Sunday, December 29, 2013

Briggs Signature Ales - The Launch

Last night at 7pm in The Star, Huddersfield's latest brewery launched its first beer, and a couple of editorial staff from 'A Swift One' were on hand, with plenty of others to give it a try.

Briggs Signature Ales is currently brewing at Mallinsons plant at Lockwood, quite fittingly really since Nick, the brewer, works there as one of the Mallinsons team. His first beer under his own brand was the 3.8% 'Northern Soul'.

It was not quite what I expected. But certainly none the worse for that and probably my fault for having a preconceived idea. It was a very well balanced beer, with plenty of body for its strength. Tending towards the mid brown rather than the light, it has a pleasant hop character, and the beer gives a rounded mouthfeel, without one taste dominating at the expense of others.

What happens next I am not too sure but we wish Nick all the best and will certainly be looking out for his beers in the future. Congratulations.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Briggs Signature Ales - the latest Huddersfield Brewery

Just when you thought there were not enough days left in the year for Huddersfield to throw out yet another brewery, we have been invited to the launch of 'Briggs Signature Ales', at The Star at Lockwood at 7 pm tomorrow. What do we know about this brewery then ? Actually quite a bit.

Nick Briggs, the eponymous brewer of the 'Signature Ales' is a frequent visitor to the Star, and lives locally. He is a part of the brewing team at Mallinsons and has brewed his first beer 'Northern Soul' on their plant. Previous to this he was assistant head brewer at Elland brewery so he certainly has the pedigree.

If you want further information then take a look at his classy website, and if you can, make it down for his beer launch, we will certainly be there.

Good luck Nick

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The pitfalls of live beer blogging

Last weekend, on a whim, I thought I would conduct a none too scientific experiment by blogging live from the pub.
Normally on it's either a tried and tested format of a post-pub beer inquest, a picture feature, a festival preview or some quirkiness from Timbo.
On Saturday I thought I'd bite the bullet and blog direct from Sheffield in the midst of the tickers' ball.
I'd never tried it before but how hard could it be? I had the necessary Blogger app and a camera on my smart phone.
But the experience turned out to be far from perfect. 
From an information point of view, it told people what was on the bar where and it gave them a chance to drink it rather than be a days' old blog post. But it was not as immediate as twitter can be for telling you what's on.
Presentation wise, it was a bit comedy. The layout looked fine on my phone, but on desktop view there were far too many schoolboy howlers. Pictures went on too big, underneath text and bled into stand alone side columns. 
It needed a fair bit of tidying up when I got home!
But I had positive feedback on live blogging as I made my journey around half-a-dozen Sheffield pubs.
Some of these were comments from like-minded souls on the foot of my 'boozeflash' blog updates or link retweets from the pubs I visited.
It was nice to get cheered on while at the typeface.
But the biggest problem I had with live blogging was that it felt rather too much like working, instead of an escape.
Far too much time was spent taking pictures, noting ABVs and hop content etc.
As a sagacious Bloke from Hull said to me afterwards: 'You should not lose sight of enjoying the time rather than treating it like a real job'.
Too true, it ate in to my valuable drinking time. Three pubs had to be cut out of the planned itinerary because I ran out of time from tapping out updates.
On the Sunday I went back to those three venues to do it the old fashioned way: have the experience, then write about it later.
From a selfish point of view, Sunday was much more enjoyable than Saturday. No time deadlines, no half a pint minimum in each pub limit, just a fine time loafing in The Fat Cat, The Kelham Island Tavern and The Ship Inn.
When I walked into the Fat Cat I was told by dark beer fan Lisa that the Holsworthy Ales Bee Merry was well worth trying. I had never come across this 6% honey stout before nor the Devon based brewery who make it.
The honey came through but not in a sickly sweet way. The brewer's claim of a 'light buzz of hops' was also made out.
In short, it was my beer of the weekend, just shading Mallinsons fine 12 Hops of Christmas in Shakespeares on Saturday night. 
There were no constraints on Sunday so another half of Bee Merry was had. 
I later found out from the brewery, via twitter, that their beers are 'not normally found too far from Devon/Cornwall but the Bee Merry has been requested all over this year!' 
I nearly followed it up with Five Towns/North Riding Mad Monk 8% Russian Imperial stout, which had captivated us at The Star in Huddersfield the other week.
But it was time to move on after a leisurely lunch and a pint of Bee Merry.
The stout had put me in the mood for yet more dark beer, so it was off to the Kelham Island Tavern for a half of AllGates Pot Calling The Kettle. It was a 5.2% Black IPA, a beer style which has grown on me over the last couple of months. I'd also rated the brewery's other November special the day before, Poppy in The Blake Hotel. So it was nice to follow it up with its November stablemate, which was another good beer from the Wigan outfit. 
I nearly stayed in the KIT for another beer but it was again time for a change of scene to a pub, which has become a bit of a firm favourite of mine recently.
The Ship at Shalesmoor held three real ale hand pumps: Farmers Belgian Blue, Chantry Iron & Steel and Abbeydale's Snowblind.
I went for the latter, a 4.6% pale ale made with US hops. I did try and cleanse my palate with water beforehand after drinking predominantly dark beers. But I never seemed to shake that lovely, lingering rich taste you get after good dark beer, so Snowblind is one for me to try again another day.
So there ended a mixed two-day beer tour of Sheffield. 
Looking back on it, it'll be a while until I try live blogging again. I might use it for a major festival or a Christmas crawl but I need to familiarise myself better with the slimmed down mobile version of Blogger before tackling it again. I also need to get back to more leisurely drinking!
Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish all readers, near and far, a Merry Christmas and A Happy (beery) New Year.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Final beery bulletin Sat Dec 21

