Month: September 2016

Brum Beer Profiles – Rock & Roll Brewhouse

The Jewellery Quarter is rapidly becoming a must visit venue for the drinkers of Birmingham, The Lord Clifden, The Rose Villa Tavern & The Church being joined by exciting new venues  like 1000 Trades, The Pig & Tail & the subject of our latest profile.  Upon hearing Nick Cave’s new album playing as Lynne met me at the Door of the Rock & Roll Brewhouse, I knew I was going to like this place.  Dave joined us a short time later and we got to know the people with such good musical taste.

The Rock & Roll Brewhouse can be found on Regents Place in The Jewellery Quarter where we found proprietors Mark & Lynne.  Mark has long experience of brewing, starting as a home brewer and then getting involved with the Rock and Roll Brewery when it was based at the Lamp Tavern in Barford St and the Bluebell Cider house in Hockley Heath.

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Lynn used to write the “Lynn’s Letters” column in the Birmingham CAMRA magazine and met Mark when doing an interview with him for the magazine.  They soon discovered they had a shared interest in music as well as beer, and when the need arose for Lynn to get a bit of brewery work experience she turned to Mark.  The initial impetus had been the possibility of working in a pub on the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border, but circumstance made this a bit difficult, so instead she concentrated on dividing her time between her shifts at the Post Office Vaults bar in Birmingham city centre and the brewery and being Birmingham’s only female brewer.

After a while the brewery job won out, and although there was a limit on what they could brew at the pub the enjoyment outweighed that.  Recently however, the chance came to move the brewery to its own premises and within 10 minutes of viewing the current location Mark knew it would be OK, despite its quirkiness.  The pair got the keys on 1st Feb and have worked hard to create the space they wanted.  At the time it was 6 different units with a couple of long corridors, and photography studios with band rehearsal rooms taking up the space, but after a lot of hard work it has now become a working brewery and tap room.

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It has a 6 barrel kit plus a smaller pilot kit and they now have no constraints over what they can brew, which they are really enjoying, and are revelling in having control of their own product.  When we visited, they were brewing a green hop beer using hops from Mark’s garden, when a musician they had been chatting to at the Moseley Folk Festival turned up with a big bag of mulberries, which they popped into the brew because…well, why not.  One particularly impressive elements of their rebuild is their focus on sustainability, with much of the material from building being reused to create cladding and insulation for the brewery equipment.  This focus on sustainability, is fundamental to Mark & Lynne, echoed across all their practices and they have no desire to grow, as they believe small is beautiful.

When Mark came up with the name Rock and Roll Brewhouse, as well as tying into his passion for music, it enabled them to theme the beer names around songs, bands and puns, which we found quite cool…who wouldn’t want to try a glass of Brew Springsteen.  In the spirit of keeping things local they are getting their pump clips done by a manufacturer in the JQ.

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We asked Mark & Lynne what help they had received from the local organisations and were pleased to hear JQ Development Team had offered support and encouragement, as well as a community to be part of.  This has taken the form of including them in the JQDT weekend and building community through litter picks Mark & Lynne have been getting involved in.    This left me wondering what would happen if this kind of support was available for the city centre.

Besides being available at the Brewhouse on a Friday evening, and, from October, the first Saturday of the month, their vegan beers can be found at the Lamp Tavern, the Bluebell, and various local beer festivals.

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The decor of the bar revolves around the music theme with nods to the musical history of Birmingham in the shape of framed gig tickets and posters, shelves and a ceiling of 7” singles and the “beer garden” part of which featured, rather appropriately,  Nick’s Cave.  I don’t know if it is the place or the people but it wasn’t long before we moved off the subject of beer and onto a discussion music over a bottle of Bramble On, which I have to say was very nice.

