Bolton Beer Festival (CAMRA) – 24 & 25/04/2014

“The Lord above made liquor for temptation, to see if man could turn away from sin.

The Lord above made liquor for temptation but, with a little bit of luck,

With a little bit of luck, when temptation comes he’ll give right in!”

(“With A Little Bit Of Luck” – My Fair Lady)

(Clip courtesy of  shanmugamlakshmanan – You Tube)

Is My Fair Lady the greatest musical of all time? For me, indubitably! How can you fail to be charmed by Jeremy Brett (one of the better TV Sherlock Holmes) singing   “On The Street Where You Live“? (Surely one of the greatest musical songs of all time itself.) “I Could’ve Danced All Night”? Wouldn’t It Be Lovely”? “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face”? Is there a greater run of classic songs in any film? Lerner & Loewe in fine form. If I had a minor quibble, it would be Julie Andrews’ Broadway Soundtrack voice over Audrey Hepburn (who didn’t actually sing the role, utterly ravishing though she is!)

Rex Harrison, Wilfrid Hyde-White, the stunningly beautiful Audrey Hepburn and, for me the life & soul of the movie, Stanley Holloway!

This was (so far as I am concerned) the greatest album in my wife’s collection that I inhaled into my collection when we got married. It wasn’t even hers either! Philip Wakerley, take a bow sir!

The inspiration for the inclusion of these clips comes from a conversation at the office that featured a pub quiz question from last night “Who is the only man to have won both an Oscar AND a Nobel Prize? A: George Bernard Shaw!

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A brief (for me!) review.

I blame Dan & Gina. It was all their fault. Really it was. I mean, putting temptation in the way of a boy utterly without willpower! I live in Bolton. There is a Beer Festival AND I have Friday off? I simply HAD to go to The Ukrainian Club, didn’t I?

Well, that was part of it. The other part was that Revolutions had put the message out that there was a cask of Manifesto at the festival. Those oh so nice Bolton CAMRA people!

Let me get my one disappointment out of the way. I REALLY wanted it to be in the club. I’d never been in, you see, and I made the assumption….(Assume = Ass U Me!)

The festival was held in what appeared to be like a little “function room” annexe to the Club itself, fairly rectangular, with the entrance and “facilities” at one end and a performance stage at the other and the long – firkin festooned – bar to the left side upon entry.

The beer selection for this bijou festival was mightily impressive! Yes, the best of the most local breweries were represented, with Blackedge, Deeply Vale, Dunscar Bridge, Bank Top, Brightside et al, but there were some impressive “foreign” breweries represented too, including my favourite bottled beer of 2013, Revolutions Manifesto strong stout.

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For drinking purposes, I went along with Atilla on Thursday, primarily to ensure a pint of Manifesto as a number of people who’d been there from opening time tweeted me about how much they were enjoying it. I call it “winding me up”!

To be honest, for the small size of venue, it was disappointingly quiet. The beers that Graham Walsh & the crew had put on were superb, I couldn’t understand it! Made for a really comfortable evening and lots of opportunity to chat with some top people like Dan, Gina and the anarchic Beerhound himself, Tyson. How I envy his verbal economy!

With about 50 beers on draught (about 25% of which were on handpull) I got the chance to sample most of my “priority beers” which were all in perfect condition (and temperature!). These were…

Revolutions Brewing Co  Manifesto (6%) – Black as Hades, rich,deep and luxurious. A big old body with roasted coffee, tobacco, licorice and a balancing bitterness with a hint of bitter chocolate. Everything I wanted and more….More than worth the wait. (Just wish it could have been through a sparkler!);

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Mallinsons Indulgence (3.9%) – Pale gold, a feast of citrus hoppiness from the mistresses of Pale Ales, so sharp and zesty without being a punch in the kisser. Beautifully balanced and so refreshing;

Geltsdale Brewing Co – Sno – A Scandinavian White Beer (a style I can’t say I’m familiar with!) A floral and fruity aroma to this pale beer, fruity and refreshing in the mouth with a dry hoppy finish. recommended to me by Dan if memory serves. (Never had this Cumbrian brewery’s beers before. One to look out for.)

