Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bloke gets on his bike in Barnsley

The Bloke from Hull writes...
Friends Maureen and David recently offered me the chance of a ride round some of the countryside pubs in the Barnsley CAMRA area. We agreed on a Sunday in late June prior to Le Tour. This meant that we were in for a treat as many of the hostelries had pushed the boat (or is it bicycle) out to welcome visitors to the area with fantastic tour decorations and equally amazing beers.
With the local Real Ale Guide in hand, our day began at around midday at the Rose and Crown at Hoylandswaine. Of the four cask ales available, Bradfield Blonde was chosen to refresh our palates after the ride from Leeds. A great start. We left just as the kitchen warmed up for the diners who had begun to arrive for lunch. Such a pity we had to go!
As we drove into Thurlstone it was clear we were now in Le Tour country as notices for camping and viewpoints began to appear on lamp posts and fences. The Huntsman pub even had a yellow bicycle suspended from its sign. I had read good things about this place in various pub guides and it certainly lived up to its billing as a great community local. Oak beams, friendly staff (and locals) were topped off with six Yorkshire beers (of which three were very local). Here we chose the Acorn Sur Votre Velo beer and all too soon we were, metaphorically at least, on our bikes to the next pub.
On reaching Millhouse Green The Blacksmiths Arms came into view. Although not on our list we decided to investigate due to the “Under New Ownership” sign. Our curiosity was rewarded by friendly staff, a pleasant interior (featuring several old photos of the building) and a pint of the Marston’s seasonal beer Fever Pitch. Well – we were still in the World Cup then!
The Foxhouse Inn at Hepworth was the next stop. Despite being an extremely popular destination for dining, we found a good spot close to the bar and were served straight away. A great feature was the pot of nuts that was included in the “three thirds” deal of different beers from the Two Roses Brewery.
Heading south to the Woodhead Pass in the Dark Peak District we were greeted by the fine sight of a giant yellow bicycle in the car park of the Dog and Partridge at Hazlehead. A photo opportunity if ever I saw one! We could not resist. Given the location, the pub was obviously geared up for accommodation and dining. However, we found an area opposite the bar to sit and have our pint of traditional bitter from Stancill Brewery.
We continued into the depths of Le Tour country soon arriving at Langsett where we found that the Waggon and Horses had been transformed into the Pedalers Arms. As it was on the route, the pub had got together with cycle clothing company Polaris Bikewear and students from Leeds Metropolitan University to re-imagine the pub to create a vintage cycling look both inside and out. For over a year a group had been knitting bunting to gradually cover the pub with brightly coloured hand knitted and crocheted triangles. Even the food menu holders had been sprocketized! We played our small part by drinking cycling beers from Timothy Taylor and Bradfield breweries. As we departed we could not help but admire the Bank View Cafe dressed as the “King of the Mountains” directly opposite. Another photo opportunity!
I had been told great things by a friend from Barnsley about Cubley Hall and this day was my opportunity to confirm that he was right. This multi-roomed former gentleman’s residence retains much of its charm and character with some fine interior architectural features. Despite being very much a large function venue majoring in dining, there is a comfortable bar area where three regular and one guest cask ale were on offer. We struck it lucky with a beer from a brewery I had never tried before - Long Man in East Sussex.
A short ride to Penistone led us to the newly reopened Spread Eagle following a year of closure. Four cask beers gave us plenty of choice while over at the Penistone British Legion we signed in for a pint of an appropriate cycling beer. The final call of the day was The Fountain at Ingbirchworth. As the heavens opened we sought shelter with a choice of beers from Ossett, Taylors and Pennine breweries.
As we made our way back to Leeds in the rain we were grateful that it had only arrived at the end of our grand tour around some great pubs, most of which had previously been merely names in books and magazines. Many were supporting Le Tour and were a great advert for God’s Own County for the event that was soon to come.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Star Festival Review

Yesterday saw the start of one of the year's 'must visit' events, no not the Commonwealth Games but the 'Star Summer Festival' (the Folly Fest). The weather played its part, being warm and sunny for a change, as the queue outside basked in the heat waiting for the doors to open.

