About Me

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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

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

American Beer Tasting@PSBH

Today sees the public launch of the Port Street Beer House American Beer Festival. However, some of us were there last night for another talk and tasting by Andreas Falt-the Beer Ambassador for the Brewers Association, which represents many American craft brewers. Is it really a year since his last visit? He’s a very engaging speaker and spoke with some authority on the history of brewing in North America and about the craft beer scene generally. Of course, as always, it’s all about the beer. So without further ado, here’s the scores on the doors.

Rogue Farms Good Chit Pilsner
You’d expect a good beer from the folks at Rogue and this didn’t disappoint. It’s 5.2% and is made with barley from their own farm. Chit is of course the rootlets that emerge from the embryo of the kernel once germination has begun. Straw coloured, it’s light in body and had a slight acidic bite that made it very easy to drink. Just lacked that extra crisp edge that I like in a Pilsner, though.

Ska Modus Hoperandi
Ska are one of the rising stars of the craft scene and this is of my favourite beers of the moment. A classic Colorado IPA, this dark amber (golden-orange to some) 6.8% packs in plenty of pine and citrus bitterness in a way-too-easy to drink glassful. Awesome, you might say.

Sierra Nevada Belgian Style Blonde IPA
Andreas chose this beer as he had never sampled it before and confessed to being disappointed with it. And so was I. Apparently it’s one of their Beer Camp projects-where they let fans attend the brewery and, judging by this, mess about. Not an IPA at all as the Belgian element completely dominates this 7.5% clunker.

Southern Tier Iniquity Black Ale
Southern Tier: tick. Imperial Black IPA: tick. Yes, we were back on track for this one. A 9% cracker. Initial chocolate tones quickly give way to resinous pine and plenty of C hops. Does not taste like 9%! Awesomeness to the max.

Flying Dog Green Tea Imperial Stout
The green tea revolution (or revulsion to some) that I witnessed over the pond last year has landed in Blighty. This 10% vinous heavyweight was too much for some and whilst definitely a sipping beer, it wasn’t too bad. Not much trace of the tea in the nose, but there was definitely a tingle of it in the brew and it seemed to, just about; hold the more extreme elements in check

Also tried:

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
My second time around of this 7.2% rarity on cask. A solid malt backbone is overlaid with pine and grapefruit. A hop treat and a kick in the balls for people who say big American IPAs don’t work on cask.

Weird Beard Fade to Black
This London brewed black IPA didn’t do it for me, I’m afraid. Is there rye in there? Because something was holding the hops back and letting too much roast flavour soak the palate.

Founders All Day IPA
This had to be tried as Andreas had mentioned it as part of the new wave of “session IPAs”. At 4.7% it stokes the debate about what constitutes a real IPA but, labels aside, it’s a very fine beer. Smooth with a perfect malt to fruit hop balance, it demonstrates that our colonial cousins can brew weaker beers just as good as their stronger counterparts.

So another great evening of beery mayhem courtesy of Andreas and the PSBH gang. If you fancy going transcontinental, get yourself down there in the next two weeks. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Titanic Brewery & Stafford Pubs

Titanic Brewery
Wake me when beer comes

Titanic is a well known name on the pumpclips of Britain and thanks to various distribution deals, you may come across its beers from John O’Groats to Land’s End. It’s been around a long time in micro brewing terms: 1985 and is currently owned by brothers Dave & Keith Bott. Saturday saw a CAMRA expedition visit the brewery in Burslem and then several pubs in the area.  The brewery is bigger than I expected-it’s a 50 BBL plant, so it was a little surprising that beer was only available straight from the cask and served in plastic glasses.

No such problems at the brewery tap, the Bulls Head where I was able to sample my favourite Titanic beer, Iceberg. This is a 4.1% wheat beer made with Yakima, Galena and Cascade hops and, kept well, is a very refreshing pint. I also got to try Nine Tenths Below, a Jaipur clone which, I was assured, was exactly like Jaipur, but they are unable to sell much of it as Thornbridge have the market sewn up. I’m afraid the unanimous verdict was that it doesn’t sell because it’s nothing at all like Jaipur. And not in a good way.

Time, folks!
I liked the Duke William, a large, imposing multi-roomed pub with the beer of the day: Oakham Citra. Not far away the Post Office Vaults offered Oakham Inferno as an alternative. Another interesting pub was the unusually named Holy Inadequate in Etruria. Mallinsons was on the bar but it was the interior that caught the eye. Amongst the pictures and memorabilia on display was a rarity that got the Rochdale contingent excited.

