Ilkley Brewery’s Joshua Jane

I entered this Leeds Homebrew competition back in April of this year, the brief was to brew an American Brown Ale.  I was joint winner along with Matt Lovatt and we were invited along to brew their take on our recipes.

The brewday was on the 11th September and myself and Matt really enjoyed the experience.  We were certainly well looked after by Harriet Marks and Chris Ives.  Unconfirmed reports suggest that we pilfered the hop store before making an escape without cleaning the copper.  To this I say “no comment“.

The first incarnation of Joshua Jane, a 3.7% rich nut-brown Yorkshire Ale, hopped with Amarillo and Columbus, will be launched Tuesday 2nd October at Bar T’at in Ilkley and then the beer will be sold exclusively through Market Town Tavern pubs during that week.  Beyond this, I understand that Joshua Jane will then be part of Ilkley’s core range.

Please come along on 2nd October to support the launch and say kind things about the beer!

The following week, on Wednesday 10th October, the excellent Friends of Ham will be hosting an Ilkley Brewery Tap Takeover, which will include the most recent collaborative brews with Melissa Cole (Green Goddess, Belgian IPA), the Independent Manchester Beer Convention (Wit Marie, Belgian Wit) and Joshua Jane.  There will also be Melissa Cole’s Siberia Rhubarb Saison on keg.

Thanks once again to Chris and Ilkley Brewery for the interest shown in Leeds Homebrew.

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Brewing People are Good People

There is a saying in the beer world that ‘beer people are good people‘, (sometimes known as “good people drink good beer“) it’s more a notion than a fact, but you don’t have to look too far to find examples of it in practice.  My understanding of the saying will be different from the next persons, but I see it as a reference to a small part of the global beer community.  I’m not talking about beer geeks, tickers or reluctant-scoopers, I’m talking about anyone who engages with beer as a drink that can enrich your life, in one way or another.  The sceptical among you will argue that  “beer is just a drink”, or that “industry people have a ulteria motive to their actions”.  This may well be the case, but if you see beer as just another drink then fine, move along and find something that makes you happy, and if you think the industry is just out for your wallet then you may have missed the point.

Breweries are engaging with each other more than ever before, nicely put by The Pub Diaries writing for Melbourne based The Crafty Pint when discussing the “Beer Revolution, Beer Renaissance, Beer Revival” in London (roughly this time last year).  With the London Brewers’ Alliance epitomising the efforts being made locally, regionally, nationally and internationally to collaborate and benefit from shared knowledge, experiences and in some case resources.  I can understand the forming of these alliances, there is a natural tendency to draw your camp closer together when the wolves are circling, but I suspect the alliances would live on despite the lack of a tangible need.  What is more difficult to comprehend is an increasing trend of breweries extending their circle to include and support homebrewers.  It’s more apparant why a brewery would collaborate with another brewery, blogger or publican, but homebrewers?  Once again, the cynics will have their say; “nothing is free”, “you’re being used” etc.  Yes, there are benefits to a brewery getting creative with their marketing and engaging with niche customer bases, like homebrewers, but the benefits are largely in favour of the homebrewer.  Being suspicious of strangers bearing gifts is only natural and it’s a sad part of being human, but many pro brewers started as homebrewers and maybe the reasons for this relationship is to give support where they didn’t have it, or to increase the profile of brewing in general.

This post is probably going to make most sense to those homebrewers who have already benefited from help via social networks, invitations to brewdays, opportunites to compete and win the chance to experience their recipe being produced commercially.  I only have local examples of these kinds of activities, but Saltaire Brewery’s support of the Northern Craft Brewers and Leeds Homebrew group welcoming representatives from Thornbridge, Revolutions and Ilkley breweries to it’s meetings.  Encouragement, recognition, a free beer or two, call it what you want, but they are interesting times and long may this continue to develop.

(Edit: It turns out there may be some villains too, boo!…hiss!)

Golden Pint Awards 2011

Best UK Draught (Cask or Keg) Beer:

Winner: Buxton Axe Edge

Runner up: Hardknott Code Black

Honourable mentions: Ilkley Mary Jane, Magic Rock Curious NZ

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer:

Winner: The Kernel India Pale Ale 100 Centennial

Runner up: Red Willow Ageless

Honourable mentions: Oakham Citra, Traquair Jacobite

Best Overseas Draught Beer:

Winner: Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout

Runner up:  Great Divide Rumble

Best Overseas Bottled Beer: Joint:  Stone Arrogant Bastard / Pretty Things Jack D’Or

Honourable mentions:  Stone Cali-Belgique 2010, Flying Dog Gonzo

Best Overall Beer: The Kernel India Pale Ale 100 Centennial

Best Pumpclip or Label: Redwillow brand/logo instantly recognisable

Best UK Brewery: The Kernel Brewery

Honourable mentions: Red Willow, Buxton, Hardknott, Magic Rock, Adnams

Best Overseas Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.

