Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016, and thank you

I am sure there are not many of us that will be sad to see the end of this year, that is those of us that have managed to survive until the end of the year, I have a record collection that is now almost 100% comprised of dead people. As I have alluded to previously, the editorial team have all had personal problems that have precluded us writing as much as we, and hopefully you, would have liked. And it has likewise prevented us getting out and about as much as usual.

On the plus side, Huddersfield has acquired a couple of new pubs and a couple of revamped ones. The Corner has hit the ground running, and the Arcade is great for keg and bottled beer. The work goes on at the Kings Head but it is gradually developing, and the Plumbers has opened again.

Out of town The Market Tavern in Brighouse is a must visit venue, and Halifax continues to spawn good micro pubs to make the town well worth a visit. Another place to go is Bradford which has now got a decent amount of real ale pubs in a lot smaller area than previously.

Sadly we have lost Ron Crabtree from the Sair, and Steve Johnson from the Grove and the Dog and Partridge.

On the beer front things have developed much as one would expect. I have encountered around 100 new breweries, not all good admittedly, and presumably some others have fallen by the wayside. Several local breweries have started key kegging, and canning beers as well as the more usual casking and bottling. There have been new hops appearing in various breweries beers, but I must admit that personally none seem to have a 'wow factor'. But it does seem that that the availability of cask beer is growing.

Hopefully 2017 will see a continuation of the good parts of 2016, and weed out the less good and we can be out and about reporting the great and the good locally. We hope to see you there.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas to all our Readers

Merry Christmas to all our readers. It has been a challenging year personally for each of the editorial team and we are aware that we have not been able to post as frequently as we would have liked. However, we have all reached the end of 2016 intact - which is a miracle in itself watching the news - and will take 2017 head on. Trying to bring you updates on beers, breweries and pubs around our area.

Thank you for reading us. Any comments and suggestions are welcome, whether positive or otherwise.

Thanks Timbo, Ale Louse, Ale Ambler

Saturday, December 24, 2016

On the 23rd Day of Xmas

This was allegedly 'Mad Friday' so I thought I would play safe and stay near to home, so I had a trip around Huddersfield. There were plenty of beers about but not many of them had the 'wow' factor. I know it is that time of year, but I did expect something a little more exciting.

The best of the bunch was on keg at the Arcade Bar. If you have not been there, why not?

It was a 8.3% double IPA collaboration between Magic Rock and Cloudwater, two breweries with excellent pedigrees, and 'Big Dipper' showed that. Sadly, although good it wasn't as spectacular as I expected.

Anyway, onwards..and with only one drinking day until Xmas, let's see what The Star can offer me today.

Friday, December 23, 2016

On the 22nd day of Xmas

A visit to Bradford gave me a chance to compare and contrast two beers from one of my favourite breweries. I visited the Record Cafe in North Parade (a must visit part of the city if you happen to be there) and discovered to my pleasure that they had North Riding 'Us Session IPA' and 'US IPA' on the bar at the same time.

The former was 3.8%, and contained Chinook, Galena, and Summit hops. As session beers go, it was pretty tasty, although when compared with its bigger brother there was a lack of malty background.

The latter was 5.5% and contained a combination of Centennial and Falconers 7 hops.

I would have been hard pushed to choose a favourite between the two. All I can say is that both of them were better than any other beers I had on my travels, and I did try some old favourites. A testament to an excellent brewery.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

On the 21st Day of Xmas...

Day 21 brought a trip to Halifax and Brighouse. Plenty of decent beers and decent pubs to visit.

Things started well with 6 new beers in the Victoria. Two of those could have been mine beer of the day, but I have chosen a cask beer over a key keg. This being from Black Jack.

They have been brewing in Manchester since 2012, and brew a range of beers - covering almost every style. I am not a fan of everything they have brewed but I really enjoyed their 5% 'Devils Bedpost'.  It was the first time I had encountered the beer but it has been around since 2014 apparently.

Not quite an IPA, not quite a bitter, it was difficult to define. It was light coloured, and pleasantly hoppy, there was no indication on the clip but I suspect they were Australian. It had a pleasant citrus taste without being overpowering.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

On the 20th Day of Xmas...

A planned trip to Sheffield failed to materialise, so it was a beer free day. Well, drinking wise. I did buy a long awaited can but more of that another day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

On the 19th day of Xmas

Today I revisited an old favourite, on the bar at The Grove. Castle Rock brewery 'Harvest Pale' was the beer of the day. A brewery that used to be seen around our area but in the recent times seem to be hard to find. Their specials were always interesting and their core range consistent.

