Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Blue Pig, Odd and PSBH


There is a new bar in Manchester. The Blue Pig is on High Street and owned by Odd it seems. Nice inside, with bare boards, lots of distressed metal and a little attractive side bar-cum-stall - though it isn't apparent if it is just a service point - selling Spanish meaty things, which looked rather tasty. It doesn't have any fancy craft fonts, but was selling a couple of weakish cask beers at a hefty £3.30 a pint on Saturday. I had Lancaster Straw which at 3.5% and well, straw coloured, was presumably their take on the Windermere Pale genre. Hawkshead can rest easy. This was wishy-washy, thin and disappointing with scarcely a hop to lift it. You do wonder what thought processes went behind that one. Hornbeam Chestnut was the choice of my mate Mike. It did what it said on the pumpclip and delivered a chestnut coloured beer of zero character.  This place is in a great location and has a lot of potential, but the welcome was entirely absent, as was eye contact.  That always makes for a less than comfortable experience, so a work in progress.


We called next at Odd, oddly enough. We had by contrast, a very warm and cheery welcome there and although the Phoenix Hopsack was in great nick, it was a fair bit too warm. It was likely the first pints poured I suppose and again we paid £3.30 a pop.  A step up in both quality, welcome and class next.  If you read this blog you will know that I am a great fan of the Port St Beer House.  They just do the right things.  While many criticise the high prices, these tend to be the fancy keg beers, which like other such places, are charged way beyond what can be justified by ingredients, taxation, or whatever, but you don't have to buy these.  The cask beers and indeed some of the weaker keg beers are pretty well priced for the absolute quality, the cheerful service with advice, the offer of tasters and the environment which just makes it a very nice place in wich to drink.  Mike,a newcomer to PSBH, was very impressed.  We drank Magic Rock Curious, which did have a touch of  diacetyl, but in bearable quantities. So much so that we continued with that beer in the main, though I did have a few other halves, trapped there by heavy showers which came just as we finished our pints.

A word too about Brodie's All Brett IPA.  I was given, unasked, a taster of this and was impressed.  Before he finished his shift, Will the manager, gave me another larger taste.  What a fantastic beer.  OK, you couldn't drink a lot of it, but it was classy and elegant, with a distinct Brett character and brilliant hopping.  I almost wish I had a notebook with me to tell you all about it, but I didn't have. Instead, just try it if you can.  A truly lovely beer.

I reckon the thing about the Port St Beer House (and Craft in London too) which sets them apart from, say, BrewDog, is the mix of cask and keg craft.  It encourages a good cross section of drinkers, beer styles and beer cultures.  I firmly believe that encouraging a cross section of drinkers is just a better way to do things.  It is also more pubby that way.

"Aha" I hear you say. What about cask only pubs?  Well, what about them?

There's a nice little piece about the owner of Odd here. Quite interesting

13 comments:

Bailey said...

We enjoyed the Brodie's Brett IPA, too, despite having geared ourselves up for something pretty disgusting. (Guess they used that milder form of Brett we've heard about? A bit too technical for us at the mo.)

Tandleman said...

Great link. And too technical for me too for the most part.

John Clarke said...

I was in PSBH last night and tried the Brodies Brett - as you say a thoroughly excellent beer.

Erlangernick said...

Interesting, I've also always thought that Brett would ruin an IPA.

Since "craft" doesn't really mean anything, why not just say, "the mix of cask and good non-cask"?

RedNev said...

Actually I didn't think, "What about cask-only pubs?" The final line of your post seems something of a non sequitur to me.

Tandleman said...

RedNev: But you may have logically.

Nick: craft keg describes it to me, but feel free. I think yours implies all cask is good though. Which it clearly isn't.

Erlangernick said...

Well we don't talk about "craft cask" do we? I mean, "craft keg" means, more or less, "good keg", right?

Seems to me it's important to you folks up there to differentiate between good and shite keg (ergo "craft") but cask is just cask. That it can be good or shite is a given. Otherwise you'd have said "the mix of cask and keg" or "the mix of good cask and good keg" or something.

Jonny (Port Street) said...

Hi,

Glad you enjoyed the Brodies and Magic Rock and thanks for your kind words. Pricing-wise, we charge more for keg products because they cost us more but we do try and provide stuff at every price point from £2.90 upwards.

On the craft beer front, we're planning a bit of a talk at Indy Man Beer Con around the thorny 'Craft Beer' issue, it'll be entitled 'What the HELL is craft beer?', we'd invite anyone to come along and join the discussion as we'd like to start a debate on moving it forward to an official definition. I'd be interested to here your thoughts Tandy.

RedNev said...

You cannot have an official definition of 'craft beer' because the term indicates a quality keg beer, and quality is, when it come down to it, a matter of opinion. As an analogy: the terms 'real ale' and 'cask beer' are indicative of style of brewing and serving, not of quality, and any CAMRA member will confirm that poor real ales are not too hard to find.

The same applies to keg: saying this keg beer is good, and therefore craft, but another is poor and therefore not, is an opinion that other craft keg enthusiasts may not agree with. A subjective definition simply doesn't work.

If this craft thing takes off (and I've seen almost no sign of that), what's to stop Tetley and John Smith appropriating the terms for their smoothflow beers? Because they probably would, and without a clear-cut and indisputable definition not based in personal preferences, such as real ale has, you could do nothing to stop them.

John Clarke said...

No - the term "craft beer" can also include cask I have seen no sensible suggestion that this is not the case.

RedNev said...

Correction accepted, John. I should have written 'craft keg'.

Jonny (Port Street) said...

Hi Nev,

I would go along with John on this, craft beer doesn't mean good beer and for me it definitely doesn't exclude cask. Real Ale is great and CAMRA has done a good job, but it now excludes a lot of innovative brewers in the UK. The discussion will hopefully try and start a debate to unpick the exact issues you have raised. I could lay out all my views on this here but I'm keeping my powder dry!

Tandleman said...

Johnny - sorry to contact you this way but glad to talk about the discussion. In Spain for next 10 days. Email me with your email address. If I can, I will.