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, 26 March 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: RCB Lightless IPA


We’re sticking with the local theme today. But this time RCB are transporting us all the way across the Atlantic for a Ramsbottom take on an American classic. This is a Black IPA-Lightless, geddit? Now you may be thinking, so what-plenty of them around. Even though, that would make it the first locally produced one. But no, this is a very special Black IPA. It’s only 3.9%. Yes, you read that correctly. All the taste, without the alcohol. Well, that’s the theory, but does it work in practice?

It comes in 500ml, bottle-conditioned, form and poured near black with reasonable carbonation and the merest trace of a beige head. The nose was promising: unmistakable dark fruits and, oh yes, those famous “C” hops. The body was light and just avoids being too thin; always a danger at this strength. The good news is that there is plenty of flavour. Citrus tones come through strongly with maybe a little blackberry before a satisfyingly hopped finish.

At this strength, there’s no malt backbone to speak of, so you wouldn’t get the full IPA experience. So maybe it’s more of a (Black) Pale Ale. However, many of the key elements of a good dark IPA are here and, if like me, you enjoy fruity, hop-led beer, you’ll like this.

Tyson says: IPA or not, it’s very tasty. I’ll have another, thanks. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Viennese Twirl


RCB are getting well known for their interpretations of a wide range of beer styles. So, once again, today we are transported across the EU for this twist, or should that be twirl, on an Austrian theme.  I’m guessing that, by specifically referencing Vienna, they are trying to capture some of that old Viennese magic.

Regulars will have by now guessed that its 500ml and is bottle-conditioned. It’s also just creeps under the 5% barrier at 4.9%. It was very lively and poured a reddish-brown with a large, beige head. On the nose there was a little caramel and sweet malt. It’s a medium bodied beer with various notes of toasted malt, some fruit and a little residual sweetness.

Tyson says: Pleasant enough, but a little bit dull by RCB's standards. 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

When It's Springtime In Alaska Manchester (It's 40 Below)

Cold in here, isn't it?

It’s Saturday. We should be at Magic Rock. We should be in Huddersfield, imbibing at the Grove. We’ve had our vaccinations and our passports stamped. But, alas, it was not to be. That darn Yorkshire weather had beaten us. For the first time, ever, a CAMRA trip had to be cancelled.

What to do? There were people literally besides themselves with alcoholic lust after depriving themselves of God’s greatest gift during the week. Of course, I hadn’t made such a schoolboy error, but always willing to help those worse off than myself, I was willing to go along to help them sate their basic needs.

Manchester was the designated alternative trip. And what a lovely, fresh day it was. Cold, some might even say. Cold enough for a Scotsman like Tandleman to wrap up in his trendy, warm Ben Sherman coat that he bought for 2 farthings. Beer wise: the Marble Arch offered an indifferent Pint and a strangely off-form Liverpool Organic Iron Men. However, the Draft was, as usual, excellent.

Liverpool Organic made a better showing with their Pale Ale in the Angel and Kernel on draught was the pick in Common. It was warm enough in Terrace, but sadly all the beer was below par. Which certainly wasn’t the case in Port St:  where the Hand Drawn Monkey Pale Ale tickled the old taste buds. In fact, it was so relaxing, some people even took off their jackets. 

Friday, 22 March 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: RCB Rammy Ale


It’s back to local beer this morning and hopefully something more palatable than yesterday’s disappointment. Actually, I recently had Rammy Ale, on cask, at the Hearth of the Ram in Ramsbottom and enjoyed it. So the temptation to try the bottled version was too great.

It’s, as usual with RCB, a 500ml, bottle-conditioned little number and this one is a straight-down-the-middle session strength 4.1%. It poured light amber with good carbonation and a medium off-white head. On the nose there was a little malt and some sweet fruit.

It’s a light-bodied beer with a nice, smooth mouthfeel. Smooth, but not tasteless. It’s a well balanced, clean tasting session beer. There’s some juicy malt combined with garden fruits that leads to a bitter-sweet aftertaste. Recalling the cask version, I’d say this is very good attempt at recreating that beer.

