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!