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Showing posts from July, 2010

Everybody's Gonna Be Happy

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Heart warming proof-positive that binge drinking is still thriving. Yes, despite these harsh times, it’s still possible to get out of your tree for very little. And not in some student hovel or even a Wetherspoons, but a fully fledged, respected real ale outlet.

Wyldes is attempting to play everyman for everyman by selling both pongy beer and offering vodka shots for £1. Now I like vodka and I like garlic, but which is best? No need to fight it out as now there is there the garlic shot. Which must be good, right? Wrong, it’s not. It's very wrong. I didn’t try the Habanero Chilli but note it came with the same warning*

*Not suitable for pregnant women, people with heart conditions, or pussies.

Rock On

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So the dust has finally settled a week after the opening of The Rock-Bury’s new £350M retail and leisure complex. Or the shopping centre as we like to call it. 200,000 paving slabs have been used and there is 500,000 square feet of retail space and 100,000 sq ft of leisure.
We’ve got a bowling alley, a super cinema (hooray), an M&S and Primark. We had Gemma Atkinson to open it and a Thwaites Shire Horse made an appearance-nobody knows why. However, there seems to be one thing missing.
I looked high. I looked low. But there’s no sign of a pub or a bar. So, as much use to a red-blooded male as the Trafford Centre. This embarrassing oversight probably explains their dislike of people taking photos.
How else to explain the fate of David Gibbs? The foolish 68 year-old was caught brazenly trying to take some photos by two heavies. I mean security staff. Mistaking Mr Gibbs for Mr Bin Laden, they warned him that everyone was treated as a potential terrorist now and that any more of his dis…

New Brewery For Bury

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Excitement continues to mount with the confirmation that Bury is to get its third brewery. Yes, Bury will officially become the brewing capital of Lancashire and, discounting the big boys of Manchester proper, Greater Manchester as well. Did I mention we will have three breweries?

The proposed site of the new brewery is in the little real ale hamlet of Ramsbottom. Formerly Atlas Works, the building is located on Irwell St/Square St. Built in 1888; the business was owned by coppersmith Richard Mason and was known as Irwell Steam Tin Copper and Iron Works-Ramsbottom.

The origins of the building account for the name of the brewery. The Irwell Works Brewery will house a 6 BBL plant and have a fully licensed bar on the first floor and accommodation for the resident licensee on the second floor

One of the people behind the venture, Sara D’arcy, explained: “The primary function of the building is to house a working craft brewery as a tourist attraction and secondly as a bar selling beer. Ou…

Waiting For A Train

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Has the Trackside gone too far in replicating the train experience by only having seats and no tables?

All Wright On The Night

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ROLL UP! ROLL UP! FREE DRINK FREE FOOD. So read the sign outside the Moon Under Water on Tuesday night. Well, it didn’t actually, but perhaps it should have. How else to explain the low turnout for a meet the brewer night? After all, did I mention there was free beer and food?
And it wasn’t as if it was some stuffy, dull affair. Keith Wright, of the George Wright brewery, is a very entertaining and informative host. We have met him before, but recognising a bunch of grizzled drunks when he sees them, he eschewed the usual beginner’s guff about how beer is brewed etc and got us tucked straight into the ale.

What followed was an interesting drinking session intellectual discussion on his bottled beer range-I now know more about carbonation than is legally sane and he kept us regaled with his tales of the brewing trade.

He claims to have the most technologically advanced microbrewery in the UK and has some exciting plans for the future, including growing his own barley. Like everyone …

A Tale Of Two Beers

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Correct                                Very Wrong

Stargazing

Another Saturday, another day in Huddersfield. This time for the Star Inn Summer Beer Festival. The Star has built up a well deserved reputation for its festivals: serving beer as God intended-on sparkled handpump.

That being so, it was no surprise that there was a queue outside long before it was due to open. This being the British summer and there being a hosepipe ban in force, it was no surprise that it was also piddling down.

Still, no worries, what with nearly 50 beers on in the marquee and a further 9 in the main bar, there was plenty to do. There was even live entertainment in the form of some halfwit asking for an unsparkled beer. I haven’t laughed so much since seeing Peter Kay at the Met.

