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. 

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Pub of the week: The Swan with Two Necks.

There is something rather special about the quintessential British pub. Alas, an establishment that has become more of a rare sighting in recent times.

Thankfully, the UK still boasts a few of these fine destinations. And there is no finer example, in my opinion, than the Swan with Two Necks in the Ribble Valley village of Pendleton. 

It was the ideal venue on a glorious sunny day in Lancashire. And the pub looked resplendent, as me and my 'chauffeur', John Ingham, approached. Its window boxes were in full bloom. And mini Union Jack flags fluttered in the breeze, in celebration of the Queen's 90th birthday.

It's a delightful two-roomed, traditional and homely pub. Open fires, dark oak beamed ceilings, old fashioned furnishings. And lots of attractive pub paraphernalia adorning its walls and other areas. 

The beautiful lawned beer garden and paved patio at the rear is a delight. And has extensive views of Pendleside.

The pub is owned by Steve and Christine Dilworth. They have been here almost twenty nine years. Their most momentous moment being when CAMRA crowned them National Champion Pub in 2013. They have just won CAMRA's Lancashire Pub of the Year for 2016.

We were met by Morag, a staff member of twenty five years. A most affable and helpful lady. She was busy serving hungry patrons(including the local vicar) from the pubs home cooked menu. And then quenching their thirsts at the bar, with a range of excellent ales. 

There is always a selection of five rotating cask ales and a real cider. It was a beery dilemma. Steve sources some great ales from around the UK. However, I initially plumped for Fyne Ales, Jarl. A citrus laden refresher, that balances perfectly with the floral bitter hopped finish.

Next, I had to try a paddle of beer. Three, one third pint measures, from £3(less 10% CAMRA discount). Steve said: "They are very popular. We have been doing them since 2006." Steve recommended a mild from George Wright; a stout from Wishbone(Keighley) and a strong IPA from Lincoln Green(Nottingham). They didn't disappoint - delicious.

Steve added: "The customers have their favourites. Fyne Ales Jarl is a regular. It flies out. We have sold a barrel(72 pints) in under an hour, when really busy. The Marble(Manchester)Legonda, an IPA, is another popular beer. Mind you, we always like to try and surprise people too, with some of our beers."

This village pub ticks all the boxes in my opinion. Welcoming, helpful and amiable staff. Friendly customers. And of course, great beer and food in a relaxing, homely environment. It undoubtably deserves all the plaudits and awards that are regularly bestowed upon it. It's an ideal social hub, no argument.

Sent from my iPad

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

This is my kind of beer festival.

I feel duly obliged to relay details of a beer festival I attended over the Bank Holiday weekend. The Fighting Cocks Inn,Cliviger, Burnley was the venue.
(Just part of the packed beer garden)

I had previewed the festival on my weekly beer page in the Lancashire Telegraph. A festival I had anticipated  as being a special event - and so it proved.

I had been initially wowed by the beer list. A selection to suit all tastes.
Craft keg lagers from contemporary Brewers such as Cloudwater and Alphabet from Manchester.

There were over twenty cask ales on hand pulls. Including beers from the wood. Also included, were six ales from the Fighting Cocks brewery, situated on the same site as the event. 

For the cider heads. There were six to choose from. The stand out one, in my opinion, being one from East Kilbride. Thirstly Cross Whisky Cask Cider, at 6.9%, had been aged in a single malt whisky barrel. It didn't disappoint.
(Another one that didn't disappoint was Cloudwater's Kolsch style lager)

Blimey, what an eclectic range of ales, craft keg lagers and ciders on offer. A sight not always guaranteed at some festivals.

 It was a proper selection dilemma, on every visit to the bar. And many of the festival revellers appeared to be having the same problem.
(Patience is a virtue when queuing at the bar!)

I couldn't believe how the staff managed to cope with the number of people who had thronged to this splendid rural venue. They performed admirably and professionally throughout.
("Briggsy your eyes are chronic. You are on the wrong side of the bar.")

The three day festival was a truly special event. It returns for a third time in 2017. 

My three 'medal' winners:

Gold Medal: Fernandes Brewery,(Wakefield) Black Voodoo.
Simply a 'wow' factor beer. Strong chocolate orange aroma and flavour. Terry's Chocolate Orange in a glass! Surprisingly refreshing too. A most pleasant tingly mouthfeel in the finish, that was a perfect marriage for the orange, chocolatey flavours that were present throughout. 

Silver Medal: Revoulutions Brewery,(Castleford) Soul Mining. 
A most flavoursome Black IPA. Piney, dark chocolate aroma. The chocolate and citrusy notes were perfectly balanced. A delicious drop.

Bronze Medal: Fighting Cocks,(Burnley) Spaghetti Stout. Barrel aged in a oak wine cask for six months. Vinous and fruity. The ageing had softened the roasted malt flavour. Making it even more silky smooth. The winey finish was a delight.

Others worthy of a special mention: Cloudwater, Pennine Lager; Thornbridge, Kill Your Darlings( Vienna style lager) and Bridestone's(Hebden Bridge) , Coffee Porter.

Below is a picture of Brewer, Carmelo Pillitteri, showcasing six of his tasty tipples at the festival.

Roll on 2017......😀🍻👍