Friday, July 24, 2009

Bower Fest

Are we still in the mood for festivals? Of course we are - especially after checking out what's on up at Hall Bower this weekend. Without further ado, here's the list complete with tasting notes - oh and the weather looks good too!

The festival starts at 11am Saturday with a similar opening time on Sunday.

Check out the club's website for all the important info. (map)

Please click the menus for the big picture.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Even More Beer Festivals !!!

The residents of Huddersfield must be the most spoiled people in the country as every weekend seems to throw up another beer festival to visit - and in the case of this weekend, two. I have already written about the Star fest, another great success, but running alongside was the first festival at the Rose and Crown, Thurstonland.

The pub itself has already featured on the blog, being revitalised under the umbrella of the Brass Monkey brewery but this was its first attempt at a festival, and a pretty decent job they made of it. The set up was much the same as the very successful Monkeyfest, (sorry Festa, never managed to make that this year !!) with 20 beers on handpull served in an outside bar, a hog roast and live music inside the pub where another 7 beers were provided on the bar.

It seemed the whole village had come to take part when we visited on Sunday. I was advised that some of the beers had already run off and been replaced on Saturday though twenty were still available outside when we arrived. The beers inside the pub included several Brass Monkeys, including the superb 'Son Of Silverback' but outside the selection came from far and wide with the majority being unusual to the area - many being sourced from the Gloucestershire area.

I came across breweries such as Battledown and Prescott which were both new to me. Beers from Coastal, Severn Vale and Nailsworth, from Malvern Hills and Penzance and even a foray into Wales with Rhymney and Felinfoel being showcased. Local stars Abbeydale and Ossett had also made their way into the list.

Of the few I tried all were in good form, and very acceptable but the star of the show in all our opinions, (seemed to be a good excuse for an editorial meeting !!) was the Salopian 'Prohibition' made with American hops and bursting with flavour.

Another good festival and a credit to those who organised it, just a shame they could not control the weather, as drinking outside under a gazebo which occasionally tipped water into the beer was not ideal !! Can just draw breath now before next weeks festival at Hall Bower.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mallinsons at The Sportsman

The Sportsman in St. Johns Road, Huddersfield, which reopened it's doors just last April, has announced preliminary details of it's first beer festival.

Taking place over the August Bank Holiday weekend (29th-31st), all the beers will apparently be supplied by local brewer Mallinsons. In addition, food will be available throughout the three day event - but that's as much as we know at the moment! (map) (website)

Another Star Success

The 8th Star Summer festival opened its doors for business last night and the beer hunters were treated to yet another array of wonderful ales from around the country in all sorts of styles and strengths to suit every taste.

There were the two Mallinsons previously mentioned on the blog, both dry hopped and both quite different - and even a competition to guess the dry hops used; a new Pictish which was a bit sweeter than their usual fayre; unusual breweries such as Wibblers, Box Steam and Mersea Island; and festival specials from Coach House, Goose Eye and Brew Co, to name but three. With 46 beers on offer in the outside marquee there was plenty to choose from and every beer I tasted was on top form, all served through handpumps and cellar cooled, a real credit to Sam and Gary who set it all up.

Reading the tasting notes there are some real treats in store for the next few days. Beers with elderflower, ginger and honey rubbing shoulders with the more usual bitters and stouts. The pale hoppy beers seem to be to the fore this time, with many from different breweries being showcased, but for the lover of something unusual then why not try the Vanilla Porter, the Plum or if you are feeling very adventurous the 'Grasshopper' from Oakleaf. This was one of the most distinctive beers I have ever drunk being made with chilli and lemongrass, and it does not skimp on the chilli !! I can still taste it today.

As ever, it is a must visit festival for the casual beer drinker or the beer enthusiast, and even on its opening night attracted guests from as far afield as Cambridgeshire, Tyne & Wear, and Staffordshire - just showing in how much esteem The Star festival is held. Thanks again to Sam for providing us with another gem. (map)

Doors open again this afternoon at 5pm then all day Fri-Sun.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Fests

The next twelve days will see plenty of great ale in the district with three hotly anticipated festivals at Folly Hall, Thurstonland and Hall Bower.