No surprises on the beer front, with decent efforts from the likes of Southport African Gold, Wentworth Summer Loving and the excellent Backyard Sun Zinger. I didn’t try the topically themed Vuvuzela by Northumberland, but am quite happy to predict that it was, like all their beers, shit…

The Road To Nowhere

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If a week is a long time in politics, then ten years is even longer in the pub game. Almost a decade, in fact. Back in 2000, I made the pilgrimage from Bury to Rochdale, via Bell Lane/Rochdale Old Road, to check out the roadside pubs for the now defunct What’s Doing. The tenth anniversary seemed an ideal opportunity to fire up the Zimmer frame and see how things have changed in the intervening years.
First stop now, as then, was the Cotton Tree. This ex-Whitbread pub didn’t sell any cask beer back then and nothing has changed, apart from a lick of paint. It still caters for a select clientele, none of whom is me.
Standing on the corner of Wash Lane and Bell Lane, the Old Blue Bell, on the other hand, has been a well known fixture on Bury’s cask ale scene for many years. Holts Mild & Bitter are sold in this large, solid boozer and the pub still retains its multi-room layout from its long-distant Wilsons days.
Ten years ago, the Golden Fleece was an ex-Bass pub that Hydes were strugg…

A Living Advert For Sterilisation

Especially for Eddie, the eager, legal beagle...

Reckless By Name

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More details continue to emerge about last week’s drunken antics in the House of Commons. From what witnesses have been saying, it sounds like a first class piss-up. And who can blame them? An MP’s life is a hard one and aren’t they entitled to let their hair down now and again?

Picture the scene: it’s a long day at the pithead. You’re kept hanging around until 2am. And what for? Only some boring emergency budget thingy, that’s what for. Meanwhile there’s a well stocked, subsidised, bar with a lovely river view terrace to relax on. Are you having it? Too bloody right, you are.

And it seems you’re not the only one. Witnesses claim a "significant number" of MPs who voted the budget bill into law were under the influence of alcohol. In parliamentary lingo, they were said to be “convivial” and “well-refreshed”. That’s pissed and well-pissed to me and you.

Not surprising as it appears that some of them had been on the lash for six hours or so. The excellently named Mark Reckless,…

Manx Malarkey

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Interesting news from the land that time forgot. Yes, Tandleman’s favourite holiday destination, the Isle of Man, could be on the brink of an interesting social experiment.
Bill Malarkey, a member of the Manx parliament, the House of Keys, is calling for 16 year olds to be able to buy alcohol in pubs. Currently, of course, and somewhat pointlessly, they are allowed in pubs, but can’t buy any booze.
It’s interesting as Malarkey is heading the island’s drug and alcohol strategy, so would be expected to know something about the subject. His basic rationale is that if they are in the pubs, they won’t be on the streets and it’s better for everyone if they are in a controlled social environment.
Unusually for a politician, this idea has a sound basis and the local police have signalled their willingness to discuss it, albeit with their concern that it may lead to an increase in consumption. Over here, Tim Martin has been a strong advocate of this measure, although it seems unlikely to be imple…

(Just Like) Starting Over

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More upheaval in Salford with the news that local brewery Bazens is relocating. Richard Bazen is upping sticks and moving into the revitalised Staron Back Hope St, Broughton.

As I understand it, the brewing operation will be scaled back to a 5 barrel plant. And although he will continue to supply his trade outlets with the Bazens brand, he will essentially be brewing under the Star Brewery banner.

I wish them both well with this new venture. Just let’s hope, for everyone’s sake, that this means the end of that god-awful, burnt-caramel tasting shite he’s become notorious for in recent times.

And Thus You Poured Like Heaven Wept

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It’s official. Wasting beer is wrong. Yes, not only is pouring perfectly good beer down the drain morally wrong, but it seems it’s actually illegal. The Environment Agency has warned that as alcohol is hazardous; allowing it to pollute the water supply is an offence that carries a potential £50,000 fine or even a spell in chokey.

And who are the worst offenders of this heinous crime? Ironically, it’s our boys in blue. They have been pouring thousands of litres of the stuff down drains since the Confiscation of Alcohol Act 1997. They’ve now received a slap on the wrist and have promised not to do it again.

I just wonder what they are going to do with all that unwanted booze...?

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

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Seems that Salford’s pub resurgence has suffered a setback. The Black Lion on Chapel Street which was the first in a five-pub, real ale crawl along the A6, incorporating the Crescent, the New Oxford, and the Kings Arms on Bloom Street, has closed.

The Lion was brought roaring back to life under the stewardship of Tim Flynn, landlord of the uber-successful New Oxford. He was given a wide remit by the pubco and a pub that everyone assumed was finished rose from the ashes.

