Bottled Ales – November 2013 Pt 2

1383915310033

1384288988627(Coming Soon – Warmers for Winter!)

“There ain’t a curfew on hard living in this poorly painted town. So leave the bottle where you found it

and let me lay here on the ground. Waking up drunk makes me happy and lately you just bring me down”

(Waking Up Drunk – Titus Andronicus)

According to those most reliable of people – Weather Forecasters – it is due to get rather cold this week, with snow in Scotland and parts of the beautiful North converted into Val d’Isere overnight (Sans fondue & Kronenbourg!) Time to stock up on those heart & soul warming dark beers then! And by that, I don’t mean the tired old excuses for Xmas beers that are already being dusted down on supermarket shelves – Bah Humbug? Indeed!

However, they can wait for the next post!

For now, I am back to the old formula, good beer from wherever I can get it! So, without further ado….

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…

IMAG0296(Straight Outta Toxteth!)

1. Imperious IPAMad Hatter Brewing – (Toxteth, Liverpool – but moving soon!) – 9% abv – Double IPA – £2.79 (I think!) (330ml) – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N Manchester)

I’ve always felt an affinity with Liverpool. Never really could understand why. It’s not the football, I’m a Manchester blue. I was born in Salford of Manchester / Salford parents, so not my folks. It was only a couple of years ago, prior to Dad passing away that I got the family history bug, that I learned of my heritage. Tracking back through Ancestry.co.uk, I found my great great great…..grandmum, Elizabeth Lee (I think she was called) and she lived and died adjacent to the parish church of Toxteth St Mary. Hardly enough to qualify me as a Scouser, but it sure explains some stuff to me! Zzzzzzzz……to the beer!

Mmmm…..Picked up on my first visit to Raj’s emporium with its expanding portfolio of craft beers, this is the third beer I’ve had from this (currently) Toxteth based brewery who only commenced operations this year after years of home brewing. They have built a really good reputation in a short space of time and whilst the others I have had have been good, this beer certainly gives substance to the reputation.

Bottle conditioned and lively on opening, deep gold with big lacy white head a light haze to it. This gave off a HUGE mango fruity aroma! Full bodied, this tasted like someone had cornered the mango crop and wanged it all into this single bottle. WOW! A big malt base with a good dose of cheesecake base sweetness to this but it’s the hops that do the talking here (Simcoe, Mosaic, Citra, Amarillo & Galaxy) and add a grapefruit dry tartness to the sweetness and big citrus of the initial mango, some piney resins too carrying on into a resinous finish with a slight note (I thought) of my old school friend, the licorice root. A stunning beer.

IMAG0313

2. Is This The WayWilson Potter Brewery (Middleton, Gtr Manchester) – 5.2% abv – Pale Ale – £2.33 (3 for £7) (500ml) – Direct from the Brewery

This was another one that I picked up on an all too brief visit to the brewery one Saturday afternoon. Now, I am (pretty much) an omnivore as far as beer is concerned, from Hop Monsters and Imperial Stouts to Light Milds, if they’re good, I drink them and – more to the point – enjoy them. I have read recently on one blog that “Balanced Beer” is equivalent to “Boring Beer”. I couldn’t disagree more. Sometimes I want a (hoppy) smack in the mouth, others to be laid low by an oily, mouth coating and warming Stout and others, by something with lots of flavour, with good hopping, that you could have a few pints of whilst having a natter with some friends. Wilson Potter brew such beers. And I love them for it!

An amber coloured (bottle conditioned) beer with a white head giving off a spicy orange marmalade aroma. Full bodied with a bready base supporting that marmalade orangey hop flavour from the Amarillo (get the pun in the name?) the sweetness of the malt balanced with the spicy orange notes and the bitterness with a really pleasant lingering resinous note in the dry finish. Refreshing and tasty beer. Just wish I could have stayed in their brewery to sample some more!

IMAG0316(Now…to the Darkside!)

3. @ One With The WorldYorkshire Ales (brewed by Rudgate of York) – 4.4% abv – Strong Mild – (500ml) (£2.75 but Bottle passed for opinion) – Yorkshire Ales (Snaith, E. Yorkshire)

Now and again, I’m lucky enough to have bottles passed or sent to me for review. My attitude is always the same. If I like them enough, I review them. If not, a discreet message to the sender explaining why. This “own label” bottle was passed to me by Vicky Pettit of Yorkshire Ales, who must know which of my beer buttons to press, because this is such a nice beer.

Deep ruby in colour with a tan head and a big aroma of vine fruits with some raisin upfront in the mix. IN the mouth, this was medium bodied with, initially, chocolate to the fore, then blending with caramel like a Rolo then, later, with the raisins coming back to say goodbye. The fruitiness fades gradually to a gentle bitter finish. A lovely autumnal beer. The third own label bottled beer they have produced, all really tasty. (BTW – Not many left!)

