Thursday, November 24, 2016

Star Winter Festival 2016 Review

Well, I managed to get my tastebuds sorted out just in time. Last night saw the opening of the Star Winter Festival, and, true to form, ' A Swift One' was there sampling the wares.

This festival was held inside the pub due to various external circumstances, but there was still a large selection of beers available, and the internal festival led to a more intimate atmosphere, which seemed more in keeping with the season.

There are 14 beers on a pop up bar, all handpulled and cellar cooled, along with those on the bar handpumps, and supplemented by another selection on cellar runs. Plenty to satisfy any taste. The pop up bar beers are £2.90 a pint.

I spent the evening on the light side,almost, leaving the darker stouts and porters for later in the festival. I had plenty of new breweries to sample and a plethora of new beers. I especially enjoyed Musket 'Trigger', a very easy drinking session beer; Brew York 'Yarsa' was 3.7% and again, very pleasant, and High Weald 'Chronicle' a similar strength beer, but a little darker, all the way from Sussex.

A couple of the breweries on offer had their own stories. Urban Huntsman has taken the cuckoo brewing system to a new level being a 'gypsy' brewery, brewing on whatever plant they find available. This time from a pipe factory in Warwickshire. And Don Valley has taken over the plant and the recipes of the erstwhile Owenshaw Mills Brewery, whose brewer seemed impressed with their take on his beers.

Oh,and if you need a recommendation for beer of the festival, I have a couple of personal observations. Mallinsons 'First We Take Manhattan' is a dry hopped special, and is absolutely hop packed, and should you fancy something a tad stronger for a night cap then Five Towns/North Riding 'Mad Monk' should hit the spot. It is an 8% Imperial Russian Stout, and is excellent, but to be treated with respect.

It was good to catch up with plenty of old friends and even better to be able to taste and enjoy my beer again. Thanks to Sam and the team for another great effort.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Star , Huddersfield List

The Star Festival starts tomorrow at 5pm. (and 5pm Thursday) and All day (noon) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday...This time the festival will be held inside the pub (ask the staff, they will explain why ) but as many beers as usual are available ..but some will be via cellar runs..

The list is as follows,(hopefully)

Brewery Beer
Cornish Crown One Hop, One Grain 4.1
2 Dowlands Hidden Colour 4.2
3 Musket Trigger Pale Ale 3.6
4 Serious Moonlight Stout 4.5
5 Urban Huntsman The Nomad 3.9
6 True North  Intergalactic Planetery 3.9
7 Don Valley Hitchcock 3.9
8 High Weald Chronicle 3.8
9 Tonbridge Coppernob 3.8
10 Blue Angel Abyss 4.8
11 HopJacker Pyrites 4.1
12 Mallinsons First we Take Manahttan 3.8
13 Chin Chin Pretty Visitor 4.8
14 Brew York Jarsa 3.7
15 Serious Redsmith IPA 4.5
16 Alechemy  Photon 4.3
17 Black Flag Chameleon 3.8
18 Yorkshire Dales Askrigg Greets 4.4
19 Drygate Himeros 4.2
20 Brass Castle Lemon Spritz ( w Black Jack) 5
21 Neepsend Iffrit 4.6
22 Wild Beer Millionaire 4.7
23 Five Towns/Revolutions Five Years
24 Scarborough Paper Tiger 4.4
25 Red Squirrel Raspbeery 4.5
Main Bar
26 Nelson Midshipmans Dark 4
27 Downlands  Watchmakers Bounty 5
28 Five Towns/ Nt Riding Mad Monk 8
29 Nth Blythe For A FewDollars More 4.1
30 Don Valley Ribble Head 4
31 Shipstones Orginal 3.8
32 Blue Square Moonlight Blonde 4
33 Chin Chin Screaming Eagle 4.7
34 Yorkshire Dales Green Mea 3.7
35 Whippet Winter BBA 4.5
36 HopJacker The Long Con 3.8
37 Mallinsons So Long Marianne 3.9
38 Oldershaw (Home Ales) Maid Marion 4.2
39 Whippet Little Curre (Rum & Raisin) 5.2
40 Revolutions In a Big Country
41 Lancons Pale 4.1