But, despite good press reviews, the BL struggled to find its niche. Understandably, Tim didn’t just want to clone the New Oxford and so avoid becoming just a tickers pub. However, a rather lacklustre beer selection didn’t catch the imagination of an audience with all the delights of Manchester to choose from. And anywhere refusing to use sparklers is, frankly, just asking for trouble.

Now it appears the partnership with Lucifer has come back to bite him with a vengeance. That old pubco classic-the upwards only rent sp…

Cheaper By The Dozen

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Amazon has entered the competitive online grocery market. This could prove somewhat troublesome as they are sourcing products from third parties-not ideal if you want all your goods delivered together. As you usually do when ordering groceries.
However, what really caught my eye was the fact that they are now selling booze. A rather ragbag collection of beer, wine and spirits. Everything from Purple Moose Glaslyn Ale to Jagermeister Herb Liqueur. But the pricing plan needs some watching.
A bottle of the said Jagermeister will set you back £20.75+£5.99 for postage. Ok. However, if you just fancy a bottle of Sam Smiths Organic Best Ale, it will set you back £7.30. And that’s with free p+p. Which, unless you want to show off to the neighbours/life partner/yourself by having one bottle of beer delivered, is an expensive way of imbibing.

Look a little closer, though, and you will see Bourdaire-Gallois Brut Champagne Jeroboam 1.5l (Tandleman’s favourite, btw) for £112.99 plus only £3 for p…

One For The Ladies

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Trust Leyden to brew Bury’s (if not the region’s) strongest beer during summer. This thirst quenching “Summer Old Ale” weighs in at a respectable 10%. And although it’s not totally disgusting-quite an achievement for a Leyden beer-it wasn’t exactly flying out of the pumps.

What does it taste like? I could wax lyrical, beer blog bollocks style, but I shall leave it to the words of the old geezer at the bar. “By ‘eck. I’m having 3 pints of that and then calling the missus to pick me up. In fact I’m ringing her now!”

Guinnes Was Good For You

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Hot on the heels of news of the Guinness Surger comes the revelation that the brand itself is in decline. Seven million pints less of the black stuff were sold in the UK last year. That’s a fall of some 2% of sales by volume compared to the previous 12 months.

Nor does it seem that this is merely a blip. According to the market research company Mintel, sales of Guinness have dropped by £28.5M over the last three years. That’s not loose change even to a behemoth the size of Diageo. Particularly considering the amount of money they spend advertising the stuff. It accounts for an eye-watering 54% of all advertising revenue in the ale and stout category.
Taking all this into account, it’s no wonder that Diageo have resorted to “diversifying”. Desperation others might call it. Hence Guinness Lager, Guinness Mid-Strength etc. Zak Avery has written an entertaining, if rather sentimental, piece about it. Iconic it may well be, but “tasting pretty good,” is a debatable point. And, as others ha…

The Surrey With The Fringe On Top

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An interesting, if somewhat puzzling, bit of news comes from the land of Max Boyce. Michael White, licensee of the Ruperra Arms in Newport, Gwent is less than happy with Punch Taverns. Nothing new there, you might think. But the cause of this dispute is not the usual-rent increases, the price of tied beer etc.

No, in this case the issue is his right to be able to use the “Guinness Surger”. This is a device whereby bar staff pour a can of non-widgeted Guinness into a pint glass and then place the glass on an electronic plate.
This then sends sound waves through the liquid creating a creamy head. Mr White is upset because Diageo are happy to supply the unit, but Punch are refusing to allow him to use it until they have trialled the device. Which, to be fair to Punch, does not actually sound unreasonable.

However, what interests me is the nature and purpose of this device. Apparently it’s intended for outlets that sell less than half a keg a week. Now that’s very little beer indeed. We’r…

In God's Own Country

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It doesn’t take much of an excuse for me to saddle up and ride into the Wild West. West Yorkshire, that is. So when Eddie, the eager, legal beagle suggested a trip there, I took little persuading. The sensual beery delights of Huddersfield are well known to us, but for the likes of Eddie’s vater and Old Uncle Albert, it was all virginal territory.

Before embarking on the main course, however, an aperitif was called for. Only ten minutes further on from Huddersfield is the delightful Dewsbury West Riding Refreshment Rooms. This is classic boozer situated on the railway platform and famously made an appearance on Oz & James Drink to Britain
Uncle Albert soon made himself at home and seemed to be auditioning for a Burl Ives role in a Western. Suitably refreshed, we were soon back on the platform and heading back to Huddersfield. Our first stop there was the Star on Albert Street where the Pictish proved too good for just one pint.
After finally dragging ourselves away from the Star, i…