Birmingham Beer Bash, the absolute Shnoodlepip!

Shnoodlepip – Urban Dictionary
British slang replacing every word for something good.
Can be an adjective or noun or title depending on use.
1. Goodbye my lil’ shnoodlepip (My awesome kickass friend)
2. That’s THE shnoodlepip (That’s the bomb/shit)
3. Fuck that was shnoodlepippin epic! (So god damn overly amazingly awesomely epic)

Well, that was a shnoodlepippin weekend and a half to quote description three, apart from anything else I learned something, a new word that may or may not ever make it to the Oxford English dictionary (I suspect not)..

After a whole load of hullabaloo those crazy Brummies (and temporary honorary Brummies) only went and pulled it off and in some style too!

I have to confess after trudging for what seemed hours but in fact was minutes through the blazing summer heat of sub-tropical Digbeth, I was a little concerned. There didn’t I thought, look much on the beer front (EEEK!)… Would there be enough to last, more importantly would there be enough variety to keep the beer hungry geekdom happy? YES, how wrong was I, words I am incredibly happy to write here now.

IMG_6649IMG_6638The Bond venue worked really well, several rooms spread around a central courtyard which, for the majority of the two days was basking in the hot summer sunshine. Although it was fantastic to have the weather on our side it did have it’s downside, none of which any organiser could have planned for, in that the indoors areas did get a little warm. Better that than too cold any day in my book and more importantly had no effects on the beer, even the cask beer remaining really cool and in fantastic nick throughout which is testament to the hard work of the festival bar management staff.

IMG_6651 IMG_6653IMG_6658The food stalls that dominated the courtyard were excellent and had minimal queuing which was nice. I tried the Italian sausages from Squisito Deli including one which was made with beer especially for the day, I can’t tell you much more about that other than it was delicious. Then there was the incredible bread and cakes from Stirchley’s “Loaf”, the bread being made with Kernel porter if memory serves, whatever it was it bloody well worked and I loved it. Pop Up Dosa finished Friday’s line up with Southern Indian street cuisine, which I didn’t try, but heard lots of praise from folks who did.

On Saturday we had an additional food outlet arrive, Original Patty Men, serving the most incredible (filthiest) burgers I have ever seen with immaculate attention to detail.

IMG_6639The bars were well spread and skilfully manned by volunteer brewers and beer lovers alike all giving up valuable time and I never waited more than a minute or so to be served, in fact half the time it was the opposite and I hadn’t made up my mind in time and was offered “assistance.” Hats off to all the brewers, guest speakers and brewery staff that attended and helped out, milled, chatted etc as everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there and keen to engage in conversation, share beers, blend and generally go daft.

Then there were the punters, you guys, me, that other bloke you remember speaking to, the lady with the hat, etc etc, what a great crowd.

9rlfhvIt was almost impossible to cross the room without having three or four conversations however brief or convoluted. I met so many friends old and new over the IMG_6663weekend, some who I’ve known for years via social media, but until the weekend our paths had never crossed.

This included among many others Nate Southwood, who greeted me with an instantaneous “outpouring” of happy joy with an enthusiastic hug, with such gusto that he also had an outpouring of a rather expensive/rare imperial stout.. 😉

Beer, that’s the important bit right? It was goooood.. Despite my initial reservations the beer list was wide, varied and bloody amazing. I spent five an a half hours there on the Friday alone and still came away thinking “damn, I didn’t get to try that” which is how it should be at such an event, although clearly there’s nothing wrong with going back over old ground either in returning to something incredibly enjoyable.

IMG_6655Although too many to mention I’d give an honourable shout out to Buxton for Jacobs Ladder at 2.7% and still tasting great, Durham for the extra fiery Hellfire, Liverpool Craft for White Fox, a beer I’d tried and not liked that much before but changed my mind completely and the always crazy OffBeat Dotty, which by Michelle’s beaming glow she was very happy with.

