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

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Kernel Export India Porter

Tuesday morning. What does that mean? Yep, it’s Kernel time.

The basics: It’s a 5.7% and bottle-conditioned. This one was a real gusher-it must be the liveliest bottle I’ve ever had by far. Eventually it poured a dark brown with good carbonation and a creamy beige head. The aroma was of roast coffee and smoky whisky.

Taste: Initially quite a velvet mouthfeel and then the flavours start hitting home. Caramel and roast malt come through with resinous hop bitterness dominating in the end. Dry and satisfying on the palate.

Finish: Smooth with a short burst of medium bitterness.

Conclusion: I’m not exactly sure what an Indian Export Porter is supposed to taste like, but this a good find for fans of Porter. It slips down easy enough in a way that belies its strength and is another Kernel winner. 

Monday, 30 May 2011

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Kernel Redemption

Ah, Bank Holiday Monday. Everyone knows that means it most be Kernel time.

The basics: Redemption is a 6.1%, bottle-conditioned, Dark Mild. It’s actually a collaboration with the Redemption brewery; hence the name. It poured a deep brown with good carbonation and a creamy off-white head. The aroma was quite pronounced: lots of roast malt, and a hint of chocolate.

Taste: Medium mouthfeel and quite chewy. There’s plenty of roast malt and liquorice and maybe some dark toffee. What’s surprising is the relatively high level of bitterness. There’s the dry bitter edge that you would expect from a Kernel beer, but perhaps not in this style.

Finish: A medium level blast of roasted bitterness.

Conclusion: Its chewiness and roast bitter edge made it taste more like a Porter than a mild to me, but what’s in a name? It’s a very tasty beer that fans of either style can enjoy.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Kernel Centennial Chinook Pale Ale

Time to kick off the Bank Holiday festivities with another Kernel breakfast beer.

The basics: It’s a 5.3%, bottle-conditioned, Pale Ale. The aroma was an inviting blend of grapefruit and pine. It poured amber with good carbonation and an off-white head.

Taste: This has got plenty of bite and is very clean and crisp. There is a biscuit malt undertone, but the grapefruit and pine notes are at the forefront. Just as you would hop(e) for in a Pale Ale, there is a tart bitterness that is very appealing and refreshing.

Finish: Slightly herbal hop, long bitter finish.

Conclusion: Chinook, Centennial, Kernel. Rearrange the three words to make a very satisfying breakfast beer that consolidates the brewer’s reputation.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Moss Cider

Last night was spent enjoying an evening of cider and cheese tasting. Cider? Cheese? What’s not to like? But it was a bit more than that. The event, hosted by the excellent Port Street Beer House, was ostensibly an introduction to the Moss Cider Project. It’s a fantastic community project, the details of which can be found on their wiki page.

Team leader Dan Hasler gave a very professional presentation, and along the way we got to try various ciders matched to a recommended cheese. I’m not going to list all the tastings-you should have been there-but there was some excellent stuff to be had. It was particularly interesting to sample America’s most critically rated cider, Original Sin, which hails from NY and is made with two types of champagne yeast.

Obviously the grand finale was why we were all there. Manchester is not (yet) renowned for its cider production, so the chance to finally try some of the Moss Cider was too good an opportunity to pass up. Cloudy and very lively, it proved a popular and fitting nightcap to the evening’s proceedings. If you get a chance to try some, I suggest you do so. 

Update: Video of the tasting

Monday, 23 May 2011

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Windsor & Eton Knight of the Garter

Burge’s Brewery closed its doors in Windsor in 1931. There was to be a small gap of 79 years before the historic town became home to its next brewery. Since their launch just over a year ago, Windsor & Eton have developed a reputation for producing some quality beers, but can they brew a good breakfast beer?

The basics: It’s a 500ml, 3.8%, golden ale. It poured crystal clear with good carbonation and a medium off-white head. The aroma was biscuit malt and citrus hops.