Shakespeares Gibraltar Street, Sheffield. Courtesy: BFH
17.22pm GMT, Saturday.
A bus stop outside Shakespeares, Gibraltar Street, Sheffield:
Plenty of people inside the pub but as enjoyable as ever.
Loads of non Sheffield accents, which - in my opinion- shows how popular the beer tickers' ball is nationally.
Finished with an Abbeydale Chocs Away 5.5% &, thanks to a kind cellar run, a half of Mallinsons' excellent The 12 Hops of Christmas. Due on later tonight.
Good service in The Shakey, the city's reigning CAMRA pub of the year.
AllGates Poppy, an 'India Red Ale' in The Blake
Earlier I was in The Blake Hotel, Blake Street, Walkley where I had an excellent November red IPA from AllGates. It was called Poppy, 4.5%. Washed it down with one of The Blake's fine pork pies.
An excellent day out in Sheffield.

Ho ho ho! Sheffield boozeflash part 2

Welbeck Bar Humbug in The University Arms
Dateline: 2.30pm Sheffield. 
On the bar at The University Arms, Brook Hill: Acorn's Thirst Degree, Bradfield Belgian Blue, Welbeck Red Feather & Bar Humbug, 3.9% pale. I had the latter. I like Welbeck beers. 
3.25pm: The Closed Shop at Commonside: Blue Bee Nectar Pale, Townhouse Styrian Pale, Robinsons Unicorn, Flying Scotsman Premium Bitter, Sharp's Doom Bar, Partners Tabatha, Dukeries Lime Tree Porter & Muirhouse Hat Trick IPA. Had the latter, a 5.2% pale using three different American hops. Nice. Building my strength up for one of The steepest hills in Sheffield, up to The Blake Hotel.
The climb to The Blake Hotel

Boozeflash: Sheffield Dec 21

Approach to Sheffield Station
12.35pm: Checked the bar at Sheffield Tap. Noticed a few from Orkney, Tapped, Hardknott & Acorn's Gorlovka.
Fuelling up In The Rutland with Lincoln Green Tuck
12.50pm: First drinking stop, The Rutland Arms, Brown Street. I drank Lincoln Green Tuck porter 4.7%, which was very good.
I also noted Mallinsons Yellow Dwarf space series beer, plus a festive Christmas beer from Whitlebury Brewery in Northamptonshire. It was a 'warming ruby ale' called Santa's Tipple, 4.2%
Taunting board at The Red Deer, Pitt Street.
13.55: Checked the bar at The Red Deer. Didn't spot anything I fancied at the time but Welbeck Brewery's Cocoa Noel - a 5.5% chocolate stout - & a Salamander beer or two were on the taunting board. Might call back.

You shall go to the ball!