Birth of a Brewery pt 4

So before I left for my vacation with Deb I found time to pop in and see Rich and Chris at Burning Soul on Tuesday 20th September for the last part of our Birth of a Brewery series. The place has changed a lot since we first visited and is looking, and smelling really good…on the day they were brewing a rye pale ale to add to their growing portfolio. This was also the first time I got to see their bottle bar…yes, although the rather poor photo shows a work in progress the results so far look p1000528-2pretty impressive. They had a visit from Robert Holmes whilst I was there and you could almost see his eyes light up, and like me he was working what he’d had. I can already see this being a great conversation piece when the bar opens. And when might that be I hear you ask… Well they will be opening in October, hopefully on the 1st if all goes according to plan, but keep an eye on @BurningSoulBrew for more information and updates, and they hope to have 8 beers ready to pour. I was fortunate enough to be able to try a few and even the ones not fully ready were pretty good. I started with the red ale that they were brewing on the pilot kit last time I visited, this was the one they split and used 2 different yeasts. Unfortunately one didn’t work so well but the one that did was nice, not overly hoppy but with a creamy taste. Next up was a blackberry saison, the fruit being freshly picked whilst Rich was walking his dog. It had a good solid fruit taste and an appealing dry bitterness at the end.  For a dark beer they had brewed a coconut porter using 3 whole coconuts and plenty of Sorachi Ace hops (natch!), and they also had a pale ale with a fairly new experimental hop called Orbit.  For the last 2 beers I tried a bretted ipa using a yeast from their home brewing days which had a great aroma, really full flavoured, but again with a dry finish, and an imperial stout.  For this Rich had soaked charred oak fingers in a bottle of bourbon for 6 months until there was none of the liquid left, and then used them during the brewing and aging process, and by golly it tasted mighty good.  They also had an ipa using Summit and Chinook that was ready for kegging, a Belgian ale that was fermenting away merrily, and plans for a double ipa soon. They seem happy with their malt and hop contracts and basically can’t wait to let more people try the beers and what works will be rebrewed on the big kit and the pilot kit will carry on being used for prototype brews.  There is still some work to do mainly the odd touch of welding that their friends are helping out with but all in all both in front and behind the scenes it is all looking pretty, pretty good…Now we just need to wait a bit longer before we can all get together and celebrate this great new venture.

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Bristol Weekend

      When we booked tickets for the Bristol Craft Beer festival we decided to make a weekend of it since we were aware of the many great places to drink in the city. And then we discovered it was the end of Bristol Beer Week on the Friday so there were a few events going on. One of these was at the Barley Mow, a pub that had been recommended several times, and was a Bristol vs USA keg match up (not a competition apparently) and since they did food it was a bit of a no brainer. We went the scenic route from where we were staying and with it being a nice, warm, sunny evening many bars in the city were quite busy.

      But the Barley Mow is a little bit out of the centre so I guess you need to be aware of it since you are not just going to stumble across it. As we got closer we could hear  a growing hubbub suggesting a few people must know about it because it was pretty busy. We settled in with swift halves of cask from Arbour & Bristol Beer Factory before going on to the main event. The beers were conveniently paired up and so we started at the top of the board with Gigantic Brewery: The Business and Moor: Return of the Empire, 2 pale ales at 6% and 5.7% respectively.  The former was from Oregon, a state we visited last year and had many excellent beers (read here and here), It was good, nice aroma but not outstanding, and somewhat surprisingly to us both we preferred the subtler, more subdued flavour from the English hopped beer from Moor.  Next we went for the two saison selections, Sorachi Ace from Brooklyn Brewery and Saison in the Rye from Wiper and True, both very decent examples of the style.  Round 3 was the dark beers, from Rogue in Oregon the Mocha Porter was nice with a good chocolate flavour but it was blown out of the water by the Arbor/Left Handed Giant collaboration, Flat White, an imperial coffee milk stout.  There was a difference in abv, 5.6% as opposed to 8.6% but the latter was stunning, so much flavour, full mouthfeel, bitterness giving way to a smooth creaminess…wow!  We finished off with two 10% beers:Torment from Heretic in California and the Bristol Beer Factory’s Unlimited Wheat Wine.  The former was a Belgian style dark ale and was quite sweet with lots of dark fruit flavours, and the latter was…well my untappd description said “quite unusual”, it’s certainly complex being bourbon barrel aged, blended with cold brewed coffee, and fermented with Bristol Beer factory’s triple strain house yeast”.  I found it quite winey and boozy but it wasn’t to Deb’s taste at all, but despite that when we added up our scores Bristol had won, not that it was a competition.  After all that there was only one thing left to do: go and visit the Moor Brewery taphouse since it was only 5 minutes walk away.  