I also worked a session (for 3 hours) on the Friday. First time I had volunteered for a CAMRA festival in over 25 years (when Bolton Beer Fest was the Great North West Beer Fest and it was held on Silverwell Street, remember that anyone?), warmly welcomed and with minimal instructions (I do like a bit of trust!) I was on the bar. 3 hours of fun!

For a short while, I was by far the youngest behind that bar, which felt ever so slightly weird! Then I met Shaun from Wigan Branch, a top bloke who both knew his beer and entertained me for the rest of the evening!

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 I do love working behind a bar and this was good fun. Hard work, but fun. The beers were all in tip-top nick too and perfectly cool given that the room was warming up with more bodies. (Note to self : wet towels on casks still work!)

On my section of the bar, the beers getting the most hammer were – in order:

Dunham Massey – Porter (unsurprisingly, being National Champion Winter Beer 2014); the superb Tipsy Porridge Stout by Deeply Vale and –  towards the end, Railway Porter by Five Points Brewery. (Really fond of that last two me!)

It was nice to finally meet the International man of Mystery that is Deeekos, made my festival did that (thanks again to Dan for identifying him for me!)

This was an excellent bijou wee festival. Small in scale, but big on selection & heart. Nice to be able to hear the chatter of conversation too, without the distraction of a live band. Beer and conversation….there’s a thought! An excellent local festival. Well done Bolton Branch and, in particular Graham, Linda, Pete (Norman Collier) Kobryn and Gill for a) a great fest, well organised and a great beer selection and b) making me feel welcome.

There. I said it would be brief (for me!)

On that note….’til next time…

Slainte!

The Heart of Darkness – Warming Beers For Winter (a.k.a. Bottled Ales – November 2013 Pt 3!)

1385318340020(A small – yet perfectly formed – haul from @TheAleManMcr, coming soon to a publication near you!)

If you have followed my sozzled ramblings for any length of time, you’ll know that my heart is – generally – given over to the darker side of beer. In winter, that becomes even more so. The only variation is that Milds tend to be pushed slightly aside whilst I reach for those heavier, more potent and maltier brews, Porters, Stouts and their steroid abusing children, Imperial Stouts.

There really is something that warms the cockles and makes me feel seasonal about these (mostly) black beers. Maybe it’s the roasted malt, perhaps it’s the chocolate or maybe (in more extreme cases) it’s just the bloody alcohol! Whatever it is, when the chill winds start to blow, it’s for these magnificent roasty wee beasties that I yearn.

Whilst I was thinking of committing my darker thoughts to a blog post, a blogger that I follow (Glenn Johnson) got in first, read his posts here. Whilst reading it, I gathered my thoughts and rooted through the stash. I had been storing a few just for this time of year and it was time to break them out! Spoiler alert though, a beer in this list that is likely to finish in my Top 3 bottles. Dark beers, who’d have thought!!!

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 – if I can remember the price of course!). 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… We’ll do this one, in ascending order of ABV shall we?

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1. Railway PorterFive Points Brewing Co (Hackney, E. London) – 4.8% abv – Porter – £3.50 (330ml) – The Ale Man (Urban Market – Greengate, Salford)

I like Five Points beers. Starting commercial brewing only 8 months ago in Hackney, they came to my attention on a visit to Damian O’Shea’s stall, which was then at Castlefield Market (He does a few now, including – this weekend – at Spinningfields in Manchester, go say Hello!). First beer I tried was a trial brew of a Red Rye ale (Which I think may have become their “Hook Island Red”), it was superb. The Pale Ale soon followed, easily as good. Now I’ve been waiting to try this, having recently had an exceptional (cask conditioned) pint at Font in Chorlton recently.

A black beer with a lovely creamy tan head and a chocolate & coffee aroma. A lovely smooth, creamy, full-bodied mouthful, initially smooth and chocolaty, then  a bitter chocolate hit and then a lovely and slightly bitter roasted coffee leading to a nice earthy bitterness. The chocolate and coffee merge into a smooth mocha which slouched awhile in the aftertaste. Easily as good as on cask. Lovely.

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2. Manifesto – Revolutions Brew Co (Castleford, W Yorkshire) – 6% abv – Stout – Mixed case (500ml) – Direct from the Brewers

I know that I reviewed this beer earlier this year, but another review seemed inevitable when I discovered this buried in the stash. And ’tis the season……..