Pub/Bar of the Year: Winner: Mr Foleys (Leeds)

Runner up: The Sparrow (Bradford)

Honourable mention: The Grove (Hudds) – will feature heavily for me in 2012

Supermarket of the Year: Waitrose

Runner up: Morrisons

Independent Retailer of the Year: Beer Ritz, Leeds

Online Retailer of the Year: Winner: MyBreweryTap

Best Beer Blog or Website:
Winner: Ghost Drinker
Runners up: The Good Stuff, New Briggate Beer Blog
Honourable mentions: The Beer ProleHopZine, BeersIveKnown, Beersay, Boak & Bailey

Best Beer Twitterer: Joint: @Filrd and @BeersIveKnown always on hand with friendly banter and beer (and cheese) recommendations.

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year: The Good Stuff: SummerWine Diablo IPA with Baked Feta

In 2012 I’d Most Like To… visit the breweries that have kindly extended an invitiation.  Learn about brewing beer.  Brew more beer.  Await lottery win.  Sell beer.  Kick back.  Bad Back.  Employ Brew Monkey.

Open Category:

Most prolific beer rating site in the North West: The Ormskirk BaronCaptained by @Baron_Orm and ably assisted by @Christoper_R – keep up the good work chaps!

Beer and Food Alchemist of the Year: Tyler Kiley (@Tkiley1), Chef at Mr Foleys.  Oh and rumour has it that his triple cooked chips aren’t bad either.

Ilkley Brewery Company Craft-Keg Launch

A brief bloggage on the Ilkley Brewery Company‘s craft-kegged beer launch at North Bar Leeds last night.  The place was packed, this may have been typical for Wednesday night, but there was also a strong showing from the Ilkley Brewery crew, easily picked out of the crowd in their branded rugby shirts and the odd flat cap [nothing odd about flat caps].  The format was more informal than a Meet the Brewer type event, but the guys were clearly enjoying the fruits of their labour and were as friendly and approachable as ever.

Alongside their cask beers the MJ Artisan Ales on offer were MJ Pale and MJ Summit and I was informed by someone in the know that the MJ Fortis wasn’t ready for public consumption.

Demand for our cask-conditioned ales continues to rise but in order for city centre bars, restaurants and hotels to serve our beers, we needed to create something that didn’t require bulky hand pumps and a time-consuming process in order to serve cask-conditioned beer …. Kegged beers are a perfect solution for bar areas with limited service and cellar space  – Luke Raven Ilkley Brewery.

Quote taken from the Ilkley Gazette (they have their headline slightly wrong but not to worry).  See also SIBA.

After a fair wait at the bar I tried the MJ Pale, a 3.7% Pale Ale, but not before clearing up the confusion with the bar staff who was merrily pouring me an Ilkley Pale (their 4.2% cask Pale Ale).  It was crystal clear, cold is ice and had a solid bitter finish.  It was certainly a refreshing beer, but maybe lacked a little of the anticipated fresh citrus flavour.

Moving onto the MJ Summit, a 5.4% IPA, once again there was some confusion over which Ilkley beer I was ordering, and once again the wrong beer was poured before I noticed.  With the correct beer in hand I enjoyed an aromatic, sweet beer with plenty of flavour packed in.  I preferred this beer over the keg Pale but wouldn’t drink many of them in one sitting as it was quite rich, only my opinion of course.

I also got to try a few other beers from around the globe, but the best of the bunch was Ilkley’s Smoked Witch, their 5% dark ale which has a lovely mellow smoky finish.  Must investigate this one further!

All in all it was a good night, lovely beer and great company.  I look forward to trying their 4.1% craft-kegged stout, MJ Fortis, another time.

I Will Follow You into the Dark

I’m enjoying my beer and relaxing into it a little more each month.  I have re-read a couple of my earlier posts and see my initial instincts were to hoard my beer and make sure nobody was looking before enjoying them all to myself.  I’ve always been aware of the merits of sharing and as I have previously explained, I’m aware that sharing beer is something that adds to the experience, but try telling that to the me of 6 months ago.

