Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Boozeflash: Hudds beer anthem was played live on national radio last night

Image courtesy of O'Hooley & Tidow
The folk duo behind 'The Huddersfield beer anthem' played Summat's Brewin' during a live session on BBC Radio 2 tonight (Wednesday, February 26).
O'Hooley and Tidow, who wrote about the town's real ale scene, were on The Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe
Belinda and Heidi are currently getting rave reviews for their newly released album The Hum, which features the beer song that name checks most of Huddersfield brewers.  
And a video of Summat's Brewin' has attracted more than 2,300 views on You Tube.
Belinda O'Hooley, in a recent email interview on this site, said: "Mark Radcliffe on BBC Radio 2 has played Summat's Brewin' on his show already as well as two other tracks from The Hum. 
"He has invited us into the studio to do a live session on Wednesday, February 26. Who knows, we might play the beer song live on Radio 2!"
True to their word Summat's Brewin' was the first of three songs they showcased tonight.
Not only did they talk about the inspiration behind the song (about 17minutes in) they brought host Mark Radcliffe a gift of some bottled Mallinsons beer from Lockwood and some pork pies from Golcar.
A winning combination and a wonderful advert for the town!
Here is a link to the programme with a listen again facility:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sommelier's beer tasting event at The West Riding LRR next Thursday

Cask Marque's Annabel Smith will be hosting a ladies' charity beer tasting evening at The West Riding LRR on Thursday, March 6.
The beer sommelier is offering a 'tantalising journey' tasting five ales and specially selected food.
The event, which starts at 7.30pm next Thursday and also features a light buffet, marks International Women's Day (Saturday, March 8).
Tickets cost £10 each from the venue on Dewsbury Railway Station.
You can read more about Annabel's background in beer here:
Or here, in an interview with the It Comes in Pints? beer blog:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A pint of rhubarb & a trip to Harry's Bar

A selection of rhubarb beers from Bier Huis
Yesterday I paid a trip to Wakefield Rhubarb Festival in search of 'ruby beer'.
In truth, I knew where I was going because beyond the food tent lies Bier Huis's pop up bar.
I bagged four rhubarb beers, three made with the key ingredient from the rhubarb triangle and one from France.
The Gallic Rhub'I.P.A. according to the handily translated label is 'an exotic beer, a subtle marriage between the slightly acid rhubarb and the hops of Oceania'.
I haven't tried that 6.9% bière bête yet - but I think I know what that wonderfully flowery language is getting at after drinking the Five Towns Roo Barb, 5%, last night.
You start off with what you think is a pint of Aussie and Yankee hopped beer only for the tart but subtle rhubarb after-taste to alter your perception. The slight sourness of the key ingredient draws you back again and again, leaving you suitably refreshed!
But don't take my word for word for it, why don't you head to the rhubarb festival today and tomorrow to try it for yourself. 
The Roo Barb is made from stalks grown at Green Field Produce in Carlton near Rothwell, as is Hamelsworde Brewery's Dame Ruby Rhubarb beer, 5%.
It's been brewed by Dan Jones, who grew up in the heart of the rhubarb triangle, and features the mascot of the festival on its label.
This beer is available on draught and in bottles at the Bier Huis stall. I'm looking forward to drinking it, the french beer and the Ilkley Siberia. The latter is a 5.9% rhubarb saison which Ilkley brewed with beer writer Melissa Cole. It too has been made with Yorkshire rhubarb.
Harry's Bar boss Louise Waters with the trophy & her team
Wakey is definitely the theme of this post because on Monday I was one of many who raised a glass to Harry's Bar - Wakefield CAMRA's newly crowned pub of the year.
It was announced last month that the city centre bar had won the competition, but on Monday landlady Louise Waters and her team were presented with the ornate trophy.
Five Towns Brewery, of Outwood, also marked the achievement by creating a POTY beer. So it was only right to to start with that.
POTY was a 3.4% pale beer made with Galaxy hops. Yes, I've typed that right, a 3.4% beer from the 'nice potentate' of dangerously drinkable strong ales.
I like galaxy and Five Towns, so this was always going to win, win with me. I followed it up with the same brewery's house beer, HB. A 3.9% easy drinking sessioner, which has become a firm favourite of mine and others of late.
By now, the brewer himself, Malcolm Bastow, had walked in. But try as we might, we couldn't get him to divulge what's in it.
But later he relented and said: "It was brewed with perle and citra hops before dry hopping with Australian and American hops. A pale fruity session beer."
It is one of three permanent guests at Harry's, the others being Moorhouse's Pride of Pendle 4.1% and Bob's White Lion 4.3%. There are also guests and a rotating cider pump.
Harry's Bar. Picture: Louise Waters
Incidentally Bob Hunter, of Bob's Brewing Co in Ossett, also came to the award presentation, as did Barry Smith, of Tiger Tops. Their names were among several emblazoned on a poster commemorating the pub's win.
The award itself was presented mid-evening by Wakefield CAMRA chairman Albert Bradbury who handed over the mirrored trophy to landlady Louise. Albert revealed the contest for pub of the year had been a close run thing with The Angler's Rest narrowly missing out on the main prize.
Louise gave a 'thank you' speech and then called her team from behind the bar over to share in the celebrations. She has recently publicly stated that her 'amazing staff' is one of the reasons behind the pub's success. The others being the quality of the ale and the loyal customers.
For my final beer of the presentation night, where beers were £2 a pint, I went for another name on the poster, Ilkley Brewery's Lotus IPA. 
This 5.6% golden beer, according to the Ilkley website, is made with cascade and summit hops and has won SIBA awards. I wasn't aware of its track record when I drank it. I just thought it was a good strong beer to finish a fine school-night session in the Merrie City. And that brings me back neatly to another Ilkley Beer on display in Wakefield this weekend:
Pump clip image courtesy of Ilkley Brewery
Getting there:
Wakefield Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb is centred in the precinct area around Wakefield Cathedral.
Harry's Bar is a bit trickier to find. It's set back from the junction of Westgate and Smyth Street. If you are heading there from Wakefield Westgate railway station then turn right (out of the new station) head along Mulberry Way to the junction with Westgate. Across the road you will see a car park. Head diagonally right across the car park to a pizza place called Prego. Then head along the passageway and after The Old Printworks pub is Harry's Bar. It's well worth seeking out.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dusty Miller in Longwood to re-open Wednesday after £120,000 cash boost

