My #GoldenPints 2014

Golden Pints Logo

Oh Shit! It’s that time of year when I’m forced to be decisive and tell you (and you probably couldn’t give a flying…..) about what I REALLY liked this year, by pre-defined category.

So, 2014 was a year when I discovered the following :

How much I love blogging about beer.

How much I really couldn’t be arsed blogging about beer.

How close you can come to a nervous breakdown (and I HAVE been there) and come through nearly unscathed (See The Independent Salford Beer Festival)

How much generally that “Beer People Are Good People”

And a huge thanks to “BeerReviewsAndy” (someone I have never met) for getting this snowball rolling…..

And….the following……

  1. Best UK Cask BeerGrounds For DivorceFive Towns Brewery (Wakefield, W Yorks) – For me, the best beer at #ISBF2014. A 7.8% Belgian style Tripel fermented using yeast from the legendary Brasserie Orval, brewed at the bottom of a garden in Outwood, Wakefield, by one of the most unassuming people that I have ever met. As fruity as Carmen Miranda’s headgear and as light and tasty as a Heston Blumenthal foam. It. Rocked. My. World. (And I’m yet to really get into Belgian beer!)
  2. Best UK Keg Beer – I haven’t really had all that much, but of those that I HAVE had, I’d fall on the side of American Brown Ale – Runaway Brewery – . From the first sip at Black Jack Tap (Hmmm….) to the last sip (WOW!). This beer adheres to Principle 1 of the 3 Jazwinski Beer Principles. It was a beer that improved with each and every sip. By that last sip, I could *almost* have been a convert to keg. And it was fecking astonishingly good at #ISBF2014 on cask too!
  3. Best UK Bottle or Can – I’m not gonna cop out here by choosing one each (I’ll do THAT elsewhere!). This was a close run thing. My vote – by a well groomed whisker – goes to Govinda (Brandy Barrel Aged) IPACheshire Brewhouse (Congleton, Cheshire). A massively English hopped IPA at 6.8% abv, the original version was already a stunning thing, a grand riposte to those who think English hopped beers are merely brown and twiggy murk. Get Thee Behind Me Beery Satans! “Spicy boozy raisins, banana, marmalade dancing all over a deep toffee malt base. This is a proper IPA. The fruity and toffee flavours …. give way to a spicy hop…” Being fairly dedicated to UK – and Northern beers in particular, this proved the most intense #Beergasm that I had this year.
  4. Best Overseas Draught – Not. Really. My. Bag. Next……!
  5. Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer – Can? Founders All Day IPA. Does exactly what it says on the tin. Fresh, zingy and oh so refreshing. Bottle? Not had many…But, from Brouwerij The Musketeers (Ursel, Belgium) – Troubadour WestKust Black Imperial IPA – A 750 ml bottle that – in the midst of a tastebud numbing cold, I could actually taste. A full-bodied fruity hop assault. With licorice. What’s NOT to like?
  6. Best Collaboration Brew – Another tricky one. Came down to a choice of two, BOTH involving the mighty Stuart Neilson of the North Riding Brewpub in Scarborough. The first was 300 from Five Towns / North Riding – a big, punchy Double IPA which in no way tasted it’s strength but had more hops than Watership Down and was a damn sight tastier! However, edging this by simple force of Bitterness, is Protz’s PleasureSteel City Brewing (Sheffield) / North Riding Brewpub (Scarborough) – Conceived (possibly) as a riposte to a rant from Roger Protz about the beer type “Black IPA”. All of the oxymoronic characteristics of a BIPA with a simply MASSIVE bitterness. Astonishing.
  7. Best Overall Beer – See 3 above!IMAG2241
  8. Best Branding, Pumpclip or LabelBad Seed Brewery. For that hanging tag pump label. Irritating for the staff, but classy as feck. (I’ve kept the one from #ISBF2014 – don’t change fellas!)IMAG2118
  9. Best UK Brewery – On balance, this HAS to go to the brewery from which I drink the most consistently excellent and drinkable beers – Drinkability, for me, means a tasty, well hopped (or dark and roasted) beer that I can drink repeatedly without falling off my chair. For me, this means AllGates. From Sloe Stout at Manchester Beer and Cider Fest to Half Devil at #ISBF2014 and all points in between, just consistently excellent beer.
  10. Best Overseas Brewery – Moving swiftly on…..Next!
  11. Best New Brewery Opening 2014 – Controversy time! I’m going to go with Shindigger Brewing. I KNOW that they don’t have their own premises (yet!), but as a consumer, this is about the beer, right? From my first taste of Pacific Pale to the Saison/PIP at an MTB in Chorlton, they have progressed with each. and. every. beer. Cask, keg and bottle. Cuckoo? Gypsy? It’s about the beer for me, like I said. A HUGE honourable mention to Runaway Brewery and Squawk Brewing too. Manchester really IS rocking at the moment!
  12. Pub/Bar of the Year – (I’ve twisted the category – slightly!) Pub? Easy. As last year, The Hare & Hounds in Hindley (Wigan). A proper local that I need to visit WAY more often. 5 Great cask beers, friendly service, friendly locals, a real fire and a great landlord/landlady combo in Nigel and Adele. Sorted. Bar? Hmmm….Trickier. But I can’t split. So – a) Great Ale Year Round at Bolton Market for continuing to bring good beer to Bolton (and giving me a reason to visit the town!), a rare thing in the last few years for me. Great local cask/keg beers, friendly regulars, friendly hosts. Anne & Steve continue to do a sterling job. I just hope that the council could open up 6 days a week instead of 4! And – b) Wigan Central – 7 cask lines. 4 Craft keg. In Wigan? A brave move by Prospect Brewery, but one that appears to be paying off judging by the feedback that I’ve been privy to! They made a wise move in bringing Dan & Gina Buck in to run it (formerly of Great Ale Year Round – see the link there?). Great location, fabulously fitted out. Excellent beers too. (As far as the original category goes – both of the latter 2 opened this year!)
  13. Best beer and food pairing – I’m not QUITE reconstructed to that stage yet….Next!
  14. Beer Festival of the Year – 3 candidates. 1 I cannot choose. Because I organised it. The self interest element prevents me from choosing The Independent Salford Beer Festival. So, I’m left with 2. IndyManBeerCon is indeed a beery Tour De Force and remains a fixture for most sensible beer calendars (mine is set for 09:00 on 01/04/2015 – for the probable ticket release!). I DO think that cask appeared to be marginalised this year and I hear many gripes from elsewhere, but really? Just “grow a pair” and appreciate it for what it is! My winner though is AllGates‘ “The Road To Wigan Beer” in April. A fantastic selection of some of the newest and best UK breweries on cask. Spread across 6 pubs within Wigan borough. In one day. On a bus. Simply the most fun I’ve had in 2014. And fun matters.
  15. Supermarket of the YearBooths. Simple. If you have been to a branch, bought beer, then chose a different supermarket, you’re having a laugh. At your own expense. Obviously, If you live more than 20 miles south of Knutsford, you may not understand. It’s a Northern thing!
  16. Independent Retailer of the YearThe Liquor Shop (Whitefield) Now closed and reborn as specialist beer shop BarBeerian, this has been the place from which I have bought the most beer. Period. The stock is large and wide ranging (Scotland to US/Italy) and great value too. All that from a small convenience store! Now Raj has moved a couple of doors down and opened up as a specialist beer shop, he’s looking to open a small bar upstairs with craft keg & a local cask line. I wish him well with this.
  17. Online Retailer of the Year – I haven’t. I try and shop locally. Aren’t I virtuous? Next!
  18. Best Beer Book or MagazineOpening Times (Stockport & South Manchester CAMRA) – Essential semi-drunken bus home reading material. Well written & edited (Mr Clarke, take a bow!).
  19. Best Beer Blog or Website – Hmmm….Time for another split. Still up there (and one of my two) is Glenn Johnson and his “My World of Beer“. Informative, straight and tells me what I want to know. Is the pub/bar/beer good. And does it well. But locally? The Boozy Procrastinator by Deeekos, a blog that came into its own with some assertive posts on a variety of issues from IndyManBeerCon through to Myleene Klaas & Paddington Bear (in the same post!). Funny, informative, passionate. A winning combination.
  20. Best Beer AppTwitter. I think I would meltdown if I used Untappd. And not in a good way. Some people talk such utter bollocks about beer & breweries when they can be cloaked in anonymity. So no. Next!
  21. Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer@BroadfordBrewer. For #TwattyBeerDoodles and so much more.
  22. Best Brewery Website/Social mediaCheshire Brewhouse. Just functional & classy.