So tonight I have a wingman, he’s a beer rookie, whereas I’m more a pilot who still can’t get insurance, but flying solo nonetheless.  My brother-in-law Ben (@boodrums if you Tweet) has the enthusiasm about beer that will see him go a long way to quench his thirst.  He’s already been to Cask on the recommendation of some friendly Twitter folk and came home with his knapsack full of Mikkeller treasures.  He frequents the excellent Sparrow Bier Cafe in nearby Bradford, shops at Headingley’s Beer Ritz and I have a sneaky feeling that he’ll be hard to stop should he ever find out that there are online bottle shops.  During a recent chat he told meI’m not sure I like ‘dark’ beer…how could I possibly let that slide?  So last night we got together to try a few ‘dark’ beers to see if I could get him to retract such a statement.  I supplied the beer, he dutifuly adorned the table with cheese and oatcakes.  Don’t mind if I do!

After some much needed advice from the friendly folk on Twitter (thanks to those that chipped-in but especially Steve Lamond at Beers I’ve Known and the knowledgable Matt at Cheese and Chutney, Saltaire).  Ben brought along a mouthwatering selection including Steve’s recommendations of Vintage Lincolnshire Poacher, Tuxford & Tebbutt Blue Stilton, Old Amsterdam Gouda and a couple of picks by Matt in Smoked Wensleydale and Bronte Black.

We decided before we sat down that this was to be an informal session with no real agenda, other than making the odd tasting notes.  So we set about the beer in an order I felt would work best, made a few observations, chatted a while and then nibbled the cheese as we went to see how the choices worked.

First up was Ilkley Brewery‘s Ilkley Black, a 3.7% Dark Mild.  It poured black and had a red hue when held to the light, a small head which didn’t last and had very little carbonation as you could expect from the style.  Aromas of roasted malts and chocolate carried through into the first sip and had a good roasted after-taste.  When paired with the cheeses it didn’t really have the depth to stand up to any of our selection, with fairly dire results with the Poacher and Old Amsterdam, “wet dog” tastes will never be a winner.

Moving onto the Anchor Brewing Co. 5.6% Porter.  A firm favourite of mine and one I thought Ben would want to try early in his beer tastings.  It poured black and had a red hue when held to the light, lively head which lasted the duration of the drink.  With aromas of sweet caramel, black treacle, vanilla and woody notes it’s a beer you just have to keep on sniffing.  Its smooth, thick mouth feel and bitter/sweet balance is spot on in my opinion. Best match was with the Stilton, but a definite no no with the Poacher.

Some may say my next choice is the odd one out in the evenings line-up, but I had just received it the day before and was looking forward to trying it.  I also thought it would help break things up a little and it is a ‘dark’ beer after-all.  Hardknott Code Black, is a bottle-conditioned 5.6% Black India Pale Ale (see here for links before you comment).  Dave of Hardknott also explains that “Black IPA is completely contradictory and silly.  We all know there’s no point to such a beer, apart from to keep all those beer geeks happy“… and you can’t say fairer than that.  All said and done, it immediately brought a smile to my face, the huge citrus hit, mainly grapefruit, bursting from the bottle. Rather surprisingly it poured more a murky-browny-red but with a good head which stuck around.  Before tasting, the freshness and big fruity notes are in your face and led nicely to the punchy bitterness and gentle roastiness.   As it warmed in the glass the roasted malts came through much more.  My opinion was that aside from the Smoked Wensleydale, each cheese went well and more importantly the beer stood up to the Poacher.

The next choice was to be the Buxton Brewery Tsar, a bottle-conditioned 9.5% Imperial Russian Stout.  As with the Hardknott IPA, I was looking forward to finally trying this coveted beer.  It poured pitch-black and with an obvious oily appearance, the suspense was killing me so I got stuck in! The aroma had a fair bit going on with on overriding earthiness, peat, burnt malts and the alcohol was upfront and letting me know it was there.  First tastes brought liquorice and a roasted, smokey deep hop bitterness.  As it warmed a little the sweetness was more noticeable along with hints of coffee, 100% cacao and more alcohol!  A lovely drop!  At this point I had given up on the Smoked Wensleydale, and yet again the Poacher didn’t pair favourably.  This was fine by me and I enjoyed more of each of the Stilton, Bronte and Amsterdam.

Maybe rather naively I thought we should save the Summer Wine Brewery Barista until nearer the end of the evening due to its caffeine bomb status.  I think with hindsight this should have been drunk before the Buxton Tsar.  This 4.8% Espresso Stout announced itself with unmistakable honk of freshly brewed coffee, along with tobacco and whiff of ashtray.  Pretty potent stuff.  The result of drinking this after a 9.5% RIS is that the Barista came across as thin and reminded me more of drinking an iced coffee, strong iced coffee.  Its flavours were well-defined but as I have no reference point I can’t be sure whether this beer was spoilt by the previous beer or maybe I just didn’t enjoy it as much as other beers I’ve tried from Summer Wine.  To add insult to injury the cheeses didn’t get along well with this beer either.

