Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nawaab Gets Real Ale!!!

Visitors to the Nawaab Indian Restaurant on Westgate in Huddersfield will now be able to get real ale on the bar. As from this week, they have started selling a local real ale, served through handpump, selected and supplied by Sam at The Star on their behalf.

Hopefully, the addition of a light hoppy real ale will compliment the spicy Indian cuisine at the award winning Nawaab perfectly, and give their customers chance to try something different with their meals.Both Sam and Ash at the Nawaab are excited by the new venture and hope that this leads to more local restaurants taking the real ale route. The first beer on the bar is Mallinsons Semi Centurian which is brewed locally, in Lindley.

Good luck to all concerned.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bank Holiday Festivals

Naturally there's plenty going off this weekend - including me! Had I been here though, these two festivals would definately be on the agenda.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mallinsons Does It Again

After being tantalised by the pump clip behind the bar at The Star all week, Mallinsons 'Let There be Hops' finally made it to the bar at 6pm on Saturday. The wait was well worth it. A 5.3% beer, that does what it says on the clip. A light, massively hopped beer, full of intense Nelson Sauvin flavour and very very moreish. It is rare to see a beer of this strength gain such universal approval, but it managed it. No one I spoke to had anything other than praise for it.

It was first spotted at the Harlequin festival in Sheffield a couple of weeks ago, Dave 'Unpronounceable's' 30th birthday bash. He helped Tara brew it and suggested the strength and the hops used I believe - his is the face on the pump clip. There was another version especially for the festival, 'Let There Be More Hops' which, judging by the amount of hops in the original version, must have been one of the hoppiest beers of the year.

As I have said before, Mallinsons just go from strength to strength as a brewery and Tara can successfully turn her hand to all sorts of beer. Her latest offering is another mild, 'Marina Mild' which will be a totally different beast to the previous one and no doubt equally as good. If you have not tried a Mallinson's beer yet, what are you waiting for ?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Shepley Spring Festival

For the third year running Elland Brewery is producing two special cask beers exclusively for the wonderful Shepley Spring Festival – a four day musical event held at the Cricket Club and the village itself, beginning on Thursday 14 May. The festival attracts thousands of visitors from all over the UK and beyond.

The first beer is SHEPLEY SPRING FESTIVAL ALE (3.8%), a light & refreshing session bitter, well hopped, giving a crisp and clean citrus fruity finish. This has been a real favourite at the previous festivals and sure to be drunk in copious quantities again this time.

The second specially brewed beer is SHEPLEY CRICKET CLUB BITTER (4.0%), a pale, golden bitter with a well-balanced initial sweet malt flavour and a subtle bitterness from the English Bramling Cross hops. Delicious!

Both beers will only be available in the Festival Club (Beer Tent!) on the main site, where they will be joined by two of Elland Brewery’s favourites, NETTLETHRASHER (4.4%) and the beautiful, fruity, dark ruby mild BORN TO BE MILD (3.7%). Incidentally, Shepley Cricket Club serves Elland Brewery beers throughout the year and is currently offering BARGEE in its Clubhouse.

For those wanting entertainment with their beer, the fun starts on the Thursday evening with a free night featuring three local acts led by Emily Druce’s Why & Wherefores.

Thereafter it is just £4.00 to enter the site (children U12 free) to enjoy top quality musicians from all over the world, as well as a host of other entertainment, craft stalls, children’s events and a food village. For the real music enthusiasts, it is possible to upgrade to watch the headline performers in the two five-hundred seater marquees.

The Festival is open from 5.00 pm on Friday 15 May, and from 10.00 am on the Saturday and Sunday and full details can be found on the website. (directions)
With thanks to Ian Watkinson of Shepley CC for supplying the above.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Foley Fest

Mr. Foley's in Leeds is holding a mini-fest in May (Thurs. 7th - Tues. 12th). Entitled " A-Z of New Northern Micro Brewers" it will be featuring "over 25 cask ales" - 26 probably then...

There will be no special festival bar, beer will appear as others run off.

A meet the brewer evening has been arranged for 7pm on Monday 11th May, featuring Huddersfield brewster Tara Mallinson.

OK, A is for Anglo-Dutch etc., anyone out there (without reference books) give me a Z (or an X).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sportsman Update

Huddersfield has another town centre real ale house to embrace with the opening this Friday (24th) of The Sportsman on the corner of Fitzwilliam Street and St Johns Road (map). As reported last month the pub will feature eight handpumps serving two Taylors, Golden Sheep (the new Black Sheep Brewery beer), a permanent local brewery line, one for stouts and porters and the remainder for rotating guests.

