Showing posts from May, 2013

Official: Beer tastes good

Why do we drink beer? Because we like it seems to be the answer. Yes, in a study that will gladden the hearts of imbibers everywhere, researchers at Indiana University have come to the same conclusion that I reached a long time ago. Beer tastes good which makes me feel good, so I drink more of it.
This being a scientific study, some empirical evidence was required. So they scanned the brains of two groups. One group was given 15ml of a sports drink and the other was given 15ml of their favourite beer. They found that the group that drank the beer released far higher levels of Dopamine into the brain than those that drank the sports drink.
It seems that Dopamine, known as the reward hormone, brought feelings of pleasure and then cravings to the beer lovers, unlike the sports drink group. This is down to the beer’s taste, not its alcohol content. As Professor David Karaken, who led the study, explained: “The mere flavour of beer can provoke this Dopamine response.”

So next time you try a …

Forever Bury Beer Festival

Such is the way with beer festivals that although the 9th Forever Bury Beer Festival is still visible in the rear mirror, the 10th is already being planned. The 15-17th May 2014; in case you were curious. Anyway, back to the 9th which, as usual, was held in the social club of Bury FC. Not surprising when the purpose of the event is to raise money for the mighty Shakers. And, let’s face it; they currently need all the money they can lay their hands on.
The good news is that the 2013 event raised £14,340, a £2000 increase over last year. Not bad, particularly given the current economic woes. And pricing the beer at £2 a pint certainly doesn’t do anything to deter punters from dropping in. With a new layout and cooling equipment, quality and choice were better than ever. Two Manchester breweries:RingwayandBarlick delivered solid, old-fashioned Bitters while Loch Ness threw up a very passable, fruity WilderNess.
The Sportsman Alpha #3 put in a good shout for my beer of the festival, but w…


Blackjack beers are now a familiar sight around Manchester and, increasingly, further afield. Last week gave the crowd at Port Street Beer House to chance to meet the man behind the brand: Rob Hamilton. Rob used to work for Marble (not a bad way to learn the biz) before setting up in Gould St with their redundant 4.5 barrel plant. He made no secret of his terror at public speaking; hold the presses, not all brewers are loudmouths! But everyone who spoke to him that evening came away with the same impression: he’s a nice guy who would rather let his beers do the talking. And there’s nowt wrong with that.
The Pokies Named after a New Zealand slang term for slot machines. This light and refreshing 3.6% pale ale boasts Pacific Gem, Pacific Jade and Wakatu hops and went down very well indeed.
Lager CAMRA members drinking kegged lager? Some mistake, Shirley? Even worse, CAMRA members drinking kegged lager and liking it. This 5.2% offering was another winner, pleasantly fruity and not overly gas…

Craft Beer World by Mark Dredge

Apart from actually drinking the stuff, the next best thing is reading about beer. Which brings me to this worthy little effort. My apologies for not getting round to reviewing it sooner, but I have been using it as a doorstop. Had I known its contents, I would have no doubt got round to it much quicker. But let’s cut to the chase; what’s it like?
This is a 208 page guide to the best that the craft beer world has to offer. Written by the annoyingly smart Mr Dredge, it’s along the lines of “beers to try before you die”. 350 of them to be precise. Beers are broken down, sensibly, into styles and each one then gets a picture and a little write up. This being a craft beer book, the beers circle the world from England to Japan.
Now, as I always say, half the fun of these books is seeing what beers people have chosen; as you can’t please all the people etc. Crate Brewery Lager makes into the Pilsner section even though it’s not a Pilsner. And Fullers Bengal Lancer as one of the best English P…

The Dutton

While we’re on a nostalgic kick, it’s an opportune moment to reflect on the loss of the Dutton Hotel. News that this icon of the Manchester pub scene had closed reached me last month and it was sad, if not wholly unexpected, tidings. Situated on Park St, behind the MEN Arena, this small street-corner boozer was a step back in time and, along with the Jolly Angler, represented a link to Manchester’s industrial past.
But the heyday of places such as the Dutton was a long time ago and each increasing year brought even less trade. I was surprised to find it still open on my last visit there three years ago as I imagined that its small, but loyal, pool of hardcore regulars would have dried up. These were crucial to the survival of the pub as there was virtually no passing trade and little but curiosity to tempt the casual visitor.
I first came across it thanks to the Good Beer Guide which it used to feature in on and off for many years. It was a Hydes pub and was famous for its anvils (the …

The Racecourse

The Racecourse Hotel on Littleton Road, Salford, is a piece of pub-going history that we look set to lose. It’s certainly a mammoth pub, of a scale that you simply don’t get these days. Built in 1930 by Salford brewers Grove & Whitnall to fund demand by the nearby racecourse (which closed in 1963) it features a myriad of rooms and an imposing central bar.
Recently CAMRA members were invited to tour the premises and see the areas usually off-limits to the public. These include the two large cellars that aren’t even connected and odd historical hangovers such as the jockey’s room complete with original shelving. It would need a lot of effort (and money) to bring it up to scratch, but the function room upstairs is one asset that could be exploited.
Owners Oakwell Brewery are set to call time at the end of the month and although there’s a chance of a new buyer stepping in, that would mean a major facelift. Anyone interested in pub history (and who isn’t) should try and get along to see…

Saturday & Sunday in London

Saturday dawned bright and sunny. Well, overcast and a little drizzly, but in our hearts it was sunny. A trip on the river, a trip on the cable car, a little culture amongst the beer, but, as Groucho Marx said:”You can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think.” So with some CAMRA members getting the shakes and needing a drink, we headed off for our first stop: Kernel brewery.
Nestled in the heart of Bermondsey, they have a smart setup which has had a small change since my last visit. Sensibly they have split the bar area into on-sales and off-sales to try and minimise queuing. Lovely portions of Table Beer, Sour and Pale Ale were consumed here. Luckily it wasn’t far to Partizanwhich is easily reached by following the contour of the railway arches. Here the sun peaked through and allowed al fresco tastings of both their Saison beers and their Citra offering.
The enticing environs of Craft Islington beckoned next before a diversion to the Union Tavern on Woodfield Road. This…

Friday in London

A wise man once said that trying to herd CAMRA members was like trying to herd cats. However, that was the mission as we attempted to navigate the sometimes-sunny streets of London. First stop had to be the Euston Tap where Mallinsons (sparkler by request) was enjoyed al fresco. A quick romp took us up to the Parcel Yard at Kings Cross station. This modern behemoth is a warren of drinking spaces and offers the full range of Fullers beers. Although, on this occasion, it was Oakham JHB that tickled the fancy.
Just round the corner from our hotel was our base of operation for the weekend: the Queens Head on Acton Street. This late Georgian side-street boozer has a single bar with benches outside. It’s a cracking London boozer with a relaxed vibe. And the beer isn’t bad, either. Usually local (ish), there is also real cider and a good bottled beer range. Further good news lies in the presence of a bus stop just across the street. The bus from here quickly took us to our next destination: C…