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

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Positive Waves….

IMG_2622Things have been quiet here on the post front for several months you may, or may not have noticed. For lots of reasons, most of them personal and not for discussion here, but basically a lack of drive or inspiration to write anything worth reading (which may well still be the case)..

Part of that too was a feeling that blogging (for me at least) had become a little stale and for want of a better descriptor, “samey”, which doesn’t really mean anything at all.

If I did feel the urge to engage brain to pinkies, it was inevitably about something negative. So I refrained from doing so in an effort to not piss people off, and in doing so save my “iKeyboard” from being fist-mashed into something beyond the recognition of even the late Steve Jobs..

IMG_2579

So why now, I hear you collectively cry? (thanks to both of you for crying that by the way)

Well, a few things really. Weirdly the first was the second anniversary of Simon #Scoop Johnson’s death (which doesn’t seem that long ago at all). I was reading some of his old posts and it made me think, I miss these. Simon’s writing was informative, witty, farsighted, grounding and sometimes (perhaps always), absolutely bonkers. His posts generally made you feel happy or at least able to laugh at even serious issues, beer and blogging about beer should be fun.

Exhibit A: Harrumph

Exhibit B: Money For Old Rope…

If you never got to meet Simon or in particular read any of his work, go and have a good rummage through his blog, time well spent I assure you.

IMG_2637The second was this last weekend and an impromptu visit to both BlackJack and Runaway Breweries as part of the Manchester Brewery Expo, to quote the latter twitter profile “Manchester Brewery Expo is a collaborative, open door event to celebrate our brewing community, shared goals, and unique characteristics”.

The Expo included and just happened to coincide with BlackJack’s own monthly brewtap weekender, which I heartily recommend. But my attendance wasn’t planned. Two brief early morning comments sparking an idea that grew quickly to become a wonderful afternoon where I met so many good beer people, friends, enjoying their company and conversation. I felt that dark cloud lift for a while, thinning and rising ever higher, bright warming rays starting to peep through the gaps.

(For reference, in terms of the whole event, there was so much going on that I didn’t get to see over the weekend, but in any case I completely forgot to take any pictures… However, for a flavour of that, check out this fine photoblog by Mark Johnson).

The final thing though, was a most timely email last night from some social media site congratulating me on the fact that the blog was “3 years old today”, it even had a cartoon cake!

“Wow” I thought “three years, it feels longer than that”.

It was, my first post on Beersay was actually February 2011, so it is actually nearer four and a half. So, maybe taking a break has just done me good. I’m hoping so and that this is a sign of my returning mojo in whatever form that may take. Beer blogging has been kind to me, I’ve learned so much and made more friends with similar interests than I would have ever thought possible. Only time will tell..

Raising a glass to “positive waves” people, “positive waves”. #ODDBALL

Beery Twitter, is it just me?

twiterI’ve been a twitter user for a couple of years now and still find it a really valuable tool for communicating socially, plus the most incredible information source when I need to travel anywhere or even just need advice. But in recent months I’ve seen my general use decline. The reasons I think are varied, time, outside personal influences, melancholy or just general lethargy at times, but also an uneasy feeling that things are changing and not for the better.

As an early user I started as most folk tend to with a plethora of celebrity sports, TV and comedy personalities. I soon winnowed most of these away to all but those I really found either funny or interesting, as clearly none of them generally interact with Joe-Public and for me at least that is not what twitter is about.

Gradually over time my following and followers list grew into list of folk who have similar interests to myself, and post, read and most importantly interacted with me about them, these being, good food, music, a skittering of sport, coffee and BEER.

Now I may be reminiscing about those “good old days” wearing rose-coloured glasses, these filtering only the good times to the fore, but my memories of a year ago for example are filled with laughs, impromptu beer tasting sessions and good-natured banter. More recently though things seem be taking a darker sometimes sinister direction. I’m not saying it’s all bad, it’s not and I have some great friends out there in the Twittersphere, but there is definitely something that just doesn’t feel right.

