Friday, May 29, 2015

Navigation Festival, Mirfield

This weekend sees a plethora of beer festivals in Yorkshire, so many that it is case of what to leave out, rather than which to attend. However, it was no contest when it came to the Navigation festival at Mirfield. It is a must attend in my calendar, and fortunately for me, it starts on a Thursday.

This time the theme is beers from Northamptonshire. When I heard this I was a little unimpressed, I was sure that there were very few breweries there, and those there made beer which was not exactly to my taste. That shows what I know about beer !

We had early access to the beer list, courtesy of BFH, and I soon realised how wrong I was - at least on the brewery front - I was missing five on the list and there were several that I had only rarely encountered . So I made my way there in quiet anticipation.

The festival was almost fully set up on my arrival at 1pm. At that time I was the sole punter but it did not matter, I selected my seat, set to work with the beer list, and ordered my first choice. Towcester Mill   'Bell Ringer' was a very pleasant beer, golden and not too hoppy, and the malty background set the tone for the afternoon. I followed this with a 3.8% session beer, Kings Cliffe '5C' - another golden beer, with a subtle hop background and one I would have happily stayed on all day .....but other beers beckoned me.

I thought I would change styles a bit, and next chose a couple of beers brewed entirely with English hops. Hart Family 'No1' was 4.1% and tawny coloured, Kings Cliffe 'No10' was lighter and had a more pronounced malty taste. The malty background seemed to be a theme for my next selections. The first one being Phipps IPA. It is not really an IPA in the style I expected, but it apparently brewed to an authentic 1930 recipe, and has a lovely balance of hop and malt, leaving a sweet malty aftertaste. So far the best beer I had encountered. I came across the same aftertaste in Merrimans 'Merri Weather' - good but the IPA just shaded it.

By now I was warming to the task, and the pub was filling up nicely, and the craic had started. And I decided it was time to try some more of the new breweries. Nene Valley 'Release The Chimps' was an American hopped IPA style - not as assertive as some of the northern versions of the style, but very drinkable all the same; likewise the same breweries 'Big Bang Theory' - the strongest beer on the bar at 5.3%.

By now time was catching up with me, and time for two more beers. Silverstone 'Slipstream' reverted to the weaker,session style beer, and I chose Phipps ' Steam Roller' as my swan song, with its lingering caramel aftertaste.

Those observant readers will note that I never tried a darker beer. That was a personal choice, since out of those on offer, only one was new to me, but the dark beer afficionados there, did confirm that those they encountered were excellent.

With all beer being £1.40 a half across the board, and no entrance fee, this is a festival that will not break the bank, It continues until Sunday evening, or until the beer runs out. It is a great credit to Kevin, who set the festival, and Derek, who is the dedicated bar man. I, for one, cannot wait to see where the next festival comes from, and have learned not to go to it with preconceived ideas. Beers from Northamptonshire are excellent, if not as hoppy as I am used to.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Sportsman's bizarre beer festival June 5 to 7

The Sportsman, 1 St John's Road, HD1 5AY. Picture: BFH
The intrepid Bloke from Hull has been in touch about The Sportsman's Bizarre Beer Festival in Huddersfield from June 5 to 7.
Once again, he has ferreted out an early beer list for your perusal: 
Entry to the festival on St John's Road is free. Here's all the gen:

Please note this is our PROVISIONAL menu and some details, including prices, may be subject to change.
Festival Bar - Cask
1. Ticketybrew Table IPA. Emphasis on hop character to bring out life and flavour in this low strength beer. Aromas of rich apricots and a touch of fizzy sherbet. Really happy about the amount of hop character without the bitterness. 2.8%. £2.50/£1.25/£0.85.
2. Black Jack Bouillotte. Cask conditioned Alt Biere, clean and subtle Continental hops with an American twist at the end. 4%. £2.80/£1.40/£0.95.
3. Ilkley American Smooth. This little-brewed style of beer, favoured in the US, it is similar to a lager, but brewed with ale yeast. Soft and smooth, this pale ale combines subtlety of flavour with depth and drinkability. 4.3%. £2.90/£1.45/£1.00
4. Grain Blonde Ash. Based on the Belgian witbier style, this cloudy wheat beer has flavours of bubblegum, orange and coriander, and pours with a gorgeous frothy white head. 4%. £2.80/£1.40/£0.95.
5. Nene Valley Big Bang Theory West Coast IPA. Wonderfully balanced with a huge hop aroma giving way to malty sweetness and a gentle bitter finish. 5.3% £3.30/£1.65/£1.10.
6. Pig and Porter Neither Nor. A pale ale malt? A lager yeast? Six weeks conditioning? Some of the big Cs in the mix? Neither a pale ale, nor a lager, a delightful hybrid that's exceedingly drinkable.
5%. £3.40/£1.70/£1.35.
7. Offbeat Wild Blackberry Mild. A not so traditional mild fermented on blackberries and with blackberries in the cask. Fruit character along with some toffee and toasted notes. 3.8% £2.60/£1.30/£0.90.
8. Caveman Morgan Stout. A dark roasty stout brewed with organic ginger and cacau nibs. 5%. £3.40/£1.70/£1.35.

