Showing posts from April, 2012

In My Liverpool Home Pt 1

Liverpool is a great city for a beer crawl. And while there are many old favourites to be had, it’s evolving all the time. So in search of the old and new, a pub expedition was mounted to seek out and boldly go.

First stop was in the wild badlands of Birkenhead. Gallagher’s Bar brings the old concept of pubs serving more than just beer into the modern age. Frankie Gallagher and his wife Sue owned two barbers shops, but always wanted to have a pub. So when they moved in, they opened a barbers shop in the pub. Customers get a ticket and then can enjoy a pint as they wait. Pure genius, if you ask me. Next up was the Stork Hotel on Price Street. This is looking rather isolated now and could do with a little TLC. Which is a shame as it’s a cracking CAMRA National Inventory pub that rivals some of the best. A traditional multi-roomer, it had a makeover in the early years of the last century. There’s some lovely Edwardian tiling (got ‘em at home, actually) and a fantastic mosaic floor. The Vic…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog Galaxy

This is the second in Brewdog’s series of IPA is Dead single hop beers. As all the basics remain the same as the first beer, I’ll skip right into the review. Galaxy is an Australian hop that is a relative newcomer to these shores. It’s got strong characteristics that when added late in the boil produces a Citra like effect, but with more passion fruit. It’s certainly been put to good use by some brewers, but what’s it like on its own?

It poured amber with little carbonation and a small off-white head. The aroma was pine resinous heavy with a little tropical fruit peeking through. The mouthfeel was quite heavy; with pine and a lot of astringent bitterness. If Motueka tickled your tongue and cleansed the palate, then this battered it into submission.

This was quite disappointing. The malt backbone was totally swamped and this tasted for what it was: an experimental IPA. Astringency on this level makes for more difficult drinking than one should expect. Interesting, but not great for a s…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Marstons Ale Shandy

This attempt at conquering the sub 3% beer market promises to be a “tasty and refreshing blend of traditionally brewed pale ale and lemonade”. It also recommends being served chilled over ice. However, as I’m judging it as a beer, albeit a low ABV one, there will be no ice here, thanks.

It’s a 500ml bottle and poured amber with good carbonation and a tight off-white head. The aroma was lemonade with a hint of the Burton snatch. That’s sulphur to the uninitiated. Taste wise, there really isn’t much to it. It’s sweet, like lemonade made with sweetener and little trace of the pale ale element.
This probably should be served over ice as something needs to numb the one-dimensional sweetness. I can’t see many beer drinkers wanting to, or being able to, drink much of this. Thirst quenching it isn’t; you are better off sticking to straight lemonade.

München Teil Zwei

A trip out to the Andechs Monastery is always advisable if you like your beer in unusual surroundings and with great views. A 50 minute train journey takes you to Herrsching, the end of the S8 route, and from there you have several choices. An hour’s walk uphill, a 10 minute bus ride for €2.20 or a taxi for around €15 will all get you to Kloster Andechs.

Unusually, the beer operation is self service with you buying your beer and getting a receipt to give the barman who pours your drink. They’re famous for their pork knuckles, but vegetarians beware: the cafeteria setup is not geared up for a carnivorous free diet.

If you can’t make the Kloster Andechs, you can try their beers at the Andescher am Dom in Munich. However, try to avoid it during football times as Bayern fans leave little room for anyone else. The Augustiner am Dom next door is an interesting place with one half being modern with TVs playing and the other half being traditional with a lovely upstairs snug.

The Hirschgarten i…

München Teil Eins

München may only be the third largest city in Germany, but it seems like the busiest. Its motto is München mag Dich, literally “Munich likes you” and people do seem to like it back. Everywhere you look, people are stuffing their face with food and drink. Not an easy task when many places are charging €4.30 for a half litre drink.

Really it’s a month or so too early to visit Munich. Ideally, you want the sunshine and their legendary beer gardens. But it is legal to sit inside a Munich pub and, without the lure of al fresco drinking to distract us, more ground was covered. In fact, all the desired stops were ticked off, save for Tegernsee which is best saved for summer.
Transport is great; with tickets that take in the underground, the overground, buses and trams and all available cheaply for groups of up to 6 people. Then there is walking, which is a great way to see some of the impressive sights and history of the city. And it’s also compulsory when out on the piss with Eddie, the eage…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog Motueka

I fancy some IPAs today. So what better way to kick start the day than with Brewdog’s Motueka. This is part of their IPA is Dead series. Basically they take the same malt backbone and the same finishing level of bitterness: 75 IBUs, but just use one hop. So this is all kettle hopped (hops added at the beginning) and dry hopped (late addition) with Motueka hops.  
I like Motueka hops. Well, actually I like all hops, but that’s beside the point. Motueka is a great New Zealand aroma hop and has been put to excellent use by brewers such as Wigan’s very own Allgates. So I was looking forward to seeing what Brewdog could do with it.

It’s the typical 330ml Brewdog size and is 6.7% by alcohol. It poured clear amber with good carbonation and an off-white head. The aroma was grassy and some of that tropical fruit which is always good. The body was quite light and the alcoholic content was well hidden.

Taste wise; you get the classic citrus kick with a nice tang of melon thrown in. There’…

Name and Shame A Drunk Day

The latest bright idea on how to tackle the country’s “out of control” drinking problem is to name and shame so-called binge drinkers. Yes, the solution to the menace of modern drinking is to have offenders pictured in the Monday papers as atonement for their weekend of excess.

