Yesterday, along with a number of the Leeds blogging contingent, I spent the afternoon enjoying lunch with Garrett Oliver and Eric Ottaway of Brooklyn Brewery. The meal was organised by James Clay, and hosted by Mr Foley’s – with a knockout menu served up by Tyler Kiley.
Chicken Wings in Hot Sauce and Pulled Pork Sandwiches headed up the main courses, accompanied by the likes of Brooklyn Blast and Mary’s Maple Porter. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that Pulled BBQ Pork and Maple Porter are a match made in heaven, but I’m going to anyway.
But despite my love of Pork (which does indeed run deep and passionate), it was the dessert course of Black Chocolate Stout with a huge dollop of Vanilla Ice Cream nestled in the top that really put a smile on my face. As you can imagine, there was a lot of chatter in the room as Garrett regaled us with anecdote after anecdote, but for a fleeting second, all that stopped, and there was only the clink of spoons in glasses to be heard.
Some swirled, some sniffed, some dug the ice-cream out and ate that first – but we were all smiling. Garrett confessed that he enjoys this all the time at home, but even he was grinning like a Cheshire Cat as he chased that last bit of Ice Cream around his glass.
And that, my friends, is what it’s all about. Massive thanks to all involved.
If you are nodding , then your luck is in. So do Revolutions Brewing Co, and 2012 will see them launch a series of Music and Beer nights, following the success of their debut event at The Volunteer Arms in York late last year. This time, Mr Foley’s in Leeds will be the venue.
The 10th of February will see Revolutions take over the pub, and the bar will be chock- full of Clash London Porter, Beat Red, Devolution Amber Ale, Kraftwerk Braun and their new ’45 special’, Unknown Pleasures, which is a 4.5% Glacier-hopped Pale Ale, brewed in tribute to the seminal Joy Division album.
There will also be a Milk Stout, named ‘Milk and Alcohol‘ (after the Dr Feelgood single) and I’m sure it’ll be awesome. Well, it had better be because it’s being brewed this weekend by Dean Pugh (Foley’s Manager, for those who don’t know) and Me. So expectations are suitably high!
So make a date in the diary and come on down for a night with us, good beer and great music – and hopefully, a world-class Milk Stout. Leeds-based Esper Scout are confirmed, and a second act will be confirmed closer the time. Mark and Andy will also be providing suitably awesome music throughout the night.
Love Music : Love Beer.
Well, just as I’d finished drafting this post, The Golden Pints were announced for 2011. Given that I’d already done this, I’m going to post it up anyway in lieu of a Golden Pint list, with a few additions. Anyway, I like lists, and it’s been fun running through what beers I’ve particularly enjoyed over the year. By way of a cop-out, I’m not going to rank the best beers this year, because I think they are all fantastic. What’s even more exciting is that I’m sure I’ve missed loads; which means 2012 will have to rectify that.
So, what about a Brewery of the Year? A difficult one. When I think of Breweries that made 2011, three stand out for me; Magic Rock, Buxton and Red Willow.
Given the shared experience of the people involved – both from a brewing and a retail point of view – Magic Rock would have had to have really worked hard to fail. Their relatively small core range covers every base, their pumpclips catch the eye; and their beer tastes good. When you really get into the range, the beers are deceptively simple, too. They’ve worked their arses off; doing countless Meet The Brewer nights all over the country, brewing to capacity, and even introducing a couple of new beers in Rock Star and Bearded Lady. But that Yorkshire grit and no-nonsense approach is still there. No fuss - just taste – and lots of it.
Buxton pull a similar ‘one foot in each camp’ trick but go even further. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a brewery combine fairly hop-forward, or ‘big’ beers such as Axe Edge or Tsar, and yet appeal to the average ‘pub-bound’ drinker. Buxton do this by again turning down the fuss, and just brewing tasty, tasty beer. People that know me know that I’m a Pale Ale freak, and when Moor Top emerged – just a single-hopped, simple Pale Ale – it blew me away (See also Hawkshead’s superlative Windermere Pale and NZPA). You think you’ve seen it all from a style, and then another taste comes along that make you realise that the genre is not dead. Buxton are a brewer for all camps, and one that’s already been popping up on many ‘best of’ lists already.
