Hornbeam Brewery MTB @ The Salford Arms 25/09/2013

Hornbeam

So. It’s a Thursday. Also happens to be payday (YAY!). A choice between checking out my new Virginmedia setup, or pop down to The Salford Arms for the MTB with Dentons’ own Hornbeam Brewery. I won’t insult your collective intelligence with the obvious question…….!

A quick (almost telepathic) exchange with Tom revealed that there was no food on. So off to Caribbean Flavas on New Bridge St and possibly the saltiest meal I’ve ever had! Next time, I’ll go for the Jerk rather than curried chicken! It DID promote the thirst though!

Walking back in, there was the reassuring sight of my Arch-Nemesis at the bar. Furnishing me with a pint of Milestone Black Pearl Stout. Gloriously roasted and smooth with lovely notes of toast and mild coffee, we settled down in the front room to await the event.

Quiet. Again. What is WRONG with this picture, eh? A local brewer making an effort to come across town (on a Man U v Liverpool night to boot!) and talk about their excellent beers….an opportunity missed, to say the least!

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Kevin Rothwell – the head honcho at Hornbeam – was a most convivial host. He started commercially brewing in 2007 having been a keen “full mash” brewer at home since his teens. Brewing on a (Sketchy memory time alert!) 6 beer barrel plant (1 Bbl = 36 gallons) they brew up to 100 x 9 gallon casks a week, with about 10% or slightly less going into bottles.

In response to a question, Kevin told me that they have distributed pretty much across the whole of the North West, from Lancaster down to Derbyshire. However, now the focus is pretty much on the Greater Manchester area with a number of regular accounts. Whilst talking, Kevin was popping bottles…..first up was a taste of Black Coral Stout.

black-coral-stout

A fruity dark beer with a good roasted malt body. Nice dark fruity notes with a hint of damson or plum. A very nice starter, but destined to be the only dark of the evening!

Another couple of people came in (Aussie couple that were also there last week) making a grand total of 4. We had a good chat around beer and sport, then Kevin broke out the White Swan. At 4.6% abv, this is a Wheat beer made with an unusual addition. Lavender. Bizarrely, this very pale golden beer had a distinct ginger note on the nose! really refreshing medium bodied beer with a really pronounced floral character. Unusual and damned tasty!

I was trying to make notes whilst the beers were coming fast! I could barely keep up! (No. Don’t weep for me. I can cope!)

lemon-blossom

Next came Lemon Blossom at 4.1% abv. Brewed using the Sorachi Ace hop, this was again pale gold in colour with a delicate floral aroma. A distinct lemon note (a Sorachi characteristic) in  this clean easy drinking beer. Nice bitter finish with spicy hop note too.

Next came the Summer IPA again at 4.6% abv. Golden with a savoury aroma that I couldn’t quite pick. Quite fruity this, a little floral with a tinge of spiciness. Nice bitter and spicy finish.

champagne-ale

“Hard on the heels” came the Champagne Ale. 4% abv. Another golden beer but this time more dry and a pronounced bitterness to it. Light bodied and really refreshing, with a nicely dry slightly grassy bitter finish.

tophop-bestbitter

On the bottle front, we finished up with one of the core range. Top Hop. 4.2% abv, with more of a deep golden hue. A more straightforward example of a traditional bitter, but full flavoured really fruity hopped with a cracking dry finish.

Whilst drinking these latter beers, Ken, one of the owners joined us. Asking a few questions himself, he was also puzzled at the attendance and I think, if there are further events after Deeply Vale next week, they may be on a different evening to encourage a greater attendance. Chaeck out their website via the link above. Nice bottle shop.

Ken then popped in with this little beauty!

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A cracking little tapas platter, highlighting the good food being prepared here. Really tasty with the mussels, a seafood paella and a mini burger. Went superbly with the Top Hop and Champagne Ale!

The nemesis and I couldn’t leave without the Orange Blossom on cask, could we? This is a lovely golden beer with some subtle earthy hops in the aroma. Dry, with some subtle orangey stuff going on at the back of the tongue. Nice dry and grassy bitter finish.

The theme of the evening? Other than my whining about the poor turnout? Tremendous well-balanced and tasty beers. All at a drinkable strength. Made with having more than one in mind. No bad thing to me. Another brewer from our beloved area making balanced tasty beers at a drinkable strength, alongside the likes of Wilson Potter and Privateer. Nice to see all these brewers thriving in this great city of ours!

We wandered off to other pastures! Absolutely SCANDALOUS on a school night. But hey-ho! I had got wind of some nice beers at Pie & Ale on Lever St so off we strode across the Northern Quarter.

pieale

(pic: creativetourist.com)

Pie and Ale by Bakerie. A relatively recent addition to the thriving Northern Quarter scene, this places loses nothing compared to some of the more established NQ bars. The price upped a notch in here, but for what I had in mind, that was no issue! (And the Nemesis was paying!!!) Obsidian from The Hop Studio in the fine city of York. A cracking Black IPA at 5% abv. Lovely sharp sherbet grapefruit nose, with coffee notes in with the citrussy hops. A cracking pint. On the basis of the occasions that I have had this, one of the best beers I’ve had this year!

I do like Pie & Ale. No food this evening (being 9 ish) but great pies, having had the pleasure previously!

