Monday, December 29, 2008
I was totalling up how many different guest beers that I could find in our local Town Centre pubs on any day of the week, and I was astounded to realise there could be over 30 in the 6 pubs that I generally visit. (in order of walking from the Railway Station - The Kings Head, The Head Of Steam, The Cherry Tree, The Grove, The Rat and The Star). Added to that are all the regular beers the pubs have, and the odd diversion to the Vulcan or the Lord Wilson, no one can complain about lack of choice and variety.
It makes you realise how lucky we are living somewhere like Huddersfield, with new beers appearing daily, and our own local breweries seeming to go from strength to strength.
This year alone has seen the arrival of Mallinsons and Brass Monkey, the return of Summer Wine along with Empire, Golcar, Linfit, and Riverhead making a great local brewing portfolio which surely must be the envy of other towns.
As for the original question - what was my favourite beer of the year ? I have tried to just choose one but there have been far too many to decide. All I can say it has been a great year of beer drinking and if this continues...2009 promises to be another good year too.
So, to nick a quote from an Allgates beer, all that remains is to 'Carry on Drinking'!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
If anyone is at a loose end over the weekend the beer festival at the Cock of the North at Hipperholme, home of the Halifax Steam Brewery starts on Boxing Day. Have tried it before and it is worth the trip, and promises 20 new beers brewed on the premises.
A little closer to home, have heard that the first commercial brew from Summer Wine Brewery can be found in the Head Of Steam, called Vagabond and allegedly a traditional style bitter. If dark beer is to your taste, then the Rat and Ratchet has some great porter from Castle Rock called Blackbird (honest Will, it is good !!), weighing in at a sensible 4.4%.
Hop fans are catered for by the Star with a 3.4% from Thornbridge called Ember, (described as smokey on the clip but not sure) and another Goose Eye, On The Piste. The Grove weighs in with the 6% What The Dickens from Empire.
If something more traditional is what you seek, the Cherry Tree can provide Stuff It, from Titanic - a cranberry and chestnut concoction (a bit odd to say the least).
Again, a big thank you to all our readers, looking forward to more blogging next year.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
As part of our festive beer drinking, a trip to Leeds to visit old and new seemed a good idea, avoiding the shops and grabbing a bite to eat. Mr. Foley's (above) has not been established for that long but if you have time for "just one" whilst in the city, this bar won't let you down. As well as the York Brewery beers (including a seasonal "Mistletoe" bitter) there are plenty of guests to tempt, on this visit Mallinsons "Sugarloaf" and E&S "Stocking Top". The bar really looked spot on, Christmassy, but not OTT.
Foley's was starting to fill up with groups of diners, so it was time to cross the city, to the long established Palace. This pub is well worth a visit just to look at the old photos and maps of Leeds adorning the walls, the Palace itself has a fascinating history, and there are 12 hand pumps (one for every day of Christmas)! Tetley and a Roosters are ever present (YPA today), guests included Springhead "Polar Beer". Food was ordered, and despite this very busy lunchtime, food and bar service was spot on.
Time came to leave and head back to the station and visit a third bar, at a mere three weeks old the Brewery Tap (above) is as new as they come, and is Leeds Brewery's latest. The number of diners and proximity to the station suggest that the place could quickly establish itself, but it does feel like "work in progress" at the moment, a bit too clean and new for me! Four Leeds beers were available including "Christ Almighty", but only one of the four guest pumps was in use, good old Ossett "Silver King". The brewery on the first floor starts up in January, so a re-visit will be on the cards to see how this baby grows up.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I started in the Grove and was most impressed to find that Mallinsons Sugarloaf had made it onto the bar, along with Adnams East Green, their 'carbon neutral' beer. Don't often see Adnams round the place nowadays so was more than happy and both beers in decent nick.
However, after a quick walk to the Star was very impressed to find 2 more Mallinsons beers on the bar. Both Chuffed at 4.3% and Matterhorn at 4.4% were there and supported by Mount Rainier, a 4.2% offering from Pictish. Well worth the trip if you are in the area, but be quick, they won't last for long if previous experience is anything to go by. All 3 were in tip top form and a credit to both Sam and the brewers.
