Posts

Showing posts from May, 2008

We Are The Champions

Image
It was the best of times
It was the worst of times

But that’s enough about the football-for now. A full day to prepare for the big event, but how to spend it? The lace curtains need washing, and the flags could do with hosing, but today’s not the day for the mundane. Manchester and beer beckon once again. It kicked off with a little light lunch with Selfridges Girl-the Portobello Mushrooms stuffed with Dolcelatte and a Basil & Lime Cremeolate were particularly good. All washed down with a bottle of the rather excellent Ropiteau L'Emage Sauvignon Blanc. This French white was full of gooseberries with a lovely dry finish. So good in fact that another bottle was quickly proffered.

But man does not live by wine alone, and having some time to kill before settling down for the footie, I went in search of beer and adventure. I found both at the Paramount on Oxford Road. This is yet another JDW, set in the heart of student land. As the name suggests, this was once a cinema, and now compr…

What a Difference a Day Makes

Image
By yesterday’s level of excitement, Tuesday’s excursions were positively listless. However, they did produce some good beer-which, after all, is the main thing. Once more finding myself in the great metropolis, I decided to kill some time before heading home with that most natural of remedies-beer. Not bearing a grudge I decided to include another JD Wetherspoons in my trawl. And I was glad I did, as, in sharp contrast to yesterday’s fiasco, this one really delivered on the beer front and proved the best of the night.

The Waterhouse is a large, multi-roomed boozer situated on the corner opposite Manchester Town Hall. Named after Alfred Waterhouse, the famous architect who gave us Manchester Town Hall and Strangeways (as everyone still calls it), to name but two. Interestingly, he only came fourth in the competition to build the town hall, but that’s another story. It’s rather strangely laid out with a small back bar that tends to get crowded very easily. Even though it’s smarter than t…

Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You)

Image
Or crash, bang, wallop what a photograph. There I was in the big city, relaxing after a spot of Tiffin, and seeking some liquid refreshment. Being in the neighbourhood, I thought I’d check the Seven Stars at the Printworks. For those not in the loop, the Printworks is a leisure complex in Manchester city centre. It comprises a multi-screen cinema (including IMAX), and several bars. The Seven Stars is a JD Wetherspoons which, rather unusually for them, doesn’t open for breakfast. It tends to be a late night haunt, but I was still surprised at how few people there were in, considering its location and the availability of food.

A quick glance told me there was, as usual, nothing on offer likely to tempt me. So I headed for the exit, stopping only to snap a photo of the bar. And that’s where my problems began. A woman rushed up to me, completely spoiling my photo btw (hence this official one of the exterior) and demanded to know why I was taking photos. When I enquired what it had to do wi…

Appleby's Cheshire Cheese

Image
Or, as everyone calls it, “Mrs Appleby’s Cheshire.” For it was Lucy Appleby, who has passed away at 88, who revitalised, and secured a place for a piece of cultural history. Indirectly she was also responsible for me getting into cheese seriously, as Appleby’s was probably the first artisan cheese I sampled. Before the Second World War, Cheshire cheese accounted for 60% of all cheese sold in the UK and some 1200 farms produced it. Post World War 11, this had been reduced to 50, and by the 1960’s Cheddar had eclipsed Cheshire as the nation’s favourite. At one time all farms produced unwaxed, cloth-bound Cheshire cheeses from their own unpasturised milk; now Appleby's alone keeps this tradition alive.

Wax binding was just becoming fashionable when Lucy Appleby began cheesemaking, but she refused to have anything to do with it, on the grounds that the proper ripening and flavour of the cheese depended on its ability to breathe. Cheshire is made of morning milk mixed with that of the p…

Hot Love

Image
Well the weather put paid to ideas of some nice al fresco drinking in Bury’s far flung haunts. So a quick pint in the Trackside, and a chat with a frisky Joe Stalin, before jumping a bus up to the Hairy Mounds. First choice was Outlaw Mayflower (3.7%) which was light and easy drinking, but not quite as hoppy as perhaps expected. Leyden Dragoon (4.2%) was dark and tasted like, er, Leyden. The less said about that the better, really. Moor Revival (3.8%) was excellent, being both light and deliciously hopped with 3 varieties of American hops. Whilst Pythagoras fought off the munchies with food, I staved off hunger with more beer. Kelham Island White Rider (5.2%) was a cloudy wheat beer. An interesting concept and usually these are pretty good when presented as cask versions. However, like most of their beers, this was a disappointment. It was quite bland with only a hint of lemon to excite the palate. Northern Determination (3.8%) was more in the Leyden category, being earthy with only …