 

Bottled Ales – August 2014 – Pt 1

“There’s a storm outside, and the gap between crack and thunder
Crack and thunder, is closing in, is closing in.
The rain floods gutters and makes a great sound on concrete.
On a flat roof, there’s a boy leaning against the wall of rain
Aerial held high, calling, “Come on thunder, come on thunder”

Sometimes, when I look deep in your eyes
I swear I can see your soul
Sometimes, when I look deep in your eyes
I swear I can see your soul”

(“Sometimes” – James)

(Video clip courtesy Marblehead69 on YouTube)

When people think of James, they almost always think of “Sit Down”. A fine song. But it pales to nothing next to this. There’s something hugely poignant about that boy holding the aerial. It cuts me every time.

It took me a number of years to get James. Others got them in the 80s, not me. It took songs like this, the mighty “Laid” (“But she only comes when she’s on top”! – WHAT a line!) and the period when Andy Diagram added his trumpet to tracks like Born of Frustration to hook me in. To be honest, I can’t think of a British guitar based band I’ve loved since James…Hey ho!

I suppose that I chose this track, because sometimes, I wonder where my wittering is going. I have a moral. That moral is that when something stops being fun, it should stop.

I DO do this for fun, but it has been getting progressively harder to write and has, for a while, stopped being fun. I needed a (proverbial) shot in the arm and I received that from three, (two partially connected) sources this week. The first were some simply fantastic beers this week (including an increasingly rare “beergasm”), the second reason being a simply great night spent working behind the bar at Offbeat Brewery last night. I met some lovely people, good beer folk all. The  ever lovely Michelle, Chris, John, Caz, the lovely Mel (PLEASE Photoshop me OUT!), Otto, Phil….Thank you all. The pleasure was all mine.

The third reason was a belting shop I entered for the first time…

On to the beer….where would we be without it?

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. A Wee BitWilliams Brothers (Kelliebank, Alloa, Scotland) / Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, USA) – 4.8% abv – Dark Ale – £3.19 (?) (500ml) – 10% for 12 or more Btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Manchester)

A collaboration beer between these two was intriguing. Brooklyn have their own, almost unassailable reputation in the beer world, whilst Williams Brothers quietly make some of the best beer you could find in a supermarket (Caesar Augustus? Fraoch?), I was intrigued. That and it was a dark ale!

A really deep dark ruby beer with a creamy coloured head and a gentle smoky note over a chocolate base in the aroma.

Oooh! Medium-bodied with a gentle carbonation. This is a really subtle tasty beer. A smooth milky chocolate starts you off which is swiftly augmented by a little treacly sweetness (treacle & honey being added to this brew) then a gentle peaty smokiness which reminds me of a light peaty whisky like Jura or Ardbeg. A really delicate dark tapestry being woven here.

A really smooth mouthful gives way to a smoky dry finish with a whisper of grassy hop. A beautiful beer.

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2. The One (Amarillo) – Blackedge Brewery (Horwich, Bolton) – 4.4% abv – Pale Ale (Single hopped) – £2.80 (500ml) – 10% for 12 or more Btls – Great Ale Year Round (Bolton Markets)

I initially struggled to enjoy beers from this brewery. But, I now realise, that this was almost certainly down to the pubs where I tasted my first beers, because with each taste in both bottle and from trusted bars (Great Ale, Tottering Temple…) those same beers are revealed in a different – shining – light. Their beers also seem to get better with each one I try….especially the pales!

A bright golden beer with a light white head and the familiar deep orange aroma of this beautiful hop.And there it is again in this medium bodied mouthful, that lovely sticky Seville marmalade bitterness. Yum! My favourite hop, well utilised in this single hop pale.

A smooth drinking, medium-bodied and lovely Orangey mouthful. The sweet fruit is followed by a building bitterness that increases with each mouthful. That bitterness is rounded off with a big hoppy aftertaste. Which increases after each sip.

Easy drinking and full of flavour. Another belter from Horwich.

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3. Neck Oil – Beavertown Brewery (Hackney, London) – 4.2% abv – Session IPA – £2.40 (330ml) – 0 – The Epicurean (Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester)
A can. My first British beer, canned, for……… Picked up, when the subject of canning arose in a conversation with Simon, the owner, in this excellent Didsbury outlet – small, yet perfectly formed (the outlet, NOT Simon!). I have a feeling I’ll be back – and it’s ALL Rowan Molyneux’s fault!

An Ultra Pale golden beer poured from such a funky looking can. The first UK canned beer I’ve had since I was a teenager! As lively as a new puppy on its first walkies, the huge white head releasing a massive citrus aroma, initially smelt like Mango, but more tart like sugared breakfast grapefruit (do people still put sugar on it?)

Fresh. Zingy and fresh. That tart citrus assaults the mouth on first sip. Drying the tongue out en route to its appointment with the throat. The little biscuit malt sweetness in here is mugged by citrus and pine needle dry bitterness. This is a really easy drinking beer. For me, as good and as fresh as the Founders I  had as a train beer recently. I could get to like this canned stuff!

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4. Stockport Sour (Pineapple & Scotch Bonnet) – Quantum Brewing (Stockport) – 2.3% abv – Sour Beer – £2.75 (500ml) – 0 – The Epicurean (Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester)
Sets out stall – I am not a big fan of UK brewed sour beers. There, heresy expounded! I may not be quite “on trend” here, but until this beer, my thoughts wandered towards the argument “leave it to the Belgians – the Masters”. But – unsurprisingly – being from Quantum I suppose, I “got” this….

Ultra Pale yellow gold and hazy. Giving the misleading appearance of a wit to the unwary. The head soon dissipated leaving the unmistakably sour fruity aroma with the pineapple there in the background.

That thing about being unwary? Just take a mouthful. Our maybe a sip to accustom yourself! Light bodied as you would expect, the pineapple sweetness initially surprises, almost instantaneously giving best to a sour note. No. More than a note. This is distinctly sour, but not tongue wrestlingly so. The kicker is in the subtitle…. Scotch Bonnet? Oh yes. You feel it like a threat first. Like watching Nightmare on Elm Street… You know that Krueger is there… You just can’t see him… Until it’s too late…

That sharp peppery heat isn’t an incendiary flame, just a tongue tingling sharp spice. But this beer does what all good sours should, it gets those saliva glands pumping like like a Texan gusher!

This is really refreshing beer. I kid you not. I’m not a big fan of UK attempts at sours (as said above), but really enjoying this from Jay. Pineapple? Check! Scotch Bonnet? Check! Another cracker from Mr Krause!

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5. American Brown Ale – Runaway Brewery (Dantzic St. Manchester) – 5.7% abv – US Brown Ale – Swap (330ml) – Direct from the Brewer

As it says, this is a brown beer.

This is really lively, with a mushrooming white head booming out aromas of mango and grapefruit. Seductively drawing me in, but into what? Fruitiness is what!

Boxes and boxes of mango, peach and tart grapefruit hit the tongue immediately, walking the walk that the aroma talked. The first mouthful finished dry, suddenly dry. Onwards….full-bodied, a big toasty wholemeal bready malt base with lashings of hoppy stuff spread all over it, again really fruity but with a dryness that gets the side of your tongue and turns it inwards almost to preserve moisture.

On keg, this improved the further down the glass you went.This is no different, with other flavours hitting further down,like a rye spiciness and almost a licorice like note. The finish is dry, slightly sweet with a big hoppy aftertaste. Another superb beer from Dantzic St!

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6. Slovenian IPATickety Brew (Stalybridge) – 5.8% abv – IPA – £2.05 (330ml) – 0 – The Epicurean (Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester)

The first thing that I noticed was the home-made look of the labels….then that they were situated next to a bottle of Tickety Brew Jasmine Green Tea….! But where were the usual labels? Then I looked on the reverse….A (rather) limited run of only 96 bottles….I feel somewhat privileged and lucky to have been able to snaffle one of there. Here’s why…

A beautiful golden beer, frisky as a kitten with a wool ball, huge white head and a big but gentle fruity aroma, peach and passion fruit, with that TB Belgian yeast tang.

Oh this is beautiful! Full-bodied and smooth with a fine carbonation, a little peach, a lot of passion fruit and no little orchard fruit as well, sweet apple (in a REALLY good way!)
The yeast, combined with the hops, provides for a witheringly dry finish to the mouthful. Quite surprisingly resinous. This beer provoked my first Beergasm of the week. I feel that my notes don’t do this beer justice. I like TBs beers and have been a big supporter, but this is a whole new level. Sod the labels….Get this! (And THAT price? Call the cops, ‘cos this feels like I stole it!)
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7. TurvyOffbeat Brewery (Crewe, Cheshire) – 6.5% abv- Black IPA – £3.00 (500ml) – 10% for 12 or more Btls – Great Ale Year Round (Bolton Markets)
Look at that seductive glassful of desire!

Black. As black as a Stout and equally opaque. A head creamy in both colour and texture Crooks Its finger and beckons you on to a nose of bitter chocolate and sweet licorice. Promises promises!