Main Bar - Cask Round 1

Roosters Maypole. Seasonal pale ale brewed using Cascade hops and infused with Elderflowers, to produce a delicate floral and citrus aroma. 3.7% £2.70/£1.35/£0.90.
2. First Chop Extra Love. Extra Love Mango Pale is a uniquely crafted beer with real mangoes and Citra and Summit Hops. The result is a warming, US-style pale ale that will have you swooning.
4%. £3.20/£1.60/£1.10.
3. Ticketybrew Munchner. A British real ale brewed with German ingredients and Belgian yeast to produce a traditional malty beer with a twist. 4.3%. £2.80/£1.40/£0.95
4. Thornbridge Ruin. Botanical pale ale brewed with kafir lime leaves, orange peel, lavender, rosemary, yarrow, red rose petals and juniper berries. 5%. £3.30/£1.65/£1.10.
5. Bad Seed India Amber Ale. Huge amounts of New World hops make this Amber ale a tropical delight. Hopped with Rakau and Mosaic and then dry hopped with Riwaka balanced with a sweet red malt body for a truly unique beer. 6%. £3.60/£1.80/£1.20.
6. Siren White Tips IPA. White IPA brewed with orange, lime and grapefruit peel. Siren's expression of a wit beer combined with IPA levels of hops. 4.7%. £3.40/£1.70/£1.15
7. Otley Oxymoron. Black IPA Style bitter using German Carafa malt and 5 different hops. 5.5%. £3.30/£1.65/£1.10.
8. Tiny Rebel Dirty Stop Out. Smoked oat stout that has all the characteristics of a heavy night out - complex, dark, with hints of smokiness and perfume aromas. 5%. £3.40/£1.70/£1.15

Main Bar - Cask Round 2
(Please note: these beers will follow the previous beers once they have run off)
Roosters Blind Jack. An amber rye ale; the addition of Rye malt and a blend of American hops to create a quaffable beer with citrus fruit aromas and a light, spicy finish. 3.7% £2.70/£1.35/£0.90
2. Muirhouse Mango Man. Pale/golden beer with added mango to give a fruity finish. 4.2% £2.80/£1.40/£0.95.
3. Offbeat Odd Ball Red. A red ale with masses of Columbus hops giving a spicy flavour and finish with a bold fruitiness. 4.2%. £2.90/£1.45/£1.00.
4. Great Heck Amish Mash. German style cloudy wheat beer with loads of American hops. Combines the banana and clove notes of the weizen with the fruity notes of American IPAs. 4.7%. £3.00/£1.50/£1.00.
5. Pig and Porter Red Spider Rye.
A red rye ale featuring and an American clean tasting yeast to showcase the Centennial and Columbus hops. Rye malt lends a spiciness to balance the beer. 5.5%. £3.40/£1.70/£1.15
6. Celt Experience Goddess of The Spring. A rich pink, strawberry, loganberry and raspberry Farmhouse Saison. Sour mashed and aged for weeks with fresh fruit for a crisp and dry finish. 6%. £3.40/£1.70/£1.15.
7. Great Heck Apocalypse Brau. 
Strong, dark ale made from a blend of Yakima IPA and Patrick Irish stout. The ultimate black and tan basically! 6.1%. £3.40/£1.70/£1.15.
8. Arbor Smokescreen. Robust smoked porter with complex flavours of smoke, chocolate and hedgerow fruits. End with a nice sweet finish. 5.5% £3.40/£1.70/£1.15.

Main Bar - Keg

Bad Seed Blackberry Sour. A two day souring process makes this a tart and refreshing beer, fermented on blackberries to give it fruity twist and a funky colour. 4.1%. £4.00/£2.00/£1.35.
2. Cloudwater Simcoe HopfenWeisse. German style wheat beer with a hoppy hit from the generous use of Simcoe hops. A modern interpretation of a classic German beer. 6%. £4.20/£2.10/£1.40.
3. Mad Hatter DunkelWeizen. A rich and dark Bavarian style wheat beer with hints of chocolate and orange. 6.3%. £4.20/£2.10/£1.40.
4. Kirkstall Framboise. Raspberry beer developed and brewed in Belgium with the guys from Kirkstall Brewery. A great raspberry hit leaves an incredible but not overpowering tartness on the palate. 3.6% £4.50/£2.25/£1.50.
5. Camden Pils. An unfiltered, hazy pilsner brewed with loads of US hops resulting in a beer with all the lightness of a lager but with a delicate aromatic quality from the hops. 
4.6% £4.00/£2.00/£1.35.

