Thursday, August 30, 2007

Three Dog Night

An excellent music night at the Shepherd's Boy saw a clinical demonstration of respondent conditioning from guitar maestros Pavlov's Jazz Dogs. A dazzling display of dexterous diligence as dem dancin' dogs digits deftly and dramatically defined a diminuendic discourse of diatonic dualism in downtown Dewsbury etc etc ..... My conditioned response? To drink more beer of course!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Nook Beer Festival, Holmfirth

I didn't manage to get to this festival until the final afternoon by which time a lot had already gone of course. But a couple from Allgates of Wigan namely Young Pretender (3.8%) & Bright Blade (4.0%) made the journey to Holmfirth very enjoyable. These two exceptional beers from this exciting new brewery (est. August 2006) were by far the best of what was left on a much depleted bar that had seen the likes of past champions Oakham JHB and Crouch Vale Brewers Gold. Click on the menu pages to enlarge

NB Only two weeks to the second annual Rat & Ratchet Beer Festival (6th-9th September) in Huddersfield where in excess of fifty beers will be available. More news to follow on this spectacular event including festival hours and maybe even a sneaky look at what's lurking in the cellar!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Summer Pours On!

So many open air events this summer (what summer?) have already been ruined or cancelled due to the really crappy weather that I was fully expecting to get another drenching at Ossett Brewery's Open Day and Huddersfield's Food & Drink Fest this weekend.
Luckily this part of Yorkshire just escaped the real deluges seen further south, so being outdoors was just about manageable if you could live with a chilly breeze and the odd shower. Personally I'm much happier stopping indoors in such conditions - and that's largely what I did - resulting in the Brewer's Pride, Station Tavern and Rat & Ratchet doing 'quite nicely thank you' out of me this weekend!

A trip to Ossett for the brewery's big fun-day got off to a great start with a flying visit to the aforementioned Brewer's Pride, a real gem of a pub with a formidable reputation for quality ales (all from the free trade). Finding out that the pub is holding it's annual beer festival next weekend was brilliant news until I realised it clashes with The Nook's at Holmfirth (nothing for a few weeks then they all come at once syndrome). Still it is Bank Holiday so there might be time to do both - we shall see.

On the Open Day itself, the reduced price beer and barbecue were very well received (though I could have lived without the rock/pop band), plus it was nice to see a few old faces and take a glance around the impressive plant. Unfortunately with other commitments and a sudden deterioration in the weather I couldn't stop long enough to see the Marsden Brass Band, so could only hope that they weren't on the receiving end of another soaking!

I haven't a single picture from the couple of hours spent at the food festival on Sunday morning due to the persistent drizzle (the camera's not happy in the rain), but it was as enjoyable as ever with plenty plates of 'samplin' scran' for those on the look out for a free breakfast, plus lots of decent bargains on wines, oils, spices and the rest of it.

Andrew Jones the butchers always seem to attract the biggest crowd at this festival, probably because it's just about impossible to walk past their stall without at least stopping to take in the glorious smells. And I don't know what it is but here's all this incredible tasting food from all four corners of the globe and I come away with a sack full of locally made pies! It must be a Yorkshire thing I guess. My top recommendation? Pork & rhubarb pie - now there's a combination everyone should try!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

There's Snuffin' Like It!

I actually thought about buying shares in the few remaining snuff manufacturing companies when the smoking ban came in but then realised I'd never bought shares in anything and wouldn't have the first clue how to go about it! Still, with snuffin' now the only legal way to inhale nicotine in pubs I really do think a renaissance might be just around the corner. We shall see. In the meantime I have managed to get my hands (and nose) on various varieties and flavours of snuff stuff and so in the name of unnecessary research and a lack of anything better to do, here are my findings!

Various snuffin' paraphernalia - most of it quite pointless really!

Firstly it must be said that it's been a fair few years since I've done any snorting so I was expecting to be sneezing my noggin off during this mass-sampling. But I was wrong - in fact it was a rather pleasant experience that not only managed to stave off any cigarette cravings but also avoided tainting the palate - an important consideration when trying to enjoy the subtleties of a new brew for instance!

With a lack of quality high street tobacconists these days I had to resort to ordering online, which was no bad thing as that's where the best choice is plus the prices seemed very reasonable indeed - expect to pay between £1.50 & £2.00 for a 10g tin which will last ages! The three major players in the world of snuff blending, in the UK at least, appear to be McChrystals of Leicester (great website!), Gawith Hoggarth of Kendal and Poschl's for whom I can't find a web address though their snuff is widely available online (try these people for openers). All have an impressive range to offer with enticing flavours such as Tia Maria or Eucalyptus and intriguing names like Ozona President and Highland Ice (the latter I had rather hoped would be a white powder for added dramatic effect when snorting in public - sadly it wasn't!)

A quality silver snuffbox can cost £500 or more but makes a classy home for your snorting powder.

So anyhow after a two hour nasal blasting session these are my top three recommendations:

1/McChrystal's Smoker's Blend
Really kills the craving this one so is probably the best blend to pocket on a night out.

2/Gawith Hoggarth's Camphor Menthol
A real stimulating freshness from this unusual little number.

3/Poschl's Ozona President
Check out the stylish silver dispenser this one comes in! The snuff's not bad either.

A selection of my powders

So there you are. Why not give them all a try and even see if your landlord is willing to stock one or two varieties. It certainly beats trailing outside for a smoke, especially when the wind's howling and the rain's blowing into your shelter this winter!

Nearly all the pics used in this post are from various snuff related websites and not mine in any way shape or form - just in case anyone thinks I own a priceless set of silver boxes!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Brigstocke on Religion

Totally non-beer this, but a 'must listen' piece from the BBC's most recent series of the Now Show. Listen here.

For those living in or near Huddersfield, tickets to see our greatest living comic can be obtained from the LBT.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Great British Beer Festival Awards

Here are the official results from Earls Court, announced last week. No surprise that Crouch Vale failed in it's attempt to complete a hat-trick of Supreme Champion Awards for it's excellent Brewer's Gold but a 3.2% mild taking the honours?!
Wow ... let's hope we see some of this 'flavour packed Shropshire nectar' around here real soon - can't wait to try lots of it at that ABV!

Supreme Champion
Gold - Hobsons Mild
Silver - Mighty Oak Maldon Gold
Bronze - Green Jack Ripper

Gold - Hobsons Mild
Silver - Nottingham Rock Mild
Bronze - Brains Dark

Gold - Castle Rock Harvest Pale
Silver - Twickenham Crane Sundancer
Joint Bronze - Surrey Hills Ranmore Ale & Fyne Piper's Gold

Best Bitters
Gold - Purple Moose Glaslyn Ale
Silver - George Wright Pipe Dream
Joint Bronze - Fuller's London Pride & Nethergate Suffolk County & Station House Buzzin'

Strong Bitters
Gold - York Centurion's Ghost
Silver - Inveralmond Lia Fail
Bronze - Brains SA Gold

Speciality Beers
Gold - Nethergate Umbel Magna
Silver - Little Valley Hebden Wheat
Bronze - St Peter's Grapefruit

Golden Ales
Gold - Mighty Oak Maldon Gold
Silver - Oak Leaf Hole Hearted
Bronze - Otley 01

CAMRA Bottle-conditioned Beers
Gold - O'Hanlon's Port Stout
Silver - Titanic Stout & Wye Valley Dorothy Goodbody's Wholesome Stout
Bronze - Wapping Baltic Gold