The perfect end to a stressful day !!!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Anyhow, nearly two thousand years later and it has to be said that my Tuesday lunchtime pint at the Huntsman in Chidswell is fast becoming the beer event of the week. Following hard on the heels of the sublime Great Heck Yorkshire Pale Ale was a very finely crafted session beer today from the aforementioned Hadrian & Border. The 3.9% Tyneside Blonde is as good a pale and hoppy quaffing brew as I've tasted all year, with mellow hints of citrus abruptly but skillfully balanced by a satisfying, slightly soapy, short bitter finish. More a drink for the summer months in looks and quenchability perhaps, but beer as good as this really should be available year round. Those seeking something more seasonal are also well catered for by this eight year old outfit with their Yule Fuel (5%) and Rudolph's Ruin (7.2%) currently doing the rounds.
Learn more about the brewery's history and output here.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
For those who remember the pub in its great days under the legendary Dave Green, not much has changed. The pub is quirky to say the least, not many pubs are wedge shaped, can only think of the Baltic Fleet in Liverpool and here.
This has lots of small rooms off the bar to make it cosy and it has retained much of its character but has benefited from a spruce up. However many of the old bits and pieces are still there and one can have a happy half hour just wandering through the place and looking at things.
There are 4 Taylors beers on the bar and a guest, a Mallinsons on my visit, (my only concern was that I thought £2.50 a bit pricey for a 3.9% beer.) It is open from 12 every day and has a good menu with home cooked food at reasonable prices.
Certainly somewhere to call off should you be on the North side of Huddersfield, or if you fancy walking, its about 15 minutes from the Town Centre. It is also close to the frequent 363/328 bus routes from Town (alight at Hillhouse on Bradford Rd and the pub is 100 yards away).
From what I saw on my visit, another pub that deserves to do well that is just off the usual track.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Not so good news in York, where the popular Black Swan (Peaseholme Green) has closed suddenly. Hopefully Enterprise Inns (who own the pub) will find a new landlord soon, but for now the comedy club and folk night and regular drinkers need to find a new home.
One pub I thought might have closed for good years ago is Elland's Drop Inn, but today, thanks to it's latest owners (Ossett) and landlord (Tom) this pub is a "must visit".
The weekend saw a festival of strong and mainly dark winter ales. Mauldons "Peggotty's Porter" (4.1%) and Oakham "Attilla" (7.5%) both hit the spot.
Those in the Dewsbury area need to know that this delicious little number is currently available at the Huntsman in Chidswell, where the air is clear, the sun is shining and the atmosphere very relaxed indeed. Cheers! (map)
Monday, December 08, 2008
"Just to let you guys know we are now up and running at our 6BBL plant at Crossley Mills, Honley and our ales will be available in the local area in the coming weeks. Look out for 'Vagabond', 'Furnace Gold' & 'Holmfirth IPA', plus we are having a stand at Holmfirth Farmers Christmas market on Sunday the 21st Dec where gift packs will be available. Please check out the website for more details."
James and his team can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Grove has Ginger Explosion from Bridge of Allan and Chocwork Orange from Brentwood.
The Star provides Big Ginger from Boggart, Chocolate Orange Stout from Sawbridgeworth, and should you want a Xmas style beer, Nobby's brewery Santas Secret. They have also just had the juniper flavoured Suju brewed by Thornbridge.
The Rat and Ratchet however has different flavours. A Strawberry flavoured bitter by Fernandes and Greenmill Twilight, a chocolate wheat beer are on the bar, and on the beers to come board is Saltaire Hazelnut Coffee Porter. There is also a Naylors Kriek beer on the beers to come.
The Head of Steam has also got in on the act with the superb Coach House Blueberry, a beer not to be missed . If you do, Sam at The Star tells me she has bottles of it available.
If you want something different get there soon, they won't last long.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
The Summer award went to The Old Ship in Brighouse, on Bethel St, just further up the road from the Richard Oastler, (a Wetherspoons that is better than most). The Old Ship is an interesting half timbered building and has 3 regular and 3 guest beers on sale. One of the regulars being Copper Dragon Golden Pippin.
