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Summer Wine On Keg: 7Cs IPA

Being interested in new things doesn’t mean that you think old things should cease to exist.  It is possible to enjoy both a roast dinner and molecular gastronomy; to admire both Michelangelo and Picasso.  But if you have any real interest or passion on any subject, you will naturally be interested in exploring, if not mere novelty, then certainly variety and innovation.

James and Andy from Summer Wine Brewery are interested in innovation.  Their many plans for the next few months involve four different saisons, which will appear in keg and bottle only “as we feel saison as a style is best suited to an elevated level of carbonation to bring out that zesty, spicy, estery freshness“.

Their desire to choose the best tool for the job, from ingredients through to the method of dispense, is also reflected in their first (unfiltered, unpasteurised) keg beer: 7 Cs IPA, which debuted at the bar at Mr Foleys yesterday evening, on their new dedicated UK craft keg tap.  Doubtless to the disappointment of many Queen fans, 7Cs isn’t a rye beer.  Instead it’s a style very much suited to keg dispense: a big, bitter, hoppy IPA with (in a UK context) a relatively high ABV of 7%.  The name refers to the seven C-hops it’s made from: *deep breath* Columbus, Centennial, Chinook, Citra, Cascade, Crystal and Cluster.

The beer was a great one to have after work on this hot Friday evening: cool, pale, fresh and solidly, pleasantly bitter. It was on the bar next to O’Dell IPA on keg, one of my all-time favourite beers.  I was happy to keep alternating between the two: the O’Dell providing the rounded mango sweetness and the 7 Cs holding its own with its bitter hit.

The beer was actually served from a corny keg, although in future Summer Wine will be using real, no wait, actual kegs.  Mr Foleys will also have one of their Nerotype black IPAs on keg, and have some cask 7Cs in the cellar for comparison.  As I mentioned previously, the imported bottled selection also continues to improve whilst remaining reasonably priced and their cask range remains unbeaten in Leeds.

I want variety and novelty.  Pubs like Mr Foleys and breweries like Summer Wine continue to interest and excite because of variety and novelty.  They provide the possibility that your next beer could well be different to anything you’ve ever had, or might even the best you’ve ever tried.  And that is a good thing.

I should also say thanks to Dean for being an excellent host once again, and to Andy from Summer Wine, Leigh from The Good Stuff, Neil from Eating Isn’t Cheating, Tom and Ol from Roosters, Mr Foley’s chef and new beer blogger Tyler,  Adam, Mark from North Bar and Sir Zak Avery for a night of fun, if increasingly drunken banter.

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Temperance & Temptation

Leeds, as well as having a significant brewing history, also has a close connection to the Temperance movement. The Band of Hope, a Christian charity to promote temperance amongst working class children, was formed in a building close to the Tetley’s Brewery in 1847.

As for myself, I wasn’t supposed to drink at all last week, less on moral grounds and more as part of an attempt to look as stunning from behind as Pippa Middleton by my wedding day. You won’t be surprised to hear that this didn’t really work out: I did have a few drinks and the gossip mags have yet to latch onto me as the next big thing and give me a hilarious abbreviated name (N Middy?).

On Tuesday, Matt from North Bar contacted me over Twitter and asked if I wanted to come to a Nøgne Ø focus group that evening. Nøgne Ø is a Norwegian brewery whose beers, in my experience, are rarely seen in the North. In the words of Jarvis, “So what else could I do”? Other members of the group included Dean from Mr Foleys, Rob from Hopzine, Alice “Alice Porter” Porter and Neil from Eating Isn’t Cheating.

I won’t waste your time expanding on Neil’s account, but suffice to say it was good fun, we chatted about beer and drank some really good ones. I enjoyed all the ones I tried (Pale Ale, Saison, India Pale Ale and Porter) , but special mention should go to the IPA which was a stunning rich, hoppy and malty US-style IPA.

Unfortunately I had to make an early exit before the Imperial Stout, but I’m told it was the best beer of the evening. Hopefully I should have a chance to have it again, as Matt says that he has some of the higher ABV Nøgne Ø beers coming in for North Bar, which should be lovely based on this selection.

North Bar was my downfall again later in the week, as they had Kirkstall Brewery’s first beers: Pale Ale and Black Band Porter. Kirkstall Brewery, started by Dave Sanders (formerly of Elland) is the newest brewery in Leeds, and shouldn’t be confused with the historic Kirkstall Brewery that closed in 1983.

Both beers were very good: the Pale Ale a light refreshing beer, but with satisfyingly robust and lasting bitterness for its strength; the Porter even better, with exactly the complexity you’d want from the style. Mr Foleys had both in this week too which sold out very quickly, and on the basis of these first two beers I’m looking forward to seeing more from Kirkstall. A very promising addition to Leeds’ beer scene.