     The staff were super friendly even though it was 20 mins to closing, and when I explained where we’d been, I was given 3 beers to try to finish the night with a bang.  I chose the Fusion, an old ale aged in cider brandy barrels which was very punchy, and suffice to say I slept very well that night!

     Saturday dawned with a forecast of rain, and, if I’m honest, a slightly fuzzy head from the previous night, plus an awareness that we didn’t want to drink too much during the day, but first we needed coffee. Kirk at Tilt and Alistair from Faculty both recommended Full Court Press and it didn’t disappoint with the coffee and pastries. After a bit of a stroll we ended up at the Wild Beer at Wapping Wharf, a place I didn’t know about until I looked on the Bristol Beer Week website, and I got the impression it was quite new. The beer board looked good and included a lot of recognisable breweries, but when in Rome etc, so I went with Sleeping Lemons by Wild Beer figuring it would go well with fish and chips. And how right I was, the flavour was good, and the food was excellent.

p1000458Fast forward to the evening which sees Deb and I following 20 guys dressed as pirates (and one parrot) on the way to Motion, the venue for Bristol Craft Beer festival which fortunately didn’t turn out as badly as this suggests. Getting in was easy, a wristband, a glass and a little booklet introducing the breweries, but no beer list. But with 30+ breweries and their employees this wasn’t a problem, much like the Birmingham Beer Bash I think the idea is to encourage a conversation. We managed to do this a little with James and his colleague from Thornbridge, the Yeastie Boys staff and a couple of others. And having paid the all inclusive price no more money needed to change hands for the beer as you could go around p1000462-2the bars having as many small taster measures as you liked… but as I write this some time after the event I still don’t know what I think about it. It was different to anything we’d been to because as well as the beer rules there were DJs playing continuously all night. Now I’m an old git and haven’t been to a club for donkey’s years, but fortunately the music wasn’t too loud and was either bearable with tunes we recognised-or fairly anonymous. And the beers were all good coming as they did from local Bristol breweries, many of the movers and shakers in the industry, and a smattering from overseas. I can’t really remember what we drank, not because we had so much but because I’d ask for an ipa or a dark beer and not really worry about the name, so no Untapping for me. A few things stand out though, Deb really enjoyed the Magic Rock Special Relationship & it was nice to try the Hop hunter from the Sierra Nevada guys, but probably the standouts for both of us were the beers from the Basqueland Brewing Project. I should also mention that the food selection was pretty good, especially the pork pie from West Country Deli. So, and this may not make sense, the blogger & ticker part of me thinks maybe I didn’t make the most of it, but the beer enthusiast really enjoyed it…and so did Deb thankfully.

Sunday breakfast was a leisurely affair at Spicer and Cole because amazingly enough we were waiting for places to open so we could have a few more beers… King Street is home to Small Bar, the Original Royal Naval Volunteer (known as the Volley), and the Beer Emporium, the latter being a well regarded bottle shop and taphouse that we will have to visit next time (and I’m fairly certain there will be a next time). But we managed to find time to pop in to the first 2 where we partook of more local beers from Good Chemistry, Wiper and True, and Left Handed Giant, the latter included a barrel aged version of Flat White which was ridiculously potent and packed a mighty alcoholic punch.  Both bars were really cool, Small Bar seemed to be the place for the brewers from the festival to wind down, and the size and selection at the Volley were mightily impressive, and the fact that they were on the same street with several other bars must be a testament to how good the beer scene is in Bristol.  After having a very good traditional  roast lunch in the Volunteer Inn we ended almost where we began at the Moor Brewery taphouse since it was on the way back to the station where we shared So’hop and Nor’hop, 2 quality beers to end a quality weekend.

