The Art of Beer – Rob Pointon at The Bulls Head

IMG_8740I don’t tend to do event plugs on here (as stand alone posts at least), but this one is a little different as it features something that has both happened and is yet to be. It features many people I know well, and sees a guest appearance of my own best doggie pal Maggie.

Sporadically over the last few weeks, my local pub The Bulls Head in Burslem, has paid host to artist Rob Pointon as he painted a scene perhaps typical to most people reading this, the inside of a pub, or maybe more importantly, warm daily pub life.

Rob set up his easel over several nights and it was absolutely fascinating to watch him build up the scene on canvas, a living picture you were part of. Starting with blocks of shaded colour, familiar faces and objects began to take shape gradually over time, before fine details were committed to history with an almost casual looking, but ultimately accurate flick of Robs brush, bringing them to life before our eyes.

The finished work is set to feature in an exhibition at the Bare Wall gallery in Burslem, showcasing art from the Potteries and North Wales. The event details are below, if you are in the area, make sure to call in.

Cheers

http://www.robpointon.co.uk/home 

Rob, signs the finished masterpiece.

Rob, signs the finished masterpiece.

POINTON

An exhibition of new work featuring The Potteries and North Wales.

Saturday 29th March 2014 until Saturday 5th April 2014

Barewall Studio, 2-4 Market Place, Burslem, Stoke on Trent ST6 4AT.

You've been framed! (Thanks to Jim at the Bulls head for the pic)

You’ve been framed! (Thanks to Jim at the Bulls head for the pic)

 

 

 

Advertisements

Westvleteren 12 available in the supermarket!!

Those lucky Belgians have all the luck..

I had the heads up on this from a friend whilst away on holiday. We were hoping we could get our hands on a few of these “building stone blocks” special cases, but looking at this piece from Flanders News I suspect they have long since been snapped up.

Ah well, gives me another excuse to visit St Sixtus next year 😉

On Thursday 3rd November, Belgian shoppers had a unique opportunity to stock up on Westvleteren 12, the Trappist beer that is usually only sold at the gate of the West Flemish Abbey. The monks have struck a deal with one of the big supermarket chains that means that a limited amount of the Trappist brew Westvleteren 12 is available in Colruyt supermarkets.

Usually this fine brew is only sold at the gate of the Saint Sixtus Abbey in West Flanders requiring dedicated beer lovers to make the journey to West Flanders province. The Trappist monks are now making an exception because they need to raise cash for renovation works in their home.

VRT

People who are interested in making the purchase do require the voucher published in Wednesday’s edition of the Christian daily De Standaard and the weekly Knack. Armed with this voucher they will be able to buy what is called a “building stone box” that includes six bottles of Westvleteren 12 and two dedicated glasses. In all some 93,000 boxes are being sold.

The voucher has also been sent out to Colruyt loyalty card holders.

The renovation work is needed after the abbey was confronted with subsidence a decade ago. Works started in 2008. The money raised by the sale of the boxes will help to fund the operation. After the renovation work is complete the Trappist monks will be able to return to their old quarters.

In February the American beer lovers’ website RateBeer selected Westvleteren 12 as the world’s second best beer.

Flandersnews begs to differ…

Buxton Brewery – Axe Edge at Brown and Green

This post is unashamedly aimed at people in Staffordshire and the surrounding areas, but please check it out even if that doesn’t apply. There are still some fantastic beer reviews on show (although I hasten to add, not from myself). I will say from the outset though that I have no connection (financial or otherwise) with either brewery or store. I just think they are both fantastic and hope you will too, if you give them a try.

Brown and Green are folks that in their own words are “passionate about providing you with great local, ethical and artisan food and drink which we have selected personally with care“. I know this to be true as I’ve experienced it first hand. I met the guys at B&G properly for the first time at an event they held with Brad and Viv at the fantastic Lymestone Brewery.

Anyway, as the evening went on and the Lymestone brews flowed, I took the opportunity to tell them about a range of new beers that I’d heard about from the then newly established Buxton Brewery, knowing that they were keen to stock local beers from local brewers.

Anyway to cut a long story short, within a few weeks they had duly arrived at the Trentham store as a new addition to the established beer section and ever since dashing up excitedly to buy and taste them myself, clearly then seeing what all the fuss was about, I became a massive fan.

Now I’ve read loads of posts and video reviews about Buxton beers and Axe Edge in particular, not one bad report at all and quite a few copied as links below for your perusal.