So what’s changed in the beer community in that time?

Well it’s grown for starters, maybe that has a part to play as less folk know each other as they perhaps once did, therefore making the interaction more widespread and perceptually less often.

I also think some brewers interact a bit less than they used to, and that is not meant to be either a criticism nor a broad brush sweeping statement as I can understand it completely. Some do, some don’t, tweet much or interact with followers and I can’t say that I blame them in some respects. The hours worked are often crucifying and I’m sure there are only so many times you want to reply to someone saying how much they love your beer, or to randomly condemn it as being drain-pour slops making all their hard work meaningless.

This though is where the brewery and brewery folks personal accounts come into their own, but again with the former, “some” can be nothing more faceless spewers of advertising with little or no banter, though thankfully these are in the minority too.

Does Untappd have a part to play? (I wrote about this a while back) Some people really hate it and I know for sure with some brewers it definitely does. Being slammed with wave after wave of beer check-ins on a daily basis, at times with undeservedly negative comments can’t do much for your cheery goodwill attitude to all..  A classic example below:

Note: Some of these tweets were found easily thanks to Boak and Bailey‘s excellent “Top Tweets of 2013” post..

I have definitely made an effort to cut the amount of twitter posts direct from Untappd to a minimum and go back to my old ways of posting comments etc direct or even just generally without tagging.

The characters have changed over time too, some alliances/friendships fade, sometimes through neglect, or maybe perhaps a quiet but deliberate attempt to slip away from folk that annoy or badger you. I’ve lost count of some of the people I used to speak to almost every day, but who’s icons I now rarely see pop up on my timeline. It may be that these folk are just bored, I’m missing them or maybe I’m a victim of the “quiet walk off” myself. Could some though be a little fearful of being down-trodden or ridiculed for saying the “wrong thing”, going against the flow of general consensus or being lost in a sea of messages from the scattergun tweeters, those folk that attack your timeline like wasps battering themselves to death as if trapped inside a bottle of warm cider, bam, bam, bam, then silence and peace…

Then of course we have the “parody accounts”, some of which are clever and witty, others that seem to be there for nought but malice or mischief. I do follow some for sure, but I do question whether it’s a wise move at times, after all who is next, it could be you or I. Take the most recent examples of the last few days, with names I am not going to mention for fear of fanning the flames which at last seem to have gone out, but I’m sure have still left nasty scars on those unfortunate enough to have been attacked or so badly cloned. Twitter can be a truly evil place at times and it’s all too easy for a snide remark or accusation made with a certain degree on anonymity to snowball into a dark avalanche.

Finally there are some folk that are sadly no longer with us, but whose name still lives on through fond personal memories, old musings forever committed to the web, or even now in annual “Golden Pints” beer blogging awards. Twitter needs more witty, articulate folk like this much missed chap, but sadly they are a very rare breed. Make Golden Pints choices wisely and if you are lucky enough to be honoured in this way, treasure that moment as you must be doing something right for someone.

Now these are some of my personal thoughts, stuff that’s been rattling around my head on the whole for a while. You may agree, It may of course “just be me”, after all I am a moaning miserable old sod at times and there’s a good chance that your experiences are completely at odds with my own, either way no malice is meant, I just had to get it off my chest to allow me to get on with it and move on.

I wasn’t sure how to end this, in fact I wasn’t sure whether I should actually post it up at all, so I asked a good friend and confidant for his thoughts and I quote:

“I hope Twitter isn’t changing into a big fuck-bag full of lazy run-of-the-mill twats called the general public that don’t have even half a brain and are screwing up what used to be a fun and exciting media by lowering the average IQ level to that of an amoeba after 12 pints of Carling”

Not quite how I would have put it, but I think you get the point being made..

In closing I ask the question again, “is it just me?”

Am I just in the wrong frame of mind, is all still as good as it once was and I’m just not seeing it or have things seen a change for the worse in your eyes too? Either way I’ll be doing my upmost to be more positive in 2014 and plan to take as many other folks as I can with me.

