Saturday, March 31, 2012

Nook Festival this weekend

This weekend, in addition to the Sheps festival, there is also a festival at The Nook at Holmfirth. It actually started a couple of days ago but somehow managed to sneak under my radar.

The beers are a Lancashire - Yorkshire beer off, with beers from 8 of Lancashire's smaller breweries alongside plenty from the Nook's own brewery. Live music is promised both Saturday and Sunday.



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Shepherd's Boy Spring Beer & Cider Festival

To our knowledge this is the third in an on-going series of Ossett Brewing Co. pub festivals in 2012 where CAMRA members can take advantage of a generous discount. With 50p off a pint of any festival beer, card-carriers have benefited at the Rat & Ratchet (Huddersfield) and The Drop Inn (Elland) in recent weeks and are now set to do likewise in Dewsbury.

Shepherds Boy festivals have always been a firm favourite here and with the weather set-fair, this weekend's is sure to be the best yet. The beer and cider list can be found over on our Facebook  page complete with opening times. The festival kicks off tomorrow (Thurs 29th) at 3pm.

Fernandes Brewery Tap & Bier Keller in Wakefield will host the next OBC festival from 27th-29th April featuring up to 20 of the brewery's beers - same discounts apply.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

If you love Abbeydale, Huddersfield is the place

Abbeydale from Sheffield has been one of the my favourite breweries for some time, brewing a combination of regulars and new beers, it always seem to hit the spot with me. Their beer range is wide and covers every style, but I am especially attracted to the light or very dark beers. A trip around Huddersfield yesterday provided me with examples of each.

The first I came across, in the Kings Head, was 'Archangel'. It is not a totally new beer but one I had missed before - a 4.7% and very light in colour. It was a bit of a surprise when I drank it. With a fruity aroma I expected bitterness in the beer but it was very subtle and well balanced, with a malty caramel background. I was well impressed.

I was even happier to walk in to the Grove and find another three Abbeydale beers on the bar there, a mixture of new and old. I fancied a dark beer to start with and 'Dark Angel' just fitted the bill. Dark but not black, with subtle roasted flavours and a hint of background bitterness. Proof they can brew dark beers as good as their light beers.

Next up was one of the Doctor Morton's range, 'Ancient Grease'. A light 4.4% offering, again without any massive hop hit but with plenty going on in the beer. Another excellent balance of hops and malt giving a pleasantly rounded flavour and each mouthful seeming to bring something new to the taste. Another wonderfully crafted beer.

My final Abbeydale for the day was one of their regulars, and one that I especially like. 'Absolution' was stronger than the others I had sampled at 5.3%, and was again a light beer. Again the balance was perfect, with the hops giving a a tropical fruit rather than hoppy taste, mangoes and maybe a hint of banana coming though in the aftertaste, which was sweetish rather than cloying.

If you prefer your beers subtle rather than aggressive then Abbeydale could be the brewery for you. And should you fancy a trip through their beer range, then you could do worse than call at their pub 'The Rising Sun' out in Fulwood in Sheffield, where there are always several on the bar to sample, with examples of every style.    

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fuggles in crisis

Flicking through my copy of Camra's 'What's Brewing' this month, I came across an article which caused me a little concern. It seems the days of the Fuggle hop may be numbered.

Post war, the majority of hop production in Britain was Fuggles and they were concentrated in the South East, especially Kent. However, due to an outbreak of a fungal infection that killed thousands of hop plants, production there has virtually ceased and most of the Fuggles grown in the country are concentrated in the West Midlands. The Fuggle hop seems to be in a no win situation now,  a susceptiblity to infection, low yields, and a change in drinker's tastes have all combined to its decline.

Of course, there are foreign alternatives, there usually is, but if the trend continues it seems we may soon see the last of one of our most famous and iconic native hop varieties. And possibly with it, a loss of some of our classic beers.

What the editors did next!!

Readers of 'A Swift One' will no doubt be aware of the literary skills of the editorial team, (stop it, I can hear the laughing already !), but what readers may not know is that we possess other talents as well. One of us is a very skilled photographer, and another takes pictures of buses. It doesn't take a great mind to work out who is who.

