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

Friday, 28 December 2012

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Kernel Summit

This morning’s little treat is yet another of the Kernel single-hop IPAs. Summit is an interesting hop. It’s got lots of technical characteristics that endear it to hop enthusiasts and I believe it was the first dwarf variety produced in the USA. It’s noted not only for its bittering qualities, but also for its aromatic prowess.

So, if anyone should be able to produce an excellent single-hop IPA from it, who else but hop experts Kernel?

It came in the usual bottle-conditioned Kernel size and is 7.5% by volume. It poured the usual hazy amber with a small off-white head. True to form, it was very pungent. Strong grapefruit and orange notes with some pine resin thrown in there as well.

The taste is interesting and very powerful. Citrus in nature, yes, but completely different to the previous Kernel tried. This isn’t exotically mixed tropical flavours but rather a direct punch of bitter grapefruit and (Valencia?) orange. The bitterness really comes through; leading to a mouth-puckering, dry finish.

This is superb, but it’s probably not for everyone. However, if you want to see what a single-hop IPA can deliver and fancy putting your taste buds in the ring with the Klitschko brothers, then this is for you.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Eve Breakfast Beer Tasting: Kernel Citra, Motueka, Chinook

It’s time to really get into that Christmas groove and sharpen the palate for later today. So we return to the Kernel and another of their triple hop whammies. This one comes in the usual 330ml Kernel house style bottle and is 7% by volume.

It poured hazy amber with a perfectly formed white head. The aroma was delightful: plenty of exotic and ripe citrus fruits and a touch of pine. Taste wise, it was medium-bodied and tangy. Mango, peach, grapefruit and lemon, it’s all in here. And just a touch of floral/herbal tanginess that I think must come from the Motueka.

This is a perfectly blended IPA that fizzes over the tongue and leads to a pleasingly bitter finish. I found it very refreshing-it doesn’t drink like 7%-and the perfect appetiser for today’s merriment.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Book Review: Craft Beer London

It’s no secret that London’s craft beer scene is booming. There’s even talk that, one day, they may rival Bury as the chic beer capital of the UK. Well, let them dream, I say. In the meantime, it can be difficult to navigate round the seemingly bewildering list of beer attractions that London has to offer. Yes, the internet is full of info, but it takes time and you need to know where to look.

This is where this pocket-sized guide comes in. You can’t beat having all the information you require at your fingertips and this handy little book promises you a compendium of the best that London has to offer. Compiled by Will Hawkes, the Independent’s beer expert, it breaks London down into manageable zones: Central, East, North etc and highlights the best places to try craft beer.

In a book of this size, there is only so much room for detailed descriptions. Thus this is reserved for the main entries. They each get a nice right up; including transport info. However, there is additional listing space given over to other places of interest in each area. As the emphasis is on where to sample craft beer, breweries and off-licences are featured as well as pubs and bars.

Of course, any book is out of date even before it’s published. However, given that these places tend not to be fly-by-night operations, I think that this, along with its electronic companion, will be useful for some time yet. It’s also something of an educational tool for the beginner: there’s a beer dictionary, a forward by Evin O' Riordain and Will even makes a good stab at answering “What is Craft Beer?”

And, although primarily aimed at the novice London beer drinker, there were a few tips in here that I wasn’t aware of. There’s a lot packed in here and I suspect it will find itself in more than a few imbiber’s pockets over the coming months.
Craft Beer London. Vespertine Press. £10

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Put Down The Tablets And Pick Up Some Roquefort

So now it’s official. Celebrity chefs are bad for your health and mouldy cheese could help you live longer. Yes, these are the health stories of the week. Celebrity cookbooks from the likes of Jamie Oliver apparently not only hit you in the pocket but in the heart as well. According to research published this week, their recipes contain more fat and salt than is good for you and you’d be better off buying a Tesco Value ready meal. There’s even talk of banning them from TV until after the watershed.

On the other hand, it’s been an excellent week for cheese lovers. Lycotech, a Cambridge-based biotech company, think they may have uncovered one of the secrets behind the so-called “French paradox”. This is the puzzler that French folk, despite eating a high salt/saturated fat diet, are healthier and live longer than us Greggs pasty-munching lot.

The French get a fair portion of their saturated fat intake from eating cheese. Now it seems that, far from harming them, mouldy cheeses such as Roquefort are actually helping them. This is because it contains specific anti-inflammatory properties.  This works in the acidic rich environments of the body such as the stomach and the skin surface.

Anti-inflammatory action is also the key to relieving arthritic joints and preventing the build up of plaque on artery walls. The team of doctors, led by Dr Ivan Petyaev and Dr Yuriy Bashmakov, said: “We hypothesise that cheese consumption, especially of moulded varieties, may contribute to the occurrence of the ‘French paradox’. They added: “Moulded cheeses, including Roquefort, may be even more favourable to cardiovascular health.”

This may lead, the team believe, to these anti-inflammatory factors being extracted and used independently or as a part of today's pharmaceutical or beauty products such as anti-ageing creams.

