Thursday, 29 September 2011

Scottish Beer Festival - The Salmon

Here's just a few of the cracking line-up of Scottish cask ales at The Salmon, Leicester this weekend.
A decent mix of familiar beers and beers not seen in Leicester before.

Fyne Ales - Avalanche
Tempest - Elemental Porter
Stewart - Edinburgh No.5
Harviestoun - Schiehallion
Cairngorm - Trade Winds
Cairngorm - Stout
Madcap - Autumn Madness
Strathaven - Clydesdale IPA
Kelburn - Pivo Estivo

That's about less than half of what's coming on. If you prefer cider there's 9 of them to choose from. The ciders aren't from Scotland (before you ask).

Get yourself down there.

Location:Vaughan Way,Leicester,United Kingdom

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Leicester Pubs - Swan and Rushes

This two roomed triangular boozer a short walk from the city centre has long been a favourite of mine.

One of the best kept cellars in Leicester with outstanding beer quality. Up to 9 handpulled ales including Oakham JHB, Citra and Bishop's Farewell.

Around 70 Belgian bottles including around 5 Cantillon and 30 German bottles. A handful of BrewDog and Anchor bottles too.

Orval. I should mention Orval as this place is an Ambassadeur Orval, one of only a few in the UK. The plaques are proudly displayed on the walls.

The freshly made Italian style pizzas are the perfect food for the beer here. Inexpensive at around £5.

Free Wi-Fi.

I should also mention the staff. The friendliest bunch you could meet, addressing a lot of the customers by their names. You see, this pub has a lot of regulars. With beer this good you just have to keep coming back.

19 Infirmary Square

Location:Oxford St,Leicester,United Kingdom

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Seven Facts About "Craft Beer"

1. "Craft Beer" usually only contains water, malt, hops and yeast and other ingredients if the brewer wishes to add them.

2. "Craft Beer" must be brewed in a building with a footprint no bigger than a phone booth.

3. "Craft Beer" is usually served in a pub or bar, although it can also be drank at home.

4. "Craft Beer" is drank from a glass. But you can also drink it from a Transylvanian Hunger mug or a dog bowl.

5. "Craft Beer" is not sold in supermarkets, but if you look at the beer aisle in a supermarket you will find it for sale there.

6. You will never get a hangover from "Craft Beer" unless you get a hangover from "Craft Beer".

7. I can't be arsed.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Leicester Pubs - The Font

Open since November 2010. This pub was previously a Castle Rock pub called The Gateway. I had a soft spot for The Gateway. It was conveniently on the way home. Big, bright and had air con. Then it became a bit neglected and it was of little surprise when it closed.

So what is The Font good for?
The all day breakfasts for £5.
The clothes airer with the day's newspapers draped over it.
The chips.
The food.
The free Wifi.
The friendly staff.

Now the disappointing news.
The beer selection isn't very interesting.
If you want Stella you've got it. Regular Stella, Stella 4 and Stella (cough!) Black.
Vedett Extra Blond, Staropramen.
There are a few bottles like Chimay, Kwak and Duvel. It's all a bit last decade.
You can't always guarantee there will be ale on. If there is it's usually Harvest Pale or Elsie Mo. If you're lucky there might be something by Blue Monkey. Quite often the pumpclips are turned around. No ale.

So, The Font.
It's a great looking place with great food.
Is there anything that would make me want to stay here all evening? Sadly not, but that's because the lure of another pub a couple of streets away is too strong. I'd rather spend £3 on a fresh pint of Oakham Citra or a bottle of Orval than any of the beers available here.

It's the food that keeps making me go back to The Font.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Leicester Pubs - The Salmon

The Salmon is doing things differently in Leicester.
It's sourcing beers that other pubs haven't served.

I can understand the reasons behind LocAle but it can make pubs a bit predictable and samey.

When you go into The Salmon you will find beers by Marble, Raw, The Brew Company, Great Heck, Muirhouse, Newby Wyke...
It's this line-up of beers that's making me go back.