'Harvest Pale' is hardly a Christmas beer - thankfully - but rather a 3.8% pale ale that seems more suited to warm summer evenings. Yesterday it was crystal clear in the glass, and crisp and fresh in the taste. A fine session beer and a great one to revisit.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

On the 18th Day of Xmas

It's time for one of your five a day !

I am always a little wary of fruit beers, they rarely seem to live up to my expectations, but I have found one that started good and just seemed to get better, and it is a draught beer too.

Red Squirrel 'Raspbeery' is what is says. It is a beer. And it has raspberries in it. Lots of them by the taste of it. It has a pinkish hue in the glass, and very little in the way of hop flavour but it is the fruit that is the star of the show.

At 4.5% it is strong enough to have a solid background to back up the fruit but there is a massive tartness from the raspberries. I thought initially that it was sour and overpowering, but the more I sampled I realised (apart from being very moreish) that it was a classic tart beer, (you know what I mean !!!). Should you wish to get hold of the bit of the barrel left after my exertions, it is on the bar in the 'Star'.

On the 17th day of Xmas

This is not about a beer but a pub.

We all talk about 'our local'; the pub we feel at home in, where we meet our friends, where we are part of the furniture in some cases.

Today I was in 'The Star' at Folly Hall, a pub that I call 'my local' although I live around 5 miles away, and I looked around at the customers. Admittedly I am not sure where everyone came from, but there were visitors there from Waterloo, from Salendine Nook, Paddock, Crosland Moor and Milnsbridge, none of which are exactly local.

But then throw in the visitors from Hebden Bridge, London, Ipswich, another from London, and Newcastleplus a few others then you have a non local 'local'.

It is a testament to the place that it attracts such a mix of people, and something that makes the place what it is. I am proud to be a small part.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

On the 16th Day Of Xmas...

Before the chaos of the previous post I managed to wander down to the Rat & Ratchet. This is a pub I used to use almost daily but because of various circumstances my visits have become less than frequent. That being the reason I have missed out on the Rat Brewery 'Grapes Of Rat' prior to today.

I never managed to get the cask version (a pin went in 5 hours on launch night), but had to satisfy myself with the keg variety. (There is a bottled version too but at £15 it seemed a step too far),

I had heard lots of interesting things about it, some good, some less so. My chance for a subjective assessment. Well, to be honest, I wasn't that impressed, but when I thought about it the reasons may be quite complex.

The beer is a barley wine and is 10%. I am used to cask barley wine, which usually gives a warmth as you sip it, savouring the complexities within. By chilling it for keg, there is a distinct change in character. There are still complex flavours there but they seem to be diminished and it was difficult to pick any specifics out. It also did not seem to drink its strength -which is a shame for a barley wine. So it is possibly the mechanics of the brewing at fault rather than the beer itself.

I would like to revisit the beer, may be in cask or bottle to see if they are better options than the keg. And I will try the keg again to see if I was just unlucky. And if I can get hold of more barley wines on keg I will try them to see if my assumption is correct. Research is a hard job !!!

The Seasonal Rant

He obviously doesn't drink where I drink ! Yes it's that time. The once a year drinkers are out in force today. I am unsure if today is 'Mad Friday' or is that next week. Whichever, today is very irritating Friday.

I had a route around the town, and it served me well for a couple of hours (but on the down side who really want's to start beer ticking at 11 am - except for research purposes obviously!) but then it was as if someone opened a tap of people and it all went downhill.

As readers may know, I occasionally serve the occasional beer, so standing on the sensible side of the bar is not too unusual....however today , on the customer side of the bar, it seemed as though everyone wanted to make as life as hard as possible for the bar staff. 'I will have a gin, (not that one, the one I had last time)' ..We will have the weakest beer you have,...but I don't like that, have you anything stronger'..'Have you no smooth-Carling-Guinness-Etc Etc' ...The obvious answer is why are you cluttering a pub with decent beer, so I cannot get served. just go somewhere where they may satisfy your needs ...Please..

The overwhelming desire to harm the customer is overwhelmed by the desire to let them have a happy Christmas, despite the fact they fail to understand the work the poor bar staff put into their day.. Ho Ho Ho and all that...just waiting till we can get our revenge !!!

Ps I am not referring to any place in particular, (except I can name two in Huddersfield at least !!!)

Friday, December 16, 2016

On the 15th Day Of Xmas...

It just to go wrong didn't it ? Had to call in the Calder in Brighouse and spied a new Stancill beer on the bar. Being in a bit of a rush I never read the small print. Their 'Mistletoe' was 4,3%, light, fairly pleasant, but it was green. Bugger. And checking my notes I had drunk it last year as well. Double bugger !