I've been copied in today to an email from Neil Moorhouse, of Milltown Brewery, stating the Dusty Miller will actually be opening on Wednesday, February 26 from 5pm.
It looks like Thursday, billed as the opening night in the trade press, is the date of a visit by Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney.
In the email, sent to Ale Talk, Neil said the pub "will in effect be Milltown Brewing Co's brewery tap. There will be six hand pulls on the bar serving Milltown Platinum Blonde as a permanent beer, alternating Milltown's beers plus guests from local and regional breweries.
"Timothy Taylors Landlord and Black Sheep Bitter will also be a permanent feature".

Via Propel Newsletter:

Milltown Brewing to re-open Punch pub next week after £120,000 co-investment: 
Milltown Brewing Co will re-open Punch Taverns’ The Dusty Miller in Huddersfield on Thursday, February 27 after a £120,000 co-investment with Punch that will expand the cask ale offer. 
Neil Moorhouse, managing director of Milltown Brewing, said: “This is the first pub Milltown Brewing Co have taken on and, considering its reputation for its cask ale, we wanted to grow and develop this.
"We will be looking to add an additional two handpulls and include guest ales from Milltown as well as other regional brewers. 
"The investment will strengthen our cask ale offer and bring the pub back to the community. We will be continuing our successful acoustic and quiz nights, while reinstating our darts, dominoes and pool teams.”
The Dusty Miller is based on Gilead Road, Longwood, Huddersfield, HD3 4XH

Monday, February 17, 2014

Trouble brewing?

We found this report today on an email from Rightmove, should this be true, I dread to think what could be happening to 100's (1000's) of pubs (and jobs) very shortly.

