About Me

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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

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Hop Whoopin

Sleepy head get out of bed
Big bad world is calling
Step in your shoes and catch the news
It's another morning

And we all know what another morning means. Yes, that’s right, another beer. It’s back across the pond today; all the way to the Badger State: Wisconsin. O’so Brewing are a new one on me, but although you don’t see much of them in the UK, they have been around for ten years. So plenty of time to build up a reputation.

S.M.A.S.H (Single Malt And Single Hop) beers are all the rage in some circles but this is a variation on that theme. It’s a Single Malt And Several Hops beer. As the name suggests, it’s a hop-driven (95 IBU) IPA. It’s a 12oz bottle and tips the scale at a fighting fit 7%.

It poured with reasonable carbonation and settled as a hazy, light golden, ale with a one-finger, frothy, off-white head. First impressions are that it’s lighter in colour than many other American IPAs.  The aroma was light with fresh notes of apricot, Seville oranges, lemon and a little bit of bread in the background.

It drinks easy on the palate. Alcohol content is disguised well with only the slightly biscuit/caramel malt backbone giving it away as a stronger beer. Interestingly less of the aroma profile comes through in the first swig. No oranges but plenty of grapefruit and plenty of the classic C hops profile. There’s lemon, gooseberry and a floral spiciness that comes through on the second gulp.

The initial slightly sweet fruitiness gives way to a pine infused middle that quickly dries out. The hop bitterness then hits you in a very (if you’re a hophead) satisfying smack in the back of the throat. A muliti-layered and very satisfying experience.

Tyson says: This is a very well crafted, old school, IPA. Plenty of the refreshing, easy to drink, flavours that you look for in this style. Definitely the kind of beer where one bottle is just the warm up. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Port Brewing Hop-15

When you suspect it’s going to be one of THOSE days, you need to start the day off right. Liquid fortification and sustenance is called for. An Imperial IPA in a big bottle? Hell, yes. 330ml might be trendy but we all know that it’s for wimps.

So, Hop-15. The name says it all really. It’s brewed with 15 (doh!) different hops which are added every 15 minutes. It’s 22oz and weighs in at a not inconsiderable 10%. It ticks all the theoretical boxes but how does it perform in the only test that matters: the Tyson taste test?

It poured a hazy, bordering on the murky, amber. Possibly slighter darker than others of this ilk that I have imbibed. Carbonation was a bit weak and the one finger off-white head soon dissolved. The aroma was very promising: lots of pineapple, sweet orange, pine and a little earthiness.

That hint of citrus sweetness soon materialised in the first gulp but the second wave brought more solid flavours. There’s a lot going on here: Mango, mandarin, pineapple, yes but matched by a firm malt backbone that perfectly underpins the whole thing. You’re aware of the strength but it never gets in the way. The whole thing zips along the tongue and down the throat leaving to a satisfying dry, fruity, finish.

Tyson says: A great beer. Richly flavoured without being full on. This is a class act.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Crew Republic Foundation 11

Sometimes you just need to start the day off right, don’t you? Coffee just won’t cut it. You need the buzz that only a good Pale Ale can bring. So rummaging underneath the bed brought forth this little delicacy. It’s from those little craft beer rascals in Munich. Apparently this is the beer that started them off on their beery journey. And having enjoyed their last offering, I was looking forward to trying this one.

It’s a 0.33L bottle and weighs in at 5.6%. Which puts it in the right ballpark for this style. The malt base is Pilsener, Munich and Crystal and the hops are Tradition, Mosaic, Citra and Cascade. IBU count is 40 which, again, puts it into solid Pale Ale country. It poured hazy amber with gentle carbonation and a quickly dissolving head.

The aroma was measured, not too punchy, but distinct nonetheless. There’s a bit of grapefruit and orange, definite lychee and a slight earthy grassiness. Possibly from the Tradition? The taste was more astringent than the aroma would suggest. Plenty of fruit flavours: grapefruit and orange peel and some mixed berries in there as well. The flavours build to a grapefruit dominated dry finish.

Tyson says: Starts well and delivers a finish that cleans the palate. Another winner.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Thornbridge

Thornbridge Brewery will no doubt need no introduction to my thousands of readers, but here’s a quick recap anyway. It started life in 2005 as a modest 10 barrel plant in the grounds of Thornbridge Hall in the heart of the Peak District. And like many new breweries it promised to blend traditional brewing with a modern twist. But, unlike many breweries, it actually succeeded in doing so and quickly gained a following for the quality of its beers. Indeed there is a case (endorsed naturally by the brewery) that they were the first UK craft brewery. They certainly made a big impact with Jaipur, their flagship ale, and rapidly made their presence felt.

