Rather on the QT, Lancashire seems to have gained another brewery. The Rostron Arms is on Market Street in Edenfield which lies between Bury and Rawtenstall. Inside lies Edenfield Brewery (Magic Village Ales) which is the pet project of landlord David Swarbrick. Already offering a good range of ales, when of the locals ventured that he should install a microbrewery, he basically thought “why not?” This led to the ubiquitous Dave Porter and co installing a 4bbl plant on site. Now Dave is the first to admit he knew nothing about brewing and is still on a learning curve. That is why he has started quietly with just one beer: Old Red Dog. This is a 3.9% traditional Bitter named in honour of a much-missed local character. The recipe is still being tweaked-although it seems popular enough-and then there are plans for perhaps another two regular beers. But what does it taste like, I hear you cry. To me it tastes similar to Barnsley Bitter, so if you like that or Joseph Holts, you’ve cracked it. The 482/453/484 buses will drop you off at the door so why not get along and try it for yourself.
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Monday, 22 September 2014
The anti-alcohol lobby struck again today with the somewhat, frankly, bizarre news that customers are to be breathalysed before they enter premises in Loughborough. The scheme, timed to coincide with freshers’ week, will run until November 3rd and will be trialled in five premises: Amber Rooms, Revolution, Mansion, Echoes and the Students Union. Leicestershire Police and the local council have supplied all the venues with breath test equipment and training. Now Loughborough is a small market town that is well known for being a student hotspot and, at first glance, this could be seen as a sensible measure to deal with all the ‘booze-fuelled violence’ we hear so much about. Indeed most of the media coverage seemed to feature the obligatory passed-out-drunk photo. As PC Mike Green, Beacon Officer for Loughborough Town Centre, who is the coordinator for the initiative put it: “We want to raise awareness of the effects of excessive alcohol consumption on health and well-being, as well as supporting licensed premises to help them deal with customers who have had a bit too much to drink.
However, of course, this is all nonsense and doesn’t make any sense other than being yet another propaganda exercise. What is it supposed to prove or even achieve? The clue is in it being a ‘trial’ that may be rolled out later on after no doubt being trumpeted as a great success. And although ostensibly aimed at students, it equally could be applied to anyone. The daft thing is that the breathalyser is only being used as a guide and the discretion of entry will still remain with the venue. So what’s the point? And as they haven’t set out any official limits, where will the cut-off point be? The drink drive limit? When they burst the bag? The reality is you don’t need a breathalyser to tell if someone is too drunk to be allowed onto licensed premises and even it shows they have had a skinful, will that coachload of CAMRA pensioners really be trouble? Gimmick is the word we are looking for here
The saddest part of this is that the venues have decided to take part in this tomfoolery probably in some misguided attempt of appeasement. The Students Union in particular should hang its head in shame.
Wednesday, 10 September 2014
We’re keeping with the lager theme this morning with an island lager from Kona brewing. With the climate of Hawaii, you can easily imagine local surfers quenching their thirsty with one of these on a sun struck beach. I suppose the clue is in the name, but how does it fare in a (slightly) less exotic environment?
It’s a 120z bottle and comes in at 4.6% on the strength scale. It poured clear golden with plenty of carbonation and a medium off-white head. The aroma was very subtle with hints of sweet malt and honey. Taste wise; it was very light, almost watery, on the palate with some biscuit malt and a slight honeyed bitter-sweet finish. Personally I would have preferred a crisper, dryer finish.
Tyson says: Probably better suited to a beach in Hawaii than a backyard in Bury.
Monday, 8 September 2014
There could only be one choice for today’s breakfast tasting. Yes we’re going all topical, well it had to happen one day, with a taste of the beer that’s on everyone’s lips. Or will be from October if you’re a Spoons punter. I had so many people asking me what Brewdog’s new lager was like; it seemed only fair to actually try it. So here we go.
It's a 330ml bottle and is 4.7% which I would say is in the right ballpark, strength wise. Interestingly it's given the Brewdog spin by describing it as a "21st Century Pilsner". It poured a nice looking golden colour with plenty of carbonation and a large white fluffy head. The aroma was pleasant enough: a little bready with some sweet malt. The first thing that strikes you with the flavour is how smooth it is. There’s nothing here to make the horses bolt; perhaps somewhat surprising given the ‘10x hops’ tag. There’s the obvious Pilsner malt backbone with a little honey and a slight grassy dryness that leads to a bitter-sweet finish.
So overall a perfectly pleasant, if not earth-shattering beer. Served chilled on draught, it might just have the crisp edge it lacked in the bottle. They’ve not reinvented the wheel or even the Pilsner style, but it’s none the worse for that.
Tyson says: Will this see off the like of Carling and Tuborg? No/Yes/Possibly. See Brewdog Fake Lager for clues.
Sunday, 7 September 2014
So the Dog has landed. Craft has finally gone mainstream. They’ve jumped the shark. Or something like that. Yes, Brewdog have finally landed the big one: a tap on the Wetherspoons bar. It’s been the worst kept secret in the beer universe that the boys from Aberdeenshire-and their shareholders-have long had their eyes set on joining Tim Martin’s empire of the ales. First it was going to be Punk IPA and its seemingly inevitable arrival was (constantly) being hailed as proof that craft beer had broken out of its bubble. Except it didn’t arrive. Instead the Americans got in first and Brewdog had to settle for a place alongside the cans and bottles in the fridge. But now, at last, their time has seemingly come.
From the 1st October, Brewdog’s new lager ‘This Is Lager’ will be available on draught in 200 Spoons. By March of the following year, it will be available in all of their pubs. Quite a, if somewhat inevitable, feat. And clever, too; they’re not fighting for the affection of the rather snooty crafteratti but aiming for the jugular with a lager brand. Of course this has traditionally been seen as a waste of time, such is the stranglehold of the multinational brands. But now is the time of craft, allegedly, apparently, and Spoons would seem to be the ideal partner for anyone engaged in such a venture.
But what is this miracle brew? Well it was launched this week with the usual modest PR from Brewdog. Pack leader James Watt said: "Lager is often demonised or derided as the choice of drink of chavs and louts, which is the result of laddish marketing that diverts attention away from taste and enjoyment and undermines the potential of lager as a creative and artisanal beer. If we can redefine lager in the UK, we will redefine our relationship with alcohol. We can actually start to reverse binge drinking trends currently being tackled by toothless and misguided legislative proposals unlikely to ever see the light of day anyway."
So their mission is to redefine lager and our relationship with alcohol whilst making a few quid at the same time. Ambitious or just another day at Brewdog HQ? This Is Lager is said to contain ten times the amount of hops found in ordinary lager and then there is the pricing issue. But for now it looks like it’s Carling v Craft round one.