The Autumn award was given to the Cock O'the North at Hipperholme, (an easy bus ride from Brighouse). For those not aware, this is the brewery tap for the Halifax Steam Brewery and is one of the few places to get their beers now, Dave doing little in the free trade. On my last visit to the place, which is described as 'a sectional building' (but is none the worse for that), the beer was all on at £2.20 a pint, and covered a range of strengths and styles.
So if you are over that side of the world, call in both, or either. Or make a day of it. You know it makes sense.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Expect strong milds, stouts, porters and maybe even the odd dark old ale (a style seldom brewed these days) all hand pulled at the pub's two bars. Food and entertainment will also feature with the Marsden Silver Band performing some Christmas carols no doubt. If it's anything like as good as last year then it's one festival you'll not want to miss! (map)
Those living in Huddersfield may be interested to know that a mini-bus is running from the Rat & Ratchet on Saturday at 5.30pm. One or two places were still available last time I checked. Contact Sam on 01484-542400 for details.
The festival hours are:
Thurs to Sat 12pm-12am
And as promised here's the list:
(please click on it for the good of your eyesight!)
The Verdict: Bloody brilliant! Two mini-buses from the Rat on Saturday made the Drop a home from home, and the beers were just awesome. The top three for me in no particular order were from Spire, Oakham and Mauldons - three different styles, all beautifully presented, all combining to ensure Sunday got cancelled!
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
15+ beers will be available over the weekend together with live music from Kaleidoscope and The Buzz Room and an Irish Folk band on the Sunday afternoon.
These events always seem to run out of beer early due to their remarkable popularity so get there early to support this important charity. Local businesses have sponsored the ale and the bands are playing for free. Raffles and other money raising events will be going on throughout the weekend.
Anglo Dutch Brewery – Pacific Gem - 3.8% - £2.10 - A full bodied pale ale
Yorkshire Dales Brewery – Ivy Scar – 3.9% - £2.10 - A mahogany dark ale which is mildly hopped.
Leeds Brewery – Leeds Pale - 3.8% - £2.10 - An easy drinking pale ale. Light and hoppy with delicate floral notes and a well balanced finish.
Durham Brewery – Bonny Lass – 3.9% - £2.10 - A ruby coloured, malty and full bodied bitter.
Conway Brewery – Honey Fair – 4.5% - £2.30 - Amber best bitter with hints of a honey sweetness taste with a hoppy bitter finish.
Harviestoun Brewery – Schiehallion – 4.8% - £2.30 - Scottish cask lager, brewed using a lager yeast and hersbrucker hops. Fruit and malty bitter with a floral twist.
Caledonian Brewery – Elf Esteem – 4.0% - £2.10 - A special tawny coloured, easy drinking winter bitter with a trace of orange and molasses giving a rich and smooth texture
Breconshire Brewery – Bah Humbug – 5.0% - £2.50 - Golden Christmas ale brewed with fruit and spices. You might as well be drinking a Christmas pudding!
Brentwood Brewery – Chestnut Stout – 4.0% - £2.20 - An easy drinking but tasty stout brewed with local chestnuts.
Great Orme Brewery – Winter Ale – 4.2% - £2.20 - A biscuit coloured ale with a blackcurrant and cinnamon nose
Skinners Brewery – Christmas Fairy – 3.9% - £2.10 - Ideal Christmas session ale, light and crisp with a superb hoppy finish.
Hook Norton Brewery – Old Hooky – 4.6% - £2.30 - An unusual reddish/brown beer with a strong nutty aroma. Full bodied with a bittersweet aftertaste.
Hidden Brewery – Hidden Pleasure IPA – 4.9% - £2.30 - Revisit the pleasure of the British Empire with this traditional IPA. Deep golden with a strong dry and big aftertaste.
Acorn Brewery – Snowstorm – 4.0% - £2.20 - Pale, straw coloured bitter with a lasting hop aroma.
