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Neil Sowerby's November Beer Columm

New Brewery on Temperance Street, Monks making ale, and Real Ale for lesbian and gay folk

Published on November 19th 2012.

Neil Sowerby's November Beer Columm

IT’S like unearthing an opium den on Cold Turkey Lane – Manchester’s latest craft brewery, Privateer, is based in Temperance Street, behind the Mancunian Way.  

“Like putting a giant teabag in the copper,” Marble head brewer told the 2012 European Beer Bloggers Conference in Leeds (missed that event, too, phew). 

The brewing  plant comes from Scotland’s Madcap Brewery, the brewer Peter Curran from Moorhouses; the plan is to use only American hops and all brews check in at 4.5 per cent and under. Owner Matt Jervis says he wants punters to come back for a second pint. 

Privateer branding - the pirate with a ship in his hat %28the latter sentence was almost a Morrissey song title once%29Privateer branding or the pirate with a ship in his hat (the last part of the sentence was almost a Morrissey song title once)

To add a bit of yo-ho-ho to the mix all its beers are piratically monickered. The first three  are Dainty Blonde – which went down a storm on trial at Stockport’s Railway – Roebuck Amber and Dark Revenge. Until their website is up and running catch up with this fledgling operation here

The Black Isle sounds like a pirate haunt, but it’s a windswept corner of North East Scotland with a brewery of the same name. Ex-Marble brewer Colin Stronge is head brewer there  but has been back in Manchester teaming up with Quantum to make a 8 per cent double IPA called Sk2. Featuring five different hop varieties, the straight version should be ready around Christmas, but three other barrel-aged variants in white wine, red wine and whisky casks are for the long haul. 

CAMRA’s Opening Times mag says Colin is due back for collaborations with Marble and terrific newcomer Blackjack, which is run by another ex man of Marble, Rob Hamilton. 

Meanwhile, Marble owner Jan Rogers tells me they are currently making another batch of their smash hit Earl Grey IPA (6.8 per cent), which was originally brewed in collaboration with Dutch indie outfit Emelisse.   

Bottles of the first brew flew off the shelves as potential Christmas presents. I only sampled it on draught. I‘m told the smoky bergamot intensity of the Earl Grey tea infusion didn’t entirely transmit to the bottled version, but it was still a lovely tropical-fruity take on the hop-driven US IPA style. “Like putting a giant teabag in the copper,” Marble head brewer James Campbell told the 2012 European Beer Bloggers Conference in Leeds (missed that event, too, phew). 

A mosaic detail from The Marble Arch pub, home of Marble Brewery, is pictured at the top of this page.

From something new to an ancient beer style revived. Ampleforth Abbey Ale made an appearance at the Altrincham Bottle & Cask Festival in the summer, restoring a monastic brewing tradition lost in this country since the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Benedictines fled to Dieulouard in Lorraine with the recipe for La Biere Anglaise, a forerunner of 'dubbel ales', which fermented both in the brewery and in the cask. 

A similar recipe was pieced together to create the new Abbey Ale (7 per cent and bottle conditioned), which enjoys its second fermentation in bottle.  

Cheeky monk-eysCheeky monk-eysThe result is a spicy hop and chocolate complexity that can only improve when laid down in a cellar for a few years. If you haven’t the patience of a Venerable Bede, don’t fret, it’s quite gorgeous now. 

Ampleforth Abbey commissioned it from Dutch organic brewer Wim van der Spek, a keen student of similar Belgian trappists ales, who brews at Little Valley Brewery near Hebden Bridge - click here

I got my samples direct from Wim, but some Booths stores are stocking it and, you can buy it direct from the Abbey shop or online here

Our contemporary brewing scene is equally enticing and it’s fascinating to see how the hophead tyros are now becoming the new establishment.

Dropping in on Westmorland Farm Shops at Tebay M6 services, alongside many of Cumbria’s own beautiful beers was an array of Thornbridge bottles from the cult Derbyshire brewery.

Thornbridge - KiplingThornbridge - KiplingRecent pints of flagship Jaipur have been disappointing. Has rapid expansion dulled the quality? A bottle of Kipling South Pacific IPA proved as exhilarating as ever. It was the first UK ale to feature New Zealand’s Nelson Sauvin hop, whose grassy tropical fruit flavours are reminiscent of good Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. 

Thornbridge have won nearly 200 CAMRA and SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) awards but were absent from the gong list at SIBA’s recent Great Northen Beer Festival, held at Manchester’s Mercure Piccadilly Hotel. Most awards (four) went to a new Wirral brewery and to Yorkshire and Cumbria, but congratulations to Bollington’s Bollington Nights and Prospect’s Nutty Slack (gold and silver for standard mild). I’ve long been a fan of Nutty Slack, which is chocolatey and creamy on the palate. 

Further evidence of cult craft bottled beers’ inexorable spread – in Littleborough near Rochdale – handily down the road from me. Cocktails Chocolate Box looks from the outside a run of the mill convenience store/off licence, but it hosts a vast array of wine and whisky. Alongside its Belgian beer range I was overjoyed to discover distinctly different offerings from Macclesfield’s Redwillow and London’s Kernel. 

American-style The Kernel Columbus Pale Ale (5.2 ABV) was straw-coloured, offered a grapefruit nose and had a leafy bitterness on the palate, while the Redwillow Smokeless Smoked Porter (5.7 ABV) was  perfect dark winter warmer, thanks to the presence of chipotle chillis and sturdy malt flavours. The shop is at 17-19 Todmorden Road, Littleborough, Rochdale, OL15 9DQ. 

Ale maniaAle mania

At the World Travel Market convention in London a wine-related chat with a rep from Sonoma County California turned to their local craft brewers Lagunitas purveyor of a variety of styles, including Hop Stoopid (aren’t we all these day?).

I told him, to his amazement, I’d seen bottles of Lagunitas IPA on a market stall in foodie Copenhagen. To my amazement I caught up with the IPA on draught at The Euston Tap beerhouse on my way home. At 6.2 ABV, it offers raging amounts of Cascade and Centennial hops. Worth catching. 

The kind of place you might just catch up with it is The Beagle, (click here) latest venture of the folk who brought you the beer-championing Port Street Beer House and Indy Man Beer Con. The bar takse over the former Scott's Hill/Ostara/Charango premises on Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton. Food and wine are from Manchester Food and Drink Award-winners Aumbry and Hanging Ditch, but expect craft beer to more than hold its own.  

A cool Chorlton bar that forced its way into the conservative CAMRA Good Beer Guide, Pi has a new little sibling in Altrincham. It’s in the former Brew House on Shaws Road. As in Chorlton there’ll be a regularly updated Beer Bible list and pies from Pieminster. 

Shakespeare's Local
Traditional pubs have been around a long time. One great survivor is The George coaching inn near Borough Market in London’s Southwark district. It’s the subject of a new book by award-winning beer writer Pete Brown. Fresh from an eccentric gig matching cask beer to classic rock tunes at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival, Pete turned up in Manchester again, at the Portico Library, to promote Shakespeare’s Local (Macmillan, £16.99). 

It’s more social history than his previous books but shares their light touch. And yes, Shakespeare did pop across from The Globe for a snorter or two. Everyone else from Chaucer’s pilgrims to Charles Dickens to me during the recent London trip I mentioned above have popped in, too. I envied Pete his months of research. An excellent Christmas stocking-filler. 

Finally, again from Opening Times, a plug for LAGRAD (Lesbian and Gay Real Ale Drinkers), a Village-based social group. For details of their activities, which include venturing on pub crawls beyond the Molly House, visit here.

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