Who has come up with this light bulb moment? Step forward national treasure Ann Widdecombe. Being a national treasure possibly explains the media’s interest in the story and why some other numpties have jumped on the bandwagon.
Taking part in a Radio 5 Live documentary about Britain’s attitude to drink; she accompanied a group of 20-something women on a typical Friday night out. Whoever thought of sending out the 64-year-old teetotaller and professional virgin on such a mission was either an idiot or a genius. Depending on your appreciation of comedic value.
Either way, the result was never going to be in doubt. Miss Widdecombe was shocked. She was shocked by the number of young professionals, particularly women,…

Time finally called at the Flying Shuttle

Some pub closures are sad. Some are inevitable. And some are, well, just for the best. So it seems with the closure of the Flying Shuttle on Highfield Road in Farnworth, Bolton. Now I know quite a few pubs in the area, but it seems I’ve missed out on visiting this little gem. Or perhaps not, as it’s been branded “Britain’s roughest pub”.

To be fair, there may be grounds for such a bold claim. It appears that the FS was the kind of pub that the Good Beer Guide might euphemistically describe as “lively” and with a “mixed clientele”. Which translates to rough and full of knobheads in the Queen’s English.
When police raided the premises at 0030, the 13 officers were outnumbered 4-1 and the raid leader, Sgt Knight said: “We took 13 officers with us and we still did not feel safe in that pub”. This follows an earlier visit in February when police found customers still being served at 2.45am as staff were too frightened to call time.
Mind you, it looks like the locals weren’t actually buying t…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Tolly Cobbold & Marstons Pale

Today I’m attempting something I’ve never done before. I’m doing a double breakfast beer tasting. Now I know what you’re thinking; don’t do it, you crazy romantic fool, it’s not worth it. But fear not, dear reader, I’m taking the low abv route today. I’m seeing just how low you can really go. Bring on the 2.8% thirst quenchers.

Tolly Cobbold English Ale
Of course, this isn’t really Tolly Cobbold, but our dear friends at Greene King trying to cash in on a bygone name. Now they’ve been brewing (in my opinion only, of course, it’s all subjective, blah, blah)) cack beer for years, so a 2.8% pisswater blend shouldn’t be beyond them.

It’s 500ml and poured with good carbonation and a medium off-white head. A traditional amber in colour, the aroma was reminiscent of shandy. As was the taste that slightly pricked the tongue with a little bread dough tingle and then dies off.

Not as bad as I feared, but the monochrome shandy effect-like the beer-wears thin after awhile. I can only see this as a…

Weekend in the Lake District: Part Two

Broughton Mills
The Blacksmiths Arms is a CAMRA National Inventory pub. Its slate flagged floors and oak beams conjure up days gone by. However, alongside the dreaded Dent were two beers that were either yeasty or, in the second case, metallic.

Broughton In Furness
A nice compact pub crawl is possible here, accompanied by a visit to the excellent bakers. Just be aware of potential pie pinchers. The GBG Manor Arms had by far the best choice, with the only criticism being that, in a small pub of that size, the pool table was wasted seating space.

The Prince of Wales is a very busy pub as punters come and go via the railway station across the road. The pub is ok, but their own beers were a bit amateurish for my palate.

The Brown Horse Inn was another cracking brewpub. All the Winster Valley Brewery beers packed a lot of flavour into sub 4% strengths. I eventually settled for Hurdler, a fruity little 3.5% with enough hop bite to make it the perfect beer garden accompaniment.

Weekend in the Lake District: Part One

Last weekend saw the passport holding members of Rochdale, Oldham and Bury CAMRA spend a long weekend in the Lake District. Now the LD is a funny place; there are no tripe mines and no black pudding trees. But there is some stunning scenery and some great pubs. Unfortunately some are very difficult to navigate by coach and some are just impossible.
Windermere Been here a few times over the years and although it’s a convenient base, it’s basically a one-horse, tourist trap. I was warned that the Queens is considered a little rough and certainly the presence of Dent on the bar was enough to send me scuttling away.
The Oakthorpe had a very limited selection, but the Grey Walls proved more fruitful. They had Theakstons Best, Old Peculiar and Old Rosie cider on. But the pick of the bunch here were the beers from Pennine Brewery in Batley, Their Real Blonde was an easy drinking, fruity session beer which, according to the pumpclip, contains 2.27 units of alcohol per pint.
The Good Beer Guide l…

Winnners and Losers at the Hare & Hounds

Well the tables have been wiped and the slop buckets emptied. Yes, yesterday saw the final day of the first Hare & Hounds beer festival of this year. The unseasonably good weather we had on the first weekend certainly helped as the pub was even busier than usual. With over a hundred beers flying out in the first few days, there were fears of a beer drought, but thanks to good planning, that never came to pass. So well done to Andy & Lynne and all the team there.

How was it for you? Well, it was an unashamed tickers fest. Even more so after the initial beer rush led to many beers appearing that were not on the official list. Which left many tickers caught between sexual arousal and despair as they feared they may be miss out on a crucial tick.
For the rest of us, these events usually mean plotting a course carefully between trusted breweries and the unknown depths. The first part was easy, but with so many new ones appearing, the second wasn't so easy. There were a few more …