The Friday Pint 2015 #21 – Busy

Those few of you who actually await these posts each Friday may have noticed that I’ve missed a few weeks recently. Partly due to laziness on my part, but also because I’m currently busy doing a lot of other stuff.

As for stuff you should be concerned with, the Beer Bash is just a month away. I’ll be sending e-mails out to volunteers very soon, and tickets are selling well, with some sessions sold out, or close to selling out.

Hopefully I’ll find time for a longer post, or find some other format to update you all. Until then though, have a great weekend. (161)

Mud City Stout – A few words for Craft Beer Hour

This Tuesday, at around 8pm, the Birmingham Beer Bash will be taking over Craft Beer Hour. As there’s a lot to get in (ten of us selecting a beer each) the hour has become two hours. All 10 beers should be on at The Craven Arms. As much as I would have liked to have gone up, I am unfortunately working Tuesday night, and so I have travelled up today to drink a few pints of my beer, and write some words about it.

I first came to Sadler’s back in somewhere between 2008 and 2009. I once had a girlfriend who lived in the Birmingham area, and so I travelled up from Southampton every so often. During that time, I got to know some of the areas pubs, and grew to like them. I also found that if you travel a short train ride out of the city, you can find yourself amongst some beautiful scenery.

It was my second trip to The Windsor Castle that I fell in love with Mud City Stout. It is the only beer for which I have made multiple two hour train journeys to drink. Having been thinking about things I’ll miss whilst in America, it is Mud City Stout that comes top of the beer list.

When we were asked for beer suggestions for Craft Beer Hour, Mud City Stout came to mind rather quickly for me. If I started to think a bit longer, I possibly could have come up with another beer, one that people might associate more with the word “craft”. As it is though, I have chosen the beer that if I could only drink one for the rest of my life, it would be this.

I have had a few bad pints of Mud City Stout, and I apologise if when you get to try it, it isn’t quite as good as it should be. To me, Mud City Stout is liquid satisfaction. If Sadler’s can find a way of exporting some to wherever I end up in America, I will be very happy indeed.

I hope all of you participating in Craft Beer Hour have a good night. Have a few for me won’t you. (345)

The Friday Pint 2015 #20 – The Dancing Man

Around the time this gets posted on Friday evening, I shall be within the grounds of Cardiff Castle, most likely enjoying a pint of Tiny Rebel’s Fubar whilst waiting to see the Manic Street Preachers perform The Holy Bible for what will be the fourth time. As it is, I am writing this post on Monday, from within The Dancing Man.

It’s been a few months since I have written anything about the Dancing Man Brewery and the Wool House. I could have written a review of the new venue on open weekend but chose not to for one simple reason; I wanted to give them a chance to settle down and iron out any flaws first.

From my first-hand experience, there have been a few flaws. The first noticeable one for me was an off flavour in the beers, presumably caused by the new lines. Thankfully, I haven’t noticed it the last few times I’ve been in, which implies that this problem may have been fixed.

The only other problem that I personally have encountered whilst visiting The Dancing Man, is a lack of beer. This was on a Saturday afternoon not long after the new brewpub had opened. I can only assume that this was because people drank the bar dry on the Friday night. In many ways, I am perfectly okay with this.

Aside from those two glitches, my experience of The Dancing Man has been a rather good one so far. The expansion has enabled Aidan to start running some of his beers on keg, and also to have around four to five Dancing Man beers on alongside guests.

I have so far only eaten at The Dancing Man once. It was though, a very enjoyable experience. Whilst the menu felt slightly limited in choice, the choice that I made, was delicious. Beef brisket with cheese and roast potatoes in gravy. Almost as satisfying as the cheesy garlic bread from The Platform.

As for the décor, the additions to the building fit in well. There is a focus on the maritime history of the area, with many pieces relating to the Titanic. There are also features, such as The Dancing Man metal sculpture and the lighting, which highlights the industrial history of the building.

Overall, I like The Dancing Man as a place to visit and drink with company. For the purposes of a quiet drink whilst writing, I prefer the Platform Tavern. Despite having strong ties between the two venues, there is definitely a distinct identity in each one.

If you’re ever in Southampton, or passing through on the way to the Isle of Wight, or headed on a cruise, you should pay The Dancing Man a visit. Whether you like beer or not, the building itself is worth having a look around.

The fact that the food and drink happens to be rather good is a bonus. (165)

The Friday Pint 2015 #19 – Strike

At the time of writing, Network Rail workers have just announced plans for a 24 hour strike to start from 5pm on Thursday 4th June. For the many Manic Street Preachers and One Direction fans who will be travelling to Cardiff for the gigs on the Friday, this isn’t good news.

