Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shepherds Boy Festival

The Shepherd's Boy, Dewsbury will hold a beer festival from 10th - 14th Feb.

Note that the 202 and 203 buses stop near the pub and also serve
The White Cross at Bradley which has its festival from the 11th - 13th Feb.
The bus journey between the two pubs takes 20 minutes and the 202
also passes the Old Colonial Club which is in the GBG.

Provisional beer list for the Shepherd's Boy:-

Harvestoun:- Bitter and Twisted, Old Engine Oil
Cairngorm:- Bards Ale
Williams Bros:- Ceildh Lager
Fraoch – Heather Ale
Atlas :- Latitude
Elland:- 1872 Porter
Boggart:- Waterloo Sunset Porter
Acorn:- Gorlovka Stout
Marble:- Pint
Rudgate:- Ruby Mild
Golcar:- Guthlacs Porter
Ossett:- Treacle Stout
York:- Centurians Ghost
Fullers:- London Porter
Riverhead:- Squaddies Gold
Ilkley:- Black
Meantime:- L.P.A

Plus beers from Mallinsons, Caledonian, Pictish, Abbeydale and Anglo Dutch.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Navigation Fest List

Coming up this weekend, Mirfield's Navigation kicks off the new year's local festival calendar with this fine collection.
please click on the lists for the bigger picture

Spring Nook Fest

Following the success of their annual Summer Beer Festivals held for the last six years over the bank holiday weekend, The Nook has decided to run a second Spring festival this year. It will take place over the weekend of 25th-28th March and will showcase 40+ real ales, ciders & fruit wines. Live music will feature on the Friday, Saturday & Sunday evenings.

Further details can be obtained from Ian Roberts or Sheila Sutton at

The Nook
7b Victoria Square
Holmfirth
HD9 2DN

Tel: 01484 - 682373

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Manchester Meander

On Friday, 5 of our local intrepid beer drinkers set out over the Pennines to see what Manchester really did have to offer those visiting the Winter Ales Festival there. As you will see, we were so impressed we never made it to the festival, but spent our time trekking round the pubs in the City's Northern Quarter. This is what we found.

Taking the train to Victoria our first call was at the Smithfield on Swan St. Even though it was only 1130 am, the pub was open and well stocked with 'tickers' from far and wide sampling the delights on the bar. The pub was holding its own beer festival so in addition to the 8 beers on the bar, we had the chance to sample several more from the cellar, but at this time we declined. However, from the bar we selected Acorn 'Pacific Gem', Norfolk Cottage 'Winter Wonder', Rockingham 'Winter Forest', Roosters 'Ginger' and for some reason, a 7.2% offering from Hopshackle, 'Resination'. All were in good form, but the Acorn was the beer of choice, with the beer bringing out all the hop character of the America hop used.

From there, we crossed the road to the Bar Fringe. Here just the 5 beers on the bar were available, but they were again in fine condition. Reading my notes, I tried Phoenix 'Ice Queen' and Six Bells 'At-ten-shun'. After a discussion this is where we split up, the larger group making for the Marble Arch for their fine beers and food whilst I went in search of more new beers.

My next call was the 'Angel' at the bottom of Oldham Rd. I have not visited here since it was the Beer House and was pleasantly surprised with the beers on offer. Again I did not write them all down, but out of the 8 or so on the bar, I selected Redemption 'Pale ale', a new brewery to me from London, and Brown Cow 'Dark Angel' which was again a fine beer from a very good brewster. The most interesting beer here though was an offering from Harviestoun which the licencee advised us was 'Old Engine Oil' matured in whisky casks, and at 10.5% not a beer to be taken lightly. I avoided this, but some of the party tried it later and were very impressed.

My wanderings then took me back past the Smithfield, and being unable to walk past a beer festival, called in for a second go, and some beers from the cellar this time since the crowds had moved on. Here I sampled two more new breweries from the extensive list, Ha'penny and WC, and although both beers were acceptable I would have preferred to see what they tasted like on the bar, seeming to lack a bit of condition.

Dragging myself away from the vast numbers of Norfolk beers available here, I continued along to the City Arms. Another pub that has apparently reinvented itself. It is light and airy but with its plastic seating and odd clientele but it is one that I won't be visiting very often. On the bar were 3 Acorn beers, two may have been house beers, 'City Gent' and 'City Slicker' and both were reasonable but served by a disinterested bar maid who seemed to think she was there to chat to her friends rather than serve.

By this time, my beer meter was showing full, so I had to forgo the intended visit to The Microbar in The Arndale centre, which was a mistake since I managed to overlook 2 more new breweries on the bar there.

All in all, however, the trip did showcase what Manchester can offer in a small number of pubs, and will be well worth repeating, hopefully on a drier day. I tried lots of different beers from around the country ,most were good, and a couple were excellent. It is well worth a day out.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More Awards for Yorkshire Ales

The judging at the Winter Ales Festival provided 2 beers from Yorkshire in the top three...a tribute to the county's growing brewing skills. And both are beers that regularly appear on bars locally so if you cannot make the festival you will be able to sample them nearer home.

Gold - Elland 1872 Porter
Silver - Breconshire Rambler's Ruin
Bronze - Acorn Gorlovka

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Manchester is the place to be

Today sees the start of the National Winter Ales festival in Manchester. This is an annual event to match the Great British Beer festival in London in the summer, and is a showcase for many brewers up and down the country to show off their talents, especially regarding (naturally) their winter selections. There is an admission charge per session however.

Running in tandem with this, many of the local pubs in Manchester and Salford hold their own festivals, so this week Manchester is literally awash with beer.

I have read of festivals at the Crescent, the New Oxford, and the Black Lion in Salford. All an easy walk, or easier bus ride from Manchester Centre. The Crescent has been on since Monday and their list shows a least 4 beers unique to the pub. The lists at the others have yet to be finalised but if previous experience is anything to go by, they should be worth a look.

