Sunday, December 23, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Allgates Bright Blade 4.0%
Brewdog Hype 4.1%
Brown Cow Silver Cascade 4.2%
Fernandes Pathfinder 3.8%
Goose Eye Geese-a-look 4.2%
Grand Union Liberty Blonde 4.2%
Maypole Wellow Gold 4.6%
Pictish Magnum 4.6%
South Hams Wild Blonde 4.4%
Thornbridge Jaipur IPA 5.9%
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Two outstanding winter beer festivals this weekend rounded off another year's ale chasing and provided an opportunity to really appreciate the more traditional styles of British brewing. As a hopelessly addicted gulper of pale hoppy beers, conditions have to be just right for me to make the move back to the dark side these days - but once in the mood...!
Suddaby's in Malton once again put on a great cross-section of colours, strengths and styles amongst their forty beers but as usual I had great difficulty in moving on from the likes of the irrepressible Dark Star Hophead and truly wondrous Grand Union Liberty Blond. And this will always be the case when presented with these lightweight and full-flavoured session ales I'm afraid. It's not a fear of trying new stuff, but as I've said before, too much choice just seems to have me lazily opting for the sanctuary of old favourites.
The solution is simple - a festival solely devoted to the old style winter warmers with no lager look-a-like distractions or zesty orange scented temptresses, just proper beer-coloured ales, engine-oil porters and rich syrupy stouts.
The Drop Inn at Elland not only managed to lay on just such a do with some truly classic examples of the dark craft, but coincided it perfectly with the coldest few nights of the winter so far - ideal conditions! Of the fifteen beauties to try it was a tough choice picking a top-dog but I have to say that after reaching Critical Mass, a Rum for Cover had me heading straight to Oblivion! With any luck I might just recover in time for Christmas!
pics: Suddaby's festival bar & part of the weird & wonderful decor in the fest-shed
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Ideally an overnight stop in the Crown itself would make for the perfect weekend but with very few rooms, and availability at a premium during the festival, this isn't always an option. However a few hundred yards up Yorkersgate stands the mighty Talbot Hotel (right), a spacious (in fact enormous!), clean, comfortable (not to mention 18th century) home to a good night's kip and a monstrous breakfast - and all yours for the princely sum of £30 a night! Unbeatable value, and the very best way to start your build up to the festive season.
The links are all here so go ahead and treat yourselves to a relaxing couple of days in the beautiful heartland of Yorkshire a mere 10 minutes drive from stately Castle Howard (Brideshead) - oh and did I mention the beer shop where you can get all of Suddaby's ales to take home? - Christmas shopping made easy! (Now where's NYCC tourist board with that cheque!)
Suddaby's Winter Beer Festival runs from Thursday 13th - Sunday 16th December (map)
Sunday, December 09, 2007
For those wondering just what on earth a double IPA is I refer you to this somewhat simplified definition from Beer Advocate - "Take an India Pale Ale and feed it steroids, ergo the term Double IPA, then expect something robust, malty, alcoholic and with a hop profile that might rip your tongue out!" - Now that's my kind of beer! - BA goes on to say "You can thank American west coast (San Diego in particular) brewers for this somewhat reactionary style."
Update: Failed miserably to get this one down (wuss!) and had to donate most of it I'm afraid. Was rather hoping it would be similar to some of the strong American IPAs I've tried but instead was reminiscent of those dreaded childhood cough medicines. At 10.9% alcohol by volume, Ton Up is more of a wine than a beer and its drinking should obviously be treated differently, but for me the very strong tones of toffee and roasted sugar completely overpowered the malt flavour. Even the bitterness from the hops couldn't keep the sweetness in check resulting in a cloying burnt honey taste, unfortunately typical of so many barley wine style recipes. NOT my kind of beer but I'll be back to try their 9 Above Zero next week!
pic: courtesy of the Lower Red Lion in St Albans which is the Alehouse Brewery Tap & appears here 'cos I couldn't find any brewery pics on the web. It is a nice looking pub though!
