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Showing posts from 2015

Cafe Beermoth

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Well there has been only one question on the lips of Manchester beery folk of recent: when will Café Beermoth open? Yes, ever since it was announced that N/4 favourite Beermoth was getting a bigger sibling, anticipation and expectation has been quite the mood amongst the hipsters and shakers of Cottonopolis. Whilst the announcement took some by surprise, it was the natural step after Beermoth quickly outgrew its original remit. And co-owners Scott, Jeremy and Simon did well in securing an empty site in Spring Gardens. Whilst the area is not synonymous with beer, it was for many years the centre of banking in the north-west; it does remain an important thoroughfare.

It’s a good location as it links the likes of the Waterhouse and City Arms with the centre of the city whilst remaining a destination in its own right. Opening night was a real celeb fest. I haven’t seen so many of the crafteratti out and about since the (false) rumour about KFC giving away chicken wing buckets. As promised…

A Prestwich Ramble

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Prestwich village lies at the outer rim of the grand metropolis that is Bury and so it often gets overlooked in favour of its brighter, louder, neighbour Manchester. Although it harbours aspirations-some would say pretensions-to be a Didsbury clone, the reality has been somewhat different. Beer choice has traditionally been limited and was heavily dominated by Holts with only a very limited choice of other ales. However, things have been steadily improving and the burgeoning dining scene has started to have a knock on effect on the beer front. Eager to check out the latest disturbances in the Force, I set sail for pastures new.
New adventures in drinking, as everyone knows, can be thirsty work so the experienced traveller will always warm up with a pint or two. The logical place to start seemed to be the Coach & Horses, just over the border in Bury Old Road, Whitefield. This Victorian boozer is a traditional Holts pub divided into 3 rooms. I tend to find the Mild a little variable …

Breakfast Beer Tasting: CREW Republic Detox

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Today we step off this great sceptred isle and head for sunny Munich. Yes, Germany. Now I will let you into a little secret. The Germans brew beer. Quite a lot of it, actually. I know; get out of here, right? No they honestly do. And some of it ain’t bad. Ok it will never replace quality stuff like John Smiths Smooth in the hearts of the British bulldogs. But if you’re ever over there, put down that pint of Guinness, get out of that Oirish pub and try some of the local brew in some of their splendid beer palaces.
To be fair, you’re probably not very likely to come across CREW Republic in too many places. The traditional nature of the German beer scene-the very thing that makes it so appealing-has somewhat stifled the microbrewing scene. Or rather it had. Recent years have seen an expansion, albeit it not on the scale of some other European countries. Mario Hanel and Timm Schnigula formed CREW Republic to be part of this new wave. And certainly their beers and general business approach…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog Vote Sepp

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Today’s little aperitif is a special little number from those pesky little Brewdog fellas. Actually I’m feeling rather pleased with myself as a guy in the pub last night wanted to sell me a crate of these at a knock down rate. But I insisted on paying full price. You can’t catch me out like that, no sir. Anyway, apparently, this was Brewdog’s attempt to bribe Sepp Blatter into giving Scotland the 2022 World Cup. But the joke’s on them, isn’t it? As Sepp himself will tell you, his international reputation for integrity and honesty is second to none. You’re no more likely to find his hand in the till than you are to find a Russian athlete who’s a drug cheat. The bottle is the usual 330ml and is 3.4%. On the back it states: “Vote Sepp, an incorruptible hibiscus wit beer in honour of our tireless football führer, Mr Blatter.  Best served from brown paper envelopes to aid drinking with greased palms, one sip of this beer and Sepp will be putty in our hands”. It was very lively and poured fa…

Rudy's Pizza

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Rudy’s hasn’t been open for long but has already carved out a name for itself for knocking out some of (for my money, the best) pizzas in Manchester city centre. For anyone who has followed the pop-up street food trend that has swept the city in recent years or perhaps attended some indie beer event, the name will be familiar. Started by Jim Morgan and Kate Wilson: the name refers to their young dog, in case you were wondering, with the aim of bringing the Neapolitan pizza experience to Manc land. Of course to do that, you need more than just Italian ingredients and a wood-fired oven. It all comes down to the dough; in this case it’s a 48-hour dough-making process in which it is double-proved and hand kneaded to retain air bubbles. The result is an exquisitely light pizza that makes you feel as if you could immediately eat another. And some people do exactly that. Although, obviously,  I don’t know anyone like that. Ancoats is an up and coming spot on the Manchester hipster map and Rud…

Room For One More?

