Additional info: Brewed to celebrate their 200th gyle, suitable for cellar again (bottled: 05/04/2016)
Pouring with a wispy but retained white head its colour is a deep, deep gold, it has apparently been aged in Armagnac (brandy) barrels. It has a very subtle nose for such a big beer, certainly hoppy but very restrained. The taste is thick syrup, honey-like but so very smooth with a light bitterness in the after taste. Another dangerous drink that doesn’t taste its strength.
Last week I was round my mum’s house when she got a phone call and when she uttered her friend’s name and then promptly ran out of the room with her worried voice in full effect I knew, deep down, what the call was about.
After she came back into the room and put the phone down I saved her the effort of needing to explain what the call was about.
My mate and I first met at primary school, I’d say about aged 4 and bonded over our interests in BMX bikes and He-Man.
He had Castle Greyskull. In fact he had all the bestest toys. I didn’t have toys to contribute to this relationship but I did have the vivid imagination that came with childhood. We spent most of school in a fairly large group (akin to a 6-person Stand By Me) and a good deal of the weekends and holidays were spent together due to us living close enough for our parents to trust us to go out on our own.
The bond between our families was curiously similar too, during our whole tenure of infant and primary school (up to 11 years old) we were the only kids whose parents had divorced and so both our mothers had bonded over that too, so much so that, come sleep-overs at each others houses; the line “and if you misbehave your mum have given me permission to smack you” was the promise made to each of us every time, not that it was every enacted.
My mate was always the more quiet and introverted one when we were at school or in a group but far more brash and fun-loving when with our mums. He was the first person to use my mum’s proper name, a fact that at that young age caused a bit of confusion “Who is this person whose name you are repeatedly mentioning?” being my usual internal dialogue.
We made daft tapes together. Me and him presenting radio programmes with silly characters, all of whom would probably have uncontrollable flatulence at some point during their “interviews”.
We went to the same high school, we were in the same form, but as we grew up and got put into different sets based on capabilities, the circle of friends we hung around in changed, we used to hang out and stay over, only they became less and less frequent.
Different colleges, different universities came and went but what was odd is that at least once a year we would bump into each other. Fate would have it that our paths would cross as each of us making our solitary journeys back to our own homes and that privacy would give us each a chance to chat and catch up, we were in our own world just like when we were kids.
Over this last week my mum began digging out old school photos, unlike myself and my friend, my mum and his mum had remained close.
The funeral was today, my first humanist ceremony and it was packed to the rafters. My mum was more upset than I was but talking to his mum gave them both some solace. His mum, like me, somehow knew this day would come; it was never going to make it any easier, she had had the misfortune to find him and what gave her comfort was that she could see in his face that he’d taken control, made his peace with himself and a world he was always off-kilter with and was now finally at peace.
He will now become another statistic in the gender and age-range that sees more suicides than any other and while a lot is made about depression and mental health and about talking about things and remaining positive there is always going to be a grim inevitability that surrounds certain people and sadly that is the thing those left behind have to come to terms with.
The way someone dies should never eclipse the way they lived.
To the larger world, a statistic he might be but to me he will always be Fiendish Fart-Head.
Oddly it is two years to the day that I wrote this piece as I had just lost my cat Izzy (who the vets insisted on labelling as Issie). Now I find myself writing an ode to his son, Jones.
Both Izzy and Jones came into my house pretty much as soon as I’d moved in which is approximately 10 years ago and where as Izzy was a normal cat, in as much as the descriptor normal can be applied to a cat, it was quite clear that Jones would be an altogether different sort of normal.
It is fitting that he Jones died two years to the day that his dad did. Looking over their “birth” certificates there were born 2 years apart and both died just after the age of 16.
Yesterday evening was like any other evening, the bowl of a hurriedly eaten breakfast was being transported down the stairs while I was trying not to break my neck tripping over Jones as he weaved in front of me, stopping to make sure I was following him and it wasn’t just a ruse and that quite possibly he was finally going to get fed.
Jones was a bottomless pit when it came to food, he would happily eat until he was sick (and then eat that) or it would come firing out of the other end in every conceivable location around the house. He couldn’t have milk because this too would cause the release of equally noxious liquids, so there was a finite amount that I could feed him that would keep him going to his cat box regularly and with good consistency and that would also, vaguely, fulfill his appetite.
Jones is a cat that whenever I was in the kitchen he was expecting food. He couldn’t remain asleep in his bed (or wherever he was sleeping) for fear that he may be missing out. When he realised food wasn’t forth coming he’d make a point of either drinking water loudly (yes, loudly) or licking his bowl for the last few bits of dried morsels that might be left from his last meal. I was going to do a blog about things that cats won’t eat if they fall on the floor but it would only consist of onions, garlic and bread with chilli sauce on it.
I fed him as usual, then stepped out for about 20 minutes and returned to find him on the floor, being sniffed at by our other cat. He regularly slept on the floor but that fact that there was no reaction, either to the sniffing Missy or that fact that I might be bringing him yet more food instantly rang alarm bells.
Then came the hail, the thunder, the lightning.
He is now buried in the April snow.
But it was last night when I was going to bed that I realised all the habits I’d developed because of this cat. The sofa seats could stay down as he wouldn’t be around to pee on them. He only ever weed on the settee, never “his” chair, I found that out in his first weeks in the house.
I could shut the door to the living room and my bedroom, to keep some heat in.
I can probably leave things on the floor, or things can fall on the floor and now not be targets for the biggest flood of urine I’ve never experience before or since.
I cleaned the cat box and it wasn’t automatically used straight away.
I can give Missy a bit more food, which she can leave and return to, and she can even have some milk.
