Bottled Ales – July 2014 – Pt 2

“I want to forget how conviction fits, but can I get out from under it?
Can I cut it out of me? Oh oh oh oh
It can’t all be wedding cake, it can’t all be boiled away
I try but I can’t let go of it, can’t let go of it,

‘Cause you don’t talk to the water boy
And there’s so much you could learn but you don’t want to know,
You will not back up an inch ever, that’s why you will not survive!”

(“The Underdog” – Spoon)

(Clip courtesy Alphamatrix1 on YouTube)

As much as I love beer, I love music. Sometimes, I get all “High Fidelity” and start to make that dreaded nerd fest thing “The All-Time” list. Of course, tastes change over time, but some things stay the same. As John Peel used to say about The (mighty) Fall “Always different, always the same”. This phrase was used on Monday in The Guardian in an article about the new single by Spoon, which led me to this article where Britt Daniel, from the band, gave a brief run down of some of the standout tunes in their 21 year career so far.

Spoon are a band that I return to repeatedly when my musical palate feels a bit jaded. I’m not sure where the phrase “The kings of minimal indie” came from, and it’s probably not entirely accurate about what they do, but it fits, in that there isn’t anything in the tunes that shouldn’t be there. They’re stripped down, rhythmically tight, alternately subtle and powerful, delicate and driven.

It may sound rather stupid, but one of my favourite moments in Manchester in the last 2 years was being stood in Common Bar on Edge St one weekday evening, when the DJ played “Got Nuffin‘ and I found myself shambling drunkenly over to the DJ to say “Thank You”. Just one of (if not the) best bands out there, for me, at the moment. I just hope that they announce a date in Manchester for the new album!

Now for the beer…..

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. BronzeThe Celt Experience (Caerphilly, Wales) – 4.5% abv – Bitter – £2.19 (500ml) – 0 – Booths (Media City, Salford)

Amber coloured beer with a lovely white foamy head and hedgerow fruit aroma, plum, damson with a real spicy note along with toffee biscuit.

First mouthful is really fruity, with all that hedgerow fruit immediately apparent with a touch of blackcurrant too. Firm cheesecake biscuity malt underlay with a big carpet of fruity bitterness on top of it all.

That bitterness satays (or even “stays”!) awhile before giving space for a big grassy, almost oaky, hop aftertaste. A really big fruity bitter beer. Celt do some much more “experimental” beer, but it’s great to see them getting a beer as traditional as this, just right. Much maligned is bitter, as a style, but this, for me, is a fine example.
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2. Mild With No NameBillericay Brewing (Essex) – 5.5% abv – Strong Mild (Hmmm!) – £3.50 (500ml) – 10% for 12 or more – Great Ale Year Round (Bolton Market)
Another bottle, another “traditional” British beer style! But all may not be as labelled with this particular beer…..
Very dark beer, almost black with a tan coloured head and an aroma groaning with milk chocolate.

Full-bodied beer, lush and creamy textured. Full on chocolate assails the taste buds with this dark puppy. Chocolate digestives provide the body here then more sweet chocolate fills the mouth, coating the sides before subsiding and yielding primacy to a gentle bitterness and quite a big grassy hop finish.

Not sure that I would call this a mild personally, more Porter territory for me, but a fine beer nonetheless.

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3. Le IPASaltaire Brewery (Shipley, W Yorks) / Dark Star (Brighton, W Sussex) – 5.6% abv – IPA – £1.99 – 0 – Booths (Media City, Salford)
Amber coloured beer with a thin white head and a fruity aroma, but quite sweet, pineapple maybe?Caramel biscuit malt in this full-bodied mouthful, again fruity, but sticky like pineapple jam mixed with marmalade. Quite a bitterness follows that swallow, with a good resinous pine dollop to round off the aftertaste. Whilst it tastes every fraction of its strength, this is smooth and very easy to drink. Dangerously so, at the strength!  (Short but sweet!)IMAG17904. Rye Pale AleLiverpool Craft Brewery (Liverpool) – 5.6% abv – Pale Ale – £3 (ish!) (330ml) – 0 – Londis Supermarket (Penny Lane, Liverpool)

A small supermarket, on a fairly quiet throroughfare. Walk in past the checkout. And there, in the fridges off to the right, is more local beer (and “craft” from around the country) than anyone should have any right to expect! It’s bloody marvellous the range you can fit into such a small space! (And I didn’t even check out the shelves in the rest of the shop!)

