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Showing posts from April, 2013

Breakfast Beer Tasting: London Fields Unfiltered Lager

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We’re sticking with the London connection today with another beer from London Fields. This time, though, it’s lager. But put that lynching rope away, it’s proper, unfiltered lager. See, in 2013, even CAMRA types can embrace the modern British lager.  
It’s 330ml and comes in at 4.3%. It was lively in the pour and settled to be hazy orange with a large, fluffy white head. The aroma was slightly herbal-grassy with a touch of malt. The mouthfeel was quite soft with a good malt backbone, a little bittersweet initially and then a surprising astringent finish.
Tyson says: I enjoyed this. It’s  not bad at all. Quite well balanced, but enough bitterness in the finish to tempt you to have another.

Return of the Macc Lads

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Having followed the yellow brick road to Stockport last week, the logical next step was to go one stop further on the train and explore Macclesfield. Well, ok, there was nothing logical about it, engineering works had put paid to our original destination and the planning committee’s denouement was Macclesfield. After all, we had enjoyed a good afternoon there nearly a year ago. But would history repeat itself?
First stop had to be the Waters Green near to the station. It keeps funny hours (closes at 3 on Sat) but has been consistent over the years in serving a well kept pint. Today was no different with Allgates California and Oakham Inferno proving excellent choices. A quick trip over to the other side of the railway tracks brought us to another long-standing Good Beer Guide entry: the Baths Hotel.

However, things are afoot here. It’s undergoing a makeover and is now firmly in the contemporary camp with wooden flooring and large screen televisions. Whilst it’s always a shame to see a p…

There is still time

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To get yourself over to the Hare & Hounds in Holcombe Brook for the country’s biggest pub festival. If you haven’t been yet, you’ve missed some crackers, but there’s still this weekend to go. And with 40 beers (sparkler on, naturally) and ciders all served via handpull straight from the cellar, there’s not going to be a problem with choice or quality. 

Breakfast Beer Tasting: London Fields Pale Ale

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This morning sees me kick off the weekend with one of my favourite styles: Pale Ale. These went from being something of a redundant style some years back to being reinvented along American lines with the addition of more, and unusual, hops. This contains Galaxy hops from Tasmania, so it shouldn’t be dull.
It’s a bottle-conditioned 500ml and bucks the trend for upping the alcohol by coming in at only 3.9%. It poured an attractive burnished gold with good carbonation and a large, white head. The bouquet was malt-fruit; some biscuit malt with distinct citrus notes.
The body was light with good, crisp citrus and passion fruit flavours coming through. There’s a good level of bitterness that stings the inside of the cheek and leads to a satisfyingly dry finish. This is a refreshing, easy-drinker that will satisfy your hop cravings.
Tyson says: A tasty treat courtesy of the land down under.

Kernel@Brewdog Manchester

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Tuesday saw a very special meet the brewer event take place at Brewdog Manchester. There was a tap take over by Bermondsey’s very own Kernel brewery. Of course, Kernel stand in the premier league of craft brewing in the UK and so a chance to meet the man behind their success, Evin O'Riordain, was too good an opportunity to miss. There were Twitterers, bloggers, people you hadn’t heard of (hello fanboy58) and the odd person just popping in randomly.
It was great to finally meet Evin and have a bit of a chat. Of course, there were beers to be drunk.
I thought Mosaic (everyone’s favourite Citra substitute) was the best, followed by the London Sour. The Table Beer, previously a favourite, suffered a little at its new, reduced strength.
But man does not live by keg alone, so after four hours of Brewdog, it was time to sharpen the palate with some cask at Port St Beer House. And what a choice there was. Not a bad one in the whole line up. Arbpr, Dark Star and Summer Wine. Yes, please. Bu…

A Little Stockport Stagger(TM) Swagger

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This was going to be a tale of just one night’s adventure into the Twilight Zone. But, with a repeat performance on Saturday, the scene was set for a direct comparison of differing nights. It all started last Wednesday; the CAMRA lads were getting restless. There is, after all, only so much CAMRA related stuff you can discuss: where is the best place to get your beard trimmed, who has the best sandals, that kind of thing.

Less talk, more action was the plea. What about a stroll to the land where beer flows down the streets and the CAMRA chairman spends more time in Belgium than Tintin. Yes, we are of course referring to Stockport. Easily accessible by train, bus, unicycle or hovercraft, it’s got a very strong run of pubs on the Wellington Road North side of town.
Our first stop-the Hope-was of particular interest as it was our first visit since it had reopened as a brewpub. And very impressive it is, too, with both Wednesday and Saturday parties giving it the seal of approval. A smart, …

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Moncada Notting Hill Amber

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Another day, another new brewery to face the breakfast beer test. Moncada, from West London, count on all fronts as, although I’ve heard of them, I’ve never come across them in cask, let alone in bottle. They are part of the controversial, so-called natural beer movement, which does not believe in using finings to keep their beer clear. Hmmm. Looks like once more I must dive, without a safety net, into the unknown.
It’s a bottle-conditioned 500ml and, although I was told this was 4.9%, the bottle clearly says 4.7%. It poured hazy amber with good carbonation and a medium off-white head. The aroma was pleasant: malt/toffee, apricot and a little grapefruit. A solid malt backbone anchored the flavour to red fruit, some spice and grapefruit and finishes on a decent bitter note. Amber ales are very easy to get wrong, but this is a well-balanced, excellent example of the style.
Tyson says: Forget the finings debate, this Amber ale is a tasty treat

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Wild Beer Scarlet Fever

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A little excitement at the Tyson kennel this morning as Wild Beer finally came up in the beer lucky dip draw. You can read about their approach to all things beery here. I’ve been wanting to put them to the breakfast test for some time so, without further ado, let’s have it.
It’s a 33cl bottle and comes in at 4.8%. It’s billed as a ruby-red ale, but poured more of a hazy amber/brown with good carbonation and a modest beige head. The aroma was quite deep: a pleasant mix of caramel, brown sugar and lots of C hops.
It was surprisingly light on the mouthfeel and went down very easily. There’s a good mash-up of malt, toffee, dark berries, a little pine and, oh yes, a good blast of citrus flavour that lasts into the moderately dry finish.
Tyson says: Worth the wait. A very tasty and satisfying brew.

