Monday, February 13, 2017

East West Fest III in Wakefield

The third East vs West Festival, will run from May 4 to 6, 2017
at The Red Shed in Vicarage Street, Wakefield.
Where else would you hold a beer festival planning meeting but down the pub?
And so it was on Wednesday that I found myself in Harry's Bar to discuss the third East vs West Fest in Wakefield from May 4 to 6.
I was glad when organiser Malcolm Bastow, of Five Towns Brewery, told me the informal meeting would be held at Harry's, just off Westgate.
Here, I know I can find beers in good nick and from breweries that I'm keen on. Being a school night, I limited myself to just three of the wickets. From the permanent North Riding Brewery pump I had the excellent Aussie Pale (4.5%), Simcoe City from Chin Chin, of South Elmsall, and  (5.1%) and a finished with a half of Blackout, a stout from Five Towns at a definitely non-school night percentage of 8.8.
A gang of four chewed the fat over which breweries we would like to see at the festival and other issues, like pricing and glassware.
The beer list hasn't been finalised, so I shall leave it for another and more detailed post. 
But the basic idea is nine beers from each side of the Pennines, including two curveball selections of Malcolm's choice.  I shall give you more details when I get them.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Beer Of The Week - 6

 I generally wait until the weekend before I publish my beer of the week. This one was so good it was not going to be topped in the next couple of days. In fact, it is possibly the beer of the year let alone the beer of the week.

We have all been aware of Dark Star 'Hophead' for years and it has always been a decent, consistent beer. On occasions the brewery do single hop varieties of the beer, and yesterday in Tapped, Leeds I came across Hophead Mosaic. A good beer with an excellent hop, a win win situation, and at 3.8% a sensible quaffing strength.

If I find it locally I will publish the fact, and will try and badger local landlords to get hold of some. If not, get across to Leeds it is well worth trip..

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Keg - keep it light !!

We have spoken several times about the advent of key keg beers, and their comparison with their cask brothers, and I must admit that I do prefer the cask products usually. However I can see a place for the key keg, and have no problem with drinking them, and if you have followed my beers of the week ,key keg often feature there. So I am not anti keg.

I am anti brown stuff in keg though.

I am yet to be convinced that dark beers succeed on keg, and it seems to be that brewers are wasting their time and money kegging stouts and porters. I came to this conclusion a few months ago, and several experiences over Christmas merely reinforced it.

I am not sure why they do not work but a conversation I recently had with a licencee made me think a bit. He said that a group often visited his pub and they drank a mix of beers, some cask, some keg. The keg beers they bought when they went in the pub and then allowed them to warm up before drinking. This made me think. I have had strong dark beers on keg that have tasted of very little, but maybe the chilling of the beer inhibits the stronger flavours in the malts.

I cannot remember a keg beer that has ever wowed me with it's malty taste or background. They are usually good because of the way they bring hops to the fore, or other subtle flavours. I appreciate wheat works, but not being a scientist I cannot explain why But the bigger malt hits seem to fail. I even managed to compare and contrast over the festive season with a strong dark beer on keg contrasting with the same beer in a bottle. The latter won hands down.

So brewers, just give it a bit of thought before you keg your dark beers. Are you getting the proper taste ? And more importantly, are you and the drinker getting value for money ?

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Beer Of The Week - 5

This week has been a little disappointing on the beer front, not much new around and what i found has been a little pedestrian to say the least.

However a visit to The Arcade on Friday provided with a couple of keg beers to spark two posts. The Beer Of The Week came from a brewery I had heard plenty of good things about but had never seen, let alone sampled. Deya 'Cala Deia' is described as a hoppy, wheat beer at 4%. And I cannot dispute any of those facts.

I thought a bit of research was required, so I checked out their website. This uses the words 'Hop forward, fresh, clean, intense' to describe their products. I found all this in the Cala Deia, but may be lacking slightly in the hop department. It was cloudy, but that was to be expected from a wheat beer, and the website confirms the beers are unfiltered.

Reading specifically about 'Cala Deia' explained about the hops. It goes for hop saturation, rather than hop intensity, and gives subtle rather excessive hoppiness, using Amarillo, Cascade and Yellow sub varieties.

