Friends…

“Mmm, I’m telling you now, the greatest thing you ever can do now, is trade a smile with someone who’s blue now, it’s very easy just..”

I’d been looking forward this weekend so much. Thanks to Mrs H I had a rare Saturday off and I was heading for my first ever visit to the Independent Salford Beer Festival (ISBF), an event organised and frequented by really good friends.

It started with train delays, pretty much par for the course these days. Quickly topped off with a typical Phil dropping myself in the shit moment. After cows on the line, several train cancellations and the added bonus of Manchester Christmas Market travellers, the already overcrowded cattle wagon pulled into Stockport. As hordes more passengers crammed on and forced their way deep into the carriage, I looked right towards the building carnage and exclaimed “Jesus F@*king Christ”. At that exact moment emerging from my left I found myself face to face with a 6ft plus Krishna monk. Shaved head, tiny platted pony tail, painted face, fully robed up in glowing orange, the complete works. As I finished my three word rant, he stopped, turned, looked me straight in the eye and said quite loudly “Hare Krishna” and walked away without a glance back. I was like, no, sorry, not you, I didn’t mean it like….oh bugger!

Anyway, after fighting through Piccadilly and a short ride with a seemingly deaf taxi driver we made it.

I was met inside by organiser and good friend Jim Cullen, Jim doing his customary Wayne’s World style bow of adoration at my approach, as he often quotes my old blogging & and events as being at least part of his inspiration to do the same. If I have in any way shape or form had any part of what this bloke has achieved over the last five or six years I am very humbled, and it is I who’s not worthy my friend. Anyway, enough of that, it was around 11:50 the place was already buzzing, I was gagging for a beer and there was quite a bit of it about.

I headed straight for the cask area, absolutely over the moon to find that oh so rare cask of De Ranke XX Bitter hadn’t gone yet. It was my first choice and didn’t disappoint, richer and fuller than I’d tasted before with a more intensely bitter finish, delicious! I’m not sure if cask XX is a first, it’s definitely something I’ve never seen before and it’s a beer I love so go figure..

That in itself should give you an idea of the sort of beer list Jim pulls together for this festival. An eclectic mix of gems, from progressively traditional and new wave brewers, one-off collaborations and old favourites, I think it’s called putting the miles in. Cask being served alongside “evil keg filth” and being enjoyed in equal measure for what it is, bloody good beer and nobody dying because a rule had been broken, the way festivals should be.

At this point I should witter on about what beers I drank and what they tasted like but in truth everything was so good I lost track. The “Staggeringly Good” Ekuanodon was staggeringly good and a new brewery for me. “Five Towns & Rivington” Sweet Thing Imperial Fruited Ale was gorgeous, Toms Tap, Bexar County, North Riding all fab, in fact everything I had was excellent, apart from that one that everyone seemed to love except me and which shall remain nameless lol.

One thing that struck me about ISBF was the feel good vibes. From the moment I walked through the door to the second I wobbled out I felt happy, IT felt happy. Perhaps that’s because I was among so many friends, perhaps it was much more of an intimate venue than some of the more well-known festivals, my gut feeling though is that it is by design. The whole thing felt inclusive, there was something for everyone from your Grandad to the new breed Untappd “craft beer” ticker. It had warmth and not just from the non-pretentious hot-pot and chips, no doughnut burgers or deep-fried chaffinch livers in sight here. Simple but tasty honest beer and food served with a smile.

In all seriousness isn’t that what beer should be about?

At this point I’m going to put something out there, not only is this my favourite UK-based beer festival this year (I specify UK only because Borefts in the Netherlands is almost untouchable in my eyes), but if it happens in 2019, #ISBF6 will be first on my hit list for next year. Put it on yours too!

Before I close this out it’s worth saying that I almost never blog these days, since opening Otter’s Tears I generally feel gagged. I write something, think twice about it and don’t post it for fear of my views affecting the business. It’s hard enough without my gob making things tougher.. But here I felt compelled to do so albeit in completely different circumstances. I needed to say something to Jim and to all the folk who support him in making this wonderful thing happen and my rambling away on here seemed the most fitting tribute to folk who have done so much more. So thank you all, I had an absolute blast with old friends and new, who could ask for more.

