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, 27 February 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Arbor Chinook


Arbor Ales are a well-respected Bristol brewery with a growing reputation for quality beers. I’ve had the odd one or two of theirs on draft and always found them excellent, so I was particularly looking forward to trying this bottled sample.

It’s part of their single hop series and comes in a 6.5%, bottle-conditioned, 500ml format. It poured a healthy golden colour with excellent carbonation and a small off-white head. The aroma was an odoriferous delight: a very pungent mix of grapefruit, lemon and pine.

The taste followed on from this with clean, crisp flavours. Dare we say zesty? It’s certainly packed full of lemon, grapefruit, pine, mandarin peel and a spicy bitterness. Lots of bitterness, in fact. It really builds up into something of a crescendo of a dry aftertaste that stays with you for quite awhile.

This is a top-drawer beer, made even more impressive by being bottle-conditioned. They’ve really captured Chinook’s greatness here and it’s like rubbing your face in a hop bale. One of the best beers I’ve had this year. 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Gadds@PSBH


The last Monday of the month usually sees a meet the brewer event at Port Street Beer House. And last night proved no exception with Eddie and John from Gadds taking turns to entertain the expectant throng. At heart, Eddie is a traditionalist in terms of production and marketplace. That’s not to say Gadds don’t experiment-they do-but Eddie’s passion for local, fresh beer for local people came through loud and clear. As did his love for the East Kent Golding: not to be confused with any other Golding, but that’s a whole other story.

And if you’re wondered why some of their beers are numbered, well the wife’s a mathematician and naming beers is boring, right?!

Seassider
A 4.3% amber coloured session Bitter made with lots of Goldings and a little crystal malt.

Gadds No 3
A 5% premium Pale Ale inspired by Sierra Nevada.

Oatmeal Stout
This 4.6% Stout uses natural crushed oats and Fuggles hops to create a quite smooth drinking experience. My favourite of the night.

Kent Pale Ale
A 6.5% beer that is brewed (and tweaked) each year to try and showcase East Kent Goldings at their finest.

Common Conspiracy
A 4.8% special that combines German hops with American West Coast yeast to give a Californian style "Common" beer.

Thanks to Eddie & John and the PSBH crew for another enjoyable evening. 

Saturday, 23 February 2013

All Night Long


A local takeaway has failed in its attempt to be allowed to deliver alcohol to customers between 11pm and 3am. Currently, Tony’s Curry Pot is licensed to sell booze between 2300-0500 but only to customers who purchase their food in person. Owner Adnan Javed sought to extend this service to those who prefer their late night fine-dining experience to be delivered to the doorstep.

However, the owner of the Haymarket Street shop was to be disappointed. After hearing objections from the police and healthcare bosses, Bury licensing committee rejected the application. Committee member, Clr Alan Mathews said: “We’ve never had an application like this before and it did provoke a lot of concerns.”

One of the concerns was apparently that they feared that delivering alcohol to homes could lead to arguments between the driver and the customer. Mr Mathews also added that “There would also be issues around domestic violence, the safety of children and general health if people with alcohol abuse problems can get access to alcohol at anti-social hours.

But is there an even bigger worry lying behind the committee’s refusal? Perhaps tellingly he admitted that: “We also felt that passing this could open up a Pandora’s Box in that it could lead to other people applying to do the same thing, including supermarkets. Potential trailblazer Mr Javed was said to be unavailable for comment. 

Friday, 22 February 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Oro Di Milano Doppio Malto


Think of Italy and what comes to mind? Cheese obviously, well it does for me, anyway. But the land of Berlusconi has more to offer than pizza. Yes, apparently, it does beer as well. Now I’ve heard they produce the odd bit of wine, but beer, come on? Actually they have a growing reputation as a beer producer, hence this sampling.

