My drinking habits and current venues of choice have had a big influence over what I’ve had and where I’ve had it this year. I could easily roll out the established kings of the county like Magic Rock and Kernel but I think its time I cheered on a few different names and this year’s list reflects that.
Best UK cask beer:
Winner: Cromarty – Rogue Wave
Runner up: Salopian – Black Ops, St Austell – Big Job
Best UK keg beer:
Winner: Brewdog – Paradox Grain
Runner up: Magic Rock – Cannonball, Partizan - Black Coffee IPA, Siren – Aussie Sound Wave
Debuting on Tuesday 3rd December at 7.30pm (GMT) is a brand new live beer broadcast by Simon Martin of YouTube’s Real Ale / Craft Beer channel and me Rob from HopZine.
Live every month we will be reviewing three beers, interviewing a special guest from the wonderful world of beer and having a good old beery chat.
On our very first show we will be joined by Colin Stronge the Head Brewer at Buxton Brewery. Colin will join us at 9pm so please tune in from 7.30pm and post your questions for one of the UK’s most talented brewers.
If you’ve ever seen me or Simon before you are surely expecting some beer reviews and hectolitres of tasting notes.
The beers we are taking a look at this month are:
Sierra Nevada – Tumbler Autumnal Brown Ale
Thornbridge – Halcyon Imperial IPA
Buxton Brewery – Stronge Extra Stout
Please tune in at 3rd December 7.30pm, drink along, send in your questions and enjoy the berry waffle.
The wait is nearly over…Brewdog’s Dead Metaphor a milk stout infused with Brazilian Sertão coffee, 100% Venezuelan cocoa and oats will be making its debut at Indy Man Beer Con on Thursday 10 October (2013).
On Friday at 6:30pm me and my fellow collaborator Richard Taylor of TheBeerCast.com will be at the Brewdog Bar at Indy Man Beer Con, the UK’s premier beer event to launch the beer we created in partnership with Brewdog.
Please come and visit the bar to hear all about the beer, the concept and drink a glass of tasty beer with Rich and me.
A limited run of bottled Dead Metaphor will be available in the future adorned with a very special label designed by one of the coolest illustrators around Drew Millward.
A small green “B” next to the door of an unused building in Leeds city center marks the location of Brooklyn Brewery’s Pop-Up bar.
This place is/was a secret, a mystery, I had to scratch around online to get any available scraps to find out where it was.
On arrival I was met by kind of a reception desk, where I could buy all kinds of Brooklyn Brewery merchandise and more importantly beer tokens. The deal was ?4.50 for 1 and then ?20 for 5, Esther and I opted for five and stepped in to the sparse interior.
The walls are unfinished and emblazoned with neon, spray painted logos, a small counter manned by Red True BBQ (more on that later) and a large corrugated metal bar backed with a line of signature tap handles mounted on a temporary wall.
The beers of offer were Brooklyn Lager, Pennant Ale, Brown Ale in pint measures, Sorachi Ace, Cuvée La Boîte, Weisse, EIPA in 2/3rds and lastly Blast limited to halves at 9% abv.
We enjoyed pints of Brown Ale (one of my favourites from My Oliver and co) glasses of Sorachi Ace and Cuvée La Boîte ending with a shared pint of Brown once again to spend our last token on. The Brown Ale was tasting great, flavoursome, nicely sweet and effortlessly quaffable, Sorachi Ace wasn’t what I remember so fondly and seem to lack something, Cuvée La Boîte was very tasty, complex and very Belgian. Sorachi Ace was so lacking that I thought Cuvée La Boîte and Sorachi Ace had been incorrectly connected to the taps…I was told otherwise. Kind of a shame as I think really highly of that beer?
We shared a couple of portions of food from the Reds True BBQ sat at the long picnic tables. On the menu were baby back ribs with coleslaw and cornbreads and pulled pork sandwiches. Red’s is a very popular eatery and to the point that I’ve never managed to get a table. I’ve heard good and famously bad reports from this trendy “Dirty Food” venue and I wasn’t too impressed myself. The ribs were terrible, dry, incinerated and caked in sickly sweet sauce, a real letdown. The coleslaw was hardly coleslaw and more like shredded salad, the cornbreads were bland, and with the structural integrity of a dry Victoria Sponge. Thankfully the pulled pork sarnie was better, nicely smoked and still juicy then topped with another sweet sauce that personally I think should have offered a bit more. I’ve made my own BBQ sauces in the past and have been much more interesting than these. If you want a good pulled pork sandwich try the Brewdog bar in Manchester, that one was massive (admittedly more expensive) tipped with charred edges and a wonderfully spicy sauce, I’m not a spicy fan but that was stunning slow n’ low eating…not this.