“So anytime, somebody needs you, don’t let them down although it grieves you, some day you’ll need someone like they do, looking for what you new” Friends – Led Zeppelin

 

 

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Throxheards Old Unobtainable

“Scrooge was ready to settle in for Christmas Eve. Newly imported naughty parchments, a ceramic pot of Mrs Arbuthnott’s Self-Enhancement Embrocation and a case of Throxheards Old Unobtainable. So why the Dickens was there a ghost at the end of his bed?”

It’s early December 2011, and I’m hosting The Session, something I should really get around to doing again. My Theme? Well, Christmas of course, it was December after all.

A post is published from Simon (Scoop) Johnson… “Scrooged: or A Cautionary Tale Of How Beer Got Fecked”. It made me laugh so much, it’s still possibly my favourite blog post ever, and it’s always something I go back to read and share as Christmas approaches.

Click the link and read it for yourself, tell me you are not smiling by the third paragraph.

Scrooged: or A Cautionary Tale Of How Beer Got Fecked

 “Throxheards Old Unobtainable”. 

Ever since that day, and long before I’d even dreamed of opening Otter’s Tears, I’d often had thoughts of making that beer a reality. So, around a year or so ago, I pitched the idea to my good friend Andy Parker of Elusive Brewing, we talked about it and then, as things do, it got lost in busy lives. Then a few months ago, it came up again in conversation and this time we set a brew date in the diary: Sunday 6th August 2017.

My original idea has always been to brew a small batch high strength beer, something like an Imperial Stout, Old Ale or Barley Wine. An annual release, bottles only, something that would age well and be brewed in very low numbers. Something sought out, but often not attained. Basically in line with my interpretation of the beer name.

After a week or so, Andy messaged me and said, “Phil, just had a thought regarding Throxheards. How about we launch it at Indyman? I’ve such fond memories of him dressed as a clown there, such great times. It just feels right to have it on at IMBC”. I have to admit, this threw me completely. But then I thought, yeah, it does feel right. It was then it started to snowball.. #nopunintended

 AP “We’d really need to nail it for IMBC though. That said, we’d have some great brewers to call upon for advice”

He wasn’t wrong…. Before I knew it we had Stuart Ross of Magic Rock, Dominic Driscoll of Thornbridge, James Farran of Summer Wine and Colin Stronge of Buxton, all friends of Simon, all keen to be involved in some way, all having very fond memories of him and wanting to bring this to life as a lasting legacy to a great guy. Between them a recipe was finalised, an old school Barley Wine, with various tweaks and flavour profiles being proposed. Sadly though, due to late notice, none of the four collaborators could make it physically to the brew day itself. Look out for a post on the brew day soon. But fear not, as that’s not the end of the story..

“He threw the parchments on the fire, fetched up a bottle of Throxheards Vintage Christmas Special from the cellar and threw open the front door. Maybe he should make a steaming bowl of Smoking Bishop and offer it to the waifs in the street?”

Throxheards Vintage Christmas Special, that gives us another opportunity. With a good proportion of the first batch going into a keg, we lose 3-4 cases of an already limited bottle release. So if all goes to plan, the thought is to brew another version or at least an enhanced edition for Christmas, potentially opening this up for further collaborative involvement, plus of course more bottles.

There are lots more plans afoot too, details to be confirmed and announced soon, but for now, this is where we are today:

  • Throxheards Old Unobtainable is at present working its magic down at Elusive under the watchful eye of Andy Parker, tasting great I’m told
  • One keg is destined for Indyman, exactly when to be confirmed
  • Approximately 3 cases of bottles, news on how to get one of those soon
  • All profits going to Rebecca Johnson’s nominated charity “British Heart Foundation” in Scoops memory via #RIPScoop

For now, a massive thanks to Andy for helping me make this happen; to Colin, Stuart, James and Dominic for embracing the idea and giving their input on the recipe; to the guys at Indyman; and those who helped me brew it: Chris, Rach and Jane.

