The Grove Inn, HD1

Image by Expolits of a Food Nut

My extended absence from this particular beer-paradise has been circumstantial and I had all but given up on visiting during 2011.  Enter stage right @GeekLeeds.  I met Gary (Geek Leeds blog) at the IPA Day back in August, Mr Foleys was packed and through the ‘random factor’ I happened to talk to him and as he didn’t seem to be a mentalist he is now one of the great bunch of people I have met so far thanks to great beer.

A couple of months back I received an SOS from Gary that read, “we need a beery adventure“.  It didn’t take long to agree on The Grove Inn.  Saturday gone, we embarked on our spluttering train journey, a short distance from Bradford and Leeds.  I know that Gary will be blogging about this in more detail than me, so I’ll cut to the bit at the pub.  When Tennyson penned this poem I’m positive it wasn’t with beer in mind, but as we entered the pub, and thanks to the right hemisphere of my melon , the one poem I know of popped into my mind…”crossing the bar“.  It was a moment I had built up in my thoughts and it seems to be a rite of passage for any self-respecting beer geek in West Yorkshire.  Apologies to the architect, but the pub is nothing to look at, it doesn’t draw you in and aside from the large BrewDog logo as you step through the door, you wouldn’t know this was going to be a trove of beery wealth.

It was about 5pm and there was a buzz about the place, a friendly enough mix of folk and we were greeted with “what can I get you“.   Usually this would be welcomed, no leaning over the bar to catch the Keeps attention, but when your head is spinning with choice all you want is a couple of minutes to steady yourself.  Not wanting to look like a total newbie I took control and ordered myself a pint of Hawkshead Windermere Pale, Gary a pint of Thornbridge Jaipur and Ben (@Boodrums) went for a bottle of BrewDog Hardcore.  Way to go Ben! He’ll learn from this, but at the time I couldn’t help feel a little bit jealous of his free spirit.

We settled for a table in the Public Bar as I sensed that the occupants of the Snug weren’t ready for our enthusiasm.  Someone had mentioned the artwork to me a few days before and I now fully appreciate what they were giggling about.   Lets just say the ambience is set to bohemian.  We settled in and slowly moved through the gears (exclude Ben from this) taking in a couple more cask delights in the form of Buxton SPA and Marble Dobber, before hitting the bottle menu hard.  I can’t remember the order perfectly but between us we sailed through BrewDog ABD, Kernel 100 Centennial and Columbus, Rogue Mocha, Little Creatures Pale and Hardknott Infra Red.  Tyler (It’s Just Beer blog) arrived to join us  (@tkiley1) and he influenced us to move onto Brooklyn Sorachi Ace and Nogne O Triple Tiger, Porterhouse Plain Porter and a few others that escape me.

Image by Port Street Beer House

Before leaving we annoyed a fair few people, on both sides of the bar, by our drunken deliberations and eventual purchases to take home.  Safe to say that Kernel 100 Centennnial converts Gary and Ben cleared the cellar of this outstanding beer.  So rude.

While waiting for our carriage home, we had to time to nip into The Kings Head at the station for a quick half of Magic Rock Curious NZ, needless to say this was tasting great.  The journey home would see us swig freely from a communal bottle of Schneider Weisse Tap 5 which rounded a great evening.  Highlights for me were the Brooklyn Sorachi, the Porterhouse Porter and the Marble Dobber.  Looking forward to my next visit to HD1.

(See Tyler’s take on the evening here).

28 Days Later


#28challenge: Alessio's fridge

I could bore you all day with my references to Twitter and as this is my blog then I guess I’m safe to have a good go!  I try to keep up-to-date with the daily Tweets and every once in a while I see something a little different, something that catches my eye, nothing revolutionary, but interesting nonetheless.  On this particular occassion it was a

Tweet from Alessio Leone or otherwise known on Twitter as @caskcrusade.  He’s based in Milan, Italy and describes himself as Bar Manager at @birraom (a Craft Brewery in the making), author of the Hoppy-Hour -blog, bike rider, vinyl collector, drummer for Vulturum and Lone Wolf and above all “Chief Bastard Drinker” [his words, not mine].  Reason for stating all this is that I tend to read a Tweeters profile and tend to scan for the word beer, once I find the magic word I delve further.  In Alessio’s case it turns out he’s very passionate about beer, so I Followed him [virtually of course].  A couple of days later he was telling his followers that he had received a mysterious calling to embark on a beery mission, a mission he chose to accept.  If my pigeon Italian serves my well (I’m lieing of course, Blogger allows me to click ‘translate’ on Alessio’s blog), then I am to understand that  the 6th September 2011 marked Alessio’s 28th birthday and the voices told him that he should mark each of the next 28 days by consuming a beer, and a different style for each day.  I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say these are the voices we would all welcome with open arms.  His criteria seems fairly relaxed and he is not looking to find the finest examples of any of the styles, more to the point I feel that he is searching for beers he has yet to experience.


Alessio Leone @caskcrusade

28 beers,

28 styles,

28 days.

-“His fear began when he was drinking alone, his terror began when he realised he wasn’t”.

