About Me

My photo
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, 3 November 2017

St Helens

St Helens is a large town in Merseyside that is, dare we say, considered a little dull. Until recently its only real claim to beery fame was as the birthplace of Greenall Whitley. But that's all changed. Along with many other seemingly unlikely destinations, it has reinvented itself as a real ale trail. Now some people get to review Michelin starred restaurants whilst others get invited to judge fine wine. And then there are those who get to spend a rainy day in St Helens so that you, dear reader, don't have to.

The crawl is pretty straightforward; radiating from the station and round until you are back at the Central Station again. For brevity, I'll just concentrate on the ones that seem worth a comment, good or bad.

Handy for the station is the George which, unsurprisingly, is on George St. This two-roomed street corner boozer usually sells two local beers, although only one was on at opening time when we called. The very friendly barmaid was apologetic and pulled some beer through before serving us the Wigan brewed Windmill Anderson Best Bitter. Nothing wrong with the condition but this was pretty standard fare that left the tasting panel less than impressed.

The Sefton (don't forget your CAMRA discount) on Baldwin St had a strangely familiar look to it. It's a large, one-roomed pub, that doesn't even pretend to be anything but a Spoons clone. Even down to the Fish Friday etc menu. Four beers on here with a welcome outing for George Wright. The Market Tavern was also another large open plan affair but aimed at a sporting clientèle, judging by the number of large screen TVs.

There ain't nothing like the real thing: as someone once said. So, if you want a Spoons, go to a Spoons. The Glass House is, yes you guessed it, yet another large one-roomed pub that is done up in the usual modern Spoons style. Nothing wrong with the beer here with both Castro Mosaic and Nimbus being worth a pint each. The other Spoons-Running Horses-being a Lloyds was more restricted in its beer choice.

The Phoenix (CAMRA discount) on the edge of town is worth the walk out for. What CAMRA would describe as a “community local” translates to a traditional two-roomed layout with some nice mosaic tiling. Appearances can be deceptive and tucked away here are six beers; with Elland being on particular form.

We hit the mother lode at the next stop. The Cricketers is a multi-award winning pub that lived up to its reputation. Yes it had a great range of beers. Yes it had the always welcome CAMRA discount but most of all, it had a great buzz about it. You soon become drawn into the locals conversations. Of course, such a place holds many a danger for the imbibing man. One becomes two, becomes three and, before you know it, you are soon blown off piste and are on the piste. I begged to leave several times but with the Oberst leading several renditions of Ein Prosit, there was little chance of that.


Another fine establishment was the Talbot Ale House. Breaking the one-roomed theme (hooray) it also offered a range of beers that required more than one sampling. From here you're only a politicians grope away from the News Room. This is a smart, cosy, micropub that delivered an excellent pint of Windermere Pale. So good that, well you get the picture.

Luckily the final stop was only a short stagger away. The Turks Head is a former CAMRA National Pub of the Year runner-up and is a cracking watering hole offering some 15 beers. Plenty of good stuff to go at here with Oakham being my favourite. A quick check of the clock revealed that there was just time to get the penultimate train out of town and so a quick dash to the station was in order.

All in all, a very enjoyable day with some fine ale and company. 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Crew Republic Drunken Sailor

Hello Sunday. Hello beer. Yes, the two do go well together, don’t they? Like Abbott and Costello or Stephen Hawking and Jeremy Hunt. But enough of this frivolity. Down to the serious bit: sampling the goods. It’s our old German compadres once again; Crew Republic and this time it’s an IPA. Well what better day to worship the sacred hop than on a day of worship?

It’s a 0.33L bottle and tips the scale at 6.4%. The triple base malt consists of Pilsener, Munich and the dreaded Crystal. Hopefully not too much of that; a little goes a long way. Hop wise, we have Herkules, Citra, Cascade and Simcoe. Well on paper it certainly looks the part. It poured a quite hazy amber, almost mahogany, with a two finger off-white head and good carbonation.

The aroma was of the middleweight variety. Plenty of peach and apricot with a little pine and maybe pink grapefruit? There’s also a large sweet malt/biscuit punch there as well. It’s medium bodied with an initial taste dominated by the sweet malt and light citrus notes. Some bitterness does come through with the second gulp as the hops do their thing, but there is a little too much sweet fruitiness that, combined with the malt, stops it drying out properly.