IMG_6637On the new brewery front I am ecstatic to say that Northern Monk Brew “New World IPA” was right up there with the best in my estimation and very quickly sold out, even more tasty on keg than I remember from the last bottle I tried. Two more new boys for me were Compass Brewery with “Berry” (sour) which was a real beauty and Hopcraft “Statement Of Intent” an English IPA that I could drink lots and lots of…

My top three, in third place Arbor/Moor collaboration “Double Dark Alliance” a luxurious imperial stout that literally coated your innards with cockle-warming chococoffee loveliness, perfect for a hot summers afternoon…. Who cares I still had another

In joint second place, was Weird Beard “Amarillo Belgian IPA” AND strangely, the Weird Beard/Northern Monk Brew collaboration “Bad Habit”. This after a long hard deliberation with Gregg Irwin (one half of the beardies) and a side by side taste off where we both tried to convince each other that our own personal favourite was tops. In the end, the only fair result is a draw.

IMG_6656Finally “the absolute bomb”, “the shit” “my awesome kickass friends” in first place on my list was Shnoodlepip.

20130724-095219After sampling two or three glasses of this over two days I still have no idea what this beer is, in which style pocket it should sit, and even today after reading up on it from the Wild Beer Co website I still don’t, and nor do I care. What I do care about is how outstandingly good it is/was and it’s of no surprise to me that it sold out, TWICE!

It smelled incredible with a sort of Rhubarb Crumble meets Gooseberry sour mash-up going on although neither actually feature in reality. The fruit-fest continued in the mouth which was full of refreshing tangy juiciness, followed by a spicy slightly acidic kick at the finish. As you can read here, this was another collaboration beer brewed with the help of Good George and Burning Sky, but for me demonstrates how exceptionally well Wild Beer have done in the last year, with the superb Ninkasi being another fine example at the beer bash.

In my pre-fest post I talked about the crew that had put this wonderful event together, their worries and fears, my hopes for their success. I was right on both counts in that my confidence in them to pull it off was well founded and that clearly it had been a bit of a ride. Emotions were running incredibly high all weekend, thinking back to two tried and failed attempts to speak to Dave “OthertonAleMan” Shipman, who on both occasions had to walk away for fear of bursting into floods of happy/relieved tears. I’m very glad he did as it happens, as I’d most likely have joined him….

IMG_6661Thank you all my lil’ shnoodlepips, you are all ass kickingly amazeballs!

Check out my good friend and consummate beer professional’s version of events right HERE

Macc Twissup itinerary #Twissupdate 8

Twissup is nearly upon us and bar a few last-minute set up arrangements, everything “seems” to be in place (crosses everything), so I thought a bit of an itinerary and directions might be a good idea.

Isosc map Jpg

As you can see from the map above, it’s all pretty straightforward on the directions front and none of the venues is more than ten minutes walk from another and probably less.

11am – 12:45 pm Treacle Tap

The first point of call is the Treacle Tap which is about three minutes easy walk from the railway station. Although not plain on the map itself, simply exit the station (there is only one exit) turn left and walk down the drop off ramp to Sunderland Street, The Treacle Tap is approximately 500 metres up the road on the right hand side.

At the Treacle we have Great North Pies delicious sounding breakfast pies and hopefully their creator in attendance, chef Neil Broadhurst. Washed down with among other things Marble Earl Grey IPA. We also have our first beer exclusive with the fabulously sounding Bondi Blues from Cheshire Brewhouse.

As a last-minute addition I’ve literally just heard the Summer Wine Brewery’s “Devil Loves Chinook” arrived last night to complete the keg line up. 🙂

There will be more beer available of course on cask and keg, plus an extensive bottle list including your chance to grab your very own bottle of Red Willow Tilting Ale, brewed for Virgin Trains.

13:00 – 15:00 (15:15-ish) RedWillow Brewery

Next up the brewery visit to RedWillow, here we will sample another brand new beer brewed for Twissup, Shapeless, a continuously hopped IPA, Witless 3, Faithless G&T Saison and perhaps more dependant on demand and numbers. If all goes well you will be able to meet Michelle from OffBeat and Brian from Bitches Brewing too, both of whom were involved in collaboratively brewing two of the beers on offer. To feed your hunger we should have pulled pork fed on RedWillow grain and marinaded in RedWillow beers.