It’s a 330ml bottle with an abv of 6.5%. It poured with an appealing clear amber hue and a medium off-white head. The aroma was subtle: mainly malt with a touch of honey. The beer itself was medium bodied and well balanced. A little bit of sweet malt as you’d expect up front, but then berried fruit and good lasting dryness in the aftertaste.

With this being a double malt beer, I had few hopes of liking it. However, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s supposed to be Belgian in style and whilst I’m not sure about that, it’s a well structured and flavoursome beer. As usual the acid test is the Tyson drinkability factor. And on that, it scores very well.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Ramsbottom RNLI Beer Festival


Just a quick note to congratulate the organisers of the second Ramsbottom RNLI beer festival which took place last weekend. Building on the success of last year’s event, they tweaked it to make it even better this time. Judging beer quantities is difficult at festivals, particularly the first event and last year there were complaints that the beer had run out too early on Saturday. This year extra beer was ordered and there was still a good selection on Saturday evening.

The format is simple, but effective. Fifty beers (there was cider as well this year) served through handpull and in oversized, lined glasses. And at £2.40 a pint, punters were paying less than in the pub, which is unusual and not unwelcome. Ramsbottom Civic Hall is an excellent venue, so that helps, but the most important part is that all profits go to the RNLI. Last year £1600 was raised and it’s hoped that this year that total will be beaten.

Tyson’s top tipple: Brewsters Wicked Women.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Ramsbottom Craft Brewery Ice Cap Pilsener


We’re coming over all Bohemian today with this Czech style offering from Bury’s most innovative brewery. Pilsner (yes, I prefer the alternate spelling) is a deceptively simple style of beer. Deceptive because many brewers fail to get the basics right and end up producing a pale(yes, really) imitation of a true Pilsner.

This is a bottle-conditioned, 500ml specimen and, coming in at 5.5%, technically counts as an export strength style. It poured a pleasingly (I know it’s almost heresy these days) clear golden with excellent condition and a large white head.

The aroma was subdued; a little floral and bready. As usual with RCB beers, the alcohol was quite well hidden and flavours crisp on the tongue. These consisted of a good malt Pilsner backbone overlaid with floral, almost grassy tones and a medium dry aftertaste.

I have to say that, at this strength and lacking any buttery or bittering characteristics, this doesn’t work as a Pilsner for me. However, it’s a perfectly acceptable stronger lager and would probably sit well on a craft bar somewhere. 

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Schneider Weisse@PSBH


We were treated to a very special meet the brewer event at Port Street Beer House the other night. On a flying visit to the UK to judge in the International Brewing Awards in Burton-on-Trent, Hans-Peter Drexler, brewer at world famous Schneider-Weisse found time to keep us entertained.

And entertain us he did. With 30 years in the business, he knows a thing or two about the industry and beer generally; as well as possessing an unrivalled knowledge of wheat beer. Topics covered included the conservatism of Bavarian drinkers, the threat from the off-trade and what the future holds.

Of course, some beer was sampled. There were seven samples in all, coupled with German sausages and sauerkraut and finished off with smoked cheese.

Original
Most people come to Schneider-Weisse in Britain via the Kristall variety but this is where it all started. Twenty years ago, this was still accounting for over 90% of sales. Mahogany coloured, it’s a very pleasant mix of banana, nutmeg and clove.

Nelson Sauvin
This is a 7.3% pale golden weizenbock. Quite refreshing; the Nelson Sauvin did a good job in balancing out the expected wheat flavours.

Hopfenweisse
I’ve had this before and it’s a cracker. An 8.2% wheat doppelbock, it beautifully combines the best of both worlds; wheat flavours and a powerful citrus-pineapple hop kick.

Aventinus
This is another of the original Schneider beers and comes in at 8.2%. Ruby coloured, it had liquorice, plums and roast flavours. I didn’t care for it really as the buttery element dominated too much and I don’t like that in darker beer.

Aventinus Barrique
This was an 8.2%  barrel-aged version of the above. Much richer and with vinous flavours, it was a big improvement.