I won’t have to watch any food I’m eating for errant paws being stuck onto my plate like the intro sausage off Grange Hill.
I might make it from upstairs to the kitchen in one smooth, non-delayed motion.
I wasn’t woken up before my alarm.
I was actually spread out in bed rather than hanging over the edge.
He wasn’t waiting outside my bedroom door this morning and he won’t be there to greet me when I get home.
It seems that separate bits of Manchester architecture comes under threat at the same time in an almost cyclical fashion.
In January of last year I ranted about the sad state of some of the proposed decisions facing the heritage of central Manchester.
While the situation with the Fire Station on London Road is resolved in so much as Britannia have finally attained their 30 pieces of silver and like wise the Ancoats Dispensary reached its funding targets, just this week Bruntwood put forward their plans for the redevelopment of Oxford Road Station, which made no mention of its plans for the listed Salisbury Pub (or Grand Central for that matter).
There are a few places in Manchester I don’t like to go to drink; namely the Printworks, Deansgate Locks and Spinningfields.
As banal as Printworks is and as loathsome as the Locks are they are at least honest and exist in such away as to work well with the area they have been created in (unless you are the Police).
The same I can not say for Spinningfields; a place as fake and phony as the wankers that go there and the food, drinks and “culture” that exists between the artificial grass, cold steel and empty glass. It is a lifeless, soulless place. A cut-through between Manchester and Salford and a place now deemed worthy of expansion by taking a wrecking ball to more of Manchester’s places and sites & sights of interest.
As plans and rumours keep swirling it may well be that most of the buildings will remain and be renovated but the Sir Ralph will make way for, it would seem, a car park, which given Manchester’s history will be horrendously overpriced parking in a bid to drive trade away from local and small businesses and seemingly push it towards that other soulless place that is the Trauma Trafford Centre.
Councils are not my favourite group of people. From some reason, no matter the size of the council or the make-up that may consist of apparently local people the continually make decisions that run against popular opinion
This piece is not about the politics (or football) of red and blue, merely another hair-pulling exercise about the short-sighted decisions made by our increasingly untrustworthy public officials and that whereas jaw-jaw is preferred to war-war they all fall to more-more.
Greed: Noun; intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.
The recent boom in Craft Beer has been a fantastic shot in the arm for those of us who crave good beer. Good, varied beer is now a thing. Previously there was a variety of beer available but nowhere near the extent that is available now. But what’s it driven by? The growth has two elements, firstly there has to be a desire to brew better more diverse beers, and also there then needs to be a consumer demand for the beer styles which have broken away from the norm.
Both of those elements are self-driving, so a good brewer will develop a popularity and therefore demand, but also the consumer demand gives the brewer confidence to try more varied beers. And if anything, I think the link between brewers and consumer are far shorter than they…
Other info: Surprisingly fiery Red Pagan IPA, loaded with American Hopes, BBE: Feb 2016
Sometime in June of 2015 I was sat in the Harewood Arms lamenting the death of cinema icon Christopher Lee and how their should be some form of tribute to him. Within minutes Five Towns fired back with the artwork as it was tribute beer was already under way.
In a complete pisser of a day when I got back into Manchester the news broke that wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes had passed too.
Being a fan of (horror, sci-fi) films, wrestling and music this year has been particular heavy on the loses of those that had an impact on my life…
and then today, in a moment of horrible, morbid serendipity Lemmy goes and croaks it too, so as a quick ham-fisted tribute…
So on to the drink; a slight fizz upon opening, it pours clear red-orange with a white head which dissipates around the rim of the glass while drinking.
The smell is a lovely potent smell of hops, citrus and a bit of spice and the taste is just as powerful. A tingle stays on the lips after drinking, smooth in the mouth it is a mass of hops and orange, it wouldn’t surprise me if there was some chilli in there that was adding to the bite.
Five Towns are one of my favourite breweries at the moment; their beers, small and big alike are all of a high quality and many agree as for the two years of its incarnation, the Salford Beer Festival has awarded (by public vote) beer of the festival to the brewery; Raven King (a coffee porter) in 2014 and Art Decade (a mango/peach IPA) in 2015.
Location – Manchester, Greater Manchester (historically the Roman fort of Mamucium or Mancunium)
The Drink: Little Meiko
ABV: 7.0% – 500ml
Style: Japanese Yuzu IPA
So this IPA is brewed with Sorachi Ace Hops and Yuzu Juiceand as you can see is just barely in date.
It pours a crystal clear yellow/golden colour with strong carbonation and a thick white head that is still retaining as a drink it/type this.
Citrus on the nose dominates with a slight sour note.
It drinks very easily belying its actual ABV. I’m still debating if I had this on keg in the Marble Arch – pretty sure I did, but if I can’t remember if I had it or not I’m damn sure not going to remember what it tasted like for the sake of comparison. Why mention this…whimsy I suppose, to reminisce about time spent in the Marble Arch.
Mouth feel is very light and smooth, everything playing on the back of the palate.
Taste wise the citrus is there, again a bit of a tart tang, I know brewer @Marble Stu wondered if there would be much hop profile left, I think there is but again without direct comparison and my generally naff taste buds it is a bit futile.
What we have here is a very easy drinking, specially brewed IPA from who I would regard as Manchester’s premier, flagship brewery (no disrespect to the historical family brewers in the area).
They also coincidentally have some of the best drinking places in Manchester too.
This 1st beer of Xmas is dedicated to all those you came on the Leeds #crimbocrawl and also to those too ill to make it.
Thanks for reading.
Have a very merry Pagan holiday misappropriated by Christians, claimed as their own who then play victim when the “real meaning” is lost.