Overall I really enjoyed my time at Brooklyn’s Pop-Up bar, it was a Wednesday evening and it had only been open for about an hour so it was rather quiet but had a nice atmosphere, I expect Friday and Saturday it will be buzzing and packed to the rafters. The beer was great and that’s the most important thing and I’m sure word has now got around and the young and painfully cool will now descend…that’s OK us beer geeks got there first. So that makes us the coolest!
So where was/is it you ask? I’m not saying…find out for yourself.
In these times of pubs closing all the time its a welcome sight to see one opening its doors. The latest addition to the Shipley (my hometown) is The Fox, the brainchild of Salamander Brewery co-founder Chris Bee and “Brighton Bill” Bil Arnold former landlord of the multi award winning The Junction in Baildon. Shipley is a bit of a mixed bag as far as pubs go, a few nice places on the fringes but on a whole it’s a bit dicey. The Fox is a breath of fresh air.
The interior is modest yet cosy, plain white walls sporting black and white photos of the area and a row of vintage beer trays lining the brim. A dark brown bar houses six hand-pulled ales focuses mainly on local ales from the likes of Saltaire, Salamader (naturally), Old Spot and Bridgehouse. On my flying visit I plumped for a half …well actually 2 halves of Dark Star’s Indian Summer IPA and a Saltaire Cascade.The fridges are decent but in my option could a bit better populated, too many doubling up on a lot if Belgian classics. I was glad to see a few bottles of Founders All-Day IPA tucked in alongside La Choufee and Chimay.
It certainly helps when the landlord knows his stuff and has a great rappot with the locals who line the bar. From a personal point of view I’m very happy that I can step off at Platform 2 in Shipley train station and a couple of minutes later I can be drinking quality ale on my way home from work… I say on my way home, if today is anything to go by it may take me a bit longer to make that trip up the road.
Dead Metaphor – Scottish Chocolate Breakfast Stout
About a month ago Rich from thebeercast.com and I were invited to brew a beer with Brewdog. We both jumped at the opportunity and a few emails later the wheels were set in motion and the questions starting piling up. What beer should we brew? What have Brewdog already done well? What haven’t they done?
My first thought was a stout. Brewdog have done many fantastic hoppy beers so I think they have that well-covered. Both Paradox and Cocoa Psycho are stunning imperial stouts and Rip Tide (when it is available) is great too, but to my mind they hadn’t really made a big splash with a milk stout.
The genesis for the idea to brew a milk stout came from three directions, Left Hand Brewing’s Nitro Milk Stout, To Øl’s Sort Mælk and Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Vanilla Shake. I’ve really enjoyed both the Left Hand and To Øl beers in the past but had never managed to get a bottle of Beer Geek Vanilla Shake but, my god, how good does that sound? So with those thoughts in motion, I mentioned my idea to brew a coffee, chocolate, vanilla milk stout. A really sweet beer, verging towards a dessert beer, but not as strong as the likes of Southern Tier’s Crème Brulee.
Image courtesy of Brewdog (Zarah Prior)
After a few emails between Rich, James Watt and I, the beer became a coffee, chocolate, oatmeal milk stout or as I like to see it, a Scottish Chocolate Breakfast Stout. The concept was agreed on and now we had to make this idea a recipe. After looking around the internet for milk stout recipes I chose John Palmer’s Sweet stout taken from his book “Brewing Classic Styles” as a template from where we could begin. I quizzed people on twitter for coffee recommendations, chocolate and hops Melissa Cole suggested golden oats and brown malt, Ryan Reschan said Magnum hops all great ideas that found their way into the final beer.
With the electronic equivalent of the back of a cigarette packet, it was passed over to James and Stewart Bowman, Brewdog’s head brewer, to formulate a recipe and make this hair-brained scheme a well-considered blueprint for a dark beery breakfast.
5:14am Saturday 7th September 2013, Ibis Hotel, Aberdeen. I woke up with a woozy head and a million and one things running through my mind about the day that lay ahead of us. I couldn’t sleep, too excited like a child on Christmas day. After getting up and devouring a plate of greasy meat, Rich and I were met by Zarah, Sarah and George we jumped in a taxi bound for Fraserburgh. Thick fog filled the air as we neared the tip of the North East of Scotland, welcome to The Broch!