Landlords fear losing £22m as pubs group Punch faces knockout blow
The Daily Mail (staff) reports that thousands of pub landlords could lose up to £22.6 million if Punch, Britain’s second-largest pubs group, falls into administration at the end of the week. Punch has not guaranteed it would give back the tenants’ deposits and it is likely they will be lost if the firm calls in administrators. The company issued ‘final proposals’ for a financial restructuring, rejected by the pension funds, warning that failure to push them through could result in the business defaulting.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Take a trip to Doncaster Brewery Tap

Doncaster Brewery bosses Ian and Alison Blaylock
Press release:

Just before Christmas Doncaster Brewery received the keys to their new home at 7 Young Street, Doncaster DN1 3EL.
Although there was no power or water supply, owners Ian and Alison Blaylock took full advantage of the festive holidays to start working on the Doncaster Brewery Tap, painting and cleaning until the last of the sun at about 4pm drove them to the Corner Pin for a swift pint or two.  
During the day Liberty Bar and Grill was a handy place for a quick warm, a cup of frothy coffee and a powder room visit before returning to work.
An open event was organised on January 10 and 11 to allow the real ale community to come and have a look at the building in its ‘work in progress’ state and have a pint, or two - the turnout was amazing.
Ian Blaylock said: “I couldn’t believe how many people turned out on a cold January weekend.  It was so much more than we expected or hoped for.  
"We want the Doncaster Brewery Tap to evolve rather than be a finished product and we know that we have fantastic support from our many followers and from those people who have already supported our once a month events at our Clay Lane site.”
Currently The Tap is open weekly on a Friday from 3pm until 9pm, (last orders) and on Saturday from noon until 9pm, (last orders).
An earlier event during the St Leger Festival
The local Green Oak Morris Men - Doncaster’s Morris Team - who had been looking for a new home, will now be using the upstairs room for practice.  So, from Wednesday, February 5 The Tap will also be open every Wednesday from 5pm until 10pm, (last orders) with dancing optional. 
Alison Blaylock said: “This is a very exciting move for us and we already have some ‘regulars’ who have brought in their own glasses.  As soon as we get ourselves sorted we hope to reintroduce our second Saturday of the month live entertainment during the afternoon.  We already have a few groups lined up who would like to come and play.”
A seasonal beer from August to October
In addition to a regular range of Doncaster Brewery ales there will also be constantly rotating guest ales and a range of cider & perry from around the country (all soon to be served in oversized glasses).  Wine is also available and a comprehensive wine list will follow in the near future.  The plan is to move the brewery into Young Street by the end of March and then organise a ‘Grand Opening’.  Watch this space.
All pictures courtesy of the brewery and The Bloke from Hull.

Sheffield Eagles game & beer update

This is just a quick note for people thinking about combining Sheffield Eagles' home game today with a real ale trail in the valley of beer. 
Their February 16 game against Rochadale Hornets has been cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch and will be rearranged.
The edge has been taken off this dampening news by the fact there is a chance to sample a new Sheffield Eagles beer.
The club has teamed up with Sheffield Brewery Co - its official beer partner - to forge Champions Ale to reflect its consecutive title wins.
The beer, from the nearby brewery at Neepsend, is described as a 3.8% dry hopped golden bitter.
It will be available at The Gardeners Rest, The Wharncliffe Arms, The Beehive, The Fat Cat, The Kelham Island Tavern, Henry's Cafe Bar and The Rutland Arms.
A press release on the Eagles' website says the beer should now be available at The Wharncliffe Arms 
(from Friday, February 14) and from the other pubs early next week.
However, I suspect the beer may be available at the other pubs today given that it is supposed to be the league's opening day. So a chance to start the new Championship season with a tick!

You can read the full article on the Sheffield Eagles website here:
And a suggested matchday real ale trail can be found here:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Another new Huddersfield Brewery

This is a test to see if you lot actually read what is on 'A Swift One'. If you do, you are no doubt (or may be have even already done it) girding your loins, getting the wet weather gear out, and heading down to this weekend's festival at The White Cross at Bradley. Ey, what, has Timbo finally lost the plot I hear you say .Nay - I said - do you read our posts properly ? Did you see 'Ale Ambler's' beer list for the above festival ? Yes you say. But did you read it properly, I say ? (anyway enough of this Dickensian nonsense)

If you did you may have noticed a brewery called 'Lower Quarry' and a beer called 'Bradley Dark'. For those in the know, Lower Quarry Road is just at the back of the White Cross - hence the brewery name; Bradley is the area of Huddersfield where Lower Quarry Rd is situated, hence 'Bradley Dark'. It all makes sense now doesn't it.