Fast forward to 2009 and the opening of a new 30 barrel plant at the Riverside Business Park in Bakewell. The old brewery is still in operation but is used to develop smaller batches of new or seasonal beers. Now having had a butchers’s at the old setup, when offered the opportunity to have a gander at the fancy new one, who was I to refuse? I mean asking a CAMRA member if they want to visit a brewery is like asking Donald Trump if Mexicans are rapists.

The brewery bar is a one room affair flanked by large windows on two sides and kitted out in contemporary style. The ten beers on offer were divided between two bars. Somewhat disappointingly, given that a coachload of thirsty CAMRA types were descending on it, only two out of the ten were cask beers. Naturally they soon got shifted. The beer selection did seem ‘craft’ heavy and along with some others I was disappointed that the great session beer Wild Swan wasn’t available. However, the beer I did have was good.


Now I’ve been on many a brewery tour but this one was a first. We didn’t actually go round the brewery. Apparently ‘elf and safety deem it too dangerous; even though we had signed a safety waiver. Instead we sat in a room and watched a slideshow about it. Not a problem really as our guide was very friendly and knowledgeable and we got a drink to keep us company. We did get to see the impressive barrel ageing room and the shiny new bottling plant which will increase production from 1000 bottles an hour to 9000.


Thornbridge, although proud of their bestselling Jaipur, naturally don’t want to be seen as a one trick pony. So although they could easily sell more of it, they’d rather grow other brands. Still it accounts for some 30% of production with increasing amounts sold in keg and bottle now. Talking of which, they still see bottles, not cans, as the future and have put their money where their mouth is with the new £2 million bottling line. The barrel ageing store is another nod to the future and has already produced Serpentine; the collaboration with Brooklyn where they took a Belgian golden ale, seeded it with wild cider yeast and aged it for a year.


All in all, very interesting. But as any veteran will tell you, brewery visits can be thirsty work. So obviously we had to seek liquid sustenance on the journey home. First stop was the Red Lion at Litton. This is a proper CAMRA pub. Located on the village green and dating from 1787, its small rooms with exposed stone and wood panelling encapsulates the word ’cosy’. The second and final stop was the Old Hall Inn at Whitehough. Another charming pub that I’ve visited many times and usually has something decent to offer beer wise. And it didn’t disappoint with a rather tasty 4Ts. Then it was end of drinking part one, back on the stagecoach home and hello drinking part two: post brewery evening drinking. 

Friday, 30 September 2016

The Pilcrow

The Pilcrow is Manchester’s latest addition to a seemingly never-ending list of craft beer openings. But there’s a back story to this one that marks it out as something that little bit different. If you don’t know (and why don’t you-it’s been on TV) it’s been something of a joint enterprise project. When the latest city centre `redevelopment` was announced several years ago; there were cries of anguish when it was realised that the historic Crown and Cushion pub would be a casualty. Indeed has there ever been a `redevelopment` when a historic pub wasn’t sacrificed? Manchester City Council seem almost perversely proud of their reputation as cultural vandals who wouldn’t know history if you underlined it in a dictionary.


Anyway, don’t get me started on those arse-wipes. Back to the Pilcrow. One bright spot of the new plans was the announcement of the building of a new pub. This was to be slap bang in the middle of NOMA: the new 20 acre neighbourhood development project that promises to fuse city living with city working. Or something like that. It’s in Sadler’s Yard which was the site of Manchester’s first steam mill and is now Manchester’s newest public square. Named after James Sadler, who became the first Englishman to fly in 1784 and staged two successful ascents from what is now Balloon Street. You could easily pass it by but it’s in a nook between New Century Tower, the CIS Tower and Hanover Street.

At the moment, although there has been some use of the square for outdoor events, it’s mainly home to non-descript offices. However, it is planned to be the leisure and cultural epicentre of the area and that’s where the Pilcrow comes in. And its USP? Well the interior has been put together by craftsmen and enthusiastic volunteers who have attended workshops to best utilise their skills. From the handpumps to the (sturdy) toilet doors, it’s been a labour of love. The phrase “a pub built by the people for the people” has been used. You can read more about its journey from concept to realisation on its website.