So this is it? This dilapidated old brick industrial unit is where Brewdog have been brewing from since 2007 until only a short while ago? I could only laugh in amazement that THIS is where all those beers were produced for so long. It’s fair to say the old brewery has changed a bit since the migration to Ellon and a lot of the kit has been taken out but this is where it all began.
Image courtesy of Brewdog (Zarah Prior)
Shutter doors were rolled up and we stepped out of the rain into a familiar setting of concrete and stainless steel. The old brewhouse contains the HLT, mashtun, kettle and a number of fermenters. Basic by Brewdog’s standards but very similar to many micro breweries operating around the country. The two adjoining buildings house an impressive number of wood barrels containing beers ageing and maturing, waiting for their turn once the time is just right, to be bottled. The smell in these rooms was wonderful, earthy and slightly damp but with the “Angel’s Share” wafting around in the air.
Brewer George Woods is the lone-wolf brewer at the Dystopian Puppet Hobby Centre. He worked the day whilst dragging on hand-rolled cigarettes, dressed in a battered Brewdog shirt and Select Botanicals Group “Simcoe” truckers cap. Despite the remote location this is his dream job, this is where Brewdog can really enjoy themselves and create all manner of brewing mayhem. He’s more a natural brewer than a cerebral one. As he remarks, “Others brewers brew with their brains, we brew with our balls”.
George cranked up the 90s ska-core on the stereo and we got down to business. Lines of malt bags were opened and the HLT came up to temperature. George ascended to his roost on the platform next to the mash tun and switched on an engine that delivered the grain from the brewery floor up to the mashtun and it was Rich and my job to get that grain up there. We rolled up our sleeves and started dumping sack after sack of pale, black patent, brown, wheat, carafa, crystal malt and oats into this ramshackle device to create the mash bed. A fun start to the day and certainly shook off the cobwebs left by last night’s beers.
Image courtesy of Brewdog (Zarah Prior)
Having mashed in, we took a table and chairs into the small patch of land outside the brewery bathed in sun. Zarah and Sarah wandered off to get some snacks for us and we grabbed a bottle of beer from a crate. Steven, one of the brewers at Ellon, dropped in to help out on the brew day on his day off. I’ve not laughed so much in a long time as he entertained us with stories of his time living in the area.
Due to certain restrictions with the kit, the run-off took quite a while so the next couple of hours were spent sipping on bottles of beer and troffing down a stunning fresh fish supper while George and Steven cleaned and prepared the fermenting tank for our beer.
Wort was transferred to the kettle and us lazy bloggers ventured back into the brewhouse. Rich had the questionable joy of digging out the mashtun as I stood on the floor piling it into a large hopper which was then taken away via a forklift truck. A heroic effort from our lad from Edinburgh, Rich mustered the last dregs of energy and hoisted himself out of the steel vessel. Digging a mash tun is in many ways akin to toiling a field of crops whilst in a sauna.
As this was going on, Brewdog’s Captain, James Watt, arrived. We discussed the finer points of the brew – Should we use cocoa nibs or 100% Venezuelan cocoa? How much Brazilian Sertão coffee should we add? A small amount of Magnum hops were added for bitterness, plus shavings of 100% Venezuelan cocoa that had been grated down from stocky little bars of pure chocolate. Rich and I climbed back up to the gantry to add handfuls of cocoa for another photo opportunity. We then jumped in the car and left the real brewers to finish the boil , add the coffee and transfer it into the fermenters.
What an incredible day.
Dead Metaphor will debut at IMBC in October and then soon after will be launched at Brewdog in Edinburgh and Leeds by Rich and myself at our respective local bars.
I can’t wait to try it and hope you all enjoy it too.
Here is some reviews I did live on location plus a look at the bottles I picked up too.
US Bottle Bar
I do enjoy attending the Trade session at GBBF. First thing I always do is head to the very well priced and well-stocked (before I get there) BSF (Bieres Sans frontieres) bottle bar. I picked up beers from Firestone Walker, Dogfish Head, Fifty Fifty, Ballast Point, Boulevard and Founders. Once my case was full I left it in the cloakroom and headed into the dizzying Mecca of ale.
Drinking with Friends
Drinking with lovely like-minded beer fans, that’s the main reason I go to GBBF. We can all get together and share our common interest. Beer is a great thing, it brings people together. It’s the perfect conversation starter…”What are you drinking?”. I do love a good bottled beer at home but sharing the experience with friends is another thing altogether.
