Friday, May 29, 2015

Navigation Festival, Mirfield

This weekend sees a plethora of beer festivals in Yorkshire, so many that it is case of what to leave out, rather than which to attend. However, it was no contest when it came to the Navigation festival at Mirfield. It is a must attend in my calendar, and fortunately for me, it starts on a Thursday.

This time the theme is beers from Northamptonshire. When I heard this I was a little unimpressed, I was sure that there were very few breweries there, and those there made beer which was not exactly to my taste. That shows what I know about beer !

We had early access to the beer list, courtesy of BFH, and I soon realised how wrong I was - at least on the brewery front - I was missing five on the list and there were several that I had only rarely encountered . So I made my way there in quiet anticipation.

The festival was almost fully set up on my arrival at 1pm. At that time I was the sole punter but it did not matter, I selected my seat, set to work with the beer list, and ordered my first choice. Towcester Mill   'Bell Ringer' was a very pleasant beer, golden and not too hoppy, and the malty background set the tone for the afternoon. I followed this with a 3.8% session beer, Kings Cliffe '5C' - another golden beer, with a subtle hop background and one I would have happily stayed on all day .....but other beers beckoned me.

I thought I would change styles a bit, and next chose a couple of beers brewed entirely with English hops. Hart Family 'No1' was 4.1% and tawny coloured, Kings Cliffe 'No10' was lighter and had a more pronounced malty taste. The malty background seemed to be a theme for my next selections. The first one being Phipps IPA. It is not really an IPA in the style I expected, but it apparently brewed to an authentic 1930 recipe, and has a lovely balance of hop and malt, leaving a sweet malty aftertaste. So far the best beer I had encountered. I came across the same aftertaste in Merrimans 'Merri Weather' - good but the IPA just shaded it.

By now I was warming to the task, and the pub was filling up nicely, and the craic had started. And I decided it was time to try some more of the new breweries. Nene Valley 'Release The Chimps' was an American hopped IPA style - not as assertive as some of the northern versions of the style, but very drinkable all the same; likewise the same breweries 'Big Bang Theory' - the strongest beer on the bar at 5.3%.

By now time was catching up with me, and time for two more beers. Silverstone 'Slipstream' reverted to the weaker,session style beer, and I chose Phipps ' Steam Roller' as my swan song, with its lingering caramel aftertaste.

Those observant readers will note that I never tried a darker beer. That was a personal choice, since out of those on offer, only one was new to me, but the dark beer afficionados there, did confirm that those they encountered were excellent.

With all beer being £1.40 a half across the board, and no entrance fee, this is a festival that will not break the bank, It continues until Sunday evening, or until the beer runs out. It is a great credit to Kevin, who set the festival, and Derek, who is the dedicated bar man. I, for one, cannot wait to see where the next festival comes from, and have learned not to go to it with preconceived ideas. Beers from Northamptonshire are excellent, if not as hoppy as I am used to.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Sportsman's bizarre beer festival June 5 to 7

The Sportsman, 1 St John's Road, HD1 5AY. Picture: BFH
The intrepid Bloke from Hull has been in touch about The Sportsman's Bizarre Beer Festival in Huddersfield from June 5 to 7.
Once again, he has ferreted out an early beer list for your perusal: 
Entry to the festival on St John's Road is free. Here's all the gen:

Please note this is our PROVISIONAL menu and some details, including prices, may be subject to change.
Festival Bar - Cask
1. Ticketybrew Table IPA. Emphasis on hop character to bring out life and flavour in this low strength beer. Aromas of rich apricots and a touch of fizzy sherbet. Really happy about the amount of hop character without the bitterness. 2.8%. £2.50/£1.25/£0.85.
2. Black Jack Bouillotte. Cask conditioned Alt Biere, clean and subtle Continental hops with an American twist at the end. 4%. £2.80/£1.40/£0.95.
3. Ilkley American Smooth. This little-brewed style of beer, favoured in the US, it is similar to a lager, but brewed with ale yeast. Soft and smooth, this pale ale combines subtlety of flavour with depth and drinkability. 4.3%. £2.90/£1.45/£1.00
4. Grain Blonde Ash. Based on the Belgian witbier style, this cloudy wheat beer has flavours of bubblegum, orange and coriander, and pours with a gorgeous frothy white head. 4%. £2.80/£1.40/£0.95.
5. Nene Valley Big Bang Theory West Coast IPA. Wonderfully balanced with a huge hop aroma giving way to malty sweetness and a gentle bitter finish. 5.3% £3.30/£1.65/£1.10.
6. Pig and Porter Neither Nor. A pale ale malt? A lager yeast? Six weeks conditioning? Some of the big Cs in the mix? Neither a pale ale, nor a lager, a delightful hybrid that's exceedingly drinkable.
5%. £3.40/£1.70/£1.35.
7. Offbeat Wild Blackberry Mild. A not so traditional mild fermented on blackberries and with blackberries in the cask. Fruit character along with some toffee and toasted notes. 3.8% £2.60/£1.30/£0.90.
8. Caveman Morgan Stout. A dark roasty stout brewed with organic ginger and cacau nibs. 5%. £3.40/£1.70/£1.35.

Main Bar - Cask Round 1

Roosters Maypole. Seasonal pale ale brewed using Cascade hops and infused with Elderflowers, to produce a delicate floral and citrus aroma. 3.7% £2.70/£1.35/£0.90.
2. First Chop Extra Love. Extra Love Mango Pale is a uniquely crafted beer with real mangoes and Citra and Summit Hops. The result is a warming, US-style pale ale that will have you swooning.
4%. £3.20/£1.60/£1.10.
3. Ticketybrew Munchner. A British real ale brewed with German ingredients and Belgian yeast to produce a traditional malty beer with a twist. 4.3%. £2.80/£1.40/£0.95
4. Thornbridge Ruin. Botanical pale ale brewed with kafir lime leaves, orange peel, lavender, rosemary, yarrow, red rose petals and juniper berries. 5%. £3.30/£1.65/£1.10.
5. Bad Seed India Amber Ale. Huge amounts of New World hops make this Amber ale a tropical delight. Hopped with Rakau and Mosaic and then dry hopped with Riwaka balanced with a sweet red malt body for a truly unique beer. 6%. £3.60/£1.80/£1.20.
6. Siren White Tips IPA. White IPA brewed with orange, lime and grapefruit peel. Siren's expression of a wit beer combined with IPA levels of hops. 4.7%. £3.40/£1.70/£1.15
7. Otley Oxymoron. Black IPA Style bitter using German Carafa malt and 5 different hops. 5.5%. £3.30/£1.65/£1.10.
8. Tiny Rebel Dirty Stop Out. Smoked oat stout that has all the characteristics of a heavy night out - complex, dark, with hints of smokiness and perfume aromas. 5%. £3.40/£1.70/£1.15

Main Bar - Cask Round 2
(Please note: these beers will follow the previous beers once they have run off)
Roosters Blind Jack. An amber rye ale; the addition of Rye malt and a blend of American hops to create a quaffable beer with citrus fruit aromas and a light, spicy finish. 3.7% £2.70/£1.35/£0.90
2. Muirhouse Mango Man. Pale/golden beer with added mango to give a fruity finish. 4.2% £2.80/£1.40/£0.95.
3. Offbeat Odd Ball Red. A red ale with masses of Columbus hops giving a spicy flavour and finish with a bold fruitiness. 4.2%. £2.90/£1.45/£1.00.
4. Great Heck Amish Mash. German style cloudy wheat beer with loads of American hops. Combines the banana and clove notes of the weizen with the fruity notes of American IPAs. 4.7%. £3.00/£1.50/£1.00.
5. Pig and Porter Red Spider Rye.
A red rye ale featuring and an American clean tasting yeast to showcase the Centennial and Columbus hops. Rye malt lends a spiciness to balance the beer. 5.5%. £3.40/£1.70/£1.15
6. Celt Experience Goddess of The Spring. A rich pink, strawberry, loganberry and raspberry Farmhouse Saison. Sour mashed and aged for weeks with fresh fruit for a crisp and dry finish. 6%. £3.40/£1.70/£1.15.
7. Great Heck Apocalypse Brau. 
Strong, dark ale made from a blend of Yakima IPA and Patrick Irish stout. The ultimate black and tan basically! 6.1%. £3.40/£1.70/£1.15.
8. Arbor Smokescreen. Robust smoked porter with complex flavours of smoke, chocolate and hedgerow fruits. End with a nice sweet finish. 5.5% £3.40/£1.70/£1.15.

