Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Beck At Brighouse

I was having a conversation earlier in the week with one of Huddersfield's elder statesman and he recommended that I visited a pub not far from my home, which strangely seemed to have slipped under my radar. That was why I spent a pleasant lunchtime today in The Beck at Brighouse, (and lets face it, it delayed the shopping !).

Older readers may remember the place as the New Inn, on the left hand side of Bradford Rd coming towards Bailiffe Bridge, just past the police station. It closed for a while and was reopened under the umbrella of Partners brewery a couple of years ago but now it is free of tie and along with a sister pub in Drighlington is a great place to while away an hour or four.

It is a friendly. locals pub. No music, just a TV with the sound turned down, and the locals sat around the bar enjoying the craic. My sort of place. It has 6 real ales on offer. On my visit, a couple from Elland, a couple from Wentworth, and one each from Cotleigh and Stockport. I tried the latter two, and they were excellent, kept well, and very moreish. There are plenty of pump clips around the bar showing the large variety of beers that have been across the bar, and many of them, unusual for the area. And at £3 a pint for a 4% one  they will not break the bank.

The Beck opens every Saturday and Sunday at midday, or at 4pm during the week, except 3pm on Fridays. So, if you find yourself on the A641 one day, and feeling a bit thirsty, give it a go. I will certainly be back, it would be rude not to. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Barnsley Bitter - a forgotten taste ?

One of the iconic beer tastes comes from Yorkshire, and thankfully has been recreated after almost disappearing over half a century ago, and appears to be going strong.

As readers of 'A Swift One' will know, we do tend to champion the lighter, hoppy style of beer - partly because this is to the taste of the editors, and partly because we are predominantly based in West Yorkshire where we have some breweries who are at the vanguard of this style of beer.

However, in the last couple of days I have sampled two different versions of 'Barnsley Bitter', one from the Stancill brewery of Sheffield, and the other from Acorn of Barnsley, and pretty good they were too. It made me wonder about the style, and why it was so distinctive.

If you have not encountered it it is a bitter (obviously) made with English hops. It has a complex malt background, and tastes heavier than its strength suggests, being usually brewed at less than 4% abv. It has a residual sweetness, and is very drinkable. But what makes it special ?

Well, after reading the above paragraph you will note that there is no mention of two of the essential ingredients, yeast and water. It seems the latter is most important to the finished brew, and may explain why it tends to be concentrated in a small part of the country.

Stancill brewery actually located themselves deliberately to benefit from the local water. They are based in Sheffield, not in Barnsley, but the water that serves the brewery is almost identical to that that was used for years to create the beer. And the fact that their head brewer came from the now defunct 'Oakwell' brewery (who also used to brew the beer) may assist in recreating the original taste.
Acorn mention using yeast strains from the 1850's to recreate their version, and judging by the amount of awards it has won over the years, they seems to have got it right as well.

I cannot vouch for the comparison, as I cannot recall drinking the original version, but I am informed that the taste is very similar by those in the know. In fact, when John Smiths decided to move the beer production from Oakwell to Tadcaster in the early 1970's it created a massive public outcry, and was even subject of a motion in 1973 in the House of Commons, and a protest march in 1974. Both failed, and although the beer continued to be brewed, its essential character had changed - the water in Tadcaster being different to that of its home town.

I, for one, am glad to see it still going strong , and in the hands of two breweries who obviously care about the style, and the history of the brand. Long may it continue !

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Wakefield Festival of Beer today & forthcoming events

Good luck to Wakefield Festival of Beer at Unity Hall today. I went to the Friday night session and enjoyed the ale, venue and music on Westgate.
The Bloke from Hull has kindly supplied us with a list of non-Camra beer festivals dates. So get your diaries out. 
It's a very full list, ranging from near to far until November, so I've just included events for the next two months.
The ones local to Huddersfield are in bold.

Friday 19-Saturday 20 June 2015 Sitlington and Netherton Round Table's Wakefield Festival of Beer 2015 at Unity Hall/Unity Works, Westgate, Wakefield, around 80 beers and ciders with a "London and Local" theme accompanied by cracking live bands and artisanal street food.

