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. (48)

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. (57)

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. (118)

The Friday Pint 2015 #11 and #12

So, I missed a week.

I’ll try not to do it again, though given how busy my life is likely to be in the upcoming months, I wouldn’t be surprised if I miss a few more weeks.

In terms of beer, last week didn’t really give me much to talk about. I had a few pints at Spoons, but nothing special enough to spend a small part of my Friday talking about.

If I’m honest, without a subject or influence, writing this post each week isn’t easy. Which is, I suppose, the point. I’m supposed to take this, and find something to write about.

I could write about the future. My friend, and soon to be Best Man, turns 30 today. Tomorrow we shall be drinking a few pints to celebrate. In just over a week, it will be my turn to turn 30. As I’ll be working, my celebrations will not be until the Maltings Festival, two weeks later.

I could also write about my upcoming marriage. The time between now and it seems to be shortening rather quickly, and there’s still a lot that needs to be done. I recently did asked around for some quotes to send my possessions over to America. It will be just over £1000 for 55 cubic feet of my stuff, which I won’t see for another 8 weeks.

It’s a situation that prompts the question, what should I keep? There are somethings that are obvious. Photographs, sentimental items that can’t be replaced, and souvenirs of one off events seem obvious.

When it comes to my music, film and TV, and book collection,  I will most likely have to sell or give some of it away. In fact, I already have been taking some of it to exchange shops or charity shops, depending on how much I can get for them. There are some things which will be automatically making it across the ocean. My Manics and They Might Be Giants collections for example. Also, any other records that mean something to me, or I think any future children I have to look after should hear.

As for my beer collection, which still takes up two shelves in my old bedroom back in Southampton, what is left will be staying. There are a few bottles which I will be keeping back for special occasions in the future, but the majority of it will be drunk before I leave. Given the quality and age of some of the beers I have left, it should be a good few months.

So, that is part of the future for me. There are also the small matters of my Dad’s 60th birthday, and the third Birmingham Beer Bash, in July. More on that at a later time.

I will be back next week, I promise.

Until then, have a great weekend. (115)

The Friday Pint 2015 #10 – The Big Birmingham Beer Bash Brewery Announcement Round Up Bonanza!

Hello Drinkers.

Earlier this week, on the 9th of March, a further nine breweries were added to the list of breweries attending this year’s Birmingham Beer Bash. This is in addition to the nine that were announced a month before on the 9th of February. For those of you who failed basic mathematics at school, this brings the grand total of breweries announced so far to 18.

Some of you may have spotted some sort of pattern forming there, and wondered if there might be a further announcement of another nine breweries to come on the 9th April. The best way of finding out if there is or not, is to follow the @birminghamcubed twitter feed.

If the list below wets your appetite, tickets are now on sale from here. Birmingham Beer Bash runs for four sessions (afternoon and evening) on the 24th and 25th July 2015.

Now, without further ado, and in alphabetical order, the breweries:

Note: The brewery name will link to the brewery’s website where available. Otherwise, it will link to the best available source of information for that brewery.

Atom Beers (@atombeers) – Atom Beers are based in Hull, and have been brewing since January 2014. They have eight beers in their core range. The brewery has a focus on the scientific element of brewing.

Black Iris Brewery (@BlackIrisBrewer) – Black Iris Brewery are based in Nottingham, and from the looks of the photos on their Facebook page, have recently upgraded to some shiny new brewkit.

Blackjack Brewery (@blackjackbeers) – Blackjack Brewery have been around since 2012. 2015 will once again see their beers make the trip from Manchester to Birmingham.

Burning Sky Brewery (@burningskybeer) – Another brewery returning to Digbeth. Burning Sky Brewery is based in Sussex and was established in 2013 by former Dark Star brewer, Mark Tranter.

Chorlton Brewing Co (@ChorltonBrew) – Chorlton Brewing Company are based in Ardwick, due to a lack of suitable spaces in Chorlton. They have a focus on sour beers to “expand the possibilities of what’s possible” using the four main ingredients. The beer list on their website includes an Amarillo Sour. I’m sold.

