Beer & Food Pairings – Careful Now

Twitter polls are fun – it seems Sunday’s are the time for beer related ones and other that the regular #hopinions that Beer O’Clock show pods loving fires out on God’s day there was one and a subsequent blog piece by the former Ale Bastard now more journalistically savvily named Yes Ale

The poll was about whether beer and food pairings were possibly going to become common place in, what I suspect was certain places.  I was adament it wouldn’t be the case, in fact I’d go as far to say it probably won’t ever be but it was actually his blog that reminded me that after a random day drinking around Manchester centre, myself and a group of acquaintences had ended up at the Red’s BBQ place and I had noted that most of thier meals came with beer suggestions, all of which were ultimately ignored, by everyone at the table.

I like food, I like it a lot.

I like beer, I like it a lot.

The two together – nope.

This is merely a personal and actual physical thing where on my palate both things are ruined rather than complemented and it isn’t a case of not finding the right pairings because for some odd reason, probably to do with the occasion and general vibe, constant eating at a beer festival is easy, a sit-down meal with a side of beers, far from it.

The closest I thought a good pairing would be considered menu worthy was a sorachi ace beer (I forget which one, it isn’t important) with a meat dish with sriracha chili sauce and that is about as well to do as it gets.  Give me pub snacks with my pint, or stodgey festival fodder and you’re laughing but that is me chosing what I want to eat with the beer I’ve chosen, what I don’t want is for the beer to be chosen for me.

I noted  when last at the Alphabet/Grub Brewery Tap that happens most Saturdays in Manchester that they suggest food to go with the beers.  Convieniently each beer goes with a food from each food stall and of course they are only suggestions, there is no compulsion but sometimes nothing beats a pint of bitter with those odd packets of Ploughmans.

The wineification of beer won’t happen but I fully expect quite a few people to make quite a bit of money out of people before most realise they’ve been conned into a taste of a lifestyle that their pay day loans won’t support.

One finally thought, with so many beers desperately trying to be more like food and be as far away from beer as possible, why bother pairing it, just keep on guzzling down murk bombs stuffed with lactose and fruit juices and save money by buying a few packets of Cheese Moments.


Thanks for reading.

Golden Pints 2016



This is my entry into the Golden Pints of 2016, also known as the “bloggers just make up awards for specific things they wish to heap praise on, generally done by their mates.”

Also also known as “beer bloggers try, generally in vain, to make a blog that isn’t about themselves”

Best UK Cask Beer – This and the keg beer were more or less going to be the same as last year, that was until last weekend’s brewery taps happened.  As it stands the same to breweries get the awards, only swapped around and with different beers. Viva la Change.  Wee Beastie by Beer Nouveau gets my vote

Best UK Keg Beer – Evil Keg Filth award goes to – Triple Cone by Track Brew Co. which narrowly beats out Damage Plan by Marble Beers.

Best UK Bottle or Can – Bottle goes to Three’s Company by Magic Rock, CloudWater and JW Lees yeast.  Can goes to Weightless by RedWillow Brewery.

Best Overseas Draught – Anything by Weird Beard Brew Co. of that there London.

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer – Anything by Kernel Brewery of that there London.

Best Collaboration Brew – Hmmm, I’ll go with Five Towns Brewery and the Beauty and the Beast made in collaboration with Beers Manchester…and me…(again I’d like to thank the academy, my mum and dad…)

Best Twitter CollaborationThe conversation and knowledge exchanges between @CheshireBrewShane and @tabamatu (Andy Parker)(of Elusive) are a pleasure to watch.  In fact most things involving Shane on twitter are always interesting.

Best Overall Beer – Old Ale by Marble – had this in February on bloody gravity cask and it still stays stuck in my head.

Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label – Marble and their metal series

Best UK Brewery – I can’t decide, its been quite a close and competitive year.

Best Overseas Brewery –  Anheuser-Busch InBev – come on, they’ll soon own everything, some of it will be good.

Best New Brewery Opening 2016 – Elusive Brewing

Pub/Bar of the Year – I still won’t be drawn on, there are too many good ones.

