12 September 2015

Pilot Beer Tap Takeover @Brewdog Manchester

After recently taking over the taps at their nearby Edinburgh branch, Brewdog Manchester will be the next stop for the innovative Leith-based Pilot Beer.

Famed for big flavours and experimental combinations - one such Pilot special collab with Edinburgh pub Holyrood 9A is blessed 'Bramble Crumble' and has blackberries, cinnamon, apples and oats (but no custard) - Pilot was founded in 2013 by two Heriot-Watt students who just happened to be studying for a masters degree in brewing. Their story is about graft, draft and craft all the way.

The Pilot Beer tap takeover at Brewdog Manchester in Peter Street takes place on Thursday 17th September where you'll get a chance to sample some core beers and maybe a special or two with the brewers themselves. Note that all but one of their beers are vegan - they don't use finings - so expect hazy beers and big flavours.

11 September 2015

Brodie's Tap Takeover @ Bottle Shop Bermondsey

Once again The Bottle Shop in Bermondsey's SE1 is to hold a tap takeover featuring a renowned brewer, this time from East London.

Brodie's is based next to the King William IV pub in Leyton and is famous for its traditional but contemporary range of flavoursome beers and the annual Bunny Basher beer fest. Beers typically include Citra, Kiwi, Soho Superior IPA, Hoxton Special IPA and Simcoe For Breakfast.

The East Londoners plan to bring ten kegs, seven bottles, one cask and one James Brodie to the Druid Street taphouse on Saturday 10th October for a tasting session and meet and greet with the brewer himself.

The Bottle Shop will open from 10am until 7pm - admittance free. Nearest tube, Bermondsey (Jubilee Line).

Arbor Ales Tap Takeover @UBREW Bermondsey

On Saturday 12th September, UBREW will hand the pumps over to acclaimed brewer Arbor Ales from Bristol's Lawrence Hill district.

Famed for cunningly-titled beers such as Why Kick a Moo Cow, Breakfast Stout, Crack Hops and the notorious Bomb series, Arbor's reputation for frequent high-scoring on Ratebeer should attract a decent showing at the brewing behemoth's HQ in Old Jamaica Road, just off the Bermondsey Beer Mile.

Entry for the session is free but you'll need to register for tickets here

7 September 2015

Brew By Numbers Tap Takeover @ Brewdog Manchester

Manchester's Indy Man Beer Con in early October is already pretty much sold out but that hasn't stopped the city's Brewdog bar from hosting its own special event.

To coincide with Manchester's biggest independent brewing event, which runs from Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th October (and almost sold out), Brewdog in Peter Street will be handing over their coveted taps to London's cherished Brew By Numbers. Famed for their intricate numbering system, BBNo have something of the Factory Records about them.

Being the home of the now-defunct label's zany catalogue numbering system (and priceless product) and as host to BBNo's trademark numeric categorising of its recipes and styles (and priceless product), Manchester makes an ideal spot for some serious tasting and geeky beer annotation.

You will find Brew by Numbers at Brewdog Manchester on 9th October and admission is free. The nearest tram-stop is St Peters Square, timetables here

If you can't make it to Manchester, head to BBNo's Enid Street tap on Bermondsey's Beer Mile every Saturday - details here

5 September 2015

Haslemere Beer Festival 2015 Review

Situated on the cusp of three counties just inside the Surrey border, Haslemere is very much a comfortable wine-drinking, prosecco-worshipping sort of town, which makes witnessing another sell-out crowd at its ninth beer festival all the more refreshing.

Every year during the first few weeks of September, the community gets involved in the Haslemere Food Festival of which this convivial two-day gathering in Haslemere Hall forms a part of.

Pleasingly hipster-free and probably a little more traditional and locally-themed than most, Haslemere Beer Festival 2015 (Friday night session) boasted a choice of over 40 beers and 10 ciders/perries from predominantly local producers, all purchasable using a token system (around £2 per half). The organizers gave out proper pint-glasses emblazoned with the HBF logo and summarised tasting notes, plus live music and a raffle that, in the haze of a drunken hour, seemed to be largely ignored by the discerning punters. Well, the beer was the main reason for attending after all. There was even a downloadable app which was fun for geeks hell-bent on awarding beers gold stars, us included.

Brewers this year included stalwarts Dark Star, Ballards, Frensham, Langham and the like, plus a smattering of lesser-known producers such as Hoptimists, Hedgedog Brewing, Sherfield Village Brewery and Hop Art. Curiously, no sign of Hog's Back this year. Traditional though the festival is, there is normally a handful of beers sporting a hybrid of hops, spices, flavourings and processes designed to tantalise the tastebuds, but you won't find a hickory-smoked gooseberry APA here (thankfully).

