Monday, June 23, 2008

Morrissey's Ale at Drop Fest

Following on from it's successful winter warmer festival last Christmas, the Drop Inn at Elland will host it's first summer event this weekend. The big news is that the pub has managed an exceptional coup in being the first to get actor turned brewer Neil Morrissey's beer Blonde (3.8%) as a guest. Apparently Morrissey has been using the facilities at Cropton Brewery in the North Riding to brew for his new pub Ye Olde Punchbowl at Marton-cum-Grafton - the only hostelry until now to serve the beer. Whether or not the man himself will drop in (sorry!) to autograph your glass remains to be seen, but hopefully his beer will prove to be a big enough attraction in itself.

As well as a further twenty or so real ales, a selection of ciders will also be available - a very popular addition at many small festivals nowadays and rightly so. A barbecue on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons plus live music from local band IE completes the picture, though a bit of weather wouldn't go amiss!

Click here to find the Drop and here to read a little more about it.

Update: A very busy and highly enjoyable festival saw the two Saltaire Brewery ales, Sundowner & Olympia, stealing the show. Morrissey-Fox's Blonde was excellent and proved very popular, barely making it into the Saturday afternoon session. Being reminiscent of early Roosters with lots of aromatic hop and good bitterness, the future of this high profile brewery looks very promising indeed. The Phoenix was exceptional too and with delicious newbies from Mallinsons of Huddersfield and Fernandes of Wakefield, punters were really spoilt for choice.

Landlord Tom Evans, partner Katie Sylvester & Bob the Builder take time out to pose for the camera at the busy Drop Inn festival.

Marsh Liberal Club Beer Festival
Another fest that almost slipped through the net! Marsh Liberal Club in Huddersfield, a regular entry in CAMRA's Good Beer Guide, celebrates it's 125th birthday with a mini beer festival this weekend. The list is as follows:

Pot Belly Beijing Black 4.4%
Oakham JHB 3.8%
Nobby's LL Welland Goo 4.7%
Newby Wyke Kingston Topaz 4.2%
Great Oakley Wagtail 3.9%
Frog Island Shoemaker 4.2%
Brown Cow Captain Oates Mild 4.5%
Brewsters Daffy's Elixer 4.2%

Further details can be found on the club's website.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hall Bower Beer Festival

July's beer diary is certainly filling up fast. Another local WMC has just announced it's first festival, and after the Monkey Club's knockout debut last summer, who would dare miss this one! It's not a place I know but then I wasn't very familiar with Armitage Bridge this time last year either - so take a little break from the Star (yes it's the same weekend!!) and find room for a few more beers, including some specially commissioned ones, up at Hall Bower Club. It might just be the start of something wonderful!

All the details, including how to get there, are on the flier. Please click it for the good of your eyesight! (map) (website)

Monday, June 16, 2008

More Mallinsons

Described as "amber coloured, malty and well balanced with a bitter taste and finish" by new Huddersfield brewers Mallinsons, this 4.4% beer has been delivered to the usual outlets (I assume since The Star has some) and will be available this week.
If you should happen upon Wild Card then please share your thoughts.

The brewery plans to produce four regular beers named after local landmarks - see their website for further details.
A Mallinsons beer will also feature at next month's Monkeyfest.

Update: I have to admit to not enjoying this half as much as their debut 'At Long Last' but then it is an entirely different animal. A good buscuity malt in the mouth but falling disappointingly short of a nice balanced finish with hardly any bitterness. From the little I've heard about the brewer I think we can expect the majority of beers to be well hopped and bitter, so I won't lose sleep over this.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Leeds Brewery's Midnight Bell

A little out of my jurisdiction maybe but since I enjoy the output from this one year old brewery enormously, I just needed to visit it's first pub in person.