Rochdale & Manor were a large brewing concern until they were taken over by Sam Smiths in 1948 and brewing ceased in the town in 1974. Also unusual was the pub’s way of advertising their entry in the Good Beer Guide. No banner outside for them. No, they had the artist who did the mural inside paint them a notice outside. And very nice it looks too. It was a return to the blessed Iceberg at the final stop-the Greyhound at Hartshill. A good finale to a good day out

Friday, 21 June 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Ramsbottom Craft Klein Dunkelweizen

This morning sees yet another new beer from Bury’s busiest brewer: Matt Holmes at Ramsbottom Craft. Trivia fact of the day; he’s very, very good at croquet. Where does he find the time? Anyway, back to the breakfast tipple. This is in the Dunkelweizen style, so I’m basically expecting a brown wheat beer-complex malts with fruit and cloves.

It’s a 500ml bottle and comes in at 4.8%. It poured a hazy brown (as expected) with good carbonation and a large tan head. The aroma was malt driven: caramel, milk chocolate and a little bit of spice. RCB beers tend to hide the alcohol well and this passes off for something of a lower strength. The taste is quite earthy with caramel, chocolate and some banana, if I’m not mistaken, in there as well. The mild-medium bitter finish is somewhat reminiscent of cooking chocolate.

Tyson says: Another Who needs M√ľnchen when you have Ramsbottom? 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Wild Beer Madness IPA

Thursday morning is traditionally IPA day. Well, tradition has to start somewhere and I’m starting it here. Wild Beer Co are a craft beer outfit from deepest Somerset who like to do things a little differently. Apparently when brewer Bett Ellis landed on these shores, he was disappointed to find we were lacking in West Coast IPAs. This is his attempt to rectify that.

It’s a 330ml bottle and weighs in at 6.8%. The label promises hops, hops and hops, so expectations are high. It poured a nice looking amber with plenty of carbonation and a large white head. The aroma was pungent: floral pine and citrus. The body was surprisingly light for the strength and flavours fizzed and pickled over the tongue.

This is not a subtle beer. The first wave of pine-infused hops hits you straight away. You get a sense of the biscuit malt backbone and a twist of grapefruit before the second hop wave hits you. The bottle says it’s been late hopped, dry-hopped etc and that certainly comes through in the taste. The finish is long and bitter and pine needles stick to the back of the throat.

Tyson says: If your idea of a hoppy beer is Newcastle Brown, then this isn’t for you. If however, like me, you enjoy being hit in the mouth with a hop bucket, you’ll love it. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Flying Dog UnderDog Atlantic Lager

I’m feeling a little summery today, so it must be time for some lager tasting. Not any old lager, naturally. American lager. And not any old American lager, either. Flying Dog lager, no less. Now they produce some damn fine beers, so I was looking forward to their transatlantic take on this style. Technical bit first: it’s brewed with Wheat, Rye and Cara-Pils Malt, German yeast and Perle and Goldings hops.

It’s 4.7% and comes in a 355ml bottle. Livelier than a Kentucky bride on her wedding night, it poured light amber with a large white head. The aroma was quite subtle but had hints of floral and grass notes. The body was light and had a good biscuit malt bite with a slight honey undertone before finishing crisp and dry. This was a lot better than I was expecting and does indeed live up to its billing.

Tyson says: If you’re looking for a change from the ale this summer, this will do the trick

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Liverpool Craft Beer Expo

What is it with these craft beer festivals? Like buses, you don’t see one for 40 years and then they all come along in a short spell. First we had IndyManCon, then London had a go (less said the better) and now it was Liverpool’s turn. In case you have been too busy stockpiling Skol to have noticed; the idea of these events is to place the new wave of keg beer on an equal footing with cask beer. Something the traditional CAMRA festival is unable to do. Host it in an unusual place, mix in a bit of music and events-in Liverpool’s case, live brewing-etc and you will have something that marks you out from the, in some eyes, old-fashioned CAMRA hall event. Having been tipped off about this one by the guys from Liverpool Craft Brewery and not needing much of an excuse to go drinking in Liverpool, I set sail for Merseyside.