Tyson says: Lived up to expectations. A tasty session Bitter.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

From Blue to U


Bury town centre has been described as compact. That’s small to me and thee. So, by nature, is the real ale scene. The drinking circuit is pretty well established and has been the same for some time. Locals have long since abandoned hope that one of the last chance saloons on Silver St will transform itself into a quality beer emporium.

So it was something of a surprise to be tipped off that one of Bury’s more unbecoming bars was moving upmarket and planned to install real ale. And sure enough, the jungle drums were correct. U Bar is situated on the Rock-Silver St will have to wait a little longer for Brewdog to arrive, opposite the parish church.

If it looks familiar, that’s because it is. Long ago, it was Ronnies on the Rock, a rather smart real ale bar. Then it was Ronnies and an inexorable decline led it to being Blue Lounge and then, briefly, (spot the desperation) Red. During this time it developed a reputation for being a late night (or early morning, if you will) dive. As one review put it in 2010: “If you fancy getting glassed at 4am, this is the place for you.”

However, it’s now under new, young, management and has had a bit of a spruce up. You could still smell the fresh paint when I called in. There is one handpump, as yet unused, waiting to quench the thirst of Bury’s real ale brigade. The plan is to feature local breweries such as Dunscar Bridge. But first to the pump, when it settles, should be J.W.Lees Governor.

Any real ale gain is to be welcomed. And if handled properly, there is a daytime/ early evening dining clientele to be had. However, I fear it will take more than the likes of the Governor to tempt people off their regular bar stools. Any pub with just one pump needs to study the local market to see what sells and promote itself accordingly. Otherwise it will just wither on the vine. 

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Atlantic Discovery Red Celtic Bitter with Cinnamon & Orange


After the last, rather disappointing, outing for a flavoured Atlantic beer, I thought I’d give them another chance. So we now have cinnamon and orange: two things that I’m not adverse to. So that bodes well. Or does it...

It’s bottle-conditioned, 330ml and comes in-to me-a surprisingly strong 5.5%. It poured dark amber with little carbonation and a small, beige head. The aroma was fairly subdued; just a hint of orange and spice.

It’s a medium-bodied beer with quite a stiff malt backbone. There’s some orange and toffee and a little spice in the background, but nowhere near as fruity as I was expecting. There’s also a little unexpected acidity that gives it a slightly unpleasant astringent aftertaste.

This was created to be drunk with dark pheasant and other game and may work on that level. However, on its own it comes across as a very strong bitter with only hints of what it promises. Quite disappointing.

Tyson says: Where’s the orange and cinnamon? 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: RCB Chocolate Porter


Today we go to the dark, comforting, side with a Chocolate Porter. But first, a few words about RCB’s labels. They’ve really come on and now contain detailed information with a bitter/sweet rating, RAIB logo and even how much you get back for returning it for recycling. All in all, a very professional job.

This is a bottle-conditioned, 500ml, beer and weighs in at a premium Bitter strength of 4.4%. It poured a dark, dare I say chocolate, brown with decent carbonation and a medium tan head. The aroma was pleasing enough: very chocolate rich, with a little roast thrown in for good measure.

Medium bodied in nature, the beer itself had similar chocolate notes as the aroma, but also sweet malt and molasses. I was expecting this to be sweeter, but the chocolate segment was nicely balanced by a dryness that made it clear that is this indeed a Porter. Albeit a Chocolate-Porter.

Tyson says: A chocolate coated twist to an old favourite. 

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: RCB High Honey Tripel


This morning sees a return to the dreaded honey beer, but with an even more interesting twist. They do like to play around with different yeasts at RCB and this beer is in the style of a Belgian Abbey Tripel.

It’s in 275ml, bottle conditioned, form and tips the scales at a respect-demanding 8.7%. It poured hazy amber with decent carbonation and a thin off-white head. There’s no mistaking the origins of this beer; the nose was full of sweet phenols and Belgian yeast.