Phoenix Brewery – Fresh Hope Bitter – 3.8% - £2.10 - A brand new beer so fresh from the brewery we haven't had a chance to taste it yet. It's from Phoenix though, so you know it'll be good!
Update: I visited the festival at noon on Friday when it was still setting up. There were 7 beers on handpull and the others on gravity in the outside bar. Unfortunately the weather had not been kind and many of the beers were too cold and it was not warm enough to enjoy sitting on the decking so one had to spend time in the pub itself.
The beers were as shown above, and the ones I tried all had distinctively different flavours. One even tasted of TCP but I will not name it. Judge for yourself.
All in all a good festival but spoiled by the British weather. However, things may have improved as the day(s) went on and hopefully they will make plenty for their chosen charity, with bands playing free every day and all the beer being sponsored. Timbo
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Mallinsons from Lindley are branching out and are supplying a house beer for the New Oxford in Salford and the pub is also taking lots of their beers as dry hopped specials. Well worth a visit, if you are in the area. Tara has also been delivering to the Harlequin in Sheffield so watch out for her beers in that part of the world too.
Goose Eye are apparently proactively trying to source their beers into pubs and rumour has it that they are now regulars in many Halifax area pubs, particularly round Ripponden so, again, well worth a visit for one of the better breweries in Yorkshire, if you happen to be in that part of the world.
Friday, November 28, 2008
The List: St. Austell - Proper Job Otter - Bitter Hop Back - Red Amber Mauldens - Peggotty Porter Salopian - Oracle Woodfords - Norfolk Nog Exmoor - Gold Tom Woods - Jolly Ploughman Tom Woods - Bomber County Everards - Slay Bells Hardy and Hanson - Olde Trip Fullers - London Pride Hawkshead - Red Grafton - Two Water Grog Goose Eye - 3rd Generation Scattor Rock - Quarrymen Stout Magpie - Steve's Grog Wentworth - WPA (Woppa) Acorn - Barnsley Bitter Acorn - Crystal Maz Great Heck - YPA Great Heck - Porter Anglo-Dutch - Special Anglo-Dutch - Devil's Knell Wold Top - Five Wold Rings Wold Top - Falling Stone Leeds - Legless Leeds - Hell Fire
Leggers festival bar provided in part by Leeds Brewery (no prizes for guessing which part!)
Leeds Brewery beer has proved so popular at Leggers that it is to have it's own handpump installed. The three regular Leeds beers plus monthly specials will rotate on the dedicated wicket and if that's not enough a specially commissioned ale from the brewery will feature at this weekend's festival. Also available to buy behind the bar are Leeds Brewery t-shirts at the very reasonable price of £8.
For further details contact John Smithson on 01924 502846.
The glorious Leggers Inn bar
Thursday, November 27, 2008
This not to be missed event means Huddersfield beer fans will be up to their necks in the stuff as the Grove vies with the Star Inn's winter festival at Folly Hall for their precious beer buck!
Sam, the licencee, attempts to source new breweries and new beers from old favourite breweries and this festival was no exeception. It brought enthusiasts from far and wide and along with the usual suspects from the local area,attracted some from Stoke, Wolverhampton, and Derby to name but a few. Some have even booked holidays to coincide with the event.
The beers on the bar were in excellent form and a credit to Sam and her team. There were some real gems amongst them, the Pictish Neutron Star is unmissable if you like your beers hoppy, and I am informed that the 6.6% Loggers from Wensleydale is a masterpiece in the dark beer style. Add to that, specials from Mallinsons, and Phoenix, Ginger beers from Coach House and Boggart, and a selection of Stouts and Porters from various disparate brewers makes this into a not to be missed experience. The festival runs till Sunday, or until the beer runs out. See you there.
Seems that the Neutron Star was the Star of the show.First beer to run off on Friday evening. However, Goose Eye Puzzled was a more than adequate replacement, double hopped with American Hops according to Dave, the brewer. (as an aside, he was actually working behind the pumps for a bit on Friday, and I even managed to get a half served by the brewer himself).