Any Mistakes are mine...have an angry lap top !!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Now and then

During the past fortnight  I've visited four pubs and a beer festival.
Destinations have ranged from Sheffield, Huddersfield and Otley.
My first port of call was The Wisewood Inn, Loxley, which is a mile or so from Hillsborough
I've been past on the bus a few times but had never called in until recently. I was told it's a free house and had just had its first birthday under its present management.
I won't do a full review as I've got a fair bit of ground to cover but I was impressed by the condition and clarity of the beer. My standout from among the four or five handpulls and keg lines was Abbeydale's Evil.
After a good Sunday lunch there I headed back into town and The Wellington at Shalesmoor, which reopened at the end of October.
The pub, formerly home to Little Ale Cart beers, is now the tap of Neepsend Brewery. I was pleased to see that it was a tasteful conversion. Not a great deal had changed bar the absence of Little Ale Cart beers. From memory, in their stead were two or three casks of Neepsend plus some guest ales and keg lines.
I just had enough time for a pint but managed to have two Neepsend beers which were new to me. 
The Neepsend theme continued a few days later when I called in at The Star, Lockwood, Huddersfield. There was a mandarin beer from Neepsend on there, plus a very nice beer from Shiny whose name escapes me. I don't think it was Pail, which I like too.
I don't normally do midweek drinking but I was tempted out by the news that The Star has recently started doing food on a Wednesday night. I think it's a single dish menu which changes from week to week, but it is the sort of tasty and value for money fare that we associate with Sam's beer festivals. Talking of which, The Star's winter festival starts on Wednesday, November 23 and runs until Sunday. 
I'm not privy to a beer list but I intend to report back after an early visit.
Last weekend saw me going off patch to Otley. I was part of the Five Town's 'posse' and thankfully Malcolm knew the way.
The festival was in the clubhouse of Otley Rugby Club. There were nearly 70 ales on in various forms of dispense. There was a long bar with beer on gravity, a smaller bar with handpulls, cider in boxes and a pop up craft keg bar. Malcolm kindly bought me Abbeydale/Brew Dog Sheffield's 'Peach Iced Tea Beer' collaboration. I was so impressed by it that I broke with tradition and actually voted in a beer of the festival competition.   
 On the way back to the bus station we went to a lovely bar, which Malcolm was familiar with having dropped off beer there. The Old Cock was my idea of a country pub: low ceilings, beams, a good fire, plenty of people and good beer. We had one eye on the bus back to Menston railway station so it was an all too brief visit. However, we did  manage a bit of 'quality control' on Five Town's Old Norrell, which I hadn't had for a while and enjoyed, a beer from Blue Bee (Dana?) and Rat Brewery's After Rat Mint.
That leads me neatly on to my last nugget of news: The Rat and Ratchet on Chapel Hill, Huddersfield will launch The Grapes of Rat, a barrel-aged 10% barley wine, on Thursday, December 1 at 8pm.
These brewers are keeping us busy!    

Friday, November 04, 2016

The Hop Wakefield Reopens

The Hop on Bank Street in Wakefield has just emerged from it's three month refit - and what a transformation. 

Included in the Mark II version is a main bar extension, doubling the capacity at the expense of a third of the beer garden. This chapel-like lounge has a real fire, comfy pews and even some stained glass to admire.

The bar itself offers a total of nine cask (usually four or five guests plus Ossett & associated micros) and eight keg (including Rat Brewery) products. The small stage adjacent to the main bar has also had a makeover, but the real metamorphosis is at the rear of the pub. 

