Saturday, 18 October 2014

Independent Manchester Beer Covention 2014


     last week I was very chuffed to be invited to the Indy Man Beer Con as a member of the press. I know! Me? I just write a blog now and again. However, these uncertainties did not prevent me from accepting the tickets....

Having never been before I made sure I got there as quickly as I could and stayed as late as I could on my ticket. Here is what I found.

The festival is held in a stunning location, the Victoria Baths on Hathersage Road in Chorlton On Medlock. You may have seen this venue on the Restoration programme on that there telly a while ago. Sufice to say, as a lover of ornate architecture and tiling, I was as excited about seeing the venue as tasting the beer!

A short taxi ride deposited me outside and straight away there were tiles. Many, many, many tiles. There was also a room with beers and food and people in it. This made me feel surprisingly thirsty all of a sudden and I had the Burning Sky Saison L'autumne on keg, using my white beer tokens, marking the beer off on the programme with my Camden pencil. Assumedly they aren't copyright claiming that....

I sat down briefly to assess the beers on offer and concluded that there must be other rooms. There was. I headed next to the Green Room, awash with fabulous green tile work and two bars, one selling overseas beers at a higher cost, and one with two handumps and keg fonts from the Port Street Beer House. I had the Indy Man Brewhouse Pale and a half on cask and it was bloody excellent. I was, now, officially a very happy punter.

Off next to the Turkish Baths which is where Beavertown were hanging out. Here I had their Qyelle, a dry hopped saison on keg. This was an interesting and very enjoyable beer, but I wanted a good ole fashioned cask ale next so headed through more magnificent tiling and stairways to room  1, where I had a Squawk Bean Brothers coffee porter at 7.0%, which in line with all the beer so fat, and indeed thereafter, was excellent.

I moved onto the other rooms for a while, went outside to look at the Brewdog bar, and up above room 3 where there were old doors awaiting fixing and brilliant sunlight through the glass roof. I then got sat in room 2 with an American Couple and tried some beers with them, including Against The Grain Citra Ass Down, a 6.7% keg beer, Hawkshead Green Juniper and hemp double IPA at 7% and Wiper and True Triptych Pale ale on cask at 4.9%. I also chatted with the brewer for a while, which to be fair, everyone else seemed to be doing.

I soon met up with Jules and Will from Hop Hideout off license in Sheffield and we started making our way round and through some of the other beers on offer. I also splashed out a large amount of money on a hot dog, as the beer was taking effect having started supping at 11.30. Its fair to say that I lose track at this point of the order of ales tried, but I did reliably tick my programme, so the others I tried were :

Lovibonds 69 IPA (keg) 6.9%
Arbor Indy Girl (Keg) 9%
Rooie Dop Back to Black (Keg) 8.6%
Burning Sky Aurora (Cask) 5.5%
Northern Monk New World Pale (cask)
Kernel Pale Ale Columbus (Keg) 4.8%
Alechemy Monumental - 1 yr aged Octomore (Keg) 11.5%

As you can see i tried a lot of kegs, but mainly the kegs were serving the stronger beers on offer. I think overall there may have been more kegs but as I said already, there were no bad beers that I tried. The issue of serving beers in 3rds came up at previous festivals but to be honest I never really noticed. That said, it was never mentioned to me, which is a bit slack, and it did mean that the beers were on the whole very expensive - not so bad for the kegs but not good value for the cask offerings.

Overall however this was my first and a very enjoyable beer festival in an exemplary setting which sold some cracking beers. The atmosphere was good, the food smelled amazing and once again, I must mention that I didn't try a bad beer from the 12 or so I had. Here, potentially, are some photos I took as well.

Lets hope the beer quality at the last two festivals I have attended recently can be matched at Kelham Island in a fortnight...


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Sheffield Brew Fest at the Bath Hotel


             last night my camera tells me I was at Sheffield Brew Fest at the Bath Hotel. I also went to Peddler for half an hour. A pretty full day for me, and here are my thoughts on both festivals.....

Before I start, please note that you can see my pics on Facebook here assuming the link works. They are hardly detailed and mainly feature people drinking. The things is, that is really what Brew Fest was all about.....

I went Thursday after a "starter" at Shakespeares and found the festival rammed. People were standing outside the pub (but sensibly not on the road! ) drinking some of the 29 or so casks, 8-ish kegs and numerous bottles on offer. Myself and Miss N stood outside with Emily and the guy from Coach and Horses (Are you Adam?!) and talked beers for a while, before coming inside and somehow managing to find a seat. We started on halves of Blue Bee American Five Hop from Sheffield and Alechemy Summit Burst from Scotland. Both were very good.