Brewery tours will be available on a staggered basis, again dependant on numbers and demand.

The leaving time has been stretched here slightly to allow the next venue to clear thirsty beer drinkers from their bar as we move on.

15:00 – 16:50 The Macc

At The Macc we will see our third brewery launch of the day with the fabulous Weird Beard and Elusive Brewing collaboration Nelson Saison. All being well both Greg and Andy from each respective brewery will be onsite to tell you a little about the beer and how it came about etc. One not to be missed

Other highlights include Magic Rock/Kissmeyer Salty Kiss and Oakhams Eugene’s Lair.

The Macc has enough cask and keg lines to quench your thirst whatever your dispense preference and a great bottle selection including some 750 sharing bottles. Food too if you’ve room and get the munchies.

17:00-15 – 19:30 The Wharf

Finally we wind our way towards our last scheduled stop of the day (the timings may be a little out by then hence the extra noted), The Wharf, recently voted Cheshire CAMRA Pub of the Year 2013.

Here we have yet another exclusive beer launch for your pleasure, the Bitches Brewing Co & Black Jack Beers “Isosceles IPA“. Again it’s hoped that the brewers will be around if commitments allow, if not I will be and I helped to brew this one too. 🙂

Chris has also lined up a very special cask of Marble Old Manchester, plus no doubt another fine beer selection on the cask and keg lines (including Tiny Rebel Urban IPA) one of which will be on the hop rocket.

……….

Map plain ArialOf course as normal on such occasions there is no requirement to follow the crowd for the entire day, although clearly that’s the idea, but if that’s not your bag and the venue in question is rammed feel free to move around. All I’d ask is that you please make an effort to visit each participating venue as everyone has put a lot of effort into making this day happen.

One word of warning though on that front, clearly the brewery time is fixed so don’t miss that, and if you do move around, be aware that any launch beers may not be on until somewhere near to the stated times.

Links to both of the map and directions sheets pictured are below (hope they work) both of which should print very well on A4 on a good quality print setting. They will available printed too from The Treacle Tap (assuming I remember to print and take them) as will be the local CAMRA leaflets which detail other pubs in the area of note, should you want to venture further afield.

Map arial

Project Isosceles – Map rev1

Should you need a hotel, there is a Travelodge 200 metres from the train station for cheap n cheerful accommodation:  Travelodge Macclesfield Central

Elusive Brewing Weird Bearded Beer Geekery (or) #Twissupdate 3

Catchy blog post title huh?

A while back I was given a beer, it was a home-brewed beer, a saison, which is a particular favourite beer style of mine, hence I was especially chuffed to learn that it had been brewed as a contribution to my now annual #SupSaison event. It was in a standard brown bottle, labelled with two strips of dymo-tape, one saying “@tabamatu” and the other “Nelson Saison’.

MeThis beer really blew me and everyone at my tasting session away, eventually even making it to my Golden Pints Awards too. I presented it blind so as not to influence my guests as to it’s origin and it was probably one of the most talked about beers of the night and among some really highly regarded saison standards too. Even more astonishingly this was Andy Parker’s (aka @tabamatu on twitter) only second attempt at whole grain brewing, A-MAZE-ING!

Then on 6th of May 2013 I saw this tweet which filled me with joy and excitement..

and a few days later..

elusiveTo explain, Elusive Brewing is the name of Andy’s new and or future dabble into commercial brewing, which was excitement level one.

Upping that to dancing around the room stage two, was the fact that Weird Beard Brewing are another of my favourite relatively new breweries.

Finally, tipping things over the scale to gibbering, leering beer buffoon (stage three to you), they were getting together to brew Nelson Saison commercially.. “EEEEK”!

I wasted no time in pleading the case, the fine detail, the entire plan explained..

