Thursday, May 27, 2010

Potter's Yorkshire Ales

With the enormous increase in the number of small breweries now bottling their output, mail order real ale has become a popular and convenient way to get your hands on great beer. One of the most recent businesses to set up locally in bottled beer distribution is Potter's Yorkshire Ales, and we have just received the following from them:

"Based in Thurstonland, Huddersfield we want to bring the brilliant Yorkshire ales from small independent breweries to a national audience. We are proud to stock Brass Monkey Bitter - exclusive in bottles to Potter's - and plan to expand our range in the coming months. Unlike some other online retailers, we wanted a less corporate and a more personal feel to the ale buying experience, so that it's less like filling a trolley at a hypermarket and more like popping in to a small Yorkshire Real Ale store."

To find out more or to sign up and start ordering in for the World Cup/Test Matches, please visit the website now.

Spring Bank Festivals

The Old Colonial Club in Mirfield is holding a beer festival this weekend (28th-30th) featuring 20 hand pulled real ales. Full details are now on the club's website.
The 202 Leeds-Huddersfield bus stops outside. (map)

The Sun at Flockton is reportedly staging a mini beer festival at it's annual Flockstock bash this weekend, but no details are available on their website at the moment.

Meet the Brewers

The Sportsman is hosting it's second meet the brewer night on Thursday 1st July with an unbeatable two for the price of one deal!

Russ Beverley of Empire Brewing in Slaithwaite and John Broadbent from Golcar Brewery will be the special guests and your £10 ticket will give you the opportunity to sample several beers, ask questions and enjoy a great plate of hot food afterwards.

A lot to live up to after Mallinsons but I'm sure it will be enjoyable never
the less.

Tickets priced at £5 are now on sale for The Grove's Meet the Brewer night next Tuesday (1st June) featuring Thornbridge Brewery.

The Grove gets Pub of the Season

This week 'The Grove' at Springwood was awarded the CAMRA Huddersfield Spring Pub of the Season award. In my opinion an award that has been a long time coming.

It is not everyone's favourite choice, but one cannot deny that to drag the pub from being a back street boozer that time had passed by, to where it is now, is a credit to Ian Hayes and his staff. It is a firm fixture on the Huddersfield drinking circuit and shows what can be achieved with a lot of hard work and a vision of how you want your pub to be.
There is something for everyone there. The beer enthusiast is treated to over 12 changing hand pumps and the idea to have pumps dedicated to certain breweries has certainly paid dividends. Where else can you find the new beers from Marble, Thornbridge, and Brewdog together on the same bar? These are backed up by changing guests from all over the country together with a few standard beers for those who like their favourites on a permanent basis.

These are supported by the vast array of bottled beers from all over the world, some coming from countries I never even realised had breweries. There are plenty of different lagers, not your usual fizz but proper foreign beers imported specially. And some of the strangest snacks you will ever see in a pub, or elsewhere for that matter.

Well done the Grove, you have waited a long time for this well deserved award. If you have not yet been, take a look, it is well worth a visit. (Our picture profile)

It's Almost Here!

Everywhere I look nowadays I see cars flying St Georges flags, houses with red and white banners displayed, grown men with red and white t-shirts, and supermarkets with all sorts of England memorabilia for sale. Yes, its that time again! You would have to have been on a trip in the jungle or just woken from a long sleep to have avoided all the hype. But then I stopped and thought - there's a lot going on for the first day of a test series against Bangladesh! Or am I missing something ?

It is not unusual for brewers to name beers after sporting events, though I haven't seen one yet in praise of Lords or Kevin Petersen or one even remotely connected with cricket in the recent past - yes I know Mallinsons did one for umpire David Shepherd and Leg Before - but since we last trounced the Aussies cricket seems to have passed the brewers by. Not even the success in the World Twenty20 seems to have rated a mention.

So anyway, why all the national fervour? Maybe a look again at Tara Mallinson's recent brews may give me an answer. Fabio Four seems to have some familiar faces on the pump clip, 44 Years Of Hurt rings a bell, but where does Rustenburg fit in ? After speaking to those in the know, I'm told the Football World Cup is only a couple of weeks away. They are of course all world cup beers (Rustenburg being the stadium where the mighty England play their first game). Now this has been explained, I expect to overwhelmed by 'new' beers with World Cup themes, and this is even before the lads have kicked a ball in anger. Who knows what will happen if we finally go on to lift the trophy?

Don't get me wrong. I am as much a lover of 'the beautiful game' as the next man, unless the next man is Dennis, but even I get fed up of the hype the tournament engenders in the English nation.
So for me, it will be the sound of Test Match Special, the sweet sound of leather hitting willow, and the hope that my England team will go on to success as well this summer over Bangladesh and Pakistan. And then maybe some brewer will brew a beer to celebrate it, I certainly hope so.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

All Change at The Lockwood?