Friday on my mind

Image
A message from Eddie, the young, eager, legal, beagle. Could I join him for a couple of pints and a discussion on Russian jam-making? I was happy to oblige. After all, like any good athlete, I think it’s important to have regular exercise. So it was we ended up in the Railside contemplating life, the universe, and billiards. Phoenix Mayfly (4.6%) was light and easy drinking, despite its strength. Sadly, the good stuff never lasts long and so it proved this time, with us saying au revoir to it all too quickly. We settled for Millstone Tiger Rut (4%) as a replacement. This, like all their beers, was lively and had a pleasing zesty body and a moderate bitter finish. However, this was beaten for beer of the evening by a new arrival. Acorn Summer Pale (4.1%) was a clear wheat beer with a great citrus bite, and a nice dry finish. Very refreshing. It managed to keep us occupied until Eddie had to leave for his water polo trials.

A nice little session that eased me into the weekend.

He's Just a Stereotype

So it’s Rangers 1 Manchester 0. Talk about stereotypes. Tattooed jocks drinking cans of Tenants Super Strength at 8am. Which bright spark decided it would be ok for 100000+ to be allowed to drink in the streets? Normally, law abiding real ale drinkers are forced to endure plastic glasses even within confined open areas. A load of tartan terrors arrive and it’s “ah bless em; let them wander round with bottles, cans, pints, whatever they like.” Actually which bright spark was responsible for inviting them in the first place? What do you think Hadrian’s Wall is for? And now of course there won’t be any screenings on Weds as the city council are running scared.

Remind me to pay my respects next time I visit Glasgae...

Prague Odds and Ends

Image
I discovered I wasn’t a fan of Krusovice beers and that’s probably explains why I didn’t rate their Beograd outlet. On the other hand, I did enjoy Ferdinanda and their beers. All I can say about U Rudolfina is that it was dirty. Not only cleaner, but immeasurably better was the U Bulovky Richter brewpub. This had some good beers and the brews at Klasterni pivovar Strahov weren’t bad either. I really enjoyed the monastery setting of Klasterni senk and the Klaster light was quite refreshing.

While I don’t agree with Gazza on the delights of the Prvni Pivni Tramway, I do concur with his assessment of Pivovarský Dům. This really was excellent. Very smart, non-smoking, and with menus in English and Russian. Some good looking food as well, although once again, sadly, I didn’t get a chance to try any. Beer wise: the Bock was terrible, the Coffee was more like Nescafe and the Banana tasted like those old banana pop drinks you use to get before all the additives were banned. On the plus side, t…

Prague Musings Dve

Image
Beer wise there were some very reasonable Dark beers. And I quite enjoyed some of the crisp Pales that we came across, although they were not generally in the German class of quality. Ditto for the Wheats, which generally didn’t quite deliver as much as they promised. Tankova, or unpasturised Pilsner Urquell, was a novelty and although noticeably less gassy than its ordinary stablemate, the novelty factor did fade remarkably quickly. Likewise the real Bud and the various yeast beers that seem to be all the rage. I was suitably impressed with beers from both Bernard and Ferdinand, but less so by what Krusovice had to offer.

Ok, let’s talk specifics. U Fleku more than lived up to its billing. A great place with some excellent beer. I think Gazza is a little churlish with it. What more can you ask for than good beer in a good location? Is it expensive? Well, it’s not actually. Tourist prices of 60Kc seem cheap when some backstreet dives were asking 80Kc. Even better was Pivovarsky Klub w…

Prague Musings Jedna

Image
I went, I saw, and I drank. A lot. So goes the story of Prague. Forty three pubs and various other establishments visited. The good, the bad, and the ugly Thank God I can’t remember all of them! My general impressions seem to be on an accord with Tandleman’s. Beer wise, it’s okay, if not spectacular, although as the Big T says, when it is good, it’s very good. Despite the hordes of stag parties, its image as a cheap beer haven is something of a myth, with prices varying greatly. The transport system makes it very easy to get round-I loved the metro, but even with a good map the lack of street names in central areas can cause problems. Facilities for disabled travellers were frankly shocking for an EU country. Yes the waiters were (generally), as surly as promised, and they need to visit Germany to see how an efficient beer totting system operates.

