Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oktoberfest 2009

It's another new home for Huddersfield CAMRA's Oktoberfest this year. The Sikh Leisure Centre at Spring Grove has replaced the Irish Centre on Fitzwilliam Street to give festival goers a little more space. The former venue was great whilst ever the sun was shining and the terrace could be used, but rather a squeeze when not.

I feel a little sorry for The Sportsman as it would have benefited greatly from having the festival virtually next door, but it's loss is The Grove's gain and with plenty of rain forecast for the weekend, the shift may well prove to be a good call. (map)

Update: Just had a sneak preview of the beer list and there's plenty to keep us occupied. Locally we have contributions from Empire, Elland, Golcar, Brass Monkey, Mallinsons and The Nook with new offerings from most of them. It looks as if there are three festival specials from Tara (Mallinsons). There are many beers from the South of England, especially the South West with a sprinkling of new breweries such as Bow Horse, Golden Valley, North Curry and Waen. Seems like a splendid way to while away an hour or four!

To clear up any confusion the festival starts at 6pm on Thursday night, not at 6.30 pm as some believe. Tim

Friday, September 25, 2009

Who is The Menace?

Should you be lucky enough to come across Mallinsons' The Menace, which is a lovely light 3.6% with a refreshing hoppy flavour, take a close look at the pump clip. Just who is 'The Menance', and why does he look a little familiar? May be it's the start of another new Mallinsons range!

Talking of which their first beer from the new Rivers of the World series, 'Amazon' is sitting invitingly on the taunting pole in The Star, so should make an appearance over the weekend.

For those of us who have too much time on our hands, Abbeydale have again provided one of their humourous pump clips for their new offering 'Demon Drink'. Its well worth five minutes of anyone's time to read it, and the beer isn't bad either.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Tale of Two Festivals (Part 2)

As readers of the blog will have seen, there was a beer festival at The Navigation in Mirfield this weekend and on Saturday I managed to squeeze a couple of hours sampling across there. It was the Navvy's 5th festival and the 3rd this year - and they just seem to get better. There were 20 beers available to choose from (with 6 in reserve should the inevitable happen!) and they were primarily sourced from the South West and Norfolk. The list is shown in a previous post should you wish to take a look.

All the beer was cellar cooled and through handpumps, the majority in the pool room where a makeshift bar had been erected, and this was where I started - again hunting out the new breweries to me. I was surprised to find four here in comparison to just the two at Lytham, so my trip was not in vain. I sampled beers from Blackfriars in Great Yarmouth, Red Rock from Devon, Goddards from the Isle of Wight and Dartmoor, again from Devon. All in good fettle and all very different. In addition, the Crouch Vale 'Brewers Gold' was doing a roaring trade but being a beer I had come across often I ignored this in preference to the star of the show Yates (from the Isle of wight) 'Blonde Ale' - a 4.3% light hoppy beer with good hop character and plenty of citrus notes.

The festival attracted many locals, but some travelled from as far away as Hull and Manchester and Kevin, the licensee, deserves great credit for setting up the festival and sourcing many unusual beers - a good end to a successful weekend!

A Tale of Two Festivals (Part 1)

Last Friday a group of hardy individuals met up in Wetherspoons in Huddersfield for a trip into the unknown - well may be not quite the unknown but the third Lytham Beer Festival. Fortified by breakfast we set off by minibus for the Lancashire coast, arriving there to see a long queue snaked outside the Lowther Pavilion, the venue for the next few hours sampling. It's a large single roomed venue, with most beers on stillage around the walls plus a few handpumps and tables set up in the middle of a room that seems to double as a concert hall.

Armed with tokens and beer lists we set about our task. We all had different agendas, some starting with the new breweries, some with old favourites etc, with me being one of the former and kicking off with 'Ironman' from Liverpool Organic. A very pleasant hoppy beer that soon took the edge off our 90 minute bus trip. Settling in and reading the beer list in more detail revealed another new brewery, Brew House from Lancashire, though their 'Bitter', another 3.8%, was not as hoppy or memorable as the first.

The group were all sampling different beers but as the day progressed we all agreed that the Meantime 'London Pale' was a winner, a very complex beer for a 4.3%. Some remained on this for a while, but in an attempt to sample as many beers as possible I tried offerings from Fuzzy Duck, Hidden, Art Brew and Roosters, along with others. All were acceptable but none reached the heights of the wonderful Meantime.

All too soon it was time to go, and we left a packed hall to their sampling and made our way back to Huddersfield via the Church Inn at Uppermill (which will be subject of a pub profile in the near future) and disembarked at the Star. On the bar were 11 pints of light hoppy beer to greet us, (that's the advantage of mobile phones!!) and those of us that stayed for a while were treated to a new beer from Mallinsons, their 'Indian Pale Ale' - and very good it was too.