Thursday, December 15, 2016

On the 14th Day of Xmas....

Today was a time out for some father and son bonding. I had to see my offspring over a matter and where better to chat than over a beer or two. I had a couple of plans but since he had managed to  finish work early we arranged to meet up in Huddersfield. The objective then was to find a pub not full of Christmas revellers. Fortunately the Sportsman fitted the bill on this occasion.

Not only that, I espied a beer I had particularly wanted to try on the bar. Hawkhead ' Northern Imperial Stout' was sitting there tempting me. Admittedly it was 9.5% so not the beer to start a session with but it would be rude not to sample it before leaving.

It was a perfect winter beer, but dangerously drinkable for its strength. Obviously it is a dark beer, but deep and complex, a myriad of flavours mixing each mouthful different tastes. Chocolate, coffee and roast malts are all there, along with fruits in the mix. There is a bitterness but the overall effect is a winter warmer, just a shame it was 11 degrees outside !

If you cannot manage to get to the Sportsman, then the beer is also available on keg and in bottles.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

On the 13th day of Xmas.....

Well I needed a bit of shopping and the bus sort of took me to Bradford.

I went my usual haunts. As always the beer was interesting and excellent. But...

The 'Peacock' on North Parade was my objective. I know very little about the place except, it seems like a very small Indian Restaurant with a few hand pumps.

I called in there a few weeks ago and was told that the pub was going to get some 'proper' Indian beer on. (proper in this case brewed in Birmingham), from the Indian Brewery Co. I have never tried it so this was the opportunity to see how it travelled. It was excellent, a 4.9% IPA full of hop and flavour. It was certainly worth waiting for.

Should you have a need for Christmas shopping off the beaten track I can heartily recommend North Parade in Bradford. Plenty of pubs, plenty of good beers and plenty of variety.

On the 12th Day of Xmas....

As part of my usual Monday trip around Huddersfield, I happened to call in the Sportsman, (weli it would be rude not to!) and there found a new Mallinsons beer awaiting my delight.

The beers from the brewery are hardly rare, with one of them being available at most of the town's real ale pubs, but what was a little unusual about 'Simcoe XL' was its strength. I am used to their beers falling into the 3.8% to 4.2% bracket. This was 4.9%. And the name promised much. And it did not disappoint.

Typical Simcoe characteristics but more intense. Bitter, assertive and with underlying fruit notes, and with enough strength to give it a rounded body.

Not only is it available on cask but it can be found in key keg too, will have to search that out for comparison purposes !!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

On the 11th day of Xmas ..

Circumstances - (i.e family concerns) took me took me to Chesterfield today. Not a bad place to go for the odd beer or two actually, just takes a bit of walking between pubs.

But it was good to come across a few breweries there that we never see in our area. Instant Karma and Pigeon Fishers being two. (The latter is one brewery I have tried to find for around two years - today I got two new beers in 30 minutes !!0

The one - must visit - pub in Chesterfield, is the Chesterfield Ale House, in West Bar (find the Bus Station and keep walking).  Plenty of bottles and cans, but what attracts me are the 6 handpulls. Constantly changing - themed rather than brewery based - and everyone is excellent. And served by staff who know their beer

Today -apart from the previously mentioned bird brewery - had Credence '5 Hop Blonde'. It was excellent, at 5% a 'proper IPA' with 5 hops (obviously).Certainly one to look out for again when I am not driving.

On the 10th day of Xmas.....

My Lap top failed again !!!! Honest it did. But if you fancy a beer call at the Star and try Briggs Signature 'Mash Up 2' - 3.9% and a very drinkable session beer

Friday, December 09, 2016

On the 9th day Of Christmas ....

Sorry purists, have been drawn into the keg side. No I have no reason to apologise, I am quite partial to the odd keg beer, and looking at the clip, this was a little on the odd side.

Wild Beer are from Somerset, and a pretty fine brewery. I have sampled plenty of their beers in the past but always on cask, bur when I was a little short of choice in the Victoria Cafe in Halifax today I was drawn to their 'Sleeping Lemons'. 

The version I had was 3.6%. And checking on the brewery web site this is the summer version.(The winter version is 6%). It is a lemon gose. Sharp and sour, fresh, clean and with plenty of zing. It would be a perfect summer beer, and to tell the truth, it's not a bad beer for a grey December day either.

If anyone has a sighting of the 6% version let us know, I would be interested to try it.