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/

Clash of the Titans – #IMPOFF

Over the past year I’ve had the privilege to be involved in some great Twitter beer related events. We’ve had #openit, the #whitestout night and the #7point5 campaign night to name but a few. They are a really enjoyable and most importantly, are a very effective way of getting lots of people talking about a common theme or message regardless of location.

Next up is #IMPOFF, brainchild of the ever effervescent Elly Bell of Durham Brewery and brought to life by various twitter folks including Simon at CAMRGB, myself and several other beery types.

The basic idea is that if possible you get yourself a bottle of Durham Brewery’s Temptation to start with, the reason being that the whole thing began with Elly suggesting that Temptation would stand up to or generally be superior to most imperial stouts out there in the market place today. Bold claims huh? 😉

In all seriousness though it was all tongue in cheek and not boastful. Elly is passionate about her breweries beers and quite rightly so, they are top dollar. The main premise was to follow-up on the massive success of White Stout night and get people to check out Temptation, whilst comparing it to those on an initially “suggested” list all being available from Beerritz online to make it easy for folk to buy them all in one place. That list is below:

Magic Rock – Bearded Lady 10.5%
Dark Star – Imperial Stout 10.5%
Durham Brewery – Temptation 10.0%
Kernel Brewery – Imperial Brown Stout 9.8%
Buxton Brewery – Tsar 9.5%
Thornbridge – Saint Petersburg 7.7%
Bristol Beer Factory – Ultimate Stout 7.7%
Samuel Smiths – Imperial Stout 7.0%

That list is by no means full and comprehensive nor is it meant to be restrictive, these are suggestions only so get involved by drinking what you have, what you can get hold of, or even what you are comfortable with. After all these are BIG beers and obviously too much to handle for one person in one night. It doesn’t even matter if you can’t get any Temptation to compare yours with just join in anyway and lets get folks talking about Imperial Stouts… Don’t forget to use the #IMPOFF hash-tag.

I’m planning another mini get together tasting session for my #IMPOFF night, on a smaller scale than my last with four to six lucky imperial stout loving guests. On the night we will be comparing the merits of all or a selection of these fabulous beers:

  • DURHAM BREWERY – TEMPTATION 10.0%
  • MAGIC ROCK – BEARDED LADY 10.5%
  • HARDKNOTT BREWERY – VITESSE NOIR 11%
  • BRISTOL BEER FACTORY – IMPERIAL STOUT 8.5%
  • BLACK SHEEP BREWERY – IMPERIAL RUSSIAN STOUT 8.5%
  • SUMMER WINE BREWERY – KOPIKAT 9%
  • LYMESTONE BREWERY – STONE DEAD 6.66%
  • EMELISSE – IMPERIAL RUSSIAN STOUT 11%
  • GREAT DIVIDE – YETI IMPERIAL STOUT 9.5%
  • NOGNE O – IMPERIAL STOUT 9% 

That’s the plan anyway which may change dependant on how I arrange the tasting on the day. Official kick off time is below but again this is not restrictive if it doesn’t fit with your plans on the day, do it before, during or after, just do it and enjoy…. 🙂

Temptation and Friends #impoff
31st March 2012

8pm onwards 

Note: If you are a beer specialist, bar, shop, beer retailer or a pub etc and are running an #IMPOFF Imperial Stout night yourself and want it advertising here, drop me a response on the blog with the details, links etc and I’ll do the honours. Please pass this on, RT, Facebook, email whatever and help make this another great night for beer.

Cheers


Small acorns and all that.. #WHITESTOUT

If you are a beer fan or a Twitter user you simply must know that last night (Weds 8th February 2012) was White Stout night, where across the UK and perhaps beyond, beer lovers opened their shiny bottles of White Stout in unison and shared the beery love. I was one of those many and had gone a step further in organising a mini gathering for a tasting session and to try a bit of cheese/beer pairing.