A good day out, plenty of interesting beers, and good company. All that needs to be said now is thanks to Chris and Jane for organising it and Mick, the driver for his patience. Looking forward to next year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Navigation Festival

A good selection with a south-westerly bias will be available at Mirfield this weekend. A homely venue by the canal-side with easy access by rail, The Navigation is always a pleasure to visit, especially if the sun shines.

There are larger festivals taking place just outside the region, but this is the relaxing, no strings alternative with the added bonus of Pitchfork and Norfolk Nog...... need I say more?! (map)
Click on the lists to save the peepers!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mallinsons Branch Out

I heard a couple of months ago from the Mallinsons girls that they intended to start producing bottled beer to go with their not inconsiderable output of cask beers, and last night was informed that this intention has indeed come to fruition. At the moment they are merely testing the water to see how the mechanics of the project will work out, so the beers are not on general release, but apparently initial signs are favourable and they are looking to bottle more and iron out their initial teething problems. The first beer in a bottle has been 'Leg Before' and will apparently be followed by 'Corinthian Temple' and 'Emley Moor Mild'.

As yet I have no no tasting notes for the beers but if their bottled beers taste as good as their cask stuff then we will be in for a real treat. Who needs Brewdog? I have also heard that Rob from the Rat, who won the hop competition at the last Star beer festival has been invited to brew a beer with them in the near future. It should be named after his son, 'Xavier' and knowing Rob's love of hops should be a beer to look forward to, with plenty of flavour. Good luck to him.

There has been no slowing down of new beers from the brewery either and they are turning up far and wide. A deal with Mitchells to supply 'First Gold' should get the beer to places never previously reached, and those delivered direct are still regularly found at The Star, The Sportsman, occasionally in the Rat locally, and the Harlequin in Sheffield and the New Oxford in Salford, should you fancy a trip out. The tickers amongst us can find their dry hopped specials regularly at festivals and in the last couple of weeks have been at the Jubilee Refreshment Rooms in Sowerby Bridge and the Reindeer at Wakefield, along with the Sportsman in Town.

Tara and Elaine can be proud of their success, and are obviously not prepared to rest on their laurels.A special word of thanks should go to Elaine's dad as well. He is a modern day Heath Robinson, putting all his engineering expertise into making equipment for the brewery to overcome those little irritating problems and make the process much easier. In these gloomy days this is a local success story, long may it continue.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rat & Ratchet Festival

The Rat opened its doors at noon on Thursday to start their 4th beer festival. Overnight Sam and his team must have worked wonders to install a makeshift bar with handpumps to supply their visitors with 40 beers to sample and savour.

Of course there were the usual in house brews, from Ossett, Riverhead and Fernandes but they were supplemented with beers of all strengths and types sourced from all around the country.
Locally we had beers from Mallinsons, (their Huddersfield Pale being particularly well appreciated), The Nook Brewhouse, Summer Wine, Empire, Elland and Brass Monkey. They were accompanied by offerings from Bath, Ulverston, and Kirkby Lonsdale to name but three.

All the beer I sampled was in good form, with the Mallinsons being the pick of the light beers and Ossett 'Cherry Porter' doing a good trade as the pick of the dark. Durham provided a wheat beer 'Vice' and for the hop lovers amongst us, Acorn's 'Mittlefruh' was available, along with a Hornbeam beer brewed with Pilgrim and a new beta hop.

There's food available until 5pm and a wide selection of cider and perry for those fancying something different. If you have a spare couple of hours this weekend the festival runs until Sunday, and Sam promises some back up beers should those on the main bar fail to last the course, so everyone should be happy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another Festival Weekend? This Must Be Huddersfield!

All the action moves back to the town centre this weekend with the Rat & Ratchet and The Sportsman your festival hosts. The fourth annual beer, cider & perry fest at the Rat promises to be it's best yet and having gotten a sneaky look at the list last week I can't argue. With plenty on offer for both seasoned ticker and casual fan we are set for a busy weekend though landlord Sam Birkhead has made sure there's plenty of ale in reserve should the two bars get chugged dry!

Across town at The Sportsman, Sam Smith is organising her part of the Cider Rail Trail that also takes in the Cellar Bar at Batley and Dewsbury's West Riding Refreshment Rooms.

Hopefully the momentum generated by the success of the Mallinsons festival a fortnight ago can be maintained, and the increased drinking traffic in town for the Rat's 'do' is sure to be beneficial - as is the promise of a succulent hog roast!

Click on the fliers for the big picture...
...and happy swilling!

Good Beer Guide 2010

A quick glance through the latest edition of Britain's best-selling pub guide reveals that not a lot has changed locally. Both Huddersfield and Dewsbury are 'as you were' for another year and only the Beaumont Arms at Netherton and the return of the Old Colonial Club in Mirfield are additions this time. The Swan at Liversedge is the one pub from last year that appears to have fallen out of favour.

County-wide there are four brewery additions, boosting West Yorkshire's total to a table-topping thirty-four - although it does report that brewing at Rodhams in Otley has been suspended. The newbies include the well respected Brass Monkey outfit in Sowerby Bridge and the excellent Ilkley whose beers have been a real revelation this past couple of months (grab some at the Rat this weekend).