Festival Bar - Keg

1. Cloudwater Farmhouse Radler. Famhouse funk meets sherbet lemons in this tart and refreshing lemon fruit beer. 4.1% £4.00/£2.00/£1.35.
2. Chorlton Eclipse Black Lager. Dark Munich style lager brewed on the solar eclipse with the yeast added at the moment of totality. Lagered for five weeks. 5%. £4.00/£2.00/£1.35.
3. Summer Wine Davy Jones’ Locker. Big Black IPA from Honley’s finest! Tonnes of hops, dark malt. 7.5% £5.00/£2.50/£1.70.
4. Anarchy Knuckle Dragger. Double IPA. Massive hop hit, not for the faint hearted. 8.3%. £5.00/£2.50/£1.70.
5. Northern Monk Rhubarb & Rosemary Blossom IPA. Rhubarb produces a very rich tart-sweetness, paired with rosemary, a sweetly perfumed or fragrant herb, you end up with delightful pungent mix of a tart, fruity aromatic beer. 7.4% £6.00/£3.00/£2.00.
6. Thornbridge Tekdrop. Liquorice Imperial Stout brewed in collaboration with Van Moll, Eindhoven. 9%. £6.00/£3.00/£2.00.
7. Camden Unfiltered Hells Lager. The crisp, dry body of a German-style Pilsner with the gentle hopping of a Helles. Not filtering the beer results in more depth of flavour and a slight haze to the beer. 4.6%. £4.00/£2.00/£1.35
8. Camden Gentleman's Wit. A Belgian brew with an English accent. Classic white beer spiked with lemon and fragrant with bergamot, Gentleman’s Wit has a smooth, full body and a spicy finish. 4.3%. £4.00/£2.00/£1.35.

Main Bar - Bottles

1. Hardknott Squiddy. What happens when you take a delicious pale ale and add squid ink? You get this delicious beer that is dark yet drinks like a pale ale...not a bit fishy! 3.8%. £3.50
2. Pig and Porter Gothic. Imperial stout featuring ten different malts and a blend of English, German and American hops which combine to produce a complex rich dark sensation with a hint of sour fruits.
7.4%. £4.50
3. The Wild Beer Co Madness IPA. West Coast style IPA with a big hit of American hops. 6.8%. £4.50.
4. The Wild Beer Co Goose Chase. Wild Beer's new 'Everyday wild beer, a dry hopped farmhouse pale with gooseberrys and their culture of wild yeast. 4.5%. £3.95 (can).
5. Weird Beard Double Peale. Weird Beard's 100th brew, Double Perle. An 8.6% version of their Milk Coffee Stout, absolutely immense. 8.6%. £5.95.
6. The Wild Beer Co Epic Saison. Not many breweries can beat Wild when it comes to Saisons; the Belgian classic with a distinctive farmhouse funk. 5%. £4.20
7. Brewdog Libertine Black Ale. Libertine delivers a dark hop bomb combining the west coast hop awesomeness of an IPA, the dark and indulgent malt flavours of big stout. 7.2%. £4.25.
8. Mad Hatter Sorachi Face Hugger. Take a Belgian saison yeast add everyone's favourite Japanese hop, Sorachi Ace, and you get this spicy, lemony, refreshing delight. 6.3%. £4.50.
9. Mad Hatter Down The Rabbit Hole. Extreme red ale with columbus, centennial, cascade, amarillo mosaic and simcoe hops. Fermented with a Belgian Abbey yeast. 8.1%. £4.95.
10. Chorlton Citra Sour. A sour pale ale, intensely hopped with Citra for a fragrant, clean and sharply acidic flavour. 5.7%. £4.25.
11. Summer Wine KloosterWitbier. A Huddersfield take on a classic Belgian Witbier. Coriander and orange peel offer the classic flavours you would expect from the style. 5.4%. £3.95. 
12. Summer Wine Surfing Monk. Belgian triple meets New Zealand IPA in this beery mash-up. 
6.5%. £3.95
13. Bad Seed Saison. Bad Seed use honey, ginger and seeds of paradise to give a modern and zesty twist to this classic Belgian ale. 6%. £4.25.
14. Bad Seed Hefeweizen. This refreshing Bavarian style wheat beer is a real Bad Seed. It was one of the first beers to break the Reinheitsgebot, the strict German purity laws. 5.1%. £3.95.
15. Thornbridge Bear State. Bear State is a classic IPA brewed in the spirit of the West Coast of the USA. This is a massively hoppy beer, balanced perfectly with a touch of malt sweetness and an intensely citrus hop character to finish. 7%. £5.95.
16. Marble Little Meiko. An IPA using the Japanese hop Sorachi Ace IPA and yuzu fruit to added the batch. The yuzu is an east asian citrus fruit with a similar flavour profile to grapefruit or sour mandarin. 7%. £4.95. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Beer List For Navigation Festival, Mirfield

One of  'A Swift One's favourite beer festivals is returning on Thursday 28th May through until Sunday 31st May 2015, when the Navigation at Mirfield is hosting a festival dedicated to beers from Northamptonshire. All beers are cellar cooled and handpulled. Admission is free.

