Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Beer of The Day - Hawkshead - Great White

After yesterday's trip down the dark side, today takes us to the other end of the spectrum with a wheat beer. Hawkshead 'Great White' is not just a wheat beer, it is a British (sorry, Cumbrian) take on a typical foreign wheat beer.

'Great White' is 4.8%, and has a decent body - mainly from the Maris Otter malt used - and with the hints of orange and coriander does sound little like a foreign wheat beer we have encountered before but the New Zealand Motueka hops gives it a different twist.

If you want to sample it it is currently on the bar in the Grove

Beer Of The Day - Ashover 'Milk Stout'

Ashover began brewing in 2007, in a stable block at the rear of the Old Poets Corner, in Ashborne in Derbyshire. Their beers were good but were rarely seen outside their home area. However, last year they moved into a unit in Clay Cross and as a result increased their capacity from a 4bbl plant to a 20bbl, and they are now being found well away from their home area.

At that time the brewery rebranded itself and their pump clips are now in a distinctive leaf shape, coloured to reflect the style of the beer.

I encountered their 'Milk Stout' yesterday in the Record Cafe in Bradford. It is part of their specials  range and weighs in at a hefty 6%, a beer to be treated with respect. I was about to leave it when it was suggested it was well worth a try. And it certainly was.

It is everything milk stout should be. Rich and smooth, not too heavy and very accentuated towards the malts rather than hops. It has a chocolate profile, but I got coffee and caramel hints. As a milk stout it has lactose added to give it a slight creamy sweetness. It was very moreish.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Beer Of The Day - Brodies 'The Grove Pale Ale'

As we have mentioned before, this month is the Grove's 10th anniversary, and to celebrate the event the pub has commissioned or collaborated with several breweries to create special beers. One of these has come from Brodies in East London.

'The Grove Pale Ale' (catchy name !) does exactly what it says on the clip. It is a 5% pale ale, crammed with hops. There is little else I can say about it except that it is presently on the bar at the pub and is excellent.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Beer Of The Day - Wimbledon 'SW19 Summer Ale'

With all the recent political hiatus, you may have lost sight that the Wimbledon Tennis tournament starts today. Frankly I can take or leave tennis, but when I saw a Wimbledon brewery beer on the bar at The Star I thought it would be a little churlish of me to ignore it. I am glad I didn't.

Firstly it was a new brewery for me, which I had not realised at the time, and secondly it was a pretty good beer.

The brewery has been brewery in its present form for just about 12 months, but it traces its history back in to the 1830's. It brews a variety of beers, their website showing 5 of them but the one I was sampling was 'SW19' - their summer seasonal.

As one would expect, it is a pale beer, at 4%. It is brewed using a combination of English, Australian, and New Zealand hops and is subtly balanced. None of the hops predominates but rather they compliment each other to provide a straw coloured, well balanced offering, with a clean finish. A perfect antidote to the tennis !!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Beer of the Day - Blue Bee 'Wrath of Geek'

Today's Beer Of The Day was a no brainer from the time when I received a text from one of my fellow editors to tell me that Blue Bee 'Wrath Of Geek' was on the bar on Friday at The Star. I had been taunted by the pump clip for a couple of weeks, the only problem now was if I could get to the beer before the rest of the world drank it.

Blue Bee seem to have been around for ages, brewing on an industrial estate in Sheffield. It did start in 2010 but was bought out by 'Reet Ale Pubs' ( a small Sheffield based chain) in 2014 and seemed to be transformed

Thankfully I succeeded and was not disappointed. I have always enjoyed Blue Bee beers, admittedly some more than others, but a glance at their website does show a large portfolio of beers, so I suppose that is a fair comment. However I do enjoy their 'Geek' series of beers , and this was no exception. A good body, at 4.5%, it was hopped with Mosaic, one of my favourite hops. A win win situation, and as I said, it was not disappointing, just a shame I was restricted to a pint because I was driving but there again that leaves more today for Will !

