Thursday, October 16, 2014

Taking The Pith !!

It is not usual that I take a trip on the keg side, not for any deep rooted distrust of the style, but I prefer my beer cask, but yesterday in the Grove, I came across a beer that just intrigued me. I had to try it.

Magic Rock are always an innovative brewery, and being local, if I find a new beer from them, I will try it. Some are to my taste, some not. Yesterday's example was a revelation. 'Pith Head' is a 4.5% beer - I use the word in its loosest sense here !

It is just crammed full of citrus notes, lemon and lime in particular. A bit like a citric cordial but with fizz. May be not the sort of beer for a damp October afternoon, but ideal for sitting watching a game of cricket on a summers day. Massively refreshing, and clean tasting.

I have searched the web site but can find no reference to it,so you will have to put up with my notes. It is key keg, but even so I could find no real body in  the beer, nor any discernible hop or malt notes. Whether that was deliberate or not, I cannot say, and how it was brewed was a mystery to me. Was it made with real fruit juice, or concentrate ? Did it use the whole fruit ? It presumably has pith in it, or the name would suggest so. It was just a mystery, but a very interesting beer.

So if some of my fellow editors happen to be in the vicinity in the next few days, maybe they could sample it too and see what they think. I was just sold on it, and in the very near future will return and resample it for my own benefit. It will certainly count for one of my five a day !!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New site for Sheffield CAMRA festival seems somewhat familiar

I know where I'm going
Sheffield CAMRA's 40th anniversay beer festival may be moving to a new site but ale aficionados won't need a map to find it.
The festival is relocating from Ponds Forge to the spiritual home of real ale in the city, Kelham Island
To be precise it's being held in the Kelham Island Museum, which is behind the Fat Cat pub.
It kicks off on on Wednesday, October 29 and runs until Saturday, November 1.
Everything you need to know is on the festival website including some of the 150-strong beer list.
However, the Bloke from Hull has sent us this handy crib sheet, which looks like it's from festival organiser Andy Cullen. Here it is in full:


Sheffield CAMRA's 40th (Ruby Anniversary) Steel City Beer Festival
Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th October 2014, open 5pm-11pm
Friday 31st October and Saturday 1st November 2014, open 12pm-11pm
NEW VENUE: Kelham Island Industrial Museum, Alma Street, S3 8RY (down a driveway next to Fat Cat pub)

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: buses 57/79/79A/81/82/84 to Shakespeare's pub on Gibraltar Street or buses 47/48/53/87 to Harlequin pub on Nursery Street. Alternatively Shalesmoor tram stop is about 5 mins walk away.

ENTRY FEES - vary by session, see website

GLASS - choice of pint glass or half pint glass, cost £2, unwanted glasses can be returned and cashed in on exit.

PROGRAMME - £1. This is the first time we have charged for the programme, this was a condition of budget approval. However much of the content including the beer list will be available on the website so you can avoid paying the £1 by printing your own!

BEER TOKENS - all bars only accept beer tokens. These are sold in £1 and 10p denominations and are spent like cash. Unused tokens can be either refunded or donated to charity.

FESTIVAL LAYOUT - There will be four areas to the festival and the beer list indicates which area each beer can be found. The Upper Hall contains bars and the main music stage, Millowners Pub is a traditional pub scene created in the museum and we will be using it's bar, Marquee contains further bars and stalls and outside area includes hot food outlets.

BEER LIST - the work in progress is now accessible at It’s our ruby anniversary! | CAMRA Sheffield & District . These are the beers ordered by myself (Andy Cullen) although you will spot some blank lines against certain breweries where I am awaiting confirmation of the beers - in most cases these are local breweries that are sponsoring a brewery bar, in Clarke's case Smoggy Dave off of the KIT has arranged for two beers to be brewed to the same recipe but with different yeasts. A further 20 beers are still to be added to the list which are being ordered relatively last minute by Dave Unpronounceable - these are all likely to be new/rare/interesting beers.

