Day 8 – #12BeersofXmas 2016

Day 8 – #12BeersofXmas 2016


Brewery – HawksHead Brewery

Location – Staveley, Cumbria (historically, Westmorland)

The Drink: Tonka

ABV: 8.5% – 330ml

Style: Imperial Porter

Additional info: Pale Ale, Crystal, Chocolate & Vienna Malts – Oats.  Cascade, Bramling Cross & Jester hops.  Tonka beans, cacao nibs and vanilla.

Earlier this year I toddled off to the Hawkshead brewery for their annual beer festival and it was a hell of a treat.  One of those rare days where all the transport works and links up and you get a seat on every journey.  You walk in the right direction each time, the scenery around the place is fantastic and the beer and company isn’t half bad too (especially when its, accidentally, Mark from Runaway and Jay nee Quantum).

Tonka I have had before on keg and it was very, very good then, so lets see how the bottled version stands up…

Pouring a thick black with a long last, off-cream-white head the smell is a very subtle dark chocolate.

Lusciously thick and obesely-bodied in the mouth with light carbonation and a smooth nature its taste is dark chocolate, cherries and a slight nuttiness, think liquefied black forest gateaux only less sweet, a more boozy mature version.

Hawkshead are another of those consistently good brewers, able to blend old and new styles seamlessly but seem to drift under the radar and yet are ever present, in short they let the beer do the talking because, well that is how it should be and its all beer needs.

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Day 7 – #12BeersofXmas

Day 7 – #12BeersofXmas 2016


Brewery – The Spell Factory

Location – Burnley, Lancashire.

The Drink: Spell One

ABV: 7.0% – 330ml

Style: E.S.B

Additional info: Triple Hops of Citra, Cascade and Centennial.  Triple Malts of Maris Otter, Munich and Rye.

Pours a wonderful deep orange with a quickly dissipating white head. The aroma is of any typical lightly malted bitter with a sweet almost sticky twang.

Mouth feel is light and well rounded, smooth with a nice sweet but slightly bitter after taste.  This is very much a beer of balance and precision and I first had this at one of my favourite pubs The Pendle Witch in Atherton (pronounced a-theeer-tun) and I’d highly recommend a visit there if you fancy getting away from tawdry city centre boozers.

If you’ve not heard of the brewery before, that is because it was supposed to be an off-shoot of Moorhouse’s (much like the other bigger family breweries have started their own, slightly more craft, side projects) but this appears to be the only drink they produced.

If it is the only one then it remains a corker.

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I Don’t Read Your Blog

As I grew up, grew my hair, taught myself guitar and dreamt about being in a famous band, I had one rather odd music-related foible.

This quirk was that I refused to listen to any Led Zeppelin. Sure I knew some of their more famous songs but I staunchly refused to listen to anything else and in my burgeoning LP and CD collection of rock and heavy metal any other fan of those genres would cast their eye over them and ponder why the obvious gap under “L”.

It was quite simple in my young mind, I was tired of reading reviews of bands I liked where every journalist writing the piece would describe certain songs as Zeppelin-esque.  In my mind, if my songs became popular and some reviewed them with that lazy hack term I would be able to turn around and say “no, a-ha, I never listened to Zeppelin therefore what I’ve produced is my own work, without any direct influence from the band you mention.  I am brilliant and original.”

Then at 18, looking through a second hand shop’s wares I found a double-CD set of Zeppelin’s greatest hits for £7 – I’d spited my own ears for long enough and besides journalists will write what they want anyway.

If you look to the right of this piece you’ll see my blogroll of some blogs I like.

The frequency that these blogs are updated varies wildly and some are archival bits of useful info more than up-to-date musings.

Some of the authors I follow on twitter and am therefore more likely to know when they’ve published a new piece, though sometimes timings are out and I’m sometimes only made aware by someone else’s retweet.

Truth be told there are about 5 blogs on that list I actually make a point of reading, or at least click on once a week to check for updates.

Those blogs aren’t necessarily better, more entertaining or more knowledgeable than the others on the list (and the many others out there) they just appeal to me more.  But every time I read a new piece I always hope they aren’t going to cover the same(ish) ground of a blog I’ve been working on.

Granted blogs (and vlogs and podcasts) are all about having a larger conversation, about exchanging ideas and usually responding to something you may fundamentally disagree with but there is a hell of a lot of white noise out there.  This blog is far from anything resembling good but it is at least mine.

My problem is I’ve listened to far too many podcasts and read far too many new blogs whose style seem to follow a pattern based on those who are perceived to be leaders in the field.

They are cold, banal and trite.  Cookie-cutter fodder, following the formulae laid out as when one Led Zeppelin becomes successful there are then another dozen copycats riffing in their footsteps.

It dilutes the well while also elevating mediocrity to unnecessarily high levels and this then impacts on everyone’s ability to read, write and critique with any effective objectivity and impartiality.

Write, blog and talk from your heart and head.  Not from you wallet.

Thanks for reading.

Day 6 – #12BeersofXmas

Day 6 – #12BeersofXmas 2016


Brewery – Beer Nouveau

Location – Greater Manchester, Lancashire via Peterborough, Cambridgeshire (historically Northamptonshire).

The Drink: Big DIPA

ABV: 10.9% – 330ml

Style: Double IPA – Barley Wine Hybrid

Additional info:

Galena & Challenger hops; Maris Otter, Lager, Wheat and Crystal malts. 35 IBU, suitable for vegans.

Pouring a lovely deep orangey-red with a quickly dissipating clear white head.  The aroma is smokey, boozy, hoppy and burnt sugars.

