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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

Friday, 31 August 2012

Breakfast Kernel Beer Tasting: Wheat

Something for the weekend sir? Well what about a wheat beer from Kernel? Yes, a wheat beer. Forget the dark side and forget the hop bombs; this is Kernel on its kinky side. Ah, but hold on, this is an American wheat beer. It’s brewed with Columbus and Simcoe. Phew, that’s OK then.

Kernel don’t make wheat beer for Boy Scouts. This is a man-size 500ml bottle and weighs in at 5.2%. It poured with good carbonation to form a hazy golden hue with a large white head. The aroma was strong citrus hops-lemon, grapefruit etc with a little freshly cut grass for good measure.

Taste wise, it was medium bodied with plenty of initial bitterness. There are lots of citrus flavours: orange, lemon and grapefruit, but also grass and, once the bitterness subsides, a touch of wheat. The finish is mainly dry with a little sweetness right at the death.

This is a strange one. It’s not like any wheat beer I’ve had before. In fact, it’s not really a wheat beer at all as it lacks sufficient, erm, wheat to be classed as such. It’s actually more of an American Pale Ale. However, I liked it and, served chilled, it would be quite refreshing.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Drink Driving Pill

There has been somewhat of a media outcry today about the launch of a pill that claims to be able to beat the breathalyser test. Supplier Arthur Kibble, whom admits to having had a drink-driving conviction, claims that a motorist on the limit can reduce their alcohol reading to almost zero.

The ALCO-PAL tablet, produced in India and already banned in the USA, allegedly works by lowering the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. This in turn reduces the level of alcohol expelled by the lungs, thereby producing a false breathalyser result. Its main ingredient is simethicone which is routinely prescribed to treat digestive discomfort.

It’s important to note that these tablets will not prevent you getting drunk and Mr Kibble does say: “I am not advocating motorists get blind drunk and then try to drive. And I must stress that these tablets do nothing to improve the performance of a driver who has been drinking.”  

However, it does seem irresponsible to be selling such a product-whether they actually work or not. They could easily engender a false sense of security and you can just imagine someone taking more than the recommended dose in a vain attempt to get away with driving after a skinful.

I would imagine the authorities are looking at getting this product banned ASAP.

Sam Smiths At It Again?

A little piece of local beer news caught my eye over the Bank holiday weekend. The landlord of the Windmill Inn in Carrington has quit over demands from owners Samuel Smith to serve customers only 95% of a pint. Now this story interested me on many levels, but was of particular note as, at one time, I had occasion to frequent the pub quite often and there is a blue plaque commemorating Don Ricardo’s visit. Or if there isn’t, there should be.

Landlord Mark Anderson says he had no choice but to leave after twice falling foul of the brewer’s strict “surplus stock” rule. He explained that he was told that he must achieve a 5% surplus on all of the pub’s drink stock. The only way to accomplish this was to serve customers their beer with a large frothy head. This was something he was unwilling to do.

Mark, who claims the Windmill was making £4,200 a week, gave his notice in after a second letter warned him that his 1.7% surplus stock figure was too low. Of course Sam Smiths have history with this issue and have shown that they are quite willing to close pubs over it. Indeed, they seem quite proud of their policy, with notices in their pubs saying that “Trade guidance states that a minimum 95 per cent liquid may be served.”

Humphrey Smith, typically, declined to comment when confronted over the brewery’s actions. Which is not surprising as, under his management, the brewery has taken parsimony to new levels and been involved in unpleasant and unnecessary litigation. So don’t expect them to serve a full pint anytime soon.

*The Windmill was a pleasant pub in a bit of a no man’s land between Partington and Sale.  I was stranded there on my first visit when I discovered that Stagecoach refused to run services through Partington in the evening. Getting a taxi back to Sale proved very difficult as apparently avoidance of fares was common. Eventually I secured passage with a female-drivers only taxi firm on the assurance that I wasn’t a drug dealer and would pay up front.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Breakfast Kernel Beer Tasting: India Brown Ale

This dark and wet Bank Holiday sees our journey to the dark side of Kernel beers continue with India Brown Ale. Not to be confused with the Newcastle variety, this is based, I believe, on a recipe for the brown ales that used to be brewed for the Indian market.

It’s 330ml, bottle-conditioned and weighs in at 5.6%. I think this is a weaker version of an earlier batch, as I seem to recall that being over the 7% mark. It poured predictably dark with a large tan head. The aroma was a distinct mix of roast malts and coffee.