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Beer Of The Day - Settle 'Castleberg'

Settle brewery has been brewing in their home town railway sidings since Dec 2012. I have encountered several of their beers, and although adequate, have never really had the 'wow factor' so when I came across one on the bar at The Barum Top, in Halifax yesterday I was not expecting great things. It just proves how wrong you can be !

The beer was 4%, and called 'Castleberg'. That sounds a tad familiar I thought, as I ordered it. It is a cask pilsner, and very good too. Soft rather than sharp with German Pilnser malt giving a pleasant background and Saaz and Hallertau hops giving it a traditional German taste. It is clean, crisp and fresh tasting, maybe better supped outside watching the cricket rather than inside a damp Wetherspoons but it is still a fine example of the style.

My only reservation, and that is with the brewery, rather than the beer, is that the pump clip, in the form of a train ticket, is not the easiest to read. All the information is there but takes a bit of working out.

The Grayston Unity, Halifax

 I called in a pub new to me today and, by coincidence, found our first beer of the week on the bar there. I had heard good things about the 'Grayston Unity' in Halifax, but it has been my first opportunity to call in and take a look - in the interests of research obviously.

It is one of the new breed of bars, the Micro Pub. Sited a couple of minutes walk from Halifax Bus Station, across from the Town Hall at 1-3 Unity Court. This in itself is a 19th century building and the bar is a small two roomed unit on the ground floor. It has limited opening hours with full days opening on Friday, and Saturday. It is closed Monday and opens at 4pm the rest of the week, except for 1pm on Sunday.

The door opens into the bar area, small but adequate, and the bar is sited at the far end. There were three draught beers, four key keg beers and  Berliner lager on tap on my visit. Goose Eye 'Chinook Blonde' (ironically) is their regular beer, with other offerings from Wishbone, and Elland on the pumps. I did not take as much notice of the key kegs but did sample an excellent one from Mad Hatter. All were reasonably priced .

There is tea and coffee available, and a basic snack selection with pork pies and samosas if you need sustenance.

There is a larger separate room through from the bar and is pleasant and comfortable, as well as a small outside rear seating area. Music is also a feature with occasional live events arranged by Michael, the owner, who has had years of experience in the industry.

So, if you are at a loose end and in Halifax, call in and give it a go. It will certainly be an addition to my route round the town now

Friday, June 24, 2016

Beer Of The Day - Northern Monk 'Strannik'

The last few days have been a practice really, working up to this beer, a 9% monster Russian Imperial Stout, and pretty good it is too.

I must admit, although dark beers are not my favourites, I am a little partial to an Imperial Stout. So when I saw this one on the bar at the Grove it seemed like a good idea. I had never encountered Northern Monk 'Strannik' before, and reading the pump clip, this was a special variety of the beer, having been aged in Springbank barrels, (which I believe is a whisky). It was a bit special.

Brian, the brewer at Northern Monk, used to be a barman at the Grove, and he did a meet the brewer for their 10th anniversary, hence the special cask. But how was it I hear you call ?

Tastewise ii is a very complex beer, as one would expect from a beer of its strength, but the predominant taste is coffee, with roasted malt coming a close second. There is a nice balance of sweet and sour, and fruit and alcohol. Each mouthful brings something different - but strangely I never got the whisky from the barrel.

Naturally enough for a beer of this style and complexity there are several different malts involved to create the effect, and blended with English Northdown hops, it is a beer for sipping and appreciating. If you want to sample the experience I expect it to be on the bar at The Grove for a few days more.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Beer Of The Day - Phoenix 'Midsummer Madness'

Today I am heading over the Pennines again for my beer of the day. Not a beer from the plethora of new breweries that have sprung up in the Manchester but one from one of the more established breweries. And not one of their flagship beers either.

