Saturday, April 22, 2017

Beer Of The Week - 16

As I said, I struggled to find a beer of the week last week. This week has been impossible.

I have travelled far and wide, tried every different style, and new and old breweries and beers but I have had nothing that has the 'wow' factor. I am unsure if this is down to the time of year, a lack of the right ingredients, or just purely down to me.

All I can hope for is an upturn in fortune next week, or any suggestions would be gratefully received.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Beer Of The Week - 15

I must admit this week's choice was becoming difficult. I have a Mallinsons up my sleeve just in case,but nothing really hit the spot until I tripped off down into Chesterfield today. I have a few pubs I like to visit there, but I never realised I would hit 2 beer festivals in 2 pubs. And I had to drive, Timbo's Law !!

Oddly both festivals were locally based, one with Sheffield beers, the other showcasing the best of two local breweries. The latter had Pentrich beers, rarely encountered in our part of the world, and very drinkable and Little Critters from Sheffield.

My co pilot, with a taste for darker beers, saw the Little Critters 'Hazelnut Milk Stout' at our first call but time overtook us and we had to scratch it for some hoppier beers but....

We called at our second pub and our second festival, and guess what was on the bar....well done ! I ignored it, preferring a weaker hoppy beer but once I had a sip of my mate's stout I was sold, next beer sorted.

It is 6%, and unusual for the brewery, not named after an animal. It is a milk stout, but one with attitude - a sweet body with oats and lactose, and a superb hazelnut hit, both in the nose and the taste. It am not a nut fan, but this one worked, may be more than one would be a challenge but it was a superb beer. Look out for it.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Beer Of The Week - 14

They have come a long way since starting brewing in a Pocklington garage in 2011, to their current brew plant in Malton. Brass Castle are one of Yorkshire's success stories.

I have tried many of their beers, admittedly some I have enjoyed more than others, but this weekend our local Huddersfield drinkers can get my favourite. Misfit is desrcibed as a 'rolling hop swap beer' showcasing different hop pairings. They are 4.3%.

Call in the Sportsman and try this months version, it has El Dorado and Citra hops in the mix and it is good. Sorry it is excellent. I have been less than impressed by Citra in the last couple of years until I came across this version which has made me fall in love with it again.

Enjoy it...but please leave me some more for Monday !!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Beer Of The Week - 13

I know its a day early but I very much doubt any beer today reaching the heights that this weeks choice has. This week there was a Brew York tap takeover at the Sportsman. I did not attend but called in the following day to sample their range. I had encountered some of their beers before, and frankly I was/am a bit ambivalent towards them, until.....

I discovered Tonkoko.

What a surprise. The pump clip describes it as a milk stout. Well, that is true, but only a part of the story, what really matters are the other ingredients listed on the clip. Tonka beans, Coconut, Cacao nibs and Vanilla are all added to the mix and it creates an outstanding beer, at a sensible strength of 4.3%.

It isn't just me that likes it either as it won the Gold Award for the Speciality Beer at the York Beer Festival 2016, and went on to win the Overall Beer of the Festival.

But what of the taste ? The tasting notes refer to 'Bounty in a Glass' and that is a perfect description. The coconut, which is hand toasted, and coffee blend perfectly together with underlying chocolate notes. I must admit I never really got the vanilla though.

Should you wish to try it, then the Sportsman may still have some available, otherwise it is available in cans or on keg.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Beer Of The Week - 12

Since a fair chunk of my week has been taken over bythe Star Beer Festival, it seems only fair that my choice of Beer Of The Week comes from their list. I was not alone in selecting this beer, it was the first to run off, early in Friday's session.

Loch Lomond 'Southern Summit' is  a 4% light, hoppy beer. It is from the Scottish brewery that has been on the go since 2011 at the southern end of the eponymous loch. It is subtle, and not overly bitter with both Summit and Citra hops in the mix.

It seems that I am not the only one to have enjoyed this beer, as it started life as a special but its popularity and several SIBA awards persuaded the brewery to add it to their core portfolio. Look out for it, it is excellent.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Star Spring Festival

The Star at Folly Hall,Spring Festival starts Wednesday 22nd March at 5pm, and 5pm Thursday. It will be open from noon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The festival will be inside the pub this time. 15 beers available on a special bar, and apart from the ever changing selection on the main bar there will be another 15 available as cellar runs. In effect there are the same amount of beers available as usual just in different places.

Beer will be £1.50 a half and food will be available at certain times each session.