Whilst there’s a chance the strike action may still be called off, I’ve decided to book an extra night’s hotel, and head up early. This does of course mean that I’ll be stuck in Cardiff having to find things to do.

I’ve already found a gig to go to for £6, so that should occupy me for half the evening. If only there was somewhere like the Urban Tap House that I could go and drink a few beers in.

Oh wait, there is.

On a related subject, I have also found out that the Manic Street Preachers’ Cardiff Castle gig will have local food stalls, and Newport’s Tiny Rebel beers on the bar.

They might just sell eight million pints during Of Walking Abortion… (262)

The Friday Pint 2015 #18 – Three days off, hoorah!

For a lot of people in the UK this weekend is a long one, with Monday’s bank holiday providing an extra day to visit the pub. As a result, many pubs are holding beer festivals this weekend, including The White Horse in Hedgerley.

This is where I headed to earlier today, the first day of my three day weekend. (I’m one of the many people who have to work on Monday). The pub is about five and a half miles from where I currently live. I could have walked it, but chose to take the bus. Even then, there is a one and a half mile walk from the main road.

The beer list for this weekend’s festival is populated mostly with beers and breweries I’m unfamiliar with. Of those I am familiar with, only Salopian and Twickenham’s beers were on. As it goes, these two were probably the better of the five I drank whilst I was there. As for the other three, lets just say my least favourite of them both had the word “little” in their name.

Also on the list this weekend are a few names that will be on the beer list at the Bash in July. These are Fixed Wheel, Green Duck, Sadlers, Track, Wharfebank, and Beer Bash Director David Shipman’s Otherton Ales. Unfortunately, none of these were available when I was there earlier. I guess it’s a good excuse to return tomorrow.

If you want to buy tickets for the Beer Bash, you can from here. You can also sign up to be one of the awesome volunteers by clicking on the volunteer link up the top and filling out the form. (525)

The Friday Pint 2015 #17 – It’s Miller Time…

It would be easy for me to write this post, complaining about the imminent takeover of the small breweries by the big boys. I could write about how the beer will suddenly change taste overnight, and won’t be as good as it used to be.

I could, but I don’t believe that will be the case.

Sure, the recipe and taste of some of Meantime’s beers may be subject to changes as those above request that money be saved to maximize profits. Even if this is the case, I doubt that many would notice the change. I certainly doubt I would.

When I first saw the news, my first thoughts weren’t of dread or disappointment. My first thoughts were of export, specifically the USA where I will soon be living, and where my London Lager loving fiancee currently lives.

Whilst the focus of the press release was expanding the brand into Europe, it wouldn’t surprise me to eventually see more exports going across the Atlantic as well. I’ve already seen a couple of Meantime beers on the World of Beer tap and bottle lists, so it’s not as if the brand will be completely new to the American shores.

This takeover could end up being a bad thing for the world of beer. It could just as easily be a good thing. Rather than make assumptions either way, I’m going to see how things pan out, and judge them after a few years.

  (290)

The Friday Pint 2015 #16 – The Second Great Birmingham Beer Bash Brewery Announcement Post.

By the time most of you lot read this, you should have already seen the latest bunch of brewery announcements made via the @birminghamcubed Twitter account. In case you missed this (and last months) announcement, here’s a round up of all of the brewerys announced since February and March.

 

Alphabet Brewing Company (@AlphabetBrewCo) – First up is a new brewery out of Manchester. A brewery so new and unfamiliar to me I had trouble researching them. It turns out it’s much easier when you know what the ABC of the logo is actually short for.

Bexar County Brewery (@BexarCountyBrew) –  Bexar County are based in Peterborough. Amongst the beers they had at last year’s Beer Bash was a Gose made with squid ink. Brewing for one of this year’s beers began this week.

Buxton Brewery (@BuxtonBrewery)  – Based in the Peak District. They produce some rather tasty beers, including the delicious Axe Edge

Fourpure Brewing Co (@FourpureBrewing) –   I sold a bunch of Fourpure cans when I was working on the bottle store at last year’s bash. Despite this, I don’t think I’ve actually tried any of their beers. I probably should do at this year’s bash.

The Kernel Brewery (@kernelbrewery) – One of the older of the London breweries, Kernel’s simple brown label branding, and no thrills naming conventions will be making a very welcome appearance at this year’s Beer Bash.

Left Handed Giant Brewing Co. (@LHGBrewingCo) – Left Handed Giant are the first brewery on this list that I have so far had no experience of at all. They are one of many breweries based in Bristol, and any information I could tell you about them would only be obtained from their website, which you can read by clicking on the link there.