Aventnus Weizen-Eisbock
A dark, reddish-brown beer that, at 12%, isn’t for the faint hearted. Tasty with very rich flavours with Christmas cake perhaps being the best analogy.

Eisbock Barrique
This 12% head-spinner was matured for 15 months in Pinot Noir barrels. It split opinion. The crowd that only have to hear the words “barrel-aged” to go into an onanistic frenzy loved it. Others just left it. I drank mine, but was left unmoved by its mix of wood and vanilla.

Thanks to Hans, the folks at James Clay and everyone else for a very interesting evening. 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Nottingham


Nottingham. Birthplace of such luminaries as Robert Harris, Alan Sillitoe and the great Su Pollard. And a certain gentleman who looked good in Lincoln green and favoured the bow and arrow. Except, of course, he was actually from Yorkshire. Impressive as those claims to fame are, however, its appeal to drinkers is the number of hostelries offering a drop or two of real ale.

So it was that a group of CAMRA merry men (and women) made the pilgrimage to beer pastures anew. First stop was the Canalhouse, based, unsurprisingly, on Canal Street. This opened in 2000 on the lower floors of the former Canal Museum. It’s a cracking and unusual Castle Rock pub where the adjacent canal actually extends inside the building, complete with resident narrow boats.

Our next stop was to be the Trent Navigation Inn. However, local knowledge warned us against this as it would be packed full of football supporters on the way to the match. No problem, it was onwards and up to the Keans Head opposite St Mary’s Church. This is a cosy, one-roomed boozer that was reopened by Tynemill in 2004. Wetherspoon vouchers were accepted here and were soon being exchanged for pints of Harvest Pale.

A short hop and a skip brought us to the Cross Keys on the corner of Byard Lane. This is another rescued pub, with Great Northern Inns doing an excellent job of refurbishing this Victorian building in 2010 and creating a very comfortable drinking experience with lots of bare wood and natural light. The Navigation beers on offer were in excellent condition as well.

Next up was a stroll through Nottingham’s pedestrian area to the Malt Cross. This little gem is tucked away on St James Street and lived up to expectations. It’s a Grade 11 listed former music hall dating from 1877 and claims to have seen the debut of Charlie Chaplin and Can Can dancers. It’s certainly very ornate with lots of original features and a great upstairs balcony. Purity Gold was the beer of choice here.

Our next pub, although not new and trendy, certainly had more of a modern feel. The Dragon has a small, narrow, split-level interior and is the kind of place that has low lighting and music playing. So, not for everyone, but the Good Beer Guide is a broad church and there was nothing wrong with the Adnams or Harvest Pale.

The Round House, on the other hand, was undoubtedly a disappointment. Formerly part of the General Hospital, it boasts six handpumps. However, several of these were turned round and it was obviously more of a dining place than a pub. That, coupled with it being oddly quiet for a Saturday night, meant we didn’t linger here.

There were mixed reactions amongst the faithful to the Salutation. This is a very historic-circa 1240-pub that should tick all the CAMRA boxes. However, despite its haunted Saxon cave cellars and King Charles snug, it was found lacking in some respects. The beer was average and seemed secondary to the very loud rock music that dominated the main bar and seemed out of keeping with the surroundings.

There were no such problems with the excellent Vat & Fiddle. The Castle Rock Brewery tap is handily placed for the station and boasts a large selection of beers in a very convivial atmosphere. Here again there were discounts for CAMRA members in the form of accepted Wetherspoon vouchers.

And so our group of even merrier men set sail for home. It might not have as an exotic range of beers as some places but, in terms of pubs, Nottingham lives up to its reputation as a pub crawl destination. And the prevalence of CAMRA discount warmed the heart as well as the wallet. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Ramsbottom Craft Brewery White's Kent XI


A little history lesson before today’s beer tasting. The Whitbread Golding hop was developed by Edward Albert White of Yalding, Kent in 1911. When he retired in 1920, the farm he had bred it on was bought by Whitbread Brewery. Shamefully they didn’t recognise Mr White’s place in hop history and that is why it bears their name and not his. This beer is named in his honour.