The mouthfeel was smooth and initial impressions were that it was very Porter like. There’s roast malt, some chocolate, and a dark fruit character about it. I would imagine that this is similar to, but easier on the palate than, the original version as its creamy nature would be hard to duplicate in a stronger beer.
A pleasant enough, if not the most exciting, Kernel beer.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


Yorkshire brewery Roosters have been a fixture on the micro brewing scene for nearly 20 years now. They started with a bang and, under Sean Franklin, beers such as Yankee soon became classics. In recent times, with changes in personnel, consistency has been something of an issue.

However, under the new team of twin brothers Tom & Ollie Fozard, things seem to be getting back on track. Monday evening gave Port Street regulars the chance to meet the duo and, of course, try some of their beers.

Buckeye (3.5%)
Named after a rare breed of chicken originating from Ohio; this pale ale is brewed with a combination of American and New Zealand hops. Sadly, this was the big disappointment of the night. Yes, there was some citrus there, but a harsh grain texture spoilt it for many people.

Wild Mule (3.9%)
I’ve become well acquainted with this beer over the years as it often features in my local. So I was pleased to find that this was actually an improvement over past batches. Clean tasting with plenty of gooseberry and white wine flavour from the Nelson Sauvin hops, this went down very well.

PS I Love You (6.1%)
PS I Love You
This was a six hop IPA, named after the Beatles song, especially brewed for the Port St event. There was much talk of “balance” in the description of this beer, but that was lacking in the actual taste. Residual sugar made this too sweet and with the alcohol peeking through; it really didn’t deliver as an IPA.

However, it was well matched with some lovely Wensleydale cheese which took the edge off it.

Londinium (5.5%)

This was a dark beer that was a nod to the beers of yesteryear, particularly the Porters of London. Plenty of coffee and roast malt flavours here for lovers of this style. It was very well matched with Farrah’s of Harrogate Vanilla Cream and Caramelised Nut Chocolate which was terrific.

The Accomplice (5.7%)
This is a collaboration brew with Odell with no expense spared. And it shows. This makes full use of its six hops and the Odell influence comes through loud and clear. Best described as a classic American IPA: it was bursting with pine and floral notes with a good hop kick. Excellent and my favourite beer of the night

A post drink-drink was had in Common where we came across the unusual scenario of Hawkshead Windermere Pale served a la diacetyl style. Well it can happen to anyone, it appears. Luckily the Marble Arch came to the rescue with some refreshing pints of Draft that really packed a lot of tropical fruit flavours in a supping strength Bitter. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A Day In The Life: London Brewers

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, get round five London breweries in one day. It was going to be three, but then you meet some brewers and you know what it’s like...you end up “down the rabbit hole” of brewing.

Camden Town Brewery
A well established London outfit, In fact, so well established that they have now outgrown their current home and are having to move on. The bar itself is a tidy little setup that gets packed on Friday evenings. On Saturday, however, we had the place to ourselves.

Hells Lager, not their best beer in my humble opinion, apparently accounts for 80% of sales. Far better is the crisp, refreshing bite of their Pale Ale. Luckily there was also some 1908 still in stock for us to try. This is a Pale Ale based on a recipe from the original Camden Brewery who produced it to commemorate the 1908 Olympics.

Luckily they had a brewer’s recipe book to guide them and, with a little bit of pixie dust from Ron Pattinson, they had a pretty good idea of what to aim for. The result is a 5.5% brew based on Goldings hops and the same American variety as in 1908: Cluster. I know not if it’s anything like the 1908 version, but this was floral and had a good spiced hop bitter edge to it.

I also picked up a good tip for Italian dining in Brixton. So top marks all round.
Dukes Brew & Que
This is a charming little place on Downham Road, Hackney. Home to the Beavertown Brewery, the bar offers their own beers alongside guest beers on cask and keg. Neck Oil Bitter was the pick of their own and was pleasant enough, if undemanding. A work in progress.
London Fields Brewery
I’d heard mixed reports about this one, so was keen to try it for myself. Another “railway arches” brewery, they certainly have a good setup. There’s a popup bar adjacent to the brewery and stalls and music all add to a party like atmosphere.

Beer wise, there’s quite a selection to choose from. The kegged unfiltered lager was sadly, as many of these often are, a pretty mainstream affair. The single hop IPAs were more promising and the Galaxy was a tasty appetiser. However, as every CAMRA member knows, the real test is how do they fare with cask beer?

On this showing, they have nothing to fear. The Hackney Hopster at only 4.2% had plenty of citrus and gooseberry flavour coming from the New Zealand hops contained within. The best beer on offer. One (big) disappointment for me was the cheapo plastic glasses we had to use. Yuk.

