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

MBCF

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.

Unmissable.

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!

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And for those who want to plan ahead, here is the link to the full UK beer list! http://mancbeerfest.uk/beers-ciders/uk-beers/

 

 

 

My #GoldenPints 2014

Golden Pints Logo

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.

 

Allgates Brewery – The Road To Wigan Beer – 04/10/2014

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“It’s 2 o’clock in the morning and I have to make my way back home,

standing here in this old depot, waiting for my train to come on,

so come on train……”

(“Come On Train” – Don Thomas – Clip courtesy of “The 45s Club” via YouTube)

One of my all time favourite tunes, never mind just Northern Soul. From a former member of The Drifters, this is a dance floor classic, a Northern Soul floor filler that I never tire of hearing. It has that trick of many great tunes of just…building. Building momentum, building sound. That middle eight “Moving….down the track….got to get….my baby back….” Just bloody….moving. Has had this particular large fella shaking many a floor (never mind a “tail feather”) Used to great effect in 2009 in an ad for Visa cards. Have a listen. Feel that swelling sound, from the initial plaintive piano notes, the initial drum roll, the plucked strings to the blast of the trumpets….just bloody….soulful.

“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley” So said Rabbie Burns in 1785 in his poem “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough” And how right he was!

This planned jaunt took several forms in the planning stages and was originally intended for the previous weekend. However, that excellent Sussex-based blogger Glenn Johnson had re-scheduled his illness blighted trip from earlier in the year. That was my priority, as much as I love the Allgates bus “crawl”. Then, the Allgates bus was cancelled until the next weekend. BONUS!!!

So, monitoring the Allgates Brewery Twitter account like a ravenous hawk, I awaited confirmation of the details……and waited….only to see a tweet in apology. Bus was fine, but no driver!!! Damn those fates! I NEEDED a day away from the stresses of planning The Independent Slaford (or even Salford!) Beer Festival………There was only one thing for it then….

DIY. On public transport.

Now then. Some of these pubs are damned slow to get to by bus. So the first leg of this journey started at Manchester Victoria (Arch-Nemesis – who else?) and Walkden (YT). The destination? Gathurst. First stop after Wigan Wallgate on the Southport line.

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The first mis-judgement of the day? No raincoat. Fortunately, the (rather picturesque) walk along the Leeds-Liverpool canal was wet, both overhead and under foot! The area had just received its first significant rainfall for ages and was…a touch mucky!

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Now then, having said that I needed a break from the planning of a certain beer festival, I get a call from a brewer (who shall remain unnamed, let’s call him…..Rob) with a beer proposition. he threw me a beery curve ball. But I was a) thirsty. b) thirsty and c)……. in short, I needed that first beer! And we were only half way to the destination!

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The Crooke Hall Inn (Crooke Village, Wigan)

This really IS a delightfully located pub, situated in Crooke Village, a conservation area. With tables on the banks of the Leeds-Liverpool and a large marina just around the corner, it’s a beautiful spot. We’ve had quite a few Sunday dinners here with the kids and they love it so much they almost rip my hand off if I offer to drive over! (As long as Attila drives back……)

The A-N & I were (unsurprisingly) first in (we were there 10 mins early!) and shambled towards the bar….

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Bad Seed Brewery – Waimea Pale Ale – 4.5% abv – Pale Ale (Love the pump clip!)

With an almost amber colour, this beer took no prisoners as a first beer of the day. It didn’t last too long either! Peach and passion fruit in both nose and mouth, this was an assertively bitter beastie and no mistake, with one hell of a dry finish! My first cask beer from this most excellent Malton based brewery and it most certainly didn’t disappoint!

The Crooke really is a lovely pub, with three distinctly separate rooms, great, reasonably priced food and that fabulous location…

Two decisions. Food? And next beer…. The Beer battered Fish for me with something from a new brewery to me….

Longman BreweryAmerican Pale Ale – 4.8% abv – Pale Ale

This pale golden beer was fruity but maltier than I expected. With blackcurrant and citrus on the nose and quite fruity with that big malty base, it stood up well to the astringent preceding Waimea and went superbly with the excellent Fish & Chips! Next up, with 5 ales on the pumps, I went for the other guest beer.

Magic Rock BrewingRingmaster – 3.9% abv – Pale Ale

I’d had one or two less than sparkling pints of this since it was rebadged from its Curious days. This, however, was right back on the mark! Light Pale gold, big and fruity with a lot of hop going on this was back to its Curious best. A cracking beer to finish with, standing up well to both of the preceding – higher abv – beers. A proper session pale ale.

Now, with a couple of leisurely hours spent at The Crooke, we were under the gun a bit, so a brisk muddy walk back to Gathurst and the rattler back to Wigan Wallgate to stop number 2 which was….

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(Archive shot!)

The Anvil (Dorning Street, Wigan – adj to Wigan Bus Stn)

What is effectively the Allgates brewery tap manages to have the feel of a multi-roomed pub, without having any doors. Light and bright, with three separate drinking areas, this is one popular and busy pub. I’ve been in on several occasions and never seen it quiet. Justly renowned for the quality of its beers, this pub is a multiple award winner and a CAMRA Good Beer Guide staple. A thriving pub. It was here that I got another pleasant surprise with the beer selection…..

Cheshire Brewhouse – John Barleycorn Green Hop Temptress – 4.0% abv – Pale Ale

This man makes good beer. Shane Swindells that is. I was chuffed to bits to get my hands on this especially when it went down my throat! It was pale gold, with a slight haze. A beautiful fresh fruity & refreshing pale ale with a little spice hit in the finish. Beautiful. (A welcome surprise!)

Longman BreweryCopper Hop – 4.2% abv – Amber Ale

Another one from this Litlington brewery (in the South Downs National Park), seeing them all too infrequently, I had to have it, didn’t I?