Beauty products? Now I don’t need a reason to eat more Roquefort, but I prefer to spread it on cheese biscuits rather than on my face.

Monday, 17 December 2012

No Reservations Please, We're British

An increasing trend, brought into sharp focus by my latest London excursion, is for pubs to reserve tables for patrons. Now, of course, this has long been common practice in ones that major on food and is sensible, particularly if you’re travelling any distance. Nobody likes to turn up with Aunty Jean and find that there’s no room at the Inn.

However, we’re not talking about gastropubs (sorry, couldn’t think of a better name for them), Brewer’s Fayre or anything of that ilk. No, I’m addressing the ones that do very little or, even more frustrating, basically no food at all. I simply cannot see the justification in potentially alienating the customers who have already come through the doors and are willing to spend time and money there.

And it’s not even as though these are large tables best suited for groups. I’ve seen signs on little ones that can fit three people on at best. And this is isn’t some form of British Stammtisch in action. No, this is usurpers trying to circumvent tried and tested pub practice. Of course, you could sit at the table and wait to be ejected, but the point is; you shouldn’t have to.

If Billy Bones wants a table at 1830 for him and his chums, he should do like the rest of us and get there early enough.

Friday, 14 December 2012

The Morning After

Any serious drinker will have been there at least once. You wake up with a hangover and only a fuzzy recollection of the night before. Slowly the foggy haze lifts and the memory returns. Did you really say that? Did you really do that? And who hasn’t spent more on a night’s drinking than they planned to? I know I have. But have you ever considered trying to get that money back?

Well William Ilg did. Waking up to the realisation that he’d run up a $28,000 bar tab at the Hustler Club in Manhattan; this being America, he promptly sued. Mr IIg’s case was simple: the club should not have continued to serve him because he was "no longer capable of conducting financial transactions". Further, the club had committed “a fraud and wrongful conversion” because they wouldn't give him a refund.

Sadly for him, the court wasn’t having any of it. It rejected his case along with his request for punitive damages for the club’s “outrageous conduct”. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez dismissed the case saying: “There is no duty upon (Hustler Club) to protect the plaintiff from the results of his (voluntary) intoxication.”

If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Golden Pint Awards 2012

It's that time of year again when we recognise the best in the beery world. With so much dross around, it's only right that we recognise those that set the standard for others to follow. So, aftter much consideration; well, while I wait for my next pint to arrive, anyway, here's my tuppence worth.

Best UK Handpulled Beer: Hawkshead Windermere Pale

Runners Up: Oakham Citra, Magic Rock Curious NZ

Best UK Draught Beer: Summer Wine Oregon Pale

Runners Up: Magic Rock High Wire NZ, Kernel Table Beer

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer: Kernel C.A.S.C

Best Overseas Bottle or Canned Beer: To ├śl First Frontier

Best Overseas Draught Beer: Coalition Green Pig Fresh Hop Ale

Best UK Brewery: Allgates, Hawkshead, Kernel

Best Overseas Brewery: Coalition

Best Pumpclip or Label: Rukus Brewing Hoptimus Prime

Pub/Bar of the Year: Bailey’s Taproom

Beer Festival of the Year: Hare & Hounds, Holcombe Brook

Supermarket of the Year: Booths

Online Retailer of the Year: Beer Merchants

Best Beer Book or Magazine: Beer Atlas by Tim Webb

Best Beer Blog or Website: Zyphophile

Best Beer Twitterer: Eh? Don’t make me laugh

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year: Mexican Wild Bean Burrito & Alaskan Double Black IPA. For breakfast

In 2013 I’d most like to...Learn more and drink (even) more
And that concludes the voting for the Bury jury.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Unicorn Body Hair

No, I’m sorry; this isn’t about unicorn body hair. Ha. Made you look, though. This is actually an update about London. Or Landahn as good queen Bess likes to call it. I recently had the pleasure of once more perusing its golden streets in search of some new hostelries. And, naturally, pay homage to some old favourites.

Craft is, of course, the brand that has been taking London by storm in recent times. They’ve now opened another two outlets, both excellent in terms of choice (Fyne Jarl was the anointed one), but different in style. Their Brixton outpost is reminiscent of Leather Lane, a cosy, modern corner-fronted pub with nice views of the adjacent market.
Craft in Islington has a different vibe; with its front bar and distinctive coloured rooms. Islington, never too shabby on the pub front, is now setting the standard for new openings. The Pig and Butcher is packing them in with its gourmet food offerings but even they, like everywhere else visited locally, are paying more than a nod to the beer side of things.
I really liked the Earl of Essex. Its wraparound bar and beer board made a very good impression, despite it being crammed to the ceiling. I can see myself spending a bit of time in there at a quieter time. The same goes for the North Pole. This is another beer heavyweight; boasting an excellent range that, not so long ago, would have been unheard of in the capital.
Of course, no London trip is complete without a visit to the Euston Tap-where the delights of Summer Wine awaited. The Old Fountain was also as reliable as ever and delivered Oakham Citra which was enjoyed on their splendid rooftop terrace. And quality time was spent at Kernel supping their Columbus, Tomahawk, Zeus infusion.
So, another quality visit that leaves lots of possibilities for more exploration next time.