Taste: Clean and tangy. There’s a crisp, biscuit malt backbone combined with a good dose of juicy citrus hops. You can definitely taste the Amarillo hops which give it a very pleasing dry, bitter edge. Very quaffable and moreish.

Finish: Dry and lingering.

Conclusion: An excellent session beer, and proof once again that a low ABV doesn’t have to mean mediocre. I look forward to trying some of their other beers. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Kernel Black IPA

Back to life.
Back to reality.

Or so the song goes.. And how better to see in a return to normality than with a breakfast beer? I certainly could do with one before work. Obviously, though, you’re looking for a banker in such a situation. Something good that you just know will kick start the day.

Now, I’ve not tried it, but Kernel’s Black IPA comes highly recommended by none other than Tandleman. Whoa, I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t that guy drink JW Lees? Yes, but everyone is allowed their little idiosyncrasies. Just ask Max Mosley.

The basics: It’s 33cl and tips the scales at 7%. The aroma was pungent and very enticing. A complex mix of roast malt, pine, tropical fruit, and lots of spicy hops really hit the olfactory nerve. It poured very dark, near black with excellent carbonation and a large beige frothy head.

Taste: Medium mouthfeel and an extraordinary balance of flavours that masks the alcohol content. There’s a lot going on here. There’s an initial burst of roast coffee and dark malt, before the resinous hop flavour comes through. Proper juicy, spicy, hops that give a lingering bitterness without seeming too harsh.

Finish: Deep and dry. You can taste the hops at the back of the throat.

Conclusion: Black IPAs were the new black of 2010, and with this, you can see why. Beautifully balanced and very moreish, this is a keeper. One for the beer cupboard. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

An East Lancs Birthday Bash

Last Saturday saw a hardcore bunch of miscreants wastrels, ragamuffins and reprobates join up for a birthday crawl of East Lancashire. Eddie the, eager, legal beagle has finally come of age. Yes, he’s bought his first razor and swapped his shorts for long pants. Such momentous moments cannot go uncelebrated, so a-drinking we did go.

The sensible lot started with breakfast (full-on dining during the trip was strictly verboten) and some Phoenix Hopsack at the Art Picture House. A leisurely coach journey then took us to the Healey Hotel in Rochdale. This is a cosy, multi-roomed, Robinsons’ pub that has had some much needed TLC in recent times and both the decor and beer were top notch.

Next stop was the picturesque hamlet of Bacup or “Backup” as the locals call it. Now Bacup is famous for its interbred residents and little else. However, there is a little oasis tucked away down a winding road: the Crown. This is a regular outlet for the excellent Pictish Brewery and both their Brewers Gold and Blue Moon were well received.

Up to Burnley next, passing the cheerful cherubs and their welcoming V signs along the way. You could tell the Clarets were playing at home as half the Lancashire constabulary was camped in the town centre. Luckily our stop-the Gannow Wharf-was just far enough away to ensure our drinking wasn’t disturbed.

Home to the Pot Noodle bar snack, the Gannow also offered up some tasty Bowland beers and a chance to try Burnley’s new brewery. Worsthorne have been brewing for less than three months and we sampled two of their beers here, Foxstones and Blonde.

The Swan with Two Necks at Pendleton is an old favourite and once again didn’t disappoint. It’s a great little pub with proper toilets (i.e. outside) and an excellent range of beer and cider. Phoenix and Bowland were both enjoyed here. Now the Swan is hard to beat as a pub, but if there is one that can lay claim to it, it’s the Victoria at Great Harwood.

The Vic is simply one of the best pubs in the country. It features in CAMRA’s list of Historic Pub Interiors and has lobby drinking, a great outdoors drinking area and old-school snacks such as Ploughman’s-In-A-Bag. Oh, and the beer choice is extensive and impressive. I stuck to the Windermere Pale, but there was plenty of choice.  However, there is no blue plaque, as yet, to mark the Whitefield Holts Bandit’s historical transgression here..