IMAG0317(“The NFL – brought to you by Quantum American Light”)

4. American Light – Quantum Brewing Company (Stockport) – 3.6% abv – Pale Ale – £2.69 (500ml) – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N Manchester)

Each bottle coming out of Hempshaw Lane gets steadily more impressive. Last post, I reviewed the excellent Small Beer at 2.7%, this time I’ve gone and (barely) upped the abv.

This is golden and hazy with a HUGE citrus aroma with lemon, grapefruit and passion fruit from the hops (Cascade, Simcoe, Citra, Chinook and Amarillo). A little initial sweet touch is swiftly jumped on by bitter lemon and grapefruit getting the saliva glands working overtime, before the piney resins kick in. The finish is still really fruity and bitter with a drying resinous aftertaste. Superb!

IMAG0321

(Beergasm alert!)

5. Decadence Stout – Weird Beard Brew Co (Hanwell, W. London) – 5.5% abv – Stout – £3.89 (500ml) – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N Manchester)

Bought on a recent visit and testament to the expanding range at Raj’s emporium. I had this on cask at IndymanBeerCon where I was served it by Gregg Irwin, one of the brewers. A lush beer on cask, but I hadn’t had it since as I balk at paying £5.20 a pint in Manchester! Anyway, when I saw it in Raj’s shop, I just had to. And I’m glad I did!

Pouring a deepest black with a creamy tan head, this had a massive chocolate aroma with light notes of cafe au lait (OK, milky coffee!). In the mouth? Full bodied with initially chocolate, then sweet coffee then some resinous hops. I haven’t got the purple prose to do this beer justice, it is simply a stunningly good stout. The biggest compliment that I can pay is that it is nearly up there with the Quaker House that we brewed at Allgates which is (honestly, no bias) the best beer that I have had this year. Creamy, chocolatey and bitter hoppy. What’s not to love?

One of – if not THE best bottles i have had this year. Thank you Gregg and pals!

IMAG0320

6. Still Thinking About That HefeweizenStill Thinking (M McGrorty) – Home Brewer – Stirling, Scotland) – 5% abv – Hefeweizen – A swap with the brewer!

A keen home brewer is Michael. Being mutual Twitter followers, I noticed one of his conversations with the Beer O’Clock Show one evening talking about his full-mash home-brewed beers. I was intrigued. hearing that he was in Manchester area one evening, we met up at Port Street and, for the price of a (admittedly, very limited) Ilkley Speyside Siberia, I got two of his beers, Monarch (a Saison style beer) and the Hefeweizen. Whilst I remember enjoying the Monarch and can recall a surprisingly resinous end note (very enjoyable), I made no notes! So, to the Hefe….

A lively pale yellow beer with a good expected haze, abundant white head and an aroma which had a herbal note, but was predominantly banana and American Cream Soda. Medium bodied, this beer had an initial banana sweetness, then a touch of sweet bubblegum, then some herbal notes with coriander the only one my limited palate could recognise. A touch of clove spice near the end before the dry finish. A really refreshing beer this. Unlike ANY home-brew I’ve ever had!

Just one more thing to note. After all of their bottles that I have drunk and eulogised over, I have finally had, courtesy of Allgates Brewery’s rather enlightened guest beer policy, a pint of a Five Towns Brewery beer on draught. Sampled at the Hare & Hounds at Hindley, Guero was an ultra Pale Ale at 2.9% and was a citrussy delight. I could wax more lyrical, but the best testament I could give to it, is that whilst I was there, most of the locals that entered were ordering it. In a Wigan pub! As Allgates seem to pick up a few casks on a regular basis, I’m looking forward to some more. If you find any knocking about, try it and (in the words of the rapper Drake) Thank Me Later!

IMAG0260

So. There you go. Another batch with my wafflings spilled all over them! Next up…some of those more wintery dark brews methinks.

So, on that note….’til next time….

Slainte!

Wilson Potter Brewery – A visit in two parts!

Wilson Potter Logo

Towards the end of 2012, around about the time I started getting interested in beer again (and started to write nonsense about it!), my arch-nemesis Jaz introduced me to the beers of Wilson Potter. My first exposure to their ales was In The Black, in bottle. A lovely Stout.

Gradually I tried one or two more (always in bottle) and grew more impressed with these well-balanced and subtle beers. Eventually, I met Amanda & Kathryn (Owners & Brewers) at Stalybridge Farmers Market – they attend each month – and bought some more bottles, each of them impressive. However, I was growing frustrated at not having their beers on draught in the pubs that I visit. Eventually, I DID get a taste of one of their beers on draught at the last NWAF in Manchester.

In mid-February, Jaz told me that he was popping up to the brewery soon. I (of course) managed to hide under his coat and sneak in and enjoyed a perishingly cold afternoon in the brewery where HOORAH! I managed to drink some of their beers on draught, as nature intended.

A month or so later, I went back (again with Jaz) on a much warmer sunny day, to try some more and have a chat. (See below)

Located in Middleton, to the north of Manchester, the brewery is located in an industrial unit on the edge of town where Amanda & Kathryn use a 6 barrel plant (installed by PBC from Bury) to make beers that manage to be full of flavour without the need to commit assault on your palate.

