Wednesday, March 31, 2010

No3 - Five Towns

Five Towns is a brewery, not based as many think in the Potteries, but rather in the Wakefield suburb of Outwood, taking its name from the five towns surrounding the city, (I will let you name them !!).

It started brewing in Sept 2008 on a 2.5 barrel plant at the brewer's home, and he fits brewing around his full time work commitments.

Although not easy to find, the beers are often seen at local festivals and on occasions at the Star at Huddersfield.

There is a core range, with plenty of one off specials to keep the drinker happy and most seem to be light, hoppy beers. 'Outside Edge' is a 3.9% session beer, easy drinking, but full of hop flavours; slightly stronger at darker is the 4.2% 'Outwood Bound' which is more typically a Best bitter style with a caramel flavour that does not mask the hop finish; the flagship beer must be 'Niamh's Nemesis' at 5.7% a stronger offering that does not drink its strength, and is light and hoppy. It was initially brewed as a one off special but became so popular that it now brewed as a semi regular.

As I said earlier, not the easiest beers to find, but well worth hunting out, and another triumph for a small local brewer.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hopping in Leeds

As (un)official photographer to Ossett Brewery I managed to get on the VIP guest list for the opening night of The Hop in Leeds yesterday. Although out of the normal jurisdiction of this blog I just had to give this exceptional new venue a little plug.

Situated under the railway station arches on Dark Neville Street, this remarkable venture combines live music & real ale in a quite outstanding setting that really has to be seen to be believed. The proper shots are now the property of Ossett, but I can bring you these as a taster.

Complete with mezzanine stage and a host of stunning features, The Hop really does up the ante in the real ale revolution stakes - in fact I can't help thinking that the Leeds Brewery boys must be feeling somewhat humbled this morning! (map)

The Nook Festival

I know that some people visiting the Star festival would also want to make the trip up into Holmfirth to sample the festival running from Thursday to Sunday at the Nook. I managed to squeeze an hour in to check out what was on offer on Thursday.

The festival is held in the yard at the back of the pub under an awning. It was ok in the dry but I would be a little concerned if it rained. Admission is £1.50, and a glass and programme (£1 refundable on glass), and beer was £1.10 a half with additional cash to be paid if the beer was stronger.

Now what of the beer. There were around 20 pumps on the bar, all handpulls and the beer range was allegedly sourced from around 25 miles of the pub. (I say allegedly, because Castle Rock from Nottingham was included, although the programme said it came from Sheffield). Breweries included Empire, Abbeydale, Brew Co from Sheffield, Church Inn at Uppermill, Golcar, Anglo Dutch and Brass Monkey.

The beer I tried was in decent nick, but the range was a bit disappointing for a 'ticker' with most of the beers being old faithfuls with just a few new beers in an amongst, and not all the beer on the festival list available at the same time. Those who wanted the Nook beers had a choice of six on the main pub bar which covered most, if not all, of their range.

All in all, not a bad festival, with plenty of beers to showcase what was on offer locally.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's Spring Festival Time Again

Last night The Star Inn at Folly Hall opened its doors for its Spring Beer Festival and the throng outside, waiting patiently for 5pm, were not disappointed.

This time Sam has managed to select some rare beers from all over the country and we were treated to examples from Art Barn and Concrete Cow down South, Church End and Beowolf in the Midlands and several Scottish breweries, some new to the area such as Angus, Ayr, Deeside and Loch Leven.

Not to be outdone several Yorkshire breweries appeared on the bar, with representatives from Great Heck, Goose Eye and Abbeydale.

The format was the tried and tested one for the pub. 46 beers on handpull in the outside marquee, served in some very tasteful festival glasses, along with plenty more on the bar inside that will be constantly replaced.

I managed to sample a few, and the best of the lot was Mallinsons 'Wish You Were Here', 3.7% but full of hop character and named in honour of the late Dave Charlesworth. Other delights were a Pilsner style beer from Allendale,(Adder Lager), the sorachi hopped 'Sorrel Sykes' from Yorkshire Dales, and the citrus tasting 'Nechtan' from Deeside.