The rear of The Midnight Bell complete with attractive outdoor drinking area
A city the size of Leeds needs a respected independent craft brewery since the demise of Tetleys as a serious cask ale producer, and importantly one that is immediately identifiable with it's home town.
The marketing by this new producer over the past twelve months has been nothing short of blitzkrieg - indeed it's virtually impossible to go in any freehouse in West Yorkshire without seeing evidence that a guest beer from Leeds has beaten you to it. From pump-clip to website, this has the look of a very slick organisation indeed - one of which any city would justifiably be proud. Of course the ale's got to be top notch too, so when the parochial drinkers of Huddersfield (who seldom utter the 'L' word in polite conversation) are seen dispatching a barrel of Pale or Midnight Bell in a single session, you know you're on to a winner!

Three regular Leeds brews plus a seasonal special & two guests feature on the bar
However it's all very well getting your stuff in other people's establishments - to really make your mark as a serious player in these real ale renaissance times, nothing short of your own pub will do. Look at the way local brewers Copper Dragon and Ossett have gone from strength to strength by not only creating a popular product but having the faith to go on and produce the perfect environment in which to enjoy it.

A further three handpumps dispensing the permanent Leeds range greet customers entering from Water Lane

The city of Leeds is still undergoing a huge regeneration, nowhere more than at Holbeck where a new urban village is taking shape. Just a few minutes walk from the massively improved railway station, this cleverly designed complex is set to become the most attractive part of the city (so my sources say!) and although essentially comprising blocks of high-end apartments, offices and even an award winning skyscraper(!), it manages to avoid being that soulless urban landscape so popular with architects thirty years ago. I'm not a city person by any stretch of the imagination but after six years(!!) without a proper visit to Yorkshire's largest, I was astonished at how quickly my claustrophobic fears vanished.

Stairs lead up to the pub's dining area. Note the brewery's leaf-shape logo design on the walls and the bar.

The Midnight Bell itself manages to blend old and modern features rather well and as a consequence should have a wide ranging appeal. A more traditional interior can still be found at the perfectly preserved Grove just a short walk away, and between the two of them provide a good contrast in generational popular pub styles. The currently available range of Leeds Brewery beer was on the bar at the Bell including their very latest seasonal offering, Yorker. At 4.0% this refreshing ale is described as a straw-coloured summer beer comprising lightly roasted barleys and a careful blend of English and Slovenian hops that are bound to bowl you over. Well I must admit the whole experience rather bowled me over and with news that the brewery's second pub is due to open in the city later this summer, I feel a return to metropolis could well be on the cards sooner rather than later! (map)

A couple of views of The Midnight Bell's neighbourhood - Bridgewater Place (top) and the rapidly developing Granary Wharf.

Friday, June 13, 2008

High Summer Date For New Ossett

The White Horse at Emley is now undergoing it's Ossett Brewery makeover and, subject to confirmation, is expected to reopen on Friday 11th July - slotting in neatly between the Monkeyfest and the War of the Roses bash. It seems there's never a dull moment around here of late!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wot...No England?

Thought a few breweries might be knocking out commiseration specials to mark the England football team's most recent bout of ineptitude, but so far I have only found this one. Not known for it's comedy beers, Ossett Brewery has inexplicably gone all witty on us with this 4.3% derivative, complete with a chad cartoon pumpclip to rub it in. I've heard when it comes to games the brewery is more supportive of egg-chasing than football - so I guess this is probably not intended as a sympathetic brew. Their tasting notes are as follows: "A mellow copper coloured ale. Lightly bittered but with plenty of tangy hop aroma." Only lightly bittered? - hardly how most England fans will be feeling I think!

Pub Map

It seems to be the 'in thing' for blogs to incorporate a Google Map showing exactly where the action is, so I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon too. The map is on the side bar and is focused on the centre of Huddersfield but by clicking on the 'view larger map' button below it, a wider area can be navigated. Pub information can then be accessed by clicking on the blue markers either on the map itself or from the list down the left hand side.