The inaugural Liverpool Craft Beer Expo was held at the Camp & Furnace on Greenland St which is about a mile from Liverpool Lime St station and is part of the so-called Baltic Triangle area. It was an interesting venue: naturally lit by the glass roof and with plenty of toilets. Admission was by ticket only and both Friday and Saturday sessions were a sell out. Seating in the main hall was in the Germanic way of long wooden tables. Which meant squeezing in and chatting with your neighbours. With a glam blonde on one side and a very friendly young CAMRA couple (Hello John & Claire) facing me, the time passed very pleasantly. Of course, it wasn’t all young hipsters; a few of the CAMRA pros were in there early doors and I spotted Mr Beige and Mr Stockport amongst the familiar faces.

But what of the beer, you may ask? Well the 50 cask beers were all on one bar; complete with cooling jackets and all served on handpull. The 80 keg beers were split over a number of bars. The nature of the venue meant that it was warm-giving the kegged fraternity a natural advantage. However, I found the cask temperature to be fine although perhaps some beers were lacking a little in condition. Certainly there were no complaints with a choice that straddled styles and had some very good offerings. The keg side also had its share of winners, but one grumble I did hear throughout the day was that there were too many beers over 5%. Another, albeit more minor, quibble was the lack of tasting notes. The festival programme was the biggest I’ve seen, but a tasting note, not the one. Still, as I told people, that’s what tasters are for!

Winners and Losers
Oakham’s Eugene’s Lair was the pick of the cask with its ultra-refreshing tropical hop punch. Mallinsons and Harbour also put in more than excellent efforts. Keg wise, there was NZ Sessions from Blackjack and some very good Kernel and Partizan, but the winner was Five Points No 4 Pale Ale which was a perfectly balanced example of the style and very moreish. Weird beer award goes to the spiced ginger offering that was Hand Drawn Monkey Tandori IPA. I only had one truly bad beer and that was Brupond Tip Top Hop which somehow managed to mix diacetyl with gravy stock flavours.

What else? Well there was cider and whisky to be had, but who has time for that on an afternoon pissup tasting session? Payment was made via a £10 card token system and the glasses enabled you to have either a third or half measure. My only real complaint-and I wasn’t the only one, it has to be said-was the very loud music which seemed to consist of no discernible tune but an over enthusiastic drummer. Unnecessary and unwarranted in such an environ. 

That one hiccup apart, it was a very enjoyable event and I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Now is the time of the crazy fool

“Now is the time of the crazy fool”, was Bruno Carilli’s broad translation of his brewery’s name into English. Very clever as it sums up his brewing philosophy: intelligent but always tinged with humour. Bruno was at Port Street Beer House to tell us more about Toccalmatto, his brewery in Fidenza, Italy, and guide us through some of their beers. Since beginning brewing in 2008, Toccalmatto has quickly established a reputation not only amongst the booming Italian craft beer market, but internationally as well. 

 Bruno is passionate about beer and is a self-confessed hop addict, hence their reputation for hop-led experimental beers. Such is his commitment to all things hop related, 16 new varieties are being cultivated between Fidenza and Tabbiano. A very genial host, the place was buzzing with conversation until last orders was called. But did the beers live up to the hype...?

Re Hop
A 5% American Pale Ale. Bursting with flavour from the Cascade hops, this was fruity and dry. Hard to credit it was 5%, it was an immediate hit.

Zona Cesarini
Described as a “Pacific IPA” due to the nature of the hops that gave this 6.6% such a tropical feel; this was very refreshing with mango, watermelon and passion fruit. Another belter.

Stray Dog
Bruno’s 4.2% take on the classic English Bitter-Taylor Landlord was an early favourite-but given a little reboot by a sprinkling of Citra.

In a very competitive field this was, for many, the beer of the evening. A 7% Saison brewed with Australian and New Zealand hops, this again was incredibly easy-drinking with lots of tart tropical fruit that combined with the spices to give a very dry finish.

Mais Dire Bock
This is a 6.5% take on the German Maibock style but, naturally, this being Toccalmatto, there is a twist. I’m not sure our conservative Anglo-Saxon cousins would approve, but the subtle addition of New World hops really lifted this beer. Initially smooth, this amber beer soon delivered a well-balanced mix of malt and berried fruits.

Uber Pils
This 6.2% effort again broke the stereotype for German beers. No finings, so no clarity for this uber-hopped beer, but plenty of upfront flavour. Hay on the aroma leads to a crisp bite of citrus and white grape notes. Very tasty and incredibly moreish.