The list will follow separately.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Star Festival List.

1 Chapter Dead Mans Fist 5.5
2 Bradford Idler 4.5
3 Neptune Poseidon 4.8
4 Top Rope 8 Bit Pale 3.9
5 Loch Lomond Southern Summit 4
6 Wiper & True Rye Mild 4.9
7 Wild Card Jack of Clubs 4.5
8 Black Jack Why Me 4
9 Neepsend/Steel City Tibillus 4.4
10 Mallinsons HCP 4
11 Lincoln Green JGC Sups 4.3
12 Nomadic Pale 3.8
13 Goose Eye Goose Hop 4.6
14 Horbury What Now 4.2
15 Neptune Mermaids Purse 4
16 Horbury Ruby 4.1
17 Wild Card Queen Of Diamonds 4
18 Tatton Gold 4.5
19 Settle Yorkshire Flyer 4.3
20 Abbeydale Cavorter 3.7
21 Purple Moose Black Rock 4
22 Sonnet 43 Making a Case (#38) 4.8
23 North Brewing Prototype 3.8
24 Sandstone Celtic Pride 4
25 Mallinsons Rakaseka Citra 4.5
A Big Smoke Sunshower 4.8
B Top Rope Born To Lose 3.9
C Neepsend Peppercorn Stout 4.4
D Wiper & True Milkshake 5.6
E Bespoke Saved By The Bell 3.8
F Harbour Daymer 3.8
G Horbury Horbury 5 Hop 4.1
H Settle Blood Red Orange IPA 4.8
I Neptune Undercurrent 4.7
J Church End Sideshow 4.4
K Tatton Obscure 5.7
L Neptune Fugu 4
M Hawkshead Windermere Pale 3.5
N James and Kirkman Tickers Delight 6
O Adnams Fat Sprat 3.8
P Adnams Mosaic 4.1

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Beer Of The Week 11

This weeks 'Beer Of The Week' may raise a few eyebrows.There have been plenty of decent beers about this week but I have chosen one that I have forgotten about, and when I do see it, I often overlook it.

Yesterday it was on the bar at  the Kings Head, and with a shortage of anything else to impress me I selected a swift half of Lees 'Brewers Dark'.  Lees are a brewery from over the hills in Oldham, and have been on the go since 1828. Their beers are fairly common around Huddersfield, and they do own a couple of local pubs.

'Brewers Dark' has been brewed since 1982, so is certainly no new beer on the block, It is 3.5% on cask (oddly in bottles it is only 2.8%), and is in the style of a mild. Mahogany coloured, and with a roasted taste on the tongue, it possesses a sweetish, soft mouthfeel and hints of coffee and chocolate in the background,

It just goes to prove that even though there are brewers out there pushing boundaries in every direction there is a place for the well crafted, traditional style of beer that have been perfected through the years. Just do not ignore them, like I am tempted to do.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Beers Of The Week 10

Those of you who are observant will have noticed the plural in this weeks title, purely because it is impossible to separate them in terms of taste and weirdness.

I fully expected the beer of the week to come from a trip to Sheffield, a fairly rare occasion for me nowadays, but apart from a strong beer from Brew York, there was little to excite me, either in range of beers or in the taste stakes.

A call the following day to the Record Cafe, in Bradford soon rectified this. Two keg beers and three excellent cask ones on the bar. My beers of the week were the two keg ones. Purely because of what they were as you will see.

Mad Hatter 'Tzatziki Sour'was my first selection, purely since it was weaker at 4.1%. I have had several beers from the Liverpool based brewery and they have not been exactly mainstream. The name suggests this was similar. For some reason their website refuses to load but I know they have been on the for around 4 years. The beer itself was sour, that was a given, but it was the ingredients that caught my eye. Ouzo infused cucumbers and yoghurt in the mix. It should not work but it does and makes a really refreshing, clean tasting beer. Sour but not too sour. And fairly subtle, and tasting of proper cucumber, not essence.

I followed that with a Lost Industry beer. 'Le Mexician' was a saison style, and stronger at 5.8%. A newer brewery than the previous one, having been brewing in Sheffield for less than 2 years. I have sampled several of their beers before - good but not outstanding until this one. Roughly based on a Mexican version of a 'Bloody Mary', it contains tomato, celery and Hendersons Relish (a well known Mexican product !) and is excellent. It tasted like a saison but with a twist, and a subtle chilli kick that was pleasant and not too much.

A very pleasant way to get your 5 a day.!!

