#Session 60 – Growlers Galore

This months edition of the Session is hosted by Kendall Jones of The Washington Beer Blog, the theme, Growlers Galore.

To my fellow United Kingdom dwelling readers, especially those locally to me in England. To avoid the obvious rib tickling comments I should explain that overseas in the USA, Australia etc, a Growler is a receptacle which drinkers take to their favourite bar or beer store, fill and take away beer for use at home or parties etc.

For everyone else who can’t see why that would be remotely funny, I suggest putting “Growlers – Urban Dictionary” into Google and finding out yourself…

Anyway, it’s safe to say that in the UK we don’t take growlers away from the pub, in fact it’s the complete opposite we take them TO the pub. Check out the very short video below of ours in action at our local, look out for the triple spin at the end 😉

The little Jack Russell  is my dog and has developed a neat trick and excellent navigational skills, this bodes for an assured future safe arrival in my twilight years when memory fades, read all about it.

Until next time thanks for visiting, Cheers

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Eskdale via Hawkshead & Victory Breweries

We took a short weekend break to Cumbria this weekend, destination The Woolpack Inn and the village of Boot in the Eskdale valley. It’s around a two and a half hour drive from Stoke with the options of a safe but longer route around the south of Lake Windermere, or a shorter and for the more adventurous, the route around the top of Windermere, then taking on the often treacherous Wrynose and Hardknott Passes.

Always up for a challenge and being a lover of all things Hardknott, we went for the latter. During the planning stages I noticed that our journey took us to within four miles of The Hawkshead Brewery and Beerhall, they had beer, good food and most importantly were “dog friendly” (which tended to drive most of our decisions) all boxes ticked, RESULT.

The brewery is located in the little village of Staveley not Hawkshead as the name may suggest, nestled in the middle of a small industrial estate is this little gem of a place.

The all new shiny beer hall looks to have been an addition to the older brewery main building, it compliments it perfectly though and clearly been built with large amounts of visitors in mind having loads of parking and plenty of outside tables too, although these weren’t in use as it was piddling down with rain in true Lakeland style.

Inside the beer hall it’s a large modern room with plenty of seating and a generous bar area where several Hawkshead beers were available. There is also a decent beer shop too with a good choice of foreign bottles available from Europe and the USA as well as Hawksheads own selection.

As I was driving I had to make a choice although I’d love to have tried them all, so I opted for half of the lovely dark roasted malty Brodies Prime whilst Mrs H went for Lakeland Lager which is described as “It’s Lager, but it’s tasty”.. 😉

I can vouch for the food to it was delicious. We both opted for the sirloin steak and caramelised onion ciabatta sandwich. The steak was beautifully cooked, buttery onions and a lightly toasted bread, Brodies Prime suited it perfectly.

Knowing we were calling in I’d made contact with Matt Clarke the head brewer at Hawkshead earlier that day, he’d kindly offered to meet us on arrival I just had to message him on Twitter and he’d pop around from the brewhouse. Sounds perfect until you hit Cumbria where all forms of mobile telecommunication ceases to work. Meeting Matt was going to prove difficult, I had no idea what he looked like so I couldn’t try and spot him. After a while one of the bar staff kindly pointed Matt out to me, but he was deeply engrossed in conversation with an American guy who clearly knew a thing or two about beer and brewing.

I’d taken a couple of beers along from our area that I thought Matt would like, Lymestone Stone Brood and Buxton Axe Edge, so I hovered before jumping in and taking my chance to introduce myself, thinking I would leave them to it and head off. It turns out that this particular American was not just a beer enthusiast, it was Jim Busch, Director of Victory Brewing Co.

Better still they were just off for an impromptu tour of the brewery and I was invited along, BONUS!

*Apologies for the poor picture quality

It was a brewery tour like no other, Matt asked and I agreed that he dispense with the normal beer tour basics, but it was then really interesting to watch Jim and Matt talking about brewing kit and how much things differed, sticking noses into this and that, generally getting excited about beer and brewing.

Twenty minutes later we were done and back in the Beer Hall tasting the wonderful Hawkshead NZPA, keep an eye out for this as it’s not currently a regular beer, it should be, it’s THAT good. It’s made using four New Zealand hops, Green Bullet, Riwaka, Motueka & Nelson Sauvin and is a real hopfest in a glass.. 🙂

Refreshed then and extremely happy we left Matt and Jim chatting away and set off for The Woolpack and the passes…

If you are in the area and want a haven from the normal touristy stop off points in the Lakes, I couldn’t recommend Hawkshead enough, even dogs and the kids are welcome. Better still stay in the area to take full advantage of the beers on offer, there is camping nearby and a range of B&B’s too.

Lastly keep an eye on their website for news of the onsite beer festivals, having sampled what’s on offer I know I will be.

Big thanks to Matt and everyone at Hawkshead for making us so welcome.

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

De Halve Maan Brewery

An essential activity for any beer loving visitor to Brugge has to be the brewery tour of De Halve Maan, the only remaining family brewery in the city.

It’s a brilliant little tour and well worth the measly six Euros per person, which incidentally includes a free beer from the range at the end in the courtyard or cafe.

Still in it’s original building located in a quiet area of town but no more than five minutes from the main tourist drag, you could quite easily miss the brewery in it’s peaceful setting in a small cobbled square.

From the outside (at least from the street level), the only sign you’ll see is the half moon plaque on the wall next to a stone archway. Through that archway is a small courtyard with tables and chairs for alfresco drinking Belgian style, with a small outside bar too for warmer days.

The site is quite an amazing mix of old and new, on entering the visitor centre and brewery restaurant is bright and modern, with stylish menu’s and smartly dressed staff serving beer and quality Belgian (beer related) dishes.

It’s in the brewery itself though that the magic starts, you are led from the ground floor through a series of rooms where old meets new, the new brewing equipment being made to fit the existing building whilst still accommodating the historical parts for tourists.

Be aware though that this is definitely not for those with walking difficulties or folk scared of heights. The tour takes you up four floors on a series of varying staircases and extremely steep metal industrial type steps eventually emerging on the roof, here you have panoramic views of the city which is a sight to behold. Of course what goes up, also has to come down…

I must mention our guide Madeleine, at first I thought “what a miserable so & so” and “that this was going to a barrel of laughs”!

What a mistake, she was brilliant. I hope she wouldn’t mind me saying but Madeleine reminded me of a female Jack Dee, extremely knowledgeable and happy to answer questions, but delivering line after line of dead pan wit.

Of course the most important thing is, the beers great too…

Planning for the future..

Sadly it inevitably happens to us all as we approach our twilight years, your memory beings to fade, you forget where you put things, what you walked into that room for, even where you were going?

Well I’ve prepared for the unthinkable….

What you can’t hear is the choking urgency as she pulls on that lead, no words are spoken, she (Maggie) just knows that if she goes out of the front door THAT’S WHERE I”M GOING and she’s off and running!

Now I just need to train her to take me home, or on second thoughts, maybe not..

The version below is a better resolution as I filmed it in the day time BUT BE WARNED! It has a sad ending…