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Manchester, United Kingdom
Tyson is a beer hound and cheese addict living in the beery metropolis paradise known as Manchester
If the people are buying tears, I'll be rich someday, Ma

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Cafe Beermoth

Well there has been only one question on the lips of Manchester beery folk of recent: when will Café Beermoth open? Yes, ever since it was announced that N/4 favourite Beermoth was getting a bigger sibling, anticipation and expectation has been quite the mood amongst the hipsters and shakers of Cottonopolis. Whilst the announcement took some by surprise, it was the natural step after Beermoth quickly outgrew its original remit. And co-owners Scott, Jeremy and Simon did well in securing an empty site in Spring Gardens. Whilst the area is not synonymous with beer, it was for many years the centre of banking in the north-west; it does remain an important thoroughfare.

It’s a good location as it links the likes of the Waterhouse and City Arms with the centre of the city whilst remaining a destination in its own right. Opening night was a real celeb fest. I haven’t seen so many of the crafteratti out and about since the (false) rumour about KFC giving away chicken wing buckets. As promised it’s quietly stylish with one long bar and lots and lots of wood with a small space upstairs. It’s comfortable and I immediately felt at home. Well it is a bar after all. A little tweaking is still taking place. Food in the form of sandwiches and, hooray, cheese platters is promised and it is open from 8am to serve the needs of the coffee hungry.

Oh and what about the beer? There are seven cask lines and ten keg offerings with details displayed above the bar. They also seem to have an inordinate amount of wild and saison bottles. Saturday, like my photos, is slightly hazy as I was ten pints in before arriving. However, I do recall enjoying the reassuringly bitter Mallinsons Hop Tzarina along with some London murky Kernel Nelson Sauvin IPA. And there may have been an Odell IPA in there as well. Prices seemed very reasonable for the Manchester scene; although let’s face it I was past caring by then. It seems almost pointless to wish them well as it seems rather self-evident that they will do so. Manchester has a great beer scene and Café Beermoth is a great addition to that scene.

Cafe Beermoth, 40 Spring Gardens, Manchester M2 1EN

Saturday, 12 December 2015

A Prestwich Ramble

Prestwich village lies at the outer rim of the grand metropolis that is Bury and so it often gets overlooked in favour of its brighter, louder, neighbour Manchester. Although it harbours aspirations-some would say pretensions-to be a Didsbury clone, the reality has been somewhat different. Beer choice has traditionally been limited and was heavily dominated by Holts with only a very limited choice of other ales. However, things have been steadily improving and the burgeoning dining scene has started to have a knock on effect on the beer front. Eager to check out the latest disturbances in the Force, I set sail for pastures new.

New adventures in drinking, as everyone knows, can be thirsty work so the experienced traveller will always warm up with a pint or two. The logical place to start seemed to be the Coach & Horses, just over the border in Bury Old Road, Whitefield. This Victorian boozer is a traditional Holts pub divided into 3 rooms. I tend to find the Mild a little variable but the Bitter is always a safe bet. Prestwich Liberal Club also offers the lure of real ale but is harder than Fort Knox to get into. Even if you get past the swipe card protected front door, you may find yourself trapped in the foyer awaiting a friendly face to buzz you in. If you do get the hard-as-nails barmaid to serve you, the choice is Holts Mild & Bitter alongside Landlord.

Much more amenable is one of the new kids on the block: All the Shapes. This new café bar nestles on the site of a former tanning salon on Warwick St and is just the sort of place that Prestwich has sorely been lacking in. It’s cosy with a small downstairs bar area and more room upstairs. Obviously it offers the now de rigueur food options, which are very good I believe, but most importantly it has a decent beer offering. Two handpumps offer a changing selection of local ales: First Chop and the excellent Track Black IPA on my first visit. There’s also the likes of Cloudwater and Camden on tap and a decent bottled collection. This should do really well and you can see it expanding in the future.