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Beer Of The Week 9

What a strange week !!! There have been plenty of interesting beers about, some surprises and a first for me, And it has been a hard job to select a beer of the week, but I have eventually selected one.

I had to visit Leeds after a message from Gary suggested there was one of the weirdest beers he had ever encountered on the bar at Mr Foleys. Northern Monk & Siren Craft have collaborated to come up with  Tropical Death Party .It is 10% and is described as a double pina coloda black IPA. Available in cask, keg and cans. Certainly not for me though.

Another from the weird and wonderful box appeared on that visit, in Tapped this time. Wild Beer provided Breakfast of Champignons a keg 4.1 % described as a mushroom sour. It was sour, a bit earthy maybe but that was all, a little disappointing.

In fact I had not realised that I had had my beer of the week the previous day in Halifax, at the Victoria. Admittedly 9% is a little on the strong side, but Track 'Santa Muerte' takes the weeks accolade, It is a collaboration beer too, this time with Odyssey, and the Manchester based brewery have thrown the kitchen sink at the beer.

An imperial russian stout style,and on cask.It is full of chocolate, and cocoa hits but it sneaks up on you with hints of pepper and chillies in the finish. Maybe not the right beer for a session but very interesting for a third.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Beer Of The Week 8

This has been a busy week on the beer front, and so there has been plenty of opportunity to select a beer of the week. The only problem has been there has been too much choice, and this was not helped by a Friday trip to the Bradford Beer Festival.

Normally I am not too impressed by the Bradford Festival, but this year, after hearing about the choice of beer and seeing the list it would have been a no brainer not to visit. The beer selection concentrated on beer from West Yorkshire, Scotland and Derbyshire. The selection threw out 12 new breweries for me and plenty of new beers.  Many of the Scottish beers were from unusual, or rare breweries, so they were first on the list, but many of the West Yorkshire beers were from breweries  that had only recently started brewing, or were brewpubs not often see outside their home ground.

Timothy Taylors chose here to launch their new regular beer, ' Knowle Spring Blonde'. A light 4.2%  offering. I would like to try it away from the festival before I make a proper judgement but although a pleasant enough beer it was a little sweet for my taste. So that was not beer of the week. Sadly neither was John o'Groats 'Shelkie', which ought to have got it for rarity value if nothing else, but a bit too 'scottish' (!!) for my liking. In fact to select a beer of the week from the festival would be a little unfair. Many beers I sampled were good  but may be the festival situation meant they lacked that 'wow' factor, so that left me the rest of the week to choose from.

One contender was a keg version of a beer from another new brewery, Beak 'Export Porter' is 7.2% and, in spite of my reservations of dark beer on keg, it was excellent, and on other weeks would have run away with the title. However my beer does come from my Leeds trip, where I found Vibrant Forest ' Black Oktober' on cask.

It is an irregular beer from the Hampshire brewery, and, you would never have guessed, is an Imperial Russian Stout. At 9% it is rich and dark, packed with flavour,every mouthfull brings something different; treacle, chocolate, coffee, and there is a bitter edge there too. Complex but wonderful. And available at Mr Foleys on the Headrow.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Beer Of The Week - 7

This has been a bit of an odd week..none of the beers I have sampled have really hit the spot. I have not been selective, and tried a mixture of cask and keg, dark and light, strong and week but every thing seems a bit 'samey'. May be its me, or may be the time of year.

As our foreign cousins say - 'cellar V' (a prize to who can name the brewery who brewed that !) but....

I had to go shopping today, and as a treat I called at the Market Tavern in Brighouse...(a must visit pub if you have never been)...6 beers, 3 new ones...and a new Mallinsons as well..however my beer of the week was from over the border. I have sampled plenty of Squawk beers, some have hit the spot, others have been a little disappointing, but today the IPA (El Dorado/Mosaic) got the accolade of been of the week.

Searching Google for information about the brewery or the beer is not easy (at least not on my laptop!!) but I know they are from Manchester and produce plenty of decent beers. I have sampled many of their different styles in the recent past and cannot recall one I did not like. My slight criticism is that the pump clips are not the easiest to understand, but they give the basic important information. If you have never tried them, I thoroughly recommend them, whether on cask or keg, they are good. Just a shame they are Lancastrian !!