Copper coloured beer, fruity on the old hooter, a nice fruity bitter beer with a toffee malt backbone. A beautifully balancing bitterness. A proper nice beer.
Being only two minutes walk from Wallgate train station, this pub is worth a trip to Wigan itself (will only get better, with the opening of Wigan Central – new Prospect bar run by Dan & Gina Buck – next month!)
Time to move on and test both my planning skills and the timeliness of Arriva Buses! The 575 to Aspull….and….
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The Victoria (Haigh Rd, Aspull, Wigan)
To walk in and find that the landlord is a City fan just topped off this visit! A top chatty bloke too, as were the regulars at the bar. A two-roomed pub with (what appeared to be) a traditional “Lounge” & “Vault” layout, again in cracking good nick, this is a lovely boozer that I would be chuffed to have as my local. The beer happens to be cracking as well….
Black Jack Beers – Curse of Mexico  – 4.5% abv – Pale Ale
A cracking pint. That good, I had to have another! Pale Ale almost copper colour, with a really fruity peachy tropical aroma, Light toffee malt for balance, and beautifully bitter, loads of tropical fruit. A Brucie bonus this beer, was a new one on the Arch-Nemesis as well!
It made a change to see The Victoria in daylight, as it constitutes the last stop on the organised bus trip. Being less “refreshed”, I could appreciate this for the cracking local that it is. Another bonus was realising that it was reachable from Bolton on a single bus…the 575…that conveniently goes through the beery hot spot of Horwich! Needless to say…I’ll be back!
Back into the rain we went, without a raincoat, for the return to Wigan and the next leg, catching the 32 bus to Hindley (via a swift half in The Anvil (rude NOT to really. What with time to kill between buses!)
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The Hare & Hounds (Ladies Lane, Hindley)
Leaving aside the walk from Gathurst to The Crooke, the walk from the bus stop was the longest we faced – about 7-8 mins – but to get to my favourite pub, was time (& effort) well spent. I simply adore this pub. There may be pubs in Manchester that I visit more frequently, but this stands head and shoulders above them. Why? Because it is, quite simply, a community local that also happens to have a cracking partnership (Nigel & Adele) running it and keeping great beer in cracking nick.
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A two-roomer without having actual doors, the bar to the right upon entry with six  pumps with the usual mix of Allgates’ own and excellent guests. Lovely real open fire in the other room. Unfortunately no Nigel or Adele today, but the same friendly welcome,
Time was passing. Only time for one and a half in here.
Cwrw Ial Brewery (Eryrys, Mold) – Haf Gwyn – 4% abv – Extra Pale Ale
A pale cracker of a beer! Mango and grapefruit aromas leaping from the white head on that pale golden body, the fruity promise was delivered in the mouth. Bucket loads of citrus on top of a light pale biscuity body. A belter of a beer. I had another. Again, rude not to really!
This is the stage of the trek where the forward planning for the bus timetables paid dividends – YOU try interpreting TFGMs bus leaflet library after a “few” beers on a mobile phone!
The 33 bus was the selected chariot. Therefore, following an 8 minute walk and an uneventful 20 minute bus ride, we were in our fifth port of call….
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The Union Arms (Castle Street, Tyldesley)
Despite the signage, this is most certainly an Allgates pub. It would be a rare Thwaites pub to have such an adventurous guest beer policy! (Certainly outside of its Blackburn heartland)
Whilst technically a two-roomed pub (one of the rooms wrapping around the bar) this has five distinct drinking areas, A Vault style area to the left of the entrance, two areas to the rear of the pub which link the main room to the Vault and an elevated area in the main room which is used mainly for eating (this pub also does excellent value grub). pub looks way better inside!
We may have had some more grub at this stage….memory fails me!
Tiny Rebel Brewery (Newport, S Wales) – One Inch Punch – 3.9% abv – Pale Ale
Golden. Tropical, almost peachy nose, fruity as hell in a smooth full bodied mouthful, loads of mango and none too bitter in the finish. With the taste buds starting to flag a bit, this was a bloody lovely refreshing livener.
Technically, The Union is my closest Allgates pub. I really should go more often.
The next leg of the journey was made slightly more complex by our missing the designated bus (582) and having to go on a two bus journey with the 33 to Astley then the 26 to Leigh. Needless to say, by the time we got there, I had started to wilt – just a little!
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The White Lion (Leigh Road, Leigh)
One of two Allgates pubs to be a CAMRA Branch Pub of the Year in 2014 (the other being The Crooke). This three roomed pub is another belter. The bar and busy main room is to the right on entry with two rooms to the left with the quieter being to the rear close to the Gents. Allgates have had this since 2011 and, with its beer selection, it is justifiably popular.
The problem here was nothing to do with the pub. It was me. Good grief was I flagging. I had a nice pint of something dark. But made no note so have no idea what it was! What kind of blogger am I, eh?
Reachable from Manchester by X34 & 26 buses (Leigh, tragically, has no train station – the largest town in England without one apparently!) and the 582 from Bolton – passing both The Union and the other Allgates pub The Jolly Nailor – the prices of the beer (as well as the selection) reward the intrepid traveller!
One more point. The buses. With only one exception (the last leg in Astley where the bus was SERIOUSLY late), the buses were all on time. We’d never have got to The White Lion otherwise!
Ah. Those prices….Just consider the beers we drank. Then think of all those beers being at around the £2.40 mark. That’s right, £2.40! No CAMRA or membership discount scheme. Just straight prices! You’d get a HALF in some Manchester pubs at that price!!!
I’m assured by young David Mayhall (Co-Owner of Allgates) that the bus will be back on the menu at Easter. All I will say is, you’d be daft to miss it! A £4 odd train ticket return to Wigan is a small price to pay for what is, in (not just) MY humble opinion, a grand beery day out! (You’d save that amount after 3 pints!!!)
Go on. Where’s your sense of adventure? Treat your taste buds and feast your eyes on some cracking pubs!
On that note…’til next time…
Slainte!

 

 

Bottled Ales – February 2014 – Part 4

“Pass me that bottle of red wine, I’ll drink it here in the sunshine,

Pavements seem empty this evening, still too warm to start thinking where we should eat tonight.