(All the Shapes)
Already part of a growing empire is the other new kid on the block: Solita. Situated on Bury New Road, this will need no introduction to those who have visited the Didsbury or Manchester City centre branches. Known ostensibly for their food, particularly the burgers, they do also offer the opportunity to just go in and enjoy a few drinks. The Prestwich bar downstairs is comfortable and far larger than you might think. They seem a little shy about the fact that they serve real ale and the handpumps tend to go unbadged. Here the rather excellent Pale Ale house beer is brewed by Bury’s very own Brightside. They also brew the equally excellent house keg beer Solita Brau. Other options on draught include Kona Big Wave and Paulaner. Whilst not an obvious option as somewhere to pop in for a drink, the beer selection does offer something different for the area.
Whilst in the area it would be rude not to check out the Church Inn which is tucked away at the end of, appropriately enough, Church Lane. For many years the Church flew the flag for beer choice in Prestwich and was the first in the area to offer a no-smoking room. its Deuchars-when that was considered cutting edge-was also rated the best in the borough. Despite still being an Enterprise Inn pub, it makes the most of the available guest beers and offers four for your delectation. To get to the Church, you’ll have to pass Prestwich Conservative Club. It’s worth poking your head in here to marvel at the rather plush surroundings. They do have real ale on; it varies but was Robinsons Trooper when I called in. 

Now of course Prestwich wouldn’t be Prestwich without a drop of Holts. You’re spoilt for choice really, what with the Red Lion and the White Horse but on this sortie it was the Foresters that took the prize. This is a 1960’s two-roomed boozer where the Bitter is usually on form. You’re very close to the Metrolink stop now, but it’s worth calling in the Railway & Naturalist. Built in 1850, the ‘Nats’ was originally named after the members of the Botanical Society that used to meet there but the coming of thirsty railway labourers changed the name to its current status. When the pub was knocked through, along with the loss of the famous ‘Rat Pit’ room, it lost much of its character. However, in recent times it has returned to the real ale fold and now offers a changing guest beer.

Prestwich definitely looks to be on the up beer wise and is only a bus or tram ride away from Bury or Manchester centre. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Breakfast Beer Tasting: CREW Republic Detox

Today we step off this great sceptred isle and head for sunny Munich. Yes, Germany. Now I will let you into a little secret. The Germans brew beer. Quite a lot of it, actually. I know; get out of here, right? No they honestly do. And some of it ain’t bad. Ok it will never replace quality stuff like John Smiths Smooth in the hearts of the British bulldogs. But if you’re ever over there, put down that pint of Guinness, get out of that Oirish pub and try some of the local brew in some of their splendid beer palaces.

To be fair, you’re probably not very likely to come across CREW Republic in too many places. The traditional nature of the German beer scene-the very thing that makes it so appealing-has somewhat stifled the microbrewing scene. Or rather it had. Recent years have seen an expansion, albeit it not on the scale of some other European countries. Mario Hanel and Timm Schnigula formed CREW Republic to be part of this new wave. And certainly their beers and general business approach has more in common with the American model rather than traditional German practices.
But is the beer any good? Well it’s a 330ml bottle and is 3.4%. It’s described thus: “Is it time to Detox? Detox is a Session India Pale Ale and boasts a big hop aroma that satisfies ones need for a hop fix!!! Our idea of a session beer means that it’s a lower alcohol version of one of our favorite beer styles without having to compromise on flavor. This unfiltered light gold colored elixir has a much lighter body and less bitterness than its big brother counterpart, however delivers the entire hop experience one expects from an IPA.The two main hops in this beer are Comet from the Hallertau and Galaxy from Australia. The fruity aromas in these two hops compliment one another very well and we even used a new hopping technique for the first time in Detox.The CREW enjoys drinking this one a lot all day and it’s our favorite beer as soon as someone fires up the grill”.

It poured a hazy light-orange with a large, creamy, white head. The aroma was very appealing. Very little malt but plenty of sweet citrus notes. I think the Chinook is probably responsible for the slight floral aspect whilst I’m guessing the Galaxy is more impacting the tropical side. Good use of the Pilsner malt means it’s very clean on the palate and tastes very fresh. Lots of tangerine and grapefruit along with a little sherbet lemon. The finish is a medium level mix of tart orange and lemon dryness.

