Hopping mad Shane Warns of the aged and fresh – #BackInMacc

Oooh, that title…(hides)

Just a little teaser of a couple of brews from Cheshire Brewhouse appearing at BackInMacc. One will be completely new, launched on the day, the other old and exclusive as the only kegged version available anywhere.

The first will be “John Barleycorn’s Green Hop Temptress” a fresh green hopped pale ale, fresh being the optimum word here, launched at Treacle Tap. The other is Shane’s Govinda 6.8% IPA, aged in white wine barrels, which will grace Toby Mckenzies RedWillow Bar.

Both paragraphs below are direct from Mr Swindells himself, who will be in attendance on the day at both venues, read on…

John Barleycorns Green Hop Temptress

10472593_681283431961182_1507826716037814613_nHarvest time is almost upon us with the hop bines bursting with fantastic British hops. I have decided that we have to release John Barleycorn’s Green Hop Temptress again in early September. This is a green hop beer, made with fresh English hops (Usually Golding’s) from Herefordshire. I will be collecting them, then driving straight back to the brewery and making this beer within 24 hours of them being picked. Therefore we promise a pale refreshing and unique beery experience, giving you the chance to try fresh green hop flavours in a beer that is only available for a few weeks each year.

We will be launching John Barleycorn’s Green Hop Temptress at The Treacle Tap at 11am on Saturday 13th September as part of the #BackInMacc Twissup http://beersay.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/macclesfield-update-backinmacc/

Govinda Brewed for Wood Ageing


Following the success of our Gyle 100 release of Govinda IPA, our homage to the classic and only true IPA style of beer, the “British (English) IPA”. I have brewed it again, (Gyle 145) but will be ageing over 1/2 of the batch in oak casks that I bought from the last Master Cooper in England, Alastair Simms of The White Rose Cooperage in Wetherby Yorkshire.

800 bottles of this very special English IPA made only with Pale English Malt and the Finest whole Flower East Kent Golding hops will be released at the end of November 2014 to a select few independent bottled conditioned real ale outlets in Cheshire and wider in the UK.


 It’s all sounding rather good, plenty more to come too, spread the word

Cheers all

“The East Indiaman Story” a guest post by David Shipman for #BackInMacc

IMG_20140728_163229327If I look back on the stories I have, or could have, told over the last two years or so, I’d probably have to start all of them along the lines of “It started over a beer”.  This is no exception.  It’s a story in its own right, but really its just a chapter in a longer story that isn’t yet complete.  But it is becoming a significant chapter.  Enough though of the self-serving prelude.  Let’s get this tale on to the Friday night in the first half of 2014 where this actually begins.

It started over a beer.  A beer in a brewery as it happens, but that isn’t entirely relevant.  A beer in a brewery one Friday night, where I was enjoying the rare pleasure of chatting with Phil Hardy.  I should point out that the pleasure is rare because we don’t cross paths often enough, not because Phil is only occasionally a pleasure to chat with.  I’m digressing.  You may need to get used to it.

Roll back the clock further to June 2013 and I was otherwise engaged when what started innocently as the now [surely] infamous “Macc Twissup” took place.  The simple concept of a bunch of tweeters and bloggers  meeting for drinks in a given town, and enjoying a few establishments of note, was taken to a new level.  The effort Phil, and those who supported him, put in to creating a day with treat after treat for the faithful was by all reports a massively well-received and successful event.  Don’t trust me on that – I wasn’t there – but seek out the reports of others who were…

Back to that Friday night in 2014 and Phil was beginning to tell me all about his plans for the  sequel.  By this stage in the tale I must have been onto about my third pint, and I expect anyone reading this is too, either that or they’ve given up already.  But we’ve only just begun, and so had he.  Rather than it just having been a one-off twissup, the plan was to make this a regular event.  Annual perhaps.  And why not?  Unfortunately by this stage the timing was such that the start of June was out, and the rest of that month, plus July and August, were pretty well sewn up with a glut of rather notable events.  September presented a chance to sneak something in though, and so that was the plan.

The date wasn’t the only change on the cards though.  Even despite the added extras Phil managed to coordinate last year, the idea of “just” having another twissup wasn’t enough, and to be fair wasn’t going to make this anything more unique than other events happening round and about, other twissups locally and further afield.  So Phil told me of his plans for “Back in Macc”.