Looking across the piazza, a bell-tower next to a white church,

Manchester seems far away now, still too warm to start thinking where we should go from here”

(“Bottle of Red Wine” – Dislocation Dance)

(Audio here – courtesy of 0n4s on YouTube)

More reminiscence from a waffling old git! On 11/12/1981 the weather was vile. Myself and my mate Dewey (him again) were due to watch the jazz/punk/funk band Pigbag at Eden nightclub in Town (used to be called Rafters I think) on Oxford Rd. Pigbag ended up snowed in in Bristol, unbeknownst to us as we’d turned up! We had options. My first nephew had been born that day, Michael, and I kind of fancied getting leathered with my brother, but my musical mentor of the time, Dewey, persuaded me to stay (as we humped amps down the stairs for a band who’d turned up at short notice to replace Pigbag).

That band were Dislocation Dance. That night changed my life. Quite simply, Dislocation Dance became, for me, the greatest band that Manchester has produced. Yes, I have seen Joy Division, New Order, The Fall all in their absolute pomp. But on an emotional and musicianship and, dammit, on a lyrical level, none of them came close. D Dance (as we abbreviated them) were the best musicians, and the most FUN of any band I have ever seen. Full stop. Christ, the album that the above track come from even got 5 Stars in (the now defunct) Sounds music paper. They even had a session or two on Radio 1!

DDance 2CV(courtesy : ltmrecordings.com)

However, due to the utter pap loving tastes of the time, they sold nowhere near what they deserved to. Am I biased, DAMN RIGHT I am! They gave me some of the best memories and best friends (I met my dear friend Anita at a D Dance concert!) I had in the 80s. Still going too! Saw them at The Ruby Lounge a year or so ago. Only Ian Runacres left (ONLY?) of the line up that I originally saw on 11/12/1981 (Dick Harrison, Andy Diagram, Paul Emmerson & Ian Runacres), but still sounding as fresh and pristine as 32 years earlier.

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Me : Ah Barkeep, what’s that fly doing in my beer?

Barman : I do believe it is the crawl sir!

Forgive my reminiscing waffle. Time for business. The business being beer!

If you have ever read one of these before, you will know what is comes next! If you haven’t……The format remains….

1. The Beer, 2. The Brewer, 3. The Strength, 4. The beer style, 5. The Price & Size (including discount, eg: for CAMRA membership, where applicable – if I can remember the price of course!). 6. Where from,  and, If a website for the vendor exists, the hyperlink to the shop / brewer website, just in case you are inspired enough by my ramblings to make a purchase! Here goes…

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1. Manchester Mild 1987 – Quantum Brewing Company (Stockport, Gtr Manchester) – 3.1% abv – Light Mild – £2.00 (4 for £8) (500ml) – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N Manchester)

As a young ale drinker, I had no local pub. I lived in an area of Salford called Lower Kersal and at that time, the pubs were a somewhat acquired taste. To acquire that taste, you had to own two Staffordshire Bull Terriers, arms full of tattoos and the words “hate” & “hate” on your knuckles. In essence, I was a bloody big soft git! Having gone to De La Salle 6th form with a bunch of good lads form Little Hulton (itself, hardly a district full of shrinking violets!), so it seemed natural, that the pub that was nearest to a local in my heart was The White Lion, a Boddingtons House.

Owned/run by a top landlord by the name of Frank Peake, The Lion was just a top pub. Both bitter and Mild were superbly kept. The pub attracted a cross-section of the community. All ages went in and some of the best schooling I had was listening to old timers in the main room. Just quality. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Frank left. The pub went downhill. I left college to face 12 months on the dole in a politically pitiless environment. The Lion was no longer an option, my cash was devoted to travel to interview after interview for jobs that were unattainable. Col & I would buy each other a couple of beers with our bi-weekly dole cheques.

So we come to this Mild by Stockport Sorcerer Mr Krause. Based on the original Boddingtons Mild recipe. How does it measure up? Well, aside from the lack of caramel for colour, very well indeed!

Pale and golden with a rapidly diminished white head and an aroma that reminded me of chocolate caramel biscuits. Light-bodied with that light caramel biscuit carrying through into the mouth, low on bitterness with a gentle grassyness in the finish and aftertaste. This is a thoroughly refreshing light Mild and tastes how I remember Boddies’ Mild to taste. A faithful recreation.

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(Sack the photographer!)

2. Brewers Gold (Single Hop) – Mallinsons Brewery (Huddersfield, West Yorkshire) – 3.9% abv – Pale Ale – £2.79 (500ml) – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N Manchester)

“Oh here we go again – another single hop blah blah from bloody Mallinsons!” Well I can’t help it if they’re bloody lovely can I?

Now Brewers Gold wasn’t going to be as assertive as a Citra or Simcoe, I knew that. But I was looking forward to this…Bright gold with a white head and a gentle light fruity nose with fresh-baked white bread. Medium bodied in the mouth, a light biscuit base heightened by a gently floral and quite bitter flavour. This is a beer that you could drink all night. A session beer that is delicate and refreshing.

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3. Salted Lemon Wit – Bad Seed Brewery/Northern Monk Brew Co (Collab) – 7.4% abv – Wit Beer – £6.99 (660ml) – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N Manchester)

A collab between two of Yorkshire’s newest thrusting Craft brewers? Don’t mind if I do!

A deep amber coloured beer with a light thin white head and an aroma with a little gentle spice (coriander seed?) , toffee and a gentle citrus note. Full-bodied and smooth in the mouth with plenty of caramel digestive but lighter with a covering of citrus with some lemon/grapefruit coming through late with more of that warming yet gentle spice – possibly from the wheat. Refreshing for such a meaty abv beer – surely the salted lemon rinds – warming the throat before a distinct resinous hop finish.  A tasty warming wit.

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4. Quelle Saison – Beavertown Brewery (Hackney, E London) – 4.1% abv – Saison – £2.89 (330ml) – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N Manchester)

I was all for keeping this for a week or two more when I received a response for the brewery, essentially telling me that it needed to be drunk to appreciate the hops. Well, not being one to argue with the masters….

