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

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Cock A Doodle Do

It may come as something of a surprise, but the smoking ban wasn’t universally popular. No indeed. There were those who decried the loss of liberty and claimed the British boozer was doomed without their custom. Many of the same claims were made when cockfighting was made illegal and its supporters, like the pro-smoking lobby, vowed to fight on forever more.

So I can perhaps offer the puffing lobby a glimmer of hope with the news that cockfighting may be making a comeback. Not here, but over in Hawaii, where it’s been illegal since King David Kalakaua banned it in 1884. However, its supporters scored a minor victory yesterday, when the House Cultural Affairs committee's passed two resolutions calling for legislative support for cockfighting as a cultural activity.

Yes, that’s right, a cultural activity. Pat Royos and her husband are keen exponents of this “sport” and raise roosters to fight to the death in matches with sharpened gaffs tied to their legs. "We are tired of being arrested. The thing is when we practice our culture, they come and arrest us," said Royos.

Rep. Joey Manahan, who introduced the resolutions, acknowledged they lacked the force of law and that they still had to go to the House Judiciary Committee. However, he remained hopeful over the outcome. "Personally, I don't think cockfighting is cruel. I am from the Philippines. It is our national sport," said Manahan.

So it seems my belief that cockfighting is an activity best enjoyed by inbred rednecks and the mentally infirm is incorrect. It’s a cultural activity and a national sport and it’s on its way back. This is very exciting and could just save the British pub. Forget crown green bowling: let’s convert smoking shelters into cockfighting pits. How long before it becomes an Olympic sport, closely followed by synchronised smoking?

Watch this space...

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

To Dunham Massey & Beyond

Saturday held in store a trip to Dunham Massey Brewery and the opportunity to present them with an award for winning Beer of the Festival at Bury in 2008. To present such a prestigious honour, Joe Stalin was making a rare appearance on a coach trip. Although not leaving till 1050, it prompted an early (too early?) 0930 Wetherspoons start in the Art.

DMB is based in a converted barn just behind Big Tree (and there is indeed a big tree) Farm in Dunham Massey and is run by John Costello. John used to work for Tetley Walker’s in Warrington and is certainly very passionate about the subject of beer. He has won many awards for Chocolate Cherry Mild (including Bury 2008), but his beers have their critics as well as their fans.

There were two beers on the brewery bar: Little Bollington Bitter and the aforementioned Chocolate Cherry Mild. LBB is a light, old fashioned, Bitter apparently (Ron Pattinson alert), based on the recipe for Boddingtons in the 1930s. It proved easy drinking, if unremarkable, but unfortunately ran out after two pints. Thus leaving only the CCM as a drinking option. This was, frankly, very poor. A strong bubblegum aroma led into a sickly fruit sweetener type taste that was nothing like the CCM of old. Too sickly for some, but others, having paid their money, girdled their loins and carried on.

A refreshing walk through the park brought us to our lunch stop-the Swan with Two Nicks. I used to be a regular here at one time, so was interested to note the changes. Local beer is now served in the form of several Dunham Massey brews along with Landlord, Coach House and Abbot. The food portions are still hearty and the chunky chips were great, but I have to mark the fish down a notch for having a humongous bone in it.

Lunch was considerably enlivened by two escapees from a neighbouring CAMRA branch. They had us spellbound with tales of murky practices and dodgy doings at their GBG selection meeting. It was better than a John le Carre novel.

Next stop was the Jolly Thresher at Agden. This is another one I hadn’t been to for awhile. It’s a modernised Hydes tied house and had three well kept ales on the bar. It’s also got impressive outdoor drinking credentials with patio decking, a smokers’ gazebo and a large garden/sports area.

Yet another old friend was the Barn Owl at Agden Wharf. This serves three of the Marstons range and several guest beers. Pictish, Storm and Marstons Bitter were all tried and approved. The Owl’s canal side location also makes it ideal for narrowboat (never, ever, call them barges) and wildlife spotting.

The finale was the find of the day. The Bellhouse Club at Grappenhall Community Centre is a private members club that had several real ales on and not the usual suspects either. Crucially they were also showing football on the big screen, although inexplicably not everyone in our party seemed interested in watching it. Salopian Aztec was the pick of the bunch beer wise.

Safely back in Bury, we called in the Trackside for a nightcap or two. The board was looking depleted-they’re closing for a few days and were letting the beers run out, but unusually there were a few gems to be had. The Slaters wasn’t bad and Otley O-garden, their tasty take on a certain wheat beer, was very good.