Digfield Brewery

Fools Nook 3.8%
Mad Monk 4.8%

Frog Island Brewery

Lock, Stock and Barrel 4.0%
Shoemaker 4.2%

Great Oakley Brewery

Walter Tull 4.0%
Tiffield Thunderbolt 4.2%
Harpers 4.3%
Delapre Dark 4.6%

Gun Dog Ales

Bad To The Bone 4.5%
Lord Barker 4.2%

Hart Family Brewers

No1 4.1%
No3 4.7%

Kings Cliffe Brewery

5C 3.8%
No10 4.0%

Merriman Ales

Merri Weather 4.0%
Be Merri 4.5%

Nobbys Brewery

Wild West Ale 4.6%
Swift Nick 4.2%

Nene Valley Brewery

Big Bang Theory 5.3%
DXB 4.8%
Release The Chimps 4.4%

Potbelly Brewery

Potbelly Best 3.8%
Pigs Do Fly 4.4%
Beijing Black 4.4%

Phipps MBC Brewery

Phipps IPA 4.3%
Steam Roller 4.4%
Beckett's Ale 4.3%

Hoggleys Brewery

Reservoir Hogs 4.3%
Mill Lane Mild 4.0%

Silverstone Brewery

Pit Stop 3.8%
Slipstream 4.2%

Towcester Mill Brewery

Rubio 4.4%
Bell Ringer 4.4%

Thanks to BFH for the list, see you there !

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fruit Beer Revisted

A little while ago I had a small complaint about brewers brewing fruit beers that tasted synthetic, now it is time for me to eat humble - fruit - pie. Since I wrote the previous post I have encountered more fruit beers, and some of them have been excellent, so I feel I need to redress the balance.

Bradfield brewery have been around for about a decade now, and do produce the occasional fruit beer. I came across their 'Plim Bitter' in the Kings Head, at 4.4% it was a plum colour (surprisingly !) and had a good balance of hop and fruit, and was very drinkable. Belleville 'Thyme Square' was not exactly fruit, but was an interesting use of the herb to produce a light beer, with a pronounced nose. The taste could be classed as overpowering if you do not like that sort of thing, but I found it clean and refreshing and shocked myself by even having a second, and third one.

This was on the bar at the Grove at the same time as Thornbridge 'Wye' which is a cucumber beer that they have brewed previously. Again, maybe cucumber is an acquired taste, but I find it works very well in the beer giving a unique taste. Another love it or hate it is rhubarb. And I found it in Yorkshire Heart 'Rhu-Bar Beer' - the clue was in the name - and I have never encountered a beer with such a pronounced rhubarb flavour. I am in the love it camp, and found it well crafted and very moreish.

So maybe I was a little premature in my previous post, or may be I have just found beers to redress the balance, or more likely these have been brewed with the 'real' thing rather than a synthetic substitute. It certainly makes a difference.  

The Red Shed Festival - a Punters View

Readers of 'A Swift One' will have noted recently a beer list for a beer festival at the Red Shed (more properly Wakefield Labour Club) that is being held over this weekend. I had seen the list provided by my co editor, and decided to give it a look. It was a charity festival based on a theme of Yorkshire v Lancashire, and arranged under the guidance of Malcolm Bastow at Five Towns Brewery.

My first problem was actually finding the place ! Last time I recall visiting the 'Shed' it was at the bottom of a large car park. Now it is dwarfed by a massive shopping centre, but my well honed nose for beer worked and I managed to locate it easily. Even better, it was open early. The admission cost seemed a little excessive at £5 but £2 of this was refundable on the glass you purchased. Beer came in at a sensible £3 a pint across the board, and thirds were available. Things were looking up. Even more so when I browsed through the well produced programme and noted the strength of some of the beers.

Because of the previously published beer list I knew where to start, so a quick third of Whippet 'Brew No1', a new brewery from Leeds. What I had not factored in, was that it was a 5.7% stout. Sadly it did not quite hit the spot, a little lacking in flavour and a little thin for its strength, but it gave me chance to sort my next choices more sensibly. Next up was 'Pale and Interesting' from another brewery new to me, Thirst Class from Stockport. A decent 3.4% beer with plenty of hops, I followed this with another new brewery Learn to Brew, 'Young Gifted and Pale'. Again a bit of disappointment, with a shortage of hop flavour. But then things started to get stronger, and tastier.

A black IPA from Shindigger, preceded a strong mild from North Riding and they were certainly not short of flavour, neither were Quantum 'UK Light' nor First Chop 'SYL'. I was a little disappointed by Steel City 'Troika' which was overly smokey for my taste, but the real stars were the two strongest beers on the bar, and both brewed in God's Own County.

Rat Brewery 'Ratmospheric' was a 6.5% New Zealand IPA, and it supplied all the hop hit one would expect from a Rat beer and Nelson and Waimea hops, a real gem. But it was overhauled by my final beer, a massive 8.4% Double IPA from Five Towns called 'May Day' - one of my beers of the year, let alone the festival. Lots of hops, and very well balanced, just a shame about the strength which precludes drinking pints of it !

