Showing posts from July, 2013

Mad Hatter@PSBH

Monday evening saw the usual suspects gathered for a meet the brewer with Mad Hatter’s Gareth Mathews. Gareth or Mad Gaz as his wife, Sue, affectionately knows him as, is the man behind Liverpool’s most experimental brewery. Technically it’s a Toxteth nanobrewery running off batches of 400 litres but, as Gaz explained, the small size makes it easier to produce a wide variety of new beers. As if to prove the point and a first for MTB@PSBH, all the beers on the night were new brews.

After an interesting introduction on how he came to be brewing: all to do with his brother having an illicit bar in his bedroom and getting bored with academia, it was onto the beer. The name of the brewery is pretty self-explanatory and yes, does tie in with Alice in Wonderland. Their distinctive artwork is done by Emily Warren who also produced the impressive papier mâché pumpclips for the bar. Another interesting aspect of the brewery is that Gaz doesn’t really believe in brewing anything under 6.5%. Now h…

A Jolly Outing In Chester

Chester has always been one of the top spots for a day’s drinking. Plenty of pubs-from old to modern-and lots of the real stuff. Sorry, keggies, although it’s growing in availability, it’s still not the best place for that craft stuff. My last visit was in February last year as organiser of a CAMRA crawl. Last Saturday’s adventure was a bipartisan Jolly Boys Outing. Route agreed it was upwards (or downwards) until the bitter end.

Cellar A new one to me. This bar on City Road has been picking up some good reports with up to four cask beers on. But sadly not on our visit. Two Red Willow beers were showing on the bar, but getting hold of them proved somewhat elusive. Or illusory, even. Splutter, splutter, but no joy. The barmaid was very apologetic but they weren’t ready. I realise this will be more of a late night haunt, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that, if somewhere opens at lunchtime, that they will have beer available.
Old Harkers Luckily, after that false start, it wa…

Swings and Roundabouts

Or losses and gains in the Bury area. First up is the sad sight of the Derby Arms on Bolton Road being reduced to rubble in preparation for its conversion to a car delearship forecourt. The ex-Thwaites pub, despite being described as an “eyesore” in the local paper, was actually in perfect physical condition but has now had the ultimate humiliation of being wiped completely off the map. It was the last in what was once a heavily pubbed area: think Arthur, Blue Bell, Jolly Carter and Eagle & Child.

However, there have been exciting developments in the town centre. Well, developments anyway. There are two real ale gains to report, although how long they’ll last in anyone’s guess. First up is Malloys on Silver St. This ‘Oirish’ pub has joined the real ale craze and installed Hobgoblin and Bombardier on the bar. Frankly, it’s not a selection likely to draw too many away from the other watering holes of Bury, but they are hoping that the lure of Sky Sports and Hobgoblin at £2.09 a pint…

A Muggy Day In London

Some of the highs and lows of a day out in London.
Kernel Brewery Another London trip, another visit to Kernel. Can you visit London without going via Bermondsey? It may be possible, but not in my experience. A lot of choice. Actually a lot of strong choice. Apart from Table Beer, there was Pale Ale Summit at 5.2%, and then the only way was up, as they say. Nothing much of supping strength. But what about London Sour, I hear you ask? Well yes, they did have that. Indeed two new varieties of this 2.3% oddity. One that had been aged in a white wine barrel and one-wait for it-that had been aged in a red wine barrel. Call me boring, because I know barrel-ageing is all the rage in craft land, but I much prefer the original. The wood and acetic nature of these have transformed a pleasurable puckerish beer to some sort of (yawn) Belgian Lambic hybrid. Luckily there was Motueka, Centennial, Nelson Sauvin, Zeus to finish on.
Old Brewery, Greenwich Ah, the Old Brewery. Probably the best outdoor sp…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Ramsbottom Craft Stout In Chocolate

Monday morning: the perfect time to kick back and enjoy a pint of chocolate Stout. Or perhaps a stout chocolate? You don’t have to be a fully paid-up beer geek to get the gist of this beer. I think the title says all you need to know about it. But what did it taste like?
Well, it’s the standard 500ml format and is a bottle-conditioned 6%. It was quite lively and poured a good looking very dark-dare we say chocolate-colour with a medium tan head. The aroma was pleasant enough, a good mix of caramel and toffee notes. Taste wise, it was velvet smooth with lots of chocolate, a little caramel and some treacle. The finish is reminiscent of milk chocolate but avoids any cloying sweetness.
Tyson says: Not usually a flavour I seek out in beer, but this easy-drinker lives up to its name and will please lovers of all things chocolatey