I was just going to make my contented way home when fate intervened in the form of Eddie, the eager, legal beagle. Apparently a new EU directive stated that I had to stay in the Trackside with him and watch the beers go one by one. Luckily our tipple-Phoenix Shamrock, being fresh on, lasted until it was the sole beer remaining. Eventually, taking the hint of chairs being stacked beside us, we meandered off into British Summer Time.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Dramming The Night Away

It was déjà vu this week for me and Kro 2. This time it was an evening of dramming. I prepared like any athlete would: with a strenuous warm up regime. In this case, several pints of Titanic Iceberg and the excellent Phoenix Lancashire Pale Ale.

There were six whiskies to neck, I mean gently sip and appreciate.

(1) Whyte & Mackay 13 Years Old. This was a blend and supposedly a smooth introduction to the evening. However, the aftertaste was sharp-defeating the purpose of blending and so generally disappointing.

(2) Isle of Jura 10 Years Old. Now this one was easy drinking with fruit, vanilla, spices and a hint of brine.

(3) Fettercairn 12 Years Old. This was interesting as you don’t see too much of their output this side of the border. Amber in colour, the sherry influence was most distinct. Hints of raisins, nuts and toffee blended alongside a touch of wood.

(4) Dalmore 12 Years Old. This was an excellent full-bodied whisky that was beautifully rich on the palate. Sweet spices and orange/marmalade undertones.

(5) Dalmore Gran Reserva. I couldn’t isolate the Christmas cake flavours in this, but chocolate and coffee came through along with some orange peel flavours.

(6) Isle of Jura Prophecy. This limited edition promised powerful flavours to round off the night. That it did, but unfortunately not of the good type. All the other flavours were swamped by the overpowering burnt peat aftertaste. It was like you’d been licking bonfire wood and stayed far too long on the palate for my liking.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Supertrooper*

Thursday saw a VIP pay Bury a visit. The first clue was the limo parked outside Wetherspoons and the bunting that was last used for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. It’s a long time since he last graced us with a non-CAMRA related visit. Indeed, the last time he partook of a Bury pub crawl was way back in 2003 and the locals still talk of it in hushed tones.

Yes, Tandleman was coming to town.

We started in the rather plush Art. This has come on leaps and bounds with its cask ale range and this week overtook its sister Spoons in terms of real ale sales. Tetley’s (with new pumpclip) and Phoenix White Monk were tried here before we moved onto MALT.

The first problem here was that MALT was shut meaning we had to go into the adjacent Automatic. Which means we didn’t have the choice of beer we wanted? Not really acceptable when all the barperson has to do is pop round the corner.

I wanted TM to try the house beer, Northern Light, as it can prove “interesting”. And so it proved with TM comparing it to “licking a painted creosote fence”. Having never done that, I was happy to take his word for it. So, nice place, shame about the beer.

Next stop was the Robert Peel and George Wright Dream. This proved a welcome respite after our last encounter. Then it was up to Ramsbottom and the Rammy Ramble. First call was the Good Sam which is under new management. Unfortunately, the Golden Pippin was warm and lacking in condition. However, the landlord is keen and I will certainly be calling in again.

Despite being quiet (just an observation, not a mark of surprise) the Pippin was much better in the First Chop, although TM remains unconvinced it’s still the same beer that it once was. It was over the road then to the Major where we dodged the ubiquitous Doom Bar and settled for some Landlord.

Finally a short bus ride took us the Hare and Hounds and a choice of 10 beers. There were several hoppy ones on and once TM had us settled in at the bar, we were off. After several pints of Phoenix Hopsack I began to wish I had lined my stomach with something more than 2 Weetabix some 13 hours ago. Luckily my ordeal at the hand of the merciless TM was coming to an end as the evening drew to a close.

There was just time for TM to have a run in with a barmaid and then it was goodnight sweetheart. An enjoyable day out, full of the highs and lows of any pub crawl. I’ve pencilled a return visit in for 2017. In the meantime, there is talk of a rematch in Rochdale.

*it's an in-joke

Something To Kro About

Midweek saw us on Oxford Road at Kro 2 for an evening of Australian wine and, for the carnivores, delicacies such as kangaroo. Having successfully dodged the hordes of St Patrick’s Day drunks, we settled in for a very enjoyable evening. The format was 6 wines and four courses.

The wines were:

Tortoiseshell Bay Semillon Verdello
A refreshing white with lemon and lime undertones.

Everton Chardonnay/Sauvignon/Pinot Grigio
Interesting tri-blended white with a beautiful peach and pear palate and a citrus aroma. Best of the night.