BEER AVAILABILITY POLICY - Our aim is all beers will go on sale at opening time on Wednesday evening and remain on sale until the cask is empty. If the beer is not ready to serve it will not go on sale until our cellar manager is confident there are no quality control issues. The only beer that will be 'held back' is where we have duplicate casks (cask 1 will go on sale from the start, there MAY be a break between cask 1 running out and cask 2 going on sale)

ENTERTAINMENT - bands on each evening except Wednesday in the Upper Hall. Some acoustic acts in the marquee to be confirmed. Pub quiz Saturday afternoon. Pub games running all sessions.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Huddersfield Oktoberfest 2014 results

The results of Huddersfield CAMRA's beers of the 2014 festival are in.
The Oktoberfest medallists were announced today on twitter.
This is just a quick post highlighting the winners, but the full list and voting patterns can be found here
Empire won the mild category with Moonraker Mild, 
Bitter of the festival was Riverhead's American IPA.
HDM's Genuine as Whole won the strong bitters competition.
Riverhead scored another gold with Marsden in the speciality beers category.
Rat Brewery took out the stout/porter crown with Ratsputin.
There was also a cider competition with Udder's Orchard's Whisky Cask a resounding winner.
Congratulations to all the gold, silver and bronze medallists.
Roll on next year!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I Like Customer Service - but This Was Not It

People who know me know I am a fairly laid back chap, and do not often get annoyed, especially so when I am in a pub and see a couple of 'ticks' on the bar. But yesterday, in a certain pub in Halifax I think I came across the worst example of customer service I have ever encountered.

Let me set the scene. It was 2.30pm, the pub has about 8 handpumps on the bar,  2 of which were new to me, and no customers. There was a young girl behind the bar, I assumed she was the barmaid. When she had stopped texting and noticed me, she very politely asked what I wanted. I pointed out the required beers, but for some reason one had an upside down pump clip

She started pulling my halves but just got water. She goes off and returns with a bucket and starts pulling the water through the pumps. Ok so far, except I would have expected this to have been done before opening. I mentioned the inverted pump clip. 'Oh I don't know, I will have to ask'. Cue a phone call, out of my hearing. She then wandered off to the cellar. And after a couple of minutes returned and carried on pulling.

All seemed well, and beer started coming out of the pumps. 'I think the gas has gone'. Even though the beer seemed to be coming out of the pump without any particular problem.  Cue next call. And another trip to the cellar.

I was then joined by a very cheery chappie. He stood around for a second or two and started rapping his nails on the bar. After a minute or so I was getting irritated and said the girl was in the cellar. Off he went to the cellar, and there was a discussion at the top of the stairs about a delivery he was making, and a barrel he had to collect.

The girl reappeared. I assumed, wrongly, to serve me. No,back on the phone, another conversation, this time about the missing barrel. Information imparted, the girl then started a long discussion with him about more irrelevant trivia. The customer being completely overlooked. I asked what was happening with my beer. 'Oh, sorry its run off.'.

This was my tipping point. A frank interchange of ideas with her, and the drayman, and I left. 17 minutes after going in, with no beer. I dread to think if two customers went in the place at the same time. But I can understand why I was the only customer in the place, and it will be a very long time before I call in again.

Just goes to prove that it may take years to build a pubs reputation, but less than 30 minutes to destroy it.,

Friday, October 10, 2014

Richard Horn - A Great Fellow

Given that I was only speaking to him last week, it gives me great sadness to report the passing of a good friend, Richard Horn. He was found recently at his home in Hall Bower, Huddersfield.

I got to know Richard through Bob Tomlinson and the Huddersfield branch of CAMRA. As an active member of the branch he was always heavily involved with organizing things and worked tirelessly to that end. Just this week he was to be found beavering away, playing his part in making the CAMRA Oktoberfest a great success. A long time resident in the Hall Bower area, Richard was always a keen supporter of his local club in Hall Bower and played a key role in making the annual beer festival there a big hit every year.

Richard loved his real ale and was always to be found with a smile on his face, laughing and joking. Generously, he helped me out on several occasions by allowing me to stay at his house so that I could attend evening events in the area. Just the other day, without prompting, he helped me out in a time of need when I lost my wallet. A kind and generous man indeed.

He was the only chap to call me the "Man from Hull" rather than "Bloke from Hull" - a nice touch old bean.

Richard - we shall miss you, but will raise a glass to you soon.

Goodbye Hornblower old chap.

