Showing posts from October, 2008

Wetherspoons Wilts Again

Robert Louis Stevenson said 'it is better to travel hopefully than arrive.’ Obviously a man with experience of Bury’s Sir Robert Peel. Despite the low expectations-realistically there seemed more chance of seeing Nessie than a festival beer, we decided to give it one more chance. After all, surely they would offer us something for the weekend?

Getting there before the expected post-work rush didn’t work as planned. The place was heaving with old codgers, mostly harmless, but quite loud. Very odd. The mystery was soon solved when I overheard a couple bemoaning the loss of their usual sing-along. Of course, the Knowsley-a real dump opposite the travel interchange, was closed for refurbishment. Friday afternoon is traditional sing-along time. Or OAP karaoke as it’s known locally. Since the Knowsley closed, its rather special patrons have been turning up in other town centre hostelries. Most annoyingly, it’s the young chavs that have discovered the Trackside at weekends. Where, much to…

What Beer Festival?

Day one of the JDW beer festival. Twatty, sorry I mean Tandleman, phones to gloat that the Middleton outlet has 4 of the foreign brigade on. Almost all of the scooping hierarchy in one sitting. Bury, in keeping with tradition, has no festival beers on at all. They put the balloons up yesterday and today they put festival posters up. But not a sniff of an actual festival beer. When I enquired about this, the barmaid said that the festival beers were about “somewhere.” Hopefully, in the cellar. I console myself with a cheese & onion quiche and two bottles of Kendermanns Pinot Noir.
Day Ten

And they think it’s all over, but it’s not quite. They’ve gone through the beers quicker than anticipated. A rush order for another twenty has filled the breach and left me with a sprint finish. A very enjoyable festival that is going in the record books as the biggest held inside a pub in the UK. And the good news is that it’s happening all over again in March. My liver can’t wait.

Travels with Tandleman

Very tired today. However, no time for a rest as it's a day out. No ordinary day out, either. A day out with Tandleman, no less. Very graciously he allows me to address him informally as Tandleman, instead of the usual Sir, Your Excellency etc. Still, I suppose anythings better than Stonch's moniker for him-Twat!

Tandleman has summarised our trip to Huddersfield, so I'll make do with some photos. The Rat & Ratchet

The Grove

Homeward Bound

A souvenir
Day Seven

I''ve got writers block. Which is a bit inconvenient when I'm supposed to be doing a 1500 word article. However, I deal with the matter in my usual responsible matter. I head for the pub. Having had all the beers on offer, people are coming to me for advice. I tell them get stuck in-they’re all good. Well apart from Boggart and Leyden, obviously. An interesting one is Geltsdale Carlislesberg Larger (sic) (4.5%) with a very cheeky pumpclip. We finish on Phoenix Grant’s Grog (6%) which is a dry-hopped version of Wobbly Bob. Despite its strength it’s dangerously moreish, as my head can testify the day after.
Day Six

Lytham’s John’s leaving do. An excuse for daytime drinking. But where to go? Always happy to help a friend in need, I suggested we adjourn to the festival bar. Spooky déjà vue. There was a coach parked outside and I joked that a coach party may be hogging the bar. Well bless my barnacles, if there wasn’t a coach party of old seadogs hogging the bar. All looking smart in their badged blue blazers. A good time was had by all until the Boatswain’s Call heralded their departure. Old Bear Sun Bear (4.2%) was a pleasant surprise. So pale as to warrant a score of 0.5 on the colour scale, it was an easy drinking, citrus led session beer. Of course we had to finish on cider-Wilkins Farmhouse (6%) which is a great dry Somerset cider and another new one for me. And then it was half price pizza time-spooky this déjà vue stuff.
Day Five

A message from Eddie, the eager, legal beagle. He’d been on a course in Leeds and was looking for a drink in Red Rose territory. Always happy to help a friend in need, I suggested we adjourn to the festival bar. Birmingham BPA (4.1%) was light but a tad sweet. Much better was Crouch Vale Eldorado (4.4%) which had a nice balanced mouthfeel, leading to a tangy finish. Just to prove we’re not barflies we even managed an excursion down to the Footballers before succumbing to the lure of the half price pizza.
Day Three

Sad news in the morning paper. The great Levi Stubbs has sung his last high note. I play Billy Bragg's Levi Stubbs' Tears and go for a pint. A lunchtime start ensured a table comfortably close to the festival bar. Fugelstou Hop Explosion proved (as I suspected it would) very misleading. One has to be wary of beers proclaiming their hop credentials and Fugelstou have proved disappointing in the past. Combine this with a brown beer and expectations were low. Sure enough, there was a distinct lack of hops. Perhaps the explosion occurred before the brewing process? There was some excitement over Boggart’s Bambi Brew (4.6%) which some people openly admitted to liking. True, it wasn’t bad-a shocking discovery in a Boggart beer. But, although it led with some clean bitterness, the finish had too much diacetyl for me.
I had more luck with Heart of Wales Welsh Black (4.4%) which was a pleasant stout with notes of liquorice. Brampton Wasp Nest (5%) was also pitch black but left …
Day Two
A good start to the day. A spot of lunch with a gorgeous blonde at the Pack Horse at Affetside. A couple of Hydes aperitifs and, mindful of the evening session, some of Maureen’s Cheese & Onion Pie to put a lining on the stomach. Now this is the life.
An early Friday evening start secured some prime seats at the bar. Hornbeam Paul’s Pint (3.8%) was light, but lacked enough hops to offset the malty finish, rendering it quite ordinary. Their Dexter’s Bitter (4.2%) was darker, but again had too much malt. They seem to be able to brew some reasonable dark beers but anything else seems beyond them. A one trick pony I’ve got them down as, but, perhaps they will prove me wrong one day.
Ossett Real Ale Revolution Porter (4.2%) was disappointing and lacked the body of a true Porter. Bank Top Stevie’s Wonders (4.2%) was golden in hue but a tad too sweet for my palate. Moorhouses Jess’s Jem (4.4%) was even sweeter and, if taken in excess, would probably necessitate a visit to your den…

All Hands On The Pumps

The Hare & Hounds at Holcombe Brook have started a 10 day, 40 beers a day festival. All are on handpump, either in the main bar, or on the festival bar in the side room. My mission is simple: to try and sample as many as possible. There are 10 days of drinking in the Naked City. These are some of their stories.
Day One An evening session reveals the layout. 12 beers on the main bar and 28 on the festival bar. Handily, there is an electronic display showing all 28 beers and, as usual, they are colour coordinated. There are a lot of festival specials and I kick off with one. Phoenix Jo’s Juice (4.1%) was very reminiscent of Phoenix Hopsack and had that very bitter, rough hop edge. Also very palatable was Marble Festival (4.4%) which I’ve had before and is a wonderfully hopped, very moreish light beer.

Another old friend was Phoenix Pale Moonlight (4.2%) and yet another Phoenix-Last Leaf (4.5%) was also good. Time to try something new-Cottage JT (4%),…


Tandleman has summarised our Edinburgh expedition, so I don't need to duplicate it here.

At Caledonian Brewery