Friday, February 27, 2015

Candlebar Leeds

Work continues apace to ensure Ossett Brewery's latest venture is ready to open mid-April.

Housed on the ground floor of Candle House in the regenerated Holbeck/Granary Wharf district of Leeds, Candlebar will concentrate on craft (keg) beers and wine whilst the neighbouring Hop (also owned by the company and a mere two minute walk away) will continue to champion cask. There will however be a concession to hand-pulled die-hards at the new establishment with a single pump offering a beer from the micro FER-RA-RI range.

As far as we know the bar will open to the public on the evening of Friday 17th April with a VIP invite night on the Thursday.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Half Moon brew with some bloke

A recent chance meeting with Tony and Jackie Rogers led to them inviting me along to their brewery to collaborate in the creation of a special beer. The Half Moon Brewery is located in the quiet village of Ellerton in the far west of the East Riding, close, but not too close to the river Derwent. They have brought a former village pub back to life as one of Yorkshire’s newest breweries.
Formerly the village forge between 1796 and 1968; it was also run as the Half Moon pub for around forty years in the nineteenth century by blacksmith George Huntswick. After a considerable restoration project, Tony and Jackie moved into the property as home and brewery.
I knew I was in good hands as they had already started winning awards within a year of starting up. The first was in May with Dark Masquerade (3.6% ABV) being voted beer of the festival at The Pub beer festival in Leicester. Then in September the same beer won a silver award in the Mild section of the prestigious Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) North Eastern competition. This should really come as no surprise as Tony had previously worked at Great Heck while Jackie had honed her skills under the tutelage of multi-award-winning Brewster Sue Simpson at the Brown Cow Brewery near Selby.
I would have made my way to the village under my own steam but the local bus only runs once a day on a Tuesday when there is a Z in the month. And so we arranged for Tony to pick me up at Selby railway station early one crispy morn in late January. 
After a swift cuppa it was on with the job in hand. Four malts went in followed by Target and Northdown hops for bittering and later Galena hops for taste and aroma. The final ingredient, Nottingham yeast was added and we were done. Seven hours of banter with my sides splitting and in need of a breather from all the jokes and excitement there was a final cup of tea before Tony drove me back to Selby station for my train.
There followed two weeks of waiting and wondering. Then came the word via twitter. Our beer, Hull Moon was on the bar at Walters in Hull’s Old Town and I was out of the traps like a greyhound on heat. I was greeted by charming bar lady Katie who pulled me my pint. Well, that went down so quickly I had to have another two and unusually for such a beer of 5.2% ABV it was easy drinking. The tasting notes describe Hull Moon as a rich, gold, hoppy, Indian Pale Ale. Blooming lovely. 
The beer has also appeared at various top pubs in Hull and East Yorkshire and across the north ranging from the Stumble Inn in Scarborough to the north and to the New Oxford in Salford in the west. I am told by Tony and Jackie that all twenty casks were either soon snapped up or earmarked for special pubs in the West Riding. It must be something to do with their reputation for fine beers rather than my interfering.
A great laugh and hopefully they might let me have another go some time. Thanks Jackie and Tony.

The Bloke from Hull

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The relaunch of Empire

The special guest barman and Lorraine Beverley, of Empire
Empire Part Two
On Saturday I paid a very enjoyable visit to Empire Brewing Company in Slaithwaite.
The brewery's do had a two-fold function: it launched their new look and was also part of The Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival. 
The Canal side based business held brewery tours and had a pop up bar, which showed off its new livery.
Gone is the old British soldier and the Union Jack, and in its stead are blue badges with multi-coloured but easy to read type.
I was told the redesign, by Aye Creative, is aimed at making the brewery's ales more appealing to craft-type bars, particularly those in Manchester.
Empire's old clips
A familiar face behind the bar, who hails from Hull, tipped me about their new beer, Smoking Pistol, 4.3%. The clip says it is "a pale ale (with) tropical hop punch thanks to amples of citra & galaxy hops".
It was a very pleasant and easy-drinking beer. One led to another. I later complimented head brewer Russ Beverley on his creation, as he gave me the lowdown on Empire's ten-year history.
That subject has been well covered in the Examiner recently, so I won't rehearse it here again at length. It's enough to say that it is very much a family affair, with Russ's wife Lorraine, playing a very active role in the smooth running of the business.
Lorraine was busy at the pop up bar on Saturday, which pulled in plenty of people who were walking along the canal or in Slaithwaite for the Moonraking do.
As I left, I saw the festival organisers getting the lanterns ready for the procession along the canal. But the Bloke from Hull, who witnessed the spectacle, later informed me it was a fabulous sight.
Let's hope it bodes well for Empire's new look and aspirations.
Good luck to Russ and Lorraine, and here's to the next decade.
Part one of the Empire post can be found by clicking here