Liverpool Craft Beer Co. (@craft_beers) –  The LCBCo guys will be returning to Digbeth once again. This means I can once again try their beers, and not remember a single thing about them.

Mad Hatter Brewing (@MadHatBrew) – Mad Hatter Brewing are also from Liverpool. I guess they make beer. If I’m honest, I haven’t really been keeping up recently.

Northern Monk Brew Co (@NMBCo) –  I’ve tried some of NMBCo’s beers. I quite liked them. Especially the first one. They’re from Leeds, which is up north. Unless you’re from north of Leeds of course, in which case Leeds is down south.

Offbeat Brewery (@offbeat_brewery) –  Offbeat Brewery have been at the Beer Bash before. I have also drunk their beer before. Several times. Should I say here that beers are like people. I know I’ve met them before, or the name sounds familiar. Actually, thinking about it, have we met before?

Pilot Beer (@pilotbeeruk) – Pilot are based in Leith, Scotland. I’m led to believe that Scotland is often cold and wet, mainly due to it’s lack of proximity to the equator. Countries based around the equator are often rather warm, and dry. Scotland also has whisky. Scotland wins. Also, I don’t particularly like hot weather.

Purity Brewing (@purityale) – Purity helped us get the first Beer Bash off the ground. It would be foolish of me to say anything bad about their beer, so I won’t. I actually quite like Mad Goose, though I haven’t had any in a while. Saddle Black was okay as well.

Quantum Brewing Company (@QuantumBC) – A quantum is the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction in physics. Apparently. I could be wrong. I did just copy and paste that from wikipedia.

Sadlers Ales (@sadlersales) – Have I ever mentioned that I love Mud City Stout? It’s rather quite nice you know. In fact, I’m hoping Mud City Stout isn’t one of the beers that we’ll be having as it will be difficult for me to drink anything else.

Steel City Brewing (@steelcitybrew) – Steel City are based in Sheffield. A city in the north built entirely out of steel. I may or may not have made one of the previous statements up.

Thirst Class Ale (@ThirstClassAle) – Oh hey look, it’s a funny play on words. Thirst sounds like first you see. First Class Ale means it’s really good, and a thirst is what people have when they haven’t drunk anything for a while. It’s clever see. Clever and funny. A pun. Puns are funny. I know absolutely nothing about their beer. It might be good. Who knows. Try it, or don’t. I’m not the boss of you.

Thornbridge Brewery (@Thornbridge) – I like Thornbridge. You like Thornbridge. We like Thornbridge. Thornbridge like us. It’s what comes when a company gives us beer, and we give them money for it. Capitalism makes me feel all warm and fuzzy sometimes. Wait, no, I’m confusing capitalism with beer again, and that warm and fuzzy feeling with being drunk.

Twisted Barrel Ale (@TwistBarrelAle) – Twisted Barrel come from Coventry. 2 Tone started in Coventry. There’s a museum there. Coincidentally, this year’s Beer Bash will be “the in place to be”.

Weird Beard Brew Co (@WeirdBeard_Brew) – At last. I’m done. Do you know how difficult it is to write one of these things when you know absolutely nothing about a lot of the breweries on the list. I do actually know about Weird Beard’s beers. I’ve tried them and enjoyed them. I just can’t be bothered at this point.

Anyway, here’s all of the breweries so far in a nice picture…

bashsofar

Buy Tickets

Also, if you can spare some time over the weekend, why not volunteer. There’s a ton of benefits in doing so. (339)

The Friday Pint 2015 #15 – Something something beer bash something

Another week has passed, and with it there’s now a week less in which to buy tickets, travel and accomodation to this year’s Birmingham Beer Bash. If you’ve been waiting for the advance ticket window to open before booking your train, you should be able to buy your tickets soon. That being said, it shouldn’t have stopped you from already having bought your festival tickets and accomodation.

This year I’ve been placed in charge of the volunteers, the wonderful group of hardworking people who without, we couldn’t put on the Bash. We need plenty of volunteers again this year and you can sign up here if you want to be part of a great weekend.

Next Saturday will be the 9th of May, and so I suspect there might be another round of announcements coming your way. As ever, I recommend keeping your eyes on the twitter and Facebook feeds. I’ll be doing a second big round up of all the breweries that have been announced since February and March after the announcements have gone out.

That’s it from me this week. Things are getting busier. I still have a shelf full of beer to drink at home, and not much time left to drink it. I’m sure I’ll struggle through it though. (201)

The Friday Pint 2015 #14 – Back to work again…

So, where were we? I believe the last time I wrote something here I was just about to turn 30, and my fiancee was about to come over from America. As things stand now, I am currently almost three weeks into my 31st year on this earth, and my fiancee is back in America, teaching kids music.