I have heard from various sources, that during this week, 'The Lockwood' on Woodhead Road will change hands. It has always been a pub that has had real ale on, sometimes with some interesting beers, but it has never been on the drinking circuit as such. This may change from what has been rumoured.

It seems the new licencee will have connections with Brass Monkey Brewery and that their beers will be appearing on the bar, giving the Sowerby Bridge based producer it's second regular outlet, the Rose & Crown at Thurstonland being the other.

At present, I have no confirmation who has taken the pub, nor of it's opening times (it was somewhat haphazard recently), but should the rumour be true then it will be a pub worth visiting - maybe in tandem with the Shoulder of Mutton on Neale Road just a few minutes walk away.
Although the Shoulder only opens on an evening it does, apparently, have a decent selection of beer. Nearby the Lockwood & Salford Club on Lockwood Road has a few real ales and by all accounts are kept on good form.

As usual, 'A Swift One' will do its best to get the information and let you know.
photo: PubUtopia

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dewsbury Beer Festival (a punter's view)

I finally got chance to visit the Dewsbury festival on Friday afternoon. As Will stated, the venue was easy enough to find, a 5 minute walk from the station and head for the white sheeted building. The inside was what one would expect from a Victorian council building, ornate and spectacular. That didn't stop me getting lost though. I finally managed to get a ticket for the festival from a ticket office downstairs to get into the festival on the floor above.

Up there the beers were on a mixture of stillage and hand pumps in a medium sized hall which was reasonably full. All the seats were taken but there was room to move about and the bars were well manned. It did seem rather warm and became a bit oppressive as the day wore on. The system used was tried and tested, with £2 deposit for a glass (£1 refundable), marked in pints,halves and thirds and the old £5 beer ticket with various amounts scrubbed off for every beer you ordered. This did present a problem when drinking in thirds as most came in under £1 and caused confusion for some of the bar staff. Maybe the £1 amounts should be altered to 2 x 50p to assist, however unused portions were refundable.

As for the beers, there was a range to suit all palettes, but the warmth of the hall did them no favours and those on the bar did not seem to be as chilled as I hoped. I tried eight from various Yorkshire breweries, Yorkshire beers did predominate at the festival and all were adequate but none spectacular, and one was disappointing - but I will not name it. There were plenty of new beers to try, Brian Moore was there and he needed around 15 so my fears about the lack of something different were unfounded. There was some confusion as to where to get some of the beers with two bars operating. The second bar being a 'Brewsters' bar with beer from female brewers only - OK if you knew which beers were brewed by females, otherwise a bit haphazard.
It was a decent festival, there were issues, but nothing that cannot be ironed out if they try again, and it attracted people from far and wide. It was good to see some of the old stagers there rubbing shoulders with local drinkers too. Lets hope that local CAMRA are encouraged for another attempt, maybe earlier or later in the year when the room would be less warm.

As an aside, those travelling from away were not helped by a signal failure which stopped trains running for 2 hours at the rush hour meaning the only escape from the town was either by service bus or rail replacement coach, not an ideal way to travel after several pints at a festival.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dewsbury & Heavy Woollen District Beer Festival (Part Two)

It's been nigh on thirty years since I last set foot in Dewsbury Town Hall. Back in the early eighties the emphasis was on music rather than beer, though a few pints of Tetleys (virtually the only thing on offer then) never went amiss as we attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to become the next Pistols/Magazine/Clash.

The town crier officially opens Dewsbury Beer Festival - the first to be held in the Town Hall since the seventies.

I'm glad to say that the old place is very much as I remember it, with ornate ceiling and unbreachable stage intact - the latter being a necessary feature in those days - but though I've long since swapped my Fender Telecaster for some rudimentary beer knowledge (a step in the wrong direction?), the nerves were nevertheless jangling as I trod the boards once more.

CAMRA's Mike Roebuck introduces special guest Daisy Claeys (middle)

Being invited to take part in the judging at the first festival to be held here since the seventies was a great privilege (thank you Sarah & Ros) and as with all these events it's as much about the people as it is the ale. Our eclectic team, headed up by special guest Daisy Claeys (Belgium's answer to the late Michael Jackson), unanimously saw Fernandes' wonderful 'Rum For Cover' past the post first ahead of the exceptional 'Niamh's Nemesis' from Five Towns of Wakefield, a stunning IPA of Jaipur magnitude. In the bronze medal position was Leeds Midnight Bell, the brewery's most consistent, though increasingly rare, flagship ale.

Last minute preparations before the doors open for the trade session

I should point out that the available seventy beers had been whittled down overnight (a thankless task I'm sure!) to just eight for the purposes of our judging, so if any one's wondering why (for example Tim) the wondrous Mallinsons Simcoe hasn't featured - it ain't my fault! In fact a host of classy ales are undoubtedly still waiting to be uncovered here, and that, amongst many other good reasons, is why I'll be back again tomorrow!