Breakfast Beer Tasting: La Socarrada

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First, the important disclaimer. Today’s breakfast beer treat comes courtesy of the kind folks at ultracomida. They are the exclusive distributors for La Socarrada; a Spanish craft lager originating from Xativa-Valencia. The distinguishing feature here is that it’s made with rosemary and rosemary honey. Now I like a bit of rosemary on my pizza or a pinch with some cheese, so was looking forward to trying this.
It’s a big boy: 75cl and 6% and comes in a stylish, minimalist design with just a gold label attached to give any clues to its contents. Full marks for design, then. It poured a hazy amber with good carbonation and a healthy white froth on top. The aroma was promising; a little herbal with ginger spice and some rosemary.
The beer was medium-bodied and hid the strength well. Initially it seemed herbal in nature, rather sweet followed by a pepperiness. However, the rosemary soon takes hold, followed by another wave of rosemary and then more rosemary. There is something of a bitteri…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: RCB Oh Sunny Day

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Spring has sprung. The clocks have gone forward. A young man’s fancy turns to women beer. We have bright sunny skies and warm weather...well almost.  Am I setting the scene for you? Because today we have a premium Bitter that should be ideal for this time of year. Now I’ve had this on cask in Ramsbottom, so once again was looking forward to trying the bottled version.
It’s 4.6% and, as usual for RCB, comes in 500ml bottle-conditioned form. It poured straw in colour with minimum carbonation and the merest hint of any head. There wasn’t much in the aroma, but I did detect some sweet malt. The body was light, with a very mellow flavour. The pale malt is balanced by a little bitterness that last through to the bitter-sweet finish.
I enjoyed this on cask and while the bottled version doesn’t quite replicate that experience, this is still a pleasant drop.
Tyson says: A well-balanced, easy-drinking premium Bitter.

Bolton Beer Festival

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This weekend sees the welcome return of Bolton Beer Festival after too long an absence. Organised by Bolton CAMRA, this year’s event had a promising start last night and hopes are high that it will prove a resounding success. There is still plenty of time-and beer-for people to come along. All necessary info is to be found on the poster on the left. Held at Bolton Ukrainian Club, the venue is easily accessible by public transport. Guys and gals coming from Bury should get the 471 Rochdale-Bolton bus and get off on Bradford St straight after the Esso/Tesco Express on the left. It's then just a short walk to turn left into Castle St and you'll find the, rather impressive, club on your left. Good hunting.

Breakfast Beer Tasting: RCB My Precious

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The beginning of the end of the working week and what better way to celebrate than with a Pale Ale? Well, what about a premium Pale Ale? Because that’s what we have this morning. Ringers (the in-term for Lord of the Rings fans) will recognise the allusion to Gollum immediately, but it is, of course, all about the beer.
This comes in the now familiar Ramsbottom Craft Brewery 500ml bottle and is a bottle-conditioned 5.3%. It poured with an appealing golden hue, good carbonation and a thin off-white head. The aroma was a light, but pleasant mix of malt and orchard fruit.
The beer itself was medium bodied and hid the alcohol well. There was a crisp biscuit malt backbone with juicy fruit tones, a little spice and a very pleasing dry finish. Crisp, refreshing and moreish. Very satisfying, it has to be said.
Tyson says: Does what it says on the tin. I’d like to try this on cask.

Hit & Miss

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The miss of the Easter weekend? The beer festival at the Fishermans Retreat near Ramsbottom. Having not held such an event for some time, expectations were high. Although always on the very expensive side for food-gastro with a capital G, and beer, quality has never been a problem. And there are still fond memories of their old festival in a marquee and its row of handpumps. Ok, the event wasn’t well publicised, but a pub of this standing-well any pub really, with time and equipment at its disposal, should put on a good show. However, the beer on opening night had clearly been tapped too late in the day. And at £3.50 a pint, that is completely unacceptable.

However, our Easter weekend disappointment was eased by a visit to the newly opened Font bar in Chorlton. Situated opposite the leisure centre and just up from the likes of Pi and the Beagle, this is a welcome addition to the Manchester drinking scene. Its interior is reminiscent of the TARDIS and whilst it’s clearly still a work in…

Tuesday Quality Control

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Life’s all about variables. And so it is with life, so it is with pubs. At the weekend, when the place is buzzing and the ale is flowing, the Blue Parrot may seem the greatest thing since squeezy ketchup bottles. However, visit it later in the week and the choice and quality may not be as good. It’s what we here in these parts call the Tuesday night test. So called because there’s a tradition of visiting hostels on, yes, a Tuesday night. And yes, there are hostels being visited as I scribble this.
However, last week saw something a little different: a rare foray into the twilight zone of daytime drinking by Eddie, the eager, legal beagle. He thought it would stand him in good stead for later in life. After all, a retired solicitor can’t spend all his time on the golf course, can he? But first there was the small matter of wangling some time off. As a valued associate at Sue, Grabbit and Runne, any absence would surely be noted. The solution: grab a lady’s mannequin, put tweed slacks o…