A glass of Christmas cheer at The Red Deer
The beer tickers' ball in Sheffield is about to begin.
The event is traditionally held on the last Saturday before Christmas when the city's pubs try and lure even more tickers to the city with the promise of new beers.
In celebration I'm going to be doing some live blogging and tweeting from various Sheffield pubs this afternoon.
Hopefully, the train will deliver me into Sheffield at about 12.30pm and we'll take it from there.
I'll be reporting what's on the bar at various venues in the city centre, West Street, Commonside, Walkley, Shalesmoor and of course Kelham Island.
I'll be posting my progress on here and on our twitter account @aswiftone

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Three Tuns, Sheffield

The Tree Tuns,Silver Street Head, S1 2DD
Having marvelled at its odd shape many a time while hoofing it to Kelham Island, I thought it was high time to finally go inside The Three Tuns.
The triangular pub is set on the junction of two roads in the heart of Sheffield's office quarter.
The pub has recently been taken over by the good people behind The Rutland Arms and The Closed Shop.
It also comes highly recommended from fellow beer blogger, Wee Beefy, who knows a thing or two about imbibing in the beer-rich Steel City.
So last week I made a beeline to Silver Head Street for a long overdue visit.

Inside it was pleasantly packed with office workers had begun their Christmas dos early. 
The core custom of The Three Tuns seems to be culled from the large HSBC office block across the road and the nearby Paradise Square workers.
Through the throng of Christmas jumpers I saw a neat bar dividing the upper and lower sections of the pub.
On it, last Friday, were White Rose Raven Stout 4.8%, Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted 3.8%, Geeves Fully Laden IPA 6%,  Magpie Baa Humbug 4.9%, Chantry Iron & Steel 4% and Marston Celebration EPA 3.6%.
Prices ranged £2.80 a pint for the low ABV beers to £3.45 for the six percent Geeves, which I think is pretty reasonable for a city centre pub. 
Picture courtesy of Wee Beefy.
I was helpfully told by Kate, who was working the bar, that the Geeves would be back on shortly. So I opened with Chantry's Iron and Steel - a chestnut coloured Yorkshire bitter - and White Rose Raven stout. 
Having drunk a bit of White Rose in the past, I recall them to be pale and hoppy merchants. So I was intrigued by a dark beer from them, which turned out to be the pick of my two starters.
The Geeves came back on so I made another trip to the bar. This hefty 'Stairfooter' was my standout beer of an all too short visit to The Three Tuns. 
Finally, a word about food - a subject close to my heart. The Three Tuns is in the same pub stable as the producers of 'The Slutty Rutty Butty' (Rutland Arms) and 'The Cider Pig Sandwich' (The Closed Shop). So This bodes very well. 
I eyed the menu, before legging it for the train, and saw a mix of cold and hot sarnies, salads, burgers and chips. There is also a specials board, which last time I looked had 'griddled black pudding n apple, with wholegrain mustard & sage gravy'. 
That's whetted my appetite for next time.  

The Three Tuns opening times
Opening Times: See above but note the pub, as yet, doesn't open on Saturday afternoons. But it does open at 6pm on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays, except for private hire.
Getting there: For non Sheffielders, this place is in the back streets between Sheffield Cathedral and West Bar, which is close to Shakespeares and Kelham Island. 
From the cathedral walk uphill from the tram stop on Church Street to the junction with Vicar Lane. Turn right down hill and keep straight on, crossing Campo Lane, to Lee Croft. The Three Tuns is on the junction with Silver Head Street, near the HSBC building.
Contact information: The pub constantly updates its twitter account: @Real3TunsSheff which is a good way of keeping up with their beer range:

Belgian Blue on the bar? Why yes it must be Christmas now.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Old Horns Inn at High Bradfield