The Cock Tavern
Hackney seems to be the place in London at the moment. For this seemingly inconspicuous corner street boozer has been transformed into a veritable beer cornucopia that will delight and astound the cerevisaphile lurking within you.

Brought to you by the team behind the Southampton Arms, it boasts 16 handpumps and several fonts dispensing that craft beer stuff that seems popular at the moment. Oh and of course it boasts a brewery: Howling Hops.

They did have three own brand beers on offer, but my tasting notes are made redundant by the fact that Ed, the young gentleman brewer, only starts today. So we will have to see what a self-confessed “malthead” makes of it all. But any brewer who doesn’t drive is OK in my book.
This place is currently just under the beer radar, but not for much longer, I’d wager.

Crate Brewery
You can’t but be impressed with this place. It might as well have “chilled out” written on the side. Positioned by the side of the river, it offers a good selection of beers, various, er, crates to sit on and, hallelujah, pizza. Yes, London* finally seems to be stepping up to my challenge of delivering quality pizza. And you couldn’t get any more local; with beers such as Hackney and Trumans adorning the bar alongside their own.

Now I don't want you to think it was all work, work and more work. I did manage to fit a few pubs in as well. Well, visiting breweries is a thirsty business...

First mention should go to the Fox in Hackney. Seeing their board outside advertising craft beer, I was somewhat sceptical as to what that would actually equate to. But I needn’t have worried; it looks to be another great addition to the London pub scene.

Having heard good things about the Holborn Whippet, I was keen to give that a go. The place seems very nice, is in a good location and I will return. However, on this occasion our party left disappointed. No bottles means you are at the mercy of the draught selection and, with the sun cracking the flags outside, there was simply nothing pale and hoppy enough on offer.

Unlike Craft which kept us entertained with some single hop beauties and the compulsory dose of Kernel. Then it was off to marvel at the wonder of the Parcel Yard, Fullers superpub at Kings Cross. Beer fatigue then setting in somewhat, we scorned the Euston Tap and went for some refreshing cider instead.

Well done London. Keep this up and perhaps one day people will be referring to you as the Manchester of the South.  

*Camden Town Brewery are also on the ball with this.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Breakfast Kernel Beer Tasting: Porter

This morning we find ourselves once more on the dark side of Kernel. Kernel Porter; to be exact. It’s a big boy’s Kernel bottle-500ml instead of the usual 300ml and weighs in at a bottle-conditioned 5.5%. Not as lively as some Kernel bottles, it poured a very dark brown/almost black with a medium tan head. The aroma was intriguing: hints of coffee, roast malt and chocolate.

The taste took me somewhat by surprise. Yes, it’s well balanced with a smooth texture. And, yes, it’s got roast malt, chocolate and black fruit-blackberries?-swilling round in there. But there’s also a surprising almost hop like sharpness that puckers the lips. This really lifts the beer and adds to the dry roast finish.

I really enjoyed this one. It was well balanced and full of clean flavours that made it very easy to drink.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Government Kills Off Champion Beer Of Wales

Pontypridd-based Otley Brewing have announced they are to cease production of their award-winning O8 beer and have blamed the rise in taxation for the beer becoming too expensive to produce. So have we seen the first high profile casualty of the government’s ill-judged decision to increase duty on beers over 7.5%?

If so, it will be a real shame. O8-a dark golden barley wine-has won the Champion Beer of Wales gong twice and is highly regarded in beery circles. However, its 8% status put it on the government’s naughty step of beers. Whilst the legislation was not primarily aimed at beers such as this, the law of unintentional consequences meant that something such as this happening was only a matter of time.

Why should I bother, some might ask? Particularly in the wake of questioning the wisdom of a barley wine winning CBOB. Well, it might not be your favourite tipple-it isn’t mine, but injudicious legislation hurts us all. And how long before the anti-alcohol powers that be get itchy feet and lower their definition of “strong” beer?

Update: Otley have announced that O8's replacement will be Motley Crew, a 7.5% IPA.

Breakfast Kernel Beer Tasting: Export Stout London 1890

Today’s little early morning appetiser is an Export Stout based on, wait for it, an 1890 recipe. So that clears that up. It’s the standard 330ml bottle-conditioned form and is 7.2%.

It poured very lively and eventually settled for very dark with a large tan head. The aroma was strong with plenty of roast malt, coffee and chocolate. There seemed to be a bit of vanilla in there as well.

The texture was quite oily with a well balanced mix of dark flavours. There’s coffee, liquorice and chocolate alongside some dark fruit and a hint of smoke at the back. These flavours give way to a bitter (think 80%+) dark chocolate aftertaste.

