The Beer Gatherer

Blogging about Israeli beer in general and Israeli craft beer in particular, following 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die and other beer musings.

Archive for the tag “CAMRA”

English Beer Recap #4 – The hidden Gems of Bradford

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As soon as we decided to take a beer trip to Northern England, we knew we’d stop at Bradford. A place known better for its curry, riots, and the 1989 burning of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, Bradford is not a top-of-mind beer destination. However, it has a special place in my personal history. As far as beer history goes, this is the first place I learned about CAMRA. It was in 1997 and I was at the 1in12, where the punks and anarchists hung out. Didn’t know shit about beer and used to drink “lager” – that’s what my boyfriend used to order – and apple flavoured Hooch, a horrendous alco-pop. Not being a social animal, and that’s an understatement, I was happy to find a small zine, similar to any punk publication of the day – cut and paste, photocopied – with the tagline Campaign for Real Ale, whatever that was. The one thing I remember reading there – and that’s quite something, considering it’s been 18 years of booze and B12 deficiency and an OD of written material – is an op-ed against my drink de jour, aka Hooch and the likes – how they destroy the industry, ruin young people’s appreciation of real ale, whatever that was, and so on. It stuck with me.

This CAMRA publication is of course not a good reason to visit the city, but seeing the place where I lived, and walking in Lister Park, and eating a decent curry are, so after a short sightseeing tour and some beer in Manchester, we drove to Bradford. We opted to drive through towns, so instead of 30 minutes on the highway it took us about an hour to get there.

After a brief tour of the neighbourhood, which felt tamer than it was – is it distance and defamilarization or is it for real? – we went drinking. The Secret Agent picked 2 CAMRA-recommended pubs to visit before heading to a night in Huddersfield, old-school real-ale pubs that I must have seen before, but never went in, because the ex had his own local, Scruffs and Snobs. I looked for it online before our trip. It’s not there anymore. First place we visited was The New Beehive Inn, not far from the city center, as the area code BD1 indicates. The inn was built in 1901,ย  and has tons of features we love in a place, such as stained glass windows, a painted sign and all sorts of knick-knacks. We arrived quite early in the evening and it was quite dark inside. Apparently this pub is known for its use of gas-light and is recognized by CAMRA as one of Britain’s Real Heritage Pubs. The Beehive serves locally-brewed ales and we sampled two of them. Black Sheep Best Bitter was the first. Our itinerary was quite flexible and on the first day of the trip we didn’t know we’d make it to Masham, to visit Black Sheep and Theakston breweries, so we drank this one as soon as we saw it. The name Best Bitter is quite accurate – it is one of the best bitters I have ever tasted. Clear golden brown with white head. Toffee, nutty, earthy aroma, full, robust, toasty bitterness, medium body, long, bitter, earthy finish. Next comes Saltaire Blonde, from the nearby town Shipley, home of Shipley Glen, the location of many yesteryear adventures. 4% abv. blond ale that’s also available in bottles in the area. Clear blond with white head, Fruit, faint citrus, floral aroma, bitter, slightly hoppy finish. Soft, medium body, bitter, a little dry finish.

We had to make it to Huddersfield that night and satisfy the craving for curry before, so we left after a single round and headed to The Fighting Cock. Located in the Lister Hills neighbourhood, pretty much in between the area where my ex’s friends used to live and the 1in12 club where they used to hang out, I had to slap myself when entering the place. The 19-year-old me would’ve had it so much better had she hung out there! It’s in a street corner, near a discount supermarket, with 2 or 3 rooms (been a while, so I forgot), all bustling with decor and awards and people! Lots of them! It was busy and we couldn’t find a vacant table, but two locals who saw us wandering immediately invited us to sit with them. You can get foreign bottled beer there, but we were there for the real-ale, and as local as possible. We started off with a Book Beer – Timothy Taylor’s Landlord from Keighley. a 3.5% abv. bitter, it pours light gold with white head. Pumpkin seeds and jasmine aroma, very little butterish taste, a little burning and mildly bitter. Medium body, long, nettle-like finish. The burning sensation in the end is very untypical, that’s for sure.

Next we had Geeve’s Smokey Joe. It’s a stout from Barnsley, and I couldn’t skip a beer with such a name, of course! Its aroma was great, with notes of chocolate, wood, old chocolate liquor and delicate smokiness. It’s a pretty good beer, however, despite the smoky notes in the mouth, neither the taste nor the body matched the awesomeness of the nose. Then, another local, Rat Against The Machine, an IPA from Rat Brewery from Huddersfield, yup, the following destination. Pretty good beer, with great citrus aroma and some grainy notes in the mouth. We continued with Bobs White Lion, an ok blond ale from Ossett, and since we had so much fun, we stayed for a third round. We had Copper Dragon Golden Pippin blond ale from Skipton – quite alright and very malty, and abother Book Beer – Pendle Witches Brew by Moorehouse’s. Coming from Burnley, Lancanshire, 26 miles south west of The Fighting Cock, this almost feels like a foreign beer. But I cannot blame the distance nor the pub for its poor performance. Judging from the 5 other pints and half-pints we had there, beer’s well-kept in that place; and 26 miles is practically around the corner, so the buttery, popcorn aroma and taste is, well, the beer. What a shame. We washed down the off flavour with delicious vegan portions at Punjab Sweet House, as recommended by our table buddies and headed to check out the pubs in Huddersfield.