Meet the Brewer ~ Paul Spraget

I originally met Paul Spraget at the 2nd Birmingham Beer1 Bash in 2014 when I was a volunteer and did a stint behind the Weird Beard bar. The following year we were both back but he had moved on to Mad Hatter. So when he came up to Birmingham for the 2016 Bash and included a tasting session at Loki Wine (read about that here) I figured it would be a good time to have a chat about his itinerant brewing career.

He started off by telling me that he’d had minimal dabbling in homebrewing and by 2010 was unemployed and living in a bedsit opposite Pentonville prison and a night of good drinking would revolve around a few cans of Strongbow. And then Daniel Vane took him to a central London pub that had a Kernel black ipa & Brodies Old Street pale ale which was the archetypal light bulb above the head. Further research led him to try US breweries such as Sierra Nevada and Goose Island, and then he got a job at the Clapton Hart pub in East London which had a pretty good beer selection. He got a homebrew kit and wanted to brew a Goose Island ipa clone and a friend of a friend got him some Cluster hops but it didn’t turn out that well. A year later he was running a pub in Walthamstow called the Chequers and buying Weird Beard and Redemption beers amongst others and was inspired to do a couple more homebrews which turned out better. And then Daniel Vane, now the brewer at Weird Beard, re-enters the picture in 2013. They had a job for a brewer’s assistant, and after having a trial brewday which Paul enjoyed he decided to work two days there, doing a 100 minute tube journey to get there.  After 2 months he took the plunge to learn to be a brewer, taking a pay cut in the process, and began learning from Dan, Bryan and Gregg at the brewery.  After 6 months they told him it was his turn to do a brew for Little Things That Kill, the low abv session beer that still packs a punch.  Each batch has the same malt and body but the hop bill changes, and for batch 8, since Paul’s favourite hop is Sorachi Ace that is one of the hops that went into it, and it also became known as Sorachi Face Punch.  This was taken to a further extreme by mixing the recipe with the one for Holy Hoppin’ Hell, a 9.6% imperial ipa to create Sorachi Face Plant.  I was suitably impressed the first time I had it in Brewdog on Neil Hemus’ recommendation, but there again I am a big fan of the hop myself.  At around this time his partner, Alex, got a job near Liverpool.  Somewhat fortunately he’d met Gaz from Mad Hatter Brewing Company at the Birmingham Beer Bash, had a few beers, got talking and found out they were looking for a new head brewer, and so he went from being Weird Beard Paul to Mad Hatter Paul.  They were in the process of expanding their operation and moving to newer, bigger premises and Paul began by brewing Penny Lane Pale, a hoppy, easy drinking low abv session beer.  Over the next 20 months he learned to brew lots of special and unusual beers including absencewhat was originally intended to be a strawberry and lime saison. However for some reason they did everything except add the strawberries, dry hopped it with mosaic, and thus the “absence of…” series was born.  He was also instrumental in the creation of one of the more unusual beers I’ve had, the Tzatziki Sour-here’s the description on Untappd – “A kettle sour: if you haven’t had this beer, then yes, it really does taste like tzatziki. Cucumbers, yogurt, mint, ouzo (no garlic, that would be weird). Delicious and strange.”  During this time his relationship with his partner became a long distance one when she moved back down to London, and eventually he decided he wanted to move back and learn what he termed high process brewing.  fourEnter Four Pure where he has now settled with both their big and 1 hectolitre experimental kits and is hoping to be able to brew a few sour beers and do some barrel aging in the near future.  You can check him out on twitter here – @MarshallStaxx – and having enjoyed many of his beers in the past we here at the blog wish him continued success and look forward to raising a glass and having a chat again soon…

Its A Wrap – News Round Up – 16/09/2016

It’s been almost a year now since Tilt opening at 2 City Arcade. They have gone from strength to strength, becoming one of the go-to venues for not only beer lovers, but also lovers of great coffee & Tea.  And not forgetting the magnificent collection of pinball machines. The guys have no intention to stand still, and they are committed to continue to improve on their offering to its customers. The latest additions is a rather magnificent fridge, stocked with bottles and cans from the best breweries across U.K., Europe & USA.  It really is a glorious sight, with the signage created by Jim at Seven 9 Signs, it’s a work of art in its own right.  Bottles and cans can be purchased to take away or buy to drink in store with a flat rate corkage charged. 