Main Bar - Keg

Bad Seed Blackberry Sour. A two day souring process makes this a tart and refreshing beer, fermented on blackberries to give it fruity twist and a funky colour. 4.1%. £4.00/£2.00/£1.35.
2. Cloudwater Simcoe HopfenWeisse. German style wheat beer with a hoppy hit from the generous use of Simcoe hops. A modern interpretation of a classic German beer. 6%. £4.20/£2.10/£1.40.
3. Mad Hatter DunkelWeizen. A rich and dark Bavarian style wheat beer with hints of chocolate and orange. 6.3%. £4.20/£2.10/£1.40.
4. Kirkstall Framboise. Raspberry beer developed and brewed in Belgium with the guys from Kirkstall Brewery. A great raspberry hit leaves an incredible but not overpowering tartness on the palate. 3.6% £4.50/£2.25/£1.50.
5. Camden Pils. An unfiltered, hazy pilsner brewed with loads of US hops resulting in a beer with all the lightness of a lager but with a delicate aromatic quality from the hops. 
4.6% £4.00/£2.00/£1.35.

Festival Bar - Keg

1. Cloudwater Farmhouse Radler. Famhouse funk meets sherbet lemons in this tart and refreshing lemon fruit beer. 4.1% £4.00/£2.00/£1.35.
2. Chorlton Eclipse Black Lager. Dark Munich style lager brewed on the solar eclipse with the yeast added at the moment of totality. Lagered for five weeks. 5%. £4.00/£2.00/£1.35.
3. Summer Wine Davy Jones’ Locker. Big Black IPA from Honley’s finest! Tonnes of hops, dark malt. 7.5% £5.00/£2.50/£1.70.
4. Anarchy Knuckle Dragger. Double IPA. Massive hop hit, not for the faint hearted. 8.3%. £5.00/£2.50/£1.70.
5. Northern Monk Rhubarb & Rosemary Blossom IPA. Rhubarb produces a very rich tart-sweetness, paired with rosemary, a sweetly perfumed or fragrant herb, you end up with delightful pungent mix of a tart, fruity aromatic beer. 7.4% £6.00/£3.00/£2.00.
6. Thornbridge Tekdrop. Liquorice Imperial Stout brewed in collaboration with Van Moll, Eindhoven. 9%. £6.00/£3.00/£2.00.
7. Camden Unfiltered Hells Lager. The crisp, dry body of a German-style Pilsner with the gentle hopping of a Helles. Not filtering the beer results in more depth of flavour and a slight haze to the beer. 4.6%. £4.00/£2.00/£1.35
8. Camden Gentleman's Wit. A Belgian brew with an English accent. Classic white beer spiked with lemon and fragrant with bergamot, Gentleman’s Wit has a smooth, full body and a spicy finish. 4.3%. £4.00/£2.00/£1.35.