The beer itself was warming and a continuation of the aroma. Phenolic tones on a medium body and a bittersweet undercurrent. It’s awhile since I’ve had a Westmalle or something of that ilk, but this Tripel, brewed in the depths of Ramsbottom, seems to have all the right characteristics.

Once again the honey is used subtly to develop alongside, rather than dominate, the other flavours. So it looks like, in the right hands, honey can work in beer.

Tyson says: If you like your beer Belgian style, forget Brussels and head for Ramsbottom. 

Monday, 18 March 2013

Hawkshead Beer Festival



Saturday night found some of the Bury CAMRA soaks, I mean beer experts, in far-off climes. Staveley in Cumbria to be precise. Why Staveley? Why for the Hawkshead beer festival, of course. Why on earth would you visit Cumbria otherwise? The setup is great; the festival is split over two floors and between two bars. I’ve not been to the Saturday evening session before and, as forecast, it was very busy. However, a good time was had by all

Highlights
Allgates Mosaic: This hop seems to be doing the rounds at the moment but this is the first cask offering I’ve had. Beautiful notes of lemon, pine and tropical fruit.

Allgates Hopgate: New Zealand hops in this refreshing beauty. My tasting notes simply say “Allgates!” “Hoppy!” ‘Nuff said.

Arbor Hoptical Delusion #5: Arbor, for my money, produce the best bottled beers in the UK. And judging by this hoptastic treat, their cask beer is right up there up as well.

Arbor Triple Hop #5: A Pale Ale brewed with Galaxy, Topaz and Green Bullet. Fruity and dry.

Bristol Beer Factory Bitter Kiwi: Lovely mango and gooseberry hop edge.

Arbor Yakima Valley: Second time in two weeks for me. A stunning American IPA. Copious amounts of six hops give this complex beer a resinous pine edge that lingers long on the palate.

Bristol Beer Factory Bitter Californian: This UK/USA American Brown Ale hybrid split opinion. Visually difficult for those who associate pale beers with hops. But I liked it. The Newport, Nugget and late added Chinook really gave this a crisp citrus edge.

There were several other excellent beers-Tiny Rebel springs to mind, but the Tyson beer tasting machine failed to record them for some reason. I can’t say for certain, but I suspect alcohol played its part. 

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Arbor Riwaka


I had the pleasure of sampling some Arbor beers on cask at the weekend. They really are at the top of their game at the moment. And so, what better way to start a dreary Monday that with, hopefully, a guaranteed banker in terms of quality. That’s the plan, anyway.

It’s a 500ml bottle and comes bottle-conditioned and weighs in at a nice and easy 4%. It poured a good looking pale gold with excellent carbonation and a fluffy white head. On the nose there was plenty of sweetish citrus notes, tropical fruit: mango, pineapple and some grass.

The beer itself was light to medium bodied and packed full of flavour. Typically tropical, you might say. The light malt backbone was more than matched by mango, passion fruit, pineapple and a little gooseberry. The finish began fruity and became increasingly drier, eventually leaving a satisfyingly dry aftertaste.

Tyson says: Yet another stunning session beer from Arbor. Packed full of goodness, this should count as one your five-a-day. 

The Thin Edge Of The CAMRA (Beer Festival) Wedge?


Leeds beer festival took place at the weekend. This is usually a must for any serious beer quaffer. Held in Pudsey Civic Hall, it offers a wide range of beers-200 this year, ciders and foreign beers. And this year, being the 20th promised extra treats such as American craft beers on draft. Normally the Bury lads would be round there like a shot and I was looking forward to joining them.

Sadly it was not to be. Why? Well this year they had a shake up and abolished halves and pints. Yep. This year it was third and two-third measures only. These are described, somewhat incongruously, as “small” and “large” measures. Of course, such terms are meaningless in the real world but I suppose add a bit of hipness to proceedings and divert attention from the lack of real measures.