Whilst it didn’t exactly set my Monday morning on fire, it’s certainly an accomplished effort. So if you’re looking for an 1890 Export Stout, this is the one to go for.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Breakfast Kernel Beer Tasting: Galaxy IPA

The weekend kicks off with this single-hop offering from the London hopmeisters. Galaxy is one of those Australian hops that brewers like to bang in IPAs to give them some oomph; so a single-hop version should do very nicely.

It’s 7.2% and comes in 330ml bottle-conditioned form. It poured a hazy burnt orange with a small off-white head and a strong, pleasing aroma of tropical and citrus: grapefruit and passion fruit. The beer itself was medium bodied and full of grapefruit, pineapple and mango. It starts off quite smooth and then the bitterness washes over the tongue

This is an excellent hoppy IPA. The clean citrus/tropical flavours burst through and continue through to the bitter finish. Not only good for hopheads, but also for those interested in what single-hop beers can deliver.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

CBOB: What's all that about then?

Firstly, congratulations to the Coniston Brewing Company for having their No 9 Barley Wine crowned Champion Beer of Britain at this year’s Great British Beer Festival. It’s an 8.5% annual ale and is described as golden with “fantastic finesse, reminiscent of a fine cognac”.

It’s an interesting choice that has been warmly welcomed in some circles, while causing some head scratching in others. The path to CBOB glory is tortuously complex with many CAMRA members not understanding the process, let alone the general public. There are various routes by which a beer can qualify for entry before it’s judged by means of blind tasting.

One questioned that is being asked is how can a barley wine have won? Well, at least it proves that the judging is blind after all and that CAMRA aren’t hung up on any specific criteria. However, that does then rather raise the question of what is the purpose of the Champion Winter Beer of Britain award?

The whole purpose of splitting WiBOB from the main CBOB competition was to give equal prominence to exactly this type of beer. The Winter Ales Festival is their natural home and you won’t-rightly-find ordinary Bitters being considered for the title there. So perhaps CAMRA need to rethink their entry criteria as WiBOB is looking a little redundant right now.

Another complaint has been that it plays into the hands of those that like to portray CAMRA as the “weirdy-beardy” club. Beers for geeks, as someone put it. Another beer enthusiast succinctly tweeted: “Who the fuck is going to drink that?”

It’s all very well for CAMRA’s Chief Executive, Mike Benner, to say that it’s a great opportunity for pubs to try third pint glassware, but that simply isn’t going to happen. Most pubs don’t use them-including the nation’s biggest real ale seller, J D Wetherspoon. Even Coniston have admitted that they don’t expect a huge rise in sales as they acknowledge the, good as it may be, limited appeal of their beer.

Of course CBOB isn’t necessarily aimed at the popular or mainstream. Even though previous winners such as Landlord and Deuchars IPA definitely benefited from their wins. But perhaps it should be-to some extent, anyway.  Certainly the Kafkaesque voting procedure needs reform and CAMRA needs to address, and communicate to others, just what CBOB is all about. 

Monday, 6 August 2012

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Export India Porter (Bramling Cross)

The start of a new week brings an interesting little number from London’s very own Kernel Brewery. It’s a variation on their Export India Porter and, yes, it’s infused with Bramling Cross hops. Why? I don’t know, but it promised to be interesting.
At 5.8%, it’s 0.1% stronger than the standard version and comes in 500ml bottle-conditioned form. As usual with Kernel beers it was very lively and poured black with a large tan head. The aroma was a very pleasant bitter-sweet mix of roast malt, chocolate and dark berries.

The medium, highly-carbonated body was full of the same with detectable coffee notes thrown in. There’s also an interesting earthy hop bitterness that distinguishes it from its predecessor. This lingers in the finish, making it dryer than the earlier version.

The addition of Bramling Cross really adds something to this beer and I find myself preferring this version, but drinking either version really is no hardship.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Camden Hells Lager

I found this bottle propping up the remains of the pizza box this morning and it was obviously intended as a nightcap. However, it does offer itself up now for a breakfast beer tasting. This will be at room temperature, and not chilled as recommended, but it’s all the better for that, I think.

It’s 330ml and 4.6%. It poured a pale gold with reasonable carbonation and a medium off-white head. There wasn’t much on the nose: some sweet malt and a little buttery tone. This followed through in the flavour; with a little grain thrown in. The body was light-medium and served chilled, I’m guessing it would be quite crisp. The finish is short with a slight sweet malt aftertaste.

There are no complex flavours to be analysed here and it’s possibly not going to be the first beer on your shopping list. However, it stood up surprisingly well to being warmed up and, served chilled, it probably fills its niche as a superior rival to mainstream lager.