Those in search of dark beers were treated to 'Damens Dark', a mild from Goose Eye; Three b's 'Knocker Up' porter, and Deeside 'Talorcan' another porter, this time with whey included to give in additional smoothness. There was even space on the bar for a chilli beer, Allendale's 'Beacon Fire'.

All those I tried were on good form, and at £2.30 a pint, good value for money. Sam and the team deserve great credit for the festival, both in the interesting selection of beers and the ambiance of the festival itself. It runs from 5pm Thursday and all day Friday to Sunday. It is well worth a visit.

On a personal note I even tried the 'Hip Hop Green Bullet' from Art. Those who know me, know my dislike of this particular hop, and yes, it did make me sneeze!!

Update - the Mallinsons 'Wish You Were Here' ran off about 8pm on Thursday night, so my assertion about it being the best beer seems to have been justified. There are a couple more pointers to great beers on the bar that I never tried on the first night. If you like light & hoppy the Concrete Cow 'Pail Ale' and the Tryst ' Blathan' should be up your street, and Deesside 'Talorcan' should keep those who want a tasty dark beer happy.

Festival Calendar

Updated to include all the local events we're aware of.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pub & Brewery News

Garden Gate for Leeds Brewery?

This listed building with brown tiled exterior is a superb example of a corridor style pub. It's not in the best of locations but with good real ale back on and a bit of T L C it could be a jewel once again. (map)

Meanwhile in Otley the long awaited reopening of the Bowling Green has suffered another delay this time due to asbestos being found in the building. With all the health and safety rules involved, the removal of it could be a lengthy operation.

Although it now seems certain that the Tetley brand will be lost from Leeds and brewed anywhere that Carlsberg have spare capacity, it is good to know that brewing in the city continues. The latest one to set up, in the Meanwood area, is Ridgeside Brewing Co Ltd. The microbrewery will start to brew in April and the initial beers will be Ridgeside Challenge 3.9%, Best at 4.5% and Black Night 5.0%.

The Wharfebank Brewery is also a new addition to the breweries in the Leeds area. Their beers are currently being brewed at the Fox and Newt in Burley Road but their brewery will be in Pool-in-Wharfedale.(Tim)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another Festival to Visit

This weekend sees the first real ale festival at The Heritage Centre, at Wellington Mills off Plover Rd, at Lindley in Huddersfield. (not far from Huddersfield Royal Infirmary).

The Gledholt Male Voice Choir are holding their festival from 6pm till 11pm on Friday 19th March and noon till close on Saturday. The entry fee is £3.50 but this includes a free souvenir glass, programme and first beer free. Yorkshire food is served, and on Saturday night a choir and pianist are promised for 'The Big Sing'. There is also a new Mallinsons beer promised, 'Gledholt Guzzler' at the festival.

Rat & Ratchet - Huddersfield's Pub of the Year

After narrowly losing out to The Star Inn at Folly Hall last spring, the Rat & Ratchet on Chapel Hill has reclaimed top spot as Huddersfield CAMRA's local pub of the year.

I would hate to ever be put in the position of casting the deciding vote between these two legendary houses (though that's not the reason I don't attend meetings), but what a tough call!

So it's congratulations to Sam at the Rat for maintaining quality and improving choice, whilst we look forward with the usual anticipation to the first of three scrummy festivals from Sam at the Star - long may they battle it out!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Whats happened to Manchester

We all have our favourite drinking towns. Obviously high on the list comes Huddersfield, with Sheffield and Derby being up there and I have a great liking for Manchester and Salford. So, armed with my £5 old geezers train ticket, I set off for Manchester in anticipation of what a days drinking there may hold in store. I was seriously disappointed.

I have a route that I take around the towns and usually set off at the furthest point away from the station and make my way back. The first port of call was the The Crescent on the main drag through Salford. Here I was happy to find my first new beer of the day and even more chuffed to find the new Mallinsons house beer on the bar. 'Crescent Pale' is a 4.1% light beer,very moreish and only available at the pub. Well worth the rail fare just for that. I followed this with a new beer from Slaters, who seem not to get to Huddersfield now, and then something called 'Crescent Special no3' which was brewed for the pub by Northern brewery. My gripe with this is that it was on the bar with a handwritten pump clip and no suggestion as to what its provenence may be. The drinker has no idea what the beer really is, because I am sure that Northern will have not brewed a full brew length of the beer. I suspect it to be a rebadge of some other beer, but that is impossible to prove, it just makes me very wary.