I think I can learn a lot from this exercise, maybe not with the same enthusiasm of this 28 day crawl as there are certain considerations such as being financially challenged or needing to count the liver cells, but there is nothing to stop me from trying to find a beer I haven’t tried and maybe even one that I can’t rely on the reviews to tell me what I should think of it.  I happen to be both of the above, my wallet is bare and my liver isn’t talking to me at the moment.  Anyway, I traded a few Tweets with Alessio and told him I would be following his #28challenge with interest.  I even went as far as saying I would join him on the days that I could, time and beer style availability permitting.   A couple of evenings ago Alessio invited me to join him for a real-time beer tasting via Twitter.  I accepted and we set the date and time 21st September at 5pm GMT.


Marble Brewery

The beer style was confirmed as wheat beer and the invite was sent out for anyone else who could to join us (5pm on a work night was probably a little too early for the beer geeks that I know would have loved to join in).  I happened to be at home so lined up a Marble Brewery Weizen, a 5.5% abv German-style wheat beer.  Alessio went for Schneider-Weisse Tap 5 Meine Hopfenweisse brewed to a heady 8.2% and our only other companion was @TeoSolobirra who selected Brauerei Aying‘s Ayinger Ur-Weisse (5,2% abv Dunkelweizen).  We synchronised watches and commenced our tasting session.  It was quick fire for a few reasons, but none truer that 5pm is a thirsty time of day!

My thoughts on the Marble Weizen; Lively upon opening and a large foamy head quickly formed.  I chose to swill the bottom dregs of the bottle and add them to the glass once there was space.  The head quickly disappeared but there was good carbonation throughout the drink.  In appearance it was straw-coloured and hazy as you might expect from the style.  Aromas of banana, spice, an earthyness and all-in-all very fresh. Flavours of clove, spice, banana, alcohol and it had a solid citrus bitterness in the finish which stuck around in my mouth.  After being in the glass for 15 minutes or so, some bubblegum flavours also came through along with a pleasant sweetness.  Overall, I found it to be an excellent German-style wheat beer with a definite British touch…loved it!   Cheers Marble Brewers!

Thanks to Alessio for inviting to me join him on Day 16 of his #28challenge.  It was great fun and I’ve met a couple more great people who love beer.  All’s left to say is God Speed Alessio on the remainder of your quest and that “a journey of twenty-eight beers begins with a single sip” – [Confucius].

Saltaire Brewery Beer Festival 2011

 PictureWhen I bought my ticket for the Saltaire Brewery Beer Festival 2011 (September  16th-17) back in July, I was feeling rather pleased with myself as I usually leave it until the last minute and miss out.  When the Brewery started sending updates about the beers they were sourcing I couldn’t wait for the date to come around.  Just as Saltaire confirmed its lineup, CAMRA released its Good Beer Guide for 2012 with the news that Yorkshire has welcomed an impressive 16 new breweries in the past 12 months, making it the number one region for beer in terms of its choice of real ale and wealth of new and established brewing talent.  You can see all the details of the CAMRA findings in the Yorkshire Post.  Saltaire took full advantage of having an embarrassment of amazing beer right on its doorstep and chose a mouthwatering line-up including Yorkshire’s; Magic Rock, Kirkstall, Old Spot and not forgetting Saltaire Brewery’s six offerings, including Saltaire Blonde, South Island Pale and a couple of new ones in Madagascan Ale (5% Pale) and Bulldog a 4.6% Brown Ale.  South Island Pale being my pick of the bunch.
Other breweries of note and of particular interest to me were Buxton and Hardknott as I have tried and continue to return to their bottled beers time and time again.  And as if all that lot wasn’t enough,  you could also feast on beers from Marble, Liverpool Organic, Captain Cook and Dark Star to name but a few.  I did also find myself drawn to the cider tent, no not for the cider, although the choice matched that of the beer, but for the Sierra NevadaPale Ale and Kolsch.  At times I had to pinch myself, as there I was in Shipley, struggling to decide what I wanted to drink next, knowing that I had my alcohol tolerance working against me.Saltaire outdid themselves on the beer front (28 in total plus 10 craft ciders), but also on the infrastructure which has been born out of their successful monthly Beer Club.  In addition to the marquee, there was also extra seating under heated parasols, which as the weatherman had predicted were much needed and most definitely appreciated – it rained a little bit (ahem!).  Add to all of that the barbecued food on offer and it doesn’t take a beer geek to tell you that it was a very good night indeed.

I’m not sure if there was an official vote for the beer of the festival, but I do know that it was Magic Rock Brewing Co’s Curious a 3.9% Original Pale Ale and the breweries flagship beer which sold out first.  For me, my favourites of the night (from the 10 that I tried) included Magic Rock’s High Wire, Buxton’s Axe Edge and Captain Cook’s Schooner Grenville, although my pick of the festival was Marble Brewery’s Utility,their 5.7% IPA.  For anyone that tried it, no explanation needed here, for anyone wondering, I suggest you hunt it down and see for yourself! delicious!

Excellent work by Saltaire’s team and I’m looking forward to next years festival already!