Sunday, November 16, 2014

The 'First' trip to Liverpool: Part One

The Dispensary, Renshaw Street, Liverpool
Last Saturday a group of seven intrepid ale explorers set off for Liverpool.
This was new territory for me but fortunately I was with a bunch of people from the Huddersfield First group who knew the lay of the land.
The group meets, mainly, on the first weekend of the month and takes a tour of pubs near and far.
Our first port of call was The Dispensary, on Renshaw Street, which is a real five-minute walk from Lime Street railway station.
There we were met by two native guides, John and his son Adam, who would lead us on a fantastic tour of the pubs of central Liverpool.
Funnily, the bar was dominated by West Yorkshire Breweries: The Rat, Ossett, Fernandes and Saltaire, so we didn't exactly need an introduction to those breweries.

I went for Ossett Brewery's MMM 7%, despite having moments earlier sworn off the strong stuff after a rather too enjoyable stint on the high ABVs at Wakefield Beer Festival.
But I was delighted to have caved in so early as this was a nice hoppy strong ale. The beer, which celebrates Ossett's 3,000th brew, got the thumbs up from the group, who were sat in the upper section of this cosy main road pub.
During my steady half I looked up to see the football was on several screens in the pub as Liverpool were playing Chelsea at Anfield.
This prompted me onto the inevitable subject of TVs in real ale pubs. You hardly see them in Huddersfield and Sheffield bars where I tend to drink, despite both being sports-mad cities. In Liverpool there were more screens but not in every pub.
Anyway, I'm digressing from the point of this post. After a half it was time to move on a few streets to The Roscoe Head, which is a gem of a pub.
Roscoe Head, Roscoe Street
John informed us that this was the only pub in Liverpool to have appeared in every edition of The Good Beer Guide since it was first printed in 1974. Apparently it's one of the "magnificent seven" in the whole country.

And walking in from Roscoe Street you can see why: tiled floors, snugs, woodwork, ornate plastered ceilings. It reminded me of The Bath Hotel in Sheffield with its main bar and side room where you can be part of the crowd or slope off into the snug with your newspaper.
We took up residence in the Roscoe's back room, which I was told used to be decorated with neck ties.
Now, all I could see were some very impressive trophies for cribbage - think Jules Rimet.
I chose a Chequered Flag from Prescott Ales in Cheltenham. It was a 4.1% amber ale and slightly malty, which is not my favourite style of ale. But I'm glad I tried it as it took me out of my comfort zone of pale and dark.
I could have easily whiled away some hours here but the tour was moving on to out next destination: The Philharmonic. 
I didn't realise until slightly later that were were in the midst of the Georgian Quarter pub crawl, but there were plenty of clues along the way: mainly the architecture, which turned out to be a bit of a theme on this tour.
It turned out to be a fairly full day, so I'll break this post into two parts. So join us next time for the final chapter of this Liverpool blogpost when we will be visiting the opulent Philharmonic Dining Rooms and a host of other fine pubs.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Slaithwaite Moonraker Beer Festival

