Category Archives: Summer Wine Brewery

>The Good Stuff 2010 Review

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Ok, here’s my roundup of what floated my boat in 2010. Personally, I’ve had a pretty cool year. I got married, which was great fun and I can recommend to anyone thinking of popping the question, and I also decided to come out from behind the laptop and meet some of you. I’m glad I did; what a cracking bunch of chaps and chapesses you all turned out to be. You know who you are. Thanks for some great beers and banter.

Ok, here we go –
Overall Beer of the Year – a bottled one this year – BDB/DFH’s’s My Antonia. 2010 was the year I finally got to taste some Italian Craft Beers, and this was one hell of a jumping-off point. Aroma spilling out of the glass, thick with herbals and citrus, this Imperial Pilsner left some mark on my consciousness. Still, and I suspect will be for some time, my favourite BDB beer – albeit a collaboration.

Beers of The Year – Brewdog Edge/5Am Saint. I’ll whisper it; I’d fallen out of love a little with Brewdog in 2010. Too much high-abv, freeze-distilled antics for me; just personal taste. Then just when I’d wrote them off – BANG – Edge appears, being quite possibly tastiest pint for it’s abv I’d had. Masses of red fruit, plummy, malty, refreshing – but all with an abv of 3.8%. Then, my lazy ass picks up 5AM Saint, which must be one of the best aromas I’ve experienced for quite some time – strawberry and lychee all the way, sitting on top a very respectable, sweet Amber ale. Welcome back, BrewDog – I’ve missed ya.

SummerWine BreweryProject 6 IPA Series. If there’s one think I love in anything – be it writing, comics, music or indeed beer – it’s one-off’s. Exciting little diversions from core ranges, beers to actively seek out and savour. SWB’s P6 IPA’s have been pretty much the beer of my summer; waiting until the next one comes out, and trying hard to pick out the combo of hops in this particular edition. Simply excellent, fragrant, British IPA’s with a sense of adventure. I’d say check them out – but they’ve gone now; and therein lies my point.

Other memorable pints
Highland’s Orkney Blast – Strong Pale Ale par excellence – woody, earthy but sweet and aggressive English-hopped Strong Pale Ale.
Abbeydale Last Rites – A late entry, Last Rites slipped under the radar a little with its release this month. Super-easy drinking for its 11% abv, this richly golden Barleywine was smoother than Swiss Tony and satisfyingly rich, all without being cloying. Can we have some bottles of this, Abbeydale?
Wharfebank’s CamFell Flame – It’s not all about strong beers, and WB’s Camfell Flame is rightly the most lauded of their range. No-nonsense, it’s a rich, malty, warming pint with a lovely cinder-toffee profile.
Baladin Open – Wow. The stand-out beer of my honeymoon in Italy, and even the better for the fact that my bottle was given to me as a gift from a beer-loving barman in Garda. Again, aroma is what sets Open apart, loaded with Strawberry, Pineapple and Lychee.
Williams Bros Joker IPA – Williams continue to innovate and pleasantly surprise with a clean, refreshing, super-balanced IPA; restrained in hopping and yet all the better for it.
Marble Dobber – A great beer with that grapefruit led nose that I’ve come to expect from Pale Marble beers. This is one more about context; it was the first beer of the day on the Twissup and over it I finally met the likes of Baron Orm, the Hardknotts, Rakebar Glyn, Andy Mogg etc etc…
Ola Dubh 30 – on Cask at The Angel, Manchester, was not only one of the most pleasant surprises of the day (Twissup) but perfectly fit the mood of collaboration; a beer to be savoured and even shared – mouth-coatingly rich, loaded with chocolate and a whisper of whiskey heating everything up. Wow.
Thornbridge 2009 Halcyon. Green. Fresh. Refreshing. Moreish. Wonderful. Thanks, Stefano and the lads.
Crown Brooklyn Heights – IT constantly amazes me how much milage the Pale Ale style has, especially when this strong, sweet and floral Pale Ale hit my lips. Wonderfully hoppy, well-brewed, Pale Ale. Simple as that.

..And as ever with lists, there were so many more – but these are my ones, these are the pumpclips I want to see in my 2010 pub. Speaking of pubs, my pub of the year goes to The Grove in Huddersfield this year. I’d never actually been until 2010 and I rue that fact dearly. Pleasant, informative barstaff, great beer (and lots of it) all in a nice space. The Grove is one of the few pubs I would get on a train specifically for, so Thanks, Brian. Those that know me know I spend a lot of time hanging out with Dean in Foley’s – so I don’t want to over-egg the point for fear of being acused of nepotism – but Dean and crew at Foley’s deserve my thanks for really improving their beer range. In the past few months drinkers in Leeds have been spoiled with offerings from Summer Wine, Crown, Hardknott and Dark Star to name a few, as well as championing newer faces such as Revolutions. So I guess, a ‘Much Improved’ sort of award!