Mr Foley’s caught me out on Friday with a Hardknott Infra Red (first time I’ve had it on cask – a great hoppy beer with rich forest fruit maltiness, but I think it might be even better suited to bottle or maybe keg?) and a RedWillow Smokeless, a great smoked porter.

So basically my attempt to avoid the beer failed, although I did have less than half my recommended weekly units (and if you ask me, got pretty good value for it). This week’s lesson: If you want to lay off the beer, don’t live in Leeds. It’s a great place to fall off the wagon, though.

This week doesn’t bode much better though, as the exciting Sparrow Bier Cafe opens in Bradford City Centre! I think West Yorkshire is ganging up on me.

Mr Foley’s Wonder Emporium

May 13, 2011 6 comments

Dean Pugh, the manager of Mr Foley’s Cask Ale House in Leeds (and in his spare time, homebrewer, beer geek and good bloke), has been working to build on and improve the range of beers on offer at Mr Foley’s for some time now, and recently I’ve really started to notice how this Mitchell’s Of Lancaster pub has evolved into a beer bar worth getting properly excited about.

You can tell a really good beer bar (for me at least, and probably beer geeks generally) because you go in and find it really hard to make a decision; not because of the lack of choice, but rather because there are too many things you really want to try, like on the first day of a good beer festival. This has been my experience of Mr Foley’s recently, whose support for cask beers from interesting local microbreweries in particular does a real service to West Yorkshire’s beer scene.

I went in last Thursday after reading Leigh’s mention of RedWillow Ageless Double IPA on his blog. However when I saw what was on the bar, I also wanted to try the other cask beers I hadn’t tried before: Revolutions’ Smiths-themed non-royal wedding beer “…It was really nothing”; Elgood’s Pageant Ale; Hardknott’s Atomic Narcissus; York Brewery’s Pride Of York. That wasn’t even the limit of the selection, which included a total of nine cask ales, the remainder being Burton Bridge’s Burton Porter; and York’s Ghost, Terrier and Guzzler.

And that wasn’t the end of it, because the keg selection is really quite impressive as well. A recent addition is a permanent BrewDog pump, which had both IPA Is Dead Nelson Sauvin and New Punk on; other pumps included Leffe, Amstel, Marston’s Oyster Stout, Erdinger and Pilsner Urquell.  Then you could move on to the fridges, which include a lot of interesting craft bottles including 4 BrewDog bottles; 6 fruit beers; at least 8 US craft beers before getting onto the Belgian, German and Czech ones.

I think Mr Foley’s can confuse people a bit as to its identity: it’s quite a large pub in the old Pearl Assurance offices, spread out over at least four assorted levels.  It has bigscreen TVs often showing sports. The telly brings (well behaved) sports fans in for football, Super League etc., but manages not to keep the (pro-quiet pub) CAMRA types away: the ticking is too tempting. You also get the after-work crowd from surrounding council and professional offices, society meetings in the back room etc. It’s usually pretty buzzy and with a wide range of people.

On the subject of beerticking, on this occasion I went for the Hardknott Atomic Narcissus: a “pride”-type best bitter at 4.2%. It had a solid amber to brown colour with a creamy head. There was a rich forest fruit to slightly savoury aroma I can’t quite place. It had a definite but mellow bitterness, with a solid malt base. The RedWillow Ageless Double IPA at 7.2% had a really lovely tropical citrus aroma, a smooth, rich mouthfeel and a good lasting bitter aftertaste.

As if to emphasise that the great range of cask beer isn’t just a happy coincidence, the pumpclips behind the bar showing upcoming beers are pretty exciting too: a selection of beer from Summer Wine; Hardknott; Mallinson’s; Rooster’s; Hopback; Elgood; and Castle Rock.

Now, if I’ve not convinced you with enough lists, you can head over to Mr Foley’s It’s Your Round page to see what’s on the bar right now. Just remember not to take Mr Foley’s for granted: it’s unquestionably the best pub in Leeds for cask ale and now it’s got a few more strings to its bow.

UPDATE: Dean has subsequently informed me that there’s a further expansion of the range about to take place in the coming weeks, with more than 30 new bottles in the fridges and two new keg lines, one each for US and UK craft keg.  The US keg line will host the likes of O’Dell, Sierra Nevada, Victory, Brooklyn and Anchor (which would be wonderful) and, even more excitingly, the UK keg should include Summer Wine and Magic Rock! 

For more on Mr Foleys see this post from Ghost Drinker.

Tales Of The Wharfebank @ Mr Foley’s

February 13, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m still very much in the process of learning about beer and it’s great when pubs host events that give you the opportunity to try new beers and breweries, especially when free samples are involved. Dean, manager of Mr Foleys, has been organised a number of Meet The Brewer events in recent months. I went to the Summer Wine event in October last year, but sadly missed the Saltaire event more recently.