A hazy gold with a white head with BIG C hop aromas, grapefruit prominent. Medium-bodied, a slight refreshing – saliva inducing – wheaty sour tinge with HUGE fruity hoppage with tart grapefruit. Really very dry in the finish with a lot of grassyness carrying over into the aftertaste. Not overly familiar with saisons, but I do like this!3IMAG0735

(I’ll be seeing YOU tomorrow!)

5. MIA First Chop Brewing Arm (Salford, Gtr Manchester) – 3.5% abv – Hoppy Brown Ale ? – £2.80 (500ml) – Great Ale Year Round  (Bolton Market Hall)

A deep russet-brown colour to this with a clinging white foamy head and quite a fruity and chocolatey aroma. Oooh! Light-bodied with hints of chocolate initially but then BANG! In come the bitter hops. A tart bit of citrus , maybe grapefruit, but with it a huge resinous quality, quite sticky! The quite bitter chocolate stays the distance. Definitely the hoppy side of balanced, really assertive, but in a “wake up!” good way. The finish is dry and bitter and a big grassy aftertaste follows. This could wake up my taste buds at the end of a long day. I like this. A lot!

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(I NEED a 2/3rd glass! Offers?)

6. Imitera IPA – Rocky Head Brewery (Southfields, SW London) – 7.2% abv – IPA – £3.00 (330ml) – The Ale Man (Castlefield Market, Manchester)

Where do I begin? (I was going to extend into the lyric from the theme to “Love Story” then, better not eh?) I suppose with a #Beergasm alert!

Bronze coloured beer with a light fluffy white head and an aroma of…..orange marmalade and tangerines. I adore Amarillo! Oh bloody hell! In the mouth this is GORGEOUS! Marmalade, Grapefruit (the other hop in here being that pale ale siren named Citra), caramel shortbread malty goodness mounted and given a good seeing to by my favourite hops!

It has a mouthfeel and a hoppyness that is but a smidgen from being a DIPA but is more balanced than that with slightly less malt sweetness. Those lovely bitter citrus hops just coat your mouth and tickle your tongue like a hoppy french kiss. There is a good bitterness to this with a finish that is dry and grassy and a lingering bitter fruit and resinous aftertaste. First #Beergasm of the year! Bottle of the year so far. Sets the standard.

So, there you have it for February. 6 beers that in their own separate ways more than “do the job”. Shit, I like them anyway, so Ner Ner!

On that infantile note….’til next time….

Slainte! It’s #Twissup Time!!!

My #12BeersOfXmas – #4 – India Pale Ale by Bad Seed Brewery

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“On the 4th day of Xmas, my true love sent to me….”

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#4 India Pale Ale by Bad Seed Brewery

A new brewery for 2013 and the winner of my Golden Pints award in this category. Look at the labelling! Classy, minimal and with that label hanging like the cigarette from a matinee idols mouth. Just damned stylish. The label tells you that it is 7.3% abv and is loaded with Cascade, Columbus & Chinook hops. I salivate as I read it!

Expecting citrus on that nose? Oh yes, apricot, grapefruit and bitter orange flying from that white foamy head, itself sat atop a deep golden beer, with good carbonation. That head is going nowhere! Full-bodied with a huge bitter Seville orange marmalade the first thing to hit the tongue, followed by the desert dry bitterness then that fabulous piney resinous quality laid on top of a gentle caramelised biscuit sweetness. That resinous bitter finish just goes on…..I simply LOVE this beer. Mouthful after mouthful, I don’t want this to end. But, it’s only 330ml. Just when you long for the beery equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper…..I just wish I could get it on cask.

On that note….’til next time…(Tomorrow – Live From Lincolnshire!!!)

Slainte!

Bottled Ales – September 2013 Pt 3


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(Destination Tastebuds. The New Batch!)

“Well Jimmy played harmonica in the pub where I was born, he played it from the night time, to the peaceful early morn.

He soothed the souls of psychos and the men who had the horn and they all looked very happy in the morning”

(Sally MacLennane – The Pogues)

If you have ever read one of these before, you will know what is comes next!……The format remains….

1. The Beer, 2. The Brewer, 3. The Strength, 4. The beer style, 5. The Price & Size (including discount, eg: for CAMRA membership, where applicable). 6. Where from,  and, If a website for the vendor exists, the hyperlink to the shop / brewer website, just in case you are inspired enough by my ramblings to make a purchase! Here goes…

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1. DOCFirst Chop Brewing Arm – (Salford, Lancashire – Call me old-fashioned!) – 4.1% abv – Pale Ale – £3 (or 3 for £8) 500ml – The Ale Man (Castlefield Market, Manchester)

It’s nice to meet people who make the beers that you really enjoy. That goes double for Rik Garner, the owner/Alechemist behind First Chop whom I met at a recent MTB at The Salford Arms. The fact that he brews great beer in my home town, just makes it that much more special!

This beer is one of those Pale Ales that could be confused for a lager, if on looks alone. Once you bring your nose close to the glass, those illusions are shattered by the lemon and grapefruit hoppy aromas. This is really fresh and zippy with lemon in the mouth balanced on a medium malt body with a touch of rich tea biscuit sweetness. This is a spankingly good beer. In fact, this is everything that a Pale Ale should be, fresh, well hopped and refreshingly dry with a superb fruity bitter finish.

I like this. A lot!

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2. Baby BlueFive Towns Brewery (Wakefield, W Yorkshire) – 4.5% abv – Pale Ale – £2.48 (500ml) – Yorkshire Ales (Snaith, E Yorkshire)

Pale beer that was exceedingly lively when opened. Nice tart gooseberry nose with a hint of yeastyness (shook about on journey!) Medium bodied, with a drying tart fruitiness loaded with gooseberry and grapefruit also a twist of bitter lemon as I headed toward the slightly grassy bitter finish. Another belter from this increasingly impressive brewery.

AND it’s the Allgates Road To Wigan Beer starting this week. That nice Mr Mayhall has a clutch of beers from over that there hill. Including some from Five Towns! I’ll be hunting down my first pint on draught!

And now, we walk on the Dark Side!

