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

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Wroclaw Dwa

Underneath a market hall might not seem the most likely place to find a decent watering hole, but in Wroclaw it is. Upstairs is a run-of-the-mill market, albeit with some impressive bulbous mushrooms. But downstairs is Targowa, a 12 tap little hideaway. Some very decent stuff on here again: New England Pale being good, as was the American Pale Ale. The Habanero Oatmeal Stout, however, was something of a one-trick gimmick that quickly outstayed its welcome.

On the other side of town is Browar Stu Mostow: the Brewery of a Hundred Bridges. The idea being that beer can bridge the gap between people, countries etc. I like that idea and Stu Mostow itself bridges the gap between the old neighbourhood it's in and its ultra-modern design. A large brewing setup downstairs is complemented by a surprisingly small bar area upstairs.

Now, being the sensible beerhound that I am, I suggested small measures as there were a few to try and it was going to be a long day. However, this was met by derisory shouts of “duzy, duzy” by the gaffer and so began a long and slippery road.

Back to the other side of town and a visit to 4Hops. This is a minimalistic, very hip, one-roomed, bar that shows live football; something you won't generally catch the specialist beer joints over here doing. Now it's not often that I find myself wishing that I had a bear or donkey with me, but I would have liked to put their notice that they were “dog, bear and donkey friendly” to the test. 16 beers on here and, just to show that bad beer is universal, a few of the local beers we tried were a bit duff.

Two places handily located next door to each other are Graciarnia Pizza and Marynka Aperitivo. The former, as you might surmise from the name, is a long, narrow, bar that specialises in pizza and beer. The perfect combination, you might say. Marynka is a small, no-nonsense beer bar. Perhaps going a bit too far down the American route as this was one of those places that doesn't bother to list a beer's abv. Still I found the Palatum Aparatus APA (5.1% BTW) a very acceptable drink.

Of the rest, Kontynuacja was the standout; with a very enticing beer selection and the Stacja was a lively pub with some decent (I think?) Czech stuff on. Service at Pod Gryfami was very slow despite its reputation and lack of customers at the time, Then there was the two-storey German bierhaus that was a little too keen on oompah music but did serve a reasonable Pils. And then there were the bottle shops which sadly I didn't get time to do justice to. As usual, so much beer, too little time.

In summary: Wroclaw lives up to its reputation as a little cultural gem that delivers on the beer front.

Saturday, 18 November 2017


Wroclaw is the largest city in Western Poland and probably one of the best places most people haven't heard of. The city itself is home to over 600,000 people and includes a very large student population. German, until the end of the Second World War, it was the centre of a prolonged and ferocious conflict known as the Battle of Breslau. Anyone interested in learning more about that should read Richard Hargreaves excellent book on the subject.

However, happily, today's Wroclaw is very much alive and thriving. Thriving with the craft beer bug, no less. Ha, I thought that would get your attention. Culture is all very well, if you like that sort of thing, but what CAMRA types like best is throwing copious amounts of alcohol down their glugholes. Wine, whisky, cider: it really doesn't matter too much. Ideally, though, of course it's beer. And that includes foreign muck as well. It may not be cricket and all that, but some of this Johnny Foreigner stuff isn't half bad.

Which brings us nicely back to Wroclaw. Truly foreign, they don't use the Euro but have their own currency, the Zloty, instead. Who knew? Once you realise that one is only worth about 20p, getting pissed, I mean immersing yourself in the local culture, becomes an even more attractive prospect. There were a few tricks of the trade to learn, though. Large measures were often priced at, say, a seemingly reasonable 13zl but a small measure would cost you 11zl. This seemed to be most common in the centre outlets and the differential was greater elsewhere. Getting around is simple enough with an integrated transport system and Uber operates as well.
(Alebrowar Wroclaw)
I was based in the Puro hotel. This is a smart, modern-iPad room controls-which is only a short walk into the centre. It's also only 2 minutes away from AleBrowar Wroclaw. This L-shped bar has a real chilled out vibe about it, some killer tunes and knowledgeable bar staff who always delivered the goods on the beer front. I returned here several times and would have to say it was the best as far as I'm concerned. Had some good beers from local client brewer Doctor Brew here and the Hula Hop White IPA from Lebork was also excellent. Top tip: if you want to get in with the manager here, casually mention you are a Neil Young fan.