Guide wise I also concur with TM. They all suffer from, probably unintentional, personal bias. Gazza’s was the best for idiot proof directio…

We Are The Champions

So, having shook off the post-Prague blues, it was time to celebrate. What to do? Something amazing, something spectacular, obviously. Fireworks? No, too sunny for that. A grand street party? Maybe another time. A few drinks round Manchester had to suffice then. Followed by some alfresco drinking outside the Trackside. Where I was joined by the Whitefield Holts Bandit for a couple. I knew what I was going to be drinking later, so early doors were spent experimenting. Titanic Black Ice (4.1%) was dark and interesting-roast malts as expected, but hints of fruit and pepper as well. Howard Town Hope (4.1%) was light and completely lacking in character. This brewery has really gone off the boil and all their new beers seem to be very average. Hornbeam Bitter (3.8%) proved to be the best of the lower strength beers, with a nice bit of bitterness coming through. Joe Stalin staggered in for (literally this time) one drink, and his departure coincided with the WHB also leaving. Left alone, wit…

Wednesday's Child is Full of Beer

At last a chance to detox-better late than never. But, oh no, I’m afraid not. A business visit to Hydes brewery leads (naturally) to a few pints at their well appointed bar. And then a quick couple in the Britons Protection. Never mind, there’s still all night to pack and chill out. But, oh no, I’m afraid not. A message from Eddie, the young, eager, legal, beagle. Could I meet him for a Harvey Wallbanger and a discussion on pre Romanov art? Absolutely not. And yet somehow I found myself going al fresco at the Trackside. Bazens Knoll Street Porter was good, but naughtily posted on the board as Janet Street Porter. Northern Hit and Run (4.5%) was bizarre, with an overwhelming raspberry puree taste. We tried our luck at Wetherspoons only to find all 3 beers on offer were undrinkable. A taxi up to the Lamb revealed George Wright Brewers Ruin (4.3%) which was on the sweet side for their beers. Thoroughbred Gold (4%) was also sweet at the Help Me Thro, but the Wainwrights was much better. …

Casino Royal

Well, the plan to detox before Prague is going to pot. I knew I should have timed the trip to Ireland better. Anyway a couple of al fresco pints on Monday were matched by a more substantial session yesterday. It started innocently enough with a lecture on “Understanding probability theory as a conceptual life model,” although, admittedly, the subject is enough to drive anyone to drink. Or to eat and drink, to be strictly accurate.

Taking advantage of the Early Doors deal at Numero, we were able to enjoy 3 courses for £17. Numero is an excellent Italian restaurant that is part of the Manchester 235 casino complex. Getting 3 courses for £17 is great value, but man does not live by pasta alone. So obviously wine was called for. A fierce debate was concluded with me conceding round one to Crusan Carignan-Syrah, VdP Côteaux de Fontcaude. This wasn’t bad as far as French plonk goes, with a spicy red body and a soft fruit finish. Next up was a bottle of Berri Estates Shiraz, from our Rolf Har…

Lush But Not Plush

Image
Lush is a bar in the centre of Bury. Let’s not beat around the bush, it’s a dump. Last November it gained some notoriety by becoming the first venue in Bury to have its licence revoked since the new licensing regime came into force. But before Bury residents could pop the champagne corks, it had reopened as “good as ever.” Oh dear, was I the only one who saw what was coming? Don’t the licensing committee read my letters? Perhaps they do, or it might simply be a case of once bitten, twice shy. For the powers that be have thrown out an appeal against the bar’s second enforced closure.