Anyway, off down the road to the New Oxford in Bexley Square. A pub that is a must visit pub on my trips, and the winner of many awards. I must admit though, on my last few visits I have been disappointed with the beer range in the 'Ox', I have my suspicions as to why, but there is not room on the blog to go into them. Being mid week, there were only about half of the pumps in operation, but that gave me a choice of 8 beers to choose from. Unfortunately, I had sampled most before, and settled for a new Boggart brew and an offering from Bollington, rare but not inspired. One of my Mancunian collegues was luckier, with 6 possible ticks so may be the beers had reached Salford after West Yorkshire. The quality was good but there was not enough to keep me here longer than neccessary so I was off again.

My route here sometimes takes in 2 further Salford pubs. However today I decided to trip into Manchester's northern quarter.I know there are those who enjoy the Marble Arch, I do, but today due to restrictions on my rail ticket, I could only fit 3 more pubs in. I bypassed the Angel and made my way to the Smithfield on Swan St. Another disappointment. Plenty of beer on the bar, but nothing new and mostly standard beers from standard breweries, served by a barmaid who seemed more interested in chatting to her mates rather than serving me. A swift half of Acorn 'Conquest' and on the Bar Fringe across the road.

The Fringe is well worth a call if you have never been before, with a vast array of foreign beer supplemented by 5 handpumps. Again though, there was only one new beer, although this was a new Allgates beer for St Patricks day. The drawback her was the presence of a toddler who spent its time running up and down and screaming. Not a convivial drinking atmosphere.

So, off again. This time to the Micro Bar in the Arndale Centre. Another must visit bar, which generally provides something interesting on its 4 pumps. This time, only 3 were in operation, 2 with Boggart beers,(they own the bar) and one from Crondall, which I later learned had been there for a few days, and was not a spectacular beer.

All in all, not the most successful day of the drinking year. Don't let my findings put you off trying the Manchester pubs, all I am giving is a one day snap shot, but in my humble opinion, the variety of beers seems to have diminished, and the quality of some of the pubs likewise. Never mind, there's always next time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Three more to savour

On my trip around Huddersfield on Monday afternoon I came across beers that I thought I ought to share with you. If you are about in the Town Centre, and if they are still on the bar, they are well worth a try.

Firstly, on a call in The Cherry Tree, I was amazed to find a beer from Tetleys hiding away on the far bar. Tetleys 'Green Shoots' weighed in at 4.0% and was a light and very drinkable session beer. There was no hint as to where the beer was actually brewed, but the pump clip did show the Tetleys Huntsman logo, so I assume it is a genuine Tetley product, and far better than their usual fayre.

My next call at the Kings Head, (I still want to call it the Station Tavern) provided one of the rare beers brewed by the combination of Oakham and Newby Wyke. This one was 'Guillemot Rock', another light hoppy offering but this time at 4.8%. It brought out all the hop character that one associates with these two well known breweries and is well worth searching out. It will even suit Will with its bird theme !!

At the Sportsman, I was leaning against the bar surveying the pumps when my eye was caught by a Duval pump clip which was unfamiliar to me. Duval 'Green' was a 6.8% beer, again light and refreshing and very smooth and moreish. The only draw back being the £3 asking price per half, but again worth a try.

Incidentally, talking of the so called lager fonts at the Sportsman, there is Outstanding 'Pilsner' nesting among them and is another light and hoppy beer to sample, and is a good example of the style.

So, if you are about in the Town, may be worth looking in the Northern end of Town for something a bit different.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Meet the Brewer Night

Whether it's unbelievable value for money lunches, showcasing the very best of our local brewing craft or even opening early on derby day, The Sportsman is always striving to keep it's punters happy and it's profile high.

The latest incentive to visit the town centre's most innovative real ale pub is a meet the brewer evening, taking place on Thursday 8th April. Fittingly enough the special guest for this inaugural occasion will be Tara Mallinson. And for a ticket price of £10 you will be treated to a (no doubt) generous cooked meal, six Mallinsons beers and of course your opportunity to find out what makes Tara tick!