This week sees the release of the first of Mallinsons range of bird photos that Will has taken, and a pretty fine photo it is too. And the beer is not bad either. So when you order a pint of 'Bogbumper' just take a few seconds to peruse the pump clip and appreciate the picture. Will has even taken the trouble to make it easier for us none bird people to identify by giving it its proper name in brackets

But if birds are not your thing, Mallinsons 'National 2' will be soon be on the bar, I will admit it was a bit easier to take a picture of a static bus than a moving bird but I like it anyway.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Star Inn Spring Festival - Part One


The long awaited day had finally arrived and the eager crowd were champing at the bit. The clock ticked round and the door opened. The wait was over. The Star Inn Spring festival was open for business. That is unless lots of people had come to celebrate Folly's 10th birthday!

It did not take the usual suspects long to get organised; glass, programme, seat, and beer. (£2 entry gets the first two, £1.40 a half gets the last), and soon the serious matter of tasting started. The only question was where to start. As usual 46 beers were available, sourced from far and wide. New and old, dark and light, strong and weak, in fact, beer to suit every taste.

Mallinsons appeared to be most people's starting point. 'Overindulgence' was what it said, 3.7% 'Indulgence' dry hopped to give it even more hop character, and would be a hard act to follow. Their 'This is Pump 44' was equally good though, again with plenty for the hop lover. Despite the temptation to stay on these all night, there were 44 other beers deserving of tasting. Ripple Steam 'Best' was a good, traditional style Kentish beer from a brewery new to me. Pictish 'Starlet' was 4.3% and interesting, with subtle rather than aggresive hopping. Can you seen a theme developing here, get every beer that sounds hoppy.

Actually that was not the case, it just happened that the first few I had were light rather than dark. However, next I chose Scarborough 'Stout' . An excellent example of the style, with just the right amount of bitterness and roast from another brewery new to me. 'Norton Priory' Ale was pointed out to me by someone in the know, a real coup, the only beer the brewery brews and not easy to find. But sadly, not quite to my taste.

I sampled a few more beers without anything really grabbing me, good beers nonetheless. North Riding 'CRIPIPA' reversed that trend, I have enjoyed their beers before and this was no exception. Light and hoppy with the flavour of Galaxy hops coming through. I was down to my last ticket and there was only one beer to finish off with. Another of my favourite breweries and a spin on one of my favourite beers. Five Towns 'Peculiar Rhubarb and Ginger' seemed to tick all the boxes. 6%, full of taste, with a subtle hint of rhubarb and ginger coming through in the aftertaste. Another Bastow classic!

Another four days of hard tasting lays ahead of me with plenty of good looking beers to try. Hopefully I will see you there. You know it makes sense !    

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Star spring festival list


STAR,HUDDERSFIELD FESTIVAL LIST.STARTS WEDNESDAY 21ST MARCH, 1700 HRS,THURSDAY 1700 HRS AND ALL DAY FRIDAY,SATURDAY, AND SUNDAY