Sticking with Tilt, they will be getting involved with Oktoberfest (which happens in September) by creating their own little taste of Munich on Friday 16th September.  Beers will be provided by Anspach & Hobday, and fresh Pretzels will be available to buy.  The Tilt news does not stop their as they will be hosting Newport’s champion beer winning Tiny Rebel Brewery on Thursday 22nd October for a Tap Takeover.

Twisted Barrel Ale are also coming over all German and will be hosting their own Oktoberfest event on Friday 23rd September.  They continue their travels around Europe by turning Irish on Saturday 24th September for their Father Ted theme day; you’re going to go…ah go on, go on, go on, go on!

Other events coming up included:

  • The Chequers Inn Stourbridge will be hosting a Titanic Brewery festival – 19th to 24th September. Including a Meet at Brewer event on 19th.
  • The Cannock Beer Festival 2016 will be held at Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock from 22nd to 24th September.
  • Celebrate Cherry Reds John Bright Streets 3rd Birthday on 23rd September.
  • Check out the Vegan Food & Drink event at The Gunmaker Arms on 24th September.
  • The fantastic Manchester Marble Brewery head to Birmingham for a Meet the Brewer Event at The Craven Arms on Monday 27th September.

We are both big fans of Magic Rock Brewing, with Dave visiting the tap room, so we recommend  reading Matt Curtis’s article for Good Beer Hunting profiling the brewery. http://goodbeerhunting.com/blog/2016/8/17/magic-rock-brewing-company-bringing-the-west-coast-to-west-yorkshire 

Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter for more news and events.

Cheers

Dave & Bob

Four Pure tasting at Loki Wine

      In mid July, as part of Birmingham Beer Week and just before the Beer Bash launched Deb and I went to a Four Pure tasting and meet the brewer at Loki Wine in Great Western Arcade.  We thought it sounded fun as it was in an unusual location compared to previous meet the brewers, plus I hadn’t tried a lot of their beer and wanted to see how they had come on since Paul Spraget had joined them.  But first up Rob Davis gave a short introduction to the brewery which was started in 2013 by 2 brothers, David and Thomas Lowe, who had made a bit of cash in the tech world. One of them liked US craft and one Vienna style beers, and the original aim was to brew for 6 months and then take 6 months off.  They found a site in Bermondsey that worked but their original idea was shattered when they had 175% growth in the 1st year, and 225% in the 2nd, so they ended up brewing all year round.  They began canning in early 2014, putting in their order for a canning line just before Beavertown, with the aim of bringing quality, freshness and consistency to their line up. Earlier this year they expanded the brewing team including a new lead brewer from Siren, plus Paul, but we’ll come onto his story later…but first he introduced us to the stories behind a few of their beers.

      On arrival we had been given a can of Pils, one of their flagship beers, a nod to the tradition of the classic German pilsners but using modern techniques.  It was refreshing with a bit of sweetness from the malts and a slight bitterness from the noble hops that had been used. p1000505-2Next up was Shapeshifter, originally an Oregon style ipa but the recipe and technical process has changed to make it more like a West coast version.  Pale UK malt and West coast ale yeast are used with hardly any hops for bittering, some for flavour, but lots for aroma.  Both Deb and I were well impressed with this, great tropical fruit aroma and taste and dangerously drinkable at 6.4%.

      Flatiron is named after a Colorado mountain range and is an American red ale, which Paul described as a more malt forward American interpretation of a traditional brown ale.  It has crystal malts to give a bit of sweetness but lots of US hops to get a nice balance of flavours and a good clean finish.  He told us that the hops come from the hop farms directly in the form of pellets, and are always kept chilled.  Quite a change of style next as we moved on to a wheat beer named for the London skyline.  It uses torrified wheat, very little hops, this version using mainly Mandarina Bavaria, but the most important thing is the yeast which gives the clove and banana bread taste.

