Bottled Ales – July 2014 – Pt 1

“And I’ll be good
Like I should
Waitin’ is such
Misery, I need
Your touch”

(“Your Touch” – The Black Keys)

(Video courtesy Suchnone on YouTube)

If  The White Stripes made being a two piece (guitar/drums) seem cool, The Black Keys took that template and stripped away the artsy pretensions and just let rip! This track is from the 2006 album “Magic Potion” and was the first of their albums that I bought, via E-Music.

This music is simple, but visceral. It gets me in the gut. Stripped down blues rock. Raw & dirty. All dirty denim and ripped check shirts. Rock & Roll. You’ve got to love it. Especially when it’s this good.

Recommended albums : Magic Potion (2006); Thickfreakness (2003); El Camino (2013)

Beer! Where would I be without it? (Bed probably!)

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. Liverpool Dark – Liverpool One Brewery (Er…Liverpool) – 5% abv – Porter – £3 (ish) (500ml) – 0 – Londis Supermarket, Penny Lane (Liverpool)

You might notice by the end of this piece…a bit of a locational theme! All down to the fact, that after a meeting in Liverpool this week, I tracked down a legendary shop in Liverpool. A shop now firmly fixed in my memory!

Black. Always a good start in my book! A light mocha coloured head giving up a chocolate aroma with just a hint of something smoky!

Oh this is lovely! Just enough sweetness in this full-bodied mouthful (ie: not TOO much). Really smooth and full of chocolate with a hint of rum sweetness and molasses.

With each mouthful, the chocolate gets more pronounced and deepens. Yes, there’s sweetness, but also a building bitterness. A very satisfying porter. This is the first I’ve had from this brewery in any format. If everything else is as good as this, I’ll be back to Londis on Penny Lane!

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2. IPARunaway Brewery (Dantzic St, Manchester) – 5.5% abv – IPA – Swap (with the brewer) (330ml) – 0 – Direct

Ever get the feeling that you were in the right place, at exactly the right time? That’s how it felt when I walked into Mark Welsby’s brewery on Tuesday. It felt like I was witnessing the start of a great journey. I was there for a chat about The Independent Salford Beer Festival (Gratuitous linkage!) and bottling was in full effect. A beautiful looking brewery in a superb central location making forward thinking beers with room for expansion. Which is good, because if the bottles I walked out with are half as good as the stuff I had at Black Jack on keg, he’ll be expanding! So how was the first one I cracked?

Isn’t this a pretty thing? Beautiful burnished gold with a clinging white head and a glass bursting with citrus smells! Grief! Mango, Apricot, Grapefruit and a bit of lime perhaps? Nasally intense to say the least!

This is just SOOOO smooth! This is schizoid. It goes from the hops which are like a Ramones style nasal hop thrash, all “1,2,3,4”, to Barry White, the Walrus of love just oh so smooth and seductive. There’s a deep voice in my head, saying “Hey baby, you know you want another mouthful!” (Ooh err…)

So very fruity, with Mango and maybe Pineapple in the mouth with no small amount of pine needle in the finish. But, perversely, such an easy drinking beer! The resins build with each sip, drying the mouth leaving you wanting more. This is every bit as good as the two beers I had on keg at Black jack. A Triumph. Nice one Mark!

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3. Pale Ale – Atom Beers (Hull, E Yorkshire) – 4.5% abv – Pale Ale – £2.95 (330ml) – 10% for 12 or more Btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

2nd bottle from this new innovative brewery from Hull – also supplying to The Independent Salford Beer Festival (Gratuitous linkage!)

Bright gold in colour, with a light white head and an aroma with hints of peach and orange marmalade.

Oh yes……Fresh, clean and a good bitter hit. First flavour is that marmalade, so good that Paddington Bear could spread it on his sandwiches!

Medium-bodied this is sliding down ever so well. Nice and fruity with lots of citrus in here, slightly sticky, balanced by a good assertive bitter finish. Really refreshing too with a nice sharpness to it.

The bitter finish leads to a lovely assertive hoppy grassy aftertaste, not overpowering, just right in a beer of this strength. Impressive. Glad they’re on board for The Festival!

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4. Kitty Wilkinson– Liverpool Organic Brewery (Liverpool) – 4.6% abv – Chocolate & Vanilla Stout – £3.20 (ish, my memory is shocking!) – 0 – Londis Supermarket, Penny Lane (Liverpool)

Kitty Wilkinson. The Saint of the Slums. In 1832, during a cholera epidemic, Kitty had the only boiler in her neighbourhood, so she invited those with infected clothes or linens to use it, thus saving many lives. This was the first public washhouse in Liverpool. Ten years later with public funds her efforts resulted in the opening of a combined washhouse and public baths, the first in the United Kingdom. (Source Wikipedia)

This bottle is labelled with the phrase (one of a series perhaps?) “Liverpool Heroes” I now know why. Some of my ancestors were from Toxteth St Mary at the time of this epidemic. Makes you think eh?