Cheers


BFH

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Oktoberfest moves onto Wakefield

There is no escaping Oktoberfest in Wakefield this weekend. 
The Merrie City boasts not one but two German-themed beer jaunts.
The Cricketers Arms in Horbury is staging a three-day Oktoberfest from Friday. 
The event at Cluntergate will feature more than 40 beers, music and German themed food.
And Hamelsworde Brewery is staging an Oktoberfest in Hemsworth on Friday and Saturday.
There is a "to date" beer list, ticket, venue and session information over on the Hamelsworde site:
I'll leave you with the beer list and tasting notes for The Cricketers' event in Horbury, which is just over two miles from Wakefield city centre. From Huddersfield bus station catch the 231 or 232 bus, which stops nearby.
CASK ALES:
1. Bosuns (Horbury) – Under Full Sail – A lager style beer which is crisp, refreshing and well rounded. Brewed with Saaz hops and lager malt. ABV 4.5% (Festival Bar)
2. Riverhead (Huddersfield) – Marzden – A smoked, Bavarian style wheat beer lightly hopped and full bodied. ABV 4.5% (FB)
3. Partners (Dewsbury) – Bock - A very strong beer which was traditionally brewed in the fall and aged through the winter for consumption in the spring. A strong, malty beer with a mild hop flavour and a gentle aroma. ABV 6.5% (MAIN)
4. Ilkley (Ilkley) – Man from D.U.N.K.E.L. - Dark dark dark brown as the word Dunkel suggests. Mildly sweet from the use of Vienna Malt, balanced from the roasted barley with a smoked nose from the beech smoked malt. ABV 6.0% (MAIN)
5. Empire (Huddersfield) - Cricktoberfest - Dry hopped special Amber ale, Balanced with just as much malt as hops, giving this beer lots of flavour. ABV 5.1% (FB)
6. Elland (Elland) - White Prussian - An extremely pale beer with a moderately spicy aroma from three German hops, giving a crisp, clean flavour. ABV 3.9% (FB)
7. Rat Brewery (Huddersfield) - Ratwurst - Rich, smooth dark and smoky. Brewed using German beech-smoked malted barley and hopped with English Goldings for a mellow spicy hop aroma. ABV 4.8% (FB)
8. Abbeydale (Sheffield) - Munich Dunkel - Brewed with a traditional lager yeast. It has come out slightly lighter than a normal Dunker but still has all the flavours you would expect. ABV 4.8% (MAIN)
9. Mallinsons (Huddersfield) - Sitzung Blass Bier (Session Pale Ale 6) - Pale gold with a light hop nose, refreshing bitter taste and short bitter finish. ABV 3.7% (MAIN)
10. Great Heck (Gt Heck) - Amish Mash - A fusion of European & American beer styles. A German Style cloudy wheat beer brewed with wheat malt & German Weizen yeast. Hopped with loads of American hops late in the boil and during fermentation. ABV 4.7% (MAIN)
11. Hamelsworde (Pontefract)– Sprockhoevel - A malty amber ale brewed in the true Oktoberfest style. Using 6 continental malts and subtly hopped with German hops. A strong Malty backbone dominates the aroma and a gentle spice and black pepper aftertaste ABV 5.1% (FB)
12. Roosters (Knaresborough) - Der Kaiser - A Bavarian-style pale ale, using hops from Germany & Czech Republic. Pilsner and Munich malts, with a small amount of malted wheat combine to create a beer that displays traditional noble pilsner aromas and a soft level of bitterness. ABV 4.8% (MAIN)
13. Lymestone (Stone)- Ein Stein – combination of pale Maris Otter malts and choice German hops give you a gentle biscuit malts, fresh Hersbruker hops seduce the taste-buds educating and enlightening the palate. ABV 5.0% (MAIN)
14. Mauldons (Sudbury) - Do Octoberfest - A smooth, strong, bitter beer with a soft hoppy aroma that gives a lingering finish. ABV 5.0% (FB)

15. Naylors (Keighley) - October Ale - A three German hop blend of Perle, Magnum and Herkules. Using Munich malt to add a little sweetness to the brew. Sweet, bitter and spicy one of the best German blends to date. ABV 4.4% (FB)
16. Tickety Brew (Stalybridge) – Munchner – A Clear amber beer with a ginger coloured head. Crisp and malty brewed with noble German hops to give a light toffee aroma and a taste which is dry and spicy bitter. ABV 4.3% (MAIN)