Ten keg beers will be available including fruit and wheat varieties and possibly both Budvars. That's a hell of a choice even for a town with a reputation like this one. All we need now is for Alistair to be a darling and ensure that we can still afford the bloody stuff!

Best wishes & good luck to everyone involved.

The Sportsman opened its doors at 6 pm on Friday, and from a special correspondent the beers on the bar at the time were Landlord and Mild, from Taylors, Golden Sheep from Black Sheep, Mallinsons Semi Centurion, Empire Valour, Summer Wine Furnace Gold, and Golcar Mild. Seems they have lived up to their promise of sourcing local beers. Its not often one sees a bar with no beer from outside Yorkshire.

Santiam Back Again

For lovers of the light hoppy beers produced by Pictish, their new single hopped variety, Santiam (4.1%) is an absolute classic. So classic in fact that the barrel at the Star lasted just over four hours.

In case some may have missed it, Sam has managed to acquire another barrel. Not sure when it will be on but if you see it, it is well worth a pint or two...or three! This American hop variety with it's unique flavour produces a long finish here and has resulted in one of the better Pictish brews currently available (and that is high praise for a new beer).

PS I know it was on at the Rat as well, but some people drank it all so I never got chance to try it !!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Festival With A Differerence

As you may be aware, J D Wetherspoons are holding their annual beer festival between 15th April and 4th May this year (full menu here). They promise to provide 50 beers including several brewed by guest foreign brewers in British brew plants. Readers of the blog have probably noticed that The Cherry Tree In Huddersfield rarely features here - not because of the beer quality, that is usually good, but because of the feeling that the pub engenders. Who wants to drink in a converted bed shop for goodness sake??

That notwithstanding , and in the interest of beer drinking I had a little trip around the local 'Spoons' to see what was on offer - visiting those in Halifax and Brighouse as well as The Cherry Tree. Armed with their well produced programme I set to work on the many varied beers available, (for those wanting to sample plenty they do serve beers in third pint glasses, provided you want three of the beers on the bar).

A brief overview provided ten beers, only one I would have said was spectacular, a 6.2% porter from Finland. It was full of rich dark flavour provided by the use of four different malts according to the tasting notes. Many of the others seemed to be in the English mid-brown style and often tasted very similar.

The problem with the festival from my point of view is that each pub only has a certain number of beers on the bar at once, sold through the normal handpumps. Quality is therefore good, but the range seemed somewhat limited and pedestrian. There were often three foreign beers available but I avoided these generally for the British breweries offerings. Also it seemed that the same basic range was available at all the pubs I visited where I would have hoped for more variety. However, should you want a bit of a change then may be the Wetherspoon festival may provide it - it will certainly allow you to try beers crafted by brewers from outside the U.K and I hope to try more as the weeks go on. I will let you know.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Taste Experience (part 2)

As readers of the blog will have noticed that despite my love of the lighter hoppier beers, I will often go in search of the unusual, or in some cases, downright weird. This week was a case in point.

First of all was the Marble Ginger 6 in The Grove (which seemed to divide opinion) as blogged previously. I followed this with a trip to Greater Manchester, which provided CBC 'Blonde', which said on the clip it was brewed with pineapple (with a picture of a pine tree?!) though tasted of neither. Sharps 'Spring Mild' mentioned gorse in the brew but never having tasted gorse I could not be sure, though the beer was ok. These both appeared at the Crescent in Salford by the way. On the bar at the New Oxford in Salford (right) was an interesting Orkney called 'Clootie Dumpling' with cinnamon flavour - though not overpowering.

The highlight of the week was a trip to one of my favourite pub festivals, The Baltic Fleet in Liverpool (right). Here the list promised ten fruit beers from Wapping, all at 4.2%. They appeared to be from the same basic Summer Ale brew and during the afternoon my taste buds were assailed by beers purporting to be Lemon, Manadarin, Pineapple, Kiwi, Mango, and Grapefruit flavoured but to be perfectly honest none, apart from the Lemon, tasted of much at all. The star of the show did though, and it must be the most bizarre beer I have tasted in a while. The Orange and Black Pepper had good orange flavour but the black pepper gave it an interesting background taste and a very nice edge. All I need now is to taste the Skinners 'Ginger Tosser' at the Star and my week of the weird and wonderful will be complete.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Alehouse Update

Some of you may remember Kevin Yelland who used to be the barman at the Rat & Ratchet. Big bloke, ginger hair in a ponytail and a beard - and a fervent Wolves supporter. He left the area a few years ago and became the brewer, and I think, owner of the Alehouse Brewery in St Albans as well as the manager of the local classic pub, The Lower Red Lion.