Cloudwater Brew Co (@cloudwaterbrew) – Another Manchester based brewery (Is there something in the water up north?). Their Brewery Tap launches on my birthday (4th April 2015). Unfortunately, I’ll be working. There’s a bunch of launch dates coming up around the country over the next week or so. Check out their events page for more details.

Five-Oh Brew Co (@Five_Oh_Brew_Co) – Time for a fourth brewery from the home of Corrie, The Smiths, and (so I’ve learned today) the oldest public library in the English speaking world. I can’t say what their beer is like myself, but I trust the judgement of those members of the team in charge of bringing the beer in. The @birminghamcubed tweet announcing Five-Oh’s addition to the list used the phrase “Hop Perversion”. I think that will draw in many people.

Fixed Wheel Brewery (@FixedWheelBrew) – Fixed Wheel are a new brewery based in the Black Country. One of many breweries from the local area that will be making their way to the Beer Bash this year.

Freedom Brewery (@FreedomBrewery) – Staffordshire’s Freedom Brewery return yet again to the Beer Bash. It was thanks in part to sponsorship from Freedom that we were able to put on the first Beer Bash two years ago. It’s a pleasure to welcome them back yet again.

Green Duck Brewery (@greenduckbrew) – Another Midland’s brewery, this time based in Stourbridge. Green Duck are another brewery making a welcome return to Digbeth.

Mad Dog Brewing Co (@MadDogBrewCo) – Mad Dog will be making their way to the Bash from sunny South Wales. The brewery was set up in September of last year, and started selling in October.

Magic Rock Brewing (@MagicRockBrewCo) – A name that will be familiar to attendees of previous Beer Bashes, and to followers of the British beer scene in general. Magic Rock were pretty much an instant success upon their debut and they continue to build upon that today.

Otherton Ales (@OthertonAleman) – Otherton Ales is the brewery of Beer Bash head honcho David Shipman. Those of you local to the area may have already seen some of David’s beers on the bar. As for me, I’m looking forward to being able to try some on cask, having enjoyed the bottles I’ve had.

Runaway Brewery (@runawaybrewery) – Runaway are another brewery who will be joining us from Manchester. It’s almost like Manchester doesn’t have it’s own craft beer festival. (They do. I hear it’s rather good. It takes place in October, which should give you time to recover from the Beer Bash in July)

Sacre Brew (@SacreBrew) – I got to try a couple of Sacre Brew’s beers during and after last year’s Beer Bash. I rather enjoyed what I tried, and even ended up pimping the bottles we had on the bottle bar. I’m looking forward to trying more from the Wolverhampton based brewery this year.

Siren Craft Brew (@SirenCraftBrew) – Berkshire based Siren are another brewery who, like Magic Rock before them, have quickly established themselves as a respected leader of the industry. At last years Beer Bash we had a cask of the rather delicious Odyssey 01. I’m sure there will be something just as good this year too.

Track Brewing Co (@trackbrewco) – Track Brewing are yet another new name to the British (and as it goes, Manchester) brewing scene. They began brewing late last year.

Wharfe Bank Brewery (@Wharfebank) – Wharfe Bank have been brewing since 2010 in Otley, West Yorkshire. I have had at least one beer from Wharfe Bank. It was a lager that didn’t particularly take my fancy at a pub’s beer festival late last year. Not being one to judge on just one beer from a brewery’s range, I shall be seeing what they have to offer in July.

That’s your lot for now. 18 breweries, and still at least four months between now and the festival. That’s not to say you shouldn’t book your tickets, and hotel and trains as soon as you can though. After all, the more money you can save by booking early, the more you can spend on beer when you’re actually at the festival. (208)

The Friday Pint 2015 #9 – Beers That William Bought Me

Whilst I was on my recent visit to America, my good friend, Will Roesch, gave me three bottles of beer he picked up on a recent visit to Missoula, Montana. The three beers all came from the Big Sky Brewing Company. I took the bottles home with me, and shared them with my dad.