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There has been barely contained excitement and a few raised eyebrows at the news that Bury town centre is to get a new pub. An empty shop on Haymarket St, last occupied by Betfred, has been acquired by Amber Taverns who have been granted a licence for the premises. Those with long memories will remember that it was once the Rayners Vaults. Dating from the latter part of the 19th century, the Rayners was once part of the Raven Hotel before becoming a destination in its own right. I recall it as having the ambience of a Wild West saloon and certainly some of the characters who frequented it would have felt right at home in Dodge City. It was the kind of place that if you went in and they saw you still possessed all your teeth, the locals knew you weren’t a regular. But times change and despite, or perhaps because of, its small size, Bury has done well in recent times in terms of its pub stock. Unlike many other town centres, people do still come into the centre to enjoy a drink. There ar…

Albert's Schloss

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Albert’s Schloss is the latest big name addition to Manchester’s drinking/dining scene. Situated on Peter St, it occupies the slot once dominated by the late, unlamented, sticky-floored, Brannigans. Remember them? Anyway it’s had a major overhaul and some serious money spent on it by the folk who own the Trof empire to transform it into Manchester’s own version of a Bavarian beer hall. Well alpine retreat, more accurately, as this is no cheap German bier Keller pastiche. The clue’s in the name: Schloss, which translates as chateau. The Albert of the title is self-explanatory, being Queen Vic’s little German love machine and, of course, it is based on the ground floor of the Albert Hall. So after two years of planning and six months of build, what do you get for your Deutschmark? Well a lot of wood, for a start. The place is dominated by a huge wraparound bar that must be one of the largest in the area. It’s claimed that 80% of the build materials are from reclaimed sources including do…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Gypsy Inc Gyp Wit

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Following the success of the last Gypsy Inc beer, it seemed only natural to try another of their delightful creations. They describe this one thus: “Gyp Wit is a bright and floral Witbier brewed with Flaked Wheat, Curaçao Orange Peel and Coriander. This array of fresh ingredients catalyze the citrus and fruity flavors from the American and European hops. A true thirst-quenching summer Wit. It’s perfectly refreshing after a long day of hard work”. It’s the standard 33cl bottle and is-I’m seeing a pattern here-once again 4.7%. It poured a light golden yellow with a small, perfectly formed, white creamy head. The aroma was traditional wheat and spice with a heavy dose of orange citrus tones. It’s easy on the palate with a surprisingly light coriander presence. The immediate impression is of juicy sweet oranges with just enough of the wheat coming through to underline it. Any fruit sweetness quickly disappears to leave a dry and satisfying orange zest palate cleansing finish.
Tyson says: T…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Gypsy Inc Soft Focus

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Bloody foreign beers. They come over here taking up our shelf space and stop honest-to-goodness beers brewed in the shadow of the Union Jack being sunk by British bulldog types. In the words of that legendary band Half A Shilling, we should: “send the buggers back, send the buggers back”. But you know, now that they’re here, we might as well drink them. I mean think of the environmental cost in shipping them all back home. The polar bears have nowhere to sit as it is. Ok so this is a cheeky little number from Danish brewers Gypsy Inc. What do you mean; you’ve never heard of them? The clue is in their name and in fact this was brewed at De Proefbrouwerij. It’s a 33cl bottle, comes in at 4.7% and is described thus: “Soft Focus is a Wheat Ale crazed up with Amarillo and Tettnanger hops. Flowerful notes from the wheat create a harmonious blend with the hops and add aromas of freshly pressed citrus fruits and elderflowers. It is bright, beautiful and the perfect choice for a day at the beac…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog Magic Rock Stone Dog

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Well, well, well. This one certainly comes with some pedigree and being Brewdog it isn’t backward in coming forward. Yes, it arrives with hyperbole not seen since, erm, probably the last Brewdog beer. They say: “A hoppy ménage a trios of epic proportions, Magic Stone Dog is a rustic farmhouse pale ale mash up. Brewed in collaboration with Greg Koch (Stone) and Rich and Stu (Magic Rock) just before our AGM, Magic Stone Dog has the best qualities of a saison and a pale ale, combined. The nose has a citrus punch straight from the US West Coast, boasting zest, pineapple and orange notes, offset against a big spicy clove warmth courtesy of the saison yeast. This continues into the flavour, where the best of both worlds combine - orange, spice, a touch of lemony tartness - and sit alongside a thirst- quenching dryness and refreshing effervescence. This bright, zesty, subtly tart, Belgian-inspired brew is the perfect beer to enjoy during the Indian summer we all know is definitely coming. De…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Donnington Double Donn