Finally, I have to mention RedWillow. I know how hard Toby works, and trust me, the guy is a machine. A tired, Oyster-shucking machine – but a machine nontheless. Red Willow flip the previous statements made about Buxton and MR around; simple-sounding and looking beers that reveal hidden depths and innovation when tasted. Fathomless – turns out to be an authentic Oyster Stout. Ageless – turns out to be one of the most aromatic, juicy-tropical-fruit bombs tasted all year. The awards have slowly, slowly begun to trickle in for the Macclesfield brewer, and I’m sure 2012 will only result in a bigger award cabinet being needed.
Beers of the Year
Ok. As I said above, I can’t pick one, really. Here are the ones (in no particular order) that I really enjoyed, from reasons such as taste, to simply being the right beer at the right time. If your beer is on here, then thank you for brewing such Good Stuff.
York Micklegate Porter – Magic Rock Human Cannonball, High Wire & Rapture – Maui Big Swell IPA – Rooster’s Iron Man IPA – Buxton Moor Top – Buxton Axe Edge – 8 Wired IRA – RedWillow Ageless – Sierra Nevada Juniper Black – Brodie’s Hackney Red – Rooster’s Baby Faced Assassin – Oakham Citra & Inferno – Brewdog Bramling Cross IPA – Revolutions Night Porter & Propaganda – Hawkshead NZPA & Windermere Pale – Durham Magic IPA (Bombay 106) – Odell Mycernary – Redemption Big Chief – SummerWine Rouge-Hop – Marble Summer – Kirkstall Three Swords Pale – Raw Pacific Ghost IPA – Ilkley Smoked Witch – Cropton Yorkshire Warrior – Camden Helles – Hardknott Light Cascade – Black Isle Porter – Stroud Amber Ale – De Molen Op & Top – Five Towns Schneider V2 – Birrificio Italiano Tipopils – Williams Bros Joker IPA – Great Northern Wheat IPA – Theakston’s Lightfoot … and the list goes on….
Of course, I’ll have missed some out. It’s impossible not to. If your beer has ended up on this blog, however, then it’s The Good Stuff, rest assured.
I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank Mark and Andy for organising the year’s Twissups, and Luke Downing at Dough Bistro and Nick and Vickie at Homage to Fromage for opening their businesses and kitchens to the possibilities of Food and Beer. Dean Pugh at Mr Foley’s remains a constant source of info and orchestrator of some excellent bottle-swap nights (and Wing nights, and NFL nights!), and IPA Day was a great (and quite drunk) event. We are very lucky indeed. Of course, all the staff at BeerRitz have been stars, as always. We are lucky to have such a place in Leeds (and we almost didn’t for a while; thanks again, Zak!)
Blogs? Well, there’s been some great blogs starting up or coming into their own in 2011. For me, Ghost Drinker and Beersay deserve special mentions, as they bring an enthusiasm and exuberance about beer onto the screen that is sometimes sorely missed from blogs. On the other side of the coin, ATJ’s and Zak’s blogs always provide food for thought from inside the industry and I’m glad they’re still churning out quality content after all these years. I appreciate how hard it can be to blog these days when juggling (a number) of jobs and when I see others doing it, it just spurs me on to quit moaning and get writing.
Finally, I’d just like to thank everyone that reads TGS, and that I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a few beers with over the year. You’re a good bunch, and despite the bickering (which makes it interesting, let’s face it) I’m happy to be part of such a vibrant, varied and passionate community. Hopefully, 2012 will be an interesting year for me, and I hope to be able to contribute to UK Brewing in a way that I know many of you do, day in, day out.