Interest has already been keen and remaining tickets are few, so check out how to get yours from the pub's website now and look forward to an evening in Huddersfield's pub of the season drinking Huddersfield's beer of the year!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Boys with the Black Stuff

A few months ago the blog showcased a new brewery from Sheffield who, we said, produced wonderful hoppy bitters. Now they are back with a formidable stout, get it while you can.

The 'Steel City Brewery' is a bit unusual. It is the work of two beer enthusiasts from the city, Gazza Prescott and Dave 'Unpronouncable' and they brew on other people's plants. The first two beers were brewed at the Brew Co brewery, the third has appeared from Little Ale Cart.

It has been around for some time but I have only just managed to track it down, or rather it tracked me down, turning up on the bar at the Star. It was worth the wait. 'Black no1' weighs in at 5% and is everything you would want in a stout.

It is black, obviously. It is bitter, as would be expected from the brewers pedigrees. But behind this it brings out all the tastes one looks for, but rarely finds, in a dark beer. There is the roastiness of the malt, and coffee flavour, with a hint of licquorice, and other flavours I cannot put my finger on. All in all, it is a superb example of its type.

I know the brewers have been adding things to make other barrels special, a version with port was at the Harlequin in Sheffield a while ago, and I know there have been other experiments but have always managed to miss them. If you want to taste the original though, hot foot it to The Star, it will not be on the bar for long.You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Festival time at The Old Ship

This weekend sees the Old Ship At Brighouse holding its 2nd beer festival. It is running from Thursdat through till Sunday and promises 24 beers through hand pumps at any one time out of a list of 48 in total. If their 1st festival was anything to go by it will be worth a call, with many old favourites rubbing shoulders with some new brews.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Just in case you really needed to know !!

Tuesday's 'Morning Advertiser' answers the question that has been on many beer drinkers lips.

Where is Tetleys going to be brewed when their Leeds brewery closes in 2011?

The answer; at Marstons, in the well known Yorkshire Town of Wolverhampton.
Just in case someone is sad enough to be interested in the smoothflow version, that is moving to Coors at Tadcaster, (which I suppose does keep some of Tetleys in Yorkshire).

I will make no further comment. Enough to say that Camra are none too pleased either.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Mallinson's on Tour

If you have not tried Tara's beers, or even missed one or two you would have liked to sample, fear not, the girls are taking their bottle conditioned ale range to the masses.

On the first Saturday of each month, starting this weekend (6th March), Mallinson's beers will be on sale at Cleckheaton farmers market (St. John's car park, Bradford Road, Cleckheaton), from 9am.

Normally one barrel of each brew is put aside for bottling, so you should get a good selection of Tara's recent offerings, plus gift packs and Mallinson's pint glasses too!

The breweries reputation is continuing to grow, a number of barrels are heading to the lake district this week and festivals around the UK are requesting specials.

PS. For those who like a lie in on Saturdays, bottled Mallinson's and gift packs are available at the Star, Folly Hall, too.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Brewers Gold Test

On Sunday in the Star we were treated to two versions of 'Brewers Gold' on the bar at the same time.

The usual Pictish beer was there, at 3.8% but alongside it was Mallinsons,similarly named but 3.7%. It seemed a good opportunity to do some taste testing, (and drink some good beer in the interests of science too!)

Brewers Gold is a hop that imparts fruitiness and spiciness to beer but is not too bitter, coming in at the lower end of the bitterness scale at between 8-10 AAU. It is widely available and a fairly common ingredient in many brewers beers. It is grown in England and Germany and I believe there is even a New Zealand version now.

Anyway, what does it taste like. After tasting both beers side by side it was difficult to tell them apart, both tasted very similar and both had the flavours that one would have expected form the hop. Pictish was marginally sweeter with maybe a sharper aftertaste, whereas the Mallinsons's had some background dryness and I found a slightly more malty body.

Nevertheless, both were great examples of what local brewers can produce in a low gravity beer with a single hop. Both are worth drinking if you get the chance.