A slightly hazy deep golden beer with a lasting soft creamy looking white head and quite a delicate citrus fruit aroma (maybe tangerine) with something more floral.

An interesting fruitiness to this beer, apricot maybe with more of that tangerine. But that Rye spice leads to an almost arid dryness. Really sudden. Further mouthfuls are the same, quite lush fruitiness ended quite suddenly with tongue curling dryness. Big hoppy finish to round it off. Quite unusual, but this really works for me!

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5. Le Gran DepartFive Towns Brewery (Outwood, W Yorkshire) – 4% abv – Pale Ale – Direct From The Brewer (Bought)
My stated aim. I WILL see more beers by Five Towns in the Manchester area! The only problem with this? Malcolm Bastow’s beers are THAT full of lovely hoppy goodness, that those damned Yorkies keep it all for themselves! If ever there was reason for another War of The Roses…… Anyway, so far, they will be the only brewery with TWO beers at The Independent Salford Beer Festival. Which means….that I am SO good to you lot! It really does!!! At the moment, if you want to buy his stuff, head online to Bierhuis (Ossett) & Yorkshire Ales (Snaith & Malton). They can hook you up! (Great shops both – popping in soon)
Extremely pale golden beer with a light white head and a big citrus aroma (with some bitter orange in there) – a Five Towns hallmark.
Light-bodied and very fruity with grapefruit, gooseberry, a little lemon sharpness too. Each mouthful leaves me wanting more of that uber-dry finish that follows the fruit down the throat. In later mouthfuls, an orangey character became more pronounced. A hugely refreshing beer with a good dollop of bitterness and that pine needle resinous wash at the end of the swallow. Another Outwood cracker from Mr Bastow!
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6. Pale AleRunaway Brewery (Manchester City Centre) – 4.5% abv – Pale Ale – Direct from the brewer (swap)
I first had this (it was one of my major reasons for going!) at a recent Black Jack open event at their brewery. Mark Welsby’s brewery is the merest of cockstrides from Black Jack. Fortunately really, because when I wanted to pop in and see Mark, I had to ask the Black Jack collective for directions!
Bright and pale gold with a lacey white head and a brash boastful aroma all sharp and tart like a withering Lily Savage one liner put down. Grapefruit and lemon asserting themselves in nasal dominance.

That grapefruit tartness carries on in the mouth, building with each sip. And with each sip comes a growing bitterness. Sliding down really easily, like a beer of this strength should. Really crisp and refreshing and moreish. Nice hoppy bitter too. A fabulous session pale ale!

That’s it for now. Enjoy this summer with some great beer.
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.

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!

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!)

Bottled Ales – May 2013

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(Yorkshire brewers all!)

As I have said on many occasions, both on this blog and in many a conversation, this is truly a Golden Age for beer in the UK. You can walk into lots of bars / pubs around the country and sample exceptional beers from far and wide. For that, drinkers should rejoice.

However, I am increasingly conscious of the amount of comment given to beers from outside of the UK. Be they from the USA, Belgium, Germany, Italy or wherever, these undoubtedly excellent beers get praised to the clouds. But there is an absolute wealth of beers being brewed by small micros in this country that are superb in their own right. Also many of which are not in thrall to American techniques or styles.

I don’t want to be misunderstood, I adore good beer wherever it may be sourced from. As you will see below, one of the best beers I’ve had recently was made by Sierra Nevada in California. But there is THAT much excellent beer being brewed by UK micros (yes, many using New World hops in many instances!), that that is where my future focus will be when I review bottles. UK Microbreweries.