On Monday there was another Meet The Brewer event at Mr Foleys with Wharfebank Brewery. Wharfebank is a relatively young, independent brewery based in Pool, just North of Leeds. From what I gather, it essentially started at the Fox & Newt brewpub on Burley Street. The Leeds CAMRA website informs me that the most recent occupant, the Burley Street Brewhouse, is at least the fifth brewery to operate from the premises.*

 

Anyway, Wharfebank proper started only around a year ago with beers that were developed on the Fox & Newt premises. Two of the key people are MD Martin Kellaway, formerly sales director at Caledonian, and Ian Smith, formerly Head Brewer of Tetleys Cask.  With such a grounding in established breweries it’s probably unsurprising that they’ve stated an ambition to fill the hole left by Tetley’s, when Carlsberg closes the Leeds brewery this year and moves production to the Midlands.  They’ve certainly done well to establish a market presence in the short time since they were established, as I’ve seen them in quite a few pubs.

We got to try three of Wharfebank’s core range: Slinger’s Gold is a light golden beer made with Cascade,  Chinook and Celeia hops, although it’s a more traditional, creamy, toffeeish, English-tasting beer than that might suggest.  Camfell Flame is an amber beer, with a slight port aroma and a light, fiery roasted tingle.  WISPA had a slightly boozy smell and a traditional Yorkshire premium bitter taste.  My favourite of the beers was actually this month’s rugby-themed seasonal special, Carry Me Home, which played to my usual taste for strong, hoppy IPAs.

The lads were good enough to bring some hops and malt to smell, all of which was good and educational.  Wharfebank have recently taken over The Fleece in Otley, which has been leased free of tie on cask ales from Punch, and they intend to reinvigorate with a focus on food as well as beer.  This would all tend to place them as a competitor to Leeds Brewery: both local breweries playing to the mainstream cask market and opening their own pubs.

After the Wharfebank event we were treated to more free beer, as Dean cracked open a couple of bottles of his homebrew, All Shook Up: a lovely tart, fruity, bitter pale-to-amber American Pale Ale made (I think) with Centennial and Crystal hops.  It was also really good to have a chat with Leigh of The Good Stuff and Tom of Reet Good Leeds, both of whose blogs I’ve been reading for ages but hadn’t met until then.

Dean has more events up his sleeve for Mr Foleys in the coming months so keep your eye on his Twitter feed for news.

* If you have any information about the history of the Fox and Newt, please get in touch with Leigh, who hopes to imclude an article on it in the Tavern Tales feature on Culture Vultures. Check out the fascinating article on The Skyrack.

Leeds Brewdog Show: North Bar Single Hop IPA Event & Mr Foley’s Brewdog Taps

January 31, 2011 5 comments

Following my post on Alfred Bar yesterday, I don’t want to spend too much time praising the North Bar group, but Jings, Crivvens an’ Help ma Boab, this is exciting:

According to the message sent to North Bar’s Facebook group:

There will be, in the near future, a very special unique occasion at North, Brewdog are launching their brand new range of Single Hopped IPAs. We will have ALL FOUR IPAs on for one night only, as well as lots of other Brewdoggy goodness […] sign up to our mailing list for more news here: http://bit.ly/epQp8Z

Read more about the “IPA Is Dead” project on the Brewdog Blog:

IPA is dead showcases 4 killer hops varieties from 4 different continents. The result is 4 radically different single hop IPAs. Each IPA contains the same malt backbone and is brewed to be 75 IBU and is enthusiastically kettle hopped and dry hopped with Citra, Bramling Cross, Nelson Sauvin or Sorachi Ace.

Leeds Brewdog fans should also be excited that Mr Foley’s has recently installed a permanent Brewdog tap, with two changing keg Brewdog beers on at any one time as well as a load of bottles in the fridge.  The 5AM Saint was especially good from keg.  According to their It’s Your Round page the ones currently on are Punk IPA and Zeitgeist.

UPDATED: The date of the IPA Is Dead launch has been confimed as Wednesday 16 February.  I should be there, with any luck.

Leodis Weekend

December 13, 2010 2 comments

Phew, it’s been a challenging weekend for my liver.  On Friday I went to The Grove in Holbeck for the leaving drinks of my friends Tom and Holly, who were regulars there but are now moving to Masham.  Fortunately I understand that it’s not hard to get a beer in Masham, so I’m looking forward to visiting.

I started with Moorhouses’ Premier Bitter, but wasn’t entirely convinced so moved on to Elland El Divino, a “blonde premium bitter” which was excellent.  Good beer, food and chat in a great pub.

