You’ve Got a Friend in Meat

Saturday night was the much awaited opening of Friends of Ham, Leeds’ newest bar and charcuterie adding more meat to the healthy bones of a thriving beer scene.  I received an invite having spoken a little with the owners via social media and having briefly met Claire Kitching when she was out and about sourcing beer.  There were a few bloggers circling the premises on the night and they will give you the full rundown of what you can look forward to if you get to visit.  I left my bloggers hat at home, resting on my notebook and camera…. I was unarmed.  The photo above is the only one I took on the night and is testament to the fact that my attentions were solely on having a night out.   Claire and Anthony (or Kitch as you may know him) have worked tirelessly to transform their new home-from-home into a sleek, inviting and comfortable space.

Along with Head Barman Tyler, Claire and Kitch have put together a very respectable selection of beer and if Saturday is anything to go on, then you’ll never be wanting.  On tap I enjoyed Redchurch Gold, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and from the fridge Magic Rock High Wire.  I had already been at a brewery and visited a few pubs so had to leave it there.  This time around I missed out on tap-treats from The Kernel, Hawkshead, Huyghe, Magic Rock and Red Willow.

Neil over at Eating isn’t Cheating describes the food on offer much better than I could, but I did enjoy more than my fair share of Iberico Ham.  As I understand it, the food that was on offer was really just a taster and there will be much more in the way of breads and cheeses in the coming weeks.

Their clever strapline is A friend of ham is a friend of ours, and to that I say “A friend of beer is a friend of mine“.   Whether you are planning a trip to Leeds or just passing through, then their location on New Station Street is perfect.  I’ll be back there as often as I can make it, but don’t take my word for it, I recommend you go and see for yourself.

You can follow their updates on Twitter and Facebook.

A Moment of Clarity

With noise and distraction all around us, we often need a moment of clarity to help us make sense of a situation, a niggle, an ambition or whatever it may be.  The picture above is a photograph I took while visiting Toby McKenzie at his Red Willow Brewery in Macclesfield.  The photograph is of a sight-glass which allows the brewer to view the wort running off from the mash tun.  These first runnings of wort will be re-circulated (taken from the bottom of the mash tun and pumped back to the top) until a grain bed / filter is formed which traps the grain debris and allows the sugar rich wort to escape to the copper.  The brewer knows it’s time to run from the mash tun to the copper when the wort is running clear.  It’s never going to be crystal clear at this point in the brewing process, but as the cloudiness dissipates, it signals the moment to move to the next stage.

I knew why I was visiting the brewery, I have an interest in beer, specifically brewing and have the obvious dream of going professional.  I try to be realistic and often get carried along, or rather away from, the things I most need to do to work towards my goal.  What I took away from the brew day with Toby, was that while there is most definitely a romantic notion of crafting a delicious drink out of water, barley, hops and yeast, there is also the serious business of, well, business.  Forget the dream of profit and fame for now, although nice if you can get them, I’m talking about the business of risk and of rolling your sleeves up far enough to get burnt.

Endless cleaning, Sleepless nights, Wreckless ambition.

Stood in the background, an imposter, watching and listening to Toby, Caroline and Ben as they went about a typical day in the brewery made my head spin.  I wasn’t naïve to the requirements of a professional brewing enterprise before today, but if I coin the iceberg analogy here, then it would illustrate where my homebrewing brain is currently residing.

I was lucky enough to get to help on many of the daily tasks, and for those that were beyond me I was afforded some of Toby’s time and patience in explaining what he has explained a hundred times before to well meaning visitors.  Amongst the bustle of the day, the array of smells and constant din, there were moments of giddy joy.  I tasted beer from the fermenter as it was bottled, I cut into vacuum packed hop bails which gasped for air as they breathed new life, and I was let loose with a rather powerful jet spray which could propel a plastic bucket across the length of the brewery with one blast.

So, thank you Toby and Caroline for having me along, I wish you the best for 2012 and beyond, and look forward to trying a few pints of Wreckless and as many bottles of Ageless as it takes before I’m satisfied that I have drunk one that I had a hand in getting to market!

Another blog on Red Willow here if you are interested in a bit more detail on the operation. The Brewery website and Toby McKenzie on Twitter.

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.

International IPA Day in West Yorkshire

For anyone who is not aware of the International IPA Day celebrations on Thursday 4th August 2011, then please find a run-down of what’s going on for the lucky folk of West Yorkshire, including;

  • Mr Foleys Cask & Ale House, Leeds
  • The Grove Inn, Huddersfield
  • The Sparrow Bier Cafe, Bradford *updated 29/07/11*

Mr Foleys Cask Ale House, Leeds

Picture

August 4th has been designated ‘International IPA Day’ and Mr Foleys will be holding one of the biggest events in the country to celebrate! IPA Day was conceived as a social celebration of craft ale and lovers worldwide are encouraged to take part and interact via social networking such as Twitter.

International #IPADay is a grassroots movement to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers and brewers worldwide through social media. On Thursday August 4th craft beer drinkers across the social sphere and across the globe will raise pints in a collective toast to one of craft beer’s most iconic styles; the India Pale Ale. This celebrated style represents the pinnacle of brewing innovation with it’s broad spectrum of diverse brands, subcategories and regional flavor variations, making it the perfect style to galvanize craft beer’s social voice. #IPADay is not the brainchild of a corporate marketing machine, nor is it meant to serve any particular beer brand. #IPADay is an opportunity for breweries, bloggers, businesses and consumers to connect and share their love of craft beer.

Picture

 Getting involved is easy; the only requirements are an appreciation for great beer and the will to spread the word. Anyone can participate by enjoying IPA with friends, making some noise online with the #IPADay hashtag and showing the world that craft beer is more than a trend!