Oh baby! Is this one beautiful beer! Sweet Jesus! Totally different to all the BIPAs I’ve had before with its lack of tart citrus nose, but all the better for it!

A rich, rich mouthful. Smooth as the proverbial bottom, but silky smooth past the lips, there’s like a creamy almost buttery smoothness with that bitter chocolate roasted malty base, then leading you to some really bitter resinous hoppage.

Oh shit. Think I’m having one of those there Beergasms! This is THAT good!

This is everything I could want. Roasted & bitter, resinous and buttery smooth. A hell of a beer. Again, I don’t think that my notes have done this beer the justice that it deserves.

It. Rocked. Me. Out. Of. My. Seat. It is up there with the 300 from Five Towns. I can praise it no higher. One of the best bottles I’ve ever had. Year end podium material in my Golden Pints 2014!

“Great Beer Brewed By A Chick”? She’s a great “chick”, brewing great beer. This just…….

If you have the time today, GO to Crewe and enjoy some of the simply fabulous beers Michelle & here top team have put on in their First Friday Festival. Then thank me later!

That’s all folks!!! Bar one more thing!

This week, I had a couple of mates around to help me reduce my stash. Des & Jaz (aka The Arch-Nemesis). The bulk of the beers will form a separate blog post next week, however, Des – being a fine beery bloke of the highest order – has commenced my schooling in the arts of Belgian beers.

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These two beauties from De Ranke & Girardin are the start of my Belgian experience. The Gueuze, a fine mouth-watering sour and a superb “bitter” (Belgian style being anything BUT a “Bitter”!) were astonishingly good. I will leave others better qualified than me to pass judgement on these two rare beauties, but I both enjoyed them HUGELY and thank Des for bringing them and both Des & Jaz for a top evening. My next stop in the “Belgian Odyssey” will feature these two beauties. Things of rare beauty….

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I’m a lucky boy!

And on that note….til next time….

Slainte!

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Bottled Ales – June 2014 – Pt 3

“Face drawn in acts of courage, penny drops, the same old story”

(“Atom Rock” – Quando Quango)

(Audio clip courtesy of GilMahadeva on YouTube)

Not the height of lyrical sophistication, I’ll grant you, but Quando Quango were more for the feet than the heart! QQ were a Factory Records band in those heady days that were pre Happy Mondays. When dancing at the Hacienda was one of the early to mid 80s escapes from Thatcherite drudgery and miserablism. To step onto the dance floor of the pre-rave Fac 51 and dance to tunes such as “Love Tempo” (QQ again) & “White Lines” just melted your cares away (not to mention the Glenn Miller break and the night ending Theme from Thunderbirds!)

This tune is notable for Johnny Marr’s smooth guitar work (still in The Smiths at this point – I think) as much as the dance rhythms and latino spiked brass stabs. The band only released one album, but were hugely loved in both Manchester & New York and had core members of Gonny Rietveld, her brother Reiner (from Rotterdam) and the then Hacienda DJ Mike Pickering (later to form M People). It has to be said, that in their brief – almost butterfly like – existence, they reached some influential ears, in one interview at the time, the legendary hip-hop producer Arthur Baker was asked for one band he would like to produce, his answer……….

Just enjoy the tune…..provokes some seriously shady “dad dancing” in MY house!

On to the beer….where would we be without it?

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. Dark AlchemyAtom Beers (Kingston-upon-Hull, E Yorkshire) – 4.9% abv – Porter – £2.95 (330ml) – 10% off for 12 btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

A brewery first encountered (by me) on the Allgates Brewery “Road To Wigan Beer” festival, I was eagerly looking forward to trying my first in bottle – and intrigued by the idea of a Porter without hops!

The beer is Black. With the faintest of ruddy glows at the bottom of the glass when held to the light. Thin beige coffee coloured head, with an aroma featuring chocolate, coffee and quite a spicy note, slightly perfumed…Cardomom perhaps (then I checked the bottle and saw that cardamom featured!).

Now this is one intriguing beer! Quite full-bodied considering the strength with good carbonation, there’s a lot going on with this beer and no mistake.

Firstly, there is a lovely smooth chocolate flavour….then there is quite a perfumed flavour which comes from the cardamom. This is followed by something more earthy and herbal and finishes off slightly warming as it slides. The aftertaste remains chocolatey with almost a Turkish Delight kind of flavour. Not a standard porter by any means, but I think I love this! (I think I’m going to have to add this lot to my Beer Fest list!)

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2. Amarillo Gold – Saltaire Brewery (Saltaire, W Yorkshire) – 4.4% abv – Pale Ale – £2.85 (500ml) – 10% off for 12 btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

A pale straw gold coloured beer with a lacy white head and a nice mellow orange marmalade aroma.

The nice and gentle carbonation gives a smooth medium bodied mouthful with a good dose of Seville orange, bitter yet subtle. The fruitiness continues mouthful after mouthful with that bitterness building with each swallow. Hugely enjoyable and refreshing.

The finish is increasingly bitter with  a good resinous whack in the aftertaste. A lovely beer. Probably the best mid strength Pale I’ve had from Saltaire. And that’s saying something!

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3. Brewers GoldBlackedge Brewery (Horwich, Bolton) – 3.9% abv – Pale Ale – £2.20 (500ml) – 10% off for 12 btls – The Tottering Temple (Brewery Shop)

One of a few bottles that I picked up from their excellent shop on a recent visit to mither Wayne & Shaun about the upcoming Independent Salford Beer Festival !

Pale gold beer with lively carbonation giving a decent fluffy white head and an aroma delicate with citrus, orange.

Medium bodied beer same fruitiness, like bitter marmalade. And this IS bitter. Really clean tasting beer, refreshing with a hint of fresh apple in with the quite assertive bitterness.

A beer that I would describe as a bitter. And a damn good one at that. Did I mention Bitter? Not a swear word you know!

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4. Mayflower Gold – Billericay Brewing Co (Billericay, Essex) – 6.5% abv – Pale Ale – £4.50 (375 ml) – 10% off for 12 btls – Great Ale Year Round (Bolton Market)

You have absolutely NO IDEA how much I was tempted to use the lyrics of “Billericay Dickie” by Ian Dury at the top of this piece! What a great bawdy humoured classic!

Coming in a very attractive cork stoppered 375ml bottle. This is a slightly hazy, almost bronze coloured amber beer, with a big citrus fruit and floral aroma from a thin white head.

A big body on this, with loads of sweet biscuit malt and lashings of citrus hops with orange up front, this is almost more of an IPA than a straight pale ale for me. A slight savoury note too with this, like a light rauch smokiness, this is dangerously easy drinking – having it before a night out sure doesn’t feel wise!

The fruitiness mellows as I’m progressing down the glass, the bitterness is low too, which aids the easy drinking bit. Really rather pleasant!

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5. MotuekaMallinsons Brewery (Huddersfield, W Yorkshire) – 4% abv – Pale Ale – £2.89 (500ml) – 10% off for 12 btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

A golden coloured beer, with a lasting white head and a big tropical fruit aroma with kiwi and passion fruit to the fore, really fragrant.

This is light to medium bodied with a light fresh bready malt balancing the tropical fruit which comes through strongly in the mouth and is allied to quite an assertive bitterness.

Beautifully fruity and refreshing, there are hints of peach too in later mouthfuls. This is yet another beautiful single hopped Pale Ale from the Queens of the style.

Summary. Tropical fruity. Bitter. Lingering resinous aftertaste. Lovely. I kind of expect nothing less from these ladies.

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6. SessionRingway Brewery (N Reddish, Stockport) – 3.8% abv – Pale Ale – £2.85 (500ml) – 10% off for 12 btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

Bright and deep golden beer with a plentiful white head that shares aromas from the forest, blackcurrant and blackberry, fruity with a toffee biscuit backing vocal.

Once again from Ringway, a really smooth easy drinking beer. Quite full-bodied for its modest strength, the biscuity malt & the forest fruit flavours come through in the mouth too like a promise fulfilled. A bracing bitterness at the end of each mouthful too, a proper session bitter this one. Another belter from Paul who describes his beers as “easy drinking” a phrase which hits the mark at bull’s eye.

One question. Has “Bitter” become a swear word in the drinking community? It isn’t with me. There’s something about a nice pint of bitter which just really…..satisfies and comforts in equal measure.

Before I go, a slight rant.

I keep hearing the phrase “twiggy” when describing beer made with British hops, a phrase that is as worthy of derision as are the tastebuds of the people that spout it. To quote Jeanette Winterson “Orange is not the only fruit”! There are more fruits in the supermarket than lemons, grapefruit and the rest. Yes, I like those flavours too, but try something different and actually try TASTING it before JUDGING it! (I’ve had a shit week, my tolerance levels are stuck on Empty!)

So, rant over, there we go!