I believe that other beers from the brewery are to be available at the Arcade, I will await their arrival with interest.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Hopcraft's Oceanic beer at The Corner

Apologies for being quiet on here for quite a while but I hope to post a bit more regularly from now on.
Since Christmas I've made a few forays into Huddersfield and have settled into a bit of a pattern: King's Head, Arcade BeersThe Corner, which are all very handy if you are between trains.
Last night I came across an exceptional beer from Hopcraft (Oceanic) on keg in The Corner. As the name implies there are plenty of New World hops in this 5% pale ale.
Apparently it has been around since 2015 but this was the first time I have had had it.
The Hopcraft blog tells me: "Oceanic is so called because almost all the hops are from the Pacific region of Australia and New Zealand, the home of lusciously fruity, juicy hop flavours.  We use only the pineapply, juicy Galaxy and the lean, grapey, winey and totally unique Nelson Sauvin in the brew (plus a tiny amount of German Magnum for bitterness) and the results are, in our opinion, pretty damn special!"
Catch it while you can at The Corner on Market Walk, which is around a five-minute walk from Huddersfield railway station, or less if you are as keen as I am!     

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Beer Of The Week - 4

This week saw Burns Night, so to celebrate the Scottish Bard I have chosen not one, but two, beers of the week from across the the border, both of which are excellent and are a complete contrast to each other. And both were available yesterday in the Victoria cafe in Halifax,

The weaker of the pair is a keg beer from 6 degree North. A brewery from Stonehaven in North east Scotland, their beers are almost always Belgian in style. I have had a few of their beer, and I am always impressed. This time their 'Pilsner' was on offer. Not usually my style but 4.8% made it a bit stronger than the usual lager fayre. It was an excellent version, fresh and crisp but with a certain softness. It was unfiltered, so a cloudy pilsner took a bit of getting used to.

To counter balance this was a strong dark beer that came from Black Isle brewery. They have been brewing since 1998, and aim to be organic in all their beers. They do produce kegs, but the 'Hibernator' I sampled was on cask. It was 7% and not shy on flavour. An oatmeal stout, it has all sorts of interesting background flavours going on. I managed to get coffee, chocolate, berries and licquorice hints out of my beer,

Should you struggle to find either beer, both can be found in bottles.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Beer of the week 2 and 3 (2017)

To all those people who were desperate to read what the second beer of the year was I apologise, (but it wasn't really my fault..blame windows ..) enough said !!!

However, because I feel that we ought not to short change you, you can have 2 for the price of 1 - in blog terms anyway - if you try it at a bar I am not sure it would be appreciated.

Cloudwater are one of our breweries from over in the dark side. They have been brewing since Feb 2015 in central Manchester  and have been producing plenty of interesting cask beers. They went through a phase of brewing beers for all seasons  (often with spring/summer, or autumn/winter) combined. And beers of all styles but I preferred their hoppy beers. Light and fresh, interesting but not overly hopped. The same cannot be said of some of their keg products.

They brew some seriously good key keg beers. Their DIPA range is exceptionally good, but sadly exceptionally strong. The range started at v1 and the latest in the range is DIPA v10 , a mere 9.0% and available at the moment at The Victoria,Halifax. As DIPA suggests it is not shy on the hop front with a massive hit of complex tastes. Admittedly not for all, but worth a third just for the experience.

However, sadly, the cask beer on the bar at Grove is a swansong. It is believed to be the last cask Cloudwater beer, and pretty good it is too. Winter Sessions 'Centennial/Chinook'  is a 4.5% light bitter. Very pleasant, not too hoppy but with a fresh twist. A shame they have stopped brewing cask, in my humble opinion, but the brewers know best. It is excellent, and  the best beer on the bar, if not one of the best beers in the town. A sad day, but we can always console ourselves with their keg beers.

In case it disappears quickly a new beer on the bar at the Star shortly should be Horbury 5 Hop. A combination of American and Australian hops I believe, and the word on the grapevine is that it is well worth a try, I will keep you posted.