Black as sin with a tan coloured head and a dark chocolate and slightly smoky roasted aroma. Full bodied and creamily smooth , with firstly, dark and seductive bitter chocolate, then overlaid with a  lively espresso, then a light smoky note. Very dry and bitter with the smokiness intensifying and a warming feeling with maybe a rum note. Just the beer for a cold winters evening  in a nice cosy Manchester pub. This is simply a bloody delightful stout. Possibly the best I’ve had in bottle.

I have just noticed that Revolutions have a batch ready in cask. Come ON Manchester! There HAS to be a pub to bring some over here!!!
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3. Mud City StoutSadlers Ales (Stourbridge, W Midlands) – 6.6% abv – Stout – £1.49 (500ml) – Home Bargains, Farnworth

Now and again, you can come across some absolute BARGAINS in “bargain” shops. For instance, B&M Bargains stock Citra by Oakham at £1.79, however, when I saw THIS puppy at THAT price Atilla got more in the trolley than she bargained for!

A really deep ruby coloured beer that was as close to black as it could be with another tan cream head but with an aroma reminding me of molasses and dark rum with a sweet vanilla note. Full-bodied and creamy smooth. A little sweetish vanilla upfront more than balanced with a following bitter chocolate and cocoa flavour that followed and blended with it and gave a nice slight warmth. A big malty beer this, comforting with that vanilla sweetness and big chocolate flavours leading to a gentle bitter finish. Really impressive, shame I have never seen it on draught.

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4. Ola Dubh 16 – Harviestoun Brewery (Alva, Clackmannanshire, Scotland) – 8% abv – Whisky Barrel-Aged Porter – Mixed Case – Mail Order from the Brewery

One that has been left for a while this. Part of a Fathers Day gift from my youngest 2 kids, I was chuffed to bits when it arrived, the pack included two each of this, Ola Dubh 12, & 18 , Engineers Reserve and 4 Old Engine Oil. Dark paradise!

Based on Old Engine Oil, one of my favourite Porters. Poured black with a creamy tan head and an aroma mingling dark chocolate, leather and fresh tobacco. Really full-bodied with chocolate, a swish of peaty whisky and a distinctive nutty note that brought to mind brazil nuts (my favourite!) and a lightly burnt buttered toast. The finish was nutty and smoky lifted slightly with some grassy herby notes. My notes finished with the words “bloody lovely stuff”. Just about sums it up!

My arch-nemesis tells me (whenever I mention this beer) that he has been privileged to have this beer in cask conditioned form. You could REALLY fall out with someone!

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5. Smoked Imperial Treacle StoutQuantum Brewing Company (Stockport, Gtr Manchester) – 9.1% abv – Imperial Stout – £5.15 –  (500ml)The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N Manchester)

A collaboration beer with the crew behind The IndyManBeerCon that was available cask conditioned at that festival. I had my first taste there and it was simply stunning. Treacly, gooey, bitter, fruity…it was a siren of a beer and it well and truly had me smashed upon its rocks! I was surprised to hear of it in bottled form, thinking (mistakenly, obviously) that it was a festival “one-off”. Glad it’s not!

I thank Raj at The Liquor Shop for stashing a couple for me (BTW – Bear in mind that Raj discounts 10% for 12 and 15% for 24 bottles). A pitch black beer with a beige head and a gentle smoked aroma mixed with something more delicate, yet elusive, a floral character perhaps. In the mouth though….Ooooohhhh! Wasn’t sure if Jay had brewed this or if it was refined, it was THAT viscous! Dark chocolate, burnt toffee and warming port wine were my first notes, then a building smokiness with that floral note coming through in the mouth as well as well as a woody note. Really warming beer with a surprisingly resinous finish cutting through. With 5 different hops and 8 (EIGHT) different malts, this is a BIG beer. It’s also bloody brilliant. A dark monster from the evil genius that is Mr Jay Krause!

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6. WildebeestThe Wild Beer Company (Evercreech, Somerset) – 11% abv – Imperial Stout – £8 (330ml) – The Colston Yard (Bristol) (Try Beermoth in Manchester)

This had been stashed since July, when I found myself in Bristol on a training course. Stashed for cold nights like these.