Beer Festival of the Year – Easily Salford Beer Festival  and if you missed out then…well, hope springs eternal.  Not enough praise can be heaped on @BeersManchester for the effort he put(s) in.

Supermarket of the Year –Still don’t use supermarkets for beer shopping.

Independent Retailer of the YearBargain Booze in Davenport operates as a franchise and they get in some great local and further afield UK beers at good prices.  I was going to finally spill as to who and where my mystery beer shop is but to be fair their customer service is massively lacking so in lieu of that and if Bargain Booze isn’t independent enough then I’ll go with Heaton Hops.

Online Retailer of the Year – Not shopped online for beer in 2016.

Best Beer Book or Magazine – Meh

Best Beer Blog or Website – I would like to put forward a fair few here.

@MarkNJohnson for his BeerCumonmyfaceyoupleb blog for consistency on and about and a wide variety of subjects.

@oldmudgie for The Pub Curmudgeon for his clear pieces about the health fascists out there.

In a more classical beer blog sense I’ll dual nominate @StymieSi (British Real Ale Pub Adventure) and @NHS_Martin (Retired Martin) for their fantastic work on visiting and writing about pubs.

Best Beer Blog Piece –

Best Beer AppTwitter. Untappd for badgewanking.

Best Beer & Food Pairing – Just visit any Manchester brewery tap, one that especially has involvement by @GRUBMCR on the food side of things and you’ll find something.  I’ve found many, too numerous to mention.

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer – @CraftBeerHour – granted it’s a collective effort but I can think of nothing better than bouncing ideas of fellow beer drinkers and brewers, well apart from going to the pub with the same group, which would be financially crippling.

Best Brewery Website/Social mediaSquawk Brewing Co (@SQUAWKBrewingCo) – you like beer, food, wild animals and 80’s cheese then this is just pure entertainment.

Golden Shites 2016 – Beer not being beer. Mango Lassi, Lemon Meringue Cream Pie – FUCK OFF.

Apologies for lack of hot-linking to the winners, this will be rectified when I get my old computer back.

Thanks for reading.

Roll on 2017

Independent Salford Beer Festival 2016 – A Review



A review of the 2016 Independent Salford Beer Festival (ISBF2016, ISBF16) – which is the third and apparently the final one.

If you need some background reading (or just to increase my blog views), see the past two year’s reviewed below:

Review of 2014 (1st Festival)

Review of 2015 (2nd Festival)

Normally I’d start with a nice shot of the glassware – but I’ve not washed up them up yet, plus I think it would fit in better with the wrap-up post I aim to do about this gathering as a whole, so the above will have to do for now.

A small review by @StereoSurrealis can be found here

THE review, by THE man himself and with nicer pictures can be found here (uber craftists be damned).

It was at a meet the brewer with Weird Beard (at Heaton Hops) that I became aware of the organisers intentions for 2016’s beer festival, at a point where it wasn’t the final one it was going to be the first not only with brewers outside of the better Northern part of England but with Keg beers too (Evil Keg Filth as its known).

Skip forward many months later and Jim Beam Barrel Aged Double Perle makes its first appearance in Manchester.


In fact if the point hadn’t been hammered home enough, ALL the beers at this festival were either debuting or were specially brewed for the festival and were not going to be available anywhere else.

Four or five of your pounds sterling got you into the sessions which ran from Thursday 20th October to Saturday 22nd October at St Sebastian’s Community Centre, Salford (Pendleton), 10 minutes walk from the church.


All beers were no more than £6 a pint and we are talking festival prices and 10% beers, something even my dad eventually came around too.

Food available was turkey (optional stuffing) barms (baps, teacakes, etc.), vegetarian chilli (with good spice level), lamb hot pot (with beetroot, always beetroot).



Or if you are my dad…


A 50/50 split of chilli and hot pot (lobby, stew, scouse, etc.) with the addition of (and many thanks to the staff for searching for it) English mustard.

