Monday, 31 March 2008

Isle of Man Catches Up

Just thought I'd let you know that the IoM smoking ban came in today. Hooray! I am not sure about the other Crown Dependencies, but only the IoM has any beery interest anyway with its three breweries, all of which I have been round.

I think a quick hop there is overdue. I love the Isle of Man for reasons other than beer, as well as for its beery delights. Ah lost youth!

The Isle of Man is an internally self-governing dependency of the British Crown and its people are British citizens. It has three operating breweries, Okells, Bushy's and Old Laxey.


The Beer Nut said...

I was hugely entertained by the legislative ban on swearing in pubs. Until my group almost got barred from one place in Douglas, that is.

Tyson said...

I also think a post ban visit is in order. Particularly as our Manx correspondent keeps insisting that Bushys is better on the island, and Okells is better on the mainland.

Happy memories of peeing over a wall in unison:)

The Beer Nut said...

People have been birched for less. Probably.

Boak said...

OK, here's a question / opportunity to show off. When did Okells get good?

I once had to spend extended time on the Isle of Man on business. (Four bloody weeks!) I don't recall being particularly amazed by their beer during my visit. This would have been about five years ago.

However, since I had my first Okells in England (the smoked porter), I've thought they were great. Did they get a new brewer, owner, or do they just serve the dull stuff to the locals? I'm intrigued.

Tandleman said...

Hmm. When our CAMRA Branch went round the brewery at Kewaigue several years ago the beer was superb. When Tyson and I went around 5 or 6 years ago, then mere boozers not bloggers, apart from the odd pub, the beer was good. I went there a couple of years ago and all seemed fine. I recall some lovely beer in the Mines Tavern in Laxey. We have had Okells Beers at Bury Beer Festival off and on for years and they have been good. OK not spectacular Phoenix or Pictish good, but good solid beers.

I should have the chance to try some in Liverpool in Friday and have to say on the times I have drank them in the Fly in the Loaf, they have been good. So I can't help I'm afraid. My experiences (quite a few you'll agree) have been mostly positive.

Tyson said...

Is it simply that you have been mainly trying the "exotic" Okells, such as the Porter? These are the ones you tend to find on the mainland. On the island most pubs only sell the basic range, which might seem bland compared to some of their other offerings.

There's also the fact that anywhere where there is a concentration of a brand, quality suffers. I would suggest this applies to the IOM.

Boak said...

Well, indeed, Tyson, that's kind of my point. I came away from four weeks there with the impression that Okells was a decent, but not particularly exciting local brewer. I never saw a smoked porter or anything other than a couple of indistinguishable bitters.

It's possible I was unlucky with the pubs i went into. I wasn't a fully-fledged beer geek at the time, so didn't go there armed with knowledge about the local brewers or decent pubs.

That said,I do tend to favour nice friendly locals with good ales on, the sort of place where one might expect to strike lucky with some interesting brews. And there aren't that many pubs on the Isle, so I must have been statistically very unlucky!

I'm just surprised that in a place so proud of itself as the Isle of Man seems to be, they weren't shouting about their breweries at every possible opportunity.

Ted said...

We made out first vist there several years ago when they still had the international football tournament on (the likes of Oldham, Burnley, Wrexham and Darlo!) and like Tandleman, we had a trip around the brewery and the beer was really good. However Okells in a lot of pubs on the island rarely came near the same taste and condition.

I seem to remember the guy giving the tour told me they lost their yeast at some point and they took some from Thwaites rather than get theirs out of some yeast bank. That seemed to be the gist but the memory might be playing tricks.

The pubs that we mainly frequented were the Mines in Laxey, the White House in Peel and the Trafalgar in Ramsey. All had some great beers though I seem to remember a rash of Archers beers doing the rounds at the time.

The IoM is well worth a visit - apart from Douglas, which is like a pound-shop version of Blackpool, there are some nice little towns and some great scenary.