No light comes from this beer, it’s like a boozy black hole. What tan coloured head that there was quickly dissipated but it had a big espresso aroma with a hint of sweet vanilla. Described as an Imperial Espresso Chocolate Vanilla Stout. In that respect, this is a Ronseal beer as it gives you loads of those flavours. In the first oily mouthful I could get each of those tastes. Dense, oily and sticky with bitter espresso and chocolate and something a little fruitier, maybe a hint of blackberry. This was a lovely warming sleeping draught of a beer with a surprisingly big grassy bitter finish. Warning. NOT one to have as the first beer of the evening!

Well, that’s it for now…maybe some paler beers next!

On that note….’til next time….

Slainte!

The Stockport Beer Festival 01/06/2013 (or, Sir Galahad finds his Holy Gr(ale))

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(pic – gmcr.alenewsnet.com)

This was truly a last-minute decision. OK, it was made the evening before, but you get the point!

I knew this was my lucky day when I turned up late for the train at Farnworth, to find the train was even later! So it was that I found my self at the rear entrance to Stockport Train Station and waited for Jaz (well, who else would drink with me!) A quick nip into Sivoris caff for a spot of brekky and we’re entering that cathedral of footballing excellence, Edgeley Park. Home of the newly relegated Stockport County FC!

I had heard from John Clarke (CAMRA South Manchester), that Jarl by Fyne Ales would be making an appearance. Let me be quite honest, much though I love a beer fest, it was Jarl that dragged me out of my pit that morning and plonked me on that train! Jaz had been winding me up about how gorgeous it was the previous day (Cheers Buddy!), so my hopes were low of locating my beery Grail. Now, where were those beers beginning with the letter F? Then, the metaphorical clouds parted and the sunbeam shone on one particular 18 gallon (kilderkin) cask. JARL! At £2 a bloody pint as well!!!

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(Beer Porn Alert! The Holy Grale!)

I truly felt like Sir Galahad as he laid eyes on the hallowed chalice! Jarl. Beloved in bottle, now on draught. And I had a pint!

Believe me when I say this. I have chased this beer from bar to bar. From the Allgates Brewery “Road To Wigan Beer” (Pt 2 in October!), to haring across Manchester on a rumour (it had sold out!). But now, I finally had it in my trembling mitt! Was it worth it? Bloody stupid question! 3.8% abv and pale as a spring morning, It was sharp, lemon zesty both in nose and palate. It was a citrus festival in my mouth. I love this beer almost as much as my darling Atilla! Yeah. It was a decent pint! So good was it, that I broke a rule. I had two. I had to!

Descending some stairs into the bowels of this footballing Mecca, we ambled to watch an Oompah band. Just behind the bottle bar, I asked a genial gent if he was John Clarke, one of the organisers  of this fest and Editor of Opening Times the S Manchester CAMRA branch mag. I introduced my self and had a really pleasant (but all too brief) chinwag. A damn nice bloke indeed. Interesting bottle selection too, with a De Molen Citra for £3. (I didn’t)20130601_124431

(The Oompah band is there – look harder!)

The Oompah troupe were superb and fun, playing snatches of requests. Good, but my focus was back upstairs, where business needed doing!

That business matter led me to Dark Matter, a 3.8% Mild by Saltaire. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Mild by the Shipley alechemists before. This was quite subtle. Some nice gentle roast with more than a tinge of blueberry or blackberry. A nice smoky hint in the aftertaste too. Lovely. I would have had it first, but when Jarl (my Juliet – apologies to David Mayhall for this most blatant of thefts!) calls, this Romeo had to climb to the balcony!

Next up was Coal Porter (See what they did there!) by Elixir Brewing from Livingston. Now THIS is my idea of dark heaven! 5% abv, black (or near as dammit!) with a hint of smoke on the nose. This delivered bitter chocolate in this roasted mouthful, smooth texture with a lingering smokiness. A beautiful porter. Enjoyed whilst sitting in the stands (see below!)

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(A tinge of grassyness!)

Following my second pint of Jarl, I had a small taste of Oat Stout from Nook Brewhouse of Holmfirth. At 5.2% this was creamy textured with more than a hint of the hedgerow. A gentle smokiness in the finish was a twist. First from Nook and really nice.

Next up was the Single Hop IPA from Stockport’s own Quantum Brewing. The hop variety in the case being Triskel (French I believe). Golden, fruity aroma (tropical, pineapple?) with that carrying through in the mouth. Nice and juicy with a nice dry finish. Quite subtle this hop. Didn’t taste its strength.

