Wednesday, June 30, 2010
All the flags outside houses and on cars failed to inspire, as did all those beers named in honour of England's expected triumph. They could never hope to of course, and I bet there are now plenty of breweries with beer in the cool rooms awaiting renaming (the beers not the breweries I hasten to add - though I can think of one or two that could benefit from a major makeover!).
This last fortnight I have been to countless pubs where beer was named after competing countries or where the pump clip designs were merely different country's shirt colours along with a brewery and ABV on them; I have also been to several festivals where the majority of beers have been named in honour of the event or the team or the players or the stadiums; and I have lost count of the number of times I have thought, I'm sure I've had this beer before under another name - in fact I can't recall such a load of over-the-top fuss in support of an ultimately bloody awful short-lived product!
What did I think of the themed beers that I came across during the World Cup? Well not much actually. In fact about as disappointing as the team, but I guess had they not been named after England they would have come out under other guises anyway - I'm pretty sure no one sits down and brews a beer intentionally for the World Cup - do they?!
I for one will be glad to get back to normal, even though after so much hype I'm having difficulty remembering what normal is! Let's go to pubs where the main attraction is the beer and the craic, not the big screen telly and gaudy bunting. I do wonder though how many pubs have prolonged their survival on the back of increased custom from those coming to watch the games. And how many will now fold. In fact I can name one already - but that's a story for another day!
Despite everything of course I'm sad to see England go out. But all is not lost. Our cricketers and tennis player are doing well, so maybe some of those beers awaiting names could be rebadged in favour of something we are successful at - in fact I'd gladly sample a little Murray Magic or Aussie Assassin right now!
If you want a quick chuckle, this was overheard in a certain tv-less pub on Sunday.
Insane elderly man - "It's quiet in here this afternoon, where is everyone?"
Inert barman - " They're all watching the England game up the road".
Insane elderly man - " You should have asked them to play tomorrow when you're closed".
Isn't that just... insane?!
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
The Ridgeside Brewing Company in Meanwood is gearing up to begin full-time production, with O'Donoghue's in Wakefield selected for the official launch. Head brewer Simon Bolderson (right) is keen to get started -
"We have been working very long hours over the past few days, and now have our first batch of beer safely in the fermenter. This is a small one off batch of just 9 casks, which we have brewed primarily to test the system. We are hoping to brew a full batch of 16 casks on Friday or Saturday, and will be launching our beer at O'Donoghue's in about three weeks. Exciting times ahead!"
For all the latest, check out the brewery's website here and read a full interview with Simon here.
pic: Leeds Guide
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
After concentrating on live entertainment venues recently, this is the first new pub venture since the short-lived association with Timothy Taylor's Albert Hotel in Keighley, and sees a deal with Everards that will make their top-selling Tiger Best Bitter (4.2%) permanently available.
The New Albion is at the beginning of Flanshaw Lane in Alverthorpe, which you can see from the traffic lights on Batley Road.(map)
The Broken Bridge, J.D. Wetherspoons' new palace in Pontefract is now open. (map)
The Annual Beer and Music Festival at Boons in Horbury is next weekend, Friday 2nd - Sunday 4th July - Friday from 15.00, Saturday from 11.00 & Sunday from 12.00. (map)
Coming soon, in conjunction with Netherton Gala (pronounced to rhyme with Mahler not sailor) is the beer festival at Netherton Sports & Social Club.
Beers on tap will be - Golcar Bitter (3.9%), Kelham Island Best Bitter (3.8%), York Brewery Constantine (3.9%), Idle Brewery Landlord (4.6%), Little Valley Withens IPA(3.9%), Old Bear Black Mar'ia (4.2%), Old Mill Bullion (4.7%), Leeds Pale (3.8%) and a specially brewed bitter from Clarks called Netherton Gala Bitter.
The festival will run from Friday 16th July (19.30 to 24.00), Saturday 17th July(11.00 to midnight) and Sunday18th July (12.00 to 23.30) - everybody welcome. On Saturday will be Netherton Gala with fun for all the family with the club and gala supplying food throughout the day. Also "Pocket Panto" in the club on Saturday afternoon for the children. (map)
Advance notice: the Harewood Arms on Kirkgate, Wakefield is having a beer festival Friday 20th - Sunday 22nd August. (map)
Monday, June 21, 2010
There is a different musical theme each month, our service piped in the music of Abba, future departures will feature live jazz and brass, and a bar set up at each end supplies soft drinks, wine, tinnies, snacks AND DRAUGHT BEER. This is currently supplied by none other than Mallinson's Brewery, who have brewed an ale series especially for the music train, named after the many viaducts on this heavily engineered line.