One of the best MTB events that PSBH has ever hosted. The beer ranged from excellent to stunning and a jolly good time was had by all. There are only 10 outlets for Toccalmatto currently in the UK, but they are worth the effort of seeking out. 

Monday, 10 June 2013

From Grain to Glass: An Unexpected Journey

Do not press
Better write it all down
Saturday saw me have an early morning start to take the yellow brick road to Wigan. Specifically to Allgates Brewery. This despite starting Friday’s drinking session, somewhat unwisely it has to be said, with Weird Beard Chinook (7.4%) and nursing an ear infection. What a trooper, eh? Now cynics among you may think that free beer may have been the stimulus here, but you’d be wrong. Ha. This was purely for professional reasons, I can assure you. I know, it makes a change. I was there to (help) brew a beer. Yes, really. Stop laughing at the back. There had been some discussion on that there Twitter thing and Allgates gaffer David Mayhall had called my bluff and invited me along to walk the walk. Eek! So along with Tandleman and Jim (BeersManchester) I set out on a journey of discovery. Sadly, Jay Krause (Quantum Brewing) couldn’t make it, but who needs professional brewers, eh?

Now I like to think of it as three wise men arriving with gifts of knowledge and wisdom. The reality may be closer to the Three Stooges, but everyone is allowed to dream. I did have a plan, though. Oh yes. It was not to break the brewery. Mustn’t break the brewery was my mantra. If there were any red buttons marked “Do not push”, I wasn’t going to push them. And, dear readers, you know what? I never did. It was a great day out and it was absolutely fascinating to be involved from start to finish in the brewing process. It’s also very illuminating to see theoretical knowledge put into practice. Obviously you learn a lot. Which means, ha-ha. I can become even more of a beer bore. Should the opportunity arise.
Looking good

I’m pretty sure we all enjoyed ourselves. I know I did. David and Jonathan, the brewer, were very generous hosts when, I’m sure, they could have been spending their Saturday much more productively than acting as nursemaids to three beer bloggers. In fact, I’m sure Jonathan kept dashing off to make sure I hadn’t broken the brewery, but that might just be my paranoia. And when will this triumph of brewing be available for sampling? It should be appearing in a Bury hostelry in about three weeks. I’ll let you know where and when. Initial signs are very promising and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a cracker. Allgates don’t brew a bad beer. But if it is rubbish, remember, it’s all Jonathan’s fault. Not mine. Oh no.

Thanks to all concerned. If you want to read all the gory bits; Jim, apart from being a very nice fella, is an accomplished note taker and has written a far more erudite and detailed account than I ever could have. You can read it here

Friday, 7 June 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog Hello My Name Is Ingrid

What better way to kick-off Friday morning than with a Double IPA? Because that is what we have here. The design of the beer is down to readers of the Swedish beer blog BeerSweden. Who is Ingrid? Well, I think the clue is in the description of it being a “Bergmanesque” beer. It all sounds very promising; Citra, Nelson Sauvin and Bramling Cross hops together with the addition of cloudberries. Which are those fruits you get at Ikea, I think.

It’s 330ml and being a DIPA, a not surprising 8.2%. It poured dark amber with good carbonation and a large off-white head. The aroma was quite pungent: pineapple to the fore and a little sweet malt just behind it. Taste wise, it was medium bodied and quite resinous. There’s a lot of grapefruit, gooseberry and dark berries with a solid malt backbone. It hides the alcohol pretty well but it peeks through occasionally to remind you to sip rather than gulp it down. The finish is a good blast of tart fruit. A tasty DIPA.

Tyson says: Hello, Ingrid. My name is Tyson. 

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog El Dorado

Another morning, another single-hop IPA from Brewdog. This time it’s El Dorado, named after the new American hop from the Pacific North West. And not the John Wayne film like you were probably thinking. I have had one or two cask beers that have used this hop-notably George Wright-and have been impressed. So how does the Brewdog effort square up?

Of course it’s 330ml and, being part of their IPA is Dead series, of course it’s 6.7%. It poured a clean looking amber with good carbonation and a medium off-white head. Tropical fruit hits you in the nose straight away. Lots of orange peel, passion fruit and watermelon. If you were still allowed to call a beer zesty, this would be it. Orange (Clementine?) really comes to the fore here with a myriad of other citrus flavours following suit. The finish is citrus fruit driven bitterness; rather than the dry edge that the Dana had.

Tyson says: Put your breakfast fruit juice down and pick this up. Very tasty and perfect for summer. 