At that early stage it was still a concept.  But a great concept.  Especially, it seemed, for me.  A showcase for new and upcoming breweries.  Talented homebrewers.  New startups.  Fresh shining brewing stars.  And, what, sorry?  Me?  You want to include me?  Well flattery gets you everywhere.  But why me?  Maybe some background is in order.

"I've brewed for a few years now" - The evidence

“I’ve brewed for years now” – The evidence

I’ve brewed for a few years now.  Not as often as I’d like, but as often as I can.  I’ve made some beers I like.  I’ve made quite a few more that other people like far more than me, but I’m a perfectionist.  I can fault most of them in one way or another, even those I like.  But the feedback has always been good and pretty positive in almost every case.  Obviously there have been some disasters, that is all part of the development process, but the number of beers to be rapidly recycled through the waste water services of Severn Trent are actually minimal.  Only one full batch has ever gone that way so far, along with a few iffy bottles.  More recently, opportunities have arisen which have allowed me to play at brewing on a wider stage.  I’ve been incredibly blessed by contacts in the brewing world through my small involvement in a certain Beer Bash in an equally alliterative Midlands city.

Dave in his more familiar guise as "Grand Master of the Bash"

Dave in his more familiar guise as “Grand Master of the Bash”

As a result I got the opportunity to visit Blackjack in Manchester in the autumn of 2013 to re-brew what I think was a moderately successful American Pale Ale recipe that I home-brewed earlier that year.  And so came about the first commercial collaboration brew I can lay claim to.  This was followed in December by a second brewery collaboration that brings me full circle back to where I was standing talking to Phil.  Or rather listening to him being much less long-winded than I am currently.

bjb-web-593x363So, I needed a beer (well, it was a long-winded conversation after all!) but more importantly I needed to brew one, not just drink it.  In time for a September event.  Homebrewing probably wasn’t enough, it felt like it really needed to be commercially available at the time.  I can’t for the life of me remember right now if Rob, from Blackjack, was standing with me at the time or if I pitched the idea to him later, but somehow an agreement was reached that I’d return to Manchester to brew, and this wasn’t just a collaboration that boosted the ego of a two-bit home brewer, but a genuine cuckoo brew.

The idea gained momentum, in my mind at least.  What to brew?  Dust off the APA again?  No, it needed to be something new.  What about another homebrew I’ve been pleased with?  Hmm, nothing is jumping out at me. I’ll tell you what.  Let’s take the same concept of the last beer I brewed at home, the one that got infected and was an unmitigated disaster.  One that I therefore have so far not managed to get any reliable track record for (for the purposes of discussion I count having done it once successfully as having a reliable track record).  Let’s take that concept, go back to the basics of what I want to come up with, and rock up at the brewery one morning without a complete plan how it is actually going to be achieved.

IMAG0083What of the concept then?  I wanted an IPA that had plenty of character but managed to achieve it with all-English hops.  A robust body with a strong hop presence.  Not lip-curlingly bitter; I wanted the hops to be all about the finish rather than punching you in the face before you start.  As I walked into Blackjack on the brewday I had a few thoughts on what malts and hops might work, and an idea of the sort of strength to aim for, but that was it.  The plan evolved – malts had to be decided on before we could get down to mashing-in, obviously, but the hopping could, and did, follow after.  Just-in-time brewing I guess!  So, the grist developed quickly, with a good dose of pale malt supplemented by something darker to get towards the deeper copper colour I was looking for, and to impart some extra flavours; this was achieved by a fairly small amount of dark crystal malt, balanced by wheat and cara malts to provide extra body.

I already had two hops in mind – First Gold and Admiral – which both feature high in the list for intensity amongst the English varieties.  Keeping an open mind though a rustle through the hop store brought Summit to my attention.  There was an appealing fruity aroma which fitted perfectly and so the decision was made to use a combination of all three.  A bit of Admiral at the start of the boil to get the desired bittering, and a goodly quantity of all three combined late on – half 5 minutes before the end of the boil and half 10 minutes later.  The hop selection seemed to be well vindicated judging by the sample taken during the transfer to the fermenter with a good fruity aroma and flavour showing through.  And that’s how I had to leave it.  It’s slightly strange leaving your beer in someone else’s care like that but needs must.  The next time I was going to see it, it would be handed to me across a bar!