Light on the tongue with very little aftertaste, this is a very, very dangerous high ABV beer whose taste gives you no warnings whatsoever.  The taste is light citrus, smoke and hoppy.

I personally can’t get passed the colour though, it just looks fantastic.

I think all of this beer was bottled but what you do need to do is get down to their brewey tap.  Unit 75 on North Western Street/Temperance Street, you’ll be greeted by a fine range of cask and keg beers plus generally a beer served from the wood.  Wines and ciders are also available and Meads too.  Plus snacks the fire to keep you warm, that is if you don’t work up enough of a sweat playing the Wii games.

Merry Christmas to all and thank you to Steve.

This post was brought to you by Weezer – a band I like but don’t actually have any of their albums in any format.

Thanks for reading.

Day 5 – #12BeersofXmas

Day 5 – #12BeersofXmas 2016


Brewery – Weird Beard Brew Co.

Location – Trumpers Way, that there London.

The Drink: Dead By Dawn

ABV: 5.6% – 330mL

Style: Cherry Breakfast Stout

Additional info:

Batch: 0370, Bottled: 10/10/2016.  Brewed in Partnership with HasBean Coffee, label art by Nicolo Maioli.

Take one of the brewers that one of my Golden Pints for this year’s best overseas brewers, mix in a bit of cherry, a bit of coffee and reference one of my favourite films of all time and what am I not going to like about this beer.

It opens with a psssttt and pours a silky brown leaving an off-cream, well retained head.  Smelling and tasting of coffee, cherry and a good hint of malts and hops this is exactly how adjuncts should work with a beer – to complement and enhance the style and Dead by Dawn does it in spades.

Its one of those beers when a 500mL bottle would be more welcome, exceedingly sessionable despite the strengh, at its core is a damn fine stout, with the additional flavourings sending it even higher in my estimations.

Now I’m repeating myself but the beer is well worth repeating.

This is also a day late so apologies.


This post was brought to you by Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaammeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Smmmmmmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaaaaaashed Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaacccccccccccccceeeeeeeeeeeeeeee by Cannibal Corpse…

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Day 4 – #12BeersofXmas

Day 4 – #12BeersofXmas 2016


Brewery – Quantum Brewery

Location – Formerly Stockport, Greater Manchester, Cheshire.

The Drink: Coconut and Passionfruit Porter

ABV: 6.0% – 330ml

Style: Porter

Additional info:

Magnum hops; Pale, Cara, Melanoidin, Munich, Oats, Chocolate & roasted barley malts, US05 yeast.

Quantum  Brewery is dead, long live Quantum Brewery.

The only Q brewery in my brewers list announced their ending in late 2016 with the head brewer wanting to actually brew rather than run a business – a common lament amongst many micro-brewers that are basically one man bands.


The beer itself opens with little carbonation and a frothy cream-brown head that quickly disapates.  For me the coconut is absent in both smell and taste but the passionfruit is represented large.  The aroma is all acidic fruits, the taste more or less the same, so for me, not a porter in the slightest but it drinks well, with a smooth mouthfeel and a nice bitter aftertaste that doesn’t outstay its welcome.  Not one for the purists but then again that never seemed to be Quantum’s M.O.

Quantum were one of the first breweries to follow me on Twitter and have had as entertaining online presence as their beers have been non-standard and never afraid to experiment or be massively out there.  Their beers have always been a gamble, the more simpler beers working well, the experiments more hit than miss but what is brewing if you can’t push the boat out.

Jay goes off to brew with the fanboy behemoth that is Cloudwater and that is something that everyone gains from and can only bring good things to all involved, so all the best for the future to everyone in 2017 and beyond.

Done, done, on to the next one…

This post was brought to you by, well it would be too obvious to make another Foo Fighters reference, plus I’ve not listened to them for ages, no this post was written to Kyuss and the mighty Gardenia…

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Day 3 – #12BeersofXmas

Day 3 – #12BeersofXmas 2016


Brewery – Twisted Barrel Ale

Location – FarGo Village, somewhere that no transport links up with

The Drink: Inspired

ABV: 4.7% – 330ml

Style: Pale Ale

Additional info:

37IBU, 1.045 OG, 11 EBC, Safale US05Yeast, Batch: TOS42543.

To geeks and nerds out there that batch number, as with all their batch numbers are supposed to be some uber-reference to something sci-fi or other.  A previous incantation was TNG (The Next Generation) so you can see what furrow they plough in that respect.

I’ve had quite a lot of their beers recently thanks to Bargain Booze in Davenport stocking most of their range, and I have yet to be disappointed by any of them.

So for this reveiw I will make a small mea culpa in that I’ve got some bigger beers by them but given the time of day and later plans I opted for this one.  Then again it is good to vary the beers, who wants to continually read about 10% DIPAs and Imperial Stouts all the time.

It seems this particular beer may be a pale ale with an ever-changing range of hops but I seek clarification on this.  This version of the beer opens with a fizz, good carbonation and good head retention till the end.  It pouts a beautiful clear, golden colour.  Smooth in the mouth with a good bitter bite and a nice little dry after taste.

They are based somewhere in the Midlands no one knows for sure, I mean there is this bloke on twitter who bangs on about rabbits and brewing and that they have a very good brewery tap but for some reason he never mentions where they are based.  He seems more obssessed with completing his own personalised calendar.

A naked woman on horseback rings some kind of bell but that might be another of their obscure beer batch references.

In short, seek out their beers, especially the black IPA called Call of Korriban


This post was brought to you  by…

The Wildhearts, who are based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, definitely not where Twisted Barrel are based, or on the way to it.


Thanks for reading.