fonts. With, to use Corin’s own words, 2 local beers, two from (farther afield) UK Micros and two from abroad. Plus a lager. On my visit…well..you can see from the photo below….

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A fine selection to be sure. What may soothe the brow of those wishing to consume more – shall I say – traditionally conditioned beers, is the fabulous collection of bottles that face the bar. Which, of course, being a complete imbecile, I neglected to take a pic of! But, it looked like a “who’s who” of brewing in the UK, Craft and otherwise.

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(Pay no mind to those bottles…They’re mine!)

In all, when the rear yard suntrap is cleared, there is probably room for about 50 people on the premises and I believe the bar was exceptionally busy on its opening weekend – Opening pre-Easter weekend was a good move! Longer term, this looks like a great place that will thrive. The Heatons is obviously the place to be! To say the least….I’m jealous.

Now then….What time is that train from Bolton?

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(A small selection! Damn that pink tinge!)

Now, here’s a challenge. One of the pieces of “artwork” also constitutes a music quiz. Each card contains the first line of a song, in a font related to the song. Have as go!

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(Quiz Time!)

Along with The Beer Shop on Kingsleigh Road, that now makes 3 bars in The Heatons where you can have a beer on draught and take away a few bottles too.

Anyone fancy a summer “crawl”?

On that note….’til next time….

Slainte!

My #GoldenPints 2014

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Oh Shit! It’s that time of year when I’m forced to be decisive and tell you (and you probably couldn’t give a flying…..) about what I REALLY liked this year, by pre-defined category.

So, 2014 was a year when I discovered the following :

How much I love blogging about beer.

How much I really couldn’t be arsed blogging about beer.

How close you can come to a nervous breakdown (and I HAVE been there) and come through nearly unscathed (See The Independent Salford Beer Festival)

How much generally that “Beer People Are Good People”

And a huge thanks to “BeerReviewsAndy” (someone I have never met) for getting this snowball rolling…..