Friday 19-Saturday 20 June Poppleton Beer Festival at Poppleton Junior Football Club, Millfield Lane, Nether Poppleton York,YO26 6NY with 50+ beautifully conditioned ales, a dozen ciders, lots of great local bands, and great pies, tickets £6 inc 2 beer tokens, commemorative glass and programme (CAMRA members pay just £3!)

Friday 19th – Saturday 20th Hellifield Beer Fest. Hellifield House Social Club, Hellifield, North Yorkshire, BD23 4HU. 30 beers and 10 ciders Hot and cold food available see

Friday 19-Sunday 21 June Annual Beer Festival at the Jemmy Hirst 26 Riverside, Rawcliffe, East Riding of Yorkshire DN14 8RN Fri from 17:00, Sat & Sun from noon, food will be sandwiches early-on with barbecue later.

Friday 19-Sunday 21 June Beverley Folk Festival at Beverley Racecourse, camping and accommodation info real ale and food info

Friday 26-Saturday 27 June Third Airedale Beer Festival staged in the grounds of the Airedale Heifer, Bradford Road, Sandbeds, Keighley BD20 5LY open from noon each day buses 662, 760

Friday 26-Saturday 27 June The CornShed Festival at Saxhow Park Farm, Hutton Rudby, Yarm, North Yorkshire TS15 0ER

Friday 26-Sunday 28 June Beer Festival at the Wheatsheaf, Main Road, Burn near Selby YO8 8LJfacebook open from noon daytime buses 150, daytime/mid-evening 405/X45, Sun 405/7/X45X45

Friday 26-Sunday 28 June Dentdale Music & Beer Festival 26th-28th June 2015: in addition to normal local buses the festival bus will pick up/drop off festivalgoers from/for most trains at Dent Station and drop them in the centre of Dent within a minute or two of the campsites and pubs etc

Friday 26-Sunday 28 June 1940s Beerfest at Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar, Platform 4, Rassbottom Street, Stalybridge SK15 2RF open noon 'til close, British and American craft beers from cask, keg and bottle, 1940s style live music and dress (feel free to dress in period!)

26th to 27th June 5th Gtr Manchester Cider & Perry Festival, Copper Face Jacks, Palace Hotel, Oxford St,Manchester 40 Ciders & Perriies

2nd to 4th July 11th Chorlton Beer & Cider Festival, St Clements Church, Edge Lane-Chorlton, Manchester 95 Ales 50 Ciders

Saturday 27 June Sixth Clifford Champion Beer Festival at Clifford Village Hall , Albion Street ,Clifford LS23 6HY, £5 entry includes souvenir Clifford Champion Beer Festival glass, programme and first drink! Children welcome under parental supervision . buses 173/4, buses 770/771

Thursday 2-Sunday 5 July Summer Beer Festival at Suddabys, Wheelgate, Malton YO17 7HPCoastliner Bus 840 from Leeds/York/Scarborough

Friday 3-Saturday 4 July Scouts Beer Festival at the Scout HQ Newmillerdam, opening Friday 18:00-23:00 and Saturday noon-23:00, over 20 beers + food, limited evening bus service 59 but route of 110 is a walk, see Wakefield Area Bus Map.

Friday 3-Sunday 5 July 2015 Burton Agnes Jazz & Blues Festival where local, award winning Wold Top beers will be on tap, brewed just a few miles away and delivered by brewer and jazz fan Tom Mellor, who then picks up his guitar to play in the Hall.

Friday 3-Sunday 5 July Staxtonbury VII a fun family music festival with local cask beers plus cider and Pimms, "Stackers" at Manor Farm, Staxton near Scarborough YO12 4SH

Wednesday, July 8 to Sunday, July 12. Summer BF, Star Inn, 7 Albert Rd, Lockwood, Huddersfield, HD1 3PJ. Wed & Thu 5pm – 12 midnight; Fri & Sat 12noon-12 midnight; Sun from 12noon.
July 11 & 12. Monkeyfest, Armitage Bridge Monkey Club, Dean Brook Rd, Armitage Bridge, Huddersfield, HD4 7PB. Sat 12noon – 10pm, Sun 12noon – 9pm.
Friday 10-Sunday 12 July Mirfield Round Table's Third Beer Festival at Mirfield Cricket Club, Memorial Park, Huddersfield Road, Mirfield, WF14 9NE, 4 ciders and 18+ real ales, includingPartners "Champion, Golcar Mild , Robinson's Trooper, Titanic Brewery Plum Porter andFernandes' award winning "Black Voodoo" an d last but not least their very own Round Table Pale Ale, brewed by White Rose Brewery especially for the event!