Main Bar - Bottles

1. Hardknott Squiddy. What happens when you take a delicious pale ale and add squid ink? You get this delicious beer that is dark yet drinks like a pale ale...not a bit fishy! 3.8%. £3.50
2. Pig and Porter Gothic. Imperial stout featuring ten different malts and a blend of English, German and American hops which combine to produce a complex rich dark sensation with a hint of sour fruits.
7.4%. £4.50
3. The Wild Beer Co Madness IPA. West Coast style IPA with a big hit of American hops. 6.8%. £4.50.
4. The Wild Beer Co Goose Chase. Wild Beer's new 'Everyday wild beer, a dry hopped farmhouse pale with gooseberrys and their culture of wild yeast. 4.5%. £3.95 (can).
5. Weird Beard Double Peale. Weird Beard's 100th brew, Double Perle. An 8.6% version of their Milk Coffee Stout, absolutely immense. 8.6%. £5.95.
6. The Wild Beer Co Epic Saison. Not many breweries can beat Wild when it comes to Saisons; the Belgian classic with a distinctive farmhouse funk. 5%. £4.20
7. Brewdog Libertine Black Ale. Libertine delivers a dark hop bomb combining the west coast hop awesomeness of an IPA, the dark and indulgent malt flavours of big stout. 7.2%. £4.25.
8. Mad Hatter Sorachi Face Hugger. Take a Belgian saison yeast add everyone's favourite Japanese hop, Sorachi Ace, and you get this spicy, lemony, refreshing delight. 6.3%. £4.50.
9. Mad Hatter Down The Rabbit Hole. Extreme red ale with columbus, centennial, cascade, amarillo mosaic and simcoe hops. Fermented with a Belgian Abbey yeast. 8.1%. £4.95.
10. Chorlton Citra Sour. A sour pale ale, intensely hopped with Citra for a fragrant, clean and sharply acidic flavour. 5.7%. £4.25.
11. Summer Wine KloosterWitbier. A Huddersfield take on a classic Belgian Witbier. Coriander and orange peel offer the classic flavours you would expect from the style. 5.4%. £3.95. 
12. Summer Wine Surfing Monk. Belgian triple meets New Zealand IPA in this beery mash-up. 
6.5%. £3.95
13. Bad Seed Saison. Bad Seed use honey, ginger and seeds of paradise to give a modern and zesty twist to this classic Belgian ale. 6%. £4.25.
14. Bad Seed Hefeweizen. This refreshing Bavarian style wheat beer is a real Bad Seed. It was one of the first beers to break the Reinheitsgebot, the strict German purity laws. 5.1%. £3.95.
15. Thornbridge Bear State. Bear State is a classic IPA brewed in the spirit of the West Coast of the USA. This is a massively hoppy beer, balanced perfectly with a touch of malt sweetness and an intensely citrus hop character to finish. 7%. £5.95.
16. Marble Little Meiko. An IPA using the Japanese hop Sorachi Ace IPA and yuzu fruit to added the batch. The yuzu is an east asian citrus fruit with a similar flavour profile to grapefruit or sour mandarin. 7%. £4.95. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Beer List For Navigation Festival, Mirfield

One of  'A Swift One's favourite beer festivals is returning on Thursday 28th May through until Sunday 31st May 2015, when the Navigation at Mirfield is hosting a festival dedicated to beers from Northamptonshire. All beers are cellar cooled and handpulled. Admission is free.

Digfield Brewery

Fools Nook 3.8%
Mad Monk 4.8%

Frog Island Brewery

Lock, Stock and Barrel 4.0%
Shoemaker 4.2%

Great Oakley Brewery

Walter Tull 4.0%
Tiffield Thunderbolt 4.2%
Harpers 4.3%
Delapre Dark 4.6%

Gun Dog Ales

Bad To The Bone 4.5%
Lord Barker 4.2%

Hart Family Brewers

No1 4.1%
No3 4.7%

Kings Cliffe Brewery

5C 3.8%
No10 4.0%

Merriman Ales

Merri Weather 4.0%
Be Merri 4.5%

Nobbys Brewery

Wild West Ale 4.6%
Swift Nick 4.2%

Nene Valley Brewery

Big Bang Theory 5.3%
DXB 4.8%
Release The Chimps 4.4%

Potbelly Brewery

Potbelly Best 3.8%
Pigs Do Fly 4.4%
Beijing Black 4.4%

Phipps MBC Brewery

Phipps IPA 4.3%
Steam Roller 4.4%
Beckett's Ale 4.3%

Hoggleys Brewery

Reservoir Hogs 4.3%
Mill Lane Mild 4.0%

Silverstone Brewery

Pit Stop 3.8%
Slipstream 4.2%

Towcester Mill Brewery

Rubio 4.4%
Bell Ringer 4.4%

Thanks to BFH for the list, see you there !