The Old Horns Inn, High Bradfield S6 6LG
My tour of Bradfield is verging on Sinatra style proportions.
In fact, it's more like a month-long residency.
On Sunday these vagabond shoes took me once again to the vast Parish of Bradfield and The Old Horns Inn.
It's a Thwaites pub with commanding views from High Bradfield down dale towards Agden, Dale Dike and Strines reservoirs.
I went last weekend to update the beer range since my last drinking visit (December 1) and to get some indoor pictures.
Last time that wasn't possible as the place was absolutely heaving. And nobody wants to have their quiet pint time interrupted by some snap happy beer geek.
The pub gets particularly busy at weekends as locals, walkers, day trippers and even celebratory churchgoers converge on the pub after a wedding or christening.
I managed to get in just before the large car park filled up with people heading for the Sunday carvery in the left-hand wing of the pub.
Food seems to be a big driving force behind this Sheffield country pub. I noted a menu for virtually every day of the week and a couple of different Christmas ones. Which brings me neatly to the Christmas hat topped beer range.
Being a Thwaites pub their beers unsurprisingly dominated the bar. But I didn't mind this as I've had a few good Thwaites beers recently in Sheffield and Huddersfield.
Thwaites had a fine beer on at the Bower Beer Fest in July, the Australian hopped Little Bewdy, which made me look again at this brewery.
Back in Bradfield there were the usual suspects on the bar: Lancaster Bomber, Nutty Black and Original. But there was also Phelan Fine stout (4.4%) and Crafty Devil ruby late-hopped ale 4.3%.
Also lurking on the bar were two hand pumps of Bradfield Brewery's ubiquitous Farmers Belgian Blue 4.9%. This was on sale at £2.90 a pint and being sold under the banner of 'landlord's favourite'.
The bartender told me it was perhaps their biggest seller at the moment, and plenty of people were opting for this winter warmer while I was there. 
It's difficult to escape this excellent seasonal beer in Sheffield between November to February. I had a great half of it in The Ship at Shalesmoor recently, where it was in tip top condition.
I didn't drink it at The Old Horns as I'd had it elsewhere in Bradfield during the December 1 trip. I recall ending up with a dark beer called Gangly Ghoul 4.2%, which turned out to be a cunningly badged Greene King beer. There was little mention of them apart from a small type reference to Westgate Brewery of Bury St Edmunds, which I only spotted after sale. It wasn't a bad beer but I felt a little more openness or larger font on the brewery's pump clip was in order.  
Single Malt range
But on Sunday I was driving round Bradfield so the 4.9% Belgian Blue was well and truly out of the question as was the fine array of single malt whiskys! 
So I adjourned with my lemonade (inward sigh) to the beer garden to look at arguably one the best pub views in Sheffield.
Now that's no idle boast given the competition. I'm thinking of The Three Merry Lads near Redmires, the cityscapes from The Blake Hotel and Hillsborough Hotel, or the River Don flowing by The Gardeners Rest at Neepsend - to name but a few.
I've posted the picture of the reservoirs view from The Old Horns quite recently, so I won't repeat myself. Instead I'll leave you with another fine view towards the Church of St Nicholas and Bailey Hill.
Another view from The Old Horns Inn's beer garden

Friday, December 13, 2013

Grove hosts 'Battle Of The Brewers'

On Wednesday evening The Grove in Huddersfield hosted a 'Battle Of The Brewers' with a twist. The staff at the pub had been split into two groups and each group was despatched to a local brewery to help with a brew. One group went to Ilkley and the other to Roosters, the results of their efforts appearing on the bar on the evening with an open vote for the better beer.

When I called round on Thursday both beers were still available on the bar, and several others from each brewery were also on the bar, along with some key kegs but more of that later.

The Roosters beer was an IPA style, imaginative named 'Grove'. It was 5.0%.  The sort of beer that the brewery is good at. A very well balanced beer and with plenty of hop character, lots of body augmented with Galaxy hops, and very drinkable. 

The Ilkley version was somewhat different, being a 5.2% wheat beer, 'Weiss City'. It was a good beer, as would be expected from a brewery with their pedigree, but it just did not seem like a wheat beer, despite the slight cloudiness in the glass. The strength did give it a lot of body but there was just something missing in my opinion.

As it happened, my favourite beer was also that on the night with Roosters coming out on top.

Whilst I was at the Grove, which incidentally has been spruced up a bit in the last week and has some new beer boards, I thought I would just sample a keg version of a  beer from each brewery. Ilkley have been kegging for some time and their 'Siberia' was a 5.9% saison style beer. (Saison seems the in thing in kegs at present - just as black IPA's were last year) and was a very pleasant beer, but not outstanding. Unlike the Roosters keg - they are new to kegging - which I thought was excellent. 'High Tea' was a 6.2% jasmine tea flavoured IPA. I must say that I could not really get the jasmine, but the overall beer was very good, so much so that I had to sample a second.