Just recently I came across him delivering to a pub in Sheffield and we caught up over a couple of beers. He has moved on from the Lower Red to The Mermaid, still in St Albans, and due to the move his brewput slowed down but now, with everything settled, he is back brewing as normal. If anyone has tasted Alehouse beers they will recall their assertive hoppiness and Kev's fanatical devotion to different hop varieties. This has not changed - well at least the latter part.

He was one of the early champions of foreign hops, especially American and New World, and was happy to have succeeded in obtaining Simcoe hops to recreate one of his favourite beers this year, 'Simplicity', along with Sauvin from New Zealand which he said have become more prevalent this year due to a better harvest than for the fellow Riwaka and Mortueka varieties.

He did admit that his brewing style has changed lately. He is using the same quantity of hops but adding some later in the boil as aroma, rather than bittering, hoping that this change may be more acceptable by resulting in less aggressively hopped beers. He believes that his beer will still go down well in Yorkshire, he just needs the chance to be able to get some on the local bars to prove it - so if you spot an Alehouse beer, try it, see what you think and remember it's local connection.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


As frequent visitors to Italy, we quickly noticed how different the drinking culture is, how it changes the further south you travel, or even the more remote the village.

After ten hours hard labour we like nothing better than to go to the pub for a couple of pints, Italians are more likely to hit the bar for a quick coffee and get home asap.Its not that Italians don't drink, they just tend not to in public, unless there is a good excuse, for example a market in town with a beer tent....

Despite this there are many interesting beers to be found in Italy, not just those imported from Germany, Holland and Belgium (see Will's Venezia piece last year, or check out "The Beer Book" - isbn 9781-1-4053-3301-6), and it was on our latest trip that we found ourselves drinking excellent local beer in a quality pub in the northern city of Bergamo.

Until recently you didn't get Brits in Bergamo, then Ryanair took over the local airport and renamed it Milan (Orio al Serio), the cities football teams are Atalanta and AlbinoLeffe for extra confusion. Once in the city, head for the "Citta Alta", unspoilt medieval, narrow cobbled streets, restaurants, deli's, cafe bars, and decent pubs.
One is "La Antiqua Birreria de Bergamo" to one side of Piazza Vecchia, on the other side, on Via Colleoni Bartolomeo, is the "Papageno Pub" (pictured) , 5 "birra alla spina", Dutch, Belgium and German - an extensive Belgium bottle menu and, new to this visit, local beer from the "Birrifico Artiginale de Maurizio & Miriam" ( brewed just outside Bergamo in the town of Ponte San Pietro.

Four different beers were available from the brewery, Ilary, a weiss beer @4.5%, Miriam, blond @5.5%, Francy, amber @5.5% and Mary, a dark 5.5% which we did not have time to try. All were superbly crafted, hoppier than the German ales that were the inspiration, and a drinkable abv too. Our fellow drinkers turned out to be from Lancashire and Galway, locals popped in for a quick coffee.............
We shall return.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Ginger Disappointment

After a long wait, Marble Ginger 6 finally appeared on the bar at the Grove. I had high hopes of the beer, mostly based on the success of Marble Ginger and the other wonderful beers in the Marble range.

Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectation. Of course, there was ginger there, but not the fresh mouth tingling ginger of the Marble Ginger. This was overwhelmed in my opinion by a vinous background, that seemed to mask any other flavours, and gave it a feel of pure alcohol. It was 6% admittedly but for a beer of that strength I expected something more....truth be told, it was one of the few Marble beers which has not 'wowed' me.

I have only had it once, and never at the Marble Arch. I may have got the end, or the start of the barrel or I may have just caught a bad batch at a bad time. But, sorry Marble, it did not impress.

As an aside, the lover of light hoppy beer should be well catered for at The Star this week. There are 2 new Mallinsons beers to come along with a couple of Goose Eye, including the superb Chinook, and rumour has it there should be a new Pictish in the pipe line too. Can hardly wait !!!