Bottled Beers – January 2015 – Pt 1

“They say an end can be a start, it feels like I’ve been buried yet I’m still alive
It’s like a bad day that never ends.
I feel the chaos around me, a thing I don’t try to deny
I’d better learn to accept that there are things in my life I can’t control”

(“If I Ever Feel Better” – Phoenix)

(Clip courtesy of B.D White – via YouTube)

Waffle

For me, this is possibly the ultimate earworm – well, in its original form anyway. From a band that have – criminally – never had a hit single in the UK. I am also yet to discover so sad a song set against SUCH an uplifting melody.

Taken from their debut album “United”, this track – again, for me – explodes any myth that the French can’t make great pop music. For a while indeed, French music dominated dancefloors in the late 90s and early to mid 00s with the likes of Daft Punk (former band mates with members of Phoenix in “Darlin'”) and Justice.

I could have easily just used a clip of the single, but chose the one above to fit in two of the greatest French musical exports of the last 20 years. For a whole variety of reasons (and not just the obvious) at this particular moment, this feels right to me.

And the moment – at approximately 05:57 – when the band kick in again gives the lie to anyone who says that French bands can’t rock. A truly awesome mash-up.

Beer

Thinking of changing the focus of this blog. Maybe a few more pub pieces and less bottles. If you don’t like that idea, let me know, my head is in a weird place at the moment and I’m even more open to persuasion than normal!

Also, I need to track down some excellent fresh new Northern beers, this one has a few “interlopers”!

IMAG2473

  1. Manchester Sun– Beer Nouveau (Prestwich) – 5.3% abv – Golden Bitter – 330ml – Barbeerian (Prestwich)

Golden beer with a persistent white head giving off a gentle fruity aroma with maybe a hint of plum & raisin.

Quite full-bodied in the mouth, that fruitiness carries on onto the palate with more forest fruit and more than a hint of marmalade. This is followed by quite a substantial bitterness and a dry finish with some grassy hops in the aftertaste.

This is what used to be called a “Premium Bitter” and would be a smidgen from a fully fledged IPA for me. Either way, an excellent beer. And do you know what REALLY impresses me, Steve says on the label what he set out to do, and – in his first two bottles – he has nailed it.

 IMAG2474

  1. Dry Hopped Lager(Galaxy) – Adnams (Jack Brand – Southwold, Suffolk) – 4.2%abv – Lager – 330ml – Swap with my friend Simon (for a bottle of Thwaites’ 13 Guns)

Yes. A lager. From one of the Regional big boys too! One of TWO this post! A lucky find over Xmas, for which I thank Simon.

Bright and golden (as you would expect), its lingering fluffy white head giving off an aroma of fresh apples with a citric hint of lime sharpness.

In the mouth, a rich tea biscuity sweetness gives way to a light and refreshing fruity mouthful, Orchard fruits with a little lemon and a subtle floral flavour wafts across the tongue too. This is possibly one of the nicest UK lagers I have tasted thus far. Beautifully refreshing. and a joyous thing. A summer beer in midwinter!

 IMAG2477

  1. Faceless Spreadsheet Ninja(Citra Pilsner) – Weird Beard Brew Co (Hanwell) – 5.5% abv – Pilsner – 330ml – Barbeerian (Prestwich)

Yep. Another Pale golden Lager! This has a lingering white head and an aroma that is quite restrained, fresh-baked white bread being my first thought.

In the mouth, this comes to life! Medium bodied, This has a surprising depth of flavour with like a citrus jam stickiness and a quite fabulous hoppy hit post swallow. That fruitiness just keeps coming, with a little more citrus asserting itself in further mouthfuls.

This could almost convert me to Lager!

Fruity, refreshing, with a crackling grassy hop dry finish. Yum. Weird Beard strike another home run!

 IMAG2486

  1. Dragons Tears– Black Jack Beers (Manchester) – 5.2% abv – Jasmine Saison – 330ml – Barbeerian (Prestwich)

Now then, the first #Beergasm of 2015!

Hazy and golden beer with a thin but persistent white head and a slightly spicy fragrant aroma (presumably the Jasmine)

Oh but this is LOVELY! A typically good Saison in that it is terrifically refreshing, getting the saliva glands working overtime, with that yeastiness powder coating the tongue as the beer slides down.

This is quite full bodied and has that delicate almost floral spice of the Jasmine adding to the lightness of touch. A beautifully refreshing mouthful from young Mr Hamilton & chums!