The layout was the tried and tested one used for previous festivals and I will not recap here but suffice to say that there are 46 beers in the outside marquee to sample. So sample I did.

My system at the festival is to sweep up as many new breweries as I can on the first evening, along with those beers I expect to run off quickly, and believe me, in the time I had available this was something of a challenge. This year there are a lot of beers from the South West, many of which are new to that area, with a scattering from Wales, Norfolk, Lancashire and the Midlands. 

After starting locally with the two Mallinsons offerings  'Trot On' and 'Hop Blending Bar Steward' and the Briggs 'Symphony no2', another light hoppy and well crafted beer it was time to see what the new boys had to offer. New Lion 'Mane Event' was a little average but their 'Pandit IPA' hit the spot for a stronger beer. I was impressed by the hoppy 'Kia Kaha' from Cwrw Lal, and the Big Clock 'Dirty Blonde' but my choice of Malmesbury 'Day Star' divided opinion. I did not care for it at all, but those who obviously have better taste than me were quite impressed.

My last choice was a porter from Grey Trees of Aberdare, a pleasant antidote to the light hoppy beers I had been sampling previously. Anyway time overtook me - so I will have to revisit tonight and try a few more. Those that look interesting are Tickety Brew 'Jasmine Green Tea', Shiny 'Silver Man' (a wheat beer) and Hamelsworde 'Early Bird' - with elderflowers, not to mention some rarer breweries. And I need to sample what someone told me was the beer of the festival, Glentworth's 'Dream Ticket' - I will let you know.

The festival runs from 5pm Thursday, then all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so add it to your list for the weekend, I am sure you will not be disappointed.  

Ps Sorry no pics - so warm I forgot to take my jacket, which has my camera in it !!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Star Festival List

The Star at Folly Hall's 'Folly Fest' starts at 5pm on Wednesday 23rd July 2014 and then Thursday evening and all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Beers 1 - 46 are in the outside marquee, 47 onwards will come on the pub bar as and when others run off.

See you there

1 PENPONT Cornish Gold 3.7
3 BRIGGS SIGNATURE Symphony no2 3.6
4 MALLINSONS Hop Blending Bar Steward 4.2
5 BLACK TOR Pride of Dartmoor 4
6 TWO BEACH Oarsome 4.7
7 BIG HAND Zeta 3.6
8 COUNTRY LIFE Shore Break 4.4
9 BAYS Rhino 4.7
10 NEW LION Pandit IPA 4.9
11 BOWNESS BAY Swan Blonde 4
12 PRIVATEER Patriot 3.9
13 TWO BEACH Shaldon Shag 4.2
14 TWISTED OAK Spun Gold 4.5
16 SILVER STREET Wildflower 4.3
17 SMALL WORLD Longmoor Pale 3.9
18 NEW LION Mane Event 3.8
19 HOLSWORTHY Sunshine 4
20 COUNTRY LIFE Reef Breaker 4
21 FORGE Devon Maid 4
22 CWRW WALES Kia Kaha 4.3
23 BIG CLOCK Dirty Blonde 4.2
24 TRUMANS Lazarus 4.2
25 BLUE BEE Hyphen 4.7
26 TOTALLY BREWED Punch In The Face 4.8
27 JUST A MINUTE Darkest Moment 4.3
28 FORGE Discovery 3.8
29 MALMESBURY Day Star 4.1
30 OLE SLEWFOOT Citraville 3.9
31 FRANKLINS Mama Knows Best 4.1
32 BLACK HILL Three Quarter IPA 4.4
33 KILLER CAT Manga 5
35 TICKETY BREW Jasmine Green Tea 3.8
36 GLENTWORTH Dream Ticket 4.4
37 GREY TREES Valley Porter 4.6
38 WINTERS Cloud Burst 3.7
39 ISCA Dawlish Pale 5
40 BACKYARD Bostin 4.2
41 HUNTERS Crackshot 3.8
42 ALLGATES/5 TOWNS Station to Station 5.6
43 HAMELSWORDE Early Bird 3.8
44 RED ROCK Lighthouse 3.9
45 SHINY Silver Man 4
46 INSTANT KARMA Saffrom Kayasa 4
47 TRYST Double Chocolate Porter 4.4
48 SMALL WORLD Summer Bank 3.7
49 FLIPSIDE Random Toss 4.4
50 MALMESBURY Burnville Hop 3.8
51 FUGGLE BUNNY Oh Crumbs 3.8
52 BLUE BEE Geek 5
53 BLACK TOR Dartmoor Pale 4.5
54 SILVER STREET Gentleman Mild 3.7
55 GELTSDALE Sno 4.5
56 JUST A MINUTE Hoppy Hour 4
57 BIG CLOCK Sunny Boy 3.8
58 FIVE TOWNS Raven King 5.5
59 RED ROCK Breakwater 3.9
60 GELTSDALE Sunstorm 4.5
61 HOLSWORTHY Tamar Black 4.8
62 TWISTED OAK Fallen Tree 3.8
63 HUNTERS Devon Dreamer 4.1
64 WINTERS Genius 4.4
65 NORTHUMBERLAND Geordie Cavalry 3.7
66 SMALL WORLD Barncliffe Bitter 3.7
67 JUST A MINUTE Lite Year 3.7
68 OLE SLEWFOOT Little Bear 3.7
69 OUT THERE Everybody's a Star 5.5
70 HADRIAN AND BORDERS Josies Dragonfly 4.3