Phoenix brewery is based at Heywood, near Rochdale, and  has been brewing since the mid 1980's .. It acquired its name as it rose from the ashes of the Oak brewery, and is a brewery whose beers I always enough. It does have 'flagship' brands, such as Arizona, and Wobbly Bob, and these are not difficult to find in our part of the world but today I am focusing on 'Midsummer Madness'.

As it suggests it is a seasonal beer, available around this time of year obviously. It is 4.5% and a light coloured beer. It is not as hoppy as some of the breweries other offerings, but it more than makes up for that with a pleasant malt background and a good balance of hops leading to a citrus tang with hints of floral aromas, and a long dry finish.

I came across it in The Market Tavern in Brighouse.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Beer Of The Day - Mallinsons 'Nelson Sauvin'

You knew there would be one soon !

Mallinsons have been brewing in Huddersfield since 2008. They are noted for brewing their light, hoppy beers, (that is not to say this their only style but it does tend to predominate their range). In amongst the plethora of double hopped and triple hopped beers they still produce a fair amount of single hopped beers and today's choice is one of them.

I encountered it at the Sportsman, and quite frankly I had forgotten how good it is. It is single hopped with Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand. They bring a distinctive hop flavour to the beer, with citrus and grapefruit notes to the fore. At 3.9% it is a sensible quaffing strength and this and its crisp taste makes it an ideal beer for a summer's day. Search it out on cask or in bottles.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Beer Of The Day - Pictish 'Alchemists Ale'

One of my favourite breweries features today. Admittedly it is from the 'other side' but it does show that some good things do come out of Lancashire, and this is one of them.

Pictish brewery was established in 2000, and soon developed a following from those of us that liked their light, hoppy beers. One of these 'Alchemist Ale' (at 4.3%) soon became part of the breweries regular portfolio. It is a straw coloured beer, hoppy, but not overhoppy, and a pleasant malty background.

It won awards throughout the decade at various beer festivals and was named as one of Camra's beers of the year in 2009. Recently though, it has been quite difficult to track down, but I discovered it in the Kings Head and can confirm that it is still in fine form.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Pub of the Week - The Black Bull at Liversedge

Fifteen years have elapsed since Ossett Brewery made it's first move into the mutable world of pub companydom. Everything from the regeneration through coactive stewardship of struggling inns to experimental real ale city centre bistros has been tried - with varying degrees of success. The company's forte though has always been the restoration of community pubs, and this weeks relaunch of it's very first is testament.

The Black Bull in Liversedge, halfway between Leeds and Huddersfield, was always a popular place, even before the 2001 takeover, with it's combination of inclusivity and well kept, fair priced beer. Finding a buyer who would maintain the standards set by a near legendary landlord was never going to be easy, but when a retiring Arthur Toulson sold to Ossett, he knew what he was doing.

A decade and a half later and the pub has not only maintained all that made it the perfect wind down after a days toil (staff - beer - characters) but this latest refit has transformed it into a thing of exceptional beauty too. We all know a handful of pubs that are just so comfortable, so easy on the eye and so difficult to drag ourselves out of - well now we've another.

Black Bull
37 Halifax Road
WF15 6JR
Tel: 01924-403779
Opening Times: Mon-Sun 12 noon onwards
8 handpumps usually includes 4 Ossett beers


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Beer Of The Day - Red Squirrel Hopfest

A brewery not often seen in our area is Red Squirrel, who have been brewing since 2004 in Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire. I was intrigued when their 'Hopfest' appeared on the bar at The Star.

I have sampled it before, but had forgotten how good it is. It weighs in a sensible 3.8% and is a pale ale, which is packed with New World hops. These are predominant from the first to the last with plenty of 'nose' and plenty of mouthfeel, often not found in a beer of its strength.

It is full of fruity flavours, in fact to call it a fruit salad in a glass may not be an overstatement, and I can get hints of all sorts of citrus fruits in it. In fact, it is so good it won a bronze award at the 2013 SIBA festival. It may not last long at the Star, but if it is around again it is certainly one beer worth trying, (unless you want to travel to Hertfordshire to try it!)