      The final beer of the tasting was one I had been looking forward to for a while, brewed on the 100 litre test kit and part of the Outpost series it came in a 500ml can and did not disappoint.  Although noting that it was a bit of a trendy style the judicious combination of Citra, Mosaic, and Cascade hops along with the addition of orange zest at the end of the boil gives this a really full juicy flavour, and once again belies it’s 5.9% abv.  Yep, once you’ve had one it would be quite easy to drink another.  20160720_200437The tasting finished with Rob explaining that they have tried to model their brewery in terms of sustainability and impact on the environment on the New Belgium Brewery of Colorado, check out here – http://www.fourpure.com/sustainability/ – for more details.

      So, there we have it, as stated earlier having the event upstairs at Loki gave it a different feel, I got the impression that Phil, Loki’s proprietor enjoyed it, as did the punters who had come along.  I definitely got the impression that this had opened their eyes to the qualities of what, for a better term, we are calling craft beer…The only thing to do after this was to take Rob and Paul along to the Craven Arms and carry on talking.

August Bank Holiday Weekend

So the August Bank Holiday weekend proved to be quite an interesting few days if you were a beer drinker in and around Birmingham; lots of events and beer festivals going on as well as the usual excellent selection of beers at the Craven Arms, yes Fallen Brewery Chew Chew I’m looking at you…

First up on Thursday for Deb & I was Kernel meet the brewer with Evin O’Riordan at Tilt, a bit of a no brainer since we are both big fans of their beers. We started with the latest iteration of the low abv table beer, this one being the Mosaic version which was a good solid start and went well with the takeaway dinner from Mission Burrito. Next was one of the changes to the original beer listing, the biere de saison Citra, a refreshing, zingy beer with a hint of tartness and quite fruity. Another change to the menu was the pale ale Comet which originally was going to be a Nelson Sauvin version but Evin didn’t think it was quite up to scratch. It was around this time as Deb had this and I had the IPA Mosaic Nelson Sauvin that Kirk brought Evin over and introduced us, although we had met previously at Cotteridge Wine. So we had quite a long chat about the the beers we were drinking, the Birmingham scene, the Brexit effect, how things were going in London etc, and we were joined by Joe Rushton for a while. I also introduced him to Gwen from Sacre Brew so he knew some good things were happening in the area. As usual it was a relaxed night, good service from Kirk, Rich, Neil (soon to leave for a new career in dog grooming – he will be missed) and new recruit Nathan. Plus it was nice to see people from other bars popping in to support this venture. Just to shake things up a little we veered off the Kernel path for our last beer and had a bottle of Northern Monk Wasted to share which hit a nice balance of sweet, sour and fruitiness.

Friday brought what I think might be a fairly unique event, in a bottle shop at least: the chance to meet not one, not two, but three brewers from three of the biggest and most respected breweries in the country at Cotteridge Wine. It was to celebrate the release of the 2nd version of Rule of Thirds, a collaboration between Beavertown, Magic Rock and Siren, and whilst there Bob Maxfield & I had a chat with head brewer Stuart from Magic Rock. He told us that Ryan Witter had the original idea for Rule of Thirds whilst he was still at Siren, and asked Beavertown and Magic Rock for the recipes for Gamma Ray and Cannonball respectively and made adjustments for the different brewery sizes to come up with something workable. This time though the breweries are of similar size, 55 hectolitres, and so they just used a third of each recipe and aimed for a beer a third of the strength. He said that many of the hops used in Cannonball were also in Gamma Ray and Soundwave which made life a little easier but they were used in different places in the schedule, and to give it that Magic Rock feel Magnum was used for bittering. Brewers from Beavertown and Siren made the trip to Huddersfield on brew day to give support and advice and do a bit of grafting and it all went quite smoothly. Apparently it is often the duty of the guest to dig out the mash tun… wonder who drew the short straw there… We also had a more general chat about how things were going at the new brewery site, but for a more insightful view check out http://www.magicrockbrewing.com/blog/august-2016-expansion-one-year/

As for the evening itself it was the usual relaxed evening full of great beer and conversation, was really nice to be able to have a half of each of the 3 beers that went into Rule of Thirds before having it, and when we did I for one wasn’t disappointed. It had a lovely bitterness and great fruity grapefruit taste. And I was very pleased that the Bloody Notorious had made it in time, I love Bloody ‘Ell and this bigger, punchier version is very good, a great way to end another fantastic event at Cotteridge.