Have also seen that the Grove is holding a St Andrews Day festival over the weekend, so should there not be enough at the Star to hold your interest, maybe a trip up the road for the Scottish beers on the bar there may just top you up.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Permanently featuring on the bar at this canal-side tavern are John Smith's Cask, Theakston Bitter, XB & Black Bull plus five rotating guests, making it the pub with the most choice in the north Kirklees area at present.
More details on the forthcoming festival will appear in due course. (map)
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Fifteen beer fans have contributed to this collection of sometimes humorous, oftentimes educational pieces on one hundred of the UK's top-selling beers. This tongue-in-cheek antidote to Roger Protz's 300 Beers To Try Before You Die tells you plenty about the sort of stuff you'd normally go out of your way to avoid, and might even convince you to sample.
As with any compilation certain contributors are a better read than others. Some wanted to tell it straight, others such as Dave Amos were funny and obviously new their subject well, even coming across a little bit beardy - despite the title. I kept hoping for stuff in the same vein as The Opinionated Beer Page rantings though, like the classic - "Mow the lawn on the hottest day of the year in flannel pajamas. When done, pour the sweat from your nutsack into a bottle, slap a label on it, and "BAM!" you have Bud Light" - but, regrettably, crudity is kept to a minimum here.
Getting detesters of a particular style of beer to taste and write about it might seem the obvious way to get laughs, and I suppose having confessed Bud Ice fan Stuart Wheatman reviewing Greene King IPA could have been a giggle, but personally I would find it pretty tough trying to be light-hearted whilst necking something I couldn't stomach - and unfortunately so did he.
The best humour is saved for the obvious targets such as the silly strength special brews beloved of park bench-warmers, and the ludicrous over the top advertising (Stella in particular) that has transformed the way we Brits drink. On a slightly more serious note is the recurring theme of the watered down versions of so many continental beers now found in the UK with the conclusion that we're being protected from our bad binging selves - but then we've known that for years.
Obviously continental and American brews are the mainstay but a few real ales get in on the act with Tetleys, Smiths and Fullers (as well as the aforementioned Greene King) attracting rather unimaginative historical write-ups, as befits their products by and large.
With John Smiths and Carling topping the ale & lager charts by a country mile, and likely to do so for ever it seems, having this informative little read, a kind of know your enemy handbook, close by is strangely comforting. Indeed I had no idea that Carling originated in Canada or that it took the company's finest brewers (or should that be chemists) ten years to come up with the recipe for C2 (!!) - but I do now and I feel better for it somehow!
So if you are unfortunate enough to be denied access to your favoured tipple and need to check out the opposition or are just plain curious, intimidated even by all those weird and wonderful fonts that are taking over the bar, then make sure you've a copy handy 'cos you're guaranteed to learn something - just don't expect your sides to split whilst doing so.
The Non-Beardy Beer Book is published by Tonto Books of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and thanks very much to Paul Brown of Tonto for sending me this review copy. Order it here.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The event will take place at Slaithwaite Conservative Club, Brittania Road, Slaithwaite, Huddersfield on Thursday 13th and Friday 14th November, between 6.00pm and 11.00pm, and Saturday 15th November from 12 noon to 11.00pm.
There will be over 30 Real Ales from independent and micro-breweries all over the UK. Entertainment is laid on for Friday and Saturday, and hot food is also available.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
Barrels have been delivered to The Star, The Monkey Club, Lockwood and Salford Con Club, The White Hart at New Mill and the Green Cross in Moldgreen, amongst others and I shall endeavour to get my paws on some this week. More beers are soon to follow and the brewers have set up their own website though currently there is nothing on it except contact details.
Monday, October 27, 2008
The Cellar Bar holds it's 2nd Annual Hallowe'en Beer Festival this week (Thursday 30 October - Saturday 1 November) and here's the line up:
Bob's Brewing Co. - Autumn Equinox 4.5% This pale ale is brewed using a blend of American hops. It has a strong citrus presence with a dry and fruity finish.
Eastwood - Hellraiser 4.0% Creamy, yellow, hoppy bitter with hints of citrus fruits. Pleasantly strong bitter after taste.
