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Tyson is an underpaid writer, beer anarchist and cheese addict living in the North West of England.
If the people are buying tears, I'll be rich someday, Ma

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Siren Limoncello IPA

Today’s breakfast perk-me-up is a little bit special. For one thing it’s a 3-way tag team effort between three very highly rated breweries: Siren, Mikkeller and Hill Farmstead. Secondly it’s an adventurous stab at creating a beery version of the Italian sipping liqueur Limoncello. Sounds interesting, eh? Now I could tell you more but a picture paints a thousand words, as they say, so I’ll let this photo fill in some more background detail.
Ok, so it’s a 330ml bottle and is 9.1% by abv. Holy moley; I wasn’t expecting that but hey, it’s not like it’s breakfast time. It poured hazy burnt-amber/orange with soft carbonation and a one finger white laced topping. There was a powerful aroma of lemon, tangerine, orange peel along with a slight bready yeast and peppered nose. The flavour was as bold as the aroma: spicy lemon dominates-there must be plenty of Sorachi in here-along with a creamy sweetness offset by a sour tart edge. The tartness really comes through in the long, dry finish.
Tyson says: This technically isn’t an IPA. It’s only called that because of the quantity of hops that have gone into it. They have achieved their goal of creating a beer equivalent of Limoncello but the massive hop content actually marks it out as an easy drinking specialist DIPA. 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog Brixton Porter

Dark nights and dark days. Yes, it’s winter. So tradition tells us to curl up with a good book and a dark beer or two. Tyson’s first timesaving tip for 2015: skip the book (literacy is overrated anyway-just ask Michael Gove) and go straight for the beer. This one was named in honour of the opening of Brewdog Brixton. Yes the one that didn’t open. No I don’t know what happened, either. I could tell you about the problems when they tried to open in Manchester? No? Back to the beer, then.

It’s the standard 330ml bottle and weighs in at a not too surprising 5%. It poured very dark-always a good sign-with very little light seepage. Carbonation was judged fair to middling with a relatively large; two finger tan head. The aroma is what you’d expect from Brewdog: bold and punchy. There’s a strong ground coffee presence with roast barley and a slight underlying caramel note. The mouthfeel seems initially quite smooth until the flavour profile kicks in. Again it’s big and bold. It’s a good mixture with the aroma continued but the caramel is substituted for a hoppy bitterness that lingers on into the dry finish.

Tyson says: Good stuff. The duality of the roast and bramling cross flavours really mash together well in order to produce a very easy on the palate Porter. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Golden Pints (Live)

Yes it’s that time of year again. Brewers and commentators round the globe await with baited breath the results of my awards for 2014. But aren’t you a bit late, Tyson, old boy, I hear you cry? Not at all. To fairly sum up a year; one should really wait until New Year’s Eve has passed. For you never know: you may have the greatest beer of your life on that evening and made your awards redundant. Ok you’re more likely to get an elbow in the ribs from the amateur hogging the bar and puke on your shoes in the taxi queue, but one lives in hope.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the Golden Pints for 2014. I’ve tried to be slightly more scientific this year (yes, really) and used Untappd and the National Beer Scoring System in helping to come up with these results. Bite me.

Best UK Cask Beer: The usual suspects feature but the scoring doesn’t lie. Oakham Citra/Inferno, and Hawkshead Windermere Pale top the charts for the most drunk and enjoyed.

Best UK New Cask Beer: A late contender just edged it here. Brewsmith Pale has been consistency itself and is ultra-drinkable. For the hopheads, anyway.

Best One Off Brew: The Simcoe Kid from the Maxim Brewery was so good we abandoned all plans and stayed until the barrel ran out.

Best UK Keg: Hmmm. Some high profile names slipped up badly this year and there seems to be as much shite keg produced now as there is cask. Again I let the figures do the talking and Beavertown’s wonderful Gamma Ray walks away with this.
Worst Keg Beer: 18th Street Brewery Killewitte. Only drinkable after having your taste buds removed.