With my recent visits to both Yorkshire Ales of Snaith and Bierhuis of Ossett, it’s obvious to me that I’ve barely scratched the surface of the number of breweries in one county alone, Yorkshire. I won’t be able to try them all. But I’ll have a bash!

There. Now here’s some belters that I’ve drunk recently……. The format remains the same. I give you the beer, who brews it and where, the alcoholic strength, the style of beer, where I bought if from, bottle size and how much I paid for it. Simples!

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1. Clash London Porter by Revolutions Brewing (Castleford, West Yorkshire) – 4.5% abv – Porter – £2.70 (500ml) – Yorkshire Ales

I like the ethos of Revolutions. “Music-inspired beer. Craft brewed in Yorkshire”. All of their beers have a musical themed name. They also brew to abv strength associated with music formats. 3.3% (33 rpm), 4.5% (45 rpm), 6.0% (C60 cassette) etc…. So before I taste the beer, I’m favourably disposed. My first bottle I tried was the Manifesto Strong Stout. That was my bottle of the month in April. Could this live up to that standard?

A slightly sweet coffee aroma to this dark ruby coloured beer. Cream coloured head. Some coffee flavour from the roasted malts, smooth in the mouth and a nice hoppy dryness in the finish. The finish was redolent of a good IPA in its dryness with some hoppy grassy tones. A superb beer that I would put as a dark beer for IPA lovers wanting to visit The Dark Side, like a porter with an IPA touch. A 4.5 beer (The Manifesto was a 5 – I’ve already started a campaign to get a firkin or 2 of that over here!)

I’ve also snaffled a bottle of their Devolution Amber Ale (named after the great De-Evolution – DEVO –  from Akron, Ohio). Can’t wait!

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(A lively devil!)

2. The Chief by Ilkley Brewery (Ilkley, N. Yorkshire) – 7% abv – Double IPA – £3.78 (500ml) – Bierhuis

It’s good to see an increasing number of Ilkley beers ‘over the hill’ now. Booths stock a good range and I even saw Mary Jane at Sainsbury in Bolton today. Things are looking up for Ilkley lovers! However, unless you live in Manchester city centre and can pop into Beermoth on Tib Street, you won’t get some of their ‘specials’. However, this doesn’t appear to be a problem for specialist beer retailers in Yorkshire. On a recent camping trip, I was advised by the owner of Bierhuis (David) that I was only about 20 mins away. How COULD I resist? It was here that I picked up this beer up (David put a couple aside for me).

This beer was a rich gold (almost bronze) colour and had an aroma of boiled sweets, very fruity with a touch of (what I thought was) Belgian yeasty funk. This beer kicked off when it got in the mouth! WOW! Incredibly hoppy (DOUBLE IPA remember) Apricot flavour in there for sure, mango maybe? A piney resinous hoppyness in a very bitter finish. Lip smackingly good. A fabulous beer that was worth every penny of that price! (4.5 SO nearly a 5!)

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3. Barista Espresso Stout by Summer Wine Brewery (Holmfirth, W Yorkshire) – 4.8% abv – Espresso Stout – £3 (330ml) – Port Street Beer House

I drink this almost everywhere I see it on draught. A great beer. But I’d never had it in bottle. So, when I saw an offer of 6 assorted bottles for £18 at Port Street one hazy evening, what was I to do?

This was another lively devil on pouring. A tan coloured head gave off an aroma just like when you tear open a packet of ground coffee. Just like that! But with a hint of spicyness. A lovely smooth texture in the mouth where those coffee flavours came to the fore but with a little touch of roasted malt sweetness. I love this beer on draught and the same applies with the bottled version. Another 4.5 beer!

20130513_213347(I get to use Colin’s JW Lees ‘Grip’ glass!)

4. Lotus IPA by Ilkley Brewery (Ilkley, N. Yorkshire) – 5.6% abv – IPA – £2.21 (500ml) – Bierhuis

Not being bottle conditioned, I was surprised by the liveliness of this beastie. Golden, with an abundance of grapefruit citrus zing on the nose. In the mouth, this was more balanced than the aroma hinted at. Grapefruit yes, but mellower and balanced with a malty digestive biscuit like sweetness. As smooth as cream in the mouth with a dry grassy bitter finish. This gets a 5 rating on value alone! Superb. Thank you Bierhuis!