We’d gabbed for a bit and time had passed. It was time for a final beer and I opted for another Fyne Ales. This time (reverting to type!) their Sublime Stout at 6.8% abv. Probably not the wisest of choices at that strength. However, just like the Quantum, it didn’t taste its strength. A lovely smooth roasted mouthful with some mocha on the nose. Creamy wee beastie this with a delicious smokiness that hung about a bit. It was 4 o’clock now and we were being ushered out. One of the perils of separate sessions I suppose.

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(One of the ‘quieter’ moments!)

In summary : All the beers I had were uniformly in superb condition. They were also ludicrously inexpensive! £2 a pint for Jarl? The idea of sitting in the stands was great. However, this is where my one quibble surfaces. The area where the beers were served had the feel of a narrow corridor, in no way helped by the punters tendency to hang around once they’d made their purchases. This made it somewhat difficult to move about in there. I know, I know that you can’t actually FORCE the imbibing throng to relocate once they’d made their choices, but at times, I felt uncomfortable. There!

That said, after a 20 odd year gap between fests (I served at a charity bar at the old Town Hall fest), I’ll be back! (Now where have I heard that before?)

Departing felt like I was actually leaving a footy match! At this juncture, Jaz revealed a plan to visit a nearby boozer Ye Olde Vic.

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Located on Chatham Street, walking in felt like a time warp! Dark, warm and friendly, I settled in instantly to a pint of Oracle by Salopian Brewery, a first by this brewer for me! A pale beer that was lovely, sharp, crisp  and hoppy.

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This isn’t a multiroom, but has that multiroom feel. I think there were 7 hand pumps, with beers from Thornbridge, Oakham, Magic Rock featuring. However, I went for Jade by Liverpool Organic. This was a nice clean pint with flowery notes. Probably a bit too delicate at this stage. I think after my efforts, I needed something more assertive. This beer would be one to start with. Refreshing though.

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(Now. Where DID I put those pumpclips? Ah yes, the ceiling!)

Time for the train back to Manchester. Now, a sensible boy would’ve IMMEDIATELY caught a connection to Bolton. But I said “sensible”!

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So, Jaz guided us into Pie & Ale by Bakerie. Located on Lever Street, this is a decidedly modern affair and looks designed to catch a fairly trendy crowd. So, what am I doing here? To the rear bar we go and Lo! Handpumps! And what’s more, local beers from Wilson Potter and Brightside! Alongside a couple of Wells & Young’s offerings and a Liverpool Chocolate Porter.

Here I chose Natural Progression by Wilson Potter. You will (if you’ve read this blog before) know what I think of the beers brewed by these ladies. Smooth, tasty and clean. This was no exception. A nice fruity smooth mouthful. 4.8%. It’s great to see more of their beers around Manchester. Seems like their beers are on in this place quite frequently. Good to know!

Next up, Odin by Brightside Brewing (now of Radcliffe!). A really refreshing beer this. Bright, pale, zippy and nicely hopped. Initially thought it was a ‘real’ lager it was THAT pale (as you can see!). A blonde beer to look out for from another excellent local brewery.

20130601_191043(A zesty blonde indeed!)

Pie & Ale is an excellent addition to the Northern Quarter. If the food is anywhere near as good as the beer……..friendly knowledgeable staff, siiting booths and bench seating. I like this place!

Quickly skipping my greedily ordered Ardbeg Uigeadail single malt (I had to!) We finished off the evening in Port Street Beer House (where else) with an Oakham Green Devil IPA. More hops than a Watership Down audition. Stunningly fruity and hoppy. Enough said. A classic.

Not the most sensible day out, but bloody enjoyable!

Back in Manchester on Friday and Wigan on Saturday with some brewing luminaries at Allgates (I’ll be making the tea!)

On that note….’til next time….

Slainte!

Meet The Brewer – Black Jack Beers – Port Street Beer House – 20/05/2013

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Ever had that feeling?

You know the one….when you look across a crowded room….you see someone and they look like the noose is about to be put around their neck. That very moment when the legendary “fight or flight” instinct kicks in. That moment when you think that that person is actually going to shit himself.