The Rose & Crown at Thurstonland (the number one Brass Monkey outlet) promises a good beer line up (40+) for it's inaugural fest this weekend and will also include the now obligatory hog roast along with some live music.(map)

Hall Bower Athletic & Working Mens Club was blessed with some fantastic weather (and even better ale) for it's first festival last July so let's hope for a repeat during Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th. Two beers produced especially for the festival by Mallinsons and Clarks really triumphed last time and there's sure to be another surprise or two this year. (map)

And kicking it all off tonight is the summer festival no one should miss. With a massive eighty beers on handpull and not reliant on the vagaries of the weather, the mighty Star Inn at Folly Hall will once more be showcasing the country's newest breweries alongside many old favourites of course. A five day swilling marathon of unparallelled pulchritude is guarenteed! (map)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the blog...

More Shropshire (and a bit of Worcester too).

We recently had another trip to the area, mainly to have a weekend on the Severn Valley Railway, including my first attempt at firing and driving a steam engine. Thirsty work which requires plenty of quality ale afterwards.

We based ourselves in Bewdley (Worcs.), a Georgian town and former port on the River Severn, handy for the railway, and chose to stay at the Woodcolliers Arms, mainly due to the quality of the website. The reality did not let us down, good beer from Ludlow (including a house special), 3Tuns, Wyre Piddle and Kinver. With only 4 hand pumps, 1 or 2 beers can change everyday. Food is very popular, particularly the Russian menu!

A short walk through the town leads to the quayside pubs and the Mughouse. Tables line the quay for a view of the river, and a beer garden to the rear of the pub has a near permanent barbecue on the go (proper food is available inside!). Beers are again mainly local, but a mouthwatering guest was Milestone "Raspberry Wheat".

There are plenty of other pubs in Bewdley, including two called the Black Boy. The one in the GBG is hidden up the hill behind the Woodcolliers, an excellent local dispensing well kept Marstons beers. My choice was Jennings "Honey Bole". It's a bit of a climb, but well worth the effort to find such a different pub. Over the river near the station is the other Black Boy, the one pictured on Beer In The Evening (by mistake), a hotel with a pleasant public bar. Fear not if you wander in here "by mistake", on our visit a very good pint of Wye Valley "HPA" was available.

Bridgnorth (Salop), is the northern terminus of the Severn Valley Railway, where most visitors will be familiar with the Railwayman's Arms at the station. Aside from the Railwayman's there are about 25 pubs in this delightful market town, and we were without our GBG, so time for "not in the beer guide no. 3".

Passing the White Lion (West Castle Street), we noticed the cask marque and the words "free house" above the inn sign. This was a Bank's house until a couple of years ago, and is yet another example of what can be done once you are free of tie. Local beer (again), including Wye Valley "Butty Bach" and Cannon Royall "Arrowhead", a beer so good I think we should have some closer to home! Good food was on offer, the specials board was very enticing (Devon Crab), and another beer garden to enjoy the sunshine. With another 20 or so pubs to visit, a mental note was made to return another time, before returning to the station for a couple of pints of Ironbridge "1779", and the train back to Bewdley.

We journeyed back to Huddersfield through Shrewsbury again, to make a lightening visit to the Three Fishes (Fish Street!) and the Nags Head, around the corner on Wyle Cop. Both are ancient buildings with low ceilings and bags of character. As a change from local ales the Fishes had (amongst others) Thornbridge "Blackthorn" and Oakham "JHB", which was on top form, a second had to be had, once we had eaten. Beer range at the Nags Head was a bit of a disappointment, but there was an excellent pint of Hobsons "Bitter", and then it was off to the beer garden. The GBG states "best viewed from the outside", but you don't expect the beautiful timber framed building - just the frame, that stands at the rear of this pub.