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5. Orval by Brasserie Orval (Villers-devant-Orval, Belgium) – 6.2% abv – Trappist Beer – £3.20 (330ml) – Pendle Witch PH, Atherton.

Confession. I had never had an Orval prior to this.

Another lively beast. This russet coloured beer had an incredibly jammy fruit nose with, perhaps, a hint of rhubarb. In the mouth there was the expected Belgian yeasty tones, but with an array of flavours at different stages. Firstly stewed apples and pears and a pear drop sweet flavour. Later on, there was a warming almost medicinal linctus tone which was surprising to me in a 6.2% beer. Initially underwhelmed, by the bottom of the glass I was a convert. A truly lovely beer. (4.5)

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6. Narwhal by Sierra Nevada Brewery (Chico, California, USA) – 10.2% abv – Imperial Stout – £3.69 (375 ml) – Bierhuis

Somewhere beyond black, there is a darker hue. This beer is even darker than that. If sin is this black, I don’t ever want to be virtuous! I opened the bottle and sniffed. Boozy port and spice. I poured it into my new 2/3 pint glass (for which I’m VERY thankful)  to further wallow in those aromas. A milk coffee coloured head, beneath which lurked a REALLY bitter chocolate flavour allied to a vinous warmth. There were touches of licorice root with sweet espresso and a glorious dry bitter spicy finish. To say this beer is “up my street” doesn’t even come close! 5 out of 5! (I’d give it 10 if I could!)

At THAT price, I felt  like I’d stolen it! Again, thank you Bierhuis!

Given what I said at the top, these may be the last couple of non-UK beers I review in a while. But what a pair to go out on, eh? 5 out of 5

Beer Of The Month

Bottled – As if you hadn’t guessed! Narwhal by Sierra Nevada. For the reasons stated above. A superb Imperial Stout.

DraughtImperial Black (Black IPA) by Buxton Brewery 7.5% abv (Port Street Beer House 26/05/2013). I am incredibly grateful to Jamie H that he got 4 halves of this out of the end of the cask! Smooth as silk, black as sin. Incredibly fruity whilst still having some roasted stuff in there. This was an awesome beer. I will drink it wherever I find it. It is THAT good!

On that excited note……’til next time!

Slainte!

Bottled Ales April 2013 – Part 2

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(Coming Soon!)

Yes. I know we’re now in May! But having had a couple of visits to those excellent Yorkshire Ale Vendors – Yorkshire Ales of Snaith & Bierhuis of Ossett – It’s high time I purged myself of bottled beer opinions and made space in the (ahem) cellar for this new influx of hoppy and roasty goodness. So there!

“Ah, What was that Mrs Beers? What about that trollyload in Booths?” (Trust the purse string holder to remember that little diversion!)

So. Where were we? Oh yes. The beers. Here we go…… (I hope my nurse isn’t reading this….”How many units per week was that again……”)

1. Columbus by Mallinsons Brewery (Huddersfield) – 3.9% abv – Pale Ale – £2.50 for 500ml from Yorkshire Ales

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Is Huddersfield the Burton of Craft Brewing? Magic Rock, Rat, Summer Wine (not far away) and last – but by no means least – Mallinsons. Until I woke up to this new golden age of beer last year, I hadn’t heard of, let alone tasted, Mallinsons. I’ve had some on draught, but further remedied this in my visits to Snaith and Adrian & Vicky Pettit’s shop, Yorkshire Ales.

On my last visit I picked up a few of the Single Hop range, of which Columbus is one. This is a pale golden beer with an intense fruity hop aroma. A full flavoured beer this with really resinous bitter hop flavours. Dry, fruity, spicy and refreshing. More intense than their Aramis (made with a French hop). I recommend this if you can get it on draught. A full flavoured beer you could drink all evening.

