Friday, May 30, 2008

Fernandes Gets A Makeover

When Ossett Brewery reopened Fernandes last October, all the emphasis was on the newly created Bier Keller. And rightly so. This was a very bold move in a town the size of Wakefield (only Leeds has anything comparable locally) and, with a recent award for best themed beer venue in the north of England resulting in a place at next month's national finals, it now seems to be getting the recognition it deserves.

But of course cask beer is what the company's all about, and whilst all eyes were on the Keller, the Fernandes brewery and bar quietly got on with producing and serving some of the finest ale around in somewhat more humble surroundings. However, after a week's refit, the second floor bar is once again open for business with a stunning face lift.

A redesigned bar is the central feature which is now geared to serve a couple of extra beers (ten in total) - very necessary if guests are still to feature prominently in the wake of recent Greene King & Fullers deals. The roof beams are now more eye-catching than before and new furnishings have put the sheen back that had been on the wain for some time.

Ossett pubs have an image that those who've sampled them will immediately recognise from the photos. For me it's a traditional Olde Inne image just as suitable for hordes of walkers as it is for a party bound for the theatre - i.e. no pretensions, just a perfect atmosphere in which to enjoy your lovingly hand-crafted brew. I think it's safe to say that if Carlsberg did pub interiors they probably wouldn't look anything like this! Thank God there are still a few people around who care enough to produce these kind of places. Nice job!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Something Good Happening In Dewsbury Shock!

My birthplace has had the worst press of any town in the UK recently. It just seems to be one horror story after another at the moment and I would be lying if I said it wasn't getting to me. But there are some good things happening too - and some good people making them happen. This afternoon for example sees the start of a beer festival billed as the perfect antidote to this summer's Olympic Games (have they started yet?) - so if you're sickened by China's human rights record or can't stand the sight of fit & healthy people doing energetic stuff then how about getting to the West Riding and participating in some lesser known sporting challenges such as the 'Long Gulp', the 'Ten Litre Crawl' or perhaps even trying your hand at 'Scooping the Scoopers' (see Tandleman for details of this electrifying new pastime!) Over thirty beers will be featured including some brewed specially for the event.

Here is the full list and some tasting notes courtesy of Sarah Barnes from the West Riding & Cellar Bar:

Abbeydale – Embalming Prep – 5.0% - £2.30
A pale beer, hoppy aromas with grassy and fruity flavours, beautifully balanced with a lingering finish
Anglo Dutch – Sarah Barnes (Stark Raven Wild) – 6.0% £2.40
A black brew, midly hopped with target, surprisingly light on the tongue.
Atomic – Bomb – 5.2% -£2.30
A golden ale with a well hopped fruity finish, brewed with maris otter malt and 3 aromatic hops
Barnstormer – Wild Hare – 5.0% - £2.30
A pale organic bitter, toasted grapefruit aroma with a hoppy & fruity taste. Refreshing & clean on the palate
Blythe – Chase Bitter – 4.4% - £2.20
Copper to tawny coloured with a fruit & hop start with a caramel sweetness developing
BradfieldOlympic Special – 4.5% - £2.20
A fruity full bodied pale beer with bursts of citrus and summer fruits aromas, refreshing drink with a sharp dry aftertaste
Breconshire – Ramblers Ruin – 5.0% - £2.30
Dark amber, full bodied with rich biscuity malt & fruit flavours. Background hops and bitterness round off the beer
CaledonianXPA – 4.3% - 2.20
A golden beer with a citric hop aroma, a full, malty flavour & clean, bittersweet finish
Derventio – Roman Pale Ale – 3.6% - £2.10
Light, fragrant & deliciously hoppy
Dogs Life – Gone to the Dogs – 4.5% - £2.20
A light brown beer with a well balanced malt & hop flavour
Durham – Beer-jing Bitter – 4.4% - £2.20
A golden ale, fruity & rich with orange & honey with a touch of corriander, balanced by centennial hops
Elland – Sunshine Day – 4.8% - £2.20
A debut beer, pale copper coloured and a full flavoured bitter with a hoppy aroma and a long bitter aftertaste
Enville – Ginger – 4.6% - £2.20
Golden bright with gentle ginger twangs. A drinkable beer with no accute flavour but a satisfying aftertaste of sweet hopiness
Fernandes – Pickled Pecker – 5.5% - £2.30
A smooth strong black stout, easy drinking for it’s strength
Grafton - Summer Bliss – 4.5% - £2.20
Greenfield – Brewery Mill – 4.2% - £2.20
Golden bitter with a slightly dry hoppy taste
Holdens – Golden Glow – 4.4% - £2.20
A golden ale with a subtle yet fragrant hop aroma. A thirst quenching refreshing beer
Hornbeam – West Riding Steam Ale – 4.8% - £2.20
Red-copper in colour with a deep hoppiness, floral & fruity with citrus mellow to a pleasing sweetness
Harviestoun – Mae Best – 4.2% - £2.20
A darker beer with blackcurrant overtones further hop additions produce a pleasing floral aroma – very moreish!
Harviestoun – Ptarmigan – 4.5% - £2.20
A well balanced bittersweet beer. The dominant malt & hops together with fruit produces a clean hoppy aftertaste
Leeds – Yorkshire Gold – 4.2% - £2.20
A full golden ale. Specially selected English Northdown hops give this well balanced bitter a rich and satisfying finish.
MoorhousesAle-lymics Ale – 4.2% - £2.20
A smooth, satisfying dark ale with a full round distinct chocolate malt body and a pleasant hop aftertaste
NethergateStour Valley – 6.5% - £2.50
A strong entire butt brewed using a blend of dark chocolate and amber malts. A fine dark garnet ale
OakhamJHB – 3.8% - £2.10
A straw coloured ale with an aromatic citrus hop. A hoppy, fruity and bottersweet palate with a dry bitter aftertaste
OldershawDecacdence – 6.3% - £2.50
Strong, amber & full of flavour with a fruity, spicy aroma from 1st gold and willamette hops
Olde Swan – Dark Swan – 4.2% - £2.20
Smooth & sweet dark mild with a late roast malt in the finish
Salopian – Hop Twister – 4.5% - £2.20
A golden pale ale with a fine citrusy flavour leading to a complex, refreshing hop finish
SaltaireOlympia – 4.0% - £2.10
Greek honey is infused with this classic blonde beer for a refreshing taste
White Horse – Saracen IPA – 4.5% - £2.20
A medium body with a crisp bitterness from fuggles and east kent goldings hops. Vienna & amber malts balance the bitterness
Woods – Shropshire Lass – 4.2% - £2.20
Fruity, golden bitter with good hop and dry aftertaste, blonde and well flavoured
Yorkshire Dales – Silver – 4.1% - £2.20
Crisp and dry with lots of golding hops

Update: By Saturday afternoon one or two I'd liked to have sampled had been finished, including the Leeds (no surprise there!) but the superb fruity Durham Beijing Bitter and delightful Cairngorm Ptarmigan were undoubtedly the best of the rest.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It's The Bitter End

Based in Cockermouth this interesting micro brewery, housed in The Bitter End pub, rarely features on the bars of West Yorkshire but this week will see a brace of it's brews at The Grove in Huddersfield (where else?!)

"Established in 1995, initially a one barrel plant using whisky casks as fermenters, the brewery was refurbished in 2004 and an American copper clad integrated brew plant installed. The whole brew process can be seen through a glazed partition in the pub. Brew days vary but are typically twice a week. Cockermouth Pride is always on the bar; other beers are brewed in rotation plus seasonal, charity and festival specials." (From the brewery's website)

The beers are Dark Mild (3.7%) and the intriguing Georgian Fayre Ginger Pale Ale at just 2.8%. As a big fan of lashings of ginger beer, whether alcoholic or not, this, and the guesting Ginger Pale Ale (4.2%) from Elland Brewery, make a visit to The Grove a matter of some urgency!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ossett Adds Another

Ossett Brewery has purchased it's eleventh pub in just six years with the addition of The White Horse at Emley. An attractive village inn serving a good range of quality real ale has been sadly lacking in this rural area of Huddersfield for some time, so this news will be greatly appreciated - not least by this local! The pub is expected to relaunch around the middle of July. Further details to follow.