Saturday was a day off…

Sunday we woke up to a message that said Twisted Barrel had ran out of beer, not normally a problem but since we were planning on visiting the taphouse for their beer festival it could’ve been. But after some toing and froing on twitter we figured it was still worth the journey. And there was the added incentive of Digbeth Dining Club being at Coventry p1000382Cathedral, so that was lunch sorted. And what an excellent lunch courtesy of @Chevaux_65 and Street Souvlaki with a lovely crepe from @crepesandmore for dessert, and so suitably full we made the 15 minute walk out to Fargo Village. They had put a couple of their own beers on to replace ones that had run out, so it seemed pretty churlish not to try them…first up was  Soup Dragon which they describe as a smoked saison, made with 50% rauch malt, flavoured with lime zest and chipotle, and it was indeed a nice combination of spice, smokiness and heat. One of the other new ones was Mongrel which had been brewed by one of the guys behind the bar using all English hops and which had a pleasing bitterness to it.  Over the course of a couple of hours, despite the odd rain shower, the tap house was continually busy, here is a paragraph from Deb giving her verdict on the afternoon…

Well for saying they had “run out of beer” Sunday at the Twisted Barrel Beer Festival in the Fargo village part of Coventry was distinguished by some delightful and diverse beer. In fact I dread to think what Saturday was like as Sunday was pretty damn popular, a so-called dearth of ale notwithstanding. I reckon there was a continuous queue at the bar for for the last 60 minutes or so! Then at 5.40 they had to refuse custom as they were in danger of running dry again for unlucky attendees on Bank Holiday Monday. Success is a Bummer! The poor TB employees were gonna have to scrabble around again to find beer for thirsty Coventrarians! ? I had a lovely time in pretty pleasant surroundings on a reasonably sunny August afternoon.

As we got close to the end of the afternoon we hit the big guns, the breweries own Wake Up Juice their version of a Belgian Tripel which was lush, good thick mouthfeel, pleasant floral aroma, full on taste, kind of creamy fruit, and Morag from Beer Nouveau in collaboration with Clever Yeti Brewing, an Imperial Sorachi Bubblegum Stout, which was unusual because you actually did get a bubblegum hit from it.  So all in all a really nice Sunday afternoon was had, very pleased we decided to go and will definitely be going back, sooner rather than later…

And to finish off the weekend we went a little closer to home once I had finished work and visited the Swan in Halesowen to see what they had left from their festival.  Fortunately there were some decent ales on the bar and in the marquee on stillage so we supped from Mallinsons, Salopian, Kelham Island, Bad Co Brewery, Bristol Beer Factory and a tasty half of Ride it Like you Stole it, which hadn’t had to travel far from Fixed Wheel Brewery just up the road…a fitting end to a great beery long weekend.

PS – many thanks to Laura Creaven of @FulltotheBrum for letting me use a couple of her photographs

Birth of a Brewery pt 3

      So after our little sojourn in the Rose Villa Tavern (read about that here) we were wandering down to 1000 Trades when we bumped into Chris Small who told us that they seemed to have finally finished jumping through all the necessary hoops that bureaucracy had thrown at them. This meant that Burning Soul could finally start brewing, and also that the time seemed ripe to pay them another visit. So I popped along on a Friday morning to see what changes had occurred since my last visit, although if you’ve been following the guys on twitter you will have seen a few more recent photos. The little test patch of the red floor paint had obviously gone down well because there was now a wide strip around the outside of the brewery on which the mash tun and fermenters now stood, and a new batch had been delivered to finish the job.