Anyway, that was the end of my tickets, so home time beckoned. I was very impressed with the festival, which it is rumoured may become an annual event. Hopefully it will, and I will be making a note in my diary for the next one.The idea of East v West also worked well, giving us a chance to sample beers from both sides of the Pennines and compare and contrast. I am not sure who produces the better beer overall but as|I have imtimated above my winner was a Yorkshire brew, well done Malcolm !

A virtual tour of East vs West Fest (Day One)

Yesterday the East vs West Fest got underway at The Red Shed.
I've written about the festival - which continues today (Saturday) in Wakefield - at length before so I will keep this short and sweet.
Last night I was pleased to see a veritable who's who of local beer drinkers and some London based folk at Vicarage Street, which is just downhill from Wakefield Cathedral.
Work and other commitments meant my session was all too brief but that didn't spoil my experience one jot.
Far from it, this  was - and I know I am biased as my friend Malcolm Bastow, from Five Towns Brewery, has organised it  - one of the friendliest festivals I've been to for a while.
It reminded me very much in atmosphere and layout of festivals at The Navigation Tavern at Mirfield (who coincidentally have an upcoming festival from May 28 to May 31). 
At The Red Shed there is a main bar area serving guest beers, while the festival is in an adjoining room. It's £5 entry to the festival which uses a beer ticket system. But you can pay cash for the wonderful pumpkin porter casserole!
I sampled four or five beers at East vs West Fest, where you can drink thirds.
My picks were Marble's Spring and North Riding's The Hunter's Dream - a strong mild.
I promised I'd keep this brief so please have a look at the pump clip video and picture from @Gingerbeerking.
They tells you all you need to know. For tasting notes please click: here 
If you are a viewing this article through a smart phone and are having trouble viewing the embedded video then please click this YouTube link

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Brewing a tribute to Maggie

The Bloke from Hull writes...
In early November Dale Palmer from the Imperial Brewery at Mexborough contacted me asking if I would come along to the brewery to collaborate with him to brew a couple of beers for his club’s “New Brewery” beer festival in December. One was to be a Christmas beer brewed on the main kit whilst the other was to be a special on the pilot plant to celebrate the life of my late partner Maggie. 
I originally got to know Dale as I sometimes called into the club for a few pints whilst breaking my return journeys to Hull when visiting my Mum in Sheffield. The club soon had a brewery and it was a pleasure to call in to try the latest creations. One in particular sticks in my mind – Hop Monster which most certainly lived up to its name. It was a beautiful beer not for the faint hearted but definitely a must for hopheads like me. Wowee!! Thereafter I additionally attended Dale’s regular new brewery beer festivals at the club and was only too pleased to sometimes assist with information to secure new and interesting beers.
And so to brew day: Wednesday, 19th November, 19. We had discussed possible recipes previously but not finalised anything and so we made it up there and then, although, I suspect that Dale’s experience guided us towards something suitable as opposed to the tangential offerings my head had dreamed up. 
In decreasing quantity order, Maris Otter, Lager, Vienna, Caramalt and Crystal Rye malts were added to the hot liquor in the mash tun and sparged for 75 minutes. The resulting wort was then transferred to the copper. Hops were then added at various intervals for bittering and aroma, namely Columbus, Simcoe, Chinook and a substantial quantity of Topaz.
After a 60 minute boil the wort was transferred via heat exchanger to the fermenting vessel where the yeast was pitched in. A small quantity was diverted off to the mini kit for the one-off Marvellous Maggie where more hops (Mount Hood, Nugget, Perle, and Warrior) were added to make something rather special.
After a busy day with Dale all there was for me to do as quality controller was nowt but retire gracefully (a first time for everything) and wait for the beers appear at the Imperial Beer festival a few weeks later.
The day of truth duly arrived on December 6 and with trepidation at first, I ordered one each of Spirit of Christmas and Marvellous Maggie. I need not have worried. Both weighed in at 6% ABV and fittingly packed powerful punches with the latter being a right hop bomb of a beer. A fine tribute indeed!
Later that month, the Spirit of Christmas appeared on the bars of some more of my favourite drinking establishments – most notably The Chequers Micropub in Beverley, The Butchers Dog in Driffield and The Market Place Deli in Doncaster. 
Thanks to Dale for coming up with and executing the idea (rather than me) and for his patience. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Once more into the Valley of Beer