Beats the pants off Earls Court. Not as hot and not as noisy.
Here is a collaboration review I did with the lovely Terry Kay of Beer Goggles Reviews of St Austell’s Big Job, a souped-up version of the Proper Job IPA. It was a close call whether this or Clown Shoes Galactic IPA was my favourite beer of the festival.
“A third of (insert beer name) please.”
Why do you have to specifically ask for a 3rd glass, even with my press pass I was only offered a pint or half. Come on CAMRA you should be encouraging us to drink smaller amounts of a range of beers not just pints of the same thing. We can do that in a pub, that’s why they have such a big selection. It’s a festival not a massive piss-up
Yes you read that correctly, the beer served on the wonderful Biere Sans Frontier bars is still referred to as Foreign. I expected some 1970 bigoted Alf Garnet type to say “None of the foreign muck”. Isn’t “International beers” a better thing to say?
Despite being the most exciting and popular parts of the festival Biere Sans Frontier is treated like an unwanted relation.
First year I went to GBBF it was fantastic! A large “C” shape, One side German, Czech, Swedish and Danish – down the looooooong edge American cask and bottles – at the final turn Dutch and Italian. This year’s “foreign” offerings where spotted around the two main rooms. Bring it all back together!
Nothing new here…it’s a mystery why they put the beers in the order they do and an even bigger one to decipher once you’ve had a few beers.
“You can’t use that tripod without an escort!”
I took my tripod to GBBF, I put it up, I was told I couldn’t use it without an escort, I took it down, paid to put it in the cloakroom, carried around the entire next day and brought it home.
Down right bloody frustrating
One thing gets my goat more than anything else at GBBF is the selection of beer served at BSF and the supposed “system” employed by that bar.
First off I do think the selection of American cask was bigger this year but the choice on the day still remained lackluster.
I’m not expecting Three Floyds, Hill Farmstead, Bells and New Glarus, but at least represent the country you are showcasing.
Why do I want to drink British style bitters and IPAs from American breweries, there are hundreds in the festival. More barrel-aged old ales, sours, amped up Belgian-styles, barley wines, tastebuds destroying IPA…I want beer that shouts AMERICAN!
Why do he have a myriad of Pete and Jim’s Local Tap House, and Generic Brewing Co beers, if you haven’t got loads of space and have to rotate beers have a better selected choice and more of it so regardless of what day you visit you can drink the same beer as the person who comes the next day, just like you can on the British bars.
Less choice of better beers works for me, just make sure its amazing stuff and you’ve got a nice spread of styles. Look at the selection at Copenhagen Beer Celebration: Founders, Three Floyds, Hoppin Frog, Jester King, Anchorage, Firestone Walker, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Surly Brewing Co, Stillwater Artisanal Ales, Westbrook Brewing Co. All winners, this isn’t just my opinion, it’s a fact!
This Sunday (7 July 2013, 4-6pm) I am hosting an American Beer Tasting event at my local craft beer bar The Sparrow in Bradford.
The Sparrow is one of Yorkshire’s best beer destinations winning multiple CAMRA awards and stocks the best beers from the UK and around the world.
Running from 1-7 July the Sparrow’s American beer week bring you some incredible craft beer from over the pond and I’ll be bringing you a selection of beers that shaped the US Craft beer landscape.
On the list of 7 beers you will drink beers from Stone, Sierra Nevada, Anchor, Flying Dog, Brooklyn and Founders. Plus on top of all that Mark from The Sparrow has offered a big corked and caged 750ml bottle of something snazzy.
I’ve lined up a one-off dry hopped bottling of an American classic that you’ve never had like this before or ever again.
Oh did I mention I’m going to delve into my cellar for some aged and rare bottles that’ll be worth the ticket price alone.
So please come over and help me drink some great American beer.
Tickets are £12 and can be bought from The Sparrow or contact them on 01274 270 772 or online via Twitter and Facebook to reserve a place.
The Sparrow Beir Café in Bradford has been a success on so many levels and year two is more of what they achieved in their Bradford CAMRA Pub of the Year winning debut year. Year two is marked with a 4 day celebration for another great year for The Sparrow and their native Bradford. Not only have Bradford City being to Wembley twice and won promotion but the city’s favourite beer bar has had lots to celebrate aswell.