Judging begins

Dewsbury & Heavy Woollen District Beer Festival (Part One)

Anyone thinking of attending CAMRA's Dewsbury & Heavy Woollen District Beer Festival this week will have absolutely no problem locating the venue.

Still shrouded in white sheeting (no jokes about ghost towns please!), Dewsbury Town Hall buildings have never been such a prominent landmark, and whilst I can only speculate as to what's happening to the exterior, inside it's all about Yorkshire ale!

Approximately 70 beers from around the county (full list on the festival website) will be available from this afternoon until Saturday night, accompanied by a wide variety of entertainment including local guitar heroes Ken Senior & Dave Clayton (in one or two of their various guises) and touring Australian singer-songwriter Emaline Delapaix.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Feast for the Hop Monsters

If you happened to have a couple of hours spare on Monday, may be you were due to go on holiday but some strange sounding volcano closed Manchester Airport, or may be you just wanted a quiet pint out of the way, then 'The Kings Head' in St Georges Square was not a bad pace to idle your time away.

The bar offered an amazing selection of hoppy beers to match that I have seen anywhere, the only problem(s) being where to start, and when to leave. In addition to Taylors Best and Landlord, Dark Star Hophead and Bradfield Farmers Blonde were the beers more often found there. I dismissed them for the more unusual offerings.

Pictish had their Brewers Gold there, rubbing shoulders with another single hopped variety, Chinook, both in super form. Marble Pint was there and was as good as I have ever had, and Brewsters Decadence was there and stood comparison with anything else available.

All in all, a super afternoon of hoppy beers, topped off with a visit to the Sportsman, where I was lucky enough to come across another single hop beer, Acorn Nelson Sauvin which livened up an otherwise pedestrian bar.

Not a bad place to be stranded after all. Bring on the next ash cloud !!! (sorry Aliaian,hope you managed to get away)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Another Great Weekend in Huddersfield!

Most weekends there is always something happing in or around Huddersfield and last week was no exception. My visit to the area began on Friday night down at the Commercial in Slawit with a pint of the excellent house beer from Empire. Next up was a short walk to the Swan at Crimble, Jonny's other pub, where the fabulous beer festival was in full swing with over twenty beers to go at with Charlie watching on from above. The Mallinsons Crimble Viaduct was tops for me with Brown Cow Completely Cuckoo and Empire Blue Beery not far behind. The food was going down well with the hot beef sandwich being my choice.

Saturday began with a quick beer fix in town down at the friendly Vulcan (always good for an interesting, keenly priced independent beer). Up at Golcar it was Lily Day where the whole village take part in a wonderful festival. Make a note for next year! At the brewery it was open day and it was all action with superb expert brewery tours, Stockport Morris dancing, barbecue, local and general book sale, and Radio Golcar! John Broadbent's beers were going down well and I seized the opportunity to have a couple of pints of mixed - lovely stuff. As I left I could not help thinking that it was going so well that it would be a great success and as I discovered later it was with all available beer fully supped!

I had a time out at the Halifax CAMRA Mayfest - a great couple of hours with many familiar faces from across Yorkshire. The only problem was the the return rail replacement bus gave us a satnav tour of Halifax several times before the driver realized that he ought to look at the road signs to escape!

Upon my return to Huddersfield, I decided to go up to the new pub at Kirkheaton, the "yeaton cask" (please note no Upper Case - my English teacher would have a fit!). The local ladies on the bus gave me a history lesson and said that the proper name is "Yetton". Previously the Junction, the pub now has a bright modern feel with several cask beers including a very nice, keenly priced mystery house beer - surely not John Smiths!

Sunday saw a visit to Holmfirth to the folk festival. The Nook had a couple of excellent new beers on - Cherry Stout 5.2%, Ginger 3.7% (lower gravity than before). Up (or is it down) at the cricket club beer festival there were just five beers left out of twenty. There had been a Saturday night blitz due to the folk festival but there was still enough choice and quality to delight the taste buds.

Back in town, I had an excellent pint of Holts Mild at the Head of Steam followed by a great pint and one of Sam's monster sausage sandwiches at the Sportsman - yum yum!

Altogether a great weekend yet again and my thanks go the owner of the Birkdale Guest house for the hospitality.

I'll be back!

David Litton

Dewsbury Hosts Beer Festival again

This weekend, after a considerable gap, Dewsbury Town Hall will host its Camra Beer Festival. Starting at 6pm on Thursday night it continues through till Saturday beer permitting.

Thanks to the man from Hull I have managed a sneak preview of the festival list which looks a good balance of the old and the new with some interesting stuff to try. Local breweries such as Anglo Dutch, Ossett, Tiger Tops and Five Towns all feature as would be expected with a predominance on the list of Yorkshire breweries. Less common breweries there are Richmond, Captain Cook, Wharfebank, Dark Horse and Concertina and they have a small coup in sourcing a beer from the new Toad brewery in Doncaster.