No Thanks

It’s nice to be invited to places but I think I won’t be accepting the invitation that has just arrived in my inbox. Some PR outfit, acting on behalf of AB Inbev, want me to help celebrate production of their client’s 20 billionth pint. The invited throng would first have to endure a tour of their Samlesbury brewery-a place which the very mention of sends shivers down real ale and craft brewing aficionados alike. Then, and I like this bit, a Stella Artois ‘expert’ will talk about matching the beer with food: very craft beer like, before the grand finale of a competition to judge the perfect pour of Stella. Fun for all the family, I grant you, but sadly I am busy watching paint dry that day, so will have to politely decline.

Cool Beer On A Hot Day


Breakfast Beer Tasting: Ramsbottom Craft Spangled IPA

When it’s a Tuesday morning such as this, your thoughts will naturally turn to beer. And the temperature and mood is just calling out for an IPA. Which is handy as that is what is on offer today. Yes, it’s Ramsbottom IPA day. As usual it’s a 500ml, bottle-conditioned offering and, being an American affair, is a weighty 6.7%.
It poured amber in hue with excellent carbonation and a medium off-white head. Definite classic citrus notes-grapefruit mainly, in the aroma but also a strong presence of crystal malt in there as well. It started a little sluggish on the palate with crystal malt coming to the fore but then the grapefruit and lemon come through to add a little balance. It then dries out to an excellent, very bitter finish.

Tyson says: Loved the bitter finish, but maybe needs tweaking a little to redress the crystal malt issue.

Get On The Bus To Magic Rock

Saturday finally saw a coach full of excited CAMRA types make the journey over to Huddersfield in order to visit Magic Rock Brewery. Having been unexpectedly cancelled due to snow last time, there were fingers crossed that this time things would go more smoothly. We needn’t have worried as the sun shone down over Yorkshire and all was right with the world. Magic Rock are in the premier league of British brewing and regularly knock out classics such as Curious and High Wire. Not to mention an ever growing number of speciality beers. Richard Burhouse and head brewer Stu Ross-who some may recall from his time at the Crown Brewery in Sheffield-were both on hand to take us on separate tours.
It’s amazing just how far Magic Rock have come since they started in 2011. Well known for their hop-forward beers, they use a lot of the American ‘C’ hops and a smattering of New World hops; when they can get them. Oh the name, in case you were wondering, was inspired by the hippy crystal place next doo…

Quaker House Rocks The Trackside

It’s been hailed by some (ok, me) as the greatest beer ever brewed. And finally the unwashed masses have had their chance to try it. Yes, Allgates Quaker House Stout, as brewed by moi, Tandleman and BeersManchester arrived at the Trackside yesterday. Of course having already tried it, I knew it was good but the feedback from other drinkers has been very positive. How to describe it? A little piece of dark heaven here on earth? It’s jet black (as a proper Stout should be) with a lovely creamy head. The oats make for a very smooth drinking experience and people tell me it does not taste its 4.9% strength. Try it, if you can, on your travels. The best bit is that, thanks to the generous folks at Allgates, this firkin was donated in lieu of a donation to a charity of my choosing. And so, having decided I ought to match their generous offer, I’m happy to report a suitable donation has been made towards the terrific work that Sands does.

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Ramsbottom Craft Mango Beach

Yes it’s Saturday. And we all know what that means, right? All together’s a Ramsbottom Craft Brewery day. What do you mean you’ve heard that before? I’ve got a day’s arduous drinking in Huddersfield ahead of me; so I need something to wash away last night’s cold pizza and set me up for the day. This Ramsbottom brewed American IPA style beer promises to do that just that.
It’s 500ml and a bottle-conditioned 5.7%. It was very lively and poured hazy gold with a large white head. The aroma was good: clean grapefruit and tropical fruit notes. The taste was crisp, light on the tongue-no hint of being 5.7%-and full of grapefruit, lemon and papaya. And is that a hint of mango as well or is my imagination just running away with me? Either way, it’s very refreshing and leads to a citrus blended dry finish. I’d love to see this being pulled through a sparkler, hint, hint.
Tyson says: Excellent. May be RCB’s best to date.