The most distictive beer garden in Sheffield?
Saturday was a good day.
It started in the Sheffield Tap where I caught up with a Leeds-based Kelham Island fan. We didn't stay long in the tap as my friend wanted to maximise his short time in the city, but I noted a good selection of Loch Ness and Tapped beers.
First stop was Shakespeares where my friend got his Abbeydale Deception fix, which can be hard to come by in some parts of the West Riding, apparently. 
I too went home town with a half of Blue Bee's Return of the Geek, a beautiful mosaic hopped beer at 5.4%.
We were sorely tempted to stay for another but we had to move on to the Kelham Island Tavern where my friend continued his theme of drinking classic Sheffield beers by ordering Bradfield Framers Blonde. As I often do in the Kelham, I ask Lewis or Trevor's advice about what's going well on the bar, light or dark. Lewis suggested a pale and hoppy Glenworth, which I was glad I had. But I neglected to get the name or ABV.   
Onwards to The Fat Cat where my friend had Kelham Island's Pale Rider. I was going to continue this pattern as I saw the latter's Gentleman Death, one of Jim Connolly's cartoon-themed clip beers. But I then noticed a low ABV session beer from Five Towns, Mi Usual. 
Now, we all know brewer Malcolm is famed for his dangerously drinkable high end beers, but I always try and sample his lower strength beers when I see them. This was good, had bags of flavour and I was surprised to find it only weighed in at 3.7%.
The Ship at Shalesmoor
Next I suggested swinging by The Ship at Shalesmoor to see if it had reopened. Alas we were met with boards saying secured empty premises, items of value removed. obviously this was the low point of our trip as we both had fond memories of drinking here and trying to figure out what was coming next on the eclectic jukebox. I hope this classic Sheffield boozer gets back on its feet soon.
We cut through the back streets and across the river to The Gardeners Rest at Neepsend.
Here we found two Huddersfield beers on the bar, an IPA from The Nook and a stout from from Small World. I chose the latter, while my friend had a Blanco Blonde from Sheffield Brewery Co, which is based about a quarter of a mile away.
No trip to The Gardeners is complete without venturing out into its weird and wonderful beer garden. As you can see from the picture at the start of this post, it has got even more bizarre with the addition of eight-foot high flowers. Whether these were lights or purely for decorative effect, I don't know but it was certainly distinctive.
Our next venue was The Riverside, which was heaving inside and out. I don't recall what we both had here. But I had no trouble with my recollection at The Harlequin nearby where I had the beer of my day, Blue Bee's Real. It was a 4.7% sorachi ace pale beer. Don't ask me to detail its tasting notes, all I know was it was another belter from a brewery that can do no wrong in my eyes.
Out final destination was The Rutland Arms where I had a Steel City experience. The brewery is known for its challenging and complex beers. Incubus was actually a collaboration with Imperial and Great Heck. It was dark, chocolatey, malty and hoppy. As it said on the pump clip "Forged in Mexborough by an Evil Alliance".
Mexborough's most famous son is the booming actor Brian Blessed. This five percenter really was a "Gordon's Alive!" type of beer.

Friday, May 08, 2015

The first 'Real Ales' in a can are from...Halifax!

The Bloke from Hull writes...
Earlier this year I had arranged with Oates Brewery head brewer Anthony Barrett to go over to Halifax to assist with the brewing of a beer. I rang him the day before to confirm and he said that there had been a change of plan and that instead of brewing they were canning. 
My initial response was “Oh, that won’t interest me then”. Anthony then explained that a mobile canning unit was coming to can Oates APA and Caragold XB and that it was to be “real”. Not quite believing it – I was now very interested especially when he said that the canning was to be the first commercial run in the country. My standpoint was now “count me in”.
It might sound like a simple thing to do but there were many hurdles to jump over and hoops to climb through by provider “WeCan Solutions” to reach this stage. After eighteen months planning and testing and following successful trials at Brains and Everards breweries, I was indeed about to witness the first commercial canning run for real ale in this country. 
Challenges such as scaling down and developing the canning unit to become mobile, making it flexible to operate in breweries of all shapes and sizes, keeping it sterile, seaming and capping the cans, labelling issues had all now been overcome. Indeed Andy Hughes, co-director of WeCan Solutions commented “the easiest part of this project was to buy the machinery - the hard part was to figure out a range of solutions to make the service easy for the brewers”.
Thus on a bright sunny day I arrived to find Andy Hughes and Martin Forder from WeCan Solutions setting up their unit in the main area at Oates brewery as an expectant Anthony watched on, waiting for the word to connect the line from his beer. 
After short period of setting up and correcting a few glitches the beer was flowing immediately, disappearing into the top of the machine, filling the cans through a set of nozzles and then being sealed by the special caps. Amazing!!
The manner in which beer is put into the can is critical to ensure that additional oxygen is kept to a minimum. The previous tests carried out at Brains and Everards on had shown excellent results in terms of fill level consistency, sanitization, carbonation and Dissolved Oxygen levels. As this was the first run WeCan provided the cans with adhesive labels but will in future have them printed on directly.
So what is the point of canning quality beer and real ale in particular? It enables microbrewers to enlarge their product distribution, whilst allowing discerning drinkers who are not able to go to the pub for a multitude of reasons to drink real ale. Environmentally, only the unit is travelling not the beer thus reducing beer miles following brewing. Recycling is also more efficient when compared to bottled beer.
On the first runs around 400 cans of APA and 800 of Caragold XB were filled. The APA is a 6.11% ABV real ale in a can to the style of an American pale ale, made with five of the finest malts and three fruity hop varieties. The Caragold XB is at 4.5% ABV a slightly stronger hoppier version of the best selling brand made with fine English malts, Target and Bramling Cross hops and is packed full of flavour.
It should be remembered that as these beers are can-conditioned they will need time to settle and need to be poured carefully to leave the sediment in the can.
The cans are available via the brewery website: and the intention is also to have them available in specialist independent beer shops, farm shops and delicatessens.
No doubt there will quite some discussion as to whether these beers are “Real Ale”.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