Hyde's - Jekyll's Gold 4.3% Pale gold in colour with a fruity nose. A well balanced beer with hop, fruit and malt in the taste and a bitter finish.
Harviestoun - Number of the Beast 3.6% A tasty light ale that has a fruity nose with notes of lemon and grapefruit. Soft bodied with a lingering bitter finish.
Old Mill - Halloween Suprise 3.9% A mellow malty flavour with a distinctive hop character with hints of chocolate.
Moorhouse - Pendle Witch (bottles) 5.1% Well balanced, full bodied, malty beer with a long complex finish.
Wychwood - Hobgoblin 4.5% Ruby red in colour, Hobgoblin is full bodied and has a delicious chocolate toffee malt flavour
Herritage - Scarecrow 4.5% Hazy wheat beer flavoured with lemon and corriander
Robinsons - Spellbound 4.1% This dry hoppy ale is light oak in colour with notes of citrus, liquorice and toffee with a bitter finish.
Elland - Diablo 5.6% This smooth porter is made using 7 different malts and single English hop variety to give a rich, dark, devil of a brew.
Old Bear - Witch's Brew 5.0% Dark ruby red ale with a malt and liquorice aroma.
Moorhouse - Black Cat (bottles) 3.4% A dark mild style beer with delicate chocolate and coffee roast flavours.
A rather tasty looking selection then to sample in the bowels of Batley. Be there and be scared!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
All the beers bar one were from the roses counties (a popular theme this year) priced at £2.20 a pint across the board, with some outstanding entries from local producers. Of particular note were the exceptional Pandemonium Vanilla Porter (4.4%) from Empire, based just down the road from the pub, and the Swan Special (3.8%) from new Huddersfield brewers Mallinsons.
The porter was an astonishing success combining a full on vanilla aroma and initial taste followed beautifully by chocolate and coffee notes and just enough bitterness to thoroughly satisfy. Hopefully production of this supreme ale will continue through the winter months and make numerous appearances at my locals - I can't imagine ever getting enough of this stuff!
The Mallinson brew was another triumph (they always seem to save their best efforts for festivals) with a good refreshing lemony zest. Also worthy of mention was the Rye 'n' Dry (4.1%) by the impressive Hornbeam outfit in Manchester, from whom I've yet to sample anything that could be described as ordinary.
Monday, October 06, 2008
All the hallmarks of the Ossett Brewery Pub Co. brand - the ornate bar, the trademark arch, the quality furnishings and tasteful decor - are much in evidence at this new flagship pub.
The Silver King offers drinkers and diners a traditional but stylish environment in which to enjoy the company's award-winning ale and excellent cuisine. The pub is bandit and TV-free and the little background music there is doesn't manage to spoil the relaxed ambiance.
Two distinct drinking areas make up the front rooms of the pub whilst the restaurant (or bistro) is in two rooms to the rear, with the old wash house conversion a particularly attractive place in which to eat. Daytime and evening menus are available and booking is recommended for the more popular nights of the week.
The place oozes quality craftsmanship throughout and has the real feel of a country inn where wooden and flagged flooring will allow for hiking boots and wet dogs in the very inclusive bar. A collection of old waiting-room style wall clocks is a particular favourite feature of mine and an old piano could lead to some rather interesting evenings!
The bar serves eight hand-pulled real ales with Ossett, Riverhead and Fernandes featuring prominently, as you would expect, alongside a Fullers (usually London Pride) and rotating guests.
To the rear a newly created furnished terrace can be accessed from the restaurant whilst a designated covered area for smokers is available by the back door. The car park can accommodate up to a dozen vehicles with a little thought but it is rather narrow so the street maybe a better bet.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
The town's premier beer festival gets under way this evening to be quickly followed by an onslaught of pub and club events through the autumn. A hectic couple of months will see beer bashes in Batley and Brighouse, emasculating inebriety in Elland and 'Ebden Bridge, some falling down in Folly Hall and I'll doubtless be going crackers in Crimble!
Keep up to date with all these festivals using the calendar in the sidebar and make the most of the best beer season of the year!
Friday, September 26, 2008
The Silver King early this morning and as The Victoria in July (above right)