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Against the backdrop of the newly built black bar it should look quite striking. (And a new photo has gone up on their twitter and it does look good.) Ah yes, the bar, already with 8 taps in place ready to start serving the many and varied beers the guys are expecting to produce with plans for it to be open on Friday and Saturday. They weren’t set up completely yet but did have a little corny keg in the fridge with a single hop pale ale they had brewed which I sampled and which was very nice, fruity with a bit of sweetness to it. They had also built a little kerb around the bar which will extend around the back to their storage area so that it won’t get wet when doing the deep cleaning to the floor and the equipment. There are still a few more tweaks to be done, a little more welding here, a little more building there, but for saying it has primarily just been Chris and Rich it seems to be going pretty well. I guess it has been a series of long days for the guys, although we were glad to see them chilling later that evening at Cotteridge wine.

As Chris had mentioned they were indeed brewing on the little pilot kit, it’s going to be a hoppy red ale and they had 2 small conical fermenters so they could split the batch and use 2 different yeast strains, looking forward to seeing how that turns out. I asked about what their first big brews might be but as of yet they had made no concrete plans. I got the impression they were still waiting on ingredients to turn up, but once they have them I think it will be a case of brewing what styles takes their fancy.  I know once they are up and running they want to be brewing pretty constantly  to keep the bar full. Whatever it will be we at the blog and we know many of our readers are greatly looking forward to trying them…so no pressure guys ?

 

Food & a Cocktail at the Rose Villa Tavern

      Although this blog is ostensibly about my adventures in beer, hence the title, sometimes there are other diversions.  So on Tuesday Aug 23rd Deb and I joined a few other bloggers to sample the new menu at the Rose Villa Tavern in the Jewellery Quarter. Upon arrival on P1000299what had been a hot day I checked out the beer offerings which were a little disappointing:there was only one cask beer on whilst they cleaned lines which didn’t appeal and neither did any of the keg offerings.  So to the bottle fridge we went, and whilst not stunning there were some solid beers in there from Anchor, Sam Adams, and Brooklyn Brewery, but Deb and I both went for beers from Flying Dog, probably one of the earliest American breweries I got into primarily because of the Ralph Steadman bottle designs.  I went with Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale and Deb had the Easy IPA, both decent beers, the latter especially going down well in the warm conditions. So far, so good…

      But now it’s time for what they call full disclosure or transparency, being invited there meant we got some free food and drink so bear that in mind although I hope it didn’t colour my opinion. First up was a welcome cocktail, Jamm’in Thyme Stoli Blueberi, a blend of vodka, sweet blueberry jam shaken and topped with bubbles and a sprig of thyme added, which we both found very pleasant, Deb more so than me.  P1000293And then it was time for chicken wings. Because of the way things were laid out we didn’t get to try them all but the Sticky Chipotle BBQ with beer drenched fried onions and mozzarella cheese ones were quite nice, however the Vietnamese with a unique soy blend, fresh chilli, spring onions & sesame seeds & crunchy fried ones were very good. From what Ian, the manager of the place, said the latter have been a popular staple of the menu for a while.

      Next up were burgers, again we tried a couple, the Meatball Mayhem, a beef patty, marinara sauce, Swiss cheese, topped off with a “secret recipe” meatball which wasn’t that easy to eat, and might be classed as too much meat for some people. And a veggie option of a Tabasco laced double bean burger with fresh avocado, crisp lettuce, beef tomato & mayo which came in a folded up and fried wrap rather than the bun that the others came in which was a little different.

      More food came out in the form of pasta, although we both only had a small forkful of this so couldn’t form an opinion, seemed ok, but if I wanted pasta I would probably be boring and go to an Italian restaurant.  And in a slightly perverse reverse order we finished with a couple of pretty tasty salads, the Popeye and the Vegan one

      So in conclusion the food was ok, I think Deb enjoyed slightly more than I did, and if in the Jewellery Quarter it’s certainly worth looking at and I wouldn’t be averse to going back for more wings and a burger, but, no offence meant, probably wouldn’t hang around for the beer…