Thursday 16-Sunday 19 July Hawkshead Brewery Summer Beer Festival at Hawkshead Brewery, Mill Yard, Staveley, Cumbria LA89LR with food all day, live music, great beer, good craic and no tickets Bus

Friday 17 July Red Shirt Night and Beer Festival at Pontefract Racecourse, gates open 16:30, first race 18:30, beers from Pennine, Ossett and Revolutions Brewing as well as Bier Huis, also pilsners and ciders racecourse website

Friday 24-Sunday 26 July Twenty Fifth Anniversary Summer Beer Festival at Springhead Brewery, Main Street, Laneham, Retford, Nottinghamshire DN22 0NA, Fri 19:00-midnight, Sat noon-midnight, Sun noon-late

Friday 24-Sunday 26 July (t.b.c.) Seventeenth Scarborough Seafest Maritime Festival on South Bay: Seafood lovers descend on the mini-food festival held as part of Scarborough's maritime heritage celebrations. Sample the food stalls and enjoy free seafood cookery demos in the Seafest Food Theatre with leading Yorkshire chefs, plus the Great Yorkshire Brewery from Cropton hosts a real ale and beer festival with over 40 local real ales, beers and ciders.

Saturday 25-Sunday 26 July Hall Bower Beer Festival at Hall Bower Athletic Club, Hall Bower, Newsome, Huddersfield HD4 6RR open noon-23:00 each day, barbecue, live music

Thursday 30 July-Sunday 2 August Whitby & District Lions 2015 Beer Festival in the same venue as last year The Whitby Mission & Seafarers Centre, Haggersgate, Whitby, YO21 3PP with over 30 local or regional microbrewery, authentic, real ales and a variety of traditional real cider and perry on offer, also be some locally sourced food available to complement your drinks All money raised goes to local charities and good causes Festival Facebook Page

Friday 31 July-Sunday 2 August Annual Beer Festival at the Brewers Pride, Low Mill Road, Healey, Ossett WF5 8ND featuring 40 Yorkshire beers rare local buses (or walk either down from Dimplewell Lodge 117 or (for trainspotters) across the fields from Horbury Bridge 231/2 pub website

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Bradford CAMRA celebrated their 40th at Jacobs

This year, Saturday, June 6 was certainly D-Day in more ways than one. 
It was the 40th Anniversary party for Bradford CAMRA held at Jacobs Beer House, where licensee Christina is always prepared to think out of the box and push the envelope with something different. What could she do to add to the great occasion? 
Well the answer had sprung into her head at Bradford CAMRA beer festival at the end of February. There were several beers on the festival stillage that were in wooden casks and, prompted by this, a certain bright spark suggested to her to try something never attempted before. Why not approach a local brewery that has casks made of plastic, steel and wood and have a “can you taste the difference” event as part of the anniversary gathering for the local CAMRA branch? Christina thought it was a good idea as did the Branch Chairman.  “Leave it with me,” she said.
Well it was not long before she approached local award-winning brewery, Saltaire who agreed to provide New World Red (5.2% ABV) from the same gyle (batch to you and me) in plastic, steel and wood for early June. Oh, the power of persuasion!