Why the change? You can read the official explanation here. But for me, it doesn’t add up. And it’s particularly disappointing as it’s a CAMRA event As someone put it, with more than a touch of irony, “I bet you’re sorry you supported the introduction of 1/3 measures now, aren’t you?” Well, I’m not, but I never envisaged that it would be at the expense of pints. Or halves.

CAMRA festivals-apart from generating income-should be about campaigning for, and promoting, real ale. Where is most real ale sold? In pubs. And that means, in the vast majority of places, drinking halves or pints. Thirds do have their uses but are still only found in a minority of pubs. However, having 2/3 measures seems particularly pointless. Despite some beer geeks proclaiming them as the second coming, the evidence in the licensed trade shows very little demand for them.

The fact is that there is very little wrong with the tried and tested third, half and pint system. If you’re some beer-weirdie who likes his beer (probably sans sparkler) in a schooner, I can live with that. But I don’t see why the experienced drinker, who is at the festival instead of probably being in the pub, should suffer on your behalf.

I have had it put to me that this is just CAMRA pandering to the government’s anti-alcohol mentality. Which would actually fit in with their general appeasement policy, I must say. “Look at us. Aren’t we the responsible ones. We don’t even serve pints.” This has led to mutterings of the thin-edge-of-CAMRA-wedges. Of course some of the scooper lads went along (hello, Jeff) albeit begrudgingly, as there were ticks to be had. But the rest of us took our business elsewhere. 

After all, if you can’t rely on CAMRA to defend the humble British pint, who can you trust?

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: RCB Bumble's Ale


Before this morning’s sampling, I have a confession to make. I don’t really like honey beers. More often than not, they are golden ales ruined by a syrupy sweetness. There are exceptions, of course, but generally they are not conducive to the hop lover or even those seeking that magical state: “balance”. With that in mind, I approached today’s treat with some trepidation.

It’s in 500ml, bottle-conditioned, form and is a session strength 4.2%. It poured hazy golden with decent carbonation and the smallest of off-white heads. The aroma was a little sweet malt evenly mixed with floral tones. Pleasingly, the beer itself was not a honey rush as feared, but instead was a well-balanced medium-bodied affair.

The taste had a biscuit malt edge overlaid with a bittersweet finish. The honey gives it a fruit-sweetness, but instead of detracting from the beer, it’s subtle enough to blend effortlessly into the mix. The grassy, floral notes help to stop this tipping over the edge and the end result is a quite refreshing session beer.

Tyson says: Forget the honey; this one won’t scare the horses. 

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Atlantic Discovery Rich Cornish Porter With Blackcurrant And Molasses


When you’re told a beer is “weird”, it tends to tickles the curiosity bone of your inner beer geek. So it was with today’s breakfast beer It certainly sounds odd, but once you’ve tried and survived a Jalapeno IPA, it’s all good clean fun.

This is a 330ml bottle, weighs in at 5.5% and comes in bottle-conditioned form. It poured Porter black with good carbonation and a small tan head. The aroma was mainly chocolate, a little coffee and (I think) black cherry.

The taste was, frankly, quite strange. There’s blackcurrant, black grape and a tangy bittersweet edge that is presumably coming from the molasses. The texture and overall experience is akin to drinking Ribena or something of that ilk.

You would be hard pressed to tell this was a Porter in a blind-tasting as, although there are roast notes in there, the dark fruit flavours throw you a curveball. It’s designed to be drank and matched with strongly flavoured food such as venison and it will probably work well with that.

Tyson says: Worth a try, but I suspect Oatibix isn’t the best match for it. 

Friday, 15 March 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: RCB Sedated Monk


How to finish the week off? What better way than with a locally brewed Belgian Dubbel? Well that’s what we have today, thanks to Matt Holmes of RCB fame. This s one of his specialty range, so don’t expect to see it in your local Tesco just yet.

It’s comes in 500ml, bottle-conditioned, form and tips the scales at a Belgian strength 7.8%. It poured dark/ruby and very lively with a large tan head. The aroma was a subtle mix; with hints of toffee, malt and some dark fruit, estery notes.