As such I am not going to reinvent the wheel and wax lyrical with a review of my own here. I was compelled though to write this blog post after watching this video review made by Simon at the Real Ale Guide. It just reminded me of how I reacted when I first tasted Axe Edge (and every time I have since).. 😉

All the Buxton range are brilliant in my opinion but Axe Edge sits head and shoulders above the rest it’s phenomenal. They do stock a good range of Buxton beers at Brown and Green but if you are trying one, try Axe Edge.

Don’t just take my word for it though check these reviews..

Dave from Broadford Brewer talks about Axe Edge and the Buxton range – “It was Axe Edge that introduced me to their beer, which is probably a little unusual as I would guess that a standard bitter or pale ale would usually be the first beer you might try as a way of introduction, followed by specialty beers or stronger niche varieties like the Double IPA.  For it’s mighty 6.8% it does not wield any destructive sharp edges, it is smooth and rounded and delivers more of a pleasant bludgeoning.  In short, I love it and its complex flavours and it goes straight onto my list of ‘beers of the year’.” Read more here…

Note: Dave’s blog page has moved since the above review, for new posts see here:

Eating Isn’t Cheating  – “These Buxton beers do something very difficult. They are both complex and hugely drinkable. You can concentrate and enjoy the depth of flavour, or simply sit back, drink them and enjoy. Which is exactly what I’ll be doing with the next bottle of either of these little lovelies.” Read more here…

Leigh at The Good Stuff (talks about the Buxton range) – “This is my first set of Buxton Ales, and they’ve really been a pleasure to drink. As a person, I like the juxtapostition of complex flavours, but carried out well so that each element stands out; Buxton certainly tick that box. Easy drinking, light beers with complex noses are the way to go with Pale Ale, and Axe Edge and Moor Top will probably go on to do great things.” Read more here..

Note: Leigh’s blog page has moved since the above review, for new posts see here:

A Swift One – “This is a 6.8% double IPA. Not for the faint hearted, it is just crammed with hop flavours from the selection used. How can a beer with nelson sauvin, citra and amarillo hops not be full of diverse and interesting fruit flavours, there is everything there, from orange to pineapple to lychees. A real classic beer.” Read more here…

Zak Avery (beer writer and owner of Beerritz) blog on Are You Tasting The Pith, talks about Moor Top – “Of the four beers in the boot, it’s not the never-ordinary, ever-dazzling Thornbridge beer that I’m excited about, nor the soon-to-be-crowned-classic Ilkley Mary Jane, but the Buxton Moor Top. I can’t think of a beer that is more of the moment than this one. Pale, low %abv, but absolutely stuffed full of hop character, it’s at once both no-nonsense and spectacular.” Read more here..

So it’s a big thanks to Brown & Green from me for doing what they do best, stock great local produce from equally great producers. Please pay them a visit, not just for Buxton, the rest of the local beer range is brilliant and it’s a foodies paradise too. BONUS!

If I’ve helped drive you there don’t forget to tell them Phil from Beersay sent you, you never know it may get me a few Brownie (and Greenie) points..  😉

Cheers

Hardknott, a rite of passage

Before you read on I’ll be honest as not to dissapoint, this is not a post about beer…

It is related to beer in terms of a journey to and a dispenser of said beverage. It also has links to beer by association to the fact that it formed the basis of how Hardknott, one of my favourite breweries came to be.

To cut a long story short and to stop you clicking close out of the sheer tedium of my witterings, it simply documents in a mainly photographic form, the journey across quite easily the most thrilling road and through truly spectacular countryside I’ve ever come across in the UK.

So I hope you’ll forgive the transgression and stick with me today, there will be more about the pubs at final destination later on this week.

In my last post our journey first took us to the Hawkshead Brewery in Staveley, from there we had to drive around the top of Lake Windermere and take the route through the Wrynose and Hardknott passes. Taking this route as an option is not one for the fainthearted. To try and some it up, it’s a little like being on a fairground ride. That ride being a hybrid combination of the Wild Mouse and Pepsi Max at Blackpool pleasure beach crossed with Alton Towers Oblivion, only in a car. It’s just plain crazy, the road twists and turns dramatically. You turn one way and you are climbing through a 90 degree turn looking skyward, the wheels struggling for grip and shuddering away merrily beneath you. You reach the brow of many a hill and cannot see what is to come. Like that moment you reach the ascent of a roller coaster and have that moment when you know what is coming, you’re afraid, but left hanging for the briefest but at the same time long lasting second ever before the inevitable drop comes into focus.

Then there’s the descent, it’s no different, make no mistake you do not want to try this road in winter, imagine driving your car down a spiral staircase, on ice..