Beer Of The Day - Goose Eye Chinook Blonde

I make no apologies for selecting another Yorkshire beer as my beer of the day. It is an old favourite, and when I revisited it earlier in the week I had forgotten how good it was.

Goose Eye brewery at Ingrow, near Keighley have been brewing since 1991 and their beershave always been excellent, with their light and hoppy beers being at the vanguard of the style. maybe other breweries have overtaken them but they still brew a damn fine beer and 'Chinook Blonde' is a fine example
 of this.

It is 4,2% light beer and the brewery's beer seller, and is packed with the fresh flavour of American Chinook hops. A few years ago it was widely available but this time, in our area, it is a case of grab it when you see it. I fortunately found it in the Kings Head.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Ale Trail - Typical !!

Thought I would share this little gem with you.

Yesterday I was in The Kings Head having a beer when a group of three turned up, obviously on the Ale Trail - it is not difficult to spot them !

No1 ' What are we drinking?'

No2 'Carling'

No1 ' Don't be stupid - its a Real Ale Trail we cannot have lager'

No3 'Three pints of John Smiths smooth then' which were promptly dispensed.

Bloody philistines !

Pub Of The Week - The Grove

It is hard to believe that The Grove first reopened its doors 10 years ago this month. The transformation from a back street beer house, which was, frankly, a little jaded, to one of the Town's (nay even the north's) premier beer house is nothing short of phenominal.

We may have been somewhat sceptical about some of Ian's ideas. The decor was quirky in the extreme, and some of the items on the walls led to plenty of discussion. The snack range was equally unusual, and the seating haphazard, but that seemed to add to the fascination of the pub.

It currently provides 19 cask beers lines, 10 of those are regularly changing guest lines, and 5 of the others are changing beers from selected breweries. There are likewise 13 keg lines, 2 are lagers (but less mainstream lagers), and 8 of those are constantly changing from both English and foreign breweries. It gives us punters a constant stream of interesting beers to try. There is also a comprehensive bottle menu, and a massive selection of spirits.

It soon developed into a must visit venue, and with it being situated just on the Western side of Huddersfield ring road, is within easy walking distance of the bus station, but just far enough to keep the idiots away. I have been visiting since the early days and always felt welcome there, and it has built up its group of regulars as any good pub has.

In the early days many of the days were sourced personally by Ian, and it was not unknown for him to travel off in his van on a trip to Cumbria, or the South Coast, in search of goodies for us to sample. I believe he still does make trips off but less frequently - not that the beer range has suffered. There were plans initially for a one site brewery but that was shelved, however the pub has produced some brewers. Probably Brian at Northern Monk being the most successful commercially.

This month, to celebrate their decade, there are events every weekend, some music based, some food orientated, and plenty of interesting beers to sample. There is even the first beer I have ever seen from Serbia in bottles and on keg, and cheap at that.

So thank you to all at the Grove (Ian and Taya especially) and all the staff through the years for always making it a venue to visit, and enjoy. Roll on the next 10 years.

Beer Of The Day - Elland 1872 Porter

Today I have chosen one  of the most successful beers of recent times as my beer of the day. Few beers in the recent past have gained as many awards as Elland '1872 Porter'.

It claimed its first award back in 2004, but really reached its peak in the 2010's being three time winner of the Champion Winter Ale, and the ultimate accolade, Camra Supreme Beer of Britain in 2013.

So it must be good. It is a strong ruby porter,(obviously); it is English hopped but the real star of the beer are the four malts and the way they are used to provide complex depth and flavour. At is best they bring out notes of deep red wine, bitter chocolate, and coffee.

It is apparently based on an original 1872 recipe hence the name.

Locally it is fairly widely available, but is an almost regular at the Cherry Tree, and seems to be a fixture at the newly opened Plumbers.