Showing posts from January, 2011

Port Street Beer House

Okay, so last night was the opening evening of Manchester’s latest enfant terrible beer bar. The Port St Beer House is situated on, er, Port Street in an unfashionable part of town, not far from Piccadilly.
Now, if you were opening a post Noughties bar, what would you have on? Thornbridge? Dark Star? Brewdog? Yes, it did indeed promise all of that-and more. But was it any good? Well it turned my piss the colour of Highland spring water. But more of that later.
After a couple of aperitifs, we arrived a wee bit early, only to discover it was still officially closed. A quick nosey, but no beer, soon had us back in the Castle for another warm up snifter. Which was okay, sparkler. WTF? Come on guys, get a grip.
Back at Port St and the place had somewhat of a Euston Tap feel to it. If somewhat bigger. A downstairs bar gives way to a large, comfortable, upstairs room with the toilets on the floor above.
Having secured a prime corner seat, the challenge was set. How much of the dr…

Beer of the Week

Hawkshead Windermere Pale. This is a classic beer and takes some beating, anyway. But it’s not just about throwing it down your neck and falling down drunk. It’s about the moment, the ambience and the life experience of drinking a beer. Apparently.

So this one wins on any number of criteria. Not sampled at the NWAF, but at the City. Not the famous City Arms on Kennedy St, but the City on Oldham St, just a bit further up from the Castle.
This authentic slice of Mancunian life attracts what CAMRA likes to call a “mixed clientele”. There are the old timers calling in after shopping, the Moss Side lads who jealously guard the pool table and some footie fans watching the match. And, on this occasion, two guys straight out of Shameless, popping E and gulping down cans of Coke.

It’s a great place to people watch and where else in Manchester, nay indeed the country, could you walk in on Stylistics Karaoke? The house beer is brewed by Acorn and there is usually a Stout on as well. Acorn Gorlo…

NWAF: How Was It For you?

As someone famously said:“We came. We Saw. We drank.”

And so it was at the National Winter Ales Festival. Or NWAF as the law says we have to call it. This was a sheer cornucopian indulgence of all things beery. Oh and cider and perry as well; but I didn’t try any of that. Or any of the bottled stuff, either, come to think of it. I had my hands glasses full sampling mucho cask beer and foreign draught.
Anyway the place was a sweatshop of staff (or unpaid mugs, as they are known in the trade) working, beavering, slogging away to serve the thirsty punters. And Tandleman was there as well. Shaking hands, signing autographs-all that kind of celebrity thing. He actually let me have his for the discounted price of £10. What a guy.
The first beer sampled at the event was Black Bull Sauce of the Niall. This was a 4.5% stout named after Sunderland FC’s chairman, Niall Quinn. Last beer sampled was (I think) Thornbridge Merrie. This was (I think) a 5.9% copper coloured Christmas pudding type of dri…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: William Bros 80/-

Today’s a big day. Yes it the start of the national Winter Ales Festival (NWAF to those in the know) in Manchester. Who’s going? Ok, now lower your hands. A big day requires two things to kick start proceedings: A big breakfast and a beer.

Now this not being the Noughties, it’s perfectly acceptable, beer etiquette wise, to sometimes skip the large breakfast. And so we find ourselves sampling a bottle of Williams Bros 80/-. That’s 80 shillings in that old funny money that your dad told you about.
William Bros are a Scottish brewery that started out in a homebrew shop way back in 1988. Based in Alloa, they now bottle (and cask) well known beers such as Fraoch and the seaweed beer, Kelpie. 80/- is a 4.2% recreation of a classic Scottish style and comes in a 500ml bottle.

It pours an appealing deep red/brown colour and the initial aroma burst is of roast malt and chocolate. This carries on through to the flavour; with smoked malt, chocolate and toffee all discernible in a slightly light…

Beer of the Week

This has to be Cropton North Peak Vicious American Wheat IPA. Quite a mouthful in more ways than one-it certainly seems hard to recall its full name after a gallon of it has washed down your gullet.
This 6% hybrid delight was sampled at the Old Wellington in Manchester. I was somewhat surprised to find that it more than delivered on its interesting premise of balancing an American heavy hopped IPA with the refreshing tang of a wheat beer.
Perhaps the moreish result is less surprising when you look into its pedigree. It may be brewed by North Yorkshire’s Cropton Brewery, but the man behind the beer is American. Mike Hall, who is a Master Brewer and a senior member of the International Brewers Guild, met the Cropton gang during their tour of Northern Michigan micro breweries.

The beer is made using four different hops and is named after the legendary Dogman (part antelope, part jackal) which, according to US folklore, roams Northern Michigan. It’s on sale in Nicholsons and M&B pubs…

2011: The Year For FemAle(s)?

So 2011 has begun much as 2010 started. With a treasure hunt. The treasure, in this case, being that most elusive of things: the female beer drinker. Yes, after more false starts than the 1993 Grand National, it’s Molson Coors turn to take the lead in this search for the seeming Holy Grail.

With beer sales in decline and profit margins squeezed down to 2p on a pint of Carling, MC are keen to expand the market laterally by tempting more women to drink the nectar of the gods. According to Mark Hunter, chief executive of Molson Coors UK, the company has spent £1M asking some 30,000 women exactly why they don’t drink beer.

And the answer? They don’t like it.

'It is perceived as bitter, bloating and served in buckets,' is Mr Hunter's curt summary of the survey.

His solution? A new exciting beer to go on sale later this year. He’s playing things a little close to his chest as yet, but a more female friendly version of Carling appears to be the most likely option.

One possible …

Don't Look Back In Anger

Another year over.
And a new one just begun.

So that was the year that was. Wasn't it shite? It’s customary at this time of year to do a review of the last 12 months. But if you think I’ve got time to waste looking at lists, comparing and contrasting; then think again. However, despite having difficulty recalling only yesterday, I will attempt a brief summary of 2010

Well Matt Cardle proved the eventual winner, but who can forget Rebecca Ferguson? Hold on, sorry, that’s meant for my X-Factor blog. Back to the hops and malt stuff.


As usual, it was a mixed bag. There were some excellent new beers, but plenty of dull brown (and other colours) beers as well. Ever man and his dog seem to be brewing now, but often it appears the dog is doing the brewing. Even the mighty Thornbridge dropped a clanger or two.

Meanwhile we’re still waiting for the Great Leap Forward. But despite a lot of hype, the new keg isn’t the new cask. Yet. However, there are some very positive signs and with th…

December's Beer Of The Month

Mallinsons National. A 4.8% pale blonde beer with a light citrus aroma and an easy drinking light body. Mouthfeel is bitter citrus hops and the finish is a long, dry, moreish experience. Very refreshing.