10 Days to go…EEEK #Twissupdate 4 (forward slash lots..)

Yes, I’m still alive and kicking and (I hope) everything is on schedule still for the Macclesfield #Twissup on Sat 29th June.

It’s been a tough old month for various reasons and the Twissup has thrown us a few curveballs to deal with, but I think we are finally getting there. Read on…

Blood Orange Pale Ale #Fail 😦

A few weekends ago I went to spend the day with Mr Jay Kraus at Quantum Brewing to brew the previously announced Blood Orange Pale Ale that was to go with the breakfast pies at our first stop. I had an absolutely great day including a post brew visit to Stockport beer festival, and helping to stave off a less than stealthy invasion of Scotland’s most famous bowler-hatted beer guzzler.

IMG_6164The brew smelt amazing and all was going well, until a week ago when Jay rang to tell me the sad news that the brew had developed some sort of infection and had to be drain poured. Gutted

This left us in the unfortunate position of being too late to brew again or source something unique as we’d hoped especially with the breakfast connection we were hoping for. So, after much ado, we sadly had to accept defeat on the new beer for the Treacle Tap.

However all is not lost, we do have a replacement that I am sure will make you very happy. It’s the latest incarnation of the Marble and Emelisse collaboration brew Earl Grey IPA. If you’ve not had it before, it’s an absolutely beautiful IPA with loads of citrus notes that should get your breakfast off to a flying start, if you have had it before, you already know that…

Triple collab-off 

1005584_10151473650023479_21125648_nMore bad news I’m afraid, (but trust me, again it gets better) the triple Mckenzie/Kraus/Stronge collaboration brew failed to materialise. Not through want of trying, purely the logistics of diaries.

854However, enter stage left Cheshire’s finest Brewster, a Dotty chick by all accounts, who joined forces with Toby at Red Willow to create something amazing featuring this lot ->

I’m led to believe this was just for starters… More news to come on that front in the next few days..

Tilting Ale – Virgin Trains sponsorship

Some excellent news that I’ve had bubbling away screaming to get out for several weeks finally broke the surface last week

Despite Toby’s ever so subtle twitter clues, not many folks picked up on the fact that this was something very special indeed.

This is massive well deserved news for Red Willow and hats off to Virgin Trains too for using locally sourced suppliers to service their onboard stores, of course it has obvious benefits to the beer loving rail traveller too as you will as of this coming Saturday be able to sup Red Willow Tilting Ale as you go, proper “train beer”. Launching at Treacle Tap on Friday 21st June it will be on trains the day after.

But there’s more.. Once Virgin learned of Red Willow and Treacle Taps involvement in the Twissup event, they contacted me to offer sponsorship (which sent me into fits of mild panic, “it’s turning into a monster” I thought). I needn’t of worried though as they have been brilliant, offering support to compliment rather than a marketeers takeover. There are a few things in the pipeline but I have managed to secure twissup attendees with a bottle of Tilting Ale for your journey home (train beer). Stay tuned for details on how to get one..

Weird Beard / Elusive Brewing Nelson Saison launch

As previously reported Nelson Saison is due in town at The Macc for #isosceles, then it nearly wasn’t after a change of management at the venue. Thankfully, after more than a few tense days we are sorted and the beer is winging it’s way north.

Cap-design-FinalI’m also incredibly excited and proud to be able to announce that Weird Beard are launching the beer on the day, so you’ll get to sample it before it hits the even the countries most exclusive beer establishments, insert really smiley bearded skull image here…

and finally

CAMRA Champion Pub of Cheshire 2013

What absolutely cracking timing for the twissup, a fine choice by CAMRA and top news for The Wharf, our last but by no means least stop of the #Twissup.

A bloody good boozer run by bloody nice folk. The special one off beer for The Wharf is brewed and will be announced in the coming days, with brewers attending on the day. Chris has his hop rocket primed and ready to go and a beer list to be announced soon, this will be good…

I shall now stop wittering and go to pour myself a nice cold one, having unburdened my befuddled brain of #Isosceles info, keep your peepers peeled though as there are lots more updates to come, including maps and a sort of itinerary..