Saturday night found me out on Lower Briggate and Call Lane, the latter swarming with underdressed posers.  However the Smokestack was reasonably good fun and surprisingly had bottles of Anchor Steam and Liberty Ale in the fridge.  Then on to Call Lane Social, a relatively new bar opposite Oporto which had decent music and both Brooklyn Lager and Anchor Porter in the fridge, but was crammed to the rafters.

Two nights that had ended in the purchase of kebabs should sensibly have been followed by a quiet Sunday in front of the Antiques Roadshow (or indeed Last Of The Summer Wine).  However Dean from Mr Foleys had invited Kate and me out for a few drinks with James and Andy from Summer Wine Brewery.

With just a bacon sandwich to recover with, I had Crown Brewery HPA; Summer Wine Blizzard and Heretic Black IPA; and Revolutions The Original 45 Porter in Mr Foleys.  Dean’s clearly been buying in a lot of great beers recently and has nefarious plans for lots more.

Summer Wine’s Heretic is a fantastic example of the black IPA style, with only a very slight roastiness at the start and a pleasant wallop of bitterness.  Great as it is, James said that they’re going to tweak the recipe for the next brew. 

The Original 45 Porter is Revolutions’ first commercial beer, and it’s a very promising start.  I’ve had a lot of porters in recent weeks and this is one of the best.  Worth keeping an eye out for.

On to the Victoria, where nine pumps were rapidly dwindling to three.  I had a North Peak Vicious American Wheat IPA, which seems to be in every single M&B pub in Leeds just now (Palace; Adelphi, Scarbrough).  It was an unusually hoppy wheat beer – not as big and punchy as Schneider Weisse Tap 5 but at the same time less thick and sweet, seeming less than 6%.  It was very good but due to the limited choice we moved on to North Bar.

North had O’Dell IPA on keg, which James and Andy informed me uses Citra hops.  I’ve liked this beer for a long time and it’s great on keg.  Another example of knowing something’s great but not knowing why.  Andy came back from the bar with a bottle of De Dolle Stille Nacht, which was 12% and incredibly bubblegummy.

After a Leodis Lager in The Brewery Tap and a final Timothy Taylor’s Landlord in the Scarbrough Taps (both had slightly disappointing selections), we headed home.  It was very kind of Dean to invite us along and it was great to chat with him, Andy and James about beer and pubs.  I have a lot to learn about brewing but once again they were really friendly and their passion for exciting beer is infectious.  Thanks lads!

After all that, I should be ready for the Christmas party season…

(For much fuller and more informed notes on some of the beers above, see Leigh’s latest post on The Good Stuff, in which he tries Heretic, the 45 Porter and Vicious.)

A Cold Night In Leeds

December 5, 2010 1 comment

I’m afraid I didn’t get round to opening any interesting beers that have been sitting around for “Open It” this weekend. However I did have an interesting beery Friday evening around cold, slushy Leeds.

I started off in Mr Foley’s with a pint of Summer Wine Project 6 Brew 6. I’d already tried it last weekend, but it’s only on the second taste that I was ready for the big solid punch of bitterness and was able to properly appreciate it.

After a quick trip to the Christmas Market (mulled wine rather than beer, as we were standing out in the cold), we went to North Bar for a couple of halves of Brewdog/Mikkeller’s I Hardcore You on keg. A really nice, fruity bitter beer. The fruit lifted the malt, strength and hops so they weren’t too sickly. The Barman reckoned it was mangoes and I’m inclined to defer to his analysis.

I was going to try the O’Dell Isolation Ale but then spotted Marble Vuur & Vlam on the bottle menu. Three drinks down, I was able to rationalise forking out £17 for the big bottle to share on the grounds that it’s almost as rare as a Heston Christmas pudding, and got some nice cheddar, bread and pickles to go with it. I also considered that I’d often blindly paid up to £30 for a mid-list bottle of red wine I knew bugger all about in a restaurant, so why not give a good, rare beer with a decent reputation a chance, eh?

After the very hoppy P6B6 and the sweet fruity bitterness of the I Hardcore You, even this initially seemed quite mild in comparison. A bit further on, we decided it was a really nice beer and it would be great if Marble brewed it as a standard. And it cost less, obviously.

The way home demanded one more stop to shelter from the cold so we popped into the Adelphi. They’ve had Jaipur on for a couple of weeks now but unfortunately had finally run out. Instead we went for Sharp’s Abbey Christmas – a dark brownish seasonal beer made with Yarrow. Whatever that is.

I do really like Sharp’s; Doom Bar’s great and the two Chalky beers brewed with Rick Stein use fennel and ginger in a very complimentary way. However the Abbey Christmas tasted an awful lot like sarsaparilla. Whilst I like sarsaparilla generally it would be fairest to say that, given what had gone before, I wasn’t really in the mood for a complex, vegetal ale.

It’s great to be able to try such a varied range of beers in Leeds city centre, especially in three of my favourite pubs. My wallet may not necessarily agree.

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