Slaithwaite Moonraker Beer Festival runs from Thursday to Saturday this week.
The annual charity event is being held in Slaithwaite Conservative Club on Britannia Road.
Here is the beer list and tasting notes (breweries in bold):
Autumn Light: Golcar Huddersfield 4.0% Golden amber lightly hopped bitter with malty overtones. 
Barncliffe Bitter: Small World Beers Huddersfield 3.7% Pleasant light drinking bitter, golden hue, crisp initial taste with a lasting bitterness through the finish. 
Blonde Ash: Grain Norfolk 4.0% Belgian witbier style, this cloudy wheat beer has flavours of bubblegum, orange and coriander. 
Commerciale: Empire Slaithwaite 3.8% Pale golden ale, fruity, slightly spicey with orange citrus notes. 
Cophill Best: Gooseye Keighley 3.9% Rose and Crown (Slaithwaite) special. A fine "session" ale. 
Daily Bread: Abbeydale Sheffield 3.8% Copper English bitter. Malty flavours with a smooth bitter finish. 
Dark Arts: Surreal Stout Magic Rock Huddersfield 6.0% Spicy hop notes, flavours of chocolate, liquorice, blackberries and figs. Rich and satisfying finish. 
Dark Satanic: OMB Sowerby Bridge 4.1% Stout brewed for rugby league world cup. 
Farmers Blonde: Bradfield Sheffield 4.0% very pale, brilliant blonde beer has citrus/summer fruit aromas making it an extremely refreshing ale. 
Golcar Mild: Golcar Huddersfield 3.6% Nice malty award winning mild. 
Golden Hop: Milltown Huddersfield 3.8% A combination of English/American hops give balance of bitterness and flavour' delicious session ale. 
Howling Fox: Slightly Foxed Sowerby Bridge 3.5% Exceptionally pale with hoppy notes blend of exciting new hop varieties from New Zealand, dry flavour. 
Katy's Blonde: OMB Sowerby Bridge 3.6% A fruity and full bodied blonde beer. 
Long Moor Pale: Small World Beers Huddersfield 3.9% Pale ale, grapefruit/citrusy notes with a light bitter finish, brewed with Centennial and Cascade hops. 
Maiden Voyage: Bosun's Horbury 3.9% Chestnut brown traditional English Ale using Fuggles hops. 
Moonraker Mild: Empire Slaithwaite 3.8% Award winning Mild, overall winner of the 2014 Oktoberfest. 
Mosaic: Summer Wine Holmfirth 4.0% Pale golden ale brewed with Mosaic hops. 
Movember (The Trucker): Empire Huddersfield 4.3% Blonde, mix of US & New Zealand hops give a tropical passion fruit flavour. 
Movember Bitter: Ossett Ossett 3.9% Golden dry and bitter with hoppy finish. 
Nelson Sauvin: Mallinsons Huddersfield 3.8% Golden coloured ale, with a lovely grapefruit nose, a hoppy citrus taste followed by a similar finish. 
Octahop: Fernandes Wakefield 4.0% Blonde, robust hoppy flavour, full bodied, very fruity with a hint of citrus 
Pigs Do Fly: Potbelly Kettering 4.4% A Single hopped beer using Styrian Golding, an easy drinking Light Golden Beer. 
Platinum Blonde: Milltown Huddersfield 4.0% Blonde lager style beer with American Hops creating a spicy, floral, citrus aroma. Clean / refreshing. 
Quick Brown Fox: Slightly Foxed Sowerby Bridge 4.5% Autumn special. Brown as Autumn, deep malt flavours balanced with the earthiness of English hops. 
Rat Attack: Rat Huddersfield 3.8% IPA Golden tropical fruit aroma and taste with dry aftertaste 
Ringmaster: Magic Rock Huddersfield 3.9% Original Pale Ale . The U.S. Hops give a floral, 'grassy' aroma with citrus flavours. 
Saltaire Blonde: Saltaire Shipley 4.0% A straw coloured light ale, soft malt flavours, delicately hopped with Czech and German hop varities. 
Terrier: York York 4.2% Award winning Golden Ale. Fruit & hops dominate aroma & flavour, clean bitter finish. 
Under Full Sail: Bosun's Horbury 4.5% A continental pilsner beer. 
White Cloud: Riverhead Marsden 4.5% Pale Ale. A hoppy bitter with citrus character. 
White Rose Glory: Mallinsons Huddersfield 4.0% Golden ale, with citrus and mango aroma. Taste is mixed fruit hop, finish is soft, clean and bitter. 
Zenith: Summer Wine Holmfirth 4.0% Pale Ale. Centennial hops citrus, lime & lemon grass combine to give a zingy punch & bitter finish. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wakefield Beer Festival's top ten

Bob Wallis, of Wakefield CAMRA, has kindly been in touch with the results from last weekend's Merrie City ale festival.
Congratulations to Fernandes Brewery and CAMRA stalwart June Bradbury who once again came top of the pile with Black Voodoo.
This time it was served from a wooden cask as were two other beers in the top ten.
Here's the top ten:
Fernandes, Black Voodoo 6% 
Five Towns, Grounds for Divorce 7.8% 
Five Towns, Strangebrew, 7%
Titanic, Plum Porter, 4.9% 
Bob's Brewing Co, White Lion 4.3% 
Bob's Brewing Co, Chardonnayle, 5.1% 
Untapped, Crystal 6% 
Five Towns, Raven King Porter, 6% 
Celt Experience, Brigid Fire 6.3% 
Fernandes, Wyte Magik, 5.2%

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Wakefield Beer Festival 2014

I'm looking forward to some dark beer out of the wood this week.
Today sees the start of Wakefield CAMRA Beer Festival, which has 120 ales on offer over three days.
The theme of the festival is beers from the Celtic fringe of Britain, so expect ales from Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man etc.
But it's two beers that have travelled slightly less further afield which have caught my eye.
Wakefield-based breweries Fernandes, of Kirkgate, and Five Towns, of Outwood, both have beers served from wooden casks.
Fernandes has Black Voodoo on, which won last year's beer of the festival, while Five Towns has Raven King on, which recently scooped first prize at the Independent Salford Beer Festival.
I've tried and enjoyed both of those beers before out of conventional casks, so I'm really looking forward to trying the "wooden" versions and all the flavour that type of cask imparts.
Five Town's also has another beer in the wood on, Strange Brew, a 7% APA. I understand the casks for the Five Town's beers have come from The Junction at Castleford, which has done pioneering work in promoting beer in the wood.
Right, that's my finishing beers taken care off, but what about my starters and mid session ales?
I'll have to do some more scouting of the beer list.
It's available on-line here but you need to click 'view' when you get through to the festival site.