Friday, November 30, 2007
Hopes of connecting with Anglo-Dutch Tabitha (a near legendary festival special) at the Stork & Whippet (WRLRR) fest (right) were dashed a few days ago when the beer list was announced, but seeing the Harviestoun Schiehallion on the menu instantly remedied my disappointment. This multi-award winning cask-conditioned lager seems to have dropped off in either popularity or availability in recent times - certainly in these parts - but remains the undisputed champion of it's category in my eyes. New boys Leeds appear to have another thoroughbred on their hands with Ale Mary, a delicious dark medium strength beer with plenty of rich roast flavour that could well see you doing penance if not respectful!
The overwhelmingness of The Star's beer festivals at Lockwood in Huddersfield is ... well ... overwhelming! Those first few minutes there, awkwardly clutching glass and menu in front of a battery of fifty handpumps, are on a par with that childhood hysteria felt moments before present opening on Christmas morning. With so much choice and little chance (or desire) to get through the lot I tend to head straight for the gimmicky stuff these days - you know the bright green Irish ale or the banana & toasted wombat flavoured brews!
The Star has become much more about having fun than sitting there ticking a list or attempting to pontificate on the merits of such and such a beer - especially when you're just plain juiced. For the record I did find some previously unsampled delights today but they were all totally over-shadowed by the awesome Brew Dog Hype at 4.1%, a Scottish ale of fabulous sharp hoppy bitterness that was too moreish to allow a serious inspection of a lot of what was on offer - sorry!
It's on to Suddaby's festival at Malton in a fortnight for a winter festival with a real Christmas feel, and God willing there will be a report of some description. A premature Happy/Hoppy Holidays everybody!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Update: Arrived at The Grove Sunday lunchtime with less than an hour to spare before those legends of non-league footy Locomotiv Harrogate were due on the Beeb (in another pub of course - The Grove does jazz, not sport) and found the LGM had just landed! This copper coloured ale on first tasting was a pleasant though rather thin balance of malt & hop with just a hint of fruit and a late afterburn as the chilli made itself known. Gradually (after the best part of a pint) that familiar belly glow started to build up and provided good insulation against a cold & wet tramp back to town. Need to sample the next one up though, definitely!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The pub has Sky Sports, though not in an intrusive big screen way, plus active pool and football teams but thankfully falls well short of sports bar classification. Something I hadn't noticed on my previous visit (it was dark!) is the permanent inclusion on draught of 'Dewsbury Wit'. At 4.5% this continental style bier from the local Anglo-Dutch brewery is a cloudy refreshing coriander flavoured brew reminiscent of Hoegaarden, and completes a very healthy line up of styles. A further two handpumps for real ale are planned if there's enough interest generated, so do hop on the train and give this imaginative, stylish and friendly little bar your undying support!
Saturday, November 17, 2007
To soak up the suds a generous few platefuls of pork pie slices (presumably from the legendary Eddie Grange next door - who appeared to be moving premises incidentally) were on the bar and could have led to a much extended swillage had there not been a train to catch.
A good turnout was anticipated for the evening session following on from a very busy Friday night, and next year's bash will most definitely be high on my list of priority beer bothering escapades. I didn't note the name of the Irish folk band that were just tuning up as we left but the inclusion of a trombone in their line up was inspired - it seems I can't come to this valley without exposure to a little brass (and a lot of beer) - it's such a nuisance!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
One of my all time favourite pubs has recently launched it's own website (no wonder it's getting busier) and the photos certainly do it more justice than mine ever could - but here's a little piece I prepared anyway following a recent stay.
There's so much to recommend the Three Horseshoes that it's difficult to know where to start, but I'm hoping that these pictures, though hardly brochure material, do at least convey the aesthetics if not the atmosphere of this wonderful place. Being a lover of wild spots (that's naturally wild - not 'Jonny's' on a Saturday night wild!) the location of the 'Shoes is perfect.
Situated a couple of miles inland from Wells-next-the-Sea (the north Norfolk coast's halfway-house), the pub acts as a great base for exploring this internationally important shoreline whilst providing everything that makes traditional English pub B&B the best type of accommodation going. The five guest rooms are in the old Post Office next door, which also houses a quaint lounge and country kitchen style breakfast room. Access to your digs is separate from the pub but is only a few yards down the street and does mean your comings and goings aren't restricted by the odd opening hours the Horseshoes keeps (by this I mean afternoon closing, a rare thing these days where I'm from).