The beer itself was medium bodied and had a balance of dark berries, sweet malt and figs. There’s also phenolic notes, which I believe is characteristic of this style, and it’s warming in a burgundy way. One to be sipped whilst sat in front of the fire, I think.

Tyson says: A little too phenolic for my taste, but a good effort at this style. 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

No Bud Please, We're Posh


Catching up with the international beer news, I came across an article about a very unusual licensing situation in Chicago. East Village, a sub division of the West Town district, has something of a no-go reputation as far as alcohol goes. It has some 20 liquor moratoriums in force that basically prevent the sale of packaged liquor (off-licences to us) and the opening of any new taverns. This, perhaps not unsurprisingly, has brought them into conflict with local politician, Alderman Joe Moreno who sees part of his job to encourage new businesses.

Now, in a deal brokered by Moreno, members of the East Village Association have voted 22-5 to allow Garden Gourmet Market to sell alcohol. Nothing too unusual in that, you might think. But there is an unusual stipulation. Owner Maher Farham is allowed to sell only craft beer and high-end wine. The restrictions prohibit the sale of all spirits, non-craft beers, malt brews and fortified wines.

The measures, described as “proactive” by Moreno, are intended to allay neighbourhood fears of alcohol fuelled disorder. Farhan has assured residents that the majority of his clientele are professionals who come in after work and "buy dinner for that night" and are "asking for wine and craft beer, not hard liquor.” Such restrictions, yet to be ratified by the city liquor control commissioner, are believed to be the first of their kind in the world.

So, sensible compromise or a snob’s charter?

Could we see it enacted over here? A Tesco Express without Stella or Bud? Well I’m not going to hold my breath for Bargain Booze to fill up their shelves with the likes of Dark Star and Kernel. If only because we’re still struggling with the concept and definition of “craft” beer. Of course in Chicago they are using the term as defined by the Brewers Association. Which means stuff like Goose Island would technically not be allowed. So it’s trickier than you might think. 

Breakfast Beer Tasting: By The Horns Lambeth Wallk


Keeping with the London theme, today we have another brew from one of the capital’s up and coming brewers. Founded by Chris Mills and Alex Bull, they have a 5.5BBL in Wandsworth and are starting to feature more and more on the London craft scene.

This is a 330ml bottle and is a 5.1% affair. It poured near black with good carbonation and a medium beige head. The aroma was strong roast malt, coffee and a little chocolate. The beer itself was quite silky and had roast grains, cocoa powder and acai berries in the mix.

This is a well-rounded effort with good flavours that combines a medium level of bitterness with a sweeter undercurrent. A successful first outing for BTH.

Tyson says: Silky smooth. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Partizan Columbus Cascade Bravo


What better way to rekindle the memories of those long ago days in London than by having a Partizan beer for breakfast. This one is one of their triple combinations of hops and comes packaged in 330ml, bottle-conditioned, form and is a healthy 7.4%.

It poured a Kernelesque unclear form of red-brown with lively carbonation and a large off-white head. The aroma is tropical: mango and pineapple but slightly herbal and earthy as well. It’s medium-bodied with a good citrus kick. There’s plenty of grapefruit, mango and pine; all underpinned by a good malt backbone.

The hop tingle continues into the dry and long, bitter aftertaste. On the strong side, a la Kernel, but all handled with aplomb, as I would now expect from Partizan.

Tyson says: I don’t mind if I do. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Arbor NZ Pale Ale


After the success of the previous Arbor Ale beer, I was delighted that the beer generator threw up another for me to sample on this rather cold Tuesday morning. It tips the scales at 4% and is a bottle-conditioned 500ml sample. It poured a nice golden-orange with decent carbonation and a small, off-white head.

The aroma was a mix of the expected tropical fruit: passion fruit, mango and citrus notes of orange and some malt. Citrus develops over the other flavours in the taste and there’s more grapefruit than anything else, but there’s also lemon and marmalade in there. The malt backbone adds rather than subtracts from the beer and the finish is a moreish, mellow dry affair.