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The Buffer Stops

Amongst many of the claims to fame that Bury has is the East Lancashire Railway on Bolton Street. And one cannot think of the ELR without thinking of the world renowned Trackside pub. These railway platform pubs have a fascination of their own and attract visitors from far afield. Therefore it may come as no great shock to learn that the ELR are opening a second railway pub. A little brother to the Trackside, if you will. Disappointingly not called Trackside Too, the Buffer Stops will open at Rawtenstall station on June 14th. There will be five handpumps, plus one for cider and a selection of foreign beers. Bar snacks will be the only food available at first, although there are plans for a small menu of traditional pub grub to be made available later on. Opening hours will be restricted initially to train running days: Wednesday to Sunday 1000-2000.

With the ELR now boasting Bury, Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall for real ale refreshment stops, there’s never been a better time to let the train take the strain

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Pull Over For A Pint

Controversy erupted today with the news that JD Wetherspoon has been given permission to open its first motorway pub. Intended to open in time for Christmas, the bar and restaurant will be situated at the Beaconsfield services which are just off junction two on the M40. Before submitting its application, the firm consulted Thames Valley Police and South Bucks District Council to see if there was likely to be any opposition. In their own words: “the application received no representations.” Licensed to sell alcohol between 08:00 and 01:00, the £2m development is expected to create 50 jobs.

However, in the present climate, such a move was always going to attract criticism. Road safety charity Brake claimed that Wetherspoon were "putting temptation in front of drivers” and that “Our advice to drivers is, if you are driving, don't drink any amount of alcohol." Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, has also waded into the debate: "To reduce alcohol-related harm, we have to reduce its availability, not increase it.” A Wetherspoon spokesman said: "We believe the majority of people that use the pub to drink will be people that aren't driving - coach parties or people travelling with others.”

What seems to have been missed here is that most drivers stopping off here won’t want an alcoholic drink. They’ll probably just want the usual services on offer and to be able to take advantage of Wetherspoon’s more competitive pricing. 

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog Dana

Well ding-dong, those naughty boys from Ellon, Aberdeenshire are back with their single hop IPA series. Once again all the beers have the same malt base and come in at 75 IBUs, but it’s all about the different hops. Compare and contrast, if you will. This one showcases Dana, one of the new hops from Slovenia and not, apparently, the Irish singer. It’s something of a ‘funny’ hop, to my mind, and my experiences with it in cask beer have been somewhat mixed.

It’s the usual 330ml and weighs in at 6.7%. It poured with an amber hue and good carbonation with a lacy, off-white head. The aroma was spicy and vegetal. These traits translate into the flavour which develops an earthy, herbal tone before a very dry finish. Unusual it is, Yoda might say. Whilst lacking the clear, crisp flavours that many modern IPAs pack, it’s certainly not dull and worth a snifter or two.

Tyson says: Not bad, but I’m not sure I’d want more than a pint or two of it

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Arbor Brigstow Bitter

Arbor Ales have carved themselves a well-deserved reputation in the brewing world and, along with the Bristol Beer Factory, have helped to put Bristol on the brewing map. I’ve made no secret of my admiration for Arbor and their hop-driven brews, but this is something different. Comprising of Crystal malt and Caramalt, blended with Challenger, Fuggles and East Kent Goldings hops; it’s their take on the classic English Bitter.

It’s a 500ml bottle and is 4.3%. The beer poured tawny with a slight beige head. The aroma was somewhat biscuity with a little malt and autumn fruits. Taste wise, it was a finely tuned piece of brewing, Balanced, but tasty. A crisp bite was full of malt/cereal notes with perhaps a little orange that lead onto a good, bitter finish. Courtesy of the Challenger hops, I presume.

Tyson says: This is another excellent effort from Arbor. Traditional in concept, but thoroughly modern in execution. 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Stockport Beer Festival

The 27th annual Stockport Beer Festival is well under way at Edgeley Park and you have until the end of today to sample its delights. They promise over 200* beers, ciders and perries. A visit on Thursday afternoon revealed that they have a particularly impressive range of ciders/perries this year and very smart they looked too in their new cooling jackets. One advantage of holding it at a football stadium is that there is no shortage of seats and it also gives them the luxury of being able to host music in a separate room. Stockport is only a 10 minute train ride from Manchester and Edgeley Park is only a leisurely stroll away.  

*Not all the beers are on at once. So there should still be plenty left to drink today