Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Brewers Pride Fest

An impressive sixty-four beers will feature at the Brewers Pride Summer Bank Holiday festival in Ossett this weekend. The pub has an enviable reputation for organising one of the very best annual beer festivals in the region, and a quick glance at the line up will leave you in no doubt as to how it's been earned.

More details will hopefully follow shortly, but in the meantime we can add that Sunday afternoon's entertainment is being supplied by 'Paper Plane' - no prizes for guessing where they're coming from - so get down (deeper and down) for an unmissable rock 'n' ale feast this bank holiday! (map)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer Bank Beer Festivals

In addition to the Sportsman/Mallinsons festival this weekend, another couple of local events have caught our eye. In particular at Holmfirth, with the promise of some long-awaited beer from the new brewery-

"The annual beer festival at The Nook always promises to be a blast and improves year upon year. The festival is in its 6th year and will be offering 40+ ales, ciders and fruit wines. Alongside the regular weird and wonderful badges on the pumps, keep an eye out for the first of many ales from our very own Nook Brewhouse! Commencing on the 28th of August finishing on the 30th." The Nook (map)

And somewhat surprisingly, at the Tom-less Drop Inn, some 30 odd ales are expected from Thursday 27th until Sunday 30th. Laura Earnshaw is the boss down on Elland Lane these days and if she produces anything like the standard we'd come to expect from Mr Evans then this will be a bit special.

In the past a mini-bus has been organised to this festival from the Rat & Ratchet but unfortunately due to key people being on holiday at the moment this just hasn't been possible. However the regular bus service to Elland drops off just around the corner so no excuses! (map)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nelson Sauvin

Our current favourite hop variety here at a swift one is popping up all over the place at the moment. It seems everyone is having a crack at brewing with Nelson Sauvin, so here's a quick profile of this terrific strain from the informative New Zealand hops website.

"A triploid variety bred from New Zealand variety “Smoothcone” and a selected New Zealand male. Developed at New Zealand HortResearch and released in 2000, the essential oil profile displays “fresh crushed gooseberries” a descriptor often used for the grape variety Sauvignon Blanc, giving rise to this variety’s name.

A hop that requires judicious application in the brew house, this truly unique dual-purpose variety can be used to produce big punchy Ales as well as subtle yet bitter Lagers. The fruitiness may be a little overpowering for the un-initiated, however those with a penchant for bold hop character will find several applications for this true brewer's hop."

Look out for beers from Mallinsons (Sportsman Special), Riverhead (Nelson Sauvin) and Fernandes (Nelson IPA) doing the rounds in Huddersfield this week - all featuring this dangerously addictive taste sensation!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mallinsons Festival at The Sportsman

The eagerly anticipated inaugural beer festival at The Sportsman in Huddersfield is a little over a week away and we have just received this copy of the list.

As previously reported, all ten festival beers are being provided by local brewer Mallinsons and will be available over the Bank Holiday weekend - Saturday 29th to Monday 31st August - while stocks last! A separate festival bar will be set up allowing the pub to continue serving it's usual splendid range of largely Yorkshire ales.

(please click on the list for the big picture)

Get Tweeting!

A recent addition to the blog sidebar is our Twitter feed. Snippets of local beer news and interesting articles from further afield will appear here, and it is hoped that an up to the minute 'what's on the bar' service will take shape.

Currently the Star Inn, the Rat & Ratchet and Mallinsons Brewery are signed up to Twitter and we shall 're-tweet' their updates here on a regular basis. If you already have an account then don't forget to add us and them to your list of friends.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Bit Different

Like those reporting here a couple of weeks ago, we also enjoy a trip to York - and the recent regenerations of the Bay Horse, Guy Fawkes and Judges Lodgings have increased the variety of beers available. Generally though, you just don't find anything new to exite the taste buds.

However there is another new kid on the block, a place we had avoided due to the description in Ouse Boozer that portrayed a Slug and Lettuce type bar, but in fact is quite traditionally furnished and situated in an old timber framed building on Patrick Pool - a narrow lane between the market behind the Shambles and Swinegate/Church Street.

