Bottled Ales – May 2014 – Pt 4

“Have you sought fortune evasive and shy? Drink to the men who protect you and I.

Drink drink drain your glass, raise your glass high.

It’s not the side-effects of the cocaine, I’m thinking that it must be love.

It’s too late to be grateful, It’s too late to be late again.

It’s too late to be hateful, the European cannon is here!”

(“Station to Station– David Bowie)

(Video courtesy of DJ Johnson – YouTube)

My oh my can Adrian Belew play guitar! Possibly a controversial statement, but this is my favourite Bowie album, the one where I think he is at the peak of his (allegedly, chemically inspired) powers.

The lead track is like 3 songs in one and ranges from Kraftwerk and Can inspired Krautrock (a term I despise), through funk & soul to straight out rock & roll, it just……ohhhh!

The album starts with the title track and moves through “Golden Years” with its linkage to the “Young Americans” white soul leading on to “Word On A Wing”, a beautiful love song then to “TVC 15” and “Stay”, both of which give a glimpse of stylistic shifts that would lead to “The Berlin Trilogy” of Low, Heroes & Lodger. “Wild Is The Wind” signs the album off so smoothly with another (probable) love song, although it’s difficult to fathom the lyrics at any stage on this album.

Station To Station has been described as a “transition album”, but for me, it stands as a monument. The greatest work of the greatest and most influential artist. Period.

(Recommended albums? Don’t be silly. They’re all brilliant!)

On to the beer eh?

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

1. The Beer, 2. The Brewer, 3. The Strength, 4. The beer style, 5. The Price & Size, 6. The discount (and why, eg: for CAMRA membership or shop deal, where applicable) 7. 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….And remember, if you like the look of something, click on the (purple) hyperlink!
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1. Chocolate Domination – Hornbeam Brewery (Denton, Gtr Manchester) – 5.7% abv – Strong Dark Ale – £2.80 (500ml) – 15% for 12 bottles – Great Ale Year Round  (Bolton Market Hall)

Great to see this hugely underrated brewery available on my patch, they just make some of the most drinkable beers in the area, but without the fanfare that the bloggerati give to some of the trendier “names”. I believe that this particular bottle sold out in no time at all. And no wonder!

Black as a Vikings’ heart, but different, having a creamy tan coloured head and a nose fuuuuuull of sweet chocolate!

In the mouth…..this is LUUUSH! The liquid equivalent of a George Clooney chat up line, this is gorgeous and so so so smoooove! Full-bodied, As the dark delight hits the mouth, it initially tastes slightly sweet, but then does a little trick (steady now!)…..and loses that initial sweetness becoming quite dry and grassy/hoppy as it slides down. Silky smooth this.

Loads of chocolate and a touch of something more gently herbal. Initially I thought it liquorice, but not so sure. The chocolate also starts to taste darker and more bitter the further down the glass I’ve gone. This is just SUCH a good beer. Manchester beers really do ROCK! And after the discount, a bloody steal!

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2. Shipwreck IPA – Bragdy Conwy (Conwy, N. Wales) – 5% abv – IPA – £2.89 (500ml) – 0 – Carringtons (Barlow Moor Rd, Chorlton)

I think that this may only be the second bottle I’ve had from this brewery, they’re becoming increasingly available on draught too. The Honey Porter was superb!

Deep gold and initially quite lively with a booming head that quickly settled leaving behind an aroma of orange and honey blossom, sweet, yet with a spicy note.

Quite full-bodied in the mouth this, that carbonation lending a spiky touch, smooth marmalade is what gets me initially, with a touch of that honeyed sweetness. The second mouthful reinforces the orangey flavours and sees the bitterness building, but not massively so.

As I’m going down the glass, this gets smoother and smoother. The finish is gently bittersweet with a savoury herbal aftertaste drying the palate. Really nice beer  this.

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3. Station Best Bitter – Mallinsons Brewery (Huddersfield, W. Yorkshire) – 4.3% abv – Best Bitter – £2.89 (500ml) – 10% for 12 btls or more – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N  Manchester)

A Mallinsons’ beer that isn’t single hopped? Whatever!

As pale as a new spring morning laced with that beautiful morning sun, well carbonated (as always) with the head receding to a thin white foam that’s giving up a rather strange aroma for a “best bitter”, there’s a bit of tart gooseberry in there but also a more delicate floral quality, if no hop hammer, then no less enticing, a delicate touch.

What follows in the mouth is quite quite lovely (that’s not a stutter!). Really smooth, light to medium-bodied, there’s a rich tea biscuit to the backbone upon which the hops do a floral dance (Just where IS Terry Wogan when you need him eh? – A lame attempted quip for the old ‘uns!)

There’s some kiwi perhaps as well as a degree of tartness. So refreshing and light, a perfect summer beer this on the eve of the warm season. A moderate fruity bitterness to this leads to a dry grassy finish. It may not be single hopped, but this is typical Mallinsons, typically tasty, typically refreshing. Beautiful. The term “Best Bitter” doesn’t do this justice!

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4. Munchner – Tickety Brew (Stalyvegas, Gtr Manchester) – 4.5% abv – Munich Style – £1.99 (330ml) – 10% for 12 btls or more – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N  Manchester)

Simply the classiest labelling. Achieves its objective by drawing the eyes and stands out on any shelf. Like good branding should. But this would be a challenge, as I’m not overly struck on darker German beer styles, finding the ones I’ve had a bit too sweet for my tastes.

Quite the deep dark ruby colour, with a thin white head and an aroma mainly toffeeish, but with the scent of something ….deeper? A gentle sweeter perfume?

In the mouth, this is medium-bodied with a really fine carbonation of tiny bubble. Yes, there is a toffeeish caramel sweetness to this (like those caramel tasting biccies you get with a posh coffee?), but is really well-balanced with some delicate perfumed hopping and is actually, surprisingly rather refreshing with the Belgian funk note of the yeast holding off until further down the glass. I normally don’t enjoy the darker German styles, but this is really rather lovely.

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5. Outwood Gold  Five Towns Brewery (Wakefield, W Yorkshire) – 5% abv – Pale Ale – Direct From Brewery 

Now THIS is what I call minimalist labelling. There isn’t one! The benefits of getting the beer so fresh from the brewery eh?

Another really pale straw coloured beer, from the maestro from Outwood, Wakefield that is Malcolm Bastow.

A lively carbonation with fine bubbles giving an abundant white fluffy head and a fresh zesty aroma of sugared grapefruit and satsuma. A light white bready malt allowing the hops to shine here, with initial flavours of tangerine with a little lime sharpness in there on the edge. Subsequent mouthfuls build on this citrus and display a refined touch with a gentle bitterness that remains just that. The finish is dry and slightly tart with a drying hoppy aftertaste, slightly resinous.

Another damned classy pale from Mr B!

Sorry to bore you all, but no rants this week!

That’s it for this week, only 5, but a classy 5 nonetheless. Probably a couple more posts before the next bottle run, Stockport Beer Festival was excellent yesterday, maybe another old pub stroll and possibly a piece about watching two of my favourite breweries collaborating (Allgates & Five Towns)….but they’re for another day…….

On that note….’til next time…..

Slainte!

 

 

 

Bottled Ales – January 2014 – Pt 2

Continue reading

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.

20130815_173624(I enjoyed this SO much, I forgot to take a pic at the time! Oops!)

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!