1.RIPPLE STEAM – IPA - 4.5%
2.TWO TOWERS – COMPLETE MUPPERTRY – 4.3%
3.CAPHOUSE – RUBY – 5.6%
4.MALLINSONS – OVERINDULGENCE – 3.7%
5.BRIDESTONES – BLACK JACK - 4.5%
6.HAPPY VALLEY – BLACK MAGIC – 4.6%
7.COACHHOUSE – CHALLENGE 500 – 3.9%
8.WILSON POTTER – HARCLES HILL – 3.7%
9.W.J KING – OLD ALE – 4.5%
10.GOOSE EYE – BIRTHDAY GIRL – 4.5%
11.WENSLEYDALE – MEL BROOKS PA – 3.5%
12.GUNDOG – POINTER – 4.3%
13.WILSON POTTER – RUBY – 3.6%
14.SCARBOROUGH – STOUT – 4.6%
15.BREWSTAR – BLONDE STAR – 4.1%
16.LONGDOG – LAMPLIGHT PORTER – 5%
17.HIGHLAND – LIGHT MUNRO – 3%
18.ANDWELL – SPRING TWIST – 4.2%
19.TREBOOM – DRUM BEAT – 3.8%
20.NORTON PRIORY – FESTIVAL – 4%
21.YORKSHIRE DALES – THE STANG – 3.8%
22.TYNE BANK – SINGLE BLONDE – 3.5%
23.DUNSCAR BRIDGE – DOUGS NEW BREW – 4.1%
24.LONGDOG – BRINDLE BITTER – 4.2%
25.GREAT NEWSOME – STONE CREEK – 4.4%
26.BRIDESTONES – CHESTNUT – 4.6%
27.BLINDEMANS – FUNNY FARM – 4%
28.YORKSHIRE DALES – BLACK SHIVER 4.4%
29.BRIDGEHOUSE – BLONDE – 4%
30.ABBEYDALE – GENESIS – 3.9%
31.LIVERPOOL CRAFT – TANE MAHUTA – 4.4%
32.LYTHAM – TWILIGHT – 4%
33.GUNDOG – GOLDEN COCKER – 4.1%
34.FIVE TOWNS – PECULIAR RHUBARB AND GINGER – 6%
35.GREAT HECK – BRAVE NEW WORLD – 4%
36.MITHRIL – EQUINOX – 4%
37.ITCHEN VALLEY – 5 HOPS -3.6%
38.OWENSHAW MILLS – STARBURST – 3.7%
39.GOOSE EYE – DOYLE & LEWIS CHALLENGE 5000 – 4%
40.CAPHOUSE – MINERS A PINT – 3.7%
41.NORTH RIDING - CRIPIPA – 4.6%
42.SALAMANDER – HAIR OF THE DOG – 4%
43.CAPTAIN COOK – GRENVILLE – 4.7%
44.MALLINSONS – THIS IS PUMP 44 – 4.4%
45.PICTISH – STARLET – 4.3%
46.RIPPLE STEAM – BEST BITTER – 4.1%
ALL 1-46 AVAILABLE IN MARQUEE,47 ONWARDS COME ON BAR AS SPACE ALLOWS
47.SHERFIELD VILLAGE – SVB THREESOME – 3%
48.FIVE TOWNSS – BILLERICAY DICKIE – 6%
49.BRIDGHOUSE – PORTER – 4.5%
50.PICTISH – NEWPORT – 4.3%
51.ABBEYDALE – DR MORTONS SAUCE OF THE NILE – 4.1%
52.PROSPECT – GOLDEN PROSPECTS – 3.8%
53.CUERDEN – BEST BITTER – 3.8%
54.TRIPLE FFF – COMFORTABLY NUMB – 5%
55.TYNEBANK – HEAVENLY PORTER – 5.4%
56.IDLE – BLACK & TAN – 4.2%
57.HAPPY VALLEY – LITTLE RASCAL – 3.9%
58.TWO TOWERS – MOTT STREET MILD – 3.9%
59.BOWMAN – WARBLER – 4.8%
60.GREAT HECK – RSJ – 4.8%
61.WELTONS – LAND OF HOPE & GLORY – 4.6%
62.NINE STANDARDS – GOLD STANDARD – 4.1%
63.SCARBOROUGH – BLONDE – 4.4%
64.WILSON POTTER – IN THE BLACK – 4.2%
65.NORTH RIDING – PEASHOLM PARK - 4.3%
66.ELLAND – CASNELCIAL – 4.2%
67.WILSON POTTER – TANDLE HILL – 3.9%
68. OLDERSHAW – GREAT EXPECTATIONS - 4.2%

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Galaxy - another hop off

As readers will have realised, one of the things that the editorial team enjoy is a good 'Hop off'. This time we had the chance to sample two very different beer brewed with Galaxy hops, and both brewed in Yorkshire. The contenders were Two Roses 'Galaxy'. a single hopped 4.0% offering, and Mallinsons 'Galaxy', again single hopped and 3.9%.

The hop is an Australian variety, which seems to have become popular in Britain last year, although it has been around since the 1990's in its native land. High in alpha acid, and bringing citrus and passion fruit hints to the beer, it brings a unique flavour to the beer.

But what of our 'Hop Off'. It certainly divided opinion. some liked the Mallinsons, with its more assertive hop character, but for my taste the background flavours seemed to overshadow the hop to some degree, and the finish was tarter than the other. However, I cannot deny that the beer certainly satisfied the hop monsters amongst us. I preferred the Two Roses offering. which I found brought out a more balanced hop taste, and seemed more subtle, giving the chance for the hop to  show its true character.

So there you have it. Both were excellent beers, and had either been on the bar individually,I would have happily spent all evening on it. Just goes to show what two superb breweries can do with an interesting new hop, lets have more of it !

Take the bus to the pub

Whilst trawling through this months 'Buses' magazine, I found a great article that would combine two of my interests at once, a pub crawl by bus. I know this is not a new phenomenon, people have used coaches to trip round pubs for years but this is a 'proper' bus service, registered for one day that allows its users to hop on and hop off where they wanted at several rural pubs in Flintshire in North Wales. Buses served pubs in outlying villages, all with real ale pubs, and operated a 20 minute frequency to allow people to get about and sample plenty of beers and plenty of pubs that they would not usually get chance to visit in a single day.