The beer is as black as you would want it (well, me anyway) with head like cafe creme yielding an aroma reminiscent of chocolate ice cream. Topped with a 99 for extra chocolate!

Nice and smooth rich beer this. Unctuously chocolately, decadent, like laying your taste buds in a tub of Ben & Jerrys.

Yes, slightly sweet, with all of that chocolate and the vanilla twist, it’s going to be slightly sweet. But there is a twist of hops that hits you at the back of the tongue, reminding you that this is a beer, not a dessert! I’ve always had this beer when I’ve seen it on draught. It was the first beer I had in Joshua Brooks. Now a favourite in bottle too. Lovely.

Just to round off the story : Kitty Wilkinson’s epitaph apparently read

“CATHERINE WILKINSON. Died 11 November 1860, aged 73. Indefatigable and self-denying She was the Widow’s friend. The support of the Orphan. The fearless and unwearied nurse of the sick. The originator of Baths and Wash-houses for the poor. ‘For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.’ St. Mark, 12th Chapter, 44th Verse.” A true heroine.

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5. Londinium – Roosters Brewing Co (Knaresborough, N Yorkshire) – 5.5% abv – Coffee Porter – £2.29 (ish) (500ml) – 0 – Booths Supermarket (Media City, Salford)

I’ve got David Bishop to thank for my trying this beer. Persuaded me one evening to actually try Roosters beers when sober! So glad he did!

A black beer with a ruby tinge when held to the light. Mocha coloured head just OOZES espresso menace but also has a spicy note.

As smooth as silk, but with all the eye-opening potency of a fresh Americano. This is assuredly NOT a midnight beer!

Quite full-bodied, the coffee is upfront, with a little sweetness, but there is a deeper roasted malt backbone at play here lending a substantial bitterness to this beer. This is just so smooth, I’m thinking of Isaac Hayes singing “Walk On By” (random musical thought!).

There’s a subtle deep fruitiness to this beer too. The finish is quite bitter with a hoppy kick in the aftertaste. Immediate but complex. A fine beer.

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6. White Fox – Liverpool Craft Beer Co (Liverpool) – 6.3% abv – IPA/Wit hybrid – £3 (ish, that crap memory again!) (330ml) – 10% for 12 or more Btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

A twist in the (Fox’s) tail! When I bought this, I took it for a straight IPA. That’ll teach me to read bottles properly won’t it?

A hazy golden beer. A white head. A confounding aroma. Yeasty and fruity sweet in equal measure, maybe even a yeasty hint of rhubarb (always a winner with me!) Reminds me a tad of Ilkley Siberia, a fine reference point.

Oh this is lovely….once the lively beast had settled! Creamy smooth, yet arid dry. Fruity with rhubarb and maybe a hint of gooseberry tartness, grapefruit too, but subtle.

That yeast provides a spicy backdrop. A fabulous melding of styles that to me, that shouldn’t work, but just does. The finish to this is just oh. so. dry. There’s a sticky pine in the aftertaste too. A fine way to finish an (late!) evening! Another excellent beer (and a surprise) from Liverpool Craft.

2 (maybe 3) of these breweries will be featuring at The Independent Salford Beer Festival (Gratuitous linkage again!) Follow on Twitter HERE (Go ON! You know you want to!)

That’s it for this week I think! Off to Great Ale Year Round later to sample the delights of the beer I assisted on from Allgates & Five Towns – Station To Station IPA. I am SO looking forward to tasting this! (A bottle review to come soon!)

On that note….’til next time….

Slainte!

 

Booths Supermarket – Best Beer Supermarket in The North

“Inlitterati lumen fidei, God is with us everyday
That illiterate light , is with us every night.
Theologians, they don’t know nothing , about my soul, oh they don’t know…

I’m an ocean, I’m all emotion, I’m a cherry ghost, cherry ghost”

(“Theologians” – Wilco)

(Video clip courtesy of  Luis Rodrigo Barrera on You Tube)

10 years or so ago, Phil, my good friend played me a track called “California Stars”. It is an old Woody Guthrie song and was recreated (along with a whole host of others) to form the album “Mermaid Avenue” as performed by Billy Bragg & Wilco. Little did I know it then, but a love affair was born with a band from Chicago.

