Showing posts from 2016


Thornbridge Brewery will no doubt need no introduction to my thousands of readers, but here’s a quick recap anyway. It started life in 2005 as a modest 10 barrel plant in the grounds of Thornbridge Hall in the heart of the Peak District. And like many new breweries it promised to blend traditional brewing with a modern twist. But, unlike many breweries, it actually succeeded in doing so and quickly gained a following for the quality of its beers. Indeed there is a case (endorsed naturally by the brewery) that they were the first UK craft brewery. They certainly made a big impact with Jaipur, their flagship ale, and rapidly made their presence felt.
Fast forward to 2009 and the opening of a new 30 barrel plant at the Riverside Business Park in Bakewell. The old brewery is still in operation but is used to develop smaller batches of new or seasonal beers. Now having had a butchers’s at the old setup, when offered the opportunity to have a gander at the fancy new one, who was I to refuse?…

The Pilcrow

The Pilcrow is Manchester’s latest addition to a seemingly never-ending list of craft beer openings. But there’s a back story to this one that marks it out as something that little bit different. If you don’t know (and why don’t you-it’s been on TV) it’s been something of a joint enterprise project. When the latest city centre `redevelopment` was announced several years ago; there were cries of anguish when it was realised that the historic Crown and Cushion pub would be a casualty. Indeed has there ever been a `redevelopment` when a historic pub wasn’t sacrificed? Manchester City Council seem almost perversely proud of their reputation as cultural vandals who wouldn’t know history if you underlined it in a dictionary.

Anyway, don’t get me started on those arse-wipes. Back to the Pilcrow. One bright spot of the new plans was the announcement of the building of a new pub. This was to be slap bang in the middle of NOMA: the new 20 acre neighbourhood development project that promises to …

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Camba Bavaria Imperial Black IPA

I`ve developed a taste for the strong stuff. Well that`s what it seems like anyway.  After the dabble (more than a dabble, actually) with Sixpoint Resin the other day, I find myself once more in Imperial IPA territory. This time with Camba Bavaria Black IPA which, I believe, is brewed in Truchtlaching, Germany. Yes, a foreign beer. I know, I know. We`re now living in a post-Brexit world and we shouldn`t be having any traction with the likes of the Hun but, hey, I won`t tell anyone if you don`t.
It`s a 330ml bottle and comes in at 8.5% with a heavyweight IBU score of 120. It poured, as one would hope, a jet black with no light seepage and a large tan head that gradually settled to a finger`s worth. There was a strong aroma of dark chocolate, liquorice, roast malt and citrus as well. Mouthfeel was quite thick but surprisingly smooth. Dark stone fruits, chocolate, pine and a slight smokiness are all there in the initial taste. This is quickly followed by a heavy dose of all your favourite…

Breakfast Beer Tasting (Live): Sixpoint Resin

The Monday Club early bird drinkers are in Spoons as per usual. However, today there is a disturbance in the Force. Normally the routine is set in stone. A few rounds of Smooth and animated discussion of wins (not so many, usually) and losses (more of, generally) at the bookies. But word has got round of a new, very cheap, super-strong beer. What exactly is this Sixpoint Resin 9.1% stuff? And who was going to be the first one to try some?
Obviously I felt obliged to enlighten them as to its provenance etc. And that, dear reader is how things began. And that is how I now find myself doing a live breakfast beer tasting. Firstly, the basic facts. It`s a 355ml canned double IPA weighing in at 9.1% and with an IBU count of 103. It`s described as “an ode to the sticky quintessence of hops - we extracted the alluring nectar from every precious citrus, pine, dank and herbal cone and channeled it all into one vessel. Now that's Mad Science”.
Hard to be absolutely sure in this light, but it …


So the mission was clear: to boldly go where no man had gone before. Well ok, a few had gone before but not many lived to tell of it. Why? Because we’re talking about Wales: of course. Yes, that far-off land of fierce tribes such as the Silures and the Ordovices. To be fair, we were visiting Cardiff and South Wales which, we were reliably informed, is quite civilised and not a muskeg like North Wales. So with expectation and just a little trepidation, the wagon train of Rochdale, Oldham and Bury CAMRA set off for pastures new.
On a campaign such as this, as any Roman legionary will tell you, it’s wise to surround yourself with seasoned veterans. So naturally I headed for Jack and Jill, as campaigners don’t come much more seasoned than these two. Once we were underway, our drinking plans for this adventure were outlined by Stopwatch Sid’s erstwhile Padawan: Bingo Billy, who had kindly forsaken his award-winning bingo calling duties for the duration and was to be our guide for the weeken…


Another compact pub crawl that was recommended to me is the little market town of Poulton-le-Fylde. Easily accessible by train from Manchester, it makes for a pleasant change and all the pubs are more or less based round the market square. Be warned though, this is a traditional area with lots of cask on offer but barely a wisp of hipster hair to be seen.  Barely five minutes from the station was the first stop: the Poulton Elk. Formerly the Edge nightclub, this was converted by JD Wetherspoon in 2013 and it made for a good initial impression. Being in Poulton it was much more civilised-no screaming ankle-biters and cleaner than your standard Spoons. As one of our party remarked, you felt you should be wearing Harris Tweed rather than the de rigueur Spoons outfit of piss-stained tracky bottoms. Most importantly the beer was very palatable with the double offerings of Phoenix fitting the bill nicely.
The Grapevine on Market Place is the nearest to modernity you’ll find in Poulton. Spread…

West Didsbury

There are numerous good pub crawls in and around the great beer metropolis that is Manchester. One of the newest and also one of the easiest is the West Didsbury run. Having sampled its delights myself on several occasions, I wasn’t going to miss out on another crack at it with some chums in attendance. All the famous faces were there: Stopwatch Sid, Archimedes and Pythagoras, The Wallsend Wonder, The Whitefield Holts Bandit. Not to mention Jack and Jill, without whom no pub trek is complete.
First stop was the handily placed Wine and Wallop on Lapwing Lane. I say handily placed as it’s practically opposite the West Didsbury Metrolink stop. It’s always good to be able to snag a pint quickly after a lengthy journey. Or indeed even if the journey isn’t lengthy. And, of course, it’s always good to be able to stagger onto your chariot home without inconveniencing oneself too much. Owned by the same people who run the nearby Folk Café, Wine and Wallop is apparently aimed at the more mature…