Cheers

Please join the Macclesfield Twissup #isosceles Facebook page and sign up.

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De Garre – Bruges

Although it’s a couple of years old now, for some reason this post seems to be getting lots of hits at the moment, probably as folk plan Belgian beer expeditions. I like it as it brings back lots of fond memories, so I thought I’d post it again. Sorry for the self-indulgence if you’ve read it before…

P1010907To find this place you either stumble across it, or have to purposely search for it, for us thanks to the “Around Bruges in 80 Beers” guide-book and the map reading skills of “pathfinder Rachie” (the wife), it was the latter.

Although centrally located on the main tourist trail and only 100 yards from the main Bruges Markt square, De Garre remains discretely hidden from the less discerning beer tourist, tucked away down a tiny cobbled alley (De Garre) off Breidelstraat. Clientele ranged from the obviously regular local folk each having what seemed to be their own favourite chair, to beer enthusiasts and folk that were very probably lost…

The main room itself is quite small in cafe/bar terms, probably 18 feet by 18, with a small apertured high bar facing you as you venture up the ancient worn stone steps, a tiny winding staircase aside the bar leading to the upper drinking gallery.
Once inside the feeling is like stepping back in time. Being a fan of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, it reminded me of the scene in The Prancing Pony where the hobbits first met Strider, huge gnarled oak beams, stone floor, simple wooden tables clustered together all baring glasses of foaming ales.

Dating back to the 1700’s, De Garre is one of those places where the gentle atmosphere and ambience has your mind wondering how many people have sat here before you. What joys, tragedies, laughter, crimes or drunken buffoonery have these tine four walls witnessed in their lifetime?

Garre Tripel – 11%


Although they have a reasonable beer menu at De Garre, I was only after one in particular at the recommendation of Mark, co author of “real ale reviews” blog. This was the leg weakening De Garre house “Garre Tripel”, I was not alone as almost every table had at least one.

The Tripel arrived in two large goldfish bowl like glasses, with the thick white creamy head massively outweighing the liquid content by about three parts to one, there being only about three-quarters of an inch of beer sitting at the base. Either by sensing our unconscious looks of disappointment or by the daily experiences of newcomers to his bar, the barman softly whispered “wait, it will come”.

Each tray of beer is served with a small portion of chopped cheese, which I’m led to believe is a compatible match for most Belgian beer, it was soft, creamy and when finally, patience rewarded we got to taste the Garre Tripel went perfectly with the beer

The beer itself has aromas of yeast and biscuits with slightly grassy hoppy notes. Once through that thick long lingering head, the first thing that hits you is the smooth malty flavour that disguises the alcoholic strength better than some half the same ABV. Garre is quite sweet for a Tripel which I suspect is due to the heavy alcohol, it has a smooth full-bodied creaminess in the mouth which perfectly compliments the peach and light citrus flavours. The finish is easy-going with evidence of hop bitterness but lightly so.

Garre Tripel is only available on the premises so you really need to make an effort and find it if ever you visit Bruges, all in all a fantastic experience and one we repeated whilst in the city. The beer can be purchased in 1.5 litre bottles to take away but we refrained from buying one preferring to keep the memory of the visit alive.

A final word of warning, at De Garre I’m told they will only ever serve you three house Tripel beers in one sitting, I didn’t test the theory but probably suggest that it’s a wise move..

Are you local?

This is a really quick post but I’m hoping it will be interactive, therefore comments on the blog itself are crucial so PLEASE, PLEASE comment.

It concerns the local, your local, my local wherever you may be and more specifically the role of the landlord or licensee. For overseas readers I’m referring to in England the Pub/s where we regularly go to drink beer, but that could be a beer bar, brewery, or just simply the place where you go to most to get your fix of beery goodness.

The question stems from experiences I’ve had over the last weekend on my return from two weeks holiday. People and places shall remain nameless as it’s not important.

The Evidence

Bar 1: This is one of the pubs I would truly call “the local”, I visit maybe three to four times per week. On my return in this establishment after two weeks, said licensee barely gave me a passing glance, no words were spoken to me that that night, nor on any subsequent night since, not a sausage, zero, zilch.. Complete indifference, (the same cannot be said of the other serving staff I hasten to add, all of whom did the opposite, but not from example).