Top of the Pops

Some cheering news before Crimbo as the latest blog rankings see me creep back into the top 40 hit parade for the first time in awhile. Looking at the readership, I see that, outside of the UK, most readers are in the USA and Germany. My Cossack brethren in Russia and the Ukraine account for a sizeable batch and there are obviously some very discerning readers in Israel.

The search terms that drive people here always make for interesting reading. Surprising, but related terms: “you aren’t getting shit for Christmas” and “santa taking a shit” got me thinking, but “unicorn body hair” just left me perplexed. I can’t recall mentioning any such thing in a blog post and can only imagine what would happen to my rankings if I actually did.

Christmas is coming
The goose is getting fat
But I’m a vegetarian
So that’s enough of that.

Friday, 7 December 2012

New Lease For Dusty Miller

There are few genuine celebrities in the licensing world. However, tonight Bury will welcome one such rare beast as the new licensee of the Dusty Miller. The Dusty, a Moorhouses pub that featured for many years in the Good Beer Guide, has been closed since September and, until recently, there were fears for its future.

Now, after a £200,000 refurbishment, it’s set to reopen under the management of the man who once laid claim to being Britain’s most controversial publican. Nick Hogan made national headlines for continuing to allow smoking in Barristers in Bolton after the smoking ban came into force.

The story is well known to many, but suffice it to say that, after failing to pay £10,000 accrued in fines and legal costs, he was jailed for six months. His supporters-to whom he is somewhat of an Elizabethan martyr-quickly rallied round and paid the monies: enabling him to leave gaol after serving only twelve days.
He then turned up at the Swan with Two Necks in Chorley; where I stumbled across him whilst conducting a crawl for this very blog way back in 2008. The Dusty lies in an area badly served by good pubs and locals are hoping his experience will turn thing around. With his strong views on the pub trade, I’m expecting fireworks, if not any smoke.

Sadly, I’ve not been asked to be the guest of honour at tonight’s opening ceremony. That falls to the Cheeky-less Lembit Opik.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Talking Point: Cheese & Salt

It’s been a bad week for two of man’s staple requirements for a happy life: beer and cheese. No need to elaborate on the beer front: Dave’s smarmy face has been all over the news; first as he begins his jihad on booze one day and the next as he sidesteps Leveson and sticks his tongue up Murdoch’s arsehole.

No, what struck me was the latest attack on cheese. Poor Mr Mozzarella and other perfectly innocent members of the cheese family were once more put in the firing line. Last time it was over the amount of saturated fat that it can have. Now the so-called health "experts" are whipping themselves into a frenzy over the salt level of some cheeses.

More salt in cheese than seawater," ran one alarmist headline this week as some parts of the media played up the shock and awe angle. The source of this latest outbreak of health hysteria was a report by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash) which surveyed 772 supermarket cheeses and found that Cheddar had an average of 0.52 grams of salt per 30g serving.

Now some cheeses had even more salt than that and some had less, but the 0.52g made for a lazy comparison that Cash couldn’t resist feeding to the media. Katherine Jenner, Cash campaign director, said:”This survey shows that just one portion of cheese can contain more salt than a packet of crisps.” Well, yes it can-by 0.02 of a gram, but surely that’s not the point?

Crisps are a clear no-no health wise and have little, if any, nutritional benefit. Comparing them to cheese is disingenuous at best. Cheese is packed full of positive benefits: proteins, vitamins, it can aid sleep, fights tooth decay and boots production of the enzyme that makes us feel happy.

Salt in cheese is vital to mature and flavour hard cheeses such as Parmesan and soft-rind ones such as Camembert. It also is crucial in preventing bacteria from growing inside cheese and gives the food its savoury finish. With the high price of so-called “superfoods”, for many of the 98% of the cheese buying populace, it’s probably their healthiest buy.

Cash says that cheese ranks only behind bread and bacon (take that, you carnivore bastards) in terms of contributing salt to the British diet. I’ve no problem with banning bacon (see point above), so let the campaign to ban bread start here. But hold on, can’t you still legally buy crisps? Of course, as we know, the government doesn't like to ban products; merely lecture with one hand and collect our taxes with the other.

No, it’s as a director of the Dairy Council told the BBC: "The survey is mixing up the effect of cheese on health with the effect of salt on health. Salt is not added for taste or flavour but for safety and technical reasons." And, as levels are clearly stated on packs, customers are free to choose, anyway.

There is actually one more very interesting point to be made here. Graham MacGregor, chairman of Cash wants the government to step in and set lower salt levels for cheese makers: “For every one-gram reduction in population salt intake, we can prevent 12,000 heart attacks, stroke and heart failure, half of which would have been fatal.”

Of course we’ve heard magical figures like this before, haven’t we? And usually they are based on suspect propositions and little hard evidence. This is even more so in this case as they are based solely on the much repeated salt-is-bad mantra. However, as with alcohol, the truth may not always be as the government would have it. Read here for a summary of the contrary view.
So the message is clear...Leave our cheese be.