Tyson says: Punches well above its weight. This is a bit of a wunderkind. Prost!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog Vote Sepp

Today’s little aperitif is a special little number from those pesky little Brewdog fellas. Actually I’m feeling rather pleased with myself as a guy in the pub last night wanted to sell me a crate of these at a knock down rate. But I insisted on paying full price. You can’t catch me out like that, no sir. Anyway, apparently, this was Brewdog’s attempt to bribe Sepp Blatter into giving Scotland the 2022 World Cup. But the joke’s on them, isn’t it? As Sepp himself will tell you, his international reputation for integrity and honesty is second to none. You’re no more likely to find his hand in the till than you are to find a Russian athlete who’s a drug cheat.
The bottle is the usual 330ml and is 3.4%. On the back it states: “Vote Sepp, an incorruptible hibiscus wit beer in honour of our tireless football führer, Mr Blatter.  Best served from brown paper envelopes to aid drinking with greased palms, one sip of this beer and Sepp will be putty in our hands”. It was very lively and poured fairly (for Brewdog) clear amber with a pink tint and a large off-white head. Given the hibiscus, it’s not a surprise that the aroma is big on floral notes. There’s also some bread and red berries there as well but it doesn’t really hit you as a traditional Wit.

It’s easy on the palate, but once again you’re struck by the lack of Wit characteristics. There’s no bready-dough yeastiness and you have to really delve quite far down to get the wheat hit. Saying that, it’s not unpleasant and once you get over the fact that Brewdog have produced a mild beer, there is little to find offence with. With no real backbone to underpin it, the lasting impression is of a slightly fruity-cranberry, perhaps, beer with an ever so slight tart finish.

Tyson says: “Like the great man himself, this is an easy-going, well-balanced beer that no one could find much wrong with”. 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Rudy's Pizza

Rudy’s hasn’t been open for long but has already carved out a name for itself for knocking out some of (for my money, the best) pizzas in Manchester city centre. For anyone who has followed the pop-up street food trend that has swept the city in recent years or perhaps attended some indie beer event, the name will be familiar. Started by Jim Morgan and Kate Wilson: the name refers to their young dog, in case you were wondering, with the aim of bringing the Neapolitan pizza experience to Manc land. Of course to do that, you need more than just Italian ingredients and a wood-fired oven. It all comes down to the dough; in this case it’s a 48-hour dough-making process in which it is double-proved and hand kneaded to retain air bubbles. The result is an exquisitely light pizza that makes you feel as if you could immediately eat another. And some people do exactly that. Although, obviously,  I don’t know anyone like that.
Ancoats is an up and coming spot on the Manchester hipster map and Rudy’s have landed at a prime location on Cotton St. The Fairbairn Building which hosts them overlooks Cutting Room Square and is positioned directly opposite Halle St Peters. The regeneration of the former mills in this part of town has really gathered pace and apartment developments are all the rage. Some of the signs of a hipster neighbourhood-artisan coffee and bread hangouts-are already in place and more are due to open. Sadly the much vaunted re-opening of the former Edinburgh Castle pub has fallen through meaning that there is still a gap in essential services. However, with the Seven Bro7hers brewery planning to move in and Port Street Beer House only five minutes away, it’s not a real hardship.

Rudy's is open Tues 17.00-22.00, Wed-Sat 12.00-22.00 and Sun 12.00-18.00. Kitchen closed 3pm-5pm everyday except Sunday. They also sell some excellent bottled beer by the likes of Runaway and Cloudwater. 

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Room For One More?