Hopefully if you call up in the next day of so some,if not all the beers will be available. Just give them a try and have your own vote.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A view of The Bridge

The Bridge on Woodhead Road. Picture: Mike Millington
Our intrepid new Holme Valley reporter, raisathedog, has been giving us the lowdown on The Bridge.
He's been to Holmbridge to give us his opinion on the valley's new kid on the real ale block.
The pub, formerly The Bridge Tavern, reopened in late November after being up for sale.
The grade II listed building has had an extensive but tasteful refit. Work is still progressing on its adjoining brewery but hopes are high that this will be on stream in January.
Let's turn this over to 'raisa' who also put us in touch with photographer Mike Millington who kindly supplied most of the pictures for this post.
Picture: Mike Millington
Raisa said: "My first impression is very good. Having known the original I would not have recognised the place. It is very much on the same lines as its sister establishment (Brambles in Holmfirth), i.e. Bistro with a nice bar, real ales and even a hand pulled cider made in the Holme Valley. 
"I tried Empire's Golden Warrior and Leyden Brewery's Tally Ho, £2.40 and £2.30 a pint, respectively. Both were excellent and when The Bridge starts to brew, hopefully in January, their own beers are planned to be around these prices. 
Picture: raisathedog
"The food is reasonably priced. I don’t know how good it is but I talked to to the chef and he seemed to be very enthusiastic and proud of his menu.
The staff are just like at Brambles: young, friendly, well trained, helpful and knowledgeable. I have high hopes for this place and wish them well."
Picture: Mike Millington
Ale Ambler: Being the resident greedy git of this blog  I drove out to Holmbridge this week to road test the menu.
Alas, I had to overlook the liquid menu of Empire's Golden Warrior, Guilty, Moonraker Mild, Leyden Gold and Pure North Valley Gold. But I enjoyed two very nice cups of coffee instead!
The food menu revealed a mix of starters, mains and lunchtime bites.
My eye was immediately drawn to the black pudding and egg starter and traditional pub grub like gammon steaks. But as always I succumbed to the burger, and very good it was too, as was the table and bar service.
I was told there was an upstairs dining area, which was just having final decorating touches put to it. I had a sneak-peak upstairs and it looked a picture.
I also bumped into the builder/joiner outside who told me work was progressing nicely on the brewery. I look forward to returning in the New Year and sampling The Bridge's beers.
Many thanks to raisathedog and Mike Millington for their efforts with this post. 
The Bridge and its brewery
The Bridge is situated on the junction of Woodhead Road and Field End Lane in Holmbridge. It is well served by the 314 Huddersfield to Holme and H5 Netherthong-Holmbridge bus services, which stop outside and by the nearby Holmbridge Cricket Club. 
As a cricket fan I think I may be taking in a few home games next summer. But I won't be too upset if rain stops play and we have to drown our sorrows next door!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It was well worth the wait

Visitors to the Star at Folly Hall in the recent past may have seen a pump clip for 'Mad Monk' lurking on the taunting pole. It is an unusual beer to see in the Star, an 8% Imperial Russian Stout is a rarity in those parts, the customers being more of the light and hoppy brigade. But after the weeks of taunting it has finally appeared on the bar, I got chance to sample it last night.

It is a collaboration brew, (this seems to be the current trend - I will leave my feelings out here) between two of my favourite breweries and arguably two of the best Yorkshire breweries. Malcolm at Five Towns and Stewart at North Riding have got together over the mash tun and brewed up something different to their usual styles. And believe me, it is a winner.

Obviously dark, and strong, I often come across Imperial Russian Stouts that do not impress me because they not balanced, or too sweet and cloying, or just taste too 'thick'. This is none of these. It drinks far too easily and before you notice your glass is half empty, the balance is certainly there, with the sweetness toned down and the hops and malt combining perfectly. As you get further into the glass the strength does become more apparent but the initial hit is of taste rather than strength. And at £1.75 a half it is a bargain.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A tour of Bradfield part two