At some point soon, I might have to have a “blog holiday” and focus four square on The Independent Salford Beer Festival if it’s going to work!

On that note….until next time….

Slainte!

 

Bottles Ales – June 2014 – Pt 2

“So he paints a pretty picture and he tells you that he needs you

and he covers you with flowers and he always keeps you dreaming.

If he always keeps you dreaming, you won’t have a lonely hour.

If a day could last forever, you might like your ivory tower.

But the night begins to turn your head around…….”

(“The Night” – Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons)

(Clip courtesy of FayteKnightmare on YouTube)

One of the few high points of Motown Chartbusters 10, a series of albums that arguably peaked at No 6 and thereafter were the vinyl embodiment of The Law Of Diminishing Returns. 10 was moderately weak, but 11 & 12 I have disowned.

Who needs “Oh What A Night” and the dubious subject matter of “You’re Ready Now”, “The Night” has a bass line to die for, just a perpetual rumble, overlaid with the harmonies, brass, skittering strings. A Northern Soul classic that isn’t aired enough for me, never fails to make me “dad dance” in the kitchen!

On to the beer eh?

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. Pale Ale (Simcoe) – Wiper and True (Bristol) – 5% abv – Pale Ale – £3.39 (500ml) – 10% for 12 Btls –The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

A mid-golden coloured beer with a thin and rapidly dissipated white head (unclean glass the likely culprit!) Quite hazy, must have let some yeast slip through.

A full-on aroma of mango and peach tickling the nostrils and getting the saliva glands working overtime. Nicely full-bodied (considering the strength). Real full-on fruitiness with this, mango sweetness scored with a hint of tart grapefruit. Smooth mouthfeel, each mouthful just gets fruitier – starting to think how many of my 5 a day I’m getting from this!

Nice bit of pine needle in the finish to this, with the bitterness quite dialled down adding to the smooth feel. A really good fruity pale ale.

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2. Saison le Printemps –  Burning Sky (Firle, East Sussex) – 4.2% abv – Saison – £2.99 (330ml) – 10% for 12 Btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

A glowing bronze colour to this well carbonated beer, with a tight white head, quite creamy looking, giving an aroma sweet with banana split toffee, clove and something more perfumed, almost rose-water?

Light on the tongue, the floral flavour is the first thing that springs to mind in the mouth, that and a spicy note. Then clove strokes the tongue sweetly. The finish is quite grassy, spicy and dry.

Overall, whilst I don’t claim to know much about saisons, this Spring beer is hugely refreshing and light. Isn’t that the job they were originally brewed for? Job done. Damn well.

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3. Single Bramling – Ringway Brewery (North Reddish, Stockport) – 4% abv – Pale Ale – £2.79 (500ml) – 10% for 12 Btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

Crystal clear amber beer with a lacy bright white head and an aroma groaning with malty toffee and stone fruit, some plum and maybe a little blackberry.

Initially fruity with those hedgerow fruits like blackberry and some deep plum, a little orange too. Quite spicy and peppery too balancing the caramel biscuit malt sweetness which smoothly leads to a quite bitter finish. An oaky, lingering peppery hop aftertaste rounds this off nicely.

Paul is unapologetic in his use of British hops and swims against the current brewery tide in their rush for citrus mouth wreckers. He is Damn right and I applaud him for it. He aims for flavourful easy drinking beers. With this, he is bang on target.

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4. Quirky Kiwi – Offbeat Brewery (Crewe, Cheshire) – 4.6% abv – NZ Pale Ale – £2.65 (500ml) – 10% for 12 Btls – Tottering Temple (Horwich, Bolton)

A lovely golden colour to this, with good carbonation, a nice clinging white fluffy head giving up citrussy aromas of peach, passion fruit and a little tangerine.

Ooh, this is rather nice! Smooth and medium-bodied but with a nice prickly carbonation (if that makes sense?). Really fruity, the passion fruit upfront, with kiwi and a little peach. SUCH an easy drinking beer, this could be dangerous on cask! This smoothness extends to the bitterness, which is restrained, but still present leading to a pleasant grassy hop aftertaste.

A little cracker. And at less than £2.40 a bottle (with discount) – a bloody bargain!

IMAG16015. Cascade – Blackedge Brewery (Horwich, Bolton) – 4% abv – Pale Ale – £2.20 (500ml) – 10% for 12 Btls – Tottering Temple (Horwich, Bolton)

Orange golden beer with a fluffy clinging white head and a smell laden with citrus with a hint of lemon, some orange fruit and grapefruit. Really aromatic.

Medium-bodied, quite smooth textured with a gentle carbonation, this is beautifully fruity in the mouth. Feeling bigger than a 4% beer, this has a good malty biscuit backbone overlaid with bitter grapefruit, nice and tart with a bitterness that grabs your attention. That bitter grapefruit lingers long into the aftertaste, quite bracing. All the way down the glass. Lovely!

This could be a cracking session beer on draught – it was the pick of their beers at Blackedge’s open bar last week!

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6. West Coast Pale – Liverpool Craft Beer Co (Liverpool) – 6.2% abv – Pale Ale – £2.95 (330ml) – 10% for 12 Btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

Deep golden almost amber coloured beer, with a good deep white foamy head and a booming spicy tart citrus aroma, woof!

Full-bodied, gentle carbonation and really smooth feel to this. First impression in the mouth was of malty sweetness laced with apricot liqueur, which yielded primacy to something more like a bitter Seville orange with a sharp and tart lemon and grapefruit tinge lurking in the shadows. Bit of a Belgian style yeasty tinge too.

Low on the bitterness scale, there is a clinging sticky pine in the aftertaste which finishes it nicely.This is just SO smooth and lush and quite dangerously moreish at this strength.

There you go. Next time, I shall address the dire lack of dark beers!

Off to Black Jack & First Chop later. Anyone coming?

On that note…’til next time…

Slainte!

Just learned that Bobby Womack is dead and a star has just fallen from my sky. RIP Bobby – A TRUE Musical Legend.

 

Bottled Ales – June 2014 – Pt 1

“I’ll only ask you once more. You only want to believe
This man is looking for someone to hold his hand, he doesn’t quite ever understand the meaning

Never heard about, Oscar Wilde and never talk about Brendan Behan,
Don’t have to think about Sean O’Casey and don’t care about George Bernard Shaw.
You never hear about Samuel Beckett, you won’t talk about Eugene O’Neill, or Edna O’Brien and Lawrence Stern.

Shut it! You don’t understand it. Shut it! That’s not the way I planned it.

Shut it! Shut you mouth ’til you know the truth!”

(“Burn It Down”  – AKA “Dance Stance” – Dexys Midnight Runners)

(Tune clip courtesy of  Anette Roller on YouTube)

Now THIS could cause an argument. Walk into a Manchester pub and assert that Dexys were the best band in Britain in the late 70s. Then run! By this – being a lover of Soul music – I mean the first incarnation of Dexys. The band that Kevin Rowland drilled relentlessly until they were ready to be unleashed. Until they were a band whose performances, laden with passion and sweat, became things of legend.

OK the “Mean Streets” garb looked a bit contrived, but this was a band that wanted you to know that they MEANT what they were doing. That it mattered to them and they wanted it to matter to you. For an album and a half – they never did get to release that second album they were working up to (“The Projected Passion Revue” eventually seeing a form of release in 2007) – they were simply a force. They were utterly brilliant, dirty, gritty, soulful and real. Before the abomination that was Too-Ry-Ay and performing “Jackie Wilson Said” on TOTP to a backdrop of Jocky Wilson!

They reformed for an album “One Day I’ll Soar” in 2012 and released what was  – for me – the single of that year “She Got A Wiggle” a lyrical portrait of unrequited love. I love it.

There. I’ve said it. I’m a Manc who saw Joy Division & The Fall in their late 70s early & 1980 pomp. And I love Dexys. And Rowland loves Northern Soul too (The origin of the bands name…..oh, go check Wikipedia)

One more reason as to why the latter clip in particular is important to me. One night in Brewdog in Manchester, I met two buddies of mine and a couple of old friends. Of the two buddies, Jeff was en route to see Dexys at The Bridgewater Hall (as were my old friends Phil & Sue). Myself, the Arch-Nemesis and Jeff started to chat….which turned into the chat which pushed me into doing this nonsense. A beer blog was born…over a glass of Human Cannonball!

On that note – On to the beer eh?

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. The Porter – Anspach & Hobday (Bermondsey , S. London) – 6.7% abv – Porter – £3.49 (330ml) – 10% off for 12 btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)

“Conceived in the 19th Century, refined for the 21st” it says on the bottle. Really? I’ve seen at least one negative comment about their beers recently, but, to be honest, I enjoyed The IPA and was more than happy to give this a try….