A light-medium bodied beer that packs a lot of flavour in at a very reasonable alcohol level. Another winner from Arbor.

Tyson says: Another? I don’t mind if I do. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Crafty London


A quick visit to that strange city of Londinium, where even Tesco closes at 11pm, at the weekend gave me and Eddie, the eager legal beagle, the chance to check up on a few places that had been flagged up as bona fide craft gold. Some were completely new to me and some were the traditional London pub reinvented.

What do you do when Kernel offers you their old brewing kit? Start a brewery, naturally. Well, that’s what Andy Smith did when he was offered Kernel’s redundant 4BBL plant. Partizan is just down the road from Kernel in Bermondsey's Almond Road and I’ve been hearing good things about them since their launch last year. Not surprising really as Andy homed his beery skills whilst working for Redemption Brewery.

They’re not ready for casking or kegging yet, but you will come across their well-designed bottles in many of London’s craft outlets. And where better than to try them than at source: the brewery is open to the public on Saturdays until 5pm. And at £2.40-£2.60 a bottle, there’s no excuse not to tuck in. Especially when you have the mighty Tandleman and the even mightier Mrs T for company.

Best beer: there was nothing to choose between the Pales-Amarillo/ Pacific Jade, Wakatu and the Citra/Amarillo IPA. All were excellent.

Dean Swift
Talking of Mr T, this one is on his patch, but I’ve only just got round to calling in. Tucked away on Gainsford St-Courage was founded round the corner; it’s modern, small-but in a very nice way and seems to be doing the business in terms of both beer and food. The cask Kirkstall Pale was very good, but I found the Kernel Chinook to have an unpleasant burnt edge.

Old Red Cow
Situated in the historic Smithfield area, this pub on Long Lane has, I’m glad to report, come back from the dead. They first tried killing it by removing all its charm and calling it the Long Lane (silly) and few gave it much chance when it closed after that. It’s now a smart, two-storey craft beer house selling an interesting mix of cask and keg. Just don’t mention the bottle prices.

Fun trivia: it was a favourite haunt of the great Sir Peter Ustinov, although he was never propping up the bar when I called in.

Exmouth Arms
Situated at Exmouth market, this is another traditional boozer that has transformed itself into a craft outlet. It has beautiful green tiling inside, but the inside is harder to fathom as, being ultra-cool, it’s almost pitch black in there. A good selection of beers, though and, being ultra-cool, they serve mini-hamburgers but call them sliders.

Fox & Anchor
The owners have done a grand job in putting the polish back on this Dickensian local on Charterhouse St. Mahogany doors, the fantastic Fox’s Den snug at the back and some good beers on the pumps. Olde-world pub meets gastropub and is all the better for it. Well I never. Caveman Citra was the top choice in here.

Pakenham Arms
I can’t remember much of my past visit to this place, but was told it was found to be unremarkable. Hence the amnesia, presumably. Nothing seems to have changed, despite its supposed conversion to the craft cause. Yes, it has 16 handpumps but the majority were not in use and the place was noticeably quieter than others visited. Shame as the place itself is quite nice. 

Another interesting, if brief, venture into the capital's craft beer scene. And what better way to enjoy the the journey back to civilization than relax in First Class sipping a range of Kernel. Out of a proper glass, naturally. 

Friday, 8 March 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: London Fields Galaxy IPA


Back to home waters today with an offering from London Fields who are, unsurprisingly, based in London. They’ve got a rather nice setup under the railway arches-de rigueur for craft breweries in London-and you can sample their wares at source on Saturday and Sundays.

It’s a 330ml, bottle-conditioned, package and comes in at 6%. It poured a nice, clear (for a BCA) amber with little carbonation and the smallest of off-white heads. The aroma isn’t massive but has clear elements of spicy, floral hops and a little tropical fruit. It’s medium bodied with an aggressive taste of green fruit, oranges mango and a hard mineral edge that follows into the aftertaste.