Has anyone got a recipe for Mrs Arbuthnott’s Self-Enhancement Embrocation?

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

RedWillow Brewery, Bar and Grill #Twissupdate #MaccToBasics

Basic CMYKAs with previous events, one of the highlights of any Twissup is the brewery visit. It’s a chance to chill out, have wander around the brewery, ask stupid questions, point, poke and sniff things.

RedWillow are welcoming us all again, giving old and new a sneak preview of the new huge brewhouse, which is rapidly progressing to being operational (ish).

We have a few treats for you here, including the unofficial mini-launch of Faithless XLV, a New Zealand Hopped Brett IPA, which sounds WONDERFUL! Hopefully Faithless 44 Dry Hopped Pilsner and we think either Directionless or Wreckless (tbc).

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I am also reliably informed that Toby is bringing along his BBQ, which was described as being “like a spaceship”! The man himself will be manning the flight deck and burning things for your delight (maybe Smokeless would have been a good idea), no other men (or women) of course will be allowed to touch or even look even slightly lovingly at the BBQ, as it is like being unfaithful, please bear this in mind as you approach..

IPL badgeOlly Clarke from Freedom Brewery will be with us and is hoping to bring along a few samples of their new IPL, plus a few other bits to hand out as samples, (assuming he is still able to speak and has control of his limbs at this point). Don’t hang about though as neither will last long..

Down at RedWillow Bar later in the day, a suitably well stuffed beer menu will await you. Including fresh on for the day, two of my all time favourite beers, Roosters gorgeous “Baby Faced Assassin” and Salopian’s delightful “Kashmir”, plus Mikkeller’s “Crooked Moon DIPA” which sounds dangerously good.

mikkeller-crookedRedWillow Bar will also have “Fearless” T-shirts for sale on the bar, priced at £15 each, but sadly will not serving food as it is just too busy to make this practical on a day like this, however if you have the munchies, do have snacks, plus there are plenty of takeaways nearby.

I’ve written this in a bit of a rush, so hope I haven’t missed anything (shout up if I have). A full run down of the route and timings will be up later at around 6pm.

Please share, tell your friends, come along and enjoy what is normal a fantastic day of beer!

CHEERS!

 

Brew(tique) kid on the block! #Twissupdate #MaccToBasics

Blimey! It’s Thursday already, only two days to our little “bimble” around Macclesfield’s finest. I’d better get sharing some info..

As with last year, our intention is to follow a similar route and timings, Treacle Tap, RedWillow brewery, The Wharf and RedWillow Bar, a copy of the timings to follow (probably Friday). But, we have a rather pleasant problem, another stop to fit in to the itinerary, but when?

logoBrewtique, already worth a visit, recently relocated.  Outgrowing their small but perfectly formed earlier home, they packed up and shifted further up into town on Market Place (No8).

This move however gave them more options to spread out, expand the range and include a “drink in” option to their offering to customers. More space, bottle fridges and four lovely keg fonts of joy, one sour, one dark and two “other”.

Anticipated offerings on Saturday (subject to availability):

  • Boon – 2 year old Lambic
  • Arbor – Nitro Stout
  • Lervig – Lucky Jack
  • Offbeat/Otherton – Triplette Saison
  • Kegs “next up”, (should the above go) Troubadour – Gollem IPA, Thornbridge – Cocoa Wonderland, Beavertown – Gamma Ray, Kona Longboard Lager.
  • Fully stocked bottle/can fridges (over 150 beers)
  • Belgian and International Sours (see lists below, again subject to availability)

I attended the opening night recently and any fears over lack of space soon faded. The place feels airy and has some really interesting features including this super cool cellar space, soon to see tasting sessions and already home to a stack of ageing lambics, Orval etc.

IMG_3613 IMG_3610

So what is the problem, well, although they have moved from the previous semi-mountainous site, 8 Market Place is a little “off-piste” (yes, piste) in terms of our route, making it difficult to have a dedicated time slot.