The traditionalists among us may be interested in the Tetleys, may be the last chance to sample it at a beer festival, Copper Dragon, and Taylors. Elland's Champion Winter Beer Of Britain '1872 Porter' is also listed.

With a range of 50 plus beers, with styles from best bitters to milds and stouts to rum porters it looks as though it should be worth a call. May be I will see you there.

Normal service will be resumed asap

I have to apologise on behalf of the editorial team for the lack of content this month. I have been moving house and had lap top packed away, Will has been busy at work and Aliain are away sunning themselves. Hopefully normal service should begin again this week and we should be bringing you the best from Huddersfield very soon.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

No5 - Timothy Taylors

Taylors are a different beast to other breweries mentioned in this series. Again, they are based in Keighley but their beers are known nationwide, and appear on bars up nand down the country.

The brewery commenced in 1858, moving five years later to its current premises. It is also the owner of 28 pubs which serve the Taylor's range. It is unusual to find all the beers brewed on the bar at once, but all the tied pubs have some of the core range available.

They are probably best known for their 'Landlord', a well hopped 4.3% bitter, with a lingering bitter aftertaste.This is also the base for their darker 'Ram Tam', which is almost black with more malty, and caramel undertones. The 'Best Bitter' is again not hard to find, and this is a 4% bitter, with a good hop and malt balance. The rest of their core range includes a light mild, 'Golden Best', at 3.5% which is a good quaffing ale, especially on a hot summer's day, and their 'Dark Mild' at the same strength which is a good example of the type.

Taylor's very rarely stretch outside these five beers. One occasionally finds their 'Porter' during the winter, and even more rarely a stronger beer called 'Havercake' at 4.7%.

No exactly a 'tickers' brewery but one that concentrates on what they do well and continues to produce excellent beers that are enjoyed far and wide.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Why Not Try The Swan Festival ?

At 4pm on Thursday, the doors opened on the beer festival at the Swan at Crimble. It runs until Sunday, or until the beer runs out, and it well worth the trip up the Colne Valley.

Jonny has provided 20 beers on the bar(s) with 8 spares to fill in when some run off and 3 ciders to tempt us to to the pub. There are beers from Golcar, Mallinsons, Elland and Eastwood in the local area, from Naylors, Sheffield, Brown Cow, and Brew Co in the wider Yorkshire area, and with Greenfield and Phoenix coming from over the Pennines there is something for everyone, that is not to mention offerings from Glamorgan, Stourbridge and Lincolnshire for those wanting beers from further away. Jonny has also a couple of locally brewed Empire beers on the list. Like I said, beers for every taste.

In my brief visit I managed some of the light, hoppy beers,(that's a surprise I hear you say) and found the Brown Cow 'Completely Cuckoo' to be very tasty,(according to the comprehensive tasting notes, pale ale, with lager malt, with American Hops), and for those wanting something a bit stronger, well a lot stronger really, the Elland 'Chevvy Esb' was spot on. The Mallinsons, as always was excellent, and one of my favourite dark beers, Greenfield 'Black Five' featured.

But I have said there are beers for all tastes, with blueberry, caramel, and maize flavours all included on the beer on the bar.

The pub is well served by a fairly frequent bus route from Huddersfield, the 181 and a decent railway link a short walk away so there is no excuse not to visit, and with the beer on the bar at an inflation busting £2.20 a pint, it makes a trip out well worth it.

Holmfirth Cricket Club beer festival

Thanks to 'the man from Hull' I am able to correct my previous post about the above festival....It starts at 6pm on Friday 7th May and runs through Saturday and Sunday with normal opening hours..there are 20 ales on offer and food will be available at all sessions.

Sorry for any confusion..

Monday, May 03, 2010

Two More Festivals to Try

This weekend, should you be in the area, and at a loose end and want to try somewhere different we have two festivals to visit. One is an old favourite, the other a new kid on the block.

The first is at The Swan at Crimble near Slaithwaite. Easily reachable by train from Huddersfield and if previous experience is anything to go by, is well worth a trip up the valley to see what Jonny has to offer. Starting Thursday through to Sunday it showcases up to 40 beers through 20 handpumps, with many interesting beers on offer. While you are in the area, why not have a call at the Commercial, in Slaithwaite too. Jonny's 2nd pub in the village, and with 8 beers on the bar well worth a call.

The other festival is at Holmfirth Cricket Club, just off Huddersfield Rd, on Saturday only,and is tied in to the Holmfirth Folk Festival at the same weekend. They promise a variety of 20 beers, but not having seen a list I cannot confirm what is available, except there will be a Mallinsons available. Parking will be at a premium but there is a frequent bus service from Huddersfield.