Pivo (I am told this is Czech for "beer" and pronounced "peavo"), describes itself as a "continental beer bar" and is about to celebrate it's second anniversary. A menu on each table gives a full description of the beers on offer with three traditional hand pumps normally dispensing a "locale", a guest from afar and a Brewdog. The (at least) 10 continental fonts have beers from the Czech Republic (Bernard), Germany, Belgium and the USA plus one dedicated to London's Meantime Brewing Company. The list of bottled beer available (about 60!) includes old favourites and relative rarities such as Mort Subite Gueuze. I don't know of anywhere else this far north that has Meantime on draught, and to top this the beer on offer was the IPA (7.2%) - unique to Pivo as a draught.

Amongst the other beers sampled were AppleBocq, an apple wheat beer, delicious and only 3.1%, the perfect summer beer (well the sun was shining when we visited), and Timmermans Strawberry (4%), full of real fruit flavour. At £2.70 a half we at first thought that this was a little OTT, but then a good glass of wine would be at least a pound more. There is a strawberry beer in the Sportsman at £2 a half, so this stuff must be expensive to source.

This is certainly a bar to divert to, right in the centre of York, but not far from Bruges either! (map)
pics: 1 & 3 from Pivo's website

A Commercial Success (hopefully)

About a month ago, the doors opened again at The Commercial in Slaithwaite, now under the ownership of Jonny Holmes from the nearby Swan at Crimble. Knowing the Swan, I had high expectations for the Commercial and after three visits already, I obviously like it!

It is a large open pub, with three distinct drinking areas, nicely done out with some wallpaper you'll either love or hate. The seating areas are comfortable and some paintings of local scenes provide a talking point.

The pub sells wine from an extensive list and coffee for those who do not want to sample the eight beers available on the bar. On my visits the beers have changed frequently but there is always 'Commerciale' from Empire available plus a dark beer along with other offerings from far and wide - though to Jonny's credit, on the first week at least, everything was locally sourced. None are over priced and the house beer is actually less than £2 a pint - beat that!

Lager drinkers are catered for with Becks and Staropramen (no plastic Carlsberg here) and should you crave smoothflow, then there's Boddingtons too. Food comes in the form of bagels and baguettes supplied by the local firm Ashbys and are available from a menu quite unique to the pub - cheese and olives are also served.

Having spoken to Jonny, his intention is not to duplicate beers at other pubs in the village, so his range here is quite different from that at the Swan, and because the Wharfeside just up the road specialises in Copper Dragon, this will not feature here either. All the better for the itinerant drinker then.

The pub is easily accessible by train or bus from Huddersfield, and by promoting the pubs proximity to the rail station it is hoped to add Slaithwaite to the Trans Pennine RailAle tour alongside Marsden. If you get chance, the pub is well worth a trip and indeed it may be a good spot to start or finish a walk in the Colne Valley, being open all day. (map)

More pictures to follow.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Try Something Different this Weekend at the Huddersfield

Visitors to Huddersfield by train these next few days may be amazed, upon leaving the railway station, to be greeted by an array of white tents (sorry Sam, lots of tents and one marquee!!) covering St Georges Square. The smells in the air are varied and whet the appetite and there are lots of people milling about everywhere. It can only signal the return of the Huddersfield Food & Drink Festival.

There are foods for everyone, from pork pies to venison, from cheese to curry, and from all parts of the country and all parts of the globe. The choice is varied and there is something there to attract all-comers. Much of the food is cooked right in front of you by local restaurateurs too, but I digress. The real reason for the blog is to showcase real ale, so what does the festival have to offer the passing drinker?

This year there are two stalls to choose from. As usual Elland Brewery are providing a sample of six brews from 'Eden' to 'Savannah' at 3.8% to 5%, and all worth a try from between £2 and £2.50 a pint (proper prices!). The new addition this year though is The Star Inn, current local CAMRA Pub of the Year. They are providing at least four beers, with two each from local brewers Mallinsons and Keighley outfit Goose Eye at any one time. The Mallinsons on my visit were both new, the 'Emley Moor Mild' (3.4%) being an easy drinking dark beer with plenty of mild characteristics but with a background hop flavour too, and 'Harold', a 4.2% bitter with a super balance of hops. There are others to back them up when they run out, (as Harold did after 5 hours!!) including a wheat beer, 'Hazy Shade of Summer'.