 IMAG2491

  1. Rum In The Black– Wilson Potter (Middleton) – 4.2% abv – Stout – 500ml – Great Ale Year Round (Bolton Market)

Black, with a milky coffee coloured head and a nose of Chocolate. Sweet and seductive.

Medium bodied, a little sweetness in the mouth gives way swiftly to a more bitter chocolate,smooth and moreish with a slight smoky note in the swallow.

Following mouthfuls give up hints of the rum in the title but with that sweetness surpassed by a lovely gentle bitter hoppy finish.

Another excellent beer from the increasingly impressive Wilson Potter.

 IMAG2492

  1. Bristletoe– Bristol Beer Factory (Er,,,,Bristol) – 4.7% abv – Oatmeal Porter – 500ml – Barbeerian (Prestwich)

This is black. No shit Sherlock. It also has a rather attractive beige foam collar and a lovely slightly sweet chocolate & coffee aroma. Mocha if you will. It smells nice and….. “dark”.

Taste wise? The chocolate is almost a given. And it is chocolatey, medium-bodied and smooth from the Oatmeal, the first thing is a slight sweetness from the chocolate which fades to a dry and quite hoppy finish, really satisfying mouthful.

At times, it feels like a little lactic like a Milk Stout – never a bad thing in my particular book. It’s the body and the slight sweetness which reminds me that this is a Porter.

Never had a bad beer from BBF. This continues that streak.

Shortly after this, whilst I was having a late night watching the AFC playoff game, I decided to give something a try. The West Indies Porter by Guinness. I took one mouthful (unfortunately) and poured it down the drain. I wanted to like it. I actually have no problem with Guinness, but it was vile. Just caramel. Try it if you want, after all, I was tempted at £1.50 a bottle for a 6% beer. But remember, you were warned!

Bottled Ales – June 2014 – Pt 3

“Face drawn in acts of courage, penny drops, the same old story”

(“Atom Rock” – Quando Quango)

(Audio clip courtesy of GilMahadeva on YouTube)

Not the height of lyrical sophistication, I’ll grant you, but Quando Quango were more for the feet than the heart! QQ were a Factory Records band in those heady days that were pre Happy Mondays. When dancing at the Hacienda was one of the early to mid 80s escapes from Thatcherite drudgery and miserablism. To step onto the dance floor of the pre-rave Fac 51 and dance to tunes such as “Love Tempo” (QQ again) & “White Lines” just melted your cares away (not to mention the Glenn Miller break and the night ending Theme from Thunderbirds!)

This tune is notable for Johnny Marr’s smooth guitar work (still in The Smiths at this point – I think) as much as the dance rhythms and latino spiked brass stabs. The band only released one album, but were hugely loved in both Manchester & New York and had core members of Gonny Rietveld, her brother Reiner (from Rotterdam) and the then Hacienda DJ Mike Pickering (later to form M People). It has to be said, that in their brief – almost butterfly like – existence, they reached some influential ears, in one interview at the time, the legendary hip-hop producer Arthur Baker was asked for one band he would like to produce, his answer……….

Just enjoy the tune…..provokes some seriously shady “dad dancing” in MY house!

On to the beer….where would we be without it?

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!

IMAG1702

1. Dark AlchemyAtom Beers (Kingston-upon-Hull, E Yorkshire) – 4.9% abv – Porter – £2.95 (330ml) – 10% off for 12 btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

A brewery first encountered (by me) on the Allgates Brewery “Road To Wigan Beer” festival, I was eagerly looking forward to trying my first in bottle – and intrigued by the idea of a Porter without hops!

The beer is Black. With the faintest of ruddy glows at the bottom of the glass when held to the light. Thin beige coffee coloured head, with an aroma featuring chocolate, coffee and quite a spicy note, slightly perfumed…Cardomom perhaps (then I checked the bottle and saw that cardamom featured!).

Now this is one intriguing beer! Quite full-bodied considering the strength with good carbonation, there’s a lot going on with this beer and no mistake.

Firstly, there is a lovely smooth chocolate flavour….then there is quite a perfumed flavour which comes from the cardamom. This is followed by something more earthy and herbal and finishes off slightly warming as it slides. The aftertaste remains chocolatey with almost a Turkish Delight kind of flavour. Not a standard porter by any means, but I think I love this! (I think I’m going to have to add this lot to my Beer Fest list!)