The crazy thing was there were cyclists racing up and down this thing, this fella wasn’t one of them, but hopefully by the look on his face you get the picture… But at the end of it you reach that final point when it all is made worthwhile, when the beautiful  Eskdale Valley comes into view for the first time…a nirvana moment. I suppose it’s down to the individual as to whether what you have just been through was a pleasurable experience or one of sheer nerve jangling terror, for me it was a mixture of the two. The adrenaline was certainly pumping first time around but it did not stop me from making the journey back, in almost gale conditions.

The Eskdale valley truly is a wonderful place, a hidden gem of peace and tranquility away from the usual tourist hustle of the Lake District. It is the spiritual home of Hardknott Brewery, The Boot Beer Festival as well as being a walkers paradise.

For those reasons though, there should only be one way into the valley, you have to cross the Hardknott Pass, think of it as your rite of passage to all the rewards the valley has in store for you…

Even now looking at the photographs, they don’t do the passes justice, sure they offer a glimpse but it’s not enough. I’ve posted a couple of videos below too, one by car, the other a Harley Davidson, watch one watch them both, but if possible get out there and do it! 🙂

Smart Roadster Version:

Harley version:

If you run or know of a site that this post would suit better than a beer blog I’d be happy to have it posted as a guest piece or via a link, just give me a shout.

Cheers for reading

It’s all because of the Magic (Rock)

Shazzaaamm!!

I was lucky enough on Thursday night of last week, to be able to attend the Magic Rock Brewery launch at North Bar in Leeds. Hordes of happy punters flocked in on a school night to sample the magic at North Bar in terms of the tasty brews available and the circus sideshows that ran throughout the evening.

All the current range of Magic Rock beers were on sale, Curious (3.9% abv ), Rapture (4.6%abv,) Highwire (5.5%abv), Cannonball (Double IPA, 7.4%abv ) and Dark Arts (6%abv), the latter being the only dark beer on show. It’s really hard to pick a favourite as my taste buds kept changing their minds as the night wore on, in truth they were all great and I think I’ll have to settle for a draw between Rapture and Dark Arts. (Although I have ordered a mixed case to re-evaluate..)

I took no real notes to speak of on the night to be able to confidently review each beer but to be honest it was never my intention, the night was about enjoying the experience, meeting some fabulous friends old and new and sharing it with my Mrs.(box ticked,DONE)

If you want to read a bit more detail about the night, the beers and brewery check out the Magic RockLeighGoodStuff and Beerprole blogs, which all capture the event perfectly. From me, I couldn’t let the occasion pass without marking it on my blog so I’d just like to share a few photographs I took on the night which hopefully capture some of that magical atmosphere.

The start of a quiet night..NOT!

The beer wall…

The Master of Ceremonies at work…

Viewing space is at a premium…

As the Anne Summers display team roll into town..

Beer banter in full flow, plenty of Rapture on show here methinks?

MrFrosty trying to make his Dark Arts disappear!

A classic in the making..

A late night nightcap at Mr Foleys on the way home. I blame this one for my later losing my hotel..

Thanks again for a great night guys, CHEERS!

Music And Beer Pairing…

I don’t know about you guys, but there’s nothing I like better, especially after a night on the beer, than a good old music session. Normally after Mrs H has either sneaked off to bed a little worse for wear (tired), or just happily fell asleep where she landed on the sofa after a few pear ciders. I’ll pour a beer, get out the headphones and crank up the tunes.

After writing my last post about Hardknott and using the slightly altered “Hard Days Night” as the title for a little tongue in cheek humour, I had spark of an idea about what sort of music if anything matches well with drinking specific beers. Is that a MABPOW? (Music And Beer Pairing Of The Week) 😉

This is the song that first came into my head, I actually fell asleep to it last actually, turned up really loud, but alas the SWB “Nerotype Bravo” and Three Tuns “Old Scrooge” won and I succumbed.. Sadly I was drinking a delicious Odells IPA at the time which also bit the dust.

Anyway this song is by Genesis and it’s called “It’s gonna get better”, which although doesn’t match the beer specifically, hopefully will inspire me to stay awake longer…

OK so lets try and find something to match the Nerotype and the Old Scrooge, both are deep, dark and powerful beers. The Nerotype is a Black IPA, big on alcohol with loads of flavour and hopped to high heaven, Old Scrooge a “dark and fiery, yet smooth, barley wine” with lovely liquorice and caramel flavours.
For this I’ve decided to go with a bit of industrial heavy metal in the form of Rammstein with Sonne, it’s pulsating grungy guitar riffs and the strong throaty vocals of the aptly named Till Linderman(n), keeping with the beery theme.

