Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Keighley & WV Railways Beer & Music Festival 2008



Right - another weekend, another Beer Festival. Love them or hate them, you at least get a chance to try as many beers as possible in a short space of time. Why a short space of time? Because once there, you kind of want to leave....

Anyway - it's not about the people there, it's about the beer. And that's why I love beer festivals - because I am like a child in a sweet shop. Still. At my age.



This one, an annual event, but one that includes a pleasant ride on a steam train on the beautiful Keighley & Worth Valley railway, is one of the better ones. I did plan to have a pint of Taylor's on the ride but to be honest, the tiny beer carriages were rammed. No bother - ten minutes later and we're in Beervana.


The Oxenhope tramshed the festival is held in makes a nice change - the hulking steam trains make an interesting backdrop to boozing. The blues and jazz bands playing make a pleasant sound - although not particularly conducive to conversation - and the beer selection is excellent. In fact, my quest to finally taste Thornbridge's Jaipur IPA ended here. And boy, am I glad it did. An excellent beer; sweet as hell to start and then drying out to pucker the lips and deliver that grassy, hoppy bitterness true of a true IPA. I know it's jaded now, almost a year after notoriety, but I loved this. Gimme more.


Dark Star's Hophead impressed, as did Mallinson's Conkered - a rich, malty mild that certainly hit the spot. Oakham's JHB followed much the same style - very nice indeed. Second only to the Jaipur, Salopian's excellent Oracle deserves a mention. Flowery hops and a crisp, pale profile really stripped the palate back and refreshed after a couple of milds. Good work - one brewery I'll be keeping an eye out for.


Looking around, I noticed the breadth of beers showing at this weekend jaunt. Goose Eye's Bronte gained a thumbs-up from our drinking party, as did O'Hanlan's Port Stout - which admittedly looked delicious. I had my eye on a few beers which I didn't get to try; Triple FFF had their (surely prohibitively?) named Pressed Rat & Warthog going great guns, Milestone were pouring a raspberry wheat beer, and Durham had a massive selection, including one of my faves, their Amarillo. Greenfield also deserve a mention for seemingly (in my head, at least) naming a beer after my current fave Leeds Utd player - Delph Donkey (What next? Beckford's Best? Becchio Bitter? Ankegren Ale?) - add to this a decent bottle bar and - most importantly - Roast Pork Sandwiches - and you've got one pleasant Saturday's drinking.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hawkshead Red


...I'm carrying on in this mild/autumn beer feel that I've been into recently by enjoying a few pints of Hawkshead Red. Hawkshead are a brewery of whose beers I've been a fan of for some time - much like other 'go to's' like Naylors, Wylam and Taylors, Hawkshead are consistent; consistently good - and the Red is no exception. Juicy malt, a red-fruit body and a high hoppiness at the end of the sip make this an excellent session beer, and it's ruby colour invites pint after pint...lovely. I thought it tasted a little like Fuller's ESB, but that's just me.
I enjoyed this beer most recently in The Narrow Boat in Skipton, a Market Town Tavern that always is a pleasure to drink in. In fact, just as I was draining my first pint, the pub was besieged by about 100 morris dancers, who all bought their pints in a very polite fashion and decamped to the back room, where the guitars were pulled out, the drums beaten and the singing began. And that's what a lazy lunchtime in darkest Yorkshire drinking Hawkshead Red amounts to!! More of the same, barman.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chocolate Brownies and Leeds' Midnight Bell


Everyone loves brownies, and they are deceptively easy to make – everyone has their own version. Just make sure the butter is at room temperature – otherwise you won’t be able to mix it. As for the Cherries and Nuts, use as much as you like. And they are amazing with a good, tasty mild or porter.

Chocolate, Cherry and Brazil Nut Brownies
You will need:
250g Butter
250g Dark Chocolate – at least 70% cocoa solids
300g Golden Caster Sugar
60g Plain Flour
65g Good Cocoa Powder
Half a teaspoon of baking powder
Eggs – 3, plus an extra yolk, beaten together.
About 20 glace cherries, chopped
10 Large Brazils, chopped.

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180c, and grease and line the bottom of a baking tin with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together well, set aside.
3. Smash your chocolate into chunks and put ¾ or it into a bowl over some simmering water. Gradually this will melt. As soon as it is melted, remove from the heat.
4. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add to this your beaten eggs gradually, and when you have a good paste, you can add the melted chocolate and chocolate pieces.
5. Add the nuts and cherries, and then combine the mixture with your sugar and butter.
6. Dollop the mixture into the tin, and bake for 30-40 minutes. The edges will slightly come away, but the middle will be softer. It’s ready when a skewer put through the middle comes away cleanly.
7. Leave to cool – at least a couple of hours - before slicing.

When enjoyed with the beer, the brownie accentuates the chocolate and roast-nuttiness of the brownies – why not add a little coffee and try that with a smoked porter? Chocolate and Beer – two of life’s pleasures in one hit.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Midweek: Cairngorm's Autumn Nuts


The midweek's a little late posting this week, apologies! I've kept an eye out for Cairngorm's stuff recently; so when a seasonal brew appeared at The Palace midweek I couldn't resist. I really love this time of year; I've a real soft spot for milds and the like, and now they are starting to pop up as often as the leaves on the trees turn brown and drop.

Autumn Nuts (3.8%) tastes exactly how you'd imagine with that name - malty, a slight toasted malt body and a smooth, smooth mouthfeel with a slight hint of red fruit lingering in there. Ruby in colour, it's a lovely pint - although a little more warming alcohol wouldn't have gone amiss. Good work, Cairngorm.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Oktoberfest @ North


TGS' favourite Beer Bar flies the Oktoberfest (yes - I know it's actually in October) flag. Check it out - You know it makes sense.