It was about three weeks later that the moment finally arrived.  The beer had been at the Craven Arms in Birmingham for a week or so, but I managed to time walking in with the freshly collected pump-clip down to perfection, as I was handed a sample glass that had quite literally just been drawn through.  Time for the first taste!  It was a pleasingly robust colour, and the solid body I had intended to achieve was all there.  Enough bitterness to enjoy without being overwhelmed, and yes, as planned a nice fruit finish, a little subdued but very definite.

Since then I’ve followed East Indiaman to a number of other pubs and festivals, and it has been an interesting experience to learn how different cellaring techniques and timings have affected a single batch of one beer.  It has given me good appreciation of what care and attention the beer most benefits from, at least while young.  It will be interesting to see how some of the casks which will have had the benefit of much longer conditioning in the brewery fare as well.  And to see how the kegs compare.

c57c9518db1e2b00c6b01940013c9149So, when this batch has all gone, what next?  Well there’s some discussion been had about brewing a further batch, and while I want to make some tweaks I am generally quite happy with where this recipe has ended up.  In the meantime another rather exciting offer has landed that could see a turn to something slightly more continental, making best use of facilities geared up to kegging.  Beer number two is definitely on the cards for Otherton in the coming months!

For now, here we are (nearly) Back in Macc and this first batch of East Indiaman gets one of only three outings in keg.  I’ll get what is almost certainly my first sample in that format, and I’m naturally hoping it works out.  I’m pretty sure I’ll get some direct feedback regardless!  So come along to what promises to be a marvelous event, say hi, have a taste, and be gentle!  See you there!!

Macclesfield update #BackInMacc

We are getting ever closer to September and quite rightly, a few of you have asked questions on updates for #BaccInMacc. Things have moved on a pace behind the scenes, but without proper confirmation it’s been difficult to share anything for fear it falls through. But here goes, we have some great things lined up and some still to be announced very soon.

Itinerary wise we are looking like this, a slight change from last years route for various reasons, but this one keeps things nice and accessible to all and allows folk to deviate a little should they wish. Clearly the idea though is to stay together and follow the events, beers and brewers as we go. The timings are approximate, but aim to allow around an hour and three-quarters in each with gaps to allow time to move on and get served in comfort.

*Saturday 13th September 2014*

Treacle Tap – 11am- 12:50

RedWillow Brewery – 12:45-14:45

Wharf 15 -17:15

RedWillow Bar 17-30 – 20:00

IMG_6367At the Treacle Tap we are aiming for a breakfast start with sustenance provided in the form of another breakfast pie (or a variation of) from Great North Pies, a real hit last time around.

We also have a very special beer line up throughout the day to please even the most geekiest of geeks, more details on that very soon.

I am going to have to stay “a little” tight-lipped on the actual beer list at each venue, but take it from me, you WILL NOT be disappointed. We have several new breweries supplying beers, hopefully with some or all brewers attending. A couple of very special collaborations in the offing, plus some stunning beer in cask and keg from the local area and, “further afield”…

Sssshhhh….Here’s a sneak preview of a couple….

The Pomegranate pLambic Project – Elusive Brewing

As you will have read, Andy has home-brewed this, but for those who do not know his 79f86de366a048bdab23bd882975c5bcpedigree he has brewed with some of the best and launched the amazing Nelson Saison here in Macc last year. Andy has kindly donated this, so it will be shared on some sort of charitable donation basis tbc. You won’t see this again!

Wharfe Bank Brewery – RoShamBo IPA

logo-navThis sounds like another tip-top project with three brewers (some familiar names involved) setting out to create a 6 hop IPA which I have no doubt will be a stunner, a brief introduction is here with a full brew day report to follow soon.

Lots more updates coming thick and fast here and on the Facebook page too, so sign up/follow/whatever and get that date in the diary.

If you are planning to come along it would be brilliant if you could add yourself to the event page itself too, so all the venues have ideas on numbers, click *HERE*

That is all for now, “keep em peeled”


Birmingham Beer Bash 2 – Smiley, Happy, People

IMG_9807This weekend saw the second Birmingham Beer Bash come and go at The Bond Co in Digbeth, “Buuurminum”. The sun shone, it was bloody hot (generally) and as per last year, everyone seemed to be having a damn good time.