I took a trip down today to sample it - unfortunately my photos did not do it justice - but it was a very drinkable dark beer, with a decent malty background and enough strength to give it some body. Not a session beer but a beer to be treated with a certain amount of respect. And a pretty good beer for the first one out of the brewery.

I have no details of the brewery at all - but if it continues to brew beer of the quality of this one it should be a welcome addition to the local brewing scene, and it makes a change to find a brewery on the northern side of town. We will keep you posted. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

'spoons gets crafty

Our local Wetherspoons (The Punch Bowl, Blossom Street, York - if any one wonders where we have been hiding lately), is removing Stowford Press cider and replacing it with 2 shiny new keg fonts for the dispense of craft beer. 

Initially this will be supplied by Revisionist (ok, Marstons, Having enjoyed the Marstons "single hop" range, we will be looking out for the new offering, especially to see what sort of price Wetherspoons opt for with its craft/keg range!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A weekend wonder in Wadsley Bridge

The Railway, Penistone Road, Wadsley Bridge, Sheffield.
I often wonder just how pubs survive after the weekend rush.
Does the boost from the Friday to Sunday takings subsidise the rest of the week? Or do a hardcore group of school-night drinkers chip in to keep their favourite watering hole ticking over?
I suspect the answer to both those questions is 'yes'. 
But on Sunday I came across a pub in Sheffield that operates solely at weekends - apart from when Sheffield Wednesday are playing down the road at Hillsborough.  
The Railway at Wadsley Bridge opens at 6pm on Friday and Saturday nights when music acts help pack the pub out.
On Sundays it opens all day from 11.40am to cater for its regular card players who take up residency for a few hands.
The pub is run by a 30-year veteran of the Sheffield licensee scene. Jean - as everyone simply knows her - has been in the pub as a freehouse for more than three years. But she also did a seven-and-a-half year stint at the pub on Penistone Road when it was formerly owned by Whitbread.
Jean is a well-know figure in the pub community having had the Cask and Cutler (The Wellington) at Shalesmoor, The Blue Ball at Wharncliffe Side and The Pheasant Inn on Trafalgar Road to name but a few.
The bar, looking through to the large function room
She kindly gave up her some of her free-time to answer some of my questions. It is Jean's choice that the pub has limited opening times.She had a million and one ideas about how she could turn the pub into a seven-day concern but prefers to just open at weekends and on matchdays. 
Helping her tick over are packed evening sessions in the concert room. Jean explained how people flock to the old snooker room on gig nights to see the likes of The Hillbilly Cats and Trevor Allen. 

The other draw card and revenue stream is the football club down the road. The pub opens especially on Sheffield Wednesday matchdays. I recall driving past at noon on New Year's Day and seeing the pub opening for business.
The pub caters for both Wednesday and away fans. I didn't see a 'no away shirts' sign, which you get at some other places in the city.
Jean told me there isn't any trouble or heavy-handed bouncers as she only let's 'nice people' into her pub!
So if you find yourself in Sheffield when Wednesday are at home then head up the road to The Railway. Don't worry about any queues at the bar as a team of six people pulling pints soon make short work of the lines. And when the weather improves you can enjoy a pint in the large beer garden under the railway line, which gives the pub its name 
On the bar, drinkers can expect three guest ales from nearby Bradfield Brewery. On Sunday, when I called, there was Farmers Blonde 4%, Farmers Brown Cow 4.2% and DAM'IT 3.8%.
I went for the latter because it was a new beer for me and it commemorates 150 years of the Great Sheffield Flood, which I mentioned on a previous blogpost when touring Bradfield dale.
This beer hadn't been on my radar until I saw it on the bar. But a check on the brewery's facebook page revealed the beer has been available since the end of January and has been flying out of the brewery's shop at weekends in take out jugs.
Bradfield describe DAM'IT as "a deep golden bitter with a clean & citric bitter aroma and a twist of vanilla. Brewed to mark 150 years since the great Sheffield flood".
It was an easy to drink beer and one half pint led to another. I normally prefer the higher strength Bradfield beers but I would certainly drink this one again.
Elsewhere on the bar, for non real alers, you will find Fosters, Carling, Guinness (later this week), Warsteiner, Thwaites Smooth, Stones Bitter and Kingstone Press Cider.
The snug
A side room decorated with film star memorabilia.
Those last two drink companies- former and current sponsors of Rugby League's upper and lower divisions - bring me neatly, and finally, to the point of my visit.
A little while ago it was announced that Sheffield Eagles RLFC would be returning to nearby Owlerton Stadium for the first time in 20 odd years. This followed the proposed demolition of their usual venue, Don Valley Stadium, for cost-cutting reasons.
I won't go into the politics of the decision. But as someone who started watching the Eagles soar at 'the dog track' in the 1980s, I'm just glad they are back home.
And from a drinking point of view, it opens up the possibility of even more matchday drinking in the Valley of Beer.
Close to the ground is The New Barrack Tavern which, I'm told on twitter, has a new Sheffield Eagles badged beer from Castle Rock. The pub, also on Penistone Road, intends to open at 10am for Eagles' home games (The first is on Sunday vs Rochdale Hornets at 2pm).
It will also serve breakfasts. So beer, a full English and RL - a winning formula! I'm looking forward to visiting the NBT soon.
Further down the road, towards town, lie the The Hillsborough Hotel, The Gardeners Rest, The Wellington, The Ship and the Kelham Island based pubs.
So expect periodic profiles of some of these places, and perhaps some lesser know pubs along the route as I sup with The Eagles.