We had a good couple of beer and food filled weeks, with a couple of noteable beer related vists.

First up was a trip across London to Greenwich, and Meantime’s recently opened brewery tap room and shop. If all you’re after is a couple of pints of Meantime beer, you’re probably best off with either The Old Brewery or the Greenwich Union, depending on where you are in Greenwich. If you want Brewery Fresh Lager, the opportunity to buy a multitude of branded goods, and some bottles to take away, the taproom is certainly worth the walk. You can also admire all of the shiny brewing kit as well.

Over the first weekend we went up to the Midlands to visit a couple of friends. During this visit we went to Burton and Nottingham, popping into the National Brewery Museum and Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem whilst in both places.

For myself, it was the second visit to the museum. When I first visted, back in 2010, the onsite brewery was still under construction. It was nice to see everything finished. It was also nice to be able to try Bass and for it to actually taste okay. I had a pint in a pub in Bath a couple of years ago that tasted awful.

As for Ye Olde Trip, I can’t remember what I had to drink in there (it was a ruby ale, the name and brewery of which I forgot as soon as I left the bar) but I can say that the food, particularly the chips that came with my fish and chips, was very nice. The building it’s self was under some sort of construction, so unfortunately, some of my favourite parts of the pub weren’t accessible.

On the Tuesday, we met up with my brother and his wife at The Dancing Man. I can’t speak for anything else on the menu, but the Beef Rag and Bone meal was exceptionally good. It was also better than the description of braised brisket, cheese and roast potatoes. With two months having now passed since the doors opened, the venue has settled well. I’ll be writing a more detailed post on it soon.

The following weekend saw us head down to Devon for the Maltings Beer Festival. Unlike previous years (Bristol Beer Factory’s Southville Hop in 2013, and Penpont’s Chateaux Chiverac in 2014) there wasn’t really a beer that stood out for me over the three days this year. I did however, open my first bottle of Armand 4 (the autumn one). As neither my future wife, or best man enjoy sour beers, I had the hideous task of drinking the whole bottle to myself. Which I did. I fully expect I’ll be doing the same with my second and third bottles in 10 and 20 years time.

After the festival, we stopped off in Exeter on the way back for a family meal at The Fat Pig. It’s a small pub with a brewery on site, and a rather meat based menu. I liked it, and would quite like to return on a weekday to try something from their smoked menu.

As for what else happened whilst I was away, 10 more breweries for the Birmingham Beer Bash have been announced. Time is ticking if you want to get tickets, especially for Saturday. If you’ll be travelling by train to the Beer Bash, cheap advance tickets for the weekend should be going on sale soon. You should buy them so you have more money to buy beer with.

Just a suggestion.

As for this weekend, Vibrant Forest are celebrating the birthday of their first brew tomorrow with a party, including 10 beers on tap. If you’re in or around Lymington, you should make the trip down.

I’ll be back next week, with some sort of rambling. Until then, have a great weekend. (180)

The Friday Pint 2015 #13 – 10,956 days later…

This weekend (providing of course, nothing goes wrong tonight), I shall be passing that humanly significant age of 30.

Aside from the feeling that I probably should have achieved a lot more than I have done by now, 30 probably won’t be much different to 20, or 21, or 25, or even 29. Where this year will be different to recent years, is in the fact that I will actually be working on my birthday, rather than off as I usually am. After booking up holiday for my trip to Pittsburgh in February, the Maltings Festival and my fiance’s trip here this month, and my Dad’s 60th and the Birmingham Beer Bash in July, I soon found myself with not much holiday left.

As it is, I chose not to take this weekend off. Looking at how I’ll actually be getting in and out of work though, I’m starting to feel like I probably should have done. Thanks to replacement buses my usual half hour journey will be more like an hour.

Even if I was off, the Easter engineering works would have still affected whatever I would have been doing. Maybe that’s why I decided to go out yesterday, rather than today.

I decided to make my way to Siren to try out their tap room, and pick up a couple of bottles (which somehow turned into six). The journey turned out to be much easier than I was expecting. If any of you are wanting to visit Siren yourself, it’s a £6 return ticket on the number 3 bus from Reading (its probably slightly cheaper from Wokingham, if you’re coming from that direction).

The Siren tap room isn’t like most of the other tap rooms at breweries I’ve been to. My usual experience is of a purpose built room, away from the day to day operations of the brewery. At Siren, the tap room is part of the same space in which a lot of the work is done, separated only by the racks of old barrels.

Knowing where the brewery is, I’d like to go back when they have one of their special events. Given past form though, the next one will yet again be on a day when I’m working.

Three days of work left and then two weeks holiday. It’s all worth it in the end. (230)