View Larger Map

So far only a handful of pubs have been added but gradually I hope to include all the best real ale venues in the Kirklees area, and maybe beyond. If your favourite pub is misrepresented in any way please leave a comment so it can be amended.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Summer Porter

It was the carved pumpclips that first got my attention some six or seven years ago. Ever since then I've been a big fan of Boggart Hole Clough Brewery in north Manchester and always look out for their ales guesting locally or gracing festivals. So my Sunday lunchtime stroll up to The Grove in Huddersfield was all the more enjoyable this week a/ for not having looked at the pub's website beforehand - something I must avoid more often since I like a surprise, and b/ 'cos some Boggart was on. Now ordinarily when the temperature gets up in the 70s and the sweat's pouring down my pants, the last thing on my mind is a 5% porter, but hang me if Waterloo Sunset wasn't just the best thing going (the legendary and now Grove-permanent Jaipur not withstanding of course!)

This rich, smokey, coffee & chocolate tainted beauty was neither cloying nor too heavy to be enjoyed on a warm summer's day and was served a touch cooler for, dare I say it, an almost refreshing experience! With a satisfying dry bitterness to round off, this very accomplished beer gets a rather unexpected thumbs up from someone not noted for his love of roasted ale - but then it is Boggart we're on about. On the down side the carved clips seem to have vanished and been replaced by those all too common laminated bits of card - which is a shame, but in my case at least, they certainly did their job!

10th June Update: My regular Tuesday lunch venue The Huntsman at Chidswell has Boggart's Bog-eyed (4%) on today and it's in lovely condition. This light and fruity summer quencher only serves to underline what a splendid brewery this is.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Beer-jing Ale-ed A Success

"Thank you to everyone who attended last weekend's Beer-Jing Ale-ympics Beer Festival at the West Riding. It was a massive success and for the 2nd year running we ran out of beer on the Saturday night! (So all in all we had 33 beers on and sold over 2,304 pints of Real Ale on the outside bar!)
We were going to re rack some beer for the Sunday but due to the poor weather conditions decided not to and moved the Budists to the Cellar Bar so we could enjoy them in the dry! Apologies to those of you that turned up on Sunday.

Some beers to look forward to over the next week at the West are:-
Anglo Dutch - Sarah Barnes Stark Raven Wild, Midsummer Ale
White Rose - Pilgrim, Out for a Duck, Fools Gold
Leeds - Midnight Bell
Phoenix - White Tornado, Mayfly
Moorhouse - Pride & Pendle, Broomstick
Copper Dragon - Challenger IPA
Scattor Rock - Dartmoor Blonde
Greenfield - Delph Donkey
Durham - White Amarillo

Both websites are back up and running but not as updated as they should be due to the festival, fingers crossed this will be done by next week.

Don't miss Joe Gallagher's Noise this Saturday at the Cellar Bar from 8.30pm.
See you soon"
Sarah @ West Riding/Cellar Bar

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

At Long Last...Some Mallinsons!

Early indications are that The Grove has managed to get Huddersfield's newest brewery on it's bar ahead of the competition. If their website is correct then the 4.1% debutant At Long Last... from the Mallinsons Brewing Company in Lindley, is now being served. This eagerly awaited event will doubtless have local scoopers hot-footing it to Spring Grove as I write and with any luck I'll get some tasting notes before sundown!

Tasting notes from The Star (the second pub to get it on): A golden hoppy brew with a hint of sweetness and a long dry lingering bitterness - oh and more than a pinch of local sarcasm or is it self-deprecation! Others trying it at the Grove also reported ginger and spicy notes though these were apparently fleeting. I really wanted to try this at several outlets this evening for an overall assessment but the Grove sounded a little premature, whilst the Rat played safe by leaving it another day. Never mind my buds will be ready to re-assess this newby brew by the weekend - that's providing there's any left!
The pumpclip photo is of the brewery at Lindley but the colour's run or something. It looked just the same on the bar last night but is nothing like as grotty in real life. Click here to see it as it really is!