Goose Eye also provided two great tasting beers. Their 'Dark Secret' at 4.2% is a wonderful dark beer, and 'Chinook Blonde' a light beer brewed with American Chinook hops, both great examples of what Dave, the brewer, can produce. I believe that there is a barrel of 'Barm Pot' in reserve too. Additionally there are a couple of foreign fruit beers but I forgot to write down what they were!! All the beer is cooled and served through handpumps to give the nearest that they can to a pub taste, except for the plastic glasses which are part of the festival rules unfortunately. The English beers cost £2.30 a pint and Sam is doing her corned beef hash on the stall too.

So if you have a couple of hours to waste this weekend, try it out. The festival runs till Sunday afternoon and I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Has Ossett Got It Wrong?

Yesterday, whilst drinking in the Rat and Ratchet, I was surprised to see something that had been staring me in the face for quite a while. Let me explain.

Several months ago, Ossett stopped using Taylors as a regular supplier of beer to their pubs, I assume this was a management decision at the brewery, not one made arbitrarily by the landlords themselves. As a result, one stopped seeing 'Landlord' on the bar in Ossett pubs, being replaced by Fuller's 'London Pride' - at least it was in the Rat.

Normally it is a beer I tend to avoid, not for any particular reason, it is just that it is fairly common and I tend to go for something a bit out of the ordinary, plus I am not over thrilled by the taste. When there was nothing on the bar yesterday to whet my appetite, I thought I may just venture towards the 'Pride' and give it a go. I thankfully saw the error of my ways before I ordered, noticing on the chalkboard that it was priced at £2.55 (a 4.1% beer!), and stepped back in amazement.

I know all the arguments about paying a premium price for a premium product but this was a little over the top, even for Ossett. I have no idea how much 'Pride' they sell, but at this price, I would think not very much. In fact I don't recall ever seeing any sold. I assume they must sell some otherwise it wouldn't be there but surely someone must realize it's a little overpriced compared to other things on the bar.

This is not meant to be a criticism of Sam who does a good job at the pub and has made it into a haven for cider drinkers with a range of interesting and changing ciders and perrys, and though I don't drink them I have always heard positive comments. The food there is also coming on in leaps and bounds under deputy Rob's watchful eye. My concern is that is that their core product is beer, and if they are not careful they may have customers voting with their feet and heading to places with cheaper alternatives (of which there are several locally) - and that would not be in the pub's or the brewery's best interests.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

A Trip to York

Every year a group of drinkers from Huddersfield goes to York to sample the delights of the ancient city and take in a few pubs and a few beers. This year a gathering of eight headed out of the town on a bright sunny Friday to see what was on offer. (If this report inspires you to try the same then Friday or the weekend is the best time due to some pubs opening hours).

After the train journey our first call is always the Minster Inn on Marygate, a short walk over the river and a place to discuss the route to take from there on. On this visit the five handpulls on the bar just gave offerings from the Marstons empire, with three Jennings beers available. We made our choice and sorted out the plan of campaign.

Just up the road and back on ourselves was the Bay Horse, a pub now managed by Andy Henstock, previously eulogised in these pages as the manager of the Green Cross at Moldgreen. As it was just before Yorkshire day Andy had a beer festival featuring Yorkshire ales on in the upstairs bar. Twenty beers were on offer, but a bit overpriced at £1.50 a half. We sampled a few while watching the cricket on Sky, with the best of the lot coming from Five Towns, and Goose Eye. There was some Mallinsons to follow but not on the bar during our visit.

An impressive pub nevertheless, but time and beer waits for no man and soon it was off to the Judges Lodgings, on Lendal. The weather was kind and we were able to sit outside whilst sampling the Great Heck beers on offer, and in one case, the exotic cheese platter. There are two beers brewed specially for the pub and both we in good nick.