Other news from the brewery concerns an imminent makeover for the upstairs bar at Fernandes in Wakefield whilst an extension is planned for The Tap at Ossett.

OSSETT'S FIRST XI in order of acquisition:
Black Bull, Liversedge
Rat & Ratchet, Huddersfield
Three Pigeons, Halifax
Shepherds Rest, Sowerby Bridge
Travellers Inn, Hipperholme
Shepherds Boy, Dewsbury
The Drop Inn, Elland
Riverhead Brewery Tap & Dining Room, Marsden
The Tap, Ossett
Fernandes Bar & Bier Keller, Wakefield
The White Horse, Emley

Monday, May 19, 2008

Local CAMRA Sites

The internet is a marvellous thing for keeping up to date. I'll use it for everything from checking a train time for a local beer fest to finding out the very latest on the search for Ivory-billed Woodpecker in the swamps of Louisiana (a bird long thought to be extinct but apparently heard again recently don't you know!) And, by and large, I get the info I'm after and wonder how I ever managed before the world wide web arrived to enrich, educate and entertain. Researching is now so simple and convenient that we can cram previously wasted grey matter with a whole host of information that obsesses, fascinates or simply intrigues us. It seems there's nothing that isn't covered by someone somewhere, so even if your passions are as 'minority' as mine, you can get the full skinny at the simple click of a mouse. Brilliant!

But how is it that every time, and I mean every time, I go to my local CAMRA sites to see which pub has picked up what award or check on a festival date or look for some micro's phone number I'm faced with the most unsightly looking pages of poorly put together out of date dross since the web began. I mean how on earth is it possible to give your site the look of something designed twenty years before the internet was even invented Huddersfield?! It just looks pants fellas and a major face-lift with extra tucks is now way overdue.
Calderdale, why haven't you updated your pub of the year, or season for that matter, since 2006 for crying out loud?! How time consuming can it possibly be? And why oh why is the local beer festival section always empty? Last September I had to phone up to find out whether certain festivals were still going ahead, and nothing's changed! You're supposed to be supporting these pubs and their efforts! As for Wakefield - I get a hangover without so much as touching a drop looking at your site. Sure it seems reasonably up to the minute but I instantly forget what I came on for and have to exit very quickly and lie down in a darkened room before the nausea wells up - truly disgusting! I would like to say something unkind about Heavy Woollen branch too but it looks like someone beat me to it as their site has completely vanished - making it slightly more user-friendly I hasten to add!

So come on CAMRA, buck your ideas up and start portraying the local real ale scene with a little more flair and imagination, 'cos quite frankly the image you portray has bugger all chance of attracting or informing a new generation of drinkers who might one day go on to care passionately enough about pubs & beer to save them going the way of those aforementioned birds!

More Brew Dog

Plenty to catch up on at the moment with beer festivals coming out of my ears, but they'll wait. What won't is the great news that Ossett Brewery have bullied Brew Dog into sending some more of their highly acclaimed ale to the West Riding. This week sees Huddersfield's pub of the year (again!) the Rat & Ratchet serving up the tasty Edge mild (2.7%) followed by the superb Hype (4.1%) whilst The Shepherds Boy in Dewsbury & Fernandes also have Hype with The Physics (5%) following on at Wakefield. This beer won't hang around so give 'em a ring for those all important dates!
You may have heard that the brewery has recently been involved in a little controversy regarding the naming of it's beer range. Click here for the story.

On the subject of Fernandes it has just scooped the northern section award for best themed beer venue and goes into the national finals to be held at the Battersea Evolution in London next month. More details here.