On the 8th Day of Xmas......

I don't  really believe in Santa Claus, but as my previous post proved, there is always a place for  kind person to provide me with excellent beers, as is the case with Vocation. As I said, I had fully intended to return to the Market Tavern for another dose of their 'Chop and Change' but circumstances dictated that I had to trip into Huddersfield. And it would have been rude not to sample the odd beer or two.

My first call was the Sportsman; good beers but nothing with the wow factor, but I had overlooked the two empty pumps. I was returning my glass to the bar, I am a tidy creature, when I espied a green pump clip that had a familiar look. 'North Riding' Mosaic Pale had arrived. It arrived quietly without bells and whistles and almost eluded me. It was as excellent as ever. A great hop, a great brewery, and a great beer. There is a Santa Claus after all...

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

It is the Season to Be Jolly - Ho Ho Ho !!

Well its about 3 weeks before Christmas, so I thought I would be wrong I was.

Readers of 'A Swift One' in previous years will know of my passion for Christmas Beers (sarcasm - tongue in cheek, etc) but .... Today I had a trip round Leeds. I started early to miss the crowds in the pubs I wanted to visit. I planned to avoid all the stuff with rum, raisins, cinnamon, turkey and stuffing in it and hit the hoppy stuff.

It was a bit weird. I never saw a Christmas beer. Not that I am complaining. In fact after 1 pm it was bloody hard to see a beer at all. I have whinged before about once a year drinkers but it seems they have been replaced by a group (or may be several - every pub seemed to have one) who want to hang around in front of the bar so I can neither see the beer on the bar, nor get to the bar to order it. And this includes women of the opposite sex too who seem to think that texting is more important than me getting to the bar.

I understand this may occur in the few days before Christmas when the one a year drinkers appear but not now...if this is a foretaste of the next three weeks I am off to bed to hibernate. I had to totally change my route and plans because of them but may be it was for the best.

I did find a pub (thanks Jason) where there was a combination of excellent beer and for most of the time free of Xmas. And no Xmas beers either.

Sadly my hop search for hops was not too successful here, but on returning to Brighouse a quick call in the Market Tavern revealed a Vocation 'Chop & Change'. Result.

It wasn't until I returned for a second one that I read the strap line, 'Mosaic and Citra'. That is why it tasted so good. Now that is what Xmas is all about. Thank you Mr Claus. I may return tomorrow, and the day after and the day would be a waste to let the once a year drinkers have it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Connecting the dots

North Riding Mosaic Pale at Harry's Bar, Wakefield
CAMRA's pub of the season. Picture: GBK 
On Sunday I had my first proper session in ages. Well, since the last Star Beer Fest - and two weeks is a long time between drinks!
My beer journey in rural and central Sheffield last weekend saw me trying some good beers from the likes of Abbeydale, Thornbridge, Salamander, Howling Hops and a new brewery whose name escapes me - it was that sort of a session.
But there was one beer that I had no trouble recollecting as it stood out above some very good  ales.
My fan worship of all things out of North Riding Brewery and its brew pub in Scarborough is a matter of record on here. But I won't be changing the record any time soon as the Mosaic I had at The Kelham Island Tavern on Sunday was among my favourite drinks on cask this year. It's very easy to get reflective as the year end looms but I'll stand by that assessment, the mosaic was that good. 
I don't keep a record, so it's difficult for me to reel off a list of what I was drinking earlier in the year, but North Riding's name just keeps cropping up.
I was delighted to see not one, but two beers from the NRB stable on at the KIT. A dark IPA from its brew pub in Scarborough was on the bar with its paler colleague. The mosaic was up first and it was a shame it came towards the end of my session. It was the sort of beer I would have gladly built a session on. Take your pick of the hoppy adjectives, this beer was spot on in terms of taste and condition.
The black IPA followed. It was good but it's a beer style I've struggle to come to terms with no matter who is the brewer. I just can't get quite get my head around a dark India Pale Ale. I like to think I don't drink with my eyes. For example, I don't have any issues with hazy, unfined beers, but the Black IPA seems to be a mystery just out of my reach. But I'll keep trying.
But I've digressed, let's get back to North Riding's Mosaic Pale. It has cropped up twice more over the weekend. A tweet from the Sportsman in Huddersfield shows it has recently taken delivery of nine NRB beers, including Mosaic Pale.
and tonight I saw a tweet from @Gingerbeerking about Harry's Bar winning Wakefield CAMRA's latest pub of the season award. Among the presentation pictures was one showing it's dedicated NRB pump. I'll leave you to guess which beer was featured!