Well, last night, at approximately 18:15, that person was Rob Hamilton, the brewer / overlord at Black Jack Beers. You knew that he was cacking it, by his choice of drink.

“Magic Rock Human Cannonball to steady the nerves sir?” (I could almost hear Jamie saying it!)

A sellout MTB at Port Street is probably NOT the place to commence your public speaking career. However, swift gulp of Huddersfields’ finest and – following a gentle introduction by Jamie – he was off!

“Hi, I’m Rob from Blackjack!”

Rob, from Wrecsam, worked at Marble (both brewery and pub) for a number of years and, in his own words in 2012 he “needed a change of scene, being not very good at doing what I’m told”, so, he acquired Marble’s 4.5 Bbl brewkit, located premises on Gould St, and via begging and borrowing set off on his journey.

He quickly picked up plaudits from fellow brewers and drinkers and started to gain a devoted following (my words, not his!) Not bad for a bloke who had no ambition to brew!

Rob gave us a quick chat about how the brewery started out. Given the progress he has made, he is a very modest chap indeed! He had sheets of paper and pens placed on tables to help him with “tasting notes” because, in his words he’s “very bad at describing beers…..can’t do the waffling bit…….What’s this beer like? It’s pale, it’s hoppy!” Judging by the laughter, this was a comedy masterclass. He had his audience eating out of his hand!

The first beer sampled was The Pokies, a new pale ale at 3.6% made with all NZ hops (Pacific Gem, Pacific Jade and Waikatu), the first time he’s done this. (All BJ beers have gambling related names, this one was from the NZ word used for a slot machine!).

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(The two cask offerings – The Pokies and Aces High IPA)

I didn’t have one of Rob’s sheets of paper, but for me, The Pokies was nice and pale, gently hoppy and – as Rob rightly said – a nice sessionable beer. Strangely, I thought it reminded me slightly of Harviestoun Schiehallion, which though it’s actually a lager, is (for anyone who knows me) a hell of a compliment. Pale, refreshing with a gentle fruity hop character. There! “Waffling” over!

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(And so say all of us!)

We moved on to one of the kegged offerings – Lager at 5.2%. No gambling reference name here! Or was making a Lager the actual gamble? Made with Lager & Cara malts with Magnum and Hersbrucker/Saaz hops this beer was fermented over 9 or 10 days at a cool temperature (that’s a lot of capacity taken up!). Rob thought it came out “quite well”.

For me, it was a clean smooth tasting beer, fruity (from the Saaz?) with a lightly peachy touch in the dry finish. A really nice beer and one which I heard is (for a brief period) also available in cask condition. More on that later! (Rob thought it cold do with being slightly drier. Each to their own, but it was fine by me as it was.)

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(And…relax! )

Aces High IPA at 5.5%. This was the next beer and the final of the two cask conditioned offerings. Golden with an abundant citrus hop aroma (apricot & grapefruit). Nice grainy malt overlaid with citrus hops in the mouth. Far too easy drinking for a 5.5% abv beer and dangerously so! Slightly warmer than The Pokies in the glass (Jamie would probably say that my mouth was too cold!)

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(Pacific Jade)

Next – Pacific Jade (single hop) IPA at 5.2% – Rob on hops “If they let me have something good, I generally bang it in!” (I do love a bit of self-deprecation!)

Made with his standard 5kg of hops, being kegged, it was a bit colder than I would like but I got a bit of a fruity and malt toffee aroma. Smooth in the mouth and was initially quite fruity and dry. A bit maltier toward the end. Not as hoppy and assertive as I was expecting. Would like to see a casked version though.

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(The keg selection for this evening)

Finally, we came to the last beer for tasting. The King of Clubs Stout. Brewed in December 2012 and maturing in keg for 6 months. This elicited a “Whoo” from the floor! 6 different hop varieties, including Bramling Cross  (which got a cheer!). The strongest Stout Rob can normally brew “without messing around too much”. This was rich, dark as sin and smelling bloody gorgeous! A sweet and spicy dark chocolate nose and very roasty. BANG! Red winey hints in the mouth, sweet coffee roast whilst still finishing quite dry. An unctuous vinous mouthful of dark joy. I like it anyway! (What I would do for a whisky barrel aged version next year???)