Getting there: The 53 Bradway to Ecclesfield bus (which stops near the Sheffield railway and bus stations) takes in most of the places I've mentioned. It stops at The Harlequin, The Gardeners, The NBT, the ground and The Railway at Wadsley Bridge.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, today's game at Owlerton has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. The Eagles' first home game will now be against Barrow on Sunday, March 2 (kick-off 2pm). 

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Forthcoming beer festivals (Feb & March)

White Cross 2014 beer festival list
The Bloke from Hull has been in touch to tell us about some forthcoming beer festivals.
The lists he sent were impressive, ranging from local to far flung and from now until August.
I'll just pick a few out that caught my eye.
White Cross Inn beer festival, Bradley Road, Bradley Huddersfield. February 13 to 15. Thursday and Friday sessions 6pm to 11pm, Saturday noon to 11pm.
The BFH also got in touch yesterday with the White Cross beer list, which I think will please people who like their beers a darker side of pale. (Please see Tim's post at the top of the blog roll re Lower Quarry Brewery's Bradley Dark)
There are a few pales like Scarbourough Brewery's Snowy Bay, a 4.1% winter pale brewed with citra and centennial, and Cross Bay's Zenith IPA 5%. This Morecambe based brewery proved quite a regular sight on the Huddersfield beer festival circuit last summer.
But what grabbed my eye were the range of ales from golden to dark. From McMullen's Brewery's amber AK 3.7% (a long established Hertfordshire brewery and pub company) to Bragdy Mantle Brewery's Dark Heart 5.2% porter (from Cardigan in Wales).
The following week is The National Winter Ales Festival, which has now moved from Manchester to Derby. It's at The Roundhouse, Pride Park, near Derby Railway Station, from February 19-22. Wednesday's session is from 4pm to 11pm. It's 11am to 11am for the rest of the event but please note some days are split into two sessions.    
The event overlaps Bradford Beer Festival (February 20-22) at Victoria Road, Saltaire, and a charity beer festival at Ossett Town Hall (Friday and Saturday evenings, 7pm to 12am) which is run buy Denby Dale District Lions Club (February 21-22).
Into March we have SIBA Beer X (March 12-15) at Ice Sheffield, which coincides with Leeds CAMRA Beer Festival at Pudsey Civic Hall (March 13-15).
Also on that weekend is another event run by the busy Denby Dale Lions. This time they are back on home soil at The Pie Hall on Wakefield Road (March 14-15).
I'll round this off with one of my favourites: The Star Inn's Spring Beer Festival.  This five-day pub festival runs from 5pm Wednesday, March 19 to closing time on Sunday, March 23 at Folly Hall, Huddersfield.
If that's whetted your beer appetite then wait until you see the April list!