Trying to do things in reverse I went for a song from one of my favourite bands of the moment Fleet Foxes and “Helplessness Blues”. It’s jangling guitars and Crosby, Stills and Nash sounding vocal harmonies bring to mind big open spaces, the sort of rolling plains of the USA seen in historical movies, something like “Dances With Wolves’. So the beer I picked trying to reflect that was Flying Dog Brewery’s Snake Dog IPA.  A cracking American IPA with a really mouth filling flavour of grapefruit & citrus peel, with burnt biscuity tasting malt. Perfect for that campfire under the stars..

Right a last two for a bit of fun, one is for the catalyst for this post “Hardknott “Dave’s” Night” and I’m sticking with Infra Red for no other reason than it’s wonderfulness..

The last one needs no explanation, the beer is the Brewdog and Three Floyds 12% brew “Bitch Please”. It’s description “Special collaberation beer with Three Floyds brewers at BrewDog. A barley wine brewed with many different malts including Laphroig whisky malt, single hopped with nelsin savin with short bread, fudge and candy floss in the kettle.”

Any more suggestions?

A bit of a laugh on Saturday night before the beers commence, hope there’s a song here that stirs up a memory or two. 😉

If you enjoyed reading (and watching) this post please spread the love, Facebook share it, RT on Twitter or send on by email. I’d love to hear your comments and shared experiences too in the comments section of this page. Cheers Phil

Flying Dog Days

American beers are my new guilty pleasure. No not the bland, mass produced American beers which shall remain discretely unmentioned, I’m talking about the fantastic array of products coming out of the USA craft beer scene.

Flying Dog are a classic example of this with their brilliantly diverse range of full flavoured craft beer. I managed to get hold of a few recently to try and have dropped brief tasting notes below. For the official brewery notes and food pairing ideas, visit them on their website here.

Tire Bite Golden Ale – 5.1%

Light refreshing lager type beer. There’s not much going here on the aroma front, maybe traces of the German hops. The beer itself has biscuity taste with dry finish. It poured a little flat with almost no head at all, not sure if that was the bottle, glass or if that’s just the way it is? Verdict: A good hot day thirst quencher, chill it for when you finally get to light the BBQ..

Snake Dog IPA – 7.1%

This one is amber in colour, with a really pleasant grapefruit & pine resinous aroma. There’s a full mouth filling flavour of grapefruit & citrus peel, with burnt biscuity tasting malt, with a lovely refreshing dry bitterness on the finish. Verdict: Every fridge should have one, it’s fabulous.

Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale – 5.5%

This pours a copper to amber colour with a decent size white frothy head. Slight fruity hop aroma but not as much as the Snake Dog. The flavour is faint tangerine citrus, cascade hop bitter finish. Verdict: Good Pale Ale, for the less adventurous with ABV.

Raging Bitch Belgian Style India Pale Ale – 8.3%

As the title suggests this is an American slant on a Belgian Style IPA. It smells like a good Belgian tripel would, with aromas of yeast & biscuits. On tasting though the flavour is much more IPA, is has lemon, grapefruit, citrus peel and lightly roasted malt, all topped off with a nice bitter finish. Verdict: Just beautiful beer and definitely one you should try.

Check this one out on YouTube or direct on the BeerRitz website, where award winning Zak Avery, one of the UK’s most respected beer writers does a video review of Raging Bitch after it’s UK debut.

Gonzo Imperial Porter – 9.2%

Gonzo is a dense black beer pouring with thick creamy brown head. The smell from the glass is of creamy malts it’s like dunking Malted Milk biscuits into a steaming mug of Ovaltine. The taste is still of that rich malt but here it turns to bitter dark chocolate (see the comment on aroma and add high quality chocolate to that biscuit), there is underlying taste grapefruit citrus which works really well. It’s big and  full on in both flavour and texture, like a big fat alcoholic bedtime drink. Verdict: Snuggle up to one soon, warm and comforting…

A brief extract from the Flying Dog story:

“From a brewpub in Aspen, Colorado to a full-fledged Denver brewery, and then to a state-of-the-art brewing facility in Frederick, Maryland, Flying Dog stands for not only extraordinary beer, but also for standing tall, doing great things, and not letting anyone make you eat shit.”

Finally no Flying Dog blog post would be complete without mentioning the brilliantly designed label art, illustrated by Ralph Steadman.  The labels are impressive enough, but to see more of his work check out Ralph’s website here:

Thanks for visiting the blog, please feel free to add comments at the top of the page, or visit me on Twitter.

Cheers