Friday, 21 October 2016

Halloween period is spook-tacular for Moorhouse's.

Well, it's always nice to be back in dear old Blighty, after a jolly jaunt in Brittany. Back to taste all the fine qualities of a thirst-quenching pint of British ale.

And on my return I had the opportunity to visit Lancashire's leading independent brewer, Moorhouses's of Burnley. During their busiest time of the year, namely, the Halloween season.

Moorhouse's is recognised as the preferred Halloween brewer for pubs and clubs across the nation. Their range of Halloween themed potions are immensely popular. And there was lots of it bubbling away in their 'cauldrons' when I met head brewer, Dan Casaru.

Dan has been at Moorhouse's for almost twelve years. And the respected and affable brewer has witnessed the surge in demand, over this fang-tastic and most spook-tacular period.

He said: "It gets busier year on year. Last week we brewed 800 brewery barrels of beer. That's over 230,000 pints in five days. Our normal run in the week is 500 barrels(144,000 pints).

Dan added: "As well as the demand for our cask ales. We have seen increasing popularity for our bottled beers. It's huge. We have just won national contracts with supermarkets, Aldi and Morrisons. The latter will stock Blond Witch. Aldi will stock White Witch.

"The White Witch brand won the gold medal at last month's national bottled beer awards. Its popularity goes from strength to strength, both in cask and bottle."

So, what ghoulishly delightful potions were bubbling away on my visit? Well, brewers, Graham and Jordan were only too happy to give me a personal tour. 

The ever popular Pendle Witches Brew was in the mash tun. One hundred brewery barrels, almost 30,000 pints are produced on a brew run. It's a delicious, full flavoured and robust ale. Malty sweet and fruity. Perfectly balanced and decidedly moreish. 

During the brewing process I was given the opportunity to make a contribution to one of my favourite Moorhouse's beers. Graham and Jordan allowing me to add some of the crystal malt into the grist hopper. Moorhouse's grind all their grain at the brewery.

One of the most popular Halloween brews, Ruby Witch, was bubbling in one of the fermentation tanks. It was at the second of three days fermentation. It's a devilish and spellbinding potion. Tangy orange and spicy notes are dominant. It's frightfully tasty.
Ruby Witch is just one of many brews to watch out for over the Halloween period. Other tasty, tantalising tipples include, Broomstick Bitter; Black Witch; Witches Cauldron; Witchfinder General and Witch Hunt.

It was a most enlightening and enjoyable day at Moorhouse's. The staff were most friendly, helpful and welcoming - and very passionate about the brewing of their popular ales.

So, just to say, it will be undoubtably less cackling and more quaffing for me over the Halloween period. As I intend to carry out a witch hunt for these boo-tiful beers. 

Sent from my iPad

Friday, 16 September 2016

Waen Brewery will be sadly missed.

Genuinely stunned and saddened by the recent closure of the multi award-winning Waen Brewery, from Mid-Wales. 

Owner,Sue Hayward, is a most talented and innovative brewer. Her brews will be missed - and she will be too!

A recent prestigious award for Sue and her team.

Pamplemousse, Blackberry Stout and Chilli Plum Porter were among my favourites. Their beers had something special about them. I always hunted them down at the many beer festivals in my region.

Blackberry Stout was my introduction to Waen Brewery beers

It does raise the question that there is perhaps too much inferior and cheaper beer flooding the market. And that some quality breweries are being squeezed out of the industry by inferior beer being flogged to pubs, for less than they can produce it for! Agreed?

I'm sure Sue's innovative and fine brewing skills will be very much in demand. And I will look forward to her first collaboration beer.

I wish Sue all the very best in the future. And hope that some of her stellar beers will be saved and brewed elsewhere.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

A whiff of a flawed business model. Agreed?

The news of this pub closure came as a shock to the local newspaper, namely, the Lancashire Telegraph . 

However, was it really a shock? This historic landmark watering hole, in Blackburn town centre, had been like a revolving door for its tenants, in recent times.

The last tenants were given a three month trial. Sadly, it didn't work out. Possibly their landlords had put some unworkable conditions in their lease.

I visited the pub about six months ago. Alarm bells were ringing then.

 It looked tired and rundown. No greeting. Person manning the bar, on their mobile. And beer with that papery taste, that told you it was past its sell by date - as it was in the previous two visits!

Admiral Taverns need to flog this pub pronto. Their business plan here, is obviously flawed. 

Sell it to someone who has some passion and belief. Someone with vision, who can hopefully save the Adelphi Hotel from being another addition to the pubs closed figures.

Admiral Taverns state it will only be a temporary closure. They are seeking another tenant. 

Alas, I fear if this pub company remain in ownership, this town centre hostelry is destined for an uncertain future.

Let's hope my fears will not be realised. As it is a most attractive and historic landmark. 

Friday, 19 August 2016

Get a life, you killjoys!

I recently came across this statement below. And it really made me titter. As it reminded me of some, 'no life', wearisome neighbours, who live adjacent to a local cricket club.