Here are some links if you are looking for more information, like ticket availability:
National Winter Ales Festival
SIBA Beer X Shefffield: 
Leeds CAMRA Beer Festival: 
Denby Dale District Lions events

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Two of Huddersfield's finest: The Sair at Linthwaite and The Star at Folly Hall

The view from Manchester Road, Linthwaite
Birthday blog part two:
My celebrations continued into Saturday when it was time to head to the spiritual home of this blog: Huddersfield.
At the train station I picked up a free Discover Huddersfield booklet on our real ale trail. The information sheet, originally compiled for the Food & Drink festival, gives details of ten city centre pubs to visit.
But that's one for another day, as my two destinations lay beyond the ring road.
I walked up to the bus station and caught a bus to Marsden but disembarked just after The Royal Oak at Linthwaite.
Here lies Hoyle Ing - otherwise known as the the mini-Everest up to The Sair. But it's well worth the effort as there is a stunning beery reward at Lane Top.
The Sair, Linthwaite, HD7 5SG
Don't be fooled by the slightly careworn exterior, this is part of the attraction. Walk inside and you see the splendour of a fine country pub, with its own micro-brewery, Linfit Ales.
I've only been in twice before but these were whistle stop visits. This time I wanted to have a session to soak up the atmosphere.
The entrance corridor leads into a junction of rooms. The main bar area takes up about half the floor space, to the left are two separate rooms if you want to escape the barroom banter.
But I didn't as that is also part of the appeal of this place, it's a community pub which offers a warm welcome.

I'd been a few weeks ago and tried the Swift and Autumn Gold, both pleasing beers. But this time they had three more beers on, which were new to me.
I kicked off with the Special Bitter 4.3%, a lovely mid-range ABV bitter, which I nearly drank again in quick succession.
But I'd had my eye on the Old Eli 5.3%, which I'd heard a bit about last time. It was an amber/golden hoppy beer, which I could have sessioned on had it not been the wrong side of five percent!
I know 2014 is only a month old but this is among the best of the year so far for me, along with another five percent plus beer (more of that later).
The Sair's bartender kindly offered me tastes of all six beers on offer, and they were uniformly good.
The next step was another hike up the alcohol scale with the 6.6% Leadboiler.
I drank it slowly in front of a roaring fire, listening to the eclectic jukebox which seemed to fluctuate between blues and Motown.
The jukebox lies behind the fish tank in a tight snug to the left of the bar. Nearby is the front room, which I understand to be one of the oldest parts of the pub. 

In it, over a stove, is a sketch of the veteran landlord  Ron Crabtree. I didn't bump into Ron during my visit but I saw plenty of reminders of him, including a 30-year achievement certificate from Huddersfield CAMRA. Maybe I'll get to meet the great man next time?
So it was back down the hill to the bus into town for another trip down Chapel Hill to that fine pub on Albert Street.
The Star Inn at Folly Hall, HD1 3PJ
When I walked into The Star  I saw Tim behind the bar, empty glass in hand, pointing to the strong pump. What can you say about that level of psychic service?
The beer in question was the 5.1% beer I alluded to above, Five Towns Sledging. I wrote about in part one of this birthday blog. Say what you like about the England cricket team imploding,  it certainly inspired a fine beer.
Next up was Mallinsons Columbus Nelson 4.3%, which the brewers helpfully discuss on their website:
They say it  is "another of our dual hopped beers. This time, Columbus was used for bittering, Nelson Sauvin for aroma. Described as, 'pale straw colour with a light citrus grapefruit nose, bitter lightly fruity hoppy taste and a long bitter tart finish'."
I had just finished a glass of it when brewer Nick Briggs, of Mallinsons & Briggs Signature Ales, walked in - so I gave him some immediate positive feedback.   
I also took the opportunity to ask him how his first solo beer, Northern Soul, had been going down since it was launched at The Star in late December.
Nick said it had been well received and had featured mainly on local bars so far. Talking of which, Northern Soul got a visual shout-out on the video of O'Hooley & Tidow's Summat's Brewin' video. You can see the pump clip briefly when Rob Allen pulls a pint in HDM Beer Shop on Wood Street.
Nick is putting the finishing touches to his second Briggs Signature Ales offering, Brass, which I think he said would be about 4.2% and be hoppier than his first beer. Look out for it soon.
Taunting pole at The Star , February 1
Next I turned to Hamelsworde's Hemsworth Challenger Golden Best 4%. I hadn't drunk much from this brewery on draught so I was keen to give it a go. It was a malty beer, not one of my favourite styles and one I usually struggle with. But I was glad I persevered with it as it grew on me as I drank it. There was another Hamelsworde beer on the taunting pole, which may be available by the time you read this.
I finished with another Five Towns Sledging and chatted with some of The Star's regulars about their memories of The Sair, which included the now mythical, Enoch's Hammer. It seems it was an 8% barley wine type beer named after the 19th Century Marsden blacksmith who made the cropping frames and the sledge hammers the Luddites used to smash them with.
Let's hope Linfit brew it again in a few years' time to mark the 200th anniversary of the end of the Luddite Revolution. 
So ended a beery, celebratory couple of days taking in two fine pubs in Sheffield and the same in Huddersfield.
Can't wait till next year!