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3. Dalston BlackBrodies Brewery (Leyton, East London) – 7% abv – Black IPA – £3.50 (330ml) – The Ale Man (Castlefield Market, Manchester)

A black beer with a head that stayed all the way down the glass. Instant aroma of bitter chocolate, coffee & licorice. Not the usual citrus, but none the less a big aroma. Nice full body and that bitter chocolate and licorice come through in the mouth, especially that bitter chocolate. WOW it’s bitter! A nice spicy bitter finish. And that bitter chocolate still hung around for a bit. A simply superb flavour-packed beer.

My first bottle by Brodies. Must get some more!

4. Black PerleWeird Beard (Hanwell, W London) – 3.5% abv – Coffee Milk Stout – £3.50 (500ml) – The Ale Man (Castlefield Market, Manchester)

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I’ve had this 2 or 3 times on cask this year so far and It rates as one of my top 5 beers of 2013. A lovely full-bodied creamy lactic coffee mouthful. I was therefore quite surprised to learn in a chat with Gregg Irwin (Brewer – whilst he was at Leeds International Beer Fest) that the abv is only 3.5%! To make a beer THAT good at THAT strength is a work of genius!

Only problem was how would the beer translate from the bottle? Very well indeed, if you ask me! Good body on this black beer with a tan coloured head and the sour tang to the coffee aroma that you would expect in a Milk Stout.

A nice mouthfeel from this low strength beer. The gentle coffee flavour is really smooth and the slight sourness of the lactose in addition makes for a gorgeous silky mouthful. Lovely sweet/sour balance, with a nice edging of bitterness in the finish. As stated, in both variants, one of my favourite beers so far this year!

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5. Imperial BlackBuxton Brewery (Buxton, Derbyshire) – 7.5% abv – Black IPA – £2.95 (330ml) – The Beer Shop (Heaton Moor, Stockport)

I’d just bought 5 Litres of Three Swords by Kirkstall when I spotted this wee devil. I’d had this on draught at Port Street one evening and it was ASTONISHINGLY good! Currently ranking as the 2nd best draught of this year for me, a simply awesome beer. Full of citrus, dark fruits and chocolate. And as smooth as Des Lynam!

The bottle lives up to the cask version standard! Nice tan head, lovely crisp sweet lemony/grapefruit aromas. More fruity in the mouth with a backdrop of some bitter cocoa. Lovely full texture with the gums now tingling. As I progress down the glass, the cocoa turns more toward black coffee with a hint of brown sugar – verging on treacle – sweetness. A gorgeous bitter finish to round it off.  Just a bloody good beer. Pistols at dawn for anybody who says different. OK!

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6. HefeweizenBad Seed Brewery (Malton, N Yorkshire) – 5.1% abv – Wheat Beer – £0 (Direct from brewer) 330ml

A new beer from this increasingly impressive new North Yorkshire brewer. Having had four of their beers so far, each has been seriously impressive so I had high hopes for this.

Cloudy gold in the glass with an aroma reminding me of banana Toffo (anybody remember the multi flavoured packs of Toffo? Yes OK, I’m getting long in the tooth!). Superbly refreshing and spritzy with gentle flavour of orange or peel in the mouth with a little tingling clove sweetness.  Some nice hints of banana toffee (Toffo !) too. A surprising turn considering the full-on flavoured beers they have already turned out. But, just a damned refreshing wheat beer. Job done!

Another excellent batch of beers that I can whole-heartedly recommend. Not sure if Damian O’Shea still sells the Brodies, but you could always pick it up at Beermoth!

Beers of the Month Time!

Draught – Has to be Dinner Ale by Ilkley Brewery. An astonishing beer at 3.3%. Had it on keg at Leeds International and it simply ROCKED MY WORLD! Lovely sharp lemon hop flavours standing out in this hugely impressive beer.

Bottled – Bloody loads, I’ll split into Pale and Dark.

Pale – Revolutions / North Riding Brewpub – Punch The Clock (DIPA) At 78RPM / 7.8% – This was such a big bold flavoured Double IPA. A bit like Revolutions breaking out the guitar and turning the amp up to 11. Loads of citrussy hops, loads of malt. Superb!

Dark –  (Bourbon Barrel Aged) Bearded Lady – Magic Rock Brewing – A simply stunning Imperial Stout. Read about both these beers here – https://beersmanchester.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/bottled-ales-september-2013-pt1/

On that note…’til next time (Deeply Vale MTB at The Salford Arms on Wednesday – Come say hello to the old git with the Nexus 7!)

Slainte!

Bottled Ales – September 2013 Pt 2

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(The Hawkshead Windermere Pale is FLYING off the shelves

at Sainsburys in Bolton!)

Before I start in earnest, a quick note. For those of you who are blissfully unaware of major supermarket promotions, The Sainsbury Great British Beer Hunt is on now. This is where Sainsbury holds regional contests for bottled ales and the top 5 from each region go through to a National contest. The winners (2) going on to National distribution for at least 6 months. For some micros this is A BIG THING! The winner being decided democratically. By number of bottles sold.

So. In you nearest Sainsbury now, there all the beers in the GBBH should be on the shelves. These include such luminaries of the UK Micro scene as HardKnott, Harbour, Hawkshead, Williams Bros, etc…. All these beers are at the bargain price of £1.50 per bottle. get in and grab some bargains. You’d be bonkers not to! Oh yeah, The contest lasts 3 weeks. So get in before it’s over!

Now, back to my usual wafflings!

“Pardon me, I’m drunk again and when I’m drunk I make no sense,

but I crack more jokes and that’s my self-defence.

You caused me to think and I thought of what I’d have home without you,

You drove me to drink and I never had the courtesy to thank you!”

(“Pigeons In The Attic Room” – Everything But The Girl)

If you have ever read one of these before, you will know what is comes next!……The format remains….

1. The Beer, 2. The Brewer, 3. The Strength, 4. The beer style, 5. The Price & Size (including discount, eg: for CAMRA membership, where applicable). 6. Where from,  and, If a website for the vendor exists, the hyperlink to the shop / brewer website, just in case you are inspired enough by my ramblings to make a purchase! Here goes…

20130901_194254(A cracking debut!)

