Have I mentioned Joey Holt's here? Only as an aside I think, but really I should do. I was prompted to tell you a little about them by a visit to their Old Blue Bell in Bury the other night for a CAMRA meeting. The Old Blue Bell isn't in the nicest area of Bury and for most of us who came by car, the nagging worry was would it still be in one piece when we came out? Still there is nothing wrong with the pub. A big solid red brick bugger with a decent sized vault and two, or was it three, separate rooms off, all comfortably furnished in upholstered benches and of course, a corridor or rather what was left of it before they opened it out a bit.
We had a nice room off the bar at the back where we could hear the mostly female hoots of laughter from the outside smoking area. Hardy lasses those from Bury. It would have frozen a yak outside, but it didn't seem to bother them one bit. The beer of choice for me was Mild. It is 3.2% and is absolutely delicious when on form, as it was on Tuesday night. Others had the bitter which is 4% and pronounced it excellent too.
Ah yes. Back to Holt's. Joseph Holt is a family owned brewer, founded in 1849 and based in the Derby Brewery, just outside Manchester City Centre. There are 127 Joseph Holt's houses. All lie within a 25-mile radius of Greater Manchester. The brewery produces a cask mild, bitter and seasonal beers in a fully modernised and flexible brewery and the company is fiercely independent. Relatively rarely for smaller brewers, they still brew their own lager too; Crystal and Diamond and, in cans only, the delightfully named "Holtenbrau". Alas they don't brew the half-palindromic "Regal" any more.
Holt's have changed over the years. They used to be very cheap, but now are catching up a bit but you'll still get decent change out of £2 for either Mild or Bitter. Mild is usually around 8p less than the bitter too. The beer, well the bitter mainly, has also changed. Once described thus in the GBG "its uncompromising bitterness can come as a shock to the unwary". It is still rather bitter, around 40 or so IBU's though a bit better balanced than it used to be. Holt's still deliver their beer to some outlets in the mighty hogshead or 54 imperial gallons. Full, they weigh in at a hefty 6cwt or 290 kilograms, so don't ever pick a fight with a Holt's drayman!
Holt's also brew a delightful Old Ale called "Sixex" which used to be available in nips, but now comes in the standard 500 ml bottle, as well as a full range of other bottled beers.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
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