Footnote: The blog on the Sheffield part of this journey into beer can be found here:

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Mary Jane creator appointed Wharfedale Brewery's technical director

Stewart Ross
Press release:
Wharfedale Brewery has announced the appointment of award-winning brewer Stewart Ross as its technical director.
Stewart, who was a co-founder of Ilkley Brewery and created its flagship beer Mary Jane, had been acting as a consultant to Wharfedale Brewery.
The brewery is based in the grounds of The Flying Duck pub in Ilkley where Stewart has also been acting as general manager for the past 12 months. The pub on Church Street opened in mid November following a 30-week, £200,000 restoration project.
Stewart, 52, is credited with helping bringing brewing back to the area after a near 100-year absence when he re-established Ilkley Brewery in 2009 with co-founder Chris Ives. 
Stewart left the company towards the end of 2012 and is now firmly focusing on the future. 
He said: "I take tremendous pride and satisfaction from the knowledge that I was able to create a range of beers that people appeared to enjoy but I don’t wish to dwell on the past. Times change and people move on and I am delighted to have been given such an exciting opportunity at Wharfedale Brewery and the Flying Duck. 
"Despite the many challenges faced by both the pub and brewing sectors, I’m really looking forward to bringing my experience and enthusiasm to this vibrant and stimulating market."
Assisted by fellow brewer Michael Allan, Stewart has already produced three staple beers under the new Wharfedale name. Wharfedale Blonde is a refreshing zesty session ale; Wharfedale Best is a traditional Yorkshire Bitter; while Wharfedale Black is described as a satisfying dark mild.
Along with the sales of a further six rotating guest ales from microbreweries across the UK, an extensive array of lagers, ciders, bottled beers, wines and spirits, Wharfedale’s first Brewpub has reported brisk trade during an encouraging first quarter in operation.
Nevertheless, Wharfedale marketing director, Jonathan Shepherd said there was no room for complacency. He added: “Whilst we are not getting carried away, we are delighted with the support and feedback we have received from our customers so far. The project is still somewhat of a work in progress and plans are in place to provide a few finishing touches to the building whilst also introducing a lunchtime menu and series of events that we think will be of interest to the public.
"We have been hugely encouraged by the mix of customers visiting the pub and the wide range of drinks people are consuming, with wine sales in particular surpassing all expectations."
Speaking about appointment, Jonathan said: “We feel we have pulled off a major coup in appointing Stewart as a full board member and his new beers are already proving a big hit in the town." 
The pub reported selling eight firkins (576 pints) of the Blonde in one day alone shortly before Christmas. 
 It will be showcased on a special Wharfedale Brewery bar along with the Best Bitter, Black and a special Festival Ale at Ilkley Beer Festival this weekend (February 7-8, check ticket availability before travelling at as Friday evening is sold out and Saturday's sessions tickets are reported as being 'low').
The beer festival, which raises over £40,000 for local charities, was the brain child of Stewart Ross whilst chairman of Ilkley Round Table, prior to its inception in 2008.
Stewart will be chatting about the beer festival, Wharfedale Brewery and all things beer during a special meet the brewer night next Wednesday (February 12 from 8pm) at the Flying Duck where tickets are now on sale priced £10 (including beer and food).