2. Punk IPA by Brew Dog (Fraserburgh) – 5.6% abv – Pale Ale – 660ml. A birthday pressie from my good buddy Col (Slainte!)

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I’ve put this here, simply because I’d forgotten just how good this is (and how much it astonished me when I first tried it!)

This was golden coloured with a slight haze on pouring. The tropical citrus fruit aroma hits you straight away and (strangely) reminded me of a fresh fruit flan! Some sweet biscuity malt and assertive hops, apricot bitterness which faded gradually to leave an earthy grassy dryness in the aftertaste. This is some beer. A supermarket stalwart! (Sainsbury do the 660ml bottles).

3. Mary Jane IPA by Ilkley Brewery – 6% abv – Pale Ale – £2.29 for 500ml from Booths at Media City

20130426_213311(Need to get a less intense flash!)

Being bored a couple of Fridays ago, I clocked off early and popped to Media City to check out Booths deals during one of their “Beer Festivals”. A few interesting bottles at 4 for £6, but 3 bottles I had never seen before took my eye, this among them.

The weather has been chilly recently, so I left this outside to cool, probably for too long as, when opened, I only got a slight fruity aroma. A golden – bottle conditioned – beer, this had a lovely sweet malt backbone matched with a spicy, fruity bitterness. Like a hoppy french kiss dancing around my tongue! Mmmmm….. A very dry finish with some almost herbal grassyness in the afters. I though I detected something else, maybe a touch of rhubarb. I may be talking utter garbage there, but this is a really lovely beer. A recommendation at any price. But at £2.29……..!!!!!

4. Manifesto by Revolutions Brewing (Castleford) – 6% abv – Strong Stout – £3.25 for 500ml from Yorkshire Ales

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(Love Music? Love Beer? Oh indeed!)

All of this Yorkshire brewery’s beers are music themed. I mean “Clash Porter”, “Kraftwerk Brown Ale”, “Ravenscroft Pale Ale” (A homage to Mr J Peel?). They’re onto a winner with me BEFORE I open any bottles! I was attracted to Manifesto for two reasons. 1. It’s a Stout, Duh! 2. “Manifesto” is the name of one of my favourite Northern Soul tracks by A Case of Tyme. I also bought a bottle for my Soulie chum (the aforementioned) Col, whose wife glugged it before he got a sniff! (She LOVED it BTW)

Anyway, the beer! Black with a tan head on pouring. The aroma? If I hadn’t read the ingredients, I’d have sworn that there was some port or rum in there! The aroma eventually mellowed to a strong dark chocolate. A really smooth full texture in the mouth. This is a malty mouthful with loads of roasted flavour with plenty of bitter chocolate, whilst being smooth and lush. Dry and earthy aftertaste. It’s a damn good job that this is rarely on cask. I’d never be out of the pub!

5. Delta V by Stringers Beer – 6.5% – Pale Ale – £2.19 for 500ml from Booths at Media City

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(Another Music Moniker ?)

Another one of my surprises from the recent visit to Booths. I am a HUGE fan of their IPA & Stout (not too taken with the XB though) which are two of my top 5 supermarket bought beers. I had only seen this one at Micro Bar and at the SIBA fest last year, so was quite chuffed to find it in the aisles.

Deep gold with a light apricot citrus aroma. Lovely texture with a marmaladey bitter fruity flavour prominent. A slight warming sensation from that there 6.5%. That fruitiness faded to leave a dry hoppy grassy note. Another recommendation at the price!

6. Chocolate Cherry Mild by Dunham Massey Brewing (Altrincham) – 3.8 % abv – Mild – £3 (£9 for 3) for 500ml from Bents Garden Centre, Glazebrook, Warrington.

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(Oops – lively devil!)

A colleague of mine claims this as his favourite draught beer of all. Haven’t had it on draught yet (Molly House do Dunham Massey, I think), but when I saw the bottle, I had to give it a go. Didn’t I?

A deep ruby coloured beer. I didn’t initially get any cherry in the aroma, more of a choccy toffee thing. The first taste was of a really good, standard mild. But then the cherry and chocolate start to insinuate themselves and wrap around your tongue. Just one word for this. Yum! If I see it on draught, I’ll be all over it like a rash!

