Bottled Ales – April 2015

Bottles don’t appear to have been a priority in the last few weeks. Which isn’t of itself a bad thing. It’s always nice to get out to some excellent hostelries, as I have done for the last month or so.

However, I have also been lucky enough to come across some absolutely belting beers (including the best bottle I’ve had this year so far!) So, with neither further blather nor ado….Let’s begin!

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Body SnatcherBeer Nouveau (Prestwich) – 4.2 %abv – BitterBrowtons (Ashton-under-Lyne)

A golden beer with a light fluffy white head and an aroma slightly sweet and fruity with peach and a hint of apple.

Medium bodied, this beer has that slightly sweet fruity initial flavour with again peach  and some stewed plum and forest fruit and a flowery fragrant flavour that I can’t quite pick, backed up with a bracing bitterness.

That sweetness gives way to quite a grassy and resinous aftertaste and finish. This takes me back to beers from my youth, maybe just a wee bit more bitter. And that’s no bad thing!

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Small SaisonBlack Jack Beers (Manchester) – 4.5%abv – Saison – 330ml – Barbeerian (Prestwich)

Ultra Pale straw yellow beer with a light persistent fluffy head giving a spicy yeasty nose with notes of banana and a little gooseberry.

Oh yes. This’ll do Monkey! Tart, dry and spicy. Banana again upfront, but soon retreats in the face of some sharp and tart lemon notes which in turn yield ground to that yeasty Saison spiciness. Yum.

Second mouthful and there’s a little Sauvignon Blanc winey sharpness and tartness, that tartness leading to a short and very dry spicy finish. An incredibly refreshing beer.

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Triptych No 3Wiper and True (Bristol) – 6.7%abv – IPABarbeerian (Prestwich)

Copper golden in colour, lively carbonation giving a big white head and an aroma reminding me of orange toffee.

Big bodied beer this. Smooth textured and really fruity with peach, orange marmalade and a hint of blackcurrant lurking at the back, also an almost yeasty dryness to finish on the swallow. Mmmm….

This beer doesn’t hide its strength as it’s quite warming as it slides down. More fruit in the second mouthful, with plum and more hedgerow blackberry sitting on top of the marmalade, jammy and spicy. The finish is fruity and dry leading to a sticky herbal and slightly resinous aftertaste. A proper English IPA. Big and fruity and beautiful.

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JOEFirst Chop Brewing Arm (Salford) – 4.7%abv – Coffee IPAEpicurean (W Didsbury)

Dark brown beer with a light and fluffy white head and an aroma of woah….. Cold coffee. Mmmmmm…….

And oh yes…. That coffee comes through loud and clear! Lovely smooth and bitter coffee flavour in full effect but with quite a spicy hop kick at the end.

Smooth and medium bodied in the mouth, this is as good as it was on cask. The coffee is potent enough, the bitterness of the brew being added to by the grassy hops that come through in the finish.

When I first heard of this, it sounded ludicrous. But it works. Really well. Black coffee and hops. What’s not to love?

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Mint Choc StoutTickety Brew (Stalyvegas) – 5.2% abv – StoutEpicurean (W Didsbury)

Dark brown almost black beer with a cream coloured lacey head with a light aroma of chocolate powder and spearmint.

Another of their limited bottle “Tickety Few” range, this is medium bodied and really smooth. The flavours are really subtle and take a while to reveal their charms. First up is the chocolate, which manages the trick of not being too sweet.

Second mouthful gives a little of the mint which is very subtle and takes some finding. This may be down to using mint leaves as opposed to any extracts, which is to be applauded.

Further mouthfuls build on the minty hint and the beer takes on a pleasing kind of light mint Aero quality. The signature Belgian yeast lends its hand to a rapidly drying finish and also imparts a spicy note to proceedings.

Another really nice beer from this increasingly impressive brewery. I’d love to try this on cask.

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Calibration SourChorlton Brewing Co (Manchester) – 5.3% abv – SourBarbeerian (Prestwich)

Ultra Pale golden and lightly hazy with a decent white head and a lightly sour and Orangey citrus aroma from the addition of Amarillo hops.

Hmmm…. A palate cleanser and no mistake. The first sip had me salivating like a rabid dog! This is surprisingly enjoyable (and I say that because Sour beers aren’t exactly my “go to” style)

Yes it is sharp and has a saliva inducing acidity, but this beer isn’t as enamel stripping as some sours that I’ve had. This has a distinct citrus fruitiness working in harmony with the sourness making it a very thirst quenching and (I go back to that phrase) surprisingly enjoyable!

The lingering aftertaste is quite marmaladey and dry.

An excellent beer. Looking forward to Dark Matter now!

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Imperial IPASaltaire Brewery (Shipley, W Yorkshire) 9.5% abv – Imperial IPA – Epicurean(W Didsbury)

Deep golden, almost copper coloured beer with an abundant yet quickly dissipating white head with a booming peach and Mango aroma with a hint of mandarin.

Drinks a lot easier than such a beer should! First sip reveals fruity sweetness, deep and quite savoury, heavy with mango. Almost a medicinal note – my mind off cure!