Monday, February 13, 2017

East West Fest III in Wakefield

The third East vs West Festival, will run from May 4 to 6, 2017
at The Red Shed in Vicarage Street, Wakefield.
Where else would you hold a beer festival planning meeting but down the pub?
And so it was on Wednesday that I found myself in Harry's Bar to discuss the third East vs West Fest in Wakefield from May 4 to 6.
I was glad when organiser Malcolm Bastow, of Five Towns Brewery, told me the informal meeting would be held at Harry's, just off Westgate.
Here, I know I can find beers in good nick and from breweries that I'm keen on. Being a school night, I limited myself to just three of the wickets. From the permanent North Riding Brewery pump I had the excellent Aussie Pale (4.5%), Simcoe City from Chin Chin, of South Elmsall, and  (5.1%) and a finished with a half of Blackout, a stout from Five Towns at a definitely non-school night percentage of 8.8.
A gang of four chewed the fat over which breweries we would like to see at the festival and other issues, like pricing and glassware.
The beer list hasn't been finalised, so I shall leave it for another and more detailed post. 
But the basic idea is nine beers from each side of the Pennines, including two curveball selections of Malcolm's choice.  I shall give you more details when I get them.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Beer Of The Week - 6

 I generally wait until the weekend before I publish my beer of the week. This one was so good it was not going to be topped in the next couple of days. In fact, it is possibly the beer of the year let alone the beer of the week.

We have all been aware of Dark Star 'Hophead' for years and it has always been a decent, consistent beer. On occasions the brewery do single hop varieties of the beer, and yesterday in Tapped, Leeds I came across Hophead Mosaic. A good beer with an excellent hop, a win win situation, and at 3.8% a sensible quaffing strength.

If I find it locally I will publish the fact, and will try and badger local landlords to get hold of some. If not, get across to Leeds it is well worth trip..

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Keg - keep it light !!

We have spoken several times about the advent of key keg beers, and their comparison with their cask brothers, and I must admit that I do prefer the cask products usually. However I can see a place for the key keg, and have no problem with drinking them, and if you have followed my beers of the week ,key keg often feature there. So I am not anti keg.

I am anti brown stuff in keg though.

I am yet to be convinced that dark beers succeed on keg, and it seems to be that brewers are wasting their time and money kegging stouts and porters. I came to this conclusion a few months ago, and several experiences over Christmas merely reinforced it.

I am not sure why they do not work but a conversation I recently had with a licencee made me think a bit. He said that a group often visited his pub and they drank a mix of beers, some cask, some keg. The keg beers they bought when they went in the pub and then allowed them to warm up before drinking. This made me think. I have had strong dark beers on keg that have tasted of very little, but maybe the chilling of the beer inhibits the stronger flavours in the malts.

I cannot remember a keg beer that has ever wowed me with it's malty taste or background. They are usually good because of the way they bring hops to the fore, or other subtle flavours. I appreciate wheat works, but not being a scientist I cannot explain why But the bigger malt hits seem to fail. I even managed to compare and contrast over the festive season with a strong dark beer on keg contrasting with the same beer in a bottle. The latter won hands down.

So brewers, just give it a bit of thought before you keg your dark beers. Are you getting the proper taste ? And more importantly, are you and the drinker getting value for money ?

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Beer Of The Week - 5

This week has been a little disappointing on the beer front, not much new around and what i found has been a little pedestrian to say the least.

However a visit to The Arcade on Friday provided with a couple of keg beers to spark two posts. The Beer Of The Week came from a brewery I had heard plenty of good things about but had never seen, let alone sampled. Deya 'Cala Deia' is described as a hoppy, wheat beer at 4%. And I cannot dispute any of those facts.

I thought a bit of research was required, so I checked out their website. This uses the words 'Hop forward, fresh, clean, intense' to describe their products. I found all this in the Cala Deia, but may be lacking slightly in the hop department. It was cloudy, but that was to be expected from a wheat beer, and the website confirms the beers are unfiltered.

Reading specifically about 'Cala Deia' explained about the hops. It goes for hop saturation, rather than hop intensity, and gives subtle rather excessive hoppiness, using Amarillo, Cascade and Yellow sub varieties.