Monday, July 21, 2014

Trio of beer fests in Huddersfield

Huddersfield ale fans are in for a treble treat this weekend.
First The Star's beer festival kicks off at 5pm on Wednesday and runs until Sunday at Folly Hall. (See Tim's post).
Then Saturday at noon sees the start of Hall Bower beer festival in the shadow of Castle Hill. Over the course of the weekend expect beer from on your doorstep, like Mallinsons and Nook, and ones from further afield, like Gloucester Brewery, and Milk Street Brewery of Frome, Somerset.
An email from the BFH has also reminded me it's also Bobtown Beer Bash this Saturday from noon at the Roberttown Community Centre. There will be 35 plus real ales, including some "one off brews". 
With the weather set fair, Huddersfield seems to be the ideal destination.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Best in show: Crufts and Craft

Last weekend I went to a beer festival and ended up in the middle of a dog show.
I was headed for the Rising Sun's beer tent in Nether Green, Sheffield when I was approached by someone in authority asking me if I wanted to enter a pooch in their contest.
I politely declined, not having a dog, and made my way across the parade ground to where the marquee with 110 ales on stillage stood.
I paid my dues for a glass and vouchers and found a seat between two big Labradors after being recommended a nice pale beer from Kinver, of Staffordshire, at 4.5%.
I guess every beer festival has its unique selling point, well the Rising Sun's is a dog contest on the final day.
It drew in a cross section of people from young families, students, couples, middle-aged beer drinkers like myself and a few retired people.
The contestants were remarkably well behaved despite being in close proximity and there was plenty of awww factor, particularly when the puppy contest kicked off.
But we are not here to talk pedigree but about beer.
I think I was pretty overwhelmed by the choice from 81 breweries, so much so that I went away from deliberately seeking out new breweries and decided to ask knowledgeable bar staff to suggest something.
I was told that Abbeydale's Absolution from the wood was one of the first to go, and there were quite a few turned round labels from other breweries too.
My next suggested ale was  Hopocrisy from 6 Degrees North in Aberdeen. The excellent colour-coded programme informed that the Stonehaven alemakers pride themselves as The Belgian Brewers of Scotland. The tasting notes claimed a "touch of Madeira cake sweetness mingle with apricot and apples". Now I'm not sure I ticked those off but I got what it was hinting at. The first taste was quite unlike any other I'd had and not in an unpleasant way, just quite startling.
Next I opted for something I thought was more tried and tested ground for me - a mix of US and Australian hops. Pacific Pale, which was a shade under 5%  was from 360 Degrees Brewing Co in East Sussex. It was listed as a "chestnut coloured, modern pale ale" and I'm not sure what Tim would have made of that description (see earlier post). 
I veered away from stillage momentarily to try Acorn's entry into kegging, simply called Number 1.
The 4.3% straw coloured beer, obviously, had more carbonation than the on gravity beers I had tried.
It was my pick of the outdoor ales and it wasn't ridiculously priced like some kegged beers, £1.70 a half was just about bearable.
The last beer I tried outside was Benjamin James from North Riding whose beers I always make a point of sampling when I see them.
The beer was hopped with Mosaic, Columbus Galaxy and Comet, which I'd heard brewer Stuart Neilson had used to great effect at the recent Monkey Fest with Comet Extra.