Bar 2: This pub I visit infrequently largely because of distance and transport, perhaps once or twice a month at most. Here the story was different, we were greeted with cheery smiles and a genuine “hey, hello, good to see you, thanks for calling in” sort of attitude from the licensee and all the staff (basically made extremely welcome). This from folks I’ve probably met say six or seven times.

So who’s got it right?

Is the licensee/bar managers role purely one of keeping the place in order, ordering and selling beer in good condition, or is there more to it than that, is the customer king and is a cheery welcome a mandatory requirement too?

What do you think, what’s it like in your local??

De Garre – Bruges

To find this place you either stumble across it, or have to purposely search for it, for us thanks to the “Around Bruges in 80 Beers” guide book and the map reading skills of “pathfinder Rachie” (the wife), it was the latter.

Although centrally located on the main tourist trail and only 100 yards from the main Bruges Markt square, De Garre remains discretely hidden from the less discerning beer tourist, tucked away down a tiny cobbled alley (De Garre) off Breidelstraat. Clientele ranged from the obviously regular local folk each having what seemed to be their own favourite chair, to beer enthusiasts and folk that were very probably lost…

The main room itself is quite small in cafe/bar terms, probably 18 feet by 18, with a small apertured high bar facing you as you venture up the ancient worn stone steps, a tiny winding staircase aside the bar leading to the upper drinking gallery.
Once inside the feeling is like stepping back in time. Being a fan of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, it reminded me of the scene in The Prancing Pony where the hobbits first met Strider, huge gnarled oak beams, stone floor, simple wooden tables clustered together all baring glasses of foaming ales.

Dating back to the 1700’s, De Garre is one of those places where the gentle atmosphere and ambience has your mind wondering how many people have sat here before you. What joys, tragedies, laughter, crimes or drunken buffoonery have these tine four walls witnessed in their lifetime?

Garre Tripel – 11%


Although they have a reasonable beer menu at De Garre, I was only after one in particular at the recommendation of Mark, co author of “real ale reviews” blog. This was the leg weakening De Garre house “Garre Tripel”, I was not alone as almost every table had at least one.

The Tripel arrived in two large goldfish bowl like glasses, with the thick white creamy head massively outweighing the liquid content by about three parts to one, there being only approximately three quarters of an inch of beer sitting at the base. Either by sensing our unconscious looks of disappointment or by the daily experiences of newcomers to his bar, the barman softly whispered “wait, it will come”.

Each tray of beer is served with a small portion of chopped cheese, which I’m led to believe is a compatible match for most Belgian beer, it was soft, creamy and when finally, patience rewarded we got to taste the Garre Tripel went perfectly with the beer

The beer itself has aromas of yeast and biscuits with slightly grassy hoppy notes. Once through that thick long lingering head, the first thing that hits you is the smooth malty flavour that disguises the alcoholic strength better than some half the same ABV. Garre is quite sweet for a Tripel which I suspect is due to the heavy alcohol, it has a smooth full bodied creaminess in the mouth which perfectly compliments the peach and light citrus flavours. The finish is easy going with evidence of hop bitterness but lightly so.

Garre Tripel is only available on the premises so you really need to make an effort and find it if ever you visit Bruges, all in all a fantastic experience and one we repeated whilst in the city. The beer can be purchased in 1.5 litre bottles to take away but  we refrained from buying one preferring to keep the memory of the visit alive.

A final word of warning, at De Garre I’m told they will only ever serve you three house Tripel beers in one sitting, I didn’t test the theory but probably suggest that it’s a wise move..

 

It’s all about Hops

Saturday evening saw us paying another long overdue visit to the new to us, but well established Hops Belgian Style Cafe Bar in Crewe.

Voted by the local CAMRA branch as Champion Pub of Cheshire 2011, Hops is a lovely little hidden gem tucked away from the main high street area in Crewe town centre, it has a small seated area out front with a few tables which I’m sure are well utilised in the warmer months giving that Belgian boulevard feel.