Talking of my dad’s taste buds Chilli Relish were there again with their home-grown, home-made sauces and chutneys. Plenty of tears were observed as some fool-hardys tried the 2 million Scoville sauce.  Not my dad though, he had one bead of sweat, complained that the front part of his tongue was numb and then appeared to have some 60’s LSD flashback for about a quarter of an hour.



People came from far and wide…

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…even a bird of prey.

There was music too “curated” by Duke and the Darlings

Non-alcoholic drinks were provided by @SteepSodaCo which after a heavy session on Thursday were very much welcomed to kick-start the big weekend.


The beers though were what most were here for, well that and an amazing time

I’m adding the beers here for posterity and because there were far too many to single out as many were excellent.

Abbeydale, Sheffield – Japanese Citrus Pale – Yuzu Pale DH Sorachi & Lemongrass – 4.5%
AllGates, Wigan – Blackstar – Marshmallow Porter – 4.8%
Atom Beers, Hull – Critical Temperature (Habanero Edition) – Rye Pale Ale Coffee Porter – 6.5%
Bad Seed, Malton – Session I.P.A. – Session I.P.A. – 4.0%
Beer Nouveau, Manchester – E.S.B. – Best Bitter – 5.5%
Black Jack, Manchester – Ahtenum Lager – Lager – 5.0%
Brass Castle, Malton – Rubicon – Red Rye Ale – 4.8%
Brewsmith, Ramsbottom – Session I.P.A. – Session I.P.A. – 4.8%
Bridestone’s, Hebden Bridge – Off Yer Fruit! – Fruit Aged Session I.P.A. – 4.4%
Carbon Smith, Manchester – Salted Caramel Milk Stout – Salted Caramel Milk Stout – 5.1%
Cheshire Brewhouse, Congleton – Caribbean Crossroads – Rum Cask Aged B.I.P.A. – 6.5%
Cloudwater, Manchester – I.P.A. Nelson Sauvin – I.P.A. – 6.5%
Cwrw Ial, Llanarmon yn I̢l РZawn РAmerican Lemon Wheat Р4.2%
Emmanuales, Sheffield – The Deer Pants for Porter – Smoked Porter – 5.0%
Five-Oh, Prestwich – T.B.C. – T.B.C. – T.B.C.%
Five Towns, Wakefield – Secret Life of Arabica – Imperial Stout – 8.0%
Five Towns, Wakefield – Beauty and the Beast – Citrus D.I.P.A. – 9.0%
Howard Town, Glossop – Ten – Belgian-Style Quad – 10.0%
Lost Industry, Sheffield – Peanut Butter Milk Stout – Milk Stout – 4.4%
Mallinsons, Huddersfield – Hop Shaker – Nelson Pale Ale – 3.8%
Marble Brewery, Manchester – U.S. Extra Porter – Citra Dry Hop Porter – 5.9%
Neptune, Maghull – Black Percula – Chocolate Orange Stout – 4.5%
North Riding, Scarborough – Dandelion & Burdock Porter – Porter – 4.5%
Offbeat, Crewe – C Smackdown – Hoppy Pale Ale – 4.0%
Pictish, Rochdale – Pekko – Pekko (Single Hop) Pale – 4.2%
Quantum, Stockport – Pale Extra Ale – Strong Pale Ale – 6.0%
Rammy Craft, Ramsbottom – Whinberry Mild – Mild – 6.1%
Rat Brewery, Huddersfield – Grapes of Rate – Barrel Aged Barley Wine – 10.0%
Revolutions, Castleford – Psycho Candy – Belgian Centennial I.P.A. – 7.0%
Rivington, Rivington – The Make – New Zealand D.I.P.A. – 8.3%
Serious, Rochdale – Ginger Saison – Saison – 6.9%
Squawk, Manchester – Oat Pale – Dry-Seven-Hopped Pale – 4.9%
Thirst Class Ale, Stockport – Kiss My Ace – Sorachi Pale Ale – 4.0%
Tickety Brew, Stockport – Kiwi Saison – Saison – 4.3%
Torrside, New Mills – American Barley Wine – Barley Wine – 10.0%
Track, Manchester – Troika – UA / AUS / NZ Pale – 5.2%
Bad Seed, Malton vs. Track, Manchester – Pacific Juice Monster – Pale Ale – 5.0%
Bexar County, Peterborough vs. Offbeat, Crewe – Thin Line Between Genius & Insanity – Kombucha Soured Milk Neopolitan Ale – 3.2%
Black Jack, Manchester vs. Brass Castle, Malton – Lemon Spritz – Hazy Lemon Ale – 5.0%
Five Towns, Wakefield vs. Squawk, Manchester – Mango and Sumac El Dorado – Farmhouse I.P.A. – 5.8%
Mallinsons, Huddersfield vs. Runaway, Manchester – Redcurrant Saison – Saison – 6.5%
North Riding, Scarborough vs. Thirst Class, Stockport – War of the Raspberries – Imperial Raspberry Oatmeal Stout – 6.7%
Atom Beers, Hull – Phobos & Demos – Rye Pale Ale – 7.0%
Bexar County, Peterborough – Cold Pressed Ale – Coffee Infused Pale Ale – 5.1%
Elusive Brewing, Finchampstead – Love Action – Cranberry & Vanilla Stout – 5.8%
Mourne Mountains, Warrenpoint – Mourne Mist – Pilsner – 4.5%
Northern Alchemy, Newcastle Upon Tyne – Moroccan Spiced Mild – Mild – 3.4%
Otherton Ales, Crewe – Passepartout (Brett Aged) – Bretted D.I.P.A. – 7.4%
Weird Beard, London – Double Perle (Jim Beam) – Barrel Aged Imperial Milk Stout – 8.2%