If you were expecting, as I was, a dry-bitter finish, then you’re in for a disappointment. Despite being rated at 58 IBUs, the finish, like the initial taste, erred on the wrong side of sweet. Now ok, IBU has to be taken in context and isn’t quite as straightforward as it makes out, but it generally points you in the right direction.

Tyson says: Not a bad beer by any means. However, it doesn’t really live up to its promise and the whole is somehow less than the sum of its parts.


Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Breakfast Beer Tasting: O'so Hop Whoopin

Sleepy head get out of bed
Big bad world is calling
Step in your shoes and catch the news
It's another morning

And we all know what another morning means. Yes, that’s right, another beer. It’s back across the pond today; all the way to the Badger State: Wisconsin. O’so Brewing are a new one on me, but although you don’t see much of them in the UK, they have been around for ten years. So plenty of time to build up a reputation.

S.M.A.S.H (Single Malt And Single Hop) beers are all the rage in some circles but this is a variation on that theme. It’s a Single Malt And Several Hops beer. As the name suggests, it’s a hop-driven (95 IBU) IPA. It’s a 12oz bottle and tips the scale at a fighting fit 7%.

It poured with reasonable carbonation and settled as a hazy, light golden, ale with a one-finger, frothy, off-white head. First impressions are that it’s lighter in colour than many other American IPAs.  The aroma was light with fresh notes of apricot, Seville oranges, lemon and a little bit of bread in the background.

It drinks easy on the palate. Alcohol content is disguised well with only the slightly biscuit/caramel malt backbone giving it away as a stronger beer. Interestingly less of the aroma profile comes through in the first swig. No oranges but plenty of grapefruit and plenty of the classic C hops profile. There’s lemon, gooseberry and a floral spiciness that comes through on the second gulp.

The initial slightly sweet fruitiness gives way to a pine infused middle that quickly dries out. The hop bitterness then hits you in a very (if you’re a hophead) satisfying smack in the back of the throat. A muliti-layered and very satisfying experience.

Tyson says: This is a very well crafted, old school, IPA. Plenty of the refreshing, easy to drink, flavours that you look for in this style. Definitely the kind of beer where one bottle is just the warm up. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Port Brewing Hop-15

When you suspect it’s going to be one of THOSE days, you need to start the day off right. Liquid fortification and sustenance is called for. An Imperial IPA in a big bottle? Hell, yes. 330ml might be trendy but we all know that it’s for wimps.

So, Hop-15. The name says it all really. It’s brewed with 15 (doh!) different hops which are added every 15 minutes. It’s 22oz and weighs in at a not inconsiderable 10%. It ticks all the theoretical boxes but how does it perform in the only test that matters: the Tyson taste test?

It poured a hazy, bordering on the murky, amber. Possibly slighter darker than others of this ilk that I have imbibed. Carbonation was a bit weak and the one finger off-white head soon dissolved. The aroma was very promising: lots of pineapple, sweet orange, pine and a little earthiness.

That hint of citrus sweetness soon materialised in the first gulp but the second wave brought more solid flavours. There’s a lot going on here: Mango, mandarin, pineapple, yes but matched by a firm malt backbone that perfectly underpins the whole thing. You’re aware of the strength but it never gets in the way. The whole thing zips along the tongue and down the throat leaving to a satisfying dry, fruity, finish.

Tyson says: A great beer. Richly flavoured without being full on. This is a class act.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Crew Republic Foundation 11

Sometimes you just need to start the day off right, don’t you? Coffee just won’t cut it. You need the buzz that only a good Pale Ale can bring. So rummaging underneath the bed brought forth this little delicacy. It’s from those little craft beer rascals in Munich. Apparently this is the beer that started them off on their beery journey. And having enjoyed their last offering, I was looking forward to trying this one.

It’s a 0.33L bottle and weighs in at 5.6%. Which puts it in the right ballpark for this style. The malt base is Pilsener, Munich and Crystal and the hops are Tradition, Mosaic, Citra and Cascade. IBU count is 40 which, again, puts it into solid Pale Ale country. It poured hazy amber with gentle carbonation and a quickly dissolving head.

The aroma was measured, not too punchy, but distinct nonetheless. There’s a bit of grapefruit and orange, definite lychee and a slight earthy grassiness. Possibly from the Tradition? The taste was more astringent than the aroma would suggest. Plenty of fruit flavours: grapefruit and orange peel and some mixed berries in there as well. The flavours build to a grapefruit dominated dry finish.

Tyson says: Starts well and delivers a finish that cleans the palate. Another winner.