A Scottish beer festival runs from 29 September to 2 October with beers from breweries including Fyne Ales, Tempest, Williams Bros, Arran and about 15 others. For many of the breweries it's the first time their beers have been in this city.

The Salmon is tucked away on Butt Close Lane between the Highcross shopping centre and the St. Margaret's bus station.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Secret Beer Festival

Derbyshire. Arguably one of the best counties for beer, with an almost countless number of breweries.

Last week saw the Derbyshire Brewers' Collective festival at the Assembly Rooms in Derby, and a chance to try some of their great beers and local ciders.

It was a little disappointing Buxton weren't there but Black Iris Iron Gate stout (strong, roasty and dry), Ashover Hydro (pale juicy fruit) and Thornbridge Kill Your Darlings (kegged amber Vienna style lager) were superb.

The venue could have been busier. If there's going to be a showcase for all this excellent beer people need to know about it. The festival wasn't even listed on the DBC website.

There were a load of beers to look out for in future.
See the DBC website for links to all the breweries.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Oakham Ales Festival

"Ten Oakham Ales in The Crown in Treacle Town." I thought I heard someone sing.

I'm in Nuneaton, Warks.
The Crown have decided to put 10 Oakham Ales on at the same time.

From JHB to Black Baron via Cluster, Musashi, Haka, Attila, Dreamcatcher and others.

The Pacific Gem and Nelson Sauvin hopped Haka is a gorgeous as it ever was. Musashi cool and refreshing but lacking in that typical Oakham tongue-ripping zesty hop flavour.

The main reason I'm here is for Black Baron.
Oakham are well known for their pale ales but when they brew a dark beer they can really impress.

Black Baron is 8.8% of roasty toasty black beer with a massive bitter finish. It's similar to Stone Brewing Sublimely Self-Righteous.
Maybe it's time Oakham bottled this beer so more people have a chance of getting to taste it.

The Crown is a two minute walk from Nuneaton railway station on Bond Street. Get there before this lot run out.

Location:Bracebridge St,Nuneaton,United Kingdom

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Church End Brewery Tap...

... and The Horseshoes.

Get the train to Nuneaton.
Go to the bus station.
Catch the number 41 bus to Ridge Lane.
Walk through a driveway between a row of terraced houses.
See this...

Go to the bar and order The Coffin.
The Coffin is 8 third pints of Church End beer.
Drink the beers then move onto pints. Vicar's Ruin, Goat's Milk, Fallen Angel being particularly good.

Eat a Stilton and broccoli pasty.

Try not to look at the naff posters in the bar and the toilet. Because Church End beers are great. Why print these posters that do the brewery no favours?

Catch a bus named after Larry Grayson. Get off the bus at The Horseshoes.
The Horseshoes is a tap for the Tunnel Brewery.
Drink Tunnel Brewery Munich style lager (kegged). Nod to yourself, it's OK. You've had better, but it's OK.
Tell yourself you will come back to this pub.

Catch a bus back into Nuneaton.
Go into the Lloyd's pub there because it's called William White (Larry Grayson's real name).
Look at photos of Larry adorning the walls whilst drinking sour pints and filthy lout.

Eat crinkle cut chips purchased from Wale's chip shop.
Get train home.

Church End Brewery Tap
Ridge Lane
CV10 0RD

The Horseshoes
Heath End Road
CV10 7JQ

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Dog and Gun, Syston

I recently popped over to Syston to check out the refurbished Dog and Gun. The latest addition to the Steamin' Billy empire.

Let's just check;
The Cow and Plough, Oadby
The Paget Arms, Loughborough
The Western, Leicester
The Steam Trumpet, Thornton
and Time, Leicester (although it doesn't carry any Steamin' Billy branding).

One of the first things that strikes me when I walk in one of these pubs is the breweriana hanging on all the walls. This seemed a bit more toned down in the Dog and Gun, but there's already that traditional boozer feel about the place. With enough Jack Russells on the doors and windows to remind you of where you're drinking.