East vs West Festival beer list

Here is the beer list for next weekend's East vs West Beer Fest in Wakefield.
The trans-pennine charity beer festival will be held at The Red Shed on Vicarage Street (down from the cathedral) on Friday May 15 and Saturday, May 16.
Session times are noon until 4pm and 5pm to midnight both days.
Pay on door, £5.
The festival will benefit teenage cancer charity Candlelighters and Newton Hill Cricket Club.

From the west:
Brewsmith, Nelson Sauvin Pale. Brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops, Pale, 4.2%.
Wilson potter, Don’t Fall. A lovely pale hoppy blonde, Blonde, 3.9%.
First Chop Brewing Arm, Syl. Black IPA, 4 malts unrefined Indian jiggery sugar. Massive quantities of hops, ground fenugreek. Intercontinental IPA, Black IPA, 6.2%
Tickety Brew, Rose Wheat Beer. Unique aroma of roses as you drink this beer. Balanced by a subtle kick of fresh Ginger, Wheat Beer, 4.5%.
Squawk, Pale Ale. A hoppy delight with Citra and Cluster hops. Dry hopped with Chinook, Pale, 4.5%.
Shindigger, IPA, A plethora of our favourite hops thrown in over a juicy malty backbone, IPA, 5.6%
Blackjack, New Deck, Golden Bitter, 4.2%.
Allgates, Shogi Porter. Brewed with Columbus, Chinook and loads of Sorachi, Porter.
Marble, Spring. Golden Best. 4.6%
Quantam, Thirst Class. Pale & interesting. Light & Hoppy American Pale Ale with Cascade &Nelson Sauvin hops, Pale. 3.4%

From the east:
Clark’s, Billy Ruffian. Stout. 4.5%
Sunbeam, Shepherd's Delight. American hopped infused with rose water, caramel nose and subtle flavour of Turkish Delight. Red Ale. 4.5%.
Rat, Rye Rat of the Caribbean, Red Rye. 4.5%
Atom, Schrodinger’s Cat. Full bodied low ABV hop bomb, 5 different malts with Chinook, citra, Columbus and mosaic hops, Blonde, 3.5%.
North Riding, TBA.
Blue Bee, Real. Sorachi hops. Pale. 4.7%.
Brown Cow, Yorkshire Sovereign. Pale, 4.4%.
Revolutions, The golden age of wireless, Mild, 4.5%.
Steel City, TBA.
Whippet Brewing Company, Brew Number One 
Learn to Brew, TBA.
Five Towns Brewery, May Day. Fully loaded brew, with Citra, Mosaic, Nelson Sauvin, Chinook and Equinox hops, Double IPA. 8.4%.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Brewers - just say no !

If you had been a reader of 'A Swift One' for some time, I apologize for revisiting a subject that I have visited previously, but I feel this is an appropriate time to remind you readers of it. I do not like brewers buggering about with the ingredients in their beers. In particular, I dislike synthetic fruit in beer.

Let me set the scenario. Yesterday I was called to Chesterfield on family business, or Mrs Timbo wanted to visit relatives. I usually manage to spend a little time in the town sampling their beers, of which some of the local breweries are excellent. But there is always an exception. And that was yesterday.

The first pub I visited had a pedestrian selection of beers, of which all but one I had previously sampled. The rogue beer was from Wentworth - not one of my favourite breweries - called ' Raspberry Ripple'. The warning was in the name, and was reinforced by the barman who seemingly thought I was a fairly sensible bloke. 'Are you sure?' he queried, 'Its a bit raspberry.'' Never mind' Said I, 'I am sure I have drunk worse.'

Well to be fair I have, but not often. Light coloured but with the overwhelming smell of raspberry, I knew immediately I had made a cock up. I was right. It tasted like it smelt, but the taste was not of fresh raspberry, which I quite appreciate in Belgian beer, but rather a plastic flavour, which overwhelmed the beer. Thankfully I had only ordered a half, which I duly drank, but for the next few hours regretted as I struggled to get rid of the cloying taste.

I tried another couple of pubs, and another couple of beers, of different styles and strengths to clear my pallette but without success. But desperation led me to make another grave misjudgement. I saw a beer on a bar called 'Apricot Dream' from the Grafton brewery. It was just like the previous mistake. This time a little better, without an overriding smell, but the taste was again, synthetic. To be fair to it, it did allay the raspberry taste for a while, but I was getting an aftertaste like a fruit salad by now, and not even counting towards my five a day !