I believe that other beers from the brewery are to be available at the Arcade, I will await their arrival with interest.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Hopcraft's Oceanic beer at The Corner

Apologies for being quiet on here for quite a while but I hope to post a bit more regularly from now on.
Since Christmas I've made a few forays into Huddersfield and have settled into a bit of a pattern: King's Head, Arcade BeersThe Corner, which are all very handy if you are between trains.
Last night I came across an exceptional beer from Hopcraft (Oceanic) on keg in The Corner. As the name implies there are plenty of New World hops in this 5% pale ale.
Apparently it has been around since 2015 but this was the first time I have had had it.
The Hopcraft blog tells me: "Oceanic is so called because almost all the hops are from the Pacific region of Australia and New Zealand, the home of lusciously fruity, juicy hop flavours.  We use only the pineapply, juicy Galaxy and the lean, grapey, winey and totally unique Nelson Sauvin in the brew (plus a tiny amount of German Magnum for bitterness) and the results are, in our opinion, pretty damn special!"
Catch it while you can at The Corner on Market Walk, which is around a five-minute walk from Huddersfield railway station, or less if you are as keen as I am!     

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Beer Of The Week - 4

This week saw Burns Night, so to celebrate the Scottish Bard I have chosen not one, but two, beers of the week from across the the border, both of which are excellent and are a complete contrast to each other. And both were available yesterday in the Victoria cafe in Halifax,

The weaker of the pair is a keg beer from 6 degree North. A brewery from Stonehaven in North east Scotland, their beers are almost always Belgian in style. I have had a few of their beer, and I am always impressed. This time their 'Pilsner' was on offer. Not usually my style but 4.8% made it a bit stronger than the usual lager fayre. It was an excellent version, fresh and crisp but with a certain softness. It was unfiltered, so a cloudy pilsner took a bit of getting used to.

To counter balance this was a strong dark beer that came from Black Isle brewery. They have been brewing since 1998, and aim to be organic in all their beers. They do produce kegs, but the 'Hibernator' I sampled was on cask. It was 7% and not shy on flavour. An oatmeal stout, it has all sorts of interesting background flavours going on. I managed to get coffee, chocolate, berries and licquorice hints out of my beer,

Should you struggle to find either beer, both can be found in bottles.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Beer of the week 2 and 3 (2017)

To all those people who were desperate to read what the second beer of the year was I apologise, (but it wasn't really my fault..blame windows ..) enough said !!!

However, because I feel that we ought not to short change you, you can have 2 for the price of 1 - in blog terms anyway - if you try it at a bar I am not sure it would be appreciated.

Cloudwater are one of our breweries from over in the dark side. They have been brewing since Feb 2015 in central Manchester  and have been producing plenty of interesting cask beers. They went through a phase of brewing beers for all seasons  (often with spring/summer, or autumn/winter) combined. And beers of all styles but I preferred their hoppy beers. Light and fresh, interesting but not overly hopped. The same cannot be said of some of their keg products.

They brew some seriously good key keg beers. Their DIPA range is exceptionally good, but sadly exceptionally strong. The range started at v1 and the latest in the range is DIPA v10 , a mere 9.0% and available at the moment at The Victoria,Halifax. As DIPA suggests it is not shy on the hop front with a massive hit of complex tastes. Admittedly not for all, but worth a third just for the experience.

However, sadly, the cask beer on the bar at Grove is a swansong. It is believed to be the last cask Cloudwater beer, and pretty good it is too. Winter Sessions 'Centennial/Chinook'  is a 4.5% light bitter. Very pleasant, not too hoppy but with a fresh twist. A shame they have stopped brewing cask, in my humble opinion, but the brewers know best. It is excellent, and  the best beer on the bar, if not one of the best beers in the town. A sad day, but we can always console ourselves with their keg beers.

In case it disappears quickly a new beer on the bar at the Star shortly should be Horbury 5 Hop. A combination of American and Australian hops I believe, and the word on the grapevine is that it is well worth a try, I will keep you posted.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Beer Of The Week, Week One

This year I have decided that instead of a beer of the day, which I did throughout December, I would select a 'Beer Of The Week' . This should be a fairly achievable target I hope, so I have had the first week of the new year to road test the idea.

Quite frankly this year has started much the same as the last one finished, but I have a cold to throw into the mix which is affecting my taste slightly. It will not be a true reflection of a weeks beer since many pubs were not open for at least some of the week but I have managed to get around a few places to sample their wares.

I have sampled a mixture of cask and keg, and my first selection comes from the latter. The Sportsman has 'Somerset Wild' from the Wild brewery of Somerset on the taps there. It is an intense tasting beer. Sour but not excessively so, it is hard to pin down the underlying taste. The brewery website refers to homemade lemonade, I would not disagree but it has more depth than that.

What really made it special was the way the beer has been fermented, using locally harvested yeasts and bacteria, which gives it a touch of the Belgian Saison style.
It is 5%, so not overly strong. It comes highly recommended, (well at least by Robin and me !)