The three casks of beer duly arrived at the pub a few days prior to the big day, the beer having been renamed Ruby Ale for the event.  Thus it was all systems go for 2pm on D-Day. Not surprisingly, the West Riding branch of SPBW (Society For The Preservation Of Beers From The Wood) had been alerted and in their eagerness some arrived two hours early to guarantee a good seat. Indeed, several beer connoisseurs from over the border in Lancashire had also heard the jungle drums and were some of the first to arrive too.
Three thirds, labelled A, B and C, each dispensed from a different handpump connected to a different cask type containing the same beer, were made available on tasting trays for the price of a pint and we were away off the blocks at 2pm on the dot. The Ruby Ale was a good choice for the comparison, it being a deep red malty ale with firm bitterness & citrus notes from blended Australian, American and New Zealand hops.
There were plenty of takers to try this taste test and there were many puzzled faces. Almost everybody could taste the difference between the beers but were not sure which was which. Most people identified the oaky notes of beer from the wooden cask and some said that the beer from what they thought was the steel cask as compared to the third beer (plastic) that was slightly duller in taste.  
To be fair, the beers had not been in the casks for very long which meant that the effect of the wooden cask was not as extreme as when beers are aged. Nevertheless, the differences were noticed by all.
So on a day of memories for many it was appropriately back to the old days of wood. Thanks go to Saltaire Brewery for kindly providing the beer for the taste challenge and to Christina for being bold enough to run with the idea in the first place. It was certainly something different.

And if you left early, A was steel, B plastic and C wood. Were you correct?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Its a Scottish Invasion !!

I may have been slightly disrespectful to beers from over the border in the past years, saying they were all too malty, and sweet for my liking. Fortunately, a short spell in the North East, and a trip to the Scottish beer festival fettled that. They are good, and some are excellent.

Today I called in the Grove, and lo and behold they were 7 of the 9 beers on the guest pumps from our Caledonian friends. Split all across the country as well.

It was just a question of where, or what style to start with. Jaw from Glasgow are fairly new to me, I had come across 'Drop' before - a pale mid strength beer,and quite acceptable - but here I found 'Fathom'. A tasty, dark and very moreish beer. I am unsure whether it was a strong mild, or a weak stout, whichever it was very tasty.

Another dark beer, this time a milk stout. Fallen 'Chew Chew' weighed in at 6%. Sorry, but I preferred the Jaw beer. This was OK but seemed to lack something, especially for a beer of its strength.

The same cannot be said about the next on the list. I have had several beers from Alechemy,  based in Livingston,(a bit like Scotland's version of Milton Keynes !), but this was a little different. Sorry, a lot different. A 11.5% barley wine. Monumental is what it says. But sadly again not to my taste. The pub board says 18m Rockside aged, but all I got was a massive alcohol kick, very little of the beer taste,or whatever it was aged in. However, before the residents of Livingston come down over the wall and lynch me, I also tried their 'Equinox Burst'. I think their 'Burst' beers are single hopped, but I have never come across Equinox. They are all 5.3% and this was interesting for a new hop, but ....

The last beer on the bar from the North Country was Ayr 'Fair Jennys Jig'. I have had their beers before and nothing has really touched the spot....till today. 4.4%, light and packed with hop, crisp and tasty. That is what stopped my second visit to Equinox, and my third.

So, if you are at a loose end, have a spare kilt and claymore, and fancy a beer from the old country, get up to the Grove. Only trouble is there is no 80/- in sight.  

Leeds' newest brewery launches at Whitelock's

Press release:
Leeds’ newest brewery is set to launch at the city’s oldest pub today.
Wednesday, June 10 sees a further addition to the burgeoning brewing scene in Leeds with the launch of Whippet Brewing Company.
It was founded by Beer Writer Sam Parker in January and the new brewery aims to produce consistently interesting beers for the beer-savvy drinker.
It will launch with four core beers.
Sam said: “We are proud to be adding to the great brewing heritage here in Leeds and are honoured that Whitelock’s Ale House have agreed to host our launch during their 300 year celebrations.”
Dave Herbert, manager of Whitelock’s, added: “We have been part of the Leeds beer scene for 300 years now and it is right that we support our local brewers. Good local beer has always been at the heart of everything we do here, we are even using it in our food for the launch, and it is great to be able to serve the first pints from a much anticipated brewery.”
With initial batches being brewed at Burley Street Brewhouse, the plan is to install a 12 BBL brew kit and 60 seat brewery tap at their home near Elland Road Football Stadium in the city before the end of the year.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Reminder: Sportsman's Bizarre beer festival (June 5-7)

The Sportsman, St John's Road, HD1 5AY. Picture: Steve Goodwill
This is just a brief reminder that The Sportsman's Bizarre Beer festival starts in Huddersfield on Friday (June 5) and runs until Sunday.
All the info is in a previous post (here)