What a difference a day makes. Today; grim, cold, grey and drizzly. House-clothes and cups of tea. Yesterday; brilliant Autumn sunshine, spit – roasted pork, and great beers. York Beer Festival goes from strength to strength.
As it happens, this year was a bit of a first for me – I was doing a spot of judging. Along the way I’d co-opted Dean Pugh (Mr Foley’s) into joining me, and we in turn hooked up with Ally Shaw (Impy Malting, if you don’t know) as well. The three of us donned our sticky name-badges, stocked up on water and cream crackers, and got cracking.
I don’t want to dwell too much on the judging itself – but I will say that the experience furthered my interest in blind-tasting beers and, in turn, challenging your palate. It was fun, different, and I keep learning. I thought – at one point – that I knew what beer one of them was, but it turned out not to even be at the festival. Good. If I’d have nailed it, I’d have been too smug for words.
Anyway, onto the festival. There’s a real variety to the beers on the list at York. It’s just the right size, and if the weather is great (like it was yesterday) then the outside area comes into its own. Pies, HogRoast, Curry and Beer in the sun make for a heady combination.
Stomachs suitably lined with pulled pork, the beers came thick and fast – here are the ones that stood out. Of course, Brass Castle’s Bad Kitty (5.5%abv got a lot of attention as it won Beer of the Festival; all the more reason to celebrate as they’ve only been brewing a matter of weeks. Bad Kitty’s a rich, lush Vanilla Porter, all chocolate-cheesecake and biscuity goodness. It’s very drinkable and very sweet, but did stand head and shoulders above the rest in the judging. Based up the road in Pocklington, Brass Castle are a brewery I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot about in the months to come.
Derby-based Raw and Steel City collaboration IPA, Raw Steel (6.2%abv) was sweet enough to carry the hops; deep amber in colour, thick mouthfeel and a pleasant hop bite at the end. It was actually a little tamer than I expected, but that’s no bad thing. Raw’s Pacific Ghost IPA (5.9%abv) is well worth seeking out too – much paler but with a lovely lychee/mango note to it.
Another first for me was Tempest Brewery, all the way from the Scottish Borders. Emanation Pale Ale (4.5%abv) was a super-clean, refreshing Pale ale with a nose and finish of Lemon pith and subtle pine. I could drink a whole load of this, and hopefully other people will think so too and we’ll get some more down here.
Ilkley’s IXB (4.5%) was a festival first – but will be on sale throughout Yorkshire in the upcoming weeks. It’s an interesting beer; mid-amber, quite sweet in the body but with a really interesting, juicy-fruit aroma. Imagine a really tasty, really fresh, Zingy Best Bitter and you’re kind of halfway there. Do try it when you see it – I will be.
Brodie’s Hackney Red IPA (6.1%abv)was up next – and proved to be an inspired choice. This stuff really is good; Terracotta-Red, with a big, sugar & candy-sweet body (something I’m developing a real taste for in hoppy beers of late) and a gorgeous, herbal, grassy nose. The alcohol was hidden somewhere in the depths, but I couldn’t find it. Wonderful. Brodie’s are a brewery I’m starting to seek out first of all when perusing a beer fest list, these days.
Another (yes, another) Roast Pork Sandwich was washed down with Welbeck Abbey’s Henrietta (3.6%abv), and I was impressed with the beer – easy-going Pale Ale, with a lovely floral finish. I could see this doing very well in the warmer months, and I’d like to try more of their range.
Finally, a couple of darker beers rounded the session off. Matuska Black Rocket (7%abv)is a beer I’ve read a lot about, and missed out on at GBBF; no fear at York as those wonderful Pivo chaps were manning their usual bar of treats. I really enjoyed Black Rocket – full of roasty/coffee notes and a wonderfully fruity, rounded heart that gave a pitch-perfect Cherry Bakewell note to proceedings. This is one beer I’ll probably have to take on every time I see it, now.