In 2004, I saw Wilco at Manchester Academy. The band were fantastic, great musicians all, but together….just fantastic. But the thing that struck me was just how fragile the vocalist (Jeff Tweedy) seemed. There was a vague rumour of an addiction (not eased by the lyrics of songs like “Handshake Drugs”) and I was utterly convinced that he wasn’t long for this world. I committed to seeing them whenever I could and saw them again later that year at Nottinghams’ Rock City. A fabulous live band. With the subsequent addition of the jazz inflected shredding guitar of the mighty Nels Cline, they’re even better.

I saw them most recently on the tour for their most recent album “The Whole Love” – again at Manchester Academy on a day when we buried an old college friend of mine. I don’t know if  the emotion of the day caught up with me, but the performance was one of the greatest of any band I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot). It started with this track “Art of Almost“, the lead track from the album. I had to share that too. Hold with it until the music fades and Glenn Kotche starts a whipcrack drum beat at about 4:43. Then watch/listen Nels Cline go! (The mans hands BLEED after performances!). Do you know what, the memory of that concert – and the whole day – still gets me.

We could get into the “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” situation / mythology – but I’ll let you find that for yourself. The band are MORE than worth a listen.

Recommended albums : I can’t. They’re all superb. My favourite tracks however : “Impossible Germany” (Sky Blue Sky); “Art of Almost” & “One Sunday Morning” – simply heartbreakingly beautiful – (The Whole Love) & “A Shot In The Arm” (Summerteeth)

On to the beer eh?

Today, I’m going off on a beery tangent – shop wise.

I am a huge supporter of small independent beer shops. They provide knowledgeable service, combined with beers you simply won’t find in any supermarket. I don’t think that there is an exception to that rule. But I love E H Booths – or simply Booths as they are now. They are a Northern chain and are positioned (I would say) at The Waitrose end of the spectrum. The artisanal foods that they stock, the breads, the deli counter, they rock my boat….but oh, the beer….

It was about 2003 and I was driving along Penwortham Way from Preston toward Leyland when I spotted (from the corner of my eye), a supermarket just off a roundabout and resolved to go in, which I did. I walked in with no preconceptions, no basket, no trolley and strolled – purposefully – towards the alcohol section. Bypassing the wines & spirits, I arrived at the beer section. My jaw dropped. I had simply never seen so many beers in a shop. The first thing I noticed was Alaskan Smoked Porter…..I went to get a trolley…..and walked out with nearly £100 of beers I had (mostly) never seen, never mind drunk, previously. The birth of another love affair….

With my beer shopping being focused on small independent shops, I hadn’t been into their excellent Media City outlet – my next closest being Chorley – for a while. That is, until I wandered into a Twitter conversation which seemed to offer up a live online community tasting session. Inspired by the launch of 4 own branded beers sourced from the 4 counties in which they operate (Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire & Yorkshire), they were hosting this session tasting 2 of those 4 beers with the #BoothsCheers hashtag and sending the two chosen beers to a number of people to join in, I butted in and they sent me two, but, on the day of the tasting, I missed the delivery, so, improvising, I went to Media City to pick the two up – and walked out with 19 bottles!

I chatted with a couple of the staff including the manager of the Alcohol section (really friendly) who helped me to find a couple of beers I couldn’t locate, the service is impeccable. I even tried to blag a raffle prize for the Salford Beer Festival…….well…he didn’t say no and even said he’d like to come….that’s ticket number 1 sold then!

As far as supermarket chains are concerned, they have no competitor in the North West. Yes, I’ve heard of the exceptional range at Londis on Penny Lane in Liverpool, but that’s one outlet. But with stock only slightly varying depending on store size, you get beers here that you won’t in any other Northern supermarket. May be the reason why they were my Beer Supermarket of 2013 in my Golden Pints! I’ve tasted a small selection of my haul….Prices are generally around the £1.79 to £2.29 mark, with an offer on many at 4 for £6 at the moment, during their “Beer Festival”

Connor Murphy on his excellent Beer Battered blog wrote a piece on Booths recently as part of his ‘Supermarket Ale Trail’ series – read here

And before you say anything…This is most certainly NOT an advertorial….Confidentially speaking….some local blogs do that…I don’t. These were all paid for. By me!


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1. Route 66Eden Brewery (St Andrews, Scotland) – 5.1% abv – Lager

This was a bright straw yellow gold and had a slight chill haze, with a white head and a  slight fruity aroma with peach and a hint of spice.
In the mouth, this is medium-bodied with a good rich tea malt base and was quite fruity and dry with a note that reminded me of grape skins. That biscuity malt gave a slight sweetness that was offset by quite a bitter kick. A really refreshing mouthful with a substantial spicy hop finish and a lingering herbal hop grassy aftertaste. First from this Brewery and a really good British Lager.