 

Black Sheep Best Bitter, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Moorehouse’s Pendle Witches Brew are beers #404, #405 and #406 I Must Try Before I Die.

English Beer Recap Pt. 3 – Scottish and Manx from Cask!

I should be studying for tomorrow’s exam and I would be studying, had the builders not drilled and hammered the flat downstairs, where the hoarder who turned our lives into a nightmare for the better half of the past decade used to reside. So today’s entry is not procrastination, but rather an attempt to make the most of junk time. Anyway, English Beer Recap is becoming interesting, as I’m leaving the bottles behind and get to write about beers I drank from cask – which means that I’m finally getting to share anecdotes and images from the Real Ale Trail The Secret Agent and I took in September 2013.

A little background – 3 months into my new job at the time, launching a huge campaign that involved emails and phone calls during weekends, Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, lack of sleep and loss of vitality, The Secret Agent bought us tickets to Manchester. Initially he wanted us to go to Scotland, a long time dream of ours and back then – relevant more than ever, as I was managing both The Glenlivet and Chivas brands in the local market; however, due to the little time I had for proper holiday, we “settled” on Yorkshire. A peek at CAMRA website revealed that a festival in York was taking place at the time we were visiting, Good Beer Guide 2013 indicated that there are good pubs in Huddersfield, and thus an itinerary was constructed.

Let’s keep the personal mode here. I lived in Yorkshire in the 90’s. Fell in love with an English boy I met in Philadelphia, where his touring band was playing – I went backpacking from coast-to-coast, from record store to punk show – and moved in with him in Bradford. It was as intense as only first love can be – full of drama and with amazing background music. To stay within the blog’s realm, C and I drank cheap lagers in the local pubs and I discovered Hooch – the alcopop. I also discovered CAMRA then. Found a zine on the counter at the 1in12 – the local club/ anarchist community space/ info-shop – and picked it up. Had no idea what a Campaign for Real Ale meant, or what Real Ale is (though they served some at the 1in12 – I’m almost certainly sure!), but there was a heartfelt diatribe against the favourite beverage category of 19 y/o me – alcopop. I vaguely recall something about irresponsible drinking and lack of tradition, but maybe it’s adult me who thinks she remembers.

Back to the trip. Hotel rooms/ B&B/ Air BnB in Manchester, Huddersfield and York were booked and so was rental car, and some destinations were marked on the map: Bradford, of course, cos I haven’t been there since 2000, and cos I wanted The Secret Agent to visit the location of so many stories from my formative years; Masham – cos of Black Sheep and Theakston; and the Coast. Coast with capital C, because of the brilliant BBC series that we always get back to and never have enough from. As ambitious and thorough as a documentary series gets. Prior to the trip we watched the relevant episodes and decided that Scarborough and Whitby are a must. Rarely in the past couple of years do we decide on destination first and look for watering holes second, but In Good Beer Guide Book And App We Trust. Oh, and some Yorkshire Dales and Moors and country pubs were also on my wishlist.

Before we went, I went through my list of beers from the book. I was determined to drink most of the beers who were listed, but into the second day of our trip I realized that it’s not gonna happen; cask ales distribution depends on so many factors such as pub owners (free house or chain-bound?); regional distribution is a big thing in the world of casks; and ever-changing selection is also something that characterizes good pubs.

This introduction took too much beer-text space, so let’s get rid of the non-English cask beers from the list. Deuchars IPA hails from Caledonian Brewing Company inย  Scotland. I found it in a small pub named Ye Dolphin, a small pub in the small coastal town Robin Hood Bay – as picturesque as it gets and one of our favourite spots in this amazing trip. Narrow and steep streets that lead to the foot of the sea, quaint alleys and the end of the English coast-to-coast trail.

coast-to-coastye dolphin robin hood bay

You can see that there’s a seating area outside, and although the weather that day was t-shirt friendly, beergeeks tend to be indoor patrons, where it’s easier to focus on the brew and dwell in the atmosphere. According to the 2008 Book, Deuchars is Scotland’s best-selling cask ale. Book states it’s a 4.4% abv., ratebeer begs to differ and indicated 3.8%. Our beer was clear, golden and had white head. Its aroma was fruity, like preserved fruit, exotic fruit syrup like Monin Passion Fruit, and also had some piss notes. Mild bitter, English hops were apparent in the mouth. Light body, oily, malty finish. deuchars_robin_hood_bay

Second non-English Beer in this English beer recap is Dr Okells IPA from the Isle of Mann. We had it in Old Bell Tavern in Harrogate, a busy place in a location that used to be a toffee shop that also carries a large varieties of bottled and imported beer in a marvelous spa town. We were too busy drinking beer to visit the baths – next time. Last summer someone brought a bottle of this beer to a tasting. It was mediocre at best; however, from cask it was delicious! Clear pale gold with a frothy white head. Slightly citrusy aroma, beet and fresh cut red apples. Bitter and grainy and robust. Medium body, a little carbonated and bitter finish – perfect English India Pale Ale, or Manx, in this case. There are two more beers from Okell’s in the book and I hope to get to drink them soon.

old bell tavern

Dr. Okell IPA and Deuchars IPA are beers #398 and #399 I Must Try Before I Die. More of the Real Ale Trail beers to come ๐Ÿ™‚

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