The first, Moose Drool Brown Ale, wasn’t undrinkable, but then again, it wasn’t great either. There was too much carbonation for my liking, with the number of bubbles feeling like hundreds of tiny pin needles on the mouth.

The second beer, a 6.2% IPA, was more to my liking. In my notes for the beer, I wrote down the word “pine”. Unfortunately, I neglected to note down whether this is in relation to the aroma, or the taste. From the fact that I also wrote down “not enough flavour for me”, I’m going to assume it was the aroma that reminded me of pine.

The third and last beer was probably a lost cause for me from the start, given the fact that I don’t like coffee. It was Camp Robber Coffee Porter. The aroma of coffee on the beer was rather strong, as was the taste of coffee within it. I do have it on good authority from those who actually like coffee, that this beer was quite nice.

Whilst none of the beers really made me want to drink more of them, I thank Will for giving me the chance to try them. If he wants to pick me up more from somewhere else on his travels, I certainly won’t turn down the chance to try those. (242)

The Friday Pint 2015 #8 – Beer In the USA Part 3

By the time you read this on Friday, I will have been back in the UK for a couple of days. As it is, for me writing this post, I have only been back for a matter of hours.

Thankfully, all of the bottles I brought back made it intact, including the three purchased for me by my good friend Will on a recent trip to Montana. I’ll be talking about these in a future post.

Friday night saw us head to the convention center in Pittsburgh for the Pittsburgh Winter Beer Festival. The geek that I am copied the 95% beer list that had been made available on the website, and stored it in an excel spreadsheet I could access on my phone. This helped a lot in trying most of the beers I wanted to try.

One thing that would have been nice, and that we probably missed, is some maps or floor plans. Alternatively, sticking the breweries in alphabetical order. Much of the evening was spent hunting for the beers I wanted to try (or in certain cases, try again).

The weekend took us out to Columbus, where on the Saturday night we celebrated Will’s birthday, and also his engagement to his fiancee at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. I started with a pint of their pale ale, which was a pleasant companion to the food. They offered flights of four 5oz glasses, so I took advantage of this to try their IPA, DIPA, Porter and Imperial Stout. If I’m honest, first impressions of those four weren’t overly great. If I was going to consider trying one again soon, it would be the IPA.

Sunday was the turn of Fado’s and World of Beer in Easton. Fado’s is a chain of Irish pubs, that does rather nice food (at least, the Columbus one does). We went there so I could watch the Southampton vs Liverpool game and my fiancee could meet up with some of the people she went to College with. Saints lost to a rather good goal and we ended up staying at Fado’s much longer than expected.

Eventually though we made it to World of Beer. I like World of Beer. I usually end up drinking flights (4 5oz glasses for $10) and still rarely drink all that I’d like to each time I visit. Whilst I’d quite like there to be a World of Beer nearer the Pittsburgh area, I also think the absence of one would be good for my wallet.

So, that has been my visit to America, my last before I move out there to get married. I should probably get working on that… (187)

The Road To The Wool House #5 – First Impressions

Last night I was able to attend the second preview evening for The Wool House before this evening’s grand opening. For those of you who will be reading this beforehand, the ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for 18:00.

Upon entering the building, one of the first things I noticed was the music playing. It was the same style of blues music you will hear playing in The Platform Tavern if you visit there. As Aidan said when I mentioned the similarity, their taste in music isn’t going to change.

In terms of the bars, there are 8 cask taps downstairs, and four upstairs. With the exception of Last Waltz and Congo Driftwood, the full core range was represented, alongside First Dance (the first brew on the new kit) and Sea City Gold (the beer brewed to celebrate Southampton’s 50th year as a city in 2014).