By this time good sense prevailed and I gave up ! 

All I ask is that if any stray brewer is reading this can they think twice before using anything other than proper fruit in their beer and save us poor drinkers the experience I suffered yesterday. It will do you no favours.

And the worst beer - years ago a mint beer from a Devon brewery called 'Suttons'. Like drinking toothpaste ! 

Friday, May 01, 2015

Vocation Brewery - Press Release

Vocation Brewery is a brand new enterprise set up in the wilds of Hebden Bridge, high up in Cragg Vale or, to be precise, at Cragg’s Business Park, New Road.

The new brewery is the vison of John Hickling (who for you brewery spotters out there was the founder and owner of the award-winning Blue Monkey Brewery of Nottingham until recently).
The brewery is set in dramatic moorland with far reaching views across the moors opposite and  for John an area he knew well, having originally lived in Heptonstall for several years before getting into brewing.  The new venture is in good company being a neighbour of Little Valley Brewery and The Real Cider Company in the business park.

In a recent interview and brewery visit John explained his journey into the brewing world and how he started his career in IT for a major bank but, in his own words, “wanted to create something more than spreadsheets”, bought a home brew kit and was hooked. The brewing of beer was a revelation and now inspired, he soon went on to found the brewery Blue Monkey in 2008 so named after the nickname of the flames that rose out of the chimneys of a local foundry (Stanton iron works)
John sold Blue Monkey about 12 months ago after five years of running the brewery and producing award winning ales, but in his words “mused for something else to do” soon realised that setting up and running successful breweries was in his blood, not only was in his blood but was for him a true vocation in life - hence the name Vocation Brewery.

The brewery is a very modern affair with the plant being installed by Vincent Johnson Brewery installations, a company with over twenty years’ experience, based in Tottington, Bury, (Lancashire). A nationally recognised firm for producing the finest quality brew kits in Britain and Europe. The brew kit will consist of the usual hot and cold liquor tanks (that’s water) the Mash Tun, Copper, fermenting vessels and arrangement of other various technical items.

The copper (which boils the wort) has next to it an ingenious contraption that looks as if is straight out of some nuclear reactor called an `External Calandria’ it contains the heating elements (3) that heats the liquid, (wort) that is pumped through it from the copper, then re-circulates around gradually bringing the copper and its contents to the `Boil’.  John said that he believes it to be unusual for micro-breweries to be using this methodology of heating the wort, as external Calandria’s are more common place in much larger breweries. This technical innovation will allow for better brewing  with techniques employed like whirlpool technology and aid the cleaning of the copper considerably (no elements getting in the way)
The brewery will be a 15 barrel plant capable of brewing up to 4 x times per week combined with the 4 fermenters could produce 17,220 pints per week (believe me that’s a lot of delicious beer -editor) which will be delivered to outlets in the distinctive black casks emblazoned with the brewery logo.
The malt for brewing comes from Crisp of Norwich, John states that he has used Crisp malts before and their malts have a proven record of producing the quality ales that has become John’s trademark and in John words “why change a winning formula?”

The hops will be mainly American hops varieties (west coast) so expect many of the brews to have a fruit character consisting of a broad range of these fruity flavours from citrus, pine, peachy, pineapple, grapefruit, mango and blueberry all balanced with a clean rounded bitterness to leave you wanting more. (I certainly can’t wait to see them on the pumps of local free houses. –Editor)
As wall as cask John intends to bottle some of the beers which he intends to do in-house, so within the building there is provision for a shop selling the bottles and a bar for those visiting groups to enjoy a hand drawn ale which, I’m sure will prove very popular with CAMRA groups and the general public.

The other important member of the team at Vocation is Tom Chapman who is the Sales Manager. Tom who is local to the area (Hebden Bridge) will be easily recognisable for those who frequented the pubs around Hebden Bridge, in many of which he was behind the bar serving and latterly was Bar Manager at The Hinchliffe Arms, Cragg Vale, a position he held there for three years. Tom has a real passion for cask ale so he certainly knows about its care in the cellar and of course as well as serving was often heard giving a back ground explanation about beers to those wanting to know more about their purchase, with descriptions given on styles, colour and characteristics, ensuring the customers are happy with their beer and hopefully coming back for some more.

As Tom states “drinkers are wanting to know a lot more about their beer, not just that it tastes good but about the depth of flavours, style and where it come from and some thing that makes it stand out from others they may have tried”.  “I believe that the range of beers we will be brewing here at Vocation will be distinctive and leave the consumer wanting more, hopefully much more”

The Brewery’s mission statement -
Vocation is a fiercely independent brewery, hell-bent on producing punchy and distinctive beers. Over long days and sleepless nights, we pursue perfection with dogged determination
 and never compromise our vision.
                       This relentless persistence makes our beers bold, brave and exhilarating.