In the Northern Quarter, and therefore nearer the Winter Ales Festival, there is a festival at the Smithfield on Swan St with an amazing selection of rare beers judging by the list. Visits to the Bar fringe across the road, and the Angel, round the corner should also provide even more variety from what I have seen published. Not forgetting The Crown & Kettle and the Marble there should be something for everyone's taste without having to walk far.

All in all, well worth a day of anyone's time to visit and sample what is on offer. Just hope I can make it.

The Winter Ales festival is held till Saturday evening at the Sheridan suite, 'The Venue', Oldham Rd, Manchester.M40 8EA. Admission is generally £3 per session.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tread Gingerly

Nothing to do with the treacherous underfoot conditions but a celebration of the use of ginger in beer.

Many of us drink beers with different flavours added, some successful, some less so. However, one of the flavours drinkers tend to agree does work in beer, is the humble ginger root .

Several breweries produce ginger beers. Halifax Steam has its 'Gingivitis' and 'Jamaica Ginger', both good examples, the former weaker than the latter but both full of flavour. Boggart does the same, with 'Little Ginger' and 'Big Ginger', 'Big Ginger' being fuller at 6%, with plenty of ginger in it, 'Little Ginger' seems a bit thin in comparison. Roosters produce one, as does Pictish, both of which showcase what ginger can do in a weaker strength beer. The Sportsman has Outstanding 'Ginger' on the bar at present and is an excellent beer, from an interesting brewery . The Grove often has Marble 'Ginger' available and is usually recognised as the pinnacle of ginger beers, or at least it was.....

Last night, when I could drag myself away from the 'Worcestershire Sourced' in the Star, Sam suggested I should try the Williams 'Ginger'. What a revelation. At 3.8% it was a beer apparently brewed with real root ginger. It did not compromise on flavour, so much so that after drinking it, I could taste nothing else. It was none the worse for that though. My only criticism would be the lack of head retention in the beer but those in the know, suggested this could be due to the use of ginger oil in the brew to give even more flavour.

Just shows again what can be produced by a brewery unafraid to experiment. Unfortunately, Williams are a Scottish brewery so trying to find the beer could be a little difficult, unless you can make it to the Star soon, before I get chance to empty the barrel !!

Watch out...there are hops about

During the last few days, while 'A Swift One' has been resting because of the weather and in respect for Charlie, several beers have appeared in Huddersfield, which again have showcased what skillful brewers can do with hops.

Mallinsons 'Castle Hill Premium' has appeared on the bar at the Sportsman, and is to come soon at the Star. It is loosely based on 'Gator' but is, in my opinion, better balanced and is full of hop character, and weighs in at 4.6%. It is to be one of the breweries regular beers, along with 'Emley Moor Mild' ,'Stadium' and 'Station' bitters and is the last piece of the brewery's jigsaw. It is well worth searching out.

If you happen to be searching it out in the Star in the next day or so, you may be lucky to find Steel City brewery's ' Worcestershire Sourced'. This is again a 4.6% beer, brewed in Sheffield by Dave Unpronouncable and Gazza who are not afraid to use the odd hop or ten in their beers. This time the hops are English, and are from Worcestershire. But they are 'Brewers Gold', (sorry, Cascade, see comment 1) which are usually associated with the Mount Hood hop fields of the USA.

This time they taste totally different, with a hoppy astringency not found in their American, and sometimes New Zealand, namesakes, making a beer which is not for the faint hearted, but which is a wonderful showcase for a new hop. It does not have the earthiness that I associate with English hops and shows what can be done with brewers unafraid to try out a new product.

The same is true of 'Rakau', the new Thornbridge offering on the bar at The Grove. This is another new New Zealand hop, to join the ranks of Nelson Sauvin, Mortueka and Riwaka. In my opinion it is a good, but not yet great beer, the hops being less aggressive than some of us associate with beers brewed with hops from this country. As a single hop variety it seems to lack something, and may be better used in conjunction with another hop, time will tell. Nevertheless, it is worth hunting out and trying.

Another brewery, unafraid to try out new things are Pictish, and it was their 'Rakau' in which I first came across the hop before Xmas. Reading in a Manchester Camra magazine,it seems that Richard, the brewer, is hoping to source some new American hop varieties this year to create more single hopped beers. I ,for one, cannot wait.

A Sad Day

Yesterday the beer world gathered at the Cedar Court, and subsequently at the Huddersfield Crematorium to say their goodbyes to David Charlesworth.

The Cedar Court was a humanist service with recollections of Charlie from family and friends and followed by a short service at the Crem which was packed with those who had come across him through his 63 years. It was standing room only and showed in what high regard Charlie was held, with many local licencees, and plenty of tickers from far and wide attending. It was followed by a celebration of his life at Marsh Liberal Club.

A fitting end to the life of a special man, who many of us have been priviledged to have know as a beer enthusiast, jazz fan, and a tireless Camra worker. He will be missed.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A vote of thanks

Like the rest of the country, Huddersfield has been suffering from its fair share of snow and frost and the main roads have been dodgy in some cases or lethal in others.

This did not stop some of the town's hardy drinkers venturing out to sample the wares in the local pubs of course, and it was a credit to the local licencees that they managed to open for us.

What did surprise me was that in spite of the weather and the roads I saw deliveries from at least 3 breweries, and our thanks are due to Saltaire, Mallinsons, and Brass Monkey for getting their wares to local pubs to keep us going in this chilly weather.

Charlie's Funeral

This has been arranged at 1500 hrs on Friday 15th January 2010 at Huddersfield Crematorium, on Fixby Rd, (just off 363 bus route to Bradford)