Annies Lane Riesling
The only disappointment of the night. Too acidic.

R.M Cabernet Sauvignon
Oak and vanilla mixed with red berry flavours.

Mount Llangi Ghiram “Billi BIlli” Shiraz
Very much a Shiraz. The name comes from the aboriginal for “The home of the Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo”. Spicy with ripe oak and red and black fruits in the mix.

Deen De Bortoli Vat 10 Pinot Noir
Easy drinking with strawberry and cherry flavours.

Special mention has to go to the dessert-Chocolate Brownie Trifle which was simply sublime.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Beer Disappointment Of Last 7 Days

Thornbridge Raven in the Marble Arch, Manchester. This 6.6% brew boldly states on the pumpclip that it is a “Black IPA”. A statement that raised a few eyebrows and no little interest. Apparently, they start with Maris Otter, Munich, black and chocolate malt. And then chuck in Nelson Sauvin, Centennial and Sorachi hops, before dry hopping with Chinook and Aramillo

If they had managed to successfully weld such an impressive list of ingredients, they would truly have produced a stunning beer. But they hadn’t. Well not on this showing, anyway. These multi-malt brews often underwhelm and adding all those hops just appeared a waste. Someone’s idea of home brew Guinness is the closest approximation I’d hazard.

Runner up was Marble’s Brew 14, but only at the Marble Arch-it was fine in Chorlton.

Favourite Beer Of Last 7 Days

Ossett Chardonnayle in the Angel on Angel St, Manchetser. Crisp and the use of Willamette hops really imparted an enticing aroma. The WHB liked it so much he forwent his usual glass of wine chaser.

Top 10 Bury Pubs For February

Hare & Hounds, Holcombe Brook

Lamb, Tottington Road

Major, Ramsbottom

Good Sam, Ramsbottom

Robert Peel, Market Place, Bury

Towler, Walmersley Road

Red Lion, Hawkshaw*

Pack Horse, Affetside

First Chop, Ramsbottom

Footballers, Summerseat

*There’s some bad news for fans of the excellent Red Lion. As a consequence of the credit crunch, the pub was put up for sale, thus providing the long serving landlord an opportunity to buy it. It was always going to be a tall order and unfortunately it looks like he has failed to secure sufficient finance to go ahead with the purchase.

The tale of woe doesn’t end there, though. Currently the pub is run with a light touch by the owners: allowing for some tasty guest beers such as Phoenix. However, the likely purchaser has turned out to be none other than local lager brewers J.W.Lees. Which will mean drinkers will have a choice of dull-as-dishwater locally brewed ale or pure Middleton Carslberg.

What have the landlord and the drinkers of Hawkshaw done to deserve that?!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Tetley Gone For A Burton

So the secret is finally out. Tetley cask will now be produced by that great Yorkshire brewer, Marston’s. So much for keeping the brand in its native Yorkshire. Or perhaps, Carlsberg, being foreign Johnny types, simply mistook the Midlands for Emmerdale country? Ironically, it’s only the smoothflow that will continue to be brewed in Yorkshire.

Yes, Tetley Smoothflow will continue to fly the flag for Yorkshire and the great Tetley tradition. It will be brewed at Molson Coors’ plant in Tadcaster. Why? Well according to Andy Hume, Carlsberg’s Leeds brewery director, this is " to ensure that Tetley’s drinkers continue to enjoy the same great tasting, quality beer”. Say what???

Happy Days With The Naked Pissed Chef

After Sunday’s exhausting day at the pit face (i.e. down the pub) I returned home around 2am feeling a bit peckish. I4 hours on the piss will do that to you. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, Bury suffers from the same problem as its Southern counterpart-London, in that it’s impossible to get a decent late night take out Sun-Thurs.

However, undaunted I willed to make do with what was in the house and whip up a tasty, nutritional snack. But, having spent Saturday and Friday, and er, Thursday, Wednesday and ok, all week at the pit face, it appears I had overlooked to do any shopping. The cupboards were bare. This is the only problem with the great British pub: it fulfils all of man’s needs far too easily.

Luckily being a cheese addict does have its advantages. Namely there will always be scraps of various cheeses lying around. So pizza was on the cards. On a base of rosemary & thyme, I added all the cheese I could lay my hands on. Irish Farmhouse Cheddar, Parmesan, Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire, Feta, some organic goat’s cheese and a little Brie all went on. Along with garlic butter, basil and, of course, pineapple. The result was a tasty culinary delight, although I suspect Jamie Oliver might not agree.