These residents, on occasion, contact the club to complain about the noise.

'Noise' as in folk enjoying themselves responsibly, at a social event. They even complain about the groundsman(volunteer) playing some music, as he tends the wicket in-between innings.

      ( Ian'Bugsy'Burrows. A tireless worker at the cricket club)

Of course, contact is made by phone - and not in person!

The cricket club is located in a most beautiful setting. And their cask ales from local brewers, are always in fine fettle. The ground is often described as England's finest beer garden.

However, some, I say some, of the residents do not appreciate how fortunate they are living so close to such a fine and attractive facility.

A sporting facility, superbly maintained by volunteers throughout the year. Thus contributing massively to the delightful environment in which they live.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Why an awards dinner at 95 quid a head?

Maybe a whiff of beer snobbery here?

I have to say I was quite surprised that CAMRA had decided to announce their awards at the 2016 GBBF, via an awards dinner held on Trades Day - and at 95 quid a head!

Blimey, what kind of beer snobbery is this? I'm sure most members will concur with my view. Or will they?

This change in direction was brought to my attention, by a very well respected Brewery . Their brewer/representative had been sneered at by the organiser, over a dress code issue. 

FFS they should be applauding our award-winning Brewers. Not sneering and acting like the fashion police at some  elitist bash.

Why a strict dress code anyway? I thought CAMRA were a broad minded organisation . It appears in this instance, they are being a selective and snobby one. 

What was the dress code? I'm informed someone was there in an open shirt and jeans. So how did they pass the dress code criteria? 

Let's hope CAMRA see sense next year, and scrap this 95 quid a head event. It all appears a tad bonkers in my opinion. Agreed?

Monday, 1 August 2016

CAMRA simply has to change direction.

I am sure all you beer aficionado's out there, are fully aware of CAMRA's current revitalisation project. A project set up to identify new ways to breathe life into the campaign - and hopefully, in my opinion, change its present direction.

Let me say at the outset, CAMRA did a magnificent job in negating the threat of the 'Big Six' brewers, back in the early seventies. National brewers who were hell bent on hatching a plan to jettison cask ale , in preference to fizzy, processed keg beer.

However, in the 45 years since CAMRA's inception, the beer industry, pubs and drinking habits alike, have changed dramatically - and I feel the Campaign has lost its momentum in recent times.

Let's be honest, the battle to save cask conditioned beer has been won. And present CAMRA policies are not generating enough interest for more members to get involved.

I hear local branches making rallying calls for members to be more active. Problem is, many ale drinkers are of the opinion that CAMRA take a stance on progression. That they are loathe to modernise. It's still perceived as a mature men's drinking club.

"Hang on",I hear you say. "CAMRA have over 180,000 members." Yes, I concur with that figure. However, how many are active? How many join to get twenty quids worth of Wetherspoon's vouchers - a large percentage I reckon. And how many have direct debit inertia?

I think it's fair to say there are no more than about ten thousand activists. Possibly five thousand that deem themselves as hard core.

These are the active members who, with the greatest of respect, have to change, in order to prevent the Campaign withering on the vine. They have to stop tub thumping, what was being done and strived for, at its inception over four decades ago.
A typical active group of CAMRA stalwarts.

Some of the older members, sadly, still appear disrespectful to the many new and more modern micro-breweries that have evolved in recent times. They having skilled brewers that are bringing us a host of flavours to our palates. A plethora of exciting new style beers, bursting with an array of tasty and exotic flavours.

Manchester brewer, Seven Bro7hers. One of many, fine, innovative, craft brewers
Okay, many of the craft beers we are now witnessing on the bar, may not be to everyone's taste. Many members still prefer a more traditional style beer - and that's fine.

However, instead of just saying, " all that's rubbish". Or words to that effect. Take off the blinkers and respectfully identify that non-traditional beers are loved by the majority of beer drinkers - and CAMRA members alike

CAMRA has to remove the perception of the old man's drinking club, in order to move forward. An insular and blinkered attitude has to be erased amongst many of its members. Agreed?

In saying that, CAMRA has still a vital role to play but, in order to continue that role, it has to change direction and modernise. The main emphasis, in my opinion, has to be to protect and preserve pubs and clubs. And to highlight more beer quality in the said establishments.

I often get the impression that the organisation is keener to highlight the burgeoning growth of the nation's microbreweries and the increasing number of hand pulls on the bar.

They also have to be more vigorous in challenging the government's anti-drink lobbyists and other temperance campaigners. The moralising, pontificating, holier-than-thou brigade, that insult our responsible drinking habits.
Target number one: Chief Medical Officer, 'nanny in chief', Dame Sally Davies. 
Yes, CAMRA needs to revitalise. And I'm sure if the campaign complies with the requests highlighted in this article. It will earn more respect, admiration -  and more active members in their organisation.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Are our drinking habits changing?

Skipton in North Yorkshire is proving a typical example for the continuing popularity of micro bars. Five have now opened in the town in less than eighteen months. 
Here, one of Skipton's micro bar owners explains why they are becoming so popular.