IMAG1662

2. Amarillo Gold – Saltaire Brewery (Saltaire, W Yorkshire) – 4.4% abv – Pale Ale – £2.85 (500ml) – 10% off for 12 btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

A pale straw gold coloured beer with a lacy white head and a nice mellow orange marmalade aroma.

The nice and gentle carbonation gives a smooth medium bodied mouthful with a good dose of Seville orange, bitter yet subtle. The fruitiness continues mouthful after mouthful with that bitterness building with each swallow. Hugely enjoyable and refreshing.

The finish is increasingly bitter with  a good resinous whack in the aftertaste. A lovely beer. Probably the best mid strength Pale I’ve had from Saltaire. And that’s saying something!

IMAG1701

3. Brewers GoldBlackedge Brewery (Horwich, Bolton) – 3.9% abv – Pale Ale – £2.20 (500ml) – 10% off for 12 btls – The Tottering Temple (Brewery Shop)

One of a few bottles that I picked up from their excellent shop on a recent visit to mither Wayne & Shaun about the upcoming Independent Salford Beer Festival !

Pale gold beer with lively carbonation giving a decent fluffy white head and an aroma delicate with citrus, orange.

Medium bodied beer same fruitiness, like bitter marmalade. And this IS bitter. Really clean tasting beer, refreshing with a hint of fresh apple in with the quite assertive bitterness.

A beer that I would describe as a bitter. And a damn good one at that. Did I mention Bitter? Not a swear word you know!

IMAG1712

4. Mayflower Gold – Billericay Brewing Co (Billericay, Essex) – 6.5% abv – Pale Ale – £4.50 (375 ml) – 10% off for 12 btls – Great Ale Year Round (Bolton Market)

You have absolutely NO IDEA how much I was tempted to use the lyrics of “Billericay Dickie” by Ian Dury at the top of this piece! What a great bawdy humoured classic!

Coming in a very attractive cork stoppered 375ml bottle. This is a slightly hazy, almost bronze coloured amber beer, with a big citrus fruit and floral aroma from a thin white head.

A big body on this, with loads of sweet biscuit malt and lashings of citrus hops with orange up front, this is almost more of an IPA than a straight pale ale for me. A slight savoury note too with this, like a light rauch smokiness, this is dangerously easy drinking – having it before a night out sure doesn’t feel wise!

The fruitiness mellows as I’m progressing down the glass, the bitterness is low too, which aids the easy drinking bit. Really rather pleasant!

IMAG1704

5. MotuekaMallinsons Brewery (Huddersfield, W Yorkshire) – 4% abv – Pale Ale – £2.89 (500ml) – 10% off for 12 btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

A golden coloured beer, with a lasting white head and a big tropical fruit aroma with kiwi and passion fruit to the fore, really fragrant.

This is light to medium bodied with a light fresh bready malt balancing the tropical fruit which comes through strongly in the mouth and is allied to quite an assertive bitterness.

Beautifully fruity and refreshing, there are hints of peach too in later mouthfuls. This is yet another beautiful single hopped Pale Ale from the Queens of the style.

Summary. Tropical fruity. Bitter. Lingering resinous aftertaste. Lovely. I kind of expect nothing less from these ladies.

IMAG1709

6. SessionRingway Brewery (N Reddish, Stockport) – 3.8% abv – Pale Ale – £2.85 (500ml) – 10% off for 12 btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

Bright and deep golden beer with a plentiful white head that shares aromas from the forest, blackcurrant and blackberry, fruity with a toffee biscuit backing vocal.

Once again from Ringway, a really smooth easy drinking beer. Quite full-bodied for its modest strength, the biscuity malt & the forest fruit flavours come through in the mouth too like a promise fulfilled. A bracing bitterness at the end of each mouthful too, a proper session bitter this one. Another belter from Paul who describes his beers as “easy drinking” a phrase which hits the mark at bull’s eye.

One question. Has “Bitter” become a swear word in the drinking community? It isn’t with me. There’s something about a nice pint of bitter which just really…..satisfies and comforts in equal measure.

Before I go, a slight rant.

I keep hearing the phrase “twiggy” when describing beer made with British hops, a phrase that is as worthy of derision as are the tastebuds of the people that spout it. To quote Jeanette Winterson “Orange is not the only fruit”! There are more fruits in the supermarket than lemons, grapefruit and the rest. Yes, I like those flavours too, but try something different and actually try TASTING it before JUDGING it! (I’ve had a shit week, my tolerance levels are stuck on Empty!)

So, rant over, there we go!