When we first arrived and stepped inside I was hit with an immediate feeling that it didn’t feel like your typical Belgian bar, although it was very warm and welcoming with the reassuring buzz of happy chatty customers, it sort of reminded me of walking into a friend or families home. As you settle in though and take in your surroundings you begin to realise that it isn’t your typical Belgian bar, nor is it a British pub its a hybrid of the two venue styles in perfect harmony. On one hand you have the my favourite old style of pub, with low ceilings and small compact rooms with lots of quiet little nooks for cozy chats, on the other lots of small tables complete with beer menus and a bar packed with fonts backed with a colourful array of Belgian bottled beers. The bar sits to the left of the entrance with a small standing area, opening out on the right with small tables with books and games scattered about the place. I didn’t venture upstairs but it sounded similar with what I can only imagine to be Jenga of some sorts being played based on the regular loud crunch, closely followed by hoots and shrieks of the crowd having fun up there.

On the bar itself you have a choice of several draught Belgian beers, a choice of five real ales and ciders. (They also do speciality teas and coffees for those unfortunate enough not to be able to drink alcohol).

The menu itself quotes listing over 100 Belgian, Continental and British bottled beers, I didn’t bother to count them but can confirm that there are a wide and varied selection of styles to choose from. The menu itself was the only thing to draw criticism from people in the group on the night. The menus available were simple lists of beers by brewer or brewery and had no real explanation as to what each beer was, to a seasoned Belgianite that would be fine but to the uninitiated it was a felt as potentially a little daunting.

However, I did manage today to get hold of an electronic version of a recent menu which I will attach a link to later. Although slightly outdated on price etc the format is completely different and worlds apart, showing more than ample clear descriptions of beers and styles, the breweries, their location and circumstances. I’m hoping that the menus therefore were a blip and the other style is the norm, if not I hope the good folks at Hops take note..

For the real ale drinkers, the selection of ever changing hand pumped ales has recently increased from three to five, on the night two from Acorn caught my eye although I was clearly in Belgian beer mode, they were the Sonnet IPA and the fabulous Russian Stout Gorlovka which I know from experience is stunning. A special note to CAMRA members, Hops offer discounted prices on the hand pump ales on a Monday evening so be sure to take your membership card.

It was hard to keep track of what everyone was drinking but particular highlights from others were Leffe Radieuse, the uber sweet but non less delicious Loubecoise Maple Syrup beer, Kwak, Celis White and Wittekerke Rose. I myself started off by sampling the Florreffe Brune as the first thing that caught my eye as I was pegging for a beer and couldn’t stand the wait that a menu sweep would have meant.

I then moved on to my find of the night which was Beer number 41 from the 100 beer challenge, Arabier, it’s a strong golden pure malt Belgian Ale with a lovely malted taste with lots off dry hop bitterness. Enjoyable but the Oerbier from the same De Dolle brewery stable is more to my taste generally. On reflection I think the Arabier would be a great beer for summer, on hopefully warmer days, sat outside in the beer garden and paired with some strong cheeses and crusty bread..

The most interesting beer for me on the night was the cracking strong dark Quadrupel from La Trappe, I’d never had this before and it set ideas running about pairing it with food and blind tasting sessions, definitely one to revisit..

The final beer of the night was the superb Rochefort 10, a fine beer to top off a great evening. For anyone who has not yet tried one it’s another Trappist Quadrupel beer it’s rich, sweet, dark and bloody delicious, one my all time favourite beers. As you can probably tell by the care and concentration on my face as I’m pouring it..

To summarise, the evening we spent at Hops was an all round success, the whole group really enjoyed the night, commenting on how well laid out everything was, the friendliness of the staff and above all the quality of the beer. We will be back with reinforcements from sunny Staffordshire…

They don’t have a website as yet, but they are on Facebook and you can follow them here; better still pay them a visit not forgetting to mention where you heard the news of course to share the love..

Also check out the link to the extensive beer menu below, not factually correct on prices etc as I said earlier, but a good indicator of what to expect when you visit and visit you should SOON.

Hops Bottle Menu

Special thanks to Glen Battams for his kind help in sourcing the menu etc, cheers.