1. New World IPANorthern Monk Brew Co (Bradford, West Yorkshire) – 6.2% abvIPA – £2.48 (330ml) – Yorkshire Ales (Snaith, East Yorkshire)

Launching only this summer, this is a REALLY new brewery! I picked up on the buzz on Twitter and asked Adrian & Vicky at Yorkshire Ales to put a couple aside. Then promptly forgot to pick them up! A few weeks later, I popped back in and rectified. Therefore, this review comes a bit late in the day really. This was their sole beer at launch, but they have subsequently released an Imperial Stout – Strannik and brewed at least two collaborations, both with favourite brewers of mine – Allgates of Wigan and Weird Beard. I have a bottle of the Weird Beard collab “Bad Habit” and hope to pick up the Allgates collab soon….anyhow…What the hell does it taste like? Good question!

It’s a burnished gold in colour with a glass-clinging lacy white head. The aroma that I got was some toffee with a nose-tingling spicy hop. In the mouth was more caramel toffee sweetness with a growing grassy fruity bitterness with a tongue-drying grapefruit note. A lovely lingering grassy bitterness in the finish. A proper hoppy UK IPA.

Check out their website above. Really stylish design which has carried into the bottle label. Classy.

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2. 09/02Brew By Numbers (London) – 6.3% abvNut Brown Ale – £3.50 (ish) (330ml) – The Ale Man (Castlefield Market, Manchester).

Another beer grabbed from the cracking stall at Castlefield Market run by Damian O’Shea. Go and pay a visit on a Sunday, he’s got some cracking stuff (and he puts out samples too!)

A lively wee devil this. Incredibly deep brown almost black beer with a latte coloured head and an aroma of a dark chocolate Marathon (showing my age, but never did get the change to Snickers!). Medium bodied, touch of bitter-sweet chocolate with roasted brazils and walnuts. Some residual sweetness with more roasted nut and a finishing snap of bitterness from the Columbus hops. Really nice beer.

Brown ales have truly come as long way from topping up my halves of “Dog” in the 80s – still the only beer that could be relied on to give me a hangover, ahh……. the unlamented 80s!

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3. BlondeThe Hop Studio (York, North Yorkshire) – 3.5% abvBlonde Ale – £2.25 (500ml) – Yorkshire Ales (Snaith, East Yorkshire)

As pale as a lager, a really pale gold. Light floral and fruity aroma with a nose-wrinkling peppery hop note. A crisp and clean light bodied refreshing beer this with a light caramel biscuit malt more than balanced with some spicy fruity hops (Chinook, Cascade & Nelson Sauvin) and some lovely bitter grapefruit in the finish too.

A beer that is full of flavour at this low strength, this could be a perfect “bridge” beer for a macro lager drinker! Just a thought! (Had their Porter in Pie & Ale in Mcr last night – like chocolate ice cream – lush!)

20130908_212443(Great beer AND the NFL is BACK!!!)

4. Dissolution Extra IPAKirkstall Brewery (Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire) – 6% abvIPA – £3.05 (500ml) – Beermoth (Manchester)

Picked this up on my (rather delayed) first visit to Beermoth on Tib St. Judging by what I saw in the range, it certainly WON’T be my last. Looking for something I hadn’t tried (and sticking to my UK ethos) I spied this, the first bottle produced by this Leeds brewer. Having had some of their casked offerings at Port Street and the superb kegged Framboise, I was looking forward to this one.

Pale gold again with bitter citrus and piney resins on the nose. A big malty backbone was complimented with fabulous earthy and resinous hops climbing all over it! Yummy! This is dry, resinous and HUGELY bitter with some orangey marmalade lurking in the aftertaste. This is a really cracking first bottle from Kirkstall. Hugely impressive.

20130909_214819(Another Mallinsons Single Hop pale? Oh yes please!!!)

5. Bramling Cross (Single Hop Pale Ale) – Mallinsons Brewery (Huddersfield, West Yorkshire) – 3.8% abvPale Ale – Yorkshire Ales (Snaith, East Yorkshire)

Where do I begin….Another Single Hop Pale by Mallinsons. Having had several of their single hop beers recently, they just seemed to get better and better, Not being over familiar with the Bramling Cross hop, I was a little worried that there may be a dud lurking here. Oh no! Another cracking session pale ale from these Huddersfield alechemists!

Bottle conditioned, pale gold and lively with some dark fruit on the nose, maybe damson and blackcurrant with a hint maybe of apple. Swirling around my gob, there was lots of blackcurrant with maybe a hint of tart gooseberry. Lovely, refreshing with a nice dry grassy aftertaste. Some real spice to this that left my mouth and gums tingling. A fabulous refreshing beer. Just wish I could see more of their stuff on draught over here!

I’ve said previously that I think that these ladies have nailed lower strength single hop pale ales. Point made.

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6. South Pacific Pale AleBad Seed Brewery (Malton, North Yorkshire) – 5.8% abvPale Ale – £2.48 (330ml) – Yorkshire Ales (Snaith, East Yorkshire)

I previously had picked up (and reviewed) their India Pale Ale & awesome Espresso Stout from Bierhuis in Ossett. If you read this regularly, you’ll know that I was hugely impressed by this new brewery from Malton. On my most recent visit to see Adrian Pettit (Vicky, sadly, being busy elsewhere!) I picked up the whole range for both myself and a friend. I like the look of these bottles. The only thing that slightly disappointed me was that the name ISN’T derived from Nick Caves’ great band! Never mind eh?

Another goldie this, with the light head yielding a light marmaladey nose. This is medium bodied and more delicate than the beastly India Pale but is no less impressive and is equally delicious. The New Zealand hops (Green Bullet, Pacifica and Pacific Gem) giving up a lovely orangey bitterness laid over some nice almost Digestive biscuity malt. Nice dry grassy quality in the finish too. More of a lightness of touch with this beer and very impressive it is too!

If you get hold of any of these, I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Anyway, that’s it for now!

On that note….’til next time…

Slainte!

 

Bottled Ales – August 2013

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(Two 5* Performers!)