It’s a 500ml bottle-conditioned specimen and comes in at 4.6%. It poured pale amber with good carbonation and a large, fluffy white head. The aroma was a little floral with perhaps a hint of lemon. Taste wise: it was a subtle mix of floral and herbal tones that led to a medium-dry finish. I’ve had this on cask and enjoyed it .While the bottled version isn’t as crisp, it’s still an enjoyable, easy drinking session beer. 

Friday, 1 February 2013

Northwest Portland


The Northwest of Portland is undoubtedly the richest part of town in terms of brewing history. The Widmer brothers started out here trying to sell Altbier before creating a Hefeweizen that became an American standard. And then there’s Henry Weinhard’s, the famous Portland brewery that shut in 1999 after 135 years of beer production. The brewery may be gone, but the name lives on in the form of Henry’s 12th Street Tavern. This resides on the site of the former brewery’s power house.

Henry’s is a huge, two-storey, rambling pub and restaurant. They boast 100 beers and ciders on tap, but be warned: they haven’t got time for you to idly wile away the hours with samplers. Whatever you want, you’ll be expected to have a pint of it. Portlanders love their sport and this place can get busy when big games are on. Which, in Portland, seems most evenings, to be honest. Best time to visit: Sunday, when it’s happy hour all day.

If you’re Downtown, you simply have to visit Bailey’s Taproom. Being British, I needed to have a local that I could fall into at the end of the evening. Bailey’s filled that role as, fortunately, it was just round the corner. Ok, not fortunately, I actually picked my hotel with it in mind. It’s a small, modern pub with a chilled vibe reminiscent of our very own Port Street Beer House. There’s no food-you can order from across the street-but has some great beers at very reasonable prices. And the beer board that actually tells you how much is left of each beer is a revelation.



Another famous Portland landmark is Bridgeport Brewery. One of the originators of the local brewing scene, they have a large presence in the city and very nice premises in a former rope factory. However, I was a little disappointed with some of their beers. No such problem with the mighty Rogue who produce a dazzling range of very good beers. Their sample tray of 14 (12+2 extras)s the largest in town and their wet hop IPA was stunning. 

Yet another landmark is Deschutes Brewery & Public House on NW 11th Avenue. This has 18 taps featuring the brewery’s regular beers and special seasonal brews. You can try a six (4oz) sample glass selection for $8 or steam straight in with half a litre for $5.
Chainbreaker White IPA
A cross between a Belgian Wit and a Northwest IPA with Citra, Cascade and Centennial hops.
Mirror Pond Pale Ale
Four different hops but Crystal malt lurks beneath the surface.
Inversion IPA
This 6.8% West Coast IPA has 80 IBUs and with Cascade and Centennial onboard, you’d think it would be a safe bet. However, the clue is in the name. They’ve added a ton of Crystal and Carastan malt to give it gut-retching malt overboard finish. Horrible and one of the worst IPAs I’ve had.
Black Butte Porter
Archer Ale
Golden, fruity beer made with 16 pounds of Sterling hops in each barrel.
Fresh Hop King Cone (Cask)
Lovely copious amounts of fresh Centennial hops but why put two types of Crystal malt in there?

The New Old Lompoc is also a Portland mainstay and has a huge heated patio area. It boasts half a dozen regular beers on tap along with some seasonal brews. Happy hours (pints $3.50) are 4-6 and after 10pm and I can recommend the chips with salsa for $2. If you can; visit on “Tightwad Tuesday” where you can fill your boots for only $2.50 per pint.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the name comes from a film (The Bank Dick) starring W.C. Fields in which most of the action takes place in a hotel called the New Old Lompoc.

Next: the Southwest