This is one lively puppy! A booming mocha coloured head and an aroma that brought back memories of “Old Jamaica” chocolate bars from Cadbury’s – chocolate and slightly rum soaked raisins. A beautiful earthy perfume! Full-bodied and with a slight sweetness, the bittersweet chocolate is what first hits you followed by a bitterness offsetting the sweetness and an earthy hoppiness. Then there is something more….floral….? Then a dry cocoa quality….. The flavours delayering with each mouthful. Refined for the 21st Century? Not sure about that, but this IS bloody good!

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2. White QueenTatton Brewery (Knutsford, Cheshire) – 4.2% abv – Wheat Beer – £2.75 (500ml) – 10% 12 or more btls – Great Ale Year Round (Bolton Market)

If memory serves, I picked this up from Dan & Gina’s increasingly popular bar, after the recent excellent Gourmet Burger & Beer Match hosted by Shaun (aka @FoodGeekUK) They’re getting busier & busier, deservedly so too. Great beers, kept well. Anyway…the bottle….

The label drew me in. Then it caught me. I absolutely love the series of historical novels by Philippa Gregory based around the life of Elizabeth Woodville (“The White Queen!) Simply excellent. The label is classy, minimal, but with a bit of regality in that font.

An intentionally hazy yellow gold brew with a thin white head and an aroma sweet with orange zest, a floral note and a little spice on the nose. Light bodied with a gentle carbonation leading to a smooth mouthfeel. There is an orangey flavour to the fore in the initial mouthful leading on to some clove and maybe a hint of cardamom. Really light and refreshing, fruity with the orange and a beautifully dry finish with a herbal hint in the aftertaste and with very low bitterness. This is so easy drinking. Really nice stab at a wheat beer. Any on cask?

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3. 13 GunsCrafty Dan (Thwaites) (Blackburn, Lancashire) – 5.5% abv – IPA – £1.99 (330ml) – 10% 12 btls or more – The Tottering Temple (Horwich, Bolton)

This deep ruby coloured beer has a lively off white head and an aroma reminding me of toast & marmalade. Orangey marmalade flavours continue in the mouth riding on the back of big biscuity sticky malt. A luxurious really smooth full-bodied mouthful, Smooth as silk, but more fruity, this is lovely. Plenty of resinous hops to make the tongue curl and the gums tingle. Yum.
The bitterness on this was dialled down. Not sure if this was due to the fact that I forgot I had this and it lay stored for a couple of months. A damned enjoyable fruity beast nonetheless. I’ll get a fresher one and see if it’s any better!
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4. Düsseldorf Altbeer – Hornbeam Brewery (Denton, Gtr Manchester) – 4.8% abv – German-Style Altbeer – £2.80 (500ml) – 10% 12 or more btls – Great Ale Year Round (Bolton Market)
The Arch Nemesis persuaded me to buy this one I think. Darker German style beers usually being too sweet for my tastes. Needless to say, I’ve learned to trust the A-N on beer over the years!
A really deep amber beer with a white head and a spicy chocolatey aroma, bit nutty too…like a Nutella on toast. Ooh… but this is a surprise….
There is a buttered toast maltyness to this, beautifully smooth medium-bodied beer. Then comes the chocolate note, like a light dusting of cocoa powder on a latte. Then a little sweetness kicks in, immediately countered by a hoppy herbal bitterness. That bitterness fades slightly into a herbal grassy aftertaste with a lingering chocolate note. Great balance to this, like all Hornbeam beers that I’ve had. Damned moreish….
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5. Imperial Russian StoutLiverpool Organic Brewery (Er…Liverpool) – 8.1% abv – Imperial Stout – £3.99 (500ml) – 10% off for 12 btls – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, Gtr Manchester)
This was another one that’s been stashed for a while….Needed to de-stress the other evening with a lot of stuff re the beer festival rattling round my vacated skull. This did the trick!
Black. Oh so black. Like a liquid black hole, no light comes out of this devil. Other than the lightly scattered cream coloured head. The aroma just oozes out….bitter, VERY bitter chocolate, dark red wine, slightly tannic, and the smell of a newly flexed fresh leather belt, so fresh that you can almost hear the cow “moo”! Spicy too.
Hugely bodied, the first taste that assaults you is that bitter chocolate, then a spicy bitterness followed by a quite powerful licorice bite, sweet yet dry. Second mouthful has the tongue tingling, sweetness, yes, but that bitter licorice is followed by an almost tobacco like tone. The finish has a big boozy feel to it, quite vinous. Sweet, but with a woody edge to it. Warming. I’ll sleep well. (I did BTW!)
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6. Something Something Barrel Aged – Weird Beard Brew Co (Hanwell, W. London) – 9% abv – BA Imperial BIPA – £3.50 (330ml) – The Ale Man Manchester (Levenshulme & Heaton Moor Markets)
Not seen Damian in a while. Then, last time I was at Raj’s, he popped in doing a delivery and plopped this in my ravenous maw. Surprised & pleased in equal measure, I clutched it to my chest and muttered something like ….”my…precious….
Like a Black Panther, a simply stunning creature to look at. All sleek black sinuous muscle, gorgeous yet malevolent. This beer wants to eat you and your children. That creamy colour head is to lull you into a false sense of security. Approaching it warily, aroma is sweet citrus, but with a darker intent, lurking beneath the sweetness.

Oh boy, the moment the darkness slipped past my lips, the claws came out! Beautifully full-bodied and smooth… Oh so smooth…. There’s burnt toast, bitter chocolate, an earthiness… yet after all that going on… a big sticky almost marmalade citrus jumps to the rescue like Tarzan. This is stunningly good. There is a subtle and building smokiness which is none too intrusive, just there as each mouthful sinks safely down. Yes there is sweetness, but this is just so well balanced with a fruity hop dryness and resins finishing it off. Like the Panther, I’m purring! And sated.

Didn’t realise it had been so long since the last bottle piece! More soon (+ maybe an update on progress for the Beer Fest – follow @salfordbeerfest on Twitter for up to date…..zzzzzzz)
On that note…..’til next time….
Slainte!

 

Bottled Ales – May 2014 – Pt 4

“Have you sought fortune evasive and shy? Drink to the men who protect you and I.

Drink drink drain your glass, raise your glass high.

It’s not the side-effects of the cocaine, I’m thinking that it must be love.

It’s too late to be grateful, It’s too late to be late again.

It’s too late to be hateful, the European cannon is here!”

(“Station to Station– David Bowie)

(Video courtesy of DJ Johnson – YouTube)

My oh my can Adrian Belew play guitar! Possibly a controversial statement, but this is my favourite Bowie album, the one where I think he is at the peak of his (allegedly, chemically inspired) powers.

The lead track is like 3 songs in one and ranges from Kraftwerk and Can inspired Krautrock (a term I despise), through funk & soul to straight out rock & roll, it just……ohhhh!

The album starts with the title track and moves through “Golden Years” with its linkage to the “Young Americans” white soul leading on to “Word On A Wing”, a beautiful love song then to “TVC 15” and “Stay”, both of which give a glimpse of stylistic shifts that would lead to “The Berlin Trilogy” of Low, Heroes & Lodger. “Wild Is The Wind” signs the album off so smoothly with another (probable) love song, although it’s difficult to fathom the lyrics at any stage on this album.

Station To Station has been described as a “transition album”, but for me, it stands as a monument. The greatest work of the greatest and most influential artist. Period.

(Recommended albums? Don’t be silly. They’re all brilliant!)

On to the beer eh?

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. Chocolate Domination – Hornbeam Brewery (Denton, Gtr Manchester) – 5.7% abv – Strong Dark Ale – £2.80 (500ml) – 15% for 12 bottles – Great Ale Year Round  (Bolton Market Hall)

Great to see this hugely underrated brewery available on my patch, they just make some of the most drinkable beers in the area, but without the fanfare that the bloggerati give to some of the trendier “names”. I believe that this particular bottle sold out in no time at all. And no wonder!

Black as a Vikings’ heart, but different, having a creamy tan coloured head and a nose fuuuuuull of sweet chocolate!

In the mouth…..this is LUUUSH! The liquid equivalent of a George Clooney chat up line, this is gorgeous and so so so smoooove! Full-bodied, As the dark delight hits the mouth, it initially tastes slightly sweet, but then does a little trick (steady now!)…..and loses that initial sweetness becoming quite dry and grassy/hoppy as it slides down. Silky smooth this.

Loads of chocolate and a touch of something more gently herbal. Initially I thought it liquorice, but not so sure. The chocolate also starts to taste darker and more bitter the further down the glass I’ve gone. This is just SUCH a good beer. Manchester beers really do ROCK! And after the discount, a bloody steal!

