Can I bore you for a few minutes? About a facile phrase.
Back end of last week, my attention was brought to a piece by the blogging powerhouse that is Boak & Bailey. A particular paragraph was highlighted
“Of course beer is a business like any other – Richard Burhouse says it is ‘naive that people think breweries wouldn’t want to protect their brands’ – but for consumers who have bought into the admittedly facile mantra that ‘beer people are good people’, and an ideal of community co-operation between ‘little guys’, it is rather saddening.” (Click for the whole article)
Now then. I’m fairly certain (On the basis that I say little that is actually original) that I didn’t coin that phrase. But I have, however, been guilty of using it rather a lot. Let me explain why….
I started this “blog” in September 2012. With a rather innocuous and fumbling review of “Twisted Spire” by Hobsons Brewery (a beer that I still love). Its commencement – the blog – was inspired by a chat with Jaz & Jeff over a few beers in Brew Dog in Manchester. It has therefore now (does the maths) been nearly 3 years that I’ve been peddling this twaddle called an opinion.
Over those 3 years, I have met a phenomenal number of lovely people. People who wouldn’t have entered my affections if it wasn’t for writing about beer. These people are brewers, drinkers, great street food cooks, landlords etc. Good people.
These relationships – allied to the “beer writing”, all helped when I was asked to organise a beer festival for a dear friend last year. That festival became The Independant Salford Beer Festival. Within an hour of my initial panicky tweet about agreeing to do this, I was inundated with offers of help from brewers, drinkers and good Mancunians. I was overwhelmed by kindness. Good people.
In the lead up to the festival, I was stunned by how generous that brewers could be. Both with advice, help and their products. The vast majority of local beer people helped out either physically, or with publicity. Sometimes both. Food and drink bloggers waded in with offers of help. And tweeted their hearts out. All of these people helped the festival to sell out 3 of its 4 sessions. Good people.
I was swamped with offers to volunteer. From beer drinkers from not only Manchester, but also further afield. These people came together and put on a festival that people effused over. And helped to raise over £5k for the Community Centre in which it was held. Good people.
A close friend (Jeff – mentioned above) made a comment recently to me, along the lines that we seem to have found a band of brothers and sisters since that festival that now can call each other “friends” – and in a non-Facebook way. Real friends that seem to share common viewpoints on a variety of subjects. Good people
I love Manchester. I love it’s people. I love the beers brewed here, to the extent that I firmly believe that the brewing scene of Manchester needs bend the knee to no city. And that includes London.
I’m a fairly nice kind of bloke online – where beer is concerned. However, I have – on occasion – come across those from outside this fine city, who opine on this city’s shortcomings and spout nonsense about its beer scene and pubs/bars. Thinking that they know better. They don’t. At the risk of sounding pompous, I will defend this city and it’s beer scene like a lioness defends her cubs. As some have found.
Where am I going with this? I’m not really sure. I rarely am. But what I am sure of, (though the word “facile” may indeed apply to the simplistic phrase that I use, certainly in the context of the B&B piece) is that – in my experience – the people that I have come across over the last 3 years in Manchester, be they brewers, drinkers, and all those in between, people I have met as a direct result of this tosh that I spout, ARE good people.
So. If I may be so bold, Manchester Beer People Are Good People.
If Cornwall wasn’t so bloody far away, I’d invite B&B to come and have a beer in October!
Done. We move on to the important stuff. Northern beers. In bottles. I am a Northern beer fascist!
1. Sorachi Ace – Cheshire Brewhouse (Congleton) – 5.8%abv – Pale Ale – 660ml – Heaton Hops (Heaton Chapel)
The smell of candied lemons assailed me as I opened this big bottle. I thought of decanting, but I chose the decadence of two glasses. Almost copper coloured in its golden depth. I couldn’t wait…..
Fruity. Really deep and fruity. Deep orange, sticky, resinous. Then something more drying and tart. Big malt spine to this and it is a very balanced beer with the fruit, the resinous hop dry sticky thing and a decent whack of bitterness too. Then, comes a lemony bite in the aftertaste. Just to finish things off with a flourish.
Classy beer. I’d expect nothing less from Mr Swindells. An underrated brewer if ever there was one.
2. Oberon (Session IPA) – Wharfe Bank Brewery (Pool in Wharfedale) – 4.2 % abv – 330ml – Beer Central (Sheffield)
Pouring an ultra Pale straw gold, this beer has a light white head and an aroma full of peach with a light fresh bready background.
Light to medium bodied, immediately by with peach and orange fruitiness on a freshly baked bread malty base. Right up my street. This fruitiness is then mugged by a bitter hit, courtesy of the Centennial hops. Perfectly judged on that bitterness too, not too much.
The finish is light and clean, with a nice hoppy aftertaste and a nice resinous hint. Not too intrusive.
This is (as you would expect), a really refreshing beer, Smooth, easy drinking and perfect for a warm summers day.
3. Hoptical Illusion – Brass Castle Brewery (Malton, N. Yorkshire) – 4.8% abv – Sorghum Pale Ale – 330ml – Beer Central (Sheffield)
This amber coloured beer is officially “Gluten Free” given its use of the Sorghum grain, the head is light and white and there is a big piney nose on this. Making my mouth water!
Ooh…. This is different! There is a deeper grainy flavour to this, really dry, almost (But not quite) rye like, very earthy. Very moreish. The hops are the next thing that you notice, there are plenty of them too, with some lovely tropical fruit flavours dancing around that grain.