Where once the back bar, toilets (now upstairs) and Jam Inn stood, there's the impressive Weekend Alter Ego Bar.

Stretching the entire length of The Hop, this new bar offers a range of craft/keg beers with Brooklyn, BrewDog, Magic Rock and Backyard at the moment, along with four casks from the core Ossett range plus White Rat (also available on keg). 

You can enjoy the ales from the comfort of an assortment of seating - booths, stools, leather armchairs etc - and the room is available for function hire.

A big bonus, if you're making a night of it, is the hot food available in the new upstairs Kebab Shop. The kebabs can be eaten in the shop or are available for take away, and price-wise compete well with the Westgate equivalents in an altogether nicer environment. 

Outside, and despite the extension there's still plenty of room for alfresco supping when the weather's kind, with a new giant brolly and a handful of statues being the main new components. 

Opening times are: 4-11pm Monday to Thursday and all day Friday to Sunday with food from 7pm  Fridays & Saturdays only.

Tel: 01924-367111

I can

A lost weekend
The sold out test match in Huddersfield left me high and dry last weekend.
My plans of a town centre session were ruined by neglecting to buy a ticket for the England vs New Zealand game. So, as not many of my kind of pubs have plasma screens I decided to watch it on the telly at home.
But I was determined not to miss out on a beer-related encounter with the Kiwis so it was time to see what was left of my summer stash of cans in the garage.
Now, as a rule we don't tend to do bottle/canned beer reviews on here as we like to encourage people to drink in pubs.
But I'm going to break with tradition, just for once, as I think the beer choice, particularly the range of canned beer, in supermarkets and farm shops has improved since I last looked.
The selection above came from Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Cannon Hall Farm Shop. It's just a snapshot of what's available.
My first, from Backyard Brewery,  was The Bee 17. Apparently it's from Falkenberg in Sweden. It's distributed by Carlsberg who bought out the old Falcon Brewery. This beer is brewed in the back yard of that brewery, hence the name.
I'm quite partial to pilsners but don't see them as often as I'd like. If you'll excuse the pun, this beer did as exactly as it said in the tin. It's a 'hop struck pilsner' made with Saaz and Williamette. A nice drink, weighing in at 4.7% and one which I would buy again. I think it came from Sainsbury's.
Next,  I went for Northern Monk's Eternal , a session IPA at 4.1%. It is one of the Holbeck based brewery's core beers. This one I found at Cannon Hall Farm Shop, which, incidentally, seems to have expanded its beer range and its size since my last visit. It's made with Simcoe and Centennial, very drinkable and is on my shopping list!
As we were playing New Zealand it made sense to keep with the theme and go for Antipodean IPA. But this was made much nearer to home by Harbour Brewing in  North Cornwall. It's a cliché but this is one of my favourites. It's widely available in Morrisons and in my garage. It was a fair bit stronger than my previous beers at 5.5%, but people looking for a less heady brew can always plump for Harbour's Session IPA at 4.3%.
Perhaps I should have been more patriotic and opted for English hops as it was around this point that Kiwi scrum half Shaun Johnson slotted over what proved to be the decisive drop goal and made in 17-16.
It was tempting to drown my sorrows but as a long-standing GB and England RL fan I've been here before.
So it was few days later that I returned to home territory with Northern Monk's Northern Star. It's a mocha porter, which gives you just the right amount of coffee hit. But its 5.9% volume  means it's more of an end of session beer for me.
There are at least two more test matches to go for England, against Scotland and Australia, so the plan is to visit some of the excellent independent beer retailers in striking distance of me (Beer Shack at Scissett, Bier Huis of Ossett and Arcade Beers in Huddersfield) and to stock up on some more 4 Nations themed beers.
It may seem unpatriotic of me, but as a hop head, I am particularly looking forward to the Australia vs New Zealand game. And I won't be too crestfallen if they meet again in the final at Anfield . But after its all over I'm back off down the pub for a cask and keg odyssey!