Next port of call was the Guy Fawkes, a wonderfully historic pub, which I had never previously visited, and again we congregated in the rear beer garden sampling an offering from Wold Top, (keeping the Yorkshire theme going!!). A regular call on the trip is always the Blue Bell on Fossgate, where we managed to shoehorn ourselves in, and down a pint of their wonderfully kept Adnams, while working out the plans for the rest of the crawl.

Round the corner from the Blue Bell is the Golden Fleece, so a quick half in this historic pub set us up for the hike to the Bishophill area, a wonderful oasis of calm just off Micklegate, and the delights of the Golden Ball. We were lucky, the pub opened at 4.30 pm, and we arrived at 4.29. There are six regular beers on the bar and one changing guest which was Norhumberland 'Fog On The Tyne' on our visit. I think we all sampled this, and it ran off just after, but was on good form all the same.

Just two more pubs to go as we headed back to the Station. The First being the Ackhorne, which is usually quiet but not this night as it seemed to be the place to visit
for an after work drink. I chose a Roosters 'Yankee' and must say I have had it better.

We soon drank up and left for the Maltings. Another must visit pub but which in my opinion seems not to be the place it once was. It again was heaving but we managed to get served, I chose Beartown 'Peach Melba', a tick but a weird beer. It is worth knowing that drinks cannot be taken out of the pub, or Shaun, the landlord, pursues you and relieves you of your beer until you come back inside!

All that remained was to return to the Station and get the train home. However many of the group were salivating at the sight of a loco hauled train on the opposite platform doing a charter run back to Huddersfield. But being a bus, not a train man, I cannot recall the details. As always it was a good day out, the beer was not cheap though never reached the £3 level, and the weather was kind to us. All that remains now is to sort out the pubs for next year!!!
pics: courtesy of beerintheevening

Monday, August 03, 2009

Star at Food & Drink Fest

The Star Inn, 'Huddersfield Pub of the Year 2009' enhances this years Food & Drink Festival with a fabulous selection of local real ales, a variety of wines for you to try & some tasty comfort food to wash it down with... - so say the programme notes.

Not sure about washing ale down with food(?) but hey, enough twaddle gets written here so what the hell! Hopefully plenty of Mallinsons, Empire, Golcar, Summer Wine & Brass Monkey will be available to sample in the streets around the all new St. Georges Square - which actually looks close to being finished at last!!!

Also present as usual will be Elland Brewery, serving up their fine collection of wonderfully bitter bitters. The festival kicks off at 10am Thursday 13th August and goes on until the Sunday teatime. Full details of all the exhibitors and entertainments can be found at the festival website.

BrewDog at The Grove

This week has seen the arrival of something new at The Grove in Huddersfield. We are all aware of pubs that have dedicated pumps, say for milds or light and dark beers, adding interest and offering the drinker more variety - but The Grove has taken this a step further.

The pump which has previously been home to the chocolate stout has just been replaced by one now solely devoted to the Scottish brewer BrewDog. The cult brewery is not a stranger to the town, and has been seen in the Star and the Grove on many occasions, but this will be the first time in Huddersfield as a permanent.

The first beer to come and go (in record time!) was 'Trashy Blonde', a typical ale from the Fraserburgh outfit using lots of hops in true BrewDog style. Rumour has it that there are at least four more in the cellar at the moment to test the viability of a single brewery pump. Hopefully, the idea will take off and others will follow.

If you have never sampled these beers before and wondered what all the fuss was about then now's the time to call in and give them a try. It will not be to all tastes but will give the discerning drinkers of the town chance to get to grips with one of the breweries at the forefront of the hop revival in Scotland. Good luck to the pub in this venture - I know for a fact there'll be one or two around here spending a lot more time in The Grove from now on!

Update: Two BrewDogs featured on the bar yesterday, the stunning 77 Lager at 4.9% and Storm at 8%, a pale beer that must have come into contact with a peaty malt whisky at some point - very unusual!