Luckily for me (and you), I know Andy and Gregg pretty well and soon the direct messaging was frantically passing back and forth to agree that in principle we could make this happen, and on Saturday just gone, I met up with Gregg to “cough” discuss the finer detail of the plans over a few drinks, on how to get this wonderful collaboration to the twissup on Sat 29th of June 2013.

Just to add a little background to this, Gregg and Weird Beard co-owner Bryan, were home brewers themselves before they took the plunge into commercial brewing. During our weekends “chat”, Gregg explained that they wanted as part of their emerging success story, to give other home brewers they hold in high regard a chance to put their skills to work on proper kit, and with their help and guidance hopefully avoid the mistakes perhaps they themselves have made in the breweries seemingly meteoric rise from humble beginnings. Next up on the collab agenda is Dave Bishop of Northern Monk Brew Co, which I just know is going to be a belter too. (Both of these breweries in infancy are ones to watch for the future, trust me)

BKoVoWGCIAAEchz.jpg-largeIn terms of twissup location, the venue to try this beer has as yet not been decided as we are still trying to set up the full line up of beery delights for your drinking pleasure, but what I am really excited to be able to say is, thanks to the goodwill of the fantastic folks in the beer community, one of these will be heading its way north to Macclesfield very soon.

Incredibly this will be the third in a line up of new or pretty much as near as damn it exclusive brews to sample on the day which just blows me away, Nelson Saison being ready for release probably only two to three weeks before the event. Plus to top it all off both Gregg and Andy have agreed to attend on the day to answer any questions you may have, on which point I’ll give you some advice, catch them early on to be sure both haven’t been doing too much “quality control”…

Read Andy’s story on brewing it here.

Check out this review of the original brew from Rob at Hopzine here too

But most importantly, get the date in your diary, Saturday 29th of June 2013 for an 11am start. 

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

Weird Beard Fade to Black

“Things not what they used to be
Missing one inside of me
Deathly lost this can’t be real
Can’t stand this hell I feel
Emptiness is filling me
To the point of agony
Growing darkness taking dawn
I was me, but now he’s gone”

Fade to Black, Metallica a classic track by a massive band who started small and made it big, their double album Garage Inc a lament back to their early rehearsing and recording days.

Quite apt really for Weird Beard Brew Co, who despite wowing Londoners and a select few people lucky enough to get hold of their beers, as yet do not have a commercial brewing operation and as such are still in reality home/garage brewers.

I was one of those lucky few folk and was given this prototype bottle of Fade To Black at the Beer Bloggers Conference a few months ago by brewer Gregg Irwin (aka @dredpenguin on Twitter). I had intended to share this bottle hence the time passing, but in the interest of freshness only, gave up and cracked it open last night.

It’s a black IPA (or Cascadian Dark Ale) hopped with Apollo, Citra, Sorachi and Amarillo and after a lively fizz as you crack to cap pours like bubbling hot bitumen with a cappuccino frothy head.

On the nose there are aromas of toffee, red grapes and citrus fruit peel. On tasting the first thing that struck me was the really juicy body the beer had, really refreshing like liquid red and black fruit gums. As the flavour develops on the tongue you get bitter dark chocolate with liquorice and stewed plums, there’s a little coffee too underpinned by citrus grapefruit notes.

All in all a bloody good beer and definitely a brewery to watch as predicted by Tandleman after their meet the brewer session at The Rake in London back in May, where he made the bold claim and I quote “this could well be the Magic Rock of the South’. If that isn’t a great recommendation, I don’t know what is. Read more about that day and more of the Weird Beard range here.

The Weird Beard website is still under construction, but there is still a live blog feed here for details of what is going on. As a quick update from Gregg though, the lease for the new brewery premises is making good progress so hopefully an announcement on that front will be forthcoming soon. He also mentioned that the brewing team are working on new recipes as well as tweaking existing ones, with new labels to follow too. Great news for drinkers of good beer.

Thanks again to Gregg for the prototype bottle, best of luck to all involved in the new venture.

Cheers