This should have been a hopheads delight. But what I’m guessing are the aggressive traits of Galaxy are to the fore and that and the mineral edge takes the shine off it.

Tyson says: Harder work than you might think. 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Mikkeller/To Øl Walk on Water


It’s a rather a special breakfast beer today. It’s that much loved pastime of brewers: collaboration. And this is no ordinary collaboration; it’s one between the mighty Mikkeller and the equally mighty To Øl. So great things expected. Especially from something that advertises itself as “the lightest beer in the world”.

It’s a 33cl bottle and comes in at a-is this a breakfast beer record-whopping 14%. To slightly jump ahead, I wasn’t aware of this until I opened the bottle and then had to check the label. It’s a good job I’m not driving to work. Talking of the label, I rather like the simple design and apparently that’s the folks at Mikkeller and To Øl on the front.

It poured hazy golden with good carbonation and a medium off-white head. The aroma was a real mixed bag: lot’s of orange and peach and grassy hops, but malt and most definitely phenols. This continued in the taste where there were plenty of fruity hops but the overall result is of a sharp, alcohol-heavy flavour.

I don’t know if this is the lightest beer in the world, but the body is indeed light; something of a surprise in a beer of such strength. However, the backbone just isn’t there to neuter the high alcoholic content and its phenolic nature makes for a rather unpleasant mess.

Tyson says: Another? No thanks. 

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Green Flash Hop Head Red


Another day, another new type of IPA. You’ve had the double, you’ve had the imperial and everyone by now has had a black IPA. But have you had a red IPA? Yes, red. Well I haven’t. This has been recommended to me and comes with a glowing reputation amongst our American cousins. However, and whisper this only in an empty room, some people regard this actually as an amber ale, albeit it a heavily hopped one. Not being a fan of the amber/red (crystal malt, crystal malt) style generally, I’m somewhat dubious as to its credentials. However, Green Flash is an excellent brewery, so I’m willing to suspend my suspicions.

It’s a 12oz bottle and weighs in at 7%. Interestingly, last year’s batch was 6.4%, but they have cranked the alcohol up to cope with the increase in IBUs from 55 to 70. It poured hazy amber with good carbonation and a large beige head. The aroma was a pungent blast of floral hops-not much pine-and some good grapefruit and melon notes. And is that a little sweet malt in there as well? No surprises that the taste has a powerful bitter bite. It’s packed full of Nugget and Columbus and dry-hopped with Amarillo for good measure.

So it’s all good, then? Well, yes, it’s a powerful blast of hop power as you’d expect from an IPA. But the sweet malt is still there. Granted it’s less intrusive than in the majority of red ales, but upping the alcohol strength hasn’t helped and it remains, at heart, an amber ale. Albeit a heavily hopped one. That tinge of sweetness doesn’t ruin it, but it does spoil it a little. For this IPA aficionado, at least.

Tyson says: Close but no cigar. 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Mikkeller Czechnet Pilsner


Another morning, another beer brewed not where you might think. Today’s offering is from the mighty Mikkeller, who are as Danish as Lurpak. However, I’m led to believe that this beer is brewed at De Proefbrouwerij, who are as Belgian as Tintin. It’s all Scandinavia to me. What do you mean Belgium isn’t Scandinavian? Well, it jolly well should be.

It’s a 33cl bottle and is 4.6%; a quite moderate strength for Mikkeller. It poured a healthy looking golden with good carbonation and a large white head. The aroma wasn’t what you would expect from a Pilsner; it was floral hops and a little lemony. The taste was crisp and dry. Lemon again with a slightly spicy, mineral edge that gives way to a bitter-sweet finish.

Let’s make one thing clear. This is not a Pilsner. So I’m going to mark it down for that. However, put that out of your mind-if you can-and as you would expect from Mikkeller, it’s a nice enough number if you like fruity, hoppy beers.

Tyson says: Stop calling it a Pilsner and I might have another. 