Worthington White Shield? Champion Bottle Conditioned Beer 2013? I now know something that I was unaware of a week ago. That CAMRA judges have a sense of humour! Can somebody, somewhere, please enlighten me as to the entry criteria for these awards? White Shield has been through more hands than a well-wrapped parcel at a kiddies party, PLEASE????

OK. The beer is quite decent. But the best?

Rant Over.

Moving swiftly on to better beers than that!

Trying to keep the formatting consistent….. It goes like this….

1. The Beer, 2. The Brewer, 3. The Strength, 4. The beer style, 5. The Price & Size (including discount, eg: for CAMRA membership, where applicable). 6. Where from,  and, If a website for the vendor exists, the hyperlink to the shop / brewer website. Here goes!

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1. Smokey JoeGeeves Brewery (Barnsley, South Yorkshire) – 5% abv – Stout – £2.12 (500ml) – Bierhuis of Ossett, West Yorkshire

Look on their website and read the back story to the brewery. I mean, Brewing on a narrowboat? Nice!

This is a black beer with a beige head and an enticing chocolaty aroma. Medium bodied with a smooth chocolate malty base, quite creamy, which led to a building smokiness which gradually overtook the chocolate ever so subtly. Only the second beer I’ve had from this Barnsley brewery (cask conditioned Red Diesel at Soup Kitchen being the other) both were impressive. May pick up some more soon!

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2. Espresso Stout – Bad Seed Brewery (Malton, North Yorkshire) – 7.3% abv – Stout – £2.30 – Bierhuis of Ossett, West Yorkshire

Doesn’t that branding look good? Simple, clean and tells you what to expect. Why can’t all beer labels be this smart? And the hanging tag just adds to the class! However, if the beer tastes crap, what’s the point?

Fortunately, this beer MORE than lives up to the branding! For me, the standard by which coffee flavoured beers were to be judged was Dark Star Espresso.No longer! This beer poured black with a beige foam head and a sweetish coffee aroma. This beer came alive in the mouth. A lovely creamy texture, the only way I can describe the flavour is that they have taken the aforementioned Espresso by Dark Star,  and throttled it to within an inch of its life. THEN they have applied the defibrillators via another shot of espresso! The coffee flavours dance around your mouth then grab your eyelids and yank them back! At the end of it all, there is a lasting bitter finish with lingering coffee.

The Bad Seed guys have been brewing and bottling for just over two months now. I can safely say that based on the two beers I’ve had so far, they have most certainly hit the ground running!

I don’t often give a beer a 5 out of 5……. But this is one of THREE exceptions this month.

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3. Old Engine Oil (Engineers Reserve)Harviestoun Brewery (Alva, Clackmannanshire, Scotland) – 9% abv – Strong Porter – Fathers Day Boxed Gift Pack – Direct (£32 for 12 mixed) 330ml

(Not that I gave my two youngest a shove, but…) This was part of a Fathers Day from my two youngest. The pack included two each of this, Ola Dubh 12, 16 & 18 and 4 Old Engine Oil. Dark paradise!

This beer poured oh so black with a head the colour of Caramac (remember that?) and an aroma of darkest chocolate with a hint of port wine. Ooohhh but in the mouth? Party Time! Glorious dark rum flavoured chocolate and a nuttiness reminiscent of roasted brazil nuts. Nicely warming with a lingering slightly sweet mocha and a dry finish. I consider ALL of my boxes ticked!

I have ONE bottle left. I think I’ll save it for when the nights grow darker! Bloody lovely stuff!!!

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4. Pale AleRocky Head Brewery (Southfields, London, SW18) – 6.5% abv – Pale Ale – £3 (330ml) – The Ale Man (Castlefield Market, Manchester)

The Rocky Head Brewery were brought to my attention by Damian O’Shea (aka The Ale Man –  Twitter @Thealemanmcr) along with Weird Beard. I enjoyed their Anglo-American Pale Ale recently, so was looking forward to this. Damian has a stall at Castlefield Market some Sundays and frequently has tasting samples of selected beers. His selections are eclectic but uniformly excellent. Go say hello!

This beer was pale gold with a lively head and had an inviting apricot and grapefruit citrus aroma. Fruity and bitter in the mouth with that grapefruit being prominent. Medium bodied, really sharp and hoppy with a sustained dry bitter finish. A lovely hoppy pale. The only problem I have with this beer, is that it tastes lower than 6.5% and is therefore a dangerous beast indeed! Another nice beer from this relatively new London brewer. One to look out for!

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5. The Little Things That KillWeird Beard Brew Co (Hanwell, West London) – 3.8% abv – Pale Ale – Review Sample – The Ale Man (Castlefield Market, Manchester)

The first time I have had a bottle of this. Hardly a leap in the dark as I had a taster at Damian’s stall on Sunday! WOW! Hops! Lots of HOPS!!!

Being an unfiltered beer, this was a hazy gold when poured with a lively white head, but WOW with those grapefruit and pineapple citrus aromas! For me, this is fuller bodied than their Mariana Trench at 5.1% bizarrely, with huge citrus hop flavours, grapefruit and lemon zest prominent, dancing on my taste buds. Clean sharp bitter finish with the lemon zest flavour pleasantly lingering.

Nearest comparator for me is Jarl by Fyne Ales. It is THAT good! Another 5 rating! (These “rare” 5 ratings are like buses……)

Being given beers to review is a fairly new thing to me, but when they are THIS good, reviewing is easy!

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6. Yorkshire AleOld Bear Brewery (Keighley, West Yorkshire) – 4,2% abv – Best Bitter – Review Sample – Yorkshire Ales (Snaith, East Yorkshire)

Another beer passed for review, this time by Adrian & Vicky Pettit of Yorkshire Ales. I could get used to this! Picked up on my recent visit https://beersmanchester.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/two-yorkshire-favourites-yorkshire-ales-revolutions-brewing/

The Official Beer of Yorkshire Day. This is a golden beer with good carbonation and a white lacy head. Malty toffee caramel on nose. Quite malty and nutty, a bit like a beery Snickers bar (but not so sweet!), a nice fruitiness too (damson or plum). A nice bitter finish to this. A throwback beer in a way, bucking the trend for über hopped beers. Reminds me how good John Smiths cask used to be in the early 80s! Good solid Yorkshire malty bitter.