At some point soon, I might have to have a “blog holiday” and focus four square on The Independent Salford Beer Festival if it’s going to work!

On that note….until next time….

Slainte!

 

A New Bar For Bolton – Great Ale Year Round

Great Ale Year Round

A couple of months ago – just about the time that my dear friend Gerry floated the idea of a Beer Festival – I took her and her partner (my good friend) Paul to Damian O’Shea’s stall at Urban Market on what was the old site of Victoria Bus Station. A young couple were standing close to the stall and Damian introduced us saying, “You might want to meet these people, they’re opening a bar in Bolton”! My attention being now absolute and undivided, I was introduced to Dan & Gina Buck. We chatted for a short while and I got the distinct impression that they liked good beer.

The plans were to open a bar in the refurbished Market Hall and a brief chat with Dan &  Gina told me that there would be an emphasis on local beers with some more foreign stuff (ie : from South of Crewe) in too, but only good stuff! I was really heartened because, to be fair, Bolton is hardly rammed with great places to drink. Yeah the Sweet Green is OK, Wetherspoons (currently OFF my radar) and Barristers are OK and the Dog & Partridge has a decent pint, but Bradshawgate of a weekend evening resembles mid 80s Beirut! Consequently, when I go out, I head south towards Salford & Manchester. Bright lights, big cities and all that….

The Bucks had been posting teaser pics on Facebook showing how the venue was coming along, which made me all the keener to get in and give it a road test. So. What is it like?

IMAG0564

The bar was originally supposed to open on 14th February (the date that the Hall officially opens I think), but, having brought THEIR opening forward, my good buddy Colin & I strode into the Market. The first thing to notice is the large seating area just outside the bar, loads of space which will be filled once the planned food vendors move in. A really nice space, the Market will do well here.

IMAG0565

(Great bottle selection)

The bar is fairly small (well, it IS a Micro Bar!) with firkins on stillage behind. The bar and a few bar stools take up one half of the space with a couple of small tables and the bottle shelves and fridge taking up the other half. Speaking of bottles….

With a selection from the likes of Brightside, Quantum, First Chop, Tickety Brew, Cheshire Brewhouse to name the locals, plus offerings from London luminaries such as Beavertown and Five Points, the UK selection is impressive. Add to that 3 from Brooklyn, some Sierra Nevada, Jever, some Timmermans fruit beers AND Cider from local producers Red Bank, the choices are superb. (We tried a drop of the Red Bank “Rum” Cider and it was lovely & smooth!)

IMAG0568

There are currently 2 cask conditioned beers which Dan informs me will be constantly rotated. The two on offer today were Solstice from Brightside of Radcliffe (a Golden Ale at 4.5% abv) and Dark Revenge from Manchester’s Privateer Beers (a 4.5% abv mild). It’s fair to say that both were on absolutely CRACKING form!

Having had Dark Revenge previously on several occasions (I adore it!), I opted first for the Brightside. A beautiful clear pale gold with a fabulous fruity aroma, this was superbly refreshing and citrussy with just the right amount of biscuity malt for balance. I didn’t want the glass to empty! next up was the Dark Revenge. The name kind of gives away the complexion of this beer. I asked to pull this and made a complete “dog’s” of it. But what I couldn’t spoil was the taste. A lovely creamy dark roasty thing of a beer with smooth chocolate, the merest hint of coffee and a lovely dry finish. Superb.

Needless to say, Colin & I hung around for a couple more and chatted awhile with punters and Dan & Gina. Nice to see Paddy & Rachel (Rachel for the first time) and have a wee chat whilst Paddy selected some excellent bottles – a man of taste! Two excellent bloggers (click the hyperlinks!)

It was nice to hear that the first day had been busy. Given the efforts that I know that Dan & Gina had put in, deservedly so. As further food and drink units open up, it can only go from strength to…er….strength! I hope so, because this place gives Bolton somewhere nice and relaxed to have an excellent beer – and the best bottled beer selection in a bar for MILES around.

Immediate plans are to have some “Meet The Brewer” type events with the likes of Brightside, Privateer & First Chop. Excellent local brewers more than worth a listen. I’ll be going for sure! Another – more imminent – arrival will be a lager font, the lager being the excellent German Paulaner (beloved of Manchester Xmas Markets!) and at some point shortly perhaps, a 3rd hand-pump allowing the range to increase. Here’s hoping!

Saying our goodbyes, both Colin & I agreed that Dan & Gina had done a cracking job and we can’t wait to go back.

On that note….’til next time….

Slainte!