To round the evening off I had plucked a bottle of The Kernel Imperial Brown Stout London 1856 from the back of my beer cupboard.  Bottled on 15th February this year, this 10.1% stout has received the plaudits and I couldn’t wait any longer to try it.  Whether it was the beer taking over or just a cumulative effect of the other beers, I didn’t make too many notes.  We both enthused over its luxury.  With flavours ranging from caramel and vanilla through to black treacle and dark chocolate and its smoothness in the mouth were just a joy.  Loved this beer! and I didn’t bother with any more cheese at this point.

All in all a cracking evening and something we will be looking to recreate again soon with a few other people involved.  I’m thinking beers of Belgium may be the way to go next time around.

Steve – my CABPOM would have to be Hardknott Code Black and Old Amsterdam Gouda.  It sounds like a Mission Impossible plot.  But to be honest I think I need to undertake further cheese/beer pairing research to get the hang of this.

IPA Day – the IPAftermath

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Fact

For full details of International IPA Day (#IPADay), please see my blog below.
But, as the dust is settling, just a quick post to say that the International IPA Day feels to have been a huge success, in my humble opinion.  I can’t really put it better than Pete Brown does in his blog post ‘Cheers to International IPA Day‘.  However, if you don’t have the time to read that then Pete sums the event up nicely when he says: “…As far as I can tell there is no central organisational structure, no big budget or organisation, and yet it’s an idea that has caught the imaginations of beer lovers and gone global.”  And as I have commented on one blog already this morning, the concept and execution of this global event is testament to the notion that ‘Beer People are Good People’ or that “Good people drink good beer.” (Hunter S. Thompson).
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IPAin

Considering my heavy-eyes and painful head, I’m going to be lazy here and just point you to a handful of blogs that tend to agree with said notion;
Eating isn’t Cheating

Make Mine a Half 
She Likes Beer
The Pub Diaries

The Crafty Pint
I’n Here For The Hops

For my IPA Day celebrations I decided to join the crowd at Mr Foleys (@MrFoleys), Leeds.  I knew from my advanced stages of acute Twitteritus that there would be at least a couple of people going along that I already knew well enough to recognise and to talk to, as well as many others who I had yet to meet, but hoped to.  It was a tough call between Mr Foleys, The Grove and The Sparrow all of which were treating beer lovers to a veritable hop feast, but a persuasive Dean (Manager of Foleys) and a cracking line up on the bar gently twisted my arm.  I managed to sample all of the cask selection and a couple of the bottles/cans and can honestly say I enjoyed each and everyone.  Most importantly to me though, I was lucky enough to chat (briefly) with brewers and owners alike, from Roosters, Hardknott, Magic Rock, Buxton and Ilkley (the latter just there as punters like the rest of us – i.e. they did not have a beer on the bar on this occasion, but see Lotus IPA if you are yet to try their superb offering.  It’s not often that you get to ‘meet the brewer’ in the flesh, so to speak, but I took the opportunity to let most of them know that they inspire me to believe that I can make my brewery dreams a reality.  Along with the beer writers and bloggers there were the geeks and fanatics adding their own brand of passion to the evening, some more amorous than others.  But probably most poignantly for me, and by total chance, I found myself talking to a young guy who, in all fairness looked like he might have walked into the wrong bar, sharp suit and proud fiancé on his arm, he was making strides to convince his wife-to-be that beer is amazing and that she should jolly well drink some.  Despite his enthusiasm it transpired that the lady wasn’t for turning, but you can’t win em’ all.  He also revealed he is a blogger, new to the scene with – Geek Leeds, but who has been watching from a safe distance.  Each person I tried to name-drop, he responded with a knowing nod of the head.  This meeting may not seem too impressive to most, but he wasn’t connected to anyone else in the room and wasn’t even on Twitter! yet the friendly atmosphere and sense of occasion presented everyone there with the opportunity to talk about good beer.

Anyway, I’m sure there will be more in-depth blogs to come to show and describe the night at Foleys with more finesse, but that was my two-penneth.  I look forward to the next beer event whenever or wherever that may be.  Thanks to one and all for a great night out (especially Dean and his staff @MrFoleys – bravo!).

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@MrFoleys @Tuff86 @BGRTRob @LeedsBrew @Nickiquote @LeighGoodStuff @EisntCNeil @TKiley1@Ol_Foz @Cheeeseboiger @mbell739 @fletchthemonkey @realalereviews@misterfrosty @ZakAvery @BrewDogUpNorth @MagicRockRich @BuxtonBrewery @HardknottDave @HardknottAnn @HardknottSooty @IlkleyBrewery
(Honorary affiliates: @Filrd @Tunks23)