The guys at Brewtique have therefore agreed to basically say look, we are open all day from 11am to 11pm for anyone who wants to pop in (it is only about 5 minutes walk from the train station) plus, it opens options for breakouts from RedWillow Bar at busy times being only a short walk away, and the extra place to visit afterwards, be that for locals or folks homeward bound by train. Please pay them a visit, I know I intend to.

Brewtique – 8 Market Pl, Macclesfield, Cheshire East SK10
01625 503228

IMG_3607

See you at the bar…

Cheers!

NDmRFDoK N1KoNryM IzBOQFAs

 

 

 

 

 

Marbles, Pies and Treacle – Twissupdate #MaccToBasics

treacle tap logo

News just in and confirmed from the “Treacle” of a Marble Brewery Tap takeover for Twissup. As you can see from the list below, they are bringing a mixture of classics and specials to kick off the day.

As per last years Runaway event, I expect it will be an informal Q & A session, with a few goodies to give away (T-Shirts, glassware etc) to the fortunate few and lots of supping.

Beer list as below:

450Cask:
Marble Pint
Marble La Petite Toulousaine
Marble Lagonda

Keg:
Marble Dobber
Marble Earl Grey IPA
Marble Bohéme (new Czech-style Lager)

Great North Pies, Supreme Champions of 2015 The British Pie Awardhave created the amazing (exclusive) breakfast pie again for the day, featuring such delights as bacon, black pudding, Hob Nob biscuits (yes, that’s right) served as usual with beans. For vegetarians there is a Cheese & Onion Pie option which is an absolute delight, coming from a dedicated carnivore that is fine praise indeed.

IMG_0247

 

It is all getting scarily close, hope to see some faces old and new at the Treacle Tap tucking in. Our starting venue, kicking off at 11am. See you there!

Cheers

 

Macc To Basics

For the oh so many people that have been asking me about this, I can at last confirm that this years Macclesfield #Twissup is go!

P1020544As you can probably guess from the lack of updates, since we decided to kill the “Macc To The Future” idea through lack of interest (it seemed a great idea when we were drunk), things have been a little quiet..

I stand and solely take the blame for this, as for many reasons which are now thankfully all gone, I’d lost my drive to drive the event as much as I had in previous years. But thankfully due in truth to the support from you guys, and in particular I’d say Matt at the Treacle too for pushing me on, we going ahead as planned on Saturday 22nd August 2015.

What has made it trickier this time around is that there has been so much going on behind the scenes. Toby at RedWillow building a new brewery, Chris closing and reopening a new, larger and much improved Brewtique, and Bronwyn and Tim with their network of fine establishments. So we decided to take it back to basics (#MaccToBasics) and just go with a great social drinking theme. No big beer launches (unless of course anyone fancies it), just a great range of beer and food, a good crowd of friendly people having a beery bimble around the usual haunts.

IMG_6367So far we have the return of the amazing Great North (breakfast) Pie Co at The Treacle Tap as our starting point at 11AM. Where we will also have the pleasure of an informal Meet The Brewer session with Marble and I’m sure a fine selection of their beers tbc.

Toby is again opening up RedWillow brewery for us to try a few beers and take a look around the new brewery building so that you can see it as a work in progress.

Chris at The Wharf is escaping on holiday, but again is happy to welcome us and put on some “cellar specials” as well as the normal top range. He is also hoping that folk will take an excursion up to the new shop which now has beer on tap including a dedicated sour line. It’s probably not feasible for us all to go “en-masse”, but we should have plenty of time to visit as they are open all day till late.

Image 1Finishing off the day as last year in RedWillow Bar, which I am sure will have enough to keep you all happy on the cask, keg and gin front among other things. Molly and the team will I’m sure pull out the stops to make the days beer board as amazing as last year.

IMG_0273Full details to be confirmed for all venues as soon as I have them on the likely beer lists, venue timing itineraries, food etc. “So keep em peeled”. Hope to see you all soon.

Cheers