Monday, April 18, 2016

What's your favourite pub ? I bet the Daily Telegraph doesn't think so

A couple of days ago a friend gave me a copy of an article published in the Daily Telegraph from April 9th under the heading 'A Toast to Britain's Best Pubs' detailing 30 pubs separated into different areas such as beer, character, food, nature,and heritage. I was somewhat surprised to find that I had only ever visited three of them, one in Salford (beer), one in Birmingham (beer) and another in Newcastle (heritage). There was only one in West Yorkshire,(just) in outer Todmorden in the nature section. What ? This is county crammed with lovely pubs fitting each of these categories - where were they ?

Lets start with Heritage. Huddersfield has 5 listed in CAMRA's Yorkshire pub heritage guide. The Albert, The Shoulder of Mutton, The Sportsman, the Victoria, and the Beaumont Arms all feature there for various reasons, and that excludes those in the rest of West Yorkshire. All are excellent examples of their respective styles, and all worthy of a visit.

I will overlook the food section - I am a philistine that thinks a pub should be a pub, not a glorified restaurant or cafe. It should be judged on its beer, not the quality of its pies.

I will also skip over the nature section, my co-writer Mr Ambler is far better qualified than me to make comments on this, the only nature I usually notice in a pub is the resident cat.

Character is a difficult thing to define in a pub. What I consider makes a pub characterful will not necessary be what you find characterful. It will include the ambience, the welcome, the general feeling there, the attitude of the staff, but I believe that the real character of a pub comes from the clientele. You cannot buy that, it develops with time and commitment. And some pubs have it, and some don't. It's where you feel comfortable, and where you want to return, (time and time again hopefully).

And finally beer. Well, we are a town with over a dozen breweries. And some pretty good beer as well. Why else is there an 'Ale Trail' that brings drinkers to the town ? Why do I weekly encounter individuals hunting out the best beers in the best pubs in town ? It would be inappropriate for me to mention which I consider the best beer pubs in town, but it does not take rocket science to work it out.

So Daily Telegraph, stop being so short sighted as to overlook a part of the world that has a multitude of pubs to fit each of your categories, and many of them better than the pubs you selected. Get up to West Yorkshire and Huddersfield in particular and see what you are missing.

Sorry I have not illustrated this article but although I can blog again I cannot add pictures for some reason

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Junction at Rastrick Festival

One of the (many) local festivals I may have overlooked in my previous post was thatof theJunction at Rastrick. I have mentioned it in previous posts, and it is a decent place to call for a beer , mostly from the Marstons portfolio, if you are in the area.

They have a beer, cider and music festival coming up over from Friday 27th through till Sunday 29th May.

On the beer front they promise 24 beers that will rotate over 9 pumps throughout the weekend. On the wine front a 'Prosecco' Bar for the ladies, and for the music fans a band each day.

Hope it goes well, it deserves to.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Getting My Five a Day

Those of you who have been reading my drivel for a while may be aware that I am not exactly a fan of flavoured beers. I much prefer my beer to taste of the pure ingredients, Hops, malt, yeast, and water, and not to have things added to them. I generally suffer from this around Christmas but for some strange reason I have encountered a plethora of them this week, some ok, some downright weird.

In fact my first experience occurred in Chesterfield when I ordered a Steel City/Raw collaboration called 'Abandon All Hop'. I am used to Steel City beers being especially hoppy, what a shock. Not a hop in sight, a beer flavoured in the 'old' style with things like bog myrtle and other weird additions. It was not to my taste but I wrote it off to experience, I had not realised then that it would be the taste to come.

North Riding and Five Towns also joined forces to produce a 'Rum and Raisin Dark Mild' - at least I was warned this time ! It tasted a bit synthetic for my liking. The following day brought Leatherbritches 'Bohemian Ginger' - I like ginger beers perversly enough - but this was not right, and hardly tasted of ginger at all, and Jennings 'Queen Bee' - a honey beer, and quite pleasant too. There was a theme developing now, and virtually every bar I encountered had some strange beer on it.

Wharfebank 'Blood Orange IPA' was encountered in the Cherry Tree, and was a bit strange, I am not sure that orange works with a light beer. The strange continued with Siren 'Vermont Tea Party' with its overwhelming taste of Earl Grey tea, unusual but not unpleasant, however a pint may have been challenging despite its 3.6% strength. Fixed Wheel provided another orange beer - this time with flavours of mandarin, and Tickety Brew 'Cherry Berlinerweisse' obviously tasted of cherry, sadly it overpowered the weisse part of the beer.

Yesterday I was back in Huddersfield and encountered Brown Cow 'Thriller In Vanilla' . An overwhelming vanilla taste here in a porter, which did at least, give a decent background to it. I thought that may be it, but I noted on facebook that Sam was raving about an orange beer on the bar at the Star, and guess where I am today !