Warming and soothing add it slides down the throat too. I swear this could be just the thing to cure my little chest problem!

Big chewy malt base that these hops dance on that fruitiness is ever-present and fades only slightly into a big sticky resinous aftertaste. Impressive.

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Disfunctional Functional IPAOffbeat Brewery (Crewe) – 4.8%abv – IPA – 500ml – Heaton Hops (Heaton Chapel)

A bright golden beer with thick white head and a hugely fruity nose with gooseberry and a little orange in there.

Oh bloody hell this is good! That gooseberry upfront is bloody tart in this medium bodied belter. The fruitiness dries out almost immediately making me pocket my lips and suck in my cheeks like a Les Dawson housewife sketch! Wow that is dry!

That arid fruitiness is backed up by a bracing bitterness too and the whole is tied up with a resinous bow of an aftertaste and finish.

I had this as one of my beers at MBCF this year. That was good, but this is so much better! Woof!

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Smokehouse PorterCheshire Brewhouse (Congleton) – 6.2%abv – Porter – 660ml – Heaton Hops (Heaton Chapel)
I had to hunt this beast down, having been told by a colleague who saw it in the Cheshire Smokehouse in Altrincham. It was worth it!

A big dark brown almost black beer with a creamy beige head and an aroma full of chocolate and dark fruits with just a hint of wood smoke.

Oh my. This is a proper beer.

Full bodied beer this. An initial chocolate sweetness slides into a chewy fruitiness full of dark fruit. This, in turn, yields palate space to a little salty tang before that smokiness pushes to the front. At this point, my gums are tingling.

A second mouthful and the dates make their chewy fruitiness more felt, merging and blending with the chocolate to make more than the sum of their parts. In the aftertaste, I don’t know if it’s from the dates, but this starts to have a dessert wine note to it, slightly – but not overly – sweet and gently warming.

This is one hell of a beer. And one which feels as if it would just love to be drunk along with a slab of rich fruit cake. And I have another bottle. Which I’m saving for Xmas. To go with……

Bloody gorgeous stuff.

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OAPNorth Riding Brewpub (Scarborough) / Five Towns Brewery (Wakefield) – 9.6%abv – Double IPA – Direct from the brewers.
I spoke to Malcolm Bastow shortly before his retirement from his career as a mental health nurse. He was going to focus on brewing full-time. Obviously, this required commemorating with a beer, so he arranged a collab with the fellow hop fiend Stuart Neilson of the North Riding Brew Pub in Scarborough. I saw Stuarts’ tweet mentioning OAP DIPA. And given that they collaborated on my favourite DIPA so far, the mighty 300, I had to have it.

Quote the bottle label “May Cause Confusion” – Hmmm…. This Amber coloured beer has a light white fluffy head with a full aroma of mango and peach tropical fruitiness.

Oh me oh my!!! This is a bar room bully!!! Full bodied is an understatement, this is certainly a big beer. And knowing how much Stuart Neilson & Malcolm Bastow like their hops, I should have expected no less!

Christ on a bike, there is a bit of everything in here!  There is tropical peach & mango, there is a bit of grapefruit, there is a while bloody forest of resinous pine, this is just so damn juicy and….. Well…. BIG!

Chewy malt, with a little toffee biscuit sweetness, meets a hop store used without restraint. This is bloody gorgeous. And maybe the best DIPA I’ve had yet (and they brewed the previous best with their 300 collab!)

Just a big juddering, knee-trembling beergasm! The best bottle so far this year. (And I’ve had a few!)

Now, for breakfast and some serious loin girding, prior to this lunchtime’s Road To Wigan Beer bus. COME ON!!!!
Tune
“Beneath the stars there are the bars that serve the bitter drink
The barman smiles at me, his wife she gives a secret wink

They listen patiently to me, my story I unfold
I see their faces change, the lights grow dim I’m losing hold”

(“Life In The Air Age” – Be Bop Deluxe – Clip courtesy of #BeBopDeluxe via YouTube)
In about March 1979, whilst listening to John Peel on a feeble transistor radio under my blankets in a cold Salford bedroom, he played a track which rocked my 13 year old world. It was called “Art Empire Industry” and was from the album “Sound On Sound” by a band called Red Noise. Thus began my love affair with the music of Bill Nelson.
Eventually, over a number of retrospective purchases, I acquired his entire oeuvre to that point. The man can play guitar. He made a guitar sound like seagulls, trains, space ships. His playing entranced me. Be Bop Deluxe, were a rock band that Nelson formed in Yorkshire in about 1972. They only had one real hit single “Ships In The Night” which was taken from the Sunburst Finish album, as was the track above (although this is the live version from the Live In The Air Age live album (which was to promote the Sunburst Finish & Modern Music albums)
Bill Nelson was one of the first 5 live artists I saw & when he toured “Quit Dreaming” at Manchester Poly (Cavendish Hall) in May 1981. I last saw him perform tracks from his entire back catalogue at the Manchester Academy in 2004. To finally hear Be Bop Tracks performed live, by the man himself, brought me to tears.
The reason I’ve included this track, other than the fact that I adore it? Bill is originally from Wakefield. Five Towns territory.

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 – 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.