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Beers of The Month ?

Bottled

Manifesto by Revolutions Brewing – For all the reasons mentioned above. A gorgeous dark, dirty and dangerous Stout/ The rocks upon which this ship could happily get wrecked!

Draught

In The Black by Wilson Potter (Middleton). A 4.2% Stout. Had this twice this month, firstly at the brewery and secondly at The Salford Arms. Gloriously lush, creamy and roasted with a slight smoky tinge. Just a simple dry stout, made well. Good to start seeing their stuff ‘in the wild’.

More pubs soon.

Slainte!

Bottled Ales April 2013

I’ve quite enjoyed this month. A quick visit to Adrian & Vicky at Yorkshire Ales at the end of March, helped to replenish my supplies with some excellent beers from Yorkshire (See below!) and a ‘spur of the moment’ visit to Booths – at the end of the month –  revealed a few beers I haven’t seen in supermarkets over here before – at great value. Really pleasing. I hope in May to pop to Snaith again as well as nipping over to Ossett to Bier Huis (need some more Green Goddess by Ilkley – again, see below).

I haven’t anticipated my visits down the A1 to my out-laws as much in many a year!

The downside to this month being a chat at my local doctors surgery.

Nurse : “Your cholesterol is high, your blood pressure is high and you are overweight. What is your diet like?”

BM “Not brilliant, eat a lot of good stuff but a lot of junk”

Nurse “What about your alcohol consumption?”

BM “Can we go back to that diet again!”

Well. What do you think I’m going to do? Write a blog about mineral water and decaffeinated tea???

Anyway, back to that most historically healthy of drinks. Beer!

You known how this works. I tell you about the beer, how it tasted (to me), where I bought it from and how much it cost. Needless to say, I enjoyed them all. As would you, (in all likelihood) if you bought them.

As mentioned earlier, At the end of last month, I detoured the family jalopy off the A1 towards Snaith and Yorkshire Ales. This really is a pretty little shop stocking some superb beers (almost) exclusively from Yorkshire. Adrian & Vicky were their usual friendly selves. Next time, I hope to chat more. However, if they’re as busy as they deserve to be, that could be difficult!

NB : Currently, they are promoting an offer of £5 next day delivery for up to 12 bottles. This reduces to £0 if you order 24. That’s right, FREE. Just saying……

1. Ratsputin by Rat Brewery (Huddersfield) – 7.4% abv – Imperial Russian Stout -£3.50 (500ml) from Yorkshire Ales

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(Great label!)

A deep dark coffee aroma on the black beer with a light tan coloured head. The aroma didn’t prepare me for the flavour. Fabulously earthy with bitter chocolate and licorice in the mouth. A lovely warming feel as the beer sank into my eager tummy! A nice bitter aftertaste with (what seemed to me) more than a hint of creme brulee or caramelised banana. Just a bloody good example of this great beer style. YUM!!!

2. Green Goddess by Ilkley Brewery (Ilkley) – 5.5% abv – Belgian Green Hop IPA – (500ml) A swap with my mate Jaz for a bottle of Oakham Green Devil IPA – (so £3.50 to me)

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(Dance To The Music!)

Jaz bought this from Beermoth, the boutique beer shop on Tib St in Manchester. I think it was over £5. So, for my £3.50 Green Devil, I got a bit of a bargain! (Not ‘arf!!!)

It is (like Siberia Saison) the product of a collaboration between the beer writer Melissa Cole (I got her excellent book ‘Let Me Tell You About Beer’ for my birthday last week!) and Ilkley brewery from, er…Ilkley. I had the cask conditioned version of this beer at Common in Manchester’s Northern Quarter last November and was suitably impressed. I wondered how the bottled version would fare….