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Due to a special request, yes really, this morning’s foray into the bottled wonders of the beer world is another Donnington Brewery effort. This one presents itself as more traditional than its Gold stablemate and is made with Styrian Goldings and Fuggles. It’s dedicated to Claude Arkell, the owner of Donnington, who died in 2007. It’s a 500ml bottle and comes in at 4.4%. It poured a traditional copper-hued with good carbonation and a weak tan head that quickly dissolved. The aroma is nutty with sweet malt and, surprisingly, a touch of orange rind. It’s medium-bodied with plenty of caramel and toffee notes and a slight earthiness. The cereal malt undertone is balanced by a bitter-sweet, slightly citrus fruit finish.
Tyson says: It’s hard to get too excited about this beer and it's not one I’d choose to slug all night down the Dog & Duck. However, it’s a solid effort from the days of pre-craft and if the aim was to produce a beer that a traditionalist such as Claude Arkell would…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Donnington Gold

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Donnington Brewery is a very traditional family run brewery based in rather idyllic surroundings in Stow-on-the-Wold, Cheltenham. Brewing started in 1865 and they still use the same spring for water and even the original waterwheel is still in use. For many years only two beers were brewed regularly but, like many traditional outfits, in recent times they have gradually expanded their portfolio. Donnington Gold is now part of their core range.
Traditional brewing means traditional bottling, so no namby-pamby 330ml bottles here. It’s a solid 500ml and comes in at 4%. It’s a golden ale and, unlike some so-called golden ales, it actually did pour golden. Carbonation was good but the off-white head quickly dissolved to leave just a small covering film
The aroma was quite subtle with some biscuit malt and a slight sweet orange note. At first the beer seemed a little on the thin side but the flavour did come through on the second gulp. There’s a definite digestive buzz to it but some citrus t…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog Electric India

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It’s definitely away from the basics today with a little number from the people that are now referred to as “the Scottish brewery”. A bit like Hamlet, you’re not supposed to say their name now. No, I don’t know why, either. Those crazy craft kids, eh?
Official description: “One day. One brewery. Seven thousand co-creators. Two hundred brewers. The result? Electric India. This beer is the bastard love child of the craft beer revolution. An unholy union between a Belgian Saison and an India Pale Ale; democratically brewed by our very own Equity for Punks shareholders. Electric India is a hoppy saison brewed with fresh orange peel, lashings of heather honey, crushed black pepper corns and enthusiastically hopped with mountains of amarillo and nelson sauvin. A beer for the people, by the people direct from the craft beer republic of BrewDog.”
It’s the usual 330ml bottle and comes in at 6.5%. It poured a bright golden-orange with good carbonation and a one-finger off-white head. Looks good, …

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Church Farm Harry's Heifer

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It’s back to basics today with a good old-fashioned English Bitter. Or is it? It’s called Heifer which would imply that’s it’s a Hefeweizen style of beer…But it’s actually described as a “Quaffable session ale with a hoppy aroma. Brewed with a blend of Marris Otter, Vienna and Crystal malts, with Centennial and Cascade hops”. So a hoppy take on Best Bitter, perhaps? It’s a 500ml bottle and poured pale amber with good carbonation but the merest of heads. I wouldn’t describe the aroma as hoppy. Malty, yes, with a little cereal grain and a slight floral undertone. The taste was smooth enough: definitely floral with a slight citrus edge but mainly dominated by a malt sweetness that builds on the palate and lasts into the aftertaste.
Tyson says: Pleasant enough, if too a little on the sweet side for my palate. The puzzlement is where did all those hops go?