2012 saw The Sparrow doing loads of exciting stuff but the one thing that stands out for me is food. The introduction of Street Food Fridays has brought restaurant quality food to The Sparrow’s doorstep. Street Food Fridays is now brought to you in association with Brooklyn Brewery and you can be expect great food not once but now twice a month. If you aren’t eating curry Bradford ain’t a great place to enjoy good food but these van’s are bringing the tasty by the bucket-full.
As well as kick-ass street food The Sparrow presented two sellout events with Bradford’s acclaimed Indian Vegetarian Cuisine restaurant the Prashad. Stuff your cheap cans of lager Indian food of that level deserves a quality craft beer to wash it down.
The Sparrow’s 2nd Birthday Party
So onto the big birthday party, from FRIDAY 24 MAY to MONDAY 27 MAY The Sparrow will be serving up a platter of beer, food and music…what more could you ask for?
FRI 24th MAY (11am – 12 Midnight)
*The launch of Two Scoops Ice Cream Pale Ale, our 2nd birthday beer brewed with Ilkley Brewery*
*Street Food Fridays featuring San Francisco style burritos from El Topo (4pm-10pm)*
SAT 25th MAY (11am – 12 Midnight)
*Bartender’s favourite beers sold at a discounted price*
*FREE pop-up tasting of some special beers*
SUN 26th MAY (12 Noon – 11pm)
*What The Folk? featuring live music from Serious Sam Barrett // Soulmates Never Die // Luke Hirst // Koala // Lew Walker // Wrong Side Of The Pennines. As part of Bradford Threadfest (3pm – 7pm)*
MON 27th MAY (12 Noon – 11pm)
*Schneider Weisse Day. Optional tutored tasting for £10 including samples of all beers plus German meats and cheese. Tickets available at the bar. (6pm-8pm)*
Ice Cream IPA? I’ve got to try that.
To commemorate the occasion The Sparrow teamed up with one of their favourite local breweries Ilkley Brewery to brew a special birthday beer. Under the watchful eye of brewster Harriet the lads from The Sparrow brewed TWO SCOOPS Ice Cream IPA. An “Ice Cream IPA” What in blue hell is that, here’s what owner Mark Husak had to say about it:
“We wanted to do a celebratory beer. Ice cream is something we’ve all had at birthday parties. A scoop is American slang for beer. Two scoops = second birthday beer. All New Zealand hops. Nelson Sauvin, Pacific Gem and Motueka. A bit of vanilla essence. A subtle hint of raspberry ripple in there. 5.9%.”
So get down to The Sparrow this Bank Holiday weekend, its going to be that good you’ll want to stay ALL . DAY. LONG!
IPA is Dead? From these example it’s a bit wounded.
Earlier this week I headed over to the Brewdog bar in Leeds to sample thier latest range of single hop IPAs, IPA is Dead 2013. Three of the beers were available on tap but they’d sold out of El Dorado so I bought a bottle of that one.
First up was Dana (Slovenia), Smelt very musty, like an old dishcloth, fried onions and curry powder a very savory aroma. It tasted better than it smelt but not by much. Once again this odd savory flavour, no typical hop flavour to speak of but I got a lot of cinnamon and cardamom alongside a grassy lemon taste. Not good.
Next up to the crease was Goldings (UK) This was more like it. I spotted aromas of fresh Golden Delicious apples, chi tea, nutmeg a nice aroma but rather faint. In the mouth I picked out nettles, dried orange peel, candy floss sweetness, lingering earthy lemon bitterness and copper coins. A decent example of how you can use this common British hop in an IPA. Personally I thought Bitches Brewing’s Graduate IPA that was also all Goldings was a million miles better.
Third was Waimea (NZ) Inital aromas of Frazzle crisps and rather musty, burnt corn on the cob. Following on to the taste of lemon peel, a hint of paravoilets, musty resin and Indian spices. Similar to Dana but slightly better, regardless I won’t be rushing back to try this hop any time soon.
Finally poured from the bottle was El Dorado (USA), the barman told me this was his favourite. By this time I’d become a bit disappointed by the whole experience. This IPA smelt of spiced orange marmalade, apricot, dextrose. It tasted like lychee and galia melon. Somewhat of a generic juices fruit flavour. The most drinkable if forgettable. I hoped for much better.
I did a equal mix of all four into my Teku glass, it was a bit better and filled in all the holes but still that horrible musty aroma of Dana forced its way through. Not a great set of IPAs this year. I’m always interested in these sets of beers but I can’t remember being overtly impressed by any of the complete sets but usually one or two jump out.
I will continue to visit and enjoy drinking Brewdog beers at their Leeds location but these were a bit of a waste of money.