This year didn't disappoint.

Here's our magnificent seven Friday night highlights:

  1. Rood (4.4%) (pronounced 'ROWT') by Hop Art. 'Belgian' style. Far and away the most flavoursome, nutty, malty and downright enjoyable of our choices. And the first of the evening, which may have had something to do with it. It looked great in the glass and smelt and tasted like a serious beer. Not sure about the 'Belgian' tag but a pretty decent beer to start off with.
  2. Flummadiddle (4.5%) by Jay. My partner's choice of the night excelled itself in being both malty and sweet. Produced by the festival's cellarman Jay, using Golding hops and a healthy dose of Madagascan Bourbon vanilla, it reminded me of butterscotch Angel Delight crossed with Mackeson's stout on its way to a biscuit factory. I hate butterscotch. We loved Flummadiddle though. The same man produced a highlight of 2014's festival - he named it Jay's Fluid. Brilliant.
  3. Ebony Mild (3.5%) by Goldmark. Another good all-rounder that had a slightly Marmite bite to its finish but sweet enough to keep us going back for more. Milds are under-represented in the south. More please.
  4. Citra Sonic (4.1%) by Triple fff. This was my second choice of the evening and quite a complex yet refreshing drop. Not over-hopped, nor over carbonated, Citra Sonic was grapefruit, melon and hops entwined in beery matrimony that delighted with every mouthful. Take a bow, Triple fff.
  5. Golden Dawn (3.8%) by Hoptimists. I had previously spoken to one of the producers about this beer before the festival. He reckoned it was probably not their best out of the their three regular brews but, I tell you what, I was suitably surprised and impressed. The predominant aftertaste was plums. Should it have been? If not, it's a lucky accident they ought to repeat and will be perfect for autumn. 
  6. Boltmaker (4.0%) by Timothy Taylors. We've probably all imbibed a pint or two of Landlord over the years so it made a change to sample a different brew from the Taylors empire. Earnest best bitter created with Yorkshire at its heart, robust malts and a punch packed with flavour. Deservedly awarded 2014 CAMRA Supreme Champion Beer of Great Britain.
  7. Brew 20 - Kaffir Lime Wheat Beer (3.8%) by Rudgate. A citrus beer that wasn't overly sharp or limey but very much part of the 'refreshing brigade'. Probably a good brew to start a session with. And end it with. York-based Rudgate's other numbered beers include a maple, an elderflower and an espresso porter. 
It would be Rood not to
Other commendable efforts were Oatmeal Stout (5.0%) by Peerless (lovely flavour but I wouldn't describe it as 'full-bodied' - it needed more oomph), Citra (4.0%) by Hop Back (delicious admirable blonde but not hoppy enough for me) and Saison (3.9%) by Langham (a favourite of mine but my partner wrinkled a nose in its direction). 

2015's well-attended Haslemere Beer Festival was another success but, and this is just a small suggestion, a small selection of bottled beers, both local, national or even international, might add another dimension to the experience in 2016. It'll be a tenth festival worth celebrating.

The festival typically runs during the first weekend in September and is priced from around £6.

Haslemere Hall - music, conversation and lots of beer. And indoors.

4 September 2015

Wild Beer at Jessop House Cheltenham

Not so much a tap takeover as a permanent residency. The acclaimed Somerset-based Wild Beer Co have moved into the drinking and dining game with the announcement of their latest venture, a restaurant!

Utilising their range of beers, the Cheltenham-based establishment will occupy two floors of Jessop House in the town centre offering a unique dining experience centred on local seasonal food and a range of hot and cold drinks from around the world, including a selection of exclusive bloody marys and their own enticing brews on tap.

The Wild Beer Co restaurant opens in Cambray Place at 10am on September 13th.

In addition, US brewers Firestone Walker will be joining their Wild Beer friends for the launch of a new collaborative beer on September 18th. Reason enough to take full advantage of the 20 newly-installed beer taps.

31 August 2015

G2 Brewing Tap Takeover @ The Taprooms, Islington

Founded in 2014 and named after the Sun and its influence on the ingredients used in its beery creations (it's also a class star, dontcha know), Kent-based brewery G2 will be temporarily heading out of the sun-kissed Garden of England to North London for a tap takeover.

On Thursday 10th September, The Taproom in Islington will be loaning out its back bar stillage to G2 Brewery so that you can imbibe their range of beers, likely to include their Otava IPA, Vela Blonde and Crux Premium.

Doors open at 4pm, entry is free (the beer isn't, sadly) and you're advised to turn up in good time to ensure availability.

Nearest tube is Highbury & Islington (or Angel) with Great Northern's Essex Road station just ten minutes walk.