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Sierra Nevada Narwhal

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It’s across the pond once more, dear readers, as we take a trip to the dark side. The dark, heavy side to be precise. Yes it’s those heavyweights of brewing, Sierra Nevada with a heavyweight of a Stout.
“Narwhal Imperial Stout is inspired by the mysterious creature that thrives in the deepest fathoms of the frigid Arctic Ocean. Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke, Narwhal is a massive malt-forward monster. Aggressive but refined with a velvety smooth body and decadent finish, Narwhal will age in the bottle for years to come.”
Sounds good, but how will it fare in the ring?
Round 1: It’s a 12oz bottle and comes in at a not-to-be trifled with 10.2%. It was very lively and poured jet black with a large tan head. Pungent on the nose, it had cocoa, brown sugar, roasted barley; all in all a lot of malt. Also in there was ripe cherries and a slight smokiness.
Round 2: Quite sweet and thick on the palate. …

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog U-Boat

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TGIF, eh? And that means only one thing. Yes, it’s transatlantic Porter day. Well it is now as that’s what’s on the tasting menu for today. What is a transatlantic Porter, you may ask. It’s a collaboration between Brewdog and the US brewer Victory and naturally they’ve come up with something wacky, erm, I mean contemporary and funky. Brewed with a number of specialty malts, the twist comes in the form of fermentation with lager yeast. Right now I’ve got your attention, let’s begin. It’s a 330ml bottle and is a heavyweight 8.4%. It poured jet-black with good carbonation and a one-finger tan head. The aroma was powerful: medium smokiness with caramel, cocoa, dark berries and just a hint, if I’m not imagining it, of lager. Taste wise, this was a rich beer. Viscous and creamy with a chewy edge that reminds you of its strength but in a good way. There is a peat smokiness but also caramel, coffee, raisins and some dark fruit: maybe plums? Certainly a well concocted beer that retains its comp…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Tesco Single Hopped Kentish Ale

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After yesterday’s diversion into exotic beer country, today we crash land on terra firma with what can only be described as an old-school brew. The success of New World hops, which have come to dominate the new wave of craft beers, has been something of a double-edged sword for UK hop growers. Whilst focusing drinker’s attention on the merits of hops, it has left traditional varieties struggling to compete. Now there are many fine varieties of British hops and the British Hop Association has a strategy to try and publicise the merits of each regional variety. Step forward Tesco. This beer is brewed by Shepherd Neame who are, if that’s the correct term, the champions of East Kent Goldings. Some people say they’re the champions of producing twig beer, but I’d never repeat that here. The beer is 4.5% and comes in a 500ml bottle which, rather surprisingly, is clear. That’s really a no-no, so points deducted for that. It poured light copper with little carbonation and a thin off-white head …

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Mikkeller Chill Pils (Orange Juice)

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What have we got this morning for Wednesday’s little treat?  You know how in summer, a man’s fancy turns to just one thing? Yes, that’s right: Pilsner. Well today we celebrate summer by trying a Pilsner. But as it’s those crazy Danish guys at Mikkeller, it’s no ordinary Pilsner. No, this is a Pilsner made with genuine orange juice. Yeah you heard me correctly, this is an orange Pilsner. I’m pretty sure that’s not in the style book, but before we all book flights to Prague to cleanse our thoughts, let’s give it a try. It’s a 330ml bottle and is spot on for strength, coming in at 4.7%. It poured, perhaps with zero surprise, a pale, hazy orange colour with a 2-finger white head. Carbonation was reasonable, if not particularly strong. The aroma is heavily dominated by orange with just a subtle hint of light malt. It’s smooth on the palate with the taste coming across as a very fresh glass of orange juice. You wouldn’t think it was a Pilsner at all. But wait for it…The bitter hop-led citrus…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Kernel Citra Centennial IPA

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It’s breakfast time but before we can tuck into all that healthy muesli, we need to refresh the palate for the day. It may be happenchance or destiny that Kernel was picked out of the cupboard, but there’s been a lot of chatter about Kernel recently amongst the chattering beer classes. They’re withdrawing from the Bermondsey Beer Mile circus as they’re becoming swamped with amateur pissheads. Think Blackpool but picture wannabe hipsters and johhny-come-latelies. So what better way to remind ourselves of what all the fuss is about? It’s the standard Kernel minimal design bottle and comes in at 6.9%. Now Kernel more or less patented London Murky-another thing guaranteed to get the chattering beer classes chattering-so no surprise to find it poured a murky golden orange with a thin off-white head. But it wasn’t actually that murky; I was expecting a real stodge of a beer, but I’ve seen worse. Aroma was a straightforward blast of citrus: grapefruit, orange and a little tinned pineapple. Mo…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Mikkeller The American Dream