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Ramsbottom Craft 4 Ball Break

I know what you are thinking. If it’s Thursday, it must be Ramsbottom Craft Brewery day, right? Absolutely. Something slightly unusual, though. Unusual in the sense that it’s not too experimental, but more of a traditional Bitter. Which is good as RCB can usually be relied on to knock out a winner in that particular field. Spot the sporting metaphor. Anyway, this is brewed with Pioneer hops which some, misguidedly, may dismiss as a little dull. In the right hands, Pioneer can really bring something to a beer of this style.
Now the important bit. It’s 500ml, bottle-conditioned and tips the scales at a healthy 4%. It poured copper in colour with a good carbonation and a medium off-white head. The aroma was a bit of surprise: more toffee and caramel than I was expecting. The taste is smooth with a well-balanced mix of pleasant toasted malt notes and a nutty, dryish aftertaste. Pioneer certainly seems to work in this beer. I’d like to try this on cask as you could easily imagine swigging a…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: RCB Gamblers Paradise 11

If it’s Wednesday, then it must be Ramsbottom Craft Brewery day. Well it is today, anyway. Today sees Gamblers Paradise 11, a tweak of the original Gamblers Paradise and a beer that has already proved popular in its own right. As usual for RCB beers, it is bottle-conditioned and comes in 500ml form with a Best Bitter strength of 4.2%.
It poured copper with light carbonation and a small beige head. The aroma was subtle and consisted mainly of sweet malt and a little berried fruit. The body was light and there is a biscuit malt crispness backed with some tart fruitiness before a slightly sweet malt finish.

Tyson says: Crisper on cask, but another easy-drinker from RCB.

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Ramsbottom Craft Pink Pepper Bock

Monday is as good a day as any for trying something different. And this Pink Pepper Bock should fit the bill nicely. What on earth is a Pink Pepper Bock, oh font of all knowledge, I hear you ask. Well clearly it’s a, er, Pink Pepper Bock thingy type of beer. No surprises to learn that it’s an experimental brew from Mr Holmes up there in Ramsbottom. It’s made with a 100% barley grain bill, and is fermented with weizen yeast before the spicy hops are added. Oh and there are pink peppercorns in there as well.
It's bottle-conditioned, 500ml, and 4.1%. It poured light amber with good carbonation and a thin off-white head. The aroma was a pungent mix of bubblegum and spiced yeast. The body was light and quite smooth. The aroma flavours come through in the taste but in a more subtle balance. So it’s spicy and slightly perfumery with a underlying malt sweetness. The finish is a short burst of pepper at the back of the throat. An easy drinking, somewhat dunkeleque beer.

Tyson says: A beer th…

1000 Not Out

So, here it is. The 1000th post of this little old blog. It really should have been at least 6 months ago, but old age and real life wait for no beerhound. I make that five and a half years of eating cheese and drinking beer for this blog and a couple of months on the previous blog. That’s nearly six years of undertaking diligent research for the good of the public. I like to comfort myself with the knowledge that several of today’s quality blogs started around then but, of course, there is always the exception.
Now if you’re expecting some nostalgic look back through the years, you’ve mistaken me for someone far less lazy. Would I put down this Crouch Vale Brewers Gold, just to go inside to wade through the archives? I don’t think so. Still it is a fair amount of time in blogging terms. And although there are far too many blogs to keep up with these days, a lot of come and gone in that time as well. Some have gone on to bigger and better things, some of us are still sleeping in ditche…

Sunny London

Saturday saw a small band of desperados make a day of it in London. Ostensibly it was to show the people who hadn't been before what the delights of Kernel and Partizan were. The rest of us who had been could look forward to reacquainting ourselves with some quality beverages. As if by magic, we were soon sitting down under the arches in Bermondsey for a lunchtime refresher. Table Beer, Citra Galaxy (the best), Simcoe, and Export Porter were among some of the beers that forced their way down our gullets. But man cannot live by Kernel alone-although it might be fun to try-and so we made the short trek to Partizan’s home under the arches.
This was my third trip there and each time has presented different beers to try. This time it was Saison that was the most prevalent style with both Styrian Goldings and Citra tried. Not bad beers, but perhaps the famous Citra punch was lacking a little in the finish. A Pale Ale got us back on track and we were soon navigating through Bank station t…