The evening was drawing close now, but there was still time for two more stops. The first was the Peel Park in Accrington which is a good pub, but the pool room is wasted seating space in such a busy local. Last stop for all was the cracking Robin Hood in Helmshore. Once a Copper Dragon pub, it’s now owned by Hydes and sells their beers and guests. I enjoyed the Allgates Pacific Gem here.

The coach was now heading back to base, so there were tough choices to be made. A few wimps stayed on and were dropped back in Bury. The rest of us settled in my local, the Hare & Hounds in Holcombe Brook for a few nightcaps after a very enjoyable day out.  Beer fatigue was now setting in, though, and there were a few choice sights. Some people even started eating. The birthday boy then did a runner and it was all downhill on Oakham White Dwarf after that...

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Future Of Bar Snacks?

There has been a lot of gnashing of teeth (and rumbling of stomachs) in the beer blogosphere recently. The problem, as many perceive it, is the decline of the humble pub snack. For those of a certain age or those young and intelligent enough to realise it, drinking time is for drinking. However, a little nibble of something along the way often does not go awry.

But, in today’s full-on-food world, there seems little room for anything less than a full meal or a convoluted and extra-laden sandwich. The simple, and cheap, pub snack seems doomed. That is why I was interested yesterday to discover two pubs offering their own individualistic take on the traditional bar snack.

In the first, customers were offered a range of Pot Noodles at 99p each. An unusual occurrence, in my experience, but I have been assured, by no less an authority than Tandleman, that this is acceptable bar snack food. However, being fully au fait with these devilish delights, I wasn’t tempted on that occasion.

In the second instance, I was offered the opportunity to sample a Ploughman’s Lunch. In a bag. Yes, this was a Ploughman’s Lunch in a, er, bag. Part of the bar snacks in a bag range; this was too good a chance to pass up.

So what does the PLIAB consist of? Well, you get some crackers, some small pickled onions and, of course, some cheese. And, crucially, a spreader. All very neat. Sadly, the verdict amongst the judges was that it was “disappointing”. Perhaps it’s not the snack of the future, but it’s heartening to see that there are still alternatives to the gastropub out there. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Hawkshead Red

The basics: It’s 500ml and weighs in at a top-heavy Bitter strength of 4.4%. It poured red, as the name would suggest and had reasonable carbonation and an off-white head. The aroma was caramel malt and red berries.

Taste: Quite substantive and a little chewy. There’s caramel again, toasted malt and a dry red-fruit backbone. Hop bitterness does come through, though, to leave a dry aftertaste.

Finish: Starts bitter–sweet and finishes roast and dry.

Conclusion: Rich fruit and plenty of bitterness give this beer some kick. A rather good Best Bitter that should suit the traditionalists. One for your Uncle. 

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Rudgate Battleaxe

Well the holiday’s* over and it’s time to get back to work. Of course Friday has been the main topic of conversation. A large expectant crowd gathered in anticipation of the big event and when it came, it was met with a huge cheer and much jubilation. Yes, Windermere Pale certainly made an impression when it appeared on the bar.

But back to today’s breakfast beer.

The basics: It’s 500ml and is 4.8%. It poured a deep chestnut with reasonable carbonation and a tight off-white head. The aroma was roast malt and caramel with a tinge of burnt woodchip.

Taste: Medium bodied. There was an initial hint of summer berries, followed mainly by sweet malt and roasted nuts. There is some hop bitterness, but it dies on the tongue very quickly.

Finish: Sweet toffee and a slight woodiness.

Conclusion: I wasn’t really impressed with this at all. The malt/caramel flavours were only offset by a rather unpleasant woody aftertaste. A strong Bitter should be delivering more for the money. One for your great-nephew. 

*The holiday has depleted stocks of Oatibix, so today's breakfast pairing was an Eccles cake.