Right then, enough blathering for now. Next post should be Beavertown MTB at Port Street next week.

On that note….til next time!

Slainte!

Bottles Ales – July 2013 Pt 2

This month has been fairly quiet by my standards! Hence, the accent on diminishing the “cellar” stock. But, they are there to drink, not as decoration of course! So, without further ado, a few more belters that I have picked up on my haphazard wanderings.

The spiel is the same, 1. The Beer, 2. The Brewer, 3. The Strength, 4. The beer style, 5. The Price & Size (including discount, where applicable). 6. Where from,  and, If a website for the vendor exists, the hyperlink to the shop / brewer website. Here goes!

1. Hackney Hopster – London Fields Brewery (Hackney, East London) – 4.2% abv – Pale Ale – £2.38 (500ml) – Bierhuis

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I must confess that I wasn’t blown away by their Unfiltered Lager when I had it. A good UK lager, but not as exceptional as I’d hoped. THIS however worked a treat! A nice lacy white head led to a sweet citrus aroma bringing tangerines and mandarins to the hooter (slightly more mellow than advertised, and better for it). Those aromas were replicated in the mouth with the tangerine more prominent leading to a lovely dry, hoppy finish. A really refreshing fruity beer. (Nice price too!)

2. Yakima IPAGreat Heck Brewing (Great Heck, North Yorkshire) – 7.4% abv – IPA – £1.98 (330ml) – Bierhuis

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I recently found myself in the Nottingham area facing a dodgy bit of traffic one afternoon. A different route was called for and I suggested nipping for lunch in Ossett (5 mins diversion!) via a sneaky reload at Bierhuis. The butty was lovely, but no more than filling the car with some lovely beer, oh no!

Late last year saw my first (and so far only) encounter with beers from this brewer, in the form of Dark Force Treason Stout, which was my “Beer of the Festival” at the SIBA Northern bash in Manchester. I’d heard that they were going to start bottling soon, so was keen to try this when I saw it.

A deep amber beer with a nice fine white head and an aroma (for me) with toffee and raisins. The flavours were a slightly sweet raisin with a caramelised biscuit. This was a full-bodied beer (which you would expect at the strength) which had some nice resinous hop flourish. Other Yakima hopped beers I’d had, had been a bit ruinous with the piney stuff, but this had a nice warming balance to it.

3. EncoreLacons Brewery (Great Yarmouth, Norfolk) – 3.8% abv – Pale Ale – Direct from the Brewery (500ml)

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One of the quite surprising things about doing this here “Beer Blogging” has been when a brewery asks if you’d like to try some of their beers. Lacons being one of those who contacted me, a brewer that came to my attention via the excellent Twitter feed / blog of Nathaniel Southwood (aka NateDawg).

A while later, I received a card through the door from Parcelforce. Nipping to the “drop off point” (ie : the local Post Office) I collected said package. Unfortunately, Parcelforce brutalised the packaging, so, 3 bottles sent, 2 received intact. B*stards!

Anyhow (whinge over!) This is an amber coloured beer with a white head which diminished fairly quickly. A light citrus fruity nose leading to a medium body which was clean and refreshing with citrus flavours (a light sugared grapefruit)  and a surprisingly slight smoky note with a nice dry gentle hoppy finish. A pleasing first encounter with this resurrected Norfolk brewer. (Note : Prior to takeover – and eventual closure by Whitbread, Lacons had a sizeable tied house estate, including a good number in London. Note the mirror in this review...https://beersmanchester.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/the-southampton-arms-gospel-oak-london/)

4. AAPA (Anglo American Pale Ale) – Rocky Head Brewery (Wandsworth, SW London) – 5.5% abv – Pale Ale – £3.50 (500ml) – The Ale Man Manchester

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Another beer sourced from the excellent stall run by Damian O’Shea at Castlefield Market.

A lively golden beer with a light haze with a gentle citrus aroma featuring grapefruit, mango and apricot touches. In the mouth this was medium bodied with more citrus hop stuff with a bit of sharp lemon and grapefruit cutting through. Nicely bitter with a nice dry, hoppy finish. One to watch for on draught this and very nice first from this brewery!

5. Beat RedRevolutions Brewing Co (Castleford, West Yorkshire) – 4.5% abv – Red Ale – £2.39 (500ml) – Bierhuis

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I’ve had a few bottles of Revolutions beers recently and a choice encounter with their Clash London Porter in Soup Kitchen. Some superb beers. I recently had the good fortune to meet Andrew from the brewery in Manchester and had a couple of beers with him. A really top bloke with superb taste in music, as you may expect if you follow the themed names of the beers!

This is a deep ruby coloured beer with a nice spicy hop aroma. Some biscuity malt sweetness more than offset with some spicy hop flavours. I thought I got a hint of chocolate as well!  Nice bitterness with a lasting herbal grassy hop aftertaste. Another really nice beer, nearly made me “Twist & Crawl” (cue cringing attempt at musical punnage!)

6. India Pale AleBad Seed Brewery – 7.3% abv – IPA – £2.34 (330ml) – Bierhuis

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I dearly hope that the name is connected to a Nick Cave reference! This was another fruit of my recent traffic enforced “diversion” to Ossett! A deep gold almost amber beer with a full-on dirty hop aroma courtesy of Columbus, Cascade and Chinook varieties. Fruity marmalade as well on the nose followed by a huge dry hoppiness in the mouth, plenty of citrus fruit here balance by a lovely sweet malt backbone. Don’t be fooled though, the hops are the star attraction here, really bitter and resinous. A fabulous lingering piney resin taste in the aftertaste.

This beer prompts a slight change in my “Beers of the Month”. It is THAT good!

Anyway, better get off before my Sunday Dinner ends up in the dog!

Back in the fresh air next week at The Marble 125 Years celebration next Saturday. See you there!

On that note…’til next time!

Slainte!

An astonishingly hoppy beer from this new Malton brewer. (And wait ’til I tell you about the Espresso Stout – WOOF!)