In another repeat of last year, I looked at the beer list and was muchos excited by what I saw. I made mental “I MUST have that” notes and pretty much ignored them, shambling randomly this way and that, going wherever whim took me next and choosing off the cuff. Hence, I missed out on some of those “must sample” items, but made up for it by trying stuff that perhaps if I’d have been fickle, I may well have ignored or mistakenly avoided.


The beers themselves were well-kept and set up in a logical way, making it easy to navigate your way around the lists if that was your preference. However, I think its fair to say that the blistering heat played a part in causing issues with both cask and keg, some were tricky to pour with foaming white ice cream cone heads aplenty, you also had to sup them pretty quickly on all counts as if not, they warmed to soup like levels in the glass rapidly. All out of anyones control of course and at the mercy of the Great British weather. Had the fest been indoor and air-conditioned, you’d bet your life it would have poured down all day and been blowing a gale..


I’m glad to say I didn’t have a bad beer all day, some were better than others of course, but the standard was high throughout. I sampled old favourites from established breweries alongside newer creations, what pleased me most though were some of the beers from the new kids on the block, more rising stars meaning even more choice in the months/years to come.

I made no notes on any of them and to be honest I don’t regret that at all, focussing all my attention on enjoying them taking priority. Thumbing back through the programme, these, in no particular order seem memorable now a few days on. Harbour – Belgian Pale, Hopcraft – Oceanic, Quantum – Stockport Sour, Elusive/Weird Beard – Lord Nelson, Weird Beard – Sadako, OffBeat/Blackjack – Jumping Juniper Rye, Brewfist/De Molen – Beautiful and Strange, Beerd – Razor IPA, Cheshire Brewhouse – Sorachi Ace, Axiom – New Dawn and of course the return of Wild Beer & Co’s Schnoodlepip. All great beers for different reasons and for different times during my two days. No doubt I have forgotten some that were later additions or perhaps your favourites, if so no offence meant, and no matter as on the whole all were enjoyed, so a cheery hats-off to all involved.

IMG_9786The food on offer was top-notch, and seemed to work well. Queues were minimal apart from the wood-fired pizzas on offer from Peel & Stone, which by nature wasn’t an immediate serve option, but managed really well with an “order and come back in ten” approach. For me at least, the pizzas stole the foodie show, and I could have ordered over and over.

IMG_9789So why, “Smiley, Happy, People”?


Not sure why John is so smiley, his glass is empty!

It may just be the current Commonwealth Games “friendly games” slogan creeping unconsciously into my psyche, it could be the weather and the venue’s outside space using this to advantage, I also know pretty much all of the organising team quite well, which may be making me slightly biased. The reason really isn’t important and most definitely is not a slant on any other festivals either. It seemed though that I was constantly flitting from one friendly conversation to the next, I had some fun, informative, helpful, interesting, hilarious and no doubt bloody daft chats, met old friends and new and I just come away from ‘the bash” feeling really happy. A feeling that sort of radiated around the whole event from start to finish.

Can we do it all again next weekend….please?


P.S Some dates for your diary

OffBeat Firsty Friday Festival – 1st – 3rd Aug 2014

Leeds International Beer Fest – 4th – 7th September 2014

Back in Macc – Sept 13th 2014

IndyMan 3 – 9th -12th October 2014

Los Muertos Brewing Co (Part One)

logoAs an Englishman/Brit, holidays abroad usually means one of two things dependant on destination. Either an amazing selection of beer in certain parts of Europe or a sea of relatively bland yellow fizz in others, with a similar story further afield for long-haul destinations. As a seasoned beer traveller, very early on in the planning stages for our “non-beer” holiday, I always try and do a bit of digging as to what is in the area, or at least a short travelling distance in the hope we can escape for a little “exploration”. This time around we dropped on a really good deal for Mexico, a little place called Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast. All very last-minute, so with little expectation I tapped the destination into Google, fearing the worst but getting a most welcome surprise when staring back at me was “Los Muertos Brewing, Puerto Vallarta’s first Brewpub”. Digging deeper all the signs looked good, leaving getting there as being the only hurdle as it showed as being quite a distance away from our resort, some daft sod had plonked an airport right in the way dammit..

Once on the ground we found that there was a regular bus service into town which was really cheap, but as our journey required a couple of changes and speaking little of the lingo we took the cowards way out and grabbed a cab. Despite being close on a 40 minute journey though, the cost was a reasonable 270 Pesos or roughly £12.50 which is well worth it, especially as we had no real clue as to where we were going.