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Ah, hot summer days that just cry out for a cold lager. What do you mean, it’s Manchester and it’s wet and cold? Everyone knows it’s always sunny inside a Mancunian heart. Anyway, it’s lager time whatever the weather. But this is no ordinary lager-you won’t find me reviewing Stella here: drinking it at the bus shelter, yes but reviewing it, no-this is craft lager. Specifically a lager from those kings of craft, Mikkeller.   It’s a 330ml bottle and tips the scales at 4.6%. It poured golden-brown with a thin off-white head that quickly dissipated. The aroma was summery and pleasant. There were hints of apricots, breaded malt, lemon and grapefruit. The body was what you would expect, light/medium mouthfeel with the malt just lying comfortably in the background. And it was crisp like a good lager should be. So far, so normal. However, the grassy hop tones and lemon and citrus bite give the game away. These build to a clean, citru-led bitter aftertaste that refreshes the parts normal lagers…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Cloudwater IPA

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This morning’s aperitif comes from that new(ish) kid on the Manchester craft beer block: Cloudwater. Since their official launch in March they’ve been taking not only the local scene by storm, but causing a few national ripples as well. Now there’s a lot you could talk about with Cloudwater; their seasonal approach to beer or their label design, for example. But what has struck me is the quality of their product. I’ve tried more or less all of their output, through various styles that I’m more or less keen on, but the quality has been top-notch throughout. Something which I wish I could say about some other so-called ‘craft’ brewers. This is a 330ml bottle and comes in at 7.2%. Handily there’s lot of info on the back:
Yeast: US05 Malt: Best Ale, Clear Choice, Wheat Malt, Caramalt, Dark Crystal Hops: Green Bullet, Perle, Citra, Summit, Galaxy, Centennial
It poured a solid orange-some might say proper IPA colour-with about half a finger’s worth of off-white foam. It’s slightly hazy but the…

A Trip Down Memory Lane

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A sad loss to the fabric of Bury’s drinking culture was the recent closure and sale of the Dusty Miller on Crostons Road. On the face of it, this is just another out of town boozer that has become a victim of changing times and tides. However, the Dusty’s contribution to local beer history is far greater than at first it might appear. Even though it dates from 1834 it was not historically significant, although its 3-room layout was somewhat unusual and the split room serving bar is becoming a rarity. No, the importance of the Dusty lies in the history woven through its brickwork: of its customers and its one time role as an important destination pub for real ale seekers.

An impressive list of Bury’s most well-known characters have propped up and, in some case, fallen over its bar stools over the years. Indeed Eddie, the once eager legal beagle, and his faithful sidekick Trumpet Dave were weaned on the pumps there. And Eddie’s own esteemed father, the Oberst, has put in many years’ fait…

Bus To The Pub 2015

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Forever Bury Beer Festival

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Recap: York

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Well there is really only one place to start AND finish a crawl in York. And luckily that place is at the train station. The Tap has quickly established itself as one of the best outlets in the country. Is it the impressive conversion of a Victorian tearoom? Possibly, but the fact that it has 18 pumps dispensing the water of life doesn’t hurt, either. Also boasting a large range of ales-10-is Brigantes on Micklegate. This Market Tavern pub was refurbished in 2013 and looks either (a) clean and contemporary or (b) sterile, depending on your perspective. The chief talking point here, however, was the autovac: a device unknown in the civilised land of Lancashire. I’m not keen on these cost-saving devices as they return the drip tray contents back into the beer line; although they do tend to deliver an aesthetically pleasing pint in the process. The Blue Bell on Fossgate is, of course, known for its nationally historic interior. That and for always being rammed. Uncomfortably warm in there…

Recap: London Brewpubs

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London has many beer wonders to keep the travelling imbiber amused. From the crème de la crème of craft beer bars to the olde worlde charm of Sam Smiths pubs. From shiny brewery taprooms to shiny sparkling brewpubs. And it was the latter of these that was the focus of our last excursion into London Murky land.
First stop was the White Hart at Mile End Road in the heart of the East End. Forget about the fictionalised Eastenders view of the area with cockney barrow boys peddling their traditional wares. This is the real East End with a dazzling cosmopolitan array of sights and sounds. Coming out of Whitechapel station, you do pass a genuine slice of East End history before you reach the brewpub. The Blind Beggar pub is notorious for being the venue where Ronnie Kray murdered George Cornell in 1966. More prosaically, it’s also outside of where William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, held his first open air sermon. Of beery note, it also used to be the brewery tap of Manns, of B…