Wakefield Beer Festival is at The Space, Waldorf Way, off Denby Dale Road, from November 6 to 8.
The venue is about midway between Wakefield Westgate and Wakefield Kirkgate railway stations. It's not far Sainsbury's on Ings Road.
You can pay on the door, apart from Friday night when entry is by advance ticket only.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Mallinsons are going a bit experimental

Readers of 'A Swift One' will be well aware of our affection for Mallinsons beer, an affection that seems to be held by lots of others as well judging how quickly it seems to fly off local bars. We are well aware of their usual style - light, hoppy and around 4%. But recently things seem a little different, and the next month or so will bring us styles from them that seem a little unusual.

A scan of their excellent web site gives a hint of things to come. Of course there are the usual styles in there, such as their single hopped 'Galaxy' and 'Motueka', and their dual hopped 'Bravo Nelson' - all beers to look out for obviously. But also in the mix are 'US Mild' (and I quote the tasting notes from their website) 'Dark brown...slightly roasted with hints of citrus hops'; their first red ale 'Baton Rouge' .4.3% and brewed with US Calypso and Citra hops; and the most surprising, 'Spruce Goose'. Nothing unusual in the notes 'fresh fruity and tropical aroma, and the strong fruity hoppy flavour' but the strength certainly is. This is 6.3%, a massive hike in strength for them. The strongest beer I recall that they have brewed has been in the mid 5% range.

Add to this their latest bird beer 'Saw Sharpener' brewed with the new Belma hops, and we have a range of beers that should cover every palette, and put to bed the comments that Mallinsons can only brew one type of beer. I can hardly wait. 

If you want to sample them then I suggest visits to the Sportsman, Star or Rat and Ratchet may prove beneficial. That is unless I get there before you !! 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Old Turk Rework

Dewsbury pub-goers turned out in exceptional numbers to pack the newly refurbished Old Turk on Wellington Road last night. This once-popular inn, also known as The Glue Pot to many no doubt, is situated conveniently between the town's bus and train stations.

The locally-based Beerhouses family chain, run by Mike Field (below) and Sarah Barnes, has done a nice job in bringing the pub back to life without compromising it's character. The layout has remained unaltered with the long 'L-shaped' bar and corner stage area the most obvious features.

Three real ales were available on hand pump for the opening night including beers from Summer Wine and Saltaire breweries. The Old Turk will only open at weekends initially so check the pub's Facebook page before setting out. We wish Mike, Sarah and their team all the best with this latest adventure.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Following in the oracle's footsteps

The Picture House on Zetland Street, Huddsersfield
On Saturday I found myself retracing the Timbo's steps to Huddersfield's new bar.
I had been meaning to follow up on his earlier post about the opening of The Picture House.
Last weekend I made the trip down Zetland Street, close to the University of Huddersfield campus.
The picture above doesn't show the scope of the bar, which is on several different levels.
Walking in you notice some old fashioned cinema stalls to your right and the bar.
To the left, up a few stairs, is another seating area aimed at couples and large groups.
Up another level still I could see more people and hear the clunk of a pool table.
I headed for the bar, which had five hand pulls, a cider and numerous keg fonts.
I was greeted by enthusiastic staff who explained what was on offer and offered me tasters. I was recommended and went for Australian Blonde 3.8%. 
Annoyingly, I cropped the maker's names off the top of the clip photo (below) but a quick text to the oracle down The Star revealed it was likely to be a True North, who brew out of Stancill's premises in Sheffield.
It was a pleasant, good starting out beer, which I could've drunk again as I do like Antipodean hops.
But I needed progression, so onwards to Black Jack's Curse of Mexico Plus Blush Pale Ale, 4.5%. In fact it was more amber in appearance and was made with a combination of American & Australasian hops. 
I was part way through it when my food arrived. I must confess this was part of the reason for my visit. I'd heard The Picture House went in for American style food and I wanted to put their burger to the test.
I realise this is a beer blog, so let's just say the Texas Roadhouse passed with flying colours and was washed down with the Black Jack.
Black Jack beer and a burger
Black Jack also had another ale on. But it was a lower ABV and I had my eye on the Stancill Porter, 4.4%.
As a dark beer fan I was pleased to hear that one of the pumps at The Picture House was dedicated to a dark beer.
The bar is a free house but has good links to Stancill, so expect to see them on the bar.
The porter went down smoothly and rounded off a pleasant hour in a new place for me in Huddersfield.
The staff were eager to please and informed about what they are selling. So I wish them well with their new venture.
The Picture House reminded me of the type of places I know just off West Street in Sheffield. I found out  afterwards that The Picture House is part of the Forum Cafe Bars group, which has several places in the Devonshire Quarter and further afield.
So a little bit of Sheffield in Hudds without the long train ride. Bonus.

For completeness here's a link to Tim's original review: