Macc To Basics – Route and Timings #Twissupdate

twissupReeto! It is now officially Macclesfield Twissup Eve…

I’ve been up against it today time wise, so apologies that this is a little later than planned. Below is basically a rough timetable for the day, but as always nothing is carved in stone, especially this year. So expect a leisurely wander, to great places with lovely folk, drinking ace beer.

All timings are approximate and all beers listed as being on are subject to change; as beer sometimes can be unpredictable. This is a quick rundown, a snapshot if you will, of some of the beverages that await you…

*Saturday 22nd August 2015*

Our first stop, Treacle Tap is easy to find. Walking out of Macclesfield train station, turn left down the bank onto Sunderland Street (No 43), the bar is 2 minutes walk and is on the right hand side, walking away from the station as you look at it.

Treacle Tap – 11am-12:45

Marble Brewery tap takeover, informal meet the brewer session. Great North Pie Co “Breakfast Pie.

RedWillow Brewery – 12:45-14:45

Faithless XLV, a New Zealand Hopped Brett IPA mini-launch. Faithless 44 Dry Hopped Pilsner, Directionless (or Wreckless tbc). Toby Mckenzie cremating meat.

(Gunco Lane)

The Wharf 15-16:45

Cellar aged Cheshire Brewhouse “Smokehouse Porter” (12 months), and Anarchy Quiet Riot IPA (a little less). Further cask and keg offerings.

(107 Brook Street)

RedWillow Bar 17-00 – 19:00/till late

Roosters Baby Faced Assassin, Salopian Kashmir, Mikkeller Crooked Moon and many, many more…

(32a Park Green St)

Brewtique – Bottle Bar and Taphouse 11AM – 11PM (all day) then general wanderings from RWB roughly 19:00 onwards

Four keg taps, full bottle menu. Lots of SOURs, see here.

(8 Market Place)

To confirm this is not a ticketed event, anyone can come along. It would be great if you can join us for the whole day, but if not you should find us in the vicinity of the venues at the above times. Share the love using the #MaccToBasics hashtag on twitter, have fun.

See you at 11am in The Treacle Tap, I have a hot date with a breakfast pie..

Cheers

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What’s in a rate?

60302320The problem with rating anything is that it is personally subjective, plus there are so many variable external influences that can, or could, influence the reviewers score or comments either consciously or unconsciously. Rating beer is no different.

Mood, location, are you too warm or too cold, is the beer to warm or too cold. Is it lively or flat as a kippers dick, is it supposed to be lively or like the other.

Knowledge, personal preference, location, experience, expectation, loyalty, brand perception, the unknown, peer pressure.

The last drink you had, that bag of spicy Space Raiders you just ate, or the delicious cheese you are eating right now that just pairs so well.

Who brewed it, when did they brew it, how was it shipped, is it fresh, is it old, is it “meant” to be drunk fresh or is it better to save it until it is old, if so for how long, how long is too long?

Where was it stored, how was it stored, how did you pour it, into what, was it clean, did you bother to pour it into anything, a can is for supping from right, did I see you just chugg that Orval??

Too bitter, too sweet, too hoppy, “hoppy, this isn’t hoppy”? Wow that’s strong, pfft too weak, way too much whisky barrel, it’s cloudy, that’s haze, too clear, I love unfiltered, this is boring, too brown, why is there fruit in here, can you taste phenolic sweetcorn?

What you just read on Untappd, Ratebeer, Beeradvocate and such?

Then there’s the actual rate, how do you rate, what is “good” for you, a three, a four, a FIVE, in that case what is exceptional?

Untappd Groupie!

Untappd Groupie!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking folks who rate, I personally use Untappd for example, and as such am at times (and definitely without any positive thought going into it), a certified “badge wanker”.. It was during such activity last night that these thoughts were pondered.

I don’t normally post comments, or at least anything worth reading tasting note wise, maybe an expression of delight or at worst a “meh”, but last night reading down some of the others below before I “tappd” I was a little bemused by some of the comments, so I did:

“Fucking hell there are some odd remarks about this beer on Untappd, it is ace, end of 😀 #justsaying” I said, exactly.

The beer in question being the Buxton-Evil Twin collaboration “Anglo Mania, described as an English Barley Wine.

What made me think that more than anything were the two comments on separate rates below.

“My rating is based on expectation of a smash English Barleywine. Way too hoppy. It’s more of an American Barleywine.”

“Love a good barleywine but I feel this could do with some big piney American hops.”

One was expecting an English Barley Wine and clearly didn’t get one, too damn American tasting, what WERE those brewers thinking!?! The other bought an English Barley Wine and wanted it to be bloody “Merican”, maybe that clue in the title just wasn’t clear enough… For me, I don’t really care which style it was, it tasted great, I loved it.

Then of course there’s the marking system, (if you use one). I do, but it’s hardly rocket science and probably changes several times a session depending on many things including alcohol and memory. It goes something like this.

1-1.5. Shite, drain pour, why me..

2-3. Meh, below average, probably wouldn’t drink again.

3-4 Decent, rising through regular standard, I like sorta beer.

4.5. OOOOOH, really good, I could drink loads of this.

and finally

5. Fuckadoodledoo, call the registrar and arrange a special licence, I’m in love and we are gonna have ourselves a wedding. (I actually rated this as a five, it was probably only a 4.75, so put away that wedding dress Mr Stronge.) 

But then of course others rates are totally different, as again was evident in a conversation with a good mate who I know, knows his beer. He (Rich) said “I gave it a 3.8 so it was quality”. On chatting he clearly loved it, but obviously has a different, perhaps more in-depth (or less haphazard) way of logging what he’s tried than I. Different strokes for different folks…

Then do you share your thoughts on social media, or keep them to yourselves? Personally speaking I rarely share these days apart from the odd one or two and of course the obligatory “badgewankery”. Some do though and at times I think for slightly unscrupulous reasons too on occasion.

The thing is, people do read these comments and can pre-judge by what has been said and/or for low or high scores. I know I have, especially if it relates to an unknown brewery or perhaps a particularly expensive beer, where I will have a quick peek at what people are saying before deciding on whether or not to buy. I’m not proud of it, and dread to think of how many really good beers I’ve passed by in doing so.

So, what’s in a rate, a personal opinion of a moment in time is all it is. So keep an open mind when you next read beer notes and be mindful of what you write.

Cheers

Talking to the dead…

logoA blast from the past this, as I wrote it almost a year ago as a follow on to a write-up on the Los Muertos tap-house. It’s been sat in my drafts box since July 2014, needs airing, so here goes nothin’. Please note though, that may things may have changed since then as the bar and beer range has no doubt grown, a year is a long time…

I met Conner Watts, owner and master brewer at Los Muertos briefly and perhaps not in the best of circumstances for which a chat, and of course an accurate recollection of said chat could be relayed here. Nevertheless, I’ll try to recap and capture the essence of the conversation, assisted by a few emailed notes from Conner himself.

It was a busy afternoon at the Los Muertos Brewpub, the football world cup in full swing, with the USA versus Belgium game being shown live that afternoon. The bar was full of American supporters, plus two others, us, shouting for Belgium in the cheap seats. By this stage we’d pretty much gone through the beer menu and it’s fair to say that I was a tad tipsy at this point. I’d seen someone who I assumed was the brewer dashing around the place doing this and that, chatting to customers and I’m glad to say, trying to get some of the folk still drinking local bottles to at least sample something from the range on tap. Finally I caught him standing still at the bar and wobbled across to introduce myself.

We chatted a little about the beers and what I thought of them and about the bar, food etc and I duly sang their collective praises, whilst giving him my thoughts on what I had enjoyed the most, plus those that I’d found lacking a little. Conner explained that they were all pretty much works in progress, with some being closer to being exactly how he wanted than others. The problem being that he was trying to be slightly conservative in some aspects, wanting to get more interest locally with Mexican nationals rather than only appealing to the tourist trade. The range of beers that locals have been exposed to are pretty “safe” lager/beers and ambers, mass-produced offerings you might say, so there would be little point brewing only beers to the massive “hop-head” market.

I mentioned that I’d spotted him chatting away to folks at tables drinking bottles, and he confirmed that basically he was aiming to educate them slowly as to what he was about, in the hope that gradually folk would start to try other things and spread the word. A slow battle, but one that was reaping some reward.

Lastly my biggest gripe, an odd one for most, but something I have just gotten used to over recent years, that being serving measures. Pints or 16oz glasses of beer are great for slipping down the session pales, lagers and the like, ideal in fact for the hot and humid temperatures of Puerto Vallarta, but if you want to try a few different beers, can be hard work.

It was explained that smaller glasses and even flights were on order (and should by now be in place), always being part of the plan but slipping down the pecking order of all the things that were critical in getting the place into shape.

In an earlier life, Conner had been a restaurateur in a ski resort in Park City back in USA before moving to Puerto Vallarta. Why Mexico? Well, simply because his wife was sick and tired of the cold! What they missed most after a few months was the variety of beer, so they said to each-other “we can do something about this” and set to work.

“I’d been home-brewing beer myself ever since I was at school in Colorado, so I went back and spent a summer there brewing commercially, trying to refine my knowledge and expanding it to cope with the economies of scale before jumping in with both feet. Once back in Mexico we set about making the brewery happen, the rest is history”

IMG_9605On asking about the challenges he’d faced along the way? “Our biggest challenge getting started was temperature. The original brew house had a really poor cooling capacity, so we had issues from knocking out to maintaining appropriate fermentation temperatures to crashing our tanks and dispensing beer.

The result was mediocre beer at best. We were able to get that fixed and now I’m extremely proud to serve ALL our beers.”

As a footnote to this post, you may, especially in the UK and US, have heard about another beers with a very similar look and branding to Los Muertos, “Cerveza de los Muertos” being one as written about by Philip Montoro of “Chicago Reader” here.

These beers are not from the same stable and I am reliably informed that “los muertos” can’t, or at least would be tricky to copyright. However, as with most things, although established first, Los Muertos do not have the financial backing to be able to fight the might of the likes of Coors who are said to own the other “Mexican Craft” brand, so just have to suck it up and carry on. An all too familiar story..

Cheers

The Wharf Macc Hardcore’s You

Last but by no means least in my round hop of what’s on for the BackInMacc tour tomorrow (Sat 13th September 2014), is one of my favourite pubs anywhere. Friendly local, music venue, community pub, beer geek heaven, it manages to pull them all off at one time or another, making it a must visit.

IMG_6369

Chris in action at last years Twissup

As usual Chris Stairmand has pulled a series of extremely rat-arsed rabbits out of the hat, a tres continental sounding one at that in terms of what he has lined up for our drinking pleasure.

We have our new brewer in residence, James Bendall from Wrexham based Axiom Brewing, with his first beer to market New Dawn. A fine offering to start a commercial brewing career it is too and can quite easily stand alone, but to add to the intrigue tomorrow it’s planned to be served via a randall stuffed with hops yet to be revealed. A Welsh rarebit..

new-dawn-wb-small

Mancunian with a southern hemispheric hint up next we have the delicious collaboration beer from Marble’s Matthew Howgate and New Zealander ex-pat James Kemp, who’ s collective talents created Howgate & Kemp New Zealand Pale Ale. Full-Product-Range-HowgateKemp

Continuing our transcontinental tour-de-biers we go all Soviet, via Nottingham’s Flipside Brewery, going dark and mysterious with their SIBA award-winning stout Russian Rouble, Da!RussianRoublePumpClip

Onward weary traveller to Europe, where we are set to meet some exceptionally special beers featuring brewers from Scotland, Denmark and of course Belgium. Beers that need no explanation to delight and amaze so I won’t bother, apart from to say, feast your eyes on these bad boys!!

T1_8438b5580d1ec292a9f2a5e9bd145515_84530pannepeutBoth will be available on keg of course rather than in bottles, with the Pannepeut being the 2013 Vintage rather than the version shown.

A truly knockout selection, with more on offer across the bar too. Step three of our beer adventure, The Wharf…

Another reminder to please like the Facebook page and if possible show you are coming along. If not for Twitter users you can tweet myself @filrd, @redwillowmacc, @thetreacletap, @thewharfmacc, or @tobymckenzie, or why not all of us at once. If none of that is your thing, like the post or comment below. But most of all, please share with your friends and come along for the day, all are welcome to join, itinerary again below with a little slack for walking etc.

The itinerary too for those who have missed it…

*Saturday 13th September 2014*

Treacle Tap – 11am- 12:45

RedWillow Brewery – 12:50-14:45

Wharf 15 -17:15

RedWillow Bar 17-30 – 20:00

20:01 Feel free to circulate and do it all again..

“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.

IMG_9317

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.

Cheers!

newnew

 

‘Twas the night before Twissup..

Twas the night before Twissup, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Wallets were placed in back pockets with care,
In hopes that all pubs had proper glassware.

The tweeps were nestled, all snug in their beds,
While visions of hop fairies danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Just hoped for no Worthies, nor similar crap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the cash point I flew like a flash,
Bashed in my PIN and drew out the cash.

The head on the bitter like new-fallen snow
Drew us to Macc, pre mid-day, off we go.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a red Virgin Train, and Tilting Ale beer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I hoped on the way back I wouldn’t be sick.
More rapid than eagles conductors they came,
And I wished that I’d a valid ticket for’t train!

“Now 6Towns! now, Teggers! now, Sadfield and Dixon!
Stop hogging the bar, and get me some beer in!
To the top of the hill, walk up to the Wharf!
Now drink away! Drink away! Drink awayerr Dwarf??

As dry hops that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet in a beer, make Bluesy Bondi
So down to the Treacle the Twissupers flew,
For Earl Grey IPA, and breakfast pie too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The shouting and bawling of a loud drunken yoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
He’d peed in his Carling and fell to the ground.

All dressed in Burberry, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all checky, and chavvy to-boot.
A bundle of giros and a bag full of crack,
Definitely not one of Isosceles pack.

The drinkers eyes twinkled, dimpled jugs how merry!
But with 10% beers, had noses like cherries!
Pursed little mouths were drawn up like a horse,
But with high IBU’s its par for the course .

The string of pulled pork he had gripped in his teeth,
Let smoky juice splash on his shirt underneath.
He wiped off the drippings, all sticky and sloppy
Then washed down with Shapeless, my god was it hoppy!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, he looked like, myself?
With a frown of his face and a nod of the head,
“You can fill that bugger up, there’s far too much head”.

He spoke not a word, but went back to the bar,
And filled all the glasses, and said “here y’are”.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
He paid with a VISA, his overdraft rose!

He ran for his train, the guard gave a whistle,
Asleep in five seconds, his stop he may “missle“. (sorry ;))
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he rode out of sight,
“Isosceles Twissup, what a bloody good-night!”

Macc Triangle Aged 2I certainly hope so but am pretty confident that everything that could be done has.

Really looking forward to (hoping for) a great turnout, if we get that it will I promise be a blast. I’m off to RedWillow this afternoon to help to get things ready for eager drinkers and for a preamble around town in the evening, so this is the last you’ll here from me on the Twissup front.

I’d like to say a massive thanks to everyone, (there are loads and far too many to mention here, you know who you are), for helping to make this happen, especially RedWillow and the good folks from The Treacle Tap, The Wharf and The Macc.

THANK YOU!

Cheers

Antisocial media?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/purplemattfish/Some folk absolutely love to do it alone at home or maybe out and about in absolute secrecy, hiding in shadows afraid of being discovered by a jealous partner.

Others prefer to do it groups, either privately gathered together in dimly lit rooms, or for the uninhibited, even in broad daylight the dirty swines!

My Mrs absolutely hates it and is always telling me to put it away. She says “I should stop playing with it all the time and taking pictures to show other people how good or bad it was”, “it makes you look like a geek” etc…..

Love it or loathe it, lots of us are doing it and I’m talking of course about using Untappd.

qfox8afmxczdwmj4s4ymI started using Untappd late last year basically as a tool to log what I’ve tasted over the year as my memory is awful. I came to write up my Golden Pints and thought “I’ve been to some amazing places and drank copious amounts of superb beer, but I haven’t a clue what they were now”, after all, I’d slept since then.

Anyone who follows me on there knows that I don’t write much if anything, maybe the odd note or a thank you or whatever if the beer was from a friend. My rating system leaves a lot to be desired too, but again, I’m not losing any sleep over that either and would say only that you are and actually give a monkeys what I drink, then if I’ve marked it at 4 to five stars it’s probably worth a punt to being ace in my view.

untappdWhat I have noticed though since I started to use the app or website, is that despite the published aim of Untappd above, I think at least personally I chat with people less about what I’m drinking now than I ever did before. Yes, if I post the beer I’m drinking via Untappd to Twitter or Facebook I do get the odd comment or sometimes a conversation commences as a result, maybe even a comment on Untappd itself, but nothing like it was in the days I first started using Twitter.

I’m not sure why this happens, maybe it’s because some people really hate Untappd and things like it and just switch off, maybe there is just too much of it now for folks to have time to winnow anything worth discussing from the chaff? Of course it could be that it’s just me that has noticed this phenomenon and you are all bored shitless of me wittering on about beer every day…

Don’t get me wrong here, I like Untappd (despite being labelled a geek) and will continue to use it, as for me it’s proving an invaluable tool to log my beer journey and I’m looking forward to revisiting all the info at the end of the year, but maybe I’ll post a bit less publicly via this and more directly in an old school stylee in an attempt to rekindle some lost friendships and contacts.

What’s your views on this, are you a lover or a hater? I’d love to hear of your experiences using Untappd and others like it?

Cheers

Pic by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/purplemattfish/