Sounds a great idea. It would be superb to have something similar round Huddersfield, we have plenty of pubs that would benefit from a similar initiative and give drinkers chance to get out to some of the pubs in the wilds that they rarely visit. And hopefully boost the interest in real ale, and real pubs. And of course, buses.

Star festival this week

Yes, its that time we have all been waiting for. This week sees the start of the Star Spring Beer Festival, so get your time off booked and get down there. Sam promises yet another classic combination of beers from breweries near and far, old and new, in the time honoured fashion of the Star festivals. There will be 46 as usual in the outside marquee, and plenty of other ever changing on the inside bar.

The festival starts on Wednesday at 5pm with evening opening on Thursday and full day opening Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If you have never tried it before, what's been keeping you. Get down to one of the best, sorry, the best, pub festival around. And just for an extra incentive this time there will be a 'Bake Off' to see who can bake the best cake, which will be judged on Thursday evening. Entry details are available on the pubs facebook page.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

'Spoons festival starts tomorrow

Tomorrow sees the start of Wetherspoons spring ale festival, going on until Sunday 1st April. I have written before about their festivals and this one has taken the same format as the previous ones. Briefly, there are 50 beers available, some old favourites, some new, during the course of the festival. Not all on the bar at once, but on the handpumps at their pubs, so hopefully every pub should have each beer on at least once.  There is also a selection of beers brewed by foreign brewers on British brewers plants to give us a taste of what other countries have to offer. I have yet to see a full beer list so details of what is about is a little sketchy.

It is a good excuse to get out and about a bit, especially in West Yorkshire where it seems every town has at least one outlet, and some even more. A Day Rover and a bit of planning can get you to all sorts of places that you never normally think of going.

If you tend to avoid the Cherry Tree, call in. It has been refurbished, new carpets, fresh paint work and a general spruce up has given it a cleaner, fresher feel and makes it quite a pleasant place to have a pint. .

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Old Ship festival at Brighouse

One of the local festivals I always try to get to is that at The Old Ship at Brighouse. It opened its doors at 12 noon yesterday for business, and is on all weekend. It is a festival held inside the pub itself, with over 20 beers on handpulls, 7 on the usual front bar and the remainder in the back room on a makeshift bar. There is no entrance  fee and all beer is £1.35 a half. My only issue is paying £1 for a programme, but it is comprehensive and well produced. 

This is the 4th festival the pub has held, and this year the beer range seemed even wider with plenty of festival specials brewed by local breweries on offer, augmented by old favourites from near and far. The system at the festival means that each pump has a beer allocated to it, and then a reserve for when the first beer runs off. This often means more than one visit to collect all the beers you need. 

Like all festivals, the problem is where to start your drinking. I opted for a Wilson Potter 'Triple Gem', a fairly safe starter, whilst I worked out the plan of campaign. There was plenty of seating when I was visiting, even when it started to get fuller later in the day, so I was able to drink in comfort whilst working my way along the list. 

The beer selection was broad both in style and in origin. In addition to the local breweries available, Brass Monkey, Salamander, Slightly Foxed and Summer Wine to name but a few, there were offerings from Pot Belly, Dark Star, Potton, Newby Wyke and Inveralmond. from further afield. Plenty to keep any one going for a while.

Always a feature of recent festivals here, have been a festival special brewed by Mark, the landlord, in conjunction with Brass Monkey. This time a light beer was the result, a light beer with vanilla, which was certainly an interesting combination! Other specials included an excellent German style wheat beer 'Weimar' from Empire, 'Fruity Fox' from Slightly Foxed, that had too much of a apricot flavour for my taste, and 'Panda Bear' from Old Bear, whose taste belied its tasting notes. Enough said. 

If you fancied something stronger there was a collaboration between Marble and Emilys (which I know very little about) called 'Bubbers Man's Best', a stronger traditional best bitter style, another vanilla beer, this time a porter from Brown Cow, and a chocolatey flavoured stout from Imperial. Maybe the beer of the festival was a 7.5% offering from Summer Wine. 'Cohort' was a Double Black IPA, that has previously been available in bottles but never in cask. A real coup. 

When this selection has gone there is another equally interesting selection to follow, with plenty of other specials too, so a second visit seems almost essential. Throughout the weekend there are events to contribute to the festival charities which are Overgate Hospice at Elland and the Forget Me Not Trust.
If you have never been to the Old Ship, now is the ideal time to visit.            