And….the following……

  1. Best UK Cask BeerGrounds For DivorceFive Towns Brewery (Wakefield, W Yorks) – For me, the best beer at #ISBF2014. A 7.8% Belgian style Tripel fermented using yeast from the legendary Brasserie Orval, brewed at the bottom of a garden in Outwood, Wakefield, by one of the most unassuming people that I have ever met. As fruity as Carmen Miranda’s headgear and as light and tasty as a Heston Blumenthal foam. It. Rocked. My. World. (And I’m yet to really get into Belgian beer!)
  2. Best UK Keg Beer – I haven’t really had all that much, but of those that I HAVE had, I’d fall on the side of American Brown Ale – Runaway Brewery – . From the first sip at Black Jack Tap (Hmmm….) to the last sip (WOW!). This beer adheres to Principle 1 of the 3 Jazwinski Beer Principles. It was a beer that improved with each and every sip. By that last sip, I could *almost* have been a convert to keg. And it was fecking astonishingly good at #ISBF2014 on cask too!
  3. Best UK Bottle or Can – I’m not gonna cop out here by choosing one each (I’ll do THAT elsewhere!). This was a close run thing. My vote – by a well groomed whisker – goes to Govinda (Brandy Barrel Aged) IPACheshire Brewhouse (Congleton, Cheshire). A massively English hopped IPA at 6.8% abv, the original version was already a stunning thing, a grand riposte to those who think English hopped beers are merely brown and twiggy murk. Get Thee Behind Me Beery Satans! “Spicy boozy raisins, banana, marmalade dancing all over a deep toffee malt base. This is a proper IPA. The fruity and toffee flavours …. give way to a spicy hop…” Being fairly dedicated to UK – and Northern beers in particular, this proved the most intense #Beergasm that I had this year.
  4. Best Overseas Draught – Not. Really. My. Bag. Next……!
  5. Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer – Can? Founders All Day IPA. Does exactly what it says on the tin. Fresh, zingy and oh so refreshing. Bottle? Not had many…But, from Brouwerij The Musketeers (Ursel, Belgium) – Troubadour WestKust Black Imperial IPA – A 750 ml bottle that – in the midst of a tastebud numbing cold, I could actually taste. A full-bodied fruity hop assault. With licorice. What’s NOT to like?
  6. Best Collaboration Brew – Another tricky one. Came down to a choice of two, BOTH involving the mighty Stuart Neilson of the North Riding Brewpub in Scarborough. The first was 300 from Five Towns / North Riding – a big, punchy Double IPA which in no way tasted it’s strength but had more hops than Watership Down and was a damn sight tastier! However, edging this by simple force of Bitterness, is Protz’s PleasureSteel City Brewing (Sheffield) / North Riding Brewpub (Scarborough) – Conceived (possibly) as a riposte to a rant from Roger Protz about the beer type “Black IPA”. All of the oxymoronic characteristics of a BIPA with a simply MASSIVE bitterness. Astonishing.
  7. Best Overall Beer – See 3 above!IMAG2241
  8. Best Branding, Pumpclip or LabelBad Seed Brewery. For that hanging tag pump label. Irritating for the staff, but classy as feck. (I’ve kept the one from #ISBF2014 – don’t change fellas!)IMAG2118
  9. Best UK Brewery – On balance, this HAS to go to the brewery from which I drink the most consistently excellent and drinkable beers – Drinkability, for me, means a tasty, well hopped (or dark and roasted) beer that I can drink repeatedly without falling off my chair. For me, this means AllGates. From Sloe Stout at Manchester Beer and Cider Fest to Half Devil at #ISBF2014 and all points in between, just consistently excellent beer.
  10. Best Overseas Brewery – Moving swiftly on…..Next!
  11. Best New Brewery Opening 2014 – Controversy time! I’m going to go with Shindigger Brewing. I KNOW that they don’t have their own premises (yet!), but as a consumer, this is about the beer, right? From my first taste of Pacific Pale to the Saison/PIP at an MTB in Chorlton, they have progressed with each. and. every. beer. Cask, keg and bottle. Cuckoo? Gypsy? It’s about the beer for me, like I said. A HUGE honourable mention to Runaway Brewery and Squawk Brewing too. Manchester really IS rocking at the moment!
  12. Pub/Bar of the Year – (I’ve twisted the category – slightly!) Pub? Easy. As last year, The Hare & Hounds in Hindley (Wigan). A proper local that I need to visit WAY more often. 5 Great cask beers, friendly service, friendly locals, a real fire and a great landlord/landlady combo in Nigel and Adele. Sorted. Bar? Hmmm….Trickier. But I can’t split. So – a) Great Ale Year Round at Bolton Market for continuing to bring good beer to Bolton (and giving me a reason to visit the town!), a rare thing in the last few years for me. Great local cask/keg beers, friendly regulars, friendly hosts. Anne & Steve continue to do a sterling job. I just hope that the council could open up 6 days a week instead of 4! And – b) Wigan Central – 7 cask lines. 4 Craft keg. In Wigan? A brave move by Prospect Brewery, but one that appears to be paying off judging by the feedback that I’ve been privy to! They made a wise move in bringing Dan & Gina Buck in to run it (formerly of Great Ale Year Round – see the link there?). Great location, fabulously fitted out. Excellent beers too. (As far as the original category goes – both of the latter 2 opened this year!)
  13. Best beer and food pairing – I’m not QUITE reconstructed to that stage yet….Next!
  14. Beer Festival of the Year – 3 candidates. 1 I cannot choose. Because I organised it. The self interest element prevents me from choosing The Independent Salford Beer Festival. So, I’m left with 2. IndyManBeerCon is indeed a beery Tour De Force and remains a fixture for most sensible beer calendars (mine is set for 09:00 on 01/04/2015 – for the probable ticket release!). I DO think that cask appeared to be marginalised this year and I hear many gripes from elsewhere, but really? Just “grow a pair” and appreciate it for what it is! My winner though is AllGates‘ “The Road To Wigan Beer” in April. A fantastic selection of some of the newest and best UK breweries on cask. Spread across 6 pubs within Wigan borough. In one day. On a bus. Simply the most fun I’ve had in 2014. And fun matters.
  15. Supermarket of the YearBooths. Simple. If you have been to a branch, bought beer, then chose a different supermarket, you’re having a laugh. At your own expense. Obviously, If you live more than 20 miles south of Knutsford, you may not understand. It’s a Northern thing!
  16. Independent Retailer of the YearThe Liquor Shop (Whitefield) Now closed and reborn as specialist beer shop BarBeerian, this has been the place from which I have bought the most beer. Period. The stock is large and wide ranging (Scotland to US/Italy) and great value too. All that from a small convenience store! Now Raj has moved a couple of doors down and opened up as a specialist beer shop, he’s looking to open a small bar upstairs with craft keg & a local cask line. I wish him well with this.
  17. Online Retailer of the Year – I haven’t. I try and shop locally. Aren’t I virtuous? Next!
  18. Best Beer Book or MagazineOpening Times (Stockport & South Manchester CAMRA) – Essential semi-drunken bus home reading material. Well written & edited (Mr Clarke, take a bow!).
  19. Best Beer Blog or Website – Hmmm….Time for another split. Still up there (and one of my two) is Glenn Johnson and his “My World of Beer“. Informative, straight and tells me what I want to know. Is the pub/bar/beer good. And does it well. But locally? The Boozy Procrastinator by Deeekos, a blog that came into its own with some assertive posts on a variety of issues from IndyManBeerCon through to Myleene Klaas & Paddington Bear (in the same post!). Funny, informative, passionate. A winning combination.
  20. Best Beer AppTwitter. I think I would meltdown if I used Untappd. And not in a good way. Some people talk such utter bollocks about beer & breweries when they can be cloaked in anonymity. So no. Next!
  21. Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer@BroadfordBrewer. For #TwattyBeerDoodles and so much more.
  22. Best Brewery Website/Social mediaCheshire Brewhouse. Just functional & classy.

 

My #12BeersOfXmas – Day 11 – All Day IPA by Founders Brewing

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“On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….”

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All Day IPA by Founders Brewing (Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA)

There I am, banging on about British Breweries, then I review 2 US Beers in 2 days! WTF!!! Well. ’tis the season of love, joy & goodwill to all beers. And I had been verbally assailed by how good this beer is by all and sundry, including a good buddy of mine whose US sensibilities I trust implicitly. One of the first beers that I bought from The Liquor Shop in Prestwich this (on a recommendation)….So, what’s it like….

Light copper to gold coloured with a nice tight white head and a lovely grassy and sugared grapefruit aroma, certainly more than you would expect from a 4.1% abv brew. This just smelt so lovely that my lips were drawn to the glass as if magnetised! A wee bit of fresh-baked bready sweetness is swiftly mounted by a gorgeous fresh zingy hops. Grapefruit upfront then a gentle bitterness.

This is about aroma and fresh flavour, not bitterness as in a lot of UK beer. Freshly mown grass follows as night follows day, just so refreshing! Founders call this a Session Ale and for the States this most certainly is. This really lives up to its name. It truly is a beer that is full of fresh early Spring/Summer flavours that you really could drink all day!

And, on that note…’til next time…(Day 12 – YAY!!!)

Slainte!