Friday, February 20, 2015

Empire Brewing Company celebrates 10 years in business & unveils new branding

Empire Brewing Co's Russ & Lorraine Beverley getting their mild
 of the Huddersfield Oktoberfest prize from Bob Tomlinson, left.
Empire Part One
Empire Brewing Co, of Slaithwaite, are celebrating a decade in business with a birthday bash down the brewery tomorrow (Saturday ) from 1pm.
The Canal side based brewery will also be unveiling their new branding and have a 'special guest barman'.
I wonder if he will be festooning the bar with his unique calling cards?
My lips are sealed!!
Here's all the gen from the  Empire's Facebook page:
As there's now almost as many micro breweries as pubs and we're still going strong after 10 years - we thought it was worth a bit of a celebration! Also we've been working hard alongside Aye Creative to create a new updated look for Empire brewing. We've a new logo, clips and also some new tasty ales (Alongside some of our most popular original beers). 
So what do we need you for?........
It's quite simple - we request your company to drink, laugh and enjoy our celebrations alongside us. 
We'll have a bar down at the brewery featuring our 6 "Re-vitalised" ales all @ £2 a pint. Brewery tours, a bit of music as well as some hearty Yorkshire snap - no good party is complete without a decent growler!
Our party will coincide with the Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival, The Handmade Trail. And at around 5/6 pm you'll be able to join in the moonraking procession. Were then off on to the Colne Valley Leisure Centre to get the beer flowing for the Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival afterparty and ceilidh. All go! We're really looking forward to it all and we hope to see you at some point along the way. Cheers to 10 more years! Russ and Lorraine :)

Our review of the event can be found by clicking here

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Beer That Got Away

Over the last few days I have heard several different people mentioning a Polish beer (A beer from Poland, not one made of polish !) that has been on sale locally. Thanks to BFH I can provide some genuine information about it, other than the guesses about its origins that I would have made.

The beer is brewed in Poland by a brewery called 'TEA Time' which is based in Krakow in Poland. The owner of the brewery has a name that may be familiar to our older local readers, James Eastwood. James is the son of John Eastwood, of The Barge and Barrel and Eastwood and Sanders fame, the erstwhile and much missed brewer (missing as in not brewing, not as deceased).

I had a chat with John  a few years ago, and he was talking about his son setting up a brewery in Poland, and his motorcycling across to help him set it up. I assume this was the fruition of that idea.

The beer on offer was a 5.8% Porter called 'Black Prince' and was on the bar at the Dusty Miller at Longwood. Another connection, John was a previous licencee here.

From the information gleaned by BFH it seems that James is recreating his father's recipes at the polish brewery, which is believed to be the only real ale brewery in the country. The TEA in the brewery name stands for 'Traditional English Ale' if you were wondering.

I got the e mail after the event so was unable to sample the beer, all I can hope is that James reprises his visit and BFH lets me know in time to try the beer. Anyway, congratulations from 'A Swift One' for being so innovative, and letting some locals try it as well.  

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Beer news round up

Wakefield's Rhubarb Festival starts on Friday
Next week seems to a busy one on the local ale scene.
On Tuesday, February, 17 (as well trailed on here) Here Be Monsters, of Holmfirth, will be staging a meet the brewer event at The Sportsman in Huddersfield from 7pm. Tickets, which include samples of all the beers, cost £5 and are available on the night. Unfortunately I won't be able able to attend because of family commitments but I wish the  new craft (bottle) brewery all the best with its cask debut.
There is another MTB on the same night at 7.30pm in Wakefield when Malcolm Bastow, of  Five Towns Brewery, will be holding forth at The Red Shed. I gather there may be samples of Malc's Mad Monk stout and his nursing retirement brew with North Riding: OAP DIPA 9.6%.
Staying with Wakey, the Merrie City's is holding its annual Rhubarb Festival from Friday until Sunday (February 20-22) and there are some themed beers.
So far I know of three Wakefield district brewers who have done rhubarb beers. Hamelsworde and Five Towns have done Dame Ruby Rhubarb and Roo Barb, respectively. These were very popular with festival goers last year.
Joining them this year is Fernandes Brewery's Rhubarb and Custard, which is made with vanilla pods and about 30lbs of rhubarb.
And you should be able to sample some of them on handpull or get some of them in bottles at Bier Huis's pop up stall at the festival.
Then on Saturday, February 21, Wakefield CAMRA will be celebrating their 40th anniversary with a grand tour of the pubs in its patch. I gather certificates will be handed out to various Wakefield pubs which have had long runs in the Good Beer Guide.
Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish everyone in Wakefield CAMRA a very happy birthday. I'm indebted to many of their learned members (and that jovial bloke who works alternate weekends at The Star in Huddersfield) for my continuing ale education!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Bradford - An Afternoon Trip

Readers of 'A Swift One' may remember that I have several connections with Bradford, some intentional, some not so. I went College there, intentional. My job took me there for almost 8 years.Unintentional. When Mrs Timbo had to go there earlier in the week, I thought I would tag along and see what the beer scene was like there.

Let me get a couple of things clear first though, I do not care for the place, but people have mentioned some decent new watering holes so I thought I would give them a chance. I do know there are some decent pubs in the city, but they are a fair distance apart and I was a little pushed for time and wanted a fairly compact crawl, hence my choices.