The "Viaduct" beers have been generally available at the usual Mallinson's outlets, "29 Arches"(4.1%) - one of the offerings on this trip, is currently in the cellar of the Star, Folly Hall, but one of the reasons for joining "The Abba Train" was the provision of a one off - "Mamma Beer"(3.8%) - a dry hopped version of Tara's excellent "Crescent Hop" - the house beer of the Crescent, Salford.
All the beer had been supped by Denby Dale on the return leg from Sheffield - about 2 hours! Commuters and shoppers returning from Meadowhell joined in the fun, the "Moorland Singers" encouraged everyone to singalong and dance (honest!).
The next music train is on July 5th, featuring live jazz from the "Train Gang", and an American Independence Day theme will be backed up by Mallinson's "Oxspring DC"(4.1%) - an American pale ale. These are normal service trains - just pay for your tickets and bring extra for the beer, about £2.60 a pint.
pic: Northern Rail News
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Please click on the list for the sake of your eyesight!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
In addition to The New Albion, the Ossett group has two further houses in Wakefield itself, namely Fernandes Brewery Tap & Bier Keller in Avison Yard and The Hop on Bank Street, together with another thirteen across Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield MC and Leeds.
We wish landlady Angie Cromack and the rest of the pub & brewery team all the best and look forward to sampling some quality beer and, no doubt, classy decor next week!
Address: 2 Flanshaw Lane, Wakefield, WF2 9JH (map)
Twelve well chosen beers were available and all six that I tried were in perfect condition thanks to the Brass Monkey equipment and the expertise of the bar manager and his staff. I chose to try all of the Cumbrian beers (two each from Keswick, Hawkshead and Coniston). Also available were real cider and perry, wine, soft drinks – something for everyone. On the food side, in addition to the usual crisps etc was a menu of Jan’s delicious homemade pies (made with meat from the local butcher) and puddings. Afternoon family activities, the Shelley Band, barbeque, a big screen TV were all on the go and kept everyone entertained (and the voluntary staff busy!).
Proceeds from the festival went towards the Scout Hut Restoration fund and a donation from the profits went to the All Hallows Church Heating Restoration Fund.
This was a most well organised independent local beer festival thanks to the hard work, skill and enthusiasm of the organisers and their helpers. Here’s looking forward to the next one!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
The starting point was the Greetland Community & Sporting Association Club which can be reached on the E8 itself or by other services (343, 557, 559). This friendly, newly refurbished club is CAMRA multi award winning and is run by experienced steward Ian Sinclair who knows a thing or two about serving great beer in a pleasant environment. The excellent house beer is Coach House Cheshire Gold (4.1% ABV) and sells at just £2 per pint. The interesting varying range of guests beers are priced slightly higher.
After a couple of pints the E8 stopped directly outside and took me door to door to the Barge and Barrel at Elland. There were ten beers on here and my choice was the Elland Bargee (3.8% ABV) which accompanied a spot of lunch. The pub will soon be holding its 8th Annual Spring Beer Festival from Thursday 17th to Sunday 20th June where over 30 handpulled cask ales will be available together with real cider and specialist foreign beers on draught and in bottles. Something for everyone!
After an hour I boarded the next E8 (same driver) and was soon at another award winning pub, the Red Rooster at Brookfoot. I spent a very pleasant hour here drinking Bradfield Farmers Stout (4.5% ABV) – one of nine cask ales available!
The next E8 from here had the same driver again and he laughed as I boarded – what a way to spend an afternoon – jealousy, I think.
I arrived in Brighouse a few minutes later and made my way to the newly crowned local CAMRA branch Pub of the Year, The Old Ship where I was confronted by a choice of seven beers and several ciders. I plumped for the excellent house beer called Shipwrecked (5.3% ABV) brewed by Dark Horse Brewery (made famous on TV).
By now, it was almost five o clock and time to think about going home for tea. After some contemplation I did just that.
There you have it – a simple afternoon out on a local bus service that takes you between four great beer destinations. The most difficult thing was choosing a beer with so much choice on offer!
For further information on the bus service either go on-line to West Yorkshire Metro or pop into the office for a timetable.
You can’t beat it!
pic: Andrew Stopford
Monday, June 07, 2010
Saturday, June 05, 2010
Friday, June 04, 2010
In such warm conditions my natural instinct is to avoid rich dark beer, and familiar ale from Cropton & Rudgate (TTIAO was Ruby Mild apparently) was overlooked in favour of easy-drinking specials from Mallinsons & Leeds (the latter being very similar to the excellent Midnight Bell).
Pale beers with attitude such as Ossett's Sup Up (6%) & Summer Wine's IPA (6.6% - not listed but on the main bar) were almost barley wine like in their heady, sweet complexity and better drinks at this 'pushing it' strength were the marvellous Moonshine cider & delicious Broadoak perry. I'm not normally a fan but these are great alternatives to beer when the sun's belting down!
