Tuesday, 21 October 2014


It was a busy old day on Saturday.  The Manchester Beer and Cider Festival Organising Meeting in the Angel was (unusually) businesslike and brisk. It was gratifying to see that not only do we have a great team running things, but excellent progress is being made. Lessons learned from last year are being applied and that's as it should be. It'll be bigger and better, with more seats, beer on two floors, a greater selection and more. If it isn't in your diary, put it in now. The link is below. Also gratifying to this reader at least, was ideal organising meeting beer in the shape of an old friend and favourite, Hawkshead Windermere Pale.  At 3.5%, you can sup a few without your concentration and ability to contribute being adversely affected.  It was in tremendous form too, though another bar person wouldn't have gone amiss in what was a very busy pub, especially when you have to wait behind someone paying for a couple of beers with a credit card.  That's a pain in the whatsit to put it mildly.

Afterwards a few of us nipped into the recently renovated Smithfield, which has been opened out a bit, cleaned up tremendously and dragged into the 21st Century. It had sorely needed it. Sadly there was only two cask beers on, Lytham Gold and a variation thereof with added berries and fruit.  I didn't try that, but my "ordinary" Lytham Gold was fine, if unexciting. I noted too that Heineken had clearly put money into the place, the viewing lager cellar somewhat giving the game away and the adverts, brewery signs, John Smith's Smooth and Fosters point of sale visible everywhere, providing ample confirmation. At least we were spared Deuchars IPA, though.  This is a venture on which the jury is still out I think. Round the corner, the Crown and Kettle was busy and had a good choice to go at.  I settled for my first ever Brewsmith beer, their 6% IPA, cashing in my previous weak beer credit all at once.  I enjoyed it and it certainly seemed appropriate, having met brewer James and his wife Jennifer at IndyManBeerCon only the week before.  I'll be taking up their kind invitation to visit, even though their premises are, sadly, just a mere 200 yards of so outside my CAMRA Bailiwick.

No trip to Manchester is complete with popping in to the Marble Arch. I've not been in for while and had hoped for great things following the appointment of a new head brewer. Marble Best was brown, full of crystal malt and pretty much a standard, English Bitter.  One for the malt fans I think.  A half of Chocolate Marble wasn't as good as I've had it before on this showing and neither retained their heads,  indicating that perhaps there is some way to go.  Pint too, drunk by a colleague, lost its head immediately.  On the plus side, service was noticeably friendly and quick. The visit was saved though by a recommendation.  Blackjack Stout, dispensed by nitrogen mix, was smooth, bitter, strong (ish) and quite delicious.  But then, I'm a bit of  a sucker for unpasteurised nitro stout, as it gives lovely mouthfeel and a gorgeous thick white head.  Stouts simply look and taste better through a tight white head.* 

Your mileage may of course vary on that one.  Probably does in fact.

Manchester Beer and Cider Festival details are here. Open from 21st- 24th January 2015 at the Manchester Velodrome.

*Cask conditioned stout through a tight sparkler is also delicious, if not more so.


Cooking Lager said...

This beer festival your doing, Tand, is it gonna be as trendy as IndyMan because I only eat pulled pork and do thirds of craft these days, yeh?

Tandleman said...

Sorry Cookie. It's pulled black pudding and pints. Well you can have thirds if you want to dab them behind your ears I suppose!

Cooking Lager said...

Whaaaaat? No craft? really? Come on. At least have some undrinkable grog at sky high prices and cater for us craft wankers. Build bridges, not walls. Make it awesome, dude.

Phil said...

Blackjack are a really good brewery, when they stop messing about. (Second link includes a review of the stout on cask; it was good.)

John Clarke said...

I had Marble Pint at Ye Olde Vic in Stockport last Friday night and it was as good as it's ever been - and kept its head. More a problem with the pub than the beer perhaps? Although having said that when I was in the Marble Arch a couple of weeks ago the beer was impeccable.

Erlangernick said...

Only two casks at the Smithfield? Weren't there something like ten in the past?

Being a winter beer fest, will all the beers be cinnamon-laden strong ales, or will there be something light and hoppy?

HopZine Rob said...

Erm...I think they might have to change their name and/or branding.

Alesmith a celebrated San Diego Brewery have a striking resemblance to Brewsmith who are also using an anvil.

Tandleman said...

Well, Hydes used an anvil for years before Alesmith were even thought of.

Is there really any confusion Rob? Just had a look at their site and I wouldn't say so.

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