Finally, I just want to mention a couple of blogs. HopZine I love; clean, clever design and – more importantly – ratings I trust. That’s the key. Rob and Matt know their beer and bring the more esoteric beers to my attention, so for that, HopZine go as my blog of the year. They are both bloody nice blokes, too, which helps! I’d also like to throw some kudos out to Beer.Birra.Beer. Mark’s style appeals to me, it’s knowledgeable and, more importantly, balanced. Again, another blogger I trust. Keep up the good work, Lads.

>Summer Wine Brewery Visit

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One of the disavantages of working full-time is that sometimes I simply can’t spare the time to do beery, bloggy things that seem like a lot more fun than work. One such occasion arose a couple of weeks back when Dean Pugh, of (Mr Foley’s Cask Ale House fame) texted me to tell me that he was going to see Summer Wine Brewery, and would I like to join him? Well, Dean, yes. Yes I would. But I can’t. Work beckons. After shaking my fists in the air for a good five minutes along with a stream of cuss-words that would make Kenny Powers blush, I asked him if he’d be as kind as to provide a report of the day to share, and he duly obliged, along with some pictures. So I will hand over to Dean….

…Having been informed that my choice of day to visit happened to be brew day for Brew #6, the final instalment of the highly successful Project 6 IPA series, I hurried over to Honley, the home of Summer Wine Brewery. After rushing through my morning errands and paying a visit to the Head of Steam on Huddersfield train station where I enjoyed a pint of Brass Monkey Bitter, I awaited my connecting train. The brewery was a bit tricky to find; it’s a small site which they are fast outgrowing and is tucked away at the back of an industrial estate. Unfortunately Google Maps let me down slightly and a quick phone call was needed. I arrived just in time to witness the late hopping of Brew #6, which was described to me as a West-Coast style American IPA, higher in IBU’s than the previous 5 in the series using a blend of hops, such as Chinook and Centennial to name but a few. There’s also a little Crystal malt to give the beer a little more body and sweetness to balance the hops, as was done successfully in Brew #5 (my favourite so far). I was offered the chance to do the late hopping myself but thought it best to leave it to the professionals and just grab a snap or two instead…!

With the wort then cooling, James (head brewer) and Andy (managing director) took a well deserved break to chat with me all things beer; how they have found their first 2 years as brewers and the future of Summer Wine Brewery. I knew brewing was hard work, but stories of racking through the night and Andy having not left the brewery for 4 days to complete orders I quickly realised how dedicated these guys were to their passion. They tell me that those days are in the past now, but with plans to move to a bigger site and an increase in brewing capacity there is no chance of them sitting back and taking it easy any time soon.

Discussion turned to their beers (a Teleporter was quickly put in front of me, followed by Project 6 Brew #2) and plans for future brews, including the next experiment following Project 6 and some extremely exciting plans for 2011. I’m not about to steal their thunder though, I will let James and Andy break the news to you at our ‘Meet the Brewer’ night with them on October 27th. However I can say that Mr Foley’s will be featuring as much of these as possible.
Our chat was briefly interrupted when it was time to run off the Brew #6 wort to the conditioning tank and yet more hops were added for dry hopping. I also witnessed a fermenting brew of Treacle Stout, as you can see the addition of Dark Treacle to the brew sends the yeast on a bit of a sugar rush!

As we compared tasting notes on beers from many US and UK brewers, both James and Andy’s passion and love of quality beers was obvious as I stood like a sponge trying to take in as much knowledge as possible. As if my magic a bottle of 5am Saint appeared as I listed the Brewdog beers I had yet to try, and plans were made for us to meet up again to continue our chat – but this time in the comfort of a pub, and when Andy doesn’t have to cycle home!A thoroughly enjoyable day was rounded of with an evening at Huddersfield CAMRA Oktoberfest beer festival where Fernandes Rum For Cover (6.5% specialty ale) was the pick of the 6 I sampled.

….Thanks mate. Andy and James will be at Foley’s this Wednesday evening (27th) from 18.00 onwards, where you’ll be able to have a chat with them and sample some of their excellent beers – including the last hurrah of the P6 IPA series, and thier Portcullis ESB. Get yourself down there – I met them both on Saturday, shared a beer or 6, and can confirm they are both ‘top lads’, as we say in Yorkshire.

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