After the punters voted the winner of Beer of the Festival was @ElusiveBrew with their excellent Love Action – yes, its not Five Towns this time, yes its a Southern brewery that won and yes its a keg beer that did indeed win.

Full marks (no pun) to @RunawayBrewery and @Mallinsons for providing a keg and cask version of their collaboration and for doing a talk.

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Turns out in the talk everyone preferred the keg but the voting public preferred the cask (as did I, which I’d been saying to anyone who’d listen since the Thursday when I compared both).

There was a talk by Connor (“fresh” from fatherhood and a disappointing season by Bradford Bulls) about Manchester Beer Week, though less about the plans for 2017 and more about how people found 2016; with brewers, bloggers and drinkers all having a say.  Who need communicators?  All points were made honestly and clearer and were taken and given with respect.  Two side of the same coin really, you can’t please everyone but you can give it a damn good try.

Some more people found out who I am and of course the regulars entertained themselves.  Many offers were made to take up the reigns so it happens again in 2017 but that is something for other to decide and the personal aspect of the past 3 years of this festival I will talk about next.

Basically if you weren’t there you missed out but don’t be fearful of that, at least not from a beer perspective because as great as the brews were it is the people who drive it.

So to all staff, builders, brewers, volunteers and attendees, you all know who you are, well done.


Thanks for reading.

Brewing For A Beauty & A Beast



This is the second Five Towns collaboration for the 2016 Independent Salford Beer Festival, the first one (The Secret Life Of Arabica) can be found here

I was supposed to help with that one, having suffered through being clean sober and getting to bed early on Friday 19th February I was woken, not by my alarm, set for 4am, but by a phone-call from Jim at 5am wondering where I was.  Having enjoyed my time at Five Towns for Art Decade – the 1st collaboration for the 2015 festival it pained me to miss out but the time had passed and it just wasn’t meant to be.  I drowned my sorrows on the Saturday night having cursed my alarm clock the whole day, then I went to bed.

My alarm clock went off at 4am Sunday morning.

Said alarm clock now makes up land-fill somewhere.



Luckily a second collaboration was planned and I wasn’t going to miss it this time.  Memories of Leigh (Centurions, rugby league) losing to Bradford as we drove home after the Art Decade brew day were minimised by it being such a great day.  2016, with Leigh already promoted to Super League a couple of week prior meant that this brew day saw September out in style.