IMG_9610Arriving at lunchtime we grabbed a table by one of the large open arches of the cantina style bar, still relatively quiet apart from a few folks eating and watching the early football world cup game on one of the many TV screens dotted around, sitting awhile to take in our surroundings before making a beer choice.

IMG_9613First impressions, it sort of reminded me a little of a Brewdog style bar, not identical, but with that gritty modern-metallic feel, although clearly with a Mexican tint and a much more almost alfresco-esque twist. The impressively shiny but nonetheless imposing brew-plant drawing the eye, a stark reminder that this is a place of work as well as pleasure. I like it, it’s the sort of place I’d like to own, functional, fun, a happy place to enjoy a beverage or two.

IMG_9608The menu too is a welcome sight, 7 beers*, all brewed on-site, ranging from blonde though hefenweisse styles, into IPA’s and Ambers, with tantalising chilli beers and stouts for the more adventurous in the Mexican heat. Food to match, pizza, fantastic sounding sandwiches, chicken and more, with prices being exceptionally reasonable. All beers were 45 Pesos for around a pint (probably 500ml or the US/Mexican equivalent measure 16oz?) regardless of strength and style, this equating to around £2 at current exchange rates. Or maybe try the most enormous slice of pizza, salad and side, with a pint for an amazing value 60 Pesos.

*seven beers on at the time of our visit, this seems typical but I believe some of the range rotates

We started the beer selection in suitable fashion with a couple of thirst quenchers after our journey, the wife choosing Mexicana Rubia Blonde and myself opting for El Jefeweizen, a summer wheat beer. Both did their job and were pleasant enough, although I was slightly disappointed with the wheat, it being almost clear and lacking in the expected flavours or claimed coriander and orange, not bad, but lacking something.

IMG_9604Next up was Agave Maria Amber and Anillo de Fuego Chilli beer, the former being a typical American amber in style and very well executed, a welcome change to have a beer at last with some depth of flavour after the hotel offerings. Not massively hoppy, but enough to be pleasantly drinkable.

The chilli beer was also pretty good with quite a bit of chilli heat, although a pint was quite a challenge. It would probably make an excellent base for “Cielo Rojo” (Red Sky) as suggested in the commercial description. This is a local sort of beer cocktail as I believe, a variation of which I saw lots of people order back at our hotel. Made up of cerveza/beer, tomato juice, Worcester and Tabasco sauce and lime juice, served in a salt edged glass. I didn’t try one personally but Mrs H sampled one and quite enjoyed it (although not ordering another).

IMG_9616Revenge Pale Ale came next, the moment I’d craved long before walking in the door, hopped with Chinook, Columbus and Cascade, it did not disappoint and supplied the first “hop-burp” experience since leaving the UK. Hiding its 6.1 ABV extremely well it went down far too quickly which was a massive shame as I could really have sunk a few more. Sadly though I had to move on to get through the menu, the large measures not helping matters here.

The intriguing sounding Hop On was our next offering, billed as an American Strong Ale and arriving at the table much darker than I at least expected. In my mind I pictured something akin to a double IPA when in fact it was a really dark ruby glassful with a coffee crema-brown head foaming on top. Rich and malty with a decent hop hit and again something I’d quite happily order again should the chance arise.

IMG_9618Last beer of a really enjoyable afternoon was the McSanchez Stout. Listed as being the Los Muertos version of Guinness Irish Stout which I personally think does it a real disservice as for me, it knocks “the black stuff” into a cocked hat. I was a little wary of drinking an Irish stout on a day where the outside temperatures were in the mid thirties, but this was a real treat, chilled just enough so as not to be soupy, but still letting the delicious roasty flavours shine. Surprisingly my second favourite beer of the day.

More on Los Muertos in a day or two, with a short interview with brewer/owner Conner Watts, but for now, thanks for reading.



The Los Muertos beer menu can be found here, but I’ve listed those we tried below for ease of reference.


Mexicana Rubia Blonde: A light bodied ale that combines the smooth drinkability of traditional Mexican lagers with the bite of a Czech pilsner

El Jefeweizen: A crispy smooth summer wheat beer with just the right amount of cloudiness from a German inspired weisen. Great session beer highlighted with coriander and orange zest.

Agave Maria: A Medium bodied ale, lightly hopped, but full on the palate. Expect nutty flavours coming through in this highly drinkable American style amber.