I know that I don't have to drink all these beers, it is my choice as a 'ticker' but I do wonder what the brewers are thinking when they brew them. Are they just being experimental for experimentals sake ? Or are they trying to provide the drinker with something they will enjoy ? I am unsure but I am sure that the beers they brew do not always work. Having said that I often reminisce over  the days of the long lost but often remembered Kitchen brewery who brewed with all sorts of fruit and vegetables plenty of which shouldn't have worked but just did. So maybe it is me that is out of step, not the brewers.

You Want a Challenge - This is It !!

May is busy month on the local beer festival front. And here is prior notice of just a few. When I have further details I will expand but at least you can clear your diary for a beery few days.

12th May - Red Shed Festival at Wakefield
13th May - Three Pigeons Festival at Halifax
presumably both on all weekend

19th May - Navigation Festival at Mirfield
20th May - (the challenging one)
                   Sportsman IPA Festival
                   Rat Great Gnawthern Festival
                   Star MMM Festival

Some of these are confirmed and some not yet but at least you know what dates to throw a sickie from work !!

Return of Timbo

Readers of 'A Swift One' may have noticed I have not been pulling my weight on the posting front of late. This has been due to nothing more serious than a computer glitch. For some bizarre reason I  had lost the facility to create posts on my lap top, and even more bizarrely the facility mysteriously returned this morning. Hopefully normal service has been resumed now, and I am fully functional again. Time will tell I suppose but thanks to Ale Ambler and Ale Louse for taking up the slack in my enforced absence.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Five Towns Brewery's tap takeover at Harry's Bar, Wakefield

Fans of Five Towns Brewery, of which I am one, are in for a treat in Wakefield city centre this week.
The Outwood based brewery is staging a tap takeover at Harry's Bar on Wednesday (April 13).
If you get along to the pub on Smyth Street then you can expect to see eight Five Town's
beers on the bar.
Head brewer Malcom Bastow has kindly given us the low down on the beers.
At the lower end of the Five Town's ABV spectrum we have Mi Usual, 3.7%, HB, 3.9%, Crisis What Crisis, 4.2% Viva Cas Vegas, 4.2% and there will be a cunningly named 4.2% beer to replace the usual Copper Dragon handpull on the bar.
Middle Un, 4.6%, bridges the gap to the dangerously drinkable beers Malcolm has become acclaimed for.
Peculiar Blue, 6%, is named after the Wakefield folk band who will be playing at the tap takeover. Fans of The Star Festival in Huddersfield will recall a rhubarb version of this beer from a few years back.
The final beer is the one that I am looking forward to most, The Secret Life of Aribica at 8%. This coffee themed beer in the wood features raisins soaked in Cognac.
It was brewed with beer blogger Beer Manchester in the wake of David Bowie's death. Malcolm has been brewing Bowie themed beer's for years and the man behind the Beers Manchester blog is also an avid van. It's a slight play on words on the final track on 'Heroes'.
This beer has been brewed for the third Independent Salford Beer Festival on October 21-22, 2016. But you can get a sneak preview of the beer in Wakefield on Wednesday.
Thursday may be interesting after an 8% beer involving Cognac. I dare say it will involve public transport!
The full story behind The Secret Life of Aribica can be found on the festival's website by clicking here
Thanks to Louise at Harry's Bar for the image at the top of this post. Harry's Bar is a few minutes walk from Wakefield Wesgate Station, close to Unity Hall.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Hard at work...down the pub

Food for thought.

Late last month I was summoned to a beer festival for a meeting about ale.
Reluctantly, (I was an hour early!) I answered the call and appeared at The Junction's Woodfest in Castleford to discuss another event, May's East vs West Fest.
As far as I recall this 'planning meeting' involved some very nice beers in the wood (dark beers from Tiger Tops and Cheshire Brewhouse were standout for me) a lot of crisps and me being politely told by the boss to pull my finger out with the publicity.
So here it is. East vs West Fest will be at The Red Shed in central Wakefield from May 12-14 (but there is also talk of extending it one day to tie in with the final day of the Premier League season).
It will feature breweries from the Manchester area and a series of collaborations between organiser Five Towns Brewery and Yorkshire breweries.
From the West, via some ale networking from Beers Manchester, we have Alphabet Brewing Company, Beer Nouveau, Track Brewing Company, TicketyBrew, Squawk, Runaway, Blackjack, First Chop and Carbon Smith.
From the East there have been three collaborations so far.
The first was at North Riding, of Scarborough, and there have been rave reviews about the outcome: Rum & Raisin Dark Mild, 4.3%. It sold out before it was even brewed but the duo behind it are pledging to re-brew it soon following some great feedback from pubs and drinkers.
The second was at Rat Brewery in Huddersfield in March when Rat Out, a 5.8% hoppy rye IPA, was created. We've heard good reports of that beer too and you can read all about it on the Beers Manchester blog by clicking here.
The latest has been with Caphouse Brewery and I hope to bring you the details about that beer and more collaborations shortly. Watch this space.
Collaboration between North Riding & Five Towns breweries.
Image courtesy of The New Bridge, Newcastle Upon Tyne.