As well as the additions of many tables and chairs, one thing that has been improved since I was last in the building is the lighting. It makes a big difference too. In a previous post in this series, I said that The Wool House felt smaller than The Platform. Now that the tables and chairs are in, and the lighting has been improved, that clearly isn’t the case.

Some of the walls have had framed pictures put on them, with many of the images relating to the Titanic. Next to the Timber Jib Frame, stands a metal robot. Looking at the photo that I took last night, I wonder if it is supposed to be dancing. On the opposite side of the building, near the entrance to the brewery itself, is a smaller metal robot. These additions could easily feel out of place, yet in a way, they add to the industrial feel of the building.

I’m going back tonight for the proper opening, I’m expecting it will get busy. These are only my first impressions. Whilst I enjoyed the beer, I’ve chosen not to say anything about it. In a couple of months time, once everything has settled, I’ll come back to do a more detailed post. For now though, I’m going to celebrate that the new place is finally here, and drink a lot of beer.

(179)

The Road To The Wool House 4a – First Dance

I am currently sat in The Platform Tavern, drinking my first pint of beer since returning from America. It’s rather warm here in comparison, and a lot less white.

The beer I am drinking just so happens to be First Dance, the first beer brewed on the new brew kit installed in The Wool House. This would probably be a good time to remind you that The Wool House opens this Friday (27th February).

To me, it’s a rather enjoyable and quaffable ale. In fact, I’d probably spend whole afternoons drinking it. As it is, I can’t really spend all afternoon in here drinking it. I have things to do.

If you’re going to be in Southampton this weekend, don’t forget that The Butchers Hook are celebrating their first birthday with a lineup of Magic Rock beers. They’re open from 6pm tonight, and I’d bet that a few of the casks and kegs will run out before the weekend. (162)

The Friday Pint 2015 #7 – Beer In The USA #2

As I write, I am still in the USA, feeling significantly better than I was this time last week. Tonight I shall be going to the Pittsburgh Winter Beer Festival, and will probably write about this in some form in the near future.

My beer drinking this week has been somewhat thwarted by the weather. We’ve had a fair bit of snow, and temperatures have been below freezing most of the time I’ve been here. Wind chill has even had the temperatures go significantly below 0F.

Despite all this, I have enjoyed some good beers this week, such as Great Lakes Blackout Stout, Dogfish Head’s Olde School Barleywine, and Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA. I have also been consuming a few bottles of Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA, and Lagunitas Maximus.

Yesterday evening, we went out to two recently opened local breweries. Hitchhiker Brewing in Mount Lebanon, and Spoonwood Brewery in Bethel Park.

The bar at Hitchhiker is the smaller of the two, with the focus clearly on the beer. A small choice of food is available, including boards of local cheeses and meats, pretzels, nuts, and locally made jerky. I got a flight of three 8oz beers for $12. The beers included a kolsch, an amber, and a stout. Of those three, the amber was the beer that drew the most negative reaction. We ended up leaving with a 32oz growler of the kolsch, and made our way to Spoonwood.

Spoonwood Brewery is the newer of the two establishments, opening up to the public a few weeks ago. It’s much bigger than Hitchhiker, with more tables, and a bigger selection of food. One good thing about Spoonwood, is the fact they offered a sample size (5oz) glass for $2 (for most beers). This enabled me to try many more beers than I would have otherwise been able to if I was stuck to drinking 16oz pints.

Unfortunately, they only had 64oz growlers, which was too much for me, considering I won’t get much time to drink the beer until after the weekend. If I could have got a 32oz fill, I would have gone for the imperial porter. It’s that sort of weather.

On the way back, we stopped off in the store, and once again I looked in the beer section. To my excitement, I found they had bottles of Southern Tier’s Creme Brule. It’s also on at the festival tonight. I think I’ll try to finish with it.

Next week I’ll be back in the UK, and next Friday night I’ll be in Southampton, either at The Butchers Hook, or at The Wool House. If you’re not busy, you should come down yourself. Until then though, have a great weekend. (144)