The Plough, New Road, Low Bradfield
Part Two:
After window shopping at Bradfield Brewery's shop it was high time to actually drink some of their beer.
I started at the bottom of the hill at The Plough, which I'd heard had changed hands from long serving landlords Chris and Mandy. So I was keen to see what, if anything, had altered.
It certainly looked brighter and plusher when I walked in, but my last visit was during Hallowe'en 2012 when the historic inn was festooned with cobwebs and selling green beer.
So my reference points were a bit skewed. But I do have fond memories of this pub's beer range (Black Dog/Hambleton's) and was keen to see what was on the bar.
Beer range at The Plough 10/12/13

I've been in a couple of since I started compiling this post and the range seems to be a mix of Bradfield and Kelham Island beers.
Today (Tuesday) there was Farmers Belgian Blue, Farmers Blonde, Farmers Brown Cow, Kelham's Pride of Sheffield, Kelham Best and Thwaites Lancaster Bomber.   
During a recent imbibing visit, when I had the Belgian and The Pride, I was told that Black Dog beers still featured occasionally, which were a favourite of the former landlord.
I also heard the pub had had a full refurb inside and out since the change of hands.
Inside it was neat and well upholstered, but what impressed me were the pictures on the wall. I don't know if these were up before the renovations but they struck a chord with me this time.
There were a few Sheffield scenes of The Wicker and one by the river, plus a framed account of the Dale Dike Reservoir disaster in 1864.

The pub lies about half-a-mile downstream of this reservoir, which burst its banks nearly 150 years ago leading to the loss of 240 lives.
The framed document tells how the pub, which escaped the flood, became a magnet for "sightseers" who travelled from far and wide to see the devastation. Apparently railway companies laid on "excursion specials" in a forerunner of disaster tourism.
Although I'm interested in History, I am no historian and much more detail can be found here at the Great Sheffield Flood Study Guide:
But let's get back to modern day. My first two visits since re-opening have been on consecutive Sundays and it was busy both times. I initially put this down to their ever popular Sunday roasts but it was even filling up at 12.30pm today (Tuesday). I don't know whether this was due to a bevy of early Christmas dinner bookings, daytrippers enjoying an unseasonably fine day out in The Peak District or this was just normal business. Whatever the reason the pub was doing a cracking midweek trade.
When it does get busy inside, and the weather permits, then it's got a good beer garden to adjourn to. It has views towards Ughill or back across the valley towards Bradfield Brewery and my next stop, The Old Horns Inn.
To be continued.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Rat Renewed

It's  nine years since the purchase of the Rat & Ratchet on Chapel Hill in Huddersfield signalled Ossett Brewery's intent. And whilst it's sometimes been tricky keeping track of the burgeoning pubco's expansion, even for those with a keen interest,  the evolution has been anything but dull.

However, failing to keep your stock in good shape whilst continuing to grow has been the downfall of  many a pub chain in the past; so this recent unveiling was an important commitment from the company, not to mention a real treat for those of us who consider the environment in which we drink every bit as crucial as the quality of the ale.

The attention to detail in this comprehensive overhaul is remarkable, and in no way compromises the Rat's unique character. From the new floor tiling, which strikes you so overwhelmingly when entering, to the superbly re-imagined 'upstairs', this is so much more than the 'fettle' described in the company's mini press release.

The restoration of brewing in the cellar, the new management team of Richard and Lisa, the external stone-cleaning, the salvation of the beer terrace - in fact nigh on everything (except those damned toilets - next year apparently) has come together in a relatively short space of time to put the Rat right back on track.

So has Huddersfield's iconic pub retaken the title of Ossett Brewery's  'flagship' house? Well just a few months ago we were heaping praise on what a brilliant job had been done at Elland Road (something we say quite frequently round here!) - now it would seem the balance has, at the very least, been restored.

Ale Louse

Twitter: @ratandratchet
40 Chapel Hill
Tel: 01484 542400

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Festival of Light (Ales)

