Yesterday took me briefly to the "wrong" end of Central Manchester. I was down to do "postering" for the National Winter Ales Festival, so I met with the others in the Knott Bar. I have been a bit overdosed on Lees since my illness prevented me from travelling, or rather, knocked the inclination out of me. It was cheering to start off with a very pleasant pint of Marble's Manchester Bitter. Pale, hoppy, full bodied with biscuity malt, it was just the dab for jaded taste buds. Alas it came to end before my request for a second could be fulfilled. Damn. Dilemma. The other beers were dark except Hornbeam Lemon Blosson which I had condemned in no uncertain terms before here. Still, being a very forgiving type, I plumped for it and was pleasantly surprised. The artificial "lemon" taste had gone, instead a clean, zesty beer was very welcome.
We soldiered on visiting dingy back street pubs, sticking posters up and leaving "flyers" with snotty concierges until our second beer stop. Unfortunately in the Atheneum, an impressive former banking hall, they couldn't get the Young's pump to cough up any beer and we eschewed the alternative Bombardier and had little better luck in either the Waterhouse or the City Arms where all beers were dark. We pressed on with the job and eventually, having knuckled down and completed our tasks, we finished in the Crown and Kettle where excellent pale pints of Titanic Iceberg were consumed and repeated. This brewery has come back on form after a dodgy patch I reckon. As an aside I also tried a half of Cheshire IPA from Dunham Massey which proved to be overwhelmingly, sweet and cloying and hoppy at the same time. Like most of their beers, not for me.
Two more ports of call though. The Angel brought us pints of Allgates New Year Ale which was decent but not inspiring though the usual charming and excellent service here causes me to make huge allowance. Finally on to the Marble Arch where we were told one of the beers of the century was on, a new beer called Brew 1425. This pale, 5.9% golden beer of over 50 units of bitterness was powerful in the aroma, hugely hopped and bitter, but for me harsh, unbalanced and hard to drink. Others had raved to me about it, but for me it just didn't work. I really was disappointed, though perhaps another time would have been better, but this is a "one off". Things were redeemed for me by the excellent Mallinson's Matterhorn which was fresh, lemony and zesty with a good hop finish. I had my last beer of the night from another old favourite, Pictish. This time Galena. Somehow Richard Sutton the brewer drags every possible nuance out of his hops. This was no exception and was very hoppy, very pale and a great beer to end the night on.
And hooray for First Bus. The 163 came immediately! There's a first time - no pun intended - for everything!
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. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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