With storm clouds gathering and thunder rolling, it was time to rush back to the station and hope we draw Shrewsbury Town in the cup for an excuse to visit again soon.

(p.s. There is a tiny alley next to the Fishes called Grope Lane, this is indeed where the ladies of the night, or day, earned their living. In medieval times the name was Gropec**t Lane, the last four letters obviously omitted nowadays. In some towns Grope was changed to Grape, so if you live in Grape Road, or drink in an old tavern called the Grapes, it does not necessarily mean there was a vineyard nearby!)

Woodcolliers pics reproduced with the kind permission of the pub

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Shepherds Rest Beer Fest

The Shepherds Rest in Sowerby Bridge is the fifth Ossett Pub Company house to host a beer festival, and new(ish) manager Sarah Dixon (formerly to be found behind the Brewers Pride bar in Ossett) should have no trouble making this another successful event. With it's three drinking areas and attractive garden, the pub has plenty of space both for extra beer and live music.

The town itself is gaining a growing reputation for real ale and in addition to the Rest - the Works, the Puzzle Hall and most recently the Jubilee Refreshment Rooms at the railway station (hopefully fully open this weekend) should also be sampled.

No details are available of the festival beers as yet but we will do our best to update you nearer the time. (map)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Swift One

If you are lucky enough to be able to get Mallinson's beer, one of the new brews in the range, our very own 'A Swift One', will be available soon.

To read all about it, why and how it was brewed etc, check this out. It's all there - hope you enjoy.

Update: Sam will have it on at the Star this week!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Beer Festival with a Difference

When it rained last Friday I was left with a dilemma. I wanted to go to a beer festival, and my opinions seemed to be the Smithfield at Manchester,(already criticised on this blog) or the Pump Room at Halifax. I chose the latter,since I thought I would get less wet.

On arrival I saw the makeshift bar to the right of the main doors, graced with plenty of handpumps. This looked promising. I selected a beer off the bar, took a programme and sat down to peruse it at my leisure, planning the rest of my afternoon's drinking.

This was my first mistake. I assumed the programme listed the beers on the bar. Strangely when I checked, none of the beers in the list were on the bar. The ones available were ok, nothing special, and on reading the list, nothing on there grabbed my attention either.

I had a few beers, the best of the lot being Joeys Bitter (3.5%) from Holts at Manchester, packing a lot of flavour into a fairly weak beer. However, seeing a gap in the showers, I made my way back to Huddersfield. When I showed the festival list to one of the local licencees it raised a few eyebrows and a glimmer of recognition, and shortly after I was presented with an exact copy of my list which had been sent out the previous month as a list of available beers from a well known wholesaler!

I am not against festivals being sourced from one wholesaler, and in some cases it will be inevitable, but surely the festival programme should not be a list provided by the wholesaler with the prices removed !! (pic courtesy of Pub Utopia)

Feel Like A Trip Out

Should you be on the East Coast this summer and fancy visiting somewhere different, try the Bay Horse at Terrington. The village stands in the Howardian Hills not far from Castle Howard, about 6 miles off the main A64. (On the left when travelling from York). The village is not sign posted from the main road but is not hard to find and is a lovely place.

Its greatest feature, in my humble opinion, is the Bay Horse. A large pub set back on the left hand side of the road. It serves food of a high standard but my reason for a visit was to sample the beer from the Storyteller Brewery based on the premises and I was not disappointed.

There were three beers on the bar, two were light and hoppy (Genesis at 3.8% and 1402 at 4%) and the other, Telltale was a bit darker at 3.8%. All were in great form and very moreish, though since it seems the only way to reach the village is to drive, some restraint is necessary.

The pub is open 12-3 daily and every evening, so if you have had a day at the coast and the thought of travelling back on the A64 is a drag, go off into the beautiful countryside and see what the place has to offer. I was very impressed.

I would have included a photo but left my camera at home !!! (pic courtesy of