Revolution’s Propaganda finished things off in some style. An Imperial Stout at 7.8%, it’s a protest beer at the new higher duty rate that is coming in during October that will, no doubt, put some brewers off brewing stronger ales. I’ll let Andy from Revolutions explain further.
‘The duty rate change makes no sense to us. It will, it is estimated, put about 40p on the price of a bottle of Belgian beer (e.g. Duvel at >8%) and we believe will put 25-30p on the price of a half of one of our 7.8% beers. The new wave of popular craft beer bars in our towns and cities and the specialist bottled beer off-licences will suffer. The customers who frequent these outlets are genuine beer aficionados who do not over-indulge and commit acts of anti-social behaviour. The new duty rate will have very little impact on the price of cheap, poor quality, high strength alcohol sold in supermarkets and corner shops and which IS bought by younger, less socially responsible individuals intent on getting drunk as quickly and as cheaply as possible and who generally end up a drain on the emergency services.’
It’s a shame because Propaganda is a lovely, lovely beer – one of Revolution’s best yet. Super-smooth, with smoke, fruit and sweetness all living in harmony in the glass. I’ve implored them to bottle some up for aging, and – I’m not sure if it was the beer – but they seemed receptive. Anyway, watch this space – and do try the beer when it pops up at selected pubs during the next few months.
Judging – and drinking – at the York Beer Festival was a pleasure this week, and it’s a firm fixture in my calendar now. If you haven’t dropped by yet, today’s the last day. Also, there’s a pretty darn good food festival in York at the moment too – check them out.
Thanks to Dean, Ally, Andy and Mark Revolutions, Chris and Richard Ilkley and Simon Ridgeside for being good company at varying points throughout the day; normally with a fistful of pulled pork.
It’s been years since I’ve had anything from Bristol Beer Factory. However, much like buses, three have showed up at Foley’s this week.
Milk Stout (4.5%) is a multi-award winner and is a welcome sight – Milk Stout’s not a style you see a great deal of. BBF’s version is super, super smooth, with a sweet, roasted malt nose. Upon tasting that smoothness is the first thing you get, and then the underlying creamy, lactic note you’d be looking for. It is very sweet – perhaps a little too much so for my tastes – but perfectly drinkable. A welcome change from the usual Stout gang.
Acer (3.8%) is a deep gold-hued pale ale; a solid backbone of biscuity malt and a huge, green-hop finish. It’s very clean, dry, and perfect for this little early-autumn sunshine we seem to be enjoying. Surprisingly assertive, it’s an interesting variant on the Pale Ale theme – IPA Fans could do worse than seek out this Pale; it’s anything but plain. And at 3.8%, anyone who thinks you can’t put flavour and vibrancy into lower-strength Pales needs to taste this.
Saison (4.8%), for me, is the pick of the bunch. The aroma is crazy – massively perfumed, tonnes and tonnes of Coriander, and – I swear – Sandalwood ( I know, it’s all a bit Jilly Goolden but I don’t want to leave anything out!) . To be honest, the nose alone makes you wonder how it’s going to taste, but upon sipping you get all those flavours but really toned down and balanced out – thank god. It grew on me; it’s light, refreshing and different. Do try it while you can.
As it happens, I recently had a brush with Southville Hop. Whilst finishing up for the night at The Euston Tap a few weeks ago, I spied two bottles in the fridge, and nabbed them both. After a heavy couple of days on the Beer whilst enjoying GBBF, SH really refreshed a jaded palate – it is super-hoppy, but with such body and balance behind it that you forget the hops alone and appreciate the beer as a whole. Grapefruit and Lemon abound, and it’s a different kind of Hop Flavour to Acer’s green, almost herbal note. Although this was bottled, Southville Hop is currently residing in Foley’s cellar and will be on soon; so keep an eye out.
One final note – take a look at those pumpclips. Note the succint, easy-to-grasp tasting notes on the bottom there, ready to tell the uninformed drinker what to expect. No fuss, perfectly pitched. Credit where its due – Fantastic design work from Bristol Beer Factory.