The Festival of Light 2013 on the station precinct

Get yourself down to Byram Street in Huddersfield if you want to see a 'light' show. I saw pale ales, a cider and a mild. 
To be precise, Mallinsons Kohatu, Alias and Emley Moor Mild, which were all at the mobile version of The Star.
They also had a shiny new HDM beer on. But I stopped by for a cider blended especially by local producer 'Udders Orchard for the on the road Folly Hall pub. 
It was called Solstice Belle, a 4.5% medium cider. Now, I am (not) a cider drinker, I (don't) drink it all of the time, but this was spot on. 
If you cast your eye along the pop-up market on Byram Street you will also see stalls by The Monkey Club, of Armitage Bridge, and Bosun's, of Horbury Bridge. 
Having sampled the alfresco wares, I decided to head indoors and to set right, a frankly criminal, wrong: I hadn't been in The Grove for ages. It's a popular venue with the fellow members of this blog but for some unbeknown reason I hadn't been in for a while - more fool me.
Burning Sky at The Grove
I'd had a look on @TheGroveHudds on twitter to familiarise myself with the beer list but I wasn't quite sure what to go for, such was the choice.
But help was on hand in the form of an informed bartender who asked me which style of beer I was after.
Confusingly, I said light and dark but the barkeeper was unfazed.
I was told about Plateau by Burning Sky, brewed by ex Dark Star Brewer Mark Tranter. A 3.5% pale beer packed with NZ and US hops, which drank way above its strength. Nice.
Next was a beer I'd had my eye on, having heard about it in a beer talk last month: Magic Rock's Chipotle Punchline 5.4%.
I was told in The Grove it was a chocolate porter laced with chilli, and the more you got down the glass the more you got the chilli.
That turned out to be true as I left Spring Grove Street with a chilli kick on my palate, eyeing The Black Jack beers I had to leave behind as I was short of time and The Star - the bricks and mortar version down Albert Street - beckoned. 
The Star, Folly Hall
Here, I particularly enjoyed Oakham's JHB, a supreme champion beer of Britain in 2001 and winner of a stack of bitter prizes over the last 13 years.
It just goes to show, whether you are drinking indoors or out, you can't go wrong in ale-rich Huddersfield.
Harold Wilson and others enjoy the light show
The Festival of Light continues today and tomorrow (Sunday, December 8). 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Huddersfield's club call in Mexborough

Imperial Club festival December 5-8
There will be plenty of Huddersfield ale on the bar in South Yorkshire this weekend.
Hand Drawn Monkey Brewing Co, of Lindley,  and Thirstin Brewhouse, of Honley, both have two beers on in Mexborough.
They are both part of the Imperial Club's new breweries beer festival. It features 20 plus beers from breweries opened in the last 12 months. 
I guess that just about covers HDM who set up in November 2012. It certainly includes Thirstin who emerged this summer.
Another brewery on the list to catch the eye is Hopcraft whose Black IPA mesmerised a fair few at The Star's Winter Festival a few weeks ago. 
This time the South Wales outfit have a porter on the bar and an American West Coast hopped beer.
Elsewhere, the house brewery, Imperial, has also teamed up with Latitude Brewery, of Doncaster, for their take on an American amber style ale.
I've heard good things about the Imperial Club but so far I've never managed to make it to Cliff Street. May'be I'll put that right this weekend.
Imperial Club new breweries festival beer list 2013 
Belleville Brewing Co, Northcote Blonde, 4.2%. Blonde and bubbly but carries some weight.
Bosun’s Brewing Company, Jingle Belle, 4.0%. Golden in colour, refreshing fruity notes, well hopped ale uses a blend of New Zealand hops.
Brown Ales Brewery, Absolute Beginners, 3.8%. Golden Bitter.
Brown Ales Brewery, Cool Runnings, 4.7%. Gold Beer
Clarkshaw’s, Strange Brew No 1, 4%. Our experimental range, kicking off with a little citrussy number.
Four Thorns Brewery, SMS Stout, 4.7%. A complex dry stout made of a unique blend of 7 malts.
Four Thorns Brewery Bitter 3.8%. A classic session bitter, with a subtle malty backbone and a hoppy finish.
Hamelsworde Brewery, Cherokee mystery hop, 6%. Cherokee is a copper coloured IPA with strong fruity hop aroma. Our cask has been dry hopped with a mystery hop, first one to guess the hop variety wins a free pint!.
Hand Drawn Monkey, Super Duper Joyous Pale, 3.8%. A totally tropical taste of American, Australian and New Zealand hops amongst a background of golden sunshine colour. It truly is super, duper and joyous.
Hand Drawn Monkey, American Milk Brown Ale, 6.2%. Another HDM idea to make your mind bleed but your innards happy. 6.2% yet mellow n hoppy.
Hopcraft Brewing, Biscotti Porter, 4.8%. Dark beer with coffee beans & vanilla and almond extracts.
Hopcraft Brewing, Iron Road, 4.6%. Golden and full of the zesty hops of Americas west coast.
Latitude & Imperial Breweries, Burning Amber, 4.4%. Brewed as a collaboration at the Imperial, Our take on an American Amber style ale. Toasty malt flavours give way to a fruity bitter finish from Citra, Summit and Pacific Jade hops.
Malthouse Brewery, Yorkshire Black Ale, 5.3%. A black IPA style beer brewed especially for our festival.
Medieval Beers, Dragon Slayer, 8%. Our 2012 winner returns to defend their title with this beer, An IPA loaded with complex flavours and aromas that develop after every sip.
Newark Brewery, Summer Gold. 4.5%. Very refreshing and moreish. Light malt balanced with three citrus hops and lime to produce a genuinely great beer.
Newark Brewery, Winter Gold, 4.5%. The latest seasonal beer from Newark Brewery, golden in colour.
Sunbeam Ales, Extra Special Ale, 5.2%. Premium strength mid brown/ruby ale The complex malt bill give this ale a full mouth feel of sweet caramel and toffee, all of which is complimented with generous hop support and a intense bitter-sweet finish. Luxury in a glass, beautifully companies your Sunday dinner or simply on its own.
Thirstin Brewhouse, Thirstin Four It, 4%. Golden Best.
Thirstin Brewhouse, Dr Ferdinand, 5%. IPA Style.
Titan Brewery, Pale, 4%. Light fruity & moreish.
Titan Brewery, Bitter, 3.8%. Dark malty & smooth.
White Dog Brewery, Scooby Brew, 4.2%. American pale ale.
White Dog Brewery, Growler, 4.2%. Special pale ale.