Monday, March 05, 2012

Something for the weekend

If you keep an eye on the left hand side of 'A Swift One' you may have noticed our beer festival guide, you haven't, why not ?. This week shows three of the best pub festivals about, in three of my favourite pubs. There are a couple in Sheffield, at the New Barrack Tavern, and the Kelham Island Tavern, and one in Brighouse at The Ship Inn. The Kelham should be starting on Wednesday, the other two on Thursday. From previous experience all should be worth a call if you have the time to spare. Hope to see you there.    

Its from Five Towns - its 'A Tad Insane'

As I have said before, one of the better brewers about is Malcolm Bastow at Five Towns, near Wakefield. I never cease to be impressed by his beers and he can turn his hand to any style of beer, even recently brewing a rhubarb beer. But this is not the one that came to my attention yesterday.

If you have read the previous post you will be aware of his '65'. A light beer brewed to 6.5%, and dangerously drinkable. It has plenty of hop flavour there, but subtle rather than overpowering, and has the taste of New World hop freshness, underpinned by a pleasant maltiness that complements the hops rather than working against them. I found that the taste changed by drinking it with and without sparkler. Without brought out more of the hop flavour in the beer, with, made the beer more rounded and gentle. But whichever way you drink it, it is an another excellent Five Towns beer, get it while you can.

A Musical Bar !

Yesterday, the bar in the Star took on the look of a whos whos and whats whats in music, providing the customers with plenty of opportunity to air their knowledge of musical trivia and drink some decent beer in the process.
The most obvious, even for me, was a beer from Robinsons, created with the help of their home town band Elbow, and named after their album 'Build a Rocket Boys'. It was easy to get the musical connection, the pump clip was a CD ! Next on the bar was another Lancashire beer, this time Brightside 'The Beast'. A little more obscure here, but lovers of American Hip Hop music, (and aren't we all !) will be well aware of this this band. Even though the pump clip showed a cat.

Next up was 'Five' from the Bristol Beer Factory, who were an English boy band from the 1990's, and Glentworth 'Spellbound' which I was reliably informed by experts of this genre, was a song recorded by the punk band Siouxie and the Banshees. Pictish 'Black'  followed, another obscure American band and finally a beer from Five Towns '65'. Not a musicial connection here you may think, until a look at the pump clip gave a hint. The strap line at the bottom of the clip read 'A Tad Insane' and the clip itself had a version of Bowie's famous lightning bolt from the album cover 'Aladdin Sane', get the connection now !

So there you are, how to theme an afternoon's drinking, without really trying.          

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Revelation returns

Last month you may remember my waxing lyrical about Dark Star's new beer 'Revelation'. It did not last long on the bar then but it is back, and available in at least 2 of our local pubs. Should you fancy trying it then a trip to the Grove or the Star in the next day or so should be the answer. It is just as good as I remember it last time, and far too moreish, so may not last long. Get it while you can.

Is 2012 the year of the amber beer ?

I think we would all agree that beer is a very subjective matter, what one person likes, another dislikes. The dark beer lover is not necessarily a fan of light beer, or vice versa but generally we all manage to find a beer on a bar we enjoy provided the bar has a decent selection to choose from. And in recent times, there has been a plethora of new beers from new breweries that would suit every taste. That was until this year. 

Maybe I have just been unlucky, or may be there is a more deep rooted reason why most of the beer I have sampled from new breweries since the turn of the year have been amber coloured, and tended towards the more malty rather than hoppy. Of course not every beer has been amber, those from older, more established breweries have been hoppy and light, the way I prefer them, or dark, but there are certainly more amber beers around than I have seen in the past. Is this just a change in style ? The shape of things to come ? 

A check of a the price list for hops may provide an answer. If they are actually available then some of the prices for hops have increased, and maybe they have become too expensive for newer breweries to use to experiment before they actually become established. Have the newer breweries got ideas to brew beers full of hops but just cannot get the necessary supplies ? Is the answer for them to brew more malty beers, more amber coloured beers ?

To tell the truth I do not know the definitive answer. Maybe I have just been unfortunate in my choice of breweries, after all, as I have said, older breweries still manage to make hoppy beers. I am sure time will tell, and I am sure that some will be happy with the move away from light, hoppy beers. Unfortunately, I am not one of them, and the thought of a bar full of amber beers does not fill me with joy. If anyone out there knows of a new brewery who is brewing light, hoppy beers please let me know so I know where to start at the next festival.