This one had been brewed to celebrate the birth of BJ, the son of Abbeydale's sales boss Dan Baxter.
I bumped into Dan in the beer tent and he gave me a helpful potted history of the festival, which is now in its eighth year.
As the dog show reached fever pitch I decided to adjourn to the interior of the pub and have a look at the full Abbeydale range on handpull. I saw lots of familiar ones like Brimstone and Daily Bread but I went for two lesser known ones.
Dr Morton's Survival Kit, 4.1%, is Abbeydale's Charity Beer for 2014 with 10p from every pint going to Cavendish Cancer Care. Apparently it's brewed with the new "Expirimental 30D hop". It didn't knock my socks off, it seemed to be quite a subtle beer. But the next beer did grab me, a collaboration between Abbeydale and Founders, of Michigan. Collaboration became the inadvertent theme of this year's festival, with half a dozen or so on show.
But the 7% Anglo-American kegged beer was the only joint venture I tried. It's called 3712 because of the distance between the two breweries.
It has been described as a "strong, full-bodied pale golden beer made with a combination of low colour Maris Otter pale ale malt and caramalt for residual sweetness and body. US Mosaic, Simcoe, Citra and Chinook hops have been added by the bucket load to the boil, the hop back and conditioning tanks to deliver a deadly dose of Founders' "complex, in-your-face" flavours. 
"Balanced to perfection in true Abbeydale fashion allows flavours of citrus, tropical fruits, pine and grapefruit to fight for the attention of your tastebuds while the residual sweetness complements the bitter finish."
It also goes very well with Yorkshire Crisps Roast Lamb and Mint flavour but I guess the brewers from Grand Rapids didn't come half-way around the world to discover that!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thurstyfest beer festival (July 18-20)

This is a quick note to say Thurstyfest begins tomorrow.
There will be 60 cask ales on over three days at The Rose & Crown in Thurstonland.
Getting there: Thurstonland sits at the top of a steepish hill diagonally above Brockholes station on the Penistone Line with public footpath access.
There is also the 911 bus service, from Honley Station or Brockholes Post Office, which cuts the hill out.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Star festival 7 days away

Just my usual reminder about the Summer Star Beer Festival, now known as the 'Folly Fest' due to start at 5pm next Wednesday (23rd), with 46 beers promised as usual in the outside marquee.

Full day opening Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with music again on Sunday afternoon. This time from the Monotones.

Get down and get sampling - see you there.

Plans for a Bradford Brewpub unveiled

There are certain cities that one connects with beer, and Bradford is not one of them. In fact, it is a city that I rarely visit nowadays, and certainly not for its pubs or ale. I did my degree there, for 4 years, and spent the last 8 years of my working life there, and I must admit, I do not like the place. (To put this in perspective, I know some very proud Bradfordians who love the place to bits - but even they struggle to name  a decent pub in the city centre).

There are a couple or so decent pubs but stupid geography has put the 'Fighting Cock' and the 'Corn Dolly' diametrically across the city centre with about a half hour walk between. The new(est) kid on the block is the 'Sparrow' but even that is up at the top of the centre, making a triangle and after walking to each one you have certainly earned your pint !