A quick stroll round the corner will take you to Szynkarnia. With a small bar and downstairs area augmented by seating upstairs, this really is hipster central. Fourteen taps pump out offerings such as Peated Smoked Berliner Weisse (yuk) and various Brett infused brews. Across the road is a great chippy that offers sweet potato fries that you can take back to the AleBrowar Wroclaw if you fancy some supper with your beer. 

Right in the centre, naturally, the places tend to be more touristy, but are still worth a visit. Spiz is a very popular cellar pub that is clearly designed on the Munich beer hall model. All rather fun and if you see a table, go for it. Once a brewpub, due to demand, they now brew off-site, but both the Pils and wheat beers were perfectly acceptable drinking fare. Oh and if you like lard on bread, then this is the place for you.

Not far away is another popular alehouse: Zloty Pies aka the Golden Dog brewery. This large, modern, brewpub had the wood and gleaming coppers you would expect of such a place. The Golden Weizen was decent, the Bokser Lager even better-you could guzzle a 3L glass for 69zl-but the standout was the Vic Secret infused Pit Bull IPA. This could also be bought in 3 litre measures but at 6% you might be a little unwise to do so. 

Friday, 3 November 2017

St Helens

St Helens is a large town in Merseyside that is, dare we say, considered a little dull. Until recently its only real claim to beery fame was as the birthplace of Greenall Whitley. But that's all changed. Along with many other seemingly unlikely destinations, it has reinvented itself as a real ale trail. Now some people get to review Michelin starred restaurants whilst others get invited to judge fine wine. And then there are those who get to spend a rainy day in St Helens so that you, dear reader, don't have to.

The crawl is pretty straightforward; radiating from the station and round until you are back at the Central Station again. For brevity, I'll just concentrate on the ones that seem worth a comment, good or bad.

Handy for the station is the George which, unsurprisingly, is on George St. This two-roomed street corner boozer usually sells two local beers, although only one was on at opening time when we called. The very friendly barmaid was apologetic and pulled some beer through before serving us the Wigan brewed Windmill Anderson Best Bitter. Nothing wrong with the condition but this was pretty standard fare that left the tasting panel less than impressed.

The Sefton (don't forget your CAMRA discount) on Baldwin St had a strangely familiar look to it. It's a large, one-roomed pub, that doesn't even pretend to be anything but a Spoons clone. Even down to the Fish Friday etc menu. Four beers on here with a welcome outing for George Wright. The Market Tavern was also another large open plan affair but aimed at a sporting clientèle, judging by the number of large screen TVs.

There ain't nothing like the real thing: as someone once said. So, if you want a Spoons, go to a Spoons. The Glass House is, yes you guessed it, yet another large one-roomed pub that is done up in the usual modern Spoons style. Nothing wrong with the beer here with both Castro Mosaic and Nimbus being worth a pint each. The other Spoons-Running Horses-being a Lloyds was more restricted in its beer choice.

The Phoenix (CAMRA discount) on the edge of town is worth the walk out for. What CAMRA would describe as a “community local” translates to a traditional two-roomed layout with some nice mosaic tiling. Appearances can be deceptive and tucked away here are six beers; with Elland being on particular form.

We hit the mother lode at the next stop. The Cricketers is a multi-award winning pub that lived up to its reputation. Yes it had a great range of beers. Yes it had the always welcome CAMRA discount but most of all, it had a great buzz about it. You soon become drawn into the locals conversations. Of course, such a place holds many a danger for the imbibing man. One becomes two, becomes three and, before you know it, you are soon blown off piste and are on the piste. I begged to leave several times but with the Oberst leading several renditions of Ein Prosit, there was little chance of that.

Another fine establishment was the Talbot Ale House. Breaking the one-roomed theme (hooray) it also offered a range of beers that required more than one sampling. From here you're only a politicians grope away from the News Room. This is a smart, cosy, micropub that delivered an excellent pint of Windermere Pale. So good that, well you get the picture.

Luckily the final stop was only a short stagger away. The Turks Head is a former CAMRA National Pub of the Year runner-up and is a cracking watering hole offering some 15 beers. Plenty of good stuff to go at here with Oakham being my favourite. A quick check of the clock revealed that there was just time to get the penultimate train out of town and so a quick dash to the station was in order.

All in all, a very enjoyable day with some fine ale and company.