More generally the new guide is it's usual mine of information with everything from the barley field to the bar including a useful introduction to beer styles for the uninitiated. On a more sober note, much of the forward is given over to the plight of many of Britain's finest public houses and how it's down to you to make a difference. It seems the old CAMRA adage 'Use it or Lose it' has never been more poignant.

The 2010 Good Beer Guide is published by CAMRA and is available for £15.99 or £10 to members.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

'Udders Orchard

Following their debut at the Rat & Ratchet Mild & Cider festival in the Spring, the 'Udders Orchard team are making a request for your surplus windfall this Autumn. Former Rat chief Dave Kendal-Smith has launched this latest appeal through a new website and is hoping for a positive response from Huddersfield residents.

And the deal couldn't be better. Not only will you get your garden cleared of all unwanted apples but a free bottle of the finished product will be yours into the bargain! Contact details can be found here whilst the latest updates, hot off the press so to speak, can be followed on twitter.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Jubilee Refreshment Rooms

Since there were no local beer festivals I could visit this weekend, I thought it was time to take a trip out to Sowerby Bridge and visit the Jubilee Refreshment Rooms, which has been open now for a couple of months and is run by Huddersfield Camra member Andrew Wright and his brother. The Rooms are housed in Sowerby Bridge railway station which is easy enough to find, especially by rail, all though not from Huddersfield as there is no direct link!

It is a functional venue rather than particularly comfortable with the seating being confined to cafe style tables and chairs therefore not really conducive to a prolonged stay. There are six beers on handpull, and on my visit Elland, Old Mill and Rudgate all featured - the Elland 'Silver Lining' being on particularly good form. In addition, there are plenty of bottled foreign beers in the fridges and coffee served for those who want it.

At present food is only available until 12.00 noon and is of the breakfast style, no doubt to attract the hungry commuters using the station. All in all a good place to start or finish a trip up the valley, but not somewhere I would stop for a 'session'.
pics from QYPE

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Lions Beer Festival

Only the one local festival on our calendar this weekend so, in stark contrast to the Bank Holiday pile-up, your decision making is reduced to a simple 'go/don't go' to Sally Nook.

Unfortunately no details of the beers are available but this may well change in the next twenty-four hours if Timbo gets his well worn deerstalker on!

Live entertainment Friday & Saturday night.
Food available.
Friday 4th September
7pm to 11pm. £5.00 Entrance
Saturday 5th September
1pm to 6pm £3.50 Entrance
7pm 11pm £5.00 Entrance

All entrance fees include a commemorative glass
plus free drink.

The Function Room, Huddersfield YMCA
New Hey Road, Salendine Nook, Huddersfield
Tel: 01484 461090 / 654052 (map)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

It's Quiz Time

After a throw away comment in the pub this weekend, I started thinking about all the old breweries that have stopped brewing but whose names still linger on. Their beers are now brewed by other breweries under contract but retain the names just to keep the brand alive. In some cases I am not sure its worth the effort, but I suppose they know best.

Here is a small selection to test your grey matter. See if you can work out who is now responsible for brewing the beers we drank a few years ago. I'll bet some surprise you.

1. Gales HSB
2. Flowers
3. Stones
4. Mansfield
5. Burtonwood
6. M&B Brew XI
7. Boddingtons
8. Courage Directors
9. Draught Bass
10. Ansells Mild

The answers will be on the comments to save you pulling your hair out !!...or they will be when the comments section works again !

A bit more on the cost of beer

Readers of the blog will be aware of the furore over my comments on the price of a certain beer in a certain local pub. Today, I hope to redress the balance and give credit where it's due.

Over the weekend I have been around and about catching what festivals I could. I managed the Mallinsons festival at the Sportsman, and sampled their vanilla and honey specials, (someone had drunk all the Sportsman Special, thanks Will and Tim!!!) and was impressed to see that neither cost more than £2.30 a pint.

I then progressed to the Lockwood festival. Not a bad range of beers for a first attempt and all priced at £2.30 a pint. I spoke to the staff at both and they appear to have been successful, so good luck to them both and I await the next ones with interest - just hope they do not fall on the same days next time.

Monday was a trip out and another visit to Liverpool and the Baltic Fleet where another festival was taking place. Stan the brewer had provided around 30 beers over the weekend, some on the bar and some on stillage. Many were old favourites but there were some gems made with nettles and many sorts of fruit. I had missed my favourite though, the Orange and Black Pepper.

The real eye opener was the price. All the beer on the bar was £2.00 a pint but those on stillage came in at a massive £1.00 for a pint! Considering one was 5.5%, and in these recession hit times too, I think the residents of Liverpool were in for a bargain bank holiday. The amount of people in the pub seemed to confirm this. I realise that the Baltic has its own brewery and will be free of pubco ties but it does show that beer can be good and reasonably priced. Long may it continue.
photos of The Lockwood & Baltic Fleet from beerintheevening.com