I started on North Parade at the top of the city centre, at 'The City Gent'. A wonderful building, I think it could be a converted bank, just a shame the interior did not match the exterior. I was the only customer so there was a certain lack of atmosphere and the young child (I assume the child of bar staff) was a bit of a pain. Equally so was the beer choice. Out of three beers the most exciting was Saltaire 'Blonde' - not exactly the start I wanted.

At least things could only get better, at least I could hope ! Across the road is the Record Bar - at least I think that's its name - forgot to write it down. It is a cafe style bar with a vinyl record shop upstairs and a bar and charcuterie at street level. The food was meat and cheese platters and there were 4 beers on offer. All more interesting but all I had sampled previously. I toyed with the idea of Revolutions 'Go-Go' but being a creature of habit went for the Mallinsons 'Bramling Cross'. A good choice, and well kept. Things were improving.  

Across the road again was 'The Sparrow'. Another cafe style bar, and plenty of bottles and keg on offer, along with 4 draught beers. This time the choice was Tyne Bank 'Northern Porter', which was excellent, and I spent a pleasant half hour in pleasant surroundings. With what followed I wish I had stayed there.

One of the pubs in the city I always overlook is 'The Beehive' . It is an imposing building at the top end of Westgate, incidentally just up the road from a Morrisons where I once had a holiday job until I split a pot of white paint ! I trekked up there, wandered into the bar, which is dark and dismal. There were 2 beers on, both from Wentworth, no bar staff and one customer. He was the village idiot on a day release. I did not stop. I understand now why I overlook it. And will continue to do so !

Things must improve with my next choice. 'The Castle' is further down the hill towards the city centre. And it had the atmosphere of a wake when I went in. About 4 customers, and 2 draught beers. A quick half of Empire 'Strikes Back' and off again.

By this time I was getting desperate. I knew there is a 'Spoons house in City Square, so that seemed somewhere to try. 'The Turls Green' is a new build, and light and airy. I chose a beer that was not one of the usual Wetherspoons fayre, Blindmans 'Icarus'. I will give the bar man his due, he did offer me a taster first, but I eschewed this and went for a half. It was not good, but at least the pub was light and airy and the customers did seem to be alive.

By this time I had had enough. I recalled why Bradford was a city I rarely visited, it was time to head home and sample a couple of decent beers in a couple of pleasant pubs in Brighouse. I should have done that in the first place and saved my bus fare !

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Half an hour here & there in Huddersfield

Pit stop drinking seems to be a recurring theme of mine of late.
I thought drinking dictated by tight timetables can be like edited highlights - effective but too short lived to be memorable.
That was until last night when I had a very satisfying drinking experience which I think will stand the test of time.
It started in Huddersfield about teatime when I headed for The Grove. The place was already pretty packed and seating was at a premium.
I ordered half of Weird Beard Brew Co's Hit the Lights, a 5.8% "Mixed Up IPA" hopped with Target and Aurora and then dry hopped again with the same. A very punchy start!
Half an hour later, I headed down Chapel Hill where The Rat & Ratchet looked to be doing a roaring trade. If I'd had more time I would've called in but the clock was ticking and I wanted to see if anymore Blue Bee Brewery ales had landed on the bar at The Star.
Last Saturday their Left or Right American hopped pale wowed the A Swift One team, and we were delighted to hear there were more casks from the Sheffielders in the cellar.
But last night our Holme Valley correspondent, raisathe dog, told me I had missed another Blue Bee. But there was a silver lining as he highly recommended the Mallinsons Mount Hood. 
I had a very enjoyable pint of the pale, single hopped beer in my allocated half-hour at Folly Hall's finest.
What struck me was the pleasingly bitter aftertaste as I marched back into town for a 7pm catch up with friends in The Sportsman.
I was ahead of time and had a good look round the bar, it was a veritable Brass Castle fest. There was Brass Lager, Tynecastle Hearty Ale ( a collaboration with Tynebank) and Bad Kitty.
I started with the lager first. It's quite strong at 5.3% and is said to be a traditional lager by being stored for six weeks to allow the flavours to develop. I'll fall into cliche here and say it was 'sharp' and I would drink it again. Next was Tynecastle, made by a Heart of Midlothian fan. A traditional bitter, which isn't my favourite beer style but I'm glad had it. 4.4% ABV.
But the best was saved for last, Bad Kitty, a 5.5% vanilla porter paradise. It was great to see so many of beers from this Malton based brewery in Huddersfield and long may it continue. So if you are in the vicinity, it is definitely worth popping in to The Sportsman and all the other good alehouses Huddersfield has to offer. But allow yourself more than 30 minutes per pub as you will be spoilt for choice!

Footnote: While in The Sportsman I saw more information about its upcoming meet the brewer event with Here Be Monsters, of Holmfirth. It's on Tuesday, February 17 from 7pm. Tickets, which include samples of all the beers, cost £5 and are available on the night.