I needn’t have worried! Bottle conditioned, it was lively out of the bottle and poured a deep golden colour. The aroma had that Belgian funk to it with some fresh herbal notes and initially I was reminded slightly of Duvel. However, in my humble…….this is SO much better. The taste? WOW! Break out that bass guitar and give it a damn good slap! More of that Belgian funky stuff going on, so much so, I had to reach for the tunes and slap on some Sly Stone! Some nice resinous hoppy grassy stuff going on courtesy of those fresh green hops. Nice grassy dryness after as well. Easily as good, if not better than when I had it on draught.

I believe they may still have some at Bierhuis in Ossett. Guess who I tweeted before I published this????

3. Stateside IPA by Saltaire Brewery (Shipley, W Yorkshire) – 6% abv – IPA – £2.80 (500ml) from Yorkshire Ales

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A lovely gold colour here with a powerful citrus hop aroma, I thought I detected apricot. Hell, what do I know! Given the aroma, I was expecting a punch in the kisser from all those American hops. What I got was a lot more subtle, but damned tasty.

Lots of smooth fruity hop flavour from those Yank hops (Cascade, Magnum, Galena & Summit – for those even nerdier than me!) all that American hop muscle supported by a nice juicy malt backbone. A superbly well-balanced and dangerously drinkable beer. (I’m just about to have another one!)

Saltaire. Brewers of one of my favourite Stouts (Triple Chocoholic). Another brewery yet to make a false step for me. (Gonna try to get over to one of their Saturday sessions later this year – train schedules permitting!)

4. Ponte Carlo by Five Towns Brewing (Wakefield, W Yorkshire) – 4.6% abv – Stout – £2.60 (500ml) from Yorkshire Ales

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(Dodgy pic alert!)

A black beer made with the addition of Pontefract cakes (ie : Licorice). This may sound STUPID, but this had a very dark aroma reminiscent of an Imperial Stout, vinous and spicy.

The added licorice REALLY comes through on the back of that roasted malt base. Dry, spicy and oh so bloody moreish. A dry spicy espresso taste as the aftertaste faded. A rally lovely beer (as was their Peculiar with rhubarb and ginger!)

5. Gold by Tatton Brewery (Knutsford, Cheshire) – 4.8% abv – Golden Ale – £2.19 (500ml) from Booths at Media City, Salford

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Now, back over the Pennines! Obscure from Tatton was my favourite bottle of last year. I still love it. A glorious black beer. I thought it was about time that I tried one of their paler offerings.

Pouring a dark gold colour with a nice lacy white head. A malty aroma with a hint of orange zest. Lovely juicy malt flavours with some toffeeness in there. Nice and smooth mouthful. Some nice hoppy dryness in the finish to give it a really nice balance.

On the back of this, I bought some of their Ruck & Maul porter from Booths last night. Can’t wait!

6. Bon Don Doon by Wilson Potter (Middleton, Manchester) – 4.2% abv – Blonde Ale – £7 for 3 bottles (500ml) – direct from the brewer.

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A lovely pale golden coloured beer. An interesting almost sherbet like aroma from the hops, quite zesty like a sherbet lemon. Smooth in the mouth, nicely balanced with some hoppy flavours I can’t quite pin down. A nice, dry almost grassy aftertaste. Another refreshing beer from this brewer.

Nice to see some of their draught beers around Manchester. I had the In The Black stout in The Salford Arms the other evening which was lovely and smooth. Excellent local brewers.

7. Kala by Saltaire Brewery (Shipley, W Yorkshire) – 6.2% abv – Black IPA – £2.90 (500ml) from Yorkshire Ales

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Back to the east of the Pennines again. This deep ruby almost black beer (trust me, hold it to the light!) has a lovely beige head with a nice – but not overpowering – citrus aroma from the Cascade and Citra hops. A complex combination of flavours here. Citrussy hop combined with something much darker, some bitter chocolate and licorice I thought. With 5 different malts and 6 different hops, you’re certainly getting your moneys worth here!

This beer is simply chock full of flavour and superbly balanced. Full of flavour with a nice dry grassy aftertaste. Black IPAs aren’t loved by all, but this is superb. Saltaire, I doff my (metaphorical) cap!

More pub related blather soon!

On that note…….’til next time!

Slainte!