Standard brewery hose porn.

Mash On…


Not porridge, you don’t eat porridge on brew days in Wakefield you eat:

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Bacon, sausage and egg barms from across the road, followed by a chippy dinner from next door.






The bittering hops were Centennial, the aroma from further hop addition of Centennial and Kazbek (Mohawk style).



Given that this man spent a good 5 minutes inhaling ever hop addition with a satisfied glaze over his eyes…which was not due to the early start, long day (and night in his case) and 12 cups of coffee…it is amazing any timings were kept, like Gollum and the ring.


wp_20160924_016Adjuncts to this beer in the boil were Kaffir Lime Leaves, dried orange peel and soured orange peel.  An addition of dried lemon peel will be added at the fermenting stage, along with copious amounts of fresh oranges, lemons and limes.



From porridge to curry.


Yeast is US05 if you are interested and after all that it should give us an IPA of about 8.5-9%

2016 is the year of many deaths of popular musicians, namely David Bowie and the name of the beer “Beauty & the Beast,” is the title of the opening track off his 1977 album “Heroes.”

There is some suggestion that this could be black & tanned with the aforementioned Secret Life…and given that that beer is named after the closing song on the same album it would be a fitting tribute and also to the final Independent Salford Beer Festival.

A review of the inaugural (2014) event

A review of the 2015 event


Golden Pints 2015


This is my entry into the Golden Pints of 2015, also known as the “bloggers just make up awards for specific things they wish to heap praise on.”

Best UK Cask Beer – Nothing fancy, just massively high quality beers that I have to split into categories to heap enough praise on both: Dark goes to Espresso Stout by Squawk and Pale goes to Sonoma by Track Brew Co.

Best UK Keg Beer – Evil Keg Filth award goes to – CloudWater – DIPA – don’t let anyone tell you any different but they got off to a very ropey start which the hype, marketing and the courting of London steered them through long enough to see them hit a really, really strong and positive stride in the final quarter of 2015 and this was one of their crowning achievements (along with their lagers).

Best UK Bottle or Can – Bottle goes to Native Sun Pinot Noir Barrel Aged Doppelbock (2014) by BlackJack and Can goes to Heart & Soul by Vocation Brewery

Best Overseas Draught – Think I’ll plump with Of Foam & Fury by Galway Bay Brewery (a highlight at Indy Man)

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer – Black Albert by Struise

Best Collaboration Brew – Hmmm, I’ll go with Five Towns Brewery and the Art Decade made in collaboration with Beers Manchester…and me…(I’d like to thank the academy, my mum and dad…)


Best Overall Beer – Though I may feed into an ego I will go with Satanic Mills by Beer Nouveau

Best Branding, Pumpclip or LabelThe Runaway Brewery (so good even Greene King ripped them off)


Best UK Brewery – Allgates Brewery

Best Overseas Brewery – De Struise Brouwers

Best New Brewery Opening 2015 – Going with Vocation Brewery

Pub/Bar of the Year – I still won’t be drawn on, there are too many good ones.

The What the Fuck and Why – Common Bar, Manchester – Lets turn a great bar with its own personality into a cold, sterile 10-a-penny IKEA knock-off to look more mature but then have a really childish and unprofessional Twitter account.

Beer Festival of the Year – Easily Salford Beer Festival though EastWestFest ran it quite close.  The rest of you can vote for Indy Man, Leeds or something in London.

Supermarket of the Year –Still don’t really use supermarkets for beer shopping.

Independent Retailer of the YearHeaton Hops – hands down, no contest.

Online Retailer of the Year – Not shopped online for beer in 2015.

Best Beer Book or Magazine – Not read many so would seem daft to give an award from a field of 2.

Best Beer Blog or WebsiteBeers Manchester for his beer/pub crawl reviews and Mark for his Beer Compurgation blog about everything else

Best Beer Blog Piece – This piece by Mark it isn’t about beer but it is one of the most important & honest pieces I’ve read on any subject (and he probably isn’t drunk enough to take the praise).