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Actual & official birthday sessions in Sheffield and Huddersfield

Left for KIT/Fat Cat, right for Shakey's
Question: What do you do when it's your birthday and you are torn between two rival beer destinations?
Answer: Easy, take a leaf out of Her Britannic Majesty's book and have two celebrations.
I found myself smack in the middle of that quandary last weekend. As fans of this blog will know, I like to divide my drinking time between Sheffield and Huddersfield - two great ale places with different characteristics.
The Valley of Beer has become so vast now that it's almost impossible to do it justice in one day. You find yourself doing the Steel City in sections, while Huddersfield is more manageable. It's concentrated town centre circuit offers six or so real ale pubs in a short distance of each other.
So which one to do first? Again fate intervened as two old friends were working in Sheffield on my 'actual' birthday.
The idea was to do the best one, two, three pub crawl I know - Kelham Island's Holy Trinity: Shakespeares, Kelham Island Tavern and The Fat Cat. 
So we made our way through the rain to Shakespeares on Gibraltar Street.
I walked in and my eyes fixed on a much sought after beer: Mallinsons Silk Tail 3.9%.
Image c/o Mallinsons/Blue Birder
It just so happens that the pump clip photo was taken by editor Will as part of the Lockwood brewers long-running bird series. 
So it was a no brainer which beer to start with. It turned out to be another impressive beer from Mallinsons. My half didn't last very long so I was soon back at the bar for another jar of hoppy gold. Other drinkers were also purring about the waxwing beer, which wasn't expected to last the night.
The brewers themselves describe it in much more professional terms as "a golden coloured ale with a strong citrus hop aroma. The bitteness is medium with slightly honey notes, and a fresh bitter finish".
After a pint and a half of Mallinsons it was time for a pub move. So we dodged death on the rush-hour ring road and the less lethal pot holes in the pay & display en route to The Fat Cat
I should explain my friends are not real drinkers and they must have been wondering where the hell this loon was taking them. 
But their fears were allayed as soon as they walked through the door of this homely pub, which blazed a trail for real ale in Sheffield and for me. 
It was only fitting to go to The Fat Cat on my birthday because it is the place where I signed up to the real ale cause about a decade ago. And there, like the first time I ever walked in, was Fat Cat landlady Diane to explain the beer choices.  
Howzat! Image c/o Five Towns
She told me Five Towns' Sledging 5.1% was a very good wheat beer with a lovely orange taste. Here I basked in a glimmer of reflected glory as I played a small part in helping name this beer. This moniker for this Aussie beer came about through a twitter exchange with its cricket mad brewer, Malcolm Bastow, during the recent Ashes debacle. Mercifully I had no hand in it's brewing - leave it to the professionals!
My friends had a taste of the beer and - I hesitate to say the were bowled over -  they really liked it. So there is hope for them yet!
The beer is made from perle hops from Germany and summer hops from Australia.
Malcolm tells me the beer also has coriander and curacao orange in the traditional Belgium style. And it features Belgium yeast with additional cinnamon sticks for seasonal addition.
I had another 'bonzer' Sledging or two but as I tried to negiotate the steep steps leading from the top room it was a bit like our batsmen going out to face paceman Mitchell Johnson at The WACA. I'm not sure this important health and safety aspect was foreseen by the brewer! 
Enough joking, I think Sledging is among Malcolm's top beers. Not because of my slight connection with it but because of the taste and drinkability. Catch it if you can, it was on at The Star in Huddersfield last night.
I followed it up with Kelham Brewery's Tin Can Avenger 3.8% - a continental style lager and one of Kelham's February specials. I must admit I chose this because of the cartoon superhero clip artwork from Jim Connolly. I forgot that I'm not a big fan of continental lager. It felt a little thin after the tasty Sledging. Perhaps I drank them the wrong way round?
We had an appointment with a fish curry so unfortunately we had to miss out the Kelham Island Tavern. That turned out to be a mistake as my tastebuds were turning towards dark beer instead of iced water at the curryhouse.
But that omission will be put right next weekend when The Kelham Island Tavern will be visited without fail.
But before that comes my 'official' birthday in Huddersfield. So join me next time for a hike up Hoyle Ing to The Sair in Linthwaite and more Mallinsons and Five Towns down The Star.
A Happy Birthday!