We moved onto halves of the Northern Monk Blueberry Saison which (and everyone said thankfully") didn't taste much of blueberry, but was an excellent saison. I also tried a half of the Moor Illusion which was a refreshing if comparatively uninspiring beer, as well as the Anarchy Sublime Chaos Breakfast Stout at 7.0^, because I love it. I finished on a half of the excellent Summer Wine Brewery Cirachi, an outstanding Sorachi Ace Pale Ale at 5.9%.

On Friday I left work early and arrived at 16.30, to find seating and freely donated Wateralls pork pies on sale at £1.50. I had one, (the money went to charity) along with a half of Five Points Pale, and settled down. I got chatting with an older gent about the pies and then the beers. He had marked off on the flyer which breweries cask beers he had not found, and was quite disappointed. I explained that all the breweries listed featured somewhere at the festival, just some only on keg or in bottle. He was quite forceful in his rejection of such styles, stating that he "only drinks real ale, nothing else".

A couple pf years ago I would have been similarly, if not entirely in agreement but by trying good and bad keykegs and having always drunk bottles I couldn't agree, so listed some quality stouts, rye, pales sours and saisons on offer. This only annoyed the man further, telling me, with disgust, that he'd been to Cantillon, loved the brewery but hated the beer, and didn't like Belgian beer anyway. Seemed strange to have gone to Belgium, I thought..... I didn't even ask about German or U.S brews. Obviously the gent is entitled to his opinion and its good that he's so sure of what he likes but I couldn't help thinking he could maybe try one or more keg or bottled beers....

I later met up with Mike and Danny from Two Beer Geeks and got chatting to them whilst drinking the Atom Saison (on cask) and the Steel City, which seemed burnt to me - too much time aboil? Not an unpleasant brew though.

Yesterday I went to Peddler festival first. This was in a small yard and warehouse on Arundel Lane opposite the Lord Nelson pub. There was, as promised, street food stalls, all of whose wares smelled fantastic; there was, as advertised, live music, and a small amount of art. The "Craft Beer" aspect of the ads turned out to be the Hop box, who had two beers on. The Dark Star Hophead was lovely and about right on keg at £4.00 a pint, and I understand there was a saison on the night before but I was a little underwhelmed!

Up the Hill I arrived at the Bath about 18.30 to find it unsurprisingly busy. Many folks from the local beer scene were there and I eventually managed to secure a seat, along with a half of the Summer Wine Cirachi again, and the blueberry saison. I also tried the Black Jack Belgian Red, and the Ilkley Rye beer which was very strange but enjoyable. I was joined by Clare and then Miss N and we drank the rest of the night away, including more excellent Thornbridge Desert Sessions, and finished on Magic Rock Human Cannonball.

This was the busiest I've seen the Bath perhaps ever and there were some incredibly good beers on, and it was good to see people of all ages drinking cask, keg, can and bottle. Cask wise, the highlights were particularly the two Alechemy ones, and others from Ilkley, Hopcraft, On the Edge, Blue Bee, Five Points, Siren and Summer Wine.

If I had a grumble it was the prices. Apart from Blue Bee and Summer Wine (maybe) all beers were £4.00 a pint, or more. This seemed regardless of strength, so the stronger beers were usually better value, apart from Black Jack Belgian Red which was £5.00 a pint at 6.something%. The kegs would naturally be more expensive and were about right but the lower gravity cask was overpriced.

However, that was the only gripe and overall this was a fantastic festival, which, who knows, may even still be on now. The beer quality was in my opinion, excellent.

Well done to Jules and the team for arranging the festival, especially Ed and the Bath staff and the volunteers for working it. Lets hope the upcoming Sheffield Beer Festival can match it!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Beer festivals!


     just a quick post whilst my tomato and tuna and cheese pasta bake is warming, to tell you about some booze celebrations.

First up is Sheffield Brew Fest at the Bath Hotel, Victoria Street, Sheffield. The fest started Thursday and runs until the beer runs out on Sunday - I understand a few more casks are in the cellar so hopefully you should be able to get a full days drinking on the Sunday. Beer of the festival so far is between Anarchy Brew Sublime Chaos and Summer Wine Cirachi.

Today and yesterday sees "Peddler" on Arundel Street, featuring Street food, art, craft beer  and live music. Not been yet but sounds interesting, although am always wary of the craft beer description - hoping to go down later for a look. You can find them here .

Next week is the indomitable Indy Man Beer Con in Manchester. I am (alleged;y) going on Friday. Really looking forward to the festival almost as much as the venue, the Victorian Baths.  Here are some details form their website.

Finally, Sheffield beer festival takes place at the end of October at Kelham Island Museum. I haven't got the flyer to hand so will post more details soon!


Wee Beefy