Monday, 4 March 2013

Craft in the Valley


Now every man needs the love of a good woman. Or a beer. Finding myself without the former, the other day, I went in search of the latter. And, somewhat surprisingly, my travels took me to the wilds of Rossendale. And the valley of Rossendale is indeed wild. From the gentle hobbit folk of Stacksteads to the rednecks of Bacup (Bak-up) it revels in its reputation as the Royston Vasey of Lancashire.

Now, like anywhere, there are good pubs to be found, but generally the beer bubble hasn’t even arrived here, yet alone burst. A gastropub is one with an inside loo and craft beer is just a phrase in a foreign dictionary. But hold on...what’s this? Has craft beer sneaked into the valley?

Well it appears it has. For the Griffin brewpub in Haslingden now has a sign outside proudly acclaiming its “craft beers”. Now, with changing brewers and beers priced at £2.10 a pint, it may not be your atypical craft setup. But full marks to them for spotting an opportunity to ride the craft wave. Even the delivery van mentions the “C” word.

So craft beer may have reached the Rossendale Valley, but I’m not sure the locals have noticed. Asking them to define it is most likely to meet with a “do you mean cask?” or just a shrug of the shoulders.  

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Batch 16


This morning’s little appetizer is one from the Batch Brew microbrewery who are based in the faraway city of Winchester. However, I believe that their beer is actually contract brewed at Oakleaf. It’s a 500ml bottle and is 5%. I’ve not come across any of their beers before, but I like the branding. It says cool in a graphics designed, funky way and the suggested food pairing hints at the audience they’re aiming at.

It poured hazy golden with medium carbonation and a very small off-white head. The aroma is quite mild but with discernible citrus notes of lemon and orange with surprisingly little wheat beer character. There’s more citrus in the flavour, but grapefruit dominates the pack here and leads to a dry, fruity aftertaste.

You can’t imagine this being mistaken for a Belgian or German wheat beer, but it’s very good, nonetheless. The wheat component is neatly stripped back to allow the bold citrus flavours to really shine in a refreshing (almost) pint.

Tyson says: That will do nicely. 

Friday, 1 March 2013

Deeply Vale Brewery


Bury, as the official brewing capital of Britain, can lay claim to breweries ranging in size from the in-a-garage Ramsbottom Craft to the monolithic Outstanding. And somewhere in-between we have the new kid on the block, Deeply Vale. Started in November 2012 by Jim Stewart, a one-time familiar face behind the pumps at the Trackside, DV has quickly established itself on the local beer circuit.

The premise is simple. To brew a small core range and build from there. Currently there are three beers in the range; with DV8 recently picking up beer of the festival at the Ramsbottom RNLI event. Jim is particularly fond of this beer as, being a dark beer fan by nature; he considers it the ace in his pack. Plans are afoot, however, to add another beer to the range. Given his predilections, Jim would like to do a brown ale, but is asking for suggestions. I’m pushing for an IPA.

The brewery is an impressive little number with Jim doing all the installation, bar the electrics, himself. The floor had to be raised to enable drainage, but it’s all systems go now. The 2.5 barrel plant was purchased from the defunct ABC brewery and there is room, and plans, to add to the two existing fermenters. Demand for DV beers is growing and Jim has had to get in extra barrels to cope with demand.

It’s good to see another local brewery doing so well and it must partly be down to Jim’s enthusiasm. He is doing, after all, what he describes as his “dream job”. Another reason is the quality aspect. If truth be told, a lot of micros struggle early on with quality and some never improve. DV have hit the floor running as far as that is concerned and due to their cooperation with Privateer and Ringway, their beers are to be found in an ever expanding area.

In the immediate future, DV beers will be showcased at the upcoming steam weekend at the East Lancs Railway and at the Fisherman’s Retreat Beer Festival. Then there are plans for bottling as several outlets have requested them and Jim has a contact that may prove useful in a future distribution deal.

So, exciting times ahead. Drink deeply, indeed.