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2. Shipwreck IPA – Bragdy Conwy (Conwy, N. Wales) – 5% abv – IPA – £2.89 (500ml) – 0 – Carringtons (Barlow Moor Rd, Chorlton)

I think that this may only be the second bottle I’ve had from this brewery, they’re becoming increasingly available on draught too. The Honey Porter was superb!

Deep gold and initially quite lively with a booming head that quickly settled leaving behind an aroma of orange and honey blossom, sweet, yet with a spicy note.

Quite full-bodied in the mouth this, that carbonation lending a spiky touch, smooth marmalade is what gets me initially, with a touch of that honeyed sweetness. The second mouthful reinforces the orangey flavours and sees the bitterness building, but not massively so.

As I’m going down the glass, this gets smoother and smoother. The finish is gently bittersweet with a savoury herbal aftertaste drying the palate. Really nice beer  this.

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3. Station Best Bitter – Mallinsons Brewery (Huddersfield, W. Yorkshire) – 4.3% abv – Best Bitter – £2.89 (500ml) – 10% for 12 btls or more – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N  Manchester)

A Mallinsons’ beer that isn’t single hopped? Whatever!

As pale as a new spring morning laced with that beautiful morning sun, well carbonated (as always) with the head receding to a thin white foam that’s giving up a rather strange aroma for a “best bitter”, there’s a bit of tart gooseberry in there but also a more delicate floral quality, if no hop hammer, then no less enticing, a delicate touch.

What follows in the mouth is quite quite lovely (that’s not a stutter!). Really smooth, light to medium-bodied, there’s a rich tea biscuit to the backbone upon which the hops do a floral dance (Just where IS Terry Wogan when you need him eh? – A lame attempted quip for the old ‘uns!)

There’s some kiwi perhaps as well as a degree of tartness. So refreshing and light, a perfect summer beer this on the eve of the warm season. A moderate fruity bitterness to this leads to a dry grassy finish. It may not be single hopped, but this is typical Mallinsons, typically tasty, typically refreshing. Beautiful. The term “Best Bitter” doesn’t do this justice!

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4. Munchner – Tickety Brew (Stalyvegas, Gtr Manchester) – 4.5% abv – Munich Style – £1.99 (330ml) – 10% for 12 btls or more – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N  Manchester)

Simply the classiest labelling. Achieves its objective by drawing the eyes and stands out on any shelf. Like good branding should. But this would be a challenge, as I’m not overly struck on darker German beer styles, finding the ones I’ve had a bit too sweet for my tastes.

Quite the deep dark ruby colour, with a thin white head and an aroma mainly toffeeish, but with the scent of something ….deeper? A gentle sweeter perfume?

In the mouth, this is medium-bodied with a really fine carbonation of tiny bubble. Yes, there is a toffeeish caramel sweetness to this (like those caramel tasting biccies you get with a posh coffee?), but is really well-balanced with some delicate perfumed hopping and is actually, surprisingly rather refreshing with the Belgian funk note of the yeast holding off until further down the glass. I normally don’t enjoy the darker German styles, but this is really rather lovely.

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5. Outwood Gold  Five Towns Brewery (Wakefield, W Yorkshire) – 5% abv – Pale Ale – Direct From Brewery 

Now THIS is what I call minimalist labelling. There isn’t one! The benefits of getting the beer so fresh from the brewery eh?

Another really pale straw coloured beer, from the maestro from Outwood, Wakefield that is Malcolm Bastow.

A lively carbonation with fine bubbles giving an abundant white fluffy head and a fresh zesty aroma of sugared grapefruit and satsuma. A light white bready malt allowing the hops to shine here, with initial flavours of tangerine with a little lime sharpness in there on the edge. Subsequent mouthfuls build on this citrus and display a refined touch with a gentle bitterness that remains just that. The finish is dry and slightly tart with a drying hoppy aftertaste, slightly resinous.

Another damned classy pale from Mr B!

Sorry to bore you all, but no rants this week!

That’s it for this week, only 5, but a classy 5 nonetheless. Probably a couple more posts before the next bottle run, Stockport Beer Festival was excellent yesterday, maybe another old pub stroll and possibly a piece about watching two of my favourite breweries collaborating (Allgates & Five Towns)….but they’re for another day…….

On that note….’til next time…..

Slainte!

 

 

 

Bottled Ales – May 2014 – Pt 3

“Just out of Monday, I run into a friend down the street, down the street where I live.

Sad things begin. I could feel from within from the message, from the message he had to give  about a buddy of mine. 

He run out of time, his life run out of time
Somebody past noon, shot across the room and now the man no longer lives”

(“Billy Jack” – Curtis Mayfield)

(Video clip courtesy of “Geepereet” on YouTube)

Curtis Mayfield is one of my all-time musical heroes, a musical giant. A man who was tragically disabled in an accident whilst rehearsing on stage in 1990.The fact that he was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame ( a rare “double inductee” – having been inducted with The Impressions in 1991) on the same day as Paul McCartney, should indicate the massive influence the man had on popular music.

If you know a single Mayfield track, the chances are that it will be “Move On Up”, a song that is simply a soul/funk classic. However, it was arguably one of his lesser works. A man who was writing and recording in the 50s at the start of the Civil Rights struggles. A man who wrote the all-time classic “People Get Ready”, performed with his ban “The Impressions”. I could eulogise all night about songs like “Choice of Colours”,”This is My Country” Civil Rights era classics, delivered in his sweet falsetto.

His most famous album was arguably the soundtrack to the Blaxploitation movie Superfly (incidentally, a bloody great film!), notable for it’s social commentary, rather than a glorification of gangster life. For me though, his greatest achievement was the recording of his final album “New World Order”. The man was a truly great guitar player, but paralysed, no guitar playing here. The sheer effort of will to record your lyrics line by line whilst lying on your back…a heroic effort.

Did I mention that he was almost the OKEH records house songwriter (or so it seemed!), that he wrote masses of songs for other Chicago artists, so much so that there are compilations of songs that he wrote for others? That if James Brown is “The Godfather of Soul” then Curtis should be called “The Godfather of Funk”?

I love the man and his music – all thanks to a special man called Phil – who persuaded me as to the greatness of the man. And he WAS great.

(Recommended albums – in order of release date: Superfly, New World Order)

On to the beer eh?

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. Devils RestBurning Sky Beer (Brighton, Sussex) – 6.5% abv – IPA – £3.59 (330ml) – 10% for 12 btls or more – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N  Manchester)

A lively deep amber coloured beer, well carbonated, with a big white head and an even bigger aroma laden with mango and orange. Inviting.

Oh oh ohhh! A big full-bodied beer this with masses of sticky orangey marmalade sweetness, oh this is love at first sip! That initial sticky sweetness is more than matched with an uncompromising hoppy bitterness that dries the mouth almost the instant that you swallow.

The second and third mouthfuls give some hints of mango and peach, all the while menaced with that bitter finish to each sip. Big sticky resins in here too. It may be “only” 6.5%, but this is a not a beer to be trifled with. Respect to Mark Tranter. My first Burning Sky in bottle. Bloody marvellous!

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2. Urban IPATiny Rebel Brew Co (Newport, South Wales) – 5.5% abv – IPA – £3.45 (330ml) – 0% – Beermoth (Tib St, Manchester)

This glowing amber coloured beer is as lively as a lively thing that’s feeling particularly….er….lively! The head is HUGE, fluffy and white giving off smells of orange rind. Really fresh citrussy aroma.

Given the massive carbonation, this is really smooth and full-bodied with initial flavour being a bready malt toast with lashings of orange marmalade.

Further mouthfuls give up more orange fruit but with notes of white grape and gooseberry. The smoothness is the thing here, this is just SO easy drinking for an IPA, with little bitterness, just a lovely dryness followed by a gentle grassy hop finish. Beautiful.

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3. Galaxy Pale AleHornbeam Brewery (Denton, Gtr Manchester) – 4.3% abv – Pale Ale – £2.80 (500ml) – 15% for 12 or more – Great Ale Year Round  (Bolton Market Hall)

When I got word that Dan & Gina had been to Hornbeam, my heart leaped! A brewery that doesn’t get the respect that it deserves in my book, just going about their business of making full-flavoured beers without fuss or fanfare. Happy days.

This is a mid-gold in colour with a nice lacy white head and some orange and passion fruit in the aroma.

Both of those flavours carry on into the mouth. Medium-bodied, with a brown toasty malt and lovely fruity hoppage! Really balanced (as are all Hornbeam beers), that fruitiness tapers off into a beautiful grassy tinged bitter finish. Lovely beer!

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4. 08/01Brew By Numbers (Bermondsey, London) – 6.1% abv – Stout – £3.39 – I think! (330ml) – 10% for 12 btls or more – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N  Manchester)

Pitch black, just as a good stout should be. Opaque, with a creamy tan coloured head. So far, so good! The aroma is of bitter chocolate and has a peppery note, making the nose tingle a bit.