Draft beer  (available at the Main Bar)
1. Flensburger Pils 4.0% Lager. A crisp, dry, hoppy pilsner style of beer typical of northern Germany. Light and easy to drink
2. Früh Kölsch 4.8% Lager. The appearance is like a Pilsner: pale straw-coloured and clear. The taste is delicate and refreshing, less bitter than a Pilsner, gently fruitier and a little sweeter, often with a delightful biscuityness.
3. Edelstoff 5.6% Lager.The Bavarian answer to a Czech pilsner but with a less tangy hop character, more balance and subtlety with a citrus fruit and floral-hop aroma
4. Erdinger Fest Weiss 5.7% Wheat Beer. A seasonal wheat beer brewed for the town of Erding's Herbstfestes, their version of Oktoberfest. A beefed-up version of their renowned wheat beer
5. Kostritzer 4.8% Dark Beer. Subtle malt flavour and low hop bitterness, delightfully crisp and remarkably smooth in light of its dark colour
6. Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest 5.8% Amber. This amber-coloured Oktoberfest beer is slightly sweeter than the rest but still boasts a good earthy and spicy hop-kick alongside biscuity and toffee malts. Clean and refreshing, the Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfestbier is deservedly one of the greats.
Bottles (available from both the Main and Festival Bars)
1. Schlösser Alt 4.8% 50cl Dark. Alt beers are the traditional beers of the Düsseldorf region. They are lagers with a real malty character, typically a little darker than most lagers. Schlösser is a rich copper colour with a nutty, malty sweetness.
2. Jever Pilsner 4.9% 50cl Lager. The brewery's water is unusually pure and soft allowing more hops to be used and a bitter taste that distinguishes Jever from other pilseners
3. Flensburger Gold 4.8% 33cl Lager. A pale golden beer brewed like a pils with a good head, a full, soft and fresh taste and a pleasantly light yeasty bouquet.
4. Sion Kölsch 4.8% 50cl Lager. Delicate golden colour with a lovely white head and a honeyed hoppy aroma. The palate is dry and citric at first, with lime-like hints and maltiness far back.
5. Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier 5.5% 50cl Wheat Beer. Specifically cultivated, top-fermenting yeast give this beer its unmistakable character: sparklingly mild and fruity with a delicate yeast flavour. Paulaner is big on the flavours classically found in great German wheat beers; expect hints of clove, banana, maybe even bubblegum.
6. Schnieder Blondes 5.2% 50cl Hoppy Wheat Beer. Shiny golden wheat beer with a delicate white head. Full-bodied and sparkling with refreshing citrus and hoppy notes.
7. Maisels Weisse 5.4% 50cl Wheat Beer. Traditional weissbier made according to the old Bavarian style with the unmistakable character of the fine cellar yeast. 
8. Augustiner Hell 5.2% 50cl Lager. Hells (or Helles) simply means 'pale' in German and describes the malty, easy-to-drink beer that is lovingly referred to as 'liquid bread'
9. Spaten Oktoberfest 5.9% 50cl Lager. Spaten’s Oktoberfestbier pours a sparkling deep golden colour with a huge fluffy head. Soft caramel and bready malts are accompanied by grassy hops in this clean and crisp beer that was introduced in 1872.
10. Löwenbräu Oktoberfest 6.1% 50cl Lager. Fruity, fresh and the base of expectations for an Oktoberfestbier. Served at every Oktoberfest since 1810, Löwenbräu’s Oktoberfestbier is light-bodied and golden. Lightly sweet and moderately bitter, this refreshing beer is still brewed in the traditional Bavarian methods.
11. Schlenkerla Märzen 5.1% 50cl Speciality/Smoked. This classic Bamberg beer is something a little different. The malt is smoked over beechwood fires which lends a smoky almost bacony character to the beer. Not everyone likes this beer but those who do like it love it. If you’ve never tried it before get a bottle to share between friends; you might not like it but it might just change the way you think about beer forever!
12. Schlenkerla Lager 4.3% 50cl Speciality Lager. Its subtle smokiness without using smoke malt makes “Helles Schlenkerla Lager” a unique representative of the classic lager beer style “Bavarian Helles”.
13. Hofbrau Dunkel 5.5% 50cl Dark Wheat Beer. Deep copper mahogany colour. Aromas of honey toasted biscuit and chestnuts with dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body. Refreshing and balance with great grain character.
14. Hofbrau Oktoberfest 6.3% 50cl Lager. Golden in colour and sparkling clear, Hofbräu’s Oktoberfestbier has notes of grainy bread, some lemon, and spritzy hops
15. Schneider Grünes 6.2% 50cl Wheat Beer. A shiny-brass coloured organic wheat beer, an aroma of hops and citrus with a spicy note perfectly balances the malty character. Refreshing and full-bodied at the same time.
16. Schnieder Hopfen Weiss 8.2% 50cl Dark Wheat Beer. Hoppy fireworks – a new wheat beer style. Shiny golden, slightly reddish strong wheat doppelbock. An exotic fruity sweetness meets with fireworks of hops which packs a hit at 8.2%.
17. Paulaner Salvator 7.9% 33cl Doppelbock. The clear body is a deep amber. Its aroma is full of sweet toffee. The flavour is full of malt, toffee, bread, and hints of coffee. It is wonderfully complex and one to be savoured.
18. Augustiner Oktoberfest 6.0% 50cl Lager. A stronger version of the Helles just for Oktoberfest. Malty, sweet and smooth with slight grassy hop finish. Easy drinking at 6%.
19. Brooklyn Oktoberfest 5.5% 355ml Lager. Brewed from the finest German malt and hops, Brooklyn Oktoberfest is true to the original style, full-bodied and malty, with a bready aroma and light, brisk hop bitterness.
20. Flying Dog Dogtoberfest 5.6% 355ml Lager. In typical American fashion, Flying Dog have taken a classic Märzen style lager and morphed it something new entirely. A hazy, copper-coloured lager that is malty at first with a spicy bitterness from the hops. 