Monday, December 02, 2013

A tour of Bradfield part one

Crossroads at High Bradfield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
A big bike race is about to put a quaint moorland village on the international map.
The Tour de France cavalcade will ride through picturesque High Bradfield on Sunday, July 6.
But for beer drinkers the place needs little introduction as it is the home of Bradfield Brewery, the makers of Farmers Blonde and others. 
The brewery, based at Watt House Farm in the Dark Peak, has just started hosting weekend sampling events in the run up to Christmas. With this is mind I decided to pay the brewery and some of the parish's pubs a visit.
Bradfield Brewery S6 6LG
The brewery itself is a fair sized industrial unit, which has been incorporated onto the side of the working farm. It uses spring water from the farm's own bore hole.
The brewhouse wasn't open when I visited on Sunday and don't expect it to be as recent modifications mean tours of the fermenters are rare.
But the brewery shop was doing a bustling trade despite partial road closures for a 10km road race.
The first thing that strikes you are the vast amount of kegs on offer. I've drunk a fair bit of Bradfield in bottles in the past and would call at the fountainhead from time to time to stock up. I remember buying a 5 litre mini keg of their World Cup beer in 2010, but I don't recall the sheer number of kegs.
Apparently, they are good sellers and ideal for parties. The brewery's popular winter warmer, Belgian Blue, is now available in this format to help satisfy demand.
A barrel-load of  Bradfield Pale
Elsewhere in the shop you can find individual and mixed cases, with discounts available for buying multiples. But I was on the bus and didn't think it was wise to hoick 12 bottles of Poppy Ale up and down Bradfield Dale. Mind you, I saw a few hardier people hod carrying their purchases to a waiting taxi.
As I wasn't intending to buy beer at the shop, I didn't avail myself of the opportunity to try before I buy. But it looked like there was a chance to drink straight from the cask and get tasters from bottles.
The sampling weekend was a springboard for me to road test their beers in neighbouring pubs. I'll do that in part two of this post with visits to the Nags Head Inn at Loxley, The Old Horns Inn at High Bradfield and The Plough down the hill.
The view from The Old Horns Inn's beer garden 
Getting there by public transport: There is an excellent bus service that runs from Hillsborough Interchange, which is on the blue and yellow tram routes from the city centre.
TM Travel's 61 and 62 circular buses stop at all the pubs I visited as well as others like the Royal Hotel, Dungworth, famous for its pies and Christmas Carols events.
Bradfield Brewery Shop opening times: Monday to Saturday 10am-4pm.
Sampling Weekends: 10am-4pm on Saturdays, 10am-2pm on Sundays until the New Year.