Full-bodied beer this, with a lovely creamy texture to it. The initial flavour is of REALLY bitter chocolate (the high percentage cocoa type), topped off with the merest hint of fresh brewed espresso. The second mouthful intensified those flavours, rounding them off with a big hoppy bitterness.

A really full-flavoured and satisfying stout. My kind of beer!

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5. Jack of Clubs Wild Card Brewery (Walthamstow, East London) – 4.5% abv – Ruby Ale – £3.49 (330ml) – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N  Manchester)

Another beer from Raj’s expanding emporium!

Packaging. This is the third brewery that I’ve had that displays a tag suspended from the bottle by string. Classy use of a playing card style tag on a plain brown bottle. Really attractive – well, to me anyway!

Well, it’s definitely a ruby coloured beer! Topped off with a good slightly off-white head and an aroma that reminds me of bonfire night treacle covered in milky chocolate.

Medium-bodied this, is it a sin to call a beer a Ruby Mild? Not in my book it ain’t!!! This is really smooth, with caramel and treacle sweet malty flavours but quite dry in the finish. This is right up mein strasse! Not too heavy on the alcohol, this is just so balanced and smooth and has a gentle grassy note over the slight sweetness. I was kind of expecting something really hoppy, but got this. A really pleasant surprise. A superb “Ruby Mild”.

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6. Fire PloughWiper and True / Arbor Brewery (Both Bristol) – 5.5% abv – Smoked Porter – £3.49 (500ml) – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N  Manchester)

Black as a stout. Beautiful tan leather coloured head. A winner with me already……shall we stop there? No?

Given that is made with smoked malt from the Baltic island of Gotland (Sweden), would it surprise you to learn that there is a significant, yet not overpowering, smoky aroma? Bloody hell! This has got it going on! (Apologies to Tone Loc)

Yes, there is a smokiness to this full-bodied beer, but the balance with the citrussy fruitiness of Simcoe and the added spicy note from the rye malt…This is a beautifully smooth mash-up of flavours…like a Black IPA, yet not. Confusticating, yet massively satisfying, there is just SO MUCH HAPPENING here! You’ve got the smoke, pine and citrus, a slight spiciness. A triumph of a beer. Why did I wait so long to drink it? Mmmmmmm…..SO looking forward to my impending trip to Bristol!

Well….That’s all folks….well, not quite. Allow me a rant.

I love social media. Now and again, people (lovely people too!) approach me and ask, “Are you….?” and we chat, we put faces to Twitter handles and d’you know what, it’s great. Social media is fun. It’s also a damn powerful tool, sometimes used irresponsibly.

When pontificating about beer, I keep my negative shit private. If I have some “constructive” feedback to give, I NEVER do it openly, but always directly to those that it may concern. With this Social Media bollocks comes a degree of responsibility.

What it isn’t for is airing matters that should be kept private.  If you have shit to deal with, keep it private. The people who are involved in this (if they read my tripe) know who they are. This shit isn’t fun and it isn’t worthy of celebration. It’s bullying. If I see this kind of shit again, you won’t be getting me patronising your businesses and I will encourage others to do the same. Period.

Sorry. Needed to vent.

Bottled Ales – May 2014 – Pt 2

“Here I am, I’m not here now, no, no, no. And I’ll care for you – hey that’s all I want to do.

Hold me, love me, in your heart.

And I’ll hold you near and I’ll whisper in your ear. I’ll take your hand and I’ll make you understand.

Hold me, love me, in your heart.”

(“Thickfreakness” – The Black Keys)

(Clip courtesy of “brilliantffs” on YouTube)

With the best tunes to come out of Akron, Ohio since….well….DEVO, The Black Keys are just awesome! (NOT a word that I use lightly either!) Another discovery through the thing of tuneful joy that is emusic.com, I was hooked from the moment I heard the hollow drums and twisted detuned “spaghetti western” guitar on “When The Lights Go Out” from the “Rubber Factory” album from 2004.

A two piece – Dan Auerbach on Voice & Guitar with Pat Carney on Drums, their blues heavy noise is just so damn visceral – especially on the title track of their “sophomore” album (a live performance of which is above – click the hyperlink). In format (two piece, guitar/drums) they bear a link with mid-west contemporaries The White Stripes, whilst being (IMHO) infinitely better than that rather more successful (in UK terms) band.

(Including 2006’s EP – “Chulahoma”) 9 albums in, they have evolved to the point that (courtesy of production wizard, Brian Burton – aka “Dangermouse”) they now boast bass guitar and keyboard players on the new album “Turn Blue”, they are still (again, IMHO) streets above anything the UK has to offer in guitar-led terms.

(Recommended albums – in order of release date: Thickfreakness, Magic Potion & Attack and Release)

On to the beer eh?

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. Flintlock Five Towns Brewery (Wakefield, W Yorkshire) – 3.4% abv – Pale Ale – Direct From Brewery 

Have I ever explained my love of the beers that come from Outwood? Mr Bastow is a genius! I demand that someone gets his bottled beer over this side of the hill! Oh….wait….I’ve got some more on my shelf? *Smiles*

This is an ultra pale straw coloured beer and a big sharp aroma of tart gooseberry and grapefruit. I was drooling before it touched my lips!

Light-bodied, with the gentlest cream cracker malty base, this is full of sharp citrus flavours, with gooseberry and grapefruit again, cut with lemon atop that Jacobs’ like base. The second mouthful brings that sharp lemon more into focus, enlivening my jaded tastebuds (read WHY they were jaded here)

A beautifully refreshing Pale Ale. Whatever the strength, this is a Five Towns speciality!

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2. Liquorice Alesort – Ashover Brewery (Ashover, nr Chesterfield, Derbyshire) – 5% abv – Stout – £2.99 (500ml) – 10% for 12 btls or more – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N  Manchester)

Deep black with a creamy looking tan coloured head and a really “dark” aroma including real liquorice and maybe a hint of aniseed.

Oh MY! This beer is as smooth as George Clooney! Full of body, a subtle roasted malty sweetness forms the base for the savoury, spicy overtones of the liquorice root. Just Mmmmmm!

With each mouthful I’m sinking into my chair and the sweet embrace of this dark delight! The finish is slightly sweet, with a grassy hop edge. As Frankie Howerd’s Lurcio never quitesaid….”Yum, Yum and thrice Yum”!

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3. Pale Ale NZ Quantum Brewing Co (Stockport) – 4.5% abv – Pale Ale – £3.45 (I think) (500ml) – 0% – Beermoth (Tib St, Manchester)

This was Jamie Hancock’s fault! (I DO love a good scapegoat! Felt weird seeing him in a shop rather than behind the bar!) I was just about to leave with a small – yet perfectly formed – haul of goodies, when this was pointed out!

A pale golden beer with a light white head and HUGELY fragrant with zesty lemon and tart gooseberry and grapefruit.

Smooth and medium-bodied in the mouth, a light biscuity base forms the foundation of this hoppy fruity delight! First comes tart gooseberry, giving the tongue a little wrinkle and unleashing the saliva glands. This first swallow feels like summer has arrived! This is followed by a light, yet still punchy grapefruit, both of these mouthfuls have a lemon sharpness to them which is massively refreshing.The finish is tingling and bitter with the merest hint of lemongrass in the aftertaste. A sharp and hoppy, refreshing easy drinking beer.

Bravo Jay Krause – Take a bow!

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(Gratuitously shot with 2 Premier League Winners in background!)

4. SIPFirst Chop Brewing Arm (Salford) – 5.4% abv – Pale Ale – £2.99 (330ml) – 0% – Carringtons (Barlow Moor Rd, Chorlton)

Straw coloured and hazy, with a thin white head and a sharp & slightly tart aroma with lemon, passion fruit and a hint of kiwi fruit.

Medium-bodied in the mouth, with a fresh-baked bready malt base this is SO smooth and fruity in the mouth with more passion fruit and a sharp lemony edge to it and quite a decent bitterness.

With each mouthful that fruitiness builds at the same time as the bitterness lessens. Lovely herbal hops aftertaste. Refreshing and supremely easy to drink. Now to have it on draught! Hopefully on their evening on 31st May?

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5. Alias – Mallinsons Brewery (Huddersfield, W. Yorkshire) – 4% abv – Pale Ale – £2.89 (500ml) – 10% for 12 btls or more – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N  Manchester)

Look at it. Just look at it. If beer is drunk with the eyes, just looking at it has slaked my thirst!

Gold. Pale Gold. Bubbling like a klondike brook, except that this one is loaded with aromas of spring flowers & gooseberry rather than gold! Light bodied in the mouth, this is really delicate on initial tasting, maybe a bit of elderflower, before that gooseberry tartness kicks in.