Best UK Bottle/Can: Gamma Ray was in with a shout here as was Neck Oil but this one goes to Fourpure Pale.

Best USA Draught: Founders All Day IPA is the perfect fallback. Even at £6 a pint.

Best USA Can/Bottle: Obviously Sixpoint and Lagunitas need a shout out here but Port Brewing Hop-15 is a beer guaranteed to put hairs on your chest.

Beer Festival of the Year: An easy one, this. It has to be The Independent Salford Beer Festival.

Best Blog or Whatever: I pay attention to only a small gene pool of gentlefolk who are all excellent wordsmiths. The rest of you need to pull your socks up.

Best Pub/Bar: The number crunching has a-grip of me so I have to give this to Pie & Ale for consistently delivering excellent beer in excellent condition. Simples. 

Right that’s your lot. It’s my round and the lads won’t wait any longer. Here’s wising you a happy new year and in the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi: May the Force be with you. 

Thursday, 25 December 2014

A Visit To Brewsmith

Brewsmith may have not been brewing for long but they have already established themselves in the top tier of local, if not national, brewers. Indeed it’s hard to recall any brewery in recent times that has started off at such a high standard of quality and consistency. James (along with Jennifer and Ted) Smith has really gone for broke with a state-of-the-art 10 barrel plant based on an industrial estate in Stubbins.
(What about popping in here?)

(Looks like a brewery)
(Wonder what this does?)
(Beer barrels...)
(One of each, please)
 Of course, having the right equipment is only half the story and then there is the little matter of being able to brew good beer. Although James claims to have to spend 70% of his time cleaning rather than brewing. Despite this or possibly because of it, his 4-core beer range has gathered an enviable reputation already. You can see why, despite the brewery technically being in Lancashire, the good folk of Ramsbottom have claimed it for their own. Why not try some of it out for yourself and see what the fuss is all about?

Thanks to James for hosting us and keeping the beer flowing.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Abel Heywood

The latest addition to Manchester’s N/4 has been open a full week now and so required an inspection by yours truly. Being the new kid on the block and it being Christmas (i.e. amateur drinkers hour) it was rammed to the rafters. The Abel Heywood, named after a famous former Manchester mayor, lies on the corner of Tuner and Red Lion St and was, until the mid-20th century, the Red Lion public house. Hydes brewery have spent a lot of money on it to transform it into a boutique hotel and pub. Downstairs is a large L-shaped room with a mix of booth seating and raised tables. Upstairs has a small drinking area to the left but is aimed squarely at formal dining. There are two handpumps upstairs and six downstairs. The pub opens at 7am for breakfast but drinkers have to wait until 11am before they can get a pint. It’s great to see a new pub open in the N/4 and given its location and if it delivers what it promises; it should do very well

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Southwark Brewing Company

Is there room for any more breweries on the famous Bermondsey Beer Mile? Well Peter Jackson thinks so. He and business partner Andy Nichol have set up the Soutwark Brewing Co on Druid St; that famous street that once hosted the then little-known Kernel and is now home to the likes of Anspach and Hobday. The operation is impressively large for a start-up; a 10 barrel kit and I was lucky enough to have a quick word with Peter on opening day. His background lies with Marstons but despite his links to that part of the world, he knew where exactly where the new brewery should be based. SBC have a slightly different approach to where they see their beer in the marketplace compared to their local rivals. Whilst admiring the craft beer movement, Peter explained that he feels that there is a gap in the market for locally brewed cask beers and, with Sean Franklin on board as consultant that is where they will be concentrating their efforts.

There was only one beer available on opening day: Bermondsey Best, a traditional English Bitter. However, they have slowly been rolling out and expanding the choice and the brewery bar now boasts four handpulls; a unique and very welcome sight on the keg dominated BBM. Beers to look out for include Bankside Blonde and King Cnut which are both brewed with Citra hops and Peter’s Stout, a powerful (8.9%) Russian Imperial Stout. Competition is fierce, albeit friendly, in the little pocket that makes up the Bermondsey beer scene but SBC have made a promising start.