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Showing posts from February, 2014

Local News Roundup

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Tomorrow is the first day of spring and the spring beer festival season has begun. If one festival isn’t enough for you, you can try two local festivals this weekend. Up in Ramsbottom, the Hare & Hounds has started its 10 day festival. You can expect 24 beers on handpump and 3 ciders. Breweries featured range from the local: Ramsbottom Craft, the fairly local: Blackjack and the pretty far away: Shepherd Neame. An interesting feature is the use of beer miles. Customers collect tokens for every pint they drink and accumulate beer miles based on the brewery’s location.

750 beer miles buys you a free pint and 1500 will get you a tankard. The pub is easily accessible via the 472/474 bus and CAMRA members get a discount on their pint. Whilst in the area, why not pop along to the revamped Fusilier and try some of Allgates’ finest? Also easily accessible by public transport is the Prestwich Beer Festival. Promising lots of local beery delights and an interesting bottle beer list, you can …

Weird Beard@PSBH

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Another Monday, another meet the brewer at Port Street Beer House. Now tickets for these things are getting harder to get hold of than a leprechaun’s treasure chest. And it doesn’t help when it’s a brewer(y) of renown such as Weird Beard. They’re yet another London outfit knocking out good beer. In fact: very good beer. As recognised by ratings website RateBeer which ranked them 5th best new brewery of 2013. Impressive stuff; no wonder tickets were in short supply.
Our host for the evening was Gregg, one half of the aforementioned Weird Beard. There being no flies on me, I immediately clocked that his beard wasn’t that weird at all. He almost sounded disappointed as he explained that his absent partner Brian was the real weird beardy wearer. Gregg turned out to be an amiable, open guy who encouraged us to approach him to discuss things in more detail. His insights were the sort I like; concise and to the point, thereby leaving more time for supping. Gregg and Brian were both homebrewers…

A Trip To Hydes Brewery

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Hydes Brewery began its life in the mid 19th century with premises in Audenshaw. It then migrated to Ardwick, Ancoats and then Rusholme before buying the Queens Brewery in Moss Side in 1899. It’s this listed Victorian building that people most associate with the brewery and where, during the Second World War, they changed their name to Hydes Anvil which became a familiar sight around Manchester. But with fluctuations in the brewing world and faced with rising costs and wasted space; the decision was made in 2012 to downsize and modernise.
The result is a £2 million state-of-the-art brewery in Salford, close to MediaCity. Production and Distribution Director, Paul Jefferies, has been with Hydes for quite awhile now and was kind enough to show my little group around. There is actually very little to see because everything is so streamlined, but what there is looks very impressive. It’s a 20000 sq ft unit that used to be a Greenall’s (remember them?) distribution depot. It’s the most auto…

The Fusilier: Back From The Dead

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Ramsbottom, that little piece of Bury masquerading as Chorlton, continues to grow and grow. Whilst Bury town centre seems somewhat in a slump in terms of quality beer, Ramsbottom has a plethora of the stuff. Indeed the Rammy Ramble has now become a staple of the real ale circuit with the Heart of the Ram, the Railway, the First Chop, the Major and the Hare & Hounds all in on the act. Is there any room for any more, you may ask? Well of course, is the answer. If only someone would do their homework and say buy up an underperforming boozer and give the market what it wants.
Drum roll, please. The Fusilier on Bolton Road West appears to be just that pub. This is a boozer that has been so long off not just the real ale radar, but most people’s radar, that it’s hard to recall when it was actually any good. In fact some people have grown up without ever visiting it. I can recall the good old days, but I think my mother was pushing a pram at the time. Yes, it’s fair to say that this manky…

Burning Sky@PSBH

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The last meet the brewer event at Port Street Beer House was an eagerly anticipated affair. Why? Because the brewery was Burning Sky and the brewer was Mark Tranter. For anyone who doesn’t know (what sort of beer geek are you?) Mark was one of the co-founders of the mighty Dark Star brewery. Yes, the Dark Star that gave us the iconic Hophead: a beer that was craft before the term was coined on these shores. So with a pedigree like that, naturally expectations were high.
Of course the first question that springs to most people’s minds is why he would leave an outfit like Dark Star? This Mark addressed as he gave us a walk through on his career and ethos of brewing. Basically he wanted to move on and get stuck into creating something new again. The trouble is with creating an icon such as Hophead, for example, is that you can never tweak it. With Burning Sky he gets to start from scratch but have all his experience guiding him. So together with former homebrewer Tom Dobson, he is hoping t…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Oskar Blues Devinat Dale's IPA

Who says size doesn’t matter? Certainly not the boys at Oskar Blues who decided to put out the brewery’s first 16oz can. That’s a Yankee pint; in case you were wondering.And that’s a lot of 8% IPA for your buck. For the record and this does sound impressive, there are four hop additions along the way before it’s dry-hopped with Columbus. Salivating stuff, but how does it taste.
It poured an orangey-gold with a good-sized off-white head. It’s got a very resinous aroma: strong grapefruit and orange peel with a definite pine backdrop. It’s medium bodied with a solid malt backbone holding it all together. Oh yes and there are plenty of hops. A real citrus burner that develops into a strong piny bitter edge, but steers clear of being one dimensional. Wonderfully balanced, it’s very tasty, indeed.
Tyson says: Bigger really is better in this case.

First Chop Brewing

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If you frequent any of the decent beer selling venues in and around Manchester, chances are that you’ve come across First Chop beers. And the man behind those beers is local man-about-town Rik Garner. He started out working his magic as a chef in the Jam Street Cafe in Chorlton before moving onwards and upwards. The well-regarded First Chop bar in Ramsbottom followed and it quickly earned a following for its regular supply of excellent cask beer and for being the first local stockist of bottled Kernel beers. From there it was a natural progression-whisper it, but the lad does like a drink-to brewing his own. This was initially at Bury’s mighty Outstanding brewery before he could secure premises of his own. Which brings us bang up to date with his brand new Salford venture on Trinity Way. This is a craft brewery a la Kernel, a la London. Yes, it’s under a railway arch and aims to be more than just a brewery bar. So when Rik asked if I was coming along on its first open day, it seemed ru…