Anillo de Fuego: Wheat based ale fermented on a bed of diced serrano peppers. This picante twist will definitely put a little pep in your step. Try this with tomato juice or as the base of a Cielo Rojo for a uniquely Vallartan beverage.

Revenge: A knock-you-down pale ale nearly hoppy enough to be considered an IPA by most beer enthusiasts – high gravity and high hops. Starkly distinct from anything you’ve had in Mexico and made for the hop-heavy, IPA crowd.

Hop On: We’re calling it an American Strong Ale which leaves us quite a bit of wiggle room in our interpretation of the style. This malty, hoppy, dark ale will really get your attention. Overall bitterness and coffee like flavours will entertain your senses.

McSanchez: Fancy Guinness with your bangers and mash? This is our version of a fresh pint of the creamy Irish classic.

Location and Contacts:

Lazaro Cardenas 302
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco 48380

Hours: Mon – Sun, 12pm – 12am

Phone: 01 322 222 0308

Facebook and Twitter

“Nino-vation” – De Ranke

Nino Bacelle, takes the floor at “Beermoth” in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and after a brief introduction apologises for his slightly poor grasp of the English language, he’s here to talk about “De Ranke Brouwerij”, his brewery and the wonderful range they create. (The latter being my words not his, but nonetheless true). The apology is clearly not needed as the room is full of beer lovers glued to his every word, and he proceeds to deliver one of the most engaging talks of its kind that I’ve witnessed.


Image courtesy of BeerMoth

On the table in front of us all sit six bottles, of that six only one (the XXX) is new to me, as I’ve been a fan of the De Ranke range of beers ever since I first began to explore what Belgium has to offer. XX was the first De Ranke I tasted and it was just so different to any Belgian brew I’d tasted  before, so dry, bitter and incredibly drinkable. I also loved the paper wrapped bottles and still do, unwrapping one to pop the cap adds a bit of theatre to the occasion every time.

IMG_9312Nino relays his story of the struggle to learn how to brew in Belgium many years ago at around 1981, experimenting with what he could get hold of at the time, the lack of information available and the often reluctance of established brewers to share their secrets. From there a spell at a Belgian “brew school” before cutting his teeth by offering his services to help out when and wherever he could to put those newly acquired skills to the test.

Once he was happy that he was able to produce something to produce commercially that would have some market appeal, the journey began in earnest as the first steps proper towards what we now know as De Ranke were taken. Taking hired brew days at Deca Brouwerij in Woesten and soon being joined by Guido Devos (the second brewer and joint owner of De Ranke), it was here the first production of Guldenberg, an abbey beer typical in style at least to other popular beers in the area and designed to appeal to the local drinkers was brewed.

IMG_9316It was what went on from there with these two guys is what I found really interesting, back in the nineties, deciding to buck popular trends in their homeland and produce beers that they wanted to drink rather than for market demands, a risky but quite a topical strategy considering what has happened here in the UK in recent years.

XX Bitter was the first of these “new-fangled” beers and caused a stir at Deca at the time, inspired funnily enough by British beer and the writings of “The Beer Hunter” Michael Jackson. Using cast iron and copper equipment dating back to the 1930’s as I recall, but modifying it so as to use full cone hops and not essences or pellets, fresh local ingredients, much to the astonishment of the resident brewing staff. “Why do you do it this way, it creates so much mess and makes the process so much more difficult”, the answer, simple, “better flavour, aroma and bitterness”. This insistence on using only the finest and local where possible ingredients continues to this day, as does their dedication to quality.

I could rattle on about Nino’s story, the history and description of each beer for pages but I won’t, partly because I probably wouldn’t do it justice with my pretty hopeless memory but also as I think more people should hear it from the man himself, only then would the enthusiasm for doing what he and Guido do clearly be evident.

What I will say though is what a joy it was to go through the range of beers in his and the company of folk in mutual agreement and appreciation. As I mentioned earlier, all but one of them on offer were new to me, that though, although delicious, wasn’t the highlight. For me, getting reacquainted with many of them that I had perhaps forgotten made the evening so much more pleasurable, Guldenberg and Noir de Dottignes in particular on that front.