The ladies met whilst working as primary school teachers in St Helens. A shared love of real ale led them to eventually try home brewing with full mash ingredients in Kathryn’s kitchen, initially using recipes found on home brewing websites.

Gradually they experimented with self-created recipes – again, full mash. Eventually, having visited other lady brewers at Prospect and Mallinsons and with Amanda attending a brewing course at PBC, the jump was made to full-scale commercial brewing, with trading commencing in October 2011.

20130406_141205(L to R: Copper, Mash Tun & Hot Liquor Tank)

Wilson Potter brew a number of ales utilising a variety of hops both UK & US and package them currently in both cask and bottles (bottle conditioned).

20130406_141219(Casks ready for filling)

20130406_152409(Yummy – bottles for sale)

Whilst currently brewing within capacity, they brew / have brewed 21 different beers to date (including seasonals) and – in common with Privateer in Manchester – all of the beers are below 5% abv, thus bucking the trend for huge uber-hopped beers made by lots of other micros. Their current biggest sellers are Cascale, Tandle Hill and Bon Don Doon.

Plans currently are to stay as they are (vis-a-vis expanding the brewplant) other than possibly adding a couple of FVs to allow them to brew more frequently.

20130406_170935(One of the two FVs)

20130406_142912

(The Cask Washers / Games stands! Get the micro Connect 4!)

This is a personal opinion (shared, I know, by Jaz) but Manchester pubs are missing a trick by not stocking these beers. They are brewed locally (within 5 miles or so of the Northern Quarter) by obviously skilled brewers and are full of flavour and (mostly) of session strength. I get a bit fed up with pubs sourcing beers from all over the country, when they have excellent stuff brewed on their doorstep. Along with the likes of Black Jack and Privateer, Wilson Potter beers deserve to take their place on bars in the City Centre. Come on you licensees! (Polemic over!)

Being a shy type (!), I didn’t chat to many people first time I visited, there were three of us on that occasion and I didn’t know that many people. However, on the second visit yesterday I had brief chats with Jock (who I’ve ‘chatted’ with on t’interweb) and the local CAMRA branch chair – and noted beer commenter – known as Tandleman (The names have been changed to protect the innocent!). Good informative conversations that I hope to pursue in the near future. Thanks fellas!

Anyway, the beer! On both occasions, we chose to start low abv and head upwards……

cascale


1. Cascale 3.7% abv – Dark gold coloured beer that proved the ideal start yesterday after a long warm walk. Nice and refreshing hoppy bitter beer with a hint of sweet caramel from the malt. (A & B)

tandle-hill

2. Tandle Hill 3.9% abv – Another really nice bitter type beer. Light and hoppy, the hops aren’t overpowering but provide a nice lip-licking bitterness. An excellent session type beer. (A)

in-the-black

3. In The Black 4.2% – Now THIS is into my territory! Black as night with a light creamy head. A gentle mocha aroma leading to a lovely creamy roasted malt mouthful. A lovely hint of coffee in the aftertaste. Simply a superb stout. (A & B)

bon-don-doon

4. Bon Don Doon 4.2% abv – Lovely pale golden colour on this ‘blonde’ beer. A citrus aroma a bit like a hint of sherbet lemons. Lovely refreshingly citrus bitterness with more than a hint of candied lemon. Nice dry bitterness in the aftertaste. (B)

ruby-red

5. Ruby Red 4.4% abv – A darker red/brown beer. Nutty, fruity and even a chocolate hint! Satisfyingly full flavoured beer. (A)

natural-progression

6. Natural Progression 4.8% abv – Copper coloured beer. Fruity again with some vine fruit in there. A hint of malty toffee as well. (A & B)

is-this-the-way

7. Is This The Way (Amarillo hopped – geddit!) 4.8% abv – Copper coloured beer. Interesting herbal / floral hop aroma. Ooh…Forest fruity in the mouth as well as having a fresh grassy taste in there with more than a hint of licorice twig (anybody remember them?). Tastes more of its strength this one. Nice and dangerously drinkable with a nice fruity hop hit.

(A = Visit #1, B = Visit #2)

Now then. I’m biased. I love darker beers. So my vote would go for In The Black as my personal favourite. This is a beer that could replace almost any stout on the bar – especially that drab irish stuff.

Amanda and Kathryn brew beers at a drinkable strength, with bags of flavour. Beers that display more subtlety than most and are really well-balanced. I thank them both for giving me the chance to drink them in the condition they are meant to be served. Good beer in good company. Two of my holy trinity. Now for the third. Let’s be seeing this in some of those lovely Manchester pubs!

And…no. I haven’t been paid to write this. I’m just a fan!

One more thing. I couldn’t agree more with Tandleman. Their bottled beers are excellent. If you can’t buy from the brewery, they have a list of stockists on their website. Failing that, pop to Ashton or Stalybridge Farmers Markets and buy some direct from the brewers! Drink local people!

On that revelatory note….until next time (Hopefully pubs and jukeboxes!)

Slainte!

(N.B. If  you want to visit the brewery website, just click on any logo /pump clip)