At Mr Foleys we will have some of the finest examples of the style from some of Britain’s best brewers. Our beers will include four keg IPAs; two from Brewdog and one each from local West Yorkshire breweries Summer Wine and Magic Rock. We will have six cask IPAs coming from Thornbridge, Buxton, Kirkstall, Roosters, Hardknott and Red Willow. If that’s not enough for you, we will have a dedicated IPA fridge serving you some of the best from America, as well as a couple more rarely seen British brews. (confirmed list below)..

Picture
KEG
Magic Rock ‘Human Cannonball’ Summer Wine ‘7C’s of Rye’
Brewdog ‘Hardcore IPA’
Brewdog ‘My Name Is Ingrid’ (UK exclusive, brewed for Scandinavian market)

CASK
Thornbridge ‘RyePA’ (first pub to have it on sale, name may change)
Buxton ‘Axe Edge’
Kirkstall ‘Dissolution IPA’
Roosters ‘Underdog IPA’ (brewed exclusively for us by Ol Fozzard on the test kit)
Red Willow ‘Peerless’
Hardknott ‘Code Black’

BOTTLES
Odell Myrcenary Double IPA
Maui Big Swell IPA
Stone Cali-Belgique 2010
Victory Hop Devil IPA
Victory Hop Wallop Double IPA
Red Willow Ageless IPA
Sierra Nevada Torpedo
Odell IPA
Goose Island IPA
Brewdog Punk IPA
Brewdog Hardcore IPA
Brewdog AB:06

Oh, I almost forgot.
DOGFISH HEAD 90 MINUTE IPA (only 4 bottles, first come first served!)

Still not enough? We will have brewers or brewery representatives from every brewery mentioned above and each will be holding mini ‘meet the brewer’ segments to promote their beer to the assembled crowd. We will also have guest appearances from beer writers Zak Avery and Mark Fletcher, who will be talking you through the history of IPA, why they love the style and some of their favourite beers.

With all this beer we will be in need of food. Curries will be supplied by the fantastic @manjitskitchen.  We feel that top quality Indian cuisinenot only fits the history of the beer, but that beers big in bitterness and hop character are the perfect accompaniment for spicy dishes.

So join us on August 4th at Mr Foleys Cask Ale House (159 The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5RG) for an IPA extravaganza! We can be found on twitter @mrfoleys, by phone 0113 2429674, email mrfoleys@mitchellsinns.co.uk or on our blog www.mrfoleyscaskalehouse.blogspot.com

The Grove Inn, Huddersfield

Picture

Picture

International IPA Day featuring BUXTON BREWERY
Thursday August 4th has been declared International IPA day! And as you well know, here at The Grove we love IPA, so who are we to turn down an opportunity to showcase this most hop-tastic of beer styles? We don’t expect you to take our word on it though, so we’ve called in some friends who know a thing or two about brewing IPA…

We’re delighted that Head Brewer James ‘JK’ Kemp and Director Geoff Quinn from Buxton Brewery will be joining us on the evening to talk about the brewery, their beers and most importantly, IPA. Buxton are, in our opinion, amongst the most exciting and interesting breweries in the country at the moment and we’re delighted to have them joining us. We shall have 3 of their own IPA’s on the bar – Black Rocks, their 5.5% Black IPA, Axe Edge, a 6.7% hop monster, and for the first time their brand new IPA – WILD BOAR (5.7%).

That is not all! As well as these excellent IPA from Buxton we will have up to 9 other IPA’s on the bar, from cask and keg, featuring more of our favourite breweries from around the world, Including… Magic Rock, Thornbridge, Gadds, Liverpool Organic, Marble, BrewDog, Flying Dog, Great Divide, and more besides! And that’s before we even get to the bottle delights that will be filling up the fridges…

We will be running a tasting card scheme on the night to allow you to sample as many of the draft IPA’s as possible for the best possible price, as well as putting on some Indian themed nibbles to help soak it all up.

Those of you who are social media ‘savvy’ should get involved online on the day, using the hash tag #IPAday to help us all loudly spread the word of IPA and above all great beer!

LONG LIVE IPA!

Contact us on Twitter:
@GroveBri
@GroveChloe

The Sparrow Bier Cafe, Bradford

Picture

Picture

International #IPADay is a grassroots movement to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers, bars and brewers worldwide through social media. On Thursday August 4th, craft beer drinkers across the social sphere and across the globe will raise pints in a collective toast to one of craft beer’s most iconic styles: the India Pale Ale. This celebrated style represents the pinnacle of brewing innovation with its broad spectrum of diverse brands, subcategories, and regional flavor variations – making it the perfect style to galvanize craft beer’s social voice.International IPA Day featuring Saltaire Brewery
A global toast to one of craft beer’s most iconic styles: INDIA PALE ALE
On Thursday 4th August The Sparrow & Saltaire Brewery will be celebrating International IPA Day.

Picture Featuring:
*FREE samples of Saltaire Stateside*
*Saltaire Brewey talk*
*5 draught IPAs*
*Over 10 bottled IPAs*

DRAUGHT:

  • Saltaire Stateside *updated 29/07/11* – the cask in question has had some additional dry-hopping attention over and above that which Saltaire Brewery normally dry-hop their Stateside IPA. Rather than the usual Cascade Hop plug (approx 13-14g) the IPA Day version will include a blend of Double-Cascade hop plugs with more than double Amarillo & Nelson Sauvin
  • plus 4 other beers to be announced soon including a black IPA and a double IPA.

BOTTLES:
Maui Big Swell (can), Great Divide Titan, Goose Island, Odell IPA, Brewdog Punk & Hardcore, Flying Dog Snake Dog & Raging Bitch, Sierra Nevada Torpedo and more!

Contact us on Twitter:
@theSparrowbd1
@SaltaireBrewery