So why did I get involved to such an extent, when I’d not ever tasted a Durham Brewery beer before never mind the White Stout as the new kid on the block?

Three reasons really, one, I’d been involved in similar Twitter events before like #openit (next one is 24-26 Feb 2012) and #7point5 and really enjoyed them, great interaction with other folks is a great way to experience and learn about beer. Two, I’d been watching Elly from Durham Brewery‘s tweets about #whitestout and was drawn in by her bubbly enthusiasm about her brewery’s beer. Finally three, it was giving me the opportunity for the first time to host a little tasting session with food pairing, a thing I’d been itching to get going in Stoke for a good while, I’d moaned about it long enough, time to roll up the sleeves and get stuck in.

I was to hold my #whitestout session at my local The Bulls Head, where I’d arranged for a few fellow beer lovers to gather together on a week night when the pub would normally be pretty quiet. As I only had one beer to draw them out on a cold winters night i decided to pad the night out with some cheese pairings to try. I enlisted help from trusty twitterfolks Rick Furzer and Steve Lamond who have experience in this area plus thoughts from Elly at the brewery, so armed with their suggestions I hot footed it up to my local deli Brown and Green.

Andy (as pictured above) was an absolute star, although he didn’t have everything on my shopping list he was fantastically enthusiastic about finding alternatives, things that would work or that people would just simply enjoy. He busily cut away at various cheeses, we’d sample a hunk of this and a chunk of that before narrowing it down to a final four.

Godminster Organic Vintage Cheddar

Godminster Organic Vintage Cheddar

Dovedale Blue

Abdomnance Fermier

Y Fenni

Oh and some bacon jam!! 😉

Wednesday afternoon came and I set about getting things started, I had deliveries to make to a few local brewers, pub and marketing folk that couldn’t make it, my tasting beers too to their cellar to cool and cheese to chop, this done I set off to The Bulls Head.

Arriving later than I’d hoped I have to confess it was a little chaotic, people arrived and wanted to get straight into their White Stout before drinking any other ales. I scrambled with help from the bar folk to get glasses sorted and beers poured. BOOM disaster, one of my white stouts was decidedly dark. In my haste I’d opened a bottle of their 10% Imperial Stout “Temptation” and started to pour it into a half filled glass of white, a mistake which turned out to be a really interesting combination as it rocked. A mistake that Ghostdrinker made purposely in his tasting session funnily enough to similar happy results.

Drinks served we all tucked in,    silence…

Even I was quiet (for a while), deep in thought, I’d not tasted this before either and it was well, different. The looks around the room were worrying, pensive faces not WOW faces I’d say, yes it was good but did it live up to the hype, probably not in that moment. I quickly jumped in to say it was probably too cold and the flavours were stifled. The beers had not been chilled apart from in a cellar environment but this definitely was the case.

As the glass warmed and time wore on those pensive faces stared to have smiles and soon busy chatter started and phones came from pockets to tweet their thoughts. We cracked the cheeses and started to tuck in and sample one against the other. I was so glad that we’d enough beer for seconds as it was a revelation with the second batch that had sat in a warm room for a while, great beer in great condition.

On the cheese pairings there were mixed reviews, all four cheeses were fantastic in their own right. The Y Fenni didn’t pair well but being fair it wasn’t meant too, Andy and I had picked it as a great eating cheese, it’s made with wholegrain mustard and ale which just seemed right for the occasion, it was and was popular. So too was the Godminster Vintage Cheddar, probably too good in fact as before I knew it the gannets had wolfed the lot and I didn’t even get to try any…

For me though, the cheesy stars of the show were the Abdomnance Fermier and the Dovedale Blue. Abdomnance Fermier was as a replacement for aged Gouda as suggested by Rick, it has a deep nutty flavour, slight sweetness and a nice firm texture. Dovedale Blue was a twist on the Stilton or a soft blue as recommended by Steve and Elly. I really enjoyed this one and for me it was the winner by a cheese wire of margins, soft, rich and very creamy which really went well with the sweetness of the stout, but it had a nice acidity and saltiness from the blue veining which brought the whole thing together, marvelous. In truth I’d recommend any of them to try but these two for this beer.