Friday, October 03, 2014

Oktoberfest is here

At 6pm last night, the long awaited Huddersfield CAMRA Oktoberfest opened its doors. Of course 'A Swift One' was there to take a look, and the odd sample. What did we find ?

The venue is the one that has been used for several years, and is certainly one of the better ones about. The APNA centre on Spring Grove St is on one level, and this year there are even more tables and plenty of seating. The beers are all together at one end of the hall, and are available, as is common at CAMRA festivals now, in pints, thirds and halves. Generally the beers were less  than £3 a pint, and all thirds were £1, which may be a little expensive comparably, but certainly made using the prepurchased beer tokens easy to use.

The beer list itself has been published before on this blog which gave us drinkers a bit of a head start in what to look for and featured a mixture of local breweries, with almost every one of the HD brewers available, and a selection of beers from Hampshire and Sussex, many of which are rare in these parts. So where did I start ?

There was only one brewery new to me, Norland from Halifax, so first up was their 'Barmstormers'. it did what it said in the tasting notes, being amber and malty. Time to search out the hops, and Mallinsons 'County Champs'  certainly hit the spot there, being a dry hopped festival special. Likewise Briggs 'Rhapsody No1' - a little stronger at 4.6%, but equally as pleasant.

Whilst I was on a trip round the local brewers my co pilot was sampling pints of unusual beers from the South. His preference is for a more traditional style of beer, and was more than happy with Andwell 'Gold Muddler' and Bowmans 'Rays Nutty Brown Ale' - both darker and more to the malty side rather than hoppy. In fact Bowmans 'A Swift One' is also available - kind of them to name a beer for us !

I was still on a hop search and Hand Drawn Monkey 'Monkeys Love Hops 21' was a combination of three varieties, and Rat Brewery 'Ratman and Robin' did not skimp either. By now it was time for me to leave the safety of West Yorkshire and take a plunge into what the South had to offer. I was still on a hop search though, and it was fascinating to see how they are used differently across the country. Franklins 'Citra IPA' was pleasant but at 5.5% hardly a session beer, and not very citra, Langham 'LSD' likewise and I was still struggling to find a southern beer with a wow factor.But then I tried Oakleaf 'India Pale Ale' - another 5.5% light beer and packed with flavour. and a hint of bitter orange on the finish. It was possibly my beer of the festival.

I would have had a second but with 75 beers on offer it would have been unfair on the others. I had hints from some of my fellow drinkers about a couple of beers to avoid, one because it lacked any condition and another that was a little too hazy for my liking, but notwithstanding, all the beers I  tried, either on handpull or stillage, were in good condition. I decided to finish with local beers again and Summer Wine 'Mosaic' was very good, with plenty of hop taste, but it was topped by Northern Monk 'Monachus NZ' which was crammed with New Zealand hops.

By this time my bus was due and it was time to leave. Sadly, in retrospect, I did not try a dark beer, nor one of the aged beers; HDM 'Genuine as Whole' aged in a Whisky barrel, and Rat's 'Ratsputin' aged in a wooden cask. But there again, there is always another day !  So if you are at a loose end this weekend, this could be the place to be. The festival opens at 12 noon on Friday and 11am on Saturday and is open all day.