IMG_9314To briefly recap on “XXX” before I close, Nino explained that it was brewed initially for an American beer festival, where the demand for their beers are high. Made using exactly the same recipe as “XX Bitter” but altered by the addition of 50% more hops alone. The result of this is not what I and my drinking companions expected and in fact splits the table in terms of which they prefer. It is bitter yes, but much fuller in body than its sibling and as such feels completely different, stronger in abv even when it fact it is 0.2% lower. I’d really recommend trying both side by side to see for yourself as we did, dragging the last bottle of previously devoured XX from our table.

If you read this in time, you may still have the chance of meeting Nino and sampling a few beers together this afternoon (Saturday 14th June 2014) at BeerMoth between 1-3PM. If not, please do try the beers and hopefully we can get him back across to the UK again sometime soon.

Thanks to Nino for your innovation all those years ago, and your clear passion to continue enjoying what you do, also to the guys at BeerMoth for really memorable night, I just hope I’ve captured enough here to do it all justice.




The Lord Clyde RedWillow Kitchen Takeover

When Molly, one of the fine staff at Red Willow Bar in Macclesfield first told me about a “not to be missed” event coming soon to the bar, I immediately said “when, count me in” and stuck the date in my diary. However I must admit to being a little startled at the £50 per ticket price tag when later I saw the full announcement, but knowing Toby and Caroline Mckenzie’s passion for quality I went with it and handed over the loot. By god I’m glad I did.

The event was to be a five course beer and food matching dinner, based on the tasting menu created by chef Ernst Van Zyl of The Lord Clyde in Kerridge, just outside Macclesfield. I’d not been to The Lord Clyde before, but had heard Toby speak highly of it many times previously and once I took a look at the website too, Ernst’s own track record working at many famous food establishments spoke for itself.

“Heston’s The Fat Duck, Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, London’s Park Lane Hotel, Noma in Copenhagen, Restaurant Frantzén and latterly Head Chef at Etrop Grange Hotel … Ernst and Sarah’s careers are as colourful as the creativity produced in their kitchen”


Before I crack on with my view on the nights events, I just need to add that I am not a food writer, nor am I a beer and food matching expert, enthusiast yes, specialist no. There were many things on the night that were completely new to me, a proper learning experience was had as well as a really good evening. Also as I was intent on enjoying and not writing, I made only mental notes, so I’ve added Ernst’s own brief descriptions to add a little more meat to the bone so to speak.


The menu promised five courses of delicious sounding food (with a hint of mystery for the uninitiated) each paired with one and on occasion two beers designed to complement each dish, where two beers were on the table, this was for you to make the choice as it could not be agreed upon when the menu was planned.

IMG_9229We were made welcome on arrival with a glass of refreshing “cider sour”, something different ahead of the beery pleasures to come, this was a blend of Skidbrooke dry cider, Wild Turkey bourbon and fresh ginger, cool, palette cleansing with a zingy warming aftertaste, soon quaffed as Toby introduced us to our chef and we took our seats at the table.

First to arrive was an unannounced but most welcome pre-meal treat of freshly baked warm sourdough bread served with a smoked butter, the latter arriving in a small stoneware pot that softly smoked as the lid was removed. Normally I am not a fan of butter (shock horror), also my wife of smoked food, but this was delicious and melted into the warm bread wonderfully giving it a salty subtly smoked edge.

10169386_10152101160835684_5991157214930291963_nSalmon and heirloom tomatoes, grapefruit and Jack by the hedge, served with First Chop “HOP” and Brasserie DE Cazeau’s “Saison Cazeau”

IMG_9221Chef Ernst’s notes: Poached salmon with heirloom tomatoes, blueberries pickled and purée, pick grapefruit cells, celery and jack by the hedge. This was quite possibly the nicest tasting piece of salmon I have ever eaten, it looked raw but wasn’t it had such a wonderful melt in the mouth texture. Cooked using the sous-vide method I believe, with the tomato and other accompaniments it tasted just superb. Both beers went with the dish really well, the HOP particularly with the salmon but weirdly perhaps too similar, with the effect of complimenting rather than any contrast or change. The saison was the star though, with the cutting floral notes twisting flavours this way and that, bringing different tastes to the fore.

Beetroot and goats cheese, Marmite and grapes, served with RedWillow “Reckless” and Beavertown “Black Betty”.