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fruit Beer Revisted

A little while ago I had a small complaint about brewers brewing fruit beers that tasted synthetic, now it is time for me to eat humble - fruit - pie. Since I wrote the previous post I have encountered more fruit beers, and some of them have been excellent, so I feel I need to redress the balance.

Bradfield brewery have been around for about a decade now, and do produce the occasional fruit beer. I came across their 'Plim Bitter' in the Kings Head, at 4.4% it was a plum colour (surprisingly !) and had a good balance of hop and fruit, and was very drinkable. Belleville 'Thyme Square' was not exactly fruit, but was an interesting use of the herb to produce a light beer, with a pronounced nose. The taste could be classed as overpowering if you do not like that sort of thing, but I found it clean and refreshing and shocked myself by even having a second, and third one.

This was on the bar at the Grove at the same time as Thornbridge 'Wye' which is a cucumber beer that they have brewed previously. Again, maybe cucumber is an acquired taste, but I find it works very well in the beer giving a unique taste. Another love it or hate it is rhubarb. And I found it in Yorkshire Heart 'Rhu-Bar Beer' - the clue was in the name - and I have never encountered a beer with such a pronounced rhubarb flavour. I am in the love it camp, and found it well crafted and very moreish.

So maybe I was a little premature in my previous post, or may be I have just found beers to redress the balance, or more likely these have been brewed with the 'real' thing rather than a synthetic substitute. It certainly makes a difference.  

The Red Shed Festival - a Punters View

Readers of 'A Swift One' will have noted recently a beer list for a beer festival at the Red Shed (more properly Wakefield Labour Club) that is being held over this weekend. I had seen the list provided by my co editor, and decided to give it a look. It was a charity festival based on a theme of Yorkshire v Lancashire, and arranged under the guidance of Malcolm Bastow at Five Towns Brewery.

My first problem was actually finding the place ! Last time I recall visiting the 'Shed' it was at the bottom of a large car park. Now it is dwarfed by a massive shopping centre, but my well honed nose for beer worked and I managed to locate it easily. Even better, it was open early. The admission cost seemed a little excessive at £5 but £2 of this was refundable on the glass you purchased. Beer came in at a sensible £3 a pint across the board, and thirds were available. Things were looking up. Even more so when I browsed through the well produced programme and noted the strength of some of the beers.

Because of the previously published beer list I knew where to start, so a quick third of Whippet 'Brew No1', a new brewery from Leeds. What I had not factored in, was that it was a 5.7% stout. Sadly it did not quite hit the spot, a little lacking in flavour and a little thin for its strength, but it gave me chance to sort my next choices more sensibly. Next up was 'Pale and Interesting' from another brewery new to me, Thirst Class from Stockport. A decent 3.4% beer with plenty of hops, I followed this with another new brewery Learn to Brew, 'Young Gifted and Pale'. Again a bit of disappointment, with a shortage of hop flavour. But then things started to get stronger, and tastier.

A black IPA from Shindigger, preceded a strong mild from North Riding and they were certainly not short of flavour, neither were Quantum 'UK Light' nor First Chop 'SYL'. I was a little disappointed by Steel City 'Troika' which was overly smokey for my taste, but the real stars were the two strongest beers on the bar, and both brewed in God's Own County.

Rat Brewery 'Ratmospheric' was a 6.5% New Zealand IPA, and it supplied all the hop hit one would expect from a Rat beer and Nelson and Waimea hops, a real gem. But it was overhauled by my final beer, a massive 8.4% Double IPA from Five Towns called 'May Day' - one of my beers of the year, let alone the festival. Lots of hops, and very well balanced, just a shame about the strength which precludes drinking pints of it !

Anyway, that was the end of my tickets, so home time beckoned. I was very impressed with the festival, which it is rumoured may become an annual event. Hopefully it will, and I will be making a note in my diary for the next one.The idea of East v West also worked well, giving us a chance to sample beers from both sides of the Pennines and compare and contrast. I am not sure who produces the better beer overall but as|I have imtimated above my winner was a Yorkshire brew, well done Malcolm !