Conscious that I haven’t mentioned the bacon jam, I will, you’re intrigued aren’t you admit it?

I was too as Andy rushed to a chiller at the back of the cheese counter and produced it. It had similar results when I presented it to my astonished/repulsed guests “BACON JAM”!  This stuff is ace, I can only describe it as a sort of minced bacon chutney, loads of bacon texture in a rich sweet, spicy paste-like sauce. Everyone tried it tentatively at first before diving back in for more and more. Personally I loved this with the Abdomnance Fermier, but apparently it’s designed as a relish on crusty bread, burgers etc, also for adding to stews, pasta dishes as well as a side for cheese. I’m thinking spread on bread before toasting a vintage cheddar on top..hmmm.

OK to round-up what would I do again next time around if the chance arose. More beer in terms of more variety and some that I had tasted before to add value as a host rather than being one of the crowd. Venue, the pub was great and I thank them heartily but thee was no wi-fi and general phone reception is awful (for me at least), thankfully the pub is due wi-fi in a few weeks time (box ticked). More cheese pairings definitely and more quantity, I’d love to expand the food into other things too like sweets and savoury dishes as Leigh, Zac and co are doing up at Beer-Ritz. Minor things and easily rectified.

So why small acorns? (NO PUNS REQUIRED IF YOU PLEASE ;))

Well this all started from a small acorn of an idea by I assume Elly Bell at Durham Brewery, it grew into a massive oak tree of an event joined by thousands across the UK and I’m sure was a resounding success. Twitter was full of the #whitestout hash tag and I’m sure would have trended had it not been for a certain Italian ex England footbal manager

But also it was a small acorn for me too, the start of something I’d like to grow here in my area. I said earlier I do enough moaning about it, get stuck in and get it moving, hopefully this did just that.

Thanks to everyone who attended, assisted, joined in and hopefully enjoyed, particularly you Elly at Durham Brewery you’re a star.

See you all on the next one, CHEERS

A time to reflect on the nights events with Jim & I finally giving in to temptation.

White Stout Night

The Durham Brewery – White Stout Night Weds 8th Feb 2012 – 8:30PM

“White Stout Night” is a social media event dreamed up by the lovely folks at Durham Brewery. The idea is that Twitter and Facebook users who are lucky enough to get a bottle all open their White Stout on or after 8:30 PM on Weds 8th Feb 2012. There are some live tasting events out and about across the country too so check with your local to see if anything is happening near you.

They want drinkers to engage in real-time and virtual conversations online with other drinkers and the folks from the brewery. Twitter is the best tool for this as you will get real-time responses from the brewery and other drinkers. Facebook users can join in too by liking The Durham Brewery and commenting on their wall. Twitterers please use the following hash tags in your Tweets and share your thoughts, tasting notes & comments, this is really important to get involved and make the night a success.

#whitestout #beersay

@filrd (me) @DurhambreweryEl @dbrewersean @durhambrewery

Brewery Notes:

“White Stout is the ultimate beer in our “WhiteRange”. While the word “stout” has come to mean a dark beer, the original meaning was strong and true. Before the porter brewers commandeered the word to mean a stout, or strong, porter it referred to any strong beer. We have rehabilitated and improved the genre. White Stout is a very pale, full-bodied, strong beer. American Columbus hops are used throughout to give massive floral and resinous character. At a strength of 7.2% this is a true stout. Indeed, few modern stouts of any colour are true to the word for strong.”

Check out http://www.durhambrewery.co.uk/ for more beers and the online store.

I’ve not tasted the beer myself yet but have a few bottles to share on the night and hopefully review post the event itself, please visit the blog and comment on the event round-up and how it went for you.

www.Beersay.wordpress.com

Looking forward to hearing from you. Cheers 🙂