Rob invited people to chat with him and “show themselves”. So I did. I don’t know why he was so nervous, he did a great job! My kind of bloke. Funny, doesn’t take himself too seriously and makes bloody good beer!

This is only the second “Meet The Brewer” I’ve been to. And it’s the second that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. If you’ve never been to one, and you want to know more about how great beer is made, you really should! Really well put together by Jamie and the guys at Port Street, an engaging and frequently hilarious presentation by Mr Hamilton and superb beer. What’s not to like?

Another really nice element for me personally was the chance to have a bit of a chat with a few people. Jay Krause, Rob himself, Jamie and some of the local Home Brewers group. Really enjoyed chatting. I won’t be so reticent next time. Good people all!

The next MTB features Toccalmatto from Italy. £15 a ticket. I saw a few flying out whilst I was at the bar. So if you fancy it, you’d better be quick!

Now I had a plan. But first, time for a new beer on cask for me. Rouge from Summer Wine. Deep red with a huge and spicy citrus hop aroma. Really fruity and dry in the mouth. Nice and bitter. A nice end to my stay at Port Street. Cheers to Jamie for my tasting glass! (Yes, it got home in one piece!!!)

Now. The plan. I’d heard a whisper that the cask conditioned version of Black Jacks’ Lager may have been on at Bar Fringe. A quick tweet to that ‘force of nature’, Banana Charlie revealed that it was. “Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to drink we go!”

Bar Fringe

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(Indeed she does!)

The reason for being here (aside from being a great bar) was this

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(Cask Conditioned – Black Jack Lager!)

I don’t know enough about brewing to understand why, but this is a very fruity lager. And I could certainly drink more of it! Smooth, fruity (touch of the hedgerow?). Yum! With beer like this, I don’t know why we don’t see more cask lager about.

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(If you mess with the Landlady, she shrinks your head and plasters it into the wall. It’s true I tell you!)

Right then. Bit of a break for a week or so whilst the finances recover. Possibly pop in to Yorkshire Ales and Bierhuis over that there hill this weekend. I’ll have some nice beers to tell you ALL about, won’t I? Not to mention the chance to watch some masters at work, making a new beer at Allgates next month. An Oatmeal Stout too. (I’m too old to feel THIS excited!)

On that note……’til next time.

Slainte!

Bottled Ales April 2013 – Part 2

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(Coming Soon!)

Yes. I know we’re now in May! But having had a couple of visits to those excellent Yorkshire Ale Vendors – Yorkshire Ales of Snaith & Bierhuis of Ossett – It’s high time I purged myself of bottled beer opinions and made space in the (ahem) cellar for this new influx of hoppy and roasty goodness. So there!

“Ah, What was that Mrs Beers? What about that trollyload in Booths?” (Trust the purse string holder to remember that little diversion!)

So. Where were we? Oh yes. The beers. Here we go…… (I hope my nurse isn’t reading this….”How many units per week was that again……”)

1. Columbus by Mallinsons Brewery (Huddersfield) – 3.9% abv – Pale Ale – £2.50 for 500ml from Yorkshire Ales

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Is Huddersfield the Burton of Craft Brewing? Magic Rock, Rat, Summer Wine (not far away) and last – but by no means least – Mallinsons. Until I woke up to this new golden age of beer last year, I hadn’t heard of, let alone tasted, Mallinsons. I’ve had some on draught, but further remedied this in my visits to Snaith and Adrian & Vicky Pettit’s shop, Yorkshire Ales.

On my last visit I picked up a few of the Single Hop range, of which Columbus is one. This is a pale golden beer with an intense fruity hop aroma. A full flavoured beer this with really resinous bitter hop flavours. Dry, fruity, spicy and refreshing. More intense than their Aramis (made with a French hop). I recommend this if you can get it on draught. A full flavoured beer you could drink all evening.

2. Punk IPA by Brew Dog (Fraserburgh) – 5.6% abv – Pale Ale – 660ml. A birthday pressie from my good buddy Col (Slainte!)

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I’ve put this here, simply because I’d forgotten just how good this is (and how much it astonished me when I first tried it!)

This was golden coloured with a slight haze on pouring. The tropical citrus fruit aroma hits you straight away and (strangely) reminded me of a fresh fruit flan! Some sweet biscuity malt and assertive hops, apricot bitterness which faded gradually to leave an earthy grassy dryness in the aftertaste. This is some beer. A supermarket stalwart! (Sainsbury do the 660ml bottles).