Best Beer AppTwitter. Untappd is just for badges.

Best Beer & Food Pairing – Well as the Tagine by Squawk isn’t available nationally (two fingers up to those who haven’t tried it) I’m going with Karkli


Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer@CraftBeerHour – granted its a collective effort but I can think of nothing better than bouncing ideas of fellow beer drinkers and brewers, well apart from going to the pub with the same group, which would be financially crippling.

Best Brewery Website/Social mediaSquawk Brewing Co (@SQUAWKBrewingCo) – you like beer, food, wild animals and 80’s cheese then this is just pure entertainment.


Roll on 2016

Independent Salford Beer Festival 2015 – A Review

This is a sort of review of the 2015 Independent Salford Beer Festival, which took place between October 30th to November 1st.

A review of the 2014 event can be found here

The review from last year holds true this year, that there was a massive community vibe to it all, I don’t wish to repeat myself so I’ll sum up the 2015 event in pictures…

There was spanking new glassware…


There were snacks…


There was lots of hearty, filling food…


There were crowds of people, bloggers, brewers…


There was a hawk…



There was a write up by the organiser far more recently written after the even and far better than this cobbled together effort.

There was of course beer…

45 of them and my were they all good.

When it came to asking for people to vote for beer of the festival many will tell you just how hard it was as there were so many good beers.

It is gratifying to an extent (though not life validating, I wouldn’t go that far) that a beer I helped with won the beer of the festival.

But it is always about the people you are drinking with that makes the difference.  @ThaBearded1 beat me to the punch in comparing festivals to pub life, or rather a former pub life we’ve romanticised.

Not for me, my locals still have the propensity for chat amongst strangers, what I’m thinking of is the new “craft bars” that are springing up.  Where drinking the newest, most hyped beer is the new competitive sport and relaxing and forgetting about your problems (or even opening up to some random) is not on the agenda.

That in itself is a separate discussion but it does stand in contrast to beer festivals like this where you can talk to people and there doesn’t seem to be any snobby hierarchy.

People aren’t just there for the beers, they are there for the community and they are there for each other.

Cue the Cheers theme tune…

The festival in 2016 looks like being another step change, more things planned and hopefully more delegation by the organiser so he doesn’t morph into some beery Atlas.

Till next time, thank you for reading.

Indy Man Beer Con – Things You Will Have After It Is Over

So you’re going to the Indy Man Beer Con are you?

This is what you may be left with come the day after the session(s) before…

  1. The obvious hangover.
  2. More friends.
  3. Yet another beer festival glass – or bits of glass.
  4. A yearning to brew beer yourself.
  5. Hundreds of photos of beer, food and complete strangers, all with a certain blurred quality.
  6. More badges on Untappd (you #badgewanker).
  7. A better understanding about beer and brewing.
  8. Ringing in the ears from the bell the announces another pop-up beer/bottle tasting.
  9. Knowing that Manchester really has got its shit together both festival hosting and brewing wise.
  10. You’ll be a few pounds lighter in the bank – but it is worth it – well to most it is, others will just carp on about elitism and snobbery.
  11. You’ll be a few pounds heavier on the scales – the solution, don’t weigh yourself – you’ve paid for it, its good to have something to show for it.
  12. Knowing that next October will not come soon enough.
  13. Wondering why can’t every festival ever be held in such nice surroundings as Victoria Baths.
  14. Why do I have to go to work? When will the world be based on a merit system like that seen in Star Trek?
  15. Is CAMRA really that evil or is it just one big misunderstanding brought about by age differences and antagonism?
  16. This keg beer really is too cold.
  17. When did I last feed the cat?
  18. Maybe I should volunteer at a beer festival.
  19. When is Salford Beer Festival?
  20. Is this the real life, is this just fantasy?
  21. Why am I reading this list, what is it’s possible function apart from riding on the coat-tails of one of the UK’s premier beer festivals?
  22. I’m going to the pub.