I have included a shot of the menu board to give an idea of what culinary delights await, though in actual fact this selection is pretty much fixed and only alters due to seasonal availability.
As you may have guessed the pub is renowned for it's pies and puddings so make sure to work up a good appetite - a few hours tramping around Warham Greens, Wells Woods or the magnificent beaches at Holkham should do the trick!
This time of year is of course fresh mussel season and here, like in so many of the local pubs and restaurants, they come to your table by the bucket load - a fantastic feast and not to be missed!
The permanent beers are Greene King IPA and of course that old favourite Woodforde's Wherry (served straight from the cask and at it's very best here I must add). Incidentally to those folks at a couple of pubs in West Yorkshire who drink the stuff forced through a sparkler at less than 12 degrees - you have absolutely no concept of how this legendary beer should be enjoyed! The Wherry & IPA are occasionally supplemented by a guest ale, which wasn't a bad drop of Tydd Steam Swedish Blonde (4.0%) during our few days stay.
I've yet to come here when the snow is falling but I imagine the scene would be straight off one of those deluxe Christmas cards that big companies send to their best paying clients - the kind of image that briefly transports you to a different time and place when all was rural beauty and thatched tranquility. 'Tis with a mug of ale and full belly hearkening to familiar talk and cracking embers that I would choose to spend my final hours'. Robert Swift in 1886 may have had this place in mind! (map)
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Without doubt it's the pub I most frequent in town for more reasons than I've got room for here, but put very simply it's a great combination of interesting beer and good people (or should that be the other way round?!) - so rather than any attempt at personal anecdotes etc, here are the plain & simple nuts & bolts of this almighty boozer!
THE RAT LOWDOWN (for low down rats!)
14 handpumps serve -
Ossett Pale Gold
Ossett Silver King
plus rotating Ossett guest
a Mild/Porter/Stout (very occasionally from Ossett)
& a Real Cider (or Perry) on draught or by gravity
Frequent Guests from:
Daleside - usually 'Blonde'
Pictish - usually 'Brewers Gold'
Phoenix - often the newer brews but occasional 'Arizona'
Fernandes - ever changing from this quality producer
Riverhead - usually 'Butterley', 'March Haigh' and 'Redbrook'
Abbeydale - 'Matins', 'Moonshine' & 'Absolution'...mostly!
Bradfield - quite often 'Farmers Blonde' or 'IPA'
Moorhouses - seasonals
Recent Guests from:
Roosters/Outlaw - 'Cream' cropped up again plus 'Amarillo'
Elland - seen most months and very popular - especially 'Beyond the Pale'
Anglo-Dutch - the session stuff recently rather than 'Tabatha' unfortunately
Acorn - 'Barnsley Bitter' & 'Gold' have been doing the rounds & seasonal 5% IPAs
Boggart - both dark & light milds have put in the odd appearance
Brew Dog - made a recent appearance with Edge, Hype The Physics
...plus many many more
Continental Draught Beers & Lagers etc.
The Rat comprises four separate drinking areas plus an attractive terrace beer garden for when the weather's fine. Distractions are kept fairly minimal with a pinball machine, one slot, a wall mounted (but unobtrusive) TV plus the near legendary jukebox. There is a regular quiz (currently Wednesdays) but live music seems to have died a death apart from an occasional 'open mic' night. However with former landlord Dave Kendal-Smith now working behind the scenes for the Brewery, there's every chance that the events calendars of all Ossett's ten houses might start to fill up a little.
Food is no lomger available but a mini-fridge on the bar stocks a selection of locally produced pies and pasties.
The pub normally has two regular beer festivals a year, a mini mild one in May (around 15 beers) and the all singing version in September (over 60 beers last time) to rival it's illustrious neighbour down the hill but the main one is currently on hold.
40 Chapel Hill
Mon - Tue 3-12
Wed - Thu 12-12
Fri & Sat 12-1am
Click here for map.
More photos will appear shortly as will a list of bottled beer and a draught beer update - please keep checking back