3. Mary Jane IPA by Ilkley Brewery – 6% abv – Pale Ale – £2.29 for 500ml from Booths at Media City

20130426_213311(Need to get a less intense flash!)

Being bored a couple of Fridays ago, I clocked off early and popped to Media City to check out Booths deals during one of their “Beer Festivals”. A few interesting bottles at 4 for £6, but 3 bottles I had never seen before took my eye, this among them.

The weather has been chilly recently, so I left this outside to cool, probably for too long as, when opened, I only got a slight fruity aroma. A golden – bottle conditioned – beer, this had a lovely sweet malt backbone matched with a spicy, fruity bitterness. Like a hoppy french kiss dancing around my tongue! Mmmmm….. A very dry finish with some almost herbal grassyness in the afters. I though I detected something else, maybe a touch of rhubarb. I may be talking utter garbage there, but this is a really lovely beer. A recommendation at any price. But at £2.29……..!!!!!

4. Manifesto by Revolutions Brewing (Castleford) – 6% abv – Strong Stout – £3.25 for 500ml from Yorkshire Ales

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(Love Music? Love Beer? Oh indeed!)

All of this Yorkshire brewery’s beers are music themed. I mean “Clash Porter”, “Kraftwerk Brown Ale”, “Ravenscroft Pale Ale” (A homage to Mr J Peel?). They’re onto a winner with me BEFORE I open any bottles! I was attracted to Manifesto for two reasons. 1. It’s a Stout, Duh! 2. “Manifesto” is the name of one of my favourite Northern Soul tracks by A Case of Tyme. I also bought a bottle for my Soulie chum (the aforementioned) Col, whose wife glugged it before he got a sniff! (She LOVED it BTW)

Anyway, the beer! Black with a tan head on pouring. The aroma? If I hadn’t read the ingredients, I’d have sworn that there was some port or rum in there! The aroma eventually mellowed to a strong dark chocolate. A really smooth full texture in the mouth. This is a malty mouthful with loads of roasted flavour with plenty of bitter chocolate, whilst being smooth and lush. Dry and earthy aftertaste. It’s a damn good job that this is rarely on cask. I’d never be out of the pub!

5. Delta V by Stringers Beer – 6.5% – Pale Ale – £2.19 for 500ml from Booths at Media City

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(Another Music Moniker ?)

Another one of my surprises from the recent visit to Booths. I am a HUGE fan of their IPA & Stout (not too taken with the XB though) which are two of my top 5 supermarket bought beers. I had only seen this one at Micro Bar and at the SIBA fest last year, so was quite chuffed to find it in the aisles.

Deep gold with a light apricot citrus aroma. Lovely texture with a marmaladey bitter fruity flavour prominent. A slight warming sensation from that there 6.5%. That fruitiness faded to leave a dry hoppy grassy note. Another recommendation at the price!

6. Chocolate Cherry Mild by Dunham Massey Brewing (Altrincham) – 3.8 % abv – Mild – £3 (£9 for 3) for 500ml from Bents Garden Centre, Glazebrook, Warrington.

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(Oops – lively devil!)

A colleague of mine claims this as his favourite draught beer of all. Haven’t had it on draught yet (Molly House do Dunham Massey, I think), but when I saw the bottle, I had to give it a go. Didn’t I?

A deep ruby coloured beer. I didn’t initially get any cherry in the aroma, more of a choccy toffee thing. The first taste was of a really good, standard mild. But then the cherry and chocolate start to insinuate themselves and wrap around your tongue. Just one word for this. Yum! If I see it on draught, I’ll be all over it like a rash!

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Beers of The Month ?

Bottled

Manifesto by Revolutions Brewing – For all the reasons mentioned above. A gorgeous dark, dirty and dangerous Stout/ The rocks upon which this ship could happily get wrecked!

Draught

In The Black by Wilson Potter (Middleton). A 4.2% Stout. Had this twice this month, firstly at the brewery and secondly at The Salford Arms. Gloriously lush, creamy and roasted with a slight smoky tinge. Just a simple dry stout, made well. Good to start seeing their stuff ‘in the wild’.

More pubs soon.

Slainte!