The finish is, as you might guess, really dry and slightly spicy with quite a hop hit lingering on. This is a very interesting beer indeed from a brewery whose beers get better with each one that I try.
4. Equinox – North Riding Brewpub (Scarborough) 4.8% abv – Pale Ale – 500ml – Beer Central (Sheffield) – £3.20
Oh wow! This ultra Pale golden beauty is singing in full voice “smell my fruit”! There is bloody loads going on under this light and soft white head. Carmen Mirandas headwear wasn’t as vivid as this. There’s a bit of gooseberry, plenty of tropical stuff too. Oh my.
In the mouth, this medium bodied belter explodes with flavour. There’s some mango, gooseberry tartness, piney nonsense too. All wrapped up in an envelope of all encompassing bitterness. This, my friends, is an absolute corker! My gums are tingling!
This has just got me smiling from ear to ear. That big old bitterness eventually subsides into a sticky piney aftertaste, waiting patiently, for that bitterness to give it permission to step forward.
What. A. Beer. (And we’ll have a collab special from NRB/Five Towns/Me for you at Salford. You ARE lucky. Oh yes you are!)
5. Sorachi Pale – Tickety Brew (Stalybridge) – % abv? — Pale Ale – 330ml – Direct from the brewer.
Disclaimer : I got this from the brewery direct. Unlabelled. No idea of abv. No intention to review it. Until I tasted it.
Pale golden in hue with tart lemon and grapefruit aromas simply leaping from the lively white head, this is full of promise from the off!
Medium bodied with a light biscuity malt flavour that just about manages to balance some lovely sharp hoppage. This is one refreshing beer! The tart citric lemon with a dash of lime is making my saliva glands do overtime and almost making me miss that light signature Belgian yeasty spice. Yum.
Lovely juicy beer this, light, sharp and perfect summer drinking – even THIS late in the evening (it was near midnight – on a school night too!) That spiciness returns in the finish, which is very dry but with a nice hoppy remnant to keep it company.
Tickety Brew just keep getting better!
(Clip – Because I forgot to take a pic – Oops, sorry!)
6. Ozark – Track Brewing Co (Manchester) – 4.4% abv – Pale Ale – 330ml – Heaton Hops (Heaton Chapel)
Pale as a spring morning, golden and light with an abundance of white foamy head giving off masses of citrus aroma. Mango, orange and a little hint of lemon sharpness. Tantalising.
Oh this is such a smooth beer in the mouth! Bigging up the mango initially, this is really fruity. As the medium bodied mouthful descends down the throat, I suddenly noticed that the bitterness is really dialed down aiding the impression of smoothness.
Following the swallow is a slide into a nice hoppy slightly resinous finish. Not too abrupt. This is just a really well made Pale Ale from one of the newer “kids on the block” in Manchester.
Glad to have them around!
7. India Pale Ale (Simcoe) – Squawk Brewing Co (Manchester) – 6.8% abv – IPA – 330ml – Direct from the brewers
Another disclosure…..Another freebie with no intent to review etc,,,,
Mid golden in colour and with a light and dissipating white head with an aroma full of passion fruit allied with a hint of tangy apricot. A Big fruity aroma.
Full bodied with wholemeal bready malt with the fruity aromas translated well into a juicy fruity mouthful, a veritable grocers box with apricot uppermost. This is supported by tropical fruits and a gentle note of melon.
Finishing off this satisfyingly bitter beer is a big sticky piney aftertaste.
Another excellent IPA from this Ardwick brewery. Seek it out.
8. One At T’End – Five Towns Brewery (Wakefield) – 6.7% abv – Pale Ale – 750ml – Direct
This man lines his hops. This deep golden, almost amber coloured beer, poured lively, leading to a large white head with whole groves of mango and tropical fruits leaping from the glass. This, is one hoppy aroma!
At 6.7%, this is a big, big beer. Full bodied, there is a real depth of fruity flavour in this. Peach, mango, blood orange all fight for prominence in this totally juicy beer.. The low bitterness aids this beer in slipping down all to easily taking you to a real resinous, sticky finish with marmalade tones adding to that stickiness.
The fruitiness fades in the aftertaste and reminds me of melon and rounds off this beer so well. A Beergasm. It’s that good!(Last time I checked, there was some of this at Bierhuis in Ossett and Drink at Hebden Bridge)
9. Marx – Beer Nouveau (Prestwich) – 3.7% abv – (Oak Smoked) Wheat Beer – 330ml – Heaton Hops (Heaton Chapel)
Hazy and golden, with a light fluffy white head. The aroma reflects the oak Smoked wheat and is reminiscent of Smokey Bacon crisps – An unfairly neglected crisp flavour in my eyes!
Yup. That light smokiness carries through into the mouth. Nice carbonation leads to quite a full bodied feel, quite creamy mousse textured. A bit like Angel Delight mashed up with a pack of Frazzles actually!
For all that the thought of bacon may put some off, this is really refreshing and an excellent beer in this current “heatwave”. The smokiness is augmented by a little clove spice and maybe a hint of coriander leaf. Nice beer this – and I love the Salford linkage with some of the Communist Manifesto being inspired by the then conditions of Salford workers. Nice!
And. I’ve only just realised that each of these breweries WILL have a beer at ISBF2015
Well. That shallot for the moment. Maybe one more bottle post before I shut down the blog……for the summer, so I can focus on ISBF2015! Subliminal blogging at it’s worst! (I honestly didn’t know until I’d finished!)