I had high hopes for the Abbeydale & Nook offerings, expecting they might give White Rose & Phoenix some competition but was disappointed by both - the Abbeydale in particular as the brewery have been a firm favourite for many years. The Roosters was one of the rebadges (YPA I was told) and a perfect beer for the occasion but couldn't quite match the Salamander with it's interesting fresh outdoor flavours.
With changeable conditions set to spoil the remainder of the weekend it's unlikely I'll be back to finish off but this has been another resounding success and it's a big well done to Sarah & Lisa for their organisation and hard work.
Thursday, June 03, 2010
My tactic for the opening session of this footy themed festival was to play the percentages - sticking largely to the tried and tested 4-4.2, ensuring I could go the distance. Some of the stand out performances in this category came from Abbeydale, Phoenix & Hornbeam, making their World Sup debuts with light & lively offerings. The Phoenix in particular had my taste buds well beaten for pace as it accelerated from sweet & fruity through to a dry & bitter finish faster than Aaron Lennon with his shorts on fire.
World Sup judging gets underway
It wasn't all good news of course and whilst there were some surprisingly lack-lustre efforts from Northumberland & Marstons for example, these were actually pretty acceptable when compared to the 'own goal' offerings from Cottage & Old Bear - the latter being about as interesting and relevant as Theo Walcott's World Cup diary! And on the subject of own-goals, the judging panel decided on Beartown's Bear Literate as beer of the festival, an unfathomable choice in my opinion, but do give it a go.
It's too early to think about an overall favourite just yet, especially with the likes of in-form Roosters, Mallinsons, Leeds & Salamander to try, but they will all have to go some way to beat the Platinum Blonde from White Rose of Sheffield with it's generous use of Summit hops (a Nelson Sauvin clone?) - certainly my 'man of the match' so far!
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
If World Sup 2010 is as brilliant as it's predecessors, Beer-jing 2008 & World Sup 2006, then expect to be tackling some great ale - but don't forget this will be more than a game of two halves, so get your drinking boots on for an early kick-off (5pm tomorrow)! Full beer list here.
My first stop was the CAMRA award winning Old Colonial Club in Mirfield where the Ale For Heroes Beer Festival was taking place. Eight cask beers were on sale on my visit:
Thwaites Highwayman 4.0% ABV
70th Dunkirk Spirit – Mystery Brewery 3.8% ABV
Hardy Hansons Vintage 1832 4.6% ABV
Cottage King Arthur Full Steam Ahead 4.3% ABV
Copper Dragon Best Bitter 3.8% ABV
Copper Dragon Freddie Trueman 4.0% ABV
White Rose Stairway To Heaven 4.3% ABV
Great Newsome Holderness Dark 4.3% ABV
I sampled most of the beers and found all to be of excellent quality. Of particular interest was the mystery brewery beer but I was not able to guess who the brewer was!
A while later I was back on the bus and having travelled through Dewsbury I arrived at the Fox and Hounds at Hanging Heaton located next to the legendary cricket club. This is a Punch pub run by enterprising licensee Rachel Martin. Four cask beers were on sale as follows:
Tetley Cask at 3.7%
Rudgate Ruby Mild 4.4%
York Guzzler 3.6% ABV
Acorn Darkness 4.2% (on special offer at a bargain £2 / pint)
Again all were in fine fettle and I can agree that the recent CAMRA Pub of the Season Award is well deserved.
As I left to take the bus back to Leeds I noticed the coming next list – Old Mill Blonde Bombshell, Idle Sod & Roosters IPA.
Altogether a great afternoon in appalling weather.
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
There are currently seven cask ales – on my visit they were as follows:
Tetley Cask - 3.7% ABV
Brass Monkey Bitter - 3.8% ABV
Brass Monkey Chimp Off The Old Block - 3.6% ABV
Bradfield Farmers Blond - 4.0% ABV
Bradfield Brown Cow - 4.2% ABV
Empire Avalon - 3.9% ABV
Empire Golden Warrior - 3.8% ABV
I tried six of these and found them all in excellent condition.
Other features are Belgian bottled beers (including Orval, Liefmans, Kwak, Delirium Tremens) and a choice of four Malt Whiskies at the bargain price of £3 for a double!
Food will be available soon as will the upstairs function room and there is no problem remembering the opening hours as the pub opens at 12.00 every day.
While in the area I also visited the Lockwood and Salford Conservative Club. This was my first visit to the pleasant and friendly club and it was pleasing to see four cask beers available – Tetley Cask, Black Sheep Bitter, Copper Dragon Bitter and Copper Dragon IPA. I had the latter at the bargain price of £2/pint and very good it was too.