Anyway enough of this. Today I have received an interesting e mail from BFH - he who knows all - about a proposal for a Bradford City Brewpub.  The Bradford Brewery will be the first brewery in the city centre since 1955, almost 60 years, and will be housed in a 4 storey old mill building just off Westgate, which is a short walk from the city centre. It is proposed that the brewery and pub will be on different levels, but as seems to be the norm nowadays will have a viewing area, so the drinkers can view the workers !

The project will be part funded by a grant from the Bradford Council Growth Zone, and it is anticipated to cost in the region of £400,000. The brewery will have a 10 bbl plant, about 16,000 pints a week. But don't get too excited too soon, the project is still awaiting the outcome of the initial planning application for the change of use of the building, so it will be a while before it comes on stream. But we (or BFH !) will keep you posted. 

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

There is an ale house in Nether Green they call The Rising Sun

The Rising Sun is hosting its annual Sunfest beer festival from Thursday to Sunday.
The Abbeydale alehouse in Nether Green, Sheffield will be home to more than 100 beers when its car park, off Fulwood Road, gets the marquee treatment this weekend.
Abbeydale, posting on their Facebook page, said: "Some very interesting beers this year. Siren Craft Brew, Totally Brewed, Tiny Rebel Brewing Co., Dark Star Brewing Co & Bristol Beer Factory to name a few. Seems to be a bit of a brewery collaboration theme starting too. At least five beers on the list are two breweries working together for a better tomorrow." 
There is a preview of the festival on the Abbeydale webpage by Dan Baxter and one on  page four of the the July edition Sheffield CAMRA's Beer Matters which talks of craft keg, cider, music and food. 
Getting there: The pub is at 471 Fulwood Road, Nether Green S10 3QA. It's on the 120 bus route which runs every 20 minutes from the city.
Link to beer list:

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Don't these people actually check what they are writing ?

For those of you who have been waiting for some snippets of wisdom from my laptop, I apologise for my lack of input recently, but quite frankly I have found little in the beer world to inspire me to type.

I am getting a bit saturated with all the World Cup beers, albeit now England have no further interest they are getting less, but they are being replaced with a whole host of velocipede related beers. None have really hit the spot with me, despite lots of efforts to find the right one. And lets face it, I will keep on trying until I do find the holy grail !

I did think I would share this little gem with you that I discovered on a pump clip yesterday. I will not name the brewery, its  not really fair, but the tasting notes they had provided for the beer said "Spicy, classic,coffee and Mild". I thought nothing it until I wrote it in my book, 'Bobbys Best Bitter' . What !!! To be honest it did taste like a bitter, and I got none of the other notes. But surely the notes on the clip should at least vaguely resemble the beer style.

Before you start writing to complain, I have had several ginger beers that have never seen ginger, and lots of fruit beer that do not taste of fruit. So maybe 'caveat emptor' could be the watchword here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Hop - Saltaire

No longer The Old Tramshed, this fifth in The Hop series of venues reopened last weekend after a major refit. It has been a year since Ossett Brewery's first involvement with this much-loved Saltaire restaurant during which time the emphasis has been on turning around it's fortunes. 

To ensure a future for the site it was felt that a complete re-branding was the way forward by bringing it into the company's Hop stable, alongside existing successful venues at Wakefield, Leeds, Sheffield and York.

Although ditching the original name has not been a popular move with locals, the newest Hop has retained all the character of this landmark building whilst incorporating the distinctive Ossett pub atmosphere.

The beer range is, as you would expect, predominantly from the company's four breweries with Sharps Doom Bar being permanently available too. Blakemere's award-winning Deep Dark Secret and Black Sheep Bitter were also on the bar during my visit. 

The comprehensive menu has been augmented by the addition of a wood-fired pizza oven, so whether you're seeking a formal evening meal up on the mezzanine, taking advantage of a dinner & show package or simply fancy a pizza to go with your pint, then this extraordinary setting is well worth a visit.