Eight ales including two or three Steamin' Billy and guests by Adnams, Grainstore and Derventio on this visit. The keg stuff included Blanche De Bruxelles and the delicious Brooklyn Lager.

Steamin' Billy beers are now contract brewed by Grainstore.
The ones I drank on this visit tasted completely different to the ones previously brewed by Tower of Burton upon Trent.
I reckon the 3.6% Tipsy Fisherman had improved. It isn't as sweet. A much drier finish and as a session beer I could easily get through more now it isn't as cloying. I wish I could say the same of the 5% Skydiver. This used to be a ruby coloured strong ale. Grainy, satisfying. Now it is sickly sweet and the colour almost like Bass.

I didn't order any food but the menu ticked all the right boxes for me.
Cobs, Ploughman's lunches and pork pies. Simple. The kind of food not enough pubs sell.

The staff were all friendly and seemed to be enjoying themselves, pulling pints and playing air guitar to November Rain.

The Dog and Gun is about a five minute walk from Syston railway station.

Dog and Gun, Chapel Street, Syston, Leicester LE7 1GN

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Wood Farm Brewery Tap

Brewery Taps. Should be more of them. It's often the best way to taste the brewery's beer, you're not going to find fresher.

The beers brewed here used to be a regular feature at The Criterion, Leicester. A pub that does no brewery any favours, with many beers served flat and tasting of cardboard.

Woodfarm Brewery then, a 15 mile ride through winding lanes in south west Leicestershire and over the border into Warwickshire. As far as I'm aware there is no means of getting here by public transport.

After many stops to check my map I eventually found the place. Although there's been a brewery here for several years the tap only opened Spring 2011. It was looking brand-spanking new and very busy.

Aware of the cycle back I chose the fairly low abv Wood Farm Best Bitter at 4.2%. A pleasant enough golden beer with enough hops, it slaked this cyclist's thirst.

It seems a lot of folk drive here for the food too. Like an idiot I didn't check the menu. Next time I visit I'll time my arrival for lunchtime. Lots of tables inside and picnic benches outside.

They had two pint carry out cartons on this visit but I'd taken a stronger two pint Growler to survive the bumpy return journey in a bike pannier.

Wood Farm Brewery
Coal Pit Lane

Monday, 5 September 2011

Scurf And Turf

Peterborough Beer Festival 2011

Peterborough. Twice a year. On the way back from Straw Bear each January and the CAMRA beer festival each August (for more years than I care to remember).

All I remember of the first year I was there was I bought a pair of Oakham Ales Wellington boots. Or was that the second year? The things you buy after a belly full of ale.

Most years I've missed the mudbath. Usually get sunburnt. Or stung by wasps. One year a few of us camped a couple of miles up the road and spent all day Friday and all day Saturday there, staggering back to the tents in the dark. What a rotten Sunday we had.

The first time I drank Punk IPA was at this festival in 2007, so there's always something special to find here.

2011 then.
Slight change to the familiar layout but still spread through three giant marquees with the beers in alphabetical order by brewery name.

Always head to the Oakham bar and get their festival special then check out what beers haven't run out.

So many great beers here this year.

Magic Rock Dark Arts
Thornbridge Geminus
Blue Monkey Big Blue
Flowerpots IPA
Summer Wine Zenith
Newby Wyke Orsino

And quite a few more I can't remember. Most of the beers I drank were over 6% abv. I'm looking forward to the day Peterborough CAMRA start using third pint measures.

Finally got a pint of Oakham Ales Scarlet Macaw and it was damn good.

I do enjoy Peterborough beer festival. It's my favourite for cask ale. GBBF just beats it because of the Bierès Sans Frontières bar. Nottingham is a close third.
Peterborough has lots of space and a relaxed vibe.

Pubs only a short walk from the festival worth a look are The Coalheavers Arms, Palmerston Arms and Charters. If you're travelling by rail Oakham Ales Brewery Tap are a short stroll from the station.

Maybe the second half of Geminus and second half of Dreamcatcher weren't such a good idea though.