There has been barely contained excitement and a few raised eyebrows at the news that Bury town centre is to get a new pub. An empty shop on Haymarket St, last occupied by Betfred, has been acquired by Amber Taverns who have been granted a licence for the premises. Those with long memories will remember that it was once the Rayners Vaults. Dating from the latter part of the 19th century, the Rayners was once part of the Raven Hotel before becoming a destination in its own right. I recall it as having the ambience of a Wild West saloon and certainly some of the characters who frequented it would have felt right at home in Dodge City. It was the kind of place that if you went in and they saw you still possessed all your teeth, the locals knew you weren’t a regular.
But times change and despite, or perhaps because of, its small size, Bury has done well in recent times in terms of its pub stock. Unlike many other town centres, people do still come into the centre to enjoy a drink. There are two Wetherspoons, a well-known freehouse, a Holts pub and representation from the usual regional brewers and pubcos. The last opening; the Clarence, brought a brewpub and fine dining into the equation. So what will the new venture offer? A craft harem of whisky barrelled-aged, Brett infused Dandelion & Burdock Stout, perhaps? One of those new-fangled micrpubs? Somehow I doubt it.
If you look at Amber Taverns portfolio, it’s rather less than impressive. A lot of bottom-end pubs that they’ve bought up cheaply. Locally they do own Hogarths in Bolton which does offer real ale but generally it’s either not available or an afterthought in most of their estate. They’re not big on dining and seem unlikely to be able to compete on price with the likes of Wetherspoons. They do seem to be keen on sports but it’s hard to see where their target audience is coming from. With the shift in Bury’s shopping geography, the pubs in the centre are technically on the wrong side of town and tend to rely on a set pattern of clientele. It maybe that they have their hopes pinned solely on weekend trade but it seems most likely that it will end up like the ‘Oirish’ bar round the corner: full of tumbleweeds for most of their trading hours. However, I’d be happy to be proved wrong. 

Friday, 30 October 2015

Albert's Schloss

Albert’s Schloss is the latest big name addition to Manchester’s drinking/dining scene. Situated on Peter St, it occupies the slot once dominated by the late, unlamented, sticky-floored, Brannigans. Remember them? Anyway it’s had a major overhaul and some serious money spent on it by the folk who own the Trof empire to transform it into Manchester’s own version of a Bavarian beer hall. Well alpine retreat, more accurately, as this is no cheap German bier Keller pastiche. The clue’s in the name: Schloss, which translates as chateau. The Albert of the title is self-explanatory, being Queen Vic’s little German love machine and, of course, it is based on the ground floor of the Albert Hall.
So after two years of planning and six months of build, what do you get for your Deutschmark? Well a lot of wood, for a start. The place is dominated by a huge wraparound bar that must be one of the largest in the area. It’s claimed that 80% of the build materials are from reclaimed sources including doors from the former BBC premises on Oxford Road. There are alpinesque tables and chairs and traditional German drinking benches designed by Manchester designer Pete Masters. There are comfortable booths at the back and a “Gentleman’s snug” at the side complete with faux-wood fire.
With a nod to its location, there is a DJ gallery and a live music stage. With a nod to its inspiration, there is a large kitchen and on-site bakery to deliver fresh pretzels and other Germanic goodies to the hungry hordes. Examples of this are Schweinshaxe (crispy pork knuckle with apple, horseradish sauce, pickled red cabbage and gravy) for £13.50 and for the non-Neolithic carnivores, the German version of pizza: Flammkuchen.
Finally we come to the most important part, the drink selection
Did you spot the odd one out? No, not the cask beer. In a slight geographical diversion from the Fatherland, their USP is actually Czech. Pilsner Urquell Tank Beer or Tankova is unpasteurised and is delivered ASAP from the brewery to ensure the customer gets the freshest pint. Schloss has four of these 900 pint tanks and once opened they have to be emptied in seven days. A board counting down the days adds to the sense of occasion and if you have ever tried it, you will appreciate just how buttery and refreshing a Pilsner can be. There is also a range of bottled beer including, for some reason unfathomable to mortal men, non-alcoholic Jever.

Now how much will it cost you to sup at the lap of Teutonic goodness? Well, for example, for £5 you could have either Bitburger Pils (4.8%) or Hacker Pshorr Dunkel (5.5%). That’s for a pint or large glass as they seem to call them. I was told they don’t do halves, only schooners. Anything less would be very un-German, I guess.