A virtual tour of East vs West Fest (Day One)

Yesterday the East vs West Fest got underway at The Red Shed.
I've written about the festival - which continues today (Saturday) in Wakefield - at length before so I will keep this short and sweet.
Last night I was pleased to see a veritable who's who of local beer drinkers and some London based folk at Vicarage Street, which is just downhill from Wakefield Cathedral.
Work and other commitments meant my session was all too brief but that didn't spoil my experience one jot.
Far from it, this  was - and I know I am biased as my friend Malcolm Bastow, from Five Towns Brewery, has organised it  - one of the friendliest festivals I've been to for a while.
It reminded me very much in atmosphere and layout of festivals at The Navigation Tavern at Mirfield (who coincidentally have an upcoming festival from May 28 to May 31). 
At The Red Shed there is a main bar area serving guest beers, while the festival is in an adjoining room. It's £5 entry to the festival which uses a beer ticket system. But you can pay cash for the wonderful pumpkin porter casserole!
I sampled four or five beers at East vs West Fest, where you can drink thirds.
My picks were Marble's Spring and North Riding's The Hunter's Dream - a strong mild.
I promised I'd keep this brief so please have a look at the pump clip video and picture from @Gingerbeerking.
They tells you all you need to know. For tasting notes please click: here 
If you are a viewing this article through a smart phone and are having trouble viewing the embedded video then please click this YouTube link

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Brewing a tribute to Maggie

The Bloke from Hull writes...
In early November Dale Palmer from the Imperial Brewery at Mexborough contacted me asking if I would come along to the brewery to collaborate with him to brew a couple of beers for his club’s “New Brewery” beer festival in December. One was to be a Christmas beer brewed on the main kit whilst the other was to be a special on the pilot plant to celebrate the life of my late partner Maggie. 
I originally got to know Dale as I sometimes called into the club for a few pints whilst breaking my return journeys to Hull when visiting my Mum in Sheffield. The club soon had a brewery and it was a pleasure to call in to try the latest creations. One in particular sticks in my mind – Hop Monster which most certainly lived up to its name. It was a beautiful beer not for the faint hearted but definitely a must for hopheads like me. Wowee!! Thereafter I additionally attended Dale’s regular new brewery beer festivals at the club and was only too pleased to sometimes assist with information to secure new and interesting beers.
And so to brew day: Wednesday, 19th November, 19. We had discussed possible recipes previously but not finalised anything and so we made it up there and then, although, I suspect that Dale’s experience guided us towards something suitable as opposed to the tangential offerings my head had dreamed up. 
In decreasing quantity order, Maris Otter, Lager, Vienna, Caramalt and Crystal Rye malts were added to the hot liquor in the mash tun and sparged for 75 minutes. The resulting wort was then transferred to the copper. Hops were then added at various intervals for bittering and aroma, namely Columbus, Simcoe, Chinook and a substantial quantity of Topaz.
After a 60 minute boil the wort was transferred via heat exchanger to the fermenting vessel where the yeast was pitched in. A small quantity was diverted off to the mini kit for the one-off Marvellous Maggie where more hops (Mount Hood, Nugget, Perle, and Warrior) were added to make something rather special.
After a busy day with Dale all there was for me to do as quality controller was nowt but retire gracefully (a first time for everything) and wait for the beers appear at the Imperial Beer festival a few weeks later.
The day of truth duly arrived on December 6 and with trepidation at first, I ordered one each of Spirit of Christmas and Marvellous Maggie. I need not have worried. Both weighed in at 6% ABV and fittingly packed powerful punches with the latter being a right hop bomb of a beer. A fine tribute indeed!
Later that month, the Spirit of Christmas appeared on the bars of some more of my favourite drinking establishments – most notably The Chequers Micropub in Beverley, The Butchers Dog in Driffield and The Market Place Deli in Doncaster. 
Thanks to Dale for coming up with and executing the idea (rather than me) and for his patience.