Last month’s incident centres round what police called a “serious degree of mismanagement.” Or what locals are calling a (John) Waynesque Wild West free-for-all. The first the police knew about it was when they spotted a blood drenched, punch happy, yob staggering around in the early hours. Further investigations revealed that a little altercation had taken place at Lush. Captured on CCTV was a fight invol…

Yesterday Once More

Image
Another day, another beer. A few warm up pints in the Lamb watching the footie. George Wright’s Mild (4%) was dark, with hints of sweet malt. Some debate had gone on as to how to celebrate the Bank Holiday, but I detected a weary inertia. Hence, I suspect the easy option-meet at the Trackside. I’d had my fill of Haka so stayed clear of that little time bomb. Bazens Joule in the Crown (4%) was light, but rather thin and insipid. The complete lack of any condition didn’t help. Much better was Bradfield Farmers Stout, which at 4.5% really carried some flavour. Dark brown/black in colour, the initial impression is of chocolate, coffee, and roast malt. Taste is quite complex with sweet chocolate and toffee in the mix. The finish was a little disappointing with the dryness quickly giving way to sweet malt.

Having sampled several on the bar, I was in need of something with bite. By now the gang were all gravitating towards the Haka-particularly impressive for the WHB who had been warming up …

Friday's Child

Image
Oh no, a message from Eddie, the young, eager, legal, beagle. Could I join him for a Pina Colada and a discussion on Victorian ornithology. I was still laagered up from yesterday, but resistance is futile as they say. So with Wetherspoons once more a complete waste of time, it was down to the Trackside for some liquid relief.

A varied selection, but they were mostly on the strong side. Batemans XXB and Vale Gravitas both weighing in at 4.8%. The Vale, despite its name, was golden in colour and had a nice fruity hop presence. Bazens Pacific (3.8%) would have been ideal, but despite recent promising signs, this had that awful smoky taste that seems to be ever present now. Okells Castletown (3.8%) was copper coloured and had an easy going fruit/malt balance. However, we were drawn inextricably to Oakham Haka which at 5.7% wasn’t ideal session material, but the lure of the hop proved too much. A golden beer with a pronounced citrus hop kick, it went down all too easily.

We would have moved …

Outstanding Brewing In Bury

Image
A note from a concerned reader. My last posting wasn’t a song title as, apparently, is customary. Well, ha, I was going to call it “The Lamb lies down on Broadway” which is a pithy little Genesis number. However, there is no way Tottington Road can be confused with Broadway, so I didn’t. But thanks for writing.

Yesterday I paid a visit to Bury’s new brewery. I’d heard they were close to operational and thought I’d better check on progress. The Outstanding Brewing Company is based in Britannia Mill, which is situated in a rather run down part of town. It’s a joint venture between Paul Sandiford, Glen Woodcock and David Porter. Dave, of course, is formerly of Porters Brewing and former owner of the much missed Arthur Inn. Glen is an engineering chum of my brother’s acquaintance, whilst Paul is currently a solicitor with Lancashire County Council.

The brewery is quite spacious for a new setup, but it needs to be with all that is planned. Physically it’s a 15 barrel plant running alongside …

The Lamb

Image
The Lamb Inn is a cosy roadside pub on Tottington Road. It’s about 1.5 miles from the centre of Bury and is served by the 468 and 469 buses. At one time Tottington Road was a good crawl in itself and, in my schooldays, you were considered lucky if you made it into the centre of Bury. Now, like everywhere else, it’s a different story. The pubs are still there, but trade is much scarcer and a good pint is hard to find. Some years ago, the Lamb was just ticking along as yet another undistinguished locals boozer. Then Derek and his son took over, and they were keen to bring cask back to the fore. They tried various beers and now seem to have hit upon the winning formula. Most of the time there is just one beer on, but it’s always a George Wright brew. Interestingly, such is the locals’ high regard for the brewery that it changes every time. This approach to quality over quantity has paid off and trade is now steady at 4 firkins a week. Last night I enjoyed Northern Light (4.5%) a new GW b…

Nutter of the Day/Week etc

As it’s polling day, I’ve decided to instigate this award. I was going to let it pass, but the cheeky git had the affront to leaflet my gaff, so the gloves are off. Nutter of the moment is Phil Sedman, local BNP candidate. He’s a young nutter-25, and seems proud to be a nutter. Apparently I’m not supposed to give his address, so let’s just say he lives on Handley Street. Why not pay him a visit? Of course, this is not incitement to superglue his letterbox, flour bomb him, or any other such high japes. Gosh, that would be awful, and very, very, naughty.