I *may* have bought one or two more from Eden’s range……maybe….

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2. YankeeRoosters Brewing Co (Knaresborough, N Yorkshire) – 4.3% abv – Pale Ale
Only my second from Roosters in bottle (following the excellent High Tea). I was delighted to see both this and their Coffee Porter “Londinium” on the shelves and MAY have snapped up a bottle or 2…..
A beautiful bright golden with a white fluffy head and a full booming aroma with sweet lemon and tart gooseberry, enough to make my saliva gland go into overdrive!
Medium-bodied and fruity with a kind of lemon sherbet on a base of fresh white bread, this is so smooth and easy drinking. Each mouthful as fruity and zingy as the first. Perfect summer drinking. Fresh as a daisy, sweet fruity and very moreish. A classy Pale Ale. I could go at this all night….
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3. Marie JauneIlkley Brewery (Ilkley, N Yorkshire) – 4.5% abv – Pale Ale
The one thing that can be said about Yorkshire Micros…They were never going to leave “Le Grand Depart” of the Tour De France uncommemorated, were they? To be fair, I’ve had some belting beers loosely Tour themed. This was another..
Golden, white head, subtle fruity aroma with a little peach or nectarine.

This is quite full bodied for the strength with a good solid biscuity malt body, some grape fruitiness, nicely sharp, clean and fresh tasting, along with a gentle peach leading to a subtle bitterness. Really dry tart aftertaste too. This was smoothly carbonated lending itself to a really smooth easy drinking beer. Lovely.

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4. Cherry StoutTyne Bank Brewery (Newcastle Upon Tyne) – 5.2% abv – Stout
This was a really pleasant surprise on the shelves near the lift. Tyne Bank are a rarity to me. Last time I had any was IndyManBeerCon in 2012! So I had to…didn’t I? Especially with my love of the Darkside!
Black with a slight ruby glow and a light mocha coloured head and an aroma of light coffee with a gentle whiff of cherry.

Full bodied smooth in the mouth, initial flavour is Bournville chocolate, sweet but with a certain depth. Then in comes some cherry – not overpowering, unlike some beers that use it – which complements the chocolate really well with a slightly sour tinge. This is excellent.

The Oatmeal lends the beer a silkiness which adds to the sense of balance. Mouthful after mouthful, this is a lovely smooth flavoursome beer. Silky from the oats, with that cherry ohhh …… And at a couple of quid, feels like shoplifting!

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5. “Jack Brand” Innovation IPAAdnams Brewery (Southwold, Suffolk) – 6.7% abv – IPA
Having heard a lot about the Adnams “craft” range (and this beer in particular) from luminaries like Nathaniel Southwood, I was keen to try this and rather pleased when I saw it on the shelves – especially at £1.99!
Deep golden coloured beer with a light white head and booming citrus aroma all apricot and grapefruit, so fragrant.

Full bodied and just SO SMOOTH. The first mouthful is all big juicy malt sweetness with a fruitiness which is more like a grapefruit marmalade, sticky and juicy. There’s a barley sugar element to this but it’s more than balanced by the fruit and a restrained bitterness.

The finish is really quite dry with a fresh-cut grass and insistent resinous pine. A really good IPA in its own right, but probably the best “craft” offering I’ve had so far from one of the regionals. Yeah. Just about sums it up.

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6. Black IPAHawkshead Brewery (Staveley, Cumbria) – 5.6% abv – Black IPA (er…)
This was the first of the beers in the #BoothsCheers Twitter Tasting. But, give that I missed the delivery, I bought this and the Golden Ale (also excellent). It was more than worth it.
Black with a cream coloured head, the aroma on this was all sugared grapefruit with something a bit…darker…lurking in the shadows of that place between the nose and the mouth…
In the mouth, this was full-bodied, with the instant shock of mango and grapefruit coming from a black beer brought back down to dark reality by a touch of treacle, a lashing of licorice and more than a chunk of bitter chocolate. This flavour fiesta is rounded off by a substantial resinous aftertaste. Just a cracking beer. I do like a Black IPA me, I do! As Connor put it at the time….”Everything a Black IPA should be” – I’m such a plagiarist!
Well, that’s it. If you’re going to shop in a supermarket for beer, honestly, look no further. We’re a lucky bunch in the North!
On that note….’til next time….
Slainte!