Of course you need someone to actually run the place. Step forward All Our Yesterdays, a new collaboration between Jonathan Heyes, owner of the ever-so-well-known Common and Port Street Beer House, and Paul Jones, co-founder of Cloudwater Brew Co. They’ve worked closely on the project from the outset to achieve the pub you see before you now.

So what is the pub like? Basically it’s a narrow L-shaped room with the bar in the left corner with tables and chairs arranged in rows down the right next to the large glass windows. The soft toned colour scheme and plenty of natural light give it a fresh and airy feel. It’s not quite finished yet but I like it. And that’s not just because we had it to ourselves. It’s my kind of joint. It’s got a good vibe. The seating is comfortable and practical, the toilets look good and there is plenty of space outside to enjoy the legendary Manchester summers.

Beer, beer, beer, I hear you cry. Yes, yes, yes, I cry. Other bloggers may enthuse about the flooring, atmosphere etc. in a pub but, as my mother always used to say, it’s all about the beer. There are no less than seventeen, including three cask beers, to tickle and tantalise your taste buds. With the operator’s pedigree, it comes as no surprise that along with Cloudwater, expect to see a smattering of other Manchester breweries mixed in with some more exotic fare. And it’s great to see a banker like Jever appear in its too rarely seen draught form.

Ideally placed close to Victoria station, this could be the missing link between the outer rim of the Northern Quarter and the city centre. Certainly it won’t be long before it becomes a destination pub in its own right.

The Pilcrow is at Sadler’s Yard, Manchester, M4 4AH. Open Mon-Thur 12-10:30pm, Fri/Sat 12-11:30pm, Sun Closed.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Camba Bavaria Imperial Black IPA

I`ve developed a taste for the strong stuff. Well that`s what it seems like anyway.  After the dabble (more than a dabble, actually) with Sixpoint Resin the other day, I find myself once more in Imperial IPA territory. This time with Camba Bavaria Black IPA which, I believe, is brewed in Truchtlaching, Germany. Yes, a foreign beer. I know, I know. We`re now living in a post-Brexit world and we shouldn`t be having any traction with the likes of the Hun but, hey, I won`t tell anyone if you don`t.

It`s a 331ml bottle and comes in at 8.5% with a heavyweight IBU score of 120. It poured, as one would hope, a jet black with no light seepage and a large tan head that gradually settled to a finger`s worth. There was a strong aroma of dark chocolate, liquorice, roast malt and citrus as well. Mouthfeel was quite thick but surprisingly smooth. Dark stone fruits, chocolate, pine and a slight smokiness are all there in the initial taste. This is quickly followed by a heavy dose of all your favourite big C hops. The long finish is a slug of bitter-fruit hopiness that lingers on the palate.

Tyson says: As a friend of mine might say: complex. Full of flavour and full of all the goodness that any decent breakfast beer should have. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Breakfast Beer Tasting (Live): Sixpoint Resin

The Monday Club early bird drinkers are in Spoons as per usual. However, today there is a disturbance in the Force. Normally the routine is set in stone. A few rounds of Smooth and animated discussion of wins (not so many, usually) and losses (more of, generally) at the bookies. But word has got round of a new, very cheap, super-strong beer. What exactly is this Sixpoint Resin 9.1% stuff? And who was going to be the first one to try some?

Obviously I felt obliged to enlighten them as to its provenance etc. And that, dear reader is how things began. And that is how I now find myself doing a live breakfast beer tasting. Firstly, the basic facts. It`s a 355ml canned double IPA weighing in at 9.1% and with an IBU count of 103. It`s described as “an ode to the sticky quintessence of hops - we extracted the alluring nectar from every precious citrus, pine, dank and herbal cone and channeled it all into one vessel. Now that's Mad Science”.

Hard to be absolutely sure in this light, but it appears to pour a light orange/amber with a good, off-white, foamy head. The clue to the aroma is in the name of the beer. Yes, it`s resinous. Strong scent of pine, some breaded malt and marmalade. Mouthfeel is full-bodied. It`s a warming beer but otherwise the alcohol is well disguised. Surprisingly balanced, it`s not abrasive and the firm malt base perfectly complements the hop content.

Ultimately it delivers on its promise. The piney hops shine through with marmalade, fruitcake and a little caramel in the background. The finish is a satisfying bitter-sweet crescendo of flavour that slips down the throttle easily. In many ways it`s hard to believe that this is a DIPA. Obviously you can tell it`s strong but, for me, the best ones (think Cloudwater) manage to disguise the alcohol well and on that front, this proves to be a winner.

Tyson says: Rather a damn fine breakfast beer.