IMG_9227Chef Ernst’s notes: Salt baked beetroot, pickled pink beetroot, raw yellow beetroot, grapes as poached, fluid gel and fresh, mini Marmite meringues and as powdered and goats cheese. A challenging dish here for some, me included as I absolutely detest goats cheese and of course for some, Marmite is a tricky one too. Firstly, what a beautiful plate of food! Second, Marmite meringue, who knew?? Although I have to confess to only eating a little goats cheese with a few of its plate mates to see how they blended together I also have to say I actually enjoyed this dish. The meringue was delicious, imagine a slightly crunchy exterior concealing as sort of savoury toffee, slightly sweet, but not really recognisable at all from the base ingredient, for me on both novelty value and in how it worked so well with the cheese, the star of this dish. Two very different beers on offer again this time, with I think Wreckless added late on to the menu. However it was definitely  a winner, the tropical fruit and bitterness just worked. Black Betty is a top quality beer which I love, but here those roasty flavours slightly overpowered rather than combined. That said, I could have still quaffed another…

Jacobs ladder, tarragon, shallot and egg, served with RedWillow “Smokeless”.

10411419_10154267637840171_2963383854791257791_nChef Ernst’s notes: Seared Jacobs ladder, with roast shallot emulsion, tarragon purée, brined egg yolk, caramelised shallot purée, pickled red onion, shallot wafer crumbs. Another new one for me in “Jacobs ladder” which I now know to be beef short ribs. On the night though I had no real idea of what was concealed inside the carefully laced pickled red onion outer layer. Served almost rare, with a slightly firmer texture than I expected (once I realised what it was), it was a mighty mouthful of flavours when combined with the various purées and smooth creamy egg. Smokeless worked well, it’s soft toasty smoky notes drawing out the succulence of the beef and complimenting the creamy egg yolk.

Lamb and heritage carrot, broad beans and curry, served with RedWillow “Sleepless”

IMG_9235Chef Ernst’s notes: Pan fried lamb rump with spiced sausage, heritage carrots, Israeli couscous, broad beans and a lamb jus. Not all of the pictures here are great, bad light, phone pics swiftly snapped in between lots of conversation. This one in particular does not do the dish justice, nor does it portray the warming spice aroma wafting from the plate. The lamb was cooked perfectly, soft and juicy and bursting with strong flavour, the sausage firm and meaty with a lovely peppery after-burn, and yet another new experience, Israeli couscous in a lightly curried sauce. It looked a little like tiny peas, tasted a like little popping dumpling pearls and I want some more. (I have tried, but very hard to find) Sleepless was a good pairing, it wasn’t my favourite but the chewy toffee malt went well with the meat, with the prickly hops complimenting the subtle spices.

Strawberry and tonk a bean, hazelnut and nasturtium, served with The Kernel “Export Stout”

1497631_10152101390250684_415873344191195102_nChef Ernst’s notes: Textures of strawberries with tonk a bean rice pudding, crispy white chocolate, milk crumble, hazelnuts and nasturtium. Personally speaking I’m not normally a big sweet person when I’m drinking beer, normally at this point I’d choose the cheese board every time, but man oh man this dish rocked. The almost nougat-like tubes of tonka bean rice pudding were super creamy, add the strawberry combination of textures, dusted with chocolate and toasted nuts it was not overly sweet, but super tasty. The Export stout was an inspired choice, rich with coffee, fruit, chocolate and vanilla with a drying hoppy finish, it seemed to just elongate every mouthful, new tastes popping into the mind just as you’d got over the last. Definitely the pairing of the night for me, closely followed on the night by the Saison Cazeau.

All in all a really enjoyable night and good value for money too. The food and service were excellent, timings perfect. The dishes were beautifully presented and ample in proportion, with plenty of beer to match, with a good third to half of each. Meaning we left happy and content rather than bloated and hammered, happily tootling off to the station in good time after sampling a few more of RedWillow Bar’s tip-top selection and lastly the “gin section”.

The Lord Clyde offer various dining experiences from a full tasting menu down to sarnies, so if ever you are in the area it maybe wise to take a detour, here’s the latest menu. Then of course park the car in Macc and wash it down with a few beers at the Red Willow Bar and other fine local establishments.

A massive thanks for reading and to everyone involved, a resounding success!


Check out Charlie of Gin Fuelled Blue Stocking‘s piece on the event here.


The Lord Clyde

+44 (0)1625 562123 | 36 Clarke Lane, Kerridge, Bollington, SK10 5AH