I couldn’t resist thee siren call emanating from the area of Port St!

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A belting chat with Al behind the bar, excellent barman who’s a keen home brewer. A kindred spirit in many ways, we shared our horror and disbelief at ale bars with no ale (Lower Turks take note!) over a pint of Graveyard Eyes Porter from Hopcraft Brewery from Pontyclun in South Wales. I do like Sorachi Ace in a dark beer. It adds a certain lightness and lifts what can be a heavy flavour into something much lighter. This was a cracker. The usual roasted character of Porter, quite creamy as well, but the Sorachi Ace…….yum! First time from this brewer for me. Will NOT be the last!

So. Nearing bedtime on this fine Thursday evening, I’m off to recline with a good book and a glass of DOC by First Chop. Damned tasty too….that review can wait!

On that note…’til next time…

Slainte!

Hare & Hounds, Hindley. 05/06/2013

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Early last week, I made arrangements to hand over a couple of bottles of good ale I had purloined from Yorkshire (Yorkshire Ales & Bierhuis) to a couple of good friends of mine (from WAY back), Mike & Jeff. Wetherspoons in Walkden seemed convenient, so we set a date for Wednesday evening.

However, the little devil on my shoulder (on this occasion, Colin) had an itch to scratch. He had spotted a Honey Porter that was on the bar at The Hare & Hounds. being a mere £1.60 return train journey from Walkden, I was only too glad to boot the beery conglomerate into the long grass. More Allgates for me!

Unfortunately, just before we set off, Mike tweeted that he had a ‘sick note’. We sent our commiserations and……carried on regardless, as he would have expected!

The bottles were V2 Schneider from Five Towns Brewing of Wakefield and Siberia from Ilkley Brewery. The V2, being for Mike was no longer needed, so we set off to the train station. Only problem was, I left the other bottle at home too! Doh!!!

15 minutes after boarding the train, we were entering the pub. 5 handpulls, all in use. 2 from Allgates (Ostara & Session – aka Napoleons Retreat), & 1 each from Castle Rock (Harvest Pale), Milestone (Honey Porter) & Abbeydale (Moonshine Pale). I’ve only been here once before, but REALLY enjoyed that brief visit! https://beersmanchester.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/allgates-the-road-to-wigan-beer-29032013/

I started with an Ostara by Allgates at 3.6% abv (not for the last time this week https://beersmanchester.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/the-birth-of-a-beer-allgates-brewery-08062013/ !), whilst Col hit the ground with a Castle Rock Harvest Palewhich he was more than happy with. I, however, was enraptured by the Ostara. Lovely and golden pale with a light “Burton snatch” to the aroma (that slight sulphur like aroma you get from beers from Burton – Pale Ales) along with a citrus hoppyness, It was a hoppy joy in the mouth balanced by a Rich Tea biscuity malt. Dry in the finish, hoppy and really refreshing. Whilst having this, Col noticed the Landlord (Nigel) who said hello and would have a chat later (which he duly did!)

Next up was another from Allgates, this time Session (aka Napoleons Retreat) at 3.9%. A mid brown / copper coloured beer, this is not normally my kind of play, but it was a really flavoursome ‘best’ bitter. Didn’t get much of an aroma. A slightly more bitter-sweet beer than the drier Ostara, with a dry nicely hopped finish. I can see why it sells well across the estate.

Had a nice chat with Nigel at this juncture. Really friendly bloke who learned his cellaring trade at the Edington Arms (next to the train station, 200 yards away). I can testify that he keeps a good pint from my two visits! We chatted about how he came to have the pub after the previous landlord (Greg) went to take over The Crooke Hall Inn (another Allgates house). We chatted about loads of stuff, but he had to “walk the dog” (no, really!) a patient little Staffordshire Bull Terrier was sat close with eyes only for Nigel!

Jeff now appeared and (for a craft keg man) really enjoyed the Ostara I got him.

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(“What’s a Smoke Room, Dad?”)

I had another Ostara before I tucked into an Abbeydale Moonshine Pale. At 4.3% abv, this was golden and a slightly sweeter beer than the Ostara, more of a Blonde than a Pale Ale for me, akin to Thwaites Wainwrights. A nice enough beer and certainly in good nick, but I was expecting something hoppier.

Having apologised to Jeff for leaving his Siberia on my back room table (where it remains, in grave peril!), I tucked into a Milestone Honey Porter, the original reason for our visit! From Newark (quite close to where my OutLaws live!), this 4.7% abv beer was a very deep ruby, almost black, beer. With an Ovaltine like malty nose, there was lot of roasted flavour, slightly chocolatey with a touch of bitterness. This had been ‘on’ for 3 days or so and was in remarkably good condition.

Having a few minutes ’til the train, it would have been wrong not to have another Ostara, wouldn’t it? Is it TOO obvious to say it was my beer of the evening?

To summarise. This is the local that I wish was on MY doorstep. Warm friendly staff and landlord, two distinct spaces, a dartboard and a telly for sports fans (de rigueur these days!), it really is my idea of a local. And, with train fare at only £1.60 return, it may yet become it!

A quick dash up the hill and we were at the train station.

20130605_223415(Col – “Wish I had a tape measure!”)

Thankfully skirting around the Wetherspoons, a walk up the hill and “Hi Honey, I’m home!”

On that note….’til next time!

Slainte!