Another smooth and easy-drinking beer this, so easy to glug, but I resist! The second mouthful builds considerably on the bitterness of the first. Clean, floral, gently tart and hugely refreshing. Supremely easy drinking. The queens of the single-hopped pale ale. Bloody hell, but they’re good at this! And, with Raj’s 10% discount, to drink beer THIS good, at THAT price, feels like shoplifting!

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6. Fatter Stout Mad Hatter Brewing Co (Liverpool) – 9.5% abv – Imperial Stout – £4.20 (330ml) – 0% – Beermoth (Tib St, Manchester)

Another from my small – yet perfectly formed – haul on my recent visit to Beermoth.

Black as the Ace of Spades, with a deep cream coloured head and an aroma full of darkness, with some bitter coffee and lots of licorice.

Obviously huge bodied, really silky smooth, the initial hit is one of really bitter coffee, followed by the chewy licorice overlaying a burnt sugar sweetness in the background and coating the mouth all over.

In later mouthfuls, something more warming and alcoholic like a dark rum, slick and warming the throat as it slides down. Whilst underlying sweetness is ever-present, there is a distinct bitterness in the finish followed by a resinous hop character edged with bitter chocolate. Going down great with some vintage cheddar!!! A boss beer from Liverpool. 

Well, that’s all folks! I’m just about recovered from last weeks efforts – I really SHOULD keep a tin of Andrews in the medical box!

On that note….’til next time….

Slainte!

Bottled Ales – May 2014 – Pt 1

“When I’m with you all my brothers, oh, I feel like a king, it feels like I’m dreaming.

When that blood goes rattling through my veins, my ears start to ring. And I notice what matters.

And I got nothing to lose but darkness and shadows.

Got nothing to lose but bitterness and patterns”

(“Got Nuffin‘” – Spoon)

(Hyperlinked video courtesy of  “StepOutAgain” on YouTube)

There is music that you hear everywhere. Either because it is classic & timeless (Bowie, James Brown, Sly Stone, Motown etc) or because you are simply listening to either the wrong radio station, or the kids have control of the car stereo. Then there are the bands that you think are your secret. You never hear them played anywhere else. In fact, you’ve never heard them outside of your own home – except on your iPod.

One evening, just over a year ago, I walked into Common on Edge Street in the Northern Quarter, (a bar I had fallen in love with not because of their beer selection – excellent though it indubitably is, but because of a tune I heard the moment I first walked in. “The Light Pours Out of Me” by Magazine). On this particular evening, however, drink had been taken. Part way through a beer, I heard the unmistakable throb of kick, snare and side drums. SOMEBODY ELSE LIKED SPOON!!! That tune was “Got Nuffin”. Like a drunken fan boy, I lurched over to the DJ to thank him. I don’t know what I actually said, but I meant “Thanks”!

Now 6 albums in, Spoon are one of (if not THE) greatest exponents of what has been described as “minimal indie”. They simply don’t waste a note. No fluff. A bit like Shredded Wheat. Nothing added, nothing taken away. Just great tunes. They get better with each album. We must be due another album soon.

(Recommended albums : Transference & GaGaGaGaGa – treat yourselves!)

On to the beer eh?

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. Shankar IPA Great Heck Brewery (Great Heck, E Yorkshire) – 5.9% abv – IPA – £2.49 (330ml) – 10% for 12 Bottles – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N  Manchester)

A pale golden beer with a light white head and big fruity aromas with peach and tangerine and orange on the nose.

Ooh matron! Big and stickily fruity with thick Seville orange marmalade on a toasty bready malt base. This is followed by a sticky resiny bitterness that clings to the roof of the mouth like a drowning man with a handful of riverbank grass.

The second mouthful brings some peach to the party, but this has such assertive bitterness that the peach was nearly not allowed entry! A big beer from Denzil this. A proper IPA and possibly his best yet – a big call, given how awesome the Black Jesus was! A big bitter and sticky pine finish, finish off this bruiser of a beer. It’s like a bouncer at a really rough bar, you don’t want to mess with him. But you JUST can’t help yourself! (A STEAL at £2.49!)

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2. Zen Rocky Head Brewery (Southfields, SW London) – 4.8% abv – Blonde Ale – £2.99 (330ml) – 10% for 12 Bottles – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N  Manchester)

A lively golden beer with a head – initially at least – the size of a tower block. fragrant and fruity with masses of zesty lemon and grapefruit grabbing the nose and giving it a good tweak. Given that it was a lively wee bugger, the carbonation is really soft letting the zesty and zing laden lemon take centre stage.

A light malty base allows the hops to shine with the lemon being nice, sharp and ever so slightly bitter. Nice and juicy this, that big bitterness being complemented by a sharp dry finish. A massively refreshing zingy fresh beer, perfect for a summer’s day. Who knows, maybe we’ll get one!

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3. India Pale Ale (ii) – Squawk Brewing Company (Ardwick, Manchester) – 6.7% abv – IPA – £2.69 (330ml) – 10% for 12 Bottles – The Liquor Shop (Whitefield, N  Manchester)

This is (as the name suggests) Oliver Turton’s 2nd stab at an IPA. (Read the review of Mk 1, here) The first was 5.5% abv, so I wondered how much more oomph that extra abv would give it.

Amber coloured beer with soft fluffy white head and a nose full of orange marmalade. Promising!

This is SO damned smooth in the mouth! A good chunk of toffeeish malt laid down like a dance floor for the citrus marmalade to dance all over! This has got the balance of a Prima Ballerina!. The orange in the marmalade mellows just a little to allow the beer to have to flavour of something like a citrus ice cream, beautiful and creamy but with a big bitterness to round it off. The aftertaste is big and piney too. Just another excellent Manchester beer from Mr Turton.

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4. Rum Porter Boggart Brewery (Newton Heath, Manchester) – 4.7% abv – Porter – £2.80 (500ml) – 10% for 12 Bottles – The Tottering Temple (Hampson Street, Horwich)

I was chuffed to bits when I saw this at BlackEdge Brewery’s newly opened shop. I’d only ever had it on cask at Micro Bar in Manchester Arndale, Boggart’s own outlet in the centre of town. I was keen to see how it translated into bottle.

A deep, dark, ruby brown beer with a big creamy coloured head and quite a big cocoa/chocolate aroma with something sweeter smelling in the background. Really smooth and quite chocolatey in the mouth with plenty of caramel toffee malt, like a Riesen chocolate, I thought. Another mouthful identified the interloper in the aroma. The rum. Like a dark boozy sugar note in the background, adding further depth. A great dark beer for a cool evening like this one. Comforting. The finish was slightly sweet but with a grassy hop aftertaste. A lovely beer, right up my street.

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5. Red Bull Terrier Barngates Brewery (Ambleside, Cumbria) – 4.8% abv – Red Ale – £2.80 (500ml) – 15% for 12 bottles – Great Ale Year Round  (Bolton Market Hall)

This is most certainly a red beer, almost the colour of Vimto, that drink most beloved of Salfordians (that & Holts’ Bitter!).

Red with a thin white head and an aroma including toffee and spicy vine fruit. Medium bodied in the mouth, the first flavour is a deep, dark and slightly sweet caramel over laid with raisins, plum and a good dollop of spicy tongue tingling hop.

Really fruity and really dry, MY do those spicy hops dry your mouth in the finish! Oof! A really deceptive beer this. Starts off slightly sweet, but the bitterness almost catches you out in the finish. Lovely herbal hops in the aftertaste. A cracking first for me from this brewer. Won’t be the last! (Note to self – Must pop in and grab some next time I’m off camping to Langdale!)

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6. Black IPA Quantum Brewing Company (Stockport, Gtr Manchester) – 6% abv – Black IPA – £4.35 (500ml) – 0 – Beermoth (Tib St, Manchester)

This was a surprise purchase during an all too infrequent mooch around Beermoth. Going to see Jamie in his new environment was all the excuse that I needed. I was quite surprised how much Northern beer they had and ended up picking up a few, then spotted this! I’ve obviously NOT been paying much attention recently, but I didn’t know that a BIPA had left Jay’s Hempshaw Lane lair! I simply had to….

I knew it was going to be a bit hoppy when I read the label – SEVEN different hop varieties!

A quite black beer with a milk coffee coloured head and a perplexing aroma of licorice and spicy citrus hops, grapefruit prominent.

Incredibly smooth texture to this, no prickly bubbles just oohhh. There’s like a bitter (I mean REALLY bitter) chocolate covered pontefract cake initially, surprisingly creamy, which is then gently nudged aside by some fabulous hoppage.

Really fruity, with tart gooseberry and grapefruit and a whole forest of pine needles. Each mouthful is a sensory treat. Considerable bitter finish with lots of piney stuff sticking around in the aftertaste with a chocolate bitterness. Reminds me what I LOVE about BIPAs!

In the words of Porky Pig……”That’s All Folks” – for now at least!

On that note….’til next time….

Slainte!