After spending the last few hours tasting IPA’s in Mr Foley’s, the one thing I would stress is this: IPA is a diverse style, and one that – albeit popular – has more than enough variance to keep things interesting. I’m currently typing this from Mr Foley’s - so a live blog it is – and have some great, great beers in my belly.
So – what to go for? Well, Dean’s put together a great beer list this evening, showcasing some great IPA’s from the UK and the states. If I can direct your gaze to the fridges, you’ll find Maui’s Great Swell (6.2%abv); which is a really, really interesting beer – I expected a load of grapefruit but got a deep, earthy pineyness which almost makes the beer English in nature. It’s not too sweet, and not too heavy, despite the abv. I certainly recommend this US Import.
Another US import that demands your attention is Odell’s Mycernary (9.5%abv). Yes, it’s strong – as a lot of IPA’s are – but the subtlety here is wonderful. A deep marmalade-orange note hits the nose, and that note carries through to the taste, which is sweet, rounded and gently warming; a fantastic beer ,and one you don’t want to miss.
Anyway, enough of beer from our US Cousins, we can do IPA here, too. Summerwine’s 7C’s of Rye is a nice twist on their recent 7’c’s – imagine the same fruity, grapefruity/lemony hop attack but with a good dollop of sweet,spicy Rye to balance things out. Available on Keg, it’s a great UK IPA. As is Kirkstall’s Dissolution, which tones things down a little with piney notes in the nose and a clean, drying bitterness. Two sides of the IPA coin, displayed really well side-by-side. Also, Rooster’s UnderDog has nice, undelying herbal note – can you guess what it is? I think I’ve figured it out, but can you? I’m not going to say – have a taste and see what you think…
RedWillow also have Peerless on Cask, and Ageless in bottle – the first being a solid, lemony-led IPA, with the bottled Ageless being a little thinner and more refreshing with Lemon/Lime hints running through it. Don’t miss out on tasting RedWillow’s wares – they are going to be around for a while, very local, and very tasty.
Buxton’s awesome Axe Edge is on cask, and Magic Rock’s Human Cannonball is one not to be missed either – a tropical fruit bomb, courtesy of Huddersfield’s finest. If you want a break from all-out hop attack, give Hardknott’s Code Black (5.6%abv) a go – a surprisingly restrained, malty IPA with loads of red fruit and chocolate on the nose, finishing with a drying, coffee and black – chocolate note. Just another example of how much variance can be found in the IPA world.
Anyway, if you’re in Leeds and want to partake in IPA Day, get down to Foley’s. Now. IPA is not just about US-Style hop-bombs; there’s so much subtlety within the genre. foley’s will also be serving delicious (and I really, really mean this) Delicious food from Manjit’s Kitchen throughout the evening, so get down here!
Well, you folks in Leeds are lucky if you love the old IPA’s. Foley’s Cask Ale House have just announced their lineup for the day (August 4th) and it’s a stormer. In Dean Pugh’s Words:
‘At Mr Foleys we will have some of the finest examples of the style from some of Britain’s best brewers. Our beers will include four keg IPAs; two from Brewdog and one each from local West Yorkshire breweries Summer Wine and Magic Rock. We will have six cask IPAs coming from Thornbridge, Buxton, Kirkstall, Roosters, Hardknott and Red Willow. If that’s not enough for you, we will have a dedicated IPA fridge serving you some of the best from America, as well as a some rarely- seen British brews.
‘Still not enough? We will have brewers or brewery representatives from every brewery mentioned above and each will be holding mini ‘meet the brewer’ segments to promote their beer to the assembled crowd. We will also have guest appearances from beer writers Zak Avery and Mark Fletcher, who will be talking you through the history of IPA, why they love the style and some of their favourite beers.
‘With all this beer we will be in need of food. Details are still being ironed out, but we are hoping to have some top quality Indian cuisine available as we feel it not only fits the history of the beer, but that beers big in bitterness and hop character are the perfect accompaniment for spicy dishes’.
So, there you go. I’ll be blogging a preview live from Foley’s during the daytime (probably in a post-GBBF state, but there you go) so if you’re still not sure about IPA, I’ll tell you where to look. Bring it on.
Revolutions Brewing Company have finally commenced brewing at their permanent brewery. With the fit-out and installation of brewing equipment in an industrial unit on the outskirts of Castleford now complete, the first brew, Clash London Porter (4.5%) is about to be shipped to customers throughout Yorkshire and further afield.
They’ve been brewing occasionally as a cuckoo brewer throughout the latter part of 2010. Production of four other core beers – Ravenscroft Pale Ale (3.3%), Severin Dark (3.3%), Devolution Amber Ale (4.5%) and Kraftwerk Braun Ale (4.5%) is planned for July and August. In addition regular music-themed special beers will be available, and the music fans amongst you will recognise that the abv’s reflect Vinyl running speeds. Revolutions have built up a steady little fanbase with their tasty dark beers, and it’s great news that they’ve finally kicked their permanent home into gear; I know that they’ve been tweaking and refining recipes, as well as dealing with the nightmare that is setting up a new brewhouse. If you don’t know much about them, you can check out my 2010 interview here.
Speaking of tasty dark beers, Thornbridge’s Evenlode is now on at Mr Foley’s (well, it was last night) and I must say ; it’s got one of the best coffee aromas that I’ve ever sampled on a beer Billed as a Brown Porter, the nose is rich, fresh and with slightly creamy/milk chocolate undertone – it literally smells like a fresh, steaming espresso. Despite this, it’s a light, flavourful beer. Do give it a try – but leave some for me, yeah?
Well, here’s something you don’t see often. A few precious kegs have found their way from Sierra Nevada’s esteemed Beer Camp to Leeds, and there was no way I was going to miss out. Although a quick internet search tells me there has been some limited-edition releases of this beer, there’s still enough of the exotic about it to make trying it an event; something that one-off beer should always have in thier locker.
Obviously, the downside of ‘special’ beers is that they can often come laden with so much hype that they disappoint; Juniper Black Ale (8%abv) does and more. I’d call it a Black IPA but it’s much softer than that label would suggest. The tan head tells you it’s laden with dark-and-roasted-malt goodies, and the aroma manages to pack a hefty wallop of tropical fruit in on top of any coffee or bitter chocolate you might have been expecting. It’s really, really light – which is proof of the balance of the beer – despite being filled with soft, rounded, full vinous notes. The finish just reasserts some black coffee notes, but the finish is clean as well as drying. However, I didn’t get much Juniper in it, to be honest. That aside, it’s a fantastic beer, and is on now at Mr Foley’s. Part of me doesn’t want to tell you about it, simply so I can go drink some more of it this week. Here’s what Ghostie thought.
…Despite spending at least one drinking session a week at Mr Foley’s Cask Ale House, it occurred to me recently that I don’t really drink from the fridges. I couldn’t explain why; I do in other joints, but that row of pumpclips usually takes up 110% of my attention. At the same time, Dean had been recommending their new Philly Cheese Steak (strips of steak, cheese, bell pepper on a baguette roll) ; crafted lovingly by new-ish chef Tyler Kiley. Fast-forward a few weeks and you’ve got me and my erstwhile drinking buddy (and wingman on many excursions you may read about on TGS) Chris, and a clear mission; find a match in those fridges for a Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich.
Victory’s Prima Pils (5.3%abv) was just weird. It claims to be a ‘Pils’ but for me hits nowhere near the mark – it’s refreshing enough when served cool but has so much flowery hoppiness up-front that it just bulldozes your palate as opposed to the classy, herbal hop attack that good Pilsners or Lagers have